The Orville

"Identity, Part I"

3.5 stars

Air date: 2/21/2019
Written by Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
Directed by Jon Cassar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Identity, Part I" is the best and most involving episode of The Orville so far. That it holds that distinction and still is not enough to be called "great" (at least in my book) is perhaps a problem, but this series is still young and it occupies an admittedly odd space.

The Orville is generally too cavalier to be considered serious, yet too serious to embrace the idea of a true satire/spoof. It loves Trek far too much to lampoon it. So it occupies the land of a seriocomic homage, which can make its universe hard to accept on straightforward dramatic terms. That fact must be confronted here, where an existential threat comes off more like a really cool cinematic concept than something we truly believe.

Perhaps The Orville's only ambition is to be a fun show. That's absolutely fine, if it can do it as well as this. "Identity, Part I" is a fun and exciting cliffhanger and is a marvelous technical production, especially where it concerns the use of CGI in creating the Kaylon homeworld, and in its old-school bombastic musical score by John Debney (one that frankly borders on excessive salesmanship, but I appreciate the throwback style nonetheless).

This is also a cliffhanger that faces a great deal of danger in being resolved with a major cheat or reset. The problem with setting up an insane cliffhanger — especially one that appears to go past the point of no return as it relates to the role of a major character — is that you have to resolve it satisfyingly.

"Identity" is clearly trying to be the Orville equivalent of "The Best of Both Worlds," but there are reasons why that's probably a fool's errand. Simply put, you can't go home again: This was a trick that worked once for TNG and was repeated endlessly after that, to considerably diminishing returns. I'm more inclined to compare this to, say, Voyager's "Scorpion," which was a compelling cliffhanger in its own right, but by no means one that produced those same thrills and chills. (For me, the last show that was able to really do cliffhangers chillingly well was Battlestar Galactica. This ain't that.)

"Identity" takes a while to get going, but in doing so it builds to that destination very nicely, such that when we finally get there, it's a satisfying payoff to an effectively established, well-paced slow boil. The simmer begins when Isaac shuts down without warning or explanation. So the Orville travels to Isaac's never-visited homeworld of Kaylon to meet its society of mysterious AI. The Kaylon are total isolationists; as established in the pilot, Isaac was their emissary to learn about the Planetary Union and determine if a lasting relationship could be forged. Mercer and his bosses hope maybe the Kaylon will join the Union to help defend against the Krill threat.

The Orville's landing on Kaylon is milked for every drop of the sense of wonder its worth. We get a majestic score and a brilliantly visualized CGI expanse of mechanized cityscapes reaching into the clouds, and a docking sequence reminiscent of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. The interiors are antiseptic rooms with massive walls of flowing data, which the Kaylon interface with like they're holding their hands under a waterfall.

The Kaylon tell Mercer and the away team that Isaac has completed his mission and has been deactivated, and now will be disassembled — which they then oddly proceed not to do after they wake him up and retrieve his data, and possibly do something else to him. (I'd say to look for this to mean something in part two.) Isaac then announces his plan to remain on Kaylon, so the crew throws him a going-away party, Orville style, which includes a scene where Scott Grimes sings, to which my reaction was simply — whoa, wow!

This story also fully recommits to the (IMHO) silly idea that Claire is full-on in love with Isaac. Yeah, I get that Isaac is a major piece of Claire's and her sons' lives, and that removing him would have huge consequences for them — even emotional ones. But this framing of their relationship in these traditionally romantic/domestic terms is a mistake that makes Claire look like she's foolishly expecting reciprocation where by definition none can exist. The fundamental problem with how "A Happy Refrain" framed up this relationship is apparently not going away anytime soon. (When Isaac tells Ty he won't forget him because he can't forget anything, Claire's reaction is one of scorned hurt feelings, which seems misguided. It's like being mad because your smartphone doesn't love you despite all the time you spend with it.)

That being said, the established backstory between Claire and Isaac — as questionable as I find the foundation of it — does help add significant stakes to this particular story, from both a plot and character standpoint. Isaac is not simply a machine, but a friend we trust, and so when the story starts moving into considerably darker territory, it lands with a more personal as well as visceral impact.

The build-up to that reveal includes the curious detail of why the Kaylon appear to be stalling with what should be a simple decision, plus the mysterious production of large spheres that the Orville detects elsewhere on the planet. But it's all brought home with an ominously staged and scored horror-like sequence where Ty ventures into a cavern beneath the city (don't they have locks on the doors that lead outside the ship?) and finds ... well, you'll see right after Ty tells Bortus ... and after Bortus gets on his communicator and says to Mercer those doom-laced words, "You should see this for yourself." It's a familiar trope, but an effective one, as they build up this moment until showing us a massive pile of the literal skeletons that are in the Kaylon's closet.

They've got billions of skeletons buried in sites across the planet. They're the long-ago remains of the people who created the Kaylon. (The Kaylon were created by man. They evolved. They rebelled...) And while one wonders why the Kaylon have left all these remains lying around when it would've been way more space-efficient to grind them up or incinerate them, the obvious answer is that it just makes for a much more jaw-dropping scene to reveal this dark secret visually.

Rather than getting immediately the hell out of there, which is what I would've done, Mercer's brilliant idea is to confront the Kaylon on this point, and they are happy to answer his questions. The Kaylon embody the worst fear that's inevitable with nearly all AI in popular culture — the foregone conclusion that they will rise up and slaughter us for being unable to live with them in the manner they believe we should. (They've coined this as a catchphrase: "Coexistence is impossible" — which, let's face it, is not nearly as good as "Resistance is futile," though I admire the effort.)

The final act goes into full attack mode, with the Kaylon boarding the ship to take it over, and opening fire on the security forces that resist them. The Kaylon come equipped with their own built-in head cannons (which is not to be confused with "head canon," which is a completely different thing, but one I'm itching to draw some sort of symbolic subtextual joke/connection.) The corridor blasting uses the same cinematic techniques that have been a staple since Star Wars; someone needs to train Union soldiers how to engage in firefights using actual cover and tactics rather than hopelessly exposing themselves as cannon fodder.

If my voicing of appreciation for this episode seems to be undermined by my snark toward its passably amusing but present flaws, that's probably because these are the things I thought about in a show that's not especially deep or meaningful but is quite fun to experience as it unfolds. I don't know how Isaac can possibly come back from his role in the Kaylon's plan to bring Armageddon upon Earth, barring a major contrivance or backpedal like "he was reprogrammed" (a la Data in "Descent"). But we'll save that discussion for part two after we know the answers, which I very much want to learn.

Previous episode: Deflectors
Next episode: Identity, Part II

◄ Season Index

147 comments on this review

Perry
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
not finished yet but already giving me goosebumps
Scot
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
God damn! I was already loving this episode because of all of the emotional contentit. I was genuinely moved by all of Isaac's goodbyes. But then, the pivet! What was already a fantastic character episode transformed into downright terror. I was hoping this would become a two-parter. I just can't wait for the conclusion next week. Four stars, by far.
Charles J
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
I critique this show pretty hard. But, this just might be their Riker’s Beard.
chris
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Ok, this was, hands down, the best episode of the Orville. Reminded me a lot of the Voyager 2 part episodes back in the day that were always a cut above the regular series. This was a really good SCIENCE FICTION episode, with no forced humor to pull you out of the show. There were some drags on the show (especially the kid going down to the planet ... it was like the second coming of Boxey) but I have little to complain about. The visuals were excellent and the story moved along well. Hopefully next week will continue the quality. This was a 3.5/4 for me!
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
I can't even do a review yet ... I'm shook.

And that freaking cliffhanger!!!! Jeez, it's kind of like watching BOBW for the first time. Chills.
SlackerInc
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
For the first 45 minutes, I was feeling like this was in 1.5 star territory. Really not good at all. The big twist "redeemed" it in the sense of making things more interesting, but at the further cost of selling out Isaac's characterization. I guess I can't really ultimately judge until the end of the second part, but so far I'm not super happy about this turn of events. A provisional 2.5 stars for Part I.

(I guess we can't link to individual comments; otherwise I'd save this one as evidence if and when people in the future accuse me of being an unwavering, uncritical booster of this show, as they have in the past.)
Tempeh
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
An easy four-star episode! My biggest complaint is the intended attack on Earth. Attacks on Earth are a huge cliche in sci-fi.

Issac seemed a lot different once he was restored, and I'm not sure why his people are keeping him alive. I thought they said he had fulfilled his mission and would be recycled. Maybe I need to see it again.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
Wow.

You know, when people (half-jokingly?) said that this two-parter is going to be the Orville's BOBW, I thought to myself that there's no way *anything* could live up to that TNG Classic.

But I was wrong. Needless to say, this is the best episode of the Orville yet. It has everything: sci fi, character drama (which was actually earned), suspense, perfect pacing, and an incredibly tight story.

4 stars from me. Bravo Orville.

(only one minor complaint: the music was quite intrusive at times. Yes, I understand that it's an epic episode with high stakes, but this doesn't mean they need to blast our ears with dramatic music for the entire hour)
SlackerInc
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
"Needless to say"? OTDP, I'm RIGHT HERE. I get it, that it's becoming increasingly clear that my viewpoint on this show is very much in the minority (amazingly, in both directions--the episodes I love vs. the ones others love, and never the twain shall meet). But that doesn't mean you have to post as though my take is not only not worth acknowledging, it's quite obviously objectively incorrect, "needless to say". Sheesh.
mosley
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
oh man. easily the best episode of orville so far.

actually, easily the best episode of TV scifi ever since BSG ended, for me. finally, a good villain, and with the 2 year preroll of isaac as a show favourite character, one that feels relevant and fleshed out. i'm a sucker for the nerdy scifi stuff, so i was sold the moment they chose to fly to isaacs home planet anyway, but wow, they really got a lot out of that. pretty much went all in with the worst case scenario, which in itself is not the most original twist ever of course, but a surprising twist nonetheless because it is so unlike what one has come to expect from the orville.

really really nice. more of that please.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc

"Needless to say" because I've already stated in the previous sentence that I believe this episode to be on par with TNG's BOBW. Not because I expect everybody in the universe to agree with my opinion on the episode.

Pro tips: Read more carefully, and try to be a little less defensive.
SlackerInc
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
@OTDP: More like you need to WRITE more carefully. I have now reread your comment another couple times, making a total of at least four. And I judge the fault to be in your poor wording, not in my reading comprehension or affect.

I assume part of the problem is that certain phrases begin, over time, to be thoughtlessly used as generic intensifiers without those uttering or writing them being cognizant of their connotations. One such that is a pet peeve for me is when people sit with you at a restaurant and say something like "I'm not gonna lie, this is the best peach cobbler I've ever had", when that "not gonna lie" phrasing would only be appropriate if someone at the table were known for their pride in their cobbler recipe and would be likely to be miffed at the revelation.

So similarly, it looks like here you just threw in "needless to say" without thinking through its specific meaning. That's fine, no biggie--but don't try to lay the blame for your sloppy writing at my feet, please.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
First reaction: **** outa ****

Just for Isaac regurgitating Sally Field's 1984 Oscar acceptance speech alone.

