The Orville

"Deflectors"

3 stars

Air date: 2/14/2019
Written by David A. Goodman
Directed by Seth MacFarlane

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The most important dialogue in "Deflectors" comes near the end. "You know, the more I learn about the Moclans, the more I see that our differences go right to the core of our values," Ed says to Kelly. "How long can an alliance with a culture like that last?" It's a good question, one that helps acknowledge a disconcerting pattern that's been going on here across multiple episodes.

This is no less than the third episode of this series to detail Moclan culture as having some highly questionable qualities — forced gender reassignment in "About a Girl," divorce by murder in "Primal Urges," and now harsh prejudicial judgment for sexual preferences as seen here. A trend has emerged regarding the Moclans, and it's not so hunky-dory. So this must be going somewhere, right?

I hope so, because something ominous seems to be building, and stands in stark contrast to the use of Bortus' Moclan deadpan to provide the series' best comic delivery.

In "Deflectors," one of Bortus' exes, a very tall dude named Locar (Kevin Daniels) comes aboard to help the Orville crew install some technologically superior new deflectors. This weapons upgrade is apparently a part of the alliance that Mercer later says the Union "needs." One question not asked or answered here: How much did the Union actually know before allying themselves with the Moclans? It appears not much. There's an alarming new thing we find out in each episode. Did they form this alliance on purely military, transactional terms? And what are the Moclans getting out of the deal? For that matter, how did Bortus become a Union officer? That's a bit of backstory that seems more urgent now than ever.

Locar, it is revealed, is attracted to females, something that is strictly forbidden and shameful on Moclus (and the reason Bortus ended the relationship, but, notably, did not turn him in to the authorities over), and something Locar reveals to Talla because he's attracted to her. She obliges by taking him to the simulator for a dance before he aggressively moves in for a kiss, which she then returns. From here, things take a turn for the sinister and mysterious when Locar vanishes; visual holographic logs show that a mysterious shape shot and vaporized him, and that shape — after the covered tracks are uncovered — turns out to be Klyden.

The episode's twisty whodunit plotting is nothing extraordinary here, but it serves its purpose and keeps the episode moving forward and always watchable. If it takes a while for the show to get going (by first featuring an amicable albeit one-sided breakup when Kelly dumps Cassius because he wants more from the relationship than she does, followed by hints we're going back to the Ed/Kelly well yet again) and features an attraction between characters that comes completely out of left field (Locar and Talla's dance/kiss feels more like a rushed plot-induced piece of motivational business than a believable thing that actually happens between two people) — well no one said an effective episode had to be perfect, or even great. (See also: much of Star Trek: Discovery.)

This worked for me a lot better than some of the other relationship-based episodes of the past several weeks because there seemed to be more urgent and believable stakes. There's something to be said for that sinking feeling you get about the Moclans and their borderline-oppressive beliefs mired in judgment and injustice that makes for compelling viewing.

There are scenes here that have the hallmarks of drama and tragedy. Locar staging his own death and framing Klyden out of pure fear. Locar's painful admission to Talla in the shuttle. The sight of Locar being dragged before a judge for a crime that open-minded people would never consider a crime, but certainly still a backward thinking that exists here on Earth in 2019. Recognizable things from the real world that make us flinch.

So this show plays on the emotions and gets you involved, even if the plot doesn't always make sense in retrospect. (Why doesn't Locar accept asylum? Turning himself in is not going to protect his family from being shamed, is it?) And the scene at the end where Talla chews out Klyden is compelling in its unfortunate clash-in-value-systems way. Klyden is genuinely grateful for Talla's investigation that cleared him, but also genuinely tone-deaf in expressing that sentiment in that moment to that particular person. And things are less than great between Bortus and Klyden, who still have not dealt with their many issues.

It all makes for a solid dramatic outing — one that doesn't shoehorn in stupid jokes (excepting a giant talking plant with the voice of Bruce Willis) or elaborate flights of fancy — and thus works in a much more straightforward way. I'm not sure what we'll see next from the Moclans, but I suspect this alliance is not going to be smooth sailing forever.

Previous episode: A Happy Refrain
Next episode: Identity, Part I

◄ Season Index

94 comments on this review

Del_Duio
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
Haven't seen a bunch of this show lately, but gotta' admit it's pretty good. It must be awesome for such a huge TNG fan like Seth to be able to make something like this.
Scot
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
I haven't been able to catch the last few episodes of the Orville but I did manage to watch tonight's episode. I really miss this show. After watching this episode, I kind of have to sit back and calm myself. I found the ending so profoundly emotional. All I can say is, wow. Star Trek was actually never this good.
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Wow, so much to unpack here. I literally don't even know where to begin.

First off, that was a great sci-fi way of approaching the terror some people feel about being outed. I have a little experience in that department so it stuck close to home for me.

The fact that Klyden (of all people) reacted with closeminded hatred actually makes a lot of sense .... some people wear their politics/ religion as a cloak to mask their true selves. While it makes Kkyden a bit more realistic in characterization, it also renders him unlikable in a way a curmudgeonly uncle who drank one too many on Thanksgiving can be. I'm torn on how to feel about him now. It's good, believable writing/ acting, but... seriously, WTF Klyden?!

Every act had a good build of tension, the murder shocked me. The blurred holo, the cleared up image and Talla's eventual discovery of the truth was a nice little mystery. By the way, Talla is growing on me, she's just own unique character and did a great job of holding my attention.

Man, the last scenes with Talla, Lokar and Klyden (and the wordless one with a Bortus) were just brutal in a emotionally naked way I don't often see on television. Lokar putting the blame on Talla while he martyred himself was, sadly, believable ... but also pissed me off as much as Klyden's intent to out Lokar.

I didn't doubt the veracity of what I was watching for a millisecond, I was glued to the screen.

It's very interesting how Moclan culture is becoming more realistic, in the sense of how a society like that might have unique bigotries we would view as ludicrous. It makes way more sense that (like the Klingons) they are allies, not members of the Union. I was hoping the P.U. wouldn't tolerate hatred in its membership.

The music was kind of minimalist in this episode, a nice use of atonality and unusual instrument combinations: loved the eclectic timbres. Great direction in this as well, the holodeck felt especially three dimensional in the way it was filmed.

This is more of a first-impression rating, but considering how serious this got, how many ethical quandaries it touches upon and how immersive I found it, I'm gonna have to go 3.5 stars.
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
I'm going to have to rewatch this ASAP, I know I'm forgetting about all the issues this touched upon. Like I said, a lot to unpack!
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
I'm really torn on this one.

On the one hand, it has an important message and the drama of the A-plot (once it gets going) was top-notch.

On the other hand, the first half of the episode was a total yawn fest. Really, in the first 15 minutes or so, absolutely nothing of interest happens! I can enjoy the relationship stuff when it is done well (like in "JaLoja"), but here there was simply nothing on that front that grabbed by interest.

And the A-plot also felt "off" to me for some reason. I don't know why. I can't fault either the story outline or the message or the acting. But something was missing there for me. Maybe it's the fact that we've already seen a similar story with a similar message in the Orville's "About a Girl" (which - in my opinion - did it better). Or maybe it's the fact that there's absolutely no subtlety in this story, which is a rarity on the Orville.

I'll refrain from trying to give a numerical rating for this episode until I'll have time to think about it some more.

BTW after checking my watch a third time in the first 10 minutes, I told myself "ah! pacing issues. No way this one was written by Seth himself". And I was right. I'm surprised, though, that a David Goodman episode could be so uneven, after his great work on "Krill"
Jack
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:26am (UTC -5)
I get what they’re trying to do (metaphors for homophobia and transphobia etc.) — but it bothers me that the same-sex culture is shown as unnatural, wrong and generally screwed-up (things that gay people have traditionally been accused of). And so far, it’s the same-sex characters (and no other regular characters) who’ve been shown as sex addicts, attempted murderers, bigots, mutilators of babies, generally miserable in marriage, and practitioners of bizzare, barbaric cultural rituals. So, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about gay people?

And the same thing bothered me about that TNG episode about the androgynous world that was supposed to be a metaphor for homophobia but (partially because of the casting) actually made it look like Riker’s love was a straight woman and a victim of unnatural lesbian orthodoxy that wouldn’t let her love a man.

It’s 2019. You can talk directly about bigotry, sexuality and gender — you don’t need clunky metaphors.
Steve
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 2:48am (UTC -5)
I thought this was a beautiful episode. It made me evaluate my own prejudices. Powerful ending too.
Perry
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I'm going with Dave in MN review. The holodeck was a bit creepy as it rhymes with Sherlock Holmes. I was surprised that Kelly dumped her "sort of" boyfriend.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:25am (UTC -5)
@Jack

Oh boy... you're right.

We've got 3 Bortus-centered episodes so far, and three of them were centered about these kinds of things (JaLoja was not a Bortus episode. The eponymous ceremony wasn't a major part of the story)

Doing it once was bold. "About a Girl" - as a standalone episode - was great and even revolutionary.

But doing it three times (and having this the sole focus of ALL Moclus-centered episodes) just seems like the writers are picking on the gay guy (or more precisely: on the gay species). WTF Orville?

I hope they're going to fix this impression soon, because it leaves a very bad taste.
Perry
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 5:12am (UTC -5)
@Omicron It seems like the writers had to get "over with" Bortus's homeage as the storyline progress on.

Here's a great write-up: https://tv.avclub.com/a-new-romance-fights-an-old-prejudice-on-the-orville-1832642706/amp

I'll rate this 3.14 stars
Nukey Shay
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:09am (UTC -5)
It could be that there is a Moclan revolution story arc in the works...the Bortus-centric stories always involve highly-regarded Moclan characters (wasn't it revealed that their most-celebrated literary figure was secretly a female?).

The problem with this episode is that even IF Lokar's plan had worked, he'd still be stuck living in hiding forever. Either way, his entire family would still be ostracized just for his sexual preference being revealed (no different than if he had suicided). Not a very good plan coming from a character who is supposed to be brilliant.

B-plot was equally muddled. What the heck was Kelly trying to get out the relationship again?
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:55am (UTC -5)
@Jack

If Moclans had no prejudices, their race would be unrealistic.

I see this as the sci-fi red lamping of what such a culture might actually be like. It might offend some, but I find it refreshing that they are being portrayed in a more realistic manner. I'm not offended in the slightest by the idea that such a culture might be backwards in its own way ... just because they are "gay" doesn't mean they are a flawless Mary Sue race.

