“A Tale of Two Topas”
The Orville Season 3 (New Horizons), Episode 5 – Debuted Thursday, June 30, 2022
Written and directed by: Seth McFarlane
Hoping to one day become a Union officer, Topa takes Commander Kelly Grayson as his mentor. In the process, his deep unhappiness about something he can’t identify drives him to search for answers–answers that could have explosive consequences for the Planetary Union, the crew of the Orville, and his Moclan parents.
“A Tale of Two Topas” is a heartfelt and heart-breaking collision of key plots and themes from the first two seasons of The Orville. Its message about the importance of living out one’s own personal truth is deeply complicated by the sci-fi scenario that the story requires, which makes for a fascinating exploration that matters for these characters, but sounds an uncertain trumpet in the real-world context of the wider culture. It’s messy, and in that messiness is this episode’s strength and its weakness.
IF YOU DIG SPOILERS, ARCHAEOLOGICALLY, THERE IS A TREASURE-TROVE AHEAD
Belongs in a museum
Of all the plot threads developed during The Orville’s first two seasons, perhaps none was as emotionally-charged and difficult as the “Moclan thread.” In the Moclan culture, the show presented the explosive question of just how far Star Trek-style toleration for differences can extend. Within the diverse and welcoming Planetary Union, the Moclans stood out for their warlike nature, their fierce and uncompromising morality, and of course, the fact that all Moclans are male. Except they aren’t–in episode 102, Bortus lays an egg and must incubate it, and at the end of the episode, when it hatches, inside is a baby girl. In episode 103, Klyden insists that the girl receive gender-reassignment surgery, and when Bortus disagrees (after learning the lesson of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer) the case goes before a Moclan court, which is shocked by the bombshell revelation that the planet’s most famous author is a female named Heveena, a proud and uncompromising woman. The tribunal rules against Bortus, and Topa is surgically-altered to be physiologically male.
Episode 202, “Primal Urges,” highlighted the rift that had grown between Bortus and Klyden over this decision, the shame of which drove Bortus into a pornography addiction. In all of Season two, Topa is played by an eight-year-old boy, Blesson Yates. Episode 207, “Deflectors,” establishes that some Moclan males are attracted primarily to females, including one of Bortus’ former lovers, Locar, who stages his own fake murder to frame Klyden for it, hoping to escape Moclan culture and live in freedom in the galaxy. And in episode 212, “Sanctuary,” the crew of the Orville discovers that Heveena has secretly established a safe haven for Moclan females who want to avoid gender-reassignment surgery, a place for parents to leave their infants. When the colony applies for Union membership, it drives a rift between Moclus and the Planetary Union.
Not the years, but the mileage
Neither Topa nor Klyden has appeared in season three at all until this episode, where Topa is played by female college sophomore Imani Pullum. Topa’s unhappiness and questing for answers leads to his discovery (aided by Commander Grayson and surprisingly by Bortus) that he was born female and surgically altered to appear male. Pullum’s performance here is nothing short of amazing, with her countenance, gestures, voice, and mannerisms Topa’s sadness, hope, and despair, and then after her gender re-reassignment surgery the freedom and happiness of her new life. Beyond that, Pullum is able to portray Topa as somehow male before the surgery and female afterwards, even though the difference in the Moclan makeup is very subtle.
Pullum’s performance would be the highlight of any other episode, were it not for the tour de force duo of Peter Macon as Bortus and Chad Coleman as Klyden. I’ve long said that Coleman has one of the most difficult jobs on television. The Orville is not satisfied with just making Klyden a villain and being done with it; instead, the show writes the character with a point of view that is comprehensible and at times sympathetic, such that even when you can’t agree with him, you can understand where he’s coming from and why he does what he does. In “A Tale of Two Topas,” Klyden is a ball of repressed fury that comes unleashed, is a towering bully who uses force to try to get his way, but is also a self-hating man who has long despaired of ever truly being happy.
