The Orville

"Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes"

2 stars

Air date: 1/17/2019
Written by Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
Directed by Jon Cassar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The biggest problem at the core of "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" is that I just can't bring myself to care about Ed Mercer's poor broken heart, and the episode really, really wants me to. The second-biggest problem is this episode recycles so many over-worn tropes that I grew restless and bored with stretches of it.

Then there's the ending, which tries with all its might to be simultaneously offbeat and poignant (as a shuttle flies off to Billy Joel), but falls flat because such pretentions only work if there's a workable emotional core beneath the surface. There isn't here, so it feels like an audacious but empty artistic conceit. I'll give Seth and his crew an A for effort, but a C for the end result.

"Excepting Fishes" is also so full of cliched story beats and subplot distractions that the emotional core feels shortchanged when it isn't being oversold. That's really too bad, because the intentions here are noble and there are moments of intelligence, even if we've seen this territory covered before. Plus there's a cleverness in continuity in the way this episode ties back to last season's "Krill" and how it uses the casting of Michaela McManus.

McManus plays Lt. Janel Tyler, the cartographer who came aboard the ship in "Ja'loja" and sat down for drinks with Mercer at the end of that episode. Tyler and Mercer are now dating, and Mercer decides to take her on a shore-leave trip (but first runs this idea by Kelly, because we simply can't do without Ed/Kelly scenes that induce eye-rolling). Aboard their shuttle, Mercer and Tyler are attacked by a Krill ship and taken prisoner.

What we now know was not a coincidence, McManus also played the Krill schoolteacher Teleya in "Krill." At the end of that episode, Mercer and Malloy killed everyone aboard that ship except her and the schoolchildren. I thought the violence at the end of that episode was glibly handled, so it's nice to see it followed up here with some consequences, although I have my doubts about the specifics. Lt. Tyler, you see, is actually Teleya as a surgically altered undercover agent who is enacting a very elaborate revenge upon Mercer. She stages her own kidnapping along with Mercer and uses herself as a hostage as leverage over Mercer to try to gain Union security codes. It reveals their entire relationship as a setup and a sham. (Naming McManus' character "Tyler" has to be a reference to Discovery's Tyler/Voq imposter arc, which is a cute little elbow jab.)

Mercer is crushed to find out this woman whom he was falling for (and thought was falling for him) was just playing him for a fool. He's so crushed, indeed, he wants answers, and wonders how anyone could be so convincing in a relationship while not feeling anything real. Because it was real to me, dammit!

This could perhaps have sustained the entire episode, but "Fishes" is too impatient and scatterbrained for that. Instead we get a bunch of hacky shoot-em-up action when the Krill ship is attacked by one of their many enemies. Mercer and Teleya end up escaping to the surface of a planet where now they are hunted by other bad guys — although no effort is made to explain what the relationship between the Union and this third party might be, if any. Mercer and Teleya must team up while on the run even though they are sham lovers revealed as enemies.

"Fishes" would have been wiser to focus on one thing, but instead it becomes a hodgepodge. The action is rote and takes up way too much screen time. Meanwhile, there's a B-plot involving Malloy's announced intent to take the commander's exam, which is an oddly placed semi-comic plot happening in between the more serious scenes with Mercer and Teleya. It's yet another example of the awkward tonal swings on this series. It's also another example of this show feeling like warmed-over second-generation Trek leftovers — specifically a rehash of TNG's "Thine Own Self" when Troi suddenly decided she wanted to take up command — but the twist here is that Malloy doesn't even really want to do it; he just wants to be able to tell chicks he's doing it, which is awfully juvenile even for him. The saving grace here is Grayson, who shows a deft touch for leadership through sanity and honest conversation. (This subplot does, at least, contain the episode's funniest line — Bortus' very Worf-like deadpan observation, "He will fail.")

The good intentions here show Mercer trying to reach out for understanding, using evolved Starfleet Union values to look for common ground and avenues to peace, despite all evidence the enemy is completely unreasonable. And about that: I feel like the Krill are too one-dimensional to be of very much use as the series' primary adversary. They are a monolithic batch of religious fanatics bent on destroying anyone who doesn't worship their god, so Mercer's attempts to show a gesture of goodwill by letting Teleya go may very well be a pointless, even foolish, symbolic gesture.

Of course, the whole point is that we have to start somewhere with our olive branches. But giving the Krill even a millimeter of depth or shading would've made this a much easier sell. As it is, the Krill seem so dogmatic and implacable that the idea of creating "Janel Tyler" with all her simulated empathy and feelings seems beyond their psychological reach. (As Mercer humorously puts it, "I liked it better when you used contractions." But this proves the point; with Tyler/Teleya it's like an A/B switch has been magically flipped, when this scenario seems to call for something more subtle.) Maybe the Krill will get fleshed out eventually (Mercer's comment that they used to be less fanatical before they started venturing into space is a nugget of potentially interesting information), but for now this is limiting.

Here's the thing. I'm inclined to root for Seth MacFarlane and his scrappy desire to turn his fanboy obsessions into a TV show. But the problem is that MacFarlane as an actor has to carry big scenes and complicated emotions in a show like this. Unfortunately, Mercer as played by MacFarlane can never transcend the level of the sorry sap who was stood up at the junior prom and has been snarking his way through life ever since. There's no gravitas to the character because there are no dimensions to the performance. That is fatal for a final scene that wants us to get all worked up over watching the captain's fake girlfriend get sent home with a flash drive full of Billy Joel songs. There's a fine line between brilliant and ridiculous, and "Fishes" ends up on the wrong side of it.

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117 comments on this review

Troy G
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
I could find no fault with this episode. Quite good
SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
GREAT episode. Best of the series thus far.

I was already leaning toward probably giving it four stars, but Seth really sealed the deal with the perfect use of “She’s Always a Woman” at the end. Wow.
Chris
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:08pm (UTC -6)
I give it 2/4. The romance angle didn't land at all for me. Maybe if they spent a few episodes building it up but I wasn't invested in it at all. The pacing wasn't great either .. kind of boring. On the plus side, the effects continue to be top notch and the characters are (generally) likable.
Dave in MN
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:27pm (UTC -6)
Ive ignored spoilers so I was greatly surprised and entertained by this episode. F

I'm really happy we got a chance to take a real look at what makes Gordon tick.

Man, his acting was great: I could see the sadness underneath the surface of Malloy's jokey exterior. I do like that we never got to see Gordon succeed at the Command Test. It shouldn't be easy.

Man, Kelly really is a good officer: she's insightful, firm, fair and intelligent. She made a great mentor (and it was clever and meta to show (not tell us) what being in command is all about.

Besides exploring those issues, we touched on so many things in this episode: existentialism, relationships, war, diplomacy, intrigue, societies tackling a universe filled with sentient life.... and all of it dovetailed neatly. A wonderful exploration of just what it means to be a Union officer.

The new baddies (the space orcs with badass ships) look like another fun new species to learn about... did they say what their name was?

The Krill spy actress really emotes well, considering how much makeup/ prosthetics she's wearing. (I agree with Ed, there's NO way she was faking it the entire time!) Great use of the Billy Joel music in the final scene.

The Trek feel was SO strong in this one, but at the same time, it had that Orville twist. ("He will fail.") The great orchestral music, VFX, and writing make this one a strong 3.5 for me.

Can't wait for next week!!!!





SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
Dave, great review—but I’m curious now to see what constitutes four stars for you!
Dave in MN
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
That's a good question.

I settled on a 3.5 for last week's .... it was a great episode, but a 4 star? It was missing that certain something 4 star entertainment offers.

I'm not sure what my criteria is for that: the only commonalities I can think of would be A) rewatchability & B) a statement/ conversation about the human condition that actually effects how I interpret the world from here on out. (A great music score also helps, haha).
Dave in MN
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
Also, was that Jeffrey Combs (!) I saw there as the Krill captain?! I wasn't paying attention during the credits.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 10:34pm (UTC -6)
I honestly wasn't feeling this one as much as last week. Both the A plot and the B plot seemed to be somewhat...contrived.

The whole thing with "crewman Tyler" was obviously some sort of reference to Discovery's first season. People were predicting it as of the season premier because they reused the same actress. I was honestly hoping for a bit more of a slow burn along several episodes. Regardless, while I could see what was going to happen from a mile away, the story beats were rather predictable. Barring that is one head-scratching moment - why she saved Ed when the ship was under attack, rather than just leaving him to die and finding her own escape pod. At first I figured that perhaps she still believed he had actionable intelligence, but since she initially intended to kill him as soon as she was rescued from the planet that wasn't the case. Maybe it was - as Ed said - just because she wasn't faking it as much as was suggested. I did like the conclusion of the episode - their continued attempts to humanize the Krill as individuals even as the culture itself remains a cartoon - but it didn't make up for this really badly plotted twist mid story. It would have been much better if she was somehow knocked out and he rescued her and dragged her into a life pod.

As for the B plot, it was nice for Gordon to finally get some development since Season 1 treated him solely as a joke character and didn't really ever give him a plot of his own. That said, it sort of felt perfunctory on the part of the show, and like it was sort of came out of left field rather than being a logical development of the character.

2.5 stars.
SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 10:37pm (UTC -6)
Karl, I’m confused by your comment. You didn’t catch that Ed had a gun on her when they were going to the escape pod?
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 10:50pm (UTC -6)
I'll admit I did have a bit of a brain fart and forgot Ed initially had her at gunpoint. However, I don't see what that changes. Her ship was boarded by a hostile force which was certainly going to kill her and destroy the ship anyway. She could have taken the calculated risk that Ed wouldn't shoot her and just ran away - particularly given she knew him pretty well at that point, and he isn't the kind of person to shoot someone in the back. Regardless, he clearly was distracted by the time she got to the escape pod. The way the show was constructed they only could have escaped together, but I find it very implausible that two people in their situation - one of which professes to hate the other person, and the other of which found out they were horribly betrayed only five minutes before - would be able to trust one another under any circumstances. I mean, Ed has a hard time moving past his ex-wife boning other people, but he's able to quickly compartmentalize the hurt and betrayal here and just be an action hero?
William D Wehrs
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 12:21am (UTC -6)
Loved this episode with my one quibble being that we could have used a little more time with Lt. Tyler and her romance with Mercer. Nevertheless, teally appreciated the time devoted to humanizing the enemy in a way the first season of Discovery never really did. This was the Orville at its best, and I really hope the ratings improve.
Trent
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 1:37am (UTC -6)
This episode gives a giant middle-finger to "Discovery". In a mere 40 minutes it does better with its Tyler/Krill plot what "Discovery's" Tyler/Klingon plot took an entire season to botch.

The differences between the two approaches are also interesting. Disco's Tyler was a human who essentially got hijacked by a Klingon, his personality split between Federation utopianism and a hyper religiously conservative Klingon. He falls in love with the female lead.

Orville does the opposite: its Tyler is a Krill who hijacks a Union human, her personality split between Union utopianism and a hyper religiously conservative Kill. She falls in love with the male lead.

"Discovery's" Tyler isn't a real Klingon, so love-bombing him with Gene Roddenberry hippie vibes is a bit pointless from the Federation's point of view. His arc mostly serves to teach Michael to love Klingons, even though he isn't really a Klingon, and even though, as a social scientist and Vulcan, she shouldn't be taking Klingon aggression so personally anyway.

In "Orville", Ed and the Union aren't racist crazies like "Discovery's" Federation, so they don't need to learn what Michael learns. The Gene Roddenberry hippie vibes flow the other way instead. Ed teaches the Krill that being space hippies might be a little bit more compassionate, moral and selfishly pragmatic (and even religious/spiritual) than their (religious) warmongering.

Or at least lays the first steps in this direction. It's a very Picard thing to do. And it unfolds in a very Picard way; no fuss, just a kind of moral clarity.

