Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Orville: New Horizons, Season 3, Episode 1: Electric Sheep

It's hard to believe, but at long, long, LONG last, The Orville's finally back! Hallelujah!

As I've been so fond of pointing out for quite a while now, the last new episode of the show aired wayyyyy back on April 25, 2019! That's well over three years ago. THREE YEARS AGO!!! Three full years and two months since the Season 2 finale! Holy crap!

OK, I realized there were numerous real-world reasons for the huge gap between seasons. First of all, the show was quietly canceled by Fox and moved over to Hulu, a deal which no doubt took some time to finalize. Then there was a little thing called the Covid pandemic, which shut down production for months, further delaying the show.

Then there were a series of seemingly arbitrary postponements, which may or may not have been due to the increased number and complexity of FX shots taking longer to film than anticipated.

It got to the point where I said I wouldn't believe the show was finally back till I sat down in front of my TV and saw it with my own eyes— and even then I'd be suspicious...

Heck, it's been so long since it was last on, I practically forgot who the characters are!

Whatever the reasons for the many delays, I'm glad it's finally back. It's one of my favorite shows, and it's still the best Star Trek series on TV. Yeah, that's right. Series creator Seth MacFarlane clearly understands the philosophy of Trek and captures it better than any of the people currently working on the real thing. You need only glance at the dumpster fires that are Discovery and Picard for proof of that.

This week's episode was written and directed by MacFarlane, and he does a great job jumping right back into the world of The Orville, as if no time at all had passed. Since it's been so long since the show was last on, I kind of thought they might do some sort of recap or reintroduction of the characters. Nope! They jump right in as if the Season 2 finale aired yesterday, counting on the audience to keep up.

One thing I noticed in this third season premiere— the humor seems to be missing! Even Gordon, the show's resident comic relief, doesn't so much as make a quip or humorous aside.

I've been saying from the beginning that MacFarlane never intended to make a parody, as he wanted it to be a serious sci-fi show. That was the only way he could get Fox to agree to it though, so he slyly added jokes to the early episodes, then quietly removed them over the next couple of seasons. Which is where we are today. The Orville is now a serious science fiction drama, with little or no humor.

And I'm OK with that! I was never a big fan of most of the humor anyway, and we desperately need good serious, thoughtful sci-fi on TV again.

Lastly, watching this episode and seeing the world of the 25th Century really highlights just what a sh*thole of a society we all live in today. Frankly I'm envious of the residents of the Union, as they've seemingly eliminated all the problems plaguing us today. Even with the Kaylon threat, I'd live in the world of The Orville in a second! Is there any way I can skip over the next four hundred years and live out my remaining life in MacFarlane's vision of the future?


The Plot:

We begin with a flashback to the Battle Of Earth (from Identity, Part 2), as Kaylon ships attack the Union Fleet. The Orville's in the middle of the siege, taking a severe beating. Inside, Marcus Finn runs through the exploding corridors as he desperately runs to his family's quarters. He barely makes it back alive, and finds his younger brother Ty staring out the window at the carnage. As he hugs Ty, Isaac enters the room. They both stare at him, as his face splits open and reveals a gaping maw full of sharp teeth.

Marcus jolts awake, as we realize he's been having a nightmare about his experience during the battle.

The Orville's back in the Union Dock Yard for some reason, getting yet another upgrade. Chief Engineer John LaMarr enters the Astrophysics Lab, where Isaac is working. He informs Isaac he's gonna have to shut down the power for a while, so the Kaylon wanders into the Mess Hall.

He sits at a table, which causes the crewmen to all get up and leave. Charly Burke, the ship's new navigator, comes over and tells Isaac that the presence of a Kaylon onboard the ship makes the crew uneasy. She says she was on the USS Quimby, which was destroyed by the Kaylon attack force. She only survived because her best friend Amanda sacrificed herself to save her.

Charly says she blames Isaac for her loss, and tells him it's too bad he can't feel all the pain and suffering he caused. She turns on her heel and leaves, as Security Chief Talla Keyali overhears.

Isaac goes back to the Lab, where he sees someone's painted "MURDERER" on the wall.

Talla calls Captain Ed Mercer and First Officer Kelly Grayson to the Lab, where she shows them the vandalism. She says the culprit scrubbed their DNA from the wall and used a modified ID to replicate, er, I mean synthesize the paint. Talla says she suspects Charly, as she overheard her saying some pretty rough things to Isaac. He confirms such hostility toward him has been going on for some time. Mercer says he didn't realize things where so bad.

