Kate Mulgrew Explains How Star Trek: Prodigy Reintroduces Captain Janeway

Star Trek Voyager

Star Trek: Prodigy‘s premise and audience focus has meant it’s received a mixed reception from fans. The CG-animated show is explicitly designed for younger viewers and will air on Nickelodeon, following a group of rebellious teenagers who steal a starship and head off to see the galaxy. But just because something is aimed at children that doesn’t mean it can’t be great TV – just look at the continued popularity of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

However, interest in the show spiked following the announcement that Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Janeway will be returning –  her first appearance since a brief cameo in Star Trek: Nemesis. But cold water was recently poured on that hype when it was revealed that this character won’t be the actual Janeway, but an AI training hologram in her image. Mulgrew confirmed this in an interview with the Dennis Miller + One podcast, saying:

“Five kids are incarcerated on an obscure planet in an uncharted part of the galaxy. They escape from their imprisonment and race across the planet to find a defunct starship buried in the sand of the planet’s surface. They go in, and of course, the prison guards are coming after them, and they can’t get it up, and the shields won’t run — and suddenly, somebody hits a button, and [hologram turns on noises]: ‘Hello kids, I see you’re a little bit stuck here. Can I help you out?”

“It’s really, I think, going to capture the imagination of little kids. And if they can sit with their mothers, who watched me in live-action, and their fathers who loved the other guys, we’ve got a family affair and that will bring it full circle.”

On one hand, Janeway being a hologram gives the younger characters more autonomy, but on the other, it’s a disappointment to many Voyager fans who wanted to see what the real Janeway is doing at this point in the timeline. It’s also news that this version of her appears to aid the kids, as most had assumed she’d be trying to convince them to return the stolen ship.

So far, all we’ve seen of Prodigy are a couple of character stills, so fingers crossed we get a trailer soon. Also of note are the hints that a second season is already in production, as Mulgrew mentioned they were preparing for another recording session.

The next new run of Star Trek to air will be Lower Decks season 2 on August 12th, while Discovery‘s fourth outing is coming in late 2021, and Picard season 2 should arrive in early 2022. With Star Trek: Prodigy confirmed for 2021, that likely means we can expect it sometime this fall, sandwiched between the two other series.