Review: ‘The Orville’ Embarks Into The Greater Unknown With Darkest And Best Episode Yet

Review: “Into the Fold”

The Orville Season 1, Episode 8 – Aired Thursday, Nov. 2
Written by Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis
Directed by Brannon Braga

In “Into the Fold,” Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) decides to take her two rambunctious children, Marcus  (BJ Tanner) and Ty (Kai Wener), on a trip to a recreational planet for some much-needed vacation time while the crew of the Orville repair the ship’s navigational system. When her original shuttlecraft pilot is unavailable, Isaac (Mark Jackson) is volunteered as the replacement – much to Dr. Finn’s chagrin. Things get even worse for Dr. Finn as the shuttle encounters a space anomaly that sends them 1,000 light years away from home, crashing on a distant moon with dangerous inhabitants.

With “Into the Fold,” The Orville firmly cements itself as one of the most fascinating television experiments in quite some time. While the previews for the show advertised it as just a workplace comedy, the science-fiction equivalent of The Office, the show has become something so much more unique and special. It has proven to be one of the most insightful, poignant and socially relevant science-fiction shows of the last couple years with the added bonus of also being uproariously funny on occasion.


The Orville has been known to tackle familiar Trek tropes, and “Into the Fold” is no different. This week they do their own take on how shuttle trips and shore leave never goes as planned with Dr. Claire Finn discovering that a simple vacation with her boys isn’t quite in the cards.  Marcus and Ty aren’t the most cooperative kids, bickering and getting on Claire’s – and our – nerves pretty quickly. However, the episode’s writers, Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis, know what they’re doing, and this episode is one example where the ‘annoying kids’ stereotype is actually fleshed out and explored.

To make matters even worse for Dr. Finn, not only does she have to deal with her petulant children, but she also has to tolerate someone that might get on her nerves more – Isaac. Executive producer Seth MacFarlane has smartly set up Dr. Finn and Isaac’s differences throughout the show, leading up to this episode. So, when the compassionate Dr. Finn is paired up with the robot Isaac, it works because their characters have been set up to be at odds, allowing for the narrative resolving that conflict through character and story.

However, the situation doesn’t let up for Finn, as the stakes gets progressively higher as the episode wears on, forcing her to be more than just the ship’s doctor. With Finn separated from Isaac and her children, this challenges our characters to confront themselves head-on. Where Finn struggles to get a rein on her children, Isaac gradually learns more about humanity, as he tries his own unique take at “parenting.” This could have been sentimental or cliche, but instead provides for some of the episode’s more emotionally resonant moments, such as a touching campfire scene where Marcus and Ty ask Isaac to affect their mother’s voice to tell them a bedtime story.

Isaac’s no-nonsense personality also continues to provide for a good source of humor. Destroying Marcus’ handheld game that proved to be a bone of contention among the siblings – and the reason they ended up stranded – was both funny and effectual. Isaac really grows as a character here, with Braga and Bormanis adding new dimensions to him. He goes from suggesting vaporizing the children early on to admitting that he has grown fond of them by the end as he takes one step closer to understanding his shipmates – and his own sort of humanity.

When Captain Mercer is alerted that Dr. Finn did not reach the recreational planet, he scraps plans to install the new navigational system in order to mount a rescue mission. While Dr. Finn and Isaac are the centerpiece, the remaining members of the Orville crew have their moments, including providing for some of the funniest moments for the episode. While the humor with the Isaac and Finn storyline is more subtle, the crew on the ship provide the show’s signature broad gags, such as Bortus’ dry delivery of “We are entering the glory hole.”

When one of the officers complains about spilling soy sauce on his pants in his damage report – and Capt. Mercer comments that he needs to get better people – it reminds us that the Orville is not the flagship and these aren’t the best and brightest of the Galactic Union. They are just regular people, with regular family problems, in space – which is exactly what is need for a good workplace comedy. If The Orville can more subtly interweave its humor into its narrative, as it did in this episode, then the show may finally have found a way to balance its sardonic humor with its earnest tone.


“Into the Fold” is also another great character piece for The Orville, an episode that feels like it could have come right out of The Next Generation or Voyager, which makes sense given the pedigree of the episode’s writers. They have a lot of fun successfully expanding characters whose surfaces we’ve only scratched before. Penny Johnson Jerald rises to the occasion when Dr. Finn gets captured by a member of moon’s indigenous species, Drogan, played by Brian Thompson who has already earned his sci-fi cred on the X-Files and multiple roles in the Star Trek Franchise. He is appropriately menacing here, echoing Misery and 10 Cloverfield Lane, as Claire tries to reason with this crazed loner.

When reasoning with Drogan doesn’t work, Dr. Finn concocts a plan to reunite her with Isaac and the children. The choice to have this doctor who espouses the value of life chose to stab and kill Drogan as a last resort to escape to was one of the the darkest moment of the series so far. Along with the killing of the Krill crew (in “Krill”) this shows that The Orville may seek to embrace to optimism of The Next Generation, but it isn’t afraid to take a walk on the dark side every once in a while and these characters have a few shades of grey. 


As Isaac and the children learn more about each other, Ty falls prey to the waterborne illness that’s infected most of the planet’s inhabitants, turning them into feral cannibals. As is his style, Braga effectively adds a dollop of horror to his sci-fi, and he does a good job with pacing, delivering the sharpest and most concise hour of the series so far. It’s not just a scenario where we hope our characters get off the moon alive, but now Dr. Finn must synthesize an antidote, all while escaping her captor and getting back to her children.

As they repair the shuttle’s communicator and try to find a way off the moon, the odds definitely do not seem in their favor as the tension rises and more of the infected hostile species close in on them. “Into the Fold” has some great moments of palpable tension, whether that’s a classic play on the “monster is coming” trope, or the ending where you genuinely feel like our characters are in danger, thus making us care for them even more.


This was a great character piece that took two of the show’s most underdeveloped characters, Dr. Finn and Issac, and fleshed them out in new, exciting ways. While the children themselves start out as typically annoying, thanks to Isaac they become far more endearing as they learn that deep space comes with risks and consequences. The humor was much more subtly woven into the narrative and often not only did it derive from character, but it advanced the characters as well.

