Spoilers hide in all spaceships!
More than half the geek community, and oh we are legion now, eagerly looks forward to whatever night The Orville comes out. We know Seth MacFarlane can do multiple voices and make relatable and often hilarious TV shows, who knew he could act, too? The controversy of pitting The Orville against the darkling horse Star Trek Discovery has been hashed and rehashed all over social media, and rather unsurprisingly, the general consensus is that The Orville actually comes out as the fan favorite. The Season finale only proves that, giving the public a show that’s such a welcome brightness in all the dark going on.
Captain Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) wants to hang with some of his coworkers and drink, but it’s a weeknight and everyone either has plans or does things Ed would just rather not. Kind of inevitably, Ed and Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) go out and make goo-goo noises at each-other, but that needs to be put aside while The Orville checks out a star and its nearby anomalies. And hey, next thing we know, an entire planet appears!
As is inevitable in the Scifi dramedy tropes that come standard in a can now, the planet turns out to sport a dark-ages-level society, and Captain Mercer just has to lead an away team down there. Despite being fully aware of the penalties for what is called “cultural contamination”, Kelly’s soft heart just can’t help but get her into trouble when she spots a child who fell down and hurt herself. Wait for it … all hail Kelly!
Or rather, somehow a brief exchange with a goodly earth-spirit and her magic wand, turned into an entire Renaissance-style worship. The Church of Kelly inspires everything and everyone, does the hard things no-one else wants to do, but also in theory aids the downtrodden, as long as they toe the Church’s line. Let the Word of Kelly inspire you, to tell the truth! For if not, it is entirely possible some Torquemada-like torturing may do the job. The Church of Kelly can do either.
Kelly herself, the flabbergasted mortal who can’t believe wanting to help a little girl led to all this nonsense, is insistent on going and telling the Kelly-Pope-equivalent that she’s not the embodiment of God, she sure is not God herself, and that what she did was merely common decency with a tool. Like your plows. Good one, Kel. Anyway, this doesn’t sit too well with the Pope’s second and after the inevitable Medici-like murder happens, the ground party has a limited amount of time to get back on the Orville or be stuck on the planet for the next, say it with me, 700 years.
Now we know Ed and Kelly can’t do that, they’re human. But Isaac, that cheerfully racist human-studying AI alien thingamie, it’s not clear what he is but who cares he’s our robot character, is artificial and can last on the planet for all that time and even beyond that. While the Orville only has to wait 11 days, Isaac will observe the fascinating culture and help them on their forward-technological journey, but we are still talking 700 years. I assume they mean Earth-equivalent-time, so, that’s a hell of a lot of time. But Isaac volunteers, and you really can’t argue with the logic, so off goes the artificial sacrifice.
And it works, oh boy does it work. The next appearance of the planet, which is once again 700 whole years of improvement for them, gives us a planet the likes of which The Matrix could envy. Peaceful people come to return Isaac and a civilized meeting happens, pleasantries exchanged, and the matter finally thank Kelly (just kidding!) can be put to rest.
Sadly there’s just one more little thing – Kelly doesn’t think a rekindling of her and Ed’s flames is going to work out after all. And we, because we love the goofy anxious Captain, the human Everyman flying a Union spaceship with a beloved diverse crew, are sad when we see Ed’s heart break just a bit, again. But hey, many of us know that feeling too.
And that is where The Orville absolutely shines – the way the show connects with the audience right now. And I don’t mean the cheesy current pop-culture references they occasionally make, the Kardashians and whatnot, I mean the episodes that make us think, oh yeah, remember when we loved space serial dramedies? Orville presents us with these large concepts to ponder – gender identity at birth, forced observation of a species just for amusement, even the literal ‘what would Jesus do?’ scenario – but always with a wink and a smirk, injecting human awkwardness and love into every canned bit. This is the kind of inclusive enjoyment we all need, right here as 2017 comes to a close. It’s not too big an exaggeration that Orville is one of the saving graces of ’17, giving us the ultimate fan show with every bad pun, every “I know that feeling,” situation, and all the smart, snarky comedy the audience ate up like brownies.
There is also that versus Star Trek Discovery battle stuff, and don’t be fooled, Orville ultimately won that fight too. A –gasp- FOX show that is more Star Trek than the new Star Trek show? You bet.
Catch up with your new favorite crew with episodes of The Orville Season One on Hulu now!