Review: ‘The Orville’ Deftly Balances Humor And Morality In “Krill”

Review: “Krill”

The Orville Season 1, Episode 6 – Aired Thursday, Oct. 12
Written by David A. Goodman
Directed by Jon Cassar

In “Krill”, Captain Ed Mercer and the crew of the Orville stumble upon a Krill ship attacking a defenseless colony. The Orville manages to destroy the ship, discovering a shuttlecraft floating in the remains of the vessel. Union Admiral Ozawa (Kelly Hu) then commands Mercer and Gordon Malloy to infiltrate a Krill ship to steal the “Anhkana” – the Krill Bible – in an effort to understand them better. Mercer and Gordon go undercover as Krill officers and end up finding their mission more complicated than originally anticipated.

Following the lead of last week’s strong episode, “Krill” is yet another example of how effortlessly The Orville handles comedyWith each episode, the show more deftly juxtaposes comedy and social commentary. “Krill” handles the balance with aplomb as opposed to earlier, clunkier efforts such as “About A Girl.” That surely comes as a result of MacFarlane sitting this one out as writer. David A. Goodman, veteran writer of Star Trek: Enterprise, Family Guy and Futurama, wrote “Krill”, making this the first episode not written by MacFarlane.

Even though The Orville is episodic, the Krill have already shown themselves to be an over-arching big bad for the series, with appearances or mentions in all the previous episodes.  This episode pays that off with a good amount of world-building, delving into the who the Krill are and making them less one-dimensional bad guys. 

The whole “adopting alien personas to infiltrate” certainly feels like a classic episode of The Original Series, notably “The Enterprise Incident”, which had Kirk physically transform into a Romulan officer. This time, Mercer and Malloy have visual emitters which are able to transform them into Krill soldiers. Goodman takes full advantage of the hilarious possibilities here, as they witness the Krill paying respects to their lord Avis, making plentiful references to the car rental company of the same name. There are several laugh-out-loud moments here, including some great visual gags involving the Krill Bible.

“Krill” demonstrates that the show is becoming more adept at portraying the moral dilemma. When Mercer and Malloy discover the Krill plan on destroying yet another colony – this time with 100,000 humans, including children – with a dangerous bomb-like weapon, they hatch a plan to destroy the inhabitants of the Krill ship. However, Mercer realizes the Krill have children too, thus making their plan far more complicated than before. I had some issues with the way this plot point is resolved – I’m not sure how Trek it is to kill the ship’s inhabitants even if the children remain unharmed – but the last scene is done very well.

Some of the best episodes of Star Trek explored the moral ambiguity of dealing with enemy alien species. Mercer may have won at the end of the episode – he saved the colony and the Krill children – but as the Krill school teacher warns Mercer, he’s also made future enemies out of the children. It seems like a really socially relevant topic, given how we’re currently struggling to reach bipartisan solutions to important issues.

Overall, the VFX and the make-up are standouts this episode. It’s impressive that MacFarlane and Scott Grimes could still portray a sizable array of emotions underneath all of that make-up. Jon Cassar’s capable direction delivered an exciting and tense cold open featuring the Orville and a Krill vessel that was a great way to get us into the thick of the episode’s story.

“Krill” successfully demonstrates that learning to understand the enemy is not easy. There are no uncomplicated solutions and every victory comes at great cost. “Krill” also provides better balance with some truly hilarious moments and less heavy-handed social commentary. With some genuinely funny gags, a socially and culturally relevant storyline, “Krill” is one of the more successful episodes of The Orville yet.

Random thoughts:

  • The scene (featured in the clips below) with Mercer and Malloy listening to Midnight Special” was a homage to The Twilight Zone film, which opened with Dan Ackroyd and Albert Brooks driving and listening to the song
  • The episode hilariously subverted some classic tropes of the genre, first with Mercer speaking before Alara could open a channel and when Mercer struggles to come up with sufficient alien names while undercover.
  • Even though The Orville is set hundreds of years into the future, Union officers still have to take a picture of every single page of something if they want to copy it. What, no cool scanning technology in the future?
  • Malloy’s “new leg” from “Pria” was referenced in this episode when a Krill soldier stabs it. Nice bit of continuity there.
  • “Krill” was also the first episode in a while to see another Union vessel – a heavy cruiser of sorts – which made the Orville look a tad more quaint comparatively speaking.
  • We also see more of the Union as well. “Krill” saw the introduction of another Union admiral in the fleet besides Victor Garber’s Admiral Halsey with Kelly Hu’s firm Admiral Ozawa.
  • As shown below, Bortus’s advanced digestive system was one of the funnier bits of the episode. Something tells me his ability to practically eat anything will come up again in future episodes.

5 clips from “Krill”

‘Orville’ Update: MacFarlane confident of second season + NYCC panel

Last week’s episode of The Orville dropped 0.2 in the ratings to 0.9, which puts it into bubble territory. Regardless, at a NYCC panel last weekend Seth MacFarlane (who Skyped in) said he was “confident” the show would get picked up for a second season. You can watch the full panel below.

Behind-the-scenes on “Krill”

Fox has also released another behind the scenes video, this time featuring writer and science advisor Andre Bormanis talking about how the the quantum drive works.

Preview for next week’s episode “Majority Rule”

Keep up with all the The Orville news, reviews and interviews at

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