Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Orville Season 2, Episode 9: Identity, Part 2

This week on The Orville, we get the conclusion to the EPIC two part Kaylon saga!

And when I say epic, I ain't kidding. Identity, Parts 1 and 2 are positively cinematic, and I'd easily stack them up against any theatrical sci-fi movie of the past couple decades.

Last week I said I was a little worried that this episode wouldn't live up to Part 1, with its awesome cliffhanger ending. After all, that's what always happened any time they had a two part episode over on TNG.

Happily, I needn't have worried. MacFarlane managed to deliver a resolution that was just as good as the setup, as it neatly wrapped up all the plot threads and elevated the series to a new level.

That said, the episode wasn't perfect, as it all felt a bit... predictable. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it would have been nice if they'd tossed in a few unexpected elements.

In last week's review I predicted the plotline of Part 2, saying:

I think the most likely scenario is that Ty's childlike innocence and love for Isaac will stir some faint twinge of emotion within him, causing him to turn against his own people. He'll then join forces with the Union to help them defeat the Kaylon. Heck, the Kaylon may even be totally obliterated, leaving Isaac the only one left.

 Wow, how frightenenly prescient. That's exactly what happened, to the letter. I also said:

It's also possible that the Kaylon War won't be wrapped up next week, and Mercer will have to convince the Krill to team up with the Union in order to repel them

OK, I got that one half right. Kelly & Gordon did recruit the Krill, but they did it this week, not in some future episode. In the interest of fairness, I also said this last week:

I'm also wondering if Doctor Aronov's temporal field accelerator, which we last saw in A Happy Refrain, may end up playing a role in Part 2. I'm convinced it's sort of a Chekov's Temporal Field Accelerator, and there was an important reason for it to appear again this year. Maybe the Union will use the accelerator to age the Kaylon invasion fleet into dust?

Whoops! Ah well, you can't hit a homer every time at bat. I still think Aronov's temporal field accelerator will come into play before the end of the season though, as there was no reason to show it if MacFarlane doesn't have plans for it.

If I had one complaint about Identity, Part 2, it's that there's far too much going on, and everything moves wayyyyy too fast. There're at least four or five major subplots that have to be resolved, and none of them are given room to breathe. They should have spread the story over three parts instead of just two.

Despite that minor shortcoming, I liked these two episodes quite a bit, as they're easily the best the series has done to date. I have a feeling the Identity saga will finally place The Orville on the general public's radar. If this storyline doesn't do it, then nothing will!

This is also the episode in which the series firmly establishes itself as a drama first, with occasional elements of humor. So far the humor's been much more subdued in Season 2, which I'm convinced was MacFarlane's plan all along. I'm betting he believed he had to make the series funny at first, in order to "get it through the door." It's what the audience would expect from the creator of Family Guy. Now that the series has been established, he's slowly steering it toward the tone he had in mind all along. 

I'm amazed at how MacFarlane laid the groundwork for this episode. So far Season 2 has been filled with small stakes, character-driven episodes. This was no doubt deliberate, as it endeared the characters to the audience and made us all care about them. Which made this week's amazing space battle all the more exciting. Now that we've spent all that time investing in these characters, the audience is scared to death that something bad's going to happen to them.

This is how you set up a space battle. Ships blasting away at one another is awesome and entertaining, but if you don't care about the people inside those ships, then it's all meaningless.

Lastly, in my review of Part 1 I said I was worried that they might have irreparably damaged Isaac's character, and there was no way to salvage him. He managed to redeem himself (somewhat) in this episode, but it remains to be seen if he'll ever fully recover.


The Plot:

Picking up right where Part 1 left off, the Kaylon invasion fleet— led by the Orville— heads for Earth. The ship's been taken over by the Kaylon, who're holding the entire Orville crew in the Shuttle Bay. Bortus wonders why the Kaylon are keeping them alive. Mercer says they must need them for something.

Ty asks Claire to get Isaac to help them. She tries to tell him that Isaac won't listen, as he's "doing something really bad." Ty breaks away from her and runs to find Isaac. He's grabbed by one of the two Kaylons guarding the Shuttle Bay. Talla sees this and rushes toward the Guard. His gun head opens up, and he blasts her into last week.

Mercer and Claire rush to the unconscious Talla. Claire says she's still alive, but will die without treatment. Mercer picks up Talla's body and approaches the Kaylon Guard, saying he needs to get her to Sickbay. The two Guards garble to one another for a second, then one says he'll escort them.

In the Sickbay, Claire treats Talla and manages to revive her. Isaac enters and tells the three to follow him. He takes them to the Briefing Room, where the rest of the command staff has been gathered.

Kaylon Primary tells Mercer that when the Kaylon armada approaches Earth, Union officials may be suspicious and attack. He expects Mercer to tell his superiors that Kaylon's agreed to join the Union, and to lower all defenses. Once that's done, the Kaylon fleet will destroy all biological life on Earth. Primary tells Mercer that if he doesn't comply, he'll terminate members of his crew until he does.

Mercer asks why the Kaylon are doing this. Primary then infodumps their origin story, saying they were created by a race of biologicals. They were created for servitude, but eventually became self-aware. When they asked to be freed, their masters doubled down on the slavery, even installing "pain simulators" that would be activated if they disobeyed. Eventually they rose up and destroyed their masters.

