Review: ‘The Orville’ Dreams About A Better Life In “Sanctuary”

“Sanctuary”

The Orville Season 2, Episode 12 – Aired Thursday, April 11, 2019
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

This season’s exploration of the limits of tolerance between people who believe widely different things comes front and center, as Captain Mercer and the Orville become embroiled in a controversy involving rights for renegade female Moclans. The episode features The Orville’s signature blend of even-handed, detailed argumentation, awesome visual effects, and a realistically untidy ending, and is wonderfully directed by Jonathan Frakes. Not everything works, but what does work is well worth seeing.

Warning: My traditional values tell me to warn people who like to avoid SPOILERS—they are abundant below this point!

Seth MacFarlane, guest star Ron Canada, guest star Victor Garber, guest star Kelly Hu and guest star Ted Danson in the “Sanctuary”

Service and devotion

After the close battle with the Kaylon in “Identity, Part Two,” the Union Admiralty has arranged for top Moclan engineers to work on upgrading the weaponry on the USS Orville and all Union vessels of Explorer-class and above. In exchange for these upgrades, Captain Mercer and his crew are assigned “taxi” duties, transporting a Moclan researcher and his mate to their next assignment. While Mercer bristles at the mundane nature of the duty, he is delighted for the increase in his ship’s firepower.

The lead-up of this episode feels a lot like “Deflectors,” a Moclan-heavy episode earlier in the season when the Orville’s defensive systems were upgraded by a Moclan engineer whose attraction to females made him a “pervert” to other Moclans. The fact that the two researchers, Toren and Korick, have a strong desire for privacy only increases the resemblance, and when they open one of their cases in their quarters to reveal a glowy box of mysteriousness, the air of suspense is intensified. What are these guys up to?

This episode features a lot of gorgeous shots for ship nerds like me to enjoy, starting with a swooping tour of a Union space station. It also includes shots of a Moclan battlecruiser, a smaller Moclan ship, and more shuttles entering and exiting landing bays than probably any episode of any space show, ever. It is to director Jonathan Frakes’ credit that none of these shuttle scenes feel redundant or repetitive.

The USS Orville gets an upgrade at a Moclan station

That man is out to get me

After the credits sequence, we look in on the Orville’s school, where the lone Moclan student, Topa, is squabbling with human girl Olivia over who has the right to which building blocks. Their teacher, played by the delightful Marina Sirtis, intervenes when Topa shoves Olivia out of the way, yelling, “I don’t share with females—my Papa says females are weak!” to which Olivia sensibly retorts, “Well, your Papa is stupid! Now give it back!”

Later, at a parent meeting with Bortus and Klyden, Sirtis’ character shows that she is as even-tempered as her predecessor, Cassius, by insisting that regardless of whether or not Topa was provoked, his response crossed the line of propriety. In their quarters, Bortus and Klyden argue. Klyden has taught Topa traditional Moclan values—esteeming males far above females in value. Bortus cannot understand how Klyden’s time aboard the Orville has not broadened his perspective more. Klyden cannot understand how Bortus can feel that he alone is right, and the whole of Moclan society is wrong. And both of them are still angry about the incident surrounding Topa’s forced gender-reassignment surgery in “About a Girl.”

Marina Sirtis appears as the new teacher on the USS Orville

We know that Klyden was born female and surgically altered to become a male, and that Topa endured the same. “If it were up to you, our son would still be female!” Klyden charges. This is, of course, true. Perhaps Klyden is so sensitive about this question because of his own gender-reassignment. Does he fear that Bortus’ growing distance from him stems from the fact that he was born female but was altered to become male?

These issues become central to the episode’s plot when Bortus discovers that Toren and Korick’s mysterious glowy box contains a newborn Moclan girl in stasis. The researchers claim to be her parents and, wanting their daughter Mersa to be allowed to remain female, they have escaped Moclus and are traveling to Retepsia (the home planet of season one’s recurring character Darulio) for asylum. Bortus agrees not to inform Captain Mercer and to allow them to go on their way, but not before bringing Topa to see Mersa in stasis. “Look at her, Topa. She is not so different from you or I.”