“Into the Fold” may have been the darkest episode of the show yet, but it still didn’t lose sight of its optimism. Dr. Finn reminds her son of their values as she tells him to only stun the infected, and after a cure is found and they are rescued, Kelly lets us know they will make sure the remaining inhabitants of this war-ravaged moon also get helped. Braga and Bormanis lets the story go in some pretty morbid places, but doesn’t forget to tell a rousing and uplifting adventure story.  That’s why “Into The Fold” works so well, and it is without a doubt the best episode of The Orville yet.

Random thoughts:

  • Dr. Finn chose to be a single mother.
  • The recreational planet Arboreus Prime prime included sky cranes, gravity bubbles and a hotel above the clouds
  • Isaac’s line “I am better than everyone else” seems lifted right from Data in “Encounter at Farpoint,” where he says “I am superior.”
  • Claire’s comment that “Bradley’s parents are alcoholics” shows that substance abuse is still a thing in this future.
  • Did it really take them 8 episodes to do a fart joke? Surprising for a Seth MacFarlane show.
  • Now that Dr. Finn has given Isaac a literal “welcome to the family,” will he now be a sort of Robot Uncle to Marcus and Ty?
  • With the focus on Isaac, it would have been nice to learn more about how he is making his reports on his observations of humanity for the Kalon.
  • There was surprisingly little focus on the space anomaly and how the Orville navigated with just the stars coming from an episode co-written by science advisor turned writer Andre Bormanis.

Clips from “Into the Fold”

Behind the scenes with ‘The Orville’ makeup

Fox has also released another behind the scenes video, this time featuring Oscar-winning makeup designer Howard Berger talking about making the alien designs for The Orville.

Preview for next week’s episode, “It’s All Your Fault”

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

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The best moment of this totally great episode was when Finn handed her sun the gun and said “Set to stun. They may not respect all life, but we do.” That little moment of parenting values was awesome, especially considering Finn had to kill her captor to escape. Even though she had to succumb to life-ending violence to survive, she wasn’t about to put that on her teenage son. Really subtle and lovely.

I think our definitions of subtle are wildly different. To me it was a totally throwaway line utterly inconsistent with prior actions, added in the hope that we forget the sledgehammer plotting of the rest of the episode. Finn only ‘had to kill her captor’ because the writers were too lazy to give her a 24th century option.
I like the show but this was not a good episode.

“24th century option”? The entire premise of THE ORVILLE is that people aren’t perfect just because it’s the future. Why would they remove dramatic stakes to make it easier for the characters?

@Drew — there can be dramatic stakes without having the Doctor kill someone and compromising her values, or at least explain why that in the end was her only option, with some would searching about her decision to do it. I don’t believe TNG would have ever been quite that brutal, at least without reflection. When she finally crawled out on the ledge, I thought she had found some other way to escape, and it was every bit as dramatic, as I wondered if her captor would catch her. But no. Also, TNG would have probably had her captor chase after her, heightening the tension further, and then finally have him kill one of the mutants chasing her just as they were about to take her, culminating in her thanking him, realizing he really was trying to help her, and them him holding the mutants off until she escaped to get back to her son. That’s TNG, and very dramatic TNG at that. This thing felt the need to burn important time on flat jokes, rather than put any thought into the story mechanics. I mean can you imagine an episode of MASH where Hawkeye killed someone to escape? It’s just one more layer of disbelief to suspend with this show, unless that too was supposed to be a joke? ‘Haha the Doctor had to kill somebody’?

I agree. If the episode wished to make a point that the doctor had to make a choice between her beliefs about valuing all life and looking to protect her children–well, it should have made it. The character seems to have no qualms or remorse about her actions, so any moral ambiguity about the issue seems to be strictly in the mind of the reviewer.

Yeah, they had some chances here to really do something — and they blew it. As much as I like the actress (and I think she did as much as she could with this), the script made a lot of bad calls and the direction was just not strong.

I think Braga can’t do action AT ALL, and maybe shouldn’t be directing (one the level of, Stuart Baird shouldn’t be directing, y’know, NEMESIS/EXECUTIVE DECISION/US MARSHALS, all losers and only offering Goldsmith scores as a mild saving grace for otherwise utter wastes of film.)

US Marshall’s… was anyone upset that it was not Tommy Lee Jones/Samuel Gerard and his team from the Fugitive going after an actual hard core bad fugitive on the run?? Just a wasted opportunity…. could have been as good as the Fugitive!

“If the episode wished to make a point that the doctor had to make a choice between her beliefs about valuing all life and looking to protect her children”

She DID make the choice – she killed the survivalist guy.

“I mean can you imagine an episode of MASH where Hawkeye killed someone to escape?”

I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of MASH, but wasn’t there an episode where Hawkeye DID have to kill? In the series finale, there was also a Korean woman who suffocated her baby while hiding from some North Koreans, because the baby’s cries were going to give away their position.

@TRT — likewise I don’t know MASH like that either, however, I googled it and there is no mention of Hawkeye ever killing anyone. And even if he did, I guarantee it didn’t happen in the first 13 episodes. There was mention of the baby, but Hawkeye didn’t make the woman suffocate her child, though it caused him to have a mental breakdown when he realized how she interpreted his demands. Hardly the same thing. Nevertheless, by then MASH had earned the right to deal with such graphic and horrific, dramatic subject matter, not to mention having the talent to pull it off. ORVILLE’s producers have repeatedly told us they want to be held to the same standards as MASH and TREK, but MASH like Trek, focused on the morality of the story they told. ORVILLE pays lip service to this concept, and has characters acting without consequence, both in the humor and the drama, seemingly to make room for more dick jokes instead of ensuring their audience doesn’t miss the point they’re trying to make.

On Star Trek: TOS, at times they had to kill somebody or risk being killed themselves-it’s sometimes part of the job. I don’t see why Finn having to kill somebody is a big problem, especially when said somebody was threatening her and her sons. There was nothing wrong with this episode or with what Finn had to do.

Its erased from the dvr so maybe I’m remembering this wrong. But I thought she didn’t employ the lethal option to effect her escape until AFTER she discovered that her son was dying from the bioweapon.

In my life I’ve had the misfortune of what I call experiencing the “Mama Bear” effect more times than I’d care to have from various species from Human on down, and by that I mean that if I didn’t get out of the direct line immediately between them and their offspring that I’d be dead.

What gave me pause about the Doctor’s potential lethal impulse was whether she had any concept of the local indigenous firearm’s sole lethal design function when she employed it to collect her bio sample?