Also, I didn't find Lokar's reaction to be that implausible ... he freaked out and reacted on a WHIM. He didn't have a plan, he was reaching in a panic.

When he was discovered, he threw his hands in the air and said, "eff it, no more hiding". Again, realistic characterization, at least to me.
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:00am (UTC -5)
By the way, any guess as to who voiced the sentient flower?

It sounded like Bruce Willis (at least to me).
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Oh, and re: the Kelly situation ....

I recently went through a similar relationship thing. It is very possible for 2 people to "date" and never get around to that "where do you see this going" conversation. (In my case, it was a year before I found out we weren't on the same page and I wanted more than they would give.)

While i'm not desperate like Cassius is (I can take no for an answer without texting 1000 times), I 100% understand that Kelly was looking for a low-key boyfriend and not a life-mate. Didn't seem confusing to me in the slightest.
PreppieYeti
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Klyden is the source of a lot of trouble on this ship. Klyden's got to go.
Penguinphysics
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 10:42am (UTC -5)
I almost never comment on these episodes, but I want to express how impressed I am with the treatment of this topic. I am reminded of the TNG episode The Outcast, which presented this idea with the subtlety of an atomic blast. Trek, and now The Orville, has never shied away from social commentary by way of allegory and I think this is one of its strengths. However, it is usually best when the implications are subtle and demonstrate the consequences in a realistic fashion, rather than a deus-ex-machina that fixes all with an unrealistic panacea.

This one made it clear which side it focused on, but also treated both sides with respect, even though the majority of the crew disagreed. Also, I really appreciate that it didn't feel forced to conclude with the obligatory 'happy ending' and make things all better. These are complex issues and having a simple ending where everyone is satisfied does nothing to help the issue.
Charles J
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 10:49am (UTC -5)
@Jack

"It’s 2019. You can talk directly about bigotry, sexuality and gender — you don’t need clunky metaphors."

Couldn't agree more. This episode has multiple problems. All amplified by how easy it is to enjoy this episode, without further examination, because the messages are well intended.

The first is the pov for this story. It should be Bortus, not Talla. Talla's not Moclan. She wasn't raised Moclan. As an outsider, with nothing to lose or gain, she shouldn't be the episode's center. She doesn't know what it would be like for any Moclan to be ostracized by their own people. It's not her experience.

When she outs Lokar, that's crossing a line that shouldn't have been. It was not her right to reveal that bit of information. On a personal level, that's a violation. On a macro one, she has no idea what the consequences will be. It would be like someone outing a friend at work. Even in today's world, that friend could lose their job. Or, their family could find out and that puts them in a position they were not prepared for.

While her heart is in the right place, she can't lecture Klyden. He was born female. His child was born female. As such, he understands what it's like to live a life that adheres to Moclan norms. Unlike Talla, he knows what's at risk.

Is he being a bigot? Yes. Is it moral cowardice for Klyden to act the way he does in this episode? Well, that's all dependent on your vantage point. He could be putting his family in harm's way if he doesn't admit what he knows about Lokar. Social change often requires physical risks and sacrifices. It's not an easy process that's self-evident.

And the show has yet to ask several obvious questions surrounding Klyden and Topa. Are they actually comfortable with their current gender? Have they experienced body dysmorphia? Have they been additionally altered so that they wouldn't have those feelings? What will happen if Topa says he thinks he's female? That he doesn't feel comfortable in his own body?

Which leads one to wonder if Klyden fiercely protects the status quo because he is insulating himself from criticism and questions. Or even worse fates if he and his family aren't considered to be model Moclans. Was Klyden programmed to not question Moclan beliefs so his change in sex would "stick" and he'd express himself as male?

Make Bortus the main character, the episode takes on a new shape. For one, the reveal that Bortus already knew about Lokar adds new shading to the events of About a Girl and Primal Urges. He was demonstrating how much he's motivated by love, and capable of accepting people as they are, long before About a Girl. It illustrates that he was always capable of defying Moclan society if it meant protecting and respecting the rights of the individual.

Bortus and Klyden could continue the conversations that should have followed About a Girl and Primal Urges. Bortus can interrogate his and Klyden's beliefs, and dismantle the contradictions and the underlining issues with Moclan culture. And, they can dissect why it's so hard for societies to acknowledge the lasting harm some of their ideas and policies can create. They can dig into issues like body autonomy, personal rights, and a child's right to health.

At one point, Bortus says that Moclan culture is the reason they survived living on a harsh planet. It implies that the Moclan's may have altered their own species. Was that intentional by the writers to hint at a future reveal? Is Bortus just parroting what he's been taught?

The Orville continues to treat sex and gender as being one in the same. They are not. It's much more nuanced and complex than a simple one to one.

As an example, it would have been an interesting wrinkle if Moclan culture expects all Moclan's to be male, but they are more forgiving of an individuals sexuality. That no one "cares" as long as you eventually mate with another Moclan male (would they care if a Moclan dates a male of another species?).

Bortus's matter-of-fact response to Topa that relationships are what happens before the egg, is funny. But, it's also problematic, as its telling Topa that relationships are only valid if it leads to kids. What kind of scene would we have gotten if Brutus had said relationships can lead to an egg, but not always. Would Klyden have agreed? Would he have blown up?

We could have seen that there is gender-fluid expression among Moclans. While they are expected to all be born male, they aren't all expected to express traditionally masculine traits.

The writers seem to have no interest in exploring any of these questions with any greater depth. Not because they are unfeeling monsters, or stupid, or lazy.

But, because they are already starting from a perspective that these issues are easy to understand. That supporting LGBTQ+ people instantly makes you more enlightened and progressive than those who don't. Yet, being progressive does not make one automatically more enlightened. Progressives and liberals can act just as inhumanly as someone who is conservative. They can hold and express the same problematic norms as others, just in ways that aren't instantly noticeable.

Two more things. Lokar's willingness to frame Klyden adds an extra level of ick. Gay and lesbians being portrayed as lacking in morals is a very old trope. By making heterosexuality an allegory for homosexuality, the writers are just reaffirming a dangerous stereotype.

Lokar could have easily just faked his death without implicating Klyden. Especially as he doesn't know if Klyden wouldn't be more likely to reveal the truth about Lokar's sexuality as a defense. If Lokar was dead, what motivation would Klyden have to out him? And, if Lokar wasn't murdered, Talla wouldn't have a reason to bring up his sexuality either. They'd be looking for a cause of death, not a motivation for murder.

When the little girl asks what's wrong with Lokar's head, she doesn't even ask Talla the same question The girl never acknowledges Talla existence. Lokar is the only one of the two that she asks "who are you". Either Lokar stood out because he's black, or Talla didn't instantly standout because she presents as white first, and alien second. The writers, director and actors seem to be unaware of the racial implications of that scene. It's a replica of 1940s New York. It's a bit disconcerting that moment goes by and isn't commented on.

And before someone suggest it. That scene being some kind of subtle comment on the themes of the episode doesn't fit. While there are intersections and they can influence each other, racism and homophobia are not interchangeable. I'm black. I can't out myself. Being black doesn't dictate who I love, or how I identify.

If there was supposed to be a connection, that connection belies a fundamental understanding of what POC and LGBTQ+ experience. Or, how and where those experiences intersect.
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 11:10am (UTC -5)
@Jack and Charles

And if they told the story the "traditional" way, you'd either

A) knock them for not thinking of a metaphorical way of addressing this topic

B) you'd (rightfully) criticize the idea that humanity would still be bigoted in the future

And/or

C) you'd bemoan the fact they did the same story about bigotry we've seen a thousand times before.

Basically, tackling this subject is basically a third rail of entertainment for many folks. There's really no "right way" to talk about this without upsetting some folks.

Speaking as a gay man, I personally prefer complicated portrayals of LGBT characters/culture because that's how we are in real life. No one is perfect, we all have our flaws. I've actually had (now former) friends who literally hated straight people. I think the Orville is actually brave for showing that some people will be close-minded, no matter WHO they are or what group they belong to. Shocking such an idea is controversial in this day an age, but it is, especially in entertainment.

For the record, while there are aspects of Moclan culture In can identify with, I don't see them as "gay" so much as a Klingonesque analog with a unique twist based on physiology. I don't "identify" with the Mockan characters because they are "gay", I identify with them because they are FLAWED BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS.
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 11:25am (UTC -5)
By the way, I think it is actually extremely significant that they are using a unique lens to examine prejudice.

I think using the sci- fi setting will let the more socially conservative part of the audience "see the other side" without feeling like they are being beaten over the head with moralizing.

This is VERY important: actual minds were changed last night. Let's not brush that under the rug.

The attempt to say LGBT people are somehow marginalized by this episode are absurd!
Jack
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
@Dave

I’m not saying they have to be flawless. And of course there would be problems. But we’ve just seen nothing *but* problems, and they’ve all been sex- and gender-related ones, so far. It’s being presented as an effed-up culture, and all those problems stem from being all-male. Again, some think gay culture is a effed-up culture.
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
@Jack

Setting aside the physiology of Moclans being unisexual, i'll accept (for the sake of debate) your premise that Moclans are a "gay" culture.

Okay, well, I also see a proud gay culture that is renown throughout the galaxy for technological achievement, a culture so strong the Union has made them an ally. I see a culture with an appreciation for high literature and art, where relationships are ultimately built upon love and children are raised with care, where parents (*gasp*) can even be annoyed with each other and have relationship issues like straight people. No campy tropes here, just an interesting gay alien race.

I can't think of any other portrayal of a fully gay society in any mainstream TV ever, can you?

This is literally groundbreaking television, a truly original concept being uniquely fleshed out by showing the inherent weakness as well as strengths of their culture and society.

I, for one, am glad they are choosing to show us Moclus, warts and all. Anything else would be a disservice to what Seth MacFarlane is achieving right now.
Chris
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
"This is literally groundbreaking television"

LMAO
NS8401
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
Is anybody else tired of doing romance centered conflict and near bottle shows on the ship where not much else happens? I’d like to see some space battles or cool sci-go concepts or them going somewhere to do something on a mission... it seems all they do is sit and have time off... that part is starting to rub me the wrong way.

Not a bad episode but the romance and sex allegories need to be toned down... it’s getting really repetitive...
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Ultimately a good and touching episode, with a strong climax. Some thoughts...