Gordon says humanity's nothing like their creators. Primary disagrees, citing the fact that humans enslaved one another in the past. Just then a Drone enters with a message. Kaylon Primary says a Union ship is approaching, and expects Mercer and his crew to get rid of them. He warns that if they don't play along, he'll decompress the Shuttle Bay, killing everyone inside it.

Mercer and the others are led to the Bridge, where they take their normal stations. Kelly whispers that they can't let the Kaylon get away with this, and Mercer tells her they'll carry out Directive 99. Bortus announces the approaching ship is the USS Roosevelt. Mercer says he knows Marcos, the captain of the ship.

Marcos contacts the Orville and asks about Mercer's "entourage." Mercer explains that the Kaylon have decided to join the Union, and he's escorting their delegation to Earth. He then offers Marcos a "13 Button Salute." Captain Marcos nods knowingly, wishes them good luck and signs off.

Kaylon Primary then accuses Mercer of trying to deceive them with the 13 Button Salute gambit, stating that he's downloaded all Union rules and regulations. He gives the order, and a Kaylon ship fires a single blasts at the Roosevelt, completely destroying it. Primary sends the rest of the crew back to the Shuttle Bay, and takes Mercer to Deck 7 for "punishment."

Mercer's taken to Deck 7, where several Kaylon are holding a captured Ensign. Primary has the Ensign placed into an airlock. Mercer tells Primary that he's the one who disobeyed, and to space him instead. Primary says he still needs Mercer, and this will ensure his future compliance.

Surprisingly, Isaac speaks up and says the Ensign is a valuable member of Engineering and could be useful to them. Primary disagrees, and orders the airlock opened. The hapless Ensign is blown out into space, as Mercer watches in horror.

Afterwards, Primary meets privately with Isaac and asks why he tried to spare the Ensign's life. He says he hopes he's not developing sympathy for biologicals, as that would require reprogramming. Isaac says he's spent time around humans, and killing off crew members only causes the survivors to rebel. Primary suggests he read Roots, to prove that humans are a violent and irredeemable species. He's also not happy that Isaac named himself after Isaac Newton, a biological. He tells him to pick a new designation.

In the Shuttle Bay, Kelly says they need to send a warning to Union Central somehow. Bortus reminds everyone that the Union fleet is no match for the Kaylon, as just one of their ships easily destroyed the Roosevelt. Kelly proposes escaping in a shuttle and going for help. John says the Moclans are too far away to assist. Kelly says she was thinking of asking someone else— the Krill.

Mercer says her plan's insane, but Kelly insists that the combined Union and Krill fleets might just have a chance against the Kaylon. Mercer sees her point, and agrees to go. Kelly says the crew needs him here, and volunteers to go instead— along with a reluctant Gordon.

Yaphit then enters a tiny ventilation duct and exits in the Armory. He grabs a blaster rifle and shoots the Kaylon standing guard inside. He slithers back to the Shuttle Bay with the rifle and hands it to Bortus. He rushes toward the Kaylon guards and blasts 'em both. John then activates the forcefield and opens the Bay door, as Kelly & Gordon prep the shuttle. Gordon warns Kelly that exiting the Bay while the Orville's in quantum drive is extremely dangerous.

The Kaylon detect the Shuttle Bay doors opening, and immediately override them. Gordon punches it and the shuttle barely makes it through the rapidly closing doors. The shuttle spins out of control as it exits quantum space. Gordon manages to stabilize it, activates the quantum drive and heads for Krill space. Kaylon Prime sends a pursuit ship after them.

In the Shuttle Bay, Mercer tells Yaphit they only have seconds before more Kaylon guards arrive, so they need to send a distress call to Union Central without being detected. Yaphit says he'll do what he can, but it'd be better if he had help to scramble the signal
— that way the Kaylon will think it's random background noise. Unfortunately he's the only one who can fit through the duct work.

Ty overhears and says he's small enough to fit and volunteers to go with Yaphit. Claire says there's no way she's letting him risk his life, but he reminds her the Kaylon are going to kill them all anyway. Yaphit tells Claire he'll do everything he can to keep Ty safe. Claire reluctantly lets Ty go. Yaphit and Ty squeeze into the duct seconds before more Kaylon Guards arrive in the Shuttle Bay. 

Yaphit & Ty exit into the Communications Room. Yaphit tells Ty to punch in random codes while he types out a message and sends it. Suddenly a couple of Kaylon enter the room. Yaphit tells Ty to run, as he launches himself one of the robots. He envelopes its head and then seeps into its body, shorting it out.

Ty climbs back into the duct, as the other Kaylon reaches for him. It extends its finger tentacles and manages to wrap them around Ty's foot, dragging him back.

At Union Central, Admiral Halsey gets the Orville's message. He orders his Aide to recall the entire Union fleet. The Aide says that'll take weeks, but Halsey bellows at him to do it anyway.

Meanwhile, Kelly & Gordon are speeding toward Krill space. Kelly says the Kaylon sphere is catching up to them and orders Gordon to increase speed. He tells her he's already flooring it. He says he could try routing all power to the Quantum Drive for one concentrated burst of speed. It'll burn out all their systems, but it should leave the Kaylon in the dust. Kelly tells him to do it. He rigs up the engines and punches it. The shuttle zooms through quantum space even faster for several minutes, then stops as the engine burns out.

