The Orville

“Shadow Realms”

1.5 stars.

Air date: 6/9/2022
Written by Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
Directed by Jon Cassar

Review Text

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.

Previous episode: Electric Sheep
Next episode: Mortality Paradox

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75 comments on this post

    Just what we needed, Braga pilfering from his TNG "Genesis" script. I can't rank it as harshly as that episode because the first half of this is pretty solid but it's been a while since I've seen an episode tank so hard in its second half.

    TNG's Genesis meets TNG's Identity Crisis, with creatures from a Wraith ship from Stargate Atlantis.

    The Trek staple of rewriting DNA, but in this case it's via coughing up a ball of phlegm on a victim and takes effect as fast as the zombie bite from World War Z.

    Why, Orville, why?

    Being visually impressive gives it the gift of 2 stars.

    A step down from last week's premiere for sure. And another "Fun with DNA" to boot. One would hope that Braga in the years since would've learned about how DNA works and NOT gone back to that well, but, I suppose he's got a thing for body horror.

    And along with horror comes poor decision making from characters that should have better common sence, only this time, with Kids. Frankly, once the Krill started talking about demonic posession (remember this episode started with a diplomatic envoy mission? Before turning into Enterprise's "Twilight" in The Expanse) I knew this was gonna turn into a typical low-key horror episode and prepared for all the familiar tropes that would accompany that genre shift. I mean, on some level the idea IS for us to comment on how dumb the characters are in horror: "Don't go in thete! Don't stop to look at that! Don't run TOWARD thecreepy noise!" It's horror staple.

    That's always been Trek's problem when tackling horror. Part of the audience reception is tied to.charcters making poor decisions - and yet Trek (and by extention The Orville) is built on characters who DON'T make poor decisions. So there's a clashing.

    Buuut, I'd be lying if I said that for all the cliche horror elements and tropes, I was nice to even having an episode that resembled and felt like what bad old Trek used to feel like. The Orville is now even bad in ways that feel familiar and comforting.

    In short, I was underwhelmed, yet still satisfied? And certainly, there were good moments throughout. I'll take lackluster like this over just straight up awful like I've come to expect from current Star Trek.

    Not a single butthole joke as the shuttle was flying into the sphincter. Seth, I didn't know you had it in you.

    Also, this is what you get when you hire Brannon Braga. The guy literally hasn't been a competent television writer since the 21st century began, which is over 20 years ago now. Ugh. Seth, I know you want him for your show because you're such a Star Trek fanboy that it tickles you to see his name with a producer credit on your totally-not-Star-Trek-don't-sue-me show, but open your eyes, man.

    They're not the Borg . . . they're the Organoborg!

    One star for the character work with Claire. Barely.

    It's a mutual sharing of responsibilities between two Star Trek veterans, Braga and Andre Bormanis, for the script.

    Did they cut ten minutes from the script explaining HOW the spiderheads got off the ship at the end? The few scenarios I can think of either involve packing them into a shuttle with an uncomfortable pilot and taking them back to the alien ship, or letting the new ship land on the Orville, or teleporting them across. I'd grudgingly accept any of those if they'd just tried to show us.

    At least the mutated admiral didn't kidnap Claire and transwarp her in a shuttle to some swamp on a planet and have babies with her.

    @ Colin Lindsly

    Respectfully, you don’t know that just because his name is also on it. That isn’t how screenwriting credits work.

    Bortus turning up his nose at something? Did the writers forget that he can literally eat anything?

    Aha! Score a point for the "Isaac has feelings" camp! "A challenge to process her daily absence", he says.

    Two million years old? Awfully young, isn't it?

    Maybe they should have used the space suits the first time – ya think?

    This episode had some kind of boring stretches. I suspect the lack of time limitations are not necessarily helpful, which is a problem we have seen on other streaming series as well.

    2.5 stars.

    The ship that appeared at the end seemed to end up being a total cipher. It only ended up suggesting that the species could travel rather than just be quarantined with warnings of "demons be here"., which sounds like a problem, especially paired with the warning that Transformed Ambassador Guy spit out (literally) at the end.

    I'll be annoyed if this species makes a return engagement on this show.

    Someone linked this to the TNG episode "Genesis". Maybe - but it made me think more of "Identity Crisis" (also by Brannon Braga!). A definite riff on the "Alien" series, too - lots of creeping around dark corridors, and monsters scampering along the walls and ceiling. Mind you, there's nothing original under the sun - this and all of the above sources also link back to the classic "Doctor Who" story "The Ark in Space" (which, if you are at all into classic Who, and can suspend disbelief even when the monsters are quite clearly made from bubble wrap) is a must-see.

    SlackerInc said:

    "Maybe they should have used the space suits the first time – ya think?"

    The plot needed them not to.

    Reminds me of how the first time in Stargate that a MALP was sent before SG-1 went through was the time a planet was being eaten by a black fortunate for SG-1.

    But not so much for SG-10 that went before them. The plot needed them to die in slow motion.

    It looked good. I mean, really good, not over­blown or show-offy. Both the digi­tal ef­fects and the set de­sign were great, with mo­dern tech­no­logy but just enough retro look to fit the uni­que, some­what ana­chro­nis­tic style of the show (the CGI fight sce­nes did not im­press so much, though).