And of course aesthetically the episode is the complete opposite of "Discovery". Where Disco goes for elaborate pyrotechnics and "drama", Orville strips things down to something more intimate: 2 characters in a cave.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 3:49am (UTC -6)
I'm conflicted on this one.

On the one hand, it has a great premise and it is an exceptionally tight story. On the the other hand, just like "Primal Urges", this episode had serious pacing issues. What is it with Bragga and pacing issues? Last season's "Into the Fold" also had this problem.

It's really strange how the quiet episodes like "Home" and "Ja'loja" could keep me riveted every single moment, yet action-packed "Fishes" had me bored half of the time. All in all, not sure how to rate this one. It's either a high 2.5/4 or a low 3/4. I'll probably decide on one of them, after we see how they callback on the events of this epiosde

Also, I wonder what kind of trees this planet has, that can withstand the boiling temperatures of high-noon on this 800-hour day planet.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 5:19am (UTC -6)
@Karl Zimmerman
"I find it very implausible that two people in their situation - one of which professes to hate the other person, and the other of which found out they were horribly betrayed only five minutes before - would be able to trust one another under any circumstances"

I don't think either of them really trusted one another on the emotional level. Refraining from killing a person who may well be your only hope for survival is hardly the epitome of trust. I'm also pretty sure that Talaya wouldn't have hesitated to kill Ed if it weren't a Union Shuttle that rescued them.

So basically, Talaya had just enough doubt in her beliefs to allow Ed the chance to save them both. As for Ed, he really *really* emotionally invested in giving Talaya the benefit of the doubt. He also had a gun pointed to his face, so he had nothing to lose by clinging to this hope.

Given what we already know about these two characters from season 1, I actually find this development to be quite plausible.
Black Jesus
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:20am (UTC -6)
Ha! The Orville did the whole season 1 of Discovery in one episode. Seth owes them some money lol
Hank
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
I have to agree with previous comments. Not only was the "disguise yourself as another race" set up previously (Mercer does the same to her), it was also a very unsubtle jab at Discovery (which is ironically trying to be the Orville right now). And it makes much more sense. Mercer probably knows that he will not change her mind, and I guess you could argue that if he wasn't in love with her, he wouldn't have acted quite so forgivingly (on the other hand, the opposite could also be argued), and she openly says that he changed nothing. I doesn't bother me that it wasn't set up longer, it didn't have to be. The whole Tyler/Voq twist was tired by the time it was revealed, and since Tyler had no memory of being Voq, and took on a completely new personality at the end of the series (if I remember correctly, Discovery is mostly a blur, tbh), there was no opportunity for any greater moral implications. It was too narrowly focused on the Burnham/Tyler dynamic. This time, the fronts are clear, and maybe, just maybe, there is a sliver of hope planted. Without accusations, without having to rely on ultra brutal rape to garner emotional impact, and even without condescension. It really was Picardesque (soon to be: Old Picardesque, because the new Picard Series will ruin him too) in its simplicity and clarity.

The crashed landing pot was also right out of the Enterprise Episode where Tucker rescued that princess, a nice homage.

I loved the lack of forced humor this episode. No stupid jokes. Sure, the jab at Gordon could be seen as a cheap joke, maybe, but it wasn't the usual "Who farted?" joke. Oh, I forgot the new security chief, but he was on screen for 5 seconds. I liked the way they handled his request. No outright denial, just carefully pointing out to him that it might not be the right thing for him. It feels like almost everybody who had plot this episode got something out of the experience. And thank god that they handled the Kelly/Mercer stuff without having her bitch at him (which I expected they would do for comedy).

It is really interesting to make comparisons to Discovery though. While the Orville went for less jokes, quieter, more thoughtful episodes, and already touched on some real moral conflicts (i.e. the line that Non-Believers can have no morals, which you really hear constantly in the real world), Discovery went loud, wild, with totally stupid over the top humor (it even has the rescue scene from the beginning of Star Wars Episode III and a menace that destroys the whole universe). The Orville sheds its bad comedy elements which completely broke with the otherwise pretty serious and calm tone, while Discovery continues to be completely tone deaf (just 180° opposed to season 1).
Quibbles
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
I loved this one! I always found the Orville entertaining and tuned in to its sense of humor because I'm a fan of MacFarlane's other shows (mostly American Dad. I haven't watched Family Guy in 10 years). But this one really nailed the *drama* for the first time.

I was worried that the Gordon B-plot would be a repeat of TNG's "Thine Own Self" where Troi takes the command test. What else can you do with a plot about a command test other than "character takes it, runs into obstacles, and passes or fails?" But it worked for me since Gordon is so obviously unfit for the job and actually realizes it by the episode's end. His desperation and lack of self-esteem is really well-played by Scott Grimes. Kelly gets a really strong showing, and comes off as a thoroughly competent, professional officer.

At first, I was iffy on the A-plot since it dipped into the well of Trek cliches: the Shuttle Crash [TM], getting to high ground to send a signal ala DS9's "The Ascent." I actually laughed at the line, "They're venting drive plasma." But it really came together once Ed and Tyler were in the cave, and we actually got some thoughtful dialogue about how a civilization reacts to discovering it's not alone. It was the Trekkiest thing I've seen in TV or film since Archer's big speech at the end of "Terra Prime." And the ending montage with the Billy Joel song: wow! I was not expecting to actually *feel* for Ed: his loneliness, the tragedy of meeting an amazing woman, only to find out she never really existed. Well done!

I admit, I didn't make the connection with Discovery until I read the above comments, but now I can't unsee it and it's hysterical. The episode is absolutely a middle finger to the Tyler / Voq plot. It gives me joy to imagine MacFarlane, Braga, and the Orville team riffing on Discovery like it's MST3K. (A bit of offseason news that caught my eye: Joe Menosky jumping ship from Discovery and joining up with his old Trek buddies on The Orville. I bet he has stories to tell.)

Really, I have no complaints. Great show and I can't wait for the next one. (Side note: After every single Trek series refused to reference pop culture after the 60s, I was amused to see Ed's movie tastes stretching into the 80s with Raiders of the Lost Ark. God, I would love a meta joke about Ed actually watching Star Trek.)
SlackerInc
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
Hasn’t “Orville” referenced pop culture from the ‘90s or even later?

I do kind of wish they would occasionally mention (fictional, obv.) pop culture from the 22nd century or beyond.
Norvo
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
Another fun, interesting episode that simply feels effortless... And that's no small feat considering how new the show still is.

As for homages to Trek: I coulda sworn Ed's blue outfit was something Riker wore on TNG during his off hours.
Dave in MN
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 6:17pm (UTC -6)
Seth addressed your point on the Twitter Q&A last night.

I can't copy/paste .on my phone, but v her basically said he's never seen "future" diagetic art/music in a film or TV that wasn't cringeworthy/ unbelievable.
Trent
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:03pm (UTC -6)
I bet Seth is pulling a double bluff on his audience.

He parodies "Discovery's" Tyler subplot, and makes it seem as though Telaya (it's even phonetically like "Tyler"), the Krill teacher, is the chief undercover agent. Meanwhile the other guy who is introduced in the season premiere, Cassius the teacher, remains the real undercover bad guy.

The fans remain focused on Telaya, pat themselves on the back when they correctly predict she's a wolf in sheep's clothing, while Cassius, a guy named after the conspirator who assassinated Caesar (he probably "kills" Kelly?"), goes by unnoticed. Seth reveals him, fanboys get surprised, Seth pats himself on the back for besting Discovery's failed shock/twist.

Of course this is all wild speculation. But if I were Seth and I were trying to double bluff Trek fanboys, that's what I would do.

Trent
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
To add to the above theory: the first episode of the show establishes that the Krill have had undercover agents in the Union for years. Derek, for example, the guy who tries to steal the "time accelerating device" was undercover as a human for at least four years.
Perry Plotkin
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:23pm (UTC -6)
3.75 🌟 from me. It had everything minus the humor.

The Star Trek franchise that owns a basket of shows may start worrying now. This Orville show had all the elements in place for segmenting their future. The price has gone up for "Orville Rights".

It seems that the Troll lady had held up the gun for too long and lacked the humor along the way.

Interesting new species and they look dreadful (another Romulan type species?).

Things look impossible to escape when the ship was about to explode. I think this storyline needs to lengthen to two episodes to tie it with more humor and action. There always something missing in action.
Perry Plotkin
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
above comments, I mean Krill not Troll 😥
Dougie
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
I would say the episode relies heavily on sentimentality and relationship issues. The story woven through these is interesting but I admit I saw it almost within the first 10 minutes. I don’t recall the exact moment but I thought “she’s a mole, this is a setup” - it might have been during the beer with Gordon. I just couldn’t know it with certainty.

I don’t watch Dicovery so many of those references are lost on me. The Corbomite Maneuver scene with Gordon wasn’t as funny, but the rudimentary lathe gag on Galaxy Quest is re: The Gorn, is it the delivery?

I liked the interaction between the Krill and Shaktal. “It is ours by divine right but they do not see this.” Krill Hegemony. Coming from a group that sympathized with the Nohtzees in the Lost Ark. There were things to explore in this episode that Star Trek might have given some treatment that I think Orville glazes over.
Dave in MN
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
Is that Rudimentary lathe" line really the best barometer for what qualifies as funny? It's been mentioned twice now as an example of the kind of jokes the Orvillee writers should emulate.

Personally, I might have inwardly grinned ever so slightly the first time I heard that line, but it's not the pinnacle of comedy to me.

But hey, different strokes for different folks, humor is subjective, etc etc....

Dougie
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 9:10am (UTC -6)
Ongoing species blindness is writer laziness. It could be a bad trope forming. From Moclan customs to Xeleyan health to Esophagus bro, the Union doesn’t seem to know much about senior officers onboard the bridge. That poses its own issues which often tries to play off as episode material, marginally in my opinion. It can be done and I’ve already given exact directives on how to repair.

We see it a different way and much more dangerously when the Krill are engaged in annexation of another species.

The Union is unaware of these activities and has no contact with the Shaktal? This has it’s own connotations — no spying or intelligence ops past what Mercer did last season, etc, as well as reveals significant limits in Union astrocartography. No survey missions or probes? Voyager had a probe in the delta quadrant... There were a couple times I thought Mercer would simply call out “Hey, Union guy here, don’t shoot!” and something different might happen.

We now have a secondary low level engagement as the Union, like it or not, has been fired upon by Shaktal warriors during a Rescue Mission. Regardless of sides, firing during rescue is engagement, the activity is warlike. The Shaktal either did or did not recognize the shuttlecraft they fired upon. And they fired upon it. That’s pretty aggressive right there. Who claimed the planet and sector? Who had rights to fire in that region of space?

When arc writing is well done and thoughtful you can pull this off so I assume the Shaktal like the Krill are coming back. The missing piece here may have been a discussion with a Union Admiral in the final act to tie up negotiation or discussion with a Shaktal delegation.

Or are the Shaktal the galactic Sentinelese, who have left their island but don’t leave any survivors. That can’t work.
Yanks
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 11:02am (UTC -6)
This was a pretty good episode.

A neat story I guess. Ties into a season 1 episode. Made me think of DS9's Second Skin'

So, the Krill are the biggest and baddest guy on the block, eh?

I don't think Seth is a very good actor. Adrianne carries him in their scenes together. Hell, this episode is good because the Krill gal has such a good screen presence. I don't dislike him but...

This episode had enough natural drama, it makes me wonder why they try and inject it. At the end, when they are being pursued by our new bad guys, why does Ed demand the weapon? .... why the drama? .... why doesn't she just shoot them?

Very TNG feel to this one. Including the ending.

