The Orville

"Blood of Patriots"

2 stars

Air date: 3/7/2019
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Rebecca Rodriguez

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When it comes to bureaucratic decrees that seem to have no moral conviction for protecting its own, the Union really is the worst. Or maybe it's Admiral Ted Danson who is the worst. First he orders Mercer to leave Grayson and Bortus to rot in an alien concentration camp in "All the World Is Birthday Cake." Now here he asks Mercer to maybe look for a way to send Orrin Channing (Mackenzie Astin), a Union POW who has escaped after 20 years of harsh imprisonment, back into Krill custody in the absence of any sort of extradition agreement, because it might soothe tensions ahead of peace negotiations. (Also, the Orville is sent to broker this agreement, because the Union has no one better. Not promising.)

This is a morally bankrupt move and also pretty questionable from a pragmatic standpoint. If the Union are such pushovers that they will sell out one of their own in the interests of patching together a treaty, what does that say about not only their moral ground, but their clear desperation? Grayson herself questions the decision, which is at least something. The bigger problem, of course, is that the Union and Krill are so loosely defined that all of this feels like a dramatic patchwork anyway. After the Kaylon attack* that has changed the dynamic, the Krill are at the negotiation table to broker a peace agreement, but we learn surprisingly little new about them or the hostilities they hold toward the Union. Is this a cold war or something where many lives have already been lost in border skirmishes? What makes the Krill tick? There's a mention of more progressive elements that are responsible for this dialogue even being possible, but can we get some more depth here?

* The mass destruction caused by the Kaylon attack is not even acknowledged. So much for feeling the consequences. Likewise, Isaac sits on the bridge like nothing happened, let alone an invasion he was complicit in, and everyone just accepts it. Maybe there will yet be fallout from this, but this is not a promising start.

I offer all this up mostly as a rhetorical exercise, because it's the thing I felt the most strongly about in "Blood of Patriots," which is an unremarkable exercise in familiar themes that have been explored in Trek previously. I was reminded mostly of TNG's "The Wounded," which was, of course, far better, in no small part because it had two terrific dramatic actors in Colm Meaney and Bob Gunton, as well as solid writing. "Blood of Patriots" has Scott Grimes and Mackenzie Astin. They are okay, but the writing doesn't give them a ton of help. There's nothing hugely wrong here; it's just relentlessly mediocre.

The most interesting scene comes when Ed and Gordon argue over Channing's possible shady motives. At one point they realize they hold opposite viewpoints about whether the Union should even be talking to the Krill. This leads to some heated debate about whether such a brutal enemy can be humanized given their fundamentalist attitudes, and it seemed like maybe this was going somewhere, but rather than explore political issues, the episode instead decides it's about Friendship, and Malloy's old debt to his old friend Channing. (Of course, the fact that this is ultimately framed as jealousy encroaching on the series' most notable bromance feels like a second tier take on this material, rather than confronting larger issues head-on.)

The plot is fairly standard and nothing approaching compelling. The most notable thing it does is treat Malloy as a serious character facing a personal dilemma, which allows him to break out of his usual role as the wisecracking comic relief. Of course, the rub is that Channing is indeed hiding something nefarious. It's obvious immediately. But Keyali can't prove anything beyond "he just doesn't feel right," and the Krill's claim that he has destroyed multiple Krill ships and taken countless lives can hardly be taken at face value.

At one point it looks like Malloy, who has discovered Channing does indeed intend to stage another attack on the Krill, might be sympathizing with him, and even taking action to help him (he stuns Keyali and helps Channing steal a shuttle), and I felt like this was maybe getting twisty and interesting and committing to a serious change in the status quo. But I should know that's not this show's modus operandi; it's all a con to entrap Channing, and Mercer and the rest of the crew are in on it. (It seems like not a great plan to entrap a suspect in a way that gives him access to a shuttle that may allow him to stage the very attack you are trying to prevent, but this is what's known as "stakes.") Meanwhile, the revelation that Channing's "daughter" is really something completely different (and an accomplice to his plans) feels like a shoe waiting to drop the entire hour.

Meh. This is a missed opportunity. On the plus side, this was possibly the most straightforward dramatic episode of The Orville so far, and for Malloy for sure. (Wait — I take that back. I just remembered Keyali's bureaucratic "stalling techniques" used on the Krill delegation, which are so broad and bland as comedy — cavity searches, really? — and unlikely to be tolerated by the Krill that they feel like they were beamed in from a different universe.) But rather than delving into specifics around this Union/Krill alliance and the details leading up to it and what it will mean moving forward, we get a pedestrian guest star offering up a pedestrian one-off war-story issue. But, hey, at the end Ed and Gordon get to reaffirm their status as BFFs, so it's all good.

Previous episode: Identity, Part II

◄ Season Index

155 comments on this review

Chris
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
Well, this week was a mess. Boring with some of the worst dialogue of the season. "Patriotism is only for people with large families" .... What does that even mean??? Lol. The boarding "requirements" scene for the krill (on the eve of a historic peace treaty) wasn't funny or clever .. it was just stupid. Malloys friend was horrible ... hard to care about the character when he portrayed him as an ass the entire episode. No follow-up on Isaac. The Krill were given nothing interesting to do. Just a misfire. 1.5/4.
Troy G
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
Wow, where did this episode come from?

"Blood of Patriots" is excellent! Four stars? Maybe.

I've seen far worse Voyager, Enterprise, and Discovery episodes. Maybe TNG, even.

I could nitpick but there were so many little details and touches that make this episode succeed. Gordon's trepidation as he begins his space walk, the alien with nitro-glycerin blood, Mercer and Gordon in the end; it all works to make a solid episode.

I'm fine with episodes like this, just as long as The Orville doesn't forget to give us episodes like "Pria" and "Jaloja" every so often
Dave in MN
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Some nice character building for Gordon and they're expanding the lore/ politics of the galaxy considerably. Also, I like the nods to the continuity: the events of this week's episode are the logical outcomes of threads introduced in the last episode. Plus, Yaphit got a medal!

I should've seen the twist about Orrin's daughter coming ... but it got me, haha.

I don't mind that this episode focused on the biggest questions posed this season (this time focusing on the geopolitical angle): when are alliances worth ignoring your principles? When are principles worth dying for? When is force justified?

I'd say this was a 3 star episode: a bit of a slow burn, but inportant for setting up plot threads for the next season.

PS : just an observation, but there was very minimal musical scoring and conservative camera usage .on this episode .... a little more flair might have bumped this up a quarter/ half star.
Tempeh
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the very first comment. Boring, and one of the worst episodes of the Orville so far.
JIm1701
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Easily the worst episode of the second season if not the entire show.

Nothing to see here than a plot that one can easily stay one step ahead of with
some high school antics thrown in for good measure.

1 star and that is being generous.


Perry
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
This episode had a couple tricks above the sleeves.

The Patriots comment is a slight letdown but it shows that person is not who he was. Gordon is certainly not a bright officer for advancement on the ship. I thought Gordon acted that way in a cleverly fashion.

This episode made it look like the Orville is doomed if security measures weren't enacted. We could see why we have a young security officer that is on a steep learning curve as we take onto the next episode.

The Orville writers have done a good job of bringing on stories that flow from one episode to another.

new discoveries and uncertainties abound. The major drawback to this one is how can you be stuck in the middle of peace negotiation when this conflict is taken place. It's hard to take on script like that but I think they handled it rather awkward. some silly krill introduction on Orville ship to use it as a delay tactic but pretty funny overall. Borderline episode in my opinion.



SlackerInc
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
A very uneven and thus marginal episode. There was some stupid, cringey stuff, some cliche stuff, but also some good elements. Overall I can't quite go for 3 stars so it's 2.5 for me (if I could give it like 2.8 I'd feel better because 2.5 does feel harsh).
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
"There was some stupid, cringey stuff, some cliche stuff, but also some good elements."

Yup. That's pretty much sums it up for this one. 2.5-2.8 is about right. Kinda meh overall.

I'll give the episode credit for one thing, though: It did hold my interest from the first to the last second. It was at times cliched/cringey, but it was never ever boring.
J.B.
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Orville goes back to the Trek well, cribbing from both TNG's "The Wounded" and Voyager's "Fair Trade." It lacks the depth of either. The episode seems to want us to care about Gordon and Orin's friendship but there's just nothing there and the latter ends up being a one-note cliche character anyway. Unfortunately, without that core working, it's hard to care about basically anything happening in the episode.

I do appreciate that Gordon is treated seriously for once and a couple of the jokes made me laugh but this feels like a major wasted opportunity given the potential story lines in play leading up to the Union/Krill peace signing.
Galadriel
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 3:50am (UTC -5)
A little bit of “The Wounded” plus almost all of “Past Prologue” — this episode was a huge letdown from previous week.

On the plus side, I loved the medal ceremony at the beginning, Yaphit has very much become a person to me, and that’s a long way from the comical relief cha­rac­ter he was intro­duced as. It’s a strength of The Orville to show how initial per­cep­tions can be wrong, playing with our xeno­phobia that would not allow us to take a green slime ball as a serious character.

The rest of the episode was, however, pretty meh. Malloy channeled Kira from “Past Pro­logue” almost exactly, and I feared this would hap­pen from the mo­ment on when Oren pressed him so hard; by the time he shot Keyali in the Shuttle Bay, all sus­pen­se was already gone. The custom clear­ance scene was pain­ful to watch; I note that Keyali still has not be­come much of a cha­rac­ter, she just fills the Alara plot slot with­out being Alara.

Isaac has only one line of text in this episode, I guess they save his arc to the next epis­ode(s), which is fine for me. The signing of the Con­tract was so fast that it came out of nothing, and open questions remain: How did the Krill ac­cept the solution, with no proofs avail­able? Was the girl delivered to a Krill inter­roga­tion? What is the actual content of the Contract?

Makes two stars for me: Soso execution of a soso plot.
Trent
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:13am (UTC -5)
As others have mentioned, this is "Orville" doing TNG's "The Wounded". It also evokes "The Undiscovered Country" and DS9's ""For the Cause"/"For the Uniform".

Unfortunately, though its last 20 or so minutes are pretty exciting, I'd call this the weakest episode so far of both season 1 and 2. Positives include Yaphit's medal ceremony, a nice sense of continuity (after "Identity", an episode about Krill/Union diplomacy is just what the franchise needed), some good "detective scenes" with Talla, one good "Gordon wrestling with heavy issues" scene and a great scene where Talla and Gordon bond over some booze. Philosophically/politically, the episode's stance is also nice.

But the negatives are too much: the jokes don't land, feel awkward and cringey, and the first 30 or so minutes are strangely off-kilter, lifeless and flat. The episode also relegates its most interesting material - the Union and Krill negotiating - to nothingness. Such a momentous occasional should have pomp and ceremony and be made a big deal of.

The episode also needlessly mimic's Trek's tired "character of the week" format; a better writer would eject all this stuff, give the racist/warmongering attitudes to a different character (an admiral or ambassador) rather than Gordon's shoe-horned buddy, or jettisoned the idea entirely. That nobody mentions to Gordon's buddy that the peace treaty is needed to stave off attacks by the genocidal Kaylon, is also strange.

Still, its interesting how the episode contrasts Gordon's militant buddy with the militancy of Janel a few episodes earlier:

Janel: Your own scientists claim your species is just another kind of animal. Animals have no souls!
Ed: Look, from what we've seen, when planets first achieve space travel, and they venture out into the galaxy, and discover that they're just one single species among a vast diversity of life-forms, they usually react in one of two ways. They embrace and adapt to the fact that they're no longer the center of the universe, or they ratchet up their xenophobia. Now, from what I've learned of your history, the Krill were a lot less fanatical before you left your home world-
Janel: You know nothing of our history.
Ed: I know fear when I see it. You're afraid to accept the fact that your superiority may just be a comforting myth.
Janel: Who are you to lecture me about myths? You fell in love with a woman who did not exist.

Gordon's buddy is locked in a similar kind of hateful nostalgia, unwilling to move on, fanatical and xenophobic. Gordon, meanwhile, is in love with a myth; his buddy as hero, savior and patriot.
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Better than the terrible astrology episode, but not great.

On one hand, I'm glad after 1.5 seasons Malloy finally got a focus episode, giving Scott Grimes a chance to showcase that he can be more than awkward comic relief - that there's greater depths to his character than being...well...an idiot.

On the other hand, it basically plays like a slightly above-average Voyager episode. There's nothing at all here we haven't seen many times before. Considering the roll that The Orville was on for the last several episodes, this is a huge effin let down.
Jim1701
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:30am (UTC -5)
Trent: Well said. I agree with what you said here.
Mertov
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:50am (UTC -5)
Echoes of "The Wounded" (TNG) and "Fair Trade" (VOY) as J.B. said, and a complete rehash of "Past Prologue" as noted by Galadriel. All three of those were better than this. Good episode if you want to re-live the nostalgia to the fullest (hopefully, you have forgotten these episodes completely). Bad episode if you are looking for originality, recurring problem for this show.

The only significant story difference between "Past Prologue" and this one happens at the end when the shuttlepod of Tahna does not explode and he is taken into custody, whereas Orrin dies with the shuttlepod's explosion (although there is a similar fight between the two individuals in the shuttle before both denouements). The rest of the plot is almost identical down to Gordon almost carbon-copying Kira throughout, Ed being faced with the same inner conflict as Sisko, both Ed and Sisko facing pressure from their respective Admirals, Orrin hiding his own agenda from The Orville at first like Orrin hiding hos from DS9, Tahna approaching the station's space in a shuttle and the station saving him from the pursuing 'enemy' bigger ship just like The Orville saves Orrin in the same way to start out the episode.

Heck even Kira's fears of betrayal of one or the other when she hesitates in telling Sisko and thus first goes to Odo's office to speak to him about it is found in Gordon's fears of the same betrayal when he hesitates in telling Ed and thus first goes to Talla's office to speak to her about it (including the 'damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don't' self-reflection expressed by both). And the delaying of the arriving hostile party by DS( and The Orville via the use of lengthy docking-procedures (except that in "Past Prologue" we just hear the Cardassian Gul complain to Sisko, whereas here, we see Talla actually doing it, and then hear the Krill complain to Ed).