1. The Kelly breakup scene comes out of nowhere, and she's far too harsh on her ex.
2. The episode's first and weakest act (15 or so minutes) has no jokes. The show's "cheery, good naturedness" is forced and phony without some edgy humor to alleviate it.
3. We first get some good humor when Ed learns of Kelly's break up. His cookie theft is funny, and his attempts to "ease her break-up woes" hilariously duplicitous.
4. Ed and Kelly have great chemistry. Seth's deadpan delivery of jokes is top notch as well.
5. Seth looks like a giant doe-eyed Panda.
6. Three "sexual issues" episodes so far in this season is a bit too much. They're not bad episodes, but need to be spaced out. To go from Claire's relationship with Issac in the last episode, to this episode, kills the variety that episodic TV lends itself to.
7. Orville needs to sprinkle light comedy throughout its running time to undercut the drama. The further it leans on straight drama, the less it works. This episode, for example, echoes TNG's underrated "THE OUTCAST". But Riker's quiet conversations with that episode's transgressive alien were powerful. This episode's similar scenes are fine, but mostly not quite as good, at least until its excellent last act.
8. The Moclans aren't a "gay culture". They're a parody of an extremely patriarchal, conservative society. These guys are so macho, so sexist, so hate women, that they think only males are worthy of anything. Female desire, independence, and agency is completely suffocated.
6. You get the sense that Moclans kill females, or gender/sex reassign them, because of their hyper masculine culture. In Moclan culture Male/Male relationships are coded as human Male/Female relationships. Male/Female Moclan relationships are thus gay by human standards. You get the sense that Moclan's kill/alter females to culturally and psychologically repress what they deem biological aberrations.
7. Throw in their desert planet awash with oil refiners and arms manufacturers, and Moclan culture seems like an ultra patriarchal version of Saudi Arabia. Ed makes this explicit at the end: how long can we be allies with a nation which we deem bigoted, on the basis of arms/tech trade deals?
8. Jack makes worthwhile points above, but this is fundamentally still a extremely traditional/patriarchal society which is biological straight (in its terms) and which persecutes sexual relationships which are "gay" (in the sense that Moclan Males/Females can't biologically reproduce). This is a typical SF inversion, and the episode in no way attacks or demonizes homosexuality or gay culture.
9. Talla should have kicked that Moclan's ass when he tried to kiss her. If the Claire/Isaac relationship strained your credulity, then surely this will blow your mind. She doesn't know the guy, the species, and yet they readily lock lips moments after meeting. It's very unbelievable. Surely this tale and message could be told without Talla.
10. Was this episode originally written with Alara in mind? Alara, who has trouble with love, might believably escalate a relationship with a Moclan.
11. The holodeck dance scenes are a bit too cutsie. Orville's brand of sentimentality/earnestness is an incredibly hard balancing act to pull off nowadays, and so you need those edgy injections of irreverent humour to keep things in check.
12. That flower alien gag didn't work. Something about the humor is off in this episode.
13. That holodeck death shocked me. From here on, the episode becomes a pretty gripping mystery plot, though Talla's ease at solving the mystery was a bit hard to take.
15. Bortus seems to challenge his hyper-traditional society more than Worf does his. Worf bends over backwards to protect and justify Klingon hyper-conservatism. Bortus sees now that he's part of, and perpetuating, a culture that has many horrible aspects.
16. That crying scene in the shuttle, essentially a gay guy crying because he's about to be hounded and lynched and even killed by bigots, is powerful. The difficulties non hetero people face is crazy and sad. Notice too that the two intellectually exceptional Moclans we've met in this series, have been "deviants".
17. Talla's crying scene, after she rebuke's Bortus' husband, is similarly powerful. The episode is one big gay anthem. Probably not as edgy a thing to do nowadays - Trek doing it in the 90s was a bit more daring - but vital all the same.
18. Another powerful final song: Tomorrow Just You Wait and See...
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
Apologies for my bad numbering above.

Incidentally, why do you think this episode is called "Deflections"? And did you notice that both Disco and Orville both delivered big injections of love to ALL YOU FINE GAY FOLK OUT THERE this week.
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Sorry for starting another comment, but it just occurred to me that the Kelly/Cassius romance, which fails because it adheres to traditional notions of "what a relationship is", was meant to counterpoint the Moclan romance. Cassius' flowers, marriage and cookies is, in the episode's eyes, a watered down version of the Moclan sexual straight-jacket.
Charles J
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

A) Nope. Do not care IF they use metaphors or not. Do not care WHAT metaphors they use. As long as how they use those metaphors don't contradict the message they are trying to send I'm all good.

See the criticism of Netflix's Bright. Using the discrimination against Orcs as an analogue for racism wasn't the problem. It was that the Orcs were an amalgamation of racist and gang stereotypes that was the issue. On top of that, the rest of the world has a legit reason to be concerned in Bright. The Orcs once sided with the bad guy. Reverse the analogy, and it just reaffirms the idea that maybe people have legitimate reasons to be scared of black and Latinx peoples.

B) Nope. I only criticize shows that say humans have eliminated prejudice on Earth, then never acknowledge when those characters are being prejudiced against other species and lifeforms. Or, in some cases, still exhibit some form of prejudice and bias against other humans.

See the Federation's treatment of genetically engineered people. There are a lot of prejudicial assumptions embedded in their language and policies. Even though it's been hundreds of years since the Eugenic wars.

C) Nope. I have issues with how The Orville explores bigotry and bias. The writers too often rely on stereotypes, and the easiest takes on issues. That often means, as they are sending one message that's positive, they are sending another that can be problematic.

Topa is an example. Changing Topa's sex is supposed to be a big deal. Bortus and most of the crew were not happy with the results. It violated the basic principles of the Planetary Union.

Yet, why is it a big deal? Klyden was born female. He doesn't seem to be suffering. So far, Topa isn't illustrating any ill effects from having his sex changed to male. Now that their son is old enough to talk and attend school, Bortus shows no concern that their decision may still have consequences.

One of the unintended messages the show is implying, is that medically unnecessary reassignment surgeries don't create lasting psychological and physical harm. It's obvious that's not the goal. Yet, that is the message they are sending.

Am not looking for the writers to tell the story in a "traditional way". What I hope is the writers will a demonstrate a deeper understanding of the stories they are telling, and the climate they are telling those stories in.

Nor, do I need the characters or cultures to be perfect. What I want is The Orville to explore the flaws in society and cultures with more nuance than if they are misguided, then they also must be harmful. Or, the entire society and culture must be bad because of a few flaws. And, when they explore the flaws within the characters, I'd like them to do that with empathy and compassion.

"I see a proud gay culture that is reknown throughout the galaxy for technological achievement, a culture so strong the Union has made them an ally. I see a culture with an appreciation for high literature and art, where relationships are built upon love and children are raised with care, where parents (*gasp*) can even be annoyed with each other and have relationship issues like straight people."

You are reading a lot into the show.

We've seen one Moclan couple for any extended period of time, Bortus and Klyden. The majority of the time they've been on screen, they've either been at loggerheads, or it's Klyden snipping at Bortus, or Bortus being passive aggressive. The amount of time we've seen them at odds, even if it's just jokingly, greatly out weighs the times we've seen them being loving. Even Primal Urges and Deflectors establishes that healthy communication is not a large part of Moclan culture. You stab your mate if you want a divorce. If you want to breakup, you extract a tooth and give it your boyfriend.

The bitchy nature of Bortus and Klyden's relationship, and the forcing of their child to be male, just plays right into the stereotype of the aggressive, predatory gay. As presented, they literally don't express "feelings" like the rest of us.

We've seen one Moclan child. And Topa's had all of maybe five minutes of screen time. We can only infer that he's healthy because the show hasn't indicated differently. There's also no evidence of how exactly Moclan children are raised.

Do we know why the Union needs the Moclans as allies. Is it economic? Is it for strength? Is it for diplomatic reasons? Ed never says why they are allies in this episode IIRC.

And, if there's such a high regard for Moclan culture, why do so many of the characters, including the Planetary Union, seem to know so little about them?

At the end of the episode, Ed says, "You know, the more I learn about the Moclans, the more I see that our differences go right to the core of our values...how long can an alliance with a culture like that last."

That has troubling implications when what we've been given steers into the stereotypes as often as the writers want to debunk them. The Moclans, as presented, are gay. It's an all male society. They don't reproduce asexually. They are not hermaphrodites. This episode, a male Moclan had a heterosexual attraction for a female, and it was considered unnatural.

Replace Moclan with homosexual, and what Ed says sounds too much like something a bigoted politician would say. "You know, the more I learn about the Homosexuals, the more I see that our differences go right to the core of our values...how long can an alliance with a culture like that last."

Again. I do NOT think MacFarlane and the writers are bigots. What's happening, is that like all of us, they have blindspots. They have unconscious biases that aren't always easy to notice. And, sometimes, even as we strive to do good each and everyday, we repeat some behaviors and thought patterns that can be damaging. It takes effort, and many, many people working together to take note of them, and to challenge them.
Gil
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
@Charles J

Yup.

Look past the tropes and what you get is some uncomfortable mixed messaging.
SmallKiwi
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
I saw this as a critique of Star Trek's often stupidly simplistic portrayal of alien cultures. The moclans are meant to remind us of Klingons, but they're simultaneously a more complex and nuanced portrayal of a conservative alien culture, AND more realistic, for good or for bad. Star Trek regularly dismisses the short comings of various alien cultures by simply not exploring the problems that would inevitably arise from such cultures. I find The Orville's willingness to dissect these issues (with core species no less) very refreshing.
Steve
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
It really hasn't been fleshed out yet, but I get the impression they need them as allies because their tech is slightly more advanced and they seem willing to share it. (probably for economic concessions)

I really do think they need a few episodes that focuses on the geo-political aspect of the galaxy as we know little about it.
SmallKiwi
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
Also, how can you not understand that the moclans are not coded as homosexual? Theyre literally homosexual. Monosexual. They're coded as conservative.

They're also not human. It seems weird to read so deeply into a monosexual species as a portrayal or criticism of homosexuality.
Norvo
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Interesting Trek related tidbit: Lokar is also the name of a Ferengi bean served by Quark on DS9... Last seen in the episode Rules of Acquisition where he falls in love with his waiter Pel.
Tim C
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
This may be the first episode of The Orville that I actually found to be genuinely affecting, probably due to the minimum of lame gags and a willingness to take itself completely seriously for a change. The jokes that were in there mostly landed (I couldn't help but laugh out loud at Molloy's self-satisfaction at guessing weird Moclan rituals correctly) and the performances were good across the board.