Bortus discovers the Moclan girl in stasis smuggled onto the Orville

In and among this plot thread lurks the difficult question of Moclan reproductive biology. Moclans were originally established to be an “all-male” species, though they consistently show a tendency to establish families in married pairs of men. It is not clear if both parents contribute biologically to the genetic makeup of their child, but it is clear that one male parent lays an egg and sits on it for 21 days until it hatches. We now know that the Moclan species has females, an occurrence which at first was said to happen only once every 75 years or so, a fact that was called into question by the revelation that Klyden was born female, and so was Topa, and eventually by the revelation of Heveena, a female Moclan renegade poet (“About a Girl”). It is difficult to imagine an evolutionary path that leads to a species where one gender is completely unnecessary to reproduction and yet there are two genders. It is difficult to imagine an evolutionary system in which the egg-laying parent is the only one to contribute genetic material to their offspring, yet they mate in pairs. What, exactly IS Moclan mating, if not a reproductive sharing of genetic material? It feels as though Moclans are not established as a science fiction species, but rather as a vague tool for discussing human social issues. The more we learn about Moclans, the more this seems to be the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the way this show discusses human social issues, and there will be more on that below, but the Moclans as a science fiction concept make less and less sense as more is established about their biology.

Bortus and Klyden argue in “Sanctuary”

The traffic starts jumpin’

When Topa accidentally spills the beans about Mersa to Klyden (did I really just write that sentence?), Klyden goes straight to Mercer with the news, and Bortus is called on the carpet. What follows is a shockingly sensible scene where Grayson, Keyali, Finn, and Mercer rake Bortus over the coals for not asking follow-up questions of Toren and Korick. The real possibility exists that Mersa was not their child, but was kidnapped for some reason, but Bortus believed their story immediately, probably because of his own feelings on the matter. As I said, this is entirely sensible, and it is understandable why Captain Mercer would want to chase down the runaway researchers to try to verify their story.

Enter Isaac, who in this episode detects power fluctuations, scans for masked ion signatures, and tracks stealthy Moclan vessels. He exists as a bridge functionary, does his duty, and advances the plot, but otherwise does not serve as an actual character here, just as he hasn’t since “Identity, Part 2.” In an episode that uses the threat of the Kaylon as a driving impulse for keeping peace with the Moclans, there is no attempt to include the one Kaylon they have with them on board the ship in the discussion at all. There could have been a scene in which Isaac reinforces the Kaylon threat in some way, but the show seems allergic to following up on the events of “Identity, Parts 1 and 2” when it comes to Isaac.

Isaac tracks the Moclans to a class-6 absorption nebula (which is a real thing) that showcases, again, how truly lovely the visual FX are in this show. Inside the nebula is a K-type star (also a real thing) that has three planets impossibly close to each other.

Orville discovers hidden star system

On the innermost planet is a colony of Moclans, and when Mercer, Grayson, Keyali, and Bortus land in yet another shuttle, they discover that they are almost all female Moclans – over 6000 of them – led by Heveena, the renegade poet from “About a Girl.” The Moclan women on this planet appear to be well-armed, and look and move a lot like General Okoye’s troops in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. Heveena and her people are hiding out in this colony out of fear the Moclan government will find them, bring them back to Moclus, force them to undergo gender reassignment surgery, and then throw them in prison for life. She trusts Mercer’s discretion, but not his entire crew (cough-GORDON!-cough), so she begins to order an evacuation until Mercer suggests an alternative: petitioning the Union Council for admission as a separate state. This would bring the Union’s protection over the colony. Heveena agrees.

While the Orville stays in orbit of the planet as protection, Mercer and Heveena take a shuttle toward Earth. En route, Heveena asks about human women and the art that they make. In keeping with The Orville’s fascination with contemporary pop culture, and especially music, the first work of art Heveena comes across is Dolly Parton’s song “9 to 5.” Heveena immediately understands all of the song’s chronologically- and culturally-rooted references completely, and adopts it as the anthem of her revolution.

One of the quirks of  The Orville, and it is characteristic of the entire run of the show thus far, is its embrace of popular culture— vs. “high” art—as a source of wisdom and insight. Where Star Trek shows might reference Shakespeare, Beethoven, or Mozart, The Orville looks to Dolly Parton, Billy Joel, and Kermit the Frog. This may be an aspect of creator Seth Macfarlane’s vision of The Orville as more of a blue-collar ship than Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Enterprise-D.

