The Orville Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Identity Part II

Action-packed space battles edge out ingenuity in The Orville Season 2’s second “Identity” installment.

This The Orville review contains spoilers.

The Orville Season 2 Episode 9

This week’s episode of The Orville includes a major space battle and the crew of the Orville saving Earth from a significant extraterrestrial threat. It sounds exciting, but it was not too different from the scenarios we’ve seen in sci-fi before. Even though the story was not too original, the show is, making it entertaining despite the lack of a novel approach to escaping the old “superior alien force taking over our heroes’ ship and bringing it along with their armada to attack earth” routine.

The show starts with the crew captured and locked up in the shuttle bay. Dr. Finn’s children wonder where Isaac is. Finn tells them he is gone and will not be back to help them. Young Ty disagrees and reassures his mother Isaac will save them. 

Later, Primary, the head of the Kaylons, tells Captain Mercer that they require his cooperation and if they do not receive it they will begin killing crewmembers. The Kaylon want Mercer to be the first to communicate with the Union when their armada arrives at Earth. They instruct Mercer to tell the earthlings that the Kaylon has agreed to join the Union. With Earth’s guard down, the Kaylon then intend to annihilate the inhabitants. 

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Conveniently, a Union ship intercepts the armada at this time. Mercer knows the captain of the vessel. Primary decides this would be a good test and tells Mercer to inform the captain what he was told earlier. Mercer tells the captain they are headed to Earth because the Kaylon are joining the Union. The captain of the Union ship is excited about the news, but a little concerned with the size of the fleet the Kaylon are bringing with them. At the end of the conversation, while saying goodbye, Mercer says he gives the captain a “13 button salute.”

After Mercer’s communication with the other Union ship, Primary says he recognizes that the term “13-button salute” is a code word for trouble. He orders the Union ship to be destroyed. The Kaylon ships do so effortlessly. To further punish Mercer, Primary takes him to an airlock to make Mercer watch as they eject one of his crewmembers into space – a cold move in so many ways.As the frozen body of the crewmember floats in space, the armada continues on its path to Earth.

Back in the shuttle bay, the Orville crew comes up with a couple of plans. Sure enough, air vent passageways will play a significant role. Thank goodness aliens never take the time to secure these sorts of passageways when they capture our starships. Otherwise, we would never escape. In this case, Yaphit, the funny space slime alien, is able to slide through and get to the armory to steal a weapon. This allows Bortus to use it to zap the guards. Then Gordon and Kelly are able to escape in a shuttle. However, they are not going to seek help from the Union. They figure they need to talk their enemies, the Krill, into helping them by convincing the Krill that the Kaylon pose a threat to the Krill as well. A bit naive? Perhaps, but this trope has worked in this sort of situation in other shows, so might as well try it.

As far as getting word to the Union, they send Yaphit to go back through the passageway to a communication station and get a signal out. The problem is he needs help, but no one else can fit in the small passageways. Fortunately, a brave little guy steps forward. Ty says he can fit and wants to help. His mother protests, but Ty convinces her he can do it and will be safe. Ty convinces her, and he and Yaphit send out a message.

While sending the message, the Kaylon discover Ty and Yaphit. Yaphit crawls into one of the Kaylon and disables him, but gets fried while doing it. This allows Ty to run, but he gets caught. 

Primary takes this as an opportunity to test Isaac’s loyalty. Primary instructs Isaac to kill Ty. Isaac protests and explains that killing Ty will only harden the other crew members resolve to defy the Kaylon. Primary says Isaac is irrational. He also tells Isaac he was not around when their builders enslaved them, so he does not know how evil biological entities can be. 

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The show does not expand on this idea, but Primary seems to be motivated by a desire for revenge or fear of being enslaved again. Isaac is not necessarily driven entirely by logic either, as in this scene it is apparent his connection to Ty is influencing his resistance. Neither of the two is the logic based robots they are supposed to be. At this point, emotion has been introduced on both sides. Is the show purposely introducing the idea that perhaps emotion can be developed in advanced artificial intelligence? Maybe the writers feel that emotions are a feature of sentient intelligence. A conversation along these lines might have been interesting. Instead, Isaac rips off Primary’s head. Isaac’s head then turns into laser cannons, and he blasts the other Kaylons in the room.

With the last bit of power left in Primary’s head, he tells Isaac he will always be alone. Again, this is a weird thing to say to a robot without emotion. What does Isaac care? Plus, on the Orville Isaac has a woman, a couple of step-sons, and a bunch of friends. Primary’s comments could be foreshadowing emotional issues Isaac will develop in the future about being alone. We’ll see.

Either way, Isaac figures he can send a signal throughout the ship that will disable all of the Kaylon, including himself.  In essence, he is sacrificing himself to save the crew. As Ty looks on, Isaac activates the signal and the Kaylon on the Orville are deactivated.

A massive battle ensues once the Kaylon and the Orville arrive at Earth. Luckily, Earth got the warning transmission sent by Ty and Yaphit, so the Union fleet is ready. The Kaylon are strong, and the battle is not going well for the Union, but the Krill show up just in time. Although the Krill are irrational, stubborn, and hate humans, with only a few precious minutes left in the show, they were quickly convinced to help.

At the end of the battle, Mercer tells the Krill leader he hopes this cooperation allows them to work together in the future. The Krill indicate that it is a possibility.

Back in sickbay, Yaphit says he may be able to fix Isaac. Although he got fried entering the other Kaylon, he learned how to navigate inside of them and learned a bit about how they work. Yaphit enters Isaac and reactivates him.

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Mercer is able to convince the Admiral to allow Isaac to stay onboard the Orville. Mercer took full responsibility for him. Meanwhile, Isaac and Finn talk. Finn tells Isaac forgiveness takes time, but she does so with a bit of a smirk indicating forgiveness is on the horizon. Isaac is like the badly behaved boyfriend who can do anything and still be taken back by his girlfriend.

I did not find this episode as intellectually stimulating as others. However, it was action-packed. Making room for the action likely took away from the ability to explore some of the concepts presented in the last episode. Some of you might have preferred less talk and more action.

Although I really like the special effects in the show, and the dialogue is always unique, I was still left disappointed by the lack of ingenuity. The Orville is smart and seems to pride itself on surprising us with creative twists and turns. This show felt like the solutions were all taken from the galactic space force sci-fi handbook. Sure, they looked good doing it, but I was hoping for more.

Keep up with all of our coverage of The Orville Season 2 here!

Alejandro Rojas writes and blogs about science, entertainment, and the paranormal. Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating anomalous phenomena up close and personal. You can find him on Twitter here.


3 out of 5