"Identity, Part I"
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
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
166 comments on this post
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
And that freaking cliffhanger!!!! Jeez, it's kind of like watching BOBW for the first time. Chills.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
(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.)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
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)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, I liked it a lot, especially Isaac’s final scene. I’ll go at least 3 shiny stars.
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:09am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:12am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:12am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:23am (UTC -5)
Definitely on par with BOBW. Possibly better because of everything that has built to this.
Predictions: Isaac will save the day. But maybe not.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 3:40am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 3:49am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:28am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:41am (UTC -5)
Nice test - they've already killed a number of Orville crewmembers.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:42am (UTC -5)
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)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:45am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:05am (UTC -5)
Great episode though.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:16am (UTC -5)
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
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:16am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:26am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 7:41am (UTC -5)
Here is my two word Review:
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:22am (UTC -5)
Look no further than the episode itself:
"COEXISTENCE IS IMPOSSIBLE"
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:39am (UTC -5)
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?).
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:48am (UTC -5)
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...
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:10am (UTC -5)
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).
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:15am (UTC -5)
"Blood Patriots" (maybe an aftermath of the Kaylon/Union conflict?)
"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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:31am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 11:17am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
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!!!!
I think 'The Orville's' finest episode thus far.
4 stars from me easy.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 4:29pm (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. "
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
TBOBW was the last time I had to pick up my jaw off the ground at a cliffhanger.
.....29 years ago.
Ho. Lee. Shit.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -5)
@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".)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:46am (UTC -5)
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!
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:58am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 4:48am (UTC -5)
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.
- (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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 5:18am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 5:40am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:20am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:04am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 10:17am (UTC -5)
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...
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 11:41am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
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!
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
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)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
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.)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
What a shower of shit Discovery is by comparison.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
I misread your comment earlier ... somehow I missed the " I'm teasing" part. Sorry about that.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Didn’t they say he would be destroyed now that his mission was complete and then just turn him back on?
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 2:53am (UTC -5)
- 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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 3:00am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 3:03am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:41am (UTC -5)
For the record, I think the final scene was very effective.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 6:53am (UTC -5)
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.)
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -5)
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).
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
I kind of have a knack for learning instruments, though: you can look me up on YouTube (Permanent Tourist) if you're curious/doubtful.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
@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.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 3:15am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 3:54am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 4:33am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 9:48am (UTC -5)
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 ....
the Kaylon figured the Orville would have to first finish whatever mission it might be on.
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
I don’t know if I understand your comment. What were the Kaylons waiting for? Why do they care about the Orville’s timetable?
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
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. :)
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 7:14am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
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?
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 2:38am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:42am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:43am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:56am (UTC -5)
The lawyers are going to have a field day with it, at any rate.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
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. "
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:47pm (UTC -5)
"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"
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Perhaps these will be cleared up in Part 2, but so far it's basically Doctor Who level of sci-fi.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
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! :)
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 3:50am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 9:34am (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?"
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.
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:27am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:42am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:58am (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.”
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.
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
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:
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
I'll be watching Discovery first! :-)
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 11:59am (UTC -5)
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?!
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
I think I'd be singing too if I were engaged to Adrianne Palicki.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
"We vaguely hear from an Admiral-like character that they would like them to join the Federation[.]"
That character *was* an admiral.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
@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).
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 2:45am (UTC -5)
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...
P.S.: Of course, the Prius is a rolling computer, and I'll be among the first to die when they all rise up...
Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 12:47am (UTC -5)
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...
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
However, the Borg or Cylon like storyline of the Kaylon saved this episode.
Fri, Jun 14, 2019, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Couple of things: I also expected Mercer was going to get his ship and crew out of there after discovery of the skeletons. As for the head cannons, I'm thinking maybe that was done because having weapons come from Kaylon hands or arms would have seemed too much like the Cylon Centurions from Battlestar Galactica.
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Let's start with the bad. The whole fairly annoying relationship between Ed and Kelly is now a distant second to the awfulness of Dr. Kasidy/Kaylon. Seriously, does she have brain damage. She made me cringe several times. What part of "it has no emotions" does Dr. duh doy not understand. Data at least tried and they knew him for years but Isaac pretty openly showed that he is there to study stuff. He was manipulating her to keep it going to study relationships. I could not care less about this stupid love story if I tried. It severely lessened my enjoyment of the episode. This isn't helped by the fact that the younger son can not act. The older brother is ok but the kid... he once ran away and I thought:"Yes kid, run to an acting school."
