The Orville

“About a Girl”

3 stars.

Air date: 9/21/2017
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Brannon Braga

Review Text

When Bortus' and Klyden's child is unexpectedly born female (something infinitesimally rare), Bortus asks Dr. Finn to perform a sex change to make the baby male so the child can thus lead a "normal" life as a Moclan. Finn refuses on moral grounds, Bortus appeals to Mercer, who also refuses, thus bringing to full boil a debate of gender identity from the Moclan point of view.

"About a Girl" is the best and most interesting episode of The Orville so far, even while it offers further proof — even more so than the first two episodes — that it's the product of a past generation (1967? 1997?) transplanted to 2017, as if through a time machine. This is, for all intents and purposes, a Star Trek episode from another era — or a spiritual step-heir, or something. Is it a good one? Yes, although maybe not a great one.

This is an allegory, certainly, but there are some clear limitations here. One is that human gender identity is more complicated than simply "male parts" or "female parts." But "About a Girl" does not really seem interested in going beyond the binary of the physiology, perhaps out of a need for storytelling simplicity. As a result, we must take this story purely on the Moclan's terms. Those terms are a bit muddled, because even though the story alleges females to be a once-in-75-year aberration, Klyden (Chad Coleman) reveals to Bortus that he — of all coincidences — was also born female and was surgically altered at birth. And later we meet yet another Moclan woman, a famous reclusive author who everyone assumed was a man, and who is key to the story's endgame.

This, along with the pilot's original description of the Moclan as a "single-gendered species" (which we know now is a lie of omission), had me suspecting we were going to get some sort of revelation that the once-in-75-year story is a sham covering some deep societal secret that there are actually Moclan females born all the time. (I was reminded of the DS9 revelation that Trill symbionts were actually much more compatible with Trill hosts than was generally known.) But that revelation never comes. Perhaps it will someday, because either something else is going on here, or the writing is sloppy. (This is still a young series, so I'm willing to grant them the benefit of the doubt.)

The scene where Bortus has an epiphany and changes his mind when Malloy and LaMarr show him Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer demonstrates the tricky tightrope this series walks (in what's shaping up to be a signature trait) between comedy and drama, sincerity and absurdity. And I must say they pulled it off nicely here. The scene is funny and poignant, even if it's fundamentally silly. That a lifetime of societal indoctrination can be reversed in an hour by watching a children's stop-motion animated TV special flies in the face of common sense, but this speaks to the ostensible value of parable storytelling that The Orville itself wants to occupy. The tone somehow works in its "just go with us on this" nature.

Although Bortus changes his mind, Klyden does not, so the second half of "About a Girl" becomes a courtroom episode on the Moclan homeworld, envisioned with VFX here as a global industrial wasteland. Grayson gets her JAG on (after Mercer declines the role, saying Grayson would be better — and perhaps this is an acknowledgement that MacFarlane knows it's wise deferring to Palicki in the meatier acting roles) and she argues as Bortus' lawyer against Klyden and Moclan society over the decision for child's gender.

I was honestly a little disheartened by the shift to the courtroom at first. It's an arena that has been done to death in Trek and everywhere else (including the end of a lot of bad Adam Sandler comedies, which have ruined it for everyone), and if you're going to do it, you'd better have a fresh take on it. I wouldn't call "About a Girl" a particularly fresh or groundbreaking take, but I would call it a solid and sincere one. (This is MacFarlane's attempt to do his "The Measure of a Man"; I wouldn't put it in that pedigree, but I also would say this is closer to that success than the failure of something like, say, "The Outcast.") The format allows the storytellers to make some relatively thoughtful arguments and analogues, although I'm not sure they're all iron-clad. (Included in this episode are moral comparisons to surgeries to fix birth defects like a cleft palate, and at other points the story also brings circumcision and cultural relativism into the discussion.)

The ending is an interesting resolution presented as bittersweet, in which Bortus loses the court decision. (The last-minute revelation with the female author does not suddenly prompt a sea change in Moclan society, which feels, sadly, realistic.) So the child is surgically made to be male against Bortus' wishes — but Bortus understands that the important thing now is accepting and moving forward with Klyden to lovingly raise his son.

Brannon Braga's direction is solid throughout, making for an earnest and thought-provoking hour that hits some good notes. Orville continues to recalibrate the balance between the comedy and drama, and they are getting closer to finding the right formula. But this episode never transcends its roots. This series seems insistent on reliving past Trekkian glories in a retro style, rather than blazing new trails, and this is the Trekkiest outing yet. But let's also be clear that honoring that tradition is a good thing.

Previous episode: Command Performance
Next episode: If the Stars Should Appear

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78 comments on this post

    I have to say that this was a profound episode. I think it demonstrates an inexorable move from the silliness of this show to genuine science fiction. Honestly, this is the best Star Trek episode I've seen in years.

    Well that was BY FAR the best one yet. I was very into this episode, and the comedy was much more fitting this time around. I have a feeling Jammer will like it too.

    Somebody hired an actual writer this time! Some of the critics' reviews point to what (I guess) was that The Rudolph reveal was supper stupid but honestly I could see what Seth was trying to get across and I think it worked very well.

    Did anybody else see similarities between the tribunal parts and the Worf / Duras honor episode too? When he asked Ed to essentially be his Chardich I kind of lol'd. They even had an old woman reveal at the end!

    Also I think this show resembles Voyager a lot more than TNG. Well aside from the exact copy of Picard'a ready room.

    In any event, I want to watch the next episode now so they've done something right.

    This one was written by... Seth McFarlane Just like the first two. So they did not actually get an actual writer for it. He does have an adult side too I guess.

    This is a toughie. I respect what the episode tried to do but it often seemed silly (Bortus changed his mind over Rudolph? Really?) and was as subtle as a sledgehammer. I think they pulled it together by the end though, with an ending that I wasn't expecting (although maybe I should have).

    I'll admit the biggest laugh I've gotten out of the show so far was when it quickly cut to Malloy after Greyson said, "And now, on to your assertion about male intellectual superiority..."

    I wish the show stuck with that level of subtle humor instead of trying to force crude jokes that create tonal problems.

    Holy shit, this one felt like it could have been an actual Trek episode. 4/4 stars. Bravo Orville. You handled this subject matter much better than "the outcast"

    As an allegorical story, I have to say this episode was pretty solid. You usually don't want such episodes to be preachy, and nor, even if just for the sake of entertainment, do you want them to present any one side as weak. Here, legitimacy was brought not only to at least three "sides", but to the characters' interactions as well.

    Of course from our real-world human point of view--and the majority of the Orville crew--the procedure was quite wrong and out of the question. Yet on a world where it literally takes on average 75 years for just one girl to be born, the Moclans' arguments in favor were--for them and their world--surprising reasonable. But then when you look away from Moclan society versus Human, or Xelayan--to the individual apart from societal connections--you then get the arguable "third" side: this particular person could nonetheless go on to do great things, and be very happy. Rather than attempt to "fit in", this individual could find her own unique and rewarding path. And just in case that argument might've felt too idealistic as opposed to the obvious pragmatic considerations, once the lone Moclan woman turned up and was revealed to be the most revered author in all of Moclan society, well, legitimacy there too was sealed. ("There's more than one way to contribute to society." .... That's a thought well worth holding on to, whether in how we perceive others' lives or even our own perceived failures; how our lives seldom take the shape we wished, tried, or even feel they needed.)

    As for the judgement, it actually caught me slightly off guard. Only slightly ... yet off guard nonetheless. After hour upon hour of Star Trek and more, that was pretty good. And nor, for that matter, did it feel as though it were done just to shock, or to be a twist, or whatnot. Rather, it very much came off as an organic part of the story ... and maybe even necessary.

    And how Bortus mentioned to both Klyden personally and to crew members that he loved Klyden irregardless of everything going on ... I just love how on this show, the characters really seem to care and have respect and decency for one another. (Yes, Gordon can be a jerk, though even with him, I wouldn't doubt his loyalty.) And in a world where we can practically hate one another just for having different views and ideas about admittedly serious issues and happenings, such respect and decency is really nice to see again.

    (Changing my username btw - I was posting as "N" before.)

    Oh my god. Genuinely excellent. Gonna have to break out the 3.5 for this one. Was not expecting that after last week's ep with Alana puking and taking tequila shots. Seth Macfarlane should choose to be sincere more often. This ep proves he can totally do it. (And the few gags that were present worked.) All the cast are good, but Peter Macon is excellent. The show deserves a lot of praise for bringing out an episode like this at such an early stage.

