TL;DR – It explores what you would do in a First Contact situation when everything is taken out of your hands.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
First Contact is one of those big deal moments in Science Fiction, it can be a moment of pure joy or a moment of devastation. When you first put that call out into the universe you do not know who will answer it and indeed, for those answering the call what will you find when you make planetfall. Today we explore one such scenario, with of course The Orville’s unique spin on it.
So to set the scene, we open on the planet Regor 2 as the scientist and First Prefect (John Rubinstein) send a simple message into the void asking if there was anyone else out there. A couple of years later the crew of the USS Orville were doing another run, this time picking up their new chief of security Talla Keyali (Jessica Szohr), and discussing upcoming birthdays when they receive a faint message. Quickly finding out that this is an unknown civilization the whole crew jump with the excitement of going on their first First Contact mission. After some initial pleasantries, everything was going fine until Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) mentions her upcoming birthday and everything falls apart. Now we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
first this we do need to talk about with this episode is the official cast
change that is now being introduced. I do not know what whet on behind the
scenes but it is odd that they wrote out Alara only to replace her with another
Xelayan, almost like you were pretending that it didn’t happen. Now I do not
what to be unfair to Jessica Szohr because she does a great job of hitting the
ground running and differentiating herself from her predecessor. Also, this is
only the first episode so we have many more to go from here, and it will be
interesting to see how the character develops. But this was an interesting if odd choice for the show to make.
With a First Contact situation there is usually some kind of twist to mix it up and for the Regorians it is that their culture is heavily impacted on by the local astrology system. This system has taken on the place of almost a religion in the society, which is fine, except for when being born during the month of Giliac means that you are sent to an internment camp because all Giliacs are prone to violence and need to be separated for societies good. This is a plot line that takes the show into a very dark place as the crew try to reckon with a local custom that is barbaric, but also who are they to judge, but also the planet has two of their crew, and also yer we can totally judge. Seth MacFarlane touches on some really important aspects of government based detention, the demoralising tactics you to keep people in line, the brainwashing that makes people accept this reality, and the arbitrary nature of it all. Because of the one hour requirement of the show, I don’t think they quite got there, but I do give them props for exploring this issue. As well as this, while it was an interesting solution to the problem, does anyone else think they deployed the solar sail way to close to the planet.
In the end, do we recommend All The World Is Birthday Cake? Yes, yes we do. It is good to see the show take some risks like this, and well a couple of things were a little bit awkward here and there, it does not take away from that achievement. Also, it is always good to have an episode that leaves me thinking what would I do in that situation, and I honestly do not know.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Orville
Directed by – Robert Duncan McNeill
Written by – Seth MacFarlane
Created by – Seth MacFarlane
Starring in Season One – Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J. Lee & Mark Jackson also Chad L. Coleman, Ted Danson, Chris Johnson, Mike Henry, John Rubinstein, Niko Nicotera, Jennifer Landon, Robert Curtis Brown,