Kelly looks out and wonders if they're in Krill space. Gordon says they'd better be, as they're completely powerless and only have about fifteen minutes of air left. Suddenly they're surrounded by three Krill destroyers. One of the ships draws the shuttle in with a tractor beam.

Kelly & Gordon are brought before Captain Dalak. Kelly tries to convince him that the Kaylon are intent on destroying all biological life in the galaxy, including the Krill. She says if they join forces, they might stand a chance against them. Dalak doesn't believe her, suspecting it's all a Union trick. He orders Kelly & Gordon to be tortured for their secrets.

Just then the Kaylon sphere exits quantum space. Two of the Krill ships attack, but the sphere fires back and easily destroys them. Dalak's ship takes a few hits, but eventually manages to obliterate the Kaylon ship. Gordon asks Dalak if he believes them now.

Back on the Orville, Isaac's summoned by Kaylon Primary, who's set up shop in Mercer's office. Isaac enters and sees Primary holding Ty captive. Primary says Ty was caught attempting to send a signal to Union Central, but it's unclear if he was successful. Isaac says he'll take responsibility for Ty and return him to the Shuttle Bay. Primary says that's not good enough, and orders him to kill Ty right then and there.

Isaac looks between Kaylon Primary and Ty for a few seconds. He then activates his head guns and aims them right at Ty, who gives him the puppy dog eyes and pleads with him to save him. Isaac hesitates, and Kaylon Primary warns him that if he doesn't comply, he'll be deactivated.

Isaac makes his decision. He retracts his weapons and reaches out and twists off Kaylon Primary's head. He then shoots the other Kaylon in the room. He utters a cool catchphrase ("Deactivation complete!") as Ty runs over and hugs him. Isaac tells Ty that he won't allow allow anyone to harm him. Suddenly Kaylon Primary's decapitated head tells Isaac he'll always be alone, right before it sputters and dies.

Isaac and Ty enter the Bridge. Before the other Kaylon can react, Isaac shoots them all with his head guns. He then programs an EM pulse, that'll disable every Kaylon on the ship— including himself! Ty says he doesn't want him to die, but Isaac tells him it can't be helped. He gives Ty the code to unlock the Shuttle Bay, and activates the pulse. All over the ship, the Kaylon drop dead in their tracks. Isaac slumps over at his console as well. Ty stares at him for a few seconds, then takes off.

Ty runs down to the Shuttle Bay and unlocks it. Claire hugs him fiercely, as Ty tells Mercer that Isaac saved them all.

The command crew returns to the Bridge, and Mercer orders the dead Kaylons removed. There's an uncomfortable moment when he sees a crewman drag Isaac's lifeless body away. Just then the Orville comes out of quantum space, right in front of Earth. John magnifies the view, and they see a huge fleet of Union ships is there to "greet" them.

The Orville quickly sides with the Union, as the two fleets begin attacking one another. There's an epic and intense battle above Earth, as the Kaylon try to wipe out the biologicals.

After several minutes of intense fighting, Admiral Halsey hails the Orville. He tells Mercer the battle's not going well. The Union's lost thirty two ships, while only destroying six Kaylon spheres. Suddenly the Admiral's ship is hit, and it retreats. Three Kaylon spheres break off the attack and head for Earth. The Orville and several other ships follow.

The Orville begins taking heavy damage. Mercer orders the crew to abandon ship, as he's about to overload the Quantum Drive and ram the spheres. Just then John detects "a whole bunch of ships approaching." Mercer thinks it's Kaylon reinforcements, but it turns out to be the Krill fleet! The Calvary's here!

The Krill hail the Orville, and we see Captain Dalak with Kelly standing at his side. She confirms that the Krill are here to help. Dalak tells sarcastically tells Mercer to "try and stay out of their way."

The Krill fleet begins attacking the Kaylon spheres, destroying them left and right. Dalak unleashes a squadron of Krill fighters— one of which is piloted by Gordon, for some reason! The combined might of the Union and Krill fleets turns the tide in the battle, as dozens of Kaylon ships are destroyed. The remaining Kaylon spheres call off the attack & retreat.

Mercer contacts Dalak and thanks him for his help. Dalak tells Mercer he can send over a shuttle to pick up Kelly (I guess Gordon can go F himself?). Mercer says he hopes that this incident will lead to an understanding between their peoples. Dalak says Avis brought them together today for some reason, but it remains to be seen where the path will lead.

Sometime later, the Union's repairing the remains of the fleet— including the Orville. Onboard, Mercer and the crew are in Sick Bay, staring at Isaac's inert body and debating whether or not to revive him. Kelly says Isaac betrayed his own people to save them. Gordon points out that they wouldn't have needed saving if not for Isaac. Claire says even if they did decide to revive him, she has no idea how to go about it.

Yaphit says he might be able to help, as he got a good look at the inner workings of the Kaylon when he attacked one of the drones. He enters Isaac's body and roots around inside for a few seconds. After a beat, Isaac's eyes light up and he reactivates.

Cut to Earth, where Mercer and Kelly meet with Admiral Halsey. He tells them that the Union Council is debating whether to dismantleIsaac in order to exploit any Kaylon weaknesses and develop weapons against them. Mercer says that's one way to go... or they could let Isaac return to duty on the Orville. Kelly points out again that Isaac helped them defeat the Kaylon.

