No Orville tonight, so let’s get caught up by checking out what happened last week. Long story short, it turns out the Krill are a complicated, nuanced alien race and are simply just misunderstood. Ha, I’m just kidding… they actually see themselves as sacred beings, superior to everything else in the galaxy.
First off, we discover that Bortus must have a stomach of steel. Malloy and company decide to test the poor Moclan’s gastric endurance by having him eat things like glass, a cactus, and potentially a bag of nails if they ever get around to it again. Unfortunately, they are interrupted by the ship’s alarms that seem to go off at least once a day. Malloy promises to return to the scientific experiment, but I would have settled for this episode ending with a shot of Bortus throwing up shards of glass and cactus needles all over the bridge. Oh well, we can’t all have our inorganic cake and consume it too.
The real action starts as the Orville jumps straight into an ongoing attack by the Krill against a Union colony. The mighty yet small ship jumps into action, first trying to establish contact with the enemy ship. The ship stops firing for a brief moment before turning its attention to the Orville. Then the firing resumes. The Orville returns fire and the battle ensues.
Realizing they are outmatched, Mercer orders the ship into the atmosphere below to create a smokescreen. The enemy ship follows suit but fails to land its hits from behind. Finally, the Orville dashes straight up back into orbit and unleashes a massive barrage of torpedoes straight down onto the following Krill ship. Explosions result and a new debris field is left in the enemy ship’s wake. As things die down, Grayson notices a rather large chunk of debris that looks like an intact ship. Spoiler alert: it is in fact a large, intact ship.
Once the Union Boys and Girls get their hands on the ship, the higher-ups quickly decide to use the ship to their tactical advantage. Seeing the Krill as a major threat, their first step is to understand their potential enemy better. Granted, it’s in the hopes for establishing future peace, but let’s be honest: the Union is just as nosy as your neighbors are when they rummage through your bookshelves during a party.
Mercer and Malloy are quickly assigned for the task: take the shuttle to Krill space, board another vessel, and find the holy bible of the Krill religion. What could go wrong?
The Mission Begins
After showing off their fancy new holographic technology that Isaac made for them to blend in as Krill soldiers, the daring pair set off on their mission. Along the way, they contemplate appropriate names to adopt so they aren’t discovered through their lack of cultural awareness. Before they can decide on what to call themselves, they come across a Krill ship and get permission to board.
On board, they meet the captain and main religious leader on the bridge. Calling themselves “Chris” and “Devon,” the two explain they were on the other Krill ship the Orville destroyed. As the only survivors, working on a shuttle during the attack, they traveled far to reach their current location. The lie seems to work with only the religious leader showing any sign of doubt.
Right away, the pair get to work blending in with the rest of the crew. A bell sounds, indicating it is time for religious services. In the ship’s “chapel,” the two attend the service and discover the Krill religion is based around a deity known as Avis. According to the religious doctrine, Krill are the only creatures that have souls. Anything else, including humans, are the equivalent of plants and animals under the dominion of man.
The service finishes with a good old-fashioned stabbing of a severed human head before the two are left by themselves to get to work. The main task is to literally xerox the Krill bible to bring back to earth for extensive study. It’s unclear why they don’t simply steal the bible, and instead choose to photocopy the book page by page in a painstaking manner.
Their first efforts are quickly interrupted by the main religious leader. Covering their asses with a little white lie, the two go off to explore the rest of the ship. Later on, they make a second attempt and successfully copy almost half of the book before a guard comes into the “chapel” at the order of the ship’s captain. The pair escape once again.
While they get to know more of the crew and traditional Krill life, Mercer and Malloy come across a secret room holding something producing massive amounts of interference. The device almost prevents their holographic devices from working correctly, potentially revealing their true forms to the enemy crew. Thankfully, the pair manage to find the device and discover its true purpose: it is a weapon of mass destruction meant for another Union colony. Knowing they have to stop the ship’s mission at any cost, they quickly come up with a new game plan.
At first, this plan is to create a feedback loop in the weapon itself, thereby causing it to go off and kill everyone on board. Eventually, however, Mercer and Malloy discover the ship carries children as well as adults. After being asked to present their “war stories against the humans” to a class of Krill children, Mercer decides a new plan is required.
Fun Krill fact: the Krill homeworld is almost entirely covered in darkness due to an abnormal atmosphere. This has evolved the Krill biology to adapt.
