The Orville #22: Blood of Patriots

"So basically all this guy's done is steal some pens from the office. What are we missing?"

IN THIS ONE... Ed must initiate peace talks with the Krill.

REVIEW: It's one thing to have the Krill fly in like the cavalry because of a common enemy. It's quite another to make that a permanent peace. So let's darken the rooms and have a preliminary chat with them. Except of course something has to go wrong. A POW/terrorist shows up, they want him, he's an old friend of Gordon's, do we extradite or not... It's not exactly an original plot, but a classic way to endanger the peace. I'd say the Krill are extremely patient given the situation AND Talla doing slow, super-strength body cavity searches to buy Ed some time. Maybe WE'RE the jerks.

Bringing in someone from a character's past is a good way to stretch that character and test their friendships with others, and I think this is especially valuable when it comes to Gordon who is, probably more than anyone on the ship, the Orville's comic relief, and the one most approaching caricature. He's so stupid sometimes, it's hard to believe in his reality. His redeeming quality is his loyalty. He owes it to Ed, of course, but what happens when an older friend shows up? I don't like the notion that Ed would be jealous of Orrin, and that it would fuel his paranoia. He's very much within his rights to investigate what's been happening here. I can just about believe that Ed sees Gordon as a rare confidant and that the relationship might have been threatened by the new guy, so maybe he's just admitting to that to make Gordon feel better. Just doesn't ring true. But then, not believing things is kind of the theme of the episode. Orrin has a daughter who turns out to be a secret weapon (there's an early medical clue that I'm pretty sure I got on first watch), and they're both so good at lying that I almost feel like the episode itself is lying to us. They really play it that way until the characters suddenly turn. A seeming plot orphan from that first part of the story, Talla's musical instrument, doesn't really pay off in the second, for example.

A better-handled red herring is Gordon's "turn". He does go to Talla to confess, rather than Ed, so he at least gives her a head's up about Orrin's plan to steal a shuttle. But we don't see the conversation with Ed, if there is one, leaving a nice ambiguity. Just who is he betraying? Obviously, there's no doubt he'll turn on Orrin eventually, but pleasantly, it looks like he's made the wrong choice after speaking to Talla, and even more pleasantly, it's all part of a sting operation. Things get really desperate in the shuttle, where Orrin is ready to blow himself up if he can't complete the mission, and Gordon takes all options off the table by shooting the console. Throwing himself out the back in a spacesuit, stars whirling as he spins away from the exploding craft, it's all quite exciting as a finale. A bit of extra depth for Gordon after this, but the next episode does it better. You'll see.

WHERE SOMEONE HAS GONE BEFORE: Orrin is acting like a Maquis, and his relationship to Gordon is thus akin to the one between Hudson and Sisko, but these kinds of divided loyalties are fairly common in Trek. The Krill ambassador is played by John Fleck, who has played no less than 8 characters on Star Trek, including Enterprise's early recurring villain, Silik. You can't fool us, John Fleck! You have a great and distinctive voice!

REWATCHABILITY: Medium -
I've seen this kind of plot often, and while I don't begrudge Gordon Malloy the attention, it don't like the audience manipulation.

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