What Happened This Week?
In this week’s episode, The Orville 109 – Cupid’s Dagger, upstages the serious stakes of interplanetary war with the return of Darulio (Rob Lowe). You remember Darulio, right? He’s the blue, slime-expelling marriage-destroyer from the opening scene of the entire show. He’s also the only forensic archaeologist in the galaxy with the background they need to complete a tricky diplomatic mission. TV uses the spectar of the returning meddlesome former lover all the time, but here, MacFarlane puts his amusing, alien pheromone-laced spin on it.
The Backdrop of Conflict
The conflict that created the opportunity for the reunion Ed (Seth MacFarlane) and Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) never wanted takes place on Lopovius. Two races, the Navarians and the Bruidians, both lay claim to the planet as theirs to colonize. When the discovery of a DNA-infused birthing bucket brings both races to the negotiation table, the Orville gets called in to facilitate. We could have waited just one more song at karaoke night though. Bortus (Peter Macon) singing “My Heart Will Go On” would have been classic.
Conflicts abound aboard the Orville as she received her visitors. Ed and Kelly feel old wounds surfaced again when the only man in the galaxy with the background to solve the Lopovian DNA riddle arrived. We liked how Alara (Halston Sage), basically the savior of this episode, noticed and tried to intervene in Darulio’s arrival. She kept her eye on the charismatic interloper all episode long, so it made sense when she stepped up later.
Ed dubs Kelly a “sexual jihadist” when he caught her in bed (again) with Darulio instead of greeting combative delegates in the shuttle bay. Given the revelation about Darulio’s foreknowledge regarding his contagious horniness, Ed had the right terminology, but applies it to the wrong person. Tips for the viewer came when Kelly described her attraction to Darulio as a rush and like a drug.
Too bad for Ed that he decided to fire Darulio in person. He was well on track until Darulio convinced him to look through his microscope. After that, Ed’s side-trip into temporary same-sex relations veered from its previous presumably heterosexual course. MacFarlane, rarely actually lauded by critics for his acting ability, performed remarkably as a man suddenly overwhelmed by attraction to another person. The discussion Ed has with Malloy (Scott Grimes) describing his attraction to Darulio mirrors Kelly and Alara’s.
File this Under WTF!?!
The bizarre tale of Yaphit’s obsession with Dr. Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) sailed into uncharted waters this episode. Although she rebuffed his latest advance, she eventually succumbed to his charms. Although Kelly’s instant re-infatuation and Ed’s sudden warming with Darulio felt fishy, the doctor’s polymorphic seduction gave away the show’s unseen influence. None of her previous treatment toward the blob indicated anything besides revulsion at the idea of dating him. She behaved so out of character, we immediately called Darulio’s presence into question as the reason.
With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility
Ultimately, the peaceful resolution to the episode would not have been possible without Darulio. Once Alara confronted Darulio, he came clean about his species’ pheromones. (We knew we smelled a rat!) The Bruidians and Navarians lost faith in the process thanks to the ship’s distracted command staff. Their respective fleets arrive over Lopovius, trading shots without much provocation. Only Darulio’s unique approach to diplomacy brought the fighting to an end. Using some behind-closed-doors pheromone-charged shenanigans, Darulio, Isaac (Mark Jackson), and Nurse Park (Gavin Lee) get the Navarian and Bruidian delegates to call off their fleets. Because they suddenly love each other.
As a way to tie up the temporary fix into something more permanent, the DNA in the birthing bucket belonged to both species. Hopefully, a common ancestor will lead the way to peaceful co-existence on Lopovius.
What’s New This Week?
Navarians – These aliens feature mottled, bluish skin and bony, semi-circular cranial outcroppings. Roughly human-sized, the Navarian delegates displayed a regal and somewhat pompous bearing.
Bruidians – The Bruidians stood taller than both humans and Navarians. They kept a perfectly coiffed main over their grayish skin. When potential conflict arose, the Bruidians pulled their blades, appearing more physical and barbaric than their adversaries.
Retepsians – Blue-skinned and slime-expelling, these aliens’ culture considers it rude to turn down sexual acts. Annually, these aliens also go into heat, making them irresistible to anyone that touches them. Their liberated culture seems to engender remorselessness for their sexually predatory behavior.
Darulio – Retepsian forensic archaeologist. Marriage killer. True sexual jihadist.
Nurse Park – Never-before-featured background player and member of Dr. Finn’s staff. Synthesized Darulio’s pheromones for use during the negotiations. Let’s hope we see more of this creative, effective character.
How Was This Episode?
After last week’s nearly laugh-free episode, MacFarlane returned to what he does best: generating laughs at the risk of offending people.
Although they had grown distant, Kelly’s act of infidelity actually ended the marriage. Now, with everyone’s knowledge of Darulio’s pheromones AND his partial admission that he -may- have been in heat during their tryst, viewers have to wonder: Can Ed forgive her knowing that she had been chemically altered by Darulio? Or, can he hold her actions against her when they were influenced by Darulio? What do you think?
As far as we are concerned, Darulio is a sex criminal who knowingly manipulated others into falling in love and ultimately having sex with him. His disregard for the effects of these acts: breaking up a marriage, wreaking havoc in a workplace, and almost causing all out war had us referencing the stories that seem to fill our news feeds currently. It seems even centuries from now, the universe remains filled with opportunists happy to use their power to sexually dominate others.
For anyone thinking MacFarlane had no intent of drawing parallels to current events, think again. He does it all the time, in any venue. Check out this article in Newsweek detailing his most notorious “jokes” about real-life Darulios in our world. If you’re not the link clicking sort, allow us to sum up:
- 2012 Family Guy – jokes about Brett Ratner buying women (Ratner has since been accused of harassing multiple women)
- 2012 Oscars – jokes about supporting actress nominees no longer needing to feign attraction to Harvey Weinstein (Weinstein’s life is in tatters since dozens of women have come forward)
- 2005 Family Guy – Stewie tells a crowd that he’s just escaped from Kevin Spacey’s basement (Spacey has been accused of misconduct with a minor recently)
And What About That?
A complicating question arises from the episode’s climax. The crew of the Orville took advantage of Darulio’s chemical influence to convince the delegates to make peace. On the one hand, the pheromones have injured many crew members’ lives. On the other, they’re all complicit in doing the same to the aliens. Is this OK? Would these actions survive an ethics board review? Let us know you think.
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