Mercer decides to use the Krill biology against them. Knowing that they are sensitive to UV light, the pair decide to access the ship’s lighting systems to increase the artificial sunlight while protecting the Krill children in their classroom.
It’s Getting Hot In Here
The pair split up with Malloy going around to sabotage the ship systems. Mercer, meanwhile, heads to the classroom to make sure all the children are safe and accounted for. One of the children, however, is missing class to go stargazing elsewhere. Mercer tracks the young child down while Malloy sets the trap.
Things get interesting as Malloy gets caught by the religious leader and his guards. The leader quickly finds the Union technology, including the holographic device, on Malloy and takes him to the bridge where the captain greets the poor helmsman with a knife to the leg. The Krill ship begins to approach the Union colony, making it seem as if all hope has been lost.
This would’ve been true if Malloy didn’t remember one key piece of tactical advice all good action shows and movies rely on: let the timer do all the work. All of a sudden, the bridge is filled with a white light. The Krill begin to melt in a scene ripped straight from Raiders of the Lost Ark. All the Krill die off save for the children and their teacher. On the happy side, the planet below is spared a horrific fate.
One Last Confrontation
With everything wrapping up, the Orville has the Krill ship in tow and treats the children and teacher on board. Mercer speaks to the teacher, with whom he had grown close under the disguise of being a Krill. She is understandably pissed that they killed off the entire crew.
Worse still, Mercer’s actions have probably created a new wave of religious Krill fanatics out of the children. The end, roll credits, everyone lives on happily.
The Status Report
I have to say, this show was the first time I was left with more questions than answers, which is actually a good thing. Typically, these “learn about your enemy” storylines end with some kind of tense but optimistic outcome or exchange between two potential or current warring enemies. In this case, my expectations were dashed as the faces of the adult Krill melted away. This was the first time we get to see what kind of captain Mercer can be in a situation more inline with the realities of war than the ideals of peace.
Before we get to these questions, let’s look at something that continues to get under my skin, especially around the fingernails where it hurts the most. The Orville writers still have a problem with mixing humor and drama, especially in an episode where the overall story arc has a unique, serious tone. In this case, the humor felt out of place as Mercer and Malloy stumbled along trying to blend in with the Krill crew.
From outdated (even for today) quips and references to blatant, half assed lies, it was sometimes painful to watch these two Union officers go about their undercover mission. It’s one thing to show the struggles anyone in such a situation would face, particularly with the presumed differences of culture, language, habits, and religion. But, in this case, the obvious fumbles came more from the writer’s desire to get a quick laugh in a serious storyline.
The simple fix is to stop trying to force it. The writers, especially Seth McFarlane, should know that humor on this scale needs to come naturally. The random gag or slapstick routine aside, you can’t manufacture humor when you want your series to escape the moniker of a spoof.
With that aside, the actual storyline of learning about a new, dangerous alien culture was interesting to me. More importantly, it left a slew of questions I hope will be answered in future episodes.
First and foremost, what is up with the Union security around there? It seems like every other day, a new, poor, little colony is getting attacked by a loan Krill warship. Are these colonies just close to the Krill border? Or are Krill ships going deep into Union territory to commit these atrocities? Either way, it seems like the Union-Krill diplomatic relations should be almost to the brink of war by now. Instead, Mercer is able to arrange the release of the Krill children back to the Krill homeworld.
This brings up another question: are the Krill the Orville has been fighting representative of the whole race? In other words, are these just religious fanatics or mainstream military officers that are getting their orders straight from the government?
All of these questions simply demonstrate that there is more to learn about the Krill and their role in the series. The events so far provide more than enough ground for a Star Trek Deep Space Nine-style of war in the future. If that is the likely scenario, then the Orville as a television series is quickly going to go into the territory of Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek Discovery, The Expanse, and other modern-day sci-fi shows that aren’t afraid to get into the dirty realities of the future.
If not, then Mercer and crew have their work cut out to prevent war. It’s obvious that Union-Krill relations are strained at best. The events of either side in this episode are enough to tip the scales into all-out conflict. It will be interesting to see if and how the show deals with this dynamic later on.
Until then, that’s all you get. The show is off tonight, so keep the TV off and reflect on what Avis means to you and your family.