Coleman’s performance is only surpassed by Macon, who through the thick Moclan head-and-neck appliances is somehow able to wring some of the deepest emotions out of every line. When Bortus croaks, “I do not know how to help him!” with tears running down his face, it is the episode’s most poignant moment. We also get to hear Bortus sing, which is the other shoe dropping from a gag introduced in episodes 105, “Pria,” and 107, “Majority Rule.” In “A Tale of Two Topas,” Bortus sings selections from 16 different Union cultures (though we only see two, from Earth’s 20th Century, of course) as a diversion from the gender re-reassignment surgery taking place in sickbay. While Macon may never be asked to record a CD, he has a strong voice and is able to carry the tunes off well.
Everybody’s lost except me
Seth MacFarlane’s writing in this episode is strong and complicated, as has so often been the case throughout The Orville’s run. The archaeological dig subplot that at times feels tacked on actually sets up important beats that pay off later–Kelly’s early admiration with the alien beast flying free, Isaac’s ability to open the booby-trapped doors of the temple–presaging his ability to avoid the ethical booby traps later in the episode, and even affording a convenient way for Mercer and Grayson to be chewed out in person by Admiral Howland in the episode’s closing minutes.
Topa begins the episode as a male, on the bridge of a simulated starship, practicing giving commands as its captain. Topa ends the episode on the bridge of the real Orville, giving real commands to its crew. Grayson early on explains the duties of the ship’s first officer to Topa, which include overseeing crew morale and managing cultural clashes. This latter is demonstrated quickly as she helps find a compromise between ensign Bolobar’s religious beliefs and the crew’s need for him to wear pants. But of course, this is put to the test as she has to deal with the difficulties of Moclan cultural differences, and it breaks down when she is attacked by Klyden and has to pin him to the wall.
What is more challenging about the episode–and I think this is to MacFarlane’s credit–is the difficulty in exactly mapping the episode’s moral lessons onto contemporary issues. It is pretty clear that MacFarlane’s intent is to support kids who have gender dysphoria, urging parents to listen to their kids and to let their kids guide them in understanding their identity. But in the context of the show’s sci-fi universe, it’s not that simple. Topa is not just surgically transitioning, he is surgically de-transitioning, which if carried more literally than MacFarlane intended would lead to a very different message. Topa was surgically altered before she could consent to the process, but inside she still connects with her biological sex at birth. Instead of trying to smooth out the details to make the show have a clear teaching point, MacFarlane lets the characters and situations lead the way, which makes the episode stronger and simultaneously less preachy than it otherwise could have been. And when Kelly and Topa revisit the Moclan gender tribunal seen in episode 103, the effect is seamless, inserting new footage of Imani Pullum and Adrienne Palicki into the archival footage from that episode, a la DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations,” along with shooting new footage with some of the original actors including Rena Owen (Heveena).
Why did it have to be snakes?
One nitpick that I think has to be noted is that the de-transitioning surgery that Isaac winds up performing for Topa is described as “simple,” is accompanied by tinkling, fairy-tale style music, and is both immediately successful and requires no significant recovery time. This isn’t real life, of course, and The Orville operates in the realm occupied by Star Trek Lower Decks’ ensign Mariner, who quips to Boimler after he’s gummed by the alien spider in LDS 101, “You’re fine, Doc will wave a light over it.” As someone who is currently in my third week of recovery from relatively minor surgery, this plot point definitely felt like a fairy tale.
That Isaac volunteers to perform the surgery, and his later explanation to Dr. Finn about why he volunteered, is another point in MacFarlane’s favor – this decision makes a whole lot of sense, and solves a whole lot of problems that the episode is wise enough to point out as it solves them.
At 75 minutes the longest episode of The Orville ever, this episode felt a little long, but I am not sure what I would have cut from it. Even the aforementioned archaeology subplot has a meaningful place in the episode, and it inspired the header quotes for this review, so I would be ungrateful to complain about it. “A Tale of Two Topas” is probably the best episode of the season so far, and is definitely the meatiest.
- Ed has been writing letters to his daughter Anaya, even though he can’t get them to her on Krill, just in case someday she gets to read them. Aww!
- In the Belkarian faith, to wear clothing on the first day of the month is considered an affront to the work of the Spirit Lord.
- Brosk, a crewmember from an unnamed alien race, always speaks his native language, which is not translated by the ship’s translator, yet everyone understands him. This is also true of Lt. Unk. I am not sure how that works in the world of The Orville.
