5 Points Discussions – The Orville S1.12: “Mad Idolatry”

by Sage Ashford

What happens when a member of the crew interferes with the growth of a new civilization?  And is love finally in the air for Ed and Kelly? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. I’ve gotten used to the fairly comedic openings of The Orville before we delve into deeper, more detailed stuff but since the series has been greenlit for another season, I’m hoping they learn to vary it up a bit more in season two. This week opens with  lonely Ed trying to find a member of his crew he can hang out with after hours, resulting in a few chuckle-worthy scenes with fellow bridge crew members Ed and John.

The best one though winds up being Ed’s encounter with Bortus and his husband, where he tries to enjoy a nightcap with them and playing a Moclan game only to get stabbed through the hand. I don’t really question these openings because they’re meant to be humorous, but this one still left me wondering a few things. Bortus offers Ed a drink that bonds with Moclan beings’ innards and leaves a parasite that remains in their system, and for whatever reason Ed drinks it. So now I’m left wondering: just how tough have human immune systems gotten during the four hundred years between now and the setting of Orville?  And who signs up for alien games without even knowing the rules?

2. It feels like the crew’s been flaunting the rules of their organization since the first episode and now here at the end it’s caused some trouble. This week the crew comes into contact with a strange planet that appeared near a star seemingly out of nowhere, and go in to investigate. They’re only there briefly, but in those few minutes they manage to muck everything up by running into an injured young girl that Kelly heals…only instead of getting away clean, she’s spotted by a tiny tribe of humans before getting away.

Of course, if that were the end of things then there’d be no episode, so eventually it grows into this major thing where a whole society has been built that worships this mysterious being that was capable of healing a girl and flying away. It’s a rather boilerplate take on how religion affects society, but fortunately they aren’t too heavy-handed with that part, instead focusing on why it’s usually a bad idea to break the Prime Directive, where space-faring civilizations don’t interfere with ones that aren’t space-faring.

Kelly winds up feeling extremely uncomfortable with the worship and people using her to imprison people, but the biggest problem here is that…the interference was never worth it to begin with.  Kelly heals a girl who really only scratched her head; even with no technology if they’d bandaged her up she would’ve been fine, so why bother? The implication is that this society is so nice, that they just couldn’t leave someone in pain, but there’s no way they don’t teach classes on this. Kelly’s screw up can’t be the first time it’s ever happened.

3. The planet the crew lands on winds up being something of an anomaly, one that switches between The Orville’s universe and their own every so often. Every eleven days they come to The Orville’s universe, but in their own universe over seven hundred years time has passed.   Like this, the crew is able to see the progression of this world in almost real time across massive seven hundred year jumps, taking the society of this world from pre-history to the Middle Ages, then our era, before finally showing them as a society that was seemingly even more advanced than The Orville’s own.

The only trick to this is…this should have a massive effect on society going forward, as the Planetary Union should be able to study this world to get an idea of how their own society might advance. Studying them another month, they would likely get to witness a world advanced two thousand years ahead of their own! The ramifications of that are fascinating, and it’s too bad they aren’t planning on showing that.

4. The solution to their problem was apparently breaking the Prime Directive a third time and sending Isaac to live among them in order to place their world on the right path. Now aside from the fact that they clearly didn’t learn anything from their initial screw-up, it’s kind of a shame that how they resolved this episode’s plotline likely won’t have an effect on the cast, even though it should. Spending 700 years among humans should give Isaac a more firm grasp on how humans work than even the crew of the Orville, but I’m willing to bet his character hasn’t changed much at all. Most of Isaac’s appeal comes from being a robot who doesn’t understand the conventions of humanity, after all.

5. The Ed and Kelly relationship has finally been solved, at least temporarily.  After an episode of teasing the possibility, Kelly decides that as long as they’re crewmates, it’s dangerous for them to date because it clouds Ed’s judgment. The trouble is…Ed didn’t really act out of character on her behalf just because they were considering dating again. He covered for her violation with the Planetary Union’s Admiral, but he’s been known to do that for his crewmates before, that had nothing to do with a relationship.

This feels like a lazy way to wrap the whole thing up, particularly when we know the series is going to end with the two of them dating anyway. Why not just cut the fat and skip to the part where they’re together–as far as I know it’s not terribly common to see space opera series where the two main characters run a ship together while being in a relationship, that’s a dynamic that would’ve been worth exploring.

Oh well. That wraps it up for The Orville until next fall! I hope you enjoyed my recaps, and if you’re still jonesing for more, please check out the rest of my 5 Point Discussion articles on other series!

The Orville airs on FOX on Thursday nights and is available for streaming on Hulu.