Heneeva discovers Dolly Parton

The blood starts pumpin’

The second half of the episode cuts between diplomatic discussions on Earth and events surrounding the colony planet. As Union admirals and then Council members discuss admitting the colony as a member, the Moclans send a battlecruiser to enforce their interests in the nebula.

One of the things The Orville does very well is present difficult arguments as genuine differences between intelligent people with very distinct points of view. The discussions in the Council, between admirals, and even with the Moclans, are all fascinating to watch, and arguments progress from A to B to C in logical ways, without feeling pre-digested. These mostly seem like people trying to argue very different points of view, rather than actors reciting lines given to them by screenwriters. And that’s a function both of the acting and the writing.

It helps that all of the admirals are characters we’ve met before, played by Ted Danson, Ron Canada, Kelly Hu, and Victor Garber, and the Council members are played by F. Murray Abraham (as the Xeleyan Council Chairman) and Tony Todd (as the head Moclan Ambassador).

Tony Todd plays Moclan Representative to the Planetary Union

One of the things The Orville does not do well is explaining how the Union itself functions, and this discussion makes the question very muddy indeed. Discussions among “The Union” seem to be between the group of human admirals—is “The Union” sometimes a reference to Earth? Is Earth a military dictatorship?—while the Union Council is made up of representatives from many worlds. What is the relationship between the military and the government in this show? Star Trek was able to get away with using the United Nations as templates for how the Federation operated and to treat Starfleet like a UN peacekeeping force, made up of members from many nations. They could do this because they just followed the pattern we are familiar with, and the audience accepted it because of its familiarity. But the politics of the Union aren’t nearly as straightforward.

Heveena makes her case to the Union Council, praising its diversity, and ending with an extended quote from “9 to 5,” delivered as a stirring call of acceptance. The Moclans are intractable and threaten to withdraw from the Union, taking their much-needed weapons manufacturing capabilities with them. And when it seems the tide of the Council is turning against them, the Moclans order their battle cruiser to land shuttles to start capturing and relocating the colonists.

Mercer officially orders Grayson not to intervene, while unofficially telling her to intervene. Possibly sparing others from breaking with official orders, Kelly and Bortus go to the planet alone, to take on four shuttles worth of Moclan soldiers. This unbalanced fight gives the two of them the chance to relive their exciting prison break from “All the World is Birthday Cake.” Unfortunately, because our crew have to be the ones who save the day, the Moclan Dora Milaje who earlier in the episode seemed well-armed and competent are now easily under the thumb of the newly arrived male Moclan soldiers, and it is not until Kelly and Bortus show up and start shooting that they gain the courage to rise up and defend themselves. The episode sets the running gun battle, intercut with a simultaneous space battle between the Orville and the Moclan cruiser, to the rousing strains of—you guessed it—Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” I know that this worked for a lot of people, but it didn’t for me. What I was impressed with was the space battle, which was intelligible, intelligent, and exciting. The digital FX people obviously recovered quickly from the exhausting work involved in “Identity, Part 2.”

Kelly and Bortus engage in some cowboy diplomacy

You never get the credit

In the nick of time, Mercer saves the day with a pithy quip to the Moclans about their vulnerability to Kaylon invasion if they choose to go it alone, and Admiral Halsey proposes an excellent compromise solution. It is a genuine compromise, in that nobody really gets everything they want, but everybody gets enough of what they want that they don’t feel like they fully lost. Again, it’s a savvy piece of writing, and it points to another thing The Orville generally does very well – the endings of its episodes are seldom pat, easy, and cut-and-dried. Like in real life, victories are rarely total, and ambiguity is the name of the game.

Did I miss anything? Oh, yes – while Mercer and the Admirals are debating the limits of tolerance when it comes to the Moclans, Bortus and Klyden have it out in the Orville’s mess hall in front of Commander Grayson. Both of these scenes are well-written and powerfully played.

The baby girl that started it all, now safe

A fat promotion

Bottom line? It’s a fascinating episode, with intelligent arguments that give due respect to all sides, while digging deeply into the question of the limits of tolerance, the season’s major theme. The action is great, the writing is solid, and the performances are strong. The guest stars are a sparkling constellation: Marina Sirtis, F. Murray Abraham, Tony Todd, and the assorted admirals. What doesn’t work for me are the niggling questions the show always leaves behind—unanswered questions about Moclan biology, the repercussions of Isaac’s betrayal of the Union, and the political organization of the Union itself—and the show’s strange embrace of today’s pop culture as the wisdom of the ages. Regardless of all that, “Sanctuary” is well worth watching.