    But if gushing about the visuals is the best praise I can find for an epis­ode, then that epis­ode has failed. Now, I hate “Ge­nesis” not even half as much as more than half of the Star Trek fans seem to think ap­pro­pri­ate. But it is cer­tain­ly not a TNG high­light, and re­ma­king it does not seem a good idea, espe­ci­ally if no­thing of sub­stan­ce is ad­ded. “Genesis”, at the very least, flan­deriz­ed the TNG cha­rac­ters by blow­ing up one estab­lish­ed cha­rac­ter trait to trans-par­ody pro­por­tions, which was amusing. “Sha­dow Realms” did no­thing for the cha­rac­ters (ex­cept for Claire, may­be), it was just a not-so-inter­est­ing in­con­se­quen­tial ad­ven­ture walk­ing down a well-trod­den but un­attrac­tive path.

    Worse, “Shadow Reals” also repeats several of the sins com­­mit­ted by “Gene­sis”: Bad scien­­ce, bad se­cu­ri­ty and, worst of all, no ack­now­ledge­ment of those who got lost — they didn’t even say how many. The ending seemed rather rushed, which should not hap­pen given the one hour plus run­time. After the strong sea­son ope­ner, this was a real dis­appoint­ment, and SNW is clearly wins this week’s Thurs­day SF com­peti­tion, strange and new as it may be.

    Also, where is all the fun the Orville crew was once fa­mous for?

    "no ack­now­ledge­ment of those who got lost — they didn’t even say how many"

    Presumably that cute nurse in sickbay was one that was turned into an alien, but I could have sworn he died already in a previous episode.

    I always look at things like this and say "Okay, how could I keep it, but give it depth?".

    Why is that sector of space nearly devoid of stars? Because these aliens once lived there and were fighting/infecting everyone around them...

    Until someone said "Fine" and blew it all up. Sadly some survived, and now they rely on these pathetic little beacons to slowly rebuild their numbers. The Krill apparently had enough good sense to stop feeding these things ships and crews after a certain point in time.

    At any rate, I agree with pretty much everyone's criticism, but ultimately, Orville is invested in simply rehashing tropes, which, it does, and is slowly improving upon. I didn't hear anything cringeworthy (from a humor/human dignity perspective) and that's growth.

    IMO this is one of the weakest "Orville" episodes, and also the most pretentious.

    This script - a rehash of Cronenberg's "The Fly", "Aliens", "Event Horizon", TNG's "Genesis", and various zombie movies etc - is simply not good enough to warrant a 65+ minute running time, an incessant orchestral score, no big jokes, and a 15 minute first-act dedicated to "serious" and "solemn" character development.

    Cut this down to 45 minutes and stick some big laughs in it, and you'd have a fun episode. As it is, this is bloated, overly-serious, and reaching for things the episode can't come close to delivering.

    The idea of the episode being built around the slow, tragic loss of an ex-lover as he's consumed by "alien DNA" with devilishly religious overtones, is a good one. But the end result is mostly guys in rubber suits getting shot by lasers. There's a mismatch between what the episode thinks it is and what it really is (mid-tier Braga)

    Just finished watching this episode with my brother. We both thought this episode was pretty entertaining, with some mis-steps.

    2.5 out of 4.

    And regarding the "re-writing the DNA" problem that some people seem to have, I would like to refer your attention to BioWare's "Mass Effect: Andromeda." In that game, the primary antagonists (The Kett) "convert" new members of their species via a process called "exaltation", which rewrites another lifeform's DNA. However tropy this idea might be, it HAS been used in other Sci-Fi series outside of mainstream "Trek," which this show has been parodying pretty reliably.

    I foresee that the alien species introduced in this episode might end up turning into this season's new antagonists, although the Kaylon and Krill are formidable in their own right. Perhaps this new species will also start with a "K", just to keep that naming convention going.

    Aloha, and thanks for reading!

    @Galadriel: I thought the sets looked elaborate, probably expensive, but somehow still really cheesy. I guess maybe that's the "retro" you were talking about.

    I agree, they seemed to shrug off the loss of their personnel awfully casually. Also weird that they had Claire make a solemn promise to cure her ex-husband.

    I thought they did have more fun this episode (even though I liked the episode overall less than any previous episode I can remember). There were several jokes, my favorite of which probably being Isaac beginning to describe Claire's preferred sexual positions. 😆

    Was there some reason I missed that made everyone so surprised that a woman with two children was once married?

    Two kids she had after being married to this guy, since he had no clue about them...

    Finally got to watch this last night (I'm not going to watch The Orville on my morning commute like Trek) and I agree with the consensus that this is mediocre bordering on crap.

    The beginning of episode was IMHO too much of a slow burn, focusing heavily on setting up the 25-year dead relationship between Claire and the admiral ( guess Penny Johnson Jerald is playing a younger character than her age of 61, since she was supposed to be a newly-graduated student at the time. Maybe Claire's 50?). I'm glad that the show is leaning into giving Gerald more material, since she's by far the strongest actor on the show, but the admiral of the week wasn't compelling enough to really make this romance mean much.

    The second act, with the rising tension as they explore the creepy alien base, was probably the best part of the episode overall. While it's clear the budget here was somewhat limited, it was still a better set of caves/corridors than what we got in Berman Trek (and frankly better than a lot of the boring reworked corridors we see on Discovery's early seasons). I wish more was done here, because the rising sense of dread was quite effective.

