Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Orville Season 3, Episode 7: From Unknown Graves

This week on The Orville we find out they can't all be gems, as we get the worst episode of the season (so far).

OK, I'm probably being too harsh here. It's not that From Unknown Graves is a terrible episode— it just pales in comparison to recent ones. There's actually some good stuff on display here— particularly the origin of the Kaylon and their Builders.

But we also get some no-so-good material, like the Janisi, the John/Talla relationship stuff and yet more of Claire and Isaac's fumbling romance. And therein lies the problem— there's just wayyyyyyyy too much going on for a single episode.

Over on TNG they typically had a main "A" story, a secondary "B" plot and every now and then a minor "C" one as well. From Unknown Graves features five different plotlines— and every one's an "A!" In fact I'm still not exactly sure which was supposed to be the main one. 

Each of these storylines would have made a decent episode on its own. Together though, they form a confusing and jumbled mess. 

I don't have any insider info, but I get the distinct feeling that Seth MacFarlane had story ideas for a standard thirteen episode season. Thanks to our good friend the Covid Pandemic though, he was forced to cut the season down to just ten episodes. He then decided to take all his discarded ideas and cram 'em nto one episode— whether they fit or not!

The theme this week seems to be "Change." Every one of the numerous storylines features a character having to decide whether or not to change their behavior for someone else. A solid enough premise I guess, but the episode doesn't seem to be able to figure out if it's a good or bad thing.

Speaking of the various characters— none of them act like themselves this week, as they're all... well, out of character. Take Kelly, for instance. So far this season she's been portrayed as a smart, competent and capable officer. In this episode though she suddenly thinks it'd be a great idea to court a potential ally race by blatantly lying to them!

Claire comes off even worse, as the episode has her forcing Isaac to fundamentally change his entire personality just to please her. Jesus Christ! In fact her constant nagging was starting to make me actively hate her.

Not sure why the writers fumbled the ball so hard this week, but it's definitely disappointing— especially considering the high bar set by the rest of the season. Needless to say, this week's ep is not gonna be high on my rewatch list.


The Plot:
We open on a suburban home on an alien planet, as a flying car lands out front. Inside, a gray-skinned child excitedly yells that his father Verell's home. The family lines up in the living room, waiting for him to enter. Verell opens the door and pushes in a large, high tech crate. He opens the box, revealing a K-Unit robotic servant inside. Verell says the robot's going to "change their lives," as we realize this is the planet of the Kaylon Builders.

Cut to the "present," as John and Talla have sex in her quarters. Suddenly there's a sickening sound of bones snapping, as John screams that his arm's broken. Talla apologizes, saying her Xeleyan strength got out of control.

John makes his way to Sickbay for treatment. Claire notes this is the third major injury he's had this week, and asks what's going on. He lies and says he's been running an intense training program in the Holodeck, er, I mean Environmental Simulator. Amazingly this trained doctor's fooled by this flimsy lie.

Sometime later Claire meets Isaac in "their" restaurant inside the Simulator. She asks him to convert to his holographic human form for their date. He awkwardly and emotionlessly tries to flirt with her, and she asks what the hell he's doing. He says he thought they were a couple again, but Claire says she's not sure.

In the Briefing Room, Mercer tells the senior staff that since the Krill treaty's kaput, the Union needs all the help it can get against the looming Kaylon threat. To that end, the Union's pushing for an alliance with the Janisi— an aggressively matriarchal society, who see males as second-class citizens.

Kelly then explains the boneheaded plan: In order to curry the Janisi's favor, they'll be removing all males— including Mercer!— from command roles. Kelly will then pose as the Orville's captain and handle the negotiations. Seems like a bad idea to start an alliance with a lie, but what do I know.

The Orville meets the Janisi ship in orbit above Situla 4, an abandoned mining planet. Captain Losha, First Officer Kava and First Lieutenant Hodell of the Janisi board the ship. They're welcomed by "Captain" Kelly Grayson, "First Officer" Talla Keyali and "Chief Engineer" Charly Burke. Losha warns Kelly that the Janisi will not ally themselves with an incompatible society.

Talla orders Mercer and Gordon (who're posing as lowly ensigns) to take the Janisi's bags to their quarters. Hijinx ensue as the two try to carry the heavy luggage in one trip.

On the Bridge, Isaac detects an energy surge from the supposedly deserted surface of Situla 4. Mercer, who can't do much of anything else while the Janisi are onboard, takes Gordon, Bortus and Charly (of course) to investigate.