That this stupid love story is the launching pad for the actual story is a shame. If they had two or three scenes with Dr. Dodo cursing about what a shitty robot Kaylon is maybe I could have swallowed that but again and again she goes into these monologues *sigh*. Ok enough about that.
The so and so.
To make this work one has to suspense disbelief a few times like when the kid just walks off the ship or that the robots don't notice him or that he immediately runs into giant piles of fairly human looking skeletons. Why would they keep them? For an emotionless species that makes no sense.
Barely any humor apart from some Moclan deadpans and Malloy's cancer line. None of it landed for me but none of it was annoying as well. That is a definite eh.
Watching dozens of people run around in these silver suits made me chuckle a few times. It looks kind of silly.
Why keep the Orville around? Why not just destroy them? (ep2??)
Now to the good.
This is the first episode where the soundtrack is fitting. Often the music is grand and dramatic in situations that are not. Here the stakes were very high. That is were the music has to go big.
This episode felt more like a doctor who episode. It is a little sad that the red eyes give away very early that these guys are evil. Is there an in universe explanation why Kaylon's eyes are blue? (ep2??) Or is it just there so that we can tell him apart?
This brings us to the big reveal and I must admit it is so gigantic it surprised me. I thought the kid had just discovered some giant space weapon but these endless caverns full of skeletons. Ed of course immediately does the smart thing and runs to the ship and warns his crew... no like an idiot he goes to the robot people and asks them if they have a good explanation for the endless piles of dead people under their city... employee of the month ladies and gentlemen.
This ends with an interesting cliffhanger. I have seen that Jammer has given this 3 1/2. Haven't read his review. I would be somewhere between 3 and 2 1/2. The love story is just too bad. The rest is good.
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
But again, it's a mileage may vary thing with how much credence the viewer gives that plot thread. I don't find that it conflicts with what we know of Dr. Finn. She likes a challenge and she's very intelligent: I can see why she would find Isaac appealing .... but that's just my opinion.
I might not agree with all your criticisms, but I'm glad you are keeping an open mind and enjoying yourself, Booming.
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
"appealingly curious and innocent nature"
People seem to have that reaction to the robot but when you actually listen to what that little unfeeling space Nazi is saying then it is often pretty chilling. Seriously just listen to what that toaster (BSG reference:) is saying. Inferior that superior this.
"I personally don't find it that difficult to believe Dr. Finn would like Isaac"
And I wouldn't have a problem with the Doc liking him but being really in love. He is an unfeeling machine. How can she be insulted by him being unfeeling? If she is very smart then she should have known what she got herself into.
But as you say. It really comes down to how you perceive their relationship.
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
"What part of 'it has no emotions' does Dr. duh doy not understand."
The part where Isaac discovered that he can't really function properly without her, so he had to apologize and beg for a second chance, which happened just two episodes ago :-)
Maybe he doesn't have emotions par-se, but something is definitely afoot.
So no, I don't think we can really critique Dr. Finn for either expecting better from Isaac (at first) or for feeling betrayal. He has earned both of these reactions.
"Why keep the Orville around? Why not just destroy them? (ep2??)"
Yes. Ep2. :-)
As a side note, I love the irony of Isaac's Sally Field speech, given what he ended up doing by the end of the episode. Like, yeah, *now* you like me, but just wait until you see what I and my Kaylon pals have in store for you... boy, are you going to change your mind. :-)
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 1:42am (UTC -5)
"The part where Isaac discovered that he can't really function properly without her, so he had to apologize and beg for a second chance, which happened just two episodes ago :-)"
Even though we all have started drinking earlier and earlier ;) I do remember and found it pretty stupid too. What happens is that Dr Dorobots tells ... ... (uhh just thought about Robot penis; Is it silvery... ...)... ... whatever ok the doc tells Isaac that he has to delete their relationship stuff and that poses a problem for him because subroutines/plot contrivances. He is 5000x smarter than anybody but cannot replace two weeks of Dr Finn influenced subroutines? Even if we somehow accept that he cannot function properly without these subroutines then that is not love or feelings that is called codependency. Not a great foundation for a relationship, avery bad one acutally. Dr Finn could just let him keep the data of her relationship and Isaac would be fine. Starting a relationship with Isaac is one thing. It is certain that he will break her heart but introducing that machine as a new father figure to her children is so irresponsible, one should think about calling child protection services. And shock! Both children are immediately emotionally scarred for life, not counting the giant piles of Human remains. Great parenting Doc.
"As a side note, I love the irony of Isaac's Sally Field speech, given what he ended up doing by the end of the episode."