The one positive of this episode is the rare use of Gordon as a true adult character. It seems that next week the episode will also center on him, a good move if The Orville tries to go the serious rout too many times, although he does far better on humor-based episodes (which, I would like to see a lot more, than this type of episode). You can only go down the 80s-90s well of Trek so many times and avoid rehash, and it seems that The Orville's writing has squarely fallen into that trap since a while back.
Mertov
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:54am (UTC -5)
In the lower part of the second paragraph above, it should read:
"... Orrin hiding his own agenda from The Orville at first like Tahna hiding his from DS9..."
Hank
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 9:28am (UTC -5)
""Patriotism is only for people with large families" .... What does that even mean???"

In the context of this episode: Malloy implies that it is his patriotic duty to agree to the peace treaty - after all, that would reduce future suffering and give meaning to past sacrifices. Orran says his patriot line to imply that he has lost so much, that he can not muster the forgiveness required to agree to a peace treaty, as opposed to people who have not lost so many realtives to the conflict (= large families). It is a little bit confusing, because patriotism in this case means pacifism, internationalism and forgiveness, while in our time it is mostly assosciated with militarism and isolationalism, and the line could be interpreted to be a jab at mid-western white trash, but I didn't get the impression that that was being implied.
Hank
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 10:27am (UTC -5)
Ok, finished watching and I am impressed. This was a really solid episode. Yes, sure, we have seen this story before, but which story haven't we seen somewhere before? I thought it was handled well. Maybe thats just me, though, as I have noticed that my standards for the Orville are lower than for Star Trek. And the Orville pretty much set out to be a rehash of TNG - it never was trying to hide that, so why is everybody surprised when they cover previous Trek? That's exactly the reason why I am watching. It is just more of TNG, but different enough to not be boring, for me at least.

Sure, they could have focused on the higher ups clashing among themselves wether to make peace or not, but then they'd have to shoehorn the Orville into that (even more than having Mercer sign the agreement, and that was acknowledged in the episode and explained), and we have seen that story as well, in many different guises, Undiscovered Country being just one, and I'd say every second Courtroom drama has the same premise: Forgiveness and peace or vengeance and punishment? True, the stakes are different, but the basic story is the same.

Regarding some criticisms:
1. Why didn't the Krill demand the girl? They said they only wanted Orran. Mercer does not have to tell them that she is still alive either. Yes, I would wager that the Krill would want her, but then again, that might be just a very minor sign of good will from their side. After all, they got confirmation that Orran indeed blew up their ships, an that might be valuable enough, considering the implications at the negotiating table.

2. Why does the signing happen so quickly? This is explained as well: It is not a peace treaty or anything, but rather an agreement to enter negotiations in the first place. Like an EULA you need to sign before installing some program. It has no further implications beyond signalling willingness to talk - and that was what the Krill wanted, after all, they approached the Union. So yeah, it was rushed, but there really wasn't anything there to be explored. And besides, we have had that as well: Almost every episode where a Trek captain needs to do the rituals of another civilization to pave the ground for further negotiations.
sungreenx
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 11:05am (UTC -5)
I wish there was SOME scenes dealing with Isaac and his re-assimilation into the crew. They didn't show him at all, except for literally one line.
SlackerInc
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 11:27am (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman: "Better than the terrible astrology episode, but not great."

This was most definitely NOT better than "All the World is Birthday Cake", a four star episode that is the best of the series thus far. :P

@Galadriel: I agree that it was cool to see Yaphit get awarded a medal for basically saving all of humanity (with the help of others, obviously--but his role was key). If they hadn't done that, probably none of us would have really noticed, but it was a nice touch.

@Trent, agreed, good stuff.

I either didn't see, or don't remember, "Past Prologue"; but wow, sounds like it was really similar, beat for beat!
Perry
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
I rewatched the episode because I missed a couple parts when commercials were short and sweet. I'll have to bump it up to 2.5 stars. There's a lot of content and it may have been a difficult episode to make. If there were a suggestion box, I would double down on the commercial time at the half hour.

How did the alien with nitro-glycerin blood end up attacking the Krill ships? I think we may see more of that. Was that the daughter or a killer waiting to happen? It's ain't patriotic by any means. Was this by means of teaching Gordon of what's life is like to be a Patriot?

So many unanswered questions and that's what writers thrive to tell a tale.
Charles J
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
@Hank

"Yes, sure, we have seen this story before, but which story haven't we seen somewhere before?...so why is everybody surprised when they cover previous Trek?"

My issue is that there is no real point to this version of the story.

Past Prologue clearly establishes several of Kira's arcs and internal conflicts. Reconciling her past as a terrorist and freedom fighter with her present as a member of the Bajoran Militia. Wrestling with her feelings about the Federation and Star Fleet. Having to diplomatically work with same people that oppressed her people.

DS9 will mine these elements for some great stories. And Kira will come full circle when she trains the Cardassians so they can fight for their own freedom, and by extension, the security of all of the Alpha quadrant.

There's none of that level of depth here. We don't really learn much new about Gordon. Nor is it clear that this was setting up a personal journey for him. There didn't even seem to be a direct connection to Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes.

There also isn't much we learn about the dynamics of the Planetary Union either. Kira's unease with the Federation's presence and authority is also a running theme the episode further establishes after the pilot. From Quark to Garak, we'll repeatedly see how ambivalent different cultures feel towards the Federation. Again, that will play out till the end of the series when the Cardassians have to rely on the Federation and the Alpha quadrant alliance for assistance.

Why replicate beat for beat a nearly three decades old episode and not do something truly unique with it? Especially when that episode is arguably just as crucial to setting up DS9 as the pilot itself?

It's also frustrating, because The Orville just did their riff on The Best of Both Worlds. And it looks like they're about to do another episode also inspired by TNG.

The story influences for TNG and DS9 were pulled from all manners of places. Many of the best, or just most memorable, episodes were not drawn from just sci-fi. Classic movies, mythology, short stories, current movies, etc. When The Orville closely redoes Star Trek, and we don't recognize any other allusions, it's weaker for it. Other than inserting overt pop culture references, it's not clear where else The Orville writers are drawing inspiration from.
J.B.
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, I don't mind if they're mining from Star Trek as long as they put their own spin on it but more often than not, it's just a weaker version of those episodes and says nothing insightful or new about the characters. This is a very common issue with MacFarlane's scripts in particular.

(There was also some really bad dialog during the climax. What can really be done with lines like, "War is hell on both sides but this agreement can stop the killing!")
Trent
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
SlackerInc said: "This was most definitely NOT better than "All the World is Birthday Cake", a four star episode that is the best of the series thus far. :P"

I rewatched "Birthday Cake" two days ago. IMO it's a clever and politically quite radical episode, and the "out of place" violence/action in the second half works well if you pretend its an episode of "Black Mirror" or some other dark, broad, SF satire.

I would say "Blood of Patriots" is the first Orville episode without at least that one great scene. This season alone we've had: the Singing in the Rain orchestra scene, Ed's shuttle fly-by stalking, Billy Joel's Always a Woman, Alara dreaming of riding the alien-horse on the beach, the thrill/rush of first contact in "Birthday Cake" etc etc. Every episode's had a really powerful/magical moment thus far. "Blood of Patriots" doesn't quite have that, though I suppose the zero G space walk comes close.
GMBC
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
If explodiblood is yellow, why were Orrin's "daughter's" needle marks red?

Is the implication that the two of them knew about the ceasefire all along - otherwise what would have been the point of the her continuing to pretend to be his daughter after their rescue?
GMBC
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
"Other than inserting overt pop culture references, it's not clear where else The Orville writers are drawing inspiration from."

Ahem.

https://tubitv.com/tv-shows/331527/s01_e25_a_steel_angel

https://tubitv.com/tv-shows/331535/s01_e33_ulatress_screw_mountain

https://tubitv.com/tv-shows/331565/s02_e19_the_pitch_dark_sisters

https://tubitv.com/tv-shows/331569/s02_e23_dyruz_the_space_monk
Dave in MN
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
Why would you assume the scarring o.n an alien wound would be the same color as their blood? That's a very human-centric nitpick!
Yanks
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
Well, I thought the girl wasn't his daughter from the start. Not sure why I thought that maybe because this is 'The Orville'.

I didn't hate watching this, but I didn't really enjoy it either. It was too easy to guess the next scene.

Like many of these episodes, I probably won't watch them again. On the other hand, I've seen each 'Discovery' episode at least twice.

I mean, they were so interested in placing a medal on a blob, they forget to give an award to Ty.

This show isn't immune to filler episodes and we all know trek has tons of them, but to completely forget the Isaac dynamic to include plenty of dead crew members in this episode is pretty poor I think. Now I don't really expect too much here, but that is too big a deal on this show to just brush off... and if it's not that's a bigger problem.

I'll go 2 stars because I just don't expect that much. If I cared more, I'd grade it harder.

I mean think about this.... we lose, for many what was their favorite character, because she couldn't physically hack it. We find out that doc had figured out a physical routine that could have kept her onboard, and have they mentioned it once since she was replaced with the someone of the same race? Nope. I guess they don't give a crap about her health. Too busying watching alien porn and making out with robots.
Hank
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
@Charles J: Yeah, ok, that's a fair criticism. But, on the other hand, we don't know how it plays out, so it is not really fair to compare this single episode to the great DS9 storylines that came in the following seasons.

But yes, there is not much setup for a follow up here, which was your main point. I disagree somewhat on the character part, as for the first time Gordon seems to be more than just comic relief, and he actually makes a hard choice for once. I also got the impression that Mercer was acting a tad more disciplined than on other occasions. But that is a rather minor detail. I agree that it would have been nice to see more of the internal workings of both the Union or the Krill. We got glimpses, but nothing substantial.
Dave in MN
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

When Talla finally had her physical, she discussed it with Dr. Finn. How many more times to we need to hear about it too satisfy you?
Mouse
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
I'm super forgiving of this show's warts; probably more than I should be. For example, they had me in this one the second I saw Mackenzie Astin. Totally sold by way of my first 80s fangirl crush. It's not that I don't see the flaws the rest of you do. It's that they don't really impact my enjoyment of the show. In another series they might but I'm pretty easy going on Seth MacFarlane's trek fanfic. It's exactly what I need it to be.
Mouse
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
I'm super forgiving of this show's warts; probably more than I should be. For example, they had me in this one the second I saw Mackenzie Astin. Totally sold by way of my first 80s fangirl crush. It's not that I don't see the flaws the rest of you do. It's that they don't really impact my enjoyment of the show. In another series they might but I'm pretty easy going on Seth MacFarlane's trek fanfic. It's exactly what I need it to be.
Spockless
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

I'm the opposite. It's very rare that I'll watch a Discovery episodde more than once, yet I love the Orville, from the professionalism to how it';s shot, to the way it really builds the characters. Discovery is so interested in style, that tehy will show a door at a 90 degree angle so that it looks like a hatch before straightening the cmaera.. and many of the decisions made by characters have the logic of Wile E Coyote episode.. and how the episodes are strung together .. you just have to say "if you say so" to the writers.

The orville on the otehr hand is a throwback to 90's style Trek storytelling. Not every episode is going to knock our socks off, but tehy will give us something to think about. In particular, with this episode, I was really trying to figure out how Mercer kept his cool.. as he hada lot on his plate..the specific's of Orin's plan really wasn't the point.. the point was that Mercer had to do his duty and yet it caused conflict between he and Gordon. Maybe the script could have leaned into that just a bit more, but in the end I was good with it.

The "boarding regulations" seemed a bit off in its humor I will agree. Plus the twelve hour deadline both seemed arbitrary and we had no idea how much time was passing until the last 30 minutes..


The script could have used once more polish, but I liked that it gave us a conflicted Ed, a conflicted Gordon, and a villain that seemed to be having consistent with his story. And the story had a certain logic to it. One thing I like about the Orville is that it IS predictable.. instead of "subverting our expectations" (we all all know how it can ruin something when you try that), it gives us the comfort food of Trek's history..
Mentor397
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 2:15am (UTC -5)
I try hard not to give ratings. I'll defer on this one. It's better than bad, but it's far from an exceptional episode. I will say that I somewhat enjoy the idea that The Orville sits somewhere between Star Trek and Firefly in terms of optimism for the future. I do think they're still too optimistic, but I'm willing to accept the idea in principle.

I should do a count - that's three chest shots to Alar- I mean, Talla. When/if they bring Alara back, it'll be because you'll be able to see through Talla entirely. I'm happy she at least got to kick some as- err.. butt, this episode, even if it were for a bit.

That being said, I find it beyond optimistic to the extreme to allow anyone captured and imprisoned for twenty years access to _all_ areas of this ship. Clearly, security wasn't keeping as close an eye as I'd have expected, regardless of whether they expected anything untoward from him.

The security protocols that Talla was extending to fill time should have caused a Krill/Union war right then and there. They shouldn't have been angry, they should have just started shooting. If the Krill are that Krill-ish, there should have been no way they would have put up with that.

I know they're trying to be... I don't know the word for it. It's clearly not funny, but it's... half-assed corny. They're never looking for laughing or crying from the audience, they're looking for "Heh" and "Ah".

I have a new theory, if anyone wants to hear it - I watched Family Guy - It's a Trap, a while ago, and noted the same sort of half-humor in it. During the commentary, Seth and others mentioned how they were so tired. I'm wondering if MacFarlane just doesn't have too much on his plate. Hell, Mercer even _looks_ tired when he shouldn't be. I know this is a short season, but that means they have to try harder. It's entirely different when you're producing twenty-four episodes a year than when you're producing half of that. Expectations aside, you have half the chances to make an impression strong enough to bring people back next year.

Has anyone heard if The Orville has been renewed yet? I'm just asking because it was renewed last year at about this point in the first season.
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:02am (UTC -5)
Is a show only as good as the last episode that airs?

I do feel like some people have a tendency to make that deductive leap: it makes for some jarring reading going from episode to episode and seeing people praise a show to high heaven one week and, in the next, bemoaning all the "problems" the show has.