    Then, it falls into a horror movie in the final act. While there were some genuine jump scares in there, the spider-alien things moved too fast in a way that was supposed to be scary, but just came across as comical to me and took me out of the experience. And the resolution of the episode, as Jammer noted, made no sense (how did the spider-aliens get off the ship? Why didn't the approaching ship try to attack them? So many questions, because the story ended 10 minutes too soon).

    Ultimately, I think a lot of this episode simply failed due to terrible direction. I know Jon Casser has directed many episodes of The Orville before, and I have my own criticisms about modern Trek's use of things like shakycam and weird angles for seemingly no reason. But the static, boring camera usage here was notable, and (IMHO) the secret to a good horror story lies with the direction, not the FVX or the script. Which is why this is a big old pile of meh.

    I stopped watching after the first episode--didn't really want to pay for Hulu just to watch this one show. But without the humor, Orville just doesn't do it for me anyway.It's just a pale copy of Star Trek, and I guess, other sci-fi/fantasy shows. I agree with everybody who said it would be better as a spoof with lots of heart--like Galaxy Quest. And eventually we'll have to lose Norm Macdonald/Yaphet--my totally favorite character.

    @Jammer: You spelled it "wringer" this time! Cool. Now can you acknowledge that you were too quick to say Isaac doesn't have emotions? (I largely agree with your review, by the way, although I translated that into an admittedly generous 2.5 stars.)

    As always - enjoyed the review. Kind of liked this one myself, though. Certainly better than TNG's Genesis, but I'm a sucker for those Alien vibes. Even slunk the headphones down my neck for a few scenes because I hate auditory jump scares. Just to make sure my opinion is properly qualified, I love that episode of Voyager where they end up in "chaotic space" and Chakotay is boxing in his mind, even though I also understand that the episode is actually terrible.


    ""no ack­now­ledge­ment of those who got lost — they didn’t even say how many"

    Presumably that cute nurse in sickbay was one that was turned into an alien, but I could have sworn he died already in a previous episode. "

    I could have sworn that too!

    Maybe he's like Kenny from South Park. I hope he gets killed off once a season unceremoniously, and then they just bring him back to see if anyone notices. That seems like a good MacFarlane 'joke'.

    Didn't love this one. Weakest since season 1 maybe.

    Not that I'm clamoring for a return of dick and fart jokes but this episode and the last were both really dry and the humor attempted didn't land like in season 2.

    Part of that is the long runtime. This needed to be 45 minutes, not 65. Another part of it was the continued absence of Bortus as comic relief. He had one good line this week: you might get a sniffle he was told, to which he replied "I am prepared" in all earnestness.

    Need more of Bortus and less Brannon Braga reject sci-fi plots.

    6/10 this week

    Yikes, I didn't think it was that bad. I actually like some body horror type sci-fi and this reminds of The Fly, Aliens, and other Star Trek episodes. To me The Fly and Aliens are classics, but as far as Star Trek goes, I felt this episode was better than TNG's Genesis and Voyager's Threshold. However, I would put TNG's Identity Crisis above this one.

    Although, I admit it was a bit predictable. And, I have had an issues with the lack of foresight the Union and crew have when going to unknown planets and vessels, but at least the crew isn't quite Prometheus level stupid 😅.

    Am I the only one who's never heard the expression hang a lampshade on it? It must be pretty rare I guess? Or maybe I did and forgot..

    This one was full with plot holes.
    So when the ship is out of power everyone lock themselves in their cabins? That's the protocol?
    And talking about protocols, there isn't any for bio-protection when you encounter new aliens/civilizations or their empty ships? You just go and touch things?
    And why admiral-fly wasn't constrained or inside a force field?

    Btw admiral-fly was really creepy, creepy for pushing the Doc so much, creepy for talking with Isaac, he was way too creepy before he turned himself to some kind of a bad-cgi-bug-something-whatever.

    Oh and Charlie still cannot act. She is really bad. I wonder how the rest of the cast feels with someone joining them just... because...

    1 and a half stars.

    Definitely not the best, but I'd still watch this over anything NuTrek has put out in the past five years. I just want to be in this world with these characters whereas NuTrek shows move a mile a second with obnoxious characters and the entire thing is exhausting.

    So yeah even when the episode stories aren't great, just getting to hang out with the characters feels nice.

    Even though this new species is clearly set up to be their "Borg" analog. At least it didn't end with them being magically turned completely back to normal!

    "Fun With DNA" is one of the best trademarks on this site, run up there with "Archer Goes To Jail."

    @theBgt: I agree about the Admiral. Early in the episode I thought we were headed for some kind of #MeToo storyline!

    I didn't find this episode as woeful as some (most?!) of you. I found it perfectly watchable if I put my irritations aside over them going over to the mysterious structure of unknown origin without following even basic security procedures (spacesuits?) or containing the contaminated Admiral within a force field, real ST Enterprise levels of naivety in dealing with alien life forms! This plot demanded they be idiots so they were idiots. Lots of other plot holes too.

    I agree, the Admiral was a creep! Predatory even before he was turned into the predatory alien.

    Very little Bortus in these two opening episodes which I hope won't continue to be the case for the entire season.

    I found this episode way too long. The story could have been tightened into 40 minutes.

