Hello and welcome to this week's discussion of The Orville! If you missed last week's, you can find it here. And here is our disclaimer:
Full spoilers are below. Again, the primary purpose of this series of blogs is to creat a space in which we can talk about the episode, with all spoilers in mind. Just remember, there is only one rule to our discussion. Please do not discuss any footage of next week or future episodes as I haven't watched any trailers and don't want future episodes spoiled. Feel free to discuss where you want the show to go, or make predictions. Just leave any actual footage out of it.
I did not like this episode of The Orville. I consider it to be the worst episode of the series thus far. If you enjoyed it and don't want your opinion discolored, you may want to skip my thoughts on it. But please share your own thoughts down below! It's totally fine if you liked it. I just didn't.
Here's the thing. This episode was terribly written. The acting and directing were fine. As good as they could be, given the script.
First, this episode was not funny. It was really just depressing. There was a couple small bits of humor. In particular, the teeth eating thing was amusing. But that's the only bit I remember laughing about (and I finished watching the episode not half an hour ago).
The episode is off to a bad start with the sudden and pointless disintegration of Kelly's relatinship with Cassius. This felt like it came out of nowhere. It seems that it only happened to get Kelly back on the market so that her and Ed can get back to TV's beloved will they/won't they status. And the episode paints Cassius as just a desperate creep. He sends her a sentient plant? What the hell was that about? And it makes her look bad as well. He wants some closure, but she just cuts him off. Dick move. Now, we haven't got to know Cassius very well yet. But I liked him well enough. I would have preferred to get to know him a little better. Now he feels like he's just been a plot device this whole time. A huge disservice to the character.
But now we get to the meat of the episode. Bortus' ex-boyfriend Locar (not to be confused with Lothar) shows up to upgrade The Orville's shields. He is a peerless engineer. Turns out, he's also straight. This is a big no-no in Moclan society. If he's caught, he'll go to prison for life. Bortus' mate Klyden catches him on a date with Talla. Well, no he doesn't. He has completely circumstantial evidence for this. He sees that they walk to the simulator together. And.... that's it. That's all the proof he's got. So he confronts Locar about being straight and says he'll have Locar arrested. Locar fakes his own death and frames Klyden for the murder. Talla figures out what's up. She finds him, alive. He asks her to let him hide for the rest of his life. She can't do that because that leaves Klyden as a convicted murderer. She tells him to come forward. She offers him a plan to be safe. He gets all indignant and decides to go to prison for the rest of his life just to spite her. The woman he had a crush on moments ago. What the hell is your deal, Locar? And Talla. You say you had real feelings for this guy that you've spent maybe 20 minutes with? I mean, maybe you want to jump his bones. But you had serious feelings? Come on.
This episode reminds me of my least favorite episode of Star Trek. It's in the second season of The Next Generation. It is titled "Up the Long Ladder." It's about 2 different cultures needing to integrate. One is a bunch of hillbillies. The other is a bunch of anti-sex puritans that reproduce via cloning. In reality, the entire episode is a message about abortion. If are anti-abortion, you are dumb and bad. End of discussion. That's it. Anti-abortion is dumb and bad. That's the entire episode.
Contrast this with some of the best episodes of Trek. Real discussion takes place. Perspectives are shared. And yes, some people are ultimately wrong. But there's a discussion. We explore how and why a person feels and acts they way they do.
Look at the Klingons. By our cultural standards, Klingons are monstrous and evil. But after TOS, Trek never paints them this way. We explore their history, culture, and religion. We come to understand why they are they way they are. We are not expected to agree with or support them. But we at least get that they are real people and they have reasons to do what they do.
But not the Moclans on The Orville. Not on this episode, anyways. The Moclans are dumb and bad because we say they are. They are dumb and bad. But we need them because they're talented engineers. We're going to work with them and use them. But they are dumb and bad. And why are they dumb and bad? Because their planet sucks. That's the only reason. And you, as the audience, will accept that Moclans are dumb and bad because they obviously are because we said so. No, we will not explore this further. No, we will not have a discussion.
Contrast this episode with Season 1 Episode 4 of The Orville titled "About a Girl." This is the episode where Bortus' daughter is born. His society demands that she be operated on to be made male. Bortus challenges this. They go to court over it. They have a conversation about it! They reason it out. They give us as the audience real things to think about and chew on over this. And the episode has an unhappy ending (or at least, that's how I felt it was portrayed). We aren't meant to think that the Moclans are in the right. But at least there was a conversation. We weren't just told that the Moclans were dumb and bad because they are. We were given the chance to reach a conclusion about the situation on our own as viewers.
This episode does not trust us enough to do that. It does not think we are responsible enough to really ponder and consider the fate of Locar and other heterosexuals in Moclan society. We are told what we will feel. And look. I'm not saying that I would feel the Moclans are justified in imprisoning Locar. I really don't think I would come to that conclusion. But I wish I would be given a chance to think about it for myself instead of being told how to feel.
This episode was very week. I would give it a D- if I put grades on these reviews. But that's just me. It's very possible that you feel differently than I did. Please share your thoughts with us below! Maybe you loved it. That's great. I'd love to hear what you enjoyed about it (if anything).