THE ORVILLE Review: “Krill”

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In most Sci-Fi, logic is supposed to be the prevailing ideal. Everything is so fantastic than you’re almost forced to ground yourself without feeling too ridiculous. Star Wars, arguably the most well-known piece of science-fiction is the greatest exception to this rule. But I think most Star Wars fans would argue that despite that one-time Han Solo said “go to hell,” and the whole revisionist history thing that Star Wars will fight for eternity, it all sort of makes sense in its own way. Alternatively, Star Trek is based entirely on Spock’s view of the universe: logical. Everything is explained, everything makes sense and there is not an aspect left behind, lest the fans write forums dedicating to solving these (minor) mysteries. The Orville is not like this. There is no cohesion outside of smarmy, and I think it’s silly that anyone would actually bat for any through line on this show. Those that want to deny that this is a comedy have to rationalize ridiculous moments that serve for nothing other than a bad joke: like when Gordon Malloy references Christmas in front of the Krill and none of them even blink (I don’t even know if they blink)? Or how Ed and Gordon are supposed to be undercover the whole time while consistently breaking character. Again, if this is supposed to be a comedy then where are the jokes outside of references to things people today don’t even remember. Nathan for You just did an episode on Uber tonight and you have a whole bit about AVIS?! I legitimately had to look up and see if Avis was still in business. They bought Zipcar.

After last week’s rather strong showing, it’s disappointing to feel like The Orville took such a step back. I feel like The Orville is pushing its own version of rationality upon us while trying to convey this idea that, “It’s OK, we’re the fun show.” But this doesn’t seem true to Sci-Fi. Some people love Seth MacFarlane, some people hate him, but I’m fairly apathetic. I’ve liked his performances in the past, used to like Family Guy, heard he’s really good to his assistants, but man this show sucks. It’s not that it doesn’t know what it wants to be, it does know what it wants to be – it wants to be a video game. It wants to be like Mass Effect and have its serious moments as well as its nonsensical lighthearted moments, and guess what guys that’s not possible for a show to effectively pull off. Mass Effect was a fun 100+ hour trilogy, not an hour-long told week-to-week. I don’t know what to say… the tone is all over the place, the plot is super thin, this show has absolutely no themes, no character growth, it just is what it is and it’s bad.

The plot can be summarized as Ed making some cool captain decisions that leads to the team abducting a Krill ship. The Federation is like, “Oh hey, Ed, hey, good work. Please do an extremely important reconnaissance mission with your idiotic (but talented) navigator/pilot, because we want humanity’s fate in your hands. For the ratings!” And Ed agrees with the Exec/Federation that this would make for a good episode with no B-plot. Essentially the Krill are religious zealots that don’t follow Scientology like Kelly Grayson so the Federation is worried that they’re horrible people. Somehow, they have just enough information to know that the Krill use their religion to colonize the universe, but they need more. Cool. So, send Ed and Gordon Malloy disguised as Krill onto a ship to figure out what this religion is about.

Everything works out great until Gordon starts making Avis jokes (the Krill prophet/god is Avis) and Ed and Gordon figure out that there’s a bomb on the ship headed toward a human farming colony. This is where the plot completely falls apart. Ed and Gordon are there to figure out what this religion is, try to make peace and bounce. Instead Ed and Gordon jump straight to, “Let’s kill everyone on this ship.” They then find some kids and a Krill woman and in classic Scarface fashion go, “I won’t kill no wife and Krill babies.” Fine. But honestly if I was the Krill captain, and some guests dressed up like me and (very badly) pretended to be me and then killed my entire crew, I would be pissed! It’s hard not to sort of sympathize with the Krill here, I mean they were given absolutely no chance for peace. This is the problem with the logic of the show, there was no plan to begin with. The Orville wanted an episode where Ed and Gordon could play dress up and they got it. Outside of that, this episode has no substance until the very end when the Krill woman tells an out-of-disguise Ed, “Thanks for murdering my crew and saving those babies. If you thought there was a chance for peace, you forever scarred those babies and led them to war, you idiot.” And it’s true! And in a lot of ways these moments of clarity on this show are the most frustrating parts. It’s like looking through a window at what this show could be, while knowing the door will never open.

Through six episodes I would say I’m not an Orville fan. I feel like I know how this show could be better, and I’m positive they know as well, but I genuinely don’t think that they want it to be. They’ve hit this very interesting stride where some people love the show for what it is, while the rest of us have major hang-ups that will never be addressed. I think The Orville is comfortable being the charming Sci-Fi show held down by Family Guy-style references. But if you’re like me and you value the fact that someone sat down and wrote practically all 285 Ferengi Rules of Acquisition than watching stunned crewmates enjoy Bortus eating a napkin is not gonna work.