- This episode adds to my concerns about Commander Grayson’s possible alcoholism, with references to the significant amount of day drinking that her job inspires. Get help, Kelly!
- There’s a great scene shot in front of the Dysonium sphere between Grayson and Topa (used for this review’s header image) that shows the vast improvement in the Engineering set–you would never have shot that scene in front of the old set piece
- Kolp is a green, seaweed-looking Moclan food; Oppsada can be made into a cake called “Kimbok;” the password protecting the files related to Topa’s gender tribunal is Gomaskah488–in episode 103 we learn that a “gomaskah” is a Moclan first date
- Union medical policy recommends reporting someone’s possibly suicide-related comments to a superior officer–this is good practice for those of us not stationed on Union ships, as well.
- After this episode, if I were Commander Grayson, I’d be wary of answering my door chime.
- Imani Pullum’s IMDB biography lists Topa as a “recurring role,” so we may see her again this season.
- The USS Newton is a science vessel in the Union navy.
- It looks like Lt. Dann is just visible in one corridor shot.
- A quick moment between Charly and Gordon hints at a possible future romance.
- Gordon, like most humans, has a horrible allergic reaction to eating a Baliddian Tart, despite the fact that it’s green sprinkles make it look so tasty.
- “Run this over your face for three minutes.” Finn to Malloy, a la Mariner.
- “I don’t do anything half-assed, Lieutenant.” Ensign Charly Burke.
- “I always feel as if there is something wrong with me. But I cannot tell what. Lt. Malloy says many people my age feel this way. Perhaps it is normal.” Topa.
- “It occurs to me that in all the time we have been together, I have never once known you to be uncertain of anything. Tell me, what is it like to be so wise?” “You are mocking me! Do you know how much pain I would have been spared had I not discovered that I was born female? I would never – ever – force our son to endure such a life. I love him with all my heart. Bortus, I would give anything to be ignorant of my beginnings. Topa may never be happy, but unhappiness is better than despair.” Bortus and Klyden.
- “As much as I hate him – as much as I hate his answer – he is your father.” Grayson.
- “It is my understanding that a visit to a crew member’s quarters during off-duty hours can invite speculation regarding intent. If you wish, I will send a ship-wide communique assuring the crew that this was not a romantic or sexual encounter.” Isaac to Grayson.
- “I may appear to be male, but what is inside me still exists. It is why I have felt the way I have for so long. My body has been screaming to me that I am someone else.” Topa
- “We love you for everything that you are… and were.” Bortus to Topa
- “I’m going to use my imagination to pretend that didn’t just happen. And then I’m gonna let go, and you’re gonna get the hell out of my office. And if you ever try to strike an officer again, I’m gonna break your goddamn arm off and mount it on my wall. You hear me?” Grayson after judo-ing Klyden.
- “I am an artificial life form capable of executing complex algorithms demanding extreme physical dexterity. For me, there is no difference between performing surgery, playing a piano concerto, or re-aligning a scanner array. In effect, I can indeed be…a doctor.” Isaac
- “That key is too high!” Bortus to Ty Finn, both of whom brought their “A game.”
- “Have you no room in your heart for tolerance? What inner fulfillment are you enjoying from this devotion to tradition that is so potent it drives you from your family?” Bortus to Klyden.
- “I wish you were never born.” Klyden to Topa.
- “Listen very closely to me. You are perfect.” Bortus to Topa.
- “Look, I don’t want to disrespect your religion, but maybe there’s a sensible compromise between your faith and Union protocol that would satisfy everyone involved.” “What do you suggest?” “Put some pants on, and we’ll call it a day.” Grayson and Bolobar.
Keep up with all The Orville news and analysis on TrekMovie.
This is my favorite episode of the Orville yet. In my opinion the Orville, now that it has less juvenile humor, is truly carrying the torch of Star Trek’s spirit more than any Trek show or movie since Voyager (although Strange New Worlds is good too).
I saw the first episode of this season which I really liked but slacked off after the second episode. But people seem to be singing the show praises so have to binge watch and catch up!
This episode really resonated with me as I have a Transgender child. The way The Orville is dealing with real life issues is well done.
