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Can a simple agrarian society save their world from the aliens stealing their resources?






Lasting Impressions


Season 2, Episode 11

Originally aired March 21, 2019

Written by Seth MacFarlane. Directed by Kelly Cronin.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, and Norm MacDonald. Also featuring Tim Russ and Leighton Meester.

Dr. Sherman (Tim Russ) opens a time capsule aboard the Orville. It contains a variety of common items including a pack of cigarettes and a cell phone. Bortus and Kayden latch onto the cigarettes, and Gordon gets the cell phone.

After Bortus replicates a cigarette, Klyden eats it. Eventually, they experiment with smoking, only to become hopelessly addicted at first puff.

Gordon extracts images and text conversations from the phone and reconstructs the life of Laura Huggins in the holodeck. Of course, he falls in love with her.

This is a simple and straightforward episode. No space battles or life-threatening situations, just a bit of character development. It is surprisingly good.

Scott Grimes and Leighton Meester play off each other beautifully. This isn't the first time a science fiction character has fallen for a holograph. But it is handled with sensitivity, and it works.

Klyden and Bortus are a little less believable. Not that they are instantly addicted, but that they flaunted their smoking instead of trying to hide it, or realize they have made a mistake and ask for help. It may have been played for laughs, but I found the Bortus and Klyden story more forced than humorous.

There are a few technical issues. How does a holograph text Gordon's phone when the program is not running? Why does he have to wait for time to pass in Laura's life? It's a simulation. Can't he just zip forward?

Bortus doesn't have any problem replicating cigarettes. Given that anyone can do that, why don't people still smoke? I personally prefer that they don't, but if cigarettes are readily available, why don't more people experiment and get addicted?

This is a good episode. Without any exciting action, it feels a little slow, but it is quite enjoyable.

Reviewed by Romana Drew March 22, 2019



Blood of Patriots


Season 2, Episode 10

Originally aired March 7, 2019

Written by Seth MacFarlane. Directed by Rebecca Rodriguez.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, and Norm MacDonald. Also featuring Mackenzie Astin, Ted Danson, Aily Kei, and John Fleck.

Captain Mercer is asked to host a meeting with the Krill as a prelude to signing a peace treaty. Then a Krill shuttle zooms toward the ship as the Krill ship shoots at it. Mercer opens the bay doors, and the shuttle crashes. Inside, the crew finds Gordon's old friend, Orin, and his daughter.

The Krill claim Orin destroyed three of their ships and demand his return. Orin claims to have just escaped after twenty years in a Krill prison. Everyone ignores his daughter - a big mistake.

Orin is a tortured soul, bent on revenge at any cost. Mackenzie Astin gives the character depth and believability without becoming overly dramatic.

Gordon has to face the realization that his friend isn't the man he once knew. This gives Gordon, normally lightweight and wisecracking, the chance to show deeper and more complex feelings and a commitment to responsibility.

To secure a peace treaty with the Krill, Mercer contemplates giving Orin, a union officer, over to the Krill for interrogation. He faces the classic dilemma, should he choose the good of the one, or the good of the many.

There are a few questions. How did Orin's shuttle get to the Orville at just the right moment? Did he know about the meeting, and if so how? If Layna's blood explodes in the presence of nitrogen, why would she risk entering a nitrogen-rich atmosphere? The slightest injury would cause her to explode.

This is a well-crafted and solid episode, dealing with complex emotions and loyalties as well as interesting technology. In the end, there is some hope for peace with the Krill, although that is probably too easy.

Reviewed by Romana Drew March 8, 2019



Identity Pt 2


Season 2, Episode 9

Originally aired February 28, 2019

Written by Seth MacFarlane. Directed by Jon Cassar.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, and Norm MacDonald.

The crew has been captured, and the Kaylons are en route to annihilate Earth. Isaac has betrayed the crew. Of course, that can't happen, or the series will end. As in telling a good joke, it isn't the punchline but the set up that makes it funny. Here, it isn't the ending but the action that makes the story work.

After a false start or two, the crew manages to send a message home and to enlist the help of the Krill to save Earth.