At the point in the episode where Dr. Finn kills the survivalist, she’s been pushed to the wall and has no other options: she knows the survivalist will never let her go, WOULD chase her down, and that her youngest son was critically ill. At this point, it’s all or nothing and she reacted exactly as I would if I ever found myself in that same situation.

Compare that to the TNG episode “The Most Toys” where, at the end, Data makes the decision to pull the trigger and kill Kivas Fajo. A completely unarmed Kivas Fajo at this point. The only thing that prevents Fajo’s death is the incredibly coincidental timing that Data is beamed out at the EXACT moment he fires.

Afterwards, when confronted about the fact that the weapon appeared to have been discharged, Data flat out LIES and claims that information must be in error. The walks away, as if nothing happened. So much for dealing with the mental and moral repercussions of the decision to take a life.

I’ll admit… I love all Trek, and am really into Discovery. I am very much enjoying the Orville, as well. But, so many times, I see people picking on the Orville for “sins” that have been committed time and time again in all flavors of Trek. I think that’s what makes the stand-out episodes, like “Family” stand out so much. And, who knows… maybe, in some future episode, they WILL deal with how Finn struggles with this decision.

@JamfoFL — she had already managed to escape her room. She could have hid behind the door, and run out. She could have repelled down to the floor below. Any number of possibilities. Heck I would have accepted what happened if it had been handled better. Maybe a little agonizing over what she has to do, while we’re waiting for him to return. Unfortunately there was a “glory hole” joke that need all the extra time in that episode, rather than meaningful character and plot development.

Curious Cadet,

Re: She could have

Once she was informed that her son was at the bio-weapon’s death door, all waiting options were off the table. Also, she needed additional supplies more than the personal gear she recovered to provide bio-weapon specific ems to her son so that he might survive long enough for her to get to facilities where she could synthesize a cure. Her captor already established his intentions that would delay and outright prevent her from realizing that timely life-saving goal.

It likely purposely hearkens back to the Hollywood movie adaption of Isaac Asimov’s I ROBOT that starred Wil Smith educating Sonny, a robotic creature similar to Orville’s Isaac which could be summarized as: The Robot calculated the adult had a higher probability of surviving the rescue than the little girl and so saved the adult. The human thing to do was to save the little girl.

What Braga was exploring was what exactly is the “humanity” of sacrificing older beings for the sake of doing the human thing? Her captor’s life was such a sacrifice to such a precious time-saving expediency.

@Disinvited — whatever the intentions of the writer/producers, it wasn’t clear, and it definitely wasn’t Star Trek, as many apologists for this show like to claim.

Curious Cadet,

The I, ROBOT screenplay was, after all, written by Akiva Goldsman.

Re: it definitely wasn’t Star Trek

I’m not sure I catch your drift. You mean it wasn’t looking at the hard issue, as was done in THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, of whether one’s loved ones should be sacrificed for the greater good of the body politic? and whether it’s human to chose them over it?

@Disinvited — there was no introspection either before or after she killed her “Captor”. Star Trek would have touched on it, if only briefly.

I noticed in this and other episodes that they use stun much more often. I like this a lot. I often thought that DS9 planetary battles should have been “stun-capture” affairs and not so much killing, with huge POW camps of captured enemy. Glad to see the stun feature relied upon much more frequently. Well done Braga.

This was a great episode and definitely sated my Star Trek addiction

My takeaways:

1. Not a single chuckle throughout the whole episode for me
2. Mortified by the “glory hole” joke as seemingly the only attempt at some of the most inappropriate humor so far
3. Perplexed by the doctor’s decision to murder her captor as the only solution to escape, without seemingly any contemplation about doing it, and even then no discussion about it later
4. An inanimate ate object can actually affect the touch screen controls 400 years from now? That won’t even happen today on my iPhone.

Someone will inevitably point out how I’m viewing this show the wrong way, but I’m not. This was clearly the most concerted effort yet to be a full blown TNG episode. Very little humor, and what there was significantly constrained, except for one glaring attempt. Regardless, despite the effort to play it straight, the episode managed to skirt all the things that would have made it a good TNG episode, while wasting time on a couple of poorly conceived jokes, horribly out of place given the tone of the episode. By and large this episode was presented with the most realistic portrayal of a future time yet, with no identifiable traces of parody or farce some will defend this series as being. Yet, it was lacking in message, and full of internal contradictions both in logic and apparent effort at format. I can’t imagine MacFarlane fans liked this all that much, and while I fully expect those who prefer ORVILLE to DISC to have enjoyed this … it failed in many respect to live up to the era of TREK it purports to revere, taking on as dark a subject matter as that of DISC, demonstrating equally dark traits as some of those characters, and ultimately failing to explore the troubling choices those characters made. I don’t know what this episode was supposed to be, but it missed the mark broadly, as an empty shell of what TNG era Trek used to be …

Curious, An inanimate ate object can actually affect the touch screen controls 400 years from now? That won’t even happen today on my iPhone.
Aren’t there gloves that have special fingerpads to allow one to use their touchscreens in cold weather? Or do they somehow transmit body heat from a human’s fingers? If they’re electronic in nature, I should think that by Orville’s time that little problem will be taken care of, especially by a race such as the Kalons who interact with other racess.

And, uh, space travel such as Orville’s doesn’t happen today either :^}

I think he’s talking about how throwing the gameboy at the touch screen caused the ship to crash.

YEAH, that pissed me off, even TNG dealt with this issue smarter in the show about a kid who emulated Data. It isn’t like the gameboy landed on a rocket switch, fer chrissakes.

@Marja — touch screens work by sensing the electrical field output by our bodies. Heat has nothing to do with it. Those gloves work by conducting the bodies electricity through the special fabric so the screen reads it. That’s why dropping an inanimate object, like your car key, on a mobile phone, won’t accidentally launch an app, or send that angry email to your boss.

And yes, I understand this is science fiction, but if we already have devices today that prevent accidental input into a touch screen, then it’s just lazy writing for them to use that as the reason the ship veers off course. The problem with this solution is compounded by the seriousness with which this episode took itself. It wasn’t a plausible “accident” even by today’s standards, in an episode the producers seemingly wanted us to take plausibly.

Can you imagine a scene in top gun, where they do a barrel roll and Tom Cruise’s luck rabbits foot falls out of his pocket and hits a touch screen turning off the engines? I mean it was that kind of distraction for me. That kind of “accident” just shouldn’t be able to happen in the 24th century — or was that supposed to be the joke?

