In the January 29 edition of TechNews, I began my review of the second season of the science fiction television show “The Orville.” Here, I continue that review with my thoughts on episodes two through four.
As much can be said about the strength and quality of the second season premiere of "The Orville" that I discussed in my previous article, less good can be said of its second episode. Entitled “Primal Urges,” this episode centers around Lieutenant Commander Bortus’ family issues and the less-than-savory ways he deals with them. Even by “The Orville”’s considerably relaxed content standards, I even found this episode to be a bit excessive in the the graphic ways which it conveyed its point. While the episode ends on a resolute note and delivers a solid message, I feel like it did not need to portray all of the things it did to achieve this point. Any episode about Moclan culture seems destined to be a whirlwind for the viewers.
Lieutenant Alara Kitan is the focus of the following episode, “Home,” and this episode does a significantly better job than its predecessor about telling a character-focused story about family conflict while portraying the finer details of an alien culture. It told the tale of showing how someone changes and evolves as an individual as life takes them different places, as it did with Alara and her serving aboard the Orville. I found this episode to particularly resonate with me personally, because the same message can be said about personal evolution as someone goes to college in a new place. This episode also saw “The Orville” break boundaries in regards to what it was willing to depict on screen, which between this episode and the previous one makes me think that the show is testing the waters in regards to how extreme of content it can depict. This episode was a strong showing for Alara and sent a positive message about how there is nothing bad about deviating from a person’s supposed predetermined path in life, whether that determination comes from society, family, or both. I was disappointed to see Alara’s departure from the show and hope that she one day returns, but so far have liked her replacement character, fellow Xelayan Lt. Talla Keylali.
The fourth episode, “Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes,” returns the character focus to Captain Mercer, specifically with his newfound relationship with one Lt. Janel Tyler, a cartographer on his ship. In what was highly reminiscent of competitor show “Star Trek: Discovery,” a lieutenant named Tyler turned out to be a genetically modified spy from the warrior race of aliens who are the main antagonists of the series, who unintentionally develops feelings for the main character. Overt “Discovery” parallels aside, I felt that the episode told a good story and delivered a message that society needs now more than ever: that only through mutual cooperation and trust will society progress and evolve, as opposed to reaching mutually assured destruction to the point where there will be “nothing left on Earth excepting fishes.”
Overall, while the comedy has been toned down and the character focus has increased, “The Orville” still proves itself to be a strong science fiction show that has stepped out of the shadow of any other show, “Trek” or otherwise, and truly come into its own. In following weeks, I will continue my review of episodes of this season of “The Orville.” I look forward to seeing what awaits the storyline for the rest of this season. “The Orville” airs Thursday nights on Fox.