Oh, and Seth hasn't written an episode of any of his animated comedies since 2010 .... he shows up to record his parts a few times a year, but his he definitely doesn't have the same passion for Family Guy, etc that he used to.
Chris
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:04am (UTC -5)
"I'm super forgiving of this show's warts; probably more than I should be. For example, they had me in this one the second I saw Mackenzie Astin. Totally sold by way of my first 80s fangirl crush. It's not that I don't see the flaws the rest of you do. It's that they don't really impact my enjoyment of the show. In another series they might but I'm pretty easy going on Seth MacFarlane's trek fanfic. It's exactly what I need it to be."

Totally get this! This is me and "Supergirl." I am somewhat hard on this show because I really want it to be better AND I think it has the potential to be better. I believe it would improve if Seth McFarlane would step back and do less. Let better writers take the characters and see what they can do. Lets face it, Gene Roddenberry created Trek BUT he also wrote some of the worst episodes.
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:06am (UTC -5)
That was Mackenzie Astin?!?! How did that not click in my head?

Boy, he's aged well!!!
navamske
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:10am (UTC -5)
I wonder if they set up that "Gordon and Alara 2.0 having a drink together" thing just so Alara 2.0 could say "Cheers" and the audience would say, "Tee hee, Ted Danson was on the show and they said 'Cheers'."
Perry
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:55am (UTC -5)
@navamske Cool idea, maybe The Orville will build one from scratch, a Alara 2.0 clone, only mutually exclusive to the officers' deck.
Lynos
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Pretty average episode. The writing just didn't deliver on this one. Lots of forced dialogue and blunt exposition (did Talla really say "my parent made me practice it, that's why I didn't get laid" regarding the musical instrument)?
The humor didn't land this time around either. The boarding scene with the Krill and Talla was just stupid) ,

The alien creature with blood that can be weaponized is a nifty idea that was not developed enough (why did they do with her afterwards)? In general I find it hard to get attached to any serious plots involving Malloy since he's such a doofus, but there was nothing really to latch on here.

And yeah, Isaac had two lines, but this is an episodic show so no guarantees for immediate continuity.

Also, I feel like Malloy could've just stunned Orin at the end and thus save him, instead of destroying the panel, hightailing it out into space (a cool scebe, I must admit) and then let him explode to pieces.

navamske
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
I am wondering about the "stunt-casting." I saw during the opening credits that John Fleck (Silik from "Enterprise") and J. Paul Boehmer (generic Nazi from "Enterprise" and "Voyager," as well as the super-Borg created from Seven of Nine's nanoprobes and The Doctor's mobile emitter) were both in this episode. But I couldn't figure out what characters they were playing, even given Fleck's distinctive voice. I wonder what's the point of having Star Trek actors on the show if you can't recognize them. I also didn't get the point of Jason Alexander's cameo as the rhinoceros-like bartender.
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
My assumption is that these particular Krill shown here will be spearheading negotiations/ relations with the Union. If we're going to see these characters again, it makes sense to cast actors with experience .... even if they're wearing a prosthetic to mask their features.

The fans will figure it out (much like you did).

I also don't think Olix's appearance is any stranger than Guinan showing up for 2 minutes and doing nothing to advance the plot or a wordless shot of Klyden and Topa in ID1: they are showing the ship as a living breathing community.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
@Lynos
"did Talla really say 'my parent made me practice it, that's why I didn't get laid' "

I've completely missed it on first viewing, but it seems that you are right.

The jokes were really terrible in this one, weren't they? This specific one is made even worse by the fact that Talla is *Xelayan*. Given what we already know about the species, does anybody here find it believable that someone on Xelaya would be tagged as a nerd for playing an instrument?

It's like Seth undid all the progress he made as a writer during season 1.

That said...
@Chris
"I believe it would improve if Seth McFarlane would step back and do less. Let better writers take the characters and see what they can do."

Here's what they should do in my opinion:
1. Allow everybody on the writing team (inlcuding Seth himself) to pitch general plot ideas.
2. Let Seth write the first draft of a story based on the agreed-upon plot idea.
3. Let one of the seasoned sci fi writers (Bragga, Goodman, Cherry) revise the draft into quality sci fi story.
4. Have Seth translate the story into a perfectly-paced script.
5. Have someone else look over Seth's script and mark all the spots where the humor was cringey/out-of-place/inappropriate.

Try to imagine some of the previous episodes getting the above treatment. The astrology planet episode, for one, would have easily been a 4-star classic.
Yanks
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN

"When Talla finally had her physical, she discussed it with Dr. Finn. How many more times to we need to hear about it too satisfy you?"

Thanks. What episode was that?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

It's a pretty subtle reference, actually.

In the beginning of "Happy Refrain", Finn tells Isaac that she is "writing a paper on the use of nanosynthesis in Xelayan tissue regeneration". Later in the same episode, Talla gets her physical (after avoiding it for some time) and Finn tells her that "every test is letter perfect".

Perhaps that was to subtle and overly clever as a reference. But at least it proves that the writers did remember this plot point when it came to writing the episode.
Erik
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
I still don’t know what this show wants to be — a comedy or a serious, Trek-style drama. This episode leans toward the latter, but with the occasional prostate exam? (I guess. Did she actually go through with it?)

I honestly think “The Orville” can work as a hybrid of the two styles if it’s done like the episode “Krill” from season 1 — my favorite so far. That episode works for me because it’s almost like watching an episode of MST3K — all the Krill are dead serious but the two humans, though they’re characters on the show, are cracking jokes as if they’re Joel/Mike/Jonah and the bots watching it on TV in the 1990s. (Gordon’s multiple lines about Avis rent-a-car are all great.) They seem to be abandoning that formula for a serious space opera — interrupted by the writers saying “Oh crud, we’re supposed to have jokes in this too. Uhhh, have Bortus make a stink about not getting a corner piece ... although I LOVED that particular sequence.)

Am I supposed to give stars with this? OK, um ... 2.5.
Spockless
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
@Erik

I think it can be both a comedy yet tell (or re-tell) old Trek stories in a way that 20's years of reflection cna offer and the humor pokes fun at Trek conventions but the drama can still be there. I think it's a great way to approach nostalgia.. whereas other franchises bring back old characters to risk ruining them (Spock, Luke skywalker, Superman, Optimus Prime) this looks and feels like 90s Trek so very much, yet the canon is clear.

Also I agree "Krill" is my favorite episode .. it really gelled
Troy G
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
Earlier I stated that i feel this episode is excellent. Others have pointed out that it is quite similar to DS9's Past Prologue, a reasonably fine episode. And, as I recall PP I will concede that they are similar; the two episodes share many of the same scenes and conflicts. But the big difference is Kira and Malloy are two different characters, so it wasn't very apparent when I watched Blood of Patriots.
Dave in MN
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 12:32am (UTC -5)
Upon reflection, I don't think this is a one-and-done episode. I'm definitely going to have to watch this ASAP. I just don't think one viewing was enough for me to digest this.

I initially thought this episode was about geopolitics (and it definitely is .... partially .... Krill/Union negotiations, a standoff over prisoner extradition). And I thought it's about Gordon's surprisingly traumatizing past and moving beyond his jokey exterior ... which it also is. And it's a little about making us laugh.

I let the episode marinate and I realized it's actually about even more than that.

Peeling back the onion to the core, it's really about friendship and loyalty: opening interspecies dialogues, feeling the contrary pull of two close friends, the balance between personal needs and professional duty, saying something to a friend you might not be able to take back, having a friend ask you to help them do something morally questionable, how much do you owe someone you didn't ask to save you .... there's lots here I didn't realize they were touching upon.

Whoever said this episode didn't have a great scene was wrong: that terse standoff between Ed and Gordon made me gasp, especially when Gordon told Ed to "do your job". Scott Grimes did a phenomenal job acting there: in that moment I was wondering about Gordon's emotions, not wondering about what the actor had for lunch. That stands out very strongly in my memory.

The episode title was obviously chosen because of the double meaning (both metaphorical and literal) . The creators wanted to poetically highlight yet another layer of allegory ... and while I was cognizant of the subtext as I watched, the narrative swept me away at certain points and subtext was momentarily forgotten.

I do wonder exactly who is the actual "patriot" here? And what makes a patriot a patriot instead of a terrorist? Moral superiority? What they choose to target?

It's certainly not Orrin and his "daughter", they are acting of their own volition for the purpose of blind revenge (despite the cutesy episode title pun). If anything, they are martyrs, not patriots .... and their actions could cost millions/ billions of lives!

Could the metaphorical patriot actually be Ed, Gordon ... or perhaps even the Krill?

Like I said, this is due a rewatch for me pronto! There's more here than met my eye.
Lynos
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 4:31am (UTC -5)
@ Spockless

While I agree Krill was a good episode that was actually funny, I have to disagree with the assertion that Orville pokes fun at Trek conventions. It doesn't. It uses Trek plots and tropes, but the humor is very random and "sitcommy". That's where the incongruous nature of the show stems from. What does the a cavity body search has to do with the serious themes of this episode?
Sometimes the random humor works and sometimes it doesn't. It mostly works where the comedy is organic to the story, but even then it's still mostly random and is not particular to trek or to science fiction

I wish it was a real Star Trek spoof. Again, for a Trek spoof done right we can find no better example than Galaxy Quest.
SlackerInc
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 6:25am (UTC -5)
There's that "Black Mirror" episode too.

@Dave: You're right, that "do your job" scene was very good. I did say all along that there were some good elements, and I didn't mean "some of it was okay". There is like ten or twenty percent of this episode that's actually great. But then there's the rest of it.

I really like @OTDP's notion for a script writing process--except that "Birthday Cake" is already 3.5 stars, minimum. :P
Trent
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 7:12am (UTC -5)
I agree with you on that "Krill" episode, Erik. I found it the funniest, most outlandish episode, but the series seems to be moving away from such sustained comedy. Or perhaps the pairing of Ed and Gordon - IMO the two funniest characters - simply resulted in that stuff naturally.

Chris said: "I believe it would improve if Seth McFarlane would step back and do less. Let better writers take the characters and see what they can do."

He seems to be a workaholic. To juggle so many shows, spearhead this, act in it, direct several episodes, and write so many scripts in such a short time - all of which have been decent, even if they've never quite tipped over into top tier territory - is staggering. And while it's probably a good idea to let him take a step back, its paradoxically this single-mindedness which gives Orville some street-cred. It feels like a personal work by an auteur, rather than a faceless assemblage of corporate directives.

Dave said: "The episode title was obviously chosen because of the double meaning (both metaphorical and literal)"

That's an interesting post, and touched upon a layer of subtext I've not seen mentioned in other reviews. I also like your point about the episode's title; the combustible blood of the terrorists/patriots, and the patriotic blood bond between Gordon and Ed.
Dave in MN
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 11:14am (UTC -5)
@Trent

Great point about Seth's work ethic.

To me, he's earned entry in the Hallowed Hall Of TV auteurs. He shares many qualities with respected creators like David E. Kelley and Rod Serling.

His projects (excepting the mercifully cancelled Cleveland Show) display a single-minded determination to show his unique vision, at least until his interest wanes. Judging by Seth's Twitter feed over the last few years, I don't think we'll have to worry about him losing his enthusiasm for this program.

Nothing he's created is infused more with that singular "auteur" quality more than his passion project The Orville. This show literally wouldn't exist if it weren't for him.
Alan Roi
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
I also can't imagine Seth losing interest in his Vanity Project anytime soon since I'm sure there are dozens more eps his manatees could patch together from TNG era episodes. But with audience interest severely waning (series low demo numbers this week at 0.60 which is only good if one is referring to a CW series), he's likely going to have to console himself with writing issues of the comic book series as that won't be costing the House of the Mouse $7 mil (very little of which appears to make it to the screen) an ep for a measely half a mil viewers in the 18-49 range.

Or maybe he and his pals will be willing to do a podcast version on their own time and with their own money after this season.
Dave in MN
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
In the +7s it performs well, the merchandise sells robustly and the show is quite popular overseas.
Alan Roi
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
An above average +7 isn't going to save a $7 mil an ep show that has fallen to what it has in the demo. There are very few network shows that expensive with that little an audience that have been renewed in the last 5 years. That's just a fact. Maybe Seth will be able to squeeze some more money out of Disney, but I find it hard to believe the will want to pay out $$$$$ for a show that's not likely to even crack a 0.5 rating next year based on the 40% decline this year. Enjoy what you can.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
By being both a drama and to a great extent a comedy The Orville is following in the tradition of Star Trek. The style of humour is different - it's much more about the incongruity being the frequent absurdity of real life and Serious Events. The actual jokes aren't really so much the point, which is that they are somewhat inappropriate to the situation, the very thing some people object to in them. I don't.

The series carries on the classic Star Trek pattern of stand-alone episodes with story arcs. The story arcs so far are mainly about relationships. One again the very thing I like is what evidently gets up the noses of some people.

I have a feeling that it’s only too likely that The Orville may carry on its aspect as a tribute to classic Star Trek to the extent of being cancelled prematurely, just as it's getting into its stride. I hope not.
Trent
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Regarding "Seth's work ethic", it just occurred to me that Ed's problem is also that he's a workaholic. His work caused his marriage to break up, and Claire broke up with Cassius a few episodes ago for the same reasons (she can't juggle command, work and settling down). So there may be something autobiographical about the character's love life.
Yanks
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

"Perhaps that was to subtle and overly clever as a reference. But at least it proves that the writers did remember this plot point when it came to writing the episode."

Thanks.

A little too subtle for me I guess.
Yanks
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Spockless
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

"The script could have used once more polish, but I liked that it gave us a conflicted Ed, a conflicted Gordon, and a villain that seemed to be having consistent with his story. And the story had a certain logic to it. One thing I like about the Orville is that it IS predictable.. instead of "subverting our expectations" (we all all know how it can ruin something when you try that), it gives us the comfort food of Trek's history..."

I hear you. I think at times it goes way back past the 90's.