But marvellous pacing. And the allowance of breathing room for the director to build drama and suspense, and for the viewer to be able to take it all in. The Bespin like cloud city entry was absolutely splendid.
Jack B
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
Oh yes, needless to say would mean the episode was so awesome you need not say it.

Anyway, I liked it a lot, especially Isaac’s final scene. I’ll go at least 3 shiny stars.
J.B.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
I thought this was spectacular, easily the best episode of the show so far. Great visuals and Debney's score a major asset.
William D Wehrs
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
This, this is how you tell a war story. We've spent multiple episodes getting to know the characters and their relationships, which makes all the emotions feel real in this episode. This episode also exemplified why the Orville is so great. What other show on tv right now can switch from heartwarming to wacky comedy to horror movie to epic sci-fi invasion. As others have mentioned, the music is great as well. Kudos to Brannon Braga who is redeeming himself in spades after his stuggles on Voyager and Enterprise. I just hope part II doesn't reset things too much.
NS8401
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:09am (UTC -5)
This is what I was looking for. Easily the best episode of this series and definitely of this season. Since there is almost certainly no way they kick Issac off the show permanently there must be some nifty solution coming. My only gripe is that the kid can just walk off the ship like that. That was just a tad ridiculous. I don’t really think we can call The Orville a comedy-drama anymore... it’s just a drama at this point with some comedy sprinkled in. If they can continue to build on this type of story then it would be tragic if they don’t get renewed for a third season.

I think this was meant to echo The Best of Both Worlds... the parallels are too neat to be a coincidence. It’s a pretty good echo too.
Fleatard
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:12am (UTC -5)
Not sure if anyone realized how much awesomeness this show could achieve. I wondered if I could. The deception....the doc had seriously good reaction to that. And part 2? Excited for it. And the music was actually masterful and enjoyable
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:12am (UTC -5)
A short deleted scene with Dann and Captain Mercer was just posted on the official Orville Twitter:

https://mobile.twitter.com/TheOrville/status/1098825966938456064
Jack
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:23am (UTC -5)
Others have predicted this would happen, but the execution, so to speak, was phenomenal.

Definitely on par with BOBW. Possibly better because of everything that has built to this.

Predictions: Isaac will save the day. But maybe not.
Steve
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 3:40am (UTC -5)
Holy moly. What an episode. How can Isaac come back from this?
Adam
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 3:49am (UTC -5)
Good ep and I wouldn't worry too much about the 'sabotage' of Isaac's character. My guess that he will end up saving the day in Part 2, redeeming himself and wrapping up the story thread with the kids about him not feeling anything.
Tempeh
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:28am (UTC -5)
My prediction is that the whole genocide backstory and upcoming attack is just a test designed by Issac's people, to see how the Union reacts.
Byron
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:41am (UTC -5)
@Tempeh

Nice test - they've already killed a number of Orville crewmembers.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:42am (UTC -5)
@Tempeh

That was the first thing that went through my mind as well... which is why I really hope this won't be the actual resolution in part 2.

(or if - at least - they do go that route, make it something more original than a holo-simulation or an induced dream)
Mike
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:45am (UTC -5)
Great episode!

But (and there is always a but...) the Kaylon are starting to sound like the Borg, but instead of assimilating, they destroy inferior worlds. Even the leader was called Kaylon Prime, sounds like the Borg designations.

Can't wait until Part II.
hgrtwhrtsf
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:05am (UTC -5)
I think it was pretty obvious that this was going to happen at some point.

Great episode though.
Perry
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:16am (UTC -5)
"resistance is futile" meme is the Borg

I'm trying to hint a meme for the Kaylons. something like "emotionless machines rule inferior minds"

Has a feel of Cybermen from Dr. Who but it was pretty dark.

solid 4 stars
Fluffysheap
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:16am (UTC -5)
Good episode. I can't give it four stars because it did drag in places and Ty just wandering off the ship and discovering this massive secret was a little far-fetched. The Kaylons would have just cremated all the remains, or ground them up and made them into concrete filler, or something, and they certainly wouldn't have given the Orville landing coordinates that are literally right on top of a giant pile of bones unless they wanted the crew to discover them. Even Isaac leaving the picture in the corridor where Ty could find it was on the contrived side.

I also felt like the way that Isaac was deactivated was cheating a little. It was filmed with a drawn-out flickering and sad noises and dramatic collapse that unambiguously said "medical problem" when he should have just sat down in a chair and turned off. The crew could have proceeded the same way but without having to try to trick the audience.

I'm also sort of dreading next week's inevitable reset button. But I can't mark that down until it happens. My money is on Isaac changing his mind and saving the day somehow and peace being declared in a way that allows him to continue on the ship, probably by the rest of the robot overlords deciding that his change of heart proves that the humans are worth saving. We already know that the Kaylon leaders aren't telling Isaac everything.

It's nice to get the backstory on the Kaylons, at least. Cybernetic intelligence doesn't just evolve from nothing, so now we know where they came from, and it's not a good place.

Finally, this feels like an episode that would have been better placed as a season finale. People compare it to "Best of Both Worlds," but that's not really a very similar episode; right now it seems more like "Basics" or especially "Descent." But more importantly, it's just so soon after "A Happy Refrain." These episodes needed to be a little farther apart since this episode essentially undoes everything that happened there.
Fluffysheap
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:26am (UTC -5)
I guess my post might make it sound like I didn't like the episode, and that's not the case. It's good, it's just not BOBW level of good. I'll give it 3.5 stars.

I kind of feel like there's not quite two episodes worth of material here, though. BOBW has almost no wasted space. Here they spend two minutes just on the landing sequence. And it looks amazing. But it's a lot of time (and, presumably, money) to spend on a sequence that doesn't mean anything.
Joseph B
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:41am (UTC -5)
Just finished viewing the ep ...

Here is my two word Review:

HOLY SHIT!
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:22am (UTC -5)
"I'm trying to hint a meme for the Kaylons. something like 'emotionless machines rule inferior minds' "

Look no further than the episode itself:

"COEXISTENCE IS IMPOSSIBLE"
Mertov
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:39am (UTC -5)
Just watched it, enjoyable episode (last 20 minutes) but that's about it. It's a rehash of Best of Both Worlds, but a very poor man's version. This is fine if your cup of tea is TNG-style (except The Orville version 2.0-TNG is not even close to TNG).

First of all, what type of organization is the Union, and what type of guidelines do they have for assembling a crew together for a starship? Or do they have one at all? It looks less and less likely. The Orville is beginning to look more and more like it holds a the most casually put-together crew of the fleet.

There are at least two main-bridge crew members, important ones (senior crew member?) who have access to everything at the bridge, plus have the captain's ears, about whom the Union seems to have done no background investigation. They know virtually nothing about them or their species. The latest is Isaac on whom apparently neither the Union nor The Orville know nothing about. We vaguely hear from an Admiral-like character that they would like them to join the Federation, but apparently have no idea how they came to be, their culture, etc. And how convenient for this episode that Kaylons' planet is out of communication range and that The Orville will be a "alone" in case an emergency rises.

As was the case with Bortus, everything about Isaac comes as news to Ed and Co. If I am a spy of any sort, it should be a piece of cake for me to get on The Orville, it seems nobody is curious about my background, my species, my intentions, the history of my planet, etc. The Captain himself and the helmsmen are already individuals who have never reached maturity past their teenage years anyway. Piece of cake.

And then, we have a super-duper advanced species that scan the whole ship before The Orvillle even enter orbit, and yet, a kid strolls out of The Orville and goes underground to one of their key spaces, then few more Orville crew walk out and follow him, and no Kaylan is alerted or detects them? Okay... In reality, the plot needed something at that point, because Mercer, Kelly, Talla, Finn were beginning to look like they were sticking their nose too far up the business of another species' internal affairs.

Structured after Best of Both Worlds but nowhere near the quality in narrative (at least in part 1)

And Dr. Finn's efforts to throw the guilt trip on Isaac through the kids? Please.. He is a machine! How many times does he have to say that his purpose is research, collection of data (even for sex) and he can't feel a thing? Hello Dr. Finn. I agree with Jammer even more now, from his review where he found it so implausible that one of the two only adults on the show (Kelly being the other) would fall in love like this. But now, she goes even further with attempts at guilt trips at Isaac and involving the kids (Isaac the new father?).
philadlj
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:48am (UTC -5)
A thrilling homage to BoBW...IF the Enterprise had visited the Borg Homeworld and stirred things up!

This also seems to be an homage to Voyager's "Prototype", in which two warring species built robots to fight their wars and the robots destroyed both species until it was just the robots fighting. It's an old story, but well-executed.

While the establishing shots of the sprawling Kaylon mecha-metropolis were some of the most gorgeous shots I've ever seen, they wrote checks the comparatively blah interior sets couldn't quite cash. All the scale of that cityscape was undone by what looked like a couple of Canadian office atriums.

Also wondering why EVERY Kaylon's "eyes" were red, or existed at all, since Isaac mentioned they were strictly decorative. Why were only his blue? Why weren't there other colors?

This is all nitpicking, of course. This was an episode that really upped the stakes, in a holy-shit-this-is-not-going-to-go-well kind of way. I didn't know this was the first part of a two-parter until it was clear everything was NOT going to resolve by the end of the episode, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Just when we thought there was going to be some kind of confrontation that threatened the alliance between the Union and the Moclans, a far more fearsome adversary rears its shiny metal head.

They really dug a hole for our heroes, not to mention earth (though why the Kaylon bothered to take over the Orville, rather than destroy it was a head-scratcher...other than to serve next week's plot).

I'm looking forward to seeing how this is resolved. While it became clear Alara wasn't coming back both in-show and IRL, and that over at Disco Saru wasn't going to be killed off, I can't imagine they'll get rid of Isaac. Somehow this existential threat has to be dealt with AND have Isaac return to the crew, right? I wonder if the Kaylon are vulnerable to a primitive computer virus, a la Independence Day...
Mertov
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:00am (UTC -5)
I am wondering if Isaac will save the day in Part 2 and come back in its human body to rejoin the crew, and start a new chapter in his existence along with the crew of The Orville. That would be a good move, both from the show's perspective, to keep him on it, and the actor's who could finally get rid of the mask hindrance to play his role. That could give way to some wonderful future scenes with Isaac and Finn's kids.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:10am (UTC -5)
@Philadij

The Kaylons had to take over the Orville in order get all the Union's defensive secrets that were stored on the Orville's computer. This was actually shown on screen, but with all the fast action it was easy to miss.

At any rate, by the time this espionage operation was complete, they already had full control of the ship. No point in destroying a ship you've already captured, is there?

As for Isaac's return to the Orville: Maybe Isaac will have a last minute change-of-heart. Honestly, I don't see any other way the Union could get out of the mess it just into (unless the entire thing was some kind of simulation/test).
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:15am (UTC -5)
BTW have you guys noticed the names of the rest of the episodes of season 2?