With one glaring exception: I don't usually like to make blanket judgments about actors, but geeeeeez, J. Lee's performance *sucks*. Aside from how wooden he is in almost all personal scenes, he's really really really especially bad at delivering technobabble, one of the key aspects of his character. It drags down every scene he's in and undercuts the drama.

Nitpick: how can a holographic energy weapon kill? I get how, say, holo-bullets could do damage in there, but an energy weapon doesn't operate on kinetic principles, unless some physics nerd wants to correct me. it'd probably help if the "simulator" got a few more holodeck-style ground rules and stuck to them, instead of just being 100% magic. (Not that that ever stopped Star Trek from turning the holodeck into whatever it wanted.)
Chris
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
Did no one else notice that the code the security officer used was 1701? Overall I thought this was a pretty good episode .... no forced humor and the "mystery" kept me engaged. Kelly's break up was fairly blah but I was never invested in it one way or the other so I didn't really care.
Spockless
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
@Jack

Sure, they can do it directly now without clunky metaphors..

They CAN.. but what made trek great was the fact it had the metaphors, thinly veiled and obvious, but metaphors just the same.. it's something that is missing from TV now, and I enjoy the throwback
Spockless
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
NS8401 RElationships ARE the premise of the show.. it's even in some of the taglines..One tagline went something like "In the future there has been lots of changes in technology. Relationships: not so much"

The show is not and never wa about battles. It's ABOUT relationships
Charles J
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
@SmallKiwi

"Also, how can you not understand that the moclans are not coded as homosexual? Theyre literally homosexual. Monosexual. They're coded as conservative."

A large number of the cultures in The Orville exhibit some version of conservatism. The Orville taps this well so often it's what each culture is conservative about that matters.

Politically, the Xelayan stance on the Planetary Union and aversion to the military fits some schools of conservative thought. They'd be right at home debating if the U.S. should have get into WWII or not. The Krill are religiously conservative and militarized. The aliens in Mad Idolatry and If the Stars Should Appear are also uber-religious. All the World is Birthday Cake and Majority Rule are critiques of conservatively strict judicial and social structures.

In the case of the Moclans, like they Krill they are militarized. So it's their mores around gender, sexuality and bodily functions that further defines their conservatism.

Being male and homonormative are the two most important aspects of Moclan society. This entire episode centered around a male Moclan being attracted to a female. They are by definition homosexual.

Not sure why this is a point that needs to be debated. *insert shrug and a smirk*
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
@,Charles

Don't have time at the moment to address your larger statement above, but I must assert that an aversion to the military is generally not associated with conservatives (in modern democratic political societie). Most classical liberals/ center-leftists are generally the most opposed to any military solution when a crisis arises.
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
Didn't comment earlier because I've been getting over a bad illness. But put me down as thinking this was one of The Orville's better outings - albeit marred a bit by a slow start and a completely inconsequential B-plot.

I can see why people might argue having an allegorical discussion of "the closet" is a bit dated now. Hell, people were attacking friggin Bohemian Rhapsody for showing Freddie Mercury as being sexually conflicted in the 1970s, which is presentism if I've ever seen it. To me though, the performances of the "core four" of the A plot (Talla, Bortus, Klyven, and Lokar) elevated the story tremendously.

Honestly, it had elements of a classic dramatic trope - the tragedy - that Trek has barely touched upon in the past. I mean, one could argue that the end of The City on the Edge of Forever was tragic. But it wasn't a tragedy in the classic sense because Kirk made the right decision. Here we have four characters who are defined by their upbringing, duty, and culture, all acting in such a way that a calamity is bound to happen. Thematically, the entire episode is ripping off a giant scab and leaving a bloody wound behind.

Still, I'd rate it as only a three star episode, because as I said, the B plot was rote, and it took a long, long time to get rolling. It wasn't really clear at all given the ho-hum beginning that the final act was going to be so brutal. I wish they'd learn to pace a bit better on this show.
Nathan
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
I don't understand why the Moclan stigma for male-female relationships still exists. The existence of females is unheard of on their planet for quite some time (before space travel?) as I understand it, so why would it be controversial to be attracted to one? Taboos are always a defense against something that needs to be protected against, and I can't see how females are a threat to Moclan culture. It would be somewhat similar to Homo Sapiens in the 21st century keeping an actively enforced taboo against relationships with Homo Neanderthalensis.
Troy G
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
I think we finally have it; The Orville's first ***1/2 episode!

The talking flower looked fake, though.
Troy G
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Some other points I would like to make:

--The brig set looks like it was taken straight off of TNG. "Q Who", "The Pegasus", and "Deflectors". Same brig set.

--Jammer faulted the ship's interior set design as looking "too clean", but to me USS Orville seems to be a very pleasant place to work and live.

--Would Lokar had been as attracted to Alara? Would she had handled the situation as well?

--I learned enough about...Not-Alara in this episode to know she really is not Alara.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:17am (UTC -5)
This season is really heavy isn’t it? It’s been good for the most part. I liked this episode. I feel like they keep dropping hints that the Moclans might be at odds with the Union later. Maybe they’ll go to war? Mercer’s comment about “how long can you be allies with people like that?” Seemed ominous.

I’m liking this season, but I wish they’d lean back into the comedy like season one. I’m going back and watching season one with my wife and I’m laughing more at it now than I did the first time. I miss the humor.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:51am (UTC -5)
I also really miss Alara. She was by far my favorite character and it still stings that she’s gone. Her replacement just ain’t cutting it
Quincy
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 1:25am (UTC -5)
This episode, while enjoyable for what it was, didn't quite work for me in its execution. It was basically TOS's "Court Martial" + TNG's "The Outcast" = The Orville's "Deflectors." To be honest, Lokar just wasn't a very sympathetic character. He was a bit of a d!ck. I didn't like the guy. It's possible it was just the actor was miscast. This seemed like it would be a very good role for Christopher Judge of Stargate fame. He played almost this exact style of character for years and he nailed it. It's also possible it's just the way the character was written. He's unnecessarily yelling at the woman serving cupcakes. I don't know if that was meant to be humorous or not, but he just came off like a walking 6 foot dildo. He cares more about his experiment than the safety of the ship, when LaMarr wants to shut it down. He's showing up at his ex's cabin, when his ex clearly wanted nothing to do with him. What was the purpose of that? That's harassment. He's lying in wait in Talla's cabin without her permission. She's a total stranger. That was just creepy. The only reason it wasn't really creepy is because Talla could punt him and his testicles to the nearest star base without breaking a toenail. I felt they should've made him more sympathetic by making him more likable. If they had a sympathetic, likable character, who actually committed suicide, that to me would've been far more powerful. Even if the ending played out the same, this guy just didn't engender empathy from me. A more likable character would have.

I also wanted more of a mystery. They started the show off as if it were just another relationship episode, like we just had with Isaac. Then suddenly it turns into a murder investigation. Fine. Give me an actual investigation. Keep the audience in total darkness as to what's going on and slowly reveal it as Talla discovers it. Have Talla go over his personal logs so we can get into his head, leading up to his murder. Forensically search his quarters to find clues. Examine his background. Run simulations in the holodeck. I wanted something like what TNG's "Schisms" gave us with the holodeck scene where they were building the examination table. TNG was generally very good at this type of thing, like the poker scene in TNG's "Cause and Effect," where they discover they're in a time loop. I wanted them to show me Talla was a detective who could ferret out who dunnit. For me Alara would've worked much better in this episode. I have no affinity for Talla at all. Alara's love life troubles had already been explored and she is a very sympathetic and likable character. This would've worked perfectly for her. They could've had Lokar be a former unrequited love interest of Alara's, just two ships passing in the night without Alara knowing quite why. They could've set this up over several episodes with Alara, culminating in one final episode, like they did Finn and Isaac or Mercer and Teleya. This would have been more powerful, since Alara's feelings would've been deeper than having her just meet Lokar.

The problem is as I've said in the past The Orville isn't vehicle for that. They were never equipped to give me a TNG puzzle that could engender that feeling of mystery or suspense. They really don't have enough depth to pull off the story they were trying to tell. In any case, while the episode was watchable, I can't rate it higher than two and half stars max. It's not something I'm going to remember or look back fondly on. I might watch it again, but only if it's the only sci fi on television at the time.


@Charles J

There wasn't any clunky metaphors, despite Jack's claim. It's a sci fi show. That means sci fi is the vehicle that gets the ride along audience to the destination. The sci fi chosen for this particular episode was an exploration of a monosexual, repressed, alien culture. The whole purpose of this episode is NOT merely commentary on "bigotry, sexuality and gender." IMO the purpose of this episode is to reverse the situation so that the predominantly heterosexual audience can better empathize with victims of sexual bigotry. It's White Man's Burden or the defense's closing arguments in "A Time to Kill" for straight people. It's an exercise in what if THIS horrible thing happened to YOU or someone YOU care about. It's a worthwhile exercise.

They chose to tell the story through Talla's eyes for an obvious reason. She's the outsider looking in the window and wondering what the hell is going on in the living room. She's flabbergasted as to how something so natural as two heterosexual people getting together could blow up into such a tragedy. This is ostensibly the same position the majority of the viewers are in. These are the people authors want to clue in about what's going on. It's the same thing that TNG did with the J'naii in "The Outcast." That is also seen through mostly Riker's eyes. It's a viable method. If the target audience, straight people, presumably have much the same point of view as Talla, then you can use Talla's pov to lead that audience to a more clued in vantage point by the end of the episode. Or at least, that's the plan. The only other person who could possibly do this is Lokar, but he's not starting from the same vantage point as the audience. He's a total stranger already mired in the muck of his totally alien civilization, so that wouldn't work. Better to have a regular cast member, who was once peeping in the window, be sitting in the living room. She's still an outsider, but now much closer to the action.

As far as Talla lecturing Klyden, she was minding her own business, feeling crappy about the heavy guilt trip Lokar laid on her. This asshole, Klyden, intrudes on her personal reflection to offer his unsolicited gratitude. She tells him to stay the ?#&% away from her. She has every right to do that. He's an asshole. She clearly wants nothing to do with him. He should've recognized that and just walked away. That would be the end of it. Instead, this moron just has to know why. She simply tells him why he's an asshole that she wants nothing to do with. It is also her right to do just that. Since it seems the objective is to bring the viewer from the common point of view to a more empathetic vantage point, this makes perfect sense to me. Somebody has to explain to Klyden why he's an asshole. That someone has to actually have an effect on Klyden's mindset, so that he's left standing there looking and feeling like the asshole that he is. The person has to be heterosexual, because most of the intended audience is heterosexual, and the objective is to draw them down a path from the common position to a more empathetic position. There are only two heterosexual people in the entire episode who can possibly do that: Talla and Lokar. Clearly, Klyden is not going to give a damn about what Lokar says for obvious reasons. It can only be Talla. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the story in this particular aspect.
gdhfjwrtngn
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 1:56am (UTC -5)
A TV show doesn't define my moral compass. It's just entertainment. Now then, was the beginning a bore? Yes. More puppy dog eyes relationship filler, sure, but the rest was the best the show has ever been. Anything to do with Moclins always somewhere manages to be both hilarious and interesting.
SlackerInc
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 3:28am (UTC -5)
I thought Moclan was part of the Union. If not, that seems strange to let one of their top engineers reconfigure a key defense mechanism and engage in war games.