I'm already tired of the esophagus dude... I'm glad we get our new security officer next week.

3 of 4 stars.
Dougie
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
@Yanks I don’t know if the Krill are lining up to be the baddest, the Shaktal seem to overrun their ships with ease. And certainly they are an aggressor species, will head into a planetary system and fire at will upon an unknown shuttlecraft that could be armed to the teeth. The fact that Bortus didn’t defend the shuttle is questionable, I say it shows tactical weakness. I still feel like something with an Admiral ended up on the cutting room floor.

I could point out this is the job for esophagus bro, but, he’s gone anyway to your point.
Perry Plotkin
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 12:41pm (UTC -6)
https://www.bleedingcool.com/2019/01/19/the-orville-review-nothing-left-on-earth-except-fishes-the-two-sides-of-mercer-spoilers/
Mertov
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 2:27pm (UTC -6)
Geez, there is a rehash of about 5-6 TNG-DS9-VOY episode ideas combined and reserviced without even making an effort to add any ingredients in it, anything and everything from the ubiquitous "two people leave with a shuttlepod for something peaceful, except you know something is about to wrong" trope down to the mountain climbing together of the two characters in conflict and the dialogue in the cave with one pointing a phaser to the other.

I am glad there are are those who enjoy seeing these types of scenes over and over again, but I would rather see something different, or additional to TNG-VOY route (which I loved when they originally aired, ok TNG more than VOY). That difference for me is the humor in this show and the light-hearted approach which I enjoyed in many episodes of the first season. But now, after the first two episodes, this one dives back into what Jammer said in a previous review of his about throwing jokes on the wall and hoping they stick. Last week's was an exception, easily the best outing of the season, with a well-constructed narrative that does not rely on humor, a rare occasion.

One funny moment that sticks well, for example, is Gordon leaving Kelly's office enthusiastically about passing the training, Bortus turning to Kelly and bluntly sayin "He will fail," followed by Kelly's expression. That was hilarious.

But then, there is the "Your best friends approves" by Lt. Gordon, followed by the Captain of the ship's "Thanks man," followed by Gordon's "So, have you done it yet?". Come on... The writers seem to purposefully make Gordon out to be the one-dimensional horny dude (remember the masturbation reference in the ready room meeting in an earlier reference). I am totally with Kelly in suspecting that Gordon wants to pass the test just to get more chicks. And the scene with him looking at blue shapes and finishing with the "hostile work environment" remark. Is there even a purpose to that scene? Ed does not fare much better in humor with the grilled cheese question.

And once again Kelly is right when she lists Janel/Teleya's crimes and tries to talk some sense into Ed about not letting her go. It reminded me of B'Elanna Torres hopelessly trying to talk some sense into Janeway, "They are JUST holograms!" when the latter decided to keep the hologram going, putting at risk the lives of two main-crew members in one of the silliest VOY episodes of all times because holograms felt "real" to the crew. It's almost like each character had more sense in their respective episode than the writers did writing that character and the episodes.

How did Ed become a captain anyway? The guy was in depression forever over Kelly, snoops on her in a shuttle, yet he has already fallen for another woman and laments over the times with her over grilled cheese. Or is that the long arc humor in this? At least, he likes Billy Joel (did music and films cease to exist past the 20th century in The Orville?)

I'll wait and see what how Jammer reviews this, but for me, this season has been more misses than hits so far compared to the first one.
Mertov
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
I forgot to add: Unlike some other posters I read in the last episode, I really like the new Tharl character and find him quite funny.
The brief scene with him early in the hour was one of the highlights. This episode could have used more of him.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
@Dave

"he's never seen "future" diagetic art/music in a film or TV that wasn't cringeworthy/ unbelievable."

I gotta say that this is a pretty lame excuse, especially for a show like the Orville.

They don't need to actually show the "future art" in order to make a reference. It could be something as simple as "You like John Atlec? Man, he was a genius. They really knew how to groove 200 years ago".

(If you think the above is lame, keep in mind that it took me about 30 seconds at A the keyboard to write that line. A professional writer could do far better than me, of-course)

@Mertov
"I am glad there are are those who enjoy seeing these types of scenes over and over again, but I would rather see something different, or additional to TNG-VOY route (which I loved when they originally aired, ok TNG more than VOY). "

Oh, I agree.

I too would *rather* see something different. I would rather see an actual 25th century Trek series that is breaking new ground and goes boldly where no TV series (including Trek) has gone before. A series with tight and original story-telling, a strong moral compass and compelling characters.

But we're not going to get that, are we? And while the Orville obviously can't fill in these gigantic shoes, it's still far better than anything else we have on TV right now. At least that's my opinion.



Mertov
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
"I too would *rather* see something different. I would rather see an actual 25th century Trek series that is breaking new ground and goes boldly where no TV series (including Trek) has gone before. A series with tight and original story-telling, a strong moral compass and compelling characters."

You say that as if The Orville does not have any of these.. I disagree..
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
Of-course the Orville has these things. It's pretty much the only show right now that has these things, which is why I like it so much.

But it could be much more. And right now, it's not a "great" show yet, in the way that TNG and DS9 were great in the 1990's.

(to be fair, TNG/DS9's first two seasons weren't as great as TNG/DS9 in the 1990's either...)
Mertov
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
Well you're the one who started with "I too would *rather* see something different" (which is not what I said by the way. Had I said that, I would not like The Orville and not watch it, because "different" is what The Orville is definitely not, for reasons I pointed out before. But it does offer something "in addition to" - which is what I actually said, "or in addition to").

Then, after saying "I too would *rather* see something different," you went on to say what it is that you mean, as if The Orville did not have those things, thus my last reply. Now, you say the reverse, that The Orville has these things, with which I also disagree. It has 'some' of them here and there, in 'some' episodes.

I don't expect perfection so it's enough for me to like it and continue watching. But this season, overall, needs to improve.
Dave in MN
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 5:30pm (UTC -6)
I'm not sure if creating a future Beethoven/Beatles (diagetically) is as easy as some people would think ... imagine telling the show's composer: create something that sounds like it'll stand the test of time and be praised as genius for centuries to come.
Mozart
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
Hallo Dave ?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
@Dave

My point is that they don't have to actually compose the piece or play it onscreen. They can simply reference it in dialog. Creating a "character profile" for a future Beethoven would be far easier than trying to compose his actual music.

Another option is to keep the "future art" in the background. Remember the Barry Manilow scene in "Into the Fold"? That was a pretty extensive scene yet the music barely played for 40 seconds. Creating a convincing 40-second soundbyte from a legendary piece of future music is probably easier than composing the entire thing. Especially if it is heard only in the background while people are working and talking.

It's even easier to create a convincing short scene from a future great film. Case in point: would you ever guess, by just looking at the snippets from "the King and I" we've seen in this episode, that it's a classic film?

(future literature, of-course, is the easiest of all. Just design a convincing cover for the book and you're done)

@Mertov

You said specifically:

"Well you're the one who started with 'I too would rather see something different' (which is not what I said by the way)"

You did say it, right there:

"I am glad there are those who enjoy seeing these types of scenes over and over again, BUT I WOULD RATHER SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT, or additional to TNG-VOY route (which I loved when they originally aired, ok TNG more than VOY). "

(emphasis mine)

In short: We agree on this, and we even used similar words to voice our views. Not sure how we got into this misunderstanding.

As for the season 1 vs season 2 comparison:

I think that season 1 had more solid *scripts*, but season 2 has better overall *stories*. Both "Primal Urges" and "Fishes" had exceptional stories that fell victim to a somewhat clumsy execution.

I'm reminded of how S1E04 "If the Stars Should Appear" impressed me, in the way it took a fresh spin on an old TOS story. The story itself was nothing special, but there were a million little details that kept the episode interesting and fresh every single minute.

Season 2 needs more of this freshness, to supplement the already promising story arcs.


Mertov
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
Ok, I am not going to sit here and explain to you the difference (again) between "I would rather see something different" and "I would rather see something different, or additional to TNG-VOY..." It's clear to anyone who reads it, you can keep repeating that the first one is what I said, but no, taking a part of my sentence and offering as what I said, especially when the meaning changes due to the missing is NOT what I said.

Especially that when the part you leave out makes a quite a difference in the meaning of your next reply. "Different" is NOT what Orville is. "Different, or in addition to TNG-VOY," can be (and it is in my opinion, for reasons I explained (again).

I hope I don't have to explain a third time and I hope you don't keep repeating that I said something that I did not..

"Not sure how we got into this misunderstanding."
Already been explained how... twice. Read above, and above the above.

"I think that season 1 had more solid *scripts*, but season 2 has better overall *stories*"
I disagree again. Season 2's storytelling, other than the solid 3rd episode, has been mediocre, rehashes of TNG-VOY, except that it;s accompanied by otiose masturbatory-penis-related humor.
Mertov
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 8:28pm (UTC -6)
And also on your last reply, you write this:

-------- You said specifically:

"Well you're the one who started with 'I too would rather see something different' (which is not what I said by the way)" ---------

No, again, that is not what I said, you cut the important part out for the second time in three replies. Here is the full quote (which conveys a much different thing):

-----------------
Well you're the one who started with "I too would *rather* see something different" (which is not what I said by the way. Had I said that, I would not like The Orville and not watch it, because "different" is what The Orville is definitely not, for reasons I pointed out before. But it does offer something "in addition to" - which is what I actually said, "or in addition to").
----------------

So again, don't use small portion of what someone says to claim that it "what they say" because it fits your narrative of argument, when the small portion has a much different meaning than the full paragraph.
Dougie
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 10:51pm (UTC -6)
Futurama took the time to create future music, the Hip Joint featured it in Season 1 Episode 4. I searched for that music later online and found a few excerpts on mp3 sites as I wanted it as a ringtone. I hadn’t noticed but learned later it’s the same music Fry heard in S1E1 when he first exited into the outside in the future.

I do consider most things Groening to be genius and futurama was light years ahead of its time.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
@Mertov

"I hope I don't have to explain a third time and I hope you don't keep repeating that I said something that I did not..."

Jesus, no... this is the stupidest and most surreal conversation I've ever been part of. Don't worry, I have absolutely no intent of continuing it.

"Season 2's storytelling, other than the solid 3rd episode, has been mediocre, rehashes of TNG-VOY, except that it;s accompanied by otiose masturbatory-penis-related humor."

What are you talking about?

How is "Ja'loja" a rehash of TNG/VOY? Or "Primal Urges"?

The only season 2 episode that could be "accused" of being a TNG/VOY rehash is the one we're commenting on right now. But even here, the set up was completely different than anything we've seen in Trek. I don't recall a love interest of a Trek captain ever being an enemy spy. And definitely not an enemy spy that was a teacher and then a prisoner in a previous season.

The problem is that they didn't do enough with these unique circumstances. Sure, the dialogue between Ed and Talaya was colored by the unique story, but other than that, the episode still followed the exact same beats of similarly-theme Trek episodes. And that, I agree, is a problem.
Mertov
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
The first part of your comment, I disagree again, we've had stupider ones ;)))

Ok, saying that there have been no love interests that were spies for captains in the previous series therefore The Orville is different is like me saying there have been no female captains in previous series so VOY was different, and ignoring the slew of episodes in VOY that rehashed TOS/TNG themes. Taking one different detail and using that to advance the idea of the two shows (or two given episodes from different series being different) is a reductive approach.