Not only realing with real life issues, but also just right in time as if the episode has been written now.
Lots of tears in our house while watching it. I have two trans children and they, too, are perfect.
This is also my favorite episode of this season so far. It also went back to the first season and brought back its tone, which I still like more than season 3.
I agree about the tone (though season 2 did it best for me), the balance between drama and humor was brought back here — a very welcome move! You can just tell every time that Seth MacFarlane’s the author. Well done! 😃👍
Really? There was no humor in it. The first season was perhaps 35% comedy. That was their best season. The 2nd season they found a way to get one joke in a show. This season they have completely jettisoned the comedy and have gone completely TNG.
Couldn’t agree more. This is the true spiritual successor to TOS, IMO. It has the heart of Trek that official Trek has been missing for a long time.
It’s capturing the spirit of TNG but it’s FAR from carrying the torch of Trek’s spirit, much less doing that better than anything since Voyager. That’s just… well it’s your opinion but kind of a bad take. But I do agree, it scratches the itch that TNG fans had for that style of show. If Trek was doing that with the production, blocking, etc – I’d criticize it for being stagnant and stuck in the past. I’ve come around and enjoy The Orville for what it is but I can’t pretend it’s something it’s not.
I would say this show captures more than just TNG’s spirit. It is as close as it can get to TNG without actually being TNG. It could actually be TNG: The Next Generation. The only difference is this ship seems to have co-captains for some reason.
Agree 100%, GarySeven
I haven’t seen any of The Orville in over 3 years. That said, now that ObiWan is done with S1, I plan to sign up for D+ as I hear the new Star Wars series is quite good – and that will also give me a chance to check out New Horizons.
I hope the lack of comments isn’t an indicator of the S3 quality. The more science fiction on TV, the better. Even though I really like SNW, Prodigy, For All Mankind and am looking forward to Picard S3 and ObiWan, I hope there is still room for The Orville. In the US, it is the only game in town for Hulu, so hopefully there will be an S4.
I wouldn’t say its the only game in town for Hulu. They’re also getting Futurama, which is easily the best science fiction comedy that left Fox and eventually moved to Hulu.
Did it move to Hulu? I thought it was on Cartoon Network. Or was it FX?
In Canada Disney+ carries most of the Hulu stuff as well as the Fox cartoons and Fox movies like Die Hard and Predator.
I wish more TV shows these days tackled real-life topics the way The Orville does. It makes you think without telling you what to think. Very well done indeed. Most shows just pick a viewpoint, demonize anyone who doesn’t agree, and calls it a day.
As Sulu said in B of T – Alert alert , all decks alert!
Sorry I know this is an Orville article BUT heads up…. they just released the trailer for SNW’s Series finale! it is on Youtube already!
Just an fyi.
This was such a powerful episode. My heart went out for Topa after seeing what she was struggling with. But Grayson may be my favorite character after this episode because of the way she stood up to Topa’s dad.
Even though we all understand and can appreciate why she did it Mercer should have reprimanded her for it. But it’s a little confusing sometimes as it looks very much like this ship has two captains.
I loved this episode I was all in my emotions throughout the whole episode!! This was I think best episode this season, I hope all the others that follow are just as good or better! Seth you really wrote the hell out of this episode!
The orville is best described like the final moments of wrath of khan during spocks funeral where kirk referres to spock as the most human soul hes ever known.The orville feels like real people with all their flaws unlike all the other shows where it seems like their everything revolves around their job .
This is it. They aren’t archetypes. There’s a Kermit the Frog on the Captain’s desk! They have heart and real feelings.
This was the best story The Orville have done to date. Now where can I get that Bortus album!
This is the best episode The Orville has done, every note was perfect and nothing felt like filler despite its length (except for the overly long staircase shot). Well acted, well written (mostly), and the best example of a TNG episode ever. Sometimes this show strikes an awkward tonal balance between humor and serious subject matter with poorly executed endings. But this one nailed it all. More importantly it created a moving and important look at a serious subject. This season is getting progressively better after a tedious start.
Did anyone else hear Rhonda Santis’ head explode while they were watching?