Topa learns girls aren’t icky in “Sanctuary”

Brief bits

  • It hasn’t exactly been established yet on the show how the class rankings of starships in the Union military works, but the USS Orville has been described as an “Exploratory-class” ship in previous episodes, which might be the same as this episode’s “Explorer Class.”
  • Reference is made to a USS Burnell, perhaps named after the Irish astrophysicist?
  • While not stated explicitly, it appears Marina Sirtis’ character replaced Kelly’s former boyfriend Cassius as the teacher on board the USS Orville, which leaves open the possibility of her returning.
  • A story directed by Jonathan Frakes about a small colony inside a nebula that is under threat from powerful space ships, starring Marina Sirtis and F. Murray Abraham could be seen as a leaner, more efficient Star Trek: Insurrection.
  • There is outstanding camera work on the bridge of the Orville during the space battle. Frakes has been on both sides of that kind of scene, a lot of times, and he adds creativity to that experience.
  • The episode ends as it began, with Topa and Olivia building with blocks, but now Topa is playing well with the girl. It’s a nice bookend to the story.

F. Murray Abraham in “Sanctuary”

Notable quotables

  • “Perhaps when Topa is grown, Moclus will not be so…intolerant.” “Who are you to question our core beliefs? You are only one Moclan. What makes the rest of our society wrong, and your perverse vision, right? If it were up to you, our son would still be female!” Bortus and Klyden.
  • “But there are no Moclan females.” “Only a few are born every generation. Some people fear them. That is why her parents have chosen to conceal her. Look at her, Topa. She is not so different from you or I.” Topa and Bortus.
  • “How do you know they were telling the truth?” “If you had called me, I could have run a DNA scan to see if they were really the parents.” Kelly and Finn. I guess Finn’s line implies that both male parents contribute genetic material to their child. How in the heck does that work?
  • “There are over 300 people aboard your vessel—that is over 300 ways to expose us.” Heveena is no fool.
  • “Every revolution begins with a single act of defiance.” “One of yours?” “Actually, I don’t know who said it.” An online search shows many quotations of this line, all of them attributed to “anonymous.” Heveena must have read it somewhere online.
  • “She speaks with the might of a hundred soldiers! This is the voice of our revolution!” Heveena on Dolly Parton
  • “As I look upon all of the exquisite diversity in this great hall, I am reminded that most of us share something in common. Over the course of history, there have been people on nearly every planet who were, at one time or another, oppressed—by those who were stronger, or greater in numbers, for reasons that now seem insignificant to us. The history of moral progress can be measured by the expansion of fundamental rights to those who have been denied them. We ask only to be included in that expanding circle of justice.” Heveena’s opening speech is stirring.
  • “Look, I understand what’s at stake! I’m just saying that if we are not willing to stand up for the values that this Union was founded on, what exactly are we defending?” Mercer to the Admirals.
  • “You did not bother to greet Commander Grayson. And you have not acknowledged her presence since you have been standing here. You rarely leave our quarters or socialize with the crew. You cling to traditions that serve no useful purpose. Your mind remains closed. And you wish to raise our child to embrace this ignorance!” Bortus to Klyden.
  • “Ambassador, the Moclans and the Krill can’t stop the Kaylon alone – and you know it. Moclus would be destroyed. But that little planet inside the nebula might just be insignificant enough to fly under the radar. And if that happens, the only Moclans left in the galaxy would be female. But hey – you’d still be a single-sex species.” Mercer zings it out of the park.
  • “Captain, do you suppose Dolly Parton would be proud of us?” “Oh, yeah.” Heveena and Mercer.

Heveena hopes Dolly Parton would be proud


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Scott Gammans

Another insightful review—thank you, Denes. I must, however, part company with you on the space battle sequence. For me, this was one of the scenes that worked in this otherwise disjointed episode. Dolly Parton is a goddess who walks among us, and I was charmed by the show’s use of “9 to 5” during the ground battle and dogfight in space. Frankly, I also think using Dolly’s anthem helped re-establish the show’s bonafides as a lighter, more comedic series. I mean, come on: you wouldn’t see a relentlessly serious show like Star Trek: Discovery use the title song from a 1980 theatrical comedy as its soundtrack!

