Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Orville Season 3, Episode 2: Shadow Realms

This week on The Orville we get a dark and disturbing episode, one that strays firmly into Cronenbergian body horror.

Shadow Realms was co-written by Star Trek veteran and The Orville executive producer Brannon Braga, who cannibalized several of his own episodes to cobble together this one. While this is nothing new for The Orville, I gotta admit it's a little disappointing. We're in the third season of the show now, and it's high time it started going its own way and stopped following precisely in the footsteps of its inspiration.

Once again, it's clear that series creator Seth MacFarlane has officially dispensed with the humor this season, as there's absolutely nothing remotely funny to be found in this episode. The lack of humor this season is apparently quite upsetting to a lot of fans, who've taken to the internet to voice their objections (imagine that!). For the record, I'm fine with the more serious tone. It feels like the show's grown out of its awkward teen years (in which it tries to be funny in order to be liked) and finally become an adult!

As I watched the episode, I realized the main plot could be seen as a metaphor for toxic relationships. Doctor Finn's ex-husband shows up, and even though she's completely over him and has moved on with her life, he hopes to rekindle their romance. As his attempts to reconnect with her become more and more aggressive, he literally transforms into a horrifying and disgusting subhuman thing. It's as if he's literally becoming the physical embodiment of her malignant feelings toward him! 

Do I think Braga had any of this in mind when he wrote the episode? No. No I do not. But you gotta admit it all fits!

It's also interesting that unlike most iterations of Trek, there's no magic cure in this episode. Doctor Finn can't fix the infected crewmembers, as they're irrevocably transformed into aliens. There's no chance for recovery for them, and no happy ending. That's unusual for a show like this, and I appreciate that the producers didn't take the easy road here.


The Plot:
Mercer calls the senior staff to the briefing room, where he fills them in on their next mission— they're to pick up Vice Admiral Paul Christie, who will oversee negotiations with the Krill. If successful, the Union will then have access to the Naklav Sector, which lies deep in Krill space. Claire looks troubled at the mention of Admiral Christie's name.

Later in Sick Bay, the Admiral surprises Claire by stopping by. It's clear the two of them had a prior relationship at some point, but she's strangely chilly toward him. He asks her to dinner to catch up, but she tells him she's busy. Paul apologizes to her for an incident that happened twenty five years ago.

Sometime later, the Orville hosts two Krill delegates at a party in the Mess Hall. Mercer says he hopes this treaty will become permanent. The Krill Ambassador says not to get his hopes up, as the minute the Kaylon are defeated, the Krill will resume hostilities with the Union. Okay then!

Claire does her best to avoid Paul at the reception. She grabs a bottle of booze and asks Kelly if she'd like to skip the party with her. The two women then get plastered in Claire's quarters. She confesses she was once married to Paul (!), but never felt like his partner. She gave him and ultimatum, and he ended up walking out on her.

Sometime later Paul & Mercer meet with the Krill Ambassadors to discuss access to the Naklav Sector. The Krill give them very strict guidelines, allowing only a single ship to enter for now, and outlining a rigid route and warning them not to deviate from it. Paul says that's fine, and selects the Orville to make the first foray into the region.

Paul says he's interested in exploring the Kalarr Expanse inside the sector. The Krill bristle at this, warning them that the Expanse is a gateway to the underworld, where demons dwell and possess the souls of any who approach— causing them to commit acts of depravity. When Mercer says they'd like to see for themselves, the Krill say they won't stop them, but they won't save them either.

The Krill then leave, but not before praying for the Orville's crew— who they fear are all going to die (!).

Mercer, Kelly and Paul then confer with Admiral Halsey, to decide whether to approach the Kalarr Expanse. Halsey urges caution, but Mercer points out the Krill are all superstitious religious fanatics. He doesn't believe the supernatural hooey, and says exploration is always a risk. With that, Halsey gives the mission his blessing.