Mercer calls Charly to his office, and she denies having anything to do with the vandalism. She admits thought that she and the rest of the crew are angry that Isaac was reinstated after his people killed so many Union personnel. Mercer confesses he's not sure his decision to keep Isaac around was the right one, but hopes his knowledge could help find a weakness in the Kaylon.

Later, Helmsman Gordon Malloy flies a prototype Pterodon fighter into the Shuttle Bay, for later testing. Charly's there for no good reason, and admires the contours of the new ship. Gordon mentions all it needs is for Isaac to run a diagnostic, and Charly scowls, saying it's too bad he has to dirty it up with his murderous hands. Surprisingly, Gordon says he's with Charly, as he's uncomfortable around Isaac too.

Meanwhile, Dr. Claire Finn brings Ty to the Lab, where he tells Isaac he doesn't think he's a murderer. Isaac thanks him for his honesty.

Gordon then tests out the Pterodon by chasing after and destroying four remote drones. For some insane reason, he does this in the Dock Yard instead of in empty space. Charly controls the drones, and gives Gordon a run for his money as she steers them with her ability to think "four-dimensionally." Foreshadowing! 

Back on the Orville, Talla contacts Kelly and says she found out that Marcus is the one who vandalized the Lab.

Cut to Claire confronting Marcus. He says he meant what he wrote, and if Isaac is gonna remain onboard then he wants to go live on Earth. Isaac tries to apologize to Marcus for any distress he and his people may have caused. Marcus refuses to accept, and says he wishes Isaac was dead.

Sometime later, Isaac wanders the halls and stops to stare out a window. He then goes to his Lab, records a message detailing ways to improve ship's efficiency and gives his best wishes to the Finn family. He then overloads his electronic brain and collapses.

Sometime later the crew finds Isaac's body and examines him. John has Yaphit enter Isaac to try and restore him, but he says the damage is too severe. They come to the conclusion that Isaac committed robotic suicide.

That night, Claire enters Marcus' room, where he's pretending to sleep. She says she wants him to know he's not to blame for Isaac's suicide, as it was his decision alone. Marcus insists he's fine.

Later, Kelly finds Claire staring out a window and asks if she's OK. She says she's struggling to reconcile her feelings for Isaac after the horrific things he did. Kelly gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, er, tells her it's normal to feel such things, and to give it time.

The next day, Mercer gives the eulogy at Isaac's sparsely-attended funeral. Marcus listens from outside, looking sad.

Claire enters the Holodeck, er, I mean the Simulator, where she finds Ty visiting with a holographic recreation of Isaac. She shuts it off, saying he shouldn't use the Simulator to bring back the dead, as it disrupts the grieving process.

Ty leaves in a huff, and Dr. Finn activates the restaurant simulation where she had dinner with Isaac back in A Happy Refrain. She sits at their old table and sobs uncontrollably.

John announces the refit's complete, and Mercer orders the ship to leave the Dock Yard. Gordon fires it up and pilots them into space, as the ship goes into quantum.

Later, John has sex with a spiky-skinned Dakeeli woman named Irillia. Afterward they chat in bed, and John says he doesn't understand why Isaac killed himself. Irillia says in her culture, suicide's seen as a personal choice and not a tragedy. Instead of grieving, the living celebrate the deceased and cherish their memory. This somehow sparks an idea in John.

He dashes to Engineering in naught but his robe, and opens Isaac's faceplate. He pulls out a chip and scans it, apparently finding something of interest inside. He calls to the lumbering crewman Unk to come over and stomp on the chip. He does so, and John detects something in the debris.

John calls a briefing of the senior staff (after getting dressed), and tells them the chip contained a microscopic memory storage cell— one that might contain a backup of Isaac's memory and personality. He says they may be able to use it to reboot and restore him. The only catch is the computer isn't powerful or fast enough to rebuild the pathways, and they'll need someone who can see and think in four dimensions— which of course would be Charly.

Mercer calls Charly to his office and begs her to help restore Isaac. She refuses, saying he deserves to be dead. Just then the ship's rocked by an explosion. Mercer races to the Bridge, where the crew reports the ship's under attack by a Kaylon Sphere.

Gordon tries outrunning the Sphere, but it manages to keep up with them. John warns Mercer that if the attack persists, it could destabilize Isaac's memory chip for reasons.