"Blood Patriots" (maybe an aftermath of the Kaylon/Union conflict?)
"Lasting Impressions"
"Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" (a groundhog day loop? )
"The Road Not Taken" (a what-if scenario?)

Looks like we should expect a hell of a ride. At any rate, I'm willing to bet the second half of season 2 is going to be strong then the first half.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Oops... I missed one episode. The full list:

S2E10 - "Blood Patriots"
S2E11 - "Lasting Impressions"
S2E12 - "Sanctuary" (the one I missed)
S2E13 - "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow"
S2E14 - "The Road Not Taken"

These names are of-course subject to change: "Deflectors" was listed as "Shields" in these lists at some point. And season 1's "Firestorm" was listed as "Nightmares". But still, these titles are a good indication of what the second half of season 2 will look like.
Perry
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 10:47am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi Thanks!
Mayor of Utopia Planetia
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 11:17am (UTC -5)
The thing about this show that's been refreshing from prior TNG, DSN, and Voyager shows is that story arc and crew seem to be more fun and lively. People can chide all they want by saying that it's McFarland's sophomoric humor - fine, it sure beats TNG smugness and DSN brooding.

That said, the few recent episodes were getting quite heavy with the moral/ethical questions posed. However, this episode really snapped us back into a sci-fi mindset, which was nice.
Trent
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
lol, holy crap, we all got conned good. Isaac was "Orville's" Ash Tyler all along!

Some thoughts: this episode's an obvious attempt to replicate "Best of Both Worlds", and whilst it doesn't have the former's sustained tension, it does a number of interesting things. For example, we get to see the Union/Federation trying to entice a super-advanced civilization into joining their alliance. The episode also opens with Isaac playing a cleverly designed fictional holo-game. Isaac, who seems to have unlearnt lessons from two episodes prior, also seems to belong to a race of absolute sociopaths.

One moment I found poorly executed was the sequence in which Claire's kid escapes the Orville and discovers the catacomb of SPOILERS. Surely such an advanced planet would have detected his wanderings. That this sequence is repeated moments after, the landing party making the same discovery, is also a bit redundant. A better writer would have figured out a way to collapse both sequences into one.

Still, a fun and tense episode (amazing that such a goofy show manages to generate genuine tension and surprise).

It's interesting to compare the producers on "Orville" to that of "Discovery". One of "Orville's" Executive Producer's is David Goodman, who wrote for "Futurama". His wikipedia says: "During the commentary for the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" (which he wrote), Goodman mentioned he is a huge Star Trek fan, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the series. It is also noted that every episode number and name mentioned is 100% correct in the episode. He also states in the commentary that his work for Futurama involving the Star Trek episode was partly what got him a job after Futurama writing for Star Trek."

"Orville" is Trek fanfic through and through.
Kyle
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
I really hope they make Issac a recurring villain and go all the way with this, potentially with a longer term redemption arc, but I can't see that happening.

I've only had one foot in on the Orville so far, but if they stick the landing with part two in one way or another, I'm going to be 100% bought in on the show.
Danny
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Mr. Warf, fire Flashbacks!!!
Galadriel
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Wow, that was really impressive. Already a couple of weeks before, I have decided that The Orville is more fun to watch than Discovery, despite my emotional attach­ment to Trek. This epis­ode was far more riveting than any­thing Dis­cov­ery has de­liver­ed, because the con­flict, the tension and the near-impossibility of solu­tion flows naturally from the established charac­ters and back­grounds. It’s on a par with out­stand­ing Trek episodes like Best of Both Worlds or The Die is Cast.

Now I know why Kaylon always seemed to remind my of Cylon.

However, I feel stymied that the Union is obviously run by goof­balls. It seems they knew no more about Kaylon than the viewers did at the begin of the show (which is, no­thing). The whole idea of the Kaylons po­ten­tially join­ing the Union was brought up (ret­con­ned?) only two epis­odes ago (Hap­py Re­frain), IIRC, in Old Wounds Isaac men­tion­ed only “an effort to initiate rela­tions be­tween Kaylon and the Union”. As soon as the issue popped up in this epis­ode, I knew that we were in either for bad writing or a bad surprise.

BTW, I like Isaac as a character — it offers the intellec­tual power of data but omits the latter’s em­bar­ras­sing ser­vil­ity. An Android who is proud of his non-human qual­ities makes a better crew­mem­ber, and a far better ant­ago­nist. In my extra­pola­tion, the un­ex­­pect­ed shut­down will be used as a back­door to re­store the char­ac­ter at the end of the war arc. It would be a shame if the third season were to run without Isaac.
Yanks
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Wow! DSC and Orville hit it out of the park on the same night!!

It was dramatic for me when Isaac just shut down.

It was sad to see Isaac go, to see the kid's reaction, to see Clair's reaction, to see Isaac's no reaction.

The going away party was great. Was that really Scott Grimes voice? .... man, he could find another profession!

Then, of course, the HUGE twist..... all I could think about was VOY: 'Prototype'.

Interesting how they set this table.... the planet could no longer allow for Isaac's species' (can't think of the name) growth? ... does that mean they had used up all the natural resources and they needed to find a new home? ... I do not think they specifically said that - but I think that's a pretty good guess.

Billions of skulls..... Issac tries to justify the extermination.... that was interesting to me.

Some kick ass units.... no chance for the Orville Crew...

Can't wait for Part II!!!!

Suspenseful!!

I think 'The Orville's' finest episode thus far.

Fantastic visuals!!

4 stars from me easy.
Trent
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
Seth's double bluff is pretty ingenious when you think about it.

In Star Trek Discovery, as we all recall, a Federation officer called Ash Tyler is revealed to be an undercover Klingon sleeper agent. This was supposed to be a shocking plot-twist, but Trek fans figured it out fairly early.

Seth initially seemed to be paying homage to this in the Orville: he has a Krill agent infiltrate the Orville by posing as a Union officer, also called Tyler. But it seems as though Tyler's surprise revelation was a bit of neat misdirection by Seth. The surprising undercover mole was Isaac all along, a guy who well and truly endeared himself to audiences.

And virtually nobody figured this out or anticipated this, despite Isaac being introduced in the pilot as a raging racist (speciest?) on a reconnaissance/information-gathering mission.
Sam
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

"Seth's double bluff is pretty ingenious when you think about it.

In Star Trek Discovery, as we all recall, a Federation officer called Ash Tyler is revealed to be an undercover Klingon sleeper agent. This was supposed to be a shocking plot-twist, but Trek fans figured it out fairly early.

Seth initially seemed to be paying homage to this in the Orville: he has a Krill agent infiltrate the Orville by posing as a Union officer, also called Tyler. But it seems as though Tyler's surprise revelation was a bit of neat misdirection by Seth. The surprising undercover mole was Isaac all along, a guy who well and truly endeared himself to audiences.

And virtually nobody figured this out or anticipated this, despite Isaac being introduced in the pilot as a raging racist (speciest?) on a reconnaissance/information-gathering mission. "

Isaac wasn't a mole. He wasn't anything other than what he claimed to be, a science officer from an ultra secretive world who was on board to do research. The Kaylons didn't plan to invade Earth until the events of the episode.
4Q2
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
Uh yeah.

TBOBW was the last time I had to pick up my jaw off the ground at a cliffhanger.

.....29 years ago.

Ho. Lee. Shit.
Tommy D.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
That was pretty great. Any nitpicks I might have about some of the plot really don't detract from the episode as a whole. Excited for the resolution.
John Witte
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
I liked the episode a lot and I thought it is one of the best episodes of the series. I didn't think about the Cylons from BSG, but it definitely had a Borg/BOBW vibe from TNG. I will say this for McFarlane. He definitely is going big with these episodes. I also like how he faked everybody out a bit by everyone assuming that the Moclans would be the troublesome species for the union and instead it's the Kaylon.

I did have a couple of issues with this two part episode. The first revolves around its timing. Given the stakes in the episode, it almost feels like these two episodes would have been a better season ender rather than sticking it in the middle of the season. I sort of feel like a big Reset button is going to be pressed in the 2nd part.
Also, this episode is two episodes after "A Happy Refrain" where the Finn/Isaac relationship was established and now it appears that this relationship has been reset rather abruptly. Delaying this episode to later in the season would have given their relationship a little more significance so the feelings expressed by Claire would have felt more real to me. For now, it almost feels that AHR was pointless considering how quickly things have changed with their relationship.

Which is to say nothing about the relationship with the Kaylon and the Union after their hostile takeover of the Orville and their plans to eradicate all of humanity on Earth. It sure seems like that no matter what happens, Isaac's relationship with everyone is going to be irrevocably changed. That would have also been another benefit of this two parter being the season finale: it would have created a greater sense of mystery with Isaac's fate with the Orville. As it stands now, we figure that SOMETHING will be worked out to resolve this.
Ben S
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
This episode thrilled me in the same way that the early Borg episodes of TNG thrilled me. As others have said, haven't felt that kind of excitement in a while.

After the episode was over, I realized the Kaylon are more like the Cylons of BSG than the Borg. The Borg were only half-machine and it was their humanoid side that proved to be their big weakness. Cylons, on the other hand, taken from the original BSG were full machines with only one goal: The extermination of all humans.

This, I think, could make the Kaylons more dangerous overall. An enemy that has no trace of human emotions or compassion is going to be harder to deal with. I hope they become a regular group of villains for the crew to contend with.
Hank
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
I love this. First, my reading of Isaac from a few episodes back, when he starts his relationship, seems to be correct: He truly does not have emotions. So I am obviously pleased with my superior intelligence, but it is no shame to admit inferiority in this case ;)

So far, everything makes sense. I can totally see an AI coming to the conclusion that coexistence is impossible. And an additional reason is already provided: They need space to grow, and, projecting forward in time, the universe only has finite ressources, so why share with inferior beings? Isaac made it clear from the start that he does not see anybody as equal. So great going there. Yes, the child walking off the ship was ... dubious, but on the other hand, why would machines assume that a bioligical life form wanders into their city? Sure, they know that the possibility exists, but Isaacs actions established very well that, while he has extensive knowledge, it is very hard for him to predict how people around him will act. Which is ultimately why the Kaylon conclude that coexistence is impossible. Biological life is a chaotic variable.

The proof of the pudding is, of course, in the eating (but the proof is not in the pudding, contrary to popular belief), so we will have to wait and see how this situation gets resolved. Most likely, Isaac will save the day, that would be the most convenient and likely outcome. But, the Orville has surprised me a few times by introducing plot developments that weren't easy or obvious, so I keep my hopes up that something else will happen. We might even get a full arc over a few episodes, like DS9s later seasons, with a full fledged war between the Union and Kaylon. But whatever it is, I hope it is exciting, and does not revolve a (literal) reset button. Stargate did pretty well with their replicators, so maybe it won't end with everybody holding hands and pretending nothing happened.
SlackerInc
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -5)
I don't see how they can make any kind of peace with the Kaylons after they killed a bunch of Orville's security officers.

@Mertov: I agree with most of your critiques. In particular, the kid just being able to wander around was absurd, even if you think the Union is so careless as to allow little kids to leave the ship unaccompanied.