    LOL, @Nolan. ISWYDT

    @Artymiss, I had to chuckle at your comment too. "This episode is perfectly watchable as long as you ignore [long list of valid complaints]." ;0)

    @Peter Howie: Definitely. Critics have been commenting for some time about how the lack of time strictures on streaming has been a mixed blessing at best. Sometimes you have to "kill your darlings". I don't know that the answer is truly to force showrunners to meet an exact time mark, which means they also have to add time if they are short of the amount to fill out an hour, minus commercials--so roughly 42 minutes. It's kind of insane to think about having to hit that same exact length, regardless of the needs of the individual story, episode after episode. But filmmakers do something equivalent all the time, trimming their initial four-hour cuts to something manageable (only on rare occasion do you get the auteur who just can't bear to do this). They just need to exercise a little more discipline.

    Basically, a combination of Alien and a few other sources. This feels like the weakest of the Orville episodes and I mean the weakest period. The fact they ditch the uncomfortable power dynamics subplot of the doctor looking back on her relationship with the Admiral is also a missed opportunity. Well perhaps not because we know it would be a clusterfuck if Seth handled it--especially given he continues to date his much-younger costars.

    This episode's plot is a mess.

    It felt, in a lot of ways like two episodes’ worth of stories smashed together. On the one hand, there’s the personal drama between the newly arrived Admiral and Dr. Claire. As others have said, it sure seemed like they were setting us up for a "me too" subplot there. Throw in a basic sci-fi plot around that and you’ve already got enough for an episode.

    On the other hand, there’s the “giant space station that infects visitors, turning them into a new species” story. That’s a neat horror element and it’s an idea good enough to be explored in length.

    Unfortunately, the second half of the episode just becomes TNG’s Genesis, one of the worst episodes of the series. I would have much preferred a focus on the sci-fi nature of the station and the aliens who designed it. As best as I can tell, the idea is for the station to lure people to it, infect them, turn them into aliens, and then they would be picked up by their new fellow aliens to…live? Colonize? Whatever? There’s an endless fountain of possibilities but the episode isn’t interested in considering them, sadly.

    So, while the first episode of the season was a long one that needed to be cut down, this one was two short episodes that needed to be fleshed out (and split in two).

    Why did they spend so much time on negotiations with the Krill when they could have condensed it into one line, with the admiral coming aboard and announcing that the Krill have granted passage through their space to the expanse area. Maybe add another line that the Krill warned that it was full of demons. The actual meeting and negotiation with the Krill added nothing to the episode. (Though I wasn't impressed with the rest of it either).

    Fair point, David. Although I did think it added something to have them issue a prayer for the soon-to-be-dead.

    @C.T. Phipps: Everyone who has worked on one of Seth McFarlane's shows seems to rave about what a good boss he is, that he never yells at anyone or abuses his power. As for dating beautiful young actors, more power to him I say. It's certainly what I would do in his place.

    Easily the worst Star Trek--ish episode ever. Shakes head, throws up. How did this happen?

    And they did this kind of run-of-the-mill Trek rip-off episode without humour? Come on! Remember the first season, where there was some humour involved? You had a chance to go bonkers with it and spin the cliches around, but oh boy. This was like a really bad Voyager episode, constructed with random Star Trek plot generator.

    Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 2:26am (UTC -5)
    "TNG's Genesis meets TNG's Identity Crisis, with creatures from a Wraith ship from Stargate Atlantis.
    The Trek staple of rewriting DNA, but in this case it's via coughing up a ball of phlegm on a victim and takes effect as fast as the zombie bite from World War Z.
    Why, Orville, why?"


    Somebody needs to do a deepfake of this with Orville characters.

    At first I enjoyed this for what it was, just a campy horror hour, but by the end it was so incredibly stupid and ridiculous. Claire unapologetically does a complete 180 on her promise to save Admiral red shirt, who we already knew wasn't coming back. "Take your people and go!" I believe I heard a middle finger in there somewhere in her tone of voice.

    And then they actually let them go?!? Are you serious? They handed over numerous Union personnel... you know... people who'd probably rather be phasered to death... and a Union admiral with copious quantities of delicious Union intel to an extremely hostile unknown alien race? The captain should've ordered that virus released the moment she finished working on it. Then they should've hauled anus back home, while the bodies were being stacked up in cryogenic cold storage or whatever form of stasis the Union has by people working in hazmat suits in some containment unit. And if that's not feasible you vaporize the bodies before you let the aliens get their hands on them and you run for your life.

    Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 3:31pm (UTC -5)

    "SlackerInc said:
    "Maybe they should have used the space suits the first time – ya think?"
    The plot needed them not to.
    Reminds me of how the first time in Stargate that a MALP was sent before SG-1 went through was the time a planet was being eaten by a black fortunate for SG-1.
    But not so much for SG-10 that went before them. The plot needed them to die in slow motion."

    The thing is the Orville is supposed to be a spoof! They could've worked that INTO the plot, if, they would just commit to the spoof aspect of the show instead of half @$$ing it!

    lmao! The funny thing is they still probably weren't dead by the time of the finale! SG-10 butt cheeks and other unmentionables forever getting spaghettified all the way up to SGU.

    Starts good but falls apart in the second half. We need a Bortus episode, stat.

    Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 5:40am (UTC -5)

    "I agree, the Admiral was a creep! Predatory even before he was turned into the predatory alien."

    lol. How is trying to get back with your ex-wife predatory?

    DNA rewriting is par for the course for Star Trek. We saw it in TNG, Voyager, and Enterprise.

    Enterprise had the Loque'eque Mutagenic Virus in "Extinction" reformatting folks.

    Voyager had the "Ashes to Ashes" where a race called the Kobali reproduced with a genetic pathogen that rewrites Human DNA into a Kobali protein structure, whatever that means.