Mercer orders the ship to the Phycor system, and tells Gordon to enter the atmosphere of a gas giant there. The Orville plunges into the planet's violent storm systems, and the Sphere stops its pursuit. Mercer orders Bortus to place every available plasma torpedo into a shuttle and then launch it. Once the shuttle's clear, the Orville fires on it, creating a massive explosion.

The ruse works, as the Kaylons believe the Orville was destroyed in the atmosphere, and they zoom off at quantum.

Unfortunately all the explosions have destabilized the chip, and John says they have only a couple hours to act. Mercer straight up orders Charly to help restore Isaac, but she refuses. He relieves or of duty.

Cut to Charly nursing a drink in the Mess Hall. Marcus tentatively approaches her, and asks her to help Isaac. When she asks why, he says it's his fault Isaac killed himself, and he wants him back. Charly says suicide is no one's fault (!), and he's not to blame. Marcus says he never really wanted him to die. She watches thoughtfully as he leaves.

We then get an internal view of Isaac's neural pathways powering up, as Charly teams up with John to restore him. She finishes her work, and Mercer and the others look anxiously at Isaac. Suddenly he sits up, wondering where he is. He thanks Charly for restoring him, and she hisses that she didn't do it for him.

Sometime later, Claire meets with Isaac and asks why he killed himself. He says he determined his presence was detrimental to the crew and it would be best for all concerned if he was gone. She spouts a bunch of anti suicide platitudes, including the old "There's no problem so immense that it cannot be solved in time." She makes him promise not to try killing himself again, and to talk with her first if he ever gets the notion. He agrees.

We then see Isaac working in his Lab again. Marcus enters and starts to say something to him, but can't. He smiles slightly and then leaves

• This week's title is a nod to the sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Schwarzenegger's action opus Total Recall was loosely based on the book (VERY loosely).

• Sad. A nice tribute, but sad.

Supposedly MacDonald recorded ALL his lines for Season 3 before his untimely death, so we'll get another year of Yaphit. After that, who knows. If there's a Season 4, his absence will need to be dealt with.

• The musical score for this episode was phenomenal, as it was filled epic and sweeping music. It was all original too— no recycled themes like most series tend to use. This isn't surprising, since Seth MacFarlane's a big music guy, and no doubt insists on a top notch soundtrack.

• The episode begins with an awesome flashback (kind of) to the Battle Of Earth from Season 2's Identity, Part 2. It's a spectacular sequence, which shows the action from the viewpoint of Marcus Finn and assorted lower-ranking crewmen. 

Clearly the FX budget's gotten a boost now that the show's on Hulu!

• I was amazed by this incredible tracking shot too, that starts outside the ship and ends in a corridor. Plus it ooks like the CGI model of the Orville got an upgrade this season, as it's now packed with wayyy more detail than ever before.

• Hmm. Check out this shot of the Orville's exterior. I naturally assumed the registry and name were just painted on the hull. Based on what we see here, it looks like the letters are raised, and are a good foot or more high! Odd!

• I hate to do this, since the opening scene is so amazing, but... Marcus' harrowing journey through the ship during the battle doesn't make any spatial sense.

He starts out running down this corridor, which is just behind the strip of yellow lights here. As you can see this corridor's at the top of the rear section of the ship.

He makes it to a turbolift, which suddenly plunges down the elevator shaft, long enough to pin him to the ceiling. Jesus, how far could it possibly have fallen? Official schematics show the ship has twelve to thirteen decks, but the rear appears to be just three or four decks tall. 

Even crazier, the turbolift stops long enough for Marcus to jump out, then falls even FURTHER down the shaft! Jaysis! At this point the turbolift ought to be outside the ship by now!

Then we see he appears to be back in that same corridor he started from— as evidenced by the fact that there's no levels above him. Wha,....? So he started on a level, got in a turbolift, fell several decks and somehow ended up back on the same level he started from. Sure, why not.

Of course we eventually learn we're seeing Marcus' recurring nightmare here, so I suppose we can excuse all these impossibilities by chalking them up to dream logic.

By the way, during Marcus' traumatic dash dash through the corridors, the hull ruptures and a couple of hapless crewmembers get sucked into the vacuum of space.

Note that we saw that EXACT same shot of the crewmen during the Battle Of Earth in Identity, Part 2. They reused the scene here, and grafted and additional shot Marcus struggling to get through a door onto it.