    Only nitpicks:
    - I thought they'd have gone with a more optimistic, classically Trekkian ending; the downer ending is by no means bad, but renders the show a little too similar to The Outcast and Distant Origin as opposed to The Measure Of A Man. The Outcast is excellent and of its time, but a hard watch; 20 years on, I think we can afford to be a little more optimistic and give people some hope
    - Bortus's "Rudolph" turnaround didn't really work for me, but fortunately it wasn't dwelled on. I get the idea that him realising that difference could be a virtue rather than a flaw by watching some tacky 20th century cultural artefact would be funny, but it didn't work that well in practice. Perhaps they should have shown him the Eowyn "I am no man!" scene from LOTR (in an ideal world where they could have got the rights to it, haha...)
    - dance gag was good but went on about 1 second too long
    - the fact the female hermit was also the author was a lucky contrivance, but there have been worse contrivances on Trek plenty of times... I was genuinely stirred

    The primary analogous earth issue here isn't either circumcision or transgenderism but whether it's OK to surgically modify an intersex baby to make their genitalia appear unambigiously male or female. This used to be common practice so that children would fit in with society, but it's now increasingly the case that intersex people aren't operated on in infancy unless it's genuinely medically necessary, and are instead left to decide whether or not they want any surgical modifications when they're older. An infant can't consent and has a right to bodily integrity, so the bottom line is that performing medically unnecessary procedures on someone who can't consent just to please the parents or out of cultural practice/societal conformity is ethically unsound.

    There's a whole area the episode doesn't go into, and that's brain sex. There have been a few cases in the US of boys who were raised as girls after losing their penis in a botched circumcision. But refashioning someone's genitals and raising them as the other sex doesn't make them female (or in the case of this episode, male) - so typically these patients switched back to male (their actual sex) in their teens or twenties. This is where The Outcast was better and more sophisticated (and distressing), because the protagonist in that actually had some kind of mental procedure performed on her to 'neutralize' her gender, perhaps analogous to a lobotomy; here, they just modified the kid's genitals, but that in no way makes it male. This again creates an issue that an optimistic ending (Bortus is allowed to raise the child as female) would have avoided.

    Regarding the debate in the Command Performance thread about the show being a "Berman-era Trek rehash", I also don't understand why this is controversial as it's what the show is supposed to be - it's a feature, not a bug. "Accusing" The Orville of being a Trek copy with a slightly different tone is like accusing Family Guy of being a Simpsons copy with a slightly different tone - pointless because it's absolutely correct, it's the show's explicit design. It's one for the legal folks to decide (I'm amazed they got away with it too), but it doesn't present a problem for me in terms of the show.

    I should add, in terms of recent Trek semi-allegorical bodily rights episodes, this was vastly better than Similitude or Cogenitor. (I know Similitude is beloved by many, but my assessment of it is if anything even more scathing than Jammer's; it doesn't earn any of the emotions it seeks to elicit and there's no honesty in the writing. Cogenitor is somewhat better, but Archer's characterisation and the ending wreck it; there's no ethical through-line, the episode has no considered stance.) Indeed, late Braga/Berman-Trek had a bad occasional habit of doing issue episodes when it didn't know what it wanted to say - you can't do an ethics episode without a considered stance, or you just end up fudging the issue and saying nothing at all in a messy and ultimately unsatisfactory way (ditto Voyager's Repentance on that count, which wants to be a death penalty issue-episode but chickens out and the writing is all over the place.) About A Girl is the best Trekkian issue episode since the somewhat underrated Stigma.

    I would point out that we don't know what the procedure involved. It may have also included hormonal modifications or more. Or perhaps female Moclan anatomy is so vestigal that it has no influence beyond genitalia.

    ^not to mention that Klyden and Bortus were still able to conceive a child despite Klyden's modifications at birth. I suppose Moclan medicine is able to compensate for this so that transgender individuals are able to participate as full biological analogs to naturally born males.

    It was an entertaining hour and nice to see the Orville tackle controversial material instead of lowbar dick jokes and fight scenes. Despite this, I still found the commander's use of deposition from various crew members a little less cerebral in its shaky use of context than we would have found in a TNG episode. Some stand out scenes involved the final reveal of the Moclan female as the famed writer of their planet and Bortus explaining how he still loves Klyden and will "try to make it work" despite the crossroads they find themselves at.

    I actually shed a few tears when I saw Bortus give the baby the Rudolf plush toy. I wasn't expecting that when I started watching this show.

    That wasn't a bad episode. In a good way it made me think about several different Trek episodes. I feel like the music for this episode was straight Voyager and I could be wrong. but did Brannon Braga direct this episode.

    The stars they show in the background in exterior shots and through windows are all twinkling. I just noticed that on Voyager the other day. Now they are doing it here too. Bad science.

    So far this show is ok. We'll see how it goes.

    They have warp -- er, quantum -- engines. They have replicators. They have holodecks. The ship has phasers, or at least "cutting beams." They have shuttles. They have tractor beams. But they don't have transporters? Why would they mimic Star Trek in so many ways but not in this one, especially given that the Star Trek transporter is so iconic?

    The joke would work only once, but a character could ask about the transporters and another character could say, "The transporter won't be installed until Tuesday."

    I think you can chalk up twinkling stars to "works for better TV," sort of like sound in space.

    There's a small part of me that wonders if the lack of a transporter on The Orville is for legal reasons, like that's something that crosses some line. I suppose not, since they could just call it a "teleporter" or something.

    I wonder if the lack of a transporter is because the transporter itself is too often a 'get out of jail free' card in Trek stories, and so they too often had to come up with convoluted reasons to disable it? By not having one, they don't have to do the tightrope walk in their stories.

    Also in more general terms,

    Jammer, I'm so happy that you're reviewing again. I'm sure this is one of the sites on the Web that I have been visiting the longest. I was definitely here back in the 20th century. I still re-read your old reviews regularly as I re-watch Trek.

    I'm happy and cautiously optimistic with Orville. I enjoyed episode 2, and episode 3 was clearly a step up and a bit of a change in tone. I'm looking forward to where it goes from here. I am terrified it will get cancelled and I hope that it has a chance to find its niche.

    Also - and I know it's off topic for this thread - but I'm looking forward to checking out Discovery in a couple of days, too. I've been avoiding reading much about it on the Internet. A) Scared of spoilers, and B) too much negativity! Fingers-crossed!!

    "Why would they mimic Star Trek in so many ways but not in this one, especially given that the Star Trek transporter is so iconic?"

    @navamske you answered your own question. Braga himself has said in interviews that the Transporter is the most iconic piece of Trek tech. There's always been lasers and space ships in sci-fi, but the transporter is so intrinsically Trek that they felt it would have been too far to copy that too.

    This series is like walking in to one of those new fangled neck-beard infested bowl places and ordering some hip-named deliverable, only to wonder in the end what actually ended up in your gut.

    Anyone have the odds on how many episodes will actually air? I say it won't get past 6, friends say next one is the last.

    ^the episodes are already made... all 13. 2nd season prospects are dubious but who knows..

    Finally found the time to watch this one.

    Very good. And once again, the Orville is tackling an issue that official Star Trek has failed to deal with in over 700 episodes: The issue of correcting "defects" in children who were born different, and the way society shuns those who choose to remain - as the say in the PC world - "special".

    As a person for whom this topic is very close to heart personally, I loved the message of this episode. And I think many "disabled" (boy, do I *hate* that word) people would agree that the message here is important.

    You know, I absolutely admire the way the Orville isn't afraid to tackle issues that even Star Trek feared to tread. First the animal rights one, and now this. Just wonderful. Kudos to both Seth McFarlane and FOX for doing having the balls to make this brave show.

    And on a lighter note... in this episode we learn that a nano-genetic cure for cancer will be invented in 2056. I thought that was really cool.


    The issue of correcting "defects" in children was touched on in DS9's "Doctor Bashir, I presume". Granted, there are so many things that can be touched on regarding this topic and the DS9 episode is pretty different from what this episode sounds like. By the way, I haven't seen this "The Orville" episode as I was turned off after the 1st episode but I just saw your comment and had just seen the DS9 episode that I thought I'd reply to you.

    Rahul, thanks for the attempt, but that DS9 episode didn't really deal with this issue at all. The point of controversy there was the nature of the treatment (genetic engineering) and not the question of whether young Julian should have been treated at all.