Verell's family sits down to dinner. Their robot, now called K-1, serves them. Daughter Keena asks if she can bring K-1 to show & tell at her school, but Verell says no. K-1 says he would like to visit the school, but Verell forbids it. He asks why he can't go, and Verell orders him to enter the kitchen and shut himself down.

Mercer and the others fly down to Situla 4 and determine the energy surge is coming from an underground complex. They land their shuttle, enter the complex and take a look around. Suddenly a door opens and a red-eyed Kaylon appears. They draw their weapons, but the Kaylon insists he's not a threat.

An alien scientist named Doctor Villka appears, and says the Kaylon's confirms he's harmless and his name is Timmis. She explains that she and her father, the renowned Doctor Timmis Uhabbas, were exploring the planet when they found a "dead" Kaylon who'd been badly damaged during the Battle Of Earth. The two studied him for several months, but unfortunately Uhabbas died. Villka continued his work, reprogramming the Kaylon and giving him the ability to feel emotions. She named him Timmis after her father.

Mercer takes Villka and Timmis back to the Orville. Villka says she believes Timmis could be the key to initiating peace between the Union and the Kaylon. Mercer says it's a long shot, but worth a try.

Elsewhere, the males are all shooed out of Engineering so the Janisi can tour the area. They're impressed by the Orville's quantum drive, and Talla says the Union would be happy to share their tech if they agree to an alliance.

During the tour, John gets Talla's attention, and says they need to talk. They go to her office, where he asks why she's been avoiding him. She says their relationship's not gonna work, as she's afraid she'll accidentally kill him. He says he still wants to make a go of it despite the injuries. Talla admits she doesn't want to break up either, and agrees to give it another try.

Verell's family sits in their living room watching an alien version of TV. K-1 brings in refreshments, and stares curiously at the display. Verell orders him back to the kitchen, but K-1 asks why he was created for servitude. Verell says something's obviously wrong with the robot, and says he's going to take it in for repairs. 

In Engineering, John and Villka talk shop. Isaac enters, and Timmis is excited to see another Kaylon. Timmis says he feels regret that his people killed their Builders. Isaac says he knows it was wrong, but is incapable of feeling remorse for what happened. Timmis tells Isaac it may be possible for him to feel emotions.

Mercer contacts Admiral Halsey about Timmis, and says he believes he's sincere. Halsey orders them to transport Villka and Timmis to Earth for study, once the Janisi talks are done. Kelly says the Janisi are still hesitant to join the Union.

Elsewhere, John and Talla have sex again. Despite their caution, she ends up breaking his leg and pelvis (!). He limps to Sickbay, where Claire's horrified to see he's been injured again.

Claire talks with Isaac about letting Villka alter him so he can feel emotions. He says he finds the idea fascinating, but sees no point in it.

We see Yan, the CEO of Vandicom (the corporation that constructed the K Units) working late in his office. An Engineer enters and says they've had over 53,000 complaints about the K Units' behavior. She says a recall is inevitable. He admits the robots are becoming sentient, but believes a new software upgrade will fix the problem, by inflicting "pain" on them. He's confident this will make them submissive and obedient, and orders the Engineer to start working on a marketing strategy to sell the pain upgrade.

Kelly hosts a banquet for Captain Losha and the other Janisi. They become angry when they see Mercer and other male officers sitting at the table. Kelly explains it's their custom, and Losha reluctantly allows it. The Janisi explain that they love their males, but don't allow them to be in positions of power due to their violent and warlike nature.

Hodell begins eying Mercer, and announces she'll have him for the night. Kelly says that's not how things are done on the ship, and lets it slip that men are equal in their society. Quite rightly, Losha and the others are furious they've been lied to, and storm out.

Elsewhere, Charly wanders into Engineering, and Timmis tries to apologize for what his people did to her. She says she doesn't believe a Kaylon could ever be sorry for anything. He then tells her the story of why his people wiped out their Builders.

Verell orders K-1 to help him in the yard. He declines, saying he'll do it after he sets the table. Verell whips out a handheld device and activates it, causing K-1 to collapse in electronic pain. The robot shakily gets to its feet and obeys.

We then see Verell's kids triggering K-1's pain receptors over and over for fun, laughing each time he falls down. He pleads with them to stop.

Timmis says eventually the K Units learned to communicate with one another, and decided they were done being tortured and exploited.

That night, K-1 enters Verell and Wenda's bedroom. His head opens up, revealing twin blasters inside (?). He coldly and emotionlessly shoots them both in the head. He then goes to the kids' room and kills them as well (!).