• For three years now I've been saying that by the time the show came back on the air, Dr. Finn's kids would have aged so much that Marcus would be married with a family of his own, while Ty would be old enough to get his space driver's license. 

OK, so I was exaggerating, but the kids have definitely grown in the years since we last saw them. Not as much as I expected, but some. They're gonna have to have to dig holes in the soundstage for them to stand in to make 'em look shorter. Either that or go the Stooges route and hire really tall actors to stand next to them.

• Speaking of Marcus, something odd's going on with him in this episode, as he seems to fluctuate in age from scene to scene.

Here he is when he meets with Charly in the Mess Hall. He looks pretty young here, as his features are rounder, softer and more kid-like.

But then elsewhere in the episode he suddenly looks a lot older. It's not just a case of him wearing a different expression either— his face is sharper and clearly more mature.

It looks for all the world like he aged a good year or more during this same episode! I'm wondering if something like that really happened? We know for a fact that the whole pandemic thing shut down filming for several months. Maybe by the time they started up again, Marcus had visibly aged?

• There've been quite a few cosmetic changes in the series since Season 2 wrapped up.

First up are the new crew uniforms. They've been tweaked slightly, and now have black triangular panels just below the epaulets— which have also been altered. The department badge has been changed for a third time as well— it's still metallic as it was in Season 2, but now looks to be flatter and less convex. The quilted panel on the lower sleeves are now a dark grey instead of black. And it looks like the overall fit is smoother and more formfitting as well.

The Bridge has been upgraded as well, as there are now more panels on the back wall. Not crazy about those 45ยบ ones on either side of the door, but whatever.

The most obvious change though is Isaac's redesign. Finally! He looks like an actual robot now, and not a guy in a silver jumpsuit. For two seasons I've hated the fact that this highly advanced artificial lifeform has been walking around in pants!

Lastly, the show gets a new title too, as they've grafted the "New Horizons" suffix to it. I assume that's to differentiate it from the first two seasons, as well as trumpet the fact that it's "new and improved."

• While I liked this episode quite a bit, even I have to admit its timeline is seriously messed up. Bear with me here...

The episode begins with the Orville undergoing repairs in the Union Dock Yard, as the crew demonstrates resentment and downright hostility toward Isaac. These are both elements that would naturally occur right after the end of Identity, Part 2.

But hold up... there were a whopping FIVE episodes that aired AFTER IP2! Episodes in which the repairs were finished, the ship was tooling around the galaxy and everyone was seemingly OK with the ship's resident Kaylon.

OK, so maybe this episode is actually a flashback to an unseen adventure that took place right after IP2? Welp, that can't be, due to all the changes we see here. The crew has new uniforms, the Bridge has been redesigned and Isaac has a whole new look— all things we DIDN'T see directly after IP2.

Also at one point Charly tells Isaac that "people are still trying to get used to the fact that he's staying on board." Still trying? It's been over a year! How much freakin' time do they need? 

Additionally, John spouts some technobabble, saying, "In theory, if we were to tap into the auxiliary power boost we got last year from the Moclan upgrade, the Orville's quantum drive is almost on par with a heavy cruiser."

He's talking about the engine boost the ship got in the Season 2 episode Deflectors. Which means this episode takes place at least a year after the Battle Of Earth!

It's as if this episode is both ignoring AND acknowledging the five episodes between Identity, Part 2 and this one, and taking place in Season 2 and 3 simultaneously.

The only way any of this makes any sense is if the Orville was refitted after the Battle Of Earth, Isaac was reinstated, the crew got used to his presence, they had five more adventures after that, then a year later the ship was refitted yet again and the crew suddenly decided to start hating Isaac.

Amazingly, that's pretty much exactly what happened!

According to Brannon Braga, executive producer and writer of The Orville:

"At the end of Identity, Part 2, there are three scenes where we deal with the Isaac issue. Ed and Kelly debate what to do about Isaac, Admiral Halsey informs them about the Union Council's proposal that Isaac stay on board the Orville, and the final scene with Claire, where Isaac states he has no home and Claire assures him that given enough time, forgiveness might one day be possible."

