The Orville

"Into the Fold"

1.5 stars

Air date: 11/2/2017
Written by Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
Directed by Brannon Braga

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

It seems fitting that the first script credited to Voyager alums Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis involves a Shuttle Crash™. It's a shuttle crash that, from the looks of it, should've left everyone aboard, with the possible exception of Isaac, quite dead. The tail end of the shuttle even breaks off, like the plane in Lost. This leaves our crash survivors separated from each other.

Specifically, this leaves Dr. Claire Finn separated from her two young sons (we learn here that she's a single mother by choice), who are protected by Isaac, who must play the role of Dad to the two kids, Marcus and Ty (BJ Tanner and Kai Di'Nilo Wener), who — let's be honest — are pretty damn annoying. (Yes, kids can be annoying. I know this. I have two of them. That doesn't make it easier to watch annoying kids on TV.)

The shuttle crashes in the first place because the two are fighting over a game device that hits the shuttle's console and sends it careening off crazily. (The shuttle goes through a "spatial fold" that sends it 1,000 light-years away before crashing on a planet, but the spatial fold, strangely, becomes utterly irrelevant to the story.) The idea of a shuttle going wildly out of control because a kid's toy hits the controls is one of those goofy comic things you might accept as "plausible" in a story that is pitched as goofy, but this feels like pretty weak sauce.

Besides, "Into the Fold" isn't even goofy. It's played completely straight, and unfortunately, that's part of the problem. This is probably Orville's biggest clunker so far because it's so utterly pedestrian. It's a lifeless crash/survival/kidnap/rescue story that has an absentee plot, and characterization that, while not terrible, is mundane. Penny Johnson Jerald carries her scenes with aplomb, but those scenes involve being dragged away by one of the locals (Brian Thompson) and thrown in a cell with very little information. The only reason she's put there is so she can be menaced and later escape. That's it.

The character bits of the story involve (1) showing Finn's survival skills and (2) showing Isaac come to learn the value of temporarily parenting two kids who are now under his watch. Neither of these stories did much of anything for me. The Isaac material is a pretty obvious take on "robot learns human ways" and suffers from cornball dialogue. Meanwhile, Finn is stranded in a story that feels like the writers didn't even finish it. We learn the planet's population suffers from a mass sickness because of a devastating war that has poisoned the water supply, leading to "cannibalism and chaos." But we're given no explanation for why Finn is being held prisoner. Her captor says it's for her "safety," but she, and we, don't believe him. (In tangentally related news, the universal translator apparently does exist on this show.)

When she cleverly escapes her cell with the tool she conveniently finds that allows her to pry the conveniently loose panel off her cell wall, she kills her captor. She's then followed through the forest by dozens more of the natives. Why do they follow her? No clue. Maybe they want to eat her. The Orville crew, after sending a rescue shuttle, shoots them all down in a gratuitous, boring "action" scene that can be roughly described as "pew pew pew." You'd think a story involving a planet-wide disease and our hero doctor would somehow naturally combine those pieces into something about her curing them, or helping them, or something. Nope. Maybe the writers were trying to subvert expectations. But the result feels like homework that was turned in half-finished.

Sometimes I am confused by the rating and target audience for this show. Every episode of this series has been rated TV-14, even though a great deal of this, when we don't have dick or glory-hole jokes, is really TV-PG. The violence is ever-so-slightly harder than the Trek days of yesteryear (Finn stabbing her captor, for example), but not really by much. Meanwhile, the stories themselves feel like they are aimed at older kids. Certainly this one doesn't feel sophisticated. It's a weird straddling of the fence that's perplexing. I'm not sure what I'm even saying here; it's just an observation.

But then "Into the Fold" has me struggling for observations.

Previous episode: Majority Rule
Next episode: Cupid's Dagger

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85 comments on this review

Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 9:33pm (UTC -6)
I'm very torn on this episode.

On one hand the plot was very generic and on the nose. I kept waiting for a twist that never came, as in fact the infected, cannibal-seeming natives probably were insane cannibals. The guy who "rescued" Dr. Finn was given no development - we didn't even get to find out if he was really a bad guy or just keeping her captive out of loneliness. He was brutally murdered by Dr. Finn regardless, which I suppose is something that Trek would never have had the guts to do. And of course everything to get them out of their predicament was wrapped up in the final few acts, because of course it had to be.

However, the plot exists for one reason alone, which is to provide character development to Isaac, Dr. Finn, and to a lesser extent her sons (who presumably will now be recurring characters). Here I thought the show hit it out of the park, giving not only the best character moments in the series to date, but some of the best character moments in science fiction TV since DS9. The acting was superb as well. Penny Johnson never really blew my hair back as Kasidy Yates, but her performance here is dramatically better. The guy who plays Isaac (Mark Jackson) is great as well, considering he has nothing but his voice and things like hand gestures to work with. Even the kids seemed fine as characters, which is something TV often screws up.

As a final aside, I noticed this episode was not written by Seth McFarlane. In fact it was written by Bannon Braga and Andre Bormanis! Helps to explain why the humor quotient was so low in this episode.
Dobber
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 9:40pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Karl. On another note, the Orville has been renewed for season two :)
PerryP
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 9:41pm (UTC -6)
There will be some episodes that are flat. I give this a 2.75 out of four. There are some visuals that makes it like one in a million for odds of survival.

Odds of survival:
1) a son throwing an electronic game onto the front consoles. (I would imagine that they have shields or safety nets in the cargo ship by that century for the sake of kids safety).
2) A cargo ship splitting in half.
3) Children mom finding an escape route to outside of building. What if the door was locked next door. :(

There are some interesting takes with the characters and I think it works out in the end. The aliens seems to be in disarray throughout the episode so I'm betting big on the upcoming episode next week.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
A strange episode.

I pretty much agree with Karl (on both counts). Good character work, but there were huge pacing issues. At times the episode really dragged, especially during the second half.

And that's a real shame, because the story itself is very good. I also don't recall we ever had such a family story on Star Trek, which is another definite plus. It really looks like the Orville is finding its unique voice in these last few episodes.

Also, this episode has a Yaphit scene which is actually funny (and not obnoxious at all). I never thought I'd see the day...

Continuity Nitpick: In "If the Stars Should Appear" it was established that Finn is afraid of heights. She didn't seem to have any problem with it here.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 10:56pm (UTC -6)
Oh, and I forgot one thing:

I just learned that this episode was written (and directed!) by Brannon Braga. This must be the first ever Braga-written episode with no crazy sci fi high concept, isn't it?
Dobber
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 11:26pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Unless you count the "glory hole" :p
Lobster Johnson
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 11:44pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

That depends on if we're counting the Glory Hole (lol)
MIster P
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 12:16am (UTC -6)
This show works best as an ensemble, but in this episode they separated everyone. The best lines were (as always) comments made on the bridge. (glory hole.) I got tired of the bratty kids pretty quickly at he beginning. I'd say it was the second weakest episode so far, just above "Nosedive."
Shane
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 12:22am (UTC -6)
As has been said above I'm conflicted. I enjoyed the character development with Isaac and it was nice to see Claire featured. But I did not like Claire killing two people right before teaching her older son the value of life. Also, shuttle crash, ugh. Give this episode another run through the writers room and I think it'd be improved immensely.
Dixie
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 12:34am (UTC -6)
The plot here is extremely familiar, and fairly bare-bones. We've got the reliable old chestnut of 'shuttle crashes on an alien planet' and the crew being forced to survive. Under normal circumstances this would be a recipe for an entirely dull, by-the-numbers filler plot. Instead we get an exceptional character piece developing Claire and Isaac.

Claire here manages to be resourceful and determined in a dire situation while still managing to come across as appropriately desperate. Seeing her slowly figure out a plan is engaging and her ultimate escape is hard earned. And seeing Isaac not only grow to tolerate, but even become protective of Claire's children is extremely satisfying. Here the fact that the setup is so familiar and stripped down works in the episode's favor - it's just there as a canvas for the character-driven plot, and never draws away from it.