That night, Claire's having dinner alone in Mooska's. Paul approaches, and asks to join her. She reluctantly agrees, then congratulates him on the Krill negotiations. He announces he won't be leaving the ship, and is going on the mission with them.

Paul then shows her he still carries his wedding band, made from Xelayan Sun Stone (Plot Point!). He asks if there's any chance of a reconciliation, and Claire shoots him down, saying she no longer feels anything for him. Hurt, Paul gets up and leaves.

Mercer then orders the Orville to set course through Krill space for the Kalarr Expanse.

Paul enters the Astrophysics Lab, where he chats with Isaac. He points out that both of them were romantically involved with Claire, and asks Isaac what makes her happy. Isaac says her children and career. He somehow senses that Paul misses Claire, and says he feels the same way (!).

The Orville moves through the Naklav Sector, and approaches the Kalarr Expanse. The crew's unnerved by the fact that the Expanse is devoid of any stars, and looks completely black. Just then the ship picks up a distress call inside the Expanse. Mercer orders them in to check it out.

The Orville discovers the source of the signal— a massive, organic-looking space station. Scanners show it has a breathable atmosphere, so Mercer decides to take a landing party to check it out. Paul insists on going as well.

Mercer, Kelly, Claire, John, Talla and Paul take a shuttle over to the station. They dock with it and enter. Inside they find the station's dark and empty. Mercer orders them into teams of two to explore. He and Paul approach a wall of glowing white pods. While Mercer's looking elsewhere, Paul sticks his face close to one of the pods. It suddenly bursts open, startling him. He suggests they hurry back to the ship.

Back on the ship, the Away Team, er, I mean landing party meets in Engineering for some reason. Isaac says there are no life signs aboard the station, and can't understand its purpose. Claire wonders if the station itself is a life form. Just then Paul doubles over in pain and collapses. His face shrivels and distorts.

Cut to Sick Bay, where Claire's treating Paul, who appears to be growing a couple of extra eyes. She says his DNA's changing, and isn't sure she can stop it. Mercer recalls Paul saying the pod opened in his face, and Claire says if she had a sample of it she might be able to help him.

Mercer, Talla and John all don environmental suits (FINALLY!) and return to the station. They find the wall of pods, and Talla collects a sample from one that opens. John ominously points out that the station's no longer broadcasting a distress beacon— it's now sending out its coordinates.

Back in Sickbay, Paul wakes and tells Claire he's scared. He begs her to put the wedding ring on his finger (Plot Point!) and she says she won't let him die.

Mercer calls Claire from the shuttle, and says they found a bacterial spore on the station, which must have infected Paul. Talla recommends decontamination when they get back to the ship. Claire goes to tell Paul the news, and finds he's gone.

Just then the Orville's power goes out, as the engines shut down and the ship's plunged into darkness. Claire tells Nurse Park she's gonna check on her kids and leaves. Park hears a noise, and finds Paul's ripped-up uniform lying on the floor. He turns around and screams as a creature attacks.

The shuttle approaches the ship and sees it's dead in the water. John says they'll have to dock manually. They do so, and John says he's going to Engineering to try and restore power.

Claire reaches her quarters, but finds them empty.

Elsewhere, Marcus and Ty Finn are searching the darkened corridors for their mother. Mercer & Talla reach the Bridge, where Kelly, Gordon and Charly are trying to restore limited power. 

Down in Engineering, John says the power dampening field must be in one of the ship's one hundred and thirty two conduits, so he and Isaac start physically searching them.

Marcus & Ty hear something chasing them in a corridor, and run to the Mess Hall to hide. Lt. Redshirt, er, I mean Woodson finds them, and offers to escort them back to their quarters. Suddenly a creature attacks Woodson, spitting a green goo in his face. He instantly transforms into one of the creatures.

Marcus and Ty flee for their lives, and make it to the Bridge. They tell the others what they saw, and Claire realizes Paul's become one of the aliens and is transforming the rest of the crew. She theorizes that's how this Arachnid race reproduces. Talla says she's going to find John and warn him, and Bortus escorts Claire to Sickbay, where she hopes to find a way to reverse the alien threat.

