This The Orville review contains spoilers.
The Orville Season 1 Episode 9
There’s humorous, and then there’s silly. This week’s The Orville framed what was essentially a love potion farce with a diplomatic mission that spun its wheels long enough to let Ed and Kelly finally work out a lingering issue in their relationship that viewers have all but forgotten about. While all praise is due to the craftsmen behind the wonderfully alien looks of the Navarians and the Bruidians, the main enjoyment came from side plots and jokes that originated outside of the main story. Nevertheless, perhaps this means we can move on from the Kelly cheating on Ed angle: a long sought outcome.
Things started out strong with karaoke night (Adrianne Palicki can sing!), although the writers were particularly cruel to torture us with the promise of hearing Bortus sing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. The lieutenant has gotten a lot of good gag scenes lately, and that tradition continues here. One confusing element, however, was the inclusion of marital strife between Bortus and Khlyden with no tie-in to the all the intertwined love stories; strange not to have a payoff there as well. Perhaps in a future episode.
The Claire and Yaphit story arc did receive a unique tangential treatment, though, and it was quite the satisfying interlude. Being able to call back to the multiple times people have stepped through the gelatinous engineer, as well as to the ongoing flirtation Yaphit has had with the doctor, gave the romantic tryst a feeling of cohesion with the series at large. The details of how Yaphit sleeps in his bed and the portrait of him and his brother (formerly his mother) added color to the interaction, and the “sex” scene itself? Well, it was certainly something to behold!
That’s where the praise ends, though. As nice as it was to see Rob Lowe playing an alien version of his character on Parks and Recreation, Darulio’s obliviousness to the damage he was causing until he actually saw the warships outside of his window seemed to go on too long. In fact, the whole gimmick of having Ed and Kelly compete for his affections went on too long. It’s like the writers just couldn’t stop snickering at their own “look, Ed’s gay” middle school joke.
At first, it appeared that Kelly was shirking her duty in an unbelievably negligent manner, the way John Lamarr did on the social media planet a couple of episodes ago. Thankfully, the dereliction of duty was chemically induced, avoiding another disconnect with the way we view space military dramas. The fact that Darulio may have been in heat back when Kelly first cheated on Ed is a small detail, revealed vaguely, that gives the storyline its only takeaway.
Certainly, the war between the two races on Lapovius was an interesting, if generic, conflict, but as the Navarians and Bruidians griped about not getting enough attention from the Union representatives, it almost mirrored the problem with the story: the actual drama was being brushed aside for a running gag. Even the final solution of having the two delegates fall in love via Darulio’s pheromones felt like an oversimplified, pat ending.
Besides Bortus shouting, “You will be silent!” to the karaoke audience, the one moment that elicited a genuine laugh was when Isaac expressed confusion over Gordon’s assertion that Captain Mercer was “into” Darulio. “Has he entered him in some fashion?” the robot asks, and Gordon answers suggestively, “Not yet.” It left viewers wanting more of that rather than having Ed flirt humorously for a third of the episode. We get it! It’s Seth MacFarlane and Rob Lowe getting their gay on — how droll!
Thankfully, the previews hinted at another more adventurous episode ahead. Looks like viewers should get used to The Orville being on-again, off-again, which isn’t too surprising for an episodic show that doesn’t rely on a core mystery to hold audience interest. Fortunately, the humor in the show is usually spot on, as long as it’s not drawn out, and serious stories can get a refreshingly insightful treatment now and again. This just wasn’t that kind of week.