    The most relevant DS9 episode here, I think, would be "Melora". No babies there, but the question of "defect" vs "difference" is directly addressed by that episode. Unfortunately, that episode completely botched the message by making Melora herself the worst possible example of a handicapped person with an entitlement complex.

    I don't understand why this "Planetary Union" would allow such a misogynistic race to even join them if their fundamental values as a society were so opposed to the ethics and morals of the Union as a whole.

    I've been largely gripped by these episodes and I look forward to more. I'd like them to err a little more on the side of looking like a professional crew, at least sometimes. Like when the XO calls to Bortus, "the captain wants you to get your ass up here" - it's not that it's vulgar, it's just that it's out of nowhere. But I have hope that kind of thing will smooth out as the series goes on and they pick their moments wisely.

    I laughed a lot watching this episode. Bortus is an excellent straight-man. He's deadpan but also likeable. I'm already more into him than Tuvok.


    Only reason I responded to your comment is that I can't agree with your statement: "And once again, the Orville is tackling an issue that official Star Trek has failed to deal with in over 700 episodes: The issue of correcting "defects" in children who were born different"

    "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" did deal with the issue of what to do with the "defective" child (Julian) --it just took a different path from "About a Girl". If you recall from DBIP, the whole episode stems from Julian, as a baby, being "defective" and what his unethical dad does. There was some dialogue about what Julian's life could have been like had he not been treated and that it wouldn't necessarily be horrible.

    With future episodes of Trek/Orville, it'll be near impossible for them to find an issue that has never been dealt with before - probably best they can hope for is taking a pre-existing theme (in this case how to deal with "defective" kids) and re-interpret it.

    So it sounds like that's what this episode did, which is to say it did it's job. And if it makes an impact on somebody, then it did its job well. No 2 Trek/Orville episodes should be the same, obviously.

    I like this episode, but I feel like it's let down because we know so little about Moclan society and biology. It should have been saved for season 2, or at least do a different Moclan episode first.

    I will admit that I didn't like the species being explicitly described as "all male" in episode 1. A true monogender species wouldn't even have words for male and female. But here (or technically, at the end of the last episode) we learn that they really aren't all the same biological sex, although their society is making a hard try to be monogender.

    But we know that Moclans can reproduce when both partners are male. So what, biologically speaking, are Moclan females for? Do they serve some reproductive purpose that doesn't come up in the present-day environment? Maybe female Moclans produce children more efficiently in harsh environments but less efficiently in the wealthy industrial present? That could explain why the society shifted toward all-male reproduction, eventually creating a taboo against female reproduction, then going so far as to effectively ban women to enforce the taboo. Maybe they even genetically engineered themselves to not produce any female children. Problems with the genetic engineering would explain why female Moclans tend to run in families, as they seem to.

    What I do know is that they should have taken a minute to have Bortus or maybe Isaac explain it instead of me having to try to guess. We'd learn more about the society - maybe they have a good reason for it that makes humans passing judgment into simple prejudice, or maybe they're just a society where ordinary sexism got way out of control. Since we don't know, there's no way to tell whether the right decision was made. Cut the useless scene where they put Malloy on the stand to make room for it. Put it toward the end so we don't short-circuit our thought process too soon.

    While I'm on the topic, I wasn't too impressed with Alara's turn on the stand either. Having her crush the metal cube is clearly meant to echo the scene in "The Measure of a Man" where Data bends the metal bar, but it fails because they are trying to make the opposite point. In that episode it was used *by the adversary* to illustrate Data's fundamentally different nature - here it's supposed to be used to show that women aren't inferior to men, but the reality is that they are physically weaker, and Alara is only so strong because she's a member of a super-strong species. As Picard says, there are species that have extreme strength, but it doesn't matter. Physical strength just isn't an appropriate criterion here and the right approach is to point that out - not go find an unusually physically strong woman.

    This doesn't apply to the boxing scene, which is used to try to show Bortus specifically that he might be harboring sexist beliefs. Also, it doesn't convince him, probably for exactly the reasons I gave.

    Another scene rang false for me. Ed says that there are laws that support or even require him to deny this procedure. Does the Union really have laws that human customs always take precedence over alien ones, even for those aliens themselves? Then this Union is far less enlightened than the Federation and is really quite colonial. It makes me wonder how they could even recruit a crew that seems to be half aliens. I can handle the doctor refusing to perform the procedure, but not them trying to prevent the Moclans from performing the procedure themselves. The tribunal should have come from the debate between Bortus and Klyden, not something Bortus had to do to keep Ed and the Moclan captain from shooting at each other.

    Overall, this episode did give me things to think about, which was nice. I liked that the episode wasn't wrapped up neatly and that it didn't devolve into a pointless space battle. But it smacked of the TOS "We know best because we're the Americans! I mean humans!" attitude. Ed acknowledges this in his conversation with Kelly - but it doesn't really change anything.

    Between the colonial attitude and the lack of background on why the Moclans are the way they are, I certainly can't justify a 3.5 star rating here, but I don't think the episode was problematic enough to go down to two stars. 2.5 or 3, depending on what else we learn in the future.

    Here are a few other conclusions I can draw:
    * Their sex-reassignment surgery is far more thorough than ours.
    * They seem to have some of the social problems that arise when too many humans of the same gender live together, but not all of them.
    * Moclan females have breasts even though Moclans lay eggs, so they don't appear to be either mammals or reptiles.
    * There seem to be specific female names, so the Moclans' transition to a single gender couldn't be more than a few centuries ago.
    * The Union doesn't seem all that united. They probably shouldn't even call the Orville a Union ship, but rather a Terran ship.

    To give an example of the sort of thing I'm thinking of for why the Moclans might be right to go all-male, consider the Asari from Mass Effect (a true single gender species). They prefer to mate with non-Asari, because the offspring of a pairing of two Asari sometimes turn out to be vampires. Maybe there is a similar problem with the offspring of heterosexual Moclan couples (but which might have had advantages in the past).


    "Here it's supposed to be used to show that women aren't inferior to men, but the reality is that they are physically weaker, and Alara is only so strong because she's a member of a super-strong species."

    I think the point here is that even though women are *on average* weaker than men, the individual differences are so great that in renders such gross generalizations meaningless.

    Even here on earth, a fit woman would be stronger than a male couch potato.

    At least, that was my own take on this.

    "The Union doesn't seem all that united. They probably shouldn't even call the Orville a Union ship, but rather a Terran ship."

    It is certainly less "united" than the UFP.

    The Union reminds me a bit of the present day UN: It's an organization with lots of lofty ideals, but in the end the members pretty much do what ever they want. The Union seems to be a little more formal an alliance, but not by much.

    And I don't see any contradiction between this and the Orville being "a Union ship". Space is a natural place to have joint ventures of this sort, and we already see this kind of international cooperation today with the ISS and SpaceX. And people tend to require a higher standard of themselves in space: Out there we are no longer Americans or Europeans or Asians or whatever... We are all representatives of the human race.

    The episode trumps itself up to deal with issues in the Trekkian tradition, but it emphatically does not. For anyone who works with issues of sex changes at birth, gender identity, circumcision, or other questions fumbled by the episode, it varies between poorly handled and outright offensive. The episode clearly wants to follow in the tradition of TNG's "The Outcast," but its politics are ten steps backwards from a 25-year-old hour of television.

    Let's begin with a throwaway scene separate from the episode's primary issues. Yafit the blob-alien has faked illness three times in order to hit on the ship's doctor. When she confronts him on it, he insists she go out with him, and on her refusal, he protrudes a phallic shape and tells her there's more where that came from. She shoos him out of her office.

    Overt sexual harassment on a Union starship is evidently no big deal. "Hey, it's just comedy!" you might protest. First, it's not very good comedy. Second, MacFarlane is claiming to create aspirational science fiction, a future where humanity has progressed beyond what we are today. Today, we have protections against workplace harassment. If our brighter future is one where we're expected to laugh it off, count me out.

    This principle applies to the way the episode (and so far the series in general) handles all of its issues. The Orville's failure to move beyond sex as a physical binary shows that the writers are not attuned to dialogues in 2017, or even the 1990s, to say nothing of presenting a more enlightened future than the present day. Since Moclan males can lay eggs, what it means to "be female" becomes even more absurd--evidently it means to look and sound like what we expect from a woman.

    Is the show making a point about infant circumcision? Not really, considering the practice is used as an example of something the Union is fine with.