You mean Ron DeSantis? I assume he would be happy with the story of a child wanting to identify with the sex they were born as. I enjoyed the episode, but it is a weird metaphor. Basically they are using cis-gendered Moclan females as a stand-in for transgender people.
I think the cisgendered/transgendered thing is immaterial to the larger point of the story which is you are who you are and no one should try to force you to be something you’re not and, if they do, it can cause long lasting mental harm.
I’m also very curious if the story was at all influenced by the true story of David Reimar (there’s a documentary about him but, tl;dw is his circumcision was botched so a psychologist named John Money convinced his parents to raise him as a girl because Money wanted to prove that gender identity is learned and David + his identical twin brother had the misfortune to be the “test + control” in Money’s research… suffice to say, the theory Money had turned out to prove itself entirely false. David realized he was male around the onset of puberty and transitioned back to his birth gender around age 15… but the entire ordeal ended with huge life long consequences including depression for which David’s twin brother died from an OD of antidepressants and David took his own life with a double barrel).
The very slight similarities to what happened to David Reimar make me almost certain they are aware of the documentary or read something about it in the genesis of the episode.
I agree, but I can definitely see a moron like DeSantis interpreting this as a parable about how we should all identify as gender we are assigned at birth.
I do remember hearing about that story. It might have been in a psychology class. I would think that any competent psychologist should have been able to predict how Money’s experiment would end, but a lot of psychologists are nuts.
“as a parable about how we should all identify as gender we are assigned at birth”
It’s not a parable; that is the literal plot of the episode.
I’m not fooling myself- this is Hollywood and this is Disney, which means they were almost certainly (Macfarlane seems to have his head on mostly straight, but I don’t know how much and how much control he has) trying to make the opposite point, but in the process ended up making, well, the opposite point of that one.
If you look into the story of Money, he was quite simply evil.
No, Hollywood and Disney would endorse the message Seth was trying to make. The problem is, as you and others have pointed out, the moral of the story was not what they were obviously trying to say but the way it came out was one ultimately will be more comfortable in their own skin. Not one they change into due to outside influences, but the one they are born in.
How is that moronic? While it was obvious they were trying to send a different message even you picked up on the fact that the message was one would be happiest being the sex you are born as. DeSantis is a sharp guy and would indeed pick up the same theme you just did.
Oh PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let this mean that the Klyden character is leaving the show.
When Topa was about to undergo the procedure, she said she wished Claire were there. Couldn’t they have created a holo-Claire? or an e-Claire?
This isn’t Voyager. They don’t have holo-projectors in sickbay. I was thinking that Isaac might imitate Claire’s voice again though, like he did for her kids.
If there is a season 4, I imagine that Klyden will show up when they do a follow up to this episode. Topa is not going to have an easy time the next time she interacts with other Moclans.
You don’t know whether they have holo-projectors in sickbay.
I guess they could, but they don’t have an EMH, and we’ve never seen them project a hologram outside of the simulator room, so it doesn’t seem likely.
They do have appearance generators that Isaac used to look like his actor and then later they used to infiltrate that Krill ship.
I was wondering why they didn’t have Klyden talk to Topa about his own experience. He was the only person who went through what Topa is. It could have been immensely helpful. But it also would undermined the moral Seth was going for. He obviously failed but I suspect that is why they ignored this obvious move to help poor Topa.
I wondered during the trial scene if they had re-created that or if they were doing a “Zelig”/”Trials and Tribble-ations” thing and having the actors interact with old footage. I suspected it was the latter. It was nicely done.
Ed told the admiral that it sounded like the Union was letting the Moclans dictate the Union’s human-rights policies. True, but this situation involved Bortus’s family, and they aren’t human and neither are a lot of members of the P.U.
I think he really meant sentient-beings-rights, but it was “translated” into human-rights because that is the term that we all know.
Good answer, thank you. Chris’s response was good too.
They should probably use a term like person-rights. Aliens are people too!
Great episode. They avoided getting preachy by having everyone second-guess themselves and not get self-righteous, except Klyden. No one likes preachy morality so they have the one preachy character be the effective villain of the piece. Brilliantly done.
That’s the only part that rang false for me. Klyden was too one-note, we needed to see him struggle with his decision a little better. To avoid doing that is to cheapen the message slightly.