John manages to restore partial power to the ship. Just then he encounters two Arachnids, and manages to lock himself in the Brig behind a forcefield. Talla sees John's predicament, and lures the creatures to the Shuttle Bay. They attack her, but are no match for her enhanced Xelauan strength.

Elsewhere, Isaac's walking through a corridor and encounters one of the Arachnids. It examines him, but realizes his robotic body is incompatible with its spores and moves on. Isaac releases John from the Brig, and the two return to the Bridge. John restores communications. Talla brings the corpse of one of the Arachnids to Sickbay for Claire to examine.

Meanwhile, the crew detects the approach of an Arachnid ship, which no doubt picked up the station's homing signal. Unfortunately the Orville still doesn't have Quantum Drive, and can't escape.

Claire examines the Arachnid corpse and realizes its immune system hasn't fully formed yet. She theorizes she could whip up a virus that would kill the creatures, while being relatively harmless to the crew.

Mercer points out that the Arachnids were once their shipmates, and didn't ask for what happened to them. He says they should try to communicate with them, to give them a chance to leave peacefully before releasing the virus. Claire says she knows how to get the message across. She has Talla scan for Xelayan Sun Stone, and she detects a small amount in Engineering.

Claire goes to Engineering, where she finds Arachnid Paul— still wearing his Xelayan Sun Stone wedding band. She tells him about the virus, and offers him and his fellow creatures the chance to go. He refuses, so Claire orders the virus released into the vents. Arachnid Paul painfully growls no, and says they'll leave— but "not forever."

Sometime later, Claire's dining at Mooska's again. Isaac comes in to check on her well being, which surprises her. He tells her that he and Paul discussed her, as she was something they both had in common. She admits she's missed Isaac, and invites him to join her.

• Jesus, this episode was dark! Not just in tone, but illumination-wise as well. I had to lighten practically every screencap just so I didn't post a bunch of black rectangles!

• I'm still amazed by the increased level of detail in the physical and digital models of the Orville this year. It's especially noticeable when you compare it to the Season 1 and 2 version, as it now looks unnaturally smooth— almost like a cartoon!

Even more amazing— instead of opaque white windows, we can now see through them and into the ship. You can even see people milling around on the Bridge! Awesome!

• The episode begins with Mercer briefing the main characters, er, I mean the ship's department heads— Kelly, Bortus, Claire, John, Talla and Isaac. For some reason, Gordon and Charly are there as well. But why? They're the helmsman and navigator respectively, neither of which are department head positions.

I get why the real world reason why they're there— because it's a TV show and the audience expects to see all the characters. I can't think of any good in-universe reason for their presence though.

• Claire's less than enthused when her ex-husband (more on that in a second!) Admiral Paul Christie boards the ship to oversee the negotiations with the Krill.

Paul's played by James Read, a prolific character actor who's been in virtually everything, including stints on soaps such as General Hospital and Days Of Our Lives.

Nice Attention To Detail/Canon: The ship's lighting seems to be turned way down while the Krill Ambassadors are on board. Someone remembered their deadly susceptibility to bright lights! Well done!

• At the Krill reception, Bortus investigates a tray of hors d'oeuvres. He sniffs one, then jerks his head back in disgust when the smell apparently doesn't agree with him. 

Wait, is this the same Bortus from Krill, who demonstrated how he could eat literally anything? Even a drinking glass? So why's he being all dainty & selective now?

• After skipping out on the reception, Claire confesses to Kelly that she was married once— to Paul!

Wait, what? That's certainly a new character development! When the hell was she ever married?