Let me reiterate what I said in my first post, I am ok if it's not different, I enjoyed all previous series. I am simply not too thrilled about watching a yet another show with rehashes of TOS/TNG/VOY concepts recycled and served again in the exact same format without much else that makes it unique. Thus, my previous point that what makes The Orville unique, for me, is its added light-hearted and humoristic approach, as long as it's done well like it was in some episodes in the first season. I know others may not like it, but I enjoy the occasional line that makes me laugh here and there, like the example I gave earlier (and that is also, for example, probably unlike some other viewers, why I like the new Tharl character, he delivers his lines well). I just have not found that this season so far.
SlackerInc
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 4:43pm (UTC -6)
@Mertov, I’m utterly mystified as to what you take exception to in what OTDP wrote. “Surreal” is a good word for it.
Mertov
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
I'm not surprised you are :)
We got past it anyway.
Back to the NFC Championships for you..
Yanks
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
Dougie,

I meant to say:

"So, the Krill areN'T the biggest and baddest guy on the block, eh?"

I soo hate you can't go back and fix your posts.

Good call on Bortus. Definitely should have been out there providing cover.
Yanks
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:47pm (UTC -6)
Mertov,

"I am glad there are those who enjoy seeing these types of scenes over and over again, but I would rather see something different, or additional to TNG-VOY route (which I loved when they originally aired, ok TNG more than VOY). That difference for me is the humor in this show and the light-hearted approach which I enjoyed in many episodes of the first season. But now, after the first two episodes, this one dives back into what Jammer said in a previous review of his about throwing jokes on the wall and hoping they stick. Last weeks was an exception, easily the best outing of the season, with a well-constructed narrative that does not rely on humor, a rare occasion."

I think this is what we are going to get. This is TNG format with some comedy thrown in. It's been done sooooooooo much, that I'd challenge someone to come up with totally new material and stay in this format.

I just don't expect that much watching this show anymore. I get upset when I think we should get serious stuff. ... and that's OK, that's what The Orville is. I've just resolved myself to that.

Funny, Captain Pike just said:

"Sometimes it's wise to keep our expectations low, Commander. That way we're never disappointed."

I'm not there watching Discovery, but I'm fine with it here :-)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:08am (UTC -6)
@Mertov

"Ok, saying that there have been no love interests that were spies for captains in the previous series therefore The Orville is different is like me saying there have been no female captains in previous series so VOY was different, and ignoring the slew of episodes in VOY that rehashed TOS/TNG themes."


No, because Voyager having a female captain has absolutely no bearing on the plot, while Talaya's background with Ed is a major plot point that drives the entire story of this episode.

And even if I accepted your argument, how does this make Season 1 of the Orville any better? Can you name a single season 1 episode that's *not* a rehash of some TOS/TNG theme?

I just rewatched "Majority Rule" and "Into the Fold" last night (me and my wife are doing a Season 1 rewatch). The basic plots of these two episodes are probably the two most overdone cliches in Trek history ("planet of the week used to drop a morality anvil on your head" and "shuttle crash") but the direction they went was unique and fresh.

(Into the Fold was a bit boring at times, but that's a pacing problem that has nothing to do with rehashing ideas)

"Let me reiterate what I said in my first post, I am ok if it's not different, I enjoyed all previous series. I am simply not too thrilled about watching a yet another show with rehashes of TOS/TNG/VOY concepts recycled and served again in the exact same format without much else that makes it unique."

On this we agree completely.

"Thus, my previous point that what makes The Orville unique, for me, is its added light-hearted and humoristic approach"

That's part of the Orville's uniqueness. Yes.

But another part is the way they approach their stories and their characters. This episode is classical example. The Ed/Talaya thing is not just a minor trivial bit. It is major driving force of the plot.

The problem is, they didn't do enough with it, so it still felt like a bog-standard TNG plot peppered with some additional stuff. But it had potential to be something more unique.

The ending was solid gold, though.

BTW you still haven't answered my question regarding "Ja'loja" and "Primal Urges": How are these episodes a rehash of TNG?

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:21am (UTC -6)
More generally:

I think that season 2 is experimenting with ways to find more unique selling points for the Orville besides the humor. That's why there are far less jokes in this season, and more character-based stories.

And I applaud this attempt, even if these experiments aren't always successful. I see a potential for true greatness in this (so far) uneven season, and I think the show will become better for it, once it settles down a bit.
Mertov
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:19am (UTC -6)
"Can you name a single season 1 episode that's *not* a rehash of some TOS/TNG theme?"
------ Again (I really should not have to repeat this again), as I said many times, I am willing to accept rehashing as long as there is something “in addition” that makes it unique.



"I just rewatched "Majority Rule" and "Into the Fold" last night (me and my wife are doing a Season 1 rewatch). The basic plots of these two episodes are probably the two most overdone cliches in Trek history ("planet of the week used to drop a morality anvil on your head" and "shuttle crash") but the direction they went was unique and fresh."
------- Precisely! Thank you for making my point for me! You got it!



"""Let me reiterate what I said in my first post, I am ok if it's not different, I enjoyed all previous series. I am simply not too thrilled about watching a yet another show with rehashes of TOS/TNG/VOY concepts recycled and served again in the exact same format without much else that makes it unique."

On this we agree completely."
---------- Which is exactly what I have been saying all along.



"BTW you still haven't answered my question regarding "Ja'loja" and "Primal Urges": How are these episodes a rehash of TNG?"
------------ Not just TNG, all previous Trek series.. In "Ja’Loja" Lamar serves as a dating consultant to Gordon (how many times did Kim ask Paris’s advice with women?), and Jammer already drew the parallel in his review with "Amok Time."
In "Primal Urges" Bortus suffers from holo-addiction à-la-Barclay in TNG.
But you knew this, it has already been mentioned either in Jammer's reviews or comments, or you've seen the episodes.

Mertov
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:25am (UTC -6)
Yanks,

Yes, it's been done before, like you say, but I reiterate again what I've said several times before:
I am fine with any of the old Trek series format coupled *with* quality comedy/light-hearted approach (which was the case, as I've said before, in several episodes in season 1). That is what I found unique to The Orville, made me like the show, and keeps me watching until now, otherwise in its bare standards, yes, it is nothing more than a rehash of the TOS/TNG/VOY recycled and served on different plates with the same format (heck, I even expected that knowing it was MacFarlane's show).

But this season the humor quality has suffered, jokes are excessively zany, too much penis-y/porno-y, and not landing. They come across outré. In that case, you end up with lethargic hours led by a captain with the comportment of a pre-pre-teenager.

Perry Plotkin
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:56am (UTC -6)
Orville would be considered an PG or R rated show based on the explicit sexual language. OmicronThetaDeltaPhi pointed out that failure to provide quality jokes can hurt the show rating so they decided to minimize that and build on the footprint.

I think they need more characters. Losing Alara Kitan really has caused bit of alarm. She has been stellar throughout the episodes. Maybe a new character in the engineering Dept? a new character in the Galastic Relations Dept?
Jammer
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:44pm (UTC -6)
I don't think the Orville needs more characters.

They already have an interesting and diverse ensemble of characters, even without Alara. They have plenty to work with already.

As for the humor: It's not that the humor is necessarily bad. It's that there's simply not enough of it to be the sole basis for a TV show. This isn't Galaxy Quest or even Futurama. At best, the humor is an extra-sweet fun bonus to an already enjoyable ride. At worst, it takes you completely out of the story.

Fortunately, the Orville has quite a few other points of uniqueness going for it. The entire "ordinary workplace environment on a starship" thing, for example, is a distinguishing mark of the Orville. So is the relative lack of technobabble. I also dig the fact that the Union has no transporters, which has a direct (positive) effect on the storytelling.

And that's a lot. But for certain type of stories, it just isn't enough. For example, none of the above helps to tell a story that revolves on our Captain and a Krill spy marooned on a forsaken planet...
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:53pm (UTC -6)
Just read Jammer's review.

I think he summed it up nicely when he said:
"I'll give Seth and his crew an A for effort, but a C for the end result."

And perhaps we should add what he said on his "Primal Urges" review as well:

"This show needs a script doctor."

It's getting really frustrating to see the Orville coming up with solid story arcs and then turning them into meh episodes. What a waste of potential... And they already did this twice in the last 4 episodes.

Dave in MN
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:25pm (UTC -6)
Just 2 stars (while STD premiere gets 3?) O.o

I'm reminding myself that everyone has their own opinion ... and if others are anything like me, those opinions are strongly held.

*repeats previous sentence like a mantra*

=P
John Harmon
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
Kinda surprised by the rating. I hope you don’t end up losing interest in this show and stop reviewing it.

I also don’t think this show will ever achieve the greatness of Star Trek. I don’t think it’s even MacFarlane’s desire. It’s just Family Guy in space. I think it has to be looked at like that.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
To be fair, I completely get Jammer's view point, even though I'd personally rate this episode higher.

And how he rates other shows isn't really relevant. It is obvious that Jammer's reviews for the new Trek movies as well as Discovery are based on a different set of requirements than my own. Don't see how this has any baring on his reviews of the Orville.

More to the point: If Jammer gives an Orville episode 3 stars, we should rejoice that he liked that episode. We most certainly shouldn't feel bad just because he also gave a turd like "Star Trek: Into Darkness" the same grade. ;-)
Perry Plotkin
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:41pm (UTC -6)
Jammer's review is well received. My thoughts that this episode has a lot going for it and would have rated it lower than my first 3.75 score but... a storyline carry-over from previous ones makes it awkward. I tend to think the past is "the past" or "get over it" methodology. My logic may not sit well over these
👽 s.
SlackerInc
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Ouch.

I know Jammer doesn’t like this show as much as I do, so his rating an episode lower than I would is to be expected. What does surprise me is his relative ratings. I thought this was clearly the best episode of the season so far, but he has it tied for last place. Huh.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
SlackerInc, I'm genuinely curious to learn what impressed you in this episode so much that it's a 4/4 for you.
Lynos
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 5:21pm (UTC -6)
Jammer totally on-point with this one. The Billy Joel ending didn't do it for me either, it was too sentimental and on the nose and the episode didn't earn it. Could've ended it the traditional way for the sake of subtlety. I know Seth is a big romantic deep inside, so he probably couldn't help himself. This show is really all Seth Macfarlane, doesn't matter who's credited on the writing and directing. Did Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis put all those jokes there, or all the King and I stuff? I don't think so. And if they did, it's because they know their showrunner loves showtunes.

Right now, and only as of this point in time, it seems that if this series has a chance to get to four star territory I think it will have to be as a comedy, not as drama, and comedy is a much more subjective thing. For me, Cupid's Dagger from last season was a perfect or near-perfect comedic episode, for example.
As pointed out, currently the show has several inherent problems, the biggest of them is inconsistent tone, that prevents it from achieving greatness as a drama.

Personally I'm fine with The Orville just being a flawed, pleasant riff on Star Trek. It's so oddly placed in the current TV landscape that its mere existence is a breath of fresh air. Ironically, the show that is cobbled together from other shows is one of the most inventive around. Stand-alone episodes! Remember that?
Yanks
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 6:32pm (UTC -6)
Jammer,

Great review. I summarily reduce my grade to 2 stars :-)

"The biggest problem at the core of "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" is that I just can't bring myself to care about Ed Mercer's poor broken heart..."

Spot on. Every time he opens his mouth up about it I want to nail it shut.

The only adult in the room more often than not is CDR Grayson. Of course, she is the only reason Ed has a command.

Mertov
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 6:49pm (UTC -6)
Exactly Yanks !

And also:
"Unfortunately, Mercer as played by MacFarlane can never transcend the level of the sorry sap who was stood up at the junior prom and has been snarking his way through life ever since."