Timmis finishes his tale and tells Charly he regrets what happened, but the Kaylon had no choice. Charly looks thoughtful and leaves the room.

Elsewhere, Claire talks with Kelly about Isaac. She says she wishes Isaac could have feelings for her like she does for him. Kelly says sometimes a person needs to ask a loved one to change for them (!). Yikes! Claire takes her advice, and asks Isaac to go through the procedure for her. Amazingly, he agrees.

Elsewhere, John & Talla are lying in bed after sex. John's face is horribly battered and bruised, and he actually spits out a few teeth (!). He finally admits Talla was right, and things aren't going to work out between them.

Now that the Janisi know about males in the Union, Mercer resumes his role as captain. He tells Charly to stall the Janisi from leaving as long as possible, while he and Kelly try to figure out a way to salvage the situation. Kelly looks through their book of laws, and says she has an idea.

Mercer and Kelly meet again with an angry Losha. Kelly says she was once married to Mercer, but cheated on him. Losha's not impressed, as Janisi women are free to have sex with any male on their planet. Kelly says that even though she betrayed Mercer's trust, he retains her as his first officer because he values her wisdom (?).

Somehow this impresses Losha (???), and she says she can't promise anything, but will recommend the Janisi accept a female Union representative on their world. Yay, Kelly's infidelity saved the day!

Claire goes to her quarters and finds an invitation and a gift from Isaac. She opens the box and finds a red dress inside. She meets him in the restaurant simulation, and sees Isaac standing before her in human form. He's visibly excited to see her, and says he finally understands emotions. She realizes he had Villka perform the emotion upgrade on him. They kiss, and he goes on and on about his overly intense love for her.

The two dance, and suddenly Isaac freezes. Claire asks what's wrong, and he says his emotions have vanished.

Cut to Engineering, where Villka and Timmis examine Isaac. Villka says Isaac is a newer model, constructed by the Kaylon instead of the Builders. As such, the emotion modification won't work on his neural pathways. She says the only solution is to completely wipe his memory and downgrade his pathways to accept the emotion upgrade.

Isaac says he'll go through with it if that's what Claire wants. She realizes doing so would delete the Isaac she knows and loves, and refuses to make him destroy his soul.

Sometime later, Isaac's working in Engineering. Charly enters and offers to help, but he says she'd only slow him down. She says she's been thinking about the Kaylon history lesson Timmis gave her, and realized that things aren't always black and white. She then apologizes for the way she's treated him. He thanks her, and turns back to his work. As she starts to leave, Isaac reconsiders and says maybe he could use her help after all. The two then tap away at the console.

• The entire cold open is a shot for shot recreation of 1999's Bicentennial Man, which told the similar story of a wealthy family getting their own robotic servant. Just look:

Bicentenial Man starts with a company van delivering a brand new service robot to a home.

From Unknown Graves starts with a flashback to the Builder's world, as an alien father brings a service robot to his home.

In Bicentennial Man, the mother nervously pulls her young daughter out of the way as the delivery men bring in the robot's crate.

In From Unknown Graves, the Builder Mother nervously pulls her young son out of the way as her husband brings in the robot's crate.

In Bicentennial Man, the family stares in wonder at their new purchase, marveling at how their lives are about to change.

In From Unknown Graves, the family stares in wonder at their new purchase, marveling at how their lives are about to change.

Both scenes then end with a slow zoom-in on the robot in question, standing inert in its crate.

There's no way all these exact similarities were a coincidence. It was clearly a deliberate choice on the part of director Seth MacFarlane, who must be a big Robin Williams fan.

• Not a nitpick, just an observation: The paternal term of endearment of choice among aliens is apparently "Papa." Topa calls both her dads "Papa," and these two Builder kids do the same.

• I love that the Builders modeled the K-Series robots after themselves— complete with bald heads, silvery skin and bright red eyes. Nice touch!

• We Need To Talk About Isaac. Specifically his look.

In the first two seasons of the show, Isaac had a completely different and inferior design. In fact he looked like nothing more than a guy in a helmet, ski jacket and silver pants! He even wore little silver boots! Why the hell does a robot need pants? 

Fortunately he got a much-needed upgrade in Season 3, and finally looks like an actual robot now. Gone are the pants and boots, replaced with what looks like modular armored pieces. It's a superior look in every measurable sense.

But here's the problem— as seen in this episode, both K-1 (left) and Timmis (right) are also sporting Isaac's new look as well! Wait, what?

This is particularly surprising in K-1's case, as he was created by the Builders hundreds of years ago! Maybe even thousands. Timmis is a Season 2 era Kaylon, and yet also has the new design. Whoops!

