As soon as the first trailer for The Orville was release, it peaked my interest . I am huge fan of Seth MacFarlane’s work, and The Orville looked to be another raunchy comedy only this time it would be set in space. As I watched the first episode, I kept waiting for inevitable barrage of jokes that I knew were coming. There were of course a few jokes peppered in there, but not near the amount that I expected. What I came to realize as the episode came to a close is that this is not just a comedy… it is a well-written space drama that deserves to be taken a little more seriously.
As for the crew for the Orville, it consists of a wide variety of alien species as you would expect. The challenge for any new show like this is to make the characters memorable without simply mimicking what has been done in the past. The Orville does this well with a several stand-out characters. A few of my favorites are:
- Alara Kitan, a Xelayan, played by Halston Sage. The Xelayan home planet has a stronger gravitational pull than most, which gives Alara super strength everywhere else. This naturally puts her in the security officer role.
- Bortus, a Moclan, played by Peter Macon. The Moclan’s are presented to us an all male species who urinate only once a year and lay eggs to reproduce. Bortus is a Lieutenant Commander on the Orville.
- Isaac, from the Kaylon android race, played by Mark Jackson. The Kaylon believe they are superior to all other races. Isaac is using his time on the Orville to observe and understand the behavior of other species.
This isn’t to say that the actors who are not in costume aren’t good because they are. J. Lee and Scott Grimes play the helmsmen, Gordon Malloy and John Lamarr. The banter between these two as they pilot the ship means there is never a dull moment. Adrianne Palicki plays Mercer’s ex-wife, Kelly Grayson, and brings an intelligent, strong presence to the role. Seth MacFarlane also does a great job as the captain. He is serious when he needs to be, but also quick to crack a joke without taking you out of the story.
The episodes thus far tend to sneak up on you. I started watching the Orville because I thought it was going to be a science fiction comedy, but its much more than that. The writers tackle real issues in the episodes. One episode is a debate over whether Bortus and his mate’s offspring should be a given a mandatory gender reassignment surgery because they had a daughter, which is looked at as a shame in an all male species. The episode was handled with tact, thoughtfulness, and of course, humor, without taking away from the similar real-life issue of gender superiority in today’s society.
There have been six episodes thus far, and I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings. Below is a quick recap of what has happened in each episode to date. If you haven’t started watching the show, go catch up now and reserve Thursday nights for new episodes! There will be spoilers below…
The premiere episode begins with MacFarlane’s character, Ed Mercer, catching his wife, Kelly, in the act of cheating with a blue alien species. Some time later, Mercer has pulled his life together and is given command of a starship called the Orville. He is told that he is only given command due to the lack of captains in the fleet, but he is still grateful to have gotten it. His first mission is to deliver supplies to a science outpost. He sets off for the mission with a full crew minus a first officer, which he finds out while in route, will be his now ex-wife, Kelly.
They reach the science outpost only to find that the call for supplies is really a call for help. An alien species called the Krill are coming to steal a weapon they have created that accelerates time. Ed and Kelly find a way to get along and successfully defeat the Krill by giving them the weapon with a redwood seed mounted on it. As soon as the weapon is activated on the Krill ship, the redwood instantly grows to full height ripping their ship apart.
Mercer is greeted with a communication from his parents at the beginning of the episode. They are in his quadrant, and request that he and Kelly take a shuttle to their ship to visit them. They depart in the shuttle, but when they step into the other ship they are transported elsewhere as the rest of the crew sees all but a small buoy disappear in front of them. Mercer and Grayson wake up in what appears to be their old apartment, but they soon find out that they are on display in a zoo of alien species.
Meanwhile, Alara has been left in charge and is struggling with her responsibilities in the face of a crisis. She consults with headquarters and is strictly told to not pursue the captain and first officer because the union is forbidden to travel to the place they have been taken. She orders the crew to return to earth, and finds that she immediately becomes an outcast. Alara eventually decides that her captain is more important than her orders and reverses course to save them.
