The Orville #5: Pria

"You can bang that chick on your kitchen sink for all I care." "I don't ever do it near the food, you know that."
IN THIS ONE... Ed falls for a beautiful ship captain who is not what she claims.

MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West is not a good movie, but one of its redeeming qualities is his easy chemistry with Charlize Theron. They look like they enjoy each other's company tremendously, and so it feels only natural that they would team up again in an episode of The Orville. She plays the title character Pria, designed as a love interest for Ed that finally allows him to trust someone after his divorce, so of course she's gonna break his heart. Oh you didn't know Ed and Kelly are a divorced couple? Yah. They go into it again. I think we get it, Seth.

But  boy is this a good-looking episode! I'm not talking about Charlize either. They threw everything into the special effects in this one, including a seat-of-your-pants escape from an asteroid plunging into a star, the ship flying through weird dark matter globules, an alien planet (on the holodeck), a really cool and unusual wormhole, and an alien ship from the 29th Century. Beautiful stuff. Even the subplot about Malloy teaching Isaac about practical jokes leads to a terrible prank where the Kaylon amputates the helmsman's leg for laughs and attendant fx (though somebody didn't check with the prop people because the loose leg isn't cut at the right place.

Pria isn't all bad. I'm sure her feelings for Ed were genuine because their chemistry was too real. But an ethically-challenged artifact hunter from the future and a straight-arrow captain who doesn't even do it near the food (I laughed at the delivery) are star-crossed at best. When he finds out what's up, his anger at Kelly's jealousy is turned on Pria. We get a pretty savage fight between the ladies (both actresses are battle-trained from other films/shows, but this is really raw brawling without technique), and then Isaac, out of commission thanks to a futuristic override device, wakes up and takes back control of the Orville (I admit I was momentarily confused by his code, the crew watching Seinfeld at the top of the episode far in my memory by then). It's not without some hardness that Ed dares undo the Pria's timeline by having the wormhole destroyed and watching her disappear. I'm not quite clear on what happens though. The characters seem to think they will never have met (because if the Orville historically survives, Pria has no reason to think she can come and snatch it from this era), which will undo whatever personal progress Ed just made. But his look doesn't change once she's gone. I'm all for Ed remembering this and being haunted by this additional betrayal, but I needed a line to confirm what's really happening. Similarly, the 20th-Century teleport he confiscates feels like a loose end, but probably disappears, but if it does, then what's the point of putting it in a drawer... Shades of Voyager's excesses, but not a deal breaker.

WHERE SOMEONE HAS GONE BEFORE: Isaac's subplot about exploring the concept of humor was first done by Data in "The Outrageous Okona" (which also had an attraction civilian captain board and disrupt the ship). Pria's true identity evokes Berlinghoff Rasmussen's con job in "A Matter of Time" (there may be a bit of Vash in her as well). The 20th Century was used extensively on Voyager as Captain Braxton's home time. Amelia Earhart's disappearance in the Star Trek universe also involves alien shenanigans (as per Voyager's "The 37's"). The lighting pattern on the override device is the same as M-5's in "The Ultimate Computer". Jonathan Frakes directed the episode (becoming the first person to have directed both The Orville and Trek; Brent Spiner apparently visited the set during this episode).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Gorgeous episode with a quality guest star, but it's time to downplay the divorce, guys.



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