Hi all, welcome back to the 5 Point Discussion series following Fox’s latest sci-fi series, The Orville! We’re three episodes into their thirteen episode season, with this episode following up on the plot of Bortus and his newborn child. If you like this article, be sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter. And if you’ve got any questions or comments, contact me @SageShinigami on Twitter.
1. So we finished off last episode with Bortus and his mate Klyden examining their child, and return to this one learning that their child is a little girl. Women in the Moclan species are rare, and supposedly they only come along once every seventy-two years. How do the Moclan people deal with their birth? Well, they give them a sex change to make them male, naturally.
….Look, as a cisgendered dude I can’t even begin to claim I’m qualified to talk about the idea of a forced sex change. I can say that at least the jokes were toned down some in favor of covering the argument from as many different angles as possible. The crew of the Orville immediately shuts Bortus down when he brings up the sex change, but they also don’t ignore the idea of being possibly ethnocentric. And at least the majority of the arguments the episode makes against the change are done by the women on the show, which was a smart move…but if this was an idea they wanted to tackle it would have been nice if at least a few members of the creative team had been women as well.
2. For a guy who revealed himself to be an idiot later in the episode, Gordon is sure talented at creating complex virtual reality games, as he, John, and Ed explore the Wild West and run upon a bandit who seems more interested in dance contests than shoot-outs. We saw the tech back in episode one, but this was a more detailed look, and it’s at this point you realize that if nothing else, D&D campaigns in the future probably literally let you fight a dragon. Also, if the whole crew doesn’t get stuck in the VR room at one point, I’m not sure what we’re doing with this show.
3. Anachronism Watch: So, from now on I’m going to keep track of the anachronisms of this series when they pop up. Not because I hate the series, but because it’s easy for things like this to get away from you if you’re not careful.
During the episode, Bortus and his mate request that someone from Moclan come and pick them up so they can travel to their homeworld and give their child the sex change, since both the doctor on the ship and Ed refused to allow it to happen on The Orville. The head of the Moclan ship comes aboard the Orville, and in one of the few jokes of the episode, Ed and Kelly try to distract him with…board games. Monopoly is specifically brought up, which makes my head hurt. It’s a fun game, but…c’mon! You can create custom roleplays in VR—who’s still playing board games?? The concept’s kept alive now by a group about as small as those supporting vinyl, and for roughly the same reasons.
Also, during a conversation with Bortus where they exchange iconic quotes from their cultures, Kelly quotes some Beyonce lyrics. Now in fairness, “Queen B” is easily one of the biggest pop artists to come out of the last twenty years, so it’s possible her lyrics could have survived several centuries into the future, but it’s still weird hearing “Survivor” quoted on a spaceship.
4. After convincing Bortus to change his mind about having a female child, the group travels to the homeworld of the Moclan in order to defend the child’s right to decide her gender on her own. As expected of a planet devoid of women, the Moclan homeworld is a desolate hellscape. According to Dr. Finn, they’ve “industrialized” their entire world—it leaves the whole planet drenched in smog from massive smokestacks littered across the planet. I can’t be the only person wondering…in the far-flung future, how could you not have created something more efficient that doesn’t completely wreck your environment?
They also talk about how the Moclan’s specialty in weaponry means they often test weapons out in the open rather than in more safe locations. Again, I have questions: Even if they did it just to screw with the crew of the Orville…it looks like they test inside their own cities. How is this anything less than absurd? They spend so much time talking about how inferior women are that this look at their planet drives home how foolish they are as a people. If you wipe an entire gender off the face of your planet you’d better be able to prove how they were holding you back by creating an ideal utopia, not this garbage planet that wouldn’t look out of place as the setting for Mad Max 2.
5. As it turns out, while Kelly helps Bortus defend the right of the child to remain a girl, the group discovers one existing woman on the planet Moclan. It turns out to be a woman named Gondus Elden, their planet’s favorite and most popular writer, who argues in favor of allowing the young child to grow up and live life as a woman.
Ultimately though, the tribunal overseeing the case decides it would be best to make the child male anyway. And while I think the episode’s subject matter was kinda dicey to begin with, this felt like the right choice for the show. Optimistic sci-fi or not, you don’t change an entire culture overnight. Sometimes stories don’t have the happiest ending. That said, I wouldn’t have been hurt if they had taken a different direction entirely. It would have been cool to have an entire group of women Moclan come and abduct the baby, revealing they hid themselves away rather than deal with the judgmental males of their race. Or could have even made her into the first female of their race ever—it’s not like they made any meaningful commentary on sex changes or even the divide between men and women, so that whole idea could’ve been tossed. Oh well.
Three episodes in and the show hasn’t quite settled into its own groove yet, but it certainly looks like they’ll get the time, as ratings remain decently high. Hopefully, once we get past these early rough points things will become a bit more daring, though.
See you guys next week!
The Orville airs on FOX and is available for streaming on Hulu.