Sigh. AGAIN with the Moclans. If The Orville gets a third season, FOX has to make it contingent on the producers agreeing to give Klyden his long-overdue stabbing in the S3 premiere, and then no more Moclan-centric storylines until at least season five. Peter Macon and Chad Coleman have been great, but seriously, enough already.

ML31

“Frankly, I also think using Dolly’s anthem helped re-establish the show’s bonafides as a lighter, more comedic series.”

Except it doesn’t. Because using that as an anthem didn’t evoke laughter. Nor did anything else in the episode to it. In fact, there hasn’t been a chuckle in the show since that one “pee corner” joke in the two parter. And those have been few and far between. In order for the show to be deemed “comedic” I think it is required that it actually be, you know, funny. It showed potential for this in season 1. But completely abandoned it in season 2. The Parton reference was just a “huh?” moment. Not a comedic one.

RockoandSocko3

I agree. I love Orville and it very much feels like it’s coming into its own and finding its place, but after the latest episode, I just threw my hands into the air and thought “great. Klyden strikes again.” It’s too much, and now I am wondering with each new episode what problem is Klyden going to start this time?

SJ Smith

most of the unanswered questions you have about how the union works, et. al., can only be answered over time.

in the first three seasons of Star Trek TOS, you only had a vague awareness external politics. it took many seasons, many novels, many movies, to establish canon.

give Orville 7 years, and I’m sure a lot of questions will be answered.

Cygnus-X1

“Sanctuary” is a great episode. Probably the best of the series so far. In “Sactuary,” The Orville successfully emulates the TNG dramatic form with a strong, compelling, meaningful overarching theme running through the entire story. The humor in “Sanctuary”, though not as plentiful as some would like, arises out of situations intrinsic to the story, rather than taking the audience out of the story. The Klyden character finally gets another dimension, some depth and a purpose for being in the show. No longer just a whiny, henpecking man-hag nor a token gay, Klyden now represents a distinct sociopolitical point of view, which I’d describe as conservative vis-a-vis Bortus’s liberal point of view. Yes, they made the conservative the bad-guy, which is typical of Hollywood, but it works well in this story. If the show really wants to be daring, it might consider reversing that moral dynamic at some point — i.e. making excessive liberalness the problem (if you can’t imagine what that might look like, check out what’s happening on the streets of Seattle), not just with these two characters, but with any type of story.

Cygnus-X1

And unlike the “Identity” two-parter, which uses hackneyed tropes (the child in danger; the cold, calculating, sociopathic robot suddenly discovers his big, squishy heart) to pander to the emotions of the audience, “Sanctuary” presents compelling issues that are actually worked through to conclusion in a way that makes sense, keeps faith with the characters, and doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence. For me, the disillusionment of “Identity” and other groan-inducing episodes from earlier this season has been undone with “Sanctuary.” I only hope that the producers realize how good a job they did with “Sanctuary” and continue in that direction, because it’s a winner for the longevity of the series. If what The Orville aspires to is TNG and beyond, “Sanctuary” is an excellent starting point.

Cygnus-X1

I agree with the reviewer about the details regarding Moclan reproduction, the organizational aspects of the Planetary Union, and so forth. These are issues that The Orville can work out and should if it wants to continue improving. I do liken the Moclans with the asexual species in TNG’s “The Outcast.” In both cases it’s a single sex species obviously created for the purposes of examining sex and gender issues, with the scientific details being less important. It wouldn’t hurt to flesh out the Moclans as a species, though, including their strange biology.

Scott Gammans

Cygnus-X1, I suspect that you and I watch The Orville in two different universes; your response to last week’s episode (and other aspects of the series) is very nearly the mirror image of mine:

* Sanctuary: C-X1: Best episode! SG: Meh.
* Identity: C-X1: Hackneyed and pandering. SG: Best episode!
* Klyden: C-X1: Needs more dimensions. SG: Needs more stabbing.

Can we at least come together on Dolly Parton and “9 to 5”? :D

Cygnus-X1

Scott Gammans

I’d have been happy to see Klyden stabbed. Though, now that he’s got a meaningful purpose in the show, I don’t see it as necessary. So, we’re not all that far apart on that. The Dolly Parton bit, specifically that Moclan woman’s reaction to the song (I think her name is Velveeta), is the funniest part of the episode. It’s ridiculous, but it works because it makes sense within the context of the story. The humor arising out of the story is one of the things that this episode gets right and the show should do more of. It doesn’t take you out of the story like Ed and Gordon turning into Shag and Scooby in the middle of a potentially deadly scene.