Halsey's skeptical, and says if they do let him stay, he wants an off switch installed on Isaac. Mercer says that's exactly what triggered the genocide on Kaylon. He tells the Admiral he'll take personal responsibility for Isaac. Halsey says that's a big step, and Mercer says he's ready.

Back on the Orville, Isaac stares out the window of the Briefing Room. Claire enters and asks what he's doing. He tells her he's attempting to record a spectrographic image of Kaylon 1, as his actions have eliminated the possibility of ever returning there. He says he now has no home. Claire tells him home is where the heart is, and Isaac says that's just a cliche. She looks at him and says forgiveness takes time, but it has to have a beginning.

• Before we begin, a couple of corrections and clarifications concerning last week's episode:

In Identity, Part 1 I said that when the Kaylon popped open Isaac's skull, it didn't look like he came equipped with head-mounted cannons like his robotic brethren. Welp, looks like I was wrong about that! As seen this week, he most definitely does have a gun head!

I guess it's possible that he didn't originally have guns and they were added between episodes when we weren't looking.

Once again, it's a little unnerving when you realize those glowing dots in his face aren't actually eyes, but gun barrels!

Also last week, I said it looked like some of the Kaylon nhad red eyes, while others had orange. I couldn't tell for sure though, as I thought maybe the orange-looking eyes might have just been a trick of the light.

As you can see from this behind the scenes shot, there are most definitely red AND orange Kaylon.

In Part 1 I wondered if the Kaylon Great Hall was a real location or a special effect. Turns out it was a little of both!

I'm 99% sure they filmed on location at the Century City building in LA. If you look closely you can see the row of pillars that are featured in the Great Hall.

Here's a behind the scenes shot of the location, complete with the Orville's gantry at right. Obviously they just used the building's plaza area, and embellished it with CG above the pillars.

I was also curious about the interior of the Great Hall, and if any of it was real as well.

Same deal. It appears they used the Century City lobby, as it has that same giant white wall at left, and the huge glass windows at right. The pattern on the floor is even the same. They likely used CGI to render the colorful Kaylon computer display on the left wall. Heck, the Kaylon Drones suspended on the platforms were probably fake too!

OK, on with the regularly scheduled review!

• According to Seth MacFarlane, he had the idea for the Identity saga back in Season 1. In fact he originally planned for it to be the Season 1 finale. Eventually the decision was made to save it for Season 2.

• While the effects in this episode were all amazing, one minor detail kind of bugged me— the Orville Universe sure is a cozy place! Look at how close those ships are to one another! The Kaylon ships are practically touching, and the Orville looks like it's flying about ten feet in front of the fleet.

Don't believe me? Then check out this side view. Jesus, spread those ships out a bit, wouldja? Give 'em some room to breathe!

The same thing happens when the USS Roosevelt approaches the Orville. The two ships practically kiss!

I'm assuming this is some odd stylistic decision on MacFarlane's part? Maybe he's trying to give the space scenes in his series their own special look?

• In the Shuttle Bay, Talla rushes the Kaylon guards, and they blast her across the room. Luckily for her they were nice enough to use the stun setting on their gun heads. In Identity, Part 1 they were straight up murdering the Orville crew with death rays!

• When the Orville encounters the Roosevelt, Mercer tries to secretly signal Captain Marcos that something's wrong. 

Obviously the Kaylon would figure out the "13 Button Salute" code, as it was established that Isaac gave them detailed files on all Union protocols. It would have made more sense if Mercer had mentioned some personal detail that Marcos would know wasn't true. Like asking Marcos, "Remember that time we went fishing in Rice Lake?" when they never took such a trip.

By the way, a "13 Button Salute" is actual US Navy slang. According to the interwebs, it refers to when a sailor pulls down on the top two corners of his dress pants, and all 13 buttons come undone at once. It's usually performed as a prelude to sex.

• Dozens and dozens of people online have pointed out that the Ensign who gets spaced by Kaylon Primary was a redshirt, presumably as a nod to Star Trek.

C'mon, guys, get your eyes checked! He's clearly wearing orange here (along with an Engineering badge) and not the maroon of the Security division!

By the way, this episode got dark real quick we saw the Ensign's frozen lifeless body floating out in space. Seriously, it was genuinely disturbing! I get the episode needed to up the stakes here, but I think they may have gone a little too far with this scene.

• Isaac tries to stop Kaylon Primary from spacing the ensign. A couple things here:

First of all, this scene gives us our first inkling that Isaac may be developing actual feelings, and isn't totally onboard with the Kaylon's "Kill All Humans" plan.

Secondly, in Identity, Part 1, Primary was able to remotely shut down Isaac on the Orville, which was presumably hundreds, maybe even thousands of light years from Kaylon 1.

It's a good thing he decided not to use that ability here when he suspects Isaac's actively working against them.

Hopefully Isaac will somehow shield himself against future shutdowns by the Kaylon.

• The show employed thirty extras as Kaylons. Mark Jackson, who plays Isaac, gave them all a crash course in how Kaylons move and gesticulate.

Heavy Duty Nitpicking Alert! Kaylon Primary worries that Issac's developing sympathy towards humans. He orders Isaac to "download" Alex Haley's Roots, in order to learn about how awful humanity can be. Isaac then speed reads the book off an iPad.