Thank you Jammer! Pretty much what I said in my last post above. Meet the Captain !
Landon Haynes
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
3 1/2 stars. I actually thought it WAS a bunch of boring routine tropes 10 minutes in but then it really went some places. There was good dialouge, more bigger-scope settings off ship, and I really liked the message and the fishes line. The b plot was boring and out of place but at least the show ties in the bplots with the main story pretty well, still, b plots are not necessary. I liked some of krill Tyler's religious dialogue about morality mirroring religious talking points in the real world, though unfortunately Seth didn't give much of substance back despite being a vocal atheist himself. I would note regarding some comments above: I found Tyler's story in Discovery riveting and fascinating and I think this was indeed a very friendly jab, and also calling Treks secular humanism and cosmopolitan universalism "hippie" is rather derogatory, offensive, and inaccurate. It would be more accurate to call it scientific Enlightenment humanism or just Enlightenment values-you know those values that have done everything to better the world far beyond what it's ever been, the values enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and our true salvation for the future as a global community of an interconnected, interdependent social species. I'm glad this shows on the air and Mac Farlane is mad talented.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
I pretty much agree with Jammer here - this is an A for effort, C for execution episode.

The main issue I had with the episode was at no time did I have suspension of disbelief. Jammer puts this down to the limitations of MacFarlane as an actor. I felt it was more due to the shallow and inconsistent characterization of...basically everyone.

1. Ed is established as a guy who has a very, very hard time getting over relationships that end badly. Witness how badly he dealt with Kelly at the beginning of the first season after "mere" adultery. In this case he's betrayed in the most comprehensive manner possible and discovers his whole relationship with Janel was a lie. Yet he neither remains in total denial about it, nor does he flip over to anger, but instead tries to reach out to Teleya in friendship and bridge a cultural gap because...that's what the script calls for?

2. As Jammer points out, Janel/Taleya has no consistent characterization either, flipping from A to B. Worse yet, she's from a culture of religious fanatics who are more than willing to die for Avis, yet all of her actions in the second half of the episode seem guided not by any overarching mission, but mere self preservation. Again, this seems to be because the script calls for it.

3. As I said upthread, Malloy's whole subplot comes across sort of as a "checking off a box" sort of thing, given he was the only character not to have a focus episode (or half episode at least) in the first season. But in the end it seemed completely perfunctory, except for the last 30 seconds, when we realize underneath all the surface idiocy is a man who is worried that there is nothing to him beyond that surface. That might make an interesting episode if they ran with it - made him something of a tragic figure - but instead they played it for laughs.

The strength of The Orville has been in its characterization. The weakness of this episode is the characters don't seem like people, and instead feel like devices to help move the plots along and get us to the end of the episode. I hate to say, but I wonder if the episode being written by Braga/Bormanis has something to do with it.
Skywalker
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 10:00pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, you wrote “such pretentions only work if there's a workable emotional core beneath the surface.”

Yet there is. I was deeply moved by the episode, as was the majority of the fan base. I find it strange that I have agreed with most of your Star Trek reviews, yet your Orville reviews have been hard to understand. I can only surmise that you haven’t quite “got” the Orville yet and are too put off by its similarity to ‘90s Trek, of which The Orville is a passionate homage, not a ripoff.

That’s why Orville fans are so in love with this show. McFarlane has taken all the best aspects of ‘90s Trek and distilled them into a new sci-fi franchise with new characters, settings, etc., that echo the Trek of the past in a deliberate way, adding his colorful sense of humor. Trek would mine its own formula and themes several times, sometimes within the same series — how many times did we see TNG repeat an earlier idea in a later episode, and DS9 too, and definitely Voyager?

That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in those series, and in The Orville it’s truly genius. I feel the point of Star Trek is to explore relevant themes, to philosophize about the nature of our humanity and existence. This is exceedingly well presented in “Majority Rule” and “About a Girl” and yes, also this episode, which tackles the notion of romantic betrayal. Those of us who have been betrayed like Mercer can easily relate to him. The sci-fi twist of inter-species racism is an interesting added element to the story, and causes us to ask what will happen in our modern coexisting societies. Mercer becomes preachy in this episode, and when Telaya calls him out on his own obvious imperfections, he retorts comically, “Well at least I know who Billy Joel is.” His petty response is couched in the fact that there is no good answer. We all tend to see ourselves as more moral and better than we really are, and then when we become aware of our deficiencies we labor and brood and have trouble moving on. That’s an important and well expressed message, especially since it was accomplished with one quip in a line of dialogue.

I would encourage you to open your heart to the joys of this show. My guess is that your professionalism as a critic has made you a bit cynical. Forgive my attempt at analysis. I just can’t grasp why you don’t love this show like the rest of the Star Trek fan base. Many thanks for all your hard work in writing and maintaining all your reviews on this great site.
Skywalker
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 10:16pm (UTC -6)
Adding to my comments above, I would like to respond to “MacFarlane as an actor has to carry big scenes and complicated emotions in a show like this. Unfortunately, Mercer as played by MacFarlane can never transcend the level of the sorry sap who was stood up at the junior prom and has been snarking his way through life ever since. There's no gravitas to the character because there are no dimensions to the performance.”

This sounds like the superficial criticism of Jeri Ryan for being ridiculously gorgeous and therefore accusing Seven of Nine of being a shallow, one-dimensional character (which turned out to be a false assumption made by the critics of the time). For I see incredibly nuanced things in Mercer’s character thanks to MacFarlane’s remarkably good performances. Knowing his previous more puerile work on Family Guy, etc., I expected The Orville to be a truly dumb parody and dreaded seeing the first episodes. Yet MacFarlane does such a great job as a lead Star Teek captain! and thanks to his performance I fell in love with this show. The key difference from other Trek captains is that Mercer is made out to be more of an everyman than previous types, as is the whole cast, which is part of the charm and humor.

In short, I vehemently disagree. Much to the surprise of many, Seth MacFarlane *does* transcend his boyish simplicity and sardonic attitudes with passionate sincerity (I think “sincerity” is the key word behind the creators’ every act, as The Orville oozes with sweet and sincere desire to create this world for us). MacFarlane *does* convey gravitas and there *are* many dimensions to his portrayal of the character. I am sorry that you cannot yet see it. Perhaps one day you will. If these subtleties were absent, as you opine, then the rest of us wouldn’t love The Orville as much as we do.
Dave in MN
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 10:36pm (UTC -6)
^

^ Agree with the above.

I find Seth's acting to actually be more sincere tham how many of the more polished Hollywood types might pkay it.

I like that Ed Mercer (as a character) is flawed in a believable way (a manner of which is rarely seen on television): a man capable of using rational thought to work through complicated situations who also has a hamstrung personal life. (Many leaders have difficulties with personal relationships, I think it's only natural to explore that).

It is almost the polar opposite of so much of what we see in sci-fi. Kirk, Trip, Riker, Han Solo, Flash Gordon, Zap Brannigan efc etc he is NOT.

Can someone redlamp a sci-fi archetype?

Either way, I find the characterization of Ed (and the rest of the crew) to be both endearing and refreshing.
Skywalker
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:29am (UTC -6)
Dave in MN, I share your feeling of being puzzled that Jammer gave Discovery’s S2E1 three stars and this two stars, and appreciate hearing you feel the same as I do about The Orville. Jammer seems deeply confused to me. I think my above note about sincerity is the key to understanding our affection: everything about The Orville rings true, honest, sincere, while much about Discovery is hollow and false. This would seem to come from a cast a crew at The Orville intent upon recreating the best of ‘90s Trek which they revere or even worked on personally (e.g. Braga, Frakes). While the cast and crew of Discovery, most notably the writers, either have no or minimal prior knowledge of Star Trek (and therefore are unaware of its value and the sorts of messages it often conveys), and instead are trying a mash of styles inspired by Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, and The Walking Dead. Those are all great shows, and the first true experiment of this type was in RDM’s Battlestar Galactica. RDM set out to create the anti-TNG show, and succeeded in making something intense and memorable and glorious.

But he had a vision. He was fully sincere in his creation. Of the remaining crew of Discovery after Fuller’s departure, who has a vision? The writers seem deeply ignorant about Star Trek in all aspects. Fancy visuals are great and welcome. But they are less important than the soul of the show. That is much harder to capture. Discovery fails to capture almost anything of the soul of Star Trek. The Orville has captured it entirely, plus an original spin in the style of Seth.

I have been humming “Don’t Ask Me Why” all day since I heard it in this episode. Although a Billy Joel fan, I had not heard either of the songs in the episode before. But they were really well chosen. And they stand nicely next to the beautiful full orchestra compositions which are always soaring and filled, again, with sincere love of the craft and the show. Thank goodness we have The Orville.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:20am (UTC -6)
@Lynos

"Did Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis put all those jokes there, or all the King and I stuff? I don't think so. And if they did, it's because they know their showrunner loves showtunes."

You know, the more I think about it, the more I believe that the winning formula for writing the Orville would be a collaboration between Seth MacFralane and a seasoned sci fi writer ON THE SAME EPISODES.

Seth has many wonderful ideas regarding how to make his show different and fresh. I was outright impressed by the epsiodes he wrote in season 1, and I don't mean the comedy. He is a very talented storyteller, has an excellent eye for detail, and is the master of pacing and getting the story to seamlessly flow onscreen.

BUT... he has two big weaknesses as a writer: He never wrote sci fi before, and he also has the irresistable urge to throw in jokes at the most inappropriate times (I don't mean his low-brow comedy in general, which I'm okay with. I'm refering to breaking the magic of an epic sci fi moment with a cheap joke, like he did at the end of S1E4).

Both his great talent and these two weaknesses were evident in every episode he personally wrote in season 1. All the episodes written by him were completely unoriginal sci fi ideas done in an extremely fresh way, with some headscratchers along the way (both in the sci fi department and in the humor).

I remember when the show just started, that people (including me) said that Seth should hire actual sci fi writers for the show. But unfortunately, with the exception of David Goodman ("Krill") and Cherry C. ("Firestorm" , "Home") , the writing from these "guest authors" was consistently choppy. Authors like Bragga and Wild gave the show some of it's best sci fi story elements, but the result was simply not as enjoyable onscreen. Seth's Hand, as it were, was sorely missing in those episodes.

This episode here, in particular, could have been a true classic had they combined Bragga's Trek experience with Seth's unique writing talents. They should really collaborate more closely with one another.

@Landon Haynes

"calling Treks secular humanism and cosmopolitan universalism 'hippie' is rather derogatory, offensive, and inaccurate."

Only if the comparision is made by a Herbert that hates hippies.

But Trent isn't Herbert. He understands the One. You reach?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:34am (UTC -6)
@Skywalker

To be fair, Seth isn't a great actor. He isn't awful, but he isn't that good. I think Jammer's criticism on this point has at least some truth in it. I also think that had Seth written this episode, he would have taylored it better to fit his own strengths as an actor.

I personally think he did mostly okay here, but he didn't knock it out of the park.

I also think he is improving quite rapidly as an actor over the past year. Nothing like starring in your own childhood-dream-come-true TV show, to hone your acting skills (and I'm not saying this as a negative thing).

Booming
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:39am (UTC -6)
Skywalker: SO Jammer is deeply confused and Seth Macfarlane is a great actor?!
wow just wow.
Lynos
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:47am (UTC -6)
Aha, Omicron, so you are Lynos 2... I was beginning to feel like I'm in an episode of the Orville.

However, my original comment, the one you responded to, has disappeared from this thread (but I can still find it when I search my comment history). What's going on? Is this a bug?

As to what you said, you might have a point in Seth collaborating on scripts. Cupid's Dagger for example was co-written by him and for the most part struck a good balance.

But I still feel that if the episode isn't credited to him he still has a lot of influence on what goes into a show, and I made the example of tonight's episode, where there are lots of movie references and other types of humor that are very Seth MacFarlane. Bragga and Bormanis wrote multiple episodes across all Star Trek shows and I don't recall many movie references or for the most part many 20th century cultural references in any of them.

One more thing I wanted to add: the make-up on this series is absolutely phenomenal. The Krill may not be fully developed as a species, but they sure look great.
Lynos
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:50am (UTC -6)
Ignore what I said, I found my "missing" comment... didn't realize so many has been added after it!

