Review: ‘The Orville’ Loses Its Sunny Tomorrow In “Gently Falling Rain”

Gently Falling Rain”

The Orville Season 3 (New Horizons), Episode 4 – Debuted Thursday, June 23, 2022
Written by: Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis
and directed by: Jon Cassar

As the Planetary Union moves toward signing a treaty with their longtime foes, the Krill, everything seems to be moving in a positive direction. But a change in the political winds on Krill strands Captain Mercer and his delegation on the wrong side of the new administration, which is headed by a familiar face. Can a lasting peace be salvaged from a mess of demagoguery and fear? Can Mercer and his friends even survive? And how does this strange child fit in?

The fourth episode of The Orville’s third season is a fascinating story, with fantastic makeup and CGI effects, and some compelling performances. It deepens the universe of The Orville without significantly broadening it, and it links up with contemporary issues in a way that is at times thoughtful, at times hamfisted, and at times deeply weird. The result is a mixed bag–mostly good and worthwhile, but with some puzzling decisions along the way.

President Alcuzan (Bruce Boxleitner), Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes), Speria Balask (Lisa Banes), Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber), Charly Burke (Anne Winters), and Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane)

WARNING: Spoilers below!

Tomorrow

Top-level criticism time–out of the first four episodes of this third season, three of them have involved returning to stories begun in the previous two seasons. Only episode 2, “Shadow Realms” has involved exploring new worlds and situations. This has the benefit of deepening our understanding of the universe of The Orville, but it doesn’t expand it much. In some fandoms this is known as “small universe syndrome,” as every major character and situation in some way is picking up a thread from before.

This episode picks up the Krill threads that started in episode 106, “Krill,” in which Captain Mercer and Gordon Malloy infiltrated a Krill battlecruiser to try to steal a copy of the Anhkana, the Krill holy book, in an effort to understand them better, but in the process wound up killing the entire ship’s crew to prevent the unleashing of a powerful bomb over a Union colony. They spared only a schoolteacher, Teleya, and her classroom of children, but in the process, Teleya was radicalized against humanity. In episode 204, “Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes,” Captain Mercer discovered his new girlfriend was really Teleya in disguise, seeking revenge on him for killing her brother and shipmates the previous season. Mercer and Teleya have to cooperate to reach rescue from a dangerous planet, and Ed releases Teleya to his people, hoping he’s established common ground.

Teleya (Michaela McManus)

Something Was Missing

In this episode, Teleya has become the voice of a populist uprising against the Krill Supreme Chancellor, Korin, and is running against him in the current Krill election. Her demagogic speeches warn of the “looming nightmare” of “the inevitable erosion of our ideals and our identity” if “the false prophet” is re-elected. With every speech, she paints the election as an existential battle for the Krill people between the forces of goodness, religion, and morality and traitorous enemies of all that is decent. Korin and his cronies are not just political opponents, they are “enemies,” “traitors,” and “heretics,” and they don’t just need to be defeated at the ballot box, they need to be executed at the hands of “justice.”

There is clearly some intent on the part of the writers to comment on recent American (and international) politics, depicting some of the dangers of political extremism and polarization. But it avoids hanging a lantern directly on the point, and never goes as far as Mirror Lorca’s “Make the Empire great again!” slogan in Star Trek Discovery season one. Mercer and company experience the joys of falsified videos painting political opponents as vicious evils, the Krill calling them “influence operations.” Mercer admits it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not in that environment, a sentiment that I’m sure many in the audience can relate to.

When Teleya unexpectedly wins the election for Supreme Chancellor, the Union delegation–consisting of Union President Alcazar (Bruce Boxleitner, unrecognizable in thick alien makeup, but with his unmistakable voice and charisma intact), Senator Balask (Lisa Banes, former Trek guest star who died between filming this episode and its release, and to whom the episode is dedicated), Captain Mercer, Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber), and Ensign Charly Burke–is caught between the two administrations. I thought this was a compelling moment, and found myself wondering what that would be like, to come at the invitation of one administration, and suddenly find yourself the prisoner of the next.