I do have to admit that the scrambling of the shuttle’s flight controls, as can occur in some modern aircraft controls, was more likely due to the proximity of the high energy emf given off by most state of the art gaming systems than the actual impact itself.

I just propped up my older model battery dead cell and picked up my newer model touch screened powered up cell, holding it by its non-touchscreen edges, and ran its unlocked touchscreen over the rounded edge of the older model and it activated all sorts of screen buttons and icons.

I don’t know why this surprised me. I knew that if I forget to lock the screen before I put it in a body glove or leather belt pocket it activates all sorts of things while I’m walking.

Come to think of it, no matter how advanced the shuttle’s touchscreens how could hey easily distinguish between Isaac’s “electronic” touch and the electronic touch of the game system?

There is such a thing as pressure sensative screens vs touch screens.

@VorlonKosh — it could be both, as well as some 24th century developments to further prevent that kind of common accident.

@Disinvited — why would the game system be producing any kind of electrical charge on its surface, especially if the surface of the game was covered in a non-conductive material? Further, why would any major control mechanism operate with the touch of a single button? Even the iPhone has features to prevent such accidents — press and hold, double tap, press two buttons at the same time in physically disparate locations, etc. Moreover, I would expect control surfaces of a spacecraft to be far more advanced than my iPhone in 400 years. Things like fingerprint sensors, or other identification sensors in Isaac’s case, to confirm an authorized input. I mean my iPhone has a form of that now too. Isaac could send an authorization code through his fingertip that confirms his authorization to press specific buttons. In other words, even the kids would not be able to activate a vital function by pressing a virtual button even though they possess all the other physical attributes, because they are not authorized to do so. It’s just a completely implausible conceit, derived from a 21st century concept of rolling a ball under a parent’s foot preventing them from braking. Such things simply shouldn’t happen 400 years from now.

Curious Cadet,

The conductivity or non-conductivity of the case was not the issue that I was addressing. However, I will note that the game system itself had touch controls identical to the shuttle’s so it could not be entirely as non-conductive as you speculate.

What I was pointing out was that all state of the art gaming systems emit high amounts of excess radio frequency energy, which a non-conductive case wouldn’t block we might note, and heat. It’s the nature of the beast, and makes it darn expensive to adequately shield. So much so that most would knock out a touch screen based system scrambling its internal electronics just being in close proximity – let alone missiling in for a collision.

Note the children were playing on a dedicated gaming system as opposed to one called up on a communicator which is why I speculated it was cutting edge as most leading popular ones worth fighting you brother over are.

I am absolutely certain that a powered up Nintendo Switch is NOT allowed anywhere in the pilots’ cabins of all major public transport and military aircraft.

@Disnvited — at the risk of pointing out the obvious, this show takes place 400 years in the future. You think they’re really going to make gaming systems with the same inefficiencies we have today? Do you really think they would allow any device on a starship that doesn’t meet certain minimum specifications for safe operation around touch screen consoles susceptible to such accidental input (which I highly doubt as well)?

Curious Cadet,

I think it’s obvious the 400+ years Union is enjoying a Renaissance of rediscovery of Earth’s early 21st century and that likely entails falling for its predominant philosophy that doing what’s expedient should trump what’s prudent.

The “glory hole” bit was kinda funny.

But, what really made me laugh out loud was Isaac’s bedtime story to the kids. That was hilarious.

What choice did Finn have but to kill or wound her captor? She’d tried to reason with him, and he clearly had a one-track mind about the issue: he was going to keep her confined for as long as he wanted to. There was no other solution for escape that I could discern. The kid’s toy or whatever hitting the shuttle’s control panel was lame, though. I totally agree with that. Not only should it not have happened in terms of technology, but controls that are so important should be more difficult to alter. Yeah, a car can kill someone just by a kid throwing something at the wheel that turns it a bit, but the future is supposed to be more enlightened and smarter about such things.

The question wasn’t whether or not she had a choice about killing or wounding him. If she wanted to get back to her kids, then clearly she didn’t, given the circumstances the writers chose to set up. But since there is no onscreen evidence that she struggled with the decision or any sort of repercussions from it, it has no thematic weight in the story regardless of her statement about valuing life. The killing is just something that happens to move the plot along, and nothing more.

Michael Hall

Oh, I agree that the writers didn’t choose to explore the value of life as a theme in this episode. The issue of the value of life is treated ambivalently: Why did they raise the issue early on in the story, only to then place the protagonist in a situation where she had to kill someone. I see your point.

I tend to agree with you. Still, she’s a doctor, and having the Hippocratic oath in mind (don’t inflict pain, don’t kill), she should’ve tried finding a non-lethal solution to incapacitate that guy. In my opinion what she did was unnecessary, rather inappropriate (for this show), and too brutal (stabbing the guy and shooting him afterwards). And, though he kept her there, he saved her life, after all.

@quantum47 — especially without an explanation. I can see him coming after her like Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING, but without so much as a single indication he wanted to harm her, she gave into extreme brutality pretty easily.

Okay, then it’s official now. While The Orville may copy the color palate and some atmosphere from the NextGen era, it is no longer an appropriate alternative to DISCO.
Two weeks ago, the show almost jumped the shark when giving us Tom Savini’s severed head (something I had actually expected the new DISCO Klingons to come up with!). But now, they are naming spatial phenomena after gross and dehumanizing forms of online smutt…

The show may still be fun to watch, but it also is a child of the 2010s now and no longer a true alternative to DISCO. It’s just as degenerated and obsessed with boundary pushing as 85% of current genre shows…

Oh what do I care… Maybe I should stick to hating the Walking Dead franchise for the next five decades… Or maybe I should be looking forward to Amazon and WB turning The Holy Lord of the Rings into their own version of Game of Thrones!?!
These times are crazy… we are living in one giant sanatory… 7-year-old kids posing their photorealistic bloody zombie make-ups for Halloween on Instagram and two horror clowns who are about to go fully nuclear… I dunno which is worse…

smike, If you watch the Walking Dead, I can’t imagine why you’d be worried about horror in Orville or DISCO, unless you feel horror is totally inappropriate in Trek; some people do.

Smike has some serious issues and hang ups. Just leave it at that.

“Online smut”? What do you think a glory hole is?