    TNG's "Identity Crises" featured an alien parasite capable of overwriting the host's DNA and causing the host to metamorphosize into an alien species.

    In fact, isn't that what Borg Nanoprobes do? Aside from the sheer speed of the transformation, we've seen it before. Fun with DNA is a great moniker for it.

    I was very disappointed with this episode. All the plot holes have been already mentioned. Apart from the scenes in the mess hall, I was struck by the absence of any crew on board other than the core main cast. It felt cheap, as well as puzzling.
    However, I don't get the criticism for Anne Winters, I think she's really good. Her acting in the first episode was great.

    Is it just me, or is the official Star Trek is now funnier and lighter the The Orville? I mean, this was some disturbing stuff.

    We live in strange times.

    Oh, and Tony, I agree about Charly, she's fine. Not sure why Jammer finds her annoying. She's not more annoying than her fellow navigator, and compared to Ortegas from that other show, she's far better as an actress and also has normal hair.


    No I meant when he was a professor he was having a relationship with a student.

    It was just a weird episode. Like where did most of the crew go? Seemed to be just the main cast for most of the show. They also seem very flippant about casualties in this show. Like "oops, that's another 20 dead crew members this week. oh well, let's pick up some more at the next stop"

    Quincy said:

    "In fact, isn't that what Borg Nanoprobes do?"

    I don't get the sense that teh transforamtion into Borg is altering DNA, but rather it is simply conquering the body's systems, just more severely than any pathogen does. No massive body morphology changes like in Genesis or here the shock of which I think would kill someone rather rapidly.

    That said, I found the most believeble version of the Borg to be the original Q Who?/BOBW version, where victims are captured and manually fitted with hardware. Nanoprobes, like the Queen concept, were the beginning of the end.

    The main early plothole was in Q Who? where infants are shown fitted with Borg implants immediately. Do Borg bear young or do they prioritize infants for assimilation?

    @jaxon said: "I don't get the sense that teh transforamtion into Borg is altering DNA, but rather it is simply conquering the body's systems, just more severely than any pathogen does."

    When the Enterprise-D crew recover Locutus from the Borg Cube in BoBW pt 2, Crusher examines him in sickbay and actually says "...his DNA is being rewritten." as she reports to Riker. So the Borg assimilation process - before they introduced the idea of nanoprobes - still involved the alteration of the subject's DNA.

    I didn't think it was that bad. It was a decent enough horror sci-fi episode / concept. Then again, I don't know / remember the Trek episodes that are being referenced.

    Just now watched this. Yes one star and a half is about right. It’s not so great.

    Is this the future of The Orville? This “New Horizons”? This heavy tone of the first two episodes? I hope not

    I've always despised the Fun With DNA™ episodes. They rely on the viewer believing that the changes are so radical they have to be permanent, to then just use Space Magic to poof everything back to normal. But at least they spared us the latter, for this installment. The BEM's stay BEM's, this time. For now.

    Talla being a badass was a nice break from the trope overload that was this episode. May as well have put her in a "You ain't Worfin' Me!" t-shirt.

    And yeah... Bortus seems to pair well with about any crew member.

    Par episode for The Orville. But now it's graded on a curve thanks to Picard just being the all-time worst of Trek, with Disco not far behind. So thankful for this show and SNW, right now.

    The visceral dislike bordering on hate in these comments makes me really happy I embargoed this page until I was able to watch the episode.

    I'll concur with the general sentiment that this isn't Orville's best, that said, this episode marked a welcome return to "light-hearted Trek homage" for me after the throughly Depressing AF season premiere. There were a few jokes, our characters stayed true to their Trekian roots in giving the Evil Aliens a chance to leave peacefully, and the episode ended on an optimistic note.

    I wish the Trek Homage hadn't been a Fun With DNA™ episode, but still, it was a Trek Homage and Trek had plenty of warts.

    The nitpicking of Fun With DNA™ is tiresome anyway, I can name lifeforms right here on Planet Earth that engage in parasitism to reproduce (e.g., wasps), along with viruses/pathogens that modify the behavior of their hosts in order to reproduce (e.g., rabies, toxoplasmosis) and survive. Rewriting DNA is pretty silly from a scientific standpoint but this is storytelling, the story outline said these guys reproduce by taking over our bodies, the SFX folks and script writers just filled in that blank.

    2.5 of 4 stars.

    P.S., Jammer, you couldn't be bothered to write a proper review? Even if the episode was as bad as you think it was, thousands of man-hours went into its production, you can't spare 30 minutes to write a review? At least do something snarky and creative like you did with "The Disease" from Voyager.

    "P.S., Jammer, you couldn't be bothered to write a proper review? Even if the episode was as bad as you think it was, thousands of man-hours went into its production, you can't spare 30 minutes to write a review? At least do something snarky and creative like you did with "The Disease" from Voyager."

    1) Well, I figured the "bullet-point notes" was kind of a throwback to an off-format review, albeit, I'll grant, not nearly as clever. Alas, I didn't have time to think of something clever or force it. IDWID.

    2) Trust me, I am optimizing my time the best I can right now with this glut of material along with everything else I have going on, and, in all honesty, turning out more thorough reviews with far better efficiency than I thought I would be able to six months ago. I posted this at 1:15 a.m. on a night where I had to work the next morning, for chrissakes. Give a guy a break! (Or keep the hits coming; it honestly doesn't matter.) Besides, I doubt the creators of "The Orville" care how much effort I put into a review, which they will never see, of their thousands of man-hours.