Charly Burke (Anne Winters), Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane), President Alcuzan (Bruce Boxleitner), Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber), and Speria Balask (Lisa Banes)

It’s The Hard-Knock Life

Teleya’s actions upon assuming power are somewhat confusing. She first establishes her power base by assassinating former Chancellor Korin with a knife before a massive cheering Krill crowd that is apparently always gathered around the Krill government building. She then has a sneering conversation with Mercer, to establish for herself that he is actually part of the Union delegation. Then she orders her guards to take him back to his cell to prepare for his execution–which they immediately do not do, apparently obeying earlier, unspoken orders from her to take him back to his ship. Those guards are then bushwhacked by other Krill, who take Mercer to meet his half human, half-Krill daughter, whom Teleya has hidden away to avoid political embarrassment.

This whole sequence is long and confusing. It gives the viewer a wonderful, on-the-ground look at Krill society, which is great, but the motivations of the characters are unclear and at points specifically contradicted by clear dialogue. There’s a meat-on-a-stick salesman who confusingly won’t take no for an answer, and all of it is made more obscure by the fact that Krill costuming and makeup make it hard to tell one Krill from another. Mercer is shuffled around in a robe and hood to disguise his humanness, but because no Krill on the street wears anything on their heads, or wears a robe, it actually only serves to draw a target on him.

Mercer and Teleya’s daughter, Anaya, is a beautiful girl with huge eyes, and in the year, year-and-a-half since she was born, has grown to the size and maturity of a human nine-year-old. And when Mercer confronts Teleya again, and the show brings up the topic of abortion, it is handled about as badly as a show can, treating the question quickly and with zero depth, and then forgetting that they ever talked about it in the first place.

Capt. Ed Mercer with his daughter Anaya

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

The rest of the cast of the show are involved throughout in space battles and rescue missions. There’s a conflict between the Orville and three Krill battlecruisers that is intense and makes sense, and that serves as the beginning of a “Directive 21” mini-plot-mystery that pays off near the end. Malloy gets to try an “expanding helix maneuver” that he made up on the spot and leaves Bortus (of the famously iron Moclan stomach) losing his lunch.

Then there’s a huge fleet-on-fleet battle commanded by Kelly Hu’s Admiral Ozawa, that is almost on the scale of the Battle for Earth in Season Two’s “Identity, Part Two.” In that battle, the goal seems to be to effect a military rescue of the delegation, but there’s no dialogue or visuals that indicate how a military rescue might be underway. “Directive 21” is mentioned as their fallback plan, but in the end, it seems to have been the only plan actually in motion. As a result, this battle seems wasteful and perhaps misguided. Not every military objective is worth the destruction of half a dozen ships and their crews.

Finally, there’s a ground-based car chase through the streets of Dalakos, the Krill capital city. “Directive 21” turns out to be an in-disguise rescue attempt by John Lamarr and Claire Finn, infiltrating the Krill government building, rescuing the delegation with some light grenades, and then flying their hover-car back to their cloaked shuttle. This is a thrilling chase sequence that unfolds in parallel to the gigantic fleet battle taking place in orbit.

Each battle is cool, and the effects are great, but taken together, this all feels like a bit much. When every episode is kitted out to be the equivalent of a feature film, every climax has to be super-explosive and has to outdo the previous episode. That can quickly become tiring, and I’m sure will be exhausting for people binge-watching Season three.

Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) and Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes)

Your Bottom Dollar

There are a lot of great pieces in this episode, and everyone involved seems to be at the top of their game. But there are also a number of pieces that don’t fit, which makes the overall picture confusing at parts. All in all, it’s probably the second- or third-best episode of the season so far, with “Mortality Paradox” as the best so far, and “Shadow Realms” as the worst.

Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane)

COOL BITS

  • The episode opens with the Krill attending a Broadway showing of “Annie,” where the little orphan is played by a Xeleyan, and Daddy Warbucks is one of Ensign Dann’s species; that girl can really sing!
  • The Orville crew participates in a “pub crawl through history” on the Simulator, which of course, if you have a Simulator, you would totally do. This is a very funny scene that features a return (in a sense) to Bortus’ season one mustache, a glimmer of a romance between Lamarr and a newly-promoted Lt. Commander Keyali, and a hysterical appearance by Isaac.
  • The historical pub crawl also continues my deep concern for Kelly Grayson’s drinking problem.
  • When Mercer questions Admiral Halsey about his ability to pilot the shuttle, the humor in that scene is compounded when you know that in real life, Victor Garber has never learned to drive a car!
  • We learn a lot about the Krill and their homeworld, which is covered by a cloud layer 80 kilometers thick. No wonder they see the sun as an ill omen. Kahspid cider is a Krill delicacy that humans also enjoy. Katal and Garathon are two districts on the Krill homeworld. The Krill religious hierarchy are known as the “Circle of Clerics.”
  • The one Krill costume that really stood out from the rest is Teleya’s striking purple Chancellor’s outfit. It was pretty stunning. We also see some skimpy Krill pole dancers costumes.
  • In the Krill language, “Anaya” means “gently falling rain,” the episode title.

Ambassador K.T.Z.(John Fleck)

NOTABLE QUOTABLES

  • “The sun’ll come out tomorrow; the repeated prophecy of the orphan child was quite haunting. In our culture, the sun is a symbol of suffering and death.” “Yes, in retrospect, Oklahoma! May have been a better choice.” Chancellor Korin and Admiral Halsey
  • “It wasn’t until we advanced beyond the need to buy and sell things that our world became a more stable place.” “The merchant class is the backbone of our civilization, and our society has been stable for tens of thousands of years. What you lack is divine guidance.” “All things considered, I’d say we’re doing pretty well these days.” The admirals and the Krill delegation
  • “When the threat is existential, one cannot afford a margin for error.” Chancellor Korin, wisely applying the aphorism to the Kaylon threat. Of course, Teleya will apply the same logic to the threat of Korin’s rule.
  • “Once the people see you for themselves, as I have, they will understand you are not the soulless monsters my opponent would have them believe.” – Chancellor Korin
  • “This town will not accommodate the numerical totality of our combined mass” – Isaac with a hat and hysterical handlebar mustache
  • “Kahspid cider, a Krill delicacy.” “Alien delicacies.” “Always a crap shoot.” Korin, Halsey, and Mercer
  • “Looks like you’re an Uptown Girl now. Billy Joel.” Mercer making probably his least-convincing music reference ever to Teleya
  • “Most men who lose their heads tend to die. Yes.” Teleya
  • “Hubris has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass.” Mercer, discussing the poem about Ozymandias, King of Kings
  • “That’s a funny name. You look funny.” “Thanks – I get that a lot.” Anaya and Ed
  • “With every child, a new world is born” – the Anhkana
  • “You wanna have breakfast with me?” Mercer – wait, is their romance “on” again? Oh, please no.

Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and Charly Burke (Anne Winters)


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It was an ok episode i did find that Captain Mercer having a child with Teleya much like Ash Tyler/Voq in Star Trek Discovery finding out he had a child with L’rell.
In fact a lot of this episode reminded me a bit of the Discovery episode s2 e3 ‘Point of Light’ even the political discourse with Korin/Teleya reminded me of L’rell dealing with Kol-Sha.
I still can’t stand the character of Charly she doesn’t deserve to be on the bridge let alone wear that uniform.
I hope we get to see more of Mercers child Anaya and have her aboard the Orville eventually.

They really need to give Charley a personality beyond just being mean to Isaac.

This.

What this?