And Klyden was the only one who went through it. Seems a no brainer he talk to Topa about it. But they never went that route.
Hey, it’s Topa’s Kobayashi Maru.
I liked the message, I liked the gutsy moves. But between this and Strange
New Worlds, I think this is 5 episodes in a row, maybe more, that have centered around children and raising children.
I’m childfree by choice and that’s just not why I watch sci-fi.
This was the first good episode this season. Not just good, it was great. The CGI took backstage to the plot and there was plenty of humor despite a serious plot. This is what the Orville should be like. You can do serious important plots and still have humor and play to the actors strengths.
More of this, less of the earlier episodes of the season.
Really? Where was this humor? This was quite the long, drab and downer of an episode.
Amazing episode about doing and saying the right thing even if it is hard. The acting by everyone is just on point and it should really get them and award nomination. What I find weird however is, how a lot of people think this is an episode about transgender-issues, which it clearely – much like the other two moclan episodes – isn’t. The metaphores used, would never work if you aplly them to quasions like puberty blockers or more broadly to transition to the other gender at a young age.
I guess, people are just used to the really lame and obvious “metaphors” modern Star Trek uses to preach it’s very black-and-white “points” and can’t look a little deeper anymore. Or not even deeper but just see the fact, that social commentary doesn’t have to be really obvious or even limited to a very specific current debate. In fact that is what used to make Star Trek so timeless. This Episode will still work in 20 Years and would have worked 20 Years ago. You can’t say that about Discovery.
I remember people discussing (debating?) what TNG’s The Offspring was about. Was it about reproductive rights? Was it about parental choice? Was it about what constituted personhood? Was it about authoritarianism in general? Was it about the nature of artificial intelligence?
A good SF story keeps it abstract enough that you can apply the message as you see fit. Ideally it speaks a general truth. It’s supposed to get you thinking, not tell you what to think. If the issues are worth bringing up at all, they should be difficult issues without simple, pat, obvious answers. And you should never be 100% certain of the author’s position(s).
Have not seen the episode. From the description I think there is a relation to transgender issues, but the way the Orville has chosen to tell the story, it is both compassionate towards the suffering of transgender people as well as compassionate towards detransitioning cases.
Sometimes there is a theme even the writers are going for that ends up getting completely missed or ends up not being what was intended. A good example is X-Men. Which was supposedly about people being persecuted and feared for being different. A laudable theme to tackle. But the fantasy element pretty much crushes that theme. Unlike just being “different” there is damn good reason to fear mutants! So it kinda undermines the theme they wanted to go for. The same happened here, I think.
Great episode. BTW, I know it was needed for dramatic confrontation to occur but did Isaac not think to lock the sick bay door?
Everyone has a babel fish in their ear to translate! Duh!
I enjoyed this episode very much. Very reminiscent of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek canon. It was a pleasure and a joy to watch.
Babel fish was my thought too.
Very sensitively handled. Pullam’s performance was nuanced and wrenching. Palicki did very well by her material as well. This was probably The Orville’s best take on a Trek-like morality play and MacFarlane deserves enormous credit for how he executed it.
The episode’s only real issues were in how it framed the opposing POV. This ground was covered in the previous episode featuring Topa, but The Orville has always had a Klyden problem. While there is something to be said for having a character who does not waver in his beliefs, it’s clumsy to use such a character to always represent the side of the argument the writers disagree with. It weakens some of the moral high ground when the opposition is reduced to being a hysterical control freak who barges into rooms and needs to be restrained (twice) and declares to his child he wishes she was never born. Klyden’s backstory isn’t used well enough this time out, he comes across as a caricature rather than someone who truly loves his child and wants to spare him pain. The show is better for not having to feature such a perpetually miserable character, but it’s a shame he could never be given better depth.
There is a lot of truth to that. He was unfairly presented IMHO. And again, he should have been the person to talk to Topa since he was the only person in the exact same situation! A well written scene where he and Topa have a talk could have been helpful in presenting all sides to the situation fairly. TNG was pretty decent at it. Sometimes too good. In Measure of a Man it was obvious Riker had the stronger case yet he still lost.
