3 episodes of ‘The Orville’ in 11 days – are you trying to kill me, Fox? This reviewer is staying very busy chatting with you all about the show, and next Thursday brings us not only another episode of the series but the Season 2 premiere of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ – which I also review here for ScienceFiction.com. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – before we look forward to next week, we have to take the time to digest ‘Home,’ this third episode of the season. Let’s jump on in.
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: The action opens in the crew mess hall, a scenic location that seems to be growing in popularity as the show progresses forward. “This is now an official Friday night tradition,” Malloy says as he sees Isaac enter; the crew gathers around (including Jason Alexander as Olix the bartender, neat!) to watch the android square off against Alara in an arm-wrestling contest (the two have been fairly evenly matched in their win-loss columns over the previous weeks, we are told). The match doesn’t end well, though, when Alara breaks her arm; in her follow-up visit with Dr. Finn (medicine woman), it’s revealed that her Xeleyan body is having difficulty adjusting to the much-lower gravity of Earth-standard used on The Orville. As a result, she is growing weaker; the best course of action, it’s determined, is to have Alara return to her home planet of Xeleya where her body can take the time it needs to readjust.
Home is not necessarily where the heart is, however; Alara left her homeworld for a reason and isn’t overly thrilled to return. Her parents (her father in particular) have long been overbearing on their youngest daughter, as Alara was always proficient in the physical prowess but usually behind the curve in the academic arena. We meet her sister as well, who seems to be “the golden child,” literally and figuratively: blonde, beautiful, intelligent, freshly-engaged, you name it. Alara, meanwhile, is hoverchair-bound as she regains her strength.
The family heads to their beach house, even though it’s the off-season and the island is otherwise deserted (important plot point, so that must be why the characters mention it several times). Alara, ever the watchdog, sees a light on in a home down the beach and finds it suspicious. The next day, a couple arrive and introduce themselves as neighbors from down said beach – they seem nice enough, but as a crisis starts to unfold for Alara and her family, the Xeleyan Chief of Security will have to find the strength, mentally and literally, to do what has to be done for the security of both her family and herself.
- The episode was decently-paced, but the story and ‘The Strangers’-esque subplot with Alara and her family at the beach house was all too predictable. While the tension was certainly high – kudos for the particularly gruesome scene with the pasta sauce – the biggest disappointment, for me, came at the climax of the scenes: Alara spent the whole episode wondering if she was more than “just a brute,” so when the writers had an opportunity to have her solve the crisis using her cunning or her smarts, they chose instead to simply have her punch her way out of the situation. A disappointing end to that storyline, for sure.
- This episode saw the return of Robert Picardo as Alara’s father, Ildis – hooray for a sighting of a former Star Trek actor! In fact, this episode let us double our pleasure in that department, as we also welcomed John Billingsley, whom Trek fans will recognize as Dr. Phlox on ‘Enterprise,’ as the troublesome beach-house neighbor.
- Speaking of two-fer guest stars: who’s up for a double-dip from the ‘Seinfeld’ days? Not only did Jason Alexander (briefly) return for a one-liner as our new favorite horn-y barkeep, we were given a way-too-small dose of Patrick Warburton underneath the prosthetics of Tharl, the interim security chief onboard The Orville in Alara’s absence. Now that it seems clear that Halston Sage is leaving the show for at least a multiple episode absence, can we please have Warburton continue to feature in the series? Pretty please?
- Someone put out an APB – this is the second consecutive episode since her introduction in the Season 2 premiere that Michaela McManus as Lt. Janel Tyler has been totally missing.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: This episode felt like a step in the right direction from the first two entrants of the season – although it was far from perfect. One thing ‘The Orville’ did right again in “Home” was its absolutely gorgeous visual aspects of its sci-fi story-telling – the show looks amazing, there’s no doubt about that. Is it wrong that the 45 seconds of beautiful Orville flight in the opening credits has become one of my favorite things to look forward to seeing week after week?
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
New episodes of ‘The Orville’ are premiering on FOX every Thursday this season.