Did you not watch Charly be kind to Marcus? Or her enthusiasm for exploration in the 2nd episode? Or socializing with others in the Simulator pub crawl through time?

While she was being kind to Marcus and participating in the pub crawl, she was also either talking about how much she hates Isaac or just being rude to him.

Like I said before, what Legate Damar said.

I agree. She is awful, both as an actress and a character. Bring back lamarr to the bridge. But kelly is cool.

The first few minutes of this episode sucked, but it got much better once everything went to hell on Krill. Overall, this episode felt more like a movie than an episode and it was certainly better than this week’s Star Trek Strange New World.

The episode was great from the start. The musical number set the stage

I am 99% certain that in the saloon scene, Seth MacFarlane is wearing his costume from A Million Ways to Die in the West.

I believe it is as well

Denes House – “Mortality Paradox” Though maybe yes there was some question as to the morals of what Dinal did…

This episode had everything in it from light comedy, to drama, to a space battle and car chase. Crazy good production values . . . like a whole movie. But the most important thing to me was that the writing was sound. You could close your eyes, imagine different uniforms and terms, and it would feel like good old Star Trek. Right down to a theme where bad things were happening, but there was a hopeful and optimistic message of peace. <3

This episode reflected the best of “Star Trek” that I’ve seen in almost two decades. It is unfortunate that Abrams/Kurtzman was chosen to carry on the Roddenberry legacy over someone that gets it, aka Seth McFarlane.

Beautifully said. As I watched the episode I had the fantasy of writing to Seth McFarlane to thank him for continuing Roddenberry’s positive vision. Abrams/Kurtzman, by contrast, tore the soul out of Star Trek.

The problem with the episode was how on the nose they felt they needed to be in their critique of Trumps election. The government in place is sure it will win until the last moment when districts go in favor of Trump.. i mean Teleya! The “lock her up” parallels with Teleya promising to punish those in charge, and then immediately taking the previous Chancellor prisoner. The “fake news” stuff with the manufactured videos showing the opponents doing horrible things. Even the religiosity of the new regime mirroring (I guess) the perceived religiosity of those that voted for Trump… Admittedly in a world where everyone is religious to some extent or another. The show has never been subtle about these things but wow my entire screen is one big nail head and the hammer is repeatedly smashing it.

The second problem was ofc that Teleya and Ed could have a child together… two separate species on two separate planets evolving from two separate events… We can’t even have children with orangutans and they are nearly genetically identical to us… This is laughable I cannot enjoy such silliness. I had been sort of hoping for a 4th season but man atm this episode has got me questioning my own sanity.

You’re complaining about two separate species procreating on a Star Trek site. Obviously that isn’t actually realistic, but its one of those things that we have to overlook in a lot of scifi and fantasy worlds.

Spock? Who’s that?

Well star trek came from a hugely naive point of time in human history…the understanding we have now of evolution and genetic diversity is wildly advanced. But even worst case scenario (and I’m not a trekkie so forgive me if the particulars dont fit in this case) but one could argue that a sufficiently advanced society could engineer dna or sperm/eggs in such a way that allows interbreeding. But ofc that goes out the window in the case of Teleya, as it was clearly an accident and clearly not wanted.

Those parallels don’t just apply to the US. Populism has been sweeping across the globe in the past few years, even overtaking bastions of liberal thought like France.

I don’t think the critique or comment on current politics was just about Trump.
Sure he is the US and therefore highest profile but, the ethnocentric, anti UN, and religious fundamentalism is not solely a US phenomenon.
The Krill religious fanaticism also parallels many Islamic nations today.
Fake News is a world wide problem, just hop over to YouTube and see how much fake news there is around climate science.
With the Union equating to the UN the attitude parallels elements in many nations including Australia where people fear the UN taking away our sovereignty. In our last election there was BS about the WHO taking over our health care.
So the Krill society stands as a mirror to aspects of many groups on earth is 2022.