    3) If you think 30 minutes is how long it takes to write, fact-check, edit, HTML-format, find/format images, cross-hyperlink, write index summaries, and think up silly homepage captions to create this little web production ... well, LOL, let's just say I'd love if it only took that long. Of course, there'd be a lot less from me to read, but it would be turned out faster. And, who knows, that day may come. Never say never! :)

    Man, “Genesis” is a guilty pleasure of man, but I certainly didn’t need a rehash. Haven’t seen Orville S3 yet, so I’m going off the review and comments here.

    June 15, 2022 4:37 am
    It’s weird; the guy playing the Admiral is James Reade, an actor I thought was fantastic on s1 of REMINGTON STEELE. He and a secretary character I liked were dropped for s2 (in favor of Doris Roberts, which led to my spending decades disliking her for no other reason than she got brought in to fix a problem which didn’t exist.) That was enough to make me stop watching the show completely, even though it was my fave new show that year and something i think I actually wrote a letter about to support its then unlikely renewal. (I think Young Indy was the only other show I did that for.)

    Except for a bit part in BLUE THUNDER (he is the cop who looks up in shock as Murphy rises into view to give his wife a distraction and getaway chance), I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him in anything else since STEELE, though I know he did a VOYAGER long after I threw my hands up at that series. I just imdb’d him, and the guy has had a really substantial TV career, so I’m kind of glad of that, given that for years I’d say this was a guy who should have been given a shot to break out on his own, maybe in rom-coms and then bang-bang flicks. Kind of wish this guy had started film acting a few years earlier, because though young, he could have been a strong Decker contender in TMP.

    Out of all the people they looked at for Decker, I thought Collins was among the weakest … he had done pretty well on a miniseries called THE RHEINEMAN EXCHANGE, where he somehow manged to come off like a blonde Bond, a note he sure never came close to hitting ever again (I think they took a lot of trouble to light him on that project, making him look tougher — they had a Mexican cinematographer who had shot for Peckinpah, so if I am remembering the series right after 45 years, it probably had a harder key light and less fill, which is often my ideal lighting for most dramas, sort of like TOS when when bridge lighting goes down in act iv sometimes, or the ‘ship out, freak!’ bit in DAY OF THE DOVE.)

    Personally, I think Frederic Forrest and Tim Thomerson were the best bets, and I’d have taken either of those over Collins, Andy Robinson and the other guy from QUARK besides Robinson and Thomerson that they looked at, Richard Kelton, who played Ficus on that series. Kelton actually died of carbon monoxide poisoning during the shooting of TMP. Pretty tragic business – imdb has it that he had just started work on the CENTENNIAL miniseries and died due to crap ventilation in his Universal trailer. The studio got fined $750 bucks — big whoop! — and his wife eked out a fifty grand payout due to California law — I’m still appalled by the leniency demonstrated to Universal, presaging the TWILIGHT ZONE business that somehow permitted Landis and Frank Marshall to not only have careers, but to flourish. I remember that Spielberg managed to keep Marshall out of the country for the whole TZ trial, ostensibly scouting locations, to avoid being subpoeaned to testify, let alone be charged for his major major role in that affair.

    Boy, this certainly is setting the day off on a bad note for me. -- kmart on June 15, 2022 at 4:37 am

    Great review Jammer. You, as always, hit all the pertinent points.

    I only has one issue.

    You stated "Anne Winters, who plays Ensign Burke is ... not great."

    I think the actress is fine, I think Charlie is being written like crap. Right now the only thing she brings to the show is anti-Isaac dribble.

    Only time will tell though.

    2 stars from me.

    @Jeffrey's Tube

    Unfortunately didn't format exactly like I wanted and didn't want to do another double Post...

    This was a lazy monster of the week episode. It started off pretty good. It was hitting those TNG beats. I thought we’d get a story about aging romance or coming to terms with past decisions but it quickly dove into a monster movie. And at that point there were still like 25 minutes left on the clock. The ending was crap as I don’t get the doctor/Issac romance. I thought she was delusional to think she could have a romance with a robot but apparently it’s a real thing.

    The music needs to be mentioned quickly. Sometimes it does the TNG thing of barely being noticeable and accents the action. But then it becomes bombastic with hints of Star Trek I, II, Aliens, in an effort to be clever.

    I think The Orville suffers from an identity problem. Is it a wink/nod to Star Trek or it’s own thing? Is it real sci fi or just a rehash of Trek? Is it a drama or comedy? I don’t know.

    “ Or keep the hits coming; it honestly doesn't matter.”

    @ Jammer, Sorry if my comment came off as a hit. It was intended as more of a lament, from a genuine fan, whom would like to see a repeat of your “The Disease” review if there truly is another episode that bad (which I don’t think this particular one was!)

    I will never like duds like "Threshold," but I *am* noticing a pattern where I enjoy some (not all) of the universally disliked episodes. And this was one of them. Mortality Paradox had wasted potential and dragged for far too long and the central premise isn't that interesting to me. On the other hand, I liked the ending here (no "reset") and it was overall neat.

    Yeah, it was fairly stupid for the crew to not wear hazmat suits on the first entry, but mistakes happen that seem obvious in hindsight.

