Sage and Johnson Jerald have fantastic natural chemistry, and we're excited to see how the mentorship grows over time.
The humor seems slightly less forced this time around, with more topical and less toilet humor.
The constant use of expressions and items that should be antiquated by the 25th century continually distracts from the storyline.
So far, it still feels like we're watching a Star Trek fanvid rather than an original science fiction series.
The Orville 1X02 “Command Performance” didn’t quite live up to its name, but it was an entertaining exhibition
After agreeing on a truce for the sake of both their jobs, Ed and Kelly found themselves unable to escape their past. Fresh off their first mission, the Orville receives a distress signal from a crippled transport. The USS Berliot claims they were attacked by the Krill, and Ed is shocked to discover that his parents are aboard. In order to stop the humiliating conversation about his colon, he offers to personally escort them. With Bortus on leave to brood his egg (yes, that happened), he puts Alara in command before heading out. Mere moments later, both he and Kelly disappear from sight. This reveals that the crippled fleet ship was in fact, a holographic projection from a probe.
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The two commanding officers wake to find themselves in locked in their old New York apartment. Without any clues as to what’s going on, the ex-couple settle in and reminisce on their past together. The next morning, they awake to find themselves the newest exhibits in an intergalactic zoo. Meanwhile, Alara draws on Claire’s advice and leads the crew on a rescue mission to save them after some initial insecurity. Issac pretends to lead as the “superior being” once they arrive on the planet. They meet with the zookeeper and make an unusual trade to save Ed, Kelly, and a young alien separated from his family.
Do you think Alara earned that sapphire star? Could reality television ruin the Calivon civilization? Let’s take a minute and examine the exhibits, shall we?
Some things are worse than death…like being part of an intergalactic zoo exhibit
When the Orville first responds to the distress signal of a nearby vessel, Ed thinks nothing could be worse than his parents embarrassing him in front of his crew. That, however, is nothing compared to what happens next. Taking Kelly with him, the two end up transported to an alien planet on the far reaches of space. There, they are imprisoned in their old NYC apartment, which brings back both old memories and bitterness. The unresolved tension between Ed and Kelly becomes a source of amusement for the zoo goers as they fight. Luckily (or unluckily) for them, they stop fighting when Alara and Issac arrive to rescue them.
Fleet Admiral: The Calivon are a very technologically advanced race. And they view any species at a lesser technological level as inferior. In the way a sentient being might view an animal. We do not want to engage them in any way.
Let’s not focus on the ongoing drama between Ed and Kelly. Taking another page out of popular science fiction, we are introduced several alien species at once as the other zoo exhibits. We’re left to wonder just how the Calivon knew to use the Krill as a way to lure the humans in, and what is going to happen to the rest of them. Why is this area of space off limits to exploration? Is there no way to rescue to the other races? Why is the crew not allowed to do so? We’re definitely curious to know how this human world differs from that of the better-known Federation, and we’re finding ourselves wanting to tune in for more…
Having a daughter maybe hard work, but for a Moclan, it’s apparently impossible
At the beginning of the episode, Bortus (Peter Macon) seeks Ed (Seth MacFarlane) out and requests a medical leave. He reveals an unexpected reason – he’s laid an egg with Klyden and is responsible for brooding it. We do not know why he’s the one who must sit on the nest or why Moclans lay eggs. However, sit he does, even when Alara comes barging into his quarters to demand he help her on the bridge. When the probe being brought into the carbo bay detonates, he worriedly checks to make sure the egg is safe. By the end of the episode, which apparently spans 21 days, it hatches under the careful eye of Bortus and his mate. They are stunned when the baby is a girl.
Bortus: Klyden. Come.
Klyden: It is a female.
Bortus: That is impossible.
Yes, the entire Moclan egg hatching thing provides a lot of comedic moments, but the ending of the episode is probably the most science fiction moment of the entire season so far. Assuming the show won’t just brush it aside in lieu of more bathroom humor, it should make for a great subplot. We know there are examples in nature of single gender species switching sexes for procreation, so there is precedent for this sort of thing. Hopefully, MacFarlane will take this as a perfect opportunity to write real science into the show and redeem himself in the eyes of the fans. We know he can do comedy, but this storyline will determine if he can also do science fiction.