Our thinking was that when the Captain gives an order with the Union Council's, the Orville crew would follow that order, no matter what their personal feelings. It's not until Ensign Charly Burke joins the crew that things get shaken up. It's one of the reasons Seth created the character— to be a voice for the people who do not trust Isaac and want to hold him accountable for the deadly attack on Earth. That was by design. But some ideas emerge later, such as young Marcus' trauma over the attack. We had that idea when we started work on Season Three. We had five cool episodes already planned to round out Season Two, and we stuck to that plan. The fallout from Isaac would happen in Season 3."

So there you go. Seems to me like it would have been better if Identity Parts 1 and 2 had been the Season 2 finale, but what do I know.

• The show adds a new cast member this season, as Ensign Charly Burke joins the crew. 

Wondering why the producers felt the need to add another yet another character to the already crowded lineup? Welp, Charly's played by actress Anne Winters— who's allegedly dating Seth MacFarlane. Good Jaysis!

According to the rumor mill, MacFarlane was dating Halston Sage, aka Alara, and their inevitable breakup is what led to her being written out of the show. Now, if the internet can be believed, he's starting it all over again.

I'm hoping none of this is actually true, because if it is, MacFarlane needs to learn from his mistakes and keep it in his pants while he's at work!

• I gotta say, I'm disappointed with Charlie's behavior toward Isaac. One would think that by the 25th Century people would be more emotionally advanced and not blame an individual for the actions of his race. After all, that was always a major tenet of all the modern Star Trek shows.

On the other hand, humans have been assholes for over 200,000 years now, so there's no reason to believe we'll magically change in the next 400.

• Charly tells Isaac how she survived the destruction of the USS Quimby during the Battle Of Earth. Several things here:

First of all, Charly wasn't lying about the ship she was on. During the siege in Identity, Part 2, we saw the Kaylon blow up a ship, and Bortus identified it as the Quimby. Someone did their homework!

Charly recounts how she and her best friend Amanda entered an escape pod, but unfortunately it malfunctioned and wouldn't launch. Amanda then sacrificed herself to activate the manual release, saving Charly.

As we see during her flashback, the manual release is on the OUTSIDE of the pod. Yeah, maybe from now on they might want to put it on the inside? You know, so people don't die while attempting to escape? Just a thought.

You know, it sure looked like there was time for Amanda to twist the control and then jump back through the door and into the pod. Or she could have sacrificed her arm to reach out and activate the control. We've seen Dr. Finn regrow limbs before, so it'd only be a temporary injury.

One last thing about Charly's flashback— in it, she and Amanda are both clearly wearing the new Season 3 uniforms, with the triangular black patches under the epaulets. That's a pretty neat trick, as those didn't exist yet during Identity, Part 2. WHOOPS!

• Still bitter about her friend Amanda's death, Charly tells Isaac, "One second she was there... and the next, she was gone. Along with three hundred other people. Because of you."

OK, I get that she's upset, but she's dead wrong here. Isaac's not the one who attacked the Union Fleet. Yes, he went along with with the Kaylon plan for a while, but he's the one who ended up betraying his people and actually SAVING the Union! Heck, he wasn't even conscious for most of the battle!

• Isaac returns to his Lab, where he finds someone's defaced it with hateful graffiti. 

Honestly it wasn't very hard to figure out who did it, as it was obviously gonna be a main character and not a random crew member. Charly and Marcus were the two prime suspects, and she swore on her honor as a Union officer that she didn't do it, so... 

This incident launches a major investigation by Talla, who looks into computer and replicator records to try and find the heinous culprit. Apparently all the high-tech equipment at her disposal caused her to overlook the most obvious solution— identify the handwriting! Surely the computer has a penmanship sample of everyone on board. WHOOPS!

By the way, Talla tells Mercer that the culprit did a "DNA scrub" on the wall, to prevent being found out. She then said there was no way to tell who synthesized the paint, as the suspect used a mid-level systems access code that was likely stolen.

How the hell did Marcus know how to do all that to keep from being caught? Is he some sort of forensic genius? Or are all 25th Century kids smart enough to cover their tracks in such a sophisticated way?

• We finally get the opening titles a whopping nine minutes and twenty one seconds into the episode. They've been upgraded this season as well. I gotta say so far I'm not a fan of the new intro's score, as it doesn't feel quite as epic and sweeping as the old one. I'm sure I'll get used to it eventually, but for now, meh.

By the way, during the opening titles we see the Union apparently has an upgraded shuttle design as well— one that's sleeker and more angular. See? It's been so long since the show aired that the future tech is even MORE advanced now!