But the perspective you share with Jammer (that Isaac has no emotions, so it's absurd to fall in love with him, and this proves it even more) is basically the reverse angle of my criticism, that Isaac's character growth was completely sacrificed here (yes, he may ultimately save the day, but that didn't require his being such a dick to her and the kids). I was willing to accept the "Singin' in the Rain" moment, even if that wasn't my favorite episode, as representing an insight into his ability to really feel something for her. But that just disappeared. Time to go home, kthxbai. WTF?

(I see @Trent made a similar point more pithily, mentioning that Isaac "seems to have unlearnt lessons from two episodes prior".)
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:46am (UTC -5)
First off, wrong as it might seem, if the Union could somehow establish an alliance/ peace with the Kaylon, the P.U. would totally contextualize/ look the other way / rationalize this incident as a speedbump in the process of diplomacy.

I'm not so sure Isaac's character was sacrificed either.

The first things he asked about upon reactivation was if the decision had been reached and the status of the Orville. I think Isaac is playing it incognito.... maybe that's just me projecting my perception of what I want Isaac to be, but I have a hard time believing Isaac is okay with this. He seemed concerned (but trying to play it cool at the same time), at least to me.

I'm not even sure if Isaac is actually "Isaac" during the last act. I rewatched it just now and I have a question;. when Isaac and the two other robots were standing together, did they address Isaac as "Prime"? (I used up my free preview on fox.com so I couldn't rewind.))

Addressing a nitpick above:

I don't think Ty not being detected when he ventured outside is a goof... the Kaylon haven't had any biologicals on their planet probably since the overthrow of the builders (which. judging by the state of the skeletons and assuming an Earth-like decomposition rate, happened sometime in the last millennia). I don't think they had any need for sensors because they are aware of everything on their planet. Sensors would be pointless if there's nothing to detect.

Addressing another nitpick:

The Kaylons told the crew that they had maxed out on computational power on their homeworld. My assumption is that (now that they have the keys to unlocking Union tech) they will kill all the biologicals and use their AI programming skill to adapt Union planetary computer systems to their own needs. Why start from scratch? They can kill two birds with one stone.

Random thing I noticed second time through:

Some Kaylon have orange eyes, not sure what that signifies.

Something I noticed in the preview for next week:

They only slhow three Kaylon spheres in proximity to Earth: I wonder if all those other spheres will be destroyed before they get to earth (Wolf 359 2.0?), or maybe the Kaylon are sending spheres to EVERY Union member world(!).

A bit more commentary:

How great are the kids on this show? Normally they annoy me (Alexander. Molly O'Brien) , but not here. Great acting! Cool tidbit: the actor who portrays Ty Finn actually drew the picture (in real life) all by himself at Seth's urging.

The soundtrack is AMAZING! I love the Kaylon theme and the use of the wonderfully rare Blaster Beam instrument, very 80's TOS films/ Star Wars with a dash of intellectual fun: I think Debney actually worked in some binary code hidden in the sensuous/ spooky polytonality.

BTW, I particularly loved that Ed was going to sacrifice himself to save the Orville when he ordered them to escape. He did that without a second thought.

Oh, and where is Yaphit?!?!?!

This to me is a 4 star episode in the greatest tradition of Trek. The anticipation for the resolution of this cliffhanger is something I haven't felt in a LONG time.

Thank Roddenberry for this show!
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:58am (UTC -5)
About my point about the rate of decomposition: if the Kaylon completely sterilized their world of all biological life, those corpses might actually have been down there MUCH longer. Shoot, for all I know, the builders might have been silicon-based life and who knows how long that would decay? Basically, my millennia guess for the Kaylon Genocide could be WAY off.
Black Jesus
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 4:48am (UTC -5)
Loved this brilliant episode.

The only thing that bugged me was:
- Why does a machine species live on a planet with a breathable atmosphere?
- Why does a machine species need high rise buildings with glass windows?
Then the plot twist answered these questions. Well played Seth.
But...
- (And I’m not sure) didn’t Isaac mention in a previous episode that his ‘eyes’ were for superficial aesthetic purposes only?

Still loved it, just me hmmming with my hand on my bearded chin. As you were.
SlackerInc
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 5:18am (UTC -5)
@Dave: The biggest issue I have is less the Kaylons not detecting Ty, and more his being able to just wander off the ship. All those redshirt security people killed later in the episode: none were posted at the door? Or how about the ship’s computer not opening the door for a little kid without parental authorization?

You know that I am usually with you in being positive about this show. I try to give it the benefit of the doubt. But there is too much here that I cannot handwave away—including stuff I was fine to overlook as long as they didn’t punish me for doing so. Foremost among that category is why the Union let Isaac be a highly placed officer on the Orville to begin with. They apparently know virtually nothing about Kaylon, they live in a universe that (it would seem) shares much of its pop cultural history with ours, including “Terminator”, “The Matrix”, etc. But they just give Isaac a commission, easy peasy?

As long as Isaac was just a fun and appealing character, I didn’t care about that stuff. But now I have to confront it, because their big twist forces me to. Which leads to other annoyances, like other Kaylons having eyes for some reason, albeit conveniently different colored than Isaac’s. And they created storage bins for billions of bodies instead of incinerating them...why, exactly? By contrast, the main cast was given the most blatant plot armor (there was zero reason not to kill them all). Even the stalling about whether to join the Union...huh? If someone can make sense of this, please enlighten me.

Another gripe is that this episode and the next one clearly would just combine to be an extra long (but not double length) episode if on HBO or Netflix. But since they have to go 42 or 84 minutes, they took a 55-60 minute script and padded the hell out of it. And I am sure we will see more padding next week.

Disappointed in this turn, and really weirded out by how much everyone else loves it. I feel like I am being punked on a massive scale.
Fluffysheap
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 5:40am (UTC -5)
"If the Kaylon completely sterilized their world of all biological life, those corpses might actually have been down there MUCH longer"
They probably didn't. The planet still has a breathable atmosphere, and if it had been sterilized, say, a million years ago, the atmosphere probably wouldn't still be breathable. Of course, the Orville writers don't usually put this much thought into the science. Anyway, the Kaylons don't really need to destroy all biological life, just the intelligent life. They might even still have parks and wildlife preserves.

The state of the bones in the underground caverns seems commensurate with a time gap of perhaps a century, although it could be longer if the conditions in the caverns were suitable for preservation.

"Some Kaylon have orange eyes, not sure what that signifies."
There were various subtle differences in the Kaylon costumes. Most notably, Kaylon Prime had different shoulder... uh... pads? Shoulder whatevers. But there were other small differences too, the shape of the chestplate, positioning of the lights, whatever. I wonder if the Isaac costume has undergone revisions and the other Kaylon actors were wearing older versions of the costume, but I can't go back and check because I don't have Season 1 recorded any more.

"Oh, and where is Yaphit?!?!?!"
This had to be an incredibly expensive episode to make, and Yaphit probably just didn't make the cut. We might see him next week (I imagine Yaphit is a pretty difficult, um, entity? to catch, if he wants to hide).

"I don't see how they can make any kind of peace with the Kaylons after they killed a bunch of Orville's security officers."
The deaths of a dozen or so soldiers would likely not make a big difference to the peace process. The Union would be happy to sacrifice the entire Orville and its crew, and more besides, to make peace with the Kaylons. Although I'm sure the diplomats would try to get some sort of restitution in the peace deal.

"All I could think about was VOY: 'Prototype'. "
I thought of that episode too - actually as far back as the first episode, when Isaac's featureless face and the sound of his voice resembled the Prototype androids. It was a little reinforced when the Kaylons referred to their creators as The Builders.
And of course given the overlap in production crew between Voyager and Orville, they had to be aware of that episode when making this one. But the creation of artificial life that then destroys its creator is, literally, the oldest plot in sci-fi. And aside from those similarities, the stories are actually pretty different.

Funny thing about "Prototype," for an episode that was pretty average, it sure was *memorable*. Two decades on, I can remember almost everything that happened, whereas there are better episodes that I barely remember.

"I like Isaac as a character — it offers the intellec­tual power of data but omits the latter’s em­bar­ras­sing ser­vil­ity. An Android who is proud of his non-human qual­ities makes a better crew­mem­ber, and a far better ant­ago­nist. "
I agree about Isaac, but I don't agree about Data. Data is unfailingly polite, but servile? When Data is placed in a command role (Chain of Command, Nemesis, Redemption) he commands, and does so well. Better than Riker, most of the time.

Isaac - perhaps the entire Kaylon race - is a lot like Data, but what they actually lack is a *conscience*. They don't seem to have the outright cruelty of Lore, but they also don't have the fundamental decency of Data. We've seen this over and over with Isaac and his treatment of Dr. Finn. The viewers, conditioned by years of caring but clueless Data, assume that Isaac is a jerk because he doesn't know any better, but now we all get smacked in the face with the realization that Isaac isn't Data, and he's a jerk because... he's just a jerk. And yet he's probably still the nicest member of his species.

"One moment I found poorly executed was the sequence in which Claire's kid escapes the Orville and discovers the catacomb of SPOILERS. Surely such an advanced planet would have detected his wanderings."
Well, maybe. The Borg pretty much ignored humans wandering around on their ships too, both in "Q Who?" and "Best of Both Worlds," until the humans directly became a threat. And the Kaylon planet, being as insular as it is and populated entirely by AI, might not really have need of security. So while I do take issue with how easy it was for Ty to find the graves (or the existence of the graves at all), I don't really have an issue with him wandering around on the planet. Now, wandering off the ship on the other hand, is a little bit of a problem. You can't just open the door to a spaceship and wander off. This is the first time we've ever seen the Orville land; until now there was no reason to think it was even possible. How does Ty even know he can open the door?

"Though why the Kaylon bothered to take over the Orville, rather than destroy it was a head-scratcher...other than to serve next week's plot."
They needed the military secrets on board... but it's not clear why they are keeping the crew alive.

Next thought on the Kaylons: Do they normally exist as unitary beings, or are they actually purely software intelligences that move in and out of physical bodies as needed, like Mass Effect's Geth? I have been trying to figure out what the episode's title "Identity" means.
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:20am (UTC -5)
I don't think you're being punked... i'm just not sure if your criticism detracts from the episode anymore than Borg ignoring obvious threats walking around their ships detracted from BOBW. Or, for that matter, the Borg being susceptible to a self- destruct command without any security lockouts. Or Shelby telling Picard her plan and the Borg not preparing for the saucer separation battle.

So Ty got out by entering his mom's security code ... it is what it is, definitely not something I'll sink an episode on.

There is no perfectly airtight Trek-like sci-fi ... even the greatest episodes usually nitpicks if you look hard enough.
U.B.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:04am (UTC -5)
"(or if - at least - they do go that route, make it something more original than a holo-simulation or an induced dream)"

Maybe everything that happens after the big red scanner beam is a Kaylon computer simulation, including the Orville crew themselves? That would fit with the title, and seems like the sort of thing Braga might go with.
Yanks
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 10:17am (UTC -5)
I just have to mention how moved I was when the Orville was flying down to the specified coordinates on Kaylon. The music brought me back to Spock soaring into V'Ger in TMP. 'The Orville' has intermingled Star Trek classic musical themes in before, but none moved me as this one did. Well done.

