Welcome back, ‘The Orville!’ After a week’s hiatus for some unknown reason (Fox opted to air a repeat of “Ja’loja,” the Season 2 premiere, instead of a new episode last week), we are back in action with another episode that is heavy on two things the audience has come to expect from the show: social commentary repackaged as a sci-fi issue, and the Moclans having greatly-differing societal views than humans do.
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: Things happen in a fairly straightforward fashion this episode. The Orville meets up with a Mocan ship, who is present to assist Mercer and crew with an upgrade to their ship’s deflectors. A Moclan engineer named Locar comes aboard to perform the install; he and Bortus used to date, apparently. More concerning than this, however, is the issue that Locar takes a sexual interest in Talla, the new Xeleyan chief of security; as we know from previous episodes, the Moclan society is almost entirely male-based and anything to do with the female gender, including being attracted to them, is seen as an aberration and an insult in their society.
In a moment of prejudice and bigotry, Bortus’ mate Klyden appears to kill Locar – but as the episode and Talla’s investigation progresses, there may be more to the story than meets the eye. There is much back-and-forth between characters about the nature of the Moclan society’s stance on this gender matter and whether it’s “right” to so heavily shun and hinder individuals’ own thoughts and preferences about gender and sexuality.
The “B-story” this week involves Kelly deciding to break things off with her teacher boyfriend, Cassius. She does break things off, and after a few “crazy ex-boyfriend” type moments, he decides to transfer to another ship, so they can both have the space and closure they seek. This, obviously, opens the door for Ed and Kelly to get together again – but will they?
- Perhaps it was because I found myself a big fan of Halston Sage’s strong-but-insecure portrayal of her character Alara, but I’m having a hard time getting behind Jessica Szohr as her “replacement” Xeleyan chief of security Talla. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Szohr is doing a bad job, necessarily – they are just very different actresses, and having both characters be Xeleyan and the chief of security puts them in an odd status of almost pretending that one has “turned into” the other, somehow.
- No Dr. Finn (medicine woman) in this episode? Frowny face. I mean, I get it, the last few episodes have been very Claire-heavy, but at least let the woman pop into a scene! She does get a mention in one of the mess hall moment when Malloy and LaMarr are asking Isaac about their relationship.
- The Cassius storyline in “Deflectors” takes some odd twists and turns, mostly because this episode makes it glaringly apparent that we really didn’t know much about his character to begin with. Immediately after their breakup, Kelly mentions that Cassius is constantly messaging her, he sends her an “I’m Sorry” cookie bouquet, and even has a giant (sentient) flower delivered to her quarters. Are these actions in line with the character and his usual “MO?” Since we really haven’t gotten to know him beyond the fact that he’s a teacher and he’s dating Kelly, who can say for sure.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: Even though the episode has a very important message, “Deflectors” feels a little nondescript at this point in the season. It almost feels like a place-holder to get us into the “meat” of the season – and indeed, the preview for next week’s episode teases big explosions, space battles, and a very pensive-looking situation in general. This was one of the “blessings and curses” of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ as well, the show that Seth MacFarlane has clearly modeled ‘The Orville’ directly from. It’s not a knock on this episode, really, but in a run of “thinker” type episodes, it may leave some fans wanting a bit more.
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
J. Lee as John LaMarr
Mark Jackson as Isaac
New episodes of ‘The Orville’ are premiering on FOX every Thursday this season.