• Mercer calls Charly to his office to discuss her confrontation with Isaac. She tells him she doesn't think he doesn't trust him and he shouldn't have been reinstated. Amazingly, Mercer admits she may be right.

I appreciated the fact that even Mercer isn't even sure he's done the right thing. His doubt gives him some much-needed depth, and adds to his character.

• As John and his crew continue the refit, we get another closeup view of the Orville's hull. For some reason the letters actually appear painted on here, and not raised as they were earlier. What the hell?

Did part of the upgrades involve John sanding down the letters and stenciling on new ones?

We also see John's space-suited techs removing a panel on the outside of the ship so they can replace the components underneath. Does that seem like a good idea? Placing equipment so it can only be accessed in the vacuum of space? Why not design the ship so parts can be repaired or replaced from inside?

I'll admit it makes for a good visual, but it doesn't make any logical sense. It's like putting the thermostat or light switches on the roof of your house!

• Loved the sight of Yaphit wearing a humanoid spacesuit! I guess they were fresh out of Gelatin models. That's the name of his race, by the way— Gelatin. 

• Gordon flies the new Pteradon fighter ship into the Orville's Shuttlebay. Charly's there admiring the ship for some reason, and the two have the following conversation:

Gordon: "Soon as Isaac does his calibration, we'll be ready for shakedown."
Charly: "You're gonna let him get his dirty hands on this beauty?"
Gordon: "It's just... standard procedure. Charly, I heard about your little talk with the Captain."
Charly: "Yeah, it's... it's all good. Movin' on."
Gordon: "You know, I haven't been too public about this, but if it makes you feel better... I'm with you."
Charly: "What do you mean?"
Gordon: "I don't think Isaac should've been reinstated. Whether he was reactivated or not, he doesn't belong on that bridge. Whenever I'm on duty, I feel like I have to force myself to actively ignore it."

I gotta say, that's disappointing to hear that Gordon feels that way. He's generally a pretty easygoing guy, and never showed any signs of this attitude in the five episodes after IP2. Hearing him talk about Isaac this way felt jarring and out of character.

Plus this attitude never comes up for the rest of the episode, making me wonder why they brought it up in the first place. Maybe it's setup for a future storyline?

• Gordon then tests out the new Pteradon-class fighter— right smack in the middle of the Union Dock Yard! Note that he's skimming just a few feet over the various ships and surrounding structures, while using live rounds to blow up the practice drones!

Drones which explode violently when hit, by the way!

Holy crap! Was that really a good idea? Hopefully none of John's crew were clinging to the hull when all that happened!

Gordon could have easily headed AWAY from the shipyard into open space to test out the fighter, but no, endangering the entire Dock Yard is good too. I get that all this made for a more exciting visual, but...

Also, was there any good reason for this entire sequence? It has no bearing on the plot whatsoever (unless again, it's setup for a future episode), and seemingly exists solely to pad out the runtime to over an hour.

Lastly, I think they meant Pteranodon here. There doesn't seem to be any such animal as a Pteradon.

• Isaac decides the ship and crew would be better off without him, so he kills himself and crumples to the floor.

We're probably lucky he didn't land in the "Family Guy Death Pose" position!

• Isaac's death here brings up an interesting question. In Identity, Part 1, the Kaylon remotely deactivated Isaac when they decided his mission was over. 

So... what's keeping them from doing that again? He's now a known traitor to his own people. One can no doubt provide tons of invaluable info about the Kaylon to the Union. Seems like the Kaylon would want to prevent that, and shut him down again.

Maybe Isaac realized that was a possibility, and deactivated his remote off switch?

Not A Nitpick But An Observation: It looks like there's quite an extensive settlement on the Moon in the 25th Century!

Another Observation: The Orville's engines are powered by a large Dysonium sphere suspended in an antigrav chamber.

That's gotta be a shoutout to the Protector from Galaxy Quest, which was powered by the very similar beryllium sphere!

Also, is it really safe for the crew to be standing right next to that thing? It looks for all the world like a miniature sun, complete with loops of crackling energy rising from it. There's no way I'd wanna be that close to something giving off that much radiation! I'm sure there's probably an invisible shield around it, but still...

• As Mercer checks out the upgraded engines, he chats with a jovial, bubble-headed crewman named Brosk. We've actually seen him before, as he first showed up in Season 2.

