TL;DR – This is a difficult episode to watch at times as it wades into some real and challenging territory
Disclosure – I streamed this on SBS OnDemand
Warning – Deals with themes of suicide
The Orville Review –
A few years ago, it was announced that Seth MacFarlane, most well known for Family Guy, would do his take on a Space Opera, a show that was like Star Trek with more jokes. It was a premise that had me both intrigued and also concerned. That is because I was sure you could make that balance work, just that it would be hard, and Season One was rough at times. But by the time Season Two drew to a close, it had wholly found its feet and was soaring forward. Now it is time to dive into the much delayed and possibly final season, titled New Horizons, and if it is the end, I hope it can go out on a bang.
So to set the scene, in The Road Not Taken, the threat that the Kaylons pose is seen in complete relief when we see a universe where the crew of the USS Orville never came together, and the galaxy is in ruin. But there is hope, and the team come together for some last-ditch time travel shenanigans to set the timeline right. It worked. But now, everyone on the ship has to work to get it ready for the next attack, and while the refit takes place, there is a lot of resentment brewing on board, with most of it landing square on the lap of the ship’s lone Kalon crewmember Isaac (Mark Jackson).
One of the many things you have to do in a first episode back [especially if it has been a gap in time] is reorientate and reengage your audience. Here The Orville does this in spades as we get one of the most intense space battles that I have seen on screen in a while. We see the battle rage from both outside and inside the Orville, and you feel the horror as we follow Marcus (BJ Tanner) running through the corridors trying to get home to safety. I honestly don’t care that it was a bait-and-switch being just a dream. Because 1) the production levels and performances made it feel real, 2) the dream becomes the focal point for the episode, and 3) the reality comes crashing down quickly afterwards.
Which leads us to the centre point of the episode, which I feel hesitant to talk about because it was a shock when I saw it, but also, you can’t not discuss what is the central theme of the episode. The vast majority of this episode is unpacking the many factors surrounding suicide. Now I want to clarify from the outset that I am not an expert on this issue, and I will be talking from my own feelings and experiences watching the episode and not a place of medical advice.
The whole setup of the episode is positioned to make you feel that we will have this confrontation between Isaac and the new character Charly Burke (Anne Winters). Then they will have to work with each other and find respect before the credits roll. It is a road you have seen many episodes walk down that you could probably see the signposts coming a mile away [and to be fair, some of this does happen by the time the credits roll]. But the hard shift reveals of who wrote murderer, and the build-up to the act filled you with dread even when you didn’t know quite what was coming.
This is not just a light topic that you can just dip your toes in like a pool on a hot day. You have to commit to exploring this topic honestly or not at all. On that front, the performance of Penny Johnson Jerald broke my heart because you felt that raw, conflicted emotion pouring out of her as she tried to process her own feelings and those of her children. This whole process of complicated grief comes from when someone you both love and hate passes away, which is captured here in the performances. Does it all work? Absolutely not indeed, the ending does feel a bit hand-wavy, but in those moments when it does, you can feel it.
In the end, do we recommend Electric Sheep? Well. Okay, look, some people probably should give this episode a skip and thus the reason for the warning at the top. It is also a choice to come out of the gate with such an emotionally complex episode in the premiere. But with all that said, I think I do recommend this episode. I just hope they don’t just ignore this moving forward, as that would be a huge disservice.
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.
Have you seen The Orville yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Orville
Directed by – Seth MacFarlane
Written by – Seth MacFarlane
Created by – Seth MacFarlane
Production/Distribution Companies – Fuzzy Door, 20th Television, Hulu & SBS
Starring – Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J Lee, Mark Jackson & Anne Winters with Kai Di’nilo Wener, BJ Tanner, Alexis Knapp, Mike Henry, Jim Mahoney, Norm MacDonald, Amanda Joy Erikson & Kyra Santoro