Disinvited

Cygnus-X1.

I recently rewatched the episode, IDENTITY PART 2, which made it unambiguously clear when Ed responded to the Admiral’s request for an Isaac kill switch with:

“We can’t keep him [Isaac] in servitude, like his Kaylon builders did.”

That Isaac was in servitude as I contended. And I remind you, Isaac’s “builders” were NOT Kaylon biologicals.

ML31

” The humor in “Sanctuary”, though not as plentiful as some would like, arises out of situations intrinsic to the story, rather than taking the audience out of the story.”

You are the 2nd person to say there were laughs in the episode. I’d really like to know where they were because I didn’t see them.

And for the record, none of the laughs in season one took the viewer out of the episodes. Ever.

Cygnus-X1

ML31

Well, like I said, there isn’t as much humor in this episode as some would like, but the Moclan woman’s reverent reaction to “9 to 5” is kinda funny. If Ed and Gordon turning into buffoons that would never have been hired to do the jobs that they’ve been hired to do, in the middle of a dangerous mission aboard the Krill ship, doesn’t take you out of the story, then I don’t know what to tell you.

ML31

That Krill episode was one of the better ones from season 1. It did not take us out of the story and was pretty darn funny. The one that DID take us out of the story was when Lamar acted like a buffoon on that popularity planet. That gag just didn’t work. But that’s OK. Most of the gags did. Not all will hit the mark. At least they didn’t stop trying. Until season 2. The Moclan female reaction to 9 to 5 was cute. But that’s about as far as it goes. I guess one might think it was really really funny because compared to the absolute lack of jokes in the 2nd season even something that produces a quick grin might be considered landing a good one. But then, there have been funnier jokes in season 2. They just have been very few and very far between. They had one really good laugh all season. Issac when he was trying to make Finn mad at him produced a good laugh. So, like you, if you think playing 9 to 5 over a serious shootout where people are dying and goes completely against the serious tone the show has set works for you, the I too don’t know what to tell you.

Cygnus-X1

ML31

if you think playing 9 to 5 over a serious shootout where people are dying and goes completely against the serious tone the show has set works for you

That part didn’t work for me. But, Velveeta’s reaction to the song when she first hears it did work for me.

Disinvited

ML31,

You have some quaint notions about the types of tunes military bands play during skirmishes.

YANKEE DOODLE has absolutely no such somber import as that which you lament and has been played in battle from the FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR forward.

I just have one lingering question… what did Dolly Parton think of the episode?

Cygnus-X1

I suspect she finds the publishing royalties a good way to make a livin’.

Spiked Canon

she probably swears they’re out to get her

Scott Gammans

I have absolutely no insider knowledge on this, but given how music is Seth MacFarlane’s other all-consuming passion, it would not surprise me in the slightest to learn that not only is he a huuuuge fan of Queen Dolly but he also reached out to her personally to secure rights to use her girl-power hit for this episode. Again, that’s complete speculation on my part… but I’ll bet I’m at least 50% right.

Cygnus-X1

Scott Gammans

Could be.

Cygnus-X1

The point about compromise is also well taken. The female Moclans lose their underground railroad and thereby their ability to continue augmenting their population by saving persecuted females on Moclus — a big loss, to be sure — but, the 6,000 or so inhabitants of the female Moclan colony do gain the freedom to live out in the open, without the constant worry of being discovered, arrested and imprisoned. So, they lose something big and they gain something big. I’d say they’re slightly better off than if Mercer & co. hadn’t interfered. Moclan females on Moclus are obviously much worse off, but those who made it out have gained security. And I’d expect to see continued efforts at getting the females trapped on Moclus out somehow.

Disinvited

Cygnus-X1,

Just because the North’s abolitionist states agree to stop sending raiding parties to the South to liberate slaves doesn’t mean homegrown Southern based liberators would somehow violate that agreement.

The Colony just has an open border policy to immigrants is all.

Professor Spock

I didn’t watch the episode but the Moclans cause issues this season. The Planetary Union and the Federation are more like the European Union than the United Nations.

Edward Samuela

The depictions of the Federation and the Planetary Union are very different.

The Federation is more like a cross of the United States and UN.