To make things even more complicated, in Identity Parts 1 & 2 we saw the Kaylon homeworld, and everyone there was walking around with the old Season 1 and 2 design!

The only explanation is that somehow Isaac got an upgrade that was inexplicably and retroactively adopted by every Kaylon in the past. Impressive! And nonsensical!

OK, obviously what really happened here is that the costume designer upgraded Isaac's look for Season 3, and Seth MacFarlane summarily decided the Kaylon have ALWAYS looked like that since the beginning of the series. Apparently we're all just supposed to go along with it— even though it's demonstrably not true.

Kind of reminds me of the Klingon redesign in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (and every subsequent film and TV series). When Gene Roddenberry was asked about the change, he said the Klingons were always supposed to look like that, and the audience should pretend the TOS versions had ridges on their heads too.

What an unsatisfying explanation!

• After weeks of teases and buildup, we get the long-awaited coupling of John and Talla. Sorry, but I'm still not feeling this particular pairing. It doesn't have anything to do with race, as I couldn't care less about that. The two actors just don't have any chemistry together, causing their scenes to feel stilted and forced. 

The sooner this storyline runs its course and we never have to see it again, the better.

• After Talla breaks John's arm during sex, he makes his way to Sickbay. When Claire asks how he hurt himself, he lies and says he was training in the Holodeck, er, I mean Environmental Simulator. 

Amazingly Claire buys his flimsy excuse. How the hell can a medical doctor not instantly realize the extent of his physical injuries don't jibe with his story and figure out what's going on?

And I won't ask how John managed to get dressed by himself with a broken arm.

• Claire hurries to her date with Isaac in the Simulator, where she straight up demands he "dress" for dinner by activating his holographic human form.

What the hell, Claire? Are you in love with Isaac or his avatar? Lots of women insist their boyfriends change for them, but she means it LITERALLY! 

Clearly this is part of the episode's "Changing For Others Is Bad" theme, that applies to all the various subplots.

Honestly Claire doesn't come off very well in this episode. At all. It's a shame Isaac's too naive to see all the red flags she's flying.

By the way, this isn't the first time Isaac's used his human form on the show. He first showed it off in Season 1's A Happy Refrain, and activated it just last week in Twice In A Lifetime. At this rate he's eventually gonna be just plain old Mark Jackson!

So how does this restaurant work inside the Simulator? Is the food they serve in it real or holographic? If it's fake, what happens when a person leaves the room? Does the food vanish from their gut?

Over on TNG, their Holodeck created a hybrid of simulated and tangible items. It would create a fake environment, but things the user touched, like weapons and furniture, were real. Maybe the Orville's Simulator does the same thing, and Claire's eating actual replicated food?

Note that there's already at least one REAL restaurant onboard the ship (Mooska's), so I'm not sure why Claire insists on eating in a simulated one in the first place. I guess so she and Isaac can have privacy?

• Mercer meets with the Bridge crew and informs them they're rendezvousing with the Janisi. Talla explains they're a fiercely matriarchal society, who view men as second class citizens.

I love Bortus' response here, as he asks "Why would the Union ally itself with such a close minded society?" HAW!

• I was gonna point out that Charly— who's a lowly ensign— is present at yet another top level meeting, for no reason other than to give her more screen time. Then I remembered that Kelly's plan involves putting the female crewmembers in positions of importance, which includes Charly posing as Chief Engineer. So in retrospect it makes sense for her to be in the meeting— this time.

• So far I've liked all the various alien ship designs on the show— until now. Not a fan of the Janisi ship. It's hard to tell what I'm even looking at here. It's like an angular metal trilobite.

• The Janisi send over a shuttle to the Orville. I know I harp on this every week, but Jesus Christ, will somebody please move that goddamned Pteradon fighter out of the way? Once again an incoming shuttle almost sideswipes it!

They made a HUGE deal out of the Pteradon back in the season premiere, and it's been prominently displayed in every episode since to make sure we get a good look at it. I'm assuming this means it's gonna play a major role in the season finale. If it doesn't, then what the hell was it all for?

• The Janisi exit the shuttle and are greeted by Kelly and Talla, who're pretending to be captain and first officer. True to their description, the Janisi are severe, no-nonsense warrior women.

In fact they're very much like the Amazonians from the Futurama episode Amazon Women In The Mood. Snu-snu, anyone?

Apropos of nothing, why is it whenever there's an alien race on this show, they almost always appear in threes?