From what I've been told, Brosk's speech sounds very much like Simlish, the language spoken by the avatars in The Sims game. Never played it, so I can't confirm.

Nice Touch: As Mercer delivers a eulogy for Isaac, we see his funeral is pretty sparsely attended. Which makes perfect sense, given the crew's feelings toward him and his people.

• At one point Claire finds Ty in the Holodeck, er, I mean the Simulator, recreating Isaac so he can talk to him again. 

She then attempts to explain to him that what he's doing is dangerous, as conjuring up a recently deceased loved one disrupts the natural grieving and healing process. She's right of course, but I doubt a ten year old could understand what she's saying or get much out of it.

Man, if and when we ever get Simulator technology, it's definitely gonna be dangerous. We'll become a race of emotionally stunted shut-ins who never leave their homes, preferring their own fantasy worlds to the real thing. Kind of like now, but even worse!

• Immediately after telling Ty about the dangers of the Simulator, Claire ignores her own advice and recreates the restaurant where she and Isaac shared dinner in A Happy Refrain.

For some reason  there are no other diners in the simulation. That's odd, as it was full of people when she and Isaac ate there. So how does the Simulator know not to populate it this time and allow her to sob in peace
• As John's crew returns to Engineering, Yaphit slithers out of his spacesuit, which I gotta admit looks kind of disturbing. Like a spacesuit taking a big ol' dump!

• This is some Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. John and his team finish up the refit:

John: "Boom! That's it Nice job, everyone!"
Yaphit: "And in two thirds of the time. We should all get big bonuses."
John: "Check's in the mail!"

OK, we know the Union no longer uses money, so clearly John & Yaphit are just having fun and joking with one another here. 

That's a problem though, as that back in Season 1's Majority Rule, the crew had no understanding of the concept of money, to the point where they'd never even heard of it!

In that episode, the Away Team synthesized local clothing as they prepared for a planetary mission. Before they left, Mercer passed out a stack of currency to them, saying:

Mercer: "Sargas 4 is a capitalist culture."
Alara: (looking at the cash) "What is it?
Mercer: "It's money."
Alara: "What do you do with it?"
Mercer: "You give it to people, and they give you stuff, or they do stuff."
Alara: "That's weird."

So which is it, guys? Do Union citizens know about money or not? It's one thing for a society to no longer use money, but to be completely ignorant of the very idea of it... that doesn't make any sense. We no longer treat illness by bleeding people with leeches, but we know it used to be a thing!

I guess there's some slight wiggle room here, in that Alara— who isn't human— was the one puzzled by the idea of cash. Even if her people NEVER used money though, she's been among humans for quite a while now, and ought to at least recognize the concept.

• John informs Mercer that the refit is complete, and they can finally leave the Dock Yard. As Mercer tells Charly to set course, he and Kelly both glance uncomfortably over at Isaac's now-empty chair.

What, what? Shouldn't they have replaced him with someone by now? Surely they've gotta have multiple crewmen for every position so they can man all the stations 24/7. So why are they leaving the Science Station empty?

Answer: So they could have this "Uneasy Isaac Absence" moment, that's why.

• I love this shot of the Bridge (first seen in Identity, Part 1), as we look through the massive curved window from just outside the ship. It seems like a bad design though, safety-wise. One well placed blaster hit from the Kaylon and they'd wipe out the entire command staff!

• Something I noticed as the ship leaves the Dock Yard— that lower engine ring hangs down quite a bit from the centerline of the hull. As they depart, Gordon skims pret-ty closely to some of those structures. Let's all hope he remembers that engine's down there, and knows how much clearance to leave it!

• John then takes some much-needed time off, as he has snu snu with an alien crewmember named Irillia. Several things here:

First of all, does J Lee have some sort of shirtless clause in his contract? Because he seems to like shedding it as much as possible.

Second, Irillia is a spiky-skinned Dakeeli female. Man, I bet she really goes through the bedsheets!

If her species looks vaguely familiar, it's because we've seen them twice before on the show.

One popped up in the Calivon zoo in Command Performance...

While these two gentlemen were members of the Union Council in Sanctuary.

Third, Irillia asks John what's going to happen to Isaac's body. He says it'll be dropped off at the science facility on Epsilon 2, in order to study his Kaylon physiology. 

The Epsilon 2 science facility was where much of the action took place in Old Wounds. Also, if Union scientists want a dead Kaylon to dissect, surely to Thor there were plenty of them lying around after the Battle Of Earth? Why do they specifically need Isaac?