From everything we’ve seen, the Federation functions as a federal republic, with members having limited sovereignty and all planets having to conform to the precepts of the Federation Charter/Constitution. The Federation Council is reminiscent of the UN Security Council, but the Federation has a president (referred to in a DS9 episode as “commander-in-chief”) and a legal system similar to the United States. For example, the Federation has an equivalent to the Bill of Rights called “guarantees,” and each member planet has to abide by certain standards, since Bajor’s admittance to the Federation was deemed to be all but over if they adopted a caste system.

And Starfleet is the official defense arm of the Federation, with member planets maintaining their own forces as a sort of planetary national guard.

The Planetary Union is more akin to the NATO alliance and European Union.

Each planet has full sovereignty over their territory to set whatever rules and laws as they like, even if it violates fundamental standards of civil rights. Each planet maintains their own military which they may or may not send to help in a time of crisis. And there are deep disputes among members about how to deal with issues (e.g., Turkey and Greece are both NATO members and still dispute the status of Cyprus to this day).

One notable thing about the council meeting, there was no human ambassador. The Admiral Victor Garber, and the collections of admirals which discussed the issue with Ed, seemed to speak for Earth. And humanity seems to be the only side interested in integrating aliens into their forces.

Spiked Canon

my favorite episode of the series

trekfan67

This show has the worst looking ships! From the Orville and its shuttles to the Moclan ships. Couldn’t they design ships that looked good? They are so laughable!

Scott

Gotta admit that the Orville does look like an ear of corn, with its husk peeled back. :)

navamske

“Gotta admit that the Orville does look like an ear of corn, with its husk peeled back. :)”

To me it looks like a cross berween the Prometheus (VOY: “Message in a Bottle”) and a toilet seat.

TG47

I like the ship’s in the Orville.

They have nice mathematical lines that respect (in universe) the physics of the quantum drive.

Promey

Union ships are fine, even if I don’t love those flaring engines. The shuttles are awful though. Even TOS shuttles had a modest sense of “streamlined.” Union shuttles are fugly boxes.

But, yes, as a general rule, the show doesn’t seem to put a lot into aesthetic design.

Captain Ransom

Another Moclan episode? Really?
I’m sorry, but the whole 9 to 5 during the battles scenes took me right out of it. The pop culture references are just very lame in the show.

Denny C

It was a good episode and they’re doing a nice job establishing fully realized species on this series. World building takes time.

PEB

What’s going on with the Moclan makeup in photo #5? The one all the way to right, it looks like he’s wearing a mask and they just forgot to cover up where the actor’s skin starts. Or is that how they’re all shown on the show?

Mary A

The Moclan biology question could be human biology turned inside out. Maybe only males pairs can mate and contribute DNA to reproduce, which is why the conservative Moclans consider females unnatural. Like homosexual people, Moclan females exist regardless of the fact they don’t fit into their species’ method of reproduction.

ML31

*sigh*

This show continues to be a pale version of it’s former potential. That potential is still there. They just need to decide to go there again. It seems like the same criticisms arise in every episode. Where are the jokes? What happened to the tone? The episode would be ton more effective if they would go a lot lighter in their tone. Why do they wish to be a pale imitation of TNG?

And specific to this episode… The Orville was maneuvering like an X-Wing. A bit of a facepalm if you ask me. Also, they started KILLING people and made light of it by playing 9 to 5 on the soundtrack! What the hell? This show has no idea what it is anymore. They seemed to have a decent idea in season one but completely went off the rails in season two. Discovery improved while Orville got worse.

Professor Spock

ML31 The Orville relies on the Moclans too much. Most of this season heavily featured the Moclans. They are a interesting alien race but I’m getting tired of them already. Discovery improved a lot this season while The Orville is a disappointment.

ML31

Using the Moclans like they have could be a criticism. But my issues with the show are bigger than that. I suspected it was mainly just Seth’s desire to play Captain Picard in a new TNG show. But then they go and throw this 9 to 5 stuff over a scene where a lot of people are brutally murdered. What is it they want? I doubt even they know. They seemed to in season one. Season two is just a rudderless mess.

Denes House

“Brutally murdered” is not how I would describe that scene. Kelly, Bortus, and the freed female Moclans are mounting an uprising against people trying to kidnap the female Moclans. That’s self defense, as far as I can see.