Well, smut is in the eye of the beholder. TIME referred to Jacqueline Susann’s VALLEY OF THE DOLLS as the “Dirty Book of the Month” and Kirk spoke lovingly of her collected works two decades later on the motion picture screen in STIV.

“Ah, yes . . . the giants!”

When will MacFarlane actually name-drop “Star Trek” as a witty cultural reference in “The Orville?”

@AJinMoscow — now that would be funny! I wonder if that’s the kind of thing that keeps FOX lawyers up at night though? ;-)

Curious Cadet,

Re: FOX lawyers

Hmmmm…I think they’re too tied up with FOX’s sale to Disney at the moment to bother with that?:

I doubt they’d explicitly mention “Star Trek”, but I don’t rule out the possibility that he (Seth, or someone else) might say in one of the future episodes something like “(We) trek to the stars…”.

Its possible though that they may reference it. For example in the episode Command Performance Dr. Finn tells Alara to treat her like her Obi-Wan.

Probably in some episode where they intervene on some planetary civilization, referring to that old 20th century TV show with its ridiculous Prime Directive.

A Civilization that is evil and violent where The Union decides to erect a planetary quarantine and run interventions to turn it from evil to good, ya know, like what Steven Greer says is the case for us here, on Earth, where the ETs have us quarantined.

JEEZIS in that one preview [excerpt] I wanted to KEEL those kids. I sympathized with Isaac, to a point >X-<

I am really loving and enjoying The Orville. I just realized how bummed out I would be if there was only Discovery. I was so looking forward to experiencing the STD (first and only time I will ever say that). But while it is getting better, I am so profoundly disappointed in its darkness and how it is little more than derivative of current trends in TV sci fi to be dystopian and violent.
But I feel fortunate that The Orville appeared at the same time. I can now expect to feel good for an hour each week. An hour filled with humour, a societal message, and charming stories. In my view, STD is mostly TINO (Trek in name only) and The Orville is the real offshoot of Trek. I know that many people disagree with me. I think STD is improving and I’m rooting for it to continue to evolve into something more like the Star Trek that I know. I can only hope that those who disagree can do so respectfully here.
Thank you Seth for this unexpected gift.

No disrespect here; I’m glad the show works for you as a feelgood alternative to DSC. That said, it’s difficult for me to fathom how anyone could honestly call “Into the Fold” good drama, or good SF, let alone good television.

OK, let’s put it like this then. Into the Fold is a far better drama, SF, and television than all of the 7 episodes of STD (yes, STD) so far. Not to mention, more Trek. And that’s merely a rather mediocre episode (we all know they can’t all be great). I won’t even compare some of the great previous (and certainly upcoming) episodes of Orville with STD. It’s not that hard to fathom, believe me.

Hey, except for the first two and this last one, I’ve had good feelings about THE ORVILLE, in spite of all the bad calls and ineptness. But I don’t see how you can give it a pass JUST for being upbeat. FOLD was just a mess in writing and direction and I hope it does not mark a trend in any way for the show.

Orville is the new Trek. Period. STD… well, I’ve forgotten about that already.

I for one don’t think it’s improving (rap in 23rd century? Really? cadets and senior officers dropping F bombs in the 23r century? And don’t get me started on the “stories”, characters, and the whole abysmal visual style of it…). But I agree with you, Orville is a great unexpected gift from Seth. Thank you, Seth & Co.

@quantum47 — yes what did we ever do before a milque-toast TNG knock-off with dick jokes? And don’t forget the “glory holes”. Yeah, it sets such a higher bench mark than your complaints about DISC … /s

Do you get paid to troll like this? Or do you just enjoy it?

Well, yeah, Seth pays me a lot. A lot of lods.
Yeah I wish…

Joking aside, it’s a great show. I’m not offended by such occasional (dick) jokes, though sometimes they do appear lame.

Yeah, a limp dick joke just won’t get a rise out of the audience. Catch the Orville spirit.I like this show…don’t know how long it’ll last, but the ride is fun.

Wow. Horrible cliche that it is, I’m going there: it’s impossible for me to believe that the reviewer and I watched the same episode. I thought “Into the Fold” was just awful, coming off like a parody mashup of ’80s cheap backlot TV SF (e.g. FANTASTIC JOURNEY) and TNG’s G-rated bland weaknesses (with none of its virtues), except that the whole mess was inexplicably played straight. “And the Children Shall Lead” should be a cautionary example of just how bad kid-centered SF can be if it takes itself seriously. MacFarlane could have avoided that trap by giving the audience a story at least daring enough to acknowledge how obnoxious those kids were (their bad behavior almost getting everyone killed), but he apparently lacked the nerve to go there, delivering up something about as edgy as an episode of LASSIE. I’ve always wondered how it must have felt to see TOS dodge cancellation only to have it air something like “Spock’s Brain,” and if I were a huge fan of The Orville in the afterglow of its renewal I would have gotten a taste of that feeling Thursday night.

Hey, be nicer to the 80s, they had a hard enough time as was … FANTASTIC JOURNEY was definitely 70s, they had a show where the characters used a Zenith Space Command 600 TV remote control (they didn’t even paint a disguise on it) as a zap gun. Easy to confuse the decades, since Ike Eisenmann was playing teens in both of them, but the devil’s not just in the dark, but in the details as well …

Holy $hit, was it really that long ago? D.C. Fontana was involved in the making of that show IIRC, but it still wasn’t very good. Just one more underfunded hour with B-listers and extras crashing through the L.A. underbrush desperately trying to look like they’re taking any of it seriously, mostly produced by hacks who’d scoped out a Trek convention and figured their experience at writing soaps or cop shows would enable them to be the next Roddenberry or Coon and totally cash in. LOGANS RUN, PLANET OF THE APES, the original BSG; they all start to blur together. Say what you will about DSC, or THE ORVILLE, THE EXPANSE, or even GAME OF THRONES — they are all top-flight productions put together by people who really love the source material and are genuinely committed to what they’re doing, no hacks need apply. It truly is a golden age, yet all we fans can do is complain. People are the worst.

Good episode. The spectacular opening makes me wonder how great TNG would have been if made today. Felt the character who grabbed the doctor deserved a better fate than the episode gave him. He had no right to take her, but under the awful circumstances, he may have thought he was doing good. Ironically he will not benefit from the Orville’s cure.