I guess I just got really disappointed at the last 2 episodes. I was hoping for better and probably shouldn't have.
Dave in MN
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

I didn't know that (and I feel kind of weird being privy to that info).

Seth seems like a really cool guy, I hope he finds his Mrs. Right!
Michael
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
Well, it’s very much past prologue, like everyone said, plus one twist and some “humorous stalling” that would have resulted in a brand new Krill war. And like everyone said, the writing is again too dumb to meet it’s own expectations. That said, it is brave enough to try to be about members of a rational, enlightening utopian society trying to make moral decisions in a complex universe, aka the morally aspirational bit, and for that I love it. 3/5
Charles J
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
I have to question the moral aspiration that’s here. One moment the Union is courting the Kaylons to defend against the Krill. The next, they are using the new Kaylon threat to normalize relations with the Krill.

Ending the decades long conflict between the Union and Krill is a worthy goal. Is using the threat from a third-party the most ethical and sustainable path to achieve that end?

While it’s clear Ed wants to end the bloodshed, it’s not entirely clear if that’s the Union’s primary motivation. As depicted, the Union often comes off as driven more by caution and pragmatism than any set of guiding principles. Is the Union more focused on the balance of power than achieving lasting peace? And what about the Krill? What is driving them besides the Kaylon threat? Their faith? More pragmatism?Is peace with the Kaylon even a goal the Union and Krill could even agree on? Even if it isn’t likely?

This all feels very much like two superpowers who still need to find something deeper and humanitarian that can connect them than mutual survival and existential fear.
Joseph
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 12:47am (UTC -5)
@Charles J
"This all feels very much like two superpowers who still need to find something deeper and humanitarian that can connect them than mutual survival and existential fear. "

Yes, and it's a bit depressing that fear is seen as the only viable bridge between ideological differences. The Krill's portrayal has now become extremely uneven. I mean, given their reverence for Avis, how likely is it that the destruction of a ship or two by one Kaylon ship would be enough to launch a huge attack to protect a former enemy? There would certainly be some Catholic-like intermediary deciding whether that's the best move, and it would be based on religious and not practical grounds. They've gone from a species whose faith made them interesting and different to just another humanoid race with the same policies and worldview of any 21st century Earth nation.

It seems like the overall picture of the Krill swings between "warmongering" and "zealous", but perhaps the two are identical in Seth's mind. It's the same shallow and unthinkingly biased treatment that we got of astrology in "Birthday Cake". If Seth were so confident in his mind about themes and concepts he disagreed with, there would be no need to constantly portray these cultures as so mean and nasty. There must be at least one writer on the show who understands (as TNG did) that sci-fi doesn't have to be a cheersquad proclaiming the virtues of science and human progress.
Joseph
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Sci-fi and all other fiction is actually useless unless it points out where we (yes, WE) are going wrong and need to do better. If it just points to others (Islam, anti-vaxxers and so on) and condemns them, then what is the point? It is nothing but a smug and self-satisfying comfort blanket while projecting all the world's problems on the other, ensuring nothing will change.
Gerontius
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:14am (UTC -5)
The idea of setting up friendly relations with the Kaylon made perfect sense (though it would have been sensible to learn a lot more about them before considering admitting them to the union - though we don't know whether there might be different levels of "membership" of that). The fact of a formidable and hostile Krill made friendship with the Kaylon even more sensible, if only to guard against some rapprochement between the Krill and the Kaylon.

For the time being an alliance for mutual defence with the Krill is something to welcome. Building it to something closer to friendship is something to hope for in the future. One step at a time. It's worth noting that the attitude of the Union towards the Krill religion was to see it as important to get some understanding of it rather than to see it as something inevitably hostile, and to that end to get hold of it,s holy book, as even more important than studying the Krill technology.
Yair
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:44am (UTC -5)
@Jopseph,

Art is about introspection of nature (especially human nature). Good introspection does not have to critical of 'us' (whatever that is), or even to deal with us. Fiction about some 12th century BC people could very well be worthwhile art if it examines human nature honestly and incisively.

Also, the nature of this particular subgenre is to indirectly critique current human politics by showing a supposedly more enlightened one, rather than critiquing it directly (I haven't seen this episode, so I can't comment on whether it does this).
Dave in MN
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 9:52am (UTC -5)
We're only 23 episodes into the series, a number less than the total first season of TNG.

I actually think it's pretty amazing they've created this many different cultures/ species with their own motivations and customs (a entire fictional universe) in so short a time.
Charles J
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
I wouldn’t praise the world building too much. The Krill have been in a third of the episodes so far. Other than the first season episode the Krill, we haven’t learned much more about them. They are still mostly just the primary antagonists established in Old Wounds.

There was an opportunity in this episode to flesh them out and that didn’t happen. Even Orrin’s backstory doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

And every Krill, excluding Teleya has been interchangeable. I couldn’t say if any of the other Krill have been recurring characters. Which is only an issue because they’ve been so heavily featured as a culture. It’s not like they need to be distinct. But, if this show is meant to be aspirational, not making at least one Krill a character we can connect to undermines that goal*. It continues to just make the Krill the inscrutable other. And after 23 episodes, it gets repetitive to say maybe they’ll explore that more in the future.

*Teleya really should have been the character Gordon and Kelly went to. Or, at least tried to contact in Identity. Ed could have even suggested it and someone else could have handwaved that away as being implausible to pull off. However it shook out, some kind of callback to Teleya would have reinforced why Ed letting her go was a vital first step. And the other Krill could have acknowledged that decision played a role in their coming to the Union’s aid and/or continuing to talk afterwards. The Orville definitely replicates TNG’s episodic approach to continuity and arcs. It’s very spotty what the characters remember and act on.
Joseph
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
@Yair

"Art is about introspection of nature (especially human nature). Good introspection does not have to critical of 'us' (whatever that is), or even to deal with us. Fiction about some 12th century BC people could very well be worthwhile art if it examines human nature honestly and incisively."

Does Orville do that? Does it have any valuable insights on, say, astrology or Islam (Krill). Or are its insights there to validate our own beliefs and make us feel more comfortable with what we believe?

"Also, the nature of this particular subgenre is to indirectly critique current human politics by showing a supposedly more enlightened one, rather than critiquing it directly (I haven't seen this episode, so I can't comment on whether it does this). "

I do not find Orville's politics any more enlightened than our own. They seem to have the same self-absorbed beliefs (both the main command officers are concerned with furthering their personal careers and developing special relationships for themselves) and the Union seems to be obsessed with protecting itself.
Trent
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
Joseph said: "It's the same shallow and unthinkingly biased treatment that we got of astrology in "Birthday Cake"."

"Birthday Cake" wasn't about "astrology" - nobody would waste time critiquing astrology - but class, race and gender existentialism; putting people in boxes based on where they come from, and essentializing them based on the conditions of their birth (the notion that the poor are poor because they're "predestined" to be, that blacks are "predisposed" to crime, Muslims destined for terrorism, women naturally hysterical and disagreeable etc etc, all of which have social Darwinist overtones). It's why the episode goes to lengths to put the Union's politics and economic system on the other side of the alien table.

The "astrology" is just the frame to hang the allegory on.
Gerontius
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Having a society without money makes things a bit different - though we haven't seen this except on the ship, which is a money free set up anyway for practical purposes even in military vessels in our society. We just get it mentioned rather than shown.

The cultural difference that stands out is that the secrecy and lies that are the driving element in virtually all TV drama, even more than in real life, are virtually absent. Any time a problem arises on The Orville (as in classic Star Trek) It appears to be shared and addressed in a grown up way. And there appears to be a complete acceptance of all the differences that are the occasion for discord in our societies.




Dave in MN
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Gerontius: I think they are generally more enlightened than our current society. People still have their personal flaws, but prejudice and intolerance have mostly* been set by the wayside.

*excerpt for Jody from J'aloja and Klyden
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
@Trent, Joseph

One thing I liked about the depiction of the society in "Birthday Cake" is the writers didn't just make them a bunch of brainless idiots.

The society on Regor II is a flourishing technological culture. They have advanced medicine. They initiated a call for first contact and where properly curious about meeting the people from the stars. And they are actually quite open minded when it comes to accepting different ways of life (like the Union's economic system) as long as it doesn't clash with their dogma.

Even the guards at the camp (with one exception) weren't depicted as evil people. One of them was just a sadist, but the others mostly left the prisoners alone. At no point were we given the impression that these people are either evil or stupid.

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate what they did in that episode. Same goes to the treatment of the Krill religion and to the season 1 finale "Mad Idolatry". It's one of the things that the Orville actually does better than the show it pays a homage to.
Spockless
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
@Trent
You are so right about "Birthday Cake" This kind of mentality has snuck into social media as well and represents everything I hate about our reactionary YouTube/ Facebook culture .. it seems you can sit there twiddling your thumbs doing nothing, but people out there can create a group that they hate.. slap a label on that group, so it has a name, put YOU in that group, and then make general statements why they don't like you when they are in fact making statements about the group they hate, which they actually created . And yes the word "haters" counts.. anyone who hates TLJ or Captain Marvel are called "haters" and then those people now have a group label for it that they can generalize
Gerontius
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Klyden, and Mallon society generally, are of course prejudiced - but I take it that the Maclons are allied to the Union, but not actually members. They definitely don't share its cultural and societal values in some important ways.

I can't remember Jody as being prejudiced against difference, just biased in favour of her obnoxious son, which I rather assume would be characteristic of many parents in any society (and a fairly unpleasant person herself ). And so far as James is concerned it is reasonable to expect that there would be adolescents in any society that didn't hold to cultural norms about lying and deception. Personal flaws are still there, as Dave notes.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
For all we know, the Moclans may well be part of the Union.

Remember that this isn't the Federation. It may well be that the Union is a loose alliance similar to the UN. And God knows that even the most backwards countries can join the UN...
Dave in MN
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Gerontius

I remember Jody making catty "single mother" fail comments about Claire's parenting. Also, I forgot about this, but her son James made a racist joke about Bortus eating his homework. That family definitely has a superiority complex.
Charles D
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Not sure it was necessarily a racist joke. This was after it became common knowledge on the Orville that Moclans could eat anything. Immature, yes, but not sure it was intended in-universe to be racist.
SlackerInc
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 10:51am (UTC -5)
@Charles J: It's a good point that it would have been good to factor Teleya in there somehow.

@Trent, OTDP: Good points about "Birthday Cake". Still my favorite episode!
Dave in MN
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -5)
I think bringing Teleya back in this episode would have completely changed the focus & dynamic of this episode. It wouldn't be a rumination on the bonds of friendship and duty, that's for sure.

For the record, I enjoy the fact that we actually got a serious examination of platonic male friendship. I can't think of the last time I saw a single episode of a TV show that so concisely explores the subject with insight and humanity.

Anyways, if she'd appeared in this episode, a lot of people would instantly nitpick that Teleya went from teacher to spy to diplomat in the span of a year AND they'd nitpick that, out of billions of Krill, we keep seeing the same person over and over again.

Side note: are the Krill a patriarchal society? Other than Teleya, I can't recall any Krill females in leadership positions. If so, I'm guessing the Anhkana has something to do though that.

Overall, I do agree with the general sentiment here.

I definitely want to see Teleya again (soon)!
Yair
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
@Joseph,

If we look past the tone, ORV does have some pretensions, actually more than DIS which simply intends to be a pure action-adventure. It's only fair that commenters here try to judge the show according to its pretensions.

However, ORV is not self-congratulatory. Nearly all of the crew is slightly screwed up in different ways, Mercer has significant flaws and does not share certain Trek captains' haughtiness. But it is sometimes being too shallow. e.g. the astrology episode may have meant to argue about "class, race and gender existentialism", but the initial choice simply made it too easy to dismiss and it spent too much time with crew jeopardy.

I'm wary of the word 'critical', since it has been twisted to reflexive opposition, and that's also an easy path, just a different easy path than self-congratulation. ORV could have been more probing, and maybe we'll see that in the future.
Bert
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
Aside from the ass-kissing to this McFarlane guy, which is rather preposterous, what I am mostly seeing is people defending an episode just because they need to like it. And they come here to meet others with the same need, just echoing each other. It's also called circle jerking or cognitive dissonance.

Look at this episode. It is set just a little time after a devastating attack by an alien entity. How many thousands dead? How many crew-members? But it is just business as usual, no consequences. Where is the memorial service? For crying out loud they hold a medal ceremony but not a goddamn memorial? Talk about getting your priorities straight. But wait, they were just red-shirts so no need for that, right? They didn't reaaaaaally exist anyway. Nobody has any trauma, nobody has any scars. You could have skipped the previous episodes and not miss anything really important. Man.

And the Krill. Established as the defacto enemy of the 'Union'. Big Bad. Extremely zealous, religious extremists, aggressive. They consider all non-Krill sub-creatures. And evidently they are the single largest enemy military force the union has to deal with, which makes them either at the same military strength or larger. And these extremists would sign a goddamn peace-treaty? For ONE PLANET OF ROBOTS? WHO JUST GOT THEIR ASS KICKED? Are you insane?

Here is what they would and should have done: wait until the Union was destroyed or very nearly so by the Robots. Then sweep in and destroy the remaining robots. Two flies, one stroke. Now they are the single dominant military force and effectively they can continue with whatever purging or genocide of their own they were planning. Yeah, genocide of the sub-creatures. Remember? Of at the very least slavery, dimmi-hood if you want to make it an 'Islam parable'.

And to make matters worse, the Isaac robot is still on the damn bridge. Nothing has changed. Remember, this robot is an unknown factor. We don't even know WHY he did what he did in the previous episode, it is a robot and it's motivations are not human. Nevertheless, the military knows nothing about this robot. We only know that he collaborated with the enemy and then suddenly turned. That's it. They don't know what makes it tick. Remember, this robot could be deactivated by the other robots over many LIGHTYEARS. What the hell else can they do? Perhaps they can reformat him remotely. Who knows? But hey, let's all be nice and let this robot back at the same post as before, we're friends now.