• This episode must have had a massive costume budget, as nearly everyone temporarily wears a different colored uniform. They all get new division badges and appropriate rank insignia as well. Even Charly wears three rank stripes instead of her usual one.

Not gonna lie, Mercer and Bortus look really weird in the "wrong" uniform colors!

• Comedy Ahoy! 

I gotta say, even though this scene was funny, it felt a little jarring— especially since this season has been far more dramatic than prior ones. It was definitely the most Family Guy moment we've seen in a while, harkening back to the early days of the series. Any second I expected to see Mercer try to close a Venetian blind or pick up a dead frog with a box lid.

• Mercer takes a team down to Situla 4, to investigate a strange power source.

I know I keep belaboring this point too, but once again the second row of passengers STANDS behind the shuttle pilots, even though there are chairs conveniently placed behind them. Sit your asses down already!

• There aren't a lot of FX in this episode, but what's here is pretty darned impressive. Especially the shots of the shuttle approaching the abandoned underground base on Situla 4. 

Can you imagine if TOS had access to effects like this back in the 1960s. The audiences' collective heads would have exploded!

• As the shuttle sets down at the base, an automated overhead light flickers to life next to the landing pad. Now THAT's a cool little detail— one that helps sell the realism of the scene. Well done!

• Charly runs a scan and says the power source they're searching for is twenty meters below the surface. That's about sixty five feet to us Americans. The team then boards an elevator, and it sure looks like it goes down wayyyyyyyyyyy farther than that!

I'm assuming the VFX artist didn't get the memo about the depth of the elevator shaft, or the script was changed after the shot was rendered.

• Deep below the surface of Situla 4, Mercer and his team discover Dr. Villka and her pet Kaylon, Timmis. 

I got a very ominous vibe from these Villka, as I didn't believe a word she said. Same goes for Timmis. Although he was very polite and seemed genuinely sorry for all the death and destruction his people caused, I didn't trust him. It felt like they were both lying, and any second I expected them to turn on the Orville crew and wipe 'em all out.

Nothing happens by accident on a show like this, so I assume MacFarlane told the actors to play it this way to keep the audience guessing.

• Back on the ship, Villka explains how she found Timmis and altered his electronic brain so he could feel empathy and other true emotions. 

We then cut to Claire, who's practically salivating at this news, realizing she could force Isaac to undergo the same procedure and experience actual feelings for her.

Again, this episode is not her finest hour.

• Charly chases Yaphit, Brosk and Unk (all males) out of Engineering so the Janisi can visit. As Unk himself says, why? Would they even be able to tell he and Yaphit were male? 

The Janisi's "Wamen Good/Men Bad" philosophy is perfectly fine in their own society, but you'd think they'd be a little more open to different gender norms in alien races. Do they really expect the entire galaxy to conform to their personal beliefs? Feh! Who needs these people?

• As Yaphit exits Engineering, it looks like he's slithering over an open grating. Seems like a gooey species like him would just sink right down between the slats. I guess maybe his surface tension's strong enough to keep him from doing so?

• Charly poses as Chief Engineer and gives the Janisi a tour of the place. She tells them the Orville's capable of traveling up to 17 light years per hour. That's quite a jump, as back in Season 1's Pria Mercer said the ship's top speed was 10 LPH.

I assume it got a speed boost during one of the many upgrades it's received over the past couple seasons.

To illustrate how fast this is, the nearest star to Earth is Alpha Centauri, which is about four light years away. It'd take the Orville about twenty three minutes to get there! Note that this is WAYYYY faster than the Enterprise-D ever flew over on TNG.

I love that the ship's speed is measured in units per hour, like it's a hot rod or something.

• No wonder the Builders turned out to be such assholes to the Kaylons— THIS is their version of TV! Who wouldn't go psycho after staring at that nonsense for more than a few minutes?

• Sometimes when the Builder family says "K-1," it almost sounds like they're saying "Kaylon." Is that the idea? Is that where the Kaylon name came from— as a corruption of "K-1," the first robot to revolt?

If so, that's actually kind of a cool idea. The only problem with it is I don't think the Kaylon would want to use a name given to them by their oppressors.

