"Veritas" is the obligatory trial episode, in which crew members are put on trial by an alien culture and we get a bunch of courtroom scenes. The creators go out of their way to make the courtroom look a lot like the Klingon court in Star Trek VI, with the massive, cylindrical room where the judges sit up above. The prosecutor (played by Kurtwood Smith, another good example of voice casting, but they mostly just have him yell through the entire episode) even looks like General Chang — eyepatch and all. He wants the lower deckers to testify about their commanding officers regarding a recent, mysterious mission.
After the last couple episodes showed some verve and creative lunacy, this is back to pedestrian jokes and tired riffs on the concepts of yesteryear. There's a long history of trial episodes in Trek, but this one is content to simply have the idea that there's a trial be pretty much the whole point — other than an excuse to hang a bunch of random gags on via the flashback structure that tries to explain from several perspectives how we got here. This is a nothingburger.
Of the perspectives, which I'm not going to summarize, the most (very mildly) amusing is Rutherford's, because it takes a joke — that his cybernetic implant keeps rebooting and causing him to lose consciousness, after which he wakes up in the middle of yet another, more terrifying crisis — and runs with it. It uses the old tactic that if you take a joke and keep doing it over and over again, it begins funny, becomes really dumb, and then becomes funny again. This is a very minor-league example of that tactic, but it at least employs a tactic at all. Meanwhile, the use of Q (including John de Lancie in a wasted guest voice role) lacks any semblance of a point. I guess it's supposed to be funny for merely existing, but it might as well be a lame cutaway gag on Family Guy.
The whole episode builds to a twist — that this isn't a trial at all, but a "celebration" where the crew members are actually guests of honor rather than defendants — which is really dumb and doesn't work at all. A bunch of obviously menacing things turn out to be other things that, look, aren't actually menacing after all! Um, okay? This fails because there's no trick or sleight of hand at play; it's merely deceiving the audience and then telling us what we saw wasn't what we actually saw.
The thematic gag here is that the lower deckers don't know anything of value because it's all above their pay grade. Also, the Cerritos crew is definitely not made up of the Starfleet elite. No kidding. But that's the whole point of The Orville, which is constantly aping Trek from that point of view. And now Trek is aping The Orville. We are the ouroboros, eating ourselves.
Who knows, maybe this is one of those episodes that, knowing the twist, plays differently the second time around. I somehow really doubt that. But to confirm I'd have to watch it again, and I'm certainly not doing that.
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