This The Orville review contains spoilers.
The Orville Season 1 Episode 6
The Orville has found a scenario that would have been a mundane if thought-provoking story on any other more conventional space drama and made it into a hilarious yet amazingly layered episode. And if that weren’t enough, the series has managed to take what had been a generic, Klingon-like enemy and shown them to have real depth and a singular vision that, however misinformed by racism (species-ism?), could either be turned towards peace or focused even harder on revenge. “Krill” definitely achieved the best balance so far of well-timed humor and compelling drama.
Bortus eating crazy things was already a great start, showing the growing camaraderie amongst the crew, but let’s face it: putting Ed and Gordon together on a mission was a formula for success. Even the initial battle with the Krill mostly involved the two of them, and the maneuver in the upper atmosphere that allowed the Orville to take out the enemy was both thrilling and visually stunning. The setup with the discovery of the Krill shuttle was also expertly executed, especially since the audience never knew how little the Union really understood about the alien enemy.
Interesting then that the admiral chose to concentrate on the Krill religion as an avenue for forging peace rather than on the shuttle as war materiel to be studied. Using their first real chance at intelligence gathering to find common ground after so much death and destruction at Krill hands is unexpected, but it creates the perfect ethical context for what’s to come. We’ve already met two other races who consider themselves superior (the Callavon zookeepers and the Kaylon robots like Isaac), so perhaps the Union is used to confronting other points of view objectively.
From the very start of the mission, Ed and Gordon were in perfect comedic form, even when they were just coming up with random Krill names like Frusen Glädjé or Häagen Dazs. At first, it seemed a little careless for the two undercover operatives to be so blatantly human as they greeted their supposed rescuers with a “Hey there” and “How’s it going?” But the more the scenes with them in disguise progressed, the funnier it got to the point where it didn’t matter how non-Krill they acted just as long as viewers were entertained.
“Chris” and “Devon” were quickly introduced to the Krill religion, and with the Ankana holy book as their main target, the services they attended gave them important insights while providing Gordon ample opportunities to make fun of their god’s name, Avis. The rental car pun proved to be surprisingly fruitful, but the joke managed to be funny every time, from praying to Avis to cover the loss of their vehicle to the “We Try Harder” slogan to the mention of the human god, Hertz. Kudos to Gordon for milking that one.
But the mission wasn’t just a Xerox job as Malloy suggests, and the episode really cemented its top spot with the introduction of the neutron bomb. With human lives in the balance, Gordon and Ed only spare a moment to recognize the irony of them seeking information for peace while plotting to destroy the ship and make their escape, but the addition of the kids created such a visceral reaction for the audience. There truly didn’t seem to be a way out of their dilemma.
The sunlight sabotage was such a perfect solution, and the vampiric nature of the Krill fit well with earlier encounters where viewers saw the enemy in helmets. At first it seemed like the bomb would decimate the farming planet for real, and the tension in that moment as Gordon gets horribly sunburned was genuinely felt — pretty intense for a supposed comedy. And to end the episode with a far-from-reconciled prisoner of war and her dire warning about making enemies of the children they saved was just chilling.
The Orville needs more episodes like this one, and it seems like the show has such a unique blend of comedy and true drama that the territory it explores is really done in a way never seen before. The Krill started out as a blank-faced enemy that inspired very little fear or any true sense of danger. Now we have a nuanced antagonist that could provide a series of insightful storylines moving forward. It makes one wonder what else this show is capable of!