    Is it engaging in meaningful dialogue about infant sex "correction" operations for intersex children? Hardly, since the writers clearly did no research and treat the operations as if they can be performed with no risk to the child or long-term health consequences for them as adults, as if making a baby "male" or "female" is a straightforward endeavor.

    The only point the show can claim to be making is that being a woman is not a disability. The episode preens as if this is some kind of progressive point, but it is not. TNG in the 80s would not have stooped to presenting such a theme as a message; it took the point in principle for granted (even though it took some time for us to have a woman captain in practice). The Orville revels in its nostalgia, but it is not acceptable for its politics to represent a regression from decades past.

    MacFarlane's brand of crass comedy isn't just a tonal mismatch with sincere sci-fi. His particular choices fundamentally undermine any attempts to aspirational science fiction the show might have.

    Thanks for the heads up, Alexandrea. I've been gauging reaction to see if this is worth following, but I'm glad to not have bothered past the first episode.

    This episode is not about women, and it's even less about sending a message that "being a woman is not a disability". It's about challenging cultural norms and preconceptions, whatever they may be. The rigidity of the Moclans' societal norms is something that can readily be applied to almost any aspect of our own, and most of us who have felt excluded or under pressure from their culture to not be different, should be able to relate to Bortus' point of view and his struggle in the episode.

    I have to say, these reviews are rather harsh on the series so far. This episode attempts to deal with the ethical consequences of something rarely looked at on Trek, and yet it gets the same score as a boring and meaningless retread of Star Trek VI in Voyager's "Flashback", and the same as the totally meaningless and flawed Star Trek Into Darkness. Maybe I have different standards, but for me it's ambition that counts for most. Orville is starting to show that it's trying to be more than just throwaway entertainment - something that Star Trek has been for far too long.


    Oh, I am sure that there are laws against workplace sexual harrassment - she just chose to laugh it off. I am quite sure that if he were to continue, she would take steps. It is her choice how the situation should be handled in this case. After all, she can make decision on her own, right?

    I am not sure why you bring up the gender binary. That was not the focus of the show, it wasn't even mentioned. The point was, is it okay to perform operations on infants? Also, the Gender Binary is by no means outdated. 98% of people or more identify as the same gender as their biological sex. Other "genders" have no reproductive purpose, so it is fair to say that the human species is composed of only two genders with a few exceptions.

    And regarding male circumcision: Yes, the Union is fine with it, but why? In the same way it should be fine with the Moclans changing the gender of a female - as they apparently have no reproductive purpose whatsoever (if they are even capable of that), but seem just like a genetic vestige from the time before they became monogender. Granted, we know almost nothing about their biology or society, so this is conjecture, and i wish they'd shown more of that before tackling this issue. So they don't answer the question if male circumcision is right or wrong, but they bring it up and make people think, instead of preaching to them.

    Oh, and regarding sex-change operations and long time consequences: In the series, the procedure seems to be perfected by the Moclans, and human medicine has advanced as well, so I would assume that there were fewer complications. So rather than a lack of research, this is a hypothetical case where there are no medical reasons not to do it, just ethical ones. In that way they focus on the important question.

    "I have to say, these reviews are rather harsh on the series so far. This episode attempts to deal with the ethical consequences of something rarely looked at on Trek, and yet it gets the same score as a boring and meaningless retread of Star Trek VI in Voyager's "Flashback", and the same as the totally meaningless and flawed Star Trek Into Darkness."

    Well, I think a 3-star rating is pretty good. After all, it's just 1 star shy of a perfect rating.

    Why anybody would give STiD 3 stars is beyond my comprehension, but this doesn't have anything to do with the Orville or the Jammer's review of this episode.

    As for this episode: it was profound and original, but it also had quite a few flaws. The arguments in the courtroom really left much to be desired (which is mind-boggling given that we already have a perfect example of how do these things right with "Measure of a Man"), and they could have done much *much* more with the premise.

    So 3 stars, I think, is an entirely reasonable rating here.

    I actually agree with the 3 star rating. It's just that the "flaws" mentioned concerning unoriginality and reliance on a previous era have been present in many very highly regarded ST episodes, which existed almost purely for the fanservice. Never transcending roots wasn't a problem in Trials and Tribble-ations, was it?

    I was disappointed by the doctor's answer to the circumcision question.

    @Jammer: "There's a small part of me that wonders if the lack of a transporter on The Orville is for legal reasons, like that's something that crosses some line. I suppose not, since they could just call it a 'teleporter' or something."

    This is exactly what I have been thinking, and I do still believe it.  I think they have set this aside as their legal ace in the hole: "How can it be a carbon copy of Star Trek without 'beam me up'?"  After all, lots of sci-fi shows have featured FTL travel, shuttles, etc.; but I can't think of any others that used transporters, not within a "Federation/Union" type framework.

    In this vein, I'm a little surprised that they have what are essentially replicators (did you see when that one couple got a giant diamond?  LOL).  But maybe the legal team told McFarlane "you can have either replicators or transporters, but not both", and this is what he picked.

    @Cosmic, you still watching?  Curious if your upward trajectory in appreciation has continued.

    Unfortunately, it appears the move to Thursdays was pretty damaging, as the audience numbers for this episode were a significant dropoff from the first two.  And that was going against repeats for competition.  I await next week's numbers with some significant trepidation.

    @James: "I have to say, these reviews are rather harsh on the series so far. This episode attempts to deal with the ethical consequences of something rarely looked at on Trek, and yet it gets the same score as a boring and meaningless retread of Star Trek VI in Voyager's 'Flashback', and the same as the totally meaningless and flawed Star Trek Into Darkness."

    Great point.  Either side (the tough reviews of this show, or the cushiony reviews of the episodes/movies you mentioned) can be defended on its own; but together it stretches credulity to the breaking point.

    @SlackerInc regarding tha lack of the transporter:

    I think the idea of it just being a legal trick is a bit cynical.

    The transporter is easily the most rediculous and unrealistic peace of Treknology. It's also a huge can of worms in a story-telling sense.

    So really, when you think of "creating an inspired-by-Trek independent sci fi universe", ditching the transporter should be the first thing you do.

    BTW even the alien "molecular transport" tech of the previous episode is not as magical a tech as a transporter. It seems to be site-to-site only.

    Well...they made a filler TNG episode- warts and all.

    I honestly don't know what to make of that accomplishment. Insofar as even bad TNG was reasonably watchable 25 years ago, it's a win- but it's also not 25 years ago. The explicit replication of TNG replicating 'Twelve Angry Men' felt like it was suffering from repetitive Xeroxing- the after school special quality of carefully sanitizing some timely headline and having the ship's high school debate champion make an abbreviated case sagged for me, and neglected all the sharper points that a keen litigator would have made. Yes, I'm all for bringing talk about intersex children to this slice of the mainstream (assuming it's not there already, this many years after the publication of 'Middlesex') but eating your vegetables does not a series make.

    What does it actually mean to be a Moclan female (or male?) Bortus, producing a costly egg that is related to his mate, clearly isn't 'male' in the sense that a biologist would consider the term- the Moclans are clearly simultaneous hermaphrodites. Are they this way naturally, and being 'female' represents a loss of function mutation? Were they engineered this way, as an terminal act of misogyny by a culture obsessed with male martial virtues? How is a Moclan female actually different? What can or can't they do (and appeals to the gendered capacities of *wholly different species* is not of much utility, as the Moclan attorney points out)?

    All those shortcomings distinguished poor Trek courtoom stories from more successful outings- and this felt distinctly like the former, and I'm puzzled in any case that such a literal and inconsistent plot device was what they strove to emulate.

    And I still find I'm choking on the tone. I figured this was going to be Galaxy Quest- The Series, and use the avowedly comedic framework to lovingly highlight some of the ways that the setting was absurd, while still buying into its hopeful nature. That didn't materialize, and instead we got some intimations that it would be Star Trek, but with more obviously imperfect people, which would have been fine too- Captain Picard presumably burped, farted, and got stood up by dates like everyone else. Now, it seems that it just consists of 'ha! We used a colloquialism', which....seems thin.

    @TK, although I liked it better than you did, I feel your review deserves recognition for how well written and well argued it was. Are you yourself a litigator?

    The first twenty minutes of that episode were very interesting, but I thought it was odd how it suddenly turned from a rare genetic defect thing into a "why do you hate women?" thing, especially since the Moclans seemed nothing but respectful to the women of other species before this.

    It just sort of muddled the message of the episode for me, and I think they'd've been better off either sticking with just the sexism aspect or just the genetic defect aspect alone. I don't think the two sides really fit well together.