Back in Season 1's Into The Fold, Claire and Isaac had the following conversation:

Isaac: "I have noticed that many other families on the Orville include two parents. Where is your counterpart?"
Claire: "I don't have a husband."
Isaac: "Was he destroyed?"
Claire: "No."
Isaac: "Did you grow to despise each other, and terminate your coupling?"
Claire: "I chose to be a single mother. I always wanted kids, but never found a man I wanted to have them with."
Isaac: "Ah. Artificial impregnation."
Claire: "You're getting a tad personal, don't you think?"

OK, I guess there's some slight wiggle room here, as technically she didn't actually state she was never married— but she never said she was, either. I'm calling this revelation a big ol' retcon!

• During the negotiations, the Krill have a laundry list of demands to be met before they'll let the Orville into their space. Among the items: they want to place a tracking device on the ship to monitor its whereabouts inside their territory. Admiral Christie reluctantly agrees. 

I guess they must have installed that while we weren't looking, because it's never mentioned again.

• Admiral Halsey's back! He makes a brief cameo as Mercer and Paul confer with him as to whether to enter the Expanse or not. At one point Paul calls him "Tom," which I'm pretty sure is the first time we've ever heard his first name.

• Halsey asks if there's any evidence to support the Krill superstitions surrounding the Expanse. Mercer replies: 

"No. In fact, from what we gather, none of their ships have ventured into the Expanse in more than a century. The copy of the Anhkana we have in our database has a few passages about 'shadow realms.' Lots of colorful language about soul-sucking demons with eight eyes and huge fangs. Horror movie stuff."

Later on when the Orville crewmembers transform into the Arachnid species, we see they do indeed have eight eyes and huge fangs! Well done!

• Heh. Even in the 25th Century, people will still be looking at their phones while they eat!

• Paul sees Claire dining by herself in Mooska's and asks if he can join her. She reluctantly agrees, and the first comment out of her mouth is, "So when do you leave for Outpost 55?" YOWCH! Message received, loud and clear!

• As the ship prepares to enter Krill space, Mercer gives the crew an "inspirational" speech. We then get a montage of various departments listening to him. There's the Shuttlebay, where we get a good look at the new shuttle design, as well as the needle-like Pteradon fighter that debuted last week.

We then see this unknown room. It looks a LOT like Engineering, except everyone's in it's wearing a green science uniform. I guess it must be some kind of lab?

• Paul's surprised to find out that Isaac once dated Claire. Desperate to reconnect with her, he asks Isaac if he knows what makes her happy. Isaac replies with a list of her favorite things, including listening to the rain and her preferred sexual positions (!).

Someone did their homework, as back in A Happy Refrain, Claire did indeed tell Isaac of her love of sitting on the porch in the rain.

As for the sex thing, that apparently happened as well, as Claire discussed it with Kelly in the same episode:

Claire: "It's the best it's ever been for me. And maybe it's okay that it doesn't look like I thought it would. Maybe it's okay that it looks like a woman and a vacuum cleaner. I think I'm in love with him."

• The Orville makes it through Krill space without incident, then approaches the Kalarr Expanse. The crew marvels that the region is completely devoid of stars. 

The Orville didn't invent this "starless void" trope, as it's been around for decades and was used in pretty much every iteration of Star Trek. I get why they use it here though, as it makes for a spooky and unnerving visual. It's also a bunch of hooey, as it would be nigh impossible to find a large area of space where no stars were visible.

Isaac says the Expanse extends for 800 parsecs. A parsec is 3.26 lightyears, which means the Expanse is 2,608 lightyears across. Sounds pretty big, till you realize we can see stars up to 16,000 lightyears away with the naked eye. Which means even if the Expanse was somehow completely devoid of stars, there'd still be distant ones visible outside its border.

Verdict: A starless region of space is pure science fantasy bullsh*t! And yes, I realize I'm being ridiculously obsessive here, but whatever.

• As the ship enters the Expanse, it finds a creepy-looking space station. I love how the second they see it, Mercer & Kelly both stand in unison and walk toward to the main viewer to... get a closer look at it I guess?

• The alien space station is very... crustacean-like. Nothing wrong with that, as it adds to its alienness!