The crash sequence was well done (and I love that the shuttle actually, properly crashes instead of just plopping down completely intact in a field like in so many Trek episodes) and the big shootout at the end made for a solid action piece without feeling like it was tacked on. For me, however, the absolute highlight was the Tale of Peter Rabbit sequence; the sentiment felt very genuine and the editing between the storytelling around the campfire and Claire's predicament worked really well.

Also we're apparently confirmed for Season Two. I look forward to hopefully seeing more episodes of this caliber.
SlackerInc
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 5:13am (UTC -6)
Nice review, @Dixie. I don’t think I liked it quite as much as you did, but better than some others did; it’s a solid three out of four star outing for me.

I actually teared up a bit at the end. Which was funny, because at the beginning of the episode, I cracked up over “Would you like me to vaporize them for you?”

@Karl Zimmerman: “The guy who ‘rescued’ Dr. Finn was given no development - we didn't even get to find out if he was really a bad guy or just keeping her captive out of loneliness. He was brutally murdered by Dr. Finn regardless, which I suppose is something that Trek would never have had the guts to do.”

Yeah, I think he was exactly what he seemed, and that is a little dark. I mean, what he did was wrong--but not so wrong as to deserve to die. But what choice did she have?

It does continue the trend of being derivative, or at least coincidentally seeming so, as there is a strong parallel with the John Goodman role in “10 Cloverfield Lane”.
Konstantinos
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 5:38am (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Man, Bannon Braga is possibly my favorite 'Voyager" writer (along with Joe Menosky who didi a good job on DISCO). Wish they had let him loose without any reset buttons, especially on big episodes like "year of Hell". I do think that even stupid "Threshold" could have been decent if they had taken out the quick ending and given it more time to develop its own weirdness.
Yanks
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 7:50am (UTC -6)
Wow, someone says something good about Braga? I thought I was the only one. :-)

The very first thing I thought of when this episode revealed it self to be about a shuttle accident with kids and a "logic guy" was Voyager's "Innocence".

I like the Issac character and think Mark Jackson does a great job with the part. This episode only bolsters that opinion.

Is there no discipline for children in this universe? ... or is this episode supposed to depict that a mother can't do it alone without a father? Sure, they learn a lesson during the events of this episode, but damn... from lipping off to mother w/swearing), to acting like hooligans... I was annoyed. Little over the top here.

But other than that, I enjoyed this one. Probably the biggest amount of acting meat Penny has ever been given in Trek or here and I think she gobbled it up nicely.

I wish they could have revisited the planet at the end and helped the folks there. I would have liked to see her heal Drogen (Brian Thompson). But I know you can only put so much in one episode.

I didn't think anyone was an idiot in this episode. Very refreshing after the last one.

Surprisingly, I felt something for someone on this show at the end of this episode. I didn't think 'The Orville' was ever going to get there.

Solid 3 star effort here.
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:10am (UTC -6)
Yanks -

Speaking as a parent, I felt the portrayal of parenting was much more realistic in this episode than it ever was in Trek. Although popular parenting culture would have you believe that there's a "right" way to make kids compliant and well-behaved, my experience (having two children who are quite different in many ways) is kids have their own personalities evident from toddlerhood and some of them are just naturally like that no matter what you do.
Pocket University
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:19am (UTC -6)
Maybe the stun setting remark was a hint that she felt guilty about the killings? She had a gun so presumably she stabbed him first hoping that would be enough to make a getaway without him coming after her. She clearly saw he cared about her welfare as that was crucial to her plan working.

@Konstantinos: Nothing could have saved "Threshold". Aside from the conceptual problems of the whole instant evolution/de-evolution premise, without some fatuous cop-out or just ignoring the issue entirely discovering a drive system that can instantly go anywhere in the universe ends the series.

@SlackerInc: The parallel with 10 Cloverfield Lane was the first thing that came to my mind. As for the second thing...has anyone here watched the anime series Galaxy Express 999? I keep noticing things here and there that seem to recall bits of it, particularly the landing on Moclis in "About a Girl" and the "frying" scene in "Krill". And "10 Cloverfield"-style morally ambiguous captors were practically a dime a dozen in that show.
philadlj
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:29am (UTC -6)
I've been watching the first season of TOS for the first time parallel to both Discovery and The Orville. By happy coincidence, the TOS episode I watched just before "Into the Fold" was..."The Galileo Seven!"

The first Shuttle Crash episode (and just the second episode with an acutal shuttle in it, following "The Menagerie") also involves a strict, logical commander who's not great with emotions having to keep a couple of overly emotional comrades in check, and a mothership trying to find a needle in a haystack with the clock ticking.

While "Seven" was filmed on a familiar soundstage, I appreciated "The Orville" getting back outside. It's unlikely this was intentional, but the environment where they crashed reminded of the California forest near Mount Whitney that was the setting of "The Ascent", one of my favorite DS9 episodes.

I'll also point out that I watched the low-key CGI-enhanced version of "Seven" on Netflix, and seeing the shuttles launch from the Enterprise's shuttlebay, as well as the full majesty of that quasar, really did enhance the viewing experience. I daresay the Galileo, despite being designed to accomodate a low budget, looked better than the Orville's too-cute-for-my-taste design!

I really enjoyed both episodes, with "Seven" serving as the benchmark/genesis of this kind of episode and "Fold" as its latest reimagining. I'm always of the mind that rehashing a cliche is perfectly fine as long as it's well-executed, adds a new wrinkle somewhere, and most importantly, is fun and entertaining, and "Fold" succeeded on all fronts.

I'd give it an 8/10, or 3.5/4 on Jammer's rating scale.
philadlj
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:32am (UTC -6)
I'll also add "Into the Fold" is probably The Orville's best episode title so far.
MiaBN
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:05am (UTC -6)
I thought it was a wonderful episode. It was funny as hell without being over the top. The Isaac and the kids parts were my favorite. I loved how Isaac was beyond blunt with them (your mother is likely dead, the intellectually stunted one, never speak of the game again).

I wish they had made Dr. Finn at least make an attempt to save her captor, even if it was to leave him wounded and return with the crew to find him dead. He had some ambiguous motives, but he did save her life, and she should have expressed a bit of remorse or acted upset at killing him. But he was standing between mama bear and her babies, and that can elicit some stone cold murderous instincts in a parent. I just wish she'd acted a bit more disturbed at what she had felt she had to do

4.5/5 for the poor follow up on the murder, otherwise it was absolutely great.
Tomalak
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:58am (UTC -6)
This was the first Orville episode I've really disliked. I'm very surprised by the positive comments above.

"We've got the reliable old chestnut of 'shuttle crashes on an alien planet' and the crew being forced to survive. Under normal circumstances this would be a recipe for an entirely dull, by-the-numbers filler plot."

Isn't this exactly what we did get?
longtime Trekkie
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:58am (UTC -6)
@Omicron -- actually, I thought that Finn looked liked she was very scared to be so high up on the ledge. I saw that and wondered, "is she afraid of heights?" having forgotten that this was actually established in an earlier episode.
philadlj
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 11:09am (UTC -6)
Regarding Finn's choice to stab and shoot her captors and leaving them to die -

I don't think she had much choice! Brian Thompson (veteran player of hulking baddies on Trek, as well as the Alien Bounty Hunter in X-Files), the actor playing her captor, is 6'3" and well over 200 pounds.

