Monday, December 18, 2017

The Orville Season 1, Episode 12: Mad Idolatry

Welcome to the (early) season finale of The Orville!

Yep, that's right— thanks to the Fox Network and their infinite wisdom, Season 1 of the show has officially been cut short by one episode, down to twelve. See, Fox initially ordered a thirteen episode "half season" of the series. But then a couple weeks back, they suddenly announced that due to "unforeseen scheduling problems," they were ending the season with Episode 12. They've promised to take the thirteenth episode and fold it into Season 2, which probably won't air until Fall of 2018. Thanks a lot, Fox!

So just what was this vitally important hour of television that absolutely had to air in place of The Orville? Why, Taraji's White Hot Holidays Special, of course! Whatever the hell that is. Seriously? A goddamned Xmas special? Does anyone still watch those?

If they absolutely had to air this thing, couldn't they have done so an hour before The Orville at 7pm, or even an hour after at 9? Welp, I hope it was worth it, Fox. I certainly didn't watch it, and I'm sure few if any Orville fans did either. 

Be sure and send your bitter complaints about this scheduling debacle to the Fox Programming Department, if you can manage to find a contact link on their labyrinthine website. And if the government hasn't dismantled the internet already.

Despite the fact that this was supposedly just Episode 12, it felt very much like a season finale. It wrapped up some loose ends, and ended on a bit of a final note. This makes me wonder if Mad Idolatry actually was the finale, and they're moving the real Episode 12 into Season 2? I guess we'll find out next Fall.

Overall this was another very good episode of The Orville, even if I did predict exactly what was gonna happen just ten minutes in. It's not that I'm some genius or anything, I've just seen a LOT of hours of Star Trek in my day, and it wasn't hard to see where the plot was headed.

There was a lot of good stuff in this episode, mainly about the dangers of blindly following organized religion vs. thinking for one's self. Seth MacFarlane, who wrote the episode, is an out and proud atheist, so such subject matter's right up his alley. He's said in many interviews that he has no use for religion and believes it's high time the world moved past the need for faith and worship. I can't argue with him there. Sadly, I'm afraid such a day is a long, long, LONG way off. Like hundreds of years off.

The episode has some interesting things to say about how a society needs faith and religion in its infancy in order to flourish, but eventually has to discard it like a security blanket. That's some pretty heavy stuff for what is ostensibly supposed to be a comedy series.

I've actually enjoyed this season quite a bit, as The Orville's become one of my favorite shows. Believe me, no one's more surprised by that statement than I am. When the series premiered this past September, I really tore it a new one. I was honestly shocked and appalled by just how derivative the series was. It was as if MacFarlane simply took Star Trek: The Next Generation, changed the names of the characters and the ship and called it a day. Virtually EVERYTHING in TNG was precisely replicated in The Orville. And I do mean everything!

Then sometime around Episode 3, I guess that initial shock must have worn off, and I looked beyond the blatant similarities at what MacFarlane was actually doing. Somehow, against all logic and reason, I started to actively like the show!

Maybe I just miss classic Star Trek, and this series fills a TNG-shaped hole in my life, I dunno. Anyway, hats off to MacFarlane for "creating" the show, and I hope there are many more seasons to come before he gets bored and moves on.


The Plot:
After hours, a bored Captain Mercer tries to find someone to hang out with. Everyone's busy except for Bortus and Klyden, who invite him in. They offer him a glass of Opsadda, a vile-looking drink that contains live parasites. When he asks if Moclans play any games, they break out their Latchkum orb. It's a metallic golden egg that's passed from person to person, much like Hot Potato. Unfortunately when Mercer catches the Latchkum egg, a huge blade juts out and pierces his hand!

Later in his quarters, Mercer calls Kelly and says he's too embarrassed to tell Doctor Finn how he injured his hand, and asks her to smuggle a dermoscanner out of Sickbay for him (Plot Point!). He then asks if she'd like to have a drink in the Mess Hall.

Cut to Mercer and Kelly having a drink in the Mess Hall. He tells her he's been been lonely the past year, and has been thinking about her a lot after Darulio's visit. He thinks they should consider getting back together. Kelly's not so sure, so Mercer suggests going on a "test date." She agrees, and they have a celebratory drink. Or ten.