• Isaac scans the station and says it's pressurized, and surrounded by a breathable atmosphere. We then see his readout, and it looks for all the world like it's showing us the atmosphere actually encases the outside of the station!

I guess that's a thing that could happen, although I'm not really sure what the point would be.

• I love this shot of the shuttle exiting the rear of the ship. I especially like how the interior of the Shuttlebay is visible and in perfect perspective. The FX really have been leveled up this season!

• it made me laugh to see 2/3 of the Away Team, er I mean Landing Party standing in the shuttle rather than sitting comfortably. I guess they're only flying a couple thousand feet, so it doesn't really matter, but.. there ARE plenty of seats in there, guys!

This isn't anything new, by the way. The characters stood like this in the first two seasons as well.

Also, back in the The Original Series, Kirk, Spock & McCoy were always going on dangerous missions to various planets— something that would never happen in any branch of the military. 

By the time The Next Generation rolled around, the writers addressed this "unrealistic" problem by sending Commander Riker on away missions, while leaving Captain Picard safely on the Bridge. 

Looks like The Orville's decided to go the TOS route, as the entire senior staff rides directly into the fray!

• Nothing good ever happens where there are doors like this.

• Critics of this episode complained that the crew willingly entered this potentially deadly alien environment without wearing any kind of protective gear whatsoever. 

Sadly, I can't argue with that! In fact I can't think of any reason for them NOT gear up in spacesuits, other than so the episode can happen. Disappointing!

• Ah, but the stupidity doesn't stop there! Not only does the whole Landing Party waltz into an unknown environment in their space pajamas, but they seem determined to ignore any kind of safety protocols. For example, Kelly almost touches a pulsating organic wall with her bare hand, till Claire tells her to knock it off.

Then John leans in close to a glowing alien hornet's nest, and even turns his back on it!

And of course Paul— who's an ADMIRAL, mind you, and presumably smarter than the rest of the team— sticks his head right in front of a glowing alien seed pod, which of course explodes in his face.

It's almost like these people are trying to get killed!

• Naturally the pod sprays some kind of alien spores into Paul's face, which begin mutating him. Kudos to the makeup department here, for making the Admiral looks suitably gross and disturbing! I was surprised they didn't make his giant eye blink, but eh, it was still plenty unsettling!

• Mercer, Talla and John return to the station to collect samples that might be able to help cure Paul. Now that the horse is out of the barn and down the road into the next county, they FINALLY don protective spacesuits.

Note that their suits are color coded, as Mercer's has glowing blue lights and Talla's has red.

• More character stupidity, er, I mean plot contrivance: despite the fact that Admiral Christie is mutating into an alien man-spider, Claire doesn't throw up a forcefield around his bed. 

Even if the Orville doesn't have that kind of technology, surely they have some means of quarantining patients who pose a threat to the rest of the crew. Instead she just leaves this potentially infectious patient lying right out in the open in the middle of Sickbay— again, for no other reason than so the plot can happen.

• Last week I noted that the Orville's powered by a large glowing orb, similar to the beryllium sphere over on Galaxy Quest.

In this episode, Paul cuts power to the ship, and we get a shot of Engineering as the glowing orb seemingly dissipates and vanishes! So I guess it isn't a solid, physical object after all, and just a big ball of energy? Odd.

• The first time the shuttle flew over to the station, it took a minute or less each way. When Mercer & Co. revisit it, it takes them at least ten times that long to return to the ship. Long enough for them to contact Claire and tell her they've collected a bacterial sample, long enough for the mutated Admiral to escape and cut the power, long enough for Claire to go off looking for her kids and long enough for Nurse Park to get attacked. 

Why such a big difference? Were they driving along reeeeeally slowly the second time they came back?

• Was this Nurse Park's last show? It certainly seems like it! The Arachnids aren't killing the crew when they attack, they're reproducing by mutating them into their own kind. It's strongly implied that he's been turned into an Arachnid! 