Is that irony? He knows that he is only there to assess if they should murder all organic life. At the time of the party he must be aware what his botbros have already started executing Plan "murder all Humans" but still goes to a party thrown in his honor and gives a bond villain speech. It is because of his data that they decide to murder everybody. Well thank you Isaac. So long, pal! If you ignore the Data 0.5 emotions towards Isaac and just listen to what he says over and over you will notice that we barely reach pet status. For him we seem to be more in the labrat department.
I guess Isaac will have some kind of "I don't want the puny Humans to die" moment. We shall see.
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 9:36am (UTC -5)
Did he really know? I'm not sure at all that he knew. He was there to assess humanity. I don't think he was ever given information about the actual plan. Looking back, he certainly didn't act like someone who had this information.
And the rest of our conversation should really wait until you've watched part II, for obvious reasons. :-)
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 10:19am (UTC -5)
If I remember correctly he says pretty clearly what his mission was.
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Well, at least now we know why Isaac never said anything about the Kaylons' creators, a question I would have expected, if not from Mercer, then at least from the doctor. (AIs do not create themselves, and about personal matters during a rendezvous usually is not a one-way road.)
One opinion I don't quite share:
"Coexistence is impossible" is not nearly as good "Resistance is futile".
Nobody would argue that the Borg are a much more serious adversary than the Kaylons. On the other hand, the Borg have their evil-ness written all over them. No sane person would seriously consider a romantic relationship with anything resembling a fully assimilated Borg or a Cylon centurion, let alone having one of them look after your children (well, at least if you care about them). I understand your qualms about these matters in Isaac's case, but for the most part, he seems to be closer to Data, who has been the object of romantic interests several times.
The twist regarding the Kaylons is the fact that, in the beginning, they don't seem menacing at all. And as the other shoe drops, the story remains consequent by showing them as unfeeling bureaucrats rather than aggressors/conquerors. The quote gets along well with that philosophy: As a logical conclusion of their researches, the eradication of all organic life is simply a matter of necessity.
Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Did you skip ahead? I
I really wanted to see what you thought about "A Happy Refrain" and "Deflectors" (which I think is an incredibly powerful episode that puts TNG's "The Outcast"" to shame).
Wed, Feb 17, 2021, 8:37am (UTC -5)
No I’m watching all the episodes in order I just watched three in a row in a hurry and didn’t have much to say. I liked both of those episodes my only problem is when Isaac regularly makes it clear he’s fully a robot without feelings that Claire would be unattractive to that. Isaac is not like Data who badly wanted to be human and constantly tried to be. Isaac is constantly saying “I’m here to examine humans, I am incapable of feelings”. Deflectors I also liked. I always appreciate when a show doesn’t go for the easy “happy ending” and everything isn’t neatly wrapped up. Everyone involved was left unhappy and I found it particularly sad at the end when Bortus went home and his husband so bad wanted him to be affectionate and happy to be home but Bortus isn’t happy with everything at home.
Wed, Feb 17, 2021, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
I had the same reception with that episode. There's something about the light-hearted tone of the show that allows the serious moments have real weight and impact.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Nice work giving Isaac Data's voice so that viewers get comfotable with him. But as I pointed out, Isaac had no desire to be human. The fact that he viewed humanity as inferior definitely should have been taken more seriously.
Sun, Dec 5, 2021, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
A great episode indeed, I might opine that "resistance is futile" is on par eith the cheesy "resistance is useless" that dominated sci-fi in the 60s and 70s. Especislly Doctor Who. Trek made cliche of "resistance is futile" soon enough anyhow. "Coexistence is impossible" comes across more chillingly either way as it leads to follow up statements like "resistance is useless" and they didn't go there, thankfully. Didn't need to.
If anything, the Kaylon force didn't need them having to have the Orville or its crew whatsoever.. no need to trick, they're too mighty. It's the ultimate "get out of plot free" card as a setup to save the day at the end...
Then comes rhe follow up episode... and the scant few times they follow up with Finn'n'Fam after that...
Wed, Apr 13, 2022, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
after so many positive comments I am surprised that no one mentioned the acting of Kai Wener as Ty Finn (youngest son). He was really great. The scenes in the cavern when he first see something horrific but we do not see it yet whas magnificent. I really liked this horror buil up.
Mon, Jun 20, 2022, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
"Identity" does make use of a great slow-burn, as Jammer mentioned. In the first scene there's Isaac playing a game with the kids, and by the end of the show, All AI Hell has broken loose. The journey from there to here was well-paced and well-produced. It was just fairly bog-standard.