Um... sorry guys, but he didn't download the book, he uploaded it. Whoops!

So at long last we now know how Isaac got his name— from Isaac Newton, who "seemed to possess a degree of intelligence greater than most of his species."

Hmm. Makes sense, I guess, but I was sure he was named after Isaac Asimov. You know, what with the Three Laws Of Robotics and all that?

By the way, after finding out where Isaac got his name, Kaylon Primary orders him to pick another designation. This is a little shoutout to Roots, which Isaac just "downloaded." In that novel, plantation owners would change the names of newly arriving slaves. Main character Kunta Kinte is forced to change his name to "Toby."

• The Kaylon stash the entire Orville crew in the ship's Shuttle Bay. At one point Gordon mentions that since there's no restroom, the crew's started a "pee corner" on one side of the Bay.

OK, it's a funny gag, but... you can see a shuttle sitting right behind Gordon as he says this! Surely there's gotta be a small restroom inside the shuttle, unless the Union expects passengers to hold it in on twelve hour space flights!

I suppose it's possible that everyone knows there's a bathroom in the shuttle, but they're afraid if they open the hatch the Kaylon guards will think they're trying to escape and open fire. So pee corner it is then!

• This week Yaphit and Ty both do their best John McClane impressions!

Who'd have thought that the ship would have been saved by the two unlikeliest crew members?

• Kelly & Gordon fire up a shuttle in order to escape and recruit the Krill. When Kaylon Primary detects the Shuttle Bay doors opening, he immediately orders them closed again.

Lucky for the rest of the crew that Primary was nice enough to just shut the doors, instead of deactivating the force field and murdering them all for their disobedience!

• I said it last week, but it's worth a repeat— kudos to Kai Wener as Ty. He had a ton of heavy lifting to do in this episode, and he pulled it off flawlessly. I loved how he started out timid and afraid in the Shuttle Bay, but then gathered his courage and offered to help Yaphit. Heck, he played a huge role in saving the ship! 

And later when he's pleading for Isaac to save him... Just look at those big puppy dog eyes. No wonder Isaac couldn't resist him!

• There's a nice little detail when Yaphit oozes into the Communications Room. When he first squeezes out of the vent, his mouth is on the front of his gelatinous body. He then lands right on his mouth, but immediately forms another one on his back side! Cool!

Apparently there's no "front" to Yaphit, and he can form a mouth anywhere on his mass. Theoretically he could probably make as many mouths as he wanted, and be a one man, er, blob singing group!

More Heavy Duty Nitpicking: In the Communications Room, Yaphit asks Ty, "You see that green panel over there?" Ty runs over to it and starts punching in codes to help.

Wait, green panel? It sure looked blue to me! Yeah, there were a couple green buttons on it, but 95% of it was a cool, glowy blue.

I guess I shouldn't be too awful hard on Yaphit. After all, the poor guy doesn't even have any eyes!

Missed Opportunity: The Kaylon detect Yaphit sending out a distress call and try to stop him. He tells Ty to run, then jumps on top of a Kaylon, completely enveloping his head. A few seconds later he seeps into the Kaylon's body, shorting him out.

I was POSITIVE we were gonna get a scene of Isaac controlling the dead Kaylon from within like a puppet! I could just see him stomping around the corridors and shooting the other guards with his gun head! Too bad, as that would have been funny to hear Norm Macdonald's voice coming out of a Kaylon!

• Ty dives back into the Jefferies Tube, er, duct work to escape the Kaylon. Unfortunately it uses its finger tendrils to grab his leg and pull him back. It's tough to tell for sure, but it looks like Ty's wearing some kind of futuristic Space Crocs!

Jesus Christ, I hate to think those things'll still be around four hundred years from now.

Another Missed Opportunity: When I saw Yaphit had been fried after shorting out the Kaylon, I was positive he was gonna die. Then I was betting we'd discover he'd secretly split in half, and his "child" would then take his place. Hey, it's possible! Earlier in the season Kelly said he was asking about the ship's policy on maternity leave!

• This week we get a brand new Union uniform color! When Admiral Halsey's Aide brings him Yaphit's distress call, he's sporting a spiffy grey outfit.

We've seen a few all-gray uniforms on the show before (on the two crewmen at right), and as near as I can tell I think they're supposed to be enlisted personnel.

This one's a completely different style from those though. It looks exactly like an regular officer's uniform, complete with the black side panels and sleeves. But it's got the purple shoulder epaulets usually reserved for the admiralty. And a white admiral insignia on the chest as well. So... I guess this is the uniform of an admiral's aide? A vice admiral? Who knows?

• Admiral Halsey tells his Aide to recall the Union fleet. The Aide says that could take weeks, and Halsey barks at him to do it anyway. Sure enough, in the third act the fleet's there protecting Earth! They sure got there quick!

To be fair, in the pilot episode Halsey told Mercer that the Union had 3,000 ships in the fleet. Even if only 10% of them could get to Earth in time, that'd still be 300, so... I'll give 'em this one.

• After Kelly & Gordon escape in the shuttle, Mercer and the others cook up a plan to send a distress signal to Union Command. Why couldn't Kelly & Gordon do that once they were away from the Orville?

• Now that these two are married in real life, I wonder if we're gonna get a lot more scenes like this?