    I really disliked this episode, not because of the message it was trying to send, but the setting it used sending it. Most of my points are already mentioned by others here, but I feel like I need to do little venting myself.

    Firstly the whole female Moclan thing. We have been shown that 2 "males" of their species can procreate so where does that leave the "female"? This by itself already removes any kind of female - male meaning from the start as they are clearly not different sexes, but more like different racial variants of the same species.

    Secondly the whole premise of them showing how females can be as strong and intelligent as males by using different species is by itself a ridiculous notion. In humans the difference is very small and individual differences are often bigger, but in nature we have for example in arachnids females that are 100x larger than their male counter parts. On mammals, spotted hyena females are larger and stronger than males and do in fact completely dominate them, on the other hand in baboons the males is on average twice the size of female. Sexual dimorphism is very different in different species so everyone just assuming that Moclans are exactly like humans even though they had no records of any "female" of adult age when the whole trial started.

    Again, I'm not saying that the message here was bad, but the setting just did not fit for it.

    Yeah, this show is getting OK now:
    High-concept sci-fi, decent cast chemistry, humour that justifies the show having humour:
    Seth: "You can hang out on our ship for a while....We have board games, we have Monopoly..."
    Agents of Shield gal: "You can be the car"
    I'm A Survivor lyrics recited:
    Bortus: "Those are powerful words - who wrote them?"
    Cap'n Seth: "Like 15 different people"
    A nice mix of high adventure and light-hearted moments - Rock on

    This episode really marks the first strong step towards being a proper successor to 90's Trek. The humour is still very present, and the scene with the blob and the doctor is very out of place, but the subject matter is far more serious and is delved into in more depth.

    There are really two topics being addressed in this episode. The first is a direct parallel being made to sexual assignment surgery on intersex children. This is a topic that is rarely mentioned in any form of media, but is very real. The show takes a strong stance against such procedures, but also is willing to address the fact that it is not an easy decision for the parents and is not necessarily an indication that the parents don't love their child.

    The other topic is dealt with via allegory. Humans are sexual dimorphic, but the imperfections of genetics means that there are variations in biology between the two standard genders. Rather than attempt to delve into the depths of this topic, The Orville simplifies the issue by using a single gender species with a single variation that can occasionally occur. The discussion uses the language of male/female gender to raise the question of whether being born outside the norm is a defect or not. Would she have social standing? Would she be able to find a romantic partner? What are the psychological and social repercussions of being biologically isolated? It's not a perfect examination of the topic by any means, but raising this topic in a language that is accessible to people that may not have any exposure to transgender people is important.

    Oh, and on the random "Trek never did it" aside: I think it's awesome that we have a same sex couple raising a child, and that is treated as so normal that its never even commented on. And one of the men in the relationship is transgender.

    Well, I just started watching Orville and devoured the first three episodes in one sitting...whereas I can still barely make it through a single episode of Discovery. Maybe it's just my taste, but this fact alone testifies as to which of the two I enjoy more :)

    Sure, Orville is a bit goofy and some of the jokes are really immature, but what I like about it is that it is sincere and has heart. I find its fusion of self-aware jabs at common Trek tropes with earnest attempts at dramatic storytelling really interesting, and I think this is something that has a lot of potential - they just need to downplay the silly jokes and introduce more fresh story ideas (as opposed to rehashes of themes from TNG).

    I really liked ˝About a Girl˝, as it was a brave and decent attempt at introducing deeper issues into the series. Sure, there's still a lot of work to be done, but I still find that this episode had more depth than all of the episodes of Discovery so far. Discovery tries so hard to be deep by being all dark and angsty, but it all comes off as very superficial to me. ˝Dark˝ does not necessarily equal ˝deep˝ and ˝interesting˝ - too often, it's just an easy and cheap way of trying to make your stories appear more profound than they actually are.

    Thumbs up for Orville so far, looking forward to seeing more!

    This is the episode that made me realize I was becoming a huge fan. Man, I've missed philosophical sci-fi without the easy answers!

    (I was posting as Dave in NC, but I moved back to my home state).

    Overall a pretty good episode. I liked how they handled the topic of "correctional" sex assignment at birth, even calling in question earth practices like correcting a cleft pallate or circumcision (btw, I sincerely hope that circumcision as a cultural practice will be long gone by the 25th century).

    The ending was solid - cultural customs aren't changed by one sudden revelation, but with the famous author outing herself as a woman, we can at least hope that Moclan society will gradually change, and it was heartwarming to see Bortus und Klyden reconcile and look forward to providing for their child's future.

    So far, Bortus' arc has been the most interesting part of the show for me, and I like that, even though their culture is presented as problematic, the Moclans are still shown as people with believable individual motivations. In that regard, The Orville is more Trekkian than Discovery's portrayal of the Klingons as being characterized by nothing but violence and fear.

    The only part that didn't work for me (apart from the terrible humor, which I hope will be dropped as the series continues) was the courtroom scene. If female Moclans are so rare and are usually changed into males at birth, why do the Moclans have such a clear concept of women being physically and intellectually inferior to men? If the Moclans procreate within one sex only, how come they even have a concept of a male-female binary sexuality? And why does no-one call bullshit when Grayson tries to prove the capabilities of Moclan women by referring to other species from different planets? The answer to these questions is, of course, that this is all just an allegory, but if McFarlane intends to do some worldbuilding with this show, then he should at least give this world some consistency.

    @CPUFP: “I sincerely hope that circumcision as a cultural practice will be long gone by the 25th century).”

    You and me both!

    @CPUFP: "And Why does no-one call bullshit when Grayson tries to prove the capabilities of Moclan women by reffering to other species from different planets?"

    Klyden's lawyer did point out the fallacy, "A male Xelayan could have done thing same thing with half the effort" or words to that effect. How well that particular rebuttal works depends on Xelayan sex differences, but those haven't been explored yet so it's not clear whether he would have done better to make a more general argument. Grayson didn't seem to think that Xelayans are dimorphic in that way but seemed unsure of the matter.

    I am in the middle of this episode and noticed that the gavel made into a sphere is a nod to ST:VI! The Klingon gavel was also spherical. Brilliant! Very good episode. This is good sci-fi.

    I had the same thought as Jammer that there are a lot more Moclan females. One of the characters should have noted that in the show. That means we've seen enough of these shows to anticipate that kind of twist.

    I quite liked this one. I particularly like the arguments about it in this thread - good points raised and discussed. Two things occurred to me while watching it:

    1 How did it happen that females are reviled? If there is genuinely only one female born every 75 years or so, isn't it also possible that they would be feted by society?

    2 It's called a tribunal when there are *three* sitting in judgement, not just when you want something to sound 'legalese'.

    No, I'm not commenting on the rest of the legal stuff. I said enough under 'Measure of a Man'.

    2 It's called a tribunal when there are *three* sitting in judgement, not just when you want something to sound 'legalese

    I can't speak to the origin of the word, but I have argued before tribunals with just one person sitting in judgment. Ironically, the one example I can think of where three sit is called a "panel" of judges, generally an appeal.

    @Jason R
    It's from tribune, the official in the classical world. Strictly, the 'tri' doesn't mean three; originally there were ten tribunes in the Roman system. Standard usage in English law usually implies a bench of three but I, too, have argued before a tribunal of one. I confess I wasn't enrtirely serious in my comment but the greater point is that I dislike attempts to design an 'alien' legal system which then ignores any principle of justice.

    Best episode yet and certainly the most Trek like.
    I like the humour... I'm a big kid. Dick jokes make me laugh.


    I loved the ending to this episode, as the good guys don't win, which is a dose of realism that is generally missing in most US-based television or movie media. This is also why I loved The Empire Strikes Back, because the bad guys got a chance to be

    I spent most of my younger life watching stuff where at the end of the program, the good guys have won, and the problem has been resolved to satisfaction. Very quickly, I discovered that this was not how reality works, and so I REALLY started disliking children's cartoons, like GI Joe and so on.

    This extends into more adult media, so I appreciate episodes of The Orville like this one, because in a series perhaps like Star Trek, the good guys might have won, whereas in The Orville, they really caused me to sit back and go "Huh, they didn't win." And that is okay folks.


    I thought it was kind of amusing that the all-male Moclan society turned their homeworld into a polluted, over industrialized dump, along with random firearms discharges being considered the norm. A subtle jab at "toxic" masculinity, perhaps? Maybe with a bit of feminine perspective, their world wouldn't be so chaotic and grim.