I give this one three stars. Good, but not anything to get excited about.
Trent
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 4:44am (UTC -5)
Quincy said: "He's unnecessarily yelling at the woman serving cupcakes."

I think he's putting on a show. His culture expects him to belittle women. In much the same way, Bortus' husband overcompensates for being born female, by attacking/persecuting the "gay" Moclan. A highly patriarchal, macho culture is going to cause members to repress all kinds of insecurities and project them elsewhere.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:33am (UTC -5)
The talking flower was Bruce Willis? It honestly sounded like Jerry Seinfeld to me.
navamske
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Wren T. Brown, who played Locar, was Kohlar on the Voyager episode "Prophecy."
navamske
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 10:05am (UTC -5)
OT as far as this episode is concerned.

I was wondering if the Planetary Union also has a ship called The Wilbur. But I realized that the Planetary Union corresponds to the United Federation of Planets in the Star Trek universe, and Starfleet is the Federation's space-exploration agency. Is there an agency in "The Orville" that corresponds to Starfleet? The writers seem to be using the same terminology for the government (Planetary Union) and for the space agency.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 11:28am (UTC -5)
@navamske whoa that’s a great observation. I hadn’t realized that before.

Yeah they only mention the PU, which is analagous to the UFP, but there doesn’t seem to be a term for Starfleet in The Orville, except “the military” which seems odd
Charles J
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

The Xelayans don’t have an aversion to just the military. They don’t think highly of the Planetary Union AND the militarized arm of the PU.

Even if you excise the military portions, it’s been fairly clear that wouldn’t change Xelayans opinion about the PU.

They also haven’t shown much interest in affairs off world.

They are isolationist, not big on a liberal (poly sci definition) institution like the PU, and they are anti-military. Some political scientists would think they are very much conservatives.
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Xelayans are the galactic equivalent of our college educated intellectuals. Generally speaking, a majority of those with high levels of secondary education are not politically conservative.
Lynos
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Ok, so the Orville does a not-very-subtle episode about Outing (but then, Orville doesn't do subtle), and it's the second straight episode (no pun intended) dealing with relationships/sex themes which ends with an oldie showtune (hopefully next week we'll get something a bit different).

General thoughts below, in descending order of relevance :-)

- After a few hours being on the ship, Lokar confesses to Talla that he's attracted to her. After being taken a aback at first, Talla reciprocates his feelings only a few scenes later.
Eh... What?

- Why did Bortus have to not only know Lokar, but to have pursued a relationship with him in the past? At first it seemed like the episode is revolving around him, but no, he is quickly relegated to a supporting character. You could tell the same story without Bortus's involvement with just a few teaks.
(It seems like the Orville writers are treating this character in only two ways, serious stories about sex and relationships, or a comic relief)

- Why did Klyden suspect Lokar? Only a few scenes before he was happy to have him for dinner (despite Bortus' misgivings (!)), and then we see him following Lokar and Talla to the simulator, ok, so... that doesn't mean anything by itself. I couldn't understand how he came to his conclusions. There was no set-up.

- The whole Ed-Kelly-Marcus plot is getting on my nerves. Thankfully it seems to be over. Marcus's habit of texting and sending kitschy gifts to Kelly contradicts the cool and collected way he seems to be handling himself in scenes.
If we had to see this as a B plot, it would've made more sense for Lokar to be attracted to Kelly. The more I think of it, the more I don't understand why this episode revolves around Talla. You could replace her with anyone else.

- The holodeck mystery was cool but got resolved too quickly.

- The talking "dude plant".... nope.

- Some great directing from Seth MacFarlane, I liked some of the close-ups and the dutch angles during the deflectors test.

- The crew member in engineering serving the cupcakes is cute. Let's make her chief of engineering and get rid of LaMarr ,please. The actor is atrocious.

- Best scene: Talla at the cafeteria with LaMarr and Malloy, learning that much stranger things have happened on the Orville before she arrived onboard...

- While I didn't think Talla needed to be the focus of the episode, the character is slowly developing a personality.

In summation, much like last week, it's an episode tackling serious issues but suffering from inherent lack of believability. Technical merits continue to be top notch. If only the writing was as good.
Troy G
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Lynos,

About Klyden's suspicion; watch his demeanor as he was asking Lokar about his current relationship status (So, do you have a mate, Lokar?). He either is smug, or suspects something
Lynos
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
Troy, I just watched the scene again. I'm not getting suspicion out of it, just curiosity.

He does choke on his soup when Lokar says to Bortus "maybe we can be friends". I read it as a comic moment.

I feel like we needed a little more to set it up properly.

Why is Bortus, who is such a nice fella, still living with Klyden who is evidently a jealous maniac?
Troy G
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
Lynos,

I don't remember him choking on his soup. Perhaps I need to watch it again, too
philadlj
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 7:48pm (UTC -5)
Wonderful, affecting episode that respected all parties involved. Lots of realistic flawed characterizations and questions with no easy answers. And I'm officially on board with Kiyala. A nice little nod to the fact than not ALL Xeleyans are ashamed of their kids in the military.

The second straight 3.5 in my book.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
@Nukey Shay

"It could be that there is a Moclan revolution story arc in the works..."

I really hope so.

There better be some kind of pay-off soon, for the amount of "Moclan culture is bad" stories we've been getting lately. Because as it is, it kinda leaves a bad taste.

@Dave
" I'm not offended in the slightest by the idea that such a culture might be backwards in its own way ... just because they are "gay" doesn't mean they are a flawless Mary Sue race. "

I agree that the very existence of such a culture is not a problem.

But I still think that - as a writing decision - giving a monosexual race these specific flaws and revisiting them again and again and again is a poor choice. Especially when they're practically telling you straight-out that they're doing a gay rights analogy.

It just feels all kinds of wrong. Not offensive exactly, but still a decision of poor taste.

And again: I'm not saying they should have made the Moclans perfect or anything. I thought "About a Girl" was a great episode on its own. But the combination of "About a Girl", "Primal Urges" and the current episode does leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.
SlackerInc
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:16am (UTC -5)
@Charles: I’m sorry, but there’s way too much political correctness in your take for my taste. And I say that as a lifelong Democrat, albeit one who is not comfortable with the PC movement springing up on college campuses and online.

@Dave: I agree with you, and I don’t think Moclans are “gay”, really. I think if they represent any group in our world, it is conservative Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. [Aha: reading further, I see Trent saw the same parallel.]

@NS8: I like that the life-or-death episodes are the exception rather than the rule. It feels more realistic.
Booming
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:50am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc: To maybe provide a different perspective on the whole PC culture debate. It is very similar to the debate about vegetarians.
Studies have shown that people who eat meat do find vegetarians annoying. And the reasons they give are something like: "These people are so pushy." but when scientists dug deeper they found that the actual psychological impulse behind finding vegetarians annoying is a guilty conscience. Most people people who eat meat like animals, often even own some that they love. And it is a moral problem to eat meat, especially non organic meat, when you have an emotional connection to animals but this connection isn't strong enough to make people stop eating animal meat. Therefor they blame vegetarians for reminding them that they do something that deep down the think is questionable at best.
The same applies to most PC debates. Transsexuals for example are discriminated in a lot of ways. They have to fear job loss, violence and death to name a few. Most people know that and they think that this is wrong but they don't want to actually do anything to change that which deep down makes them feel guilty. And because they don't want to actively change what makes them feel guilty they get angry at people who remind them of this particular injustice. It is also a great way to make leftist leaning people fight with other leftists even when there is no actual disagreement on the issue itself.
SlackerInc
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:50am (UTC -5)
It's an interesting theory. And it may apply to some. But for me personally, I have a very strong, very carefully thought out and delineated, ideology. It most closely (though not exactly) lines up with people like Jon Chait, Bill Maher, and Sam Harris. I daresay it more resembles Roddenberry's liberalism than the postmodern Marxian feminist/queer studies approach of a certain strain of strident contemporary progressivm which I stand against.
Jack
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
I’d also forgotten that Klyden was born female — so he could be overcompensating. Not sure of it’s intentional by the writers, but people who’ve been discriminated against for one reason aren’t always automatically tolerant of people who’ve been discriminated against for other reasons.

And as for PC stuff, I think part of the problem is the idea that some fixate on words etc. instead of real societal changes. Pronouns might not seem to matter — especially “they” — to someone who hasn’t been discriminated against. It might seem silly, like they’re just words.

Again, I’m not saying the Moclans should be a Mary Sue culture — and Bortus is accepted/valued by everyone on the ship — but, as a 40-something gay dude, I remember when we were portrayed as weird, unnatural and barbaric (Moclan divorce literally involves murder). Again, I don’t think they’re gay (as gay is the opposite of straight).

But couldn’t this be stuff that we learn abput the culture a few more episodes in?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
For what's it worth, I am one of those who *despise* political-correctness.

And I still think that what the Orville is now doing with the Moclans is problematic.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
Well, this episode showed the Moclans willingly give The Orville self-repairing regenerative shielding, and other than the toroedo during the test, they were happy to do so and quite diplomatic. They weren't presented as evil protagonists.

It was when the "murder" happened did they grow noticeably "Klingon" in their interactions. (Moclans seem to have a more chill resting rate than Klingons do ). Even then they weren't completely unreasonable.

By the way, earlier someone asked how Moclans could know about heterosexual attraction:

I think that all Moclans are taught at a young age what crimes are REALLY bad .... they all know about this "archaic" attraction because they're told about it (and probably because someone at the top knew these kind of people would exist and wanted to combat that,)

Anyways, part of the fun of an episode like this is asking when/if its ok to judge an foreign/alien culture ... and if you think it's ok to do so, when and how to communicate how you feel without causing a breakdown in relations. And if you don't think it's ok to judge, how do justify being silent while you commingle with people endorsing something you KNOW is wrong? That's one of the things I enjoyed debating internally ... because I can see arguments for all sides. This show presents a subtextual framework to explore this issue.