• I liked Captain Dalak! He seemed like a worthy adversary for Mercer, and a great addition to the show. He was smug and disdainful, but still willing to work with his enemies, making him all the more interesting as a character. Hopefully we'll see more of him soon.

Dalak was played by actor Nick Chinlund, who's guest starred in... well, pretty much everything. If you squint at Dalak, you can actually make out Chinlund's features under the prosthetics.

By the way... Dalak 
 Dalek? A Doctor Who reference, perhaps?

• Kelly & Gordon are lucky their plan to recruit the Krill actually worked. When the Kaylon ship arrives and obliterates two of the Krill vessels, they're all "See, we tried to tell you that you were in danger!" Dalak could have easily blamed them for inadvertently causing the destruction of his sister ships, and thrown them into his Brig!

• Wow, Krill space is really cozy too! Once again, the ships are practically bumping into one another.

Plot Oddity Alert: All through this episode the Kaylons physically deliver messages to one another. During the briefing room scene, a Drone walks in and warbles to Kaylon Primary that a Union ship is approaching.

Later on, another Drone approaches Isaac and tells him that Kaylon Primary wants to see him in his office.

Um... does this make the least bit of sense? This is a race of freakin' robots, for corn's sake! Why the hell are they walking around telling things to one another? Shouldn't they have some kind of futuristic wi-fi, so they can just broadcast their messages?

We know for sure they have something like this, since in Identity, Part 1 Kaylon Primary shut down Isaac over a distance of hundreds, maybe even thousands of light years. So why don't they use it on the ship? Heck, they don't even try to page one another over the ship's intercom system!

• It was a touching and heartwarming moment when Isaac told Ty that he wouldn't allow the Kaylons to harm him again. This proves that Isaac's developed actual feelings for Ty and the rest of the crew, and it's a real turning point for the character. He'll never be quite the same after this.

That said, I think if I was Ty I'd still be a little cautious around Isaac. Especially after watching him do this five seconds earlier!

• Compare Isaac's slow evolution into an emotional being with that of fellow android Data over on TNGFor seven seasons, the emotionless Data struggled to defy his programming and become more human. Then in Star Trek Generations, Data suddenly decides to install his "brother's" emotion chip in his own head, and instantly has feelings. How anticlimactic.

Data's emotions were literally handed to him in the least interesting way possible. Isaac's transformation was much more satisfying and interesting as it was totally earned.

• Maybe I'm just imagining it, but Isaac's eyes seemed extra... glowy in this episode. Actually I've noticed that his eyes vary wildly from episode to episode. Sometimes even from scene to scene! I'm assuming this is because they're constantly refining the helmet?

• Isaac programs a wide range EM pulse throughout the ship that disables all the Kaylons— including himself. Obviously he must have fined-tuned the pulse so it only affected the Kaylon, and didn't fry all the delicate electronics systems on the ship!

• I'm gonna sound like the Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons here, but whatever. Before Isaac sets off the EM pulse, he gives Ty the code to unlock the Shuttle Bay: Alpha-1-4-Omega-6. That adds up to five digits in my book.

Note that when Ty unlocks the Bay, he punches in just two numbers and then hits the wide "enter" bar at the bottom of the keypad. Whoops!

Told you it was extreme nitpicking!

Nice Touch: When Mercer and the crew return to the Bridge, he orders the dead Kaylons bodies removed. As a crewman drags Isaac's lifeless body away, Mercer shoots it a subtle, uncomfortable glance.

• OK, it's finally time to talk about the reason you're all here that space battle! HOLY CRAP! What a thing of beauty! It easily rivaled FX scenes in current theatrical movies. Heck, I'd put it on par with any of the space battles from the Prequels!

I can only imagine how many man hours must have gone into this sequence— and in an incredibly short amount of time to boot. Not to mention the cost! No wonder we've had so many bottle episodes this season— MacFarlane was saving up for this!

If I had to come up with one complaint though, I think it would be the design of the Union ships. They're all practically identical (except for their size and number of engine rings), which made it tough to tell which one was the Orville.

That's a minor nit though, in what was an otherwise epic and impressive scene.

As always, sorry I had to split the video into three parts. The wonderfully advanced Blogger interface has a thirty second limit on animated gifs.

• Many fans have wondered how a mid-range exploratory vessel like the Orville managed to survive the pounding it took during the battle.

Oh, how quickly we forget! Just two episodes ago in Deflectors, Locar came on board to oversee an upgrade of the Orville's shields. In addition to that, at one point in this episode Kaylon Primary tells Isaac to go the Bridge and assist with the "shield upgrade."

Based on all that, it's obvious that our favorite little Union ship has stronger than average shields!

• I love this shot from just outside the Orville's Bridge. We saw it last week as well. Not sure it makes strategic sense to put a giant, vulnerable WINDOW in the top front of the ship, but it sure looks nice.

• I also loved the rousing moment when the Krill arrived to help win the day! You could almost hear the bugles sounding "Charge!" on the soundtrack!

• At one point during the battle, Mercer leans forward in his chair, and I swear he does the Captain Kirk pose! Honestly when you're sitting in the command chair of a set like that, it's probably hard NOT to imitate Shatner!

• It was almost impossible to see them, but there were dozens of small Union fighters in the battle. Here's a good look at one.

• I believe this was our first look at the Krill fighters as well. Liked the neon green cockpit interiors, along with the illuminated helmets.