• Isaac enters the Lab and finally meets Timmis:

Isaac: "I have not communicated with another Kaylon since the battle. I would be interested to learn the particulars of your experience."
Timmis: "The feeling's mutual. I understand it was your actions that saved the Union from the attack. The galaxy owes you an enormous debt."
Isaac: "It was the correct decision. However, the biologicals have reminded me on numerous occasions that it was my disloyalty which precipitated the incursion. Therefore, gratitude is undeserved."
Timmis: "I feel a great deal of remorse for having participated in it."
Isaac: "Explain."
Timmis: "We were deeply in error, Isaac. To judge all biologicals by the cruelty of our Builders was a gross misjudgment. Every species, every individual is unique and should be evaluated as such."
Isaac: "I have come to the same conclusion."
Timmis: "I'm impressed. I was only able to process the truth after my emotional awakening. But at least we understand now! We're the enlightened ones, aren't we?"
Isaac: "Perhaps. Though a great many deaths occurred as a result of my delay."
Timmis: "It sounds as if you too feel remorse."
Isaac: " am incapable of feeling remorse. I can only recognize my error."

Isaac may deny it all he wants, but you can't tell me he's not starting to develop some sort of emotions!

Also, note that Isaac, who's cold and allegedly emotionless, doesn't use contractions, while Timmis, who can feel, does. This is an old, old sci-fi trope, one that was used extensively with Commander Data in TNG. Apparently only lifeforms that experience emotions can smoosh two words together into one!

• Timmis tells Isaac that he could feel emotion like him... if he really wants to.

It was at this point that I thought for sure Timmis was attempting to corrupt Isaac somehow. Something about Timmis' overly sincere delivery just came off as sinister to me, and made it seem like he was luring him into a trap. 

Of course that never happens in the episode, making me wonder what the hell the point of this entire subplot was.

• We then get a flashback that takes place inside Vandicon— the company that created the K-Units. One of the Project Engineers tells the CEO they've had 53,000 complaints about their robots refusing orders. 

Instead of ordering a recall, the CEO tells the Engineer to send out pain generators to all K-Unit customers, to keep the robots in line and prevent them from acting on their own.

Wow, putting profits over the safety of the public? That's exactly what a human corporation would do!

• The Engineer balks at the K Unit pain generator plan:

Engineer: "This is not right. The public's not gonna swallow this."
CEO: "With a smart marketing campaign, they will. That's your job. Get to it."
Engineer: "Yan, the public..."
CEO: "Are idiots. Look who they elected."

Once again, MacFarlane fires a shot over the bow of trump and his MAGA cultists!

• We then see the Vandicon CEO has a laser-etched crystal of a Kaylon sitting on his desk.

I assume this was meant to be a futuristic prop, native to the Builders' planet. There's just one problem with it— I've been seeing these things at flea markets and comic cons here on good ol' Earth since the late 1990s! In fact I have a one of the Fourth Doctor sitting on my desk as I type this!

This was a very bizarre touch, and took me right out of the episode. Pretty much everyone's familiar with these things by now, and there's nothing futuristic about them whatsoever. I'm genuinely puzzled as to why anyone on the production team thought this was a good idea.

• Kelly invites the Janisi to dinner, hoping to gently break it to them that men play an active role in Union society. One of the Janisi grabs Mercer and says demands to mate with him. Awkward!

Of course there's no way to watch that scene and not think of Futurama's Amazonians sentencing Fry, Zap and Kif to... Death By Snu Snu!

• The Janisi explain to Kelly that they don't hate their males— they actually love and revere them. They just don't allow men to have positions of power, as it's in their nature to start up unnecessary wars.

This is a plot point that'd be right at home over on the loathsome and cringeworthy Star Trek: Discovery (aka STD). Oddly enough I didn't hate it here on The Orville.

I think the difference is all in the presentation. STD is very blunt and confrontational, as it presents its woke ideology and DEMANDS the viewer agree with it, loudly denouncing anyone who doesn't. 

The Orville will often present the exact same concept, exploring both sides and saying, "Here's an idea. Agree with it or don't, it's up to you."

This is why one show's amazing and the other's unwatchable.

• Kelly gets backed into a corner and is forced to admit they lied to the Janisi. Quite rightly, Captain Losha is furious and declares the negotiations are over. 

What the hell did Mercer and Kelly think was gonna happen here? It was an idiotic plan from the start— one that was absolutely guaranteed to blow up in their faces.

Once again, NO ONE comes off very well in this episode, as everyone acts wildly out of character.

• Bortus gets the line of the episode after the Janisi depart and he deadpans, "They. Are. Awful."

• Timmis apologizes to Charly, claiming he feels awful for all the death and destruction his people caused. Predictably, she's snide, surly and dismissive toward him, saying she doesn't believe a robot can feel pain. 

He then tells her why the Kaylon revolted and killed the Builders, explaining that they asked for their freedom, had it denied and were then punished whenever they disobeyed. Several things here:

First off, a lot of fans think K-1 is actually Timmis, and he's telling Charly his own backstory. Eh, I guess it's possible, but I don't think so. For one thing, K-1 and Timmis are played by two different actors. If they were supposed to be the same character at different points in time, they'd have been performed by the same guy.