Thanks for this!

Too many folks can’t help but look at the world from an alarmingly US-centric perspective, which is why I value the internationality of these two franchises’ forums such as this one! 🌎🌍🌏

To be fair it is an American show aimed mostly at Americans. like Star Trek itself, so I understand why some look at it from that perspective. But yes others are absolutely right, it’s not just an American issue sadly, but a very global one.

The broad strokes, maybe. But the specifics are clearly aimed at Trump. The world may want us to think about them more but sorry as another posted mentioned, american show for an american audience, using american references.

I mean good grief the show references american pop culture – movies, music, singers, actors, etc… they go to an american high school earlier in the season.. Ed gives Teleya the best of Billy Joel, which they repeatedly remind the audience of.. how much more american can you get? Sorry rest of the world, we love you but this isn’t about you.

I’m quite glad how hamfisted and pointed the criticism of the election is. I thought SNW was bold to include an actual clip in episode one.

I’m especially glad that both shows have now eagerly told any insurrectionists in the audiences to f–k off, since for quite a while The Orville was often used as a refuge of those who hated Discovery for no reasons other than its diversity.

The problem with hamfisted criticism is it just doesn’t hit. It just leads to eye rolling, as the audience is pulled violently out of the show and reminded that the cast and crew is a bunch of Democrats that hate Trump and will do anything, including screwing up their own show, to remind us of the fact. Its silliness. There’s no way that anyone will remember Trump in the 2400s, he will be sandwiched between millard fillmore and zachary taylor as presidents that weren’t qualified to be president and when they got elected they proved it. That’s it.

Teleya (Krill woman). Xelaya (Alara’s homeworld). Seleya (mountain on Vulcan). How about a little variety?

Since Seleya is a different franchise it doesn’t count…

Does too.

This show…I think the gag has run out, but I still enjoy watching these characters and wish they were having more fun. The show’s production quality is still distractingly bad however, made worse but the earnestness of the writing this season. Bruce Boxleitner’s makeup just had me chuckling. The episode was engaging enough, although on-the-nose, I still found it the most TNG-like episode so far this season even if Star Trek generally doesn’t make its allegories so obvious.

I have to disagree. I thought the effects were great, the writing well done, and this was the best episode of the season so far.
Beats the unwatchable Discovery to the ground.

I really hope Ed and Kelly ARE back on or will be by the end of the season. They clearly still love each other 😭

And considering her cheating was due to that one alien’s pheromones (remember when he slept with everyone of the main crew?) they can and probably should get back together.

My two complaints:
1) Does the Union not have any ship designers? Why are all the ships the same (only the number of “warp” engines varies) only different sizes? The battle was impressive, but the ships are all the same. The Orville does not standout (apparently TPTB didn’t learn all the lessons from their time on Star Trek).
2) Why does television not like babies? Between Family Ties, ST:TNG, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, etc. etc. babies born one season are aged up four or five years the next season. I mean, maybe the Krill age/grow faster than humans, but still, a nine year old actress (or whatever age the actress is; she was good though)?

Because an 18-month toddler can’t deliver the dialogue needed to articulate what MacFarlane wanted the scene to convey. By pulling a SF version of “The Kid Trick” (they’re a baby, then the next time the story pays attention to them weeks later they’re five or so years old, then when it pays attention to them next after a month or two they’re ten or eleven, then a few months passes and now they’re sixteen or seventeen and old enough to be active characters in the story!), Mercer can have a fairly intelligent conversation with his half-Krill daughter and be both moved to protect her, and be concerned about the potential fallout if enough Krill found out their xenophobic new Chancellor had a half-human baby!

The same has happened with Topa for season two, and will again happen in next week’s episode “A Tale of Two Topas” from what can be seen in Hulu’s image and description for the episode.

As you say, they’re all alien species, and if it lends itself to the narrative, I’m all for it!