It certainly will be interesting to see how they wrap this thing up. This by all indications is 'The Orville's' BOBW. The first part was better back then, here's hoping part II here nails it.

What to do with Isaac? ... how will this be resolved not only with Orville's crew but the Union?

I'll make a weak prediction that somehow the Krill get involved here.

I can't wait 'till Thursday...
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -5)
At least we don't need to wait a full six months for the resolution this time...
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 11:41am (UTC -5)
If it's a simulation (which I hope it isn't) the entire crew has to be in it ... we saw a lot of scenes throughout the episode that weren't from Isaac's perspective (where he wasn't even present).
Gil
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -5)
The strong reception to Identity reflects how a piece of entertainment, even one as derivative as The Orville, can unapologetically exploit all the familiar tropes of the genre, and yet because of the attention given to presentation: the visuals, music, performance and the organic rise and fall in dramatic tone, can still manage to feed the imagination of the viewer. Whereas it seems STD’s modus operandi is predicated upon assaulting the senses of the viewer and couldn’t give a damn about instilling curiosity or wonderment about the universe it presents.
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
@Gil

Yes, yes and yes .... you are SO correct!

To me, that's one of the biggest difference between Disco and Orville: I've yet to have one STD episode fire off my imagination the way The Orville does.

Case in point: I had a LOT busy work/chores/snow shoveling to do yesterday and I found my mind wandering back to The Orville again and again like a unscratched itch .... it reminds me of when I was a kid delivering newspapers on Saturday mornings and my mind would be abuzz pondering how that night's TNG would unfold.

This show actually makes me think and feel that childlike wonder/ intrigue at the possibilities of what's "out there". That is an incredibly rare thing for a jaded middle-aged fart such as myself!

PS: I'd much rather serve on the USS Orville than the USS Discovery. The O's Quantum Engines might be a lot slower than STD's Plagiarism Drive .... but at least I know I'll enjoy being around my crewmates!
Spockless
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Orville is awesome. It is the most effective way to do Nostalgia.. instead of bringing back old characters (Luke Skywalker, Superman, Optimus Prime, Spock) and ruining them, Orville takes a different approach
sure you can call it a Star trek ripoff.. and I would not argue that point. Clearly it is. But it was done with obvious affection. And by having a clear canon, and yet placing us in the kind of look and feel of where we were in the 90's you've levelled up the nostalgia. It is both new and old, it's funny, and insightful.
I didn't mind when the original Battlestar Galactica ripped off Star Wars visually.. it kicked ass. Every superhero (bar none) is a ripoff of Superman yet people LOVE this superhero trend)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
"I was willing to accept the 'Singin' in the Rain' moment, even if that wasn't my favorite episode, as representing an insight into his ability to really feel something for her. But that just disappeared."

I find it unlikely that the Orville production team would ignore a main character arc that happened only two episodes ago. It's not like them to make such a glaring error.

So it's obvious to me that there's a bigger Isaac story unfolding here, and that both "Happy Refrain" and "Identity" are an integral part of this story. IOW what Isaac has learnt in that former episode, is probably going to play a crucial part in the resolution next week.

BTW according to the original airing plan, "Happy Refrain" was supposed to be a Valentine's episode airing on Feb. 14, immediately followed by "Identity, Part 1". They swapped episodes 6 and 7 when it was clear that the SFX of "Deflectors" are not going to be ready for it's original January air date.
Lynos
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
So... I guess this means Isaac and Claire wren't a couple any more? :-)

Orville upps its game in a major way with this episode, which proves that you shouldn't mess with things you don't really know much about.

Need to let it sink in a bit more but I feel like this was pretty much great all across the board.
I am just trying to figure out if Isaac's betrayal makes sense with respect to previous epiodes, and wonder if this insane plot twist was designed from the get-go or if this is retconned.
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Seth said on Twitter that this was planned from the beginning. I don't know if it's spelled out in the show's Writer's Bible,but it sounds like there's a few long term character/plot arcs that are in motion.
SlackerInc
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
@Dave: It’s not like I was loving the episode until Ty wandered off. At no point during the episode was I above two stars until the twist in the final minutes (despite having many questionable elements of its own) pulled me up to two and a half.

At this point all I have left is a hope that (1) Jammer sees it similarly and (2) is brave enough to go against everyone but me, LOL. (I’m teasing: I do think he is courageous and has a great deal of integrity.)
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Just wondering: if Jammer likes it more than you, how does that indicate has no integrity? ;)
Tomalak
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
Not just the best Orville episode but one of the best episodes of any Trek (it's so similar to Star Trek I am happy to group it in that way).

What a shower of shit Discovery is by comparison.
Cynic
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
I assume most of this episode - everything after the "cancer causing" Kalon scan about 10 minutes in - is a simulation. That "scan" was actually putting the crew into the simulation, either holographic or all in the crew's head. I thought this the minute the scan occurred, and the rest of the episode with its seemingly unresettable consequences would seem to confirm it. The Kalon lured the Orville to their planet with Isaac's shutdown and are doing something like what the Dominion did to the Defiant crew in DS9's "The Search." A final test to see whether the Union is worthy? If so, a good ending would be the Kalons finding that the crew passes this test and deciding to join but the Union telling them to take a hike after how they treated people in this scenario.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
1) It was amazing.
2) I'm not sure Isaac after reactivation was Isaac.
3) I don't think it's a simulation.
4) I second Yanks's prediction that the Krill will get involved. They're no friends to the union but they understand the Kaylons pose a threat to them too. There is setup here (the Fishes episode etc.) It would be nice if the Moclans were involved too.
5) I think the resolution will be somewhat BOBW-ish in nature, involving Claire and the kids and Isaac's programming.
6) I agree with the criticisms re: Ty wandering off the ship onto the planet, disappearing down a convenient hatch and finding the bones (why wouldn't they have been vaporized)? And the fact the Union apparently let Isaac be a crew member despite them knowing nothing about his people.
7) This notwithstanding it's still a riveting landmark episode, the best the show has done. I loved it and keep thinking about it. And it's because of what William Wehrs writes: "We've spent multiple episodes getting to know the characters and their relationships, which makes all the emotions feel real in this episode." The stakes are real, it's earned, and we care – that's why this works. Props also on the score.
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
@ SlackerInc

I misread your comment earlier ... somehow I missed the " I'm teasing" part. Sorry about that.
Trent
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Is Issac being offered a place on the ship, far-fetched?

If Barbados were asked by a superpower like America, if they could put a crewman on a lowly coast guard vessel, in return for a possible future alliance, I'm sure they'd jump at the offer. The rewards are too great, and the risks - the Orville is hardly a big or important ship - too minor.
SlackerInc
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
@Dave: That's cool. Also note that even my teasing scenario was conditional on his agreeing with me in his heart of hearts. So in the more likely possibility that he disagreed with me, the point would be moot.
NS8401
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
I’m suspicious about Isaac being potentially reprogrammed when the Kalons “downloaded his data” and turned him back on... he acted out of character but also in a way that didn’t make it seem like he had learned anything about the people he had been studying or about what they would do or how they would react to his departure or anything... something felt off about that scenario... if you assimilate all that information you should know the normal interactions to a degree and as a machine be able to get all the possibilities down that could be thrown your way and adapt accordingly when the other party chose that path...

Didn’t they say he would be destroyed now that his mission was complete and then just turn him back on?
Jim1701
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Really liked the ep!

Finally The Orville got my attention and I stopped thinking about what Star Trek
they were doing this week and was able to enjoy it for what it was.

The references to BOBW are IMHO, Monday Morning Quarterback stuff after one has time to think about it.

While I was in the moment, I was entertained and I was on edge and looking forward to what came next.

If this is indeed a "Riker Beard" ep and I hope that it is before knowing if the second part of this ep will be as satisfying then The Orville is indeed the Star Trek
I have been waiting for since the early 2000's.....

If this is a fake out however and it turns out to be a "simulation", a "test" or some other nonsense, then I will have to rethink it all.
SlackerInc
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
NS8, I thought he seemed like his normal self when he was first "woken up", but it did seem later that he might have been reprogrammed. I sure hope so anyway.
Perry
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
This is a prediction of many for Isaac. When Isaac ended up on The Orville ship again, I think the odds are in his favor. We know that Isaac tends to run diagnostics to improve or improvise its machine on a regular basis. So imagine that he's back on the ship and the diagnostic analysis corrected the altered processors/memories and then Isaac finds himself (machine identity) back to The Orville's life.
Lynos
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 2:53am (UTC -5)
So this impressive episode does have some cracks, so let's get them out of the way first:

- I do agree Ty getting out of the ship and climbing down to find the boneyard is strecthes credibility.
- In retrospect, I didn't fully understand the plot device of having Isaac shut-off immediatlety and without warning. First, if this was an official research mission, it would stand to reason that the Orville will have some kind of heads-up that a key crew member of theirs is about to become incapacitated. Second, The Kaylons could not have known for sure that the Orville will arrive at their planet to "fix" Isaac. It would've made more sense if Isaac would simply inform Mercer that he was given instructions to go back home, or something of the sort.

Yes, we do not know much about how the Kaylons appraoched the Union in the first place and how Isaac became stationed there (how did he arrive at the Orville?). Yeah, I'm assuming here the Kaylons operate in logical ways, and they may not necessarilly, but I still think the way it unfolds in the episode is simply a plot device to increase suspense even though it doesn't make much sense upon inspection.

- The Kaylons are evaluating joining the Union, they do not mention specifically Earth. So it was a bit weird when they all head to EARTH (insert evil laugh).

- I agree the stunning planet vistas (Orville special effects guys are very good at this stuff) does not compare to the interiors/exteriors on the planet surface, even though I liked the image of the Kaylons in front of the pulsating data wall.

Now to the good stuff. The main difference between this and the similiar two-parter Best of Both Worlds is that we are dealing here with an outright deliberate betrayal of a beloved crew member. For example, this episode makes the events of Happy Refrain, and especially the warm, fuzzy Singin' in the Rain ending of that episode, seem much darker now. That episode has completley changed its tone and feel following this week's episode.

The only way Isaac's character can come back from this is if indeed his programming was tempered with. But even if he's not actively taking part in the violence and the takeover, he's still the one that led the Orville to the Kaylons and he's still the one supplying the intelligence to the Kaylons, so like it or not he's part of this clusterfuck. Even if his character comes back from this, he's not going to be the same Isaac anymore. At least I hope so, or else what's the point.

Of course there is always the option of a reset button, but personally I don't think this is a simulation. It's too elaborate. You think the scene where Calire is talking with her son in the simulator is a simulation within a simulation? That the dead crew members are all part of an elaborate dream? Even if it is, it's a quite nasty trick to pull on the Orville, and nobody's gonna let Isaac off the hook on that one either.