The next morning, Mercer and Kelly are on the bridge nursing raging hangovers. As the ship approaches an uncharted star, Isaac detects an unusual distortion field ahead. Kelly, Isaac and Gordon take a shuttle out to investigate.

Suddenly a planet materializes out of nowhere, directly in front of the shuttle. They slam into the atmosphere, which destabilizes the engines and causes the shuttle to crash land. Gordon contacts the Orville and says they're banged up, but OK. Isaac says they should be able to fix the shuttle in an hour and return. While the guys are doing that, Kelly decides to explore. Uh-oh.

She climbs a small hill and sees a primitive humanoid village in the distance. She radios the shuttle and says she's going in for a closer look. Big Uh-oh! Isaac reminds her about the Prime Directive, er, I mean "cultural contamination," and says to be sure the inhabitants don't see her.

Kelly traipses through the suspiciously familiar looking woods, and sees two young girls playing. When they spot her they take off running, and one trips and hits her head against a rock. Why is there always a conveniently place rock for people to hit their head on? 

Kelly approaches the dazed and terrified girl and tries to calm her, saying her name is Kelly and she wants to help. She immediately whips out the dermascanner she smuggled from Sickbay (told you it was a Plot Point!) and heals the gash on the girl's forehead.

Just then a group of villagers approach and see Kelly healing the girl. Kelly realizes what she's done and takes off back to the shuttle. The little girl watches her go, smiles and says, "Kell-Ee." Gigantic Uh-oh!

The shuttle returns to the ship, and Mercer sends a report to Admiral Ozawa (who we last saw in Krill). She tells Mercer to hang around and scan the area for another seventy two hours to see what happens. Kelly thanks Mercer for not mentioning her cultural faux-pas to Ozawa. Mercer says she was just trying to do the right thing. Plus cultural contamination is a serious charge, and he doesn't want to see her go in prison.

The crew then waits in orbitt, bored out of their minds. Suddenly the Planet vanishes in front of their eyes. Isaac scans the area and says he has a theory. He thinks the Planet is locked in a "multiphasic orbit." This means its orbit takes it around a star in an unknown universe for part of its year, and around this one in our universe for the other half. He says the Planet orbits its star in just eleven days (WOW!), and should return to our universe by then. Mercer decides to wait some more.

While they're waiting, Mercer and Kelly go on their date. Amazingly, it goes pretty well, and it seems like they'll be getting back together after all.

Eleven days later, the crew assembles on the bridge. Right on schedule, the Planet reappears. Isaac scans the surface, and says the level of technology seems to have advanced quite a bit since they last saw it, and the population has increased exponentially as well. Alara asks how all that could happen in less than two weeks.

Mercer, Kelly, Alara, Gordon and John all take a shuttle down to the Planet. They're shocked when they see the city is now much larger and more advanced. Isaac contacts Mercer and says he thinks he knows what's going on. Whenever the Planet leaves our universe, it experiences a "temporal acceleration." To the Orville crew eleven days have passed, but it's been seven hundred years for the Planet!

Mercer wants to gather intel on the nearby city, and says they need to disguise themselves. Gordon spots a peasant hut with washing on the line, so they decide to "borrow" their clothes. As they're gathering the clothing, the owner of the hut spots them, and gapes in surprise when she sees Kelly. She then brings her baby out and begs Kelly to "bless" him. An embarrassed Kelly tries to tell her no, but the woman insists. Kelly uncomfortably blesses the kid.

The crew puts on their borrowed clothes and walks into the city. Along the way they see several dead bodies strung up on poles, and wonder what crimes the victims committed. A passerby said they were Deniers who forsook the word of Kelly. Double Uh-oh!!

Inside the city they witness a woman telling her kid to behave or Kelly will punish him. Then three more Deniers are brought out to the town square, where they have their arms cut. A priest says if they're innocent, then Kelly will heal them. Kelly moves to stop them, but Mercer holds her back, saying she'll only make things worse. The crew sees a large cathedral ahead, and inside they find a gigantic, perfectly-rendered statue of Kelly! Triple Uh-oh!!!

Back on the ship, Mercer contacts Admiral Ozawa. She tears him a new one for allowing Kelly to contaminate an alien culture and then lying about it. She formally reprimands him, and orders him NOT to go back to the planet. She says they're to wait until the civilization develops space travel (which will probably happen sometime in the next eleven days) and let them approach the Orville.

