The Orville #30: Gently Falling Rain

"This town will not accommodate the totality of our combined mass."

IN THIS ONE... A Union-Krill treaty is undercut by an election gone wrong.

REVIEW: The Krill religious hegemony may have democracy, but it's 21st-Century democracy! In this almost too close for comfort episode, the Orville finally gets to see the world of their formerly-biggest enemies, a planet of surprisingly-neon cities in perpetual night, where even the most liberal ruler is an authoritarian. Seems like they timed the treaty with the Union at the worst possible time, though. There's an ongoing election, so Supreme Chancellor Korin is really a lame duck chancellor. And though he thinks he'll win this one easily, it turns out he underestimated his opponent's fringe, nationalist message (sound familiar?) and fearmongering (does it?), as well as the disinformation power of social media (no, really, stop it), and loses on the eve of the treaty's signing. He thinks he can appeal the "close election", but there's a quick coup to make sure he doesn't (which seems to also involve the hawks on his own cabinet), and his head ends up on a pike. Alien culture or not, the satire here is pretty blunt. A scene showing us just how anti-abortion the Krill are even with a more open-minded ruler in charge is just over-egging the pudding, in my opinion.

So this is all very interesting, if rather obvious, but what makes it drama is that Mercer's old "girlfriend", Telaya, is the far-right candidate in this case. So in a way, it's Ed's fault for having released her, and here he's still clinging to the idea that there's a good person in there somewhere. She says no, but we know there is. She's ready to secretly release Mercer (if not the rest of the delegation), and there are many moments where the performance tells us she's at least conflicted. Well, she may have some feeling for Ed, but she absolutely believes in her cause, hates the Union with a dangerous passion, and let the Kaylon come, it's better to die than be allied to this patchwork of assimilated heathens. Avis will provide, I'm sure. More than non-alliance, she stabs the Union president (played by a nearly-unrecognizable Bruce Boxleitner, as a sort of homage to Babylon 5) on stage and thus declares war (he survives, mind). Both of them will have to fight on two fronts, which is sure to spell their doom. So the stakes a very high.

But there are personal stakes too. Krill's doves kidnap Mercer and take him to see Telaya's half-human daughter - Anaya, whose name means "Gently Falling Rain" (which would be a good name for a sun-fearing people) - a smart little girl (the Krill must grow up faster than humans if she's, like, two), and of course, he's the father. Telaya has been a totally absent mother, but, again conflicted, has been watching over her and doesn't seem to consider her an "abomination". Neither does Ed, of course, and he ultimately refuses to her use as a symbol of unity. She's just a child and he's immediately receptive to her. With a war brewing, he and Anaya are to be kept apart, but it's certainly something that will be revisited again. It also gives some thematic power to the Admirals bringing the Krill delegation on Earth to see the show Annie, even if the "prophecy" of the sun coming out tomorrow gives them the heebie jeebies.

And then there's all the action with Kelly in command of the ship while this is going on below, a desperate rescue where John and Claire are made-up to look like Krill, a shuttle chase through the streets of the Krill capital, and a space battle with dozens of ships - something The Orville is abusing at least as much as modern Trek, if not more. That's not really where the story is, and if these episodes had a more reasonable size, it would all have been simplified. To me, these are the least interesting bits. I also question bringing Charly on this mission, as she doesn't really do very much. Even in the chase, John can shout that they have a navigator aboard all he wants, that used to be HIS job, so why is she so important? Not the most justifiable use of her "spatial sense".

Captain Kirk also had an illegitimate child, though not with an enemy species.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - It's a little obvious, and a little padded, but there are big important things happening. You can't really skip this one.