And the crew would just accept this? After these robots killed their crewmen, most of their navy? Thousands of people? And here we have a prime example of those genocidal bastards who can continue without any punishment, any trial, any consequences, nothing. Man, talk about spitting in the face of your crew. But obviously these are *enlightened biologicals* right?

Honestly, writing this I feel that I am talking about a comedy. Then I remembered that this is now supposed to be a bonafide Big Drama.
BRiAN
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Ted Danson!! McFarlane gets the best guest stars somehow.


This episode was great! I like a lot of TNG and DS9 episodes just based on their premise, and this was a good premise. The POW friend throwing a spanner into the mix of peace talks at just the wrong moment is a great idea. Like most B level TNG eps, it kind of gets out of the solution with a convenient plot turn, but thats fine by me. I like that it raises these questions and gives me something to think about.

(This is my main issue with Discovery, which has a great crew of actors but the plots don't often bring a political or sci fi idea to the table.)
Gerontius
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
Having Orrin turn out to be a terrorist, and then kill himself, was a bit of a cop out to get Ed out of his dilemma. If they'd made him a blameless escaped captive it would have been a lot trickier. But maybe a bit too tricky for a basically light-hearted series.
Dave in MN
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
@ Bert

If you want me to read your full opinions, don't start off by spsychoalayzing and insulting other commenters.

I'm not in the mood to read vitriol so I didn't read past the second sentence, sorry.
Jammer
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
Alan Roi
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
Jammer makes some interesting comments on the issues of morality of the Union which most people tend to ignore. And what is pressed in this episode, where the Union, continuing to be desperate for an alliance is happy to act against its own long term interest in doing so. They supported the same choice in allowing an vetted but advertised as highly racist be made a high ranking crew member of a ship, and also permitted drugs be used on diplomats in order to solve a crisis.

And this all, including Captain Mercer's repeated need to get laid over the safety of both himself and his ship, his attempts at diplomacy which often decend into insulting those he's tasked to make diplomatic connections with really hampers any sense of the union's supposed moral authority that the show continually makes editorial claims that they have.

And yep, this episode delivers this mixed message again in spades.
Alan Roi
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
@ Bert

Aside from the ass-kissing to this McFarlane guy, which is rather preposterous, what I am mostly seeing is people defending an episode just because they need to like it. And they come here to meet others with the same need, just echoing each other. It's also called circle jerking or cognitive dissonance.

What you are describing is not cognitive dissonance. This is:

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.

I good example of this was when I watched the Alien Resurrection scene where the hybrid baby licks Ripley's face, a scene which I found both adorable and revolting at the same time.

I think that most people here enjoyed this ep and other episodes of the show because of their TNG nostalgiia, and this is heavily played upon by MacFarlane to their joy. I do think, however, that they do have to ignore a lot of what Seth puts on the screen which is more heavily filtered through his personal sensibilities in order to avoid cognitive dissonance, however. I can't myself do that, but then even the TNG era shows gave me that on a semi-regular basis as what I saw. as with this ep, didn't jive with the editorially approved "message" they would hammer the audiences with even back then. So in a weird way, kudos to Seth.
SlackerInc
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Dave that Bert's scornful psychoanalysis is extremely offputting.

But I also mostly agree with Jammer about his complaints, even if I would rate the episode slightly higher.
Darren
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 12:41am (UTC -5)
This was a solid and enthralling episode ... to me, among the better this season, and perhaps even overall. Ed's remark to the effect of "your friend couldn't have shown up at a worse time" really made me wonder, for a good duration of the episode, whether Orrin was actually a Krill (who somehow got past the health exam), or perhaps just someone who, as a captive for so long, had become attached / loyal to their thoughts and goals. And as to what the end objective would've been in such a case? I don't know ... but then you usually *never* know in the early parts of a story what the endgame is, at least when a mysterious plot is underway. In short, it kept me guessing.

The sense that something wasn't quite right--and that time was running out to figure things out--was palpable. And given weight, no less, by the fact that two friends, reunited after one had endured years of abuse, were increasingly becoming at odds with one another. Feeling conflicts of loyalty between two or more others--and even with yourself--is definitely not fun. And it became clearer and clearer that Gordon would have some tough choices to make.

Speaking of that, compared to his "serious" portrayal in "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes", here, Gordon truly came off as a serious character for once. And honestly, everyone has their own personality ... there *are* people in the real world who don't come off all that serious; yet it doesn't mean inside, they aren't grounded, or in conflict, or feeling things that aren't otherwise apparent. Which is to say, other than "he's just part of the shows comic relief", I can further accept Gordon's characterization as valid. This time, we just happened to see a little deeper inside ... and as viewers, it was refreshing.

The resolution of the mystery felt quite reasonable. Again, I found myself wondering throughout whether Orrin *had* in fact destroyed the Krill ships, and, if so, just how. And that, for instance, none of the quantum plasma was missing; that regardless of suspicions or bad feelings, no one could really pin anything down *against* Orrin.

It genuinely came off as a mystery / puzzle. And while some might say that his "daughter" actually being an alien with easily-weaponized blood was a little convenient, honestly, as, in-universe, few had heard of Envalls, it instead came off as, for Orrin, a brilliant strategy. You couldn't help but feel some hope, actually, that he would ultimately succeed in his quest, even if you largely agreed that peace with the Krill was worth pursuing, and that Orrin therefore had to be stopped.

And as to the end .... I've found myself thinking about Gordon and Orrin's final exchange, as akin to that between a friend about to commit suicide, and a friend that would obviously not want them to go through with it. For they have some inkling at least as to the pain and hurt involved; yet naturally do not want to lose someone they care about.

Perhaps ultimately, this episode was mostly a tragedy ... of one person's losses, to the point they couldn't move on--and had nothing left to live for--as everyone around them, including their best friend, left them behind simply by seeking progress. As someone upstream mentioned, yes, Gordon *could've* saved Orrin by just stunning him and getting him into a suit.

Would there be practical challenges to that? Yes. Time was short, after all, and getting someone essentially knocked out into a space suit probably wouldn't be done quickly. And besides, in real life, sometimes people don't think of all the options that others might later scrutinize.

Yet I think as I saw it--and have since articulated to myself--having had even his friend Gordon betray him / place his loyalties elsewhere, aside from years spent with the Krill and having lost his wife and daughter; seeing the very real prospect of peace between the Union and the Krill; and, of course, seeing his last hope and plan come unravelled; at that final moment, he had nothing left to live for.

So while Gordon still cared for him and said he didn't want to lose him, aside from probably feeling some guilt for his role in it all ... perhaps he was like a real-life friend who ultimately wouldn't stop their friend from committing suicide, precisely because they cared so much, and knew what all they were dealing with / what prospects they had for the future.

And maybe, in fact, as I think about it even more, rather than being akin to a situation with one friend about to commit suicide ... perhaps Orrin *did* commit suicide. (In a second degree sort of way, in that he hadn't planned it. Just that in that moment, it was what he set out to do.) And Gordon, despite wanting to see him saved, was simply not going to force that upon him. He wanted Orrin to come with him and save himself; but short of that, he cared too much and had too much respect for him to make that choice *for* him. And so with that final glance back ... he left Orrin to his own choice.

-----------

Well. I've at least skimmed through most of the comments, I think; has anyone else framed the final scene between Gordon and Orrin as a case of one person committing suicide, and the other respecting that decision? I think it's very valid; and points in that case to the episode for not being a mere passive plot mechanic (Gordon couldn't save his friend), but an active character choice (Gordon knew of his friend's pain and bleak future prospects and so chose to leave him to his decision to stay behind and die).

And this probably gives the episode a lot more cohesive focus. The story wasn't so much about the Krill and the Union, which we presume will come later. It was about the tragedy of one friend relative to another, as that other and everyone else moved on to a reality utterly distasteful to the friend.

-----------

And a few more stray observations ...

* The scene with Talla having thrown the Envall against the wall was quite good. Between her laying against the wall with that look upon her face, and then Dr. Finn urgently and seemingly in a panic telling Talla they had to get away from her and out of there ... it was actually evocative of some paranormal moment, as though it were a demon or some other such thing over there. Good stuff.

* The Union's consideration of turning Orrin over to the Krill may or may not have been morally right or good; but then the admirals and other higher-ups were often quasi-villains in Star Trek. And speaking of Starfleet, remember when they wanted to take Data's daughter away from him? Or when they questioned Data's personhood directly? Or when they assisted Section 31 in murdering that Romulan senator, I believe it was? (With Admiral Ross and Dr. Bashier?) Not to mention Capt. Sisko himself--the protagonist no less--once getting at least two people killed and deceptively bringing an entire power into a war. So again, I'm not saying the notion of handing Orrin over was right, or that it wasn't. But if it reeked of desperation ... indeed the situation is desperate. Or in other words ... why get so out of shape over it?
SlackerInc
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 1:18am (UTC -5)
@Darren (and anyone else who uses the phrase "commit suicide" without thinking about it, as I myself used to do):

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/09/health/suicide-language-words-matter/index.html
--------
Top of mind to many who care about this topic is getting rid of the phrase "committed suicide," says Dese'Rae Stage, a suicide awareness activist who holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and is trained in crisis intervention.
"It implies sin or crime" -- we "commit" sins and crimes -- "and pathologizes those affected. We suggest more objective phrasing, like 'died by/from suicide,' 'ended their life' or 'took their life,'" she said. "If we're using the right language, if we're pulling negative connotations from the language, talking about suicide may be easier."
A similar guideline actually has become the rule of thumb for major news organizations, including CNN, which often set the tone of public conversation around suicide.
Bert
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 1:56am (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN

Jeez Dave, are you a snowflake? Because congratulatory pats on the back for liking this episode from others who need to have the same confirmation is what is happening here. It is a form of circle jerking, this need to share feelings to get confirmation from others just to ease discomfort. That is why critical reviews need to be either attacked vigorously or ignored and positive reviews will be 'liked'. Simple bias confirmation, nothing psychoanalytical about it.

It's actually completely in line with what you are doing. You feel like I am attacking you personally and thus you have this great emotion swelling up that makes you say things like 'well if you say this, then I am not going to read / listen to you anymore'. So, exclusion and dismissal based on hurt feelings because you come here to be confirmed in your bias that yes, this is really good. Or at least 'good'. Anything actually that does not cross the negative line.

To be honest, it's pretty sad.

Bert
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 2:09am (UTC -5)
@Alan Roi

It is a form of cognitive dissonance. They are using each other to align their thoughts and feelings into consonants. Deep inside they know this episode is really not very good. But they have a need and want to like it despite not feeling that way, they use opinions of others to reassert their cognition. Do it often enough and that feeling of not liking it will change into positive attitude. It often involves comparisons with other things, in this case mostly 'proper' Star Trek (TNG primarily). That is why you get people to site around a room and circle jerk praise over something, it all strengthens consonance. Makes you feel fuzzy too.

TNG was strong with the force in that regard, yes. Hammering home messages was proper drama in the '90s. But that show benefitted from better writing (well, mostly) and better actors (and some really shit ones). I don't hold this Grand Respect for TNG, in fact I think that many episodes are really 'meh' and have not ever seen them again. But at the time, I rolled into it in season 3, I thought it was the best thing ever. I'm just not really looking for nostalgia, it seems to me that is really conservative and not meshing with the Trek mindset.
Jason
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 2:12am (UTC -5)
There's no point in changing language if people still believe it is a sin or crime. If you don't believe that then no language is going to make you believe it, and if you believe it then no change in language is going to make you disbelieve it. Change your mind, not your language.
Bert
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 2:14am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc

** I agree with Dave that Bert's scornful psychoanalysis is extremely offputting. **

Well why do you THINK it is so extremely off-putting for you? I did not target you personally, yet you apply the critique to yourself, thus placing yourself in the *mostly* group of people, which angers you. Reread what I actually said and then reapply it to your response. There is nothing scornful about calling something what it is, circle jerking on positive bias.
Glom
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 3:47am (UTC -5)
Jammer cuts through to something I've been thinking about the Union. It reminda me of eight year old me's ideas for my own Star Trek. It was as poorly conceived as you'd expect from an eight year old. I didn't even understand the difference between Starfleet and the Federation in those days. It's just "peace" "exploration" and no thought into how that manifests. It means I can't feel like this is a real lived in world.
SlackerInc
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 4:53am (UTC -5)
@Bert, I am tempted to serve you up some psychoanalysis to illustrate what exactly is so offputting about it. But I'd rather not sink to that level. Have fun spraying your tendentious nonsense about, I'm not playing.
Bert
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 6:17am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc - Sure man, I told you not to take it personally but you still do. That says more about you than me actually. If this episode were a bonafide classic, if the previous episodes were bonafide classics, I would be the first to say it. But you see, it isn't. It is not a Grand Revival of Great Star Trek, it is a mediocre mess built on ripping off something infinitely better. If you like it, good for you. But if you need to come to places like this to circle jerk about your love what you are really looking for is bias confirmation from others, all strengthening that need to feel it is good.

I think that I have already given ample evidence of piss poor writing. Here's another one. Why in the hell would this Union send an ex-alcoholic captain with his rag-tag crew of a third rate vessel to be their emissary to one of the most important events in their recent history? That is like a child writing these things. Because someone with life experience would say, well they send their top ambassadors and top negotiators in their flagship to start these negotiations and see them through. To get the best out of it. You see how loony this is? If you already have a) several reasons why they would do this insane thing or b) have decided it doesn't matter, what does this say about your critical evaluation skills?

And as already stated by several others, that insane 'stalling' scene. That might work in a balls to the wall comedy and I would play it even harder. But this is not comedy, this is full on Big Drama which necessitates at least a borderline level of reality. Anal probing the envoy of a species you have been at war with, who are very aggressive and you are trying to sweet talk into peace is not just loony, it makes me wonder if they are all on crack cocaine writing this shit.

But hey, I guess you don't think about those things, right?
Yanks
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 7:43am (UTC -5)
Nice review Jammer.

I think the Union might be one reason I can't take this series seriiously.
BRIAN
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Jammer just want to say thank you for your great review (as always) and for providing this platform to all of us Star Trek obsessed people.