I get all that with what MacFarlane wanted the scene to convey, but my complaint was more towards TV in general, hence why my comment included the “maybe the Krill age/grow faster than humans” cop-out.😁

I like the uniformity of Union ships. Trek’s kitchen-sink approach never made sense to me (see also Trek uniforms).

I bet there are subtle differences, or at least there are within the fiction of the setting even if the ship FX are literally copy/paste.

Well, Trek does over do it when it comes to the amount of ship classes it has. But, let’s just take the ships seen in Star Treks II-IV, for instance. The four ship classes that we saw made sense. The Excelsior needed to be bigger because of her (failed) Transwarp Drive. The Grissom could be tiny since she’s just a science vessel and not intended for the five year missions like the Constitution Class ships. The Reliant… well, I’m not entirely sure what that class ship is supposed to do, but man oh man what a good looking ship (nothing tops the Constitution-Refit, however). After that… the TNG/DS9/VOY designers went crazy. The Kelvin folks and the DIS/PIC folks were just following what was done before, so they get an excuse.

I dunno, maybe because of the way their “warp” engines work, it doesn’t make other ship designs easy. But it really is hard to pick out the Orville in one of those space battle scenes.

What do you mean why are all the ships the same?

You’re thinking of STP where Riker had a copy/paste fleet.

The Orville showed clear design differences between the ships

What the Krill did to that couple with the simulated child was one of the cruellest things I’ve ever seen. I wanted to reach through the TV and give both of them a hug.

World covered in clouds, merchant class backbone of society. Where have I heard that before?

Way too on the nose with its commentary and sometimes felt like it was indeed wasting money that could have been better used elsewhere, but Mercer’s last argument with Teleya was the first time I actually believed in a Seth MacFarlane dramatic performance.

Is it just me? I will continue to support Orville because I admire any creative effort in this genre. Especially a love letter to Trek like this series. That said, while I love the production values present in this series that’s where my admiration sadly must end. The actors deliver mediocre performances every week with brief moments of brilliance which I blame on the director. Except for the new ensign, they often appear wooden and uncharismatic. I find many scenes to feel almost cartoonish. And that’s the straight stuff – not the comedy . Again, poor choices by the director. I am trying but just don’t really care about this group. And they don’t seem to have the chemistry to care about each other. The change to Hulu has not helped – yet . Maybe it will

I can’t disagree, as we’ve seen a lot of these actors give better performances in other projects. MacFarlane is the exception, drama may never be his forte. He’s front and center because this is his passion/dream project. I’m happy for him, but I rarely find him compelling as a live action actor.

What you discibed is how I feel about the current show runners of Stat Trek. This show has the spirit that Star Trek has completely lost.

I liked this episode a lot, but this is four episodes of action drama in a row, with only very few (half-hearted) comedic scenes, or “blips of chuckle-material”, seemingly forcefully inserted here and there to try to appease those that loved the very good mix from the first two seasons (particularly perfected in their second year).

Currently rewatching and admiring the effortlessness with which they constructed the first two years, I feel like this season really needs to lighten up more every now and then, in order to maintain its reputation of “Trek heir” (yep, I’m aware that there are just as many who disagree with the notion, as there are those who agree)…

Anyhow. I love the world-building of this series, and loved this episode’s light beginning on Broadway, but agree that the new format doesn’t always work in the show’s favor, sometimes wasting valuable time. What I was pleasantly surprised by, was the chase scene in the end, bringing us out of the city and into rural parts of the planet, with more alien vegetation than what we normally see even on Trek worlds.

😁👍 for the VFX choices, and a big 🙏😐 for more comedy, please!

I think the comedy in the first two seasons got pretty forced at times. By the end of season 2 I thought it was a decent balance, Ed wasn’t asking anyone to open jars of pickles anymore.

The problem is just because you have freedom to take your time telling the story does not mean you should ignore good editing. All these episodes could use editing.