Kelly blames herself for all the people who've been murdered in her name on the Planet, and wonders how many more will die. She goes to her quarters to mope about it. Mercer enters and tells her to get dressed, as he's decided they're going back to the Planet to try and fix things, orders be damned.

Cut to the cathedral, where a priest named Valdonis condemns a young boy to be cut in the name of Kelly. Just then the crew enters, demanding an audience. Valdonis says he doesn't see peasants without an appointment or something. Suddenly Kelly throws off her robes, which causes the priest and everyone in the cathedral to immediately kneel and beg forgiveness.

She tells Valdonis she's not a god, but an ordinary person like him. He disagrees, reciting the Holy Scripture that says Kelly descended from her mountaintop domain and healed a young girl with her touch. Kelly says she doesn't have any special powers, but used a simple tool to heal. She demonstrates by cutting her hand and healing it with the dermascanner. She then tells Valdonis to try it. He cuts his hand and uses the scanner to heal his as well.

Valdonis isn't quite convinced, since Kelly looks exactly the same as she did when she first appeared seven hundred years ago. Kelly says she's not immortal, as time just moves differently for her and her people. Valdonis is finally convinced. Isaac contacts the crew and says they have nine minutes before the Planet shifts to the other universe. As Mercer hurries her away, she tells Valdonis to spread the word that she's not a god and that their entire religion is a sham.

After they leave, a second Priest asks Valdonis what he's going to do. He says the people have the right to know they're worshiping a false god. The Priest says if the people stop fearing Kelly, they won't fear the church either, and they'll lose their ability to rule the masses. He then stabs Valdonis in the back to shut him up and protect the secret of Kelly.

Cut to eleven days later, as the Orville anxiously waits for the Planet to return. When it does, Isaac detects heavy industry and pollution, artificial satellites in orbit and 
extensive broadcast signals. He then scans for the name "Kelly" and gets 749,682 results. Mercer has him pipe in various TV signals to the bridge, and the crew sees a Kelly-themed televangelist show, cable news hosts arguing over public funding for Kelly statues and a report on a clash between Kelly zealots and Deniers in a third-world country.

Kelly realizes she's only made things worse again. She says maybe if she had more time she could fix this society, but the Planet's just not in our universe long enough. She volunteers to stay on the Planet in order to set things right. Mercer forbids this idea, saying she'd die there while the Planet's out of our universe.

Isaac then steps up and volunteers to go. He says he could stay behind and fix the Planet's society. Mercer reminds him he'd be gone for seven hundred years. Isaac says it'd be like seven hundred seconds to him, as his artificial body can last for millennia. Plus he says it'd give him the chance for a long-term study of a humanoid culture.

Cut to Isaac on the Planet's surface, as he says goodbye to the crew. The Planet disappears, right on schedule. Eleven days later, it reappears. This time the surface is covered in gigantic futuristic towers hundreds of miles high.

A metallic chrome ship approaches the Orville, and the occupants request permission to come aboard. Two humanoids, Fadolin and Baleth, materialize on the bridge, along with Isaac. They say they've been looking forward to meeting them for a long time. Mercer asks Isaac how he "fixed" the society, and he says he didn't do anything. Fadolin says the seven hundred years ago Isaac's appearance shook their world, but eventually everyone got used to him and their society evolved just as it would have without him.

Baleth says if Kelly hadn't appeared, another deity would have, as such worship is part of the growing pains of any culture. Eventually, all societies move beyond faith and religion and put their trust in reason and discovery (oh, if only).

After everything turns out OK, Kelly meets with Mercer. He's happy to see her, but she has bad news for him. She says she still cares for him, but their being 
together only jeopardizes his command, the Orville and their friendship. She says she can't let that happen, and they can never be more than colleagues. Deep down, he knows she's right. 

• At the beginning of the episode we get a really good closeup of Mercer tapping on the control panel outside John's quarters.

As always, the buttons glow brighter when pressed (as shown here when Mercer pushes the bottom one). I still can't figure out if these are actual touch screens and the interactive glow is a real effect, or if they're adding it in with CGI. I'm kind of leaning toward CGI, even though that seems needlessly expensive and time-consuming.