The guy is HUGE, and she needed to stop him quickly and decisively in order to escape, so her options were extremely limited. If she had had her Union phaser I'm sure she would have stunned him and the other(s)...but she didn't.
MiaBN
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 11:33am (UTC -6)
@philadlj
I certainly agree that if she wanted to leave immediately, she basically had to assault him or kill him to do it. I don't think the guy had all his marbles. I mainly object to the doctor, a healer, being all smiles afterward. Maybe her comment that 'they don't care about life, but we do' was her way of reinforcing her battered self image after killing two locals. Honestly, they could have fixed all of this with just a few seconds of her looking shocked at what she did, or saying something like, 'Dammit, I was just trying to stop you, not kill you,' or even just a shot of her looking out the window looking troubled, like Picard at the end of BoBW.
philadlj
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
@MiaBN - Agree that they could have added a beat in there somewhere illustrating Finn's regret at having to kill.
Yanks
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 1:37pm (UTC -6)
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Yanks -

"Speaking as a parent, I felt the portrayal of parenting was much more realistic in this episode than it ever was in Trek. Although popular parenting culture would have you believe that there's a "right" way to make kids compliant and well-behaved, my experience (having two children who are quite different in many ways) is kids have their own personalities evident from toddlerhood and some of them are just naturally like that no matter what you do."

I'm a parent too. 5 boys... and I'll agree, they are all different - even if they all come from the same pot :-) I'll also agree that parenting in trek has been pretty "goodie two-shoed" .... Sisko/Jake aside. They did pretty well with those two.

But kids will get away with anything you let them get away with. Clearly, these kids knew Mom was just going to say something... they didn't care. Her warnings had to affect (as mentioned a few times by Issac). Kid's will be kids... sure, but you WILL respect your elders and if any of mine would have ever said something like that to their mother...well, let's just say they wouldn't do it again.
guyman
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
God those kids were annoying. All of the other scenes were great, but I still couldn't stand this episode, and I even love the pilot.
MiaBN
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
"The older, less intelligent one seems to derive pleasure from inflicting damage on his younger, weaker sibling."

Isaac: Where is your counterpart?
Dr. Finn: I don't have a husband.
Isaac: Was he destroyed?
Dr. Finn: No
Isaac: Did you grow to despise each other and terminate your coupling?

"Would you like me to disintegrate them for you?"

After disintegrating the video game, "The game is never to be spoken of again."

"I would surmise that their intent was to consume you."

God, Isaac is a hoot. He's rapidly becoming one of my favorite androids - up there with Data and Marvin.

Captain Mercer was pretty solid in his smaller role this week.
SovietOmega
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
Stop me if you've heard this one. A starship doctor and an advanced technological being form a bond...

Joking aside, despite this episode being a bit too neat and tidy with the plot elements, it was quite nice seeing Isaac get some character development love.

Mertov
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
This episode fell flat for me. Too much of "seen-before."

Penny Johnson's performance (the only strong aspect of this episode in my opinion) can only carry a bland narrative for so long. The kids' acting was exagerated. Some of the dialogues sounded like rehashes of the same-old robot-human dialogues from every Trek other show.

I also believe the idea of having Isaac don a flat tin face with only two round dark-colored glass balls for eyes is a bad decision by the show producers, it certainly shortchanges the actor. Robot or not, in an episode focusing on a character, he/she would be better served if the viewer didn't have to solely rely on the verbal because of non-existant facial features that give zero assistance to character development.
Jammer
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 5:10pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
Guest
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 5:39pm (UTC -6)
@Jammer

Well definitely struck a negative chord, but what did you think of the Isaac jokes specifically?
J.B.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 6:41pm (UTC -6)
One point I do agree with is that shuttle crash should have killed them all. When it hit the planet with that much force, it reminded me vividly of Voyager's impact in "Timeless."
navamske
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 7:01pm (UTC -6)
The best acting I've seen in any incarnation of Star Trek was William Windom's anguished "The third planet" in "The Doomsday Machine." Penny Johnson's anguished "I can't just sit here and watch [her younger son] die" was on a par with that, all the more so because she was repeating something she'd just said. Brava to Ms. Johnson.

Also, I don't advocate or practice violence toward children (or toward anyone), but I really wanted to smack those kids.
PerryP
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
Nice review Jammer! I wanted to add that the story line was very strong and thought that it was one of best episodes just based off that story line. I could bump this to up to 3 out of 4 based on a story line but those pesty annoying kids was a big turnoff for me.
Yanks
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 7:56pm (UTC -6)
Jammer,

Not one mention of Issac? .... probably the best part of this episode.

SlackerInc
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 7:57pm (UTC -6)
@Jammer:
“But we're given no explanation for why Finn is being held prisoner.”

Sure we are. It’s just not spelled out and spoonfed to you--although I thought it was pretty close. Finn tricks her captor into going back to the shuttle crash site by saying an infected cut could kill her, and then sort of sweet-talks into his ear, “then you’d be alone again”. She’s figured out, and we are clearly supposed to understand along with her, that this guy is keeping her because he’s lonely.

Similarly, the “conveniently loose panel” only became loose because she painstakingly spent hours loosening bolts. Were you paying close attention?

@Yanks:
“Is there no discipline for children in this universe? ... or is this episode supposed to depict that a mother can't do it alone without a father? Sure, they learn a lesson during the events of this episode, but damn... from lipping off to mother w/swearing), to acting like hooligans... I was annoyed. Little over the top here.”

You’ve led a blissfully sheltered life if you don’t think what was portrayed is VERY common. (Reading on, I see Karl Zimmerman had a similar input.) Studies show that severe, authoritarian discipline does prevent that kind of open defiance, but it also tends to cause children to have cold and resentful feelings toward their parents rather than warmth, and they often sneak around and do stuff behind their parents’ backs anyway.

@Pocket University:
“Maybe the stun setting remark was a hint that she felt guilty about the killings? She had a gun so presumably she stabbed him first hoping that would be enough to make a getaway without him coming after her.”

No, watch again. She got the gun from him after stabbing him. But you may be right about feeling guilty.

Cool that you thought of “10 Cloverfield Lane” too. Interesting about that anime series. Is it good?

I agree with @longtime Trekkie that they did maintain continuity on the fear of heights. Given that the ledge was not that narrow, a typical TV character would not be so freaked out.

@Philadj:
“The guy is HUGE, and she needed to stop him quickly and decisively in order to escape, so her options were extremely limited. If she had had her Union phaser I'm sure she would have stunned him and the other(s)...but she didn't.”

I think this is a pretty fair point, although you could argue she could have done the classic, knife-to-the-throat “Don’t move, slowly drop your gun to the floor”, etc.

But I think part of what some of us are commenting on is a meta-point: that the writers set up the situation so that it would end with him dead despite his imprisoning but not raping or otherwise physically harming her. That’s, as I said, a bold and unusual, but somewhat dark and disturbing, choice.

@MiaBN: Thanks for reminding me of all the great lines Isaac had. Jammer should have rated it a little higher just for those!
SlackerInc
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:05pm (UTC -6)
Sorry for the double post, but I just thought of something I really wanted to mention about the stabbing. Before she found a knife, she originally was going to clock the guy with a lead pipe or something along those lines. Switching to the knife in the belly is actually a strange choice in some ways, all the more so for a doctor.

On the one hand, it makes it much more likely he will ultimately die (leaving the gun out of it, as she didn't know that part was going to happen). Without medical treatment of any kind, it's going to be tough for him to last more than a few hours or maybe a couple days without a painful death. Whereas getting conked by a blunt object might cave his head in and kill him, but it might just knock him out and leave him more or less okay after he comes to (as long as he doesn't get more concussions within the next week or so, as we now know from football).

Furthermore, whether it kills or just concusses, a strong conk on the noggin is highly likely to take the guy down for the count, giving her the chance to take his gun and get out of there. But the knife to the gut, as we saw, isn't that disabling in the very short term and gets this super huge guy pissed off and ready to kill her.

So the more I think about it, I'm not sure why she made the switch.
Troy
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
DING! The microwave is done. This episode of Star Trek: Voyager is reheated. Still lukewarm, though.
Shane
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 9:05pm (UTC -6)
"...The result feels like homework that was turned in half-finished".