@Kev-1 — nor will we ever know exactly what his story was. It reminded me of 10 Cloverfield Place, SPOILER: when they killed John Goodman, but at least that one explained that he was likely a very bad guy. I have no idea whether the alien on the planet was or not. Nor do I have any idea how the Doctor feels about what she did. But at least her son is learning to be “a good guy with a gun”. And that whole story reminded me of that Will Smith movie with his son …

Curious Cadet,

Which one? I think we were definitely meant to perceive the cannibal she killed with the indigenous firearm as a “very bad guy”.

@Disninvited — she was defending herself from the cannibal. I meant killing her captor, who was allegedly trying to keep her “safe”.

Curious Cadet,

If I’m not mistaken, she didn’t employ deadly force against Mr. Safety Patrol until after he got in the way of her getting to her dying son who she found out was infected by the bioweapon and needed immediate medical attention?

I think the makers had seen the Walhberg PLANET OF THE APES, because the opening is VERY much in the style of that film’s open. It felt VERY derivative in a copy-this kinda way, not just ‘influenced by.’

I actually found the episode quite dull. Was quite surprised by the glory hole mention. I can picture kids watching this with their parents asking “mom, what’s a glory hole?”
The good thing about this episode was that there was less Seth MacFarlane.

I can picture kids watching this with their parents asking “mom, what’s a glory hole?”

Don’t know what it says about me, but I find picturing that conversation pretty funny.

They can always explain it to them in following words:
“A glory hole is the quarters on a ship that are occupied by the stewards or stokers.”
And they will tell the truth. That is also what the dictionary says.

I can’t agree with this review. Nowhere near the best of the episodes and full of the most basic cliches of story writing. Simple role reversal, make Isaac the nurturer and the doctor the murderous one (with the unethical ‘mama bear’ defense). This was not optimistic Star Trek since I don’t count a couple of throw away lines like “we still value life” and the suggestions that they might go an cure the savages afterwards as setting the tone for this episode. A Star Trek doctor would have concocted a knock out compound from the captor’s kitchen (and the plot would have given them time to do so) and they would have winged the attacker in the woods or whatever.
If the Orville continues to offer 20th century solutions (not even 21st) in the 24th century then it will lose the slight edge (Trekian optimism) that it has over good gritty space operas like Dark Matter (RIP), the Expanse and Killjoys. The sophomoric humor is not enough… there’s plenty of shows that do that better.


Curing the deployed bioweapon isn’t going to cure the cannibalism. The cure is not as pat a solution as you make it sound.

That’s the point. It’s an even worse than useless throwaway line to pretend the Union gives a crap about its enlightened values.


Note Mercer said they’d contact the planet’s authorities and discuss providing the cure. On TNG, they’d just implement the cure without asking and suddenly the murderous impulse would be inexplicably be gone.

“uproariously funny on occasion” = glory hole joke (repeated for the slow) and “his parents are alcoholics.” Really? That makes you laugh? In fact, all the Family Guy-style jokes in this show seem to fall flat. There are a few organic jokes. I even liked Yaphit the blob expressing concern for ‘Claire.’ By and large, though, this is not a comedy-drama; it’s a drama. It’s also a retread of TNG with precious little life of its own. I get that this was supposed to be an episode to build the characters of Dr. Finn and Isaac. So… Dr. Finn kills ‘Alien Bounty Hunter’ because — because??? She’s a doctor. Couldn’t she come up with a non-lethal weapon as she planned her escape? Then, she gets back to her deathly ill son and… cries. ‘All my stuff is on the Orville! Waaaaa!’ This is the SECOND time she’s done that — she did it in the pilot. McCoy or any other Trek doc would have cured the boy with native roots. As for Isaac… WHY would you allow this being to be on your ship? He stands and watches the younger brother nearly drown. He shows zero compassion — which would be fine, but in the end Dr. Finn rewards him for being a good father figure. ??? Plus, he’s just not interesting on screen. HE NEEDS A FACE. My best hope is that they make his face holographic, with Mark Jackson as the default, but allowing him to morph into alien mode or even be played by various guest stars. His delivery is boring. Boring! His unemotional character comes off as disinterested, even neglectful of humans. All of the characters need work; Isaac most of all. I am losing patience with saying the episodes are flawed gems. They’re not. They’re flawed. Period. This show needs work (writing, lighting, and more) and should probably go on hiatus until they retool it.

@CmdrR — they’ve already shot the entire first season, and are likely just finishing the last 4 in post at is point. Any hiatus to retool the remaining episodes would require waiting until next season to reshoot. FOX is likely planning to air the remaining episodes as is to continue building an audience. So no changes until next Fall. It’ll be interesting to see what changes FOX has mandated, since giving MacFarlane a pickup likely had some strings attached. I don’t think they got the show he sold them, based on the Pilot, and they may demand it now, even blaming his bait and switch on the lackluster live ratings which are the only ones that really pay for the show. We shall see … They can’t keep going on this way though.

Agreed. I’m sure there’ll be a Season 2. (Even ‘The Cleveland Show’ got four seasons. I can just picture Fox execs acting like Homer: banging on the TV and screaming, “BE MORE FUNNY!” I really don’t think ‘comedy’ is needed or appropriate. They could stand more organic jokes and the total elimination of the sophomoric scatology. I’ll keep watching a while longer, but not if the episodes are as offensive as this one. If they wanted the doctor to kill, they needed to make it a clear choice; possibly to save her children. She straight up murdered at least two people. BTW, Isaac can shoot very quickly. Why didn’t he just take two guns and save them alone??

You’re SO right about Isaac. He/it should have been able to do, at the very least, a Christain Bale/EQUILIBRIUM or ROBOCOP number, shooting in all directions without even aiming while using both hands. It would have upped the ante to show that even with him shooting that fast and accurate, that they would soon be overrun just on numbers, and so the kid would still have been well-motivated to act. Again, staging of action on this show is even sub-TNG, which is saying a lot, since TNG’s failure on action was the thing that — along with writing, cast chemistry and cinematography — most distinguished it (in a STRONGLY negative way) from TOS for me.

Oh, and music score, of course — TNG music was with the exception of Ron Jones and the first Chattaway score, pretty godawful bad. At least ORVILLE is GQ at worst, and at best, stealing from good to great source material.