• When Mercer pays a friendly visit to John, this is how he answers the door. Based on the way he's so calculatedly throwing his shirt open, it looks like J Lee's been working out and wants the entire viewing audience to know it!

• Looks like someone in The Orville's prop department is a big Game Of Thrones fan. That Latchkum game looks exactly like one of the three dragon eggs Daenerys received in Season 1.

 Once again we see the Orville's crew quarters are absolutely immense! Heck, Mercer's bedroom alone is about the size of my entire house! And his quarters have a second floor to boot!!

• Over on TNG, the crew were always drinking synthehol, a beverage with the taste and buzz of real alcohol, but with none of the unpleasant side effects like hangovers and addiction. Apparently the Orville crew drinks pure old fashioned brain cell-destroying booze.

By the way, I love this shot of Mercer and Kelly nursing raging hangovers while trying to command the ship.

• Now that john LaMarr's been promoted to Chief Engineer, he's no longer the Orville's navigator. It becomes a running gag in this episode that every time we see the bridge, there's a new crewman in his old chair. 

First up is this black woman...

Followed by a pink-skinned, purple-haired alien woman...

Then a vaguely Hispanic-looking lady...

This Asian woman...

And lastly this person, who we never really get a good look at. It might still be the Asian lady, but whoever it is seems to be sitting more like a man, so who knows?

Hopefully they'll settle on a permanent replacement soon.

• At one point the Orville detects unusual readings ahead. Kelly, Isaac and Gordon take a shuttle out to investigate. Suddenly an entire planet materializes directly in front of them, causing them to crash land.

The shuttle crew's lucky the planet appeared when and where it did. Another few seconds and it would have materialized around the shuttle, and they'd have ended up inside its core! Ouch!

• Oddly enough, at no time during the episode does anyone ever state the name of this time-challenged Planet or its inhabitants.

• After the shuttle crashes on the Planet, Kelly decides to explore by herself. She walks up a hill and sees a small settlement in the distance. She radios the shuttle and reports that the inhabitants are humanoid, even though she's a good mile or two away from them. How the hell can she tell what they look like? She can barely see any structures at that distance, much less individuals!

• There're some MAJOR LEAGUE plot gymnastics going on in this episode, involving Kelly and her convenient dermascanner.

It starts when Mercer pays a visit to Bortus & Klyden's quarters, and plays a rousing game of Latchkum. Mercer inadvertently "wins" when he gets a sharp knife blade through his hand. For some reason he's too embarrassed to have Doctor Finn patch him up, so he asks Kelly to sneak a dermascanner out of Sickbay for him. She does so, and after treating him she absentmindedly sticks the device in her pocket and forgets about it.

So this entire Latchkum sequence was cooked up solely to explain why Kelly just happened to have a dermascanner on her when she landed on the Planet, so she could heal the little girl and be mistaken for a god.

WOW! Surely to Thor there was an easier way to get a dermascanner into her hands? Why not just have her grab a first aid kit when she exited the shuttle? That would have been a LOT simpler and less contrived!

• While watching the episode, I noticed that the surface of this Planet...

...looks amazingly like the inside of the massive colony ship in If The Stars Should Appear. Why, it's almost as if both environments were filmed on the same studio backlot! But that's impossible, right?

• While waiting for the Planet to reappear in our universe, Mercer and Kelly have their date. Because Mercer's a notoriously bad cook, he makes peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

It's probably just a coincidence, but when I heard that I couldn't help but thing of Brian Griffin's Peanut Butter Jelly Time song and dance from Family Guy!

• At one point Isaac says the Planet is in a "tight orbit" around its sun, and completes one revolution every eleven days. Jesus Christ! 
Even Mercury, the closest planet to our Sun, has an orbit of eighty eight days!

There are two possibilities here, and neither seems very likely. The first is that the Planet is close enough to its sun to zoom around it in just eleven days. In order to do that though, it'd have to be practically grazing the surface of the star, which would of course make the Planet uninhabitable.

The second possibility is the Planet orbits at a respectable distance, but flies around its star in eleven days. I'm not good enough at math to figure out how fast the Planet would need to go to do that, but it would probably either fly out of orbit in to deep space, or rip apart entirely.

It would have been better if they'd just said the Planet had a normal Earth-like orbit, but slipped in and out of our universe every eleven days.