When in doubt, consult your Obi-Wan and do what your heart tells you to
As one of the few Xelayans in the fleet, Alara (Halston Sage) was fast tracked through training and up the ranks. Being put in charge of the ship only heightens her anxiety. After a decision ends up in a near disaster, Alara thinks she is not fit to lead. Luckily for her, Claire (Penny Johnson Jerald) steps into the role of guidance counselor. She is tough but encouraging, leading Alara to take the doctor’s advice. When the fleet admiral instructs her to return to Earth, Alara chooses to listen to her heart (and her crew) and heads off to save Ed and Kelly.
Claire: Command is all about the balance between inspiring confidence in your leadership and knowing when to trust your people. You got scared out there today. Scared that they didn’t respect you. So you ignored Isaac’s advice in order to appear in control. Now, the question is, did you learn from this error? I’m willing to bet that you did.
Alara: Will you help me?
Claire: I’m not gonna whisper the right answers in your ear, but I’ll try to be your Obi-Wan however I can.
Alara: My what?
Claire: Never mind.
We’re going to skip past how impulsive Ed is and move straight to Alara and Claire. We loved the interaction between them, especially when it’s easy for the former to pull rank by age and experience. Instead, we get to see the great chemistry between Penny and Halston, and we loved the latter’s vulnerability and determination. We are a little annoyed that it seems like Alara bends to peer pressure on the rescue, but it’s a small thing. We hope that she will remember to trust herself the next time, because we can’t wait to see her back in that chair!
Final Verdict: It might not get a standing ovation from us, but The Orville 1X02 “Command Performance” does show potential
Outside of the already tedious drama between Ed and Kelly, this week’s episode brought us some interesting material to chew on. We were gifted with two strong women who collaborated rather than opposed, and Alara rose to the occasion and learned what she was capable of. We met some of the other aliens in this universe and we’re curious to know more. The actions of the admiral has us wondering if we’re any better than the Calivon in leaving those other aliens behind. Then, of course, there’s the Moclan daughter conundrum.
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There’s definitely more questions now that we’ve seen more of this universe. Is MacFarlane’s version of the Federation not as altruistic? Why is that area of space already off limits to the fleet? How long has it been since the Moclans have seen a female in their species? What does this new development mean? Are the Krill still out there?
In our opinion, this episode was a step closer to what we had hoped The Orville would be all along. As we mentioned, Alara’s decisions felt less organically her and more related to peer pressure. This moment minimized her growth and made her seem less empowered than we wanted. Also, we’re tired of watching Ed and Kelly bicker endlessly. You’re divorced for a reason…please move on!
Despite this, we’re hopeful that the Bortus daughter storyline will lead to bigger and better things (translation: more science). We enjoyed seeing some of the aliens in the universe. The fun chemistry between Halston Sage and Penny Johnson Jerald was thrilling to watch. Sage did an amazing job balancing innocent panic with determined leadership under pressure.
For sure, we want to know why having a daughter is such a big deal for a Moclan. Is there some evolutionary significance? We’re curious to see the little boy alien reunited with his parents, and definitely hoping to find out that watching reality television is so fascinating that the Calivon lets everyone else go. At the very least, it would be fascinating to study the impact the shows have on this supposedly superior species.
“Command Performance” managed to save the show enough to keep us tuning in next week, so hopefully there will be less divorce talk and more action and plot. After all, this is supposed to be a science-fiction show. Thereshould be equal parts of both in upcoming episodes!
Apparently, the universe is a zoo, so why not keep things interesting and ask some questions?
Why were none of the other aliens rescued?
- For an advanced species, why is the idea of a zoo so fascinating? We get research, but imprisoning people?
- How did the Calivon know to use the Krill to lure the Orville in? Couldn’t the ship just have been crippled some other way?
- Just what is the mission of the Orville? For that matter, how about the whole fleet?
- How did Bortus end up the partner that sits on the egg? How is that decision made?
- Speaking of the baby, why is having a girl such a big deal?
- Does being Obi-Wan mean Claire will sacrifice herself at some point? We hope not!
- That Xelayan tequila must be as strong as they are. Can we try some?
- So, between the Calivon and the Kaylon, who is more superior?
- Can we also have a 21 day pregnancy? That would save us a lot of pain…