Claire's ex-husband, Admiral Paul Christie (James Read), who was her former professor way back in the day before they got married and then divorced, and who is now a top Union diplomat, comes aboard the Orville to negotiate passage through an area of Krill space that could open up entirely new exploration opportunities.
Included in this area of space are "shadow realms" that the Krill say should be avoided, because of the "demons" that exist within them. Because the Krill base this, like everything, in their religious fanaticism, Christie and Mercer are skeptical of the warning, and think exploration of this area of space is still important.
From there ... ah, hell, let's just do it as bullet points expanded from the notes I took. This frankly doesn't deserve an organized argument.
- Kelly and Claire again having thoughtful discussions about Claire's personal issues makes for a good matchup. The two of them as drinking buddies is even better.
- The Kalaar Expanse is what the Krill say is a "domain of evil" where demons dwell. The Krill offer a prayer to the Orville crew when they learn they intend to pass through it. It's a prayer for those who are about to die. This can't be a good sign. Maybe Mercer should heed the warning like Admiral Halsey recommends: "If this were a horror movie, I would say don't go into the house."
- Mercer's big speech about exploring this new horizon ends with: "May the Force be with you." No word yet if Star Trek exists in Earth's pop culture past of The Orville, in which case the saying should of course be "boldly go."
- Admiral Christie asks the robot for advice, since word is he had a relationship with Claire. Christie cuts Isaac off when he gets to the part about favorite sexual positions, as well Christie should. Dear lord. My internal Christie monologue: IF I WERE THE MAN I WAS FIVE YEARS AGO, I'D TAKE A FLAMETHROWER TO THIS PLACE!
- Anne Winters, who plays Ensign Burke is ... not great.
- The Kalaar Expanse is a starless void, like the void in Voyager's "Night." Malloy says, "Entering haunted house." Way to hang a lampshade on it, writers!
- The crew visits a mysterious space station made up of bio-tech. The admiral sees the bottom half of a glowing white pumpkin open up and it sprays him with something invisible. Later he has a violent seizure that seriously effs up his face.
- Yes! They actually said "rewriting his DNA"! (Take a shot!) He's turning into a grotesque, bug-eyed alien creature!
- Yes! Just what the doctor ordered! A Fun With DNA™ mash-up of TNG's "Genesis" and "Identity Crisis," brought to us by none other than the one and only Brannon Braga!
- Claire needs more information to possibly treat Christie. So let's go back over to the space station rather than getting the hell out of here right now! Great idea! This time we'll go in space suits, like we should've the first time!
- The bug-eyed Christie escapes sickbay and then uses his admiral cheat codes to shut down the whole ship. Now it's dark! A true haunted house, just like Malloy said! Jump scares! Lots of walking around with flashlights! "The Haunting of Deck Twelve"! Low-rent Alien!
- Poor Lt. Woodson. Sprayed in the face with alien goo and transformed because he's ... set up as the guy to have that happen to him.
- Why is everyone, for the longest time, walking around the ship unarmed?
- The episode remembers that Talla is a super-strong Xeleyan just in time to have some really bad CGI fights with the aliens that she tosses around like rag dolls. As action goes, this is high-def Andromeda-level good.
- John Debney's score here at times sounds like old-school ‘80s/'90s Alan Silvestri. Other times, like Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway from TNG.
- The vessel from the "mating call" distress signal arrives, but it ends up being almost completely irrelevant to the story.
- Bortus, on the sniffles: "I am prepared." Best line of the episode. You can't lose when you crib Worf's deadpan.
- Claire has a personal heart-to-heart with Paul the bug-eyed alien. Paul: "We. Go. Not. Forever." Then he crawls into the rafters. Did they leave the ship? We don't see them leave or go to the mysterious alien ship. It's a weird non-ending with that vessel just sitting out there, which we never see leave or anything. The idea that these aliens might be revisited feels like one of those promises for a sequel that will never happen, like TNG's "Conspiracy." In this case, I definitely hope it doesn't happen.
- Poor Claire. Put through the wringer yet again in having to watch her ex-husband get transformed into a bug-eyed monster bent on transforming all of us into them. The world ain't fair. But it ends with Claire agreeing to sit down with Isaac again, so I guess this will drive them back together. Sigh.
- 65 minutes is too long for an episode like this. It needs to be lean and mean, not long and bloated. Or better yet, a completely different episode altogether.
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