Perfect way to put it and entirely sums up my feelings for the episode.

Not to be mean but I hope Braga doesn't pen too many scripts for The Orville. I know he's friends with Seth MacFarlane so he'll probably stick around for the duration. Maybe team him up with someone who can smooth out the rough edges? (Wouldn't be Andre Bormanis it seems)

Still, this being season one, I think the show is doing just fine!
Trek fan
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
This episode is like the dried feces of Neelix reheated and served in a burrito. I might go 2 stars for the enjoyment of Isaac's character and a little stronger plot for Dr. Finn, but it was still an underwhelming letdown. Like most of "The Orville," there's a lack of originality here, as the return of Braga and Bormanis to a shuttle crash plot (I read online that Voyager lost up to 17 shuttles in 7 seasons -- how many did they bring to the Delta Quadrant??) for the purpose of generating artificial drama feels particularly uninspired here.

The stupidity of the kids causing the crash, the undeveloped Zombie apocalypse plot where the crew doesn't give two figs about helping the victims at the end, and the sudden recovery of Finn's son (so the Orville DOES have a cure? Are they not sharing it?) at the climax all feel extremely routine and underdeveloped. I don't dislike the kids, as they feel realistic to me, but I wonder why they suddenly popped up in this episode with no (as I recall) previous mention in the show. Everything on "The Orville" just feels routine to me -- typical "bonding through peril" scenarios, plotting by numbers, sitcom-style character development, etc. I kind of like Isaac's friendly robot being indifferent to "being human," which flies in the face of the oft-cloying Data plotlines from TNG, but it's not enough to save this episode. Incidentally, the struggle between being human and emotionless thing started and hit its peak with the character of Spock, who leaves all Sci-Fi imitators (including Data) in his dust.

Part of the frustration of watching Data is that we know he'll never actually *be* human to achieve his goal, whereas Spock is half-human and can actually grow as a character in how he straddles two worlds. So I'll give MacFarlane this much: I like how he lets Isaac be Isaac, i.e. a robot, albeit one who the human crew members often anthropomorphize. There's a certain edginess to Macfarlane's indifference to the whole "human beings are the most uniquely special creatures in the universe" ethos of TOS/TNG, and that feels a bit refreshing at times. The wicked bit of inspiration where Isaac removed Gordon Malloy's leg a few weeks ago in their practical joke war indicates that Isaac lacks Data's "ethical sub-routines." And that makes him an unpredictable and highly watchable character for me on a ship that otherwise feels made up of Star Trek clones.

Skee
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Isaac had some funny moments in the show, but the funniest part for me was when I read the description of the show, of a shuttle crash on an alien planet, and then saw in the opening credits that Braga was coscripter and director. I literally LOL'd.

Also the alien guy looked quite similar to post-TOS Klingons. I wonder if that was any sort of comment on DIS Klingons by Braga?

I liked this episode ok.

2 1/2 stars.
Scot
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:54pm (UTC -6)
Jammer is usually my go-to opinion for all things Trek. However, in this case, I have to respectfully disagree. I really enjoyed this episode. I thought it was some great character work and gave me a lot of insight into people that, up until now, I hadn't really cared for very much. By the end of the episode, not only did I like the doctor much more but I liked Isaac for the first time ever. I found this to be a very affecting story. I would have given it a solid 3 stars myself.
Scot
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
I forgot to mention how much I especially liked the resourcefulness of the doctor and her genuinely cutthroat attitude when it came to getting back to her children. That is a mother on a mission! Very impressive and violent. Lastly, I loved the endnote commentary about providing a cure for the people of the planet. That was a detail that could have easily been omitted but I think genuinely sealed the episode with some Star Trek type closure.
Jack
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 2:56am (UTC -6)
Weren’t there 238 TNG episode that involved a shuttle crash? There were 239 involving a surprise visit from a family member.

I actually like that Issac has no face.
Yair
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 4:05am (UTC -6)
There's an AB structure here, and the B plot (with Finn) isn't interesting to me. Note that if she stays nothing much changes, and The Orville probably rescues here later. The A plot has merit because of Issac. No, it's not the first time "robot learns human ways" is done, but I don't agree the execution here is cornball.

First, the authors are willing to present Isaac as slightly scary, which usually wasn't done with robots on TV so far (Data and others are scary when you think of what they can do, but they usually aren't presented as such). I hope we'll see more of the 'voice mimicking' ability in the future.

Second, there's more than dialogue here. I wonder about the handholding gesture. Issac gets the desired result, but the gesture means something different in each scene (the young kid wanted protection. In the second case it's more "everything will be fine" or "I'm with you"). Did Isaac realize that and did it for the right reason? Or did he get lucky? We'll probably never know.

As for the other characters, the kids portrait is very realistic IMHO. I do wonder whether there's implied criticism of Finn's choice to be a single parent - that's not the typical Trek politics...

It's interesting to compare Jammer's reviews to the AVClub reviews, which disliked the previous episode but loved this one. I would have given this one a slightly higher score, and a lower score for the previous episode.

* On watching, I didn't understand the shuttle crash to be caused by the kids messing about. Maybe I should recheck this.

* When the shuttle crashes, they selected the moon to crash to based on the oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. Surely the Orville has superior scanners and could have eliminated most of the moons based on the same consideration?

* Why doesn't Finn join the shootout in the end? She was getting ready to, but relented when the older kid joined.
She couldn't have done anything for the younger kid at the time, and surely 3 shooters are better than 2.

* They do consider curing the disease entirely, there's a single line by Grayson on this in the ending which apparently is easy to miss.

* Bortus's line this episode wasn't as well prepared as in the previous episodes, so I'd have to give the "line of the episode" award to Isaac's 'Shall I disintegrate them for you?' line. We had to stop the playback to finish laughing.
Pocket University
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 5:00am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc "Cool that you thought of “10 Cloverfield Lane” too. Interesting about that anime series. Is it good?"

GE999 is... "unique" is about the closest I can come to a one-word description. The movies are somewhat easier to find online than the series but I'd avoid them like the plague as while they're more slickly produced they're ultimately just a rehash of themes Doctor Who handled better. The TV series OTOH is weird, flawed, infuriating, and very unique. Briefly, it's set in a world where the Singularity happened and *nothing changed*.

(For the record, it was episode 33 "Ulatores" that "Into the Fold" particularly reminded me of, though as I said about a half-dozen episodes had a similar plot. The "new pants" scene in "About a Girl" was very similar to the beginning of episode 25, and sunlight frying people from a dark planet was the plot of episode 63.)
Mal
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 5:38am (UTC -6)
Hammock Time!

Brannon Braga really is a hack. Why Seth turned to him to write the episode meant to hook DS9 fans is beyond me - seeing as Brannon Braga had fuck-all to do with DS9.

So what’s a hack like Braga to do? I guess, superficially hack together a bunch of DS9 plots and then put Penny Johnson front and center.

Once more, unto the fold:

The Jem’hadar - Penny takes Jake and Nog (I mean, her two sons) for an outing, and Isaac the unwanted robot (like Quark) tags along.

Explorers - their ships gets whisked away a lot further than anyone thought possible for such a primitive vessel.

The Quickening - they land on a post-apocalyptic planet where everyone is infected as a result of war.

By Inferno’s Light - Penny uses a convenient lever-like do-hickey that seems to come standard with cots to pry open her cell.

Explorers (again) - let’s use old-fashion star charts to navigate!

When Isaac said they could get Di-sonium (or whatever) on the mountain that they crashed into on their way down, I thought, oh great - they’re going to go The Ascent route too. That said, I love Isaac’s humour.

Bottom line, keep Braga out of the Orville writing room if you know what’s good for you.

And if you want to do a Beauty and the Beast homage, spend some time on it. Do it right.