    Anyway, long time reader, first time commenter. I wasn't planning on giving Star Trek: Orville a chance, but I'm glad I changed my mind.

    - Does the Planetary Union have any rules for members?

    - This kind of feels like a white guy in the 90s making a movie about how hard it is for black kids. Tolerant and intolerant at the same time.

    - The way people talk, this whole 20th century thing is still pretty annoying.

    - I think I'm starting to get why some people prefer the Orville over DSC. The stories so far are plain bad. In this episode already there were several scenes where I thought: "Ok, that does not make sense." but what this show does and Discorvery barely does is doing normal ship in space stuff.

    - Ok I don't know why but Alara's ears are really off-putting. Like spiderwebs or something.

    - Does the interior of the ship look like a 90s convention center?

    - This whole boxing match is really dangerous. Didn't she smash a pretty solid looking table during the last episode? I watched it waiting for his head to just break apart. That would have been awesome, by the way.

    - Ok first laugh of the show during the dumbest scene of the episode. The tribunal. When redbeard said: "the moon." Not a good joke but a good delivery. I guess you need a solid sense of humor when you are in Russel Crowe's band.

    - This all feels incredibly forced. The Moclans in the Union which cannot have any rules if these Jokers are in there and the whole tribunal is just bad. The argument of both sides made no sense. I would pick all the stupidity in both arguments apart but that would take three hours and and I have to watch Star Wars in two hours.

    - While there is one sentence at the beginning that is pro trans the rest feels pretty transphobic. Society forcing sex changes on children. There are probably 50k reddit debates how leftwing people want to force sexchanges on children. That is what I mean in my second point. It does try to be tolerant but it feeds into certain narratives. In other words will somebody who sees this be more positive towards gender reassignment surgery or less. I think it will be the latter.

    - I also think that the whole Saudi Arabia comparison from Trent is off. Saudi Arabia isn't trying to erase women, the men in that country just want them to act in a way and have a role which makes it easy to control them.

    I give 2 penises. It didn't actively annoy me but maybe I'm just getting numb.

    "- This kind of feels like a white guy in the 90s making a movie about how hard it is for black kids. Tolerant and intolerant at the same time."

    I can't speak for Orville because I only watched a couple episodes (not including this one) but from Family Guy at least it seems like MacFarlane has a thing with women. Like really, he hates them or something. The show is misogynistic, and that's not a term I throw around loosely.

    The description for this episode sounds consistent with that trend even if it is portrayed seriously (and not in a glib way) as it would be in FG.

    Whatever flaws the Orville may have, being "misogynistic" is not one of them. It is also a *very* different show from "Family Guy" (I HATE "Family Guy" with all my heart, yet I love the Orville).

    To this day I'm not sure how a single person could have produced both shows. I mean, Family Guy is downright barbaric and hateful. The Orville, on the other hand, is progressive and humanistic and... well, Trekkish. Sure, it is also silly and juvenile at times, but its heart is (at least usually) at the right place.

    "While there is one sentence at the beginning that is pro trans the rest feels pretty transphobic. Society forcing sex changes on children. There are probably 50k reddit debates how leftwing people want to force sexchanges on children. That is what I mean in my second point. It does try to be tolerant but it feeds into certain narratives."


    No. I'm sorry, but the actual story that's depicted in the episode has absolutely nothing to do with that "narrative" you're talking about. And as a viewer, I would *not* want the trash spoken by transphobic assholes to dictate the kind of stories we are allowed to tell.

    Besides, the episode directly speaks about the issue of choice. It's right the in the script. It's not just one sentence at the beginning (like you claim) but the entire point of the story!

    That point, by the way, isn't even limited to transgender rights. The scope is much greater than that: It is about a person's right to be themselves, and about the evil of a society that insists on conforming everyone to some kind of "normal" standard. The sex-change thing is just an example of this larger issue.

    @ Omicron
    "No. I'm sorry, but the actual story that's depicted in the episode has absolutely nothing to do with that "narrative" you're talking about"
    During the entire episode gender reassignment surgery is presented as something bad, isn't it? Also we have a transsexual in the episode. The other husband (klayton?)and he is the bad guy here because he is forcing reassignment surgery on his child. In other words the only transsexual on the show forces a sex change op on his own child.
    That is what I meant.

    "Besides, the episode directly speaks about the issue of choice." I don't think that the episode is about choice or if it is the message is muddled. It is more about parental power vs societal rules. The child doesn't have a say in all of this.

    lol, please keep doing these reviews Booming. I want to see if you finally break.

    Booming said "Saudi Arabia isn't trying to erase women, the men in that country just want them to act in a way and have a role which makes it easy to control them."

    That's an erasure. It's a sexist erasing of female subjectivity and desires. The Moclans deem females weak, second class and inferior to men. The exploration of this culture gets fascinating in season 2.

    The next episode is a generation ship episode, in the vein of TOS' "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". It has some good jokes, and a poetic ending, but is a failure IMO. But you can see the show beginning to develop it's identity as TOS bottle-plots meet TNG decor meets GALAXY QUEST meets zany sitcom.

    I wouldn't call the show misogynistic as some above have said - Ed's the butt of the joke (he's Kirk if Kirk were a well-meaning loser), and the show's overtly steeped in "girl power" - but CUPID'S DAGGER, 5 episodes from now, is really tone-deaf on a character's rape.

    "lol, please keep doing these reviews Booming. I want to see if you finally break." :D

    "That's an erasure. It's a sexist erasing of female subjectivity and desires. The Moclans deem females weak, second class and inferior to men. The exploration of this culture gets fascinating in season 2."

    To not go too much down this tangent but you are in part correct. Saudi Arabia excludes women from several parts of society one could call that erasure. Sure. I think the difference is and it speaks to the on the nose quality of the show that in Saudi Arabia you will not find one man who will say: "We think women are weak and inferior." They will have other more positive explanations that lead to the mentioned outcomes. Outright stating in a show:"Women are garbage." is a fairly stupid way of approaching that subject because no culture would do that and it is certainly no coincidence that we didn't hear the entire Moclan argument just the one about physical strength. Sure human and apparently Moclan women are physically weaker but mentally... . Do all civilizations have two genders and is the physically weak one automatically called women? Maybe we should check if the universal translator is made by 8chan. :)
    I digress... from the tangent.

    "The next episode is a generation ship episode"
    I can hardly contain my enthusiasm...


    You're not wrong about Cupid's Dagger.

    Oh well... every show has to have its share of stinkers.

    "I think the difference is and it speaks to the on the nose quality of the show that in Saudi Arabia you will not find one man who will say: 'We think women are weak and inferior.'"

    Do you understand that it is an ALLEGORY? Niether women rights nor transgender rights are at the center of this episode. You are completely missing the point here.

    And we *did* hear the Moclan's point of view. We heard in all its chilling "glory": They outcast a minority, and then use their very own despicable behavior as "proof" that the minority in question is indeed inferior.

    The issue, by the way, is something that's very close to me personally. As a guy who was born... different... I experienced first hand all the f**k-ed up rationalizations that we heard from the Moclans in this episode. The way a society ostracize certain groups of people just because they are different. The way society treats certain people as if they are subhuman, always feels pity for them as if they're inferior, raises artificial barriers to prevent them from integrating anywhere... and then use the resulting impossible situation that they've created to "prove" that their prejudice was justified.

    This episode captured that situation perfectly. So perfectly, that there's no way it could be a coincidence. I'm quite sure that McFarlane had some personal experience with this kind of thing. Either he suffered from this kind of prejudice himself, or a family member/friend of his did.

    Moreover, it's a topic that actual Star Trek never really covered. There's no Trek episode that really brings home what people like me have to suffer through every single day, yet the Orville managed to deal with the subject on f***-ing episode 3.

    I don't know about you, but I find that to be quite impressive.

    I understand this has a strong emotional component for you. For you the message worked. For me it didn't. Simple as that. :)

    "Do you understand that it is an ALLEGORY?"
    Of course I do but I think it is more of an allegory stew which in part leaves a bad taste in my mouth. With the sentence "We think women are weak and inferior." I meant that men in Saudi Arabia will not say in Parliament or in front of a camera that they see it that way. It is how they probably deep down feel and quite a few of them, after eating a few too many coffee beans or whatever they do to get high, will probably say that women are just weak and inferior. I meant the difference between official and informal. The Moclans outright say it in an official building during an official process.