Whether he was among those killed by the crew or went off with Arachnid Paul at the end isn't clear.

Park first appeared back in Cupid's Dagger, and has been a background regular since.

• As Marcus and Ty search for their mom, they're intercepted by Lt. Woodson. Of course Woodson's a literal redshirt, as seconds later he's pinned down by an Arachnid and mutated into one of them!

• John recreates a scene from ALIEN as he crawls through a darkened Jeffries Tube, er, I mean engineering conduit. He's even chased through the cramped tunnels by one of the Arachnids, just like Captain Dallas in ALIEN!

• John manages to restore limited power to the ship. I love how the Bridge readouts are then pale yellow instead of their usual glowing blue, to indicate they're not at full power.

• John escapes from a couple of Arachnids by hiding in the Brig behind a forcefield. Quite rightly, once he's inside there's no way to get back out. Wouldn't make much sense for the field controls to be inside a jail cell!

Good thing the forcefield was apparently still at full strength, even though the rest of the ship only had partial power!

• This is probably our best look we get at the Arachnids during the whole episode. They're a pretty cool design, and are a combo of CGI and rubber suits. Obviously when they're jumping around and running on walls they're digital, but I'm pretty sure they're real in the closeups.

• Talla uses her Xelayan strength to battle several Arachnids in the Shuttlebay. Looks like she's a big fan of the WWE!

• Isaac has a close encounter with one of the Arachnids, which ends up ignoring him because he's inorganic. You know, it would have been a really good idea to have sent HIM back to the station to collect the spore samples, since he can't be transformed! But no, sending humans into a deadly biological hot zone is fine too.

• This is some Heavy Duty Nitpicking, but whatever. Claire says she can't figure out a way to revert the mutated crew unless one of them agrees to a physical. Right on cue, Talla enters with one of the Arachnids she killed. Claire beams and says, "We have a patient!"

Yeah, that's not a patient, that's a specimen! "Patient" refers to a living subject.

Told you it was Heavy Duty!

• Gordon detects an Arachnid ship on its way to the station— presumably to take over the Orville and mutate the rest of the crew.

So despite the fact that the Arachnids act like primitive, animalistic horror movie monsters, somehow they're apparently smart enough to develop space travel and quantum drive. Interesting.

Also, I love the fact that each race on this show has their own specific ship colors. The Union ships all glow blue, Krill vessels are green, etc. It's a nice bit of visual shorthand.

• Claire's able to figure out which Arachnid was Paul by scanning for his wedding band. Lucky that this savage and brutal alien— whose only thought it to turn others into his own kind— didn't rip the ring from his finger.

• Claire discovers the Arachnids' immune systems don't fully kick in until about two weeks after they first mutate. She figures she can use that weakness to infect and kill them all.

I was gonna say that two week delay seemed like a pretty big design flaw in the Arachnids' biology. After all, being susceptible to disease for the first couple weeks of one's life would be mighty dangerous. But it turns out the same thing happens in humans! It takes a whole two to three months for a baby's immune system to fully kick in!

So never mind, and well done writers!

• Claire develops a virus that'll kill the Arachnids. Just as she's about to release it though, Mercer stops her— pointing out that these aliens used to be their crewmates and didn't ask for what happened to them.

That's a very Star Trek issue to raise, as the franchise has always been about seeking out new life and communicating with it.

On the other hand, Mercer's eleventh hour protest comes completely out of nowhere, and even though he's right, it felt unearned and tacked on. Not to mention the fact that just a few minutes earlier Talla straight up murdered at least two of them, seemingly without a second thought.

• Claire eventually talks Arachnid Paul and his brethren into leaving the ship peacefully. So... just how the hell did they do that? Did Mercer give 'em a shuttle to fly over to the station? Or can Arachnids survive in the vacuum of space, and they all just jumped out the nearest airlock?

Apparently it's none of our goddamn business, as their means of escape is never addressed.