    Just wear hazmat suits just in case on new planets every single time? Imagine two decades ago saying "you should always wear a helmet when skiing -- every single time." You should have, because skiing into trees and rocks causes brain damage and a helmet is an affordable, not terribly inconvenient way to reduce the chance of bad brain damage or death by say 80% or whatever. We knew that then. And we almost all just risked it.

    If Star Trek TNG crews were always careful, they would never use transporters and always be walking around in bulletproof vests. You could say something similar about walking around in America today. And yet we don't take every precaution 100% of the time.

    It's easy for us to look at space exploration and alien planets and scream "wear hazmat suits all the time," but it's plausible that people are de-sensitized to this. Imagine showing car driving to someone from the early 1800s who thought riding a train going 35 mph was living on the edge of life and death. That person would be mortified about how few precautions we take today in terms of infrastructure and distractions, speed limits, road design, intersection layouts, etc., to say nothing of wearing a seat belt. We didn't learn that driving isn't so bad or that we got safer. We just made cars into tanks so that deaths have gone down slightly, but they're a massive killer whose deadliness in America is masked by everyone also being inside a car and most kids getting privately chauffeured to and from school daily. I.e., no walking, no cycling, no getting on and off buses, the things that open one to the unintentional and yet predictable vehicular homicide we euphemistically call "accidents" -- whoopsie! And yet we are so desensitized to this and we love the convenience of our portable living rooms on wheels, that walking or redesigning our towns without parking lots everywhere so that we would use short walks and trains is unfathomable. We love our convenience.

    Imagine how people will behave around hazmat and safety once space exploration is common. Do we sanitize every space suit for microbes after every single space walk? We quarantined early space crews decades ago, in case they picked up space microbes or whatever. Now, we let our guards down a bit. The risk of exposure to whatever is out there is totally unchanged. We just let our guards down.

    And there are the masks in airports and other travel centers, even before Covid. We should all have been like East Asians even before Covid, often wearing those masks at international airports. Everything they have said about Covid, washing hands, not touching face, wearing masks to reduce contagions in crowded environments with high thoroughfare -- it all applied and applies to non-Covid diseases in busy train stations and international airports.

    "The crew should be wearing hazmat suits because I've seen sci-fi horror movies before and know what will happen! They'll be infected by space germs. Those morons!"
    "Those Kenyan tourists in Texas should be wearing bullet-proof vests! I've seen American crime movies. I know exactly what is going to happen to them without the vests. They'll be killed by stray bullets in a drive-by assassination. Those morons!"

    ok, finally got around to seeing this one too, and yeah: clearly the weakest episode of the season by far.

    braga wrote this?? my oh my. considering that he used to be one of my favourite writers on TNG with his high concept scifi stuff back in the day, thats really sad. at least this makes the episode only a lame ripoff where one writer just steals from itself.

    just like with SNW, can we. please. not. have. episodes. that. go. through. the. motions. of. a. tired. concept.

    i skipped through the "ooooh, jumpscare ahead" walking-through-corridor scenes (i figured i didnt have to watch this routine for a 328736946th time, and i was right).
    and you know what? each time my instinct of how many times to hit the increment forward button to get to the next actual plot event (or the eventual attempted jump scare) was right almost down to the second. goes to show how by the book this alien rehash crap is. leave alien alone. that was a great movie, and all the CGI in the world will not give you an ellen ripley, not the cool style of the original, and not the directors instinct of a young ridley scott. it wont give that to older ridley scott, it turns out, so why oh why do we constantly get TV directors thinking they can redo this? already was the most annoying part of ST first contact back in the day, where it felt like jonathan frakes just wrote down the exact pacing and sequence from alien in trying in trying to emulating it (and still failing).

    other random points:

    - i laughed out loud when she said "oooh, it altered their DNA". that line literally manifested a ridiculing "fun with DNA, eh?" jammer comment in front of my eyes :-)

    - yes, anne winters' acting is really rather weak. i usually try to stay away from behind the scenes gossip and also am no part of the "criticize mcfarlanes ego at every opportunity" club (who cares - hes a TV show maker, its expected to not be a job filled with shy introverts), but man...her being yet another girlfried of his is really a bad look. casting your girlfriend once in a lifetime - okay. a second time? super problematic. a second time, after you cast your previous girlfriend to *the same show* and she left that show after your breakup due to unknown circumstances? not okay at all in 2022 anymore, seth, just not okay. it doesnt get much more casting couch clichee than that.

    - back to the actual show: even worse than alien rehash (TM) plots are plots that rely on the characters acting stupid for plot purposes (TM). theres admittedly a large overlap between the two, but boy, was the acting-stupid-for-the-plot-to-work quota maxed out here:

    - critical mission based on a shaky new alliance into uncharted territory? lets start with doing exactly what our new ally suggested we do not do!
    - area of space thats supposedly full of evil creatures (one way or the other)? lets go!
    - strange alien ship youve never seen before? lets enter it!
    - lets certainly not bring any space suits!
    - lookie, some alien lifeform thing that looks like its about to open any time. i shall hold my face right in front of it! dont know if this one is more stupid or more overused or just both parameters maxed out. i think the latter.
    - a monster just disappeared and the floors are dark. let me, the doctor, get my flashlight and walk around the dark corridors (1)
    - a monster just disappeared and the floors are dark. let us, the doctors kids, get our flashlight and walk around the dark corridors (2)
    - a monster just disappeared and the floors are dark. let me, the nurse, get my flashlight and walk around the dark corridors (3)
    - a monster just disappeared and the floors are dark. let me, the chief engineer, get my flashlight and crawl around the dark corridors (4)
    - we need to go back to the ship with the biological DNA changing stuff. lets certainly not have isaac take care of that!
    - the chief engineer found a way to distract two of the creatures while being safe behind a forcefield. i should totally not lock the doors to isolate this controlled situation, but wave and bring them back out to the corridors, running after me.
    - aaaand many more where that came from.

    this episode had exactly one original idea, and that was the non-confrontationaö confrontation between the alien clichee and isaac. of course that wrote itself all by itself, but still, i liked the nice touch of isaac not being receptive to cheap jumpscares. i very much felt connected to that ;)

    but hey, one stinker and 5 good episodes so far, thats a percentage i certainly will not complain about overall. and word is that this is the last season? that would be a shame.