TB-TV-Grade-C-Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
The Orville airs Thursdays at 8PM on Fox

Read all of our reviews of The Orville here.
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


Arman is a Seattle-based writer who often lives in LA and wants to be in New York. He has worked on Billy on The Street and Black-ish. He also loves sandwiches.
Follow Arman on Twitter: @armanbfar
Keep up with all of Arman’s reviews here.

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  1. Let´s agree to disagree. And maybe, just maybe, let us look at literally every 1st Season of Star Trek, like ever.
    If you are honest to god, you know literally every 1st Season of Trek sucked. There is no way around it. Even the new ST:D (Whoever came up with that, without checking the short form…) makes me feel miserable. And I am by far not alone with that assumption.

    Around me I got some of the most die hard Trek-Fans of the world, some even being the hosts of Europes most successful conventions on the topic since the 80´s. And even they are more than unsure if they like ST:D or even want to try to like it.

    Here is where the Orville comes in. For a 1st Season it is refreshingly clear on what it wants to be, and how it wants to achieve it. It´s not everyones cup of tea, and I can accept it. In the age of Hard and Dark SciFi it is too lighthearted, too optimistic, too positive in the face of unsurmountable odds. And it´s exactly what SciFi needs right now.

    We´ve spent two decades with ever grimier and grittier SciFi, the final moments of the original Star Trek Universe were bloody and messy and outright distopian. The reboot is a killfest, with dozens of dead and maimed characters. And on the other front, Star Wars found its gory glory with Rogue One.
    I won´t say anything against it. All of it were great films, and Discovery shapes up to be a really good dark SciFi series, but there is no more light in the universe – nowhere.

    ST:TNG brought us utopian fantasies, where the good guys always find a way, and the bad guys stay just that, bad guys. Then they came around and asked the right questions. Were the good really good? Are the bad just that? They finished it by questioning their own voyage, and sending everyone off to their own fortunes. It was positive, it was philosophical, it was rubbing their fans the right way. They didn´t have to leave on a cliffhanger that made them pay for their loyalty, like every series of the last 10 years.

    Orville tries to be that show for the final years of the decade. Positive, energetic, lighthearted and utopian. Silly? Maybe, but they always do it with measure and heart. Frankly I had a hard time watching the last three episodes of Discovery, as it was both, over the top and just sooo frakkin dark. I never got that feeling on the Orville. I was curious in the beginning and satisfied in the end. Well up until that episode about genderchanges… I was frustrated and furious, but also gratified. I knew this wouldn´t end well. And Orville continues to end on that certain note, where you get your reality check on all the fun you had.

    Was it right to send the Bioship off on their own? Can a Captain deny a surgery the parents want? Are the evil always evil? And if they are not, are their lifes worth less? What about the Children? What about Time Travel? Is it right to “hijack” people who would have died anyways otherwise?

    Between all the sillyness lies a series with a very sober mind, and sharp tones. A utopia with bills to pay, as my mom would describe it. Last episode they went for a book, and returned for a library. They were darn big heroes, but for what price? Did they lay the groundwork for peace, or did they destroy any chance for it? We are in the Crew-Episodes right now, where everyone gets his shot at the audience. To familiarize with the character and learn a bit about their background.

    And though it seems like a running joke, with Alara´s boyfriend issues, they are just that: Issues, she has to deal with. Sooner than later she will run out of possible mates, even though she got great qualities besides her sheer power. Bortus will have to deal with the repercussions of the tribunal. Kelly and Ed… oh boy… those two… It´s not only a running joke, it´s real life. I´ve spent -years- with my ex wife on the job. I know they depict it quite clever. Of course they make a great team, and of course the past stands between them. But getting back together? My dear shippers, I don´t believe this is gonna happen….soon.

    What is driving Gordon, and why does he try to escape into making a joke out of anything and everything, we´ve seen serious moments on him, there is a story behind that. The Doctor… yeah, being the only grown up on a ship full of greenhorns might be challenging, but she chose to do so. Isaac… has already shown more qualities than Data and is a nice Deus Ex Android combined with a sarcastic, yet loyal companion.

    All in all, Orville has a solid underlying framework and rests on it in the weak moments, but it really shines, when it comes around and plays the big league without needing it. Like in this weeks episode.
    I would not only give “Krill” due credit, I´d say it was the most ambivalent and critical episode yet.
    Philosophically and characterwise.

    And by the way: Of course the Krill Teacher is salty right now, she just lost her brother, and crew, at the hands of the same man who saved her live, and she knows it.

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