They’re definitely still finishing up in post, the VFX super is apparently too busy to do interviews. It took 15 weeks just for Fox to okay an interview, now another six already since I’ve had a direct line for the guy.

If I had any perspective on this, I’d probably find it funny that the two lowest paying assignments I had this year were the ones I spent the most time trying to get and had BY FAR the most trouble with, both of which haven’t actually gotten done — this one on ORVILLE, and the now-aborted DISCOVERY story. After one editor gave up on DSC following months of what seemed like stalls, a CBS-D rep responded indicating they’d ‘consider’ going ahead with a story for ONE of the other mags I write for (one that already turned down the idea of a DSC story), but the interviews would probably take place after the series finishes airing in February, because they aren’t in any rush to discuss the making-of aspects. They acknowledged that out of 300 press inquiries only ‘a handful’ had been about VFX/post, but I wonder just how small a handful that was, since I got no nibbles from my regular outlets on it at all.

what a terrible episode. The main characters ( why I watch the show) had mere “cameo” roles. What a disappointment. I will have to reconsider watching this show. All the other episodes were great, too bad.

Most series have their duds, even the great ones. Your choice, but I wouldn’t let one bad episode stop you from watching a show you’ve enjoyed up till now.

While I’ve been enjoying Orville thus far, the show is far from being a sci-fi classic as this review proclaims. The show is still struggling with its mix of humor and drama, with the humor at times feeling very forced. While I found the bit about the “glory hole” amusing, and Peter Macon’s straight-man portrayal of Bortus is brilliant, I can completely understand why some people would be quite put off by the joke. With that being said, when the humor works, it works really well – the practical joke bit b/w Isaac and Gordon Malloy a few eps back was flat-our hilarious. The show has a lot of potential though, but I honestly doubt it will ever become a true sci-fi classic ala TNG, and that’s fine.

As far as this episode goes, it was kinda “meh” for me. It was largely predictable and all of the tension felt quite fake – you knew the Orville would show up at the last minute to save them, and you know Dr. Finn’s youngest son would be completely fine. In addition, Dr. Finn’s kids were just straight up obnoxious, and the fact that she was a single mother left a really bad taste in my mouth. I hope this wasn’t the intent, but it very much felt that the show was basically saying a single mom can’t raise kids. I have a feeling this was more of a case of bad writing than some underhanded message, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the Dr. Finn and her kids were very poorly portrayed. Speaking of Dr. Finn, her killing her captor was very out of character and simply not necessary. Had the show actually done something with this, Dr. Finn struggling with her actions or something, than it may have had a point. As it stands however, the show just glossed over the fact that she murdered her captor.

I am still enjoying the show, it’s a good companion to the darker nature of Discovery. And with Discovery really coming into it’s own after the last episode, it’s really nice to have two decent to good space-based sci-fi shows on TV right now.

@noraa — you’re watching a Seth MacFarlane show — the obnoxious kids was the joke. Nobody likely thought any deeper about than that. A bunch of guys sitting around the writers room laughing about how obnoxious kids are, including their own likely well behaved kids whose behavior their wives are probably solely responsible for … The fact they turned it into a drama in the editing room with a glory hole gag, is the real joke. I’m sure they all have visions of Emmys dancing in their heads as they are all patting their backs after that episode …

“A bunch of guys sitting around the writers room laughing about how obnoxious kids are, including their own likely well behaved kids whose behavior their wives are probably solely responsible for … ”

Wow…… Where do you buy your king sized broad sweeping generalization brushes from?

@AL — the same place the writers got their brushes to paint their obnoxious stereotypes of those kids …

Dan Marcus

The reason the doctor said “These people may not value life…” was because cannibals were attacking with the goal of killing the Shuttle’s occupants to consume them. Merely referring to them as merely “the infected” in your review grossly oversimplifies the complex life and death issues brought to the equation of using stun which appealed to both you and I for this story’s consideration. For example, curing them of the disease is not going to cure their cannibalism, i.e. willingness to consume healthy self-aware organisms for sustenance – not to mention their willingness to deploy biological weapons which contributed to it in the first place.

You (or I) have no idea about the complexity of the disease from the bioweapon so why make such unequivocal statements? I could think of 10ways curing the disease returns their minds to normalcy (but don’t send me the therapy bill for ex-cannibals). The writers made things totally black and white because they seemingly can’t be bothered to address moral complexity.
She kills the captor because the writers gave her no choice. They had plenty of choices…


Re: the complexity of the disease

The captor of which you are so concern did. He stated the reason for the cannibalism and wasn’t the bioweapon’s symptom.

Still waiting to see what others are seeing in this show. This episode was HORRIBLE! And I think I am finally done. Just so bad. How anyone can compare this to Trek, even a little is insane. All Trek is better than this waste. No comparison. Not even close.

And how can anyone think STD is Trek? Having “Star Trek” in its title and a few Trek gadgets and Starfleet insignia doesn’t make it Star Trek. The Orville, however… well, you’d have to be blind and deaf not to see that the very core of this show is Trek.

Let’s see…. it’s about characters discovering themselves, it is also very
much about the human condition (Michael Burnham is literally rediscovering her humanity, Lieutenant Stamets is discovering new aspects of his personality, Captain Lorca is obviously traumatised by the USS Buena incident), the latest episode featured a first contact situation on a strange new world. It has touched on themes of war, animal rights (the Tardigrade) and redemption. It’s very Star Trek.

I’m sorry that you don’t like this new, modernised iteration of the franchise. I’m also sorry that you feel the need to keep complaining about it even though in a previous post (on this very page I believe) that you have already forgotten about it.

Why is a star trek site. Continually doing there stiff from other franchises? Might as well do star wars too

Noone forcing you to read an Orville article…

But could it be, that The Orville has certain Trek Connections which may or may not be interesting for Trek fans? People both behind and in front of the cameras involvement with The Orville.

It’s a show heavily linked to Star Trek (which Star wars is not) and A LOT of Trek crew is working on the show.

Why Phil talking like Tarzan. Me not understand.

This Phil is confused, too.

This episode might be the most cohesive narrative in the series so far, but I found it to be the slowest and least compelling story so far. The bulk of the episode is our protagonists being chased by C.H.U.D.-like aliens. At the very end, we get a sweet moment when Isaac hold’s Finn’s hand——the machine is learning what it means to be human. But, up to that point, the kids——or, really, just the older kid——is super annoying and off-putting. We actually get an issue that would have been ripe to explore at the beginning, when Finn reveals that she chose to be a single mother for purely selfish reasons. But, that’s totally skipped over——maybe because the producers figured it too un-PC to get into. It was a good idea to develop the characters——Finn and Isaac——but, in terms of actual viewing enjoyment, this episode probably ranks the lowest of the series so far, for me.