Even though much of this episode is predictable, it is still an excellent episode. After all, they have to save both Earth and Isaac. Yaphit has some great scenes crawling in and out of Kaylons. Mild-mannered Isaac shows he has a deadly side. And the Krill come to the rescue. Having the enemy save the day is another time-honored plot twist.

The special effects are great, although a bit overwhelming. The battle feels too crowded. There are so many ships and explosions, and so much debris that it is hard to believe. Space is huge, but the battle feels as if it is crammed into a small area. And the Union forces are getting their butts whipped until the Krill show up to save the day.

Now that this episode is over, what happens next. Are the Kaylons the Union's new enemy? Will relationships with the Krill improve or degrade? Can Isaac reunite with the Kaylons and convince them biologicals are not a threat?

Reviewed by Romana Drew March 3, 2019







Identity Pt 1


Season 2, Episode 8

Originally aired February 21, 2019

Written by Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis. Directed by Jon Cassar.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, and Norm MacDonald.

Isaac shuts down for no apparent reason, so the Orville goes to Kaylon to get him repaired. On Kaylon, things go pretty much as expected. Having gathered sufficient information, Isaac was terminated and scheduled for recycling.

The Kaylon world is futuristic and fantastic with Isaac clones all over the place. The Kaylons are aloof but polite and unemotional, pretty much as expected. Then Ty, looking for Isaac, discovers something deep, dark, and disturbing.

This is an excellent episode. It starts out making us really care for Isaac and hope he can return to the series, then it does a one-eighty, and maks us wish we had never met him. But there is still hope assuming Earth survives. His eyes are still blue - if that has any significance other than identification.

The special effects are great. The Orville flies to the surface and lands, something that seemed impossible. And then there are the Kaylons. I am still wondering how much of that was costuming and how much CGI. Either way, it was both surprising and menacing.

Many of the recent episodes have been about characters, but this episode is all about plot, and it's a good one.

Reviewed by Romana Drew February 23, 2019







Deflectors


Season 2, Episode 7

Originally aired February 14, 2019

Written by David A. Goodman. Directed by Seth McFarlane.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, Norm MacDonald, and Keven Daniels as Locar

Moclan engineer, Locar, comes aboard to assist with deflector upgrades. Kelly ends her relationship with Chris and discusses it with Mercer. But the main story revolves around Moclan prejudice. The scenes with Kelly, Chris, and Mercer are light and enjoyable. The deflector upgrade test is also fun with just the right amount of humor. The Locar storyline is both a mystery and an exploration of prejudice.

Locar is attracted to females, and that is a serious Moclan taboo. If anyone finds out, he will be imprisoned and his entire family will suffer. So much for LGBTQ rights on Moclus.

Locar's story is also handled with sensitivity and respect. It has enough depth to keep it emotionally engaging and believable, but not maudlin. However, the deeper Orville delves into Moclan society, the less realistic the society becomes.

First, males produce sperm and females produce eggs. If Bortus laid the egg, Bortus is female. Setting that aside, the harsh and restrictive Moclan society is explained by saying it evolved on a harsh world. That may be, but travel is supposed to broaden the mind. Apparently, Moclus never got the memo.

Klyden sees Talla and Locar go into a holodeck, assumes the worse, and follows them in. This guy is really suspicious. He finds a dancing lesson in the middle of an empty street and concludes that Locar is a deviant, a lover of females. That turns out to be true, but why would he care? Making Klyden the enforcer of Moclan traditions sets up conflict in the Klyden/Bortus relationship, and It makes Klyden a bit of an ass.

This is a well-done show with some uncomfortable moments as it explores sexual prejudices and societal values.

Reviewed by Romana Drew February 16, 2019

Happy Refrain


Season 2, Episode 6

Originally aired January 31, 2019

Written and directed by Seth McFarlane.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, and Norm MacDonald.

Bortus wants a mustache, and Dr. Finn asks Isaac on a date. What could possibly go wrong?

Dr. Finn and Isaac get off on the wrong foot, after all, he is a machine. With the help of various crew members, things get better. Then they get worse. Then better. And on it goes.