• Apparently everyone on this temporally challenged Planet speaks with a British accent! Amazing!

• When the crew goes back to the Planet, seven hundred years have passed there. At one point they're spotted by a peasant woman, who sees Kelly and falls to her knees, believing her God has returned in the flesh. She then brings out her son for Kelly to bless.

Thing is, there are four other "gods" standing there, all dressed in clean, bright clothing just like Kelly's. So why doesn't the woman think they're part of the pantheon as well? She doesn't even acknowledge the others!

• Although I liked Mad Idolatry quite a bit, it contains a laughably massive plot hole— one that practically torpedoes the entire episode! As the disguised crew checks out the Planet, they enter a cathedral. Inside, they find a giant, impossibly detailed statue of the god Kelly!

Note that when I say "impossibly detailed," I'm not kidding. Every single element is precisely reproduced, right down to the intricate piping on her uniform. Jesus, they even perfectly replicated the Union department badge on her chest in perfect detail!

Oh, but that's just the beginning! Inside the apse of the cathedral, there's a large stained glass window featuring Kelly's likeness. Again, this is rendered in excruciatingly precise detail. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the set designer just took a screencap of Adrianne Palicki in costume and used the Photoshop "stained glass" filter on it!

It's kind of hard to see, and we never get a really good look at it, but the apse also contains a large tapestry of Kelly healing the little girl. Again, it's impossibly detailed.

This is all completely ridiculous of course, even for a series like this. Kelly didn't materialize in front of thousands of witnesses in the town square— she appeared to one little girl in the middle of the woods. That one little girl was the only person on this entire Planet who ever got a good look at Kelly. Even then, she only saw her for about a minute. Two, tops. There's no way in hell an eight year old could have remembered that much detail about her (yes, a few adults got a quick look at Kelly, but for even less time than the girl, and from a much farther distance).

I could maybe see the little girl describing Kell-ee as being "A tall, beautiful woman with bright, golden hair, clad in shining blue and black garments." Beyond that, nope!

Additionally, the little girl's encounter with Kelly was seven hundred years ago! Even if she was able to accurately describe her, representations of Kelly would have mutated and changed over the centuries, becoming almost unrecognizable.

Even though it's ridiculous, I get why the producers made the statues and paintings so accurate. If they'd have the logical route and built a statue that vaguely resembled the little girl's memory of Kelly, then the dimmer members of the TV audience would have looked up from their phones long enough to say, "Who's that supposed to be? It don't look nothin' like that blonde woman."

That doesn't make this scene any less stupid though.

• Captain Mercer's a big fat liar! On the Planet, he and the crew "borrow" some clothing from the Peasant Woman, in order to fit in while they scout out the area. When one of the others points out that they're stealing, Mercer says they'll return the clothing later.

Cut to later in the episode, after Admiral Ozawa forbids the crew from going back to the Planet and contaminating it any further. Mercer enters Kelly's quarters and says they're going back to fix the Planet, orders be damned. 

Note that as he says this, the landing party is wearing the exact same peasant clothing they "borrowed" earlier! They never returned them after all!

I suppose there's a slight possibility that they really did return the clothing, and then replicated, er, I mean synthesized it later. If they did, then they've all got fantastic memories, because the clothing's all identical to the items they borrowed.

• Kelly returns to the Planet to try and convince High Priest Valondis she's not a god. She does this by cutting herself and instantly healing the wound with the dermascanner. She then has Valondis cut and heal himself with it too.

When this happened, I honestly expected him to then decree himself the new Kelly, or maybe even start worshiping the dermascanner!

• Speaking of Valondis, against all logic and reason he wears a mitre and robe just like an Earth bishop. I guess good fashion is universal!

• After another seven hundred years go by, the Planet is now about the level of 21st Century Earth. The Orville crew then see a TV evangelist preaching the Gospel of Kelly, CNN-type talking heads debating public funding for religion and a news correspondent reporting on a jihad in a war-torn third world country.

Oddly enough, that reporter appears to be Perd Hapley, of Parks & Rec fame! Perd's alive and well and living on another planet four hundred years (or is that 2,100) in the future!

• Isaac decides to stay behind to try and "fix" the planet. When it appears seven hundred years later (for them), the Planet is covered by gigantic megacities, visible from space.