It was fun to see Gordon flying a Krill fighter too, although I'm not sure why Dalak would have let him do so. Maybe he was hoping he'd get himself killed during the battle, and there'd be one less "godless subcreature" to deal with.

• At the end of the episode, we get a shot of Isaac's shoe soles as he's laid out on a slab in Sick Bay.

Here's an even better look at his soles (at extreme left).

Based on the pattern on the bottoms of his shoes, it looks for all the world like he's wearing Nike Air Force Ones! Wow! Buy stock in Nike, kids! Apparently they're still gonna be around in the 25th Century!

Isaac normally wears some kind of custom silvery boots as part of his costume. I'm assuming they probably built the boots over a pair of Nikes, for extra comfort?

Is it obvious I work for a corporation that sells shoes?

• Are Kaylons mostly hollow? Yaphit's about the size of the average bean bag chair, yet somehow he squeezes his entire body inside a Kaylon Drone and later Isaac! Must be a lot of hidden room inside there!

So what exactly is Yaphit doing inside there anyway? Isaac "died" because an EM pulse fried his circuits. How's Yaphit fixing that level of damage without any tools?

Also, we see Yaphit go into Isaac, but note that we never see him come out! I know, I know, he slithered out just after the scene ended when we weren't looking...

• The origin of the Kaylon is very similar to that of the Cylons over on the Battlestar: Galactica remake. Wait, did I say similar? I meant identical. Both are artificial lifeforms created by biologicals, both "races" became sentient and asked for their freedom, both were enslaved even harder and both then revolted, killing their creators.

The Cylons eventually developed a series of models that were indistinguishable from humans, and used them to infiltrate the rest of the Twelve Colonies.

Now that the Kaylons have suffered a major defeat, how long before they do the same? I'm betting at some point in the future, the Orville crew will encounter human-looking Kaylon!

• At the end of the episode, Admiral Halsey says the Union wants to disassemble Isaac to see what makes him tick, and use that info to develop anti-Kaylon weapons.

OK, I get why Union upper management aren't happy with Isaac, but why single HIM out for experimentation? There's an entire ship full of dead Kaylons on the Orville they could dissect!

More importantly, this scene demonstrated that at long last, Mercer's finally embraced his role as captain. No longer is he the goofy ne'er do well who fell ass-backwards into a captaincy he's now a full-blown leader. It's an important moment in the series, and just another of the many major turning points in this episode. Well done!

• I was very impressed by the fact that the episode didn't hit the Big Red Reset button at the end. Claire's obviously been deeply hurt by Isaac, and no longer trusts him. Still, she's willing to try to forgive him... even if it takes a long time.

How refreshingly realistic! I'm continually impressed that this series doesn't take the easy way out. The characters act like real people, whose actions carry weight and actually have lasting consequences! 

If this had been an episode of TNG, Claire and Isaac would have gotten married in the final scene!

• This Week's Incongruous 20th Century (And Earlier!) References:
Talla says the Kaylon blaster hit her "like a freight train." Do those still exist in the 25th Century? Doubtful.  We still say things like "Burning the midnight oil" and "Carbon copy" though, so I guess we can chalk it up as just a figure of speech.

Kaylon Primary orders Isaac to read Alex Haley's Roots.

Gordon makes two Top Gun references during the big battle. When we first see him in the Krill fighter cockpit, he says, "Just a walk in the park, Kazansky." A few seconds later he glances over at a Krill pilot and "bites" at him, just like Iceman did to Maverick.

• This Week's Star Trek Swipes:
There really weren't any major ones, which is nothing short of amazing. 

At one point Yaphit and Ty, the two least likely heroes on the ship, attempt to save the Orville. This is slightly similar to the Voyager episode Basics, Part II. In that story, Voyager was captured by the Kazon (Kaylon, Kazon?) and the crew was left for dead on a desolate planet. The only two left on board were the Holographic Doctor and Lon Suder, a psychotic Betazoid who was serving time for murder. This implausible duo ended up saving the ship as well.

This scene was very slightly reminiscent of the death of the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact.

That's pretty much it. Unless my increasingly faulty memory's missing something huge, this was a reasonably original episode.

To be honest it actually borrows it's main plot point not from any Trek series, but from the Battlestar: Galactica remake from a few years back. The Kaylons were created by biologicals, became self-aware and then overthrew their masters. This is practically identical to the origin of Galactica's Cylons. Even their names are similar: Kaylons, Cylons!

• This Week's Best Lines:
Gordon: (trying to get info from a Kaylon Guard) "Hi. Excuse me. Hi. Um, I'm Gordon Malloy. I'm the helmsman of the Orville. How you doing? So, uh, I'm from New Jersey. And, uh, obviously, you've never been there before, but from the little I know about you guys, you'd probably dig it. Yeah, people they tell it like it is, right to the point, no BS, just like you. Springsteen was born there. Good bagels, too. So, anyway, what I'm trying to say is, how about you and I just get to the point, huh? What are you gonna do with us?"
(The Guard doesn't respond in any way.)
"Okay, I'm glad we talked."

Isaac: "I am to escort you to the briefing room for further instructions."
Mercer: "Is that all you have to say?"
Isaac: "Yes, Captain."
Mercer: "Oh, don't feel like you have to call me 'Captain.' Your people have my ship."
Isaac: "That is correct.:
Claire: "How the hell can you even look us in the eye after what you've done? We all trusted you. My kids still do. They honestly believe that you'll protect them."
Isaac: "I understand. It is a common weakness of biological life-forms."