This may be the best show this season. Not because of exciting action or special effects, but because Penny Johnson (Dr. Finn) and Mark Jackson (Isaac) are such wonderful actors. They make their romance feel real. Their relationship could come off as corny or dumb, but instead, it is engaging and gently funny. Also, kudos to Seth McFarlane for writing and directing.

Bortus and his mustache isn't much of a story, but in this episode, it fits perfectly. We even get to see Mark Jackson and Norm MacDonald, the voice of Yaphit, in their human forms. Although, I'm not sure that Captain Mercer should be so tolerant of rain on the bridge.

This episode is well worth watching.

Reviewed by Romana Drew February 2, 2019




All the World is a Birthday Cake


Season 2, Episode 5

Originally aired January 24, 2019

Written Seth McFarlane. Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee, Norm MacDonald, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, and Norm MacDonald.

The crew of the Orville intercepts a message from an unknown world, "Is anyone out there?" They jump for joy at the chance to make first contact. The Regorians welcome them with open arms until Kelly mentions that both she and Bortus have birthdays. Everyone is arrested. Kelly and Bortus are thrown into a concentration camp for people born under a bad sign, as it were. The rest of the landing party is asked, not so politely, to leave. For all of their advanced technology, the Regorians believe that a child's personality, abilities, and future are determined by their astrological sign.

This episode introduces Jessica Szohr as Lt. Talla Keylai, the new Xelayan security officer. She doesn't quite have that something that made Halston Sage stand out, but she did a good job and should be a fine addition to the crew.

There is a lot about this episode to recommend it. It has an interesting story and characters. The dinner scene where the Regorians did their about-face worked quite well. The reasons for their actions were not revealed for some time, creating a nice mystery. Making an emotional connection to the incarcerated Giliacs was easy.

The episode has some rough areas, also. Why would a pre-spaceflight world call itself Regor 2? They must have settled on a name for their world long before they had enough science to realize they were part of a solar system. That stood out as just wrong.

But the main problems have to do with storytelling. The episode has several jarring transitions. For example: A month passes while Kelly and Bortus are incarcerated, but there is no indication or feeling that time has passed. Kelly and Bortus are rescued without any explanation as to how or why they got away with shooting so many guards. There are others. The transitions make the episode feel rushed and disjointed. One caveat here. I watched this without ads. If these transitions came during ad breaks, they might not have stood out so much. Advertisements make programs seem disjointed no matter how smoothly the story is presented.

One bit of trivia caught my eye. The Regorian government building was filmed at California State University, Northridge, my alma mater.

This episode is worth watching, even though it falls short of being a great episode.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 25, 2019



Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes


Season 2, Episode 4

Originally aired January 17, 2019

Written Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis. Directed by Jon Cassar.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, and Norm MacDonald.

Gordon wants to take the command test, and Captain Mercer goes on a vacation with his new girlfriend, dark matter cartographer Janel Tyler, played by Michaela McManus.

Ed and Janel don't get far before the Krill kidnap them. Turns out, Janel was a Krill in disguise, Ed's old adversary Teleya, also played by Michaela McManus. Just before Teleya can take her revenge on Ed, the Krill ship is boarded by enemies of the Krill. Ed and Janel escape and get stranded on an abandoned planet with the bad guys after them. They must work together and gain some degree of trust to survive.

Back on the Orville, Gordon just can't get it right. First, he fails a Rorschach test. Then he tries to persuade a simulated Krill not to attack because he eats healthy.

The episode cuts back and forth between Gordon on the ship and Ed with the Krill, which works well, putting just enough comic relief between dramatic scenes to keep both fresh and engaging. This is probably the best Orville episode this season

Michaela McManus does a splendid job as both Janel and Teleya.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 18, 2019



Home


Season 2, Episode 3

Originally aired January 10, 2019

Written Cherry Chevapravatdumrong. Directed by Jon Cassar.

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, and Norm MacDonald.

Alara breaks her arm during her regular Friday night arm wrestling match with Isaac. Dr. Finn notices that she has lost twenty percent of her muscle mass and warns that she must return to Xelaya or lose her super strength. Her parents' take her to a seaside cabin where she has to deal with her parents' less than stellar opinions of her. Then the insane parents of her father's colleague attack, torture, and attempt to kill everyone.

