What Happened This Week?
This week, Star Trek Voyager alum, Robert Duncan MacNeill (Lt. Tom Paris), directed episode 102, entitled “Command Performance”. As sci-fans, we always enjoy seeing the cross-pollination of one property over into another when it works as well as this. By having MacNeill and other Trek directors work on the Orville, Seth MacFarlane can help foster that “Trekkie” feeling he wants, while focusing on what he does best (the funny stuff). If this week’s episode can provide any proof, the plan works!
Again, this week as in the pilot, the script borrows story elements from recognizable Trek sources. The original, unaired pilot for Star Trek was used as part of a two-part episode later in the first season called “The Menagerie”. At it’s core, the story revolved around an alien race that was cool with keeping other sentient beings in a zoo for their own amusement. Sound familiar?
What’s New This Week?
The episode kicks off with Bortus (Peter Macon) requesting time off to brood over the egg he and his mate Klyden have conceived. As mentioned in the pilot, Bortus (and Klyden) are both members of the all-male Moclan race. Although he might be hard to recognize under all that make-up, but Walking Dead alum Chad Coleman plays Klyden. We only catch a short glimpse of Klyden, so we know little about him. He’s on-board the Orville, but is he in the service? He wasn’t wearing a uniform. The show hasn’t revealed anything about Star Trek: TNG-like policies for having families on board just yet. My bet is that Klyden is a civilian.
To an extent, Isaac (Mark Jackson) counts a lot like a new character this week. Although he considers himself superior to the rest of the Orville’s crew, he came through in the clutch with both creativity and a willingness to follow the orders of his captain. We still don’t trust him completely, due to all that “I’m better than everyone” stuff. However, Isaac proved himself a very capable officer this week.
The red-skinned Calivon race starred as the villain of the week. Continuing with the Star Trek and to some extent Star Wars influences on the show, the writers will paint entire races with a single brush. In this case, the Calivon, not unlike Isaac’s own Kaylon race, consider the human race too primitive for consideration above any status other than as a pet. Their arrogance renders them weak as they don’t account for creativity as an asset among lesser races, though. We doubt we will run into Calivon as true villains in episodes to come. We may meet them and even cross paths with them, but they don’t mean us any harm. They don’t care about us at all.
A LOT of Facebook chatter this past week, at least among the Star Trek converts, related to how much of the venerable reference material’s iconic technology would The Orville “borrow”. We got a couple firm answers from the show this week.
Replicators (or Synthesizers)
Millenials may call this device whatever term The Orville tells us it is, but anyone born before The Matrix came out will call them replicators. These devices create food and probably other objects out of thin air (or from some kind of all purpose, reconfigurable matter) for the crew’s consumption. Since we’ve really only scene the replicators produce pot-brownies and alcoholic drinks, perhaps that’s all the Orville’s replicators are good for. That would be quite a deviation from the Roddenberry-esque, idealistic original intent, but decidedly MacFarlane-ian. Can’t wait to find out if these things can make actual food, too.
What an interesting way to hedge the reveal of this familiar device! So much speculation about the absence of transporters in the pilot occurred this week, you couldn’t even imagine. This week, we get our transporters, BUT no one on board has seen anything like it before! The technology belongs to the advanced Calivon race and we doubt they will share it. A slight change from Star Trek‘s transporters though: Given that the Orville spent any amount of time travelling faster than light to get there, Calivon transporter range dwarfs the orbit-to-surface range of Starfleet’s technology.
How Was the Episode?
First, let’s confirm that thing you noticed but couldn’t identify about Alara (Halston Sage) this week. It’s true. In addition to a new confidence in command, she now has eyebrows.
Overall, we judged this episode as a step forward from the pilot. Pilots provide a starting point, but like adding aesthetically pleasing eyebrows, changes usually need implementing. As mentioned in our first review, this show’s success depends on balancing the jokes with the serious sci-fi action. We could tell, the writers tweaked some things from week one and got closer to the mark.
Who else wants to see what it will be like when Ed’s (Seth MacFarlane) REAL parents show up? The parents we saw were built from his memories made into holographic projections. The real ones will have all NEW ways to embarrass Ed in front of the crew. Can’t wait. Seth could have pushed his discomfort with them a little further, but overall his, “Let’s just go over there so no one else hears them over the comm system,” plan worked as a funny way to shut them up. A little forced, but forgivable.
While Ed and Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) annoyed each other in captivity, Alara had to figure out what to do. Did anyone else find the change from the confident superhero of the first episode to this nervous Nelly to be a little off-putting? Was her behavior in the pilot all bravado and the vomiting alcohol-crutch needing post-teenager her actual true self? Eventually, with the help of Dr. Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald), Alara made the tough call to rescue the captain and XO and came out of the ordeal more confident. The question remains though. Will she remain cool under pressure or revert back to what we saw in the beginning of this episode?
The “C” storyline from the show – Bortus and Klyden’s female offspring – takes us into familiar AND uncharted waters all at once. Star Trek fans, especially from the Brannon Braga shows, will know that the characters had definite arcs. Some were given more exposure than others, like Data and his pursuit of humanity, but most characters were allowed to grow, date, change career paths in some cases… In short, we’re used to it. Taking The Orville as its own entity though, we’ve been told several times that Moclans are an all-male race. This week’s “C” story could have a major impact on episodes to come as Bortus, Klyden, and most likely Ed try to cope with how to handle what would be a species-redefining development. Chances of the Moclan people keeping absolutely quiet about this development: 0%.
We’re all looking forward to next week. Please let us know if you have any answers to our questions, OR if you have any questions for us!
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