Peace.
Startrekwatcher
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 2:04am (UTC -6)
I’m part of the trek fan base and tng is my favorite and I find Thr Orville to be shitty and doesn’t capture any of what made 90s Trek and TNG in particular great

It’s low brow humor mixed in with warmed over ideas done better elsewhere. If it’s intended as a love letter to TNG it fails miserably. The only redeeming factor are the guest stars from Trek who make appearances. This should have been cancelled last year

And before someone thinks I’m Anti ORV because I’m a DIS fan well let me disabuse of that notion. I think DIS is an even big steaming pile of crap with another hack overseeing it.

I think the only thing making ORV slightly better is the fact it actually hired writers who actually wrote for trek as opposed to clueless fanboy types that are on DOS writing staff.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 2:29am (UTC -6)
@Startrekwatcher

"I’m part of the trek fan base and tng is my favorite and I find The Orville to be shitty and doesn’t capture any of what made 90s Trek and TNG in particular great"

You're definitely not alone in this opinion. Classic Trek fans usually either love or hate the Orville. That's to be expected, when a show riffs so strongly on something we care about so deeply.

"And before someone thinks I’m Anti ORV because I’m a DIS fan..."

I don't think anybody who read your comments here could make that mistake :-)

@Lynos

"As to what you said, you might have a point in Seth collaborating on scripts. Cupid's Dagger for example was co-written by him and for the most part struck a good balance."

I didn't like that episode it all, but that's just because it was too creepy to my tastes. I agree that the writing and the pacing was excellent there. Didn't know that Seth cowrited that, but it fits my thesis here.

"One more thing I wanted to add: the make-up on this series is absolutely phenomenal. The Krill may not be fully developed as a species, but they sure look great."

Agreed. The production values of this show, in general, are top notch.
Lynos
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 6:40am (UTC -6)
@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

I was actually mistaken. IMDB lists MacFarlane as co-writer of Cupid's Dagger on the main page of the show, but when you scroll down the list of credits you see he's actually listed as creator of the series, not as the writer. So no, apparently there is one actual writer credit for that one. Take from it what you will.

Actually, it seems like he did not officially collaborate with anyone on any episode, all the episodes to his credit are lone efforts.
SlackerInc
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 7:07am (UTC -6)
It’s a testament to the incredible size of Billy Joel’s discography that someone could feel fairly familiar with Joel but not know those songs. “She’s Always a Woman” has always been a particular favorite of mine, but he had so many hits.

@OTDP: I would explain my appreciation of this episode in true Slacker style, by attaching myself to the sentiments of Skywalker and Dave. I mean, if you have to be on “Inner Light” or “City on the Edge of Forever” level to get four stars, then this isn’t that. Same is true if we are judging them against the best episodes of “Breaking Bad” or “Six Feet Under”. But on its own terms, within the Trek-adjacent genre, I would call the two episodes featuring this Krill schoolteacher character the two best of “Orville’s” run, and I like this show quite a bit overall.

Okay, something else I really loved: there was some great writing, delivered well, from Kelly about command and from both Ed and his Krill ex-girlfriend in the cave. They took it to a deeper, more psychological/philosophical level than they really needed to for this kind of show on network TV, and I appreciate that.
Dougie
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 7:09am (UTC -6)
A lot of critiquing going on. A lot of discussion of poor writing and bad acting and thoughtless tropes (hmph btw)

I am relieved. - Chris Pike
Yanks
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -6)
Skywalker,

"Yet there is. I was deeply moved by the episode, as was the majority of the fan base."

Now now.... I'm happy you were moved, but..... I don't profess to speak for the fan base when I critisize his acting chops... I believe you just might be overstepping your bounds here. From what I've seen, there are more folks that notice is acting naiveness than think he's an accomplished actor.

I.E. Sitting at your desk asking "do you love me?" .... and when you don't get an answer, your response is to do the same thing, just louder? .... twice? That rings true of someone that has stood behind a michrophone his whole career and saying lines for a cartoon (voice over work). He's stiffer than Scott Baclula and all his "acting" is promarily done with his voice. Speaking of his voice.... it's awesome BTW.

I don't dislike ORV, I just see it for what it is. Hell, I'm jealous as hell... if I could have enough influence to write my own sci-fi and make myself the Captain I'd do it too!! I wouldn't give a rats ass what others said.... I'd be Captain of a Star ship!!!

lol





Elliott
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 8:50am (UTC -6)
I think most of Jammer’s criticism is valid here, but I still enjoyed this one alright. I think they’re very close to letting go of the Family Guy bro vibe that makes the series awkward. Probably 2.5 stars.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 9:11am (UTC -6)
@Yanks

"if I could have enough influence to write my own sci-fi and make myself the Captain I'd do it too!! I wouldn't give a rats ass what others said.... I'd be Captain of a Star ship!!!"

Not sure if you're serious or not, but...

To anybody here that dreams of creating a series in the spirit of old Trek, whether they plan to make themselves Captains or not, I say: Stop dreaming and start working towards this noble goal!

Let's see which one of us succeeds in getting there first ;-)

(and this is a competition I won't mind at all losing, as long as the winner supplies a superb product for everyone to enjoy)
MercerCreate
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 9:20am (UTC -6)
I just enjoy the Orville. I mean really enjoy it. How it is filmed and written is the ebst kind of nostalgia for the 90s. How the bring back ideas from that time period and execute them slightly better. I just like it, a lot. As a 40+ year old, no show is better for enjoying right now. Disco is too busy, with too many gross canon violations, and no real identity of its own or consistency in the script writing. (We literally see Pike giving command to Saur in the middle of the mission and then, in the next scene, he is in a Disco uniform and talking about sticking around). Orville might not be new, yet it feels fresh
philadlj
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 11:04am (UTC -6)
"It's yet another example of the awkward tonal swings on this series"

This is what The Orville has been, is, and will be.
I watch The Orville for the awkward tonal swings.
I wouldn't hold out hope it's going to change.

"It's also another example of this show feeling like warmed-over second-generation Trek leftovers"

Again, this is what The Orville has been, is, and will be.
I also watch The Orville for warmed-over TNG leftovers.
I still wouldn't hold out hope it's going to change.
Dave in MN
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
Fun fact: The official name for the new enemies of the Krill is the "Chak'tal".

🌈⭐ The More You Know™
SlackerInc
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:43pm (UTC -6)
Well played, Dave.
Ns8401
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 2:17am (UTC -6)
One part of this review makes it seem like Jammers getting bored caused him to not pay attention:
“Mercer and Teleya end up escaping to the surface of a planet where now they are hunted by other bad guys — although no effort is made to explain what the relationship between the Union and this third party might be, if any.”

Teleya makes quite clear that the Chal’tal don’t let anyone live when they attack. Teleya and Mercer get on the escape pod and the attackers follow them down and try to find and kill them. It was pretty straight forward. Mercer just got caught up in all of it. No need to explain the Union’s relationship. It’s a Krill issue simply by virtue of the encounter with them beginning on the Krill ship. The union knowing them or not is irrelavent and trivial. It would be completely distracting from the flow of the action to take a detour into what Mercer thinks of them. I think it’s likely the Chak’tal have no relationship with the Union given that Teleya has to explain what species they are to Mercer so the story did answer Jammers criticism albeit pretty subtilely.

Those who what why how details about the Chak’tal can be fleshed out later in a future episode and it is a hook to keep you watching without revealing every detail immediately. I’m very surprised Jammer whiffed on this point.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhin
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 3:43am (UTC -6)
@Dougie

"A lot of critiquing going on. A lot of discussion of poor writing and bad acting and thoughtless tropes (hmph btw)

I am relieved. - Chris Pike"

If you hope this is a beginning of some trend, you'll be sorely disappointed. The critiquing simply means that this episode had some problems. Doesn't mean the people here did a 180 and suddenly think the Orville stinks, nor does it undo our appreciation of prevoius episodes.

So unless the writing of the Orville itself takes a consistent downward turn, I have absolutely nothing to rejoice.

Speaking of which:

It will be interesting to see what's the next episode has in store. I have a feeling, from the promos, that it's another one written by Seth himself. Meaning it will probably be an improvement over what we got here.



SlackerInc
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 8:41am (UTC -6)
@OTDP, let’s not lose sight of the fact that many of us think this episode was really good! And that’s not just the opinion of a few people here. On IMDb, this episode got an average rating of 8.6, which is the highest of any of the 16 episodes that have aired thus far (the closest was last season’s finale, which got a 8.5). By contrast, the Bortus porn ep “Primal Urges” only got a 6.5.

@NS8401: I agree, that part of Jammer’s review didn’t make sense to me either. If the Krill are so aggressively expansionist as described, the Chak’tal could come from way on the other side of the Krill’s very large territory, and there would be no reason for the Union to have come into contact with them.
Yanks
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 10:11am (UTC -6)
Hey, I saw our gal Halston Sage last night on 'Magnum P.I."

Lookin hot as ever.

I also, to my suprise, saw Eddie George!!! .... lol

No, they weren't together :-)

She did great.

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi,

I think I would have to retire first!! :-) I barely have time to post here :-)

@MercerCreate,

I do too, but I also liked 'Dark Matter' for the same reasons.... and it got the axe. I'm still hoping somone will pick that up because I really like the cast but it's probably not going to happen.


"Chak'tal" .... lol Dave in NM
Charles J
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 10:36am (UTC -6)
@Ns8401

"The union knowing them or not is irrelavent and trivial. It would be completely distracting from the flow of the action to take a detour into what Mercer thinks of them."

If it's trivial, than the story didn't need the Chak'tal. Otherwise, they're just a plot contrivance. We don't learn anything new we didn't already know about the Krill. Unprovoked, the Krill were willing to attack a peaceful Union colony last season.

We also don't need the Chak'tal to raise the stakes. By the time they show up, there were already three* moments that raised the stakes: Mercer and Tyler are captured, Tyler is tortured and Mercer gives up the Union codes, and Tyler is revealed to be Teleya. Those stakes are all personal to Mercer or are directly connected to Mercer and Teleya's relationship.

(*Technically four if you start with Mercer taking time off to go with Tyler. He's officially committing to the relationship to the point that he's made it public and to prioritize time with Tyler.)

Insert the Chak'tal. Do they raise the tension? Yes. For what purpose? Because, they don't raise the stakes for Mercer. He doesn't know who these guys are, and by episodes end, they are forgotten.

Once Mercer and Teleya get to the planet, the stakes are again directly centered on them. The question of who they will contact to rescue them is vital. For either party it won't end well. For Mercer it probably means death. For Teleya it's more humiliation after already being captured the first time.

After Mercer realizes the planet's rotation will outlast their rations, Mercer has to setup the signal alone, and Teleya is forced to trust Mercer. And Mercer is the same guy who fre the people she loved and worked with. It's never really broached, but Mercer could make the choice to abandon Teleya. She not only betrayed him, she compromised him as an officer.

You can change the Chak'tal to anything and the rest of the story, and the stakes remain the same. It could have been an engine breach. Debris could have impacted the ship, forcing their need to escape. Teleya could have been transporting Mercer for further interrogation or imprisonment, and their shuttle crashed.

If the Chak'tal had been a rival sect within the Krill, Mercer would have learned something vital to the Union. More importantly, Mercer could have used that to challenge Teleya's fanaticism. It's not only dangerous to the Union, it's danger to the Krill. Conversely, Teleya could have used the rival sect to challenge Mercer. If "heretics" within the Krill are a threat, how should the Krill react to non-believers? From her point of view, the Union might be even more of an existential threat. As bonkers as that thought is, it would be a rational concern when filtered through that lens.