Oh, and I just realized Klyden is the Keiko of The Orville. ;)
NS8401
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:14am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc:

So a show set on an "exploratory vessel" with next to no exploring and seemingly sitting in space in one spot episode after episode seems realistic? A crew frittering it's time away in endless love seeking with each other mode seems equally realistic? Ok then...

I'm gonna try to play a little devils advocate here, I'll then run and hide from the pitchforks and torches...

The first season as uneven as it was had more exploring, more variety and an average of 1-1.5 million more viewers and about half a point in the demographic. The first episode of season 2 (which was an atrocious choice for a premiere, they should have run the one from the 1st season first, it had more of a hook for the wider audience that came with football) had 8 million viewers which is about a million more than season 1's average. After the lame "Ja'Loja" aired about 3 million fewer have watched all of the other episodes and it's averaging around 1.75 million viewers less. The relationship stuff doesn't appear to be working and it looks like 1-1.5 million viewers have given up. From a business standpoint that doesn't help this show at all. I've seen a couple of the sites that do over unders on renewals saying the Orville is at about a 50-50 shot at renewal for a third season. FOX is very patient and lenient with Seth MacFarlane but that only goes so far. At a certain point if you put the viewers to sleep you get the axe.

This upcoming two parter looks exciting and "Home" and "All The World Is Birthday Cake" were pretty exciting overall but the season has been really sleepy so far and the numbers reflect that.

Personally I'm tuning in to see things you could really only do on a ship exploring things in space. If I wanted the love story of the week they could say "oops ship blew up" and do this on a planet or space station or really anywhere. That was the reason I liked Voyager (despite it's inherent flaws) over DS9... one actually went and did something... the other was a chore to sit through... and go nowhere... and do nothing but talk... and talk... and when we're done talking... talk some more... The Orville is unfortunately and inexplicably rocketing down that path and for my money I don't think it's gonna work out.

Now I'll go run and hide.
Dave in MN
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:39am (UTC -5)
This week they had security upgrades and a mock battle at Moclus. Last week, they mapped binary stars. Before that they made first contact. Before that Ed and Telieya were involved in intergalactic intrigue and space battles. Before that they visited low gravity Xekaya, and before that they rescued people from a planet about to crash into a star. Something sci-fi has happened every episode except the season premiere.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi'
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:03am (UTC -5)
The entire concept of the Moclan Ja'Loja is a nifty sci fi idea. So I'd argue that "something sci fi" has happened in the season premiere as well.

Doesn't change the fact that season 2 does feel sleepy at times. Can't deny that the season has pacing issues. We already had three episodes (Primal Urges, Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes, and this one) which contained something like 20 minutes of dead-space where absolutely nothing of interest happens.

Interesting side-note:

Jammer is taking much more time than usual to write is review for this episode. I wonder if this is due to the complexities of rating such an episode.
Perry
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 8:06am (UTC -5)
Can't wait for Jammer's take.

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi' There seems to be a rush to scenes. Can this be a two-part Orville episode to give them the flexibility and more to the adventure?
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 8:27am (UTC -5)
I loved this episode (I really like The Outcast too, which this has significant overlap with), and would put it in my top 3 alongside the other Moclan episodes About A Girl and Primal Urges. However, it has a lot more plot issues than either of those two. I'm really enjoying season 2 of The Orville, quite a lot more than season 1, but one thing I keep noticing is that I'm so won over by the show's sentimentality, family feel, character focus and (increasingly) use of music that the various plot issues and inconsistencies don't really bubble up in my mind until after I've finished watching.

Obviously, Lokar could have just requested asylum up front without going through the whole rigmarole of faking his own murder. He could also have just hidden himself before doing so, and it would have just been treated as an unexplained disappearance. Alternatively, he could have faked his death in an accident. Instead, he sets up a member of The Orville's crew as a murderer in a way that seems contrived and too convenient, and very much against his own interests. So there were too many twists in this episode – him faking his murder by Klyden seems a big reach, and whatever Klyden's antipathy towards him, I don't think he would have done that to Bortus – Bortus who was mature enough and who respected him enough to keep his sexual identity a secret. I'd almost rather the episode had gone through with it and had Klyden be the actual murderer.

It also doesn't make much sense for Lokar, when he's so close to escaping and requesting asylum, to return to Moclus and be imprisoned. The only reason this happens is so the episode can have its tragic ending, one that serves Talla rather than Lokar. Gay people escaping intolerant countries don't go back to be tried and imprisoned (or worse) on a whim.

All of that said, I love Talla and I thought this was another good episode for Bortus, even though his character isn't featured that prominently. The fundamental personality difference between him and Klyden is again highlighted – Klyden had no empathy towards Lokar and couldn't see past his own intolerance, whereas Bortus was the bigger man.

"it bothers me that the same-sex culture is shown as unnatural, wrong and generally screwed-up (things that gay people have traditionally been accused of). And so far, it’s the same-sex characters (and no other regular characters) who’ve been shown as sex addicts, attempted murderers, bigots, mutilators of babies, generally miserable in marriage, and practitioners of bizzare, barbaric cultural rituals. So, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about gay people? " – as a gay guy, I don't agree with this comment of Jack's at all. First, everyone on The Orville is screwed up. (When Alara was shown as unprofessional in Command Performance and Firestorm, did anyone write "so, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about women"? No, because Alara represents Alara, not women. Bortus and Klyden do not represent human gay men, they represent Bortus and Klyden and a distinct Moclan culture.) Second, it's demands like these that have led to so many gay characters in TV and film being sterile and sanitized. To be represented means to be fully represented, not only to be shown in positive roles – and gay or same-sex-attracted characters have the right to occupy just as wide a spectrum of characterizations as straight characters do. Gay characters can be the hero, the villain, the comic relief, whatever. Aside from which, the Moclans absoutely aren't directly analogous with human gay men, but an original sci-fi take on gender and sexuality, which is what makes them such a rich source of storytelling – they're far removed from human homosexuality in many ways. Trent said it above: "The Moclans aren't a 'gay culture'. They're a parody of an extremely patriarchal, conservative society. These guys are so macho, so sexist, so hate women, that they think only males are worthy of anything. Female desire, independence, and agency is completely suffocated. You get the sense that Moclans kill females, or gender/sex reassign them, because of their hyper masculine culture. Throw in their desert planet awash with oil refiners and arms manufacturers, and Moclan culture seems like an ultra patriarchal version of Saudi Arabia. Ed makes this explicit at the end: how long can we be allies with a nation which we deem bigoted, on the basis of arms/tech trade deals?"
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 10:08am (UTC -5)
@Wolfstar

"To be represented means to be fully represented, not only to be shown in positive roles – and gay or same-sex-attracted characters have the right to occupy just as wide a spectrum of characterizations as straight characters do"

Precisely. The problem is precisely that there isn't such a spectrum.

Is there even one non-Moclan gay/bi on the Orville? No.

Have we ever seen a Moclan portrayed positively? With the exception of Bortus - no. Even Lokar, the victim of this week's episode, was an ass.

And it's not just that Moclans are shown in a negative light. It's the exact nature of their flaws: Bortus addicted to porn. The Klyden/Bortus relationship being completely nonfunctional (even by the low standards of relationships on the Orville). And there's absolutely nothing on the side to balance this impression.

So yes, it leaves a bad taste.

TNG's "The Outcast", by the way, doesn't have this problem, because it's a single epsiode. It wasn't a problem in "About a Girl" either. But when the Orville return to this well again and again, while not giving us ANYTHING positive as a counter-balance, it becomes annoying.

As for the Moclans not being a "gay culture" I agree, but it isn't really relevant. They are still the only homanoid species on the Orville who don't conform to the usual gender roles. So it is still a bad idea to treating them as porn addicts who can't have a healthy relationship.

At least that's my take.
MadManMUC
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
Finally got around to watching this episode. For my money, it was really very good.

To be honest, I never knew if I liked the Moclans or not from the get-go. In the very beginning of S01, they're treated as being caricatures of old-fashioned-ness (at the same time trying to reference Klingons, and Worf's role on the Enterprise bridge), as well as being there for some sort of deadpan comic relief (in the form of Bortis). It doesn't take long for them to be shown in a *really* negative light.

They're being used as a vehicle for everything MacFarlane & Co think is wrong, unjust, and so on, and it's starting be a bit of a distraction. Every time the show has fun with Bortis (the previous week's moustache was just gold), you have to remind yourself that, actually, his species is rather a bit shit, and his partner is real troublemaker on this vessel.

Overall, I think they mis-stepped with the development of the race, and I'm not quite sure where they're going with it.

But okay, all the same, I really enjoyed this episode, and I definitely appreciate that the goofy bro humour was really toned down. Having said that, the lighter moments were very good*. Although, it looks like we're being set up for another round of 'Mercer and Grayson Trying Again', and I'm not sure how I feel about this.

One last thought: as much as I miss Alara/Halston Sage, she couldn't have pulled this episode off nearly as well as Talla/Jessica Szohr did. There's something about Szohr's bearing and poise that Sage didn't have, something ... I don't know; more mature? And she did a cracking job in the scene where she told Klyden** off.

In any case, I warmed up a bit more to Talla this week, this week was a good growth show for her.

* Although, I think I could have done without the cupcake scene. I'm not sure what it contributed, if anything.

** It still makes me giggle — every time — to think that bitchy Klyden is played by the same guy who gave us the amazing Fred Johnson on The Expanse. Two radically, radically different characters, both superbly played by Coleman!
MadManMUC
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and the talking dude plant. I could have done without that, too.
Charles J
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
@Wolfstar (and others)

"When Alara was shown as unprofessional in Command Performance and Firestorm, did anyone write "so, what might a viewer imply that this is saying about women"? No, because Alara represents Alara, not women. Bortus and Klyden do not represent human gay men, they represent Bortus and Klyden and a distinct Moclan culture."

That analogy doesn't holdup.

Two elements about Alara had been made clear by those episodes. One, that she was young and experienced. Two, that her upbringing played a large role in how she sees herself.

So far, we've only spent time with one Moclan couple. While they may not represent gay men, they are members of a society in which all the males are gay. And, as presented in multiple episodes, that society has not come off as being tolerant of any Moclan that isn't male and homosexual.

If another Moclan joins the ship, we'd expect him to be more like Klyden in his attitudes. When another Xelayan joined the ship, we didn't expect her to be like Alara.