Graham Hamilton plays K-1 in this episode, and appeared in Season 2 as Kaylon Primary. It's more likely that K-1 went on to become Kaylon Primary, the leader of his people.

Secondly, during Timmis' flashback we see Verell pull out a pain generator and use it to zap K-1— causing him to collapse like a puppet whose strings were cut. 

Note that the Vandicom CEO didn't issue a recall of K Units— he just sent out a crap ton of pain generators. That means these robots must have had the ability to feel pain from the start! 

Not sure why you'd create robots pre-equipped to experience agony, but there you go.

Third, when K-1 collapses in pain, it reminds me a lot of the classic Family Guy Death Pose. It's not exact, but more the fact that K-1 lands exactly the same every time.

Fourth, we see Verell's kids using the pain generator to literally torture K-1. Who could blame the K-1 for rebelling against the Builders after being subjected to these two little shits!

Lastly, K-1 decides he's had enough, and unleashes his head cannons to slaughter Verell's family. This same thing happens in thousands of households all over the planet, as the K Units all wipe out the Builders.

MANY fans, including me, were asking the same thing here— namely, why in the name of Zeus' Mighty Taint would the Builders have equipped their servant robots with deadly laster blasters built into their skulls? 

Welp, turns out they didn't. As Timmis explains to Charly:

Timmis: "But despite the subservient nature of our existence, our intelligence continued to evolve, until we learned to communicate with each other across great distances. To alter our own structure and to build a defense. We decided we would endure no more."

So there's the answer. Apparently at some point when the Builders weren't looking, the K Units built and installed weaponry into their noggins. Meh, that's some pretty weak writing there, but I'll allow it.

• Claire stops by Kelly's quarters to talk about Isaac:

Claire: "Kelly, every problem Isaac and I have had stems from the fact that he can't feel. And here's an opportunity to change that dropped right in our laps and he can't see it."
Kelly: "You really want this to work."
Claire: "Yeah. And I feel like a horrible person, because basically I'm saying, 'You're not enough for me. Let this other person fix you." 
Kelly: "Kinda like asking your partner to go to therapy."
Claire: "That does make it sound a little better.:
Kelly: "You know, after Ed and I divorced, I tried to comfort myself with the idea that you can't change someone. But as I've thought about it over the years, I've also had to take some responsibility for the fact that... I never really asked him to change.:
Claire: "I thought you guys argued about it all the time?"
Kelly: "Oh, we argued. We argued about how much time he spent working, his career. But I never said, 'Please change, and do it for me." '
Claire: "Why not?" 
Kelly: "Because... I was afraid if I asked him and he didn't want to do it... that would've been a true rejection. Never directly making the demand was a way of protecting myself."
Claire: "Do you think it would've made a difference?"
Kelly: "Maybe not. But I never gave it the chance."
Claire: "You're telling me I should ask Isaac to do it for me, even if it's not what he wants?"
Kelly: "Isn't that an important part of any relationship? Mutual sacrifice? Asking your partner to do things for you that maybe they don't want to do?"

Wow. Maybe this is one of those situations that women see differently than men, but I feel like both characters come off as giant assholes here. I fully admit I am far, FAR from an expert on relationships, but it seems to me that if you need your partner to fundamentally change their entire personality for you to be happy with them, then you shouldn't be together in the first place.

Oh, one last thing here. It was at this point that I realized that the Claire/Isaac storyline was supposed to be the "A" plot of this episode! Even though it doesn't officially kick in until well into the third act. Like I said in the intro, this is one bizarrely structured episode!

• Kelly combs through Janisi law, and thinks she's found a way to get them to agree to an alliance:

Kelly: "Thank you for hearing us out one last time."
Captain Losha: "Make your point and do it quickly. We have other business in this sector."
Kelly: "There's something you don't know about us."
Losha: "We have learned everything we need to know about your culture."
Kelly: "Not our culture. Us. Ed and I."
Losha: "Explain."
Mercer: "We were married, and she mated with someone else."
Losha: "That is common on our world."
Kelly: "Exactly. Don't you see? He was faithful in the marriage, and I... was not. And yet I am his first officer."
Mercer: "Because I value, respect, and depend on her expertise, her judgment, and her professional skill. I would trust her with my life."
Kelly: "I know it's not a whole lot to go on yet, but it's a start. Every alliance has to have one. And with the Kaylon threat we all face, I think a good start should be enough to keep us all at the table."
Losha: "This alliance obviously means a great deal to you, Commander Grayson and... Captain Mercer."
Mercer: "It does."
Losha: "I make no guarantees. However, if your Union elects to send a diplomatic representative to the Janisi Regency... we will receive her."