Also, a rival sect could also be a potential threat to the Union. Either because of the impact a Krill Civil War would have, or because that sect could be even more willing to invade Union space than the Krill overall.

Lastly, Mercer and the Union knowing nothing of the Chak'tal doesn't help The Orville's continuity or world building.

The Union has openly admitted they don't enough about the Krill so they can find a peaceful way to deal with them, and that's naturally a huge problem. Fast forward a year later, going by what Mercer reveals (which isn't much of anything), and the Union still doesn't know much more. That all calls into question the purpose and goals of the Planetary Union.

Did nothing come of Mercer's mission? Did Mercer learn nothing*? Did they really gain no intelligence from either Teleya or the Yakar? How does an organization that counts exploration as one of its missions not at least hear of the Chak'tal? If the Union had heard of them, do they not brief their officers with new information?

The answer to any of those questions could reveal a lot about Mercer, the Krill or the Union. Even the absence of info and why it's so hard to get answers, can add to the world building.

(*Mercer demonstrating that the Union had taken the time to study the Krill bible could have been more powerful than him using a 400 year old Earth movie. It reminds me of a time as a kid when I went with my dad to visit a friend. We were all Christians (at least I was at the time), but the friend was of a different denomination. The fact that my dad had actually read their material and could talk about it in depth floored the friend. While my dad didn't agree with some of their interpretations of scripture, and challenged the friend point by point, my dad still respected his beliefs enough to study them and not dismiss them outright. It's a moment that stands out in my memory.)

Compounding all of this is Grayson and Mercer demonstrating how little they know about other species within the Union.

Know one knew that Darulio's species emitted such powerful pheromones. That's kind of a big deal for so many reasons. Skip past the ethical/legal problems. Wouldn't people want to go to a planet, where with just a touch, you can experience romantic/sexual feelings? A planet in which it's rude to turn down sex? Risa is a planet everyone has at least as heard of throughout the Federation.

It's unsurprising that Mercer and Grayson wouldn't be privy to the Moclan's handling of gender. For many reasons, a people may not want to draw attention to that part of their culture. On the other hand, it's a bit strange that Mercer and Grayson didn't know how Moclan divorces work. After All About a Girl, did no one make an attempt to learn more about Moclan culture? Not even Grayson? The person most in charge of staffing?

Overall, the Chak'tal aren't a deal breaker. Purely in terms of plot, they do what's needed to keep things moving.

In terms of fleshing out Mercer or Teleya, giving us insights into the Union or the Krill, reinforcing the themes of the episode, and as social allegory, they add nothing. And if you've seen an episode like this one too many times, the absence of those last points doesn't give some viewers (some, not all) more connection points.
Charles J
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
Wasn't sure one of my last points was clear. It's not that Mercer or Grayson have to be super knowledgeable about every topic.

In generating comedy, ignorance and cultural blindspots totally work (see Mercer and the Moclan version of hot potato).

As a drama, and show that is trying to maintain some internal continuity, Mercer having yet another blindspot, just raises questions.

It's difficult to take seriously a command structure (and an entire organization) that seems to not only be caught off guard, but demonstrates so little curiosity to learn more after some of their most important encounters.

It's like, well that's a thing that happened. No reason to followup so we can be better prepared next time. Someone else can study up.

But, wait, didn't you send a team to study that Social Media planet?

Yes, yes we did.

So what more are you doing to learn about the Krill? Shouldn't we have learned about the Chak'tal?

Don't know what to you tell you dog, we just keep hitting brick walls.

But, after your mission, and they had an entire ship to research, shouldn't the Union have updated you with new info? We do go into areas of space in which the chances we'll encounter them are possible.

Oh the Krill. They are an enigma, wrapped up in a conundrum

So what you're telling me is you aren't trying all that hard.

Basically.
NS8401
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -6)
@CharlesJ:

I find this show a lot easier to digest if you simply insert the Trek equivalent species and move accordingly. The Krill are the Cardassians. Your mileage may vary.

The Chak’tal exist in this episode to move the plot as the means to an end. The wretched episodes on this show (like the wretched Ja’loja) are snores. I was bored watching that hour grind on. This plot at least moved along at a decent pace. What the Orville is suffering from for the moment is weak writing from the first season. The first several episodes didn’t really do much world building or much of anything really. Maybe that’s because it’s supposed to seem familiar by being a photocopy of older Trek with the names changed to protect the innocent. Viewed that way it’s a lot easier to drop in and immediately get what’s going on. You really can’t sit and expect something new and exciting here. That isn’t the point.
Charles J
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -6)
@NS8401

You sir or madam (I shall not presume), are correct. I don't disagree with any of it.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc

"@OTDP, let’s not lose sight of the fact that many of us think this episode was really good!"

Yeah, but Dougie wasn't speaking about these people. He was refering to the fact that some people, including those who had nothing but praise to most previous episodes, had plenty of complaints on this one.

"On IMDb, this episode got an average rating of 8.6, which is the highest of any of the 16 episodes that have aired thus far (the closest was last season’s finale, whic got a 8.5)."

Keep in mind that a person can rate the episode highly and still point out deficiencies in it. Especially in an episode with an outstanding story like this one.

I, personally, would have given this episode a 7/10 or 8/10, with the story itself easily deserving a 10 and the flaws I've mentioned earlier costing it 2 or 3 points.

And there are probably quite a few IMDBers who had similar considerations (they're the minority, obviously, but that minority may be far larger than the raw numbers seem to suggest)

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
Okay, I'm probably proving how dumb I am, but can somebody please explain the "Chak'tal" joke to me?

I tried googling it and got nothing.
Dave in MN
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 8:22pm (UTC -6)
I was riffing on NBC's ubiquitous PSAs that aired nightly for decades if that's what c you're referring to.
Dave in MN
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 10:26pm (UTC -6)
https://youtu.be/v3rhQc666Sg ⬅️ what no American TV watcher could avoid seeing in the late 80s - early 2000s
Trent
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 10:45pm (UTC -6)
Landon Haynes said: "and also calling Treks secular humanism and cosmopolitan universalism "hippie" is rather derogatory, offensive, and inaccurate. It would be more accurate to call it scientific Enlightenment humanism or just Enlightenment values..."

It's only derogatory if you have a unfairly negative view of the word "hippie". It was the Beat and hippie countercultures that helped spawn Trek. And of course many have pointed out the brutality that has historically been concomitant with "Enligthenment values". Theodor Adorn, for example, explicitly said the Enlightenment, with its fetishized reason, moral relativism, utopian projects etc, found completion in the murderous furnaces of Nazi Germany, the technocratic totalitarianism that tore Europe apart, and provided moral pretext for the violence of capitalist markets and land "rights". Trek in the 60s was, in many ways, a reaction against all that.

Skywalker said: "Yet MacFarlane does such a great job as a lead Star Teek captain! and thanks to his performance I fell in love with this show. The key difference from other Trek captains is that Mercer is made out to be more of an everyman than previous types, as is the whole cast, which is part of the charm and humor. [...] MacFarlane *does* transcend his boyish simplicity and sardonic attitudes with passionate sincerity (I think “sincerity” is the key word behind the creators’ every act, as The Orville oozes with sweet and sincere desire to create this world for us).

This captures well how I feel. There's a boyish sincerity, a likeable loserness, a bit of Shatneresque cockiness, a friendly nice-guyness that makes Ed fun to watch. I don't get the criticms of the character, or acting, though for me it did take a rewatch of Season 1 for everything to click in place.

Mostly I think people take the series too seriously; it's Galaxy Quest, or an hour long sitcom, with frat-boy humor and a dash of Trek camraderie/humanism. Yes it could be more "realistic", more "serious" and have more sophisticated comedy, but that's not going to happen. I think I'm more forgiving of it because it doesn't have the Star Trek tag on it; I demand (unfairly?) a certain pedigree from Trek. "Orville" has carte blanche to chill out and do whatever.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:33am (UTC -6)
@Dave

I still don't get it. What does "Chak'tal" has to do with that video?

@Trent

While the Orville can certainly get away with stuff that Star Trek can't, I don't think that it should be given "a carte blanche" on universal quality markers like acting and pacing and continuity.

First of all, the Orville is not a sitcom. It's more like 60% Trek-like sci fi, 30% character drama and 10% humor. If I had to evaluate this show as a sitcom it would have been a complete failure, because it's not just that funny (nor is it trying to be).

Secondly, the Orville usually does many things well, so - like it or not - there *are* expectations. Sure, it is sometimes goofy and I've learned to expect that and even love the show for its occasional silliness. But a carte blanche? No way.

I remember someone asking here, back on the page of the very first episode, if we're so starved for Trek-like content that we'll be willing to accept any kind of cr*p as long as it scratches our TOS/TNG itch.

And my personal answer, at least, is a resounding no. I am fan of the Orville because it does many things very well. From worldbuilding to the stories to the pacing to the visual and music production values, I absolutely love what they are doing. I also love the added character drama of Season 2, as long as it doesn't overshadow the sci fi elements.

In short, if the Orville's only selling point was the Trek-like setting, I wouldn't have continued watching it.

As for the acting:

I don't really get the complaints about Seth's acting.

I think some Trek fans got a little spoiled by have a giant like Patrick Stewart at the helm of TNG. Mercer is no Picard and Seth is no Sir Patrick, but we shouldn't expect him to be.

At least he doesn't ham and overact the way Shatner and occasionally Brooks did. Sometimes being an average joe of an actor can be a good thing.

SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:38am (UTC -6)
Humans have been super into exploration for centuries, and yet we still discover surprises in the rain forest and especially in the ocean. But we can’t accept that in a huge universe, there could be things we won’t know about 400 years from now?

The points about Derulio and Moclan divorce are fairer.
Dave in MN
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:53am (UTC -6)
Since I have to explain a tossed off minor joke in clinical terms, fair warning: there won't be any humor value left at all by the time i'm finished. (No offense intended whatsoever, but I emphasize with the crew trying to explain comedy to Isaac).

And so my lame joke must take its last breath:

If you watched one of the related links in the sidebar on the video I posted, you would've gotten the context. It has literally nothing to do with the Chak'tal and everything to do with name- dropping a shared cultural experience to excuse my silly nerdy "fact" sharing.
Darren
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:56am (UTC -6)
I've generally only felt lukewarm about this episode, although as I've prepared to comment here, I think I've found myself finding more merit to it than I otherwise felt.

The big problem to me is that, to the extent it provides commentary / allegory, it doesn't really have anything to say. Which is to say, in terms of any suggestions for handling and resolving real-world religious tensions, what does it provide?

If Ed and Teleya had gotten into discussions of what the Ankana says / interpretations of it, perhaps we'd have gotten somewhere. (Even just in the very discussions--that people of different faiths can engage in dialogue, and maybe, just maybe, find some common ground.) In fact, when you consider that in 1800s America, some Christians fully endorsed slavery while others vehemently opposed it (or even how I read somewhere that recently, 50% of Christians opposed gay marriage over their faith, while the other 50% advocated it over that same faith), you can immediately see how even people of the same faith can come to support radically different positions. (And I guess, consider how many Muslims live in Western society alongside people of all faiths and are quite content with it, while a minority of others become extremists who would love to see all of the West die and be gone.)

If nothing else, for instance, Ed could've pointed out that even accepting Avis as a perfect being with the Ankana being a perfect text, if Krill are rather *imperfect* creations, how could they *not* fail to understand a one true perfect interpretation of the Ankana? So then, maybe beliefs like only Krill have souls, or other beings may be killed even at will in accordance with Avis' wishes, are arguably--possibly--not correct? (Presuming, though, that the Krill do not see themselves as perfect creations of Avis. Their belief system seems much more similar to our own Abrahamic faiths than not; and of course, such faiths are very clear that humans are flawed ... by a long-ago bad choice, I guess, but still. But maybe in the Krill's belief system, Krill are indeed perfect and essentially divine. I don't think we've been supplied the answer. (And for that matter, as an aside, I find myself wondering, does Zoroastrianism see people as flawed, at least as other monotheistic faiths do? Zoroastrians believe in the same supreme being as Jews, Samaritans, Christians, Muslims, Bahá’ís, and such ... though it's a rather old faith, and as such, may not share as many stories and content with the later faiths.))

