What Happened This Week?
This week’s episode explores “New Dimensions” in both space and character development. The Orville 111 gave us a little bit of everything: a good adventure, movement in the crew, old secrets revealed, and definite momentum toward the season finale and next season. Rather than coast into the end of the season, MacFarlane and the other writers gave us a meaty episode that moved the story.
So Long, Newton
We got started at Chief Engineer Newton’s (Larry Joe Campbell) going away reception. Malloy (Scott Grimes), Lamarr (J. Lee), and possible crew regular Dann (Mike Henry) conspired to get an unwitting crew member to eat a piece of Yaphit (Norm MacDonald). Their plan came to fruition in Bortus’ (Peter Macon) guts. Later in sickbay and after a bizarre and somehow TV-legal tentacle-porn session, Yaphit retrieved his missing piece.
Given the stupidity of the prank, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) decided to throw the book at Malloy and Lamarr. While adding a reprimand to Lamarr’s file, she discovered his hidden intellectual aptitudes. Who saw that coming? Not us. A reversal like this was probably the best way to redeem the character though. So far, the simple facade he’d projected since his days on the agricultural colony had convinced us there really wasn’t much to the guy. Consider us fooled.
Kelly then decided to make Lamarr her project. Ed (Seth MacFarlane) prudently rejected her initial request to promote the trouble-prone navigator to Chief Engineer based solely on his aptitude. During their discussion, Kelly revealed something the audience has known since the pilot. Kelly admitted she had a hand in Ed’s appointment to the Orville. This shook Ed’s confidence to its core and made him pretty whiny whenever he was around Kelly after that.
When part of the ship passed through a herbicidal and quantum-drive disabling space anomaly, an opportunity for Kelly arose. She convinced Ed to assign Lamarr to lead the investigation into what happened. Before they can figure it out, a stubborn Horbalak weapons smuggler died after charging his ship straight through the anomaly. His condition coupled with readings Lamarr and Isaac uncovered the truth. The anomaly was actually a pocket dimension of two dimensional space.
The crew had no time study the dimension properly before they needed to use it to hide from approaching Krill ships in search of the Horbalak and their missing weapons. Using Lamarr’s idea of a “quantum bubble” to keep the ship three dimensional in two dimensional space, the Orville entered Flatland.
While watching, Ed made his connection to the sci-fi classic about 5 seconds after we made the same connection. If you have a spare couple hours, you should check the book out if you found the pocket dimension portion of the show interesting. You can’t really compare the book to anything written recently. The narrative splits between a lengthy description of Flatland society and the adventure of one 2D character encountering someone from the 3D world. From his perspective, he essentially meets something so far beyond his understanding that it might as well be God. I’ll let you find out how it works out for him after that.
Back aboard the Orville, Ed and Lamarr, our two characters having a crisis of confidence, pair up to tow the ship out of the pocket dimension. Using a shuttle, a small, unreliable quantum bubble, and a tractor beam, the pair drags the Orville back into regular space and away from the danger of the Krill ships.
After returning to the ship, a bloody-nosed Ed had a lot to do. He made things right with Kelly by apologizing and owning up to his whininess. He also gave Lamarr a promotion in rank and the position of Chief Engineer.
What’s New This Week?
Horbalaks: The pattern of space-faring TV shows painting entire non-human species with a single brush will probably render the entire Horbalak race as smugglers, criminals, gun-runners, and generally nasty beings for the life of the show. That’s pretty harsh based on one alien’s vocation, but here we are. In the future, when your hear Horbalak, you’re probably not supposed to feel warm and fuzzy.
Dann: With Lamarr’s transfer to engineering, we can expect to see a new red-shirted regular or two next season. One of them, we’ve already met. Dann (Mike Henry), the bulbous headed, furniture refinishing, pancake devouring alien responsible for putting music in the elevators, works in engineering. For two episodes of screen time, we already know quite a bit about the newest member of Malloy and Lamarr’s clique. Count on seeing this guy a lot next year.
How Was This Episode?
Even though we’ve never used a numerical scale in our reviews, we think you’ll understand when we give this one a solid 8. We had two characters struggling past personal hang-ups alongside a mystery and an adventure. Those characters made good progress along important arcs. Episodes with departing characters (Engineer Newton) and promotions (Lamarr LT to LT CMDR) occur infrequently, so it will stand out for that even if the details of the 2D pocket dimension fade from memory.
This episode had a couple moments Star Trek fans should have recognized. We really appreciated how the MacFarlane crew took on the idea of a pet cat (remember, Data had one), and turned it on its ear by making Malloy into Isaac’s chosen pet instead. Also, anyone else recall another time bridge crew was promoted to Chief Engineer? We do. Instead of focusing on the parallel to Geordi LaForge’s promotion, let’s focus on the side effects. We’ll now have main characters on the bridge and in Engineering, plus new supporting characters.
Predicting the Future
One new character will have to be a new navigator. Who do you see in that role? We’ve discussed and settled on a near-human, highly capable, attractive woman. A woman so awesome, that she draws Ed attention away from Kelly. The plot thread of Ed and Kelly reuniting feels like it’s tying itself up soon, so the introduction of a new player in the game should get some more mileage out of that will-they or won’t-they plot. What do you think?
Even though we’ve still got a finale, this episode has given us a lot to look forward to.
Isaac: “Are we… bonding?” (while petting Malloy’s arm)
Bortus: “I will not all allow you inside me!”
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