Star Trek Reveals A Hidden Connection To Data’s Enterprise Ancestor
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1, Episode 15 – “Masquerade”Dal R’El (Brett Gray) finally found out what species he is, and Star Trek: Prodigy shockingly ties him in with Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner), the rogue geneticist from Star Trek: Enterprise. Despite being set 200 years after Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Prodigy has consistently genuflected to the prequel series about Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and the NX-01 Enterprise. Prodigy introduced a Denobulan character, Lt. Barniss Frex (Eric Bauza), and just brought back the villainous Xindi.
In Star Trek: Prodigy episode 15, “Masquerade,” Captain Thadius Okona (Billy Campbell) introduces the teenage crew of the USS Protostar to his client beyond the Romulan Neutral Zone, Dr. Jago (Amy Hill). Jago, herself a rogue geneticist operating outside the United Federation of Planets, explained that Dal is a human Augment, the product of artificial hybrid speciation. Dal’s DNA is made up of the recessive traits of 26 different species, including Vulcans and Proto-Organians. But the real jaw-dropper is Dal’s creators are the proteges of Star Trek: Enterprise‘s Dr. Arik Soong, whose work and legacy now live on two centuries later in the purple teenage Captain of the Protostar. Star Trek: Prodigy also sets up meeting Dal’s creators – Arik Soong’s proteges – in a future episode to explain why they created him.
Arik Soong’s Augments In Star Trek: Enterprise Explained
Dr. Arik Soong is the descendant of Star Trek: Picard season 2’s Dr. Adam Soong (Brent Spiner), who was also a rogue geneticist and had a role in “Project Khan,” which presumably developed the genetically-engineered warlord, Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán). Arik is also the ancestor of Dr. Noonien Soong, the creator of Data and Lore in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Star Trek: Enterprise season 4 introduced Arik, who was imprisoned for violating United Earth’s laws against genetic engineering and created human Augments. Captain Archer later freed Arik and recruited his help to capture his Augment “children,” who hijacked a Klingon Bird-of-Prey.
Arik Soong believed that genetic engineering technology wasn’t the enemy and wouldn’t directly create another Khan, but it was humanity’s inability to use the tech wisely that made it dangerous. Yet Soong’s theory was tested by the Augments he created, who were indeed dangerous and had to be stopped. Later in Star Trek: Enterprise season 4, the Klingons used Soong’s technology and tried to create Klingon Augments, which became an explanation for why the Klingons physically changed to look more human in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Dal’s Creation Means He May Not Be Allowed To Join Starfleet
The tragedy of the revelation that Dal is genetically engineered is that this may prevent him from fulfilling his dream of joining Starfleet. In the 24th century, the Federation’s laws against genetic engineering still stand. On Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, set 120 years before Prodigy, Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) was arrested and faces trial for lying to Starfleet about being a genetically engineered Illyrian. The Federation’s hardline stance against Augments could similarly be a legal issue for Dal.
Just a few years before Star Trek: Prodigy, Dr. Julian Bashir’s (Alexander Siddig) Starfleet career was nearly ended when it was discovered he was genetically enhanced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. However, Bashir was allowed to remain in Starfleet because his father accepted blame and a prison sentence, and because he was a child when he was augmented who had no say in what was done to him. The Bashir loophole may turn out the hope Dal R’El needs to one day join Starfleet in Star Trek: Prodigy, as well as the backing of Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) if she eventually becomes the Protostar teens’ ally.
Next: Star Trek Brings Back Captain Archer’s Enterprise Villains
Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 streams Thursdays on Paramount+.