While I agree with everyone that the INTENT is to present the Moclans as more than just a gay society, the show hasn't been well balanced in that regard.

Every episode that centers around Bortus and the Moclans has been about gender, sex, or sexuality. Even the Ja'loja is a ceremony that is about a Moclan bodily function. An entire joke was written about what the Moclans can eat, which is nearly anything. As written, what Moclans do with their bodies, and with whom, is a huge component of the show.

We have yet to get an episode in which the central conflict is rooted in other aspects of Moclus. Such as their polluted planet, their industry, their military, or their religion (if MacFarlane would allow them to have one). I'm not even sure we have learned what Moclus thinks of other worlds and cultures.

"Female desire, independence, and agency is completely suffocated."

We have not seen that on screen.

For one, Bortus and Klyden seem to have no issues with the women on The Orville. In this episode, Klyden doesn't confront Talla, he only confronts Lokar. When Klyden thanks Talla for freeing him, there doesn't appear to be any latent animosity towards her. Even in episodes like All the World is Birthday Cake, Bortus is in a coed bunkhouse, and he doesn't say a thing about it (IIRC...correct me if I'm wrong on that).

We've only met one female Moclan, and we don't even know what happens to her after About a Girl. In fact, we really don't know what happens to any females that are later discovered, that's if any have been. The gender change seems to be pervasive enough that Bortus still believes females are only born very 75 years. Even though he's married to someone who was born female, and his child was born female.

@Quincy

Now why I think Talla is the wrong choice of character to follow is illustrated by the elements that make The Outcast a much stronger and successful episode in comparison.

First, we see Soren struggling with her identity from the start. She's asking questions and searching for perspectives that she can't find within her society. We're with her journey from asking, to taking a huge risk and starting a relationship with Riker, through to when we see her after she's forcibly been changed.

Second, we see Riker develop feelings for Soren. Then when she's put on trial, we watch as Riker tries to take the blame to protect her. After that, he struggles with his options. Ultimately, he, along with Worf, decides to risk his career to save Soren. Then he's confronted with the horrific truth, it's too late. She's undergone the procedure.

By episode's end, you feel for Soren and Riker because they both lost. Soren way more than Riker in the grand scheme. Yet, neither walks away unscathed.

Dramatically, Talla doesn't go through much. There's nothing at risk for her. It's not like if she does or doesn't solve the murder her career is over. She demonstrates time and time again that she's good at her job.

It's not like her actions will have any effect on the relations with Moclus.

Telling every Moclan she runs into that they are wrong for their beliefs won't have any meaningful effect.

She doesn't even pay much of a price for turning Lokar in. The only reason she has to turn him in is because an innocent man's life is on the line. However, it's because of Lokar that she had to make the choice she did. He framed another person, and he was the one that decided to turn himself in.

And, they didn't even have a relationship. They danced and kissed, and then he faked his death.

What is she risking?

Compare that to Bortus and Lokar. They both start the episode with things they can lose.

Bortus knows the truth about Lokar. Having that type of information, and not acting on it, could create trouble for him. If Klyden finds out, that could create a rift. Having an old flame come back into his life, secret aside, is potentially disruptive.

As for Lokar, he has a secret that he doesn't want revealed. He also doesn't even know if Bortus knows the truth. If it gets out, his career and life are over.

For Klyden, an old flame showing up could potentially introduce problems. After the events of Primal Urges, this could reignite the issues he and Bortus were having. When he learns the truth about Lokar, Lokar is even more an existential threat to Klyden. He's violating the mores, and laws, of Moclus. Something he fought hard to adhere to in About a Girl.

Unless you take the time to put in the work, the main characters rarely take on any of the same level of risks as the guest characters.

Also, as it often is, we rarely get to understand the true depths of what a guest character is experiencing once the credits roll. After the episode is over, their story is over as well. The main characters rarely ever revisit what has happened. Whatever pain they experienced is temporary. It's not like we often see characters in stories like this reapplying the lessons they learned. They don't have to. And when they do, it's easy, because they can just move on.

By extension, it's easy for the audience to learn important lessons. Yet, never have to really wrestle with how they have to apply those ideas afterwards. That's really the hard part.

I'm not asking shows to do that. That's not really my ultimate concern. But, too often there are people who simply learn the lesson of "don't be racist" or "don't be homophobic." Yet, don't realize that means more than not using the n-word or a gay slur. When a coworker really needs you, what do you do? If your boss says or does something, do you personally take a risk, or do you just put your head down and not say anything. If you adopt a kid who needs your help, how do you deal with some of these issues when they happen on a weekly basis?

Again. I'm not asking shows to impart these nuggets of wisdom.

However, when we pat a character on the back for doing the bare minimum, I'm not going to join in. Nor, am I going to think in 2019 that's anything extra special. Especially since other shows have already been saying and going the bare minimum since at least the 1960s. And now there are shows that are doing multi-episode arcs and have leads that are exploring these same issues.

Forgive me for the long posts. I pop when I can, so sometimes I'm trying to catchup on all the things have been discussed...and I'm also a long-winded asshole.
SlackerInc
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
@Charles, I think we have a fundamental disagreement about what the word “gay” means. To me, gayness is incompatible with gender policing and following the conservative majority social norm around non-platonic relationships. It’s much closer to its close cousins “queer” and “gender nonconforming”. So if any Moclan we’ve seen is gay, it’s Bortus’s ex-boyfriend.
Charles J
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
@Slackerinc

I’m a straight cisgendered black man. I’ve also ran and covered LGBT film festivals for several years. People police other people, including people who are queer. I learned that lesson as a programmer and as the person trying to market these events.

But, we are also talking about what the majority of audiences see and know. While many of the folks here have a more expansive definition and personal experience, the general audience will only know the Moclans as gay. Again, lessons learned marketing LGBT events and working with LGBT filmmakers for nearly 15 years.
Charles J
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
Also, none of those Moclans have exhibited non-conforming traits. Either by our standards or theirs. What the Moclans do would be traditionally masculine. Right down to how they express their emotions.

If the Moclans were truly queer, they wouldn’t care if Lokar slept with women. We would see more Moclans that ran the gamut of sexuality and gender expression.
RDP
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
I have to concur completely with Dave in MN and wolfstar above. You can't just presume the audience are a bunch of naive idiots who need to be protected through the application of some sort of facile bean-counting approach that will supposedly guarantee "virtuous" storytelling. That simply doesn't work--it produces bland, listless, uninteresting stories and will ultimately just drive the audience away.

Frankly I find that mindset to be almost indistinguishable from the way the worst Christian Right critics approach popular media, and it seems to me that it belies a fundamental ignorance of how storytelling works and how audiences respond to it.
Trent
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
This argument reminds me of the arguments that popped up when the Tom Hanks movie, "Philadelphia", was released. Hollywood's first big movie to openly have gay lead characters, it got bashed for being about AIDS. The implication was that the movie, despite its sensitive and and compassionate portrayal of a gay dude, was implying that all gay dudes have AIDS because all its gay characters also had AIDS.

The Disney film "Frozen" got bashed similarly. Despite being a feminist, quasi-lesbian anthem about female sisterhood and empowerment, it was bashed for being about pretty, skinny, attractive white chicks with singing talents.

In both cases, art which thought it was broadening the box of inclusiveness (Gays good! Women strong!), got bashed for being limiting (All gays have Aids! Women strong if they're white and skinny!). The blaxploitation movement of the 1970s faced similar criticisms. Highbrow critics bashed the movement for stereotyping African Americans, but black audiences saw it as empowering.

Really great artists/writers tend to be several steps ahead, and can second and third guess criticisms, so insert a few minor lines here and there to address potential concerns, but that's rare.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
I seem to be saying this a lot lately:

Just because some people often make an argument for the wrong reasons, doesn't mean that - rarely - a similar argument can't be made for the right reasons.

I've already explained why the situation with the Moclans and the Orville isn't like any of the other examples listed. I've also made it clear that I despise politically correctness and what it represents.

Yet, instead of actually responding to these arguments (which Charles also pointed out), you're just repeat the same irrelevant points again and again.

Look, I understand that the point that both I and Charles are making sounds suspiciously similar to bogus things you've heard in the past. I really do. But we aren't saying what you think we are saying. Please take the time to read what we've written carefully before you respond with the standard response you throw at PC advocates. Because that standard response is not applicable here.
Mentor397
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 5:43am (UTC -5)
Honestly, except for the lack of action, this might just be the best episode yet. I love the levels of moral ambiguity, that not all victims do right. I suppose it depends on the relative society, but accusing Klyden of murder to get back at threatening to out Lokar was a good touch. I'm not defending Klyden by any means, but two wrongs shouldn't make a right.

Sigh. I hate to bring it up, but the Mercer/Grayson relationship is getting old. Again, to bring up a point I keep bringing up in past comments, this level of attention to whatever relationship they have/had would be acceptable over a longer season, but it takes up way too much time for two ten-episode seasons. Okay, they have a past. When Grayson had a new relationship, I figured it would calm down. Evidently not.

Okay, one other thing, to nitpick - I know it's easy, but the Star Trek: TNG method of pressing buttons to reroute, repower, bypass, blah blah get something working is understandable, and somewhat realistic. Just once, I would like to see someone _fix_ something - pull wires, rebuild a unit, weld a crack, replace a pipe, I don't care. Granted, they're not rearranging clear dominoes, but they're well on their way. It's lazy, that's what it is.
Yanks
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 10:56am (UTC -5)
@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi,

I don't think they are picking on the gay guy. I think maybe they wanted to ensure this got in not knowing if they have a season 3 or not.

I can't believe I forget to comment on this one :-)

The Moclans in the Orville are there to respresent a gay society, plain and simple. Everything else that gets thrown in there is window dressing. That situation goes from comedy (porn addiction episode) to heavy drama. (this episode and the one where their child undergoes a mandatory sex change). It is what it is.

This episode made me think if DS9's "Relioned". But here, and with the Moclan society, 'The Orville' doesn't pull any punches. Bam, it's right there for everyone to see. No "out" if you will.

I think they've done a great job with it. It will also be very interesting to see what the Union does here. If anything I guess. You'd think they would have known about a culture before admitting them. All we have right now are Ed's (possibly precurser) comments. "But how long can an alliance with a culture like that last?" It will be really interesting to see how 'The Orville' addresses this.... will they be Federation like? ... the only exclusion I can remember was the Bajorans because of their cast system. Hell, TNG even allowed a society to profit by drugging their own people. Maybe 'The Orville' makes a stronger statement and imposes "human" values instead of being more tolerant? We'll see.

