What Happened This Week?
“Those aren’t Pillows!!!” – Whether the buddy comedy adventure takes place on a Plane, Train, Automobile, or in this case, Spacecraft, Daley Review always calls it a win! This week’s episode, The Orville 105 – Krill, for all it serious implications, follows the hi-jinx filled familiar plots of some of our favorite movies from the 80s, like Spies Like Us, The Blues Brothers, or the aforementioned Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. No points off for creativity though when the result makes us laugh out loud as often as this episode.
Answering a distress call, The Orville finds itself in a firefight with a Krill ship. Complimenting each other’s skill sets, Ed (Seth MacFarlane) outwits and Gordon (Scott Grimes) out-steers the Krill, chalking up a decisive victory. Left with an intact shuttle jettisoned from the wreckage, Admiral Ozawa (Kelly Hu) taps Ed and Gordon to seize this timely opportunity by infiltrating the Krill and learning more about a culture who fiercely retains their religious beliefs alongside their advanced technology.
Life As a Krill
Transformed by Isaac’s (Mark Jackson) holographic tech into “Chris” & “Devon”, Ed & Gordon struggle to blend into Krill life. Cringing through a Krill worship service (complete with a psycho inspired “wee, wee, wee” moment on a severed human head), they manage to photograph pages of the Krill’s Holy Ankanha before stumbling upon a bigger mission. They discover a prototype neutron-radiation bomb pointed at farming colony Rana 3.
War is Hell
Unnerved by the Krill teacher Teylana’s (Michaela McManus) explaination that,“Humans have no soul,” Ed sets his sights on a plan to save the Krill children while eliminating the threat of the bomb. While Ed hustles to secure the children, Gordon smacks right into the Grand Pooba of the Krill, Haros (Dylan Kenin). Haros’ goons drag Gordon off, but not before he can set the timer on “Operation Skin Cancer”. If using UV rays to fry the ship’s adult Krill doesn’t inspire you to reach for your sunscreen, nothing will. Despite a dagger wound to his “brand new leg”, Gordon shoots down the neutron bomb and saves Rana 3 both families & single people alike.
What’s New This Week?
Aliens – The Krill
Beyond being the thorn in the Union’s proverbial paw, “Krill” brings up the literary concept: The Other. As essayist Sarah Rismyhr Engelund explains, “in some way we are all ‘other’ to someone.” Michael Foucult points out that when we “other” another group, we point out their perceived weaknesses to make ourselves look stronger or better. We see this happening throughout the episode. Specifically, when Admiral Ozawa speaks about the Krill, the way Krill culture depicts humans, and Malloy’s finding every possible opportunity to make the Krill’s god, Avis, as common as your local rental car company, we feel the gap between cultures intentionally widen.
The beauty of The Krill is that they can represent any religious or cultural group that the viewer feels is foreign, inferior or intimidating to themselves. This “othering” of the Krill makes them the perfect ongoing enemy for The Orville. They should occupy that spot in The Orville normally held by Klingons and Romulans in Star Trek shows past and present. We don’t believe MacFarlane meant for the Krill to parallel or stand-in for any specific group from modern times. He and his creative team designed a great easy-to-understand, yet hard-to-coexist-with enemy.
Mini holographic Generators – Isaac created human sized versions of the holographic projector he used earlier this season to disguise Ed and Gordon for their covert mission. These projectors alter the appearance of the wearer and mask their life-signs to fool scanners. In addition to looking different, the wearer seemed to gain the additional material volume of the alien’s features and uniforms. One aspect of the mission left us with a questionable aspect of the tech though: Why can Ed and Gordon use, understand, and read everything that is another species language?
Although not specifically stated, we assume something about either their uniforms or the holographic projectors uses universal translation software. This makes the whole, “Why do the Krill speak English?” part of the show work much better than the tiny likelihood of the two species speaking the same language. Basically, we’re saying that some kind of unmentioned tech handles translations of what they see and hear on the fly, while also translating what they say back to the aliens into their language. Yes, actually seeing this tech would make us more comfortable, but using this assumption until we do will work for this reviewing team.
The only named new characters to survive this episode are from the second doomed Krill ship. Ed and Gordon rescued the kids, Teylana, the ship’s teacher, and Coja, one of her students, after their plan successfully killed the rest of the crew. The Planetary Union agreed to send Coja and the other students back home to their families, but we think we might see Coja again. Teylana alluded to the idea that Ed’s act of mercy probably created a batch of rabid Planetary Union enemies just waiting for their turn to fight. Coja could meet our crew again in some future season, but as a combatant.
Teylana’s fate, on the other hand, wasn’t spelled out. We saw her in sickbay under Alara’s authority, so although her prisoner status is clear, her future role is not. The Orville doesn’t seem like the kind of ship or mission to drag around a war prisoner just on the off chance we meet the Krill again and need her help. A transfer to a Planetary Union secured facility makes the most sense, but also makes the least potential dramatic impact on future episodes. Time will tell, but we bet we see Teylana again before too long.
How Was This Episode?
This week, Seth MacFarlane passed the writing pen to David Goodman, veteran writer of Star Trek: Enterprise, Family Guy, and Futurama. We noticed the difference. We have loved Seth’s episodes, so don’t misunderstand. However, something about the flow of this episode and the smooth integration of the jokes worked better than past episodes. Seth’s comedy style seems adapted from the sitcom, wait for the laugh style used in Family Guy and American Dad. The result in The Orville‘s one hour format made many jokes feel forcefully inserted rather than like organic conversation. In this episode, it’s like the writers agreed to let Scott Grimes loose and deal with the consequences. Without knowing how much of what we saw was scripted versus ad-libbed, we can’t say for sure who deserves credit. We just know it worked.
Star Trek Parallels?
In The Enterprise Incident, Kirk undergoes cosmetic surgery to infiltrate a Romulan ship. Except for that one element, the two episodes really don’t have much else in common. Again, the creative team continues to step away from their inspirational progenitors to make their own story. By most accounts, their results out-“Trek” the -actual- Star Trek series on TV these days.
It looks like we have an extra week to wait for the next Orville episode. In the meantime, maybe we’ll catch up on Discovery and see what people are so upset about…
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