Two citizens (who've apparently raided Marlon Brando's wardrobe from Superman The Movie) of the now super-advanced Planet then beam onto the Orville's bridge, and offer them a message of peace, hope and understanding.

They then have the following conversation:

Mercer: "It won't be long before you advance millennia past us."
Baleth: "Perhaps then, we will study you."

Yikes! What the heck did that mean? It's meant benevolently, but that "study you" line comes off a bit... sinister.

The Union better hope they never do anything to piss off the people of this Planet. They're already far beyond the Union's level of technology, and in six months they'll have probably evolved into superpowerful gods, who could obliterate them with the wave of a hand!

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:
There weren't very many this week, as I only caught one.

At one point Ozawa orders the Orville to stick around and see if the mysterious Planet does anything interesting. After twelve hours, the crew's bored out of their minds. Gordon then says, "We should get like, a Monopoly game going or something! Is this too many people?"

There were quite a few this week.

—The modern Trek series all had medical devices similar to the Orville's dermascanner, which could heal a wound almost instantly.

—This episode concerns the Orville crew trying to undo the mess Kelly inadvertently caused by healing an injured little girl. The notion of a crew member from an advanced society negatively contaminating a less developed culture is similar to many, many episodes of the various Star Trek series since 1966. In fact Starfleet even drafted a law to prevent such occurrences: The Prime Directive. It prohibited crews from interfering with the natural evolution of a planet and its society.

There were at least sixty eight Prime Directive episodes in the various Trek series, so I'm not gonna list 'em all here. I will point out a few notable ones though.

In the Original Series, Kirk encountered several societies that'd been contaminated by previous ships. In A Piece Of The Action, a Starfleet ship visited a planet and accidentally left behind a book about Chicago Mobs of the 1920s. When the Enterprise visited the planet later, organized crime mobs ruled the world.

In Patterns Of Force, a Starfleet officer deliberately introduced Nazism to a planet, with disastrous results.

In The Apple, a race of peaceful aliens were ruled by an advanced computer. Kirk thought this was stunting their growth as a species, so he destroyed their caretaker computer, forcing the aliens to fend for themselves (!).

In the TNG episode Justice, the crew discovered a planet where ANY crime, no matter how trivial, was punishable by death. Naturally Wesley Crusher, er, crushed a flower, and Picard had to save him from execution.

In Pen Pals, Picard had to decide whether to save a doomed inhabited planet, or go ahead and let it explode. 

In Who Watches The Watchers and First Contact, Starfleet personnel were studying other planets and were accidentally discovered. In both cases, Picard had to try and mop up the mess without turning the societies upside down.

In the DS9 episode Meridian, the crew discovers a Brigadoon-like planet that shifts between our universe and another plane of existence every sixty years. Jadzia Dax falls for an inhabitant of the planet, and has to decide whether to stay with him and disappear for six decades or stay in Starfleet.

In the Voyager episode False Profits, two Ferengi were accidentally transported to a planet in the Delta Quadrant. They then applied the Fenengi Rules of Acquisition to the planet, becoming its monarchs. The Voyager crew then had to try and fix the damage they'd done.

—This episode's concept of a time-accelerated planet being influenced by a starship crew is very, VERY similar to the Voyager episode Blink Of An Eye. Wait, did I say similar? I meant EXACT.

In that episode, Voyager encounters a strange planet locked in a tachyon bubble, where every minute on its surface equals a year to the outside universe. Voyager accidentally gets stuck in some sort of technobabble field, that causes quakes on the planet's surface. The inhabitants see this "Sky Ship" above them and begin worshipping it as a deity. 

The holographic Doctor, who can't age, is sent down to the planet to try and fix the societal and religious damage Voyager's inadvertently caused. He's there for several seconds, which equals years for him. Ultimately he fails.

Eventually the planet devotes all their resources to reaching the Sky Ship, to find out why they keep shaking the ground. Two astronauts dock with the ship and enter, and find out that all the shaking is unintentional. While the astronauts are on board, the planet develops antimatter weapons, and begins trying to destroy Voyager. One of the astronauts dies, but the other goes back to the surface (centuries later, from his point of view) to try and explain. A few minutes/years later, two ships fly up, help Voyager escape and the crew goes on their way.