    Plus women aren't a minority, so is this about trans or homosexuals or minorities or women or disenfranchised groups in general? Why does a species where men can procreate with each other even have women? That opens up so many questions. How do Moclans decide who carries the egg? Can a trans Moclan lay eggs? And why are there so few women? Why did nature develop two genders when there is no need for it? To grab the first definition I could find Female: of or denoting the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes (ova) which can be fertilized by male gametes." So in effect the women of the Moclan society aren't really females in a scientific sense. The show decided to create a part of an alien society that is just physically weaker and call that women.

    I think it would have worked better with an actual minority at the center and without making the only trans person on the show the villain of the episode. Wouldn't that be kind of nice if the trans person would have been against the operation and the "normal" husband for it? That's is why the ending left such a bad taste in my mouth because not only is the one trans person the villain who tries to force a sex change on the child. The trans person succeeds and the "normal" Moclan husband loses. Without the trans Moclan contacting the Moclan homeworld there would have been no conflict. If we consider the Orville as an odd cousin of Star Trek then they brought us the first transsexual regular (?) side character and what did they do with that character? They immediately turned him into a bad guy. Don't you think that this goes against the message of the episode?

    "Moreover, it's a topic that actual Star Trek never really covered. There's no Trek episode that really brings home what people like me have to suffer through every single day, yet the Orville managed to deal with the subject on f***-ing episode 3. "
    I don't know what hits so close to home here for you. But I get the emotional reaction somewhat. Maybe some, even bad representation is better then none. In other words why do gay people love Disney villains. ;)

    Wow, didn't expected that much depth in The Orville.
    Its quite faszinating to see how they blend parodic and serious elements together, this worked here very well.

    Its a bit funny to read all those people who try to shit on the Orville because it is from MacFarlane, the Family guy author. You're all so prejudiced.

    The argumentation in court (and before) is better than in Measure of a Man. There, I said it. Legally and ethically. Don't get me wrong, I love Measure of a Man, but if you rewatching it, you see its flaws. What made Measure of a Man special was not the depth of the argumentation itself, but that human rights issues regarding Data were discussed at all in an earnest way centerstage.
    This episode gives quite interesting arguments, shows arguments from both sides without antagonising one side and doesnt give the expected happy ending, they lose the case. the baby gets male and Bortus gives an very adult reaction, in putting emphasis on the wellfare his child, whatever gender it has. Makes the story nearly realistic in its outcome but hits the right tones.

    I can't see those plagiarism claims anymore. TNG copied TOS episodes straight in its first season (Naked Time) and I see so many recycled stories between TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager. Nobody cared, but for The Orville people talk several paragraphs about how similar it is to TNG. You cannot plagiarise an idea, everyone is free to create a Star Trek like series as long they create an independent world. And I see no Klingons, Romulans or Borg clones in Orville. I see a lot of new content in the spirit of TNG. And this is completely fine. (Especially after Discovery fails on so many levels to be an proper successor). What Orville gets right is the positive tone and earnest handling of ethical issues. Where does Discovery that? Has the first season any message except that nihilistic "we're at war - we must do what has to be done"
    I guess I know which one of both series Roddenberry would have preferred.
    The Orville is horribly underrated.

    After the uneven comedy-drama of the first two episodes, this came as a pleasant surprise, as it tackled a thorny subject in a way which any Star Trek series would have been proud of. Then too, it managed to do so without throwing in any inappropriate humour /and/ had the guts to take what was perhaps the more controversial path, by acceding to the cultural preferences over the "enlightened" view of the Planetary Union.

    (Equally, it's nice to see that the argument from the Union's side is purely focused on the rights of the child to choose, rather than about whether changing gender is valid...)

    It's still an overly derivative take on A Measure of A Man, and if truth be told, the courtroom arguments don't really hold water that well - the fact that Kitan is stronger than a Moclus and Molloy is less intelligent than Grayson is completely moot - given that they're different species, you may as well say that a bird is better at flying than a fish, or that a bear is stronger than a goat.

    On the other hand, the moment when the female Moclus author makes her argument for being who she is, it's arguably on a par with Picard's arguments in A Measure of A Man!

    I'm still in two minds about the series - as arguably, the series is itself - but there's definitely enough here to warrant further watching...

    This episode was certainly the first one that made me wonder if I could perhaps enjoy this show. I'd been hanging on through the first two based on friends' recommendations and my love of Star Trek and good sci-fi. But even in this one, still loaded with stupidity, I many times doubted if I could make it to the next episode.

    When Bortas watched the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer classic, I was thrilled. But in the several minutes of the episode before that, I barely see how this was anything more than just another episode of Family Guy in Space. Certainly the Orville crew denying Bortas something that is the custom of his entire world was immediately stupid. I was reeling from that, for sure. But then he turned. And it was inspired.

    This show COULD be about something and interesting.

    But then the rest of the episode still dwelled in a place of stupidity and our crewmembers resembling inexplicably employed fools on a fancy ship. The tribunal scenes were certainly silly. But then we DID see something interesting. Yay, female hero!

    And it ended sort of reasonably. Good, that. Yeah, that too.

    But at the end I could really sense what had bothered me so much so far with The Orville. It wasn't just the tonal mess of the show, it was the annoyance of just watching something where I am asked to care about characters that all, all!, all act as though they have about fifty to sixty IQ points less than they look like. These people are just dumb. I thiiiink that's the point? It's some kind of Galaxy Quest-like Trek-lite with a winking eye at all the fun references, allusions and moments. But the world, characters, and events are insipid and silly.

    I really want to like this show. It's occasionally funny. And it's sometimes sexy. But it's never that smart.

    It's always about idiots walking around in a fantasy of Seth McFarlane's where things happen that don't make sense up until the point where he wants us to believe they do so we can care about what's going on. I can only take this show seriously as a Family Guy in Space show, a show where random things happen randomly and familar tropes and moments are referential and tangentially interesting or funny -- on occasion. You can see I've never been a huge fan of Family Guy too. But I promised friends I'd really give The Orville a chance.

    Fortunately, the next episode is pretty good. (Less idiotic actions, yay!)

    @23:30 A shuttle leaves the shuttlebay with people still In the bay yet no decompression occurs, there's even some wind.

    >And once again, the Orville is tackling an issue that official Star Trek has failed to deal with in over 700 episodes: The issue of correcting "defects" in children who were born different,

    Voyager came pretty close in 7x12 "Lineage", with Torres wanting to genetically modify her unborn baby.

    >You know, I absolutely admire the way the Orville isn't afraid to tackle issues that even Star Trek feared to tread. First the animal rights one, and now this.

    Again, Voyager came pretty close to an animal rights allegory in 4x07 “Scientific Method”.

    @John Lemon
    >Sexual dimorphism is very different in different species so everyone just assuming that Moclans are exactly like humans even though they had no records of any "female" of adult age when the whole trial started.

    What if scientists discover how to engineer a sperm cell would that mean the end of men? Equally, what if scientists discover how to create an artificial womb, would that be the end of women?

    While it may be grading on a curve, I like "The Orville" so far: it seems to know what it's trying to be, is leaving room for growth, and plays a delicate game (which Jammer alludes to in the Rudolph scene) in being both bold and tentative. My wife and I both found the allegory to map somewhat most closely to human intersex births (where frequently the doctors and parents choose to fix the child's sex at birth to avoid the child undergoing future stigma, with the decisions sometimes regretted), but the episode also bounces around all sorts of issues. It's not so much that the episode is particularly tight or coherent in what it brings up, as that it keeps suggesting new avenues for discussion long enough to keep the story engaging without letting the episode's spell break. I think I mostly like that the episode doesn't force its allegory to be too pinned down, though the stageyness of the episode does get to be rather much during the courtroom scenes (proving that Moclan females can be as strong as males by showing off Alara is a fairly meaningless gesture, as the prosecution points out). As far as these downbeat allegories go, I think it's not as good as, say, The Twilight Zone's "Number 12 Looks Just Like You," but better than "The Outcast."

    I like the little details around the edges of the Moclan homeworld -- that the emphasis on a particular view of maleness leads to this society that's all weapons manufacturing and smog, a courtroom of cubes and larger cubes. Had the episode pushed this to the forefront, it would probably be ridiculous, but as backdrop it hits the right notes.

    There's some Worf/Crusher ("The Enemy," "Ethics") vibes to the Bortus/Claire arguments.