Choosing to be a single mother because you want kids but haven’t met the right guy is “selfish”? Sexist/racist much? Maybe you could make that argument if said single mother was destitute, unable to support kids, emotionally unstable, etc. But Dr. Finn is none of those things. She’s purportedly one of the most esteemed physicians in the Union.

The River Temarc
Choosing to be a single mother because you want kids but haven’t met the right guy is “selfish”? Sexist/racist much?

Thank you for making my point. This is exactly why I think the issue wasn’t explored in the episode. You can’t discuss it rationally these days without the PC-police issuing an immediate citation——here in the form of an indictment of my personal character for pointing out the fact that the issue is raised in the episode but not treated as a theme.

BTW, as a matter of dialogue, Finn says, “I wanted to have kids, but never found the right guy…” I want, not what’s best for them, but rather I want. That is selfish, by definition. Now, one might argue that every decision to have kids is selfish, or that there’s nothing to criticize about this particular selfish decision. But, it is a matter of fact that the act is presented in the story as being a purely selfish one. She didn’t go adopt some orphans, she didn’t rescue some kids who lost their parents, she chose to conceive children who would be fatherless because she “wanted” to. To me, as I said, this is an issue that merits treatment as a theme.

Good point, one I missed. As someone who never had any intention to procreate (colorblind, nearsighted and diabetic, why inflict those possibilities on a new kid when there are so many kids languishing in foster care), I still did have some interest in adopting after marrying, but couldn’t qualify due to finances. The ORVILLE doctor’s choice to conceive rather than adopt is the sort of thing that would normally irk me as selfish, especially given she seems a woman of relative means (as is everybody in their Union, from what I see.)

A trek-link in this episode that I haven’t seen mentioned is the actor who plays the C.H.U.D. who kidnaps Finn. He played an alien in DS9 S2/ep7, “The Rules of Acquisition.” He’s the guy on the right of this frame:

comment image

Brian Thompson plays my favorite minor Klingon in A MATTER OF HONOR, and has appeared in LOTS of genre stuff, including GENERATIONS.

Oh, that’s right! “Gagh is always best when served live.”

That episode, more than any other (including DSC), so perfectly captured the Klingons.

The River Temarc

I think that was the first Trek episode to really start fleshing out the Klingons. Up to that point, in TOS and in the TOS movies, we hadn’t seen anything of how the other half lives, so to speak. Subsequent episodes of TNG and DS9 continued to develop the Klingons by building on what is established in “A Matter of Honor.”

I did think at some point we’d hear Isaac dictating a report, a la Phlox.

I’m pretty sure drinking alcoholics wouldn’t be allowed on starships. She was probably making a joke, albeit one that shows there are still problems.

I think her older kid should babysit for Bortas’. :-)

I like the Orville. It was little rough round the edges. But, is shaping up into a very good Sci-Fi/ ST: TNG replacement. Something the pay walled ST: Discovery is having a hard time doing. Pria, to the Bio dome episode, Krill, and Into the Fold have definitely strengthened it’s power as a prime Sci-Fi action/adventure/with light comedy show. And Seth MacFarlane can obviously play the role of a serious space captain. It definitely has promise, and I will keep watching!

Being behind a paywall is unfortunately the nature of the streaming beast. Though I don’t think CBSAA will be around much longer- I just don’t see how it can compete with Amazon Prime, Netflix et al.

@AdAstra — cbs owns its vast catalogue … Netflix and amazon only own their new shows. Once the studios start taking back their catalogues, as Disney plans to do in 2019, those big platforms will be at less of an advantage and forced to compete on the same level with only new programming. And then CBS & other studios will have the advantage …

I’ve started to watch the series. I’ve only seen the pilot episode and it was…. something.

Am I right in thinking the Family Guy humour gets toned down?

@AdAstra — yes and no. It’s always there, but the jokes tend to fall flat more often in recent episodes, and mostly lurk in the background of a scene. Except there’s always one huge ribald joke which will make your jaw drop, as it becomes the fixation of the story at the most inappropriate times. And all of that just makes the drama seem even more hollow and empty, emphasizing how poorly cast and written the show is for attempting it. Along with the serious drama, comes an apparent confusion for violence as substance, in a misguided attempt to make the drama more “edgy”. But, your milage may vary.

It does get toned down, somewhat. What remains still takes you out of the moment and falls flat, IMO, but there’s less of it, and the series has improved.

Wow, I am surprised at this episode being called the best of the Orville so far. My wife and I both thought this episode was pretty poor. And my dad, who hasn’t seen any of the show so far, randomly saw this episode and didn’t think it was very good either.

I’m starting to lose interest in The Orville. The show started off great, but the last two episodes have been rather bland and disappointing.

I am really liking The Orville. I never watch on the night, though.

We have a winner for “Most Boring Episode Yet!” (The “crashed on a planet” episodes were always the ones worth skipping from TNG.)


I disagree. The TNG episodes you knew you should skip before viewing were the Wesley centric episodes. The holodeck centric episodes. The Troi or Troi’s mom centric episodes.

This post has no place on Trekmovie. Orville is excrement, not parodying Star Trek, but parodying the very worst elements of TNG. I’m embarrassed for you all.

Appreciate the sediment —
And we’re all ashamed for you.

Hmm… Two episodes in a row that had a lower than expected humor content. I’m really hoping this is not to be the norm. What sets this show apart from Trek is the jokes. I honestly don’t care if they are “organic” or “forced”. Funny is funny regardless of the source. I’m not going pick apart the themes or go on about character growth or any of that. Because this show just doesn’t work when they go there. It works when it is taken very light. In the way Deadpool works. It had stakes but was funny throughout. Orville can do that. It can’t be R rated but it can still do that. Not going to be some holier than thou kind of person and complain that they have dick and fart jokes. If they work, I don’t care. As I said before, funny is funny. Let’s hope Seth doesn’t take the 2nd season order as an OK to start getting serious. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If they get serious it becomes a pale TNG rip off. It stands apart when it is funny.

Watch this week’s episode.