Anyway ... as it is, we heard only again that solely the Krill, basically, have a right to exist, and all Ed really contributed was the pragmatic point that, hey, every species has to find out one day that they're not alone in the universe, and then, they have to react. They can either become much more fanatical or seek common ground, and, in the Union and Krill's case, eventually destroy one another, or find peace.

And, well ... again, to me, that just doesn't amount to much useful commentary at all on the issues facing religion in the world today. And so ... in this way, "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" falls flat.

-----------

That said though, it seems The Orville hardly if ever ceases to be pleasant to watch. That Ed and Teleya had any comparatively-peaceful discussions at all was yet another example of the civility and just general niceness that often permeates the series. And their prior romantic involvement--even though predicated on a great deception--added an element to it all that just made it, say, even touching to watch unfold. (The little gestures of trust, for instance, between them at points. Teleya could've just knocked him out or perhaps even shot him, not least of all when he was challenging her views--such as he did. And Ed could indeed have left her to die in the cave, or--had he *really* wanted to be cruel--have taken his jacket off of her once out in the sun. But instead, they trusted one another just enough along the way to get to safety. Though I *do* wonder ... surely Teleya realized that if *Ed* contacted anyone, it would be the Union, and so she would be taken prisoner again. So, unless she just feared death or capture by the Chak'tal more ... I wonder if in real life, she would've so readily allowed him to contact anyone. She might've preferred for *no one* to be contacted--and to die--than otherwise.)

And as for the end .... It's interesting to think that Ed and Teleya, these great enemies, actually now do share a romantic history. And while it's interesting to ponder how much impact this had on Ed's decision to release her (and not even fear immediate attack by the Krill ship once she was safely aboard) ... that decision itself may bear more fruit than otherwise apparent. (Though I *do* think Ed was *very* foolish to tell her of the Union's decoy code policy. Now all Krill will know of it, potentially further endangering many Union officers' lives and well-being in the future.)

For before, even though Ed explained that he and Gordon only murdered the bulk of her ship's crew because they had no other option to save the colony, from her viewpoint of humans not even having souls--not to mention the death of her brother even--it was very easy to dismiss, and see him as the plain and simple villain. Now though, she--and others--have seen that, indeed, when the stakes weren't such, he did *not* resort to any such action; and, in fact, even went to far as to have her call a ship to pick her up. She might wonder, would a being with no soul have even remotely done such a thing? And maybe his role in murdering her crew really *was* something he only felt compelled to do, but that he *did* indeed regret.

-----------

Well, both us viewers and the characters themselves can hope. And hope is what many of us in our real lives need. So kudos to the episode here. And in retrospect, I do have to say that at least for some things it didn't cover, the door is wide open for follow-up later this season, or next. (Including with the Chak'tal. It was very clear to me at least that the Union indeed had no knowledge of them, and simple plot point or not, we could certainly stand to learn more about them in future. And, while Teleya characterized them as aggressive and relentless, it occurs to me, we don't know that. Not even considering that they fired on to them an unknown species, but one appearing to them as being allied with the Krill. Maybe they're generally quite peaceful and such, only when faced with a species like the Krill who openly declare such superiority that only *they* have souls, and *all* the universe is for them, they--only then--show no mercy in fighting back. Meaning among themselves and other neighboring species and groups, maybe they coexist and cooperate quite nicely. It's just they're not as forgiving as the Union, and so have absolutely zero tolerance for a group like the Krill. I mean, it just seems to me that as a group that'll murder an entire colony with no remorse, for the Krill to deem hostile forces to *them* as aggressive and relentless seems a bit hypocritical or such, and a very biased and filtered view besides. (Really, the Krill could stand to compare-and-contrast the Union versus the Chak'tal's reactions to them, and see tolerance versus not in action.)

Lastly, as for the Gordon sub-plot, it was certainly okay. It added a bit of depth to him as a character ... to think that maybe he harbors some deep-seated insecurities, but might be on his way to confronting and resolving them. And Kelly, of course, was truly shown to be quite a competent leader along the way. Her portrayal as a mentor almost even was absolutely stellar, and better than Gordon's part in it even. (For I too am a bit unsure what his "I'm a pilot" line *really* means. Surely it wasn't an instantaneous absolution of all insecurity or doubt--though the episode almost seems to want us to see it as such. In that way, it somehow doesn't quite seem to work.)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:00am (UTC -6)
Sorry about that. I was completely unaware that that's a thing.
Dave in MN
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:07am (UTC -6)
🌈⭐ The More You Know™

Haha, sorry, couldn't resist. ;)
Brian
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 6:44am (UTC -6)
Hey this was pretty good! Best ep of the new season so far. Still some tonal issues... Im not sure if the Billy Joel thing at the end was supposed to be serious or absurd, it just came off as kind of silly. But if I am being honest this is no worse than an average ep of DS9 like The Ascent. Also honestly even if it kind of rehashes some TNG and even TOS ideas.... gave me more to think about and held my attention more than the Discovery premier. The effects were good here as well and the script was just stronger, had less plot holes, and had more substance than DISCO has had so far.
SlackerInc
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 10:27am (UTC -6)
@Darren: The cat was already out of the bag about the decoy codes, or soon would be, They presumably transmitted them to their military leaders immediately upon receipt.

@Brian: The use of "She's Always a Woman" didn't come across as silly to me at all. Everyone is entitled to react to it in their own way, but I would be willing to bet a lot of money that it was intended to be taken seriously, even if you did not take it that way.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
I second the use of "She's Always a Woman".

It's one of my favorite bits of the episode.
wolfstar
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
I found myself not caring about anything that was happening throughout the first half of the episode, but it won me over towards the end with the thoughtful dialog in the cave and the final music sequence. I think I'm gonna go for 2.5. Kelly was great in this one, but the Gordon plot was pointless and felt like backwards character development. Macfarlane was better in this ep than in the last few, but he just has no range. The episode didn't leave much of an impression overall.

The Ascent, Precious Cargo, Waltz, Thine Own Self, The Wolf Inside are all in here.
Bufo
Fri, Jan 25, 2019, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Agree with Jammer on this one, and one element I didn't see anyone else mention (skimmed the comments) is the predictability factor. I knew Mercer's lover was a Krill and those Krill ships were going to find them despite their cloak, and therefore I knew the torture scene was faked. Really, no one else saw that coming?

Main point I'd make at this point is the same one others have made - the members of this crew are almost all despicable people no one would aspire to serve with except Kelly. So, McFarlane has the terrible tension here of trying to appeal to two groups simultaneously (trek fans and frat humor fans) which may be impossible. Trek fans won't engage with this crew of creeps while fans of juvenile comedy won't tolerate the long stretches of boring trek between kiddy gags. I think he needs to pick a direction for the show to last.

Just add that the first season was promising because the mix was different. The show was clearly trek, while the humor was also a more sophisticated trek brand - that leg removal gag was hilarious but only if you understood trek (the leg can be put back easily). So McFarlane had done the amazing - invented a new kind of humor that worked with trek. But this second season has seen him abandon that, the humor is not trek (bro character eats loud, comes to bridge wearing sweaty clothes), hence the tension noted above. I'm losing interest in the show amazingly fast in season 2.
Shannon
Sat, Jan 26, 2019, 9:33am (UTC -6)
Good episode, probably one of the best of the series thus far. It had a plot I actually cared about, great visuals, well directed, and well acted. I could have done without the mindless subplot of Gordon taking the command test so he can pick up women (the humor doesn't have to be that overt). Looking forward to seeing if this "relationship" between Mercer and Teleya gets revisited, as that could end up being the bridge that gets peace talks moving forward between the Union and the Krill... Overall I would give it 3.5 out of 4 stars.
Jill
Sat, Jan 26, 2019, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
@Jammer, I have been a faithful fan since the days you only wrote about DS9. I read every review, rejoice in every comment; your site is a safe place for me to relax and find like-minded intelligent geek discourse.

But I have to tell you that if you have not survived the living hell of having a beloved spouse end your marriage against your will, you might want to reconsider your stance on complaining about it each week.

After my husband of 18 years moved on to a girl exactly half his age and took everything in the divorce (and I LET him, because I could not consider losing his friendship in a nasty legal battle), I was not even a *person* for over two years. It's now been two and a half years, and I am finally starting to have a personality again, have friends again, laugh sometimes, and not cry every day. I am reliably told I still cry several times in my sleep each night, but there's nothing I can do about that.

I talk to my ex every day. We have a business together and he is my best friend. That is why I let him kick me out of our house and keep everything, because losing him as my touchstone was unthinkable. He was the only thing I thought about for those two years, and I *still* plan my days around when he can give me some one on one chat or phone time. It may not be healthy, but I don't want to be dead anymore, so there's that.

During those dark years, I cried all the time. I thought about my own death constantly. I lost the ability to eat or sleep. Between not eating, and throwing myself into fitness for hours a day, I became a physical wraith, with a dark cloud of despair over my every mental minute. I was awful to be around, but I hated being alive.

And I was someone, who, as a young adult, considered herself a Klingon. I could do anything, be anything, tame dinosaurs, and conquer strange new worlds. I was a wilderness guide for Outward Bound, the president of my university science club, an A+ student, a respected professional, a world traveler, a daily rock climber -- someone respected -- who lived a full and exuberant life. And of course, Picard was always my representation of the ideal man. I longed for a positive sci fi future of equality, tolerance, and post-scarcity. I tell you all this to contrast with who I became after my husband asked for a divorce, the sad girl rotting in her mother's basement who cursed being forced to live at all.

When Orville was on last year, I was still in the grip of this and each episode with the "Ex" situation would send me right to the dark place. But I was also just excited to have some sort of 'happy' Star Trek back (I will NOT watch STD).

As of last fall, I started healing again, started making friends, and became a *person* again. I started having a sense of humor occasionally and slowly started being fun to be around.

Now I watch Ed, as he watches Kelly, and it makes me feel better. I know what he is experiencing and I feel what he feels. He's doing actually really well. When Teyela hurt him, I could see the it hurt Kelly even more than Ed, because she cares about him deeply and wanted him to be as happy as she is now. And last night, as he watched Kelly dance at her birthday party with her new BF, I knew his thoughts and sent him a mental "Cheers, mate." He's still not there. Neither am I. He's going to be okay. I will too. And this show is helping me. I guess Seth knows what this feels like to live through. If it helps one person, he's made the world a better place.

For this specific episode, I thought the Always a Woman To Me song was touching, real, and spot-on perfect.

I just wanted to provide a little perspective when you say you want him to be over it. I hope you can take this in the spirit intended. I love this site.
Steven
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 9:37am (UTC -6)
Two stars is a little harsh. This was a decent episode (maybe not as good as Home), certainly better than the opening two. It was entertaining throughout and dare I say it - intelligent, with a plot that went from A to B, and a satisfying conclusion.
Artymiss
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 7:30am (UTC -6)
I really enjoyed that episode, 3 stars. I found the use of the Billy Joel at the end oddly moving.

I hope we see Teleya again, she's far more interesting as a Krill than a human too (I found the cartographer character really dull and passive - now I know why! It was all a ploy to draw the broken hearted Ed in).
danny
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 4:09pm (UTC -6)
This was a great episode. seasons best. surprised to find jammer did not like it

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