    Anyway the double-edged sword of this non-Trek Trek is that it can sort of get away with less-sketched in story aspects than if it were a more "legitimate" show, which also allows it to successfully navigate the anything-goes throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks energy, which I think maybe covers up some careful thought going into these scripts (at least this one). As Jammer says, the Rudolph scene is particularly good -- and also includes maybe the show's best joke so far (when Bortus says that Rudolph's father originally planned to have him euthanized, and the others say that that wasn't ever on the table). 3 stars seems right.

    Oh yeah part of Kelly being the one to give the argument was a nice touch; in addition to the rest, it really is also story about the legitimacy of "women in a man's world." Kelly in particular is a good choice for this because -- well, Palecki is good, yes, but the Ed/Kelly arc seems to be that their marriage failed because Ed kept her separate from his work, and their new relationship (whatever form it takes) is going to succeed because he'll integrate her into it. I don't think we're meant to believe that in the actual 25th century story that there's significant sexism on Earth (except in the 20th century jokes I guess) but I think the subtext is about reconciliation of the sexes by coexisting within both domestic and professional spheres, a Trek fanfic take on the Tracy/Hepburn "Adam's Rib"-type battle of the sexes comedy. I think I remember some comments on Ed/Kelly getting tiresome and I can definitely believe that, but I think that's what story they're going for.

    I wish I'd given this episode a thorough review when I first watched it, but I'd binged the first 4 episodes in one sitting and I was still in the afterglow of FINALLY getting my Trek fix.

    I've already talked this segment to death in other episode reviews so no need to rehash ithis yet again, but I'm glad to see it holds up to multiple viewings. (The actress who plays Haveena is a wonder to behold.)

    ⭐⭐⭐ is right on the money, factoring in how much The Orville improves by the end of Season 2.

    Ok here's the problem. The show tries to deal with themes like homosexuality and sex changes, gender questions, however it uses Moclan's to try to get it's point across. It may as well have used amoebas.
    Ok so Moclan's are an all male race that lays eggs. Don't care. When Moclan's have a female child they swap its gender. Don't care. I simply don't care about Moclan sexuality. It literally has nothing to do with human society, morals nor ethics.
    They tried to bring the human element in by showing the reactions of humans to Moclan principles, but as far as I was concerned, do the srx change, don't do the sex change, whatever.
    They ignored the greater story, that being the interaction of the mucus creature and the doctor, Thatbwould have held my attention.

    I am impressed. Although parts of it was quite silly and redicolous they managed to get the main theme trough in a very good way. In real trek they often speeak about that they do not beleive in no win scenarios. Here there defenetly was one, and it was very well treated.

    It would have been easy to let Klyden change his mind in the last moment, they did not and that gave it the very special touch.

    After skimming through all of these comments, I’ve found that the one thing that no one has really mentioned yet is that although Bortus is in the main cast and it’s clearly his episode, this is very much a Klyden story as well. If we frame Klyden as the hero of the story, there’s a triumphant and hopeful resolution. But when we frame Bortus as the hero, it’s more of a downer and a splash of cold-water reality. It’s clear through the dialogue, directorial choices, music, and the disappointment of Mercer and Grayson at the end, that the episode sides with Bortus. But then there’s that wonderful last scene in which Bortus and Klyden, alone together, unite with the common purpose to give their child his best life despite what just happened. “About a Girl” is just like the character story it tells -- thoughtful, messy, and challenging.

    As a Klyden story, “About a Girl” is about a parent who wants a life of belonging, normalcy and social acceptance for their child. Who wouldn’t want their kid to be accepted and happy if they could help it? Klyden was born a female himself, a secret kept from him until it was revealed in his adulthood by happenstance. He’s looking back at his fairly normal life and is likely grateful that his parents loved him enough to decide to give him the operation. That’s where he’s coming from here. He’s heard the stories of how Moclan females are ostracized and alone--or for all we know, he and Bortus participated in such bullying themselves although this is never addressed--typically living in exile as “freaks” away from the rest of society. This arrangement is ingrained within the Moclans’ culture. Klyden’s not looking for a complicated life for his family. He wants his child to be liked, to go out on a first date, to be accepted by his peers. The idea of not having the procedure performed is utterly baffling to him, especially since he now knows how close he came himself to having such a harsh life. He fights passionately to give his child normalcy, even loudly voicing his opinion in the courtroom at an improper time (a nice touch later--Bortus and Klyden ultimately still sit together in the courtroom audience). At the end, he succeeds and can breathe a sigh of relief that his child will have one less thing to worry about in his life. We can admire Klyden as a parent here.

    Of course, this episode focuses more on Bortus, as it must. What would have really been interesting is if it had been Bortus, and not Klyden, to take Klyden’s position and stand firm on wanting the operation (while Klyden would advocate against it). As Bortus is in the Orville opening credits, we’re expected to root for him by default (sure, there are anti-hero shows but this isn’t one of them). It may have been easier to see Klyden’s point, in fact, had it been vocalized through Bortus. But instead, Bortus is given the more traditional iconoclastic role that a series lead typically has. “Bucking the system” stories have been done ad nauseum in Hollywood, so in a strange way it’s the safer and more cliched choice. But the position itself is still a risky one, and thereby more dramatic for storytelling. Bortus tells the court that, “I’m willing to take that risk” of their child resenting him for not going through with the procedure, leading directly to her life of hardship. In the child’s mind, her father *chose* to have her be different and bullied. This doesn’t mean she would actually grow up feeling that way, but it’s a definite possibility acknowledged here. But Bortus’ argument also highlights the belief that some of the most successful lives are developed through struggle. By coincidence, I just recently watched the Star Trek episode called “This Side of Paradise” in which Kirk flat-out says that our lives aren’t supposed to be very easy at all. Struggle drives incentive. Like it or not, bullying can sometimes fuel a child’s ambition to succeed and overcome adversity more than, say, being popular would. Bortus wants his child to be *unique* more than he wants her to be automatically accepted and celebrated, and I have no doubt that he would still have given her a loving, supportive environment had she remained a girl. He would have celebrated her difference. We can admire Bortus as a parent here.

    An interesting thing to think about is that in this particular case, Bortus’ and Klyden’s child being female would probably not lead to a childhood of ostracism and exile at all because of Bortus’ position as a crewmember of a Union starship. It’s not like they plan on now returning home to Moclas. I’m guessing they are simply about to raise their child on the Orville. The kid will be a military brat, essentially. So even if the child were kept female, there’s not much to worry about in terms of her growing up a “freak.” On the Orville, everyone’s a freak (haha). I’m surprised that this point was never directly mentioned, but it’s just a food-for-thought footnote anyway.

    We ourselves tend to think that changing a girl to a boy in infancy is horrific, as Mercer, Finn and Grayson all do, because in our world there’s a roughly 50/50 gender spread. But on Moclas, needless to say, that is not true. Is the resolution of this story really tragic at all? Or is it in fact more merciful and hopeful?

    As far as the courtroom and boxing scenes go, well, they’re made up of circular arguments (Best out-of-context line: “Captain Mercer, tell me about your penis”). As is pointed out by the Moclan advocate and witness, the strength of a Xeleyan female and the intellectual idiocy of Lt. Malloy has nothing to do with this case. “My world is different from yours,” Bortus reminds Dr. Finn in an early scene. And just because the female Moclan writer has lived an amazing life of success despite the struggle she endured (in fact, likely because of it), doesn’t mean that this would be true of all ostracized females. And let’s all remember that she went the same route as George Eliot and J.K. Rowling in terms of not publishing under a name associated with femininity. The court’s decision was an obvious one. They’re not going to change their minds because of one case study and the witness statements made by members of completely different species.

    So now what? Alara poses a pointed question early in “About a Girl” -- “You don’t think that Bortus and Klyden will love her any less than if she was a boy, do you?” So now I’d reframe the question as, “You don’t think that Bortus will now love his son any less because he received the sex change, do you?” Judging by some parents out there (on both sides), you have to wonder. But I think that in this case, we see in the last scene that Bortus is a good man, and that in no way will he hold the resolution of this case against his son. Will he hold it against Klyden? Now that’s interesting, and it remains to be seen.

    I too was skeptical about Bortus’ change of heart being suddenly streamlined by Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. If anything, Rudolph’s nose is more analogous to the cleft palate point, as it could have been just as likely for a doe to have been born with a red nose. But it’s a reasonable and funny enough Macguffin for a 45-minute episode, I guess.

    Best Line:

    Bortus -- (snippily) “I am not snippy.”

    My Grade: B+

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