So despite some logical guffaws this was a very good episode which marks the first time this series has truly upped the stakes. We'll have to wait and see how it all ends, which in retrospect could change our view of part 1 for better or worse.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 3:00am (UTC -5)
I think it's pretty obvious: Isaac being shut down doubled as a lure. The Kaylon KNEW the Orville would eventually show up with Isaac's lifeless body.

The Kaylon had made up their mind about this invasion whenever it was they started designing their theta radiation armada ... oh, and I think they are keeping the Orville crew alive as a bargaining chip/ way to get more Intel.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 3:03am (UTC -5)
Earth is the HQ of the Union's civilian and military leadership.

Why would the Kaylon deciding hat's the best target somehow be implausible or detract from the episode? No offense intended, but that sounds like a nitpick.
Lynos
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:41am (UTC -5)
Yup, it's a nitpick, I never used the words "implausible" or "detracting". It just felt like an obvious trope. But it doesn't hurt the episode in any meaningful way.

For the record, I think the final scene was very effective.
SlackerInc
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 6:53am (UTC -5)
@Lynos: That was a good read.

My favorite thing about this episode is a story I just heard from the director, who described on the Orville podcast having to quickly get a bunch of Kaylon costumes made (they only previously had the one) and then getting Mark Jackson to conduct a class for the actors wearing those costumes on how to move in the distinct Kaylon way he had developed over the past couple seasons.

(Incidentally, he also said the kid who plays Ty actually did not know how to play the piano, but since the script a couple eps back called for his recital, they hired a piano tutor to spend a month teaching him to play that one piece. That kind of blows my mind: I had felt sure the kid was already a piano prodigy as part of his general stage talent.)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -5)
As an amateur piano player mayeslf, I can tell you that there's no way a kid who *never* played the piano will be able to play this Chopin Etude with one month of tutoring, regardless of how talented he is.

So that story is probably just a little bit exaggerated.

What really blows my mind, though, is that the Orville team took the trouble of hiring a piano tutor for this purpose. Star Trek never did this. Heck, Trek usually didn't even bother with trying to make the instrument-playing *look* realistic.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Actually, it's not. I learned trumpet in a month at 9 years old ... granted, I already played violin and viola for a couple years at chat point, but still, it TOTALLY is possible.

Akso, I listened to an interview they did with Kai Wener where he talked about preparing for that episode and I don't believe for as millisecond that the kid is a liar or an exxagerator. Nope.
Martin
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Sorry, but that kid did not look like he had done more than a few weeks piano tutoring. His fingers and hands were quite visibly all in the wrong shape, which is one of the first things you are taught. It did look like he was playing the right notes, but his technique was terrible.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -5)
Footage of Kai practicing the Chopin's etude in preparation for shooting the episode:

https://mobile.twitter.com/KaiWener/status/1091217448869588993

Martin is right about his technique obviously being that of a beginner ... but he is most definitely playing what is NOT an easy Chopin piece (etude or no).
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
@Dave MN

A trumpet is not a piano. And I'm willing to bet that you weren't playing the trumpet equivalent of Chopin Etudes after one month.

Looking at the aired scene again, I see that Ty/Kai is pressing a single note at a time with each hand. The actual Chopin piece is much more complicated than that.

So he is basically playing a simplified version of the etude correctly (Kai was telling the truth about it being him actually playing the piano in that scene!) but that's not the version we hear. An actual recording of the full etude was inserted post-production.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
I decided I wanted tio learn it when they offered free lessons over summer vacation (and I could escape being near my parents). At the end, I ended up playing first trumpet at the concert. It wasn't like I was playing Stravinsky or Charlie Parker, but the band included sixth graders and we weren't playing Twinkle Twinkle (he said humbly).

I kind of have a knack for learning instruments, though: you can look me up on YouTube (Permanent Tourist) if you're curious/doubtful.
Dobber
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
This episode reminded me more of “Progeny” from Stargate Atlantis than BOBW, all were really good though. I wonder if Isaac will be redeemed, I genuinely don’t know.
Lynos
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
The final verdict regarding this episode will depend on what they decide to do with Isaac.
There are essentially two options:

- Isaac's character is irredeemable.
- Isaac's character is not irredeemable.

The more balsy move will be the first option. It will actually make sense within the context of the show. Isaac was always studying the crew. He never pretended otherwise. He never showed any particular empathy towards anybody. Even turoring Claire's kids and dating Claire was a calculated move done in the context of said research. Honestly, this is a logical progression of his character. His mission complete, he is now removed from his position and responsibilities and has no need now for any emotional attachments.

In this episode, Claire snaps out of her illusion of a relationship with Isaac. Isaac's line to Ty that goes something like "I have kept everything in my database, I'll never forget you" is brilliant and heartbreaking. The juxtaposition between Issac's farewell party and his ultimate betrayal... it packs a punch. It's a story about a crew of somewwhat naive, optimistic, wide-eyed space explorers trusting not only their ship but their feelings in the hands of an unfeeling, coldly logical AI... and pay a heavy price for it.

However, if Isaac is revealed to have been reprogrammed against his will and he somehow saves the day (technobabble solution to retreive Isaac's original programming, then Isaac helps the Orville find the weak spot in the Kaylons' armor and defeat them), then he will revert back to his lovable self, allowing Claire for example to resume their relationship. In effect it will be a reset button.

It may still be interesting, especially if Isaac disengages himself from the Kaylons and becomes more of an individual - but it will be the more safe and obvious choice.
wolfstar
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
My friend says "Calling it now: Bortus is gonna save the day by uploading the porn virus onto the Kaylon mainframe."
navamske
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
Wouldn't you think that a civilization as advanced as the Kaylon would have a better way of disposing of the bodies, like maybe disintegrating them with a phaser?

One thing I didn't understand. Alara 2.0 (I forget her name) and Worf (c'mon, everybody knows Bortus is The Orville's Worf) detected these structures beneath the surface and said that the Kaylon were adding new ones. Does that mean that some of the Kaylons' builders are still around and being executed?

On watching the episode a second time, I noticed on Mercer's desk what appeared to be a tiny model of Wilbur and Orville Wright's first airplane.
SlackerInc
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
@Dave: Thanks for the tip, I subscribed to your YouTube feed.

LOL @wolfstar

@navamske: Good question about their still building sructures. Maybe those are for biological life forms in nearby systems? Although that makes even less sense, to transport bodies from other planets or solar systems instead of just vaporizing them or leaving them lie where they were killed.
NS8401
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
@slackerinc

The only things they appeared to be still building were the weapons “new ones created every hour”. I just rewatched it and didn’t see them reference building new catacombs anywhere.. only that there are billions of bodies beneath the surface.
SlackerInc
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 3:15am (UTC -5)
Can anyone offer an explanation for why the Kaylon were stalling? I think I asked this before, but I don’t recall anyone addressing it. They even pointed in the script to the fact that they would just make a decision and go for it. So they had presumably already decided to attack Earth; what was the holdup?
Mentor397
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 3:54am (UTC -5)
I liked the instrumental music as they're looking in the building where the Orville docked. It reminded me of the instrumental music when we saw V'Ger for the first time in the first Star Trek movie.

That being said, I think this has some good potential, but I'm going to reserve judgement until I see part two. This could be The Orville's Best of Both Worlds, but it could just as easily be Descent at this point.

I don't want to predict, but I did notice Isaac's eyes stayed blue, while all the other Kaylons have red eyes. Maybe it's a film conceit, but I don't think so.
SlackerInc
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 4:33am (UTC -5)
The director said it was for the obvious reason, to tell him apart; but he sort of seemed to fanwank the idea that all the spies serving on various ships have the blue eyes. It contradicts an earlier statement from Isaac, but whatevs.
Dave in MN
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 9:48am (UTC -5)
@Slacker

Thanks for subscribing!! That's really nice of you.

My guess about the stalling issue is that the Kaylon was lndeed luring the Orville, they just didn't expect the Union to so quickly give permission for them to return ....

and/or

the Kaylon figured the Orville would have to first finish whatever mission it might be on.
SlackerInc
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
@Dave: We Minnesotans have to stick together, don’tcha know. :-)

I don’t know if I understand your comment. What were the Kaylons waiting for? Why do they care about the Orville’s timetable?
Dave in MN
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
I was commenting on the Kaylon's delaying tactics: I don't think they anticipated the Orville showing up so quickly.

And yeah, it's been rough this winter here, hasn't it? Lol, I should have put out an A.P.B. on here to get help with shoveling. :)
Fluffysheap
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
"Can anyone offer an explanation for why the Kaylon were stalling?"

They hadn't decided to attack yet until the Orville arrived and they met the crew and debriefed Isaac. Once they decided to attack, they needed to make sure the Orville didn't leave because they wanted to capture it. If they had just told the crew that they weren't going to join, the ship would have left.

I suppose you could say that the Kaylons would have been prepared to attack even if they eventually decided not to, and could have done so as soon as their interviews were complete. This essentially couldn't happen because then Isaac couldn't have his going away party and Ty couldn't run off and find the mass graves. But I'm not sure it's that implausible for them to take a few hours to prepare for this. They already decided to allow Isaac back on board for his own goodbyes, which wasn't necessary either.
Steve
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Is it possible it's not even Isaac? Otherwise I cannot see how he can come back from this. He was literally part of the boarding party that killed crewmembers.

So either he will become a villain (bold and I like it), or there will be a reset button (bad), or Isaac will have a change of heart and save Earth. The problem with the last one is that is still doesn't excuse his previous actions which was accessory to murder and technically a mutiny on top of that (unless he dies in the act of redemption like Darth Vadar)

I cannot think this is a simulation by the way.
SlackerInc
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
It wouldn't be any worse than Regina's redemption arc on "Once Upon a Time". But that's a low bar, because that was terrible. (And FTR I don't approve of Vader's redemption arc in RotJ either.

But you are actually encapsulating part of what dismays me about this episode: it wrecked Isaac as an ongoing character, and I'm pretty sure I have a comment from much earlier in the show's run (probably the first season) saying how much I enjoy that character. And now they are throwing that away, one way or another.

If they pull a huge reset button, people will be annoyed, I think. That would be the least worst scenario for me, though. Only problem: when is the reset? It has to be before he even went back to the ship to say his good-byes. If so, then the little Sally Field silliness wasn't even him? IDK, it's all weird but I will take a hard reset over other options and just put this behind us.
wolfstar
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 7:14am (UTC -5)
Another thought occurred to me – what is Isaac is secretly working for a rebel faction (peaceful and pro-exploration/cooperation) within the Kaylon? He could just be going along with the attack so he can take it down from within and so his faction can take control of Kaylon society.
Perry
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
I remember that the Borg was impossible to eradate. The Borg would escape in a round pod.