Sounds pretty familiar, eh?

I don't know if MacFarlane was familiar Blink Of An Eye when he wrote Mad Idolatry, but you've gotta admit the two episodes are pretty damned close! Right down to the "Ageless Crew Member Being Sent Down To Try And Fix Things" subplot!

This Week's Best Lines:
Bortus: "Captain. Is there a problem?"
Mercer: "Oh, there's no problem. I was just seeing what you're up to."
Bortus: "Am I suspected of some misdeed?"
Mercer: "No, Bortus, for God's sake, this is a social call!"

Klyden: "It is aged nine years. The perfect duration for good Opsadda."
Mercer: "Man, if it, uh, looks like this going in, I'm afraid of what it looks like coming out!" Klyden: "Opsadda does not come out. It grows into a parasite within the body. The sensation is intensely pleasurable."

Alara: "I'll never get used to that sight. An uncharted star that's just waiting for us to come along and discover it. It's amazing, isn't it?"
Mercer: (hung over) "It's really bright."
Kelly: (also hung over) "Isaac, can you reduce the illumination on the viewer?"

Kelly: (after Mercer makes his report to Admiral Ozawa) "Why didn't you tell her?"
Mercer: "You helped out a kid, that's all. And cultural contamination of a society that undeveloped is a serious charge. I just don't want to have to come visit you in prison." 
Kelly: "Really? You wouldn't want to visit a women's prison?"
Mercer: "You're right, I'll call her back."

Isaac: "Scans have revealed a temporal inconsistency indicating that when the planet moves out of our universe and into the other, its time constant undergoes an acceleration." 
Gordon: "Can you translate that for dumb guys who might also be a little drunk?"

Gordon: (to Peasant Woman) "Hi. We're the fashion police. And these outfits have got to go!"

Peasant Woman: "I'm a simple farmer, not worthy of your favor, but please, I implore you. Bless my child."
Kelly: "Ma'am, I'm sorry, I don't know what..."
Peasant Woman: "Please. Oh, please, bless him." 
Kelly: "Um... I hope your kid grows up and, uh... does a lot of good stuff. And um..."
Gordon: "And doesn't get any girls pregnant."
Kelly: "And doesn't get any girls pregnant. Stay in school."
Gordon: "Amen."
Peasant Woman: "Oh, thank you!"

Mercer: "But, Admiral, maybe we could convince them..."
Ozawa: "That's an order."
Mercer: "Understood."
(The Admiral seemingly signs off)
Mercer: (in a mocking tone) "That's an order."
Ozawa: "What?"
Mercer: "Oh, my God, I'm sorry, I thought you hung up. I'm s... Oh, God, I'm so sorry. Please, Admiral, have mercy, please. Thank you. Okay, bye."

"Look, there's been a little misunderstanding. I'm not who you think I am"
Valdonis: "But you are. Healer of men. Divine hand of the heavens. God of all creation."
Alara: "Man, this guy'd be the perfect boyfriend."
Kelly: "Listen to me. I'm not any of those things. I'm a living, mortal being, exactly like you."
Gordon: "That's right, and she's God, so you know she's telling the truth."
John: "Yeah, that-that's not helping."

Priest: "Valondis? May I ask what you plan to do?"
Valdonis: "I do not know. But this cannot be kept from the people. They must know what has happened."
Priest: "Surely that would be a mistake."
Valdonis: "How so?"
Priest: "The belief in Kelly is not merely a source of comfort for the people. They fear her, as well. And as the guardians of the Word of Kelly, they fear us. Should that fear come into doubt, our ability to govern may be compromised."

Gordon: (after Isaac volunteers to stay on the Planet and try to fix the contamination) "Well, how would you do it? Just walk in and say, 'Hi. I'm from another planet. I'm here to fix you?"
Isaac: "I would not put it so artlessly, but yes."
(So Isaac, the mechanical life form, knows about art now?)

Fadolin: "Our planet worshipped you as a deity for many centuries. But had it not been you, the mythology would have found another face. It's a part of every culture's evolution. It's one of the stages of learning. And eventually, it brought us here."
Baleth: "So you see, Commander, you didn't poison our culture with false faith. We flourish. You must have faith in reason, in discovery and in the endurance of the logical mind."

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