-

and now for a new but hopefully ongoing series, "Orville v. Discovery"

. . Barry Manilo v. Wyclef Jean - advantage Discovery

. . Peter Rabbit v. Alice in Wonderland - advantage Orville

. . Glory Hole v. Beer Pong - advantage Discovery

Love,
Mal
SlackerInc
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 5:45am (UTC -6)
@Trek fan:
“The stupidity of the kids causing the crash, the undeveloped Zombie apocalypse plot where the crew doesn't give two figs about helping the victims at the end, and the sudden recovery of Finn's son (so the Orville DOES have a cure? Are they not sharing it?)”

Weren’t paying attention at the end of the episode, I see.

@Yair:
“As for the other characters, the kids portrait is very realistic IMHO. I do wonder whether there's implied criticism of Finn's choice to be a single parent - that's not the typical Trek politics...”

Yeah, that’s a good point. It could be read as Isaac functioning as a much-needed father figure.

“* Why doesn't Finn join the shootout in the end? She was getting ready to, but relented when the older kid joined.
She couldn't have done anything for the younger kid at the time, and surely 3 shooters are better than 2.”

I think she *was* doing something for him, helping him breathe.

@Pocket University: I’m drawing a blank as to what you mean about the “new pants” scene of “About a Girl”...?
Benjamin S
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 8:40am (UTC -6)
While I respect Jammer's reviews, I don't agree with this one. I thought this episode was fine as a strong character story based around the doctor and her family.

To me, the kids weren't annoying. They were kids. Kids act out. It's a part of the developmental stage of human beings and when two siblings are involved, there is an inherent social pecking order involved that can cause this kind of friction between them. Truth is, I hate shows where kids are portrayed as tiny adults in a well-behaved manner; because it seems completely fake.

As far as the doctor, I thought the best part of the episode was that she was driven to get back to her kids (most mothers would be), and opted to take whatever measures were necessary. If this meant stabbing a guy so that he couldn't track her down and force her back into captivity, that's what she decided to do, and she wasn't indecisive about it. This is why she killed two different people to get back to her children. But, despite what she did, she still wanted to instill a sense of what was right in her own children and told her son that killing wasn't acceptable. To me, this isn't bad writing, this is realistic character portrayal.

Isaac was great. I disagree that it was a mistake to have his face covered. Good actors can carry the weight of their character even when they can't use facial expressions. So much can be conveyed with head tilts and hand gestures and vocal leanings, and a good actor can still humanize even a robotic character with just these traits.

It's not the best story in the series so far or anything, but a decently good episode that serves its purpose. Not every story needs a twist. Too many twists make the twists predictable (something that the TV show "24" suffered from, when every fifteen minutes there was a new twist just for the sake of having one). Playing a story straight can work fine.

philadlj
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 8:44am (UTC -6)
The Orville started to find you last week, only to lose you completely this week? Bummer! Fortunately, the next episode will likely be, as Cleese would say, "something completely different."
Pocket University
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 9:13am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc "I’m drawing a blank as to what you mean about the “new pants” scene of “About a Girl”...?"

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3loQ2rGkii8
Mertov
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
"Isaac was great. I disagree that it was a mistake to have his face covered. Good actors can carry the weight of their character even when they can't use facial expressions. So much can be conveyed with head tilts and hand gestures and vocal leanings, and a good actor can still humanize even a robotic character with just these traits."

Benjamin, that argument is a two-way street. It can also help a bad actor since he can just use gestures and head tilts and what he can't with facial features because of a lack of talent.

I am not saying he should have full facial features but definitely more than the flatness with the bulbs, an ensemble that is constant. To reiterate, Brent Spiner was an excellent actor. Now imagine if he had Isaac's face in TNG. He, as an actor, and we, as viewers, would have both been shortchanged.
Ubik
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
Wow, Jammer's been grumpy about BOTH new series so far. :)

Yeah, 1 or 1.5 stars ought to be saved for offensively awful stuff. This benign bit of predictable character work is nowhere near as awful as all that . This was just...earnest. And well-intentioned. The stuff with the kids reminded me EXACTLY of my own kids, so I thought it was refreshingly realistic, and the moment when she cries that she can't just let her boy die had me legitimately moved. The guy who kidnaps her was played well, and a few moments with Isaac either got a laugh or a quick pull on the heartstrings. None of it was original, surprising, or essential, and none of it was horrendously bad. It could easily have been a midrange Voyager episode, but with slightly edgier comedy. On that score, it's probably a 2 or 2.5. But for those who are already sold on the world of The Orville, this will, I am sure, be a perfectly fine use of their time.
Yanks
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
@ SlackerInc
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 5:45am (UTC -5)

"I think she *was* doing something for him, helping him breathe."

I thought the same thing, but then she came out and watched the shuttle ... leaving the little one in there to struggle with his breathing I guess.

I thought she stayed in there to comfort him.
navamske
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
When the smaller child was trying to wake Clair at the beginning with "Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom." did anyone else think of the "Family Guy" scene in which Stewie does that to Lois? MacFarlane cribbing from himself? The clip is probably on YouTube but I don't know if we're allowed to post links here.
navamske
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
@Benjamin S

"Isaac was great. I disagree that it was a mistake to have his face covered. Good actors can carry the weight of their character even when they can't use facial expressions. So much can be conveyed with head tilts and hand gestures and vocal leanings, and a good actor can still humanize even a robotic character with just these traits."

This may already be obvious to everybody, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a Darth Vader situation going on with Isaac, meaning that one guy is doing the voice and another guy is doing all the physical aspects of the character. They probably have to coordinate their performances so that they're in sync, e.g. that the vocal aspects "match" the physical movements.
will atlantic
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 11:11pm (UTC -6)
This was a good character development vehicle for Isaac. An average show overall, perhaps a bit below average - I feel like the abductor's plot could have been a lot more interesting, like maybe if he figured out she was a doctor and forced her to work on a cure with what was on hand. It just ended with a thud of his body hitting the floor. The fact that the doctor had kids on board felt like it just came out of nowhere but I think this could have been a standout episode nevertheless.
hpontes
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 12:25am (UTC -6)
Rating: 3.5/4

This is one of those show episodes that I really enjoyed, and then go online to see public opinion and am astounded.

A lot of it is due to us being hypercritical and comparing everything to everything.

The Orville has world-built a world enough for me that I don't have to compare it to anything. This is the first crash character build episode for the Orville and that's it. But if I were to compare it, this was probably the first one out of all of Trek that I can remember that was "real".

To me, the triumph The Orville has right now, is the ability to show us "how things would really happen". The captured scenario in a prior episode where the commander is bloody and beaten was such a part. That's how it would really play out, and it feels so _real_... In Star Trek they would have unkept hair and maybe a little bruised lip and that was our cue that they were captured...

This episode felt like a real pair of two kids, a real mom, a real android. This isn't an android that wants to be human, he just wants to try to understand them. Isaacs lines were so good, "Consume you", "Should I evaporate them", "Why are you still holding me?". Even the damage report gave me a "ahh, people report things, that's interesting", instead of some master computer that just tells us everything.

The Orville is humans in space, trying to be better and follow a code of ethics. Star Trek was transcended "better" humans in space, quickly realized that was boring, then DS9+ trying to backtrack and make them have human flaws, but that generally ended up creating a different image to the point that we keep having to talk about "gene's vision" against almost anything we see that isn't perfect humans.

The "we used to call it _____" "no one did that just you". The Orville keep's red lamping tropes and making fun of them. It's a very difficult thing to do and still be a serious series.

The doctor didn't try to reason and talk, and somehow etc etc with her captor. Gosh, the Orville even did an awesome awesome plot point of the doctor touching his hand and mentioning he wouldn't be alone. We all knew that was his thing, and yet The Orville didn't baby us and point it out. Star Trek would have two people there, or a huge dialog to make sure we understood he was afraid of being alone. The Doctor in the end realized it's a "I will have to do what I have to do" while holding the knife, we all knew what she was thinking. Without again having to spell it out to us.