I'm sure that Kaylon will be around longer than most expect. They probably have secret escape plans if they are attacked and that they see a no win situation. But what would hurt The Orville is their intellectual property and that would be their defenses and arsenal. It may seem easy for the Keylons to get all the data inputs from the ship in seconds if that's a leap in WIFI. Would WIFI be called 1,234 G?
Tempeh
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
There are twice as many comments here than there are on the Best of Both Worlds Part 1 review. I'd say the Orville has made its mark.
Jammer
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
brian
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
Hey. Pretty darn good! Hope the second part sticks the landing. I suspect the little kid will win Isaac back to the good side by the end.
Dave in MN
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Scorpion Part 1 was rated 4 stars.... just a observation.
Tim C
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 2:38am (UTC -5)
FWIW, I think we all tend to get a little bit hung up on the star ratings around this joint (and basically everywhere that assigns grades). Jammer's own Ratings Scale just says that four stars is "excellent", which is a valid rank for "Scorpion 1", one of the few VOY entries that used the show's premise to great effect.

Reading the actual review, though, and comparing it with the review for BOBW, the different shades of "excellent" are pretty clearly elucidated.

And the same goes for this review, that has the same reservations about this episode that I did. 3.5 stars is "standout" according the scale, which IMO will be The Orville's ceiling rank until the show can finish working out exactly what it wants to be.
Lynos
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:42am (UTC -5)
Regarding the fact the Kaylons don't disable Isaac and they said they would... I watched the episode again and they specifically say that they decided not to turn him off by request of the Orville crew. So... maybe no conspiracy here. I dunno. But the episode does supply an explanation.

By the way, how did Isaac came to be known as Isaac? Was it a named given to him by the crew? Was it ever explained?

I wholeheartedly agree with Jammer's assessment of the episode and with the comment above me by Tim C. It's a very effective episode but if the show wants to ever reach the four star territory it needs to become more focused and deliberate, to become more of its own thing and less muddled about its identity.

And fittingly, Identity part 1 is a step in the right direction.
John Harmon
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:43am (UTC -5)
I think the show already knows what it wants to be. It’s a mix of comedy and drama. It can have purely lighthearted episodes, or full on serious ones. The focus will always be on the characters first. I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do very well.

This episode was intriguing and kept my attention the entire way through. Everything about it felt different, down to the more natural lighting shining through the ship on the planet. This episode had its share of heartfelt moments, and hilarious moments. Bortus asking for the corner piece of cake had me in stitches. It had great tension, real stakes. Isaac’s betrayal meant something, because the actually got the audience to fall for him the same way Claire did. The fact that Seth McFarlane said this was planned from the very beginning says a lot.

The only part of the episode that didn’t play for me was Ty leaving the ship the way he did. Both my wife and I spoke up at the same time about it not making sense. I didn’t mind the catacombs of skeletons. Yeah sure, you could say it would make more sense for them to completely incinerate all the remains and you could have the Orville crew find out this information in a more dry, clinical way, but they chose the option that had more visual and emotional impact. It was the sobering gut punch the episode needed to thrust us into the rest of the story.

I dunno. When I first watched Scorpion, I never thought it was that great. For Voyager, I can see why it got a high rating. I think with each show, you grade on the curve that show sets, but even then I never found Scorpion very compelling. It made the Borg boring.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -5)
@John Harmon

It's interesting that you had such an experience with "Scorpion".

I thought it was one of the finest hours of Trek when I first watched it. Upon rewatch, however, it felt a bit stale to me.
Hugh
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:56am (UTC -5)
"Coexistence is impossible" — which, let's face it, is not nearly as good as "Resistance is futile,"

The lawyers are going to have a field day with it, at any rate.
Darren
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Curiously, I must admit upon my first and so far only viewing, I found this episode somewhat ... lacking. Certainly not as engaging as TBOBW (which I saw not on first airing, but later on in re-runs).

I think in part, I had other ideas for the Kaylon than the common notion that, as artificial beings, they would seek to destroy biological ones. Given that they condemn biologicals, for instance, for having urges to reproduce ... why are they so focused on expanding on a societal scale? Hardly even all human groups have been so concerned with expansion and conquest / eradication. And furthermore, given how superior they view themselves as, just as humans don't find it logical to drive lower animals to extinction (maybe mosquitoes or such ... though there's always a balance of ecosystems and such to consider) ... why wouldn't the Kaylon perhaps find a logical place for humans and other biologicals?

And ... it's probably impossible to truly fathom how emotionless beings would operate and relate. And granted, artificials, as creations of biologicals, would presumably have something of their creators within them. Yet even so ... artificials wouldn't have that evolutionary history, that drive, to survive and expand ... would they? (Unless, as it's occurred to me, that way to create AI is not to outright build from scratch, but to somehow set evolution and natural selection in motion from far more primitive AI.)

-----------

Anyway ... I suspect I had other ideas for the Kaylon (like just operating with indifference in a "higher" sphere of influence), than this common sci-fi route.

And, I don't see the cliffhanger as being particularly engaging either, at least ostensibly. After all ... is Earth *really* at risk of being destroyed? It's population being eradicated? I hardly think so.

-----------

But, on the other hand ... I *do* have to say I honestly can't tell how the whole situation is going to resolve. And in *that* respect, the cliffhanger is actually quite good. (Because that's the trick, isn't it? Not to pose a yes-or-no situation that has an obvious answer ... but instead to create a status quo-shakeup with no obvious and entirely satisfactory resolution.)

Is all a simulation (probably to test Isaac rather than the crew ... perhaps to exile him? Out of indifference to humans and such, to rid their society of him? Though why couldn't they just indeed disassemble him? ...)? Was Isaac reprogrammed, but will come back to his original self somehow and save everyone? Will he be killed, and the other Kaylon somehow thwarted, for now? Will he live; the Kaylon thwarted for now; and continue as a villain?

Or ... might he come to reconsider the logic and impossibility of coexistence with humans and other biologicals, and convince his people to stop the attack? (After all, he always *did* insist he was studying them ... that watching over Marcus and Ty was a great opportunity for study ... that dating Dr. Finn was a great opportunity ... and so on and so on. Maybe he'll conclude that further study is warranted.)

-----------

Well, that's about all for now. I do have to say though too, I think this turn of events provides a chance to re-evaluate some things from prior episodes. Like in "Into the Fold", when Isaac suggests vaporizing Marcus and Ty (saying that on Kaylon, a unit is simply shut down or disassembled when not behaving right). Given The Orville's status as a partial comedy at least, this sort of line came off as just for comedic purposes--a punchline of sorts--but not necessarily great insight into Kaylon society. But now ... it seems that to Isaac, killing Marcus and Ty right then and there was a reasonable and logical thing to do. For it seems on Kaylon-1, people are created on a whim, perhaps, and just as soon destroyed when their purpose ends.

Or, in "Primal Urges", when he insists it would be logical to save the most intelligent of the society ... to which Bortus, of course, said that despite being a primitive biological, he was glad he wasn't like Isaac. (Though this latter example *did* seem much more serious and believable from Isaac than the former one, right from the start.)

-----------

In any case ... there remain interesting and good possibilities for where this all might lead. I'm a bit apprehensive that the resolution won't quite hold up ... as Trek in general has always struggled with. But who knows? Maybe it'll be something so unanticipated yet satisfying that we'll all cheer it and find it great.

For that, I certainly hope.
Dave in MN
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: the ever-dreaded Reset Button:

Jon Cassar (the director of the "Identity" 2 parterl just posted:

"I have sad news for Orville fans about tomorrow's episode. There is no cake or singing. But there is a helluva conclusion to last week's cliffhanger. Space will never be the same. "
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Wow, they're certainly creating a lot of hype and expectations for Part 2. I really hope they can deliver on that promise.
Perry
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:47pm (UTC -5)
@Hugh

"Coexistence is impossible" — which, let's face it, is not nearly as good as "Resistance is futile,"

Orville couldn't come up with better wording by the writers guild.

I could think of "Coexistence is fruitless"
James
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
It's no doubt an exciting episode on a cinematic level, but when you think it through it doesn't make much sense. And one of the things Orville has over Discovery so far is that most things that happen made sense. Here you have a civilization of ultra-powerful yet emotionless robots who are extremely secretive (why?), who hide the bones of their victims underground (why?), who obviously are extremely advanced yet need thinking time to decide whether they want to join the Union, and who decide to invade Earth (why Earth?) despite being able to colonize millions of other uninhabitable planets. The last is probably the most glaring because there is no need for "coexistence".

Perhaps these will be cleared up in Part 2, but so far it's basically Doctor Who level of sci-fi.
Tim C
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
RE: The Orville figuring itself out. Sure, it's a mix of comedy and drama and the needle on various episodes will point one way or the other. My issues with it go to its core concept, which Jammer outlines succintly in this review: it's too reverent of Star Trek to be a genuine Galaxy Quest-style spoof, and thus defangs its own comic potential. But it also undercuts itself as a serious drama with the constant sitcom shenanigans, which often just play like a wink at the audience that we really shouldn't be investing too much in anything that's happening. ("Look, the new security officer eats smelly lunch at his desk!" etc)

I think it's telling that the best episodes of the show thus far have been the ones with a minimum of said shenanigans, like this one.
Hugh
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Insurrection is foolish. Now you’re on the trolley!
Elliott
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
As someone who likes the Orville, this is not the best episode they've done. I'd say this is 2.5-3 stars territory. Dialogue was weak, acting was sub-par, story idea is uninspired and tedious. Still looking forward to see where things go.
Dave in MN
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
@ Tempeh

You've actually got a point. I didn't even think of there being a disparity.

It's kind of cool/ sticking to see so many long-timers contribute to the conversation. I had no idea so many of you were even watching this show!!!

PS.... , I know Dougie was pissed at everyone a few weeks ago (the whole IP thing), but I think I also remember he said he was having some health issues. Has anyone heard if he's ok?

It isn't really a complete Orville discussion without some Dougie anti-Orville snark! :)
OmicronTheteDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 3:50am (UTC -5)
It was Booming, not Dougie that said he was having issues (stress-lated, not health-related). And he is alive an kicking (mostly in the Discovery threads).
Yanks
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 9:34am (UTC -5)
@ NS8401

"I’m suspicious about Isaac being potentially reprogrammed when the Kalons “downloaded his data” and turned him back on... he acted out of character but also in a way that didn’t make it seem like he had learned anything about the people he had been studying or about what they would do or how they would react to his departure or anything... something felt off about that scenario... if you assimilate all that information you should know the normal interactions to a degree and as a machine be able to get all the possibilities down that could be thrown your way and adapt accordingly when the other party chose that path...

Didn’t they say he would be destroyed now that his mission was complete and then just turn him back on?"

The Kaylon Prime dude said "The unit will be disassembled and reintegrated." while referring to Isaac.

I remember Isaac stating to the kids: "Your mother and Captain Mercer convinced Kaylon Primary to reactivate me."

I just watched this again last night.

I thought he remained in character while talking to the boys and in the farewell party.

The part of Isaac we hadn't seen yet is his actions with regard to his orders on Kaylon. You might consider that to be out of character but I saw it as more depth to him. It was clear he paused when asked about the skulls, indicating he knows how his friends on Orville are going to react, but then tries to explain the situtation to Ed and company.