So, what to think of Lt. Talla Keyali? .... do we ding her because she hid Locar or do we praise her for slaping around Klyden? I liked her in this one and she's starting to grow on me. I do think we'd better see her excercising in Medical pretty soon.

I'm glad CDR Grayson dumped whiner Dan. Is it because of her love for Ed or because of her love of service? ... We'll see I guess. I'm guessing the former and hoping for the latter.

"dutiful coitus" - the first time I've heard the term "coitus" outside TBBT. :-)

Pretty good episode. I'll go 3 stars.
Yanks
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Oh, I almost forgot...

I think it would have been MUCH better had they done the torpdeo thing a little differently.

When Ed complained to them about "no torpedoes", I think they should have cut to the Moclan bridge where we see a couple 2 or 3 laughing Moclans... then they are hushed so they can respond to Ed.

I think that would have been pretty darn funny.
Mertov
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Just watched it. In short, I am a sucker for murder mysteries so I loved the last 30 minutes. I figured out before Talla that Lokar was scheming his own death, but the execution of the plotline was still well done. It seems that the first 30 minutes were a bit of a wasted opportunity. At least 15 of them could have been spent on expanding the plot. The fact that Bortus knew of Lokar's interest in females could have been explored further too. Oh well..
Presto
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
"Is there even one non-Moclan gay/bi on the Orville? No."

Uhh... except for, y'know, the matter of Mercer's little fling with Darulio...? The hinge point of the very Ed/Kelly subplot everyone seems to think is getting too much focus this season?
Yanks
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
One more thing!!!

I liked the flower dude!!! HAHA ... pretty "Orvillian". :-)
Jack
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:22am (UTC -5)
I'm repeating myself here, but I'm certainly not asking for portraying the Moclans (same-sex-relationship characters played by black actors) as sunny and perfect. I'm thrilled that they're not doing that.

This is a Seth MacFarlane comedy -- none of the characters come across as sunny and perfect. And they'll all occasionally be the butts of jokes. But the show is kind-hearted, ultimately, to most of them. We haven't quite seen that with Klyden yet. He's a bit of a stereotypical shrew. And again, the Moclans have been presented as dysfunctional and harmful in a way that other characters haven't been.

And I get that the show wants to use the Moclans to critique a rigid, dogmatic, heterosexual, cisgender society. And maybe to critique male gender role rigidity. Or too say that, hey, we need chicks to be happy. And maybe riff on the TNGs Klingon stuff. Maybe? I have no idea.

I just don't think it always works. And I do think some people will see them as gay -- and as proof that gay people are screwed up and unnatural. Sure, those people will think that anyway. But I wonder what a young gay kid will think when they watch this?

The good: all the characters and the union accept the Moclans, generally and aren't phased by the same-gender thing.

The bad: the culture is portrayed as backward and barbaric (tooth-eating, husband-killing, baby-mutilating, shunning of all difference). And Klyden and Bortus sure seem miserable.

It's still worth doing. And it's interesting. I just think it's a lot of episodes on these themes in the first 20 or so episodes.

Maybe my biggest beef is that Klyden is the most one-dimensional character on the show. He's an unpleasant, nagging housewife. It's not funny. It's not saying anything. And maybe he'll evolve. It could also be the actor or direction. Bortus is funny, generally. Klyden is awful, generally. Again, maybe there's something interesting there (he was born female and forced to change). But what's that saying, exactly?

Also, logically, why would a species where males can procreate have females, even in small numbers, at all? Or was this all engineered by the society and is, again, unnatural -- so, could some see that as proof that the gays want to destroy the traditional family and get rid of all women (which we've been accused of)?

It's just a TV show, but I want to know that the writers are aware of some of this stuff.

You could make a similar argument with Clare and LeMarr -- that they're both shown as stereotypes -- she's a single mom struggling to cope and he's a slacker. She's also the "wisest" woman on the ship (another black sterotype). But I think the show shows both are both human and highly capable.

So I might be wrong about this Bortus stuff. Maybe we've moved past all this.

And, again, complicated and nuanced is good. And we should be asking ourselves uncomfortable questions.

I just think this stuff is worth thinking about.

And maybe I'm projecting my own crap/guilt/shame onto a Fox sitcom.
Jack
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:31am (UTC -5)
@Presto

Yeah, not forgetting that Derulio thing. And it was treated as normal-ish by everyone. But it was also a product of alien biology and, well, not normal. Or, well, consensual.

But we haven't seen a normal same-sex human relationship -- although, arguably, we haven't seen a normal male/female human relationship either yet.

But yeah, all the characters (including Bortus and Klyden, arguably), have been straight. Also Derulio (he'd just boink everything).

Again, I'm not trying to police what they show. But the Moclan society is getting pretty dark -- and, well, there was a long history of gays being painted as destructive and dark (remember the war on the family and the gay agenda?). The gays were basically the Borg to plenty of conservatives.
wolfstar
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Those are thoughtful comments, Jack. I enjoy the Moclans (as a gay guy) but I really see where you're coming from. Please don't feel guilt/shame.

For me, part of the issue is that certain aspects of the reality of gay male culture end up falling between the cracks – on one side you have religious conservatives (of various faiths) who have a problem with gay people full stop, and on the other you have a lot of well-meaning progressives who treat gay people like special magical unicorns that must be protected at all costs. Which makes it hard for gay people to honestly and openly discuss problems within the gay community. A lot of gay guys have had really unpleasant and traumatizing experiences within gay male culture – gay-on-gay bullying, the cult of hypermasculinity, body shaming, assault, abusive behaviors etc., not to mention drug abuse and promiscuity – and it's really hard for gay men to talk about these things, because not only does it get shut down within their own community, but well-meaning straight progressives don't want to listen either because they don't want to engage with any negative discussion of homosexuality, out of moral narcissism. I have a friend whose family was totally accepting and supportive of him when he came out, but he found himself marginalized and mocked by other gay men because of his appearance, body, dress sense – and most of all, not being "masculine" enough. Every piece of gay-related media he'd consumed as a teenager had told him that the exact opposite would happen – that his family would reject him but he'd be welcomed with open arms by the gay community. In reality it was the other way round.

There is a damaging cult of masculinity and misogyny among gay men, and while I don't think the Moclans are an intentional parallel of this in any way, I do welcome the depiction of a complex, three-dimensional, same-sex-attracted society that has its own distinct set of problems which aren't brushed under the carpet. Then there's obviously the issue of porn addiction and sex addiction as covered in Primal Urges, which affects straight and gay men but is a particular issue among gay men.
Jammer
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
Hank
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Maybe it's just me, but I find this point of view that somehow gay people are portrayed in a bad light in this series ... confusing.

I personally see it this way: There are good people and bad people, good cultures and bad cultures. The Moclans have a bad culture, which produces bad people. That they are "gay" (well, not really, but lets just assume that they are) is incidental to their actions, not fundamental. Their actions are guided by a very strict moral code, long standing traditions, and brutal rituals. That sounds like islam or some other backwards religion/culture to me. Their strict focus on "sex only for recreation" comes straight out of fundamental christian teachings, and I dare say is not assosciated with gay people, who are, according to the prejudice, promiscuous, nymphomanic, deviant and out to destroy the classic family - the exact opposite. So, an ultra-conservative gay-people hating person watching this is put in the uncomfortable position that those descpicable people lead the perfect conservative life, going so far to imprison and banish every deviant. I don't know. I just can't see how anybody could watch the Moclans and think "aaaah yes, gay people at work, who would have guessed!" unless there is a widespread prejudice that gay people want to "end" heterosexual people, which must have escaped me. Of course, you can read this any way you want, there is always an interpretation that fits your worldview, including an interpretation that the Orville is pushing a gay utopia where straight people are oppressed by a rampant mob of gays, who even altered their biology to be able to not rely on females.

I am with wolfstar on this. Just because somebody is gay, he is not a good or bad person. Similarily, who knows what an "all gay" culture might look like? There is no guarantee that it will turn into a free society. People don't tend towards freedom as much as security, in my experience, and most people are cowards. If anything, the Moclans are a cautionary tale against close mindedness. Gay people are shunned and hated because they deviate from the norm. Moclans ONLY have norms. Of course they hate everybody who is not average, as stated in the episode, and that is the message. Their monosexuality has nothing to do with that message. And frankly, there will always be people who just see what they want to see, and if they hate gay people anyways, portraying the Moclans as an utopian "happy go lucky" society will just cement their prejudices that gay people have no morals. By making them ultramoralistic, a big chunk of religious prejudice against gay people is preemtively eliminated.
Kevin McGrath
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
"When the little girl asks what's wrong with Lokar's head, she doesn't even ask Talla the same question The girl never acknowledges Talla existence. Lokar is the only one of the two that she asks "who are you". Either Lokar stood out because he's black, or Talla didn't instantly standout because she presents as white first, and alien second. The writers, director and actors seem to be unaware of the racial implications of that scene. It's a replica of 1940s New York. It's a bit disconcerting that moment goes by and isn't commented on. "

I rather think Charles was wrong on this. What distinguished Locar wasn't his colour but the fact that he was recognisably non-human. If he'd been pale- skinned he'd have looked every bit as strange. Talla in his presence looked pretty much a standard human, unless you looked pretty closely at her. If she'd had a dark skin like Clare that would still have been the case.

It hadn't even occurred to me that these Moclans all seemed to have dark skins, any more than it ever occurred to me that Worf did. Or, to remember the classic 1980 series version of Beauty and the Beast, that Vincent was not dark skinned and was played by a white actor. (YWas Surely an underlying intention in both cases to get people recognising that skin colour is a pretty insignificant sort of difference.)
Rbx
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 8:45am (UTC -5)
On some reflection I think the big problem with this episode is that Klyden's attitude toward Talla's situation never really becomes clear. It's obvious from earlier episodes, (and in particular from his fondness for The Sound of Music) that he doesn't have any problem with male-female relations among non-Moclans, but how does he feel about a non-Moclan female being attracted to a Moclan male? (Or to a non-Moclan male being attracted to a Moclan male, for that matter.) Does he see Talla as a sort of innocent bystander, as Dokar's victim, as Dokar's accomplice? Why doesn't he object to Talla's blatant conflict of interest in the investigation? How can he be so completely tone-deaf to Talla's feelings in the final scene? He's so ham-fistedly insensitive he's practically channeling Isaac.

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