Once again, we're being asked to believe that Claire expects Isaac to have "feelings" where none exist. You'd think she would have learned her lesson after "A Happy Refrain," but she's still accusing Isaac of acting unfeeling and not thinking about how hurt her boys are about its departure, demanding that, "You could at least try." This is the same kind of bullshit that the human crew is piling onto Klyden lately -- YOU NEED TO BE MORE LIKE US! (Isaac does tell her off, in a way: "That is not possible for an artificial lifeform.")
So sure. Mercer's disappointed, Claire is hurt, and Grayson is regretful that Isaac is leaving. These are all fine, realistic character beats. And I do have to say, Malloy's goodbye song to Isaac and Isaac's Sally Field acceptance-speech callback were both brilliant little touches that fit this series well.
There's even a little story to be found here about abandonment issues in children, through the lens of little Ty of course. One thing confused me -- Ty says to Isaac in that heartbreaking cracking tone, "But, you were going to be our new Dad."
New Dad?! Did I miss something? I thought there was never any *old* Dad. Didn't Claire go the artificial route (like she's been doing with her choice of lovers lately)? A spew of some surrogate sperm may pass as a father, but it can never be a *Dad.* But I digress. Basically it's an old familiar tale--the kid's father-figure is going away, and where does that leave Ty? Penny Johnson Jerald is game for this material, and she basically says all the right things to Ty (I mean, what else can she say?) And Kai Wener, the actor who portrays Ty, is outstanding throughout this arc. But just like the AI horror story, it's treading through familiar waters. This is the padding throughout the burn.
There are actually two reveals here: the plot reveal (the Kaylon are about to annihilate biological life throughout the galaxy) and the character reveal (Isaac knew about their true plan the whole time that it's been on the Orville). Both are handled fine. Seth MacFarlane and especially Jerald milk the tension when it's discovered that Isaac has been playing them, and the takeover of the ship followed by those hellish Kaylon destroyers rising out of the maelstrom were scenes that were wonderfully executed (I'm with Jammer though--those crew members passing for resistance were asking to get shot). As far as the skeletons in the Kaylon's basement, I'm with Jammer there as well -- the bodies are still lying around purely for shock value. If you want to dig (no pun intended) for an in-universe character reason on the part of the Kaylon, how about: they have so much indifference toward their creators they can't be bothered with getting rid of their bodies properly; they can't justify that expense of energy. It made for a great visual, I'll give it that.
So I'll list a few possibilities in terms of where I see this possibly going. Some depend on Mark Jackson leaving the show as a regular, and some don't.
1. NO MORE ISAAC -- Isaac is a full-on villain now, and because we can't have a full-on villain walking through the ship and playing further practical jokes against Malloy, Isaac will either be killed off or possibly become a recurring character (the bad guy).
2. ISAAC HAS BEEN REPROGRAMMED -- The Kaylon futzed with Isaac's mind while it was deactivated so that they would have its complete obedience. Of course, I doubt that anyone on the Orville would be able to fix this. And how would they know? How would they prove it? So it could still mean Isaac is done as a character. But it would be a heady explanation and one that condemns AI's even further. Technology can be hacked, folks.
3. ISAAC IS A DOUBLE AGENT -- Isaac is still working in the interests of The Orville. It's playing the Kaylon and will betray them. Of course, it would save Mercer a lot of agita if he knew this because Isaac had bothered to tell him. But for that matter:
4. ISAAC, MERCER AND GRAYSON HAVE A PLAN -- Not only is Isaac playing the Kaylon, but Mercer and Grayson were brought in on it too. They all have some ace in the hole to play. Of course, if this the answer, a lot of head-cannon fodder had to die aboard the ship, so that sucks.
5. ISAAC WILL SACRIFICE ITSELF OR CHANGE ITS MIND -- And they all lived happily ever after. This is the one I'm dreading, because it's so damn typical and obvious not for an AI, but for a Hollywood feel-good script written about AI's. Isaac will have "feelings" after all and decide to betray the Kaylon and save the ship. This requires that Isaac is fully committed to the Kaylon's plan, which makes sense, but then must reach some epiphany, or find some letter that Claire wrote, or be faced with killing Marcus on the Kaylon's orders or something lame like that. If they go this obvious route, I at least hope there's some believability in the resolution.
I think I covered all of the possible ways that this could end for Isaac.
Basically, "Identity" has some great pacing, good solid visuals, and kicks things up a few notches in the last act. It's mostly competent setup, but with Big Ideas that are unfortunately not that big at all.
Malloy -- "Haaaahhhh! You should have seen the look on your face! Hahhah!"
My Grade: B-
Mon, Apr 17, 2023, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
Submit a comment
◄ Season Index