Also thanks to everyone else posting. Even when this forum gets vitriolic its still nicer and smarter than Reddit :)
Saru's Ganglia
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 9:14am (UTC -5)
I think my issue with this episode is that having Orrin blow himself up feels like too much of an easy out. They raise this question about whether the Union and even further, the crew is willing to turn over one of their own to a foreign nation that will most certainly execute him.

Well conveniently Orrin keeps anyone from having to actually make that decision and just offs himself, which to me sidesteps the interesting moral conflicts the episode DOES raise.

This was an issue that lesser Trek episodes also had, where the writing would conveniently allow characters to avoid some very difficult consequences. I can recall many a Jammer review discussing it actually.

It doesn't make the episode outright bad or anything, it just leaves me with a feeling that's unsatisfying. Compare to say the episode "Krill", where Mercer did have to make a tough decision and face the consequences of that decision.
Gerontius
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 9:40am (UTC -5)
It seems reasonable that the Union might have an official commitment to acting ethically, and that this could reflect a society that is in general more ethical than the ones we largely live in, but In practice fall away at times from that standard in face of various problems. That after all is what is the picture in many ways in the present day.

Obviously these kind of things are sketched in here in a greatly oversimplified way - this series has no pretensions of being realistic. Fiction is not reality, and that is particularly true of this genre of fiction.
Charles J
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
It’s not about realism. It’s about establishing the moral and functional rules of the universe and being consistent with them.

The Orville is all over the map when it comes to ethics and morality. Which is where good drama comes from. But, the rules should give us an idea of what kinds of consequences we should expect. And in The Orville, there aren’t many.

Keyali can be shot by the Kaylon and bounce back up after a single sickbay visit. Ed doesn’t have to actually make a decision, Orrin’s actions will resolve the conflict for him. Isaac can work his post as if the last two episodes never happened. The Union* can switch sides on a dime, and the Krill won’t call them out on it.

* Honestly, the Union trying to win over the Kaylons should be way more of a major obstacle at hand than the actions of one man. From the Krill’s perspective, whose to say the Union isn’t still looking for another culture like the Kaylons they can bring into the Union. What if the Kaylons had joined? Would it would be just for defensive purposes, or would the Union decide they had to go on the offensive? But, that’s par for the course with The Orville. Why raise the stakes based on what’s previously happened, when they can just introduce a new random element.
Bert
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
For drama to work there needs to be conflict that is grounded in realistic human perspective. Human because the viewers are human; so even alien drama needs to fold back there (warped or otherwise). Choices, situations, character motivations / objectives / convictions / beliefs all need to have a stable realistic base that resonates with the (shared) macro environment (from ship to society at large). And they should resonate into the next episode, and the next, etc etc. If the drama is unrealistic or ungrounded it just peters away, if the surrounding parameters are not governed by constant patterns they don't resonate. That is why even in science fiction world building is so important, it fills in the gaps and makes the show grounded in a certain perspective. Constantly flipping the script is not good world building; that is using the macro environment just as a means to suit a script instead of the other way round. A good world building platform adds spice and life to drama, it allows characters to breathe.

And ethics are just what a group of individuals decide. They are not set in stone and black and white ethics / morality is loony, there are no objective ethics or morals. What is ethical for you might be the complete opposite for someone else who belongs to a different group. That is why having whole planets and entire species conform to exactly the same basic motivations / ethics / morality / religion is dubious to put it mildly.

And if Orville had no intentions to be realistic, then it should have been a full blown comedy. Not a kid's idea of what ethics or morality is. If you want to do drama, you have to invest in it. Oversimplification is just sloppy writing, hit them over the head with a big hammer type of scripting. It doesn't make good drama, it is often pretentious or a morality play phoning home. There is no need for this at all. Good writers can make fantastic nuanced, intelligent drama.

Then again, I don't personally think that nuance is on the mind of McFarlane.
Trent
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
Jammer said: "When it comes to bureaucratic decrees that seem to have no moral conviction for protecting its own, the Union really is the worst. Or maybe it's Admiral Ted Danson who is the worst. First he orders Mercer to leave Grayson and Bortus to rot in an alien concentration camp in "All the World Is Birthday Cake. [...] This is a morally bankrupt move."

The Admiralty do not abandon Grayson and Bortus in "Birthday Cake". Admiral Perry simply refuses, quote, to "retrieve the officers by force" because for now "diplomacy will be our only recourse." The Orville is allowed to spend months over the planet, and when assigned elsewhere, the Admiralty specifically says that they are only leaving orbit because they are being replaced by "a diplomatic envoy sent for further extended negotiations". The Union is not abandoning anyone, and is acting with extreme common sense.

If an American civilian accidentally breaks a law (nutty or otherwise) in Singapore, and is detained or arrested, you don't send in the armed forces and violate a nation's customs and laws and run the risk of sabotaging future relations. You respect their beliefs, laws, and negotiate, as long as possible.

And in this episode, Admiral Perry does not "abandon Orrin". He specifically says that the Union is only "considering" extraditing Orrin "if he is proven guilty". They've not settled upon a answer to this question. They have not abandoned anyone.

And the episode's issue isn't whether extradition is wrong - because it makes sense to give up a criminal if it means wider peace, especially one like Orinn, who has killed over 1200 Krill after a ceasefire - but rather whether Orrin's suffering and trauma make him exempt, and whether or not he knew of the cease fire. The final test proves that he did: he was bent on revenge regardless.

In both episodes, the Union are doing precisely the correct thing. The only flaw is that the script takes the easy route and makes Orinn a suicidal avenger. Better to leave him alive and give him over, though I feel a better writer would have omitted the character and subplot entirely.

Bert said: "Look at this episode. It is set just a little time after a devastating attack by an alien entity. But it is just business as usual, no consequences. "

It's over a month after the attack. The Orville's been in dry-dock repairing.

Bert said: "And these extremists would sign a goddamn peace-treaty? For ONE PLANET OF ROBOTS? WHO JUST GOT THEIR ASS KICKED? Are you insane? "

They don't sign a peace treaty. They sign a, quote, "prelude to a peace treaty" that simply "indicates that both parties will approach the future table in good faith." And they don't sign solely because of the Kaylon, but (the admiralty offers) because of pressures from progressive Kaylon movements who exploit the conflict to usurp traditionalists.

Bert said: "And the crew would just accept this? After these robots killed their crewmen, most of their navy?"

The episode before last ended with Claire telling Isaac that he'll be alone for a while because forgiveness takes time. In the next episode, Isaac doesn't have a speaking role and is clearly still ostracized. That he will be eventually accepted itself makes sense: he acted against his entire civilization to side with the Union. He picked their side. He pulled a Han Solo, showed loyalty to the Union and picked his "identity".

Bert said: "Then I remembered that this is now supposed to be a bonafide Big Drama."

It's 1950s pulp SF, tapped into via 90s Trek, written by dudes who like stoner comedy and who have inserted minor contemporary issues. Nobody thinks its "big drama" (though episodes like "Deflectors" work very well as allegorical dramas).

Alan Roi said: " what I am mostly seeing is people defending an episode just because they need to like it."

You are commenting on an episode which most commenters here have criticized as being one of the weakest episodes in the franchise. And the roughly two people praising it (Dave et al), have taken the time to make interesting points.

Bert said: "I think that I have already given ample evidence of piss poor writing. Here's another one. Why in the hell would this Union send an ex-alcoholic captain to be their emissary?"

Admiral Perry explicitly answers your question in the episode (which Ed poses to him): because only the Orville and its crew have had intimate dealings with the Krill.

But that's besides the point: this is a show where dude's parody Val Kilmer in Top Gun, do diplomatic cavity searches, go undercover as Häagen-Dazs and hang out with talking sunflowers and giant penis aliens. It's like complaining about the lack of realism in Futurama (one of the writers on which, incidentally, produces Orville, as well as having written for past Trek).




Alan Roi
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

You seem rather confused. You are claiming I wrote something I never wrote.

PS. you conveniently omit the "we don't even know if they are still alive" line from Admiral Perry's conversation with Mercer. And that does suggest that to the Admiralty has little interest in rescuing Bortus and Kelly.
J.B.
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
Good review, Jammer. Also impressed by how you pumped out three reviews in just a few days. Badass!
Alan Roi
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

"It's 1950s pulp SF, tapped into via 90s Trek, written by dudes who like stoner comedy and who have inserted minor contemporary issues. Nobody thinks its "big drama""

"this is a show where dude's parody Val Kilmer in Top Gun, do diplomatic cavity searches, go undercover as Häagen-Dazs and hang out with talking sunflowers and giant penis aliens."

So now your argument in defense of The Orville is "It's a dumb show, so critiquing it as though it isn't is totally unfair". We've gotten to this point, have we?
Dave in MN
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
@ Alanrrhoid

"So what you're saying is..." is a common staple of irrational argument.

It's always preferable to present an opposing view rather than mocking yout opponent for something they didn't actually say.

If that was what Trent intended to say, he would've used those words. Such statements just make you appear unconvincing and biased by your emotion.
chris
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
I know this is the internet but can we stick to critiquing the show and not one another?
Gerontius
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
50s pulp SciFi is not by any means always "dumb-ass". It's a sub-genre which can very effectively deal with serious issues in an accessible and enjoyable way. It's simplified, with no pretensions to be realistic. Attacking it for that is a bit like putting down classicism animation for not achieving or even aiming for the pseudo-realism of some current styles of animation.

The Orville fits with that. The great thing is that those who don't enjoy it and who object to dealing with on its own terms have actually no obligation to endure watching it, or to wast time and energy fulminating about it.
Trent
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Roi said: "And that does suggest that to the Admiralty has little interest in rescuing Bortus and Kelly. "

No, that line doesn't suggest that at all. Perry allows the Orville to spend a month negotiating for Bortus and Kelly, and then dispatches a special diplomatic/negotiating team to replace them when they're needed elsewhere.

Roi said: "So now your argument..."

No. I'm saying that a sensible person would critique this episode for being derivative of at least 4 Trek episodes, adding little to them, its jokes which fall flat, its "Orrin dies cliche", and for neglecting the more interesting question of negotiations with the Krill. When the Orville works, it's avoiding most of the cliches this episode wades into.

But to criticize the episode for "not being realistic" is to believe that "realism" is defacto an important or necessary thing. It's not. It's like criticizing Dr Strangelove, one of the greatest "realistic" political comedies, for having a silly scene with a guy riding a bomb. Or criticizing 2001 a Space Odyssey, one of the greatest hard SF flicks, for its giant floating baby.

All the purportedly "unrealistic" things in this episode work fine in better Orville episode's, because the good episodes are not working by dint of being devoid of things which are unrealistic.
Trent
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
Gerontius: "50s pulp SciFi is not by any means always "dumb-ass". It's a sub-genre which can very effectively deal with serious issues in an accessible and enjoyable way. It's simplified, with no pretensions to be realistic. Attacking it for that is a bit like putting down classicism animation for not achieving or even aiming for the pseudo-realism of some current styles of animation. "

Exactly. Fare like "Rocketship X", "Invaders from Mars", "Destination Moon", "When Worlds Collide", the original "The Thing", "Forbidden Planet", "TOS", the 1950s version of "Space Command" etc exist in the same tonal universe as Orville.

I suspect those who aren't put off by the tone are more familiar with and/or fond of classic pulp SF (it's probably why a lot of SF writers, intimately familiar with the genre, are coming out of the woodwork and praising the show; the writer of "Trouble with Tribbles", for example, recently called it the only thing since TOS to correctly do TOS episodes).

I'm struggling to think of modern stuff which taps into 1950s pulp SF. Brian De Palma's critically derided "Mission to Mars" - a kind of pastiche of Hitchcock and 1950s SF - was one. "Futurama" on the small screen. Maybe "Tomorrowland". It's not something you see a lot of. In Orville's case, it tries to be simultaneously retro, aww-shucks earnest, high-brow/smart, and edgy/transgressive enough to be cool with stoners. If Jules Verne wrote Trek while inserting sex gags so as not to alienate his frat boy buddies, you'd probably have Orville.
Alan Roi
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

Oh yes, and Trent again doubled down that The Orville in general is never allowed to be judged on its own merits but on how it mangles TNG episodes and the manitees that Seth employs to do his writing for him arange his comedic plotting for him and is therefore immune to standard marking and deserves a grade up because it may or may not avoid the "expected" cliches. Essentially he's saying The Orville get a passing mark by attending class and that's all we should grade it for, showing up.

Most TV science fiction over the past 70 years, except perhaps just recently hasn't really managed to get beyond 50s pulp grade, so casting a show in this light isn't really saying anything. Even some of the most highly regarded series, Bablyon 5, and the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, are about 40s-50s level pulp scifi at their storytelling levels. Written science fiction passed that 60 years ago with the advent of the New Wave, but there have been precious few more advanced science fiction TV series that have ever pushed beyond that envelope. Even now, TV scifi is barely pushing past pulp style storytelling with Farscape, The Expanse, Altered Carbon, Sense8 and Legion which in some ways qualify as at least New Wave. Which of course The Orville certainly isn't.

As such, regardless of his skill level, Seth MacFarlane is on record for claiming he is trying to accomplish something here more than what he did with Family Guy. He's gone on record that he has attempted to create a conversation with themes he is tackling, so whether he succeeds or fails is worthy of criticism and rating for what he accomplishes not a grading curve based on whether or not he and the other writers is a Futurama or Family Guy writer or whether or not it harkens back to a simpler time or not. Jerry Lewis didn't get a break when he tried writing drama, why should Seth MacFarlane?

oh, by the way, "@ Alanrrhoid", what a sick burn, man!! Ever thought of writing for The Orville? Send in that resume. I think you have a career.

Alan Roi
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
Can't think of much 50s grade pulp scifi being made for TV these days? Let's see, other than The Orville - Nightflyers, Origin, Impulse, Killjoys, Krypton, Lost in Space, Legends of Tomorrow and recently, 12 Monkeys, Dark Matter, Defiance, Z-Nation, Reverie, Extinct, Stitchers, Time after Time, Falling Skies etc.