This, to me, was a rehash of pretty much every Voyager crashed episode, and a realistic presentation of how people would really react, how things can really go wrong, and a very human show.

They didn't even do the usual, "we don't know if they really got the signal"-show up at the right minute. Immediately cut to the Orville and we see that they did. It's not a, "let's show them we can cure them, and find peace and love", it's not a "and they, stranded learn to love each other, etc", it's not a so many different cliches.

Gosh even the "I'll go at the end" was expected while not being expected. The cure part at the end was very good of the commander and a cherry on top.

I was enthralled the whole episode. I don't know if it's because I'm more willing to let go unlike most of us.

this was so fresh to me. That's not Data. That's not Crusher and her kid. That's not the Enterprise. That wasn't so many things, but it was so Star Trek.

And then there's Discovery : /
hpontes
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 12:34am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc

Oh wow. It's so funny, what we life, and how personal it can be.

I totally agree with what you said, I was SO SO (add many so's) glad to not be spoonfed things. I understand narrative, but I also really appreciate lack of narrative when it's often so blatant.

The prisoner kept her because he was lonely... To me that was meant as obvious, but with some doubts. And the doctor totally understood that and used it.

We didn't get the sob story where he realizes he's alone, the budding relationship star trek would create and then she'd feel sad about betraying. Or the "he ends up loving her so much he lets her go or helps her" etc etc.

It was simply a, "I need to go see my kids now... I've tried talking twice... that's it...".

The scene with the knife wasn't oscar worthy, but still so telling. That was her, thinking, "I will have to use this.. I'm going to have to risk my life, and if I die I will never see my kids again. I will have to willfully attack a man who has thus far, in his way, been nice to me." It's so human, so... good!

A LOT of this episode was unspoken. No ongoing rants about how he really did love his brother now that he was sick.

I'm really becoming a fan of how "adult" this show can be. The scenes are realistic as can be in how things would work. Even the boys reaction to him mimic'ing his moms voice being "creepy".

It's like I had turned off a switch in my head when watching star trek, that turned off normal present logic saying, "well its the future and theyre advanced and thats why ________". And each episode I see something that wouldn't exist in the Trek world, which causes me to thing, "wait... but that's how it _should_ happen..." and I see that switch again... and wonder whether it was a good thing or not it was off.
SlackerInc
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 1:28am (UTC -6)
Aha, thanks @PU!

@hpontes, nice posts.
Dylan S
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 2:05am (UTC -6)
Where is Elliot (the famous blogger from DS9 Jammer's Review)?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 6:32am (UTC -6)
@Benjamin S
"Not every story needs a twist. Too many twists make the twists predictable (something that the TV show "24" suffered from, when every fifteen minutes there was a new twist just for the sake of having one). Playing a story straight can work fine."

I agree.

My own problem with this episode isn't that it was "predictable", but simply that it dragged to much at times.

The story itself didn't need any more twists, and the character moments were wonderful. It's just that there were long stretches were absolutely nothing of interest happens.

I do adore this episode for what it was trying to do, though. And some of it was indeed masterfully done.

@hpontes
"The Orville has world-built a world enough for me that I don't have to compare it to anything. This is the first crash character build episode for the Orville and that's it. But if I were to compare it, this was probably the first one out of all of Trek that I can remember that was 'real'
.
.
.

To me, the triumph The Orville has right now, is the ability to show us 'how things would really happen'."

Yes!!! I just love this about the Orville. Reminds me of LaMarr's "BOOM bitch!" a few episodes back, after they've destroyed an enemy vessel while barely saving their own skin. Yeah, that's exactly how such a situation would play out on a real ship, but can you imagine anybody in TNG doing that? BOOM, indeed.

Speaking of which, have you ever seen such an exciting and realistic shuttle crash scene in Star Trek? (I mean, "realistic" other than the fact that there's no way any of them could have survived it). This is the kind of things that the Orville really excels in.
Ubik
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 9:26am (UTC -6)
@OmicronPhetaDeltaPhi

See, it's interesting that some of these moments (like the BOOM) communicate to us as "authentic" or "how it would really happen". It's a quite effective illusion. The truth is, perhaps the biggest WEAKNESS of the show so far is that these characters react in a completely UNREALISTIC way, given who these people are supposed to be.

The reason no one on TNG would ever react by yelling "BOOM!" is because, in order to get that far in the institution and be given the responsibility for piloting a starship, that level of emotion and spontaneity would have been trained the hell out of them. There is a reason why astronauts in real life are rather bland individuals - because it's a deathly serious and dangerous job, and the slightest mistake, even taking your eye off the ball for a second, could mean the death of literally everybody. TNG people seem blander than real-life people, but that's because only the very-serious and the most-mature could ever hope to be given the responsibility of running a starship, and having that high-stakes a job.

So, while I am certainly enjoying the seemingly "authentic" feel to these characters' interactions, ("now entering glory hole" absolutely made me laugh, despite myself), I recognize that the authenticity is an illusion. This is how athletes might genuinely sound winning a football game, maybe, or MP's winning political points in the British House of Commons, but trained astronauts, having to survive against alien adversaries, the elements, and the great unknown in the terrifying deeps of space? In my opinion, it's not likely any of these guys would have gotten past their first year of training.
Yair
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 11:09am (UTC -6)
@Ubik -

You showed well one way to model starship crews. The other way is to compare starship's crews to, well, a seaship crew, which had to survive against foreign adversaries, the elements, and the great unknown in the far reaches of the sea. Mariners had a reputation for non-bland personalities and a rather explicit style of speech. You can see the influences of marine legends in more than a few TOS episodes and the older space operas. If we take that view, the Orville crew fit right in.

Now, there's indeed a certain tension between The Orville copying TNG and acting like this. Crew as super-well-trained astronauts is very much the TNG way of doing things. However, The Orville doesn't have to copy every element of TNG...
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
I'm actually rewatching TNG regularly right now every weekend, so it's the Orville on Thursdays and the TNG DVD's (now at season 6) on Saturdays.

I find the difference in tone (both ways) to be quite refreshing.

You know what's the difference between TNG and the Orville? TNG gives a vision of a perfected humanity exploring the galaxy. The Orville tells us that being perfect is not a requirement... that as long as we are good at heart and we work together, we can go to the stars just the way we are.

It's a different message, no doubt. But I don't think it is any less inspirational that what TNG gives us. There's nothing wrong with having more than one way to dream about a better future.


hpontes
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Yes the crash was a huge mixture of "what would really happen" and "what should happen", when it hit and split I was like, "Yep, so many crashes would really be like this" and then right away, "If crashes WERE like this there's no way they'd survive...".

@Ubik

I come from a several generation marine/sailor family, and yeah... The boom bitch was very very authentic, and yet at the same time very crude.

Star trek again, does this thing where humanity is supposed to be perfect. It was around TNG's middle where screenwriters started thinking that was boring and went with the "it's easy to be a saint in sanctuary" and started showing flaws. Voyager explored it with the other ship caught in the Delta quadrant using alien lives to "fly" faster. (Sidenote, I felt like discovery was an extended version of that episode....). Then DS9 just took it all the way and really showed this.

We seem to make the judgement that Star Trek's crew would be of a corporate setting. With a more professional atmosphere. When it's really modeled after a more military/navy kind. Either way, I myself am a doctor, and the little sprinkles of realistic exclamations are both jarring and realistic. We don't do something in a lab and say, "oh golly gee, this was terrific", there's a "YES!!!".

I like that the Orville isn't making the assumption that we've perfected ourselves by the time we have space flight. It's just an extension of our technology with humans there.
MiaBN
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 9:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: Gut stabbings don't immediately kill you...
A doctor with knowledge of anatomy would be quite dangerous with a knife. Assuming that guy had an aorta or common iliac arteries in the same place as we do, she could have quickly killed him by severing it (within 60-120 seconds if he's anything like a human). Still 2 minutes can be a long time in a fight, and the additional gunshots would be something a doctor might resort to if she wanted a better shot at immediately incapacitating him.

