Six episodes in and audiences still seem fairly split on whether they are enjoying ‘The Orville.’ While the series seems to be winning over folks who are looking for a show that features a classic ‘Star Trek’ vibe – and those same viewers seem mighty peeved at the lack of this vibe from ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ – folks who don’t appreciate the comedic aspects or show creator/star Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor are left with an odd taste in their mouths (giggity).
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘The Orville’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: This episode opens right on the action: a Krill battle cruiser is battering a Planetary Union colony, and it’s up to the Orville to stop them. Mercer’s diminutive ship is sizably outmatched, but thanks to the quick thinking of the captain and some smooth driving by helmsman Malloy, Orville manages to utilize the element of surprise and destroy the Krill ship. When they find a fully-intact Krill shuttlecraft floating among the wreckage, a unique opportunity arises.
Admiral Ozawa arrives in another Planetary Union vessel – a much heavier class then the Orville, more on this below – and tells Mercer that the PU would like he and Mallow to utilize the shuttle to go undercover into Krill territory to learn more about the Ankhara, the sacred text that dictates the Krill’s actions and motivations. By learning more about the Krill, Ozawa says, the Union may get an advantage into learning how to propose peaceful relations with the warrior-like aliens.
Using technology conveniently provided by Isaac, Mercer and Malloy holo-change into looking like Krill, then attempt to infiltrate a Krill battlercruiser. Mercer hilariously botches their first attempt to ingrain themselves into the crew by introducing himself and Malloy as “Chris and Devin,” two very un-Krill-like names. However, the Krill seem to buy their ruse, and they are given mostly free reign of the ship, where they start to learn about the Krill deity, Avis – and the ship’s current mission to deploy a large bomb and completely destroy another Planetary Union colony.
After finding out there are a group of Krill children on board, Mercer and Malloy are forced to alter their original plans to outright-destroy the vessel. Instead, they devise a blind to injure the Krill via the ship’s light control, as the Krill come from a world shrouded in perpetual darkness, explaining their albino pigmentation. After making sure the children are all in a classroom where the lights won’t be changed, they turn up the juice and fry their adversaries. They bring the Krill ship home, and the children are returned to their families – but as they grow up, the kids likely won’t see Mercer’s actions as the merciful movie they were, instead focusing on how he killed the entire Krill crew.
- The opening scene, with the crew in the mess hall daring Bortas to eat a variety of largely inedible things, is a really great job of blending the comedy moments the show always strives to have with fun crew interactions – I always believe that a show can largely live or die by the attention it pays to creating strong secondary characters that the audience can care about.
- It’s the premise that drives the episode, but really, Mercer and Malloy are picking by PU brass to go undercover? It’s a thin plot line at best, of course – but in all honesty, the Planetary Union comes across like a mid-sized American company, trying to act like they’ve got all their ducks in a row but largely making things up as they go along. The United Federation of Planets they are not… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- This sixth episode marks a string of six in a row now – every episode – where we’ve seen a shuttle come out of the Orville’s shuttle bay. Is this just a weird coincidence, or does MacFarlane have a very specific “thing” for shuttles coming and going from starships?
- For the first time in the series, we get to see another PU ship, of a completely different design and class than the Orville. I’m itching to learn – and see – more of these ships, because I thought it looked pretty bad ass.
- Admiral Ozawa – do we think this name is MacFarlane making a subtle Star Trek reference to Alyssa Ogawa, sickbay nurse to the stars on the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E? Both are portrayed by Asian-American actresses: Ogawa by Patti Yasutake, and Ozawa in this episode by Kelly Hu.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: I didn’t dive into it too much in this review, as I wanted to let each viewer judge the merits and message for themselves, but this episode follows its predecessors by diving into a fairly heady topic of genocide and “justifiable death.” I do appreciate that ‘The Orville’ isn’t afraid to tackle these topics, and I think it bodes well for the show’s future, although I do have concerns about whether the amount of comedic insertions will have the show come across to viewers as not “serious enough” to warrant an extended multi-season run as a “serious” sci-fi show.
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Seth MacFarlane as Ed Mercer
Adrianne Palicki as Kelly Grayson
Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Claire Finn
Scott Grimes as Gordon Malloy
Peter Macon as Lt. Commander Bortus
Halston Sage as Alara Kitan
J. Lee as John LaMarr
Mark Jackson as Isaac
‘The Orville’ features new episodes Thursday nights on Fox.