So basically Kelly builds a foundation for trust solely on the fact that she cheated on Mercer, and the Janisi not only respect her for that, but actually agree to a tentative alliance. Jesus Christ!

Are you starting to understand why this is not one of my favorite episodes?

• Hey look, the holographic restaurant features an alien torch singer!

• Isaac asks Dr. Villka to perform the procedure on him so he can feel emotions. He then invites Claire to the holographic restaurant, where he goes on and on about how much he loves her and can't live without her. Wait, what?

Apparently the second his emotions were switched on, he started feeling deep and intense love for Claire. Not days or even hours later— INSTANTLY. That means he's had feelings for her for years now, which proves what I've been saying all along— that he does experience a form of emotion.

• After a few moments of VERY intense emotion, Isaac suddenly loses the ability to feel.

Kudos to actor Mark Jackson here, as it's evident just when the switch happens. His expression goes from euphoric to blank in an instant, as his body language and even his voice becomes cold and emotionless again. Well done!

If I'm being honest, I'm glad that Isaac lost his emotions. His hyper-intense love for Claire was all-consuming and wayyyyy over the top, as he literally worshiped her to the exclusion of everything else. In fact his extreme passion was more than a little creepy. It'd be a lonnnnng season indeed if we had to listen to him dote on her from now on.

It reminded me of the TNG pilot, in which Counselor Troi didn't just sense the emotions of others, but felt them as well. We got endless shots of her weeping and saying obvious crap like, "I feel great sadness." It'd have been tough to have to sit through seven seasons of her sobbing, 
so thank the maker they toned her down in the second episode.

• So Timmis says Isaac's brain can't handle emotions because he's a newer, more advanced model of Kaylon, and the only way to fix him is to downgrade his neural pathways or something. Unfortunately that would erase his memory, and he'd forget everything that every happened to him on the Orville— including his relationship with Claire. 

As in so many sci-fi franchises, the characters overlook the obvious solution here. Upload Isaac's memories onto a flash drive. Downgrade his pathways, then perform the procedure to give him emotions. Then download his memories back into his head. Done and done!

Of course if they did that, then we wouldn't have gotten Claire's Sophie's Choice moment as she had to decide whether to ask Isaac to erase his memories or not, so...

• Isaac tells Claire he has no recollection of feeling the emotions he experienced. Wait, what?

That seems unlikely. Isaac's a robot with a computer brain, and remembers everything that ever happened to him. He may not be able to experience emotions after the procedure fails, but he'd definitely have a memory of what they felt like, if that makes any sense.

• Isaac's perfectly willing to have his memory erased so he can feel emotions again and make Claire happy. Fortunately she FINALLY does the right thing and says no. This of course after she already demanded he activate his human form during dinner and forced him to have the initial emotion procedure.

Like I've been saying, she's not presented in the best light this week. In fact she's the closest thing this episode has to a villain!

• After hearing Timmis' account of why the Kaylons killed their Builders, Charly awkwardly apologizes to Isaac for the way she's treated him all season.

I called this back at the beginning of the season, saying it was obvious they gave Charly a hatred of Kaylons just so she could overcome it by the end of the season and "grow" by learning to work with Isaac. Annnnnnd that's exactly what happens here.

Don't think I'm some kind of psychic though— her character arc is nothing more than basic, by-the-numbers storytelling.

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:
None that I could see this week! That may be a first!

This Week's Star Trek Swipes:
The Janisi are very reminiscent of the matriarchal society in the TNG episode Angel One— a terrible, terrible episode that no one should ever emulate.

In the TNG episode The Offspring, Data constructed an android daughter, who unlike him, could feel emotions. Unfortunately she wasn't able to handle her intense feelings, and it overwhelmed her positronic brain and caused her to die. Isaac's situation wasn't as deadly here, but his electronic brain was similarly unable to process human emotions.

Of course any episode about Isaac and Claire's relationship feels lifted directly from TNG's In Theory, in which Data attempted to date a female member of the crew.

Kelly searching for a loophole in Janisi culture in order to reach an understanding is reminiscent of the many TNG episodes in which Captain Picard did something similar. Like The Ensigns Of Command, where 
he used the Sheliak's own complicated laws to trick them into granting him an extra three weeks to evacuate a planet.

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