Why are we bitching about things done on Voyager? So what, they crashed too many shuttles. The question is: was this crash story well-done?

Re: surviving the crash...
Maybe there was some sort of (distributed) emergency inertial damper, or force field containment that activated to secure the passengers after the shuttle was torn apart? Suspension of disbelief covers this for me, at least as far as it did for the (absurd) scene with Michael (MiaBN) Burnham in the brig in the DSC pilot.
SlackerInc
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:13am (UTC -6)
Yes, I'm fine with handwaving some tech reason they survived. And even in our reality, there have been survivors from plane crashes where you wonder how it could have been possible.

And I definitely think that in this universe, it's clear that the crew of a midlevel exploration ship is not super sober and by-the-book. Maybe in our universe they would be, and/or maybe they are on the Union flagship. But not on "The Orville".
Dougie
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 4:43am (UTC -6)
"You are not as intellectually stunted as I previously believed" - best robot line to date. It took 8 Episodes for the robot to have one mildly funny line. The rest of the steamy mess, I couldn't make it through, I ended right after that. Perhaps I'll catch it on Netflix on the binge. Of course I raced home as soon as my friends texted me that Orville had been renewed, to get a comment out. I didn't hear how many on the renewal, but if it's VOY level, there must be 20+ in the chute to get this right.

This is the first one I could not finish.
Hank
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
Well, I really liked this episode, and for me it was the little things done right, so contrary to my dreary discovery reviews, here is a list of things gone right in my opinion:

-Having the shuttle crash because of the stupid kids. I drove with a mother and her kids once, and the kids distracted her so much that she almost crashed the car. That Isaac didn't care made it better, because, after all, he is a robot, even though there is the slight inconsistency that he cared later.

-The damage report joke: Pretty much in the vein of the captain giving an order and not waiting for it to be completed (establish communications), we learn that humans do tech reports - and I can totally believe that some tech-guy was really pissed that the ship flew through a spatial anomaly without prior notice (the captain didn't warn them).

-Shooting the game console: Funny, and totally in character for Isaac. A small satisfaction for the annoyment of the children.

-The annoying children: Those children exists, an even when the parents have other intent, any child can come out like this. Also, an interesting social commentary on single mothers/anti-authoritarian upbringing. Bold I dare say.

-The Escape: Oh how I loved this one. It has become very rare to see actual strength matter. She had the pipe section, but went for the knife, as she knew that she couldn't beat him in a fair fight (looking at you, ST "Lets fight Klingons in Hand to Hand combat and let the untrained middle aged petite lady win against that huge hulking monster that practiced combat for all his life" D). She also propably figured that she wouldn't hit him hard enough to knock him out. And he would not let her go, at least not fast enough. Her children come first, so she did the only thing she could. He still threw her away and would probably have killed her had she not gotten his gun. Her line about "Valuing life" and the captain asking about her report showed her guilt, and for me that was enough. She didn't tell anybody that she'd done it, because she knew it was wrong. But it couldn't be helped.

I also really liked Isaacs reactions. While he certainly learned to portray human emotions to the children, and found them "interesting", there was none of the "robot becomes human". He just studied. The closeup of his masks were genious in my mind, as you can see nothing in it - or everything, showing how we project our own emotions onto anything we interact with.

So yeah, 3.5 stars for me, I enjoyed this very much. It avoided all the tropes that I had feared (or I didn't notice them, which is the same from my perspective), and this happens so seldomly with modern works for me, that on that ground alone I like this episode. Great!
mosley
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 8:43pm (UTC -6)
strangely enough, this episode seems to get a lot of good reviews online.

i hope this doesnt start a dynamic where the orville gets applause for "also finding a more serious side of itself" when all it really does is rehash a TNG plot almost beat by beat. by star trek standards, this was a completely generic shuttle crash of the week episode, with no consequences and zero tension (will the shuttle party survive an approaching horde of generic aliens of the week on a planet of the week? gee, i wonder!). on TNG, this would maybe have earned two and a half stars because back then this trope hadnt been done to death quite as much. on DS9 or voyager, and especially on enterprise, this would have been 1 or zero star material, hands down.

shocking to hear that this was written by brannon braga of all people. maybe one could forgive an outsider like macfarlane such a rehash. you know, from an "aw, look how much he is in love with oldschool TNG" angle or something.

but from braga?? this is literally as if he had taken one of the more forgettable star trek episodes (lots of shuttle crash episodes to choose from), exchanged names, added a glory hole joke, done. thats not only a letdown, such a phone-in-script borders on offensive, to be honest ;-) please, no more of this. it scares me that this gets so much praise among non-trek reviewers. god forbid, this might encourage them to do more of that stuff.

but if thats what this is going to be, generic star trek clichee episodes, the occasional joke, and i.e. the isaac character ending up being "just like data, if not quite", then i'm out. that whole isaac android-out-of-water aspect for example was such a predictable data-learns-to-understand-humans ripoff, that half way through the episode i was almost sure that this was a setup for an unexpected shift in tone.

turns out it wasnt. thank you, brannon braga. ugh.

enterprise season 2 material. zero stars for me. and thats on a scale where voyagers threshold would still have gotten one star for at least trying to tell a story we hadnt heard before.
mosley
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
oh, and lets not forget the "archer gets captured" element.

god, the tension!
Konstantinos
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 1:36am (UTC -6)
The show needs clearly to find a pace and start moving towards a longer scope. The writing during the last week is beginning to feel like it is all over the place with family members appearing out of the blue just to be used as cheap plot devices. The situation is slipping out of control fast.
Hank
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 9:42am (UTC -6)
@mosley: Valid points, but this isn't called Star Trek, so they can get away with using tropes that Star Trek overused. Besides, I didn't find this as boring as most of the Star Trek shuttle crash episodes, and at the same time, it was familiar enough to trigger the nostalgia receptors, so doing it once is fine with me. They also did things differently than Trek, and this was mostly a character piece anyway.

@Konstantinos: Not sure how they would introduce family members otherwise, though. They are only eight episodes in.
wolfstar
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 1:02pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was a fantastic ep, easily the best Orville effort so far - I feel generous enough about it to crack out the 3.5 (for the first time since About A Girl). Consistently engaging, proper character writing, a lot of great laughs (that worked in context, were character-appropriate and didn't feel shoehorned-in) plus lots of heart (genuinely earned emotion, not maudlin sentimentality), and Penny Johnson got to act - a lot. Wisely, for the second week in a row, Ed and Gordon's roles were minimized (and Gordon's one contribution was funny while still being in character). I don't normally enjoy Braga or Bormanis as writers but their competence showed here - both the character dynamics and the humor flowed more naturally and were better-grounded than in the Macfarlane-penned episodes, which tend to be glibber and less solid, with the jokes less organic and more leftfield and throwaway.

With an episode like this, when you know they're going to be rescued and everyone's going to be OK again by the end, the plot mechanics aren't the point - I had no objection to there being a shuttle crash (even if yeah, it did look too violent to have been survivable, and the cause was a little dumb). The point is the dialogue and character dynamics, and for me, those totally worked this episode - Isaac and Finn were well-written and well-performed, I very much echo Hank's comments above. Yeah, the kids were kinda annoying at the start but that was the point, and I agree with the other commenters that the parenting dynamics did feel refreshingly blunt and true-to-life. The cannibal-mutant people on the planet were the least developed part of the episode; they could have been handled better, but also worse (ie. turning the show into a full-on zombie ep), so I'm not complaining too much. Similarly, the rift wasn't developed or explored, but it was just a means to an end and I'm fine with that.