    I love body horror in science fiction (we don't see it enough). I love dark, moody atmospheres. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved stories about "What the Hell Is Around That Corner?" and things that go bump in the night. I love the concept of a simple visit to an unknown part of space with strange-looking alien ships with ominously mysterious interiors. So I suppose I'm a bit biased in support of the style of this episode. It looks great. The creatures in this creature-movie looked pretty damn sublime--nice work, Orville crew. It features the return of John Fleck (one of my favorite journeyman actors) from "Blood of Patriots," although this time his performance as the Krill ambassador wasn't nearly as amusing or chilling (he did get one great line which I mention at the end of this write-up). James Read was serviceable as Admiral Christie and the scene in Sickbay with Finn and Christie when he's undergoing his transformation was kind of touching.

    I didn't object at all to the "weird science" behind this spidery species. They're *aliens.* They can do anything the writers need them to do--our own perceptions of physics and science be damned. I am a firm believer in this. "Rewriting DNA" is good enough for me (although in real-life it would probably kill the person). This is a made-up science-fiction show, for God's sake.

    But it's all too bad--I feel this could have been better. It's just a bog-standard creature-feature horror-movie plot complete with stupid decisions and day players set up as cannon fodder (although when they got rid of Nurse Park, at least it's significant in that we've seen him in previous episodes). It doesn't have anything novel to say about anything or even *anyone* -- it's fine to have an episode purely about the crew banding together to neutralize a threat, but there's nothing to be found in "Shadow Realms" other than superlative production values that gives it any reason to pass the take-home test. It's passable but almost ordinary and derivative. In its defense, I suppose if it's the first "creature movie" you've ever seen in your entire life, you'd be in for one hell of a ride.

    Best Line:

    Mercer -- "I think I speak for everyone here when I say we very much hope that this temporary alliance will become permanent."
    K.T.Z. -- "Do not hope too fervently. Once the Kaylon are crushed, the alliance will be dissolved. Only then will we celebrate."
    Grayson -- "Well... still."

    My Grade: C+

    Tried to watch it, because once The Orville came onto Disney+, which I have, I thought I'd watch all of Season 3. But nooooo...I can't stand horror--just too scary and creepy for I got as far as the part where they were just entering the fires-of-hell space station and had to turn it off. Then I read the reviews--holy-moly, for sure I'm not watching that! Aaaugh!

    Going to start just cherry-picking the best-reviewed episodes. See you on other threads!

    Arc wise I think the Claire/Isaac is what this is about. Claire gets a different ex transformed by malevolent aliens, and tries the Finn family member appeal that worked with Isaac, and it doesn't work here. So I think that's why she eats with Isaac again at the episode's end.

    I get that Seth loves Star Trek but you think his dedication to authenticity would be limited enough to tell Brannon no on DNA alteration episodes.

    1 star I guess.

    A mess of an episode full of plotholes. The biggest one for me is "he's still wearing the ring? How? All other things they were wearing are gone..."

    But still, super interesting to watch entirely for the fight scenes and creatures. They were done super well.

    I'd give it like a 2/4, or 1/4 because of the plot holes. Enjoyable somewhat though.

    I was just baffled, they're dealing with a war with the robots, a semi struggling alliance with the Krill, and they pick now to go explore "Demon Dimension"???

    Even from a purely diplomatic standpoint it wasn't smart. The Krill already think the Union are blasphemers and heathens, maybe don't go explore the zone where they think everyone who goes are bad?

    It felt like DS9 during the war with the changelings and Sisko goes "Let's explore borg space!"... Is that the time dude?

    Or stargate is struggling with the Goa'Ulds and Sam goes, "Let's explore fun new worlds".

    I get it if they said, "We need to explore to find new friends and technology to help us", but they literally said they were doing it for fun...

    It kind of killed the high stakes vibes we had prior.

    I found this an enjoyable episode as well as the first episode. While I wouldn’t say either episode has knocked my socks off, I’m more impressed that The Orville is setting the tone of REALLY nailing the early 90s feel while also being modern. So far they have toned down the comedy even more than last season which I think is a great idea. Seem to be going all in with making the show alternate TNG rather than a comedy show. They can call on Yaphit or Bortus for a quick laugh when needed bot almost completely rely on drama. I’m liking the season so far

    Totally agree with Jammer that this was a weak episode. One star for me. Routine alien monster melodramatics (borrowing a bit from Alien) are pretty eye rolling here, undermining what was set up as a serious dramatic story about Dr. Finn’s past, losing my attention. It’s charitable of Jammer to highlight the few positive beats of the story, which opts for cheap scares over character development. But this series generally takes the easy way out.

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