Of course, some of these are much better realized than others.
Dave in MN
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
The 50's pulps had everything from color-by-number bad short fiction from Murray Leinster and L Ron Hubbard to highly praised intellectual works by Fritz Leiber and Frederick Pohl, nevermind thr sirtis by those who blurred genre lines like Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison. Nothing unites these disparate tales other than having sci-fi elements.
Dave in MN
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
*auto co-wrecked

That should say "nevermind the short stories by those..."
SlackerInc
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Funny how Bert is implying that I called this episode a "bonafide classic", when what I actually wrote about it was:

"A very uneven and thus marginal episode. There was some stupid, cringey stuff, some cliche stuff, but also some good elements."

So Bert, let me try explaining this to you again, very carefully. I'm not objecting to your posts because I love the episode--far from it. I'm objecting because you're being a jerk. Mmkay? Got it now?

@Trent: "It's like criticizing Dr Strangelove, one of the greatest "realistic" political comedies, for having a silly scene with a guy riding a bomb. Or criticizing 2001 a Space Odyssey, one of the greatest hard SF flicks, for its giant floating baby."

It's funny: I totally agree about "Dr. Strangelove", but I do actually think "2001" jumped the shark at the end, after the earlier parts of the film (especially everything with HAL-9000) were brilliant.
Trent
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 10:23pm (UTC -5)

Alan Roi said: "Essentially he's saying The Orville get a passing mark by attending class and that's all we should grade it for, showing up."

No, I'm saying a lack of "verisimilitude" or "realism" is not inherently a problem. Sometimes an episode suffers because its unrealistic wackiness doesn't work. Sometimes it's precisely the unrealistic wackiness which saves or lifts sub-par straight drama. It's a constant juggling act.

Alan Roi said: "Even some of the most highly regarded series, Bablyon 5, and the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, are about 40s-50s level pulp scifi"

Babylon 5 and the rebooted Galactica aren't in the vein of Golden Age pulp.

Alan Roi: "Jerry Lewis didn't get a break when he tried writing drama, why should Seth MacFarlane?"

He shouldn't. But you're literally commenting on an episode which virtually everyone has criticized for being cliched drama, talking to a person who - scroll up - called this the worst episode of the franchise, and complaining about the one guy, Dave, who took the time to point out some interesting themes that nobody else picked up on.

Surely if your concern is "people giving Orville a free pass", you should be debating on the episode pages you believe have too high a rating (Jammer's only given one episode a high rating, if I recall), or where you believe the commenters are being unduly favorable to the episode.

I do agree with you that it's become a cult show, though. Its connecting with a very specific niche, and creating rabid fans - a bit like Firefly and the original TOS.

Alan Roi: "Nightflyers, Origin, Impulse, Killjoys, Krypton, Lost in Space, Legends of Tomorrow and recently, 12 Monkeys, Dark Matter, Defiance, Z-Nation, Reverie, Extinct, Stitchers, Time after Time, Falling Skies etc."

I don't think you understand what Golden Age pulp is and was. None of those remotely resemble Golden Age pulp, though I cant speak for Krypton and Time after Time, and I abandoned the rebooted Lost in Space after the second episode.
Robert
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
When Kubrick depicted a cowboy riding a bomb, it was right on point because the madness of that moment in Dr. Strangelove mirrors the madness of nuclear war itself.

Unless you’re saying The Orville’s goofiness is expressing a deeper symbolic meaning like that, your analogy is not particularly convincing. Now if you were comparing The Orville to Independence Day in its audacious comedy-meets-sci-fi, I’d be right along with you.
Alan Roi
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

And sir, I grew up reading Heinlien juveniles, Bradbury, Wyndham, Stockbridge, Howard, E.C. Tubb etc., then graduated to Spinrad, Herbert, Moorcock, Dick, SIlverberg, Zelazney, Stableford etc. and more as I grew up. I also watched Republic Serials as a kid in addition to the Twilight Zone Star Trek, the original Battlestar Galactica, Doctors 1-4 etc. So, yes, I easily recognize the elements and narrative beats of pulp scifi as well as new wave when they show up on the screen because I've been reading/watching them so long.

Star Trek, Babylon 5 and even the rebooted BSG are old school Space Opera. None of them really offer anything that wasn't explored by scifi writers by the end of the 50s. The kind that predates even mid to late 60s more complex ideas that came along in Herbert's Dune, Niven's Known Space, Delany's Nova, Cecilia Holland's Floating Worlds. The Expanse and the upcoming Consider Phelbas are a bit more up to date, IMHO, although the Expanse as presented on screen isn't terribly complex and can get pretty pulpy at times.

But sure offer up more hyperbole. It indeed is so golden age scifi.
Gerontius
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 6:42am (UTC -5)
I think it's a mistake to talk about "later' as if it were the same thing as "better". That's as true of science fiction (and indeed any fiction) as it is of Music. Shostakovich isn't "better" than Mozart. There is "golden age sci-fi" which is as well worth reading as any "New Wave", and "New Age" which is at least as bad as any 50s pulp.

There are also very significant differences between print fiction and TV fiction. TV until fairly recently has by definition been predominantly about aiming for a wide audience, which is what the term "broadcasting" implies. Print has meant that much of the time the aim is for a section of that audience. With the rise of streaming that is changing, and this will no doubt be reflected in what is available - but the fact that certain styles of TV are particularly costly ( for example those featuring space battles like Identity 2) has an impact that cannot be ignored.
Bert
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 11:11am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc

No. I did not say that YOU said it was a bonafide classic. That is what you get from reading through a very narrow negative bias. That is your issue, you make things up. And then you call me a jerk. How about that?
Bert
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 11:27am (UTC -5)
I think it is funny that people will actively reconfigure this show when necessary to fit with their own internal message. Somehow during this entire conversation it has been determined by echolalia that Orville is now 'a 50's type pulp SF series'. And thus by classification has lease to introduce as many illogical, unrealistic or outright loony bullshit as it wants. It's not sloppy writing, no man, it's Pulp SF!

As for sending an ex-alcoholic loser to such an important event 'because they had interactions' is a good example of this. Aside from the fact that it still does not make a jot of sense because it would imply that the NONE of the diplomats ever had such interactions, you still don't send such a person to that table. It requires skills, experience and many other things; those are infinitely more valuable than a few interactions. As is evidenced by the ex-alcoholic subjecting the envoy to such shameful degradation that the Krill killing them all would be realistic. But hey, it's 50's pulp SF so it doesn't matter.

You simply cannot want to do serious subjects in a serious manner, literally screaming 'look we're serious here, we have a goddamn True Message' and then say 'we know it has more loony plot holes than a Swiss cheese but it doesn't matter because it is pulp SF that doesn't take itself seriously'. This is just running in circles trying to loop around the evident. Why is it so goddamn difficult to say it is simply not very good when the evidence it literally in front of you? You can enjoy a shitty hamburger just fine, just don't go defending that hamburger ad nauseum as the best thing ever.
Bert
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 11:49am (UTC -5)
@Trent - You said:

** It's over a month after the attack. The Orville's been in dry-dock repairing. **

Right. And 30 days is enough for people to forget that wholesale death and destruction happened? What reality do you live in? How many people died? How many friends, family, lovers and co-workers died? This is an event that would create a deep crater of pain and suffering in the population. By completely ignoring this in favour of a party with all-smiles-and-cheers the show effectively dishonours their deaths. Instead of some medal party they should have had a memorial, that is what we call realistic consequences. That is what creates weight to such events: the aftermath and the dealing with pain. Instead, it's literally like nothing ever happened.

The signing of even the intent for a peace treaty is loony for the Krill. They are aggressive and see all others as completely inferior. The logical step is for them to use the power vacuum to take over. Whatever 'progressive Krill' are or what their agenda is, we don't know. Maybe they are even more aggressive. Progressive doesn't mean peaceful. It also ponders the question who these Krill are, do they represent all Krill? Or just a few? Are they even sanctioned? You see, the issue is that this only fits because the script needs it to fit, not because their actual motivations would fit. But it's all pulp sf so who cares, right?

As for the Isaac protagonist, you are living in a dream world. A world where collaborators are welcomed back with open arms, given their old spot, never go to trial, never face real consequences and every person just accepts this. Honestly man, stop dreaming. You are fed a program through the 'God' perspective, you see what happens. 99% of all other people on this ship don't, but you expect that they do and even that they all share in the 'he's actually sort of a hero' conceit. It is completely lunatic and by defending this view, what you do is to apply the 'Good Nazi' trope. Personally I think that is an insult to the many people who died on this show even if they are fictional.
Trent
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Robert said: "Now if you were comparing The Orville to Independence Day in its audacious comedy-meets-sci-fi, I’d be right along with you."

I'd say that's a much better comparison. My chief point, though, was simply that a lack of "realism" is not inherently a bad thing, and that "realism" is not inherently a needed thing. Episodes work or don't work for a range of more nuanced reasons.

Alan Roi said: "Star Trek, Babylon 5 and even the rebooted BSG are old school Space Opera."

Babylon 5 isn't. There are clear distinctions between the politics, tone and handling of the station in Babylon 5, and Golden Age space stations, which were influenced by entirely different socio-cultural factors, and aesthetic movements. The rocket-ship aesthetic of something like "The Conquest of Space", for example, is itself a world away from "Babylon 5".


Bert said: "Somehow during this entire conversation it has been determined by echolalia that Orville is now 'a 50's type pulp SF series'."

You're not reading correctly. I said the Orville taps into 1950s pulp SF via 90s Trek. TOS, like "The Forbidden Planet", took the SF of the Golden Age, and publications like Astounding, Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, and brought them to TV in a way which allowed the anthology format of magazines to be told using a single, consistent cast. The entire franchise itself borrowed hugely from "The Voyage of the Space Beagle", one of the classics of the 1950s.

Orville taps back into these magazines, via tropes common in 1990s Trek.

Bert said: "is now 'a 50's type pulp SF series'. And thus by classification has lease to introduce as many illogical, unrealistic or outright loony..."

Watching you try to reconcile floating Abe Lincolns, human aliens, English speaking aliens, Gangster Planets, Greek deity aliens, interspecies sex etc etc, all common in TOS, must be hilarious. All those incongruities and deviations from realism, must be so confusing.


Bert said: "As for sending an ex-alcoholic loser to such an important event..."

It makes perfect sense in a frat-boy comedy about likeable losers and oddballs who quote Top Gun and get high on marijuana brownies. Juggling and blurring genres seems to confuse you. I suggest loosening up, or watching this series with others or while getting high. I would also say you severely misunderstand how people who enjoy this show view it, categorize it, and the esteem they place it in.

Bert said: "And 30 days is enough for people to forget that wholesale death and destruction happened?"

Ignoring that this is routine in such shows, even Trek, and ignoring that this is a dopey comedy, and ignoring that 30 days is ample time to stop walking about in a state of Ingmar Bergmanesque depression, the episode is clearly, thematically, about the inability to get past wholesale suffering and destruction.

And once again, you're critiques are irrelevant and have very little to do with the generic writing in this episode. Nobody cared that nobody but Picard was in a post-Borg-invasion funk in "Family", because it was a well written and reasonably original episode. "Blood of Patriots" problems have nothing to do with your specific appeals to "realism".

Bert said: "the show effectively dishonours their deaths."

Oh, the people who died during a battle in which the chief firing pattern was "eenie meenie miney mo", are being dishonored?

I too find Donald Duck's lack of pants highly distressing.

Bert said: "A world where collaborators are welcomed back with open arms, given their old spot, never go to trial, never face real consequences and every person just accepts this."

I too never forgave Data and 7of9 for similar betrayals and transgressions. And don't get me started on the Enterprise taking back Picard after that whole Locutus thing. Grrrr! Grrrr! Fidelity to quotidian reality! Only documentary no make head hurt! Grrr!

Bert said: "Personally I think that is an insult to the many people who died on this show even if they are fictional."

It is indeed a tragedy of Holocaust proportions.
Gerontius
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
There's no indication that Ed was "an ex-alcoholic". There's a wide difference between drinking too much for a time for a reason and being an alcoholic.

As for the Krill, you make peace with your enemy if you can. It doesn't mean you trust them, or let your guard down.

Isaac saved everyone by his actions and also by his previous inaction which mean"t he was still there to act when it made sense.

The Union high-ups appear to make serious mistakes sometimes. That's actually quite realistic. Think of some of our leaders. I suppose they could have written the series with them as flawless - after all, it's a fantastic narrative anyway, why not add that element...
Alan Roi
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

If you had watched B5 you would have recognized JMS's earnest call back to Forbidden Planet among many other earnest references to 30's entertainment, such as Laurel and Hardy prominently, or him straight out admitting he based his narrative on Babylonian myth without a whole lot of modern day decontruction, a style which is also a prominent feature of Golden Age Science Fiction. But since you only approach things from the broadest of perspectives, I guess you dismiss such pertinent details since they don't support your argument.
Trent
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
Alan Roi: "If you had watched B5 you would have recognized JMS's earnest call back to Forbidden Planet among many other earnest references to 30's entertainment"

The sheer act of "calling back" is a postmodern gesture implicitly at odds with the modernism of the Golden Age. It's like calling Star Wars a classic samurai movie because it borrows from pre-war Kurosawa. I don't think any serious person would classify B5 as "Golden Age SF", especially since its serialized form is at odds with the mandates of the early SF editors ("Cook up a Big Idea, push it to its wackiest limit, get in, and get out fast- 8000-12000 words. Go!").

Regardless, I can't think of any other show running now that, like Orville, taps into the same vibe as 1950s anthologized SF, especially with its sense of wide-eyed, homespun, farm boy awww shucks earnestness, of the kind you found in a lot of early juvenilia (before SF novels were a thing). And actual SF writers are saying this as well, not just me. Whether it does this well or not, is another issue.
Alan Roi
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent

The Great Machine on Epsilon III not only looked the same as The Great Machine from the Forbiddin Planet, it served pretty much the same purpose. Including that in Babylon 5 was not postmodernism it was fannishness. The only way Star Wars could have been compared the same way to a Samurai Film is that if Star Wars was an actuall samurai film, not merely influenced by Hidden Fortress.

