Every week with each new episode, ‘The Orville’ continues to work towards a better balance of sci-fi action & story mixed with the Seth MacFarlane-style comedy that some people love and some people hate. This week’s episode, “Into the Fold,” strikes one of the best balances of the young show’s first season, and folks who have been watching and enjoying the series will find much to like here.
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: Dr. Finn (Medicine Woman) is set to take her two young boys on an off-ship “shore leave,” and since the Orville needs to spend some time in dry dock for navigational repairs, the timing is perfect. Right before their shuttle departs, however, Kelly informs Dr. Finn that LaMarr will be unable to act as the pilot for her family as he is needed to assist with the ship repairs. However, she has assigned the robotic Isaac to fly Finn’s shuttle instead, much to the doctor’s chagrin.
The two young boys misbehave and roughhouse as one would expect kids their age to do. While Dr. Finn attempts to control/discipline the children, Isaac takes the opportunity to observe and question human culture and parenting practices, which really doesn’t help the situation at all. The shuttle finds its way too close to a gravity fold, and with a little accidental help from the two boys, the ship is pulled in and flung far across the galaxy into space that is uncharted by the Planetary Union.
The event has weakened the ship’s structural integrity and upon their emergency landing attempt on a habitable moon, the shuttle shears in two, leaving Dr. Finn unconscious and isolated from Isaac and the boys. As the trio work to find the doctor and secure enough elements to re-power the ship in order to send a distress call, they don’t realize that Finn has been brought by an indigenous planet-dweller to his home, ostensibly a “safe place” even though the alien tells Finn about the plague-centric war that has killed almost all of the moon’s inhabitants.
As Finn works to escape her maybe-captor, Isaac and the boys do some accidental bonding as they fight off the warring indigenous people. Managing to get a short SOS off before the shuttle’s power fails again, Isaac and the older Marcus fight to hold off the intruders while Finn works to try and heal the younger Ty who has fallen ill to the aforementioned planetary plague.
Fortunately, the Orville was out looking for the shuttle after they discovered it missing and followed its trail. They arrive just in time to rescue the foursome and get Ty to sickbay, where Finn is able to bring him to a full recovery. Later, she thanks Isaac who in turn thanks her for allowing him to learn much about the human condition – including his newfound fond and protective feelings for Marcus and Ty.
- As the episode opened, Ty attempts to wake his mother up by jumping on her bed and yelling out variations of the word “Mom!” repeatedly. This being a MacFarlane-written show, I certainly hope I’m not the only one whose mind went immediately to this classic snippet of one of MacFarlane’s other TV shows, ‘Family Guy:’
- I’ve said it many times before, and I say it again now: shows like ‘The Orville’ can often live or die on how well they are able to establish and flesh out the audience’s love for the secondary characters. This episode does well to move the spotlight away from Ed and Kelly and shine it instead on two of the Orville’s most intriguing crew members. Penny Johnson Jerald firmly reminds viewers of the acting chops she displayed on another well-known sci-fi show, ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,’ and Mark Jackson’s vocal work as Isaac really brings a much-needed new dimension to the character.
- While it was definitely a cool “probably happens a lot on a starship but we never see it” moment (of which ‘The Orville’ has brought us a few, now), it did seem like an awful lot of buildup to establish that the ship’s navigation systems would be offline and LaMarr would have to be flying “by the stars” only to not really have this be much of an issue at all, if ever. Was this less-than-stellar editing removing a key scene from the finished episode, or simply just a miss on the writing team’s part?
- The lonely alien who “captures” Finn and provides her with the alleged “safe place” is named Drojen and is played by Brian Thompson, who eagle-eyed Fox sci-fi fans may recognize from multiple appearances on ‘The X-Files’ as the aptly-named Bounty Hunter. I definitely got the vague “is he a good person or isn’t he” vibe the show seemed to be going for, which is always appreciated as opposed to the rest of the alien species who simply functioned as the “Token Bad Guys” of the episode.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: As the show continues to feel more and more refined, things seem to be boding well for ‘The Orville’ – especially because Fox announced shortly before this airing that the show will officially have a second season. Much more Mercer and company to come!
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.