When Topa asked Kelly why she joined Starfleet — er, the Union fleet — she didn’t mention her father. Wasn’t her father also in the fleet? They’ve mentioned a few times that Kelly’s father was a friend of Admiral Halsey’s, but I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean he was in the fleet.
But her father being in the fleet (or not) may have been less of a factor in Kelly herself wanting to join, or at least not a factor that Kelly wanted to emphasize in the context of the message she wanted to convey to Topa.
Andy Milder, who played the naked alien, was on Voyager as one of the “potato people” (the Hierarchy guys).
I’m wondering what the clear sphere in the middle of the cake was.
This was absolutely the best episode to date. The charming little girl who played Topa was perfect. I loved this to the last second. GREAT show. I’ve always like The Orville, but now, I just plain love it. Thank you for some really solid television.
Even though I am not trans, I am gay and can fully relate to Topa’s struggle between being her true self and feeling that you have to “be” a certain way by your family and society to be considered “normal”, as well as forcing ourselves to put up a façade of happiness and contentment when we truly feel confusion, anger, sadness, and self-hatred within.
This episode had me in tears, and I can only hope that many LGBT kids and their parents can see this and understand the struggles that LGBT people deal with, and understand that transitioning and/or coming out is not simply “a phase”.
Also, Klyden is the f’ing WORST
The Orville has been truly a delight this season, very much looking forward to the rest of it, thank you trek movie for covering it!
I think a corollary to Topa’s story may be found in the story of David Reimer; born a boy named “Bruce” he was castrated and raised as a girl, “Brenda,” due to a botched circumcision. In childhood he never identified as female and transitioned back to male as a teenager, after being told the truth about his identity. Sadly, he died by suicide at age 38; his identical twin brother Brian died of an overdose of antidepressants two years prior.
Awfully late to this since I just saw it. And I know no one is likely to see it but putting it out there anyway.
While the show has been VERY TNG-ish so far this episode it the first one where I do not see Picard and his crew doing what Mercer and his crew did. At all.
First, Grayson should have been immediately disciplined. She not only interfered with the private wishes of the parents but pushed her take on an alien culture. Mercer should have suspended her or something.
Next, what they did was monumentally reckless. For so very very many reasons. Personally, Familial. Culturally. And as far as Mercer should be concerned, militarily.
Finally, when it was discovered what they did that admiral should have thrown the book at Mercer. He should have been suspended or even demoted for that. And obviously Grayson couldn’t replace him. And it doesn’t matter that the Admiral personally approved of the action. It was the wrong move and getting lucky just doesn’t justify it.
The other thing that they didn’t do for some odd reason was to have Klytus talk to Topa about his experience. He had the same thing done to him. There could be a connection they didn’t even bother to try.
The last thing I will say is that ultimately I don’t think the episode carried the message they think it did. I understand what they are saying here about young children should be listened to when they think they are not the sex they are. But forgetting the fact that no child has the mental capacity to comprehend the magnitude of such a thing, the actual message received was the sex you are born with is the one you ultimately will be no matter what your life is. You could change it on a whim but ultimately it is best to remain what you genetically are. That is obviously not Seth’s message here but it is the one that the audience comes away with. He’s really not a good writer of drama.
Regardless, overall the show is still better than anything Secret Hideout has done.
Wow, this episode was great! I see why there is so much praise for it.
I’m still making my way through the season but I was so impressed with this one, I had to write a review. This is Orville feeling very much like its Star Trek roots in all the best possible ways. A timely social issue, philosophical debate and a really good moral and political conflict to add to an already sensitive topic.
I remember watching the original story in season one and how much it left a bad taste in my mouth. The show, like all good Star Trek, is about tolerance and accepting another culture but yeah easier said then done at times. And Moclans are soooo, yeah. But I was so happy they went back to this and gave it a positive conclusion. And it was nice to see that Brutus cared more about his daughter’s well being than the social pressure to conform.
Even though I’m just now at the half way mark, I have to say this show is very good this season. It really does feel like a Star Trek show and really captures the spirit of what this franchise is about. I’ll even go farther and say it’s better than some of the newer Trek shows but I won’t go into details. ;)