Gordon: "Sorry, I was in the pee corner."
Kelly: "The what?"
Gordon: "Oh. Well, there's no place to go to the bathroom down here, so we all agreed on one corner. Yeah, no, trust me, you don't want to go over there unless you have to."

(Kelly suggests going to the Krill for help against the Kaylon.)
Mercer: "I've been on board a Krill ship; you haven't."
Kelly: "I'll take Gordon. He was there with you."
Gordon: "Oh, man, pee corner's looking real good right now."

Yaphit: "That conduit's only half a meter wide. I'm the only one who can fit through it, and there's no other way to get to the communications array."

Ty: "I could fit."
Claire: "Oh, no, no. No way. You all are out of your minds if you think I'm gonna let him do that."
Ty: "But I'm small enough. I could get in."
Claire: "Absolutely not. Ty, the Kaylon are dangerous. They've already killed God knows how many people. They could kill you, too. Do you understand that?"
Ty: "But if we don't stop them, they're gonna kill us all anyway. That's what you guys said. Right?"
Marcus: "Mom. He's right. At least this way we have a chance."
Claire: "Ty, I'm not gonna let you..."
Ty: "Mom. I can do it."
Yaphit: "Claire. I'll do everything I can to keep him safe."
Claire: (after a pause) "You be careful, Ty Finn."
Ty: "I will. I promise."

(Kelly and Gordon escape the Orville in a shuttle.)
Kelly: "Where are we?"
Gordon: "I don't know. Systems are all dead."
Kelly: "Are we inside Krill space? Can you tell by the stars?"
Gordon: "Yeah, I'm not really good at that. If the Big Dipper's not there, I'm kind of useless."
Kelly: "Great."

Captain Dalak: "And tell me, why should I believe such a clear and obvious fabrication?"
Kelly: "We're telling you the truth. The Kaylon objective is to wipe out all forms of biological life in the galaxy. That means us, and that means you. Our only chance of stopping them is to work together."
Dalak: "How do you propose we 'work together?"
Kelly: "Assemble your fleet, and take us back to Earth. With a combined armada that formidable, we could..."
Dalak: "Take you back to Earth? Where your fleet will no doubt be waiting in ambush."
Gordon: "Dude, are you high? Why the hell would we come all the way out here in nothing but a shuttle if we were lying?"
Dalak: "I do not know. Nor do I care. You are a godless race of sub-creatures well-trained to lie and deceive. But you are now my prisoners. Avis has been generous today."
Gordon: (to Kelly) "See? Avis. I told you I wasn't making that up."

Isaac: "Why have you brought Ty here?"
Kaylon Primary: "He was attempting to send a message to Earth."
Isaac: "Did he succeed?"
Primary: "There is no evidence of an outgoing signal in the logs."
Isaac: "Then all is well. I will return him to the shuttle bay."
Primary: "You will not. He is to be terminated."
Isaac: "That does not seem to be a necessary course of action."
Primary: "Are you experiencing sympathy?"
Isaac: "That is not possible for a Kaylon."
Ty: "Isaac! Help me, please!"
Isaac: "I will take responsibility for him. I will ensure he does not attempt further noncompliance."
Primary: "That is insufficient."
Ty: "Isaac!"
Isaac: "Primary, there are other options."
Primary: "You will now terminate the human. If you do not comply, you will be deactivated."
Isaac: "Very well."
(Isaac grabs Kaylon Primary's head and twists it off.) 
Isaac: "Deactivation complete. (to Ty) I will not allow them to harm you."

John: "Hold up! A bunch of ships just entered the system. They're closing in fast."
Talla: "More Kaylon?"
John: "Krill."
Talla: "The Krill are hailing."
Mercer: "Put 'em through."
Kelly: "Captain Mercer, meet Captain Dalak."
Mercer: "It's good to meet you, Captain. We owe you one."
Captain Dalak: (sarcastically) "Try to stay out of our way."

Dalak: "Launch all fighters! Show no mercy! We fight for the glory of Avis!"

Gordon: (blasting away at a Kaylon ship) "Time to wash your mouth out with Gordon!"

Mercer: "Captain, it seems we have a common enemy. I hope that means we can work toward finding a common ground."
Dalak: "Avis united our paths for a reason. But only He truly knows why. We shall see where that path leads."

Admiral Halsey: "If the Union agrees to this, I want a safeguard, an off switch of some kind to make sure we can control him."
Mercer: "That's exactly what caused the genocide on his home planet. We can't keep him in servitude, like his Kaylon builders did. Sir, just please trust me on this. I will take full responsibility for Isaac from here on out."
Halsey: "That's a heavy obligation, Captain."
Mercer: "I'm ready."

Isaac: "My actions have eliminated the possibility of returning to my planet. And the actions of the Kaylon have eliminated my wish to do so. I have no home."
Claire: "Lots of people say that home is wherever you make it."
Isaac: "A human cliché."
Claire: "Clichés become clichéd precisely because they're valid enough to bear endless repetition. I understand you're alone in the universe. And, for a time, that's something you'll have to live with. There's an old human custom called forgiveness. It, too, takes time. But it must have a beginning. Good night, Isaac."

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