'It's heart-forward:' Q&A with 'Star Trek: Prodigy' creators about Season 2 (exclusive)

Five alien teenagers stand together wearing spacesuits
The motley teenage crew of Netflix's "Star Trek: Prodigy" (Image credit: Netflix)

Fortified with an optimistic spirit and settling into its new home on the Netflix streaming platform, "Star Trek: Prodigy" is boldly shifting into second gear for its 20-episode sophomore season.

This season finds our crew of intergalactic alien teenagers under the protective wing of Vice Admiral Janeway as they embark on a daring series of adventures in the final frontier aboard the Voyager-A starship.

Here's the official Season 2 synopsis:

"In Season 2, these six young outcasts who make up the 'Prodigy' crew are assigned a new mission aboard the USS Voyager-A to rescue Captain Chakotay (voiced by Robert Beltran) and bring peace to Gwyn's (voiced by Ella Purnell) home world. However, when their plan goes astray, it creates a time paradox that jeopardizes both their future and past."

A scene from "Star Trek: Prodigy" Season 2. (Image credit: Netflix)

Emmy Award-winning creators and showrunners Kevin and Dan and Hageman ("Trollhunters," "Ninjago") couldn’t be more pleased that their beloved "Star Trek" brainchild has a new online landing pad. The colorful second season of this underrated all-ages show appears to have an abundance of the engaging, character-driven, story-first momentum that made it such a satisfying sci-fi series when it first debuted on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon three years ago.

Related: 'Star Trek: Prodigy' warps into Season 2 with new Netflix trailer (video)

"Kevin and I, our first entry into 'Star Trek' was 'The Wrath of Khan' and that special Kirk and Spock relationship," Dan Hageman told Space.com. "Being children of the '80s, we’re very Amblin with earnest storytelling, so all of that is into Prodigy.

"In Season 2 with time travel, we always got the note, 'Is a younger viewer going to understand this?' We just need to spark something in their brain to want to dig into it more. We had a writer in the room who talked about a 'Star Trek' episode where they found Data's head buried in the sand, and it made his wheels start spinning of how that was possible. All 'Trek' fans will know that they were that kid too, where you take apart devices to see how they work. You want to know these things."

For the Hageman brothers, emotionality is everything; it surrounds and binds the entire animation project.

"It's heart-forward," Kevin Hageman adds. "When we think of the movies that stick to our bone as a kids, it's like 'E.T.' He was dead lying on a table for a bit and I was crying. That's what makes a great story versus just some fun, funny comedy I saw as a kid. For us, whether it was 'Trollhunters' or even 'Ninjago,' it sticks with them.  We've talked to 18-year-olds, and they said that show meant something to them because we went there, and that’s what we wanted to do with 'Prodigy.'"

Everything You Need to Know on Star Trek: Prodigy | StarTrek.com - YouTube Everything You Need to Know on Star Trek: Prodigy | StarTrek.com - YouTube
Watch On

Exploring new territory was foremost on the creators' minds launching into this resurrected Prodigy outing, and the award-winning filmmakers were full of "Star Trek" universe ideas.

"We didn't want to have the same ending as Season 1, so it's got completely different feelings," said Dan Hageman. "These are now kids in the adult world. And also it's not just kids learning from the adults, but the adults learning from the kids. So, if anything, Season 1 is an entry point, and now we’re getting into real 'Trek.'"

One of the biggest challenges for the showrunners was to avoid being like "Star Trek: Lower Decks," in which all the main characters are treated like underlings.

"How to do you do that, treat it for real, but still allow for some wish fulfillment and spirit of adventure?" Kevin Hageman said. "And you'll see that as you watch more of the new season. How do you balance that in a military system?"

"Prodigy's" return vocal cast includes Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), Brett Gray (Dal), Ella Purnell (Gwyn), Rylee Alazraqui (Rok-Tahk), Angus Imrie (Zero), Jason Mantzoukas (Jankom Pog), Dee Bradley Baker (Murf), and John Noble (The Diviner).

Season 2's added co-stars feature Robert Picardo (The Doctor), Jason Alexander (Doctor Noum), Daveed Diggs (Commander Tysess), Jameela Jamil (Ensign Asencia), Ronny Cox (Admiral Jellico) and Michaela Dietz (Maj’el).

Kate Mulgrew voices Admiral Janeway in "Star Trek: Prodigy" Season 2. (Image credit: Netflix)

Mulgrew and Picardo have expansive vocal duties in this Netflix season, and the Hagemens were fortunate to welcome such talented "Star Trek" luminaries aboard.

"We felt like after the death of Hologram Janeway at the end of Season 1, we were tickled with this idea that they needed a new mentor," Dan Hageman explained. "Admiral Janeway isn’t as soft and lovey and Hologram Janeway, and we thought it was hilarious that the Doctor would want to be endeared to the kids as much as they were to Hologram Janeway. She was Mary Poppins in Season 1, and he's like Mr. Belvedere in Season 2, trying to keep them out of shenanigans. We weren't trying to make a 'Voyager' spinoff, but naturally if you have Kate Mulgrew and Janeway at the center of it, these characters are going to gravitate toward her."

Buoyed by fan appreciation, the Hagemans have high hopes for "Prodigy's" future.

"I'm always inspired by our crew and cast," Kevin Hageman said. "From out of the writers room and the ideas and scripts that were coming out, I was loving this show. And to see the animation and hear the music and the vocal records. Everyone loved this show and poured their hearts into it. I hope that we'll get future seasons or animated film installments to keep this going."

All 20 episodes of "Star Trek: Prodigy" Season 2 are now streaming on Netflix.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.