FYI, The Buck Rogers Radio Series in its first run (1932-36) was a serial 720 episodes in length. A large number of Golden age Science Fiction 'novels' are in fact a series of stories, often featuring the same characters but not always. Pretty much the last 'golden age' style series was E.C. Tubb's Dumarest of Terra, who's series ammounts to 33 novels. Stating that B5 cannot be regarded as made in that style because its a serialized story does not make the smell test.

PS. stereotyping golden age scifi as 'wide-eyed, homespun, farm boy awww shucks earnestness' is yet another meme that you are pushing, and like every other attempt, is hardly a complete look at the ear. It's just you again pushing cliche as analysis. Although, I will agree that The Orville, embracing cliches as it does, has numerous times embodied this 'wide-eyed, homespun, farm boy awww shucks earnestness' cliche. Just look at how MacFarlane had the crew react to the chance at first contact in the Birthday Cake ep. And this ep certainly evokes the kind of juvinle kernel of an idea Dick would have had in the early 50s before realizing how chliched it was and rewriting it.
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
Can we stop speaking of the "Golden Age of Sci-Fi" as if it's this monolithic singularity in the history of literature?

I already went into the particulars above about certain authors, but come on!

The so-called Golden Age writers had completely different talents, ambitions, worldviews and prose styles. Sone eschewed allegory to pursue "hard SF" and/or futurism, others chose it as a lens to focus on human nature, and others used it as a window dressing to hang age-old heroic archetypes upon. (Funnily enough, The Orvilke actually does all three at certain points.)

The Golden Age is a period in time, not a subgenre of SF.

Can we move forward from this pedantic argument and get back to focusing on the show?

Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 16, 2019, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
@Gerontius

100% agree.

Ed will have drinks on his off time (and an occassional cannabis edible). He's an adult.

Besides, think about how everyone was in 10 Forward drinking all the time.l and no one ccslls them alkies! (Yes, I know, synthehol not alcohol, but still, most of the cast of TNG were drunks in comparison to Ed!)
Toony
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 2:40am (UTC -5)
I figure Ed is a functional alcoholic, the first scene of this season was him telling Alara one thing they have in common is being alcoholics.
I guess in the Orville future alcohol and drug use are only permissible if the user is in control.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 5:05am (UTC -5)
I think we were not intended to take it that Ed wasn't actually meaning that literally, of either of them, Dave. Just being a bit too liable to have a drink to shrug off personal issues sometimes.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 6:46am (UTC -5)
Correction - I accidentally mistyped, and made that comment nonsensical.

What I should have written was "we were not intended to take it that Ed was meaning that literally..."
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 7:52am (UTC -5)
@Trent
"Regardless, I can't think of any other show running now that, like Orville, taps into the same vibe as 1950s anthologized SF, especially with its sense of wide-eyed, homespun, farm boy awww shucks earnestness, of the kind you found in a lot of early juvenilia (before SF novels were a thing)."

Why say "1950s anthologized SF" when you can simply say "TOS"? ;-)

That's the series that the Orville reminds me the most. The show may resemble TNG visually, but it is far closer in tone to the original series.

The Orville is basically a TOS pastiche augmented with some of the newer storytelling techniques A/B plots, dramatic elements, character arcs) and updated to deal with current day issues (the dangers of social media, or the difference between denouncing extremism and hating the extremists as people).

Sure, it's goofy at times, but so was TOS. And you know something? I think our era is in a desperate need for a TOS-like show.
Trent
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 11:33am (UTC -5)


Dave said: "The so-called Golden Age writers had completely different talents"

Sure, but that all taxonomy eventually breaks down, doesn't negate the existence of actual periods and movements, artistic or otherwise. Babylon 5 made in the Golden Age wouldn't be anything like Babylon 5 made in the 1990s, and I doubt many of its key traits (like a multicultural melting pot) would have been of interest to its hypothetical born-in-the-1920s/30s author.

Alan Roi: " Including that in Babylon 5 was not postmodernism"

It's one of the core tenets of postmodernism.

Alan Roi: "FYI, The Buck Rogers Radio Series in its first run (1932-36) "

I specifically said, and was referring to, 1950s magazines and their editors. And the Golden Age was a reaction to serials like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, which are typically categorized as belonging to the SF's Radium Age, which editors and the big authors rebelled against; they thought them camp and trashy, and themselves above such things. Ironically, these guys probably looked the same way to Roddenberry in the 60s. Today's fad is tomorrow's joke.

Omicron said: "I think our era is in a desperate need for a TOS-like show."

Me too. SF tends to appear in a nation when a nation becomes heavily industrialized and begins to project itself on the international stage (which is why the movement moves from England to France to America to Russia and now to China) and begins to start imagining its future. Nations which don't, tend not to develop SF movements, but magic realism instead. What we're seeing in contemporary, western print SF is a move away from grimdark stuff to more utopian SF, ecological SF, optimistic post-capitalist visions and solarpunk SF. Insofar as TV/films are generally decades behind print fiction, Orville might be an unconscious product of this movement.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
It's a mistake to treat dates as too significant in classifying genres of science fiction. I think the use of terms like "Radium Age" and "Golden Age" can encourage people to do so.

A writer like James White, born in the 20s, was producing his Sector General novels up until his death in 1999. And I would see this series as very much examples of "Golden Age" fiction - allowing for the fact that their essentially pacifist emphasis, and the value placed on inter-species cooperatio, was poles apart from John Cammbell's ideology, which effectively excluded him from publishing in Astounding/Analog.
Dave in MN
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
For the record, I'm 100% on board with using temporal terminology in classifying literary movements.

I guess my point is that the term "Golden Age" refers to the blossoming of an entire genre (with all of its various categories and styles) during a specific time period. I wouldn't use "Golden Age" as a descriptor for tropes or allegory, but that's just my understanding of the term.

Now I''m becoming the pedantic one! The irony does not go unnoticed. ;)

(I''m glad soneone brought this topic up. Last night I ended up reading some old Galaxy mags that are in the public domain haha)
Alan Roi
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

Just dropping a nostalgic reference into a modern story without commentary has nothing to do with post-modernism. Nostalgia is not one of the core tenets of Postmodernism.

As for this episode in particular and The Orville in general, there is no commentary on the ideas and plots it mines from the past and any connection to more modern subgenres of science fiction is purely accidental as it takes ideas which are decades old and simply presents them with no more of a 21st century commentary than what it is copying. Its Utopian and optimistic post-capitalist visions are old-school. And I see zero imput from either ecological or solarpunk movements in the series. The only modernist approach is they daytime talks show level of social discourse that shows up from time to time. This however, is presented, again, without commentary other than the occasional 'this is stupid', but only when referring to when it is performed by alien cultures, and even then with little or no introspection.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
I think there's a fundamental difference between literary sci fi and TV/film sci fi: A sci fi book does not need a budget of tens of millions of dollars to get published. Also, by definition, the literary medium requires the reader to actively imagine the world he is reading about. You can't just turn off your brain when you read a sci fi story in book form.

OTOH most of the TV/movie sci fi we currently have, isn't really sci fi at all. It's just a huge visual spectacle created by mega-corps to milk the masses of their money, using a thin sci-fi skin as the medium. Two big exceptions of this are the Orville and the Expanse, but these - really - are the exceptions that prove the rule.

This is true for other genres as well, by the way. For years now, 90%+ of all TV shows are little more than coorperate-created trash.

I'm not saying there aren't *any* good shows. But they are very few in number. It's amazing how difficult it is to find something watchable, in a world with hundreds of channels and countless streaming services.
Alan Roi
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent

And speaking of Post-Modernism, The Orville certainly doesn't qualify, as it apes TNGs unironic Utopia. As in this ep and the Orville as a whole, no one, not even the villain, questions whether or not the Union isn't unquetionably the bestest Utopia out there. Mollow doesn't question his being blacklisted, and its Alara's father who's targetted for not allowing any free anti-vaxxer thought, not the system in general. Whereas TOS and DS9 did questions their societie's perfection and its inherent flaws and ironies on a semi-regular basis.

@OmicronthetaDeltaPhi

While one could call the Expanse an exception, the Orville certainly isn't (since its main driver for better or ill is nostalgia which is by its very nature exploiting the masses for the $$$$). There are and have been many scifi shows that explore scifi with far greater depth than say MacFarlane or the Kelvinverse and the like have. This includes to various greater levels of success Killjoys, Dark Matter, Legion, 12 Monkeys, American Gods, Man in the High Castle, Altered Carbon, Travelers, the OA, Sense8 to name a few.
Dave in MN
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
How have they presented the Union as a perfect utopia?

Aren't they allied with bigoted Moclus? Yep.

Don't they have inflexible Admirals with ethically questionable command decisions? They sure seem to.

The Union Council tentatively approved of the death penalty for Isaac. Would a perfect utopia make such a choice?

I could go on and on, but in short, it seems to me that the Union is actually presented as a post-scarcity bureaucracy.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Well The Orville does show a society which is more or less free of a number of the plagues of our current world, but then that's largely true of us. I mean we don’t generally go round burning witches. There are some real changes for the better.

The trouble is, we always seem to come up with pretty unpleasant changes for the worse to set against those changes for the better. I don't think that it's unreasonable to imagine (and aim for) a future society in which racism and anything we would recognise as poverty will be no more. However past experience suggests that to be "realistic" there should be more evidence of it having acquired other failings, and in particular, and especially of the loss of good qualities of our society.

However there seems no reason to assume that these failings, whatever they might be, would show up in the untypical situation of a starship. I'm not sure that dreaming them up, and artificially set up episodes to bring them to our attention would be worthwhile, just to avoid the label "utopian". Being "realistic" is not what the Orville is about, and I don't think it would be improved by aiming at it.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
@ Alan Roi
Alara's father was of course targeted, but not for his hostility to "anti-vaxxers". There was no suggestion that he should be criticised for this. The targeting was by the fanatical parents of a discredited "anti-vaxxer" Where he is identified as being at fault is for what you could call his "academicist" prejudices - and the society he lives in is implicitly criticised for the same failing.

Which is actually an example of the kind of possible future flaw I referred to in my last post. It's a prejudice which at present is largely ignored but which could well be more prominent in a future society.

Alan Roi
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN @Gerontius

My comment wasn't about what we see as outside observers, but as what character within the show see of the the society they live in. And while those in TOS and DS9 had pertinent criticisms which were leveled at their imperfect societies, like TNG, the Orville has little to no commentary about the flaws that the Union present when faced with them. They are directed at either indivuals or "the other".
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
The Xelayans are of course members of the Union, and Xelaya might in many ways be viewed as 'utopian' . The flaws in their society are recognised in the episodes - including a Xelayan, Alara.

Again, taking it that Maclus is also a member of the Union, it has a society identified in various episodes as deeply flawed - including Bortus to some extent.

In both cases not "the other".

There are no reasons to assume that these societies are unique in having flaws, or that there are no critics of these flaws.

We've seen very little of Earth human society, apart from to a limited extent in the Orville, where though most crew are Earth humans, it is a very multi-species ship, and a very specialised environment. The flaws that can be recognised on the part of Union higher command are in fact recognised by characters.

But the point of these kind of things in the series is largely to address issues within today's society, especially in the United States. The series is not setting out to reform societies in the 24th century of flaws that we would probably not recognise as flaws.

Alan Roi
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
@Gerontius

The Vulcans in Star Trek are members of the Federations, but they have always been treated as 'the other' over all the series, but at least Trek bothered to offer a modicum of respect towards their background as well as Klingons even as allies they to are treated as 'the other', but some consideration is put into why they are the way they are.

The show treats the Moclans quite poorly in many different ways, and the mixed message that it sends about analogues to what they represent is pretty disurbing overall. Despite their focus in more eps than any other alien species on the show, it seems is at all interested in why the Moclans are the way they are, only that no one seems to like they way they are. Any investigation stops there.

The Union, like the Federation is very human centric. But again, other futuristic shows outside of the Orville and the specificshow its copying have been willing to address common fears/flaws, TOS did it. DS9 did it. Many scifi shows do it. The Orville, being what it is, doesn't dare, and it causes the same sort of cognitive dissonance as "do as I say, not as I do" leaves people.

Gerontius
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Flaws which are specific to alien or future society would not really be relevant to us. What is interesting is where they have analogies with features or tendencies in today and can present these in a more detached and critical way. That can indeed be "disturbing", and that's not a bad thing for a story to do.
Perry
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
If Orville's season boring already, then look no further. Here's one: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheOrville/comments/b2gjjn/it_is_sad_day_yaphits_body_was_found_inside_a/
SlackerInc
Tue, Mar 19, 2019, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
@Gerontius, I would differ slightly in that I think the kind of worldbuilding that would envision flaws in a society not related to our own can be done in SF and if done well, can be extremely interesting, demonstrating serious creativity.

But if we are talking about "major network TV SF", then yes: I would agree that is too esoteric.
Dave in MN
Tue, Mar 19, 2019, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
@ SlackerInc

I would say that there's at least two aspects of post-scarcity Union society the show has touched upon that I think would qualify as a "future societal problem":

#1) When technology becomes indestinguishable from magic/ reality, how does one (and one's loved ones) cope with the consequences? (Primal Urges)

#2) Reputation as currency seems like a great system for those that want to contribute to society ... but what happens if you don't care about reputation and you have no ambition; or when you DO have ambition and will do anything to create/regain acclaim? (Majority Rule/New Dimensions, Home)
4Q2
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
I think I see the problem here.

"Identity Pt 1" set the bar too fuckin high. Great episode.

Had this one shown up prior, it would have been lauded as "best ever" as many others before it have been, IP1 should have been this season's cliffhanger.
Dark Kirk
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 8:45am (UTC -5)
The writers are intentionally creating mediocre episodes (in a strong continuity) so they can be referenced when the characters enter the real world and discover they are just characters in a fictional universe, a la John Scalzi's Redshirts.
Dave in MN
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 11:25am (UTC -5)
@Dark Kitk

Such a meta ending would really annoy me. :)

Submit a comment





◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2019 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.