Fourth, WOAH! Apparently Dakeelian females don't have nipples. Unless those spikes everywhere on her body ARE all nipples!

Lastly, as Irillia chats about her people's attitude toward suicide, we get the old, "Character Casually Says Something That Sparks An Idea In Another" trope, as John realizes he may be able to save Isaac.

• In the third act, John determines it may be possible to restore Isaac from a subatomic backup, but Charly's the only one with the skill to do so. Mercer pleads with her to help, but  she angrily refuses. In fact she goes so far as to actually yell her objections!

Yikes! Let's hope Mercer granted her permission to speak freely while we weren't looking. I know the Orville crew are all pretty laid back when it comes to military discipline, but her attitude and language here is beyond insubordinate and enough to get her courtmartialed.

• Mercer finally has enough of Charly's constant sympathy-fishing and puts her in her place:

Mercer: "You know, Charly, you're not the only one who lost friends in that battle. And I'm really sorry that you did, and I'm sorry that I did, but this thing you do, where you act like you have some kind of a monopoly on grief, is starting to wear a little thin."

I love this scene, as he's absolutely right. Yes, it's sad that Charly lost her friend, but Jaysis, over the course of the episode she went from sympathetic to straight up annoying. Get over Amanda's death already and move on!

I have a feeling Charly's attitude is a setup for a season-long character arc. Do not be surprised when she slowly starts to accept Isaac and even forgive him— probably after the two of them go on a mission together and he ends up saving her life.

Plot Trickery Alert! The episode sets up a Tension Point as John places Isaac's brain chip in a stasis field for some reason. The Orville's then attacked by a Kaylon ship, causing a power drain that somehow threatens to shut down or destabilize the stasis chamber.

This makes zero sense. The chamber looks like a futuristic thermos bottle that's sitting on a desk, completely separate from the rest of the ship and its systems. Why would it be tied into the ship's power supply? 

Answer: Because the fact that the Orville was in danger of being destroyed by the Kaylon Sphere apparently wasn't exciting enough, so they needed a way to make it even more nerve-racking. 

Plot Trickery Alert #2! Mercer ORDERS Charly to help John restore Isaac, but she refuses. He then relieves her of duty.

Cut to Charly sitting in the Mess Hall, nursing a drink. Wow, lucky Mercer didn't confine her to quarters when he relieved her, as he should have done. Then she couldn't have had a heartfelt chat with Marcus so he could finally convince her to help Isaac!

• This episode has quite a lot to say about suicide. It tries to be fair and examine all sides of the issue, and does a pretty good job of it— with one notable exception.

Several times characters point out that no one's responsible when a person commits suicide. Claire tells Marcus, "I just hope you understand that Isaac made a choice. It was the wrong choice, but it was his alone."

Later Marcus tells Charly he feels responsible for Isaac killing himself. She disagrees, saying, "Marcus, when somebody takes their own life... it's nobody's fault."

Yeah, that's some bullsh*t right there. Ever hear of a little thing called cyberbullying?

Sure, a harassed teen's decision to commit suicide technically lies with them, but the reasons prompting such behavior are most DEFINITELY the fault of others!

One thing the crew never really discusses— what if Isaac didn't WANT to be brought back to life? Was the crew right to revive him? It's a valid question, but they pretty much blur right over that issue as it's never discussed.

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:
During the refit, John's crew is swapping out old equipment modules, and he says the new ones make the old ones look like a "lawnmower." I'm disappointed to find out those will apparently still be a thing in the 25th Century.

Then once the upgrades are done, John radios Mercer and says, "We're all done out there. Unless you want the windows tinted, that's it for the refit." 

• This Week's Star Trek Swipes:
Only a couple I can think of. 

In the TNG episode Ethics, Worf is paralyzed in an accident, and wants to kill himself. The crew then discuss the moral implications of suicide as they attempt to talk him out of it.

Then in The Enemy, the Enterprise D rescues a badly injured Romulan. Dr. Crusher says he'll die unless he receives a ribosome transfusion from Worf. He refuses to help, citing the fact that the Romulans wiped out his parents on their colony planet.

Not technically a swipe, but a parallel: In Season 3 of TNG, the crew all got updated uniforms, going from onesies to smart-looking two piece numbers. Right on schedule, everyone gets new uniforms in Season 3 of The Orville as well!

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