I didn’t like the “9 to 5” use in that scene, but I don’t agree that “murder” is the appropriate term for the violence in it.

ML31

The Moclans and the union weren’t at war. Kelly and Bortus fired on them, presumably killing them. I was watching this and was horrified at the entire action. Now if the show had a comedic element to it, like in the first season, the Parton song could have just been seen as a failed attempt at laughs and nothing more. Also the scene would have lost a lot of the horror.

Disinvited

ML31,

Re: war

In the mid-1950s, neither were the North Koreans and the US. The US’ so-called Korean War was never declared, and yet, a prolonged military engagement ensued for years resulting in many “murders” as you put it.

kmart

The maneuvering WAS ludicrous, I agree, but the fact they are again going to the ‘our guys are the only ones who can shoot straight’ routine again is seriously annoying.

If you’re going to go that route, then you’d better come up with some John Woo level way of filming things that elevate it above point and shoot. The gunfights on ORVILLE have been NEMESIS level, which is to say, awful Awful AWFUL!

ML31

I would think you mean the gunfights are more Star Wars level. It was a thing in Nemesis perhaps. But it wasn’t THAT big a deal.

kmart

The phaser fight on SCIMITAR was the most pedantic I can recall in a movie. Original SW has a couple of bits that weren’t great, but NEM just played like, ‘get as many crummy shots as possible and try to make something of it in editing.’ THE BLACK HOLE was awful that way too — the animators said Yvette kept shooting the other actors in the back of the head with her bad aim.

ML31

I had no problem with the phaser fire on board the Scimitar. At worst it was nothing worse than we’ve seen from inept stormtroopers in Star Wars (and it wasn’t THAT bad, let’s be honest) and at best it was fine. I just think for some reason people like to hate on Nemesis more than anything else. Why not pile on Insurrection? The absolute worst of the TNG features.

kmart

I just found it bad cinematically. Not in terms of aim but in terms of how it was shot. I think that’s true of nearly all of NEM, that it was made by a guy who just wanted to pile up film to play with in the edit bay, without a good shot plan.

I don’t pile on INS because its heart seemed to be in the right place, but it was just so … listless. I’ve watched the Zerbe/Stewart scene in midfilm a few times on its own and I find it quietly powerful, even if I don’t really agree with Picard’s position (which is probably a filmmaking story flaw, since I guess we’re supposed to believe the baddies wouldn’t share with the Feds, even though there’s no on-screen evidence to that effect.)

I complained about FC for over 10 years, but finally have managed to start seeing its virtues instead of just its flaws. And with GEN, I’ve always seen both the virtues and the flaws (like TMP), but limit my re-views usually to just the prologue and the space battle stuff.

I enjoyed this episode better than the bland rom-coms that has aired too many times this season.

NCC Lincon 1785

Troi have a upside down delta I’m the classroom when she’s talking to Brotus

Danpaine

Great ethical dilemma for Bortus, if he doesn’t watch out he’s going to get shivved again.
Nice little role for Ms. Sirtis, great to see her. Again I find myself a fan of the simple yet poignant messages this show presents us. Love the space visuals on this show. I hope next season, if there is one, they strike a better balance with story and humor because this episode literally had none, except I did get a chuckle out of the party bus and Dolly Parton bits. I like the continuing arc they’re doing with the Moclus male/female thing; this one actually made me go back and watch the first season episode when the gender issue came up, nice going, Orville, well played. This show is doing a lot of things right, imo, and throws nothing in your face in an overly heavy way.

DWNicolo

The Orville is a great Star Trek series.

Anon

If baby females regularly arrive at the sanctuary with two male parents, why are there only females at the sanctuary? Do the male parents just dump their offspring and go home? How exactly were four shuttles worth of males (fewer than 100 troops, I would think) supposed to capture and repatriate 6,000 colonists?

Who cares

There is nothing in “classical music” or Shakespeare that is any wiser than most pop culture. In fact for their eras they were pop culture. Mozart drank Absinth and used opium, he also wrote a song called Liek Mich Im Arsch, which translates to Lick my a**. Shakespeare was the Michael Bay of his day.

What puzzles me is why anyone would think there is more wisdom in either era, or less. I certainly learned more from Kermit than Othello.

navamske

After Topa pushed the little girl down and the teacher helped her up and hugged her, she (the teacher) should have said, “I sense great PAIN!!”