About a Girl
Bortus and his mate, Klyden, have a new baby born early in this episode, but there is a problem… she is girl. A girl born in their all male species is looked upon as an abomination. They both want to have her taken to their planet as quickly as possible to have a gender reassignment surgery. The captain disagrees with the surgery and refuses to go, but Bortus and Klyden call members of their race to come to them instead.
No one can seem to convince Bortus that this surgery is wrong until Gordon and John bring a few beers over and talk Gordon into watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Bortus is moved by the story and changes his mind, but is unable to persuade Klyden. Because they cannot agree, a trial is held on their home world to debate the merits of the surgery. I’m not going to give away what happens, but it wasn’t what I expected.
If The Stars Should Appear
The crew discovers a ship that appears to be disabled floating through space. They find that its course will end its destruction so they set out to intercept it. When they reach it, it appears to be long deserted so they take a shuttle to investigate it. Once they make their way inside, they find a massive open area in the middle that is that is filled with vegetation and lifeforms (think Iowa). The crew splits up and Mercer, Dr. Finn, and Isaac discover a family on a small farm.
The son on the farm takes them to a secret barn where there is a group of people who are questioning everything they have been taught, which is that they are on a real world and owe all that they have to one god who created it. The crew of the Orville decide to show them otherwise, but in the meantime, Alara and Kelly have been assaulted by the local police which results in Alara being shot and Kelly being captured. The crew find Alara, heal her, and make their way to save Kelly from the brutal dictator running the place.
They save her and take the resistance group to the bridge of the ship. They are amazed by what they see. It turns out that the simulation they are in only shows them the daytime so they are seeing stars for the first time. They uncover a video message from none other than Liam Neeson, who it turns out is the one they have been worshipping… only he is not a god at all. They have just been adrift for so long that the knowledge of their original mission has dissipated throughout the years. Mercer then opens the roof of the simulation allowing the entire population to see the night for the first time ever.
The crew receives a distress call from a mining ship that is broken down on an asteroid heading toward a star. They are able to just barely save the only remaining crew member, Pria, played by Charlize Theron. Kelly does not trust Pria from the start, but Mercer is enamored by her. He welcomes her to the ship and gives her a tour of its inner workings.
Kelly convinces Alara to help her investigate Pria. They are unable to find anything convincing to prove to Mercer that she is up to something. Pria appears to prove her goodwill by helping them navigate through a dangerous dark matter storm, but she soon reveals that she is from the future. She is dealer who sells antique ships.
Pria tells them that they were supposed to die in the dark matter storm so she traveled back in time to save them so she could sell their ship in the future. Since she actually saved their lives, they should accept that she is taking them to the future to live out the rest of their life she has just given them. Mercer foils her plan and destroys the wormhole that will lead back to her time causing her to disappear from their time.
Shortly after the crew learns that Bortus can eat anything including a cactus or a glass, they receive a distress call from a planet being attacked by the Krill. When they arrive, the Krill begin overtaking them with their superior firepower, but through a risky maneuver, they are able to destroy the ship and recover an intact shuttle. They decide to infiltrate the Krill with the recovered shuttle to find out their future plans and to try to find a way to make peace with them. Mercer and Gordon disguise themselves as two Krill named Chris and Devon, and are able to gain access to the ship.
They begin taking photos of the Krill holy book when their disguises malfunction due to a strong signal two decks below. They are able to correct the frequency of their costumes before they are discovered, investigate the source of the signal, and learn that it is coming from a bomb. When they learn of plans to test the bomb on a farming colony, they decide to hack into the bomb and set it off in the Krill ship instead, but there is a problem… they discover there are Krill children on board. Mercer realizes that an alternative would be to turn the lights up to an extreme level, which will kill the Krill because of their sensitivity to light. They decide to hide the kids in a dark room while they turn up the lights to burn up the other Krill.
The first six episodes have been much more than expected, and with each episode the timing and the quality of the episodes just continues to get better. Let’s hope the Orville is here to stay for many more seasons.
Tell us what you think of the Orville in the comments below!
Featured Photo: THE ORVILLE: L-R: Scott Grimes, Mark Jackson, J. Lee, Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki in the new space adventure series from the creator of “Family Guy.” ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker/FOX