If season 2 has fewer Macfarlane-penned episodes, and takes its characters and settings as seriously as this episode does, the show can triumph and really develop. I'd like that to happen. Because I really enjoyed Penny and Mark's performances in this episode, and the material they were given to work with was solid and worthy of them. The kids too did a reasonable job and the script kept hitting the right notes - holding back when prudent, and earning its more moving and emotionally honest moments.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
@Hank
"Not sure how they would introduce family members otherwise, though. They are only eight episodes in. "

Having their first appearance onscreen in the manner shown in this episode is perfectly fine.

The problem is that we've never heard about these kids before. Not even a hint... which is kinda wierd, considering the amount of screen time that their mom got in the previous 7 episodes.

I guess this isn't *that* unrealistic, but it does give a strong impression of making things up as they go along. And I really hope this isn't the beginning of a trend where character back-stories are reinvented at whim to support the adventure-of-the-week.
SlackerInc
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 4:10am (UTC -6)
@OTDP:

I agree that it's likely they didn't know in the pilot (or maybe even the previous episode) that Penny was a single mom of two boys. But I'm okay with that, as long as the new characterization and backstory they bring in doesn't conflict with the old (which is often a problem on other shows).

I just don't think that in the workplace setting we saw up to now, her motherhood status would come up. I think what's messing with us is that on VOY and TNG, only one regular character I can think of (someone correct me if I'm wrong) was a parent, and her son Wesley was also (notoriously, and now probably more fondly remembered) a regular character. But in the real world, lots of people have kids, and we shouldn't expect them all to be regular characters.

Even an Earth-based family drama like "Parenthood" struggled to give time to all the family members (and made an unrealistic number of the spouses only children so as not to have to deal with too many tertiary extended family characters in holiday episodes). A show that has also got to service sci-fi adventure plots can't both be realistic about how many crewmembers might have children, and also feature those children regularly. I'm okay if Penny's kids don't reappear this season, for instance, although a quick glimpse of them at least once a season seems appropriate.

Now, if they were to suddenly depict one of the younger and seemingly carefree crewmembers as having kids, that would be more surprising. Same if the captain and first mate were depicted as having had kids before divorce. They've shown too much of their personal lives already for that to make sense. And if they show any crewmember's kids for the first time after they've been regularly featured for multiple seasons, I'd side-eye that. But the doctor in episode 8? Totally kosher IMO.
JoshH
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 4:36am (UTC -6)
You can't introduce everyone in the first episode. When did we find out O'Brien was married to Keiko? That Picard had a brother in France?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 8:44am (UTC -6)
@JoshH
"When did we find out O'Brien was married to Keiko?"

At their wedding, actually.

Not to take away from your point. It's just that this specific example wasn't a good one.

@SlackerInc
"But in the real world, lots of people have kids, and we shouldn't expect them all to be regular characters."

True.

But you would expect a parent to *mention* his children once in a while, wouldn't you? At least if they live together on the same ship.

Again, not really a problem if it's only one character. I'm just worrying that this might be the start of trend.
Dougie
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:05am (UTC -6)
Not even clever writing would be needed to introduce these chronic juvenile delinquents into one of the 7 earlier episodes. Their behavior would easily have had them expelled from the Orville School, brought up on numerous infractions in any Orville play area, banned from the Orville Cafeteria for food throwing and screaming and running with trays, banned from the Orville Swimming and Rec Center for towel fights, throwing ice cubes, and pushing other kids, and a host of other run-on sentence infractions. Any of which could have had the Doctor called away for us to see, for example while dealing with some Norm McDonald wiener problem during the opening credits.

I'm not even clever and I came up with those making coffee, and it's better than anything they were paid to write.
Skee
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 11:00pm (UTC -6)
I don't see what the big deal is about introducing the Doc's kids in this episode. It's not like they need to give a complete family tree of every character in the first episode.

It wasn't until episode 3 that they said anything about Bortus having a husband. Which was a little bit more unexpected than a woman having a couple of kids I think. :)

Yanks
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 8:03am (UTC -6)
Slackerinc,

"@Yanks:
“Is there no discipline for children in this universe? ... or is this episode supposed to depict that a mother can't do it alone without a father? Sure, they learn a lesson during the events of this episode, but damn... from lipping off to mother w/swearing), to acting like hooligans... I was annoyed. Little over the top here.”

You’ve led a blissfully sheltered life if you don’t think what was portrayed is VERY common. (Reading on, I see Karl Zimmerman had a similar input.) Studies show that severe, authoritarian discipline does prevent that kind of open defiance, but it also tends to cause children to have cold and resentful feelings toward their parents rather than warmth, and they often sneak around and do stuff behind their parents’ backs anyway."

Who said anything about "severe, authoritarian discipline"? Just what are you insinuating?

Kids always sneak around and do stuff. You did it, I did it.... there's no one that hasn't done it. Having respect for your mother doesn't require much effort or self control.

Your sounding pretty "snowflake-ish" here...
navamske
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 9:52am (UTC -6)
"with family members appearing out of the blue just to be used as cheap plot devices"

"Not sure how they would introduce family members otherwise"

I think in the first episode, when Captain Ed was getting to know his new crewmates, would have been a good time for a reveal that Dr. Finn was a mother and that her children were with her on the ship.
SlackerInc
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
As I have said, if we were several seasons in and suddenly the children were introduced and said to have been there all along, I'd side-eye that. But I don't think we saw enough of the doctor in casual conversation in the first seven episodes to be able to insist that she should realistically have brought up her kids at some point.

@Yanks, you came into the thread expressing disbelief at the behavior of the kids, calling it "over the top". Many other people, not just me, have chimed in that in our experience, this kind of behavior is actually very common and that these are some of the most realistic siblings we've seen on TV. That's not the same as saying it's ideal family interaction.

As for the "snowflake" crack, Google tells me that this is the term for kids raised by "helicopter parents". Maybe I'm "guilty" in your eyes, then, because I constantly stick up for "helicoptering" against the "free range parenting" so many people recall fondly from the 1970s. Statistics show that back in those days, FAR more children were killed by what government statisticians call "unintentional injuries": falls, fires, drownings, getting run over by cars while playing in the street. Like 400% higher rates of death. So the trend toward more supervision of children has been a very good thing from my perspective. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of kids and young adults who are alive today because the culture changed in this way. People like to snark about "bubble wrap", but bubble wrap exists precisely because some things are precious and we want to protect them from damage. What is more precious than our children?

You may find these articles interesting:

http://theattachedfamily.com/membersonly/?p=2151

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thinking-about-kids/201409/authoritative-vs-authoritarian-parenting-style
Ubik
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
@Yanks

Against my better judgment, I am shlepping myself into this discussion....

"Having respect for your mother doesn't require much effort or self control."

I am not sure what role you played in the experience that taught you this
wisdom (were you the fortunate mother? The respectful child? The neighbour smiling on from afar?), but know that you, my friend, are among the blessed few. If only the rest of us could be so blessed.

Speaking for myself, a father of two beautiful girls, I can only say that parenting is HARD, and it often takes much more "effort and self-control" than my poor children can muster to show some respect to their mother (not to mention their father). In my less blessed experience (and the experience of literally every other parent I know), children are often terrible, and uncontrollable, just like the ones in this episode. And while we're on the subject, allow me to add to the chorus of people here who believed that the depiction of these children in this episode was refreshingly unfiltered and realistic. Anyone who thinks it was over-the-top or exaggerated has lived just as blessed and miraculous a life as Yanks here has, and I envy you immensely.
Dougie
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
My sister and I were raised into our teens and adulthood by my father alone. We were mostly respectful, and I never remember a time when we behaved like those children. Perhaps it was because of the circumstances, mom died of a horrific illness, so our tendencies to be little snots was tempered by a dose of growing up early. We don't know the reason Claire is a single mother, however judging from the delinquency of the children, there was never a cohesive family, and that translates as well into whatever century Orville is taking place as it does ours.

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