• So just how many of the Orville crew were turned into Arachnids? Eh, it's impossible to know— especially since there's no way to tell them apart, and we could have been seeing the same four or five over and over.

Based on what we see in the episode though, I'm estimating there were at least twenty Arachnids.

Note that there's no infamous Star Trek Reset Button here, where everything's put right in the final scene of the episode. Instead, a large number of the crew were wiped out as they were irreparably transformed into a completely different race. There's no last minute restoration, no real resolution and no happy ending. The crew poked around where they didn't belong and got a bloody nose for it.

• In the tag scene, Isaac goes to Mooska's to check on Claire and make sure she's OK after Paul's untimely death. She's touched and more than a little surprised by his uncharacteristically human gesture. She admits she's missed Isaac, and asks him to join her for dinner.

So I guess this means Claire's forgiven Isaac for the whole "Betraying The Human Race To The Kaylons" thing, and is willing to start up their romance again!

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:
Really only one I noticed, as Gordon & Charly both make humorous quips about Vegas.

This Week's Star Trek Swipes:
Holy cow, where do I even start with this episode? Get comfortable, as this is gonna take a while!

— First off, the idea of a spooky and deadly region of space has been done before in Trek. In the Enterprise episode The Expanse, the alien Xindi attack Earth. Starfleet orders Captain Archer & crew to retaliate, but unfortunately the Xindi homeworld lies in the middle of a deadly void. Vulcan Ambassador Soval warns Archer about this area:

Soval: "They're inside the Delphic Expanse."
Archer: "What's that?"
Soval: "A region of space nearly two thousand light years across. Vulcan ships have entered it, but only a few have returned."
Archer: "Sounds like you're talking about the Bermuda Triangle."
Soval: "There have been reports of fierce and dangerous species, unexplained anomalies. In some regions, even the laws of physics don't apply. Twenty years ago, a Klingon vessel emerged from the Expanse. Every crewmen on board had been anatomically inverted, their bodies splayed open— and they were still alive. You'd be more than foolish to pursue this course of action."

In Shadow Realms, the Krill Ambassador warns the Orville to stay the hell out of the Kalarr Expanse, as "it's a gateway to the underworld, where demons lie in wait to possess the souls of those who dare stray within their reach." Pretty much the same thing!

— Then there's the TNG episode Identity Crisis. In it, the crew discovers that an Away Team that visited Tarchannen III five years earlier were all unknowingly infected with an alien parasite. This microorganism is now causing the Away Team members— including Geordi LaForge— to mutate into an alien race. Doctor Crusher theorizes this race reproduces by infecting other species and turning them into Tarchannens. Fortunately she's able to reverse the process and restore Geordi at the last minute.

Shadow Realms borrows HEAVILY from this episode, as the Orville crew explores the Kalarr Expanse, where they encounter the Arachnids— who reproduce by infecting other species with bacterial spores that transform them into their own race. Unfortunately Doctor Finn isn't able to cure the infected, and they permanently become Arachnids.

— As close as those examples are though, they pale in comparison to Shadow Realms' resemblance to TNG's Genesis. In that episode, the Enterprise-D crew is accidentally infected with "T-cell virus" (whatever that is) that causes them to devolve into primitive life forms. Commander Riker becomes a caveman, Counselor Troi some sort of amphibian and Worf transforms into a terrifying proto-Klingon creature.

Captain Picard and Data return from a mission, and discover the ship is powerless and drifting in space. Once they board, they attempt to restore power while avoiding the now-monstrous crew.

Shadow Realms is practically a shot for shot remake of Genesis, right down to the crew wandering the darkened halls of the powerless ship as they're attacked by alien monsters. Heck, both episodes even feature a crewman who gets mutated into a humanoid spider— complete with multiple faceted eyes! Jesus Christ!

Not surprisingly, Identity Crisis, Genesis and Shadow Realms were all written (or co-written) by The Orville's Executive Producer Brannon Braga. He seems obsessed with writing episodes in which the various crews mutate, and pretty much plagiarized his old scripts this week!