Ildis Kitan, Alara's father is played by Robert Picardo, the EMH from Voyager. Cambis Borrin, the insane colleague, is played by John Billingsley, Doctor Phlox from Enterprise. They both look great in their Xelayan ears. It is fun to watch the two actors play off each other as Cambis chases Ildis around sticking his hand in boiling water and trying to shoot him.

Back on the Orville, Alara's replacement is a silly caricature of a snuffaluffagus spouting off juvenile slang. This character is simply not a replacement for Alara. For one thing, how would a creature with a long snout connected to the middle of his stomach fair in a fist fight. All his assailant has to do is grab and pull.

The special effects, flying around Xelaya and landing the pods are beautiful. The story is never dull. Although, it did leave me with a few questions. How come the pod only had one heavy gravity suit? Why do the ocean waves look the same as earth? Wouldn't the heavy gravity damp them out?

This is not a world class episode, but it is the best one so far this season.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 11, 2019







Primal Urges


Season 2, Episode 2

Originally aired December 31, 2018

Written Wellesley Wild. Directed by Kevin Hooks

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, and Norm MacDonald.

Bortus is addicted to holographic porn, and the crew must rescue people living deep inside a planet that is about to be eaten by its sun.

Bortus still hasn't forgiven Klyden for forcing a sex change operation on their child, so he goes to the holodeck and participates in sexual fantasies. Kayden tries to kill him, and Dr. Finn counsels the warring couple.

The Orville has stopped to let the crew study a sun as it engulfs a planet. Just before the planet breaks apart, they discover a society living deep inside and attempt a rescue. A virus from one of Bortus' holodeck programs wreaks havoc.

Moclans are so stiff, and the dialogue so flat, that both humor and emotional empathy fall flat. Had the main story been an exciting and danger-filled rescue, the Bortus/Klyden affair would have made great comic relief, as the main story, it is tedious. The rescue felt as if it got tacked on so the eposide could end on an exciting note.

Rescuing people trapped inside a planet as it gets pulled into an exploding star while a computer virus attacks the ship's systems is worthy of an entire episode. This is good hard science fiction. Since the crew can't rescue everyone, it delves into social issues and self-sacrifice. But that story is glossed over, so it a never lives up to its potential.

The special effects in this episode are fantastic. The ship flying in front of the boiling sun looks realistic, even the lighting effects on the ship add to the realism. The Moclan body suits and makeup are also excellent. I wonder how the actors feel about being inside those rubber suits. Are they cold, hot, itchy, smelly? They can't be comfortable. And Moclans must grow extra fast. Bortus and Klydan's kid looks to be eight or ten years old.

This should be a great episode, but it isn't. I now know more about Bortus and Klyden than I ever wanted to know.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 5, 2019







Ja'loja


Season 2, Episode 1

Originally aired December 31, 2018

Written and directed by Seth MacFarlane

Starring Seth McFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, BJ Tanner, Kai Wener, Chad L. Coleman, Norm MacDonald, and Chris Johnson as Cassius

Ed pines for Kelly, but she already has a new boyfriend. Dr. Finn can't understand why her teenage son is so rebellious. Isaac gives questionable child rearing advice. Alara bemoans her lack of companionship. Gordon Malloy just can't get up the courage to ask the new cartographer for a date. Bortus needs to pee and invites everyone to watch him.

About the annual Moclan's pee, what goes in must come out. If Moclans only urinate once a year, what happens to all the fluids they drink? I'm not sure I want to know.

The first episode of the second season is all about character development. Although it is an easy watch, and brings us up to date on the crew's lives, it lacks pizzazz. There is plenty of emotion and humor, but most of it is lightweight and predictable. Orville lacks the depth and intensity of science fiction series such as Star Trek, Stargate, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and many others. The repeated references to present day slang and culture take it out of the future and often sound silly.

On the plus side. This is a fun show. The humans in the cast are very human, with all the foibles of normal people. And the aliens are an interesting mix of the predictable such as Isaac, and the absurd, like Yaphit.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 1, 2019