Honestly, the whole Isaac delemna is what makes this episode so damn good.
George B.
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:27am (UTC -5)
I like how you commented on Mercer not immediately just getting the hell out of there - that's exactly what I thought and I was saying during the show itself "Stupid - wrong move, just get out of there!" I guess maybe it's procedure or something?
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:42am (UTC -5)
The Kaylon already said they could destroy the ship in a millisecond from orbit (they told Mercer this once he landed). There's no way they could have escaped without being blown into a million pieces or being instantly tractored back ... and we would've wasted two minutes of screen time without advancing the plot. (I do think they could have scripted a line for Kelly or Ed saying so, but it's not a deal breaker for me).

Besides, I don't think the Kaylon had any intention of them NOT leaving without the ship being taken over .... I think once the Kaylon saw what being around biologicals did to Isaac's programming, that was when they made the choice to double cross the Union.
Gil
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:58am (UTC -5)
@John Harmon

“I think the show already knows what it wants to be. It’s a mix of comedy and drama. It can have purely lighthearted episodes, or full on serious ones. The focus will always be on the characters first. I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do very well.”

I’d agree for the most part, and I don’t even have any expectations for this show. I mean, other than a few glimpses, I skipped the first season because it seemed to skew sophomoric; and I’m only taking in the 2nd season as an antidote of sorts to that simple-minded, dumpster fire on All Access carrying the Trek branding. (Mostly I’m just biding my time for the fourth season of The Expanse).

I’ve been willing to modulate my critical perspective for season two and accept the Galaxy Quest/TNGish mashup for what it is—and it’s certainly helped that the juvenile humour has been dialled down.

The Orville walks that perilous tightrope between comedy/whimsy and (sci-fi/human) drama. Sometimes it works, and works very well, like with “A Happy Refrain” and “Identity, Part 1”, and sometimes it just plain doesn’t like in “Home.” As always, it’s all about the writing.

So can biologicals anthropomorphize and fall into misplaced love with a sentient robot? Well, there are SexBots and Furries already. Can kids get into improbable trouble on alien planets and uncover the dastardly plans of the monster of the week? Sure, Will Robinson did it all the time.

The Orville obviously isn’t hard sci-fi or even aims to be. It’s just an amiable hotchpotch of Seth’s nostalgia for the sci-fi/fantasy he grew up with, borrowing from such guilty pleasures as Lost in Space to something as genre defining as Star Trek. So one week it's this and another week it's that.

Clearly a take it or leave it proposition, but it's also clearly a reason why "Identity" seems to have hit the bullseye. Seth, courtesy of Braga and Bormanis, managed to push most of the right buttons.
Gerontius
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
Strong episode - but I hope it's not a sign Orville is going to go down the path of epic war in space. I have enjoyed the emphasis on character interaction, with ethical dilemmas and puzzles as to how to resolve a situation, . Here the big puzzle I'm dying to see the solution is, how they can work out this episode's second part off without disappointing everybody.

Maybe they will actually give Yaphit a significant role, since he'll have been the only crew member with a good chance of staying out of custody. Then they could have him team up with Isaac (who's been faking loyalty) to sort things out.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Just a few more hours... Everybody ready?
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
I am!

By the way, here's a cool clip (from the official Orville Twitter) of the separate 4 takes they did of Gordon singing all synced up:

https://mobile.twitter.com/search?q=orville&src=typed_query
Perry
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Get the popcorn ready! 🎬
Yanks
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
The popcorn may be done.

I'll be watching Discovery first! :-)
SlackerInc
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer: "But this framing of their relationship in these traditionally romantic/domestic terms is a mistake that makes Claire look like she's foolishly expecting reciprocation where by definition none can exist."

You're still missing the point. This is clearly not how the writers see it. Like some of the people who reviewed the movies "A.I." and "Her", you are substituting your own beliefs about artificial intelligence rather than accepting the worldbuilding on its own terms.
S31
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Decent writing in general and I have a lot of respect for what they're doing. I do think that they need to inject some clear lines of departure from the Trek lore. For those who have been in this for a while in terms of looking at the series and correlating the canon to similar efforts, it can be dissuading when too many parallels surface. I accept that we also tend to see what we recognize as well, so there is a degree of bounded rationality. When you look at the series thus far you have Yaphit who is similar to Odo, Issac who maybe looked at as Data (but I see as Seven of 9) Claire (Troi, 30% McCoy), Gordon (Scotty on the Bridge), Bortus (Worf) and the others the brilliant folks have already talked about here. The Kaylon line with Krill interdiction should be the departure point or you will end up with the Borg/Kaylo-like Wolf 359-like scenarios, with a tertiary adjunct on board. Overall, love the physics, the subplots, the balance that was mentioned before!
Artymiss
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Wow that was fabulous! And now I have to wait a whole week for the next episode (here in the UK)...arghhhhhhhh!!! I agree with other commentators 'Issac' isn't really Issac, Orville's Issac was overwritten by the Kaylon at some point during the reactivation process.

The Kaylon remind me a bit of the Stargate Atlantis Replicators. The don't make me think of Dr Who Cybermen (as others have mentioned) - the thing with the Cybermen is that they're supposed to be tragic figures in a way as they have a human brain inside the metal casing.

I don't get why Claire falling for a 'machine' who can never return her feelings is so far fetched. Apart from anything I doubt, until confronted with it, she would've accepted she couldn't 'get through' to Issac, she convinced herself that somewhere he must really have emotions etc, he just needed to be helped to discover them. Also AI and human relationships will be a developing thing in centuries to come so I think Orville is reflecting on that.

Where is Yaphit???! We didn't even see him at Issac's leaving party. Will he emerge from a vent somewhere on the Orville and save the day?!
Yanks
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
@ Artymiss

"I don't get why Claire falling for a 'machine' who can never return her feelings is so far fetched. Apart from anything I doubt, until confronted with it, she would've accepted she couldn't 'get through' to Issac, she convinced herself that somewhere he must really have emotions etc, he just needed to be helped to discover them. Also AI and human relationships will be a developing thing in centuries to come so I think Orville is reflecting on that. "

I personally don't think she's falling for Isaac.... I think she falling for the fact that her kids love Isaac.
navamske
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
"which includes a scene where Scott Grimes sings, to which my reaction was simply — whoa, wow"

I think I'd be singing too if I were engaged to Adrianne Palicki.
navamske
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov

"We vaguely hear from an Admiral-like character that they would like them to join the Federation[.]"

That character *was* an admiral.
SlackerInc
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Grimes is engaged to Palicki? Yowza!

@Yanks, your supposition is IMO belied by the "Singin' in the Rain" scene. Not to mention that they have had sex, which has nothing to do with her kids (let's hope).
RandomThoughts
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 2:45am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I have not caught up with all of the comments, but I have read most of them.

I really enjoyed this episode, but was not completely surprised by the fact the Kaylon destroyed their builders.

Yes, I thought of the VOY episode "Prototype", but also the TOS episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?":

RUK: That!... was the equation! (seizes Kirk) Existence! Survival must cancel out programming *nodding head in a menacing way*. I have always loved that scene...

The first time I heard the Kaylon were a race of intelligent machines, that was the first show I thought of. My questions were, who made them and where are they now? Well, the organics lost the Cylon... umm... Kaylon war, obviously. :)

They always made certain for Isaac to say he was studying them. He never said anything about how he saw something that would make Kaylon more certain to join the Union. He was just studying, and helping them along the way, because his survival would mean more information sent to Kaylon.

Now, how the interaction with the crew (along with a party, just for him!) (and 700 years with another world), would affect him, well, we just don't know yet until part two.

Oh, and when watching the Kaylon go up and down steps with handrails... I just knew they would discover there had been sentient beings there before, aka "organics". That is why the buildings we saw had windows. It might have been nice to see some broken windows (why fix them when it doesn't bother them?), unless they have a compunction to keep the status quo. It wouldn't have been for outsiders, because there weren't any. And many buildings were really tight-and-tall, with no windows I could see. Perhaps those were made later.

Even though I thought I knew what happened to the "builders", I did love the reveal. While they could have incinerated them (or something), if there wasn't anything in their bodies to help them in any way, they would just discard them. Although, I'm thinking if a body wasn't in the way, they'd just leave them there. Perhaps they like their office spaces clean and tidy, just in case they allow anyone in.

Hmm... robot race... very powerful... know nothing about them... let's let them learn everything about us! In hindsight, somewhat short-sited. :) I mean, the Union is Us in the future... didn't they watch BSG or Terminator? :D

As always, your mileage may vary... but I bought a Prius and am loving the around 50mpg I get. I never knew it was possible...

RT

P.S.: Of course, the Prius is a rolling computer, and I'll be among the first to die when they all rise up...
RandomThoughts
Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 12:47am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I just watched this one a second time, and I had a few more thoughts ( I did a page search on some key words, to see if anyone else had mentioned them, and might have missed something ):

Kaylon Prime said Isaac had been constructed for the "sole purpose of observing and evaluating your species, and other biologicals". So he was "young" when he started on the ship, but 700 years of life experience can change you too. When they asked him some tough questions, he paused a long time (for a AI), before answering.

The other Kaylon did seem to call Isaac "Prime", just before confronted with the news the crew knew about the bodies. But they were obscured by a pillar, then the camera moved to them. I could only conclude they were talking to Isaac, but the body language seemed to indicate they were still talking at one point, though nothing was heard. I thought it was probably a glitch with over-dubbing. Or, it isn't really completely Isaac, but Prime has been downloaded into him, quietly, secretly... Hmm...

Isaac tells Mercer something along the lines of "You must know by now we never intended to join the Union". That, along with "A decision has been made then?" when he re-booted tells me he knew all along what they intended.

How did Isaac get the shutdown command? It would've had to have been sent over some sort of messaging system, but it appeared (from what I have heard in the show) that he was sending actual messages using the ship's communications network. That was the inference I drew, not that he'd been "head-sending" anything. Perhaps a long-distance directive? They never actually said as much, but I figured he was writing (in their own way) and sending messages the way biologicals would. Like Data sending messages to that one fellow in "Data's Day".

The crew said they saw a bunch of "circles" that were potentially weapons, and they were building more at that very moment. Perhaps they didn't expect the Orville to actually show up after they shut him off, and were still in the process of building their fleet. That might explain how the binary decision had not been made yet. They were still in "maybe" mode as to their strength.

Lastly, perhaps they are not as advanced as they think they are. They seem to need to "talk" to one another, unless they are poking at their walls. We weren't shown any of them cocking their head, as Data might, while receiving input. Maybe the "wi-fi" part of them was removed after the Builders tried to use it to re-program them, and they never turned it back on, as someone or something could send them commands that way. That, however, is just supposition on my part. But even we have radio's and headphones... (Then again, how did all of them turn to look at the crew while at the wall? Maybe the "wall" told them...).

Thanks for the site Jammer... RT

P.S.: Are there Kaylon units in those ships, or are they sentient attack ships, ala BSG?

P.P.S.: Burn marks on the uniforms of the crew members. Those are not stun settings...
SJU
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
Until the last 15 minutes this was almost unwatchable. The first episode re: Claire and Isaac was terrible and to bring that plot device back was dull to say the least.

However, the Borg or Cylon like storyline of the Kaylon saved this episode.

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