On the other hand, Genesis first aired back in 1994, which was a whopping twenty eight years ago. I guess it's acceptable for writers to repeat an idea once every three decades or so!

This Week's Best Lines:
Paul: "You're as beautiful as ever."
Claire: "Save your charm for the Krill. You're gonna need it."

(Claire discusses her marriage to Paul with Kelly.)
Claire: "I gave him an ultimatum, and... he walked away."
Kelly: "Were you devastated?"
Claire: "At the time, I was crushed, yeah. I questioned everything about myself. Every way I turned it over in my head, I kept feeling like I was the one at fault, like I made a huge mistake. But when I remember it now, it's like... I'm watching someone else's daughter. I'm sad for her, but I know she needs to learn her own lessons."

Paul: "Anything your cartographers could share with us would be greatly appreciated, especially concerning the Kalarr Expanse."
Krill Ambassador: "You... do not intend to enter the Expanse?"
Kelly: "Why wouldn't we?"
Krill: "It is a domain of evil."
Mercer: "What do you mean?"
Krill: "Demons dwell within the Expanse."
Kelly: "Could you be a little more specific?"
Krill: "The Anhkana warns of Shadow Realms. Gateways to the depths of the underworld, where demons lie in wait to possess the souls of those who dare to stray within their reach. They corrupt all that is holy. Within their grasp, even the most righteous can be forced to commit unspeakable acts of depravity."
Mercer: "Do you have any direct evidence that these 'demons' really exist?"
Krill: "It is written in the Anhkana. That is all the evidence we need."
Paul: "We appreciate the warning, and we'll take every precaution, but that area covers more than half the sector. We are explorers. So if it's all the same to you, we'd like to see for ourselves what's out there."
Krill: "We will not stop you. But do not expect us to save you."

Admiral Halsey: "I'm just suggesting the possibility that their claim, absurd though it may be, could indicate the presence of some real threat. And because they're Krill, they process it through the lens of their religion."
Kelly: "Which still doesn't give us much of a road map. I mean, their religion is... confusing, to say the least."
Paul: "All religions are confusing. How do you think the priests stay in business?"

(Paul discusses Claire with Isaac.)
Paul: "I've heard from a few folks on board that you two were... involved."
Isaac: "That is accurate."
Paul: "Well, you know, I was with Claire, too, a long time ago."
Isaac: "Then we share a common experience."
Paul: "After all this time, she's moved on, but I'm afraid that I haven't. I hope you don't mind me telling you this."
Isaac: "No, sir. I have observed many such paradoxes in human relationships."
Paul: "Well, to be blunt... I was hoping you could give me some insight into what makes Claire happy these days."
Isaac: "Dr. Finn values her children above all else. She has often stated that she would sacrifice her own life for them."
Paul: "Go on."
Isaac: "Her career as a Union medical officer is also a crucial part of her identity. She is highly empathetic and takes great satisfaction in helping others."
Paul: "She always has."
Isaac: "Her recreational interests include music, dancing, fine dining, rain showers and sеxual relations. Her preferred mating positions include..."
Paul: "Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's... plenty helpful, Isaac. Thank you."
Isaac: "Am I to understand that you find it a challenge to process her daily absence?"
Paul: "Yes, you could say that."
Isaac: "It is another common experience we share."

Claire: (to Arachnid Paul) "Take your people and go, or I swear we'll destroy every last one of you."
Arachnid Paul: "Not Paul. More. You... will... see."
Claire: "See what?"
Arachnid Paul: "You will be... of us."
Claire: "Finn to bridge."
Mercer: "Mercer here."
Claire: "Prepare to release the toxin. Start with the Engineering deck."
Mercer: "Understood."
(Arachnid Paul shrieks.)
Arachnid Paul: "We go."
Claire: "Thank you."
Arachnid Paul: (ominously) "Not... forever."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter