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Old Wounds

The Orville2418: Slowly-rising Planetary Union officer Commander Ed Mercer arrives home to find his wife in bed with a blue-skinned alien. Not interested in talking the situation out, he leaves to seek refuge in his career in the stars.

2419: What a difference a year makes – Ed Mercer is still a commander, albeit one whose career has become even more aimless, punctuated by a few incidents of reporting for duty while hung over. (Not all differences are good ones.) Still, to his surprise, and despite his spotty career record, Mercer is offered a promotion to captain and command of the medium exploratory vessel U.S.S. Orville. He raises eyebrows at Planetary Union Central by hand-picking his somewhat uncouth old buddy Gordon Malloy to be the Orville‘s helmsman, but he has no say in the filling of the vacant first officer position, a candidate for which will be selected by the admiralty. But not in his worst nightmares does Mercer expect his new XO to also be his ex-wife.

There’s barely time for a reunion through clenched teeth before the Orville is dispatched to answer a call for aid from a scientific colony. The chief scientist there, Dr. Aronov, introduces them to a device capable of accelerating time; while he’s rattling off a litany of potentially beneficial uses, Mercer’s new security officer, Lt. Alara Kitan, wisely deduces ways it could be weaponized – and that’s why Aronov issued the vague call for help. He believes that if the warlike Krill learn of the time accelerator, they’ll descend upon the colony like a plague of locusts.

But the warlike Krill are already there, planting the seed for Mercer’s first true test as a commander.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Seth McFarlane
directed by Jon Favreau
music by Bruce Broughton

The OrvilleCast: Seth McFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer), Adrianne Palicki (Commander Kelly Grayson), Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Claire Finn), Scott Grimes (Lt. Gordon Malloy), Peter Macon (Lt. Commander Bortus), Halston Sage (Lt. Alara Kitan), J Lee (Lt. John LaMarr), Mark Jackson (Isaac), Victor Garber (Admiral Halsey), Brian George (Dr. Aronov), Joel Swetow (Krill Captain), Patrick Cox (Ogre), Norm MacDonald (voice of Yaphit), Christine Corpuz (Janice Lee), Sean Cook (Derek), Dylan Kenin (Krill Soldier), Dee Bradley Baker (Dr. Jorvik)

The OrvilleNotes: With a writing staff loaded down with veterans of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager (Brannon Braga, Andre Bormanis, David A. Goodman), and Star Trek veterans aplenty among the cast (Penny Johnson Jerald played Kasidy Yates, Captain Sisko’s love interest on Deep Space Nine, while Brian George guest starred as Dr. Bashir’s estranged father on the same series), a ship – with physical filming models no less! – designed by Andrew Probert, and diehard TNG fan Seth McFarlane creating and starring, it can’t possibly be a secret to anyone at the end of the first hour that The Orville is both an homage and spoof of Star Trek: TNG. McFarlane, Braga and Goodman also collaborated on the 21st century relaunch of Cosmos, while Bormanis worked on National Geographic’s Mars series. Brian George and Dee Bradley Baker are also voice actors with many a role in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Command Performance

The OrvilleThe Orville answers a distress call from a fellow Planetary Union ship, but fears of a Krill attack pale in Captain Ed Mercer’s mind to the revelation that his parents are aboard the victimized vessel. Ed and Kelly take a shuttle over to the ship, leaving Alara in command. (Bortus is on leave, hatching an egg.) But the attacked ship suddenly fades away, replaced by a buoy capable of generating a holographic image of that ship. Ed and Kelly’s molecules have been transmitted into Calivon space, a civilization not exactly on friendly terms with the Union, where they’re horrified to find they’ve been trapped in a replica of their old apartment, and are even more horrified to learn that this replica is part of a vast zoo of imprisoned living creatures with little hope of escape. In over her head, Alara receives orders from a Union Admiral: give up the search for the Orville’s Captain and First Officer, and return to Earth. She has to weigh the damage to her career against the damage to her standing among the crew as she decides whether to obey or disobey those orders.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Seth McFarlane
directed by Robert Duncan McNeill
music by John Debney

The OrvilleCast: Seth McFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer), Adrianne Palicki (Commander Kelly Grayson), Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Claire Finn), Scott Grimes (Lt. Gordon Malloy), Peter Macon (Lt. Commander Bortus), Halston Sage (Lt. Alara Kitan), J Lee (Lt. John LaMarr), Mark Jackson (Isaac), Chad L. Coleman (Klyden), Jeffrey Tambor (Ben Mercer), Holland Taylor (Jeannie Mercer), Larry Joe Campbell (Chief Newton), Ron Canada (Admiral Tucker), Brett Rickaby (Lurenek), J.D. Cullum (Calivon Zoo Administrator), Jerry O’Donnell (Bleriot Captain), Andrew Bering (Technician Jennings), Mike Gray (Ensign Parker), Alaina Fleming (Technician Reed), Jeremy Guskin (Furry Alien), Maxwell Hurlburt (Greenish Alien), George Tsai (Shuttle Bay Officer #1), Ryan Dietz (Calivon Official #1), Shannon McClung (Calivon Official #2), Sarah Buehler (Calivon Mother), Armen Nahapetian (Calivon Child)

The OrvilleNotes: Marvin V. Rush, former director of photography on the 1990s Star Trek spinoffs, joins The Orville in the same capacity with this episode, as does ’90s Trek camera operator Joe Chess. Guest stars Ron Canada and J.D. Cullum have both appeared on some of those Trek spinoffs: Canada guest starred on TNG, Deep Space Nine and Voyager (as well as a Babylon 5 guest shot), while Cullum appeared as Toral, bastard son of Duras, in TNG’s Redemption Part I and Part II in 1991. And of course, director Robert Duncan McNeill is an old hand at space travel, having played Lt. Tom Paris in all seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager before moving on to a career of producing and directing.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

About A Girl

The OrvilleBortus and his partner, Klyden, are dismayed when their egg hatches, revealing a true rarity: a female Moclan baby. The traditions of their world demand that the baby’s gender be surgically altered to male, but Dr. Finn refuses to perform the operation on ethical grounds. Bortus tries to convince Captain Mercer to override Dr. Finn’s decision, but he too refuses. With his shipmates continually trying to change his mind about the operation (which Bortus reads as them trying to force their cultures’ values on him), Bortus feels he has no choice but to contact the Moclan homeworld and ask for assistance. Shortly before that assistance arrives in the form of a large (and armed) Moclan ship, Malloy and LaMarr finally get through to Bortus by introducing him to the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. With his own people now present and ready to take charge of the situation, Bortus now agrees that the operation is unethical…and finds that his whole world (including Klyden) is now against him.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Seth McFarlane
directed by Brannon Braga
music by Joel McNeely

The OrvilleCast: Seth McFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer), Adrianne Palicki (Commander Kelly Grayson), Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Claire Finn), Scott Grimes (Lt. Gordon Malloy), Peter Macon (Lt. Commander Bortus), Halston Sage (Lt. Alara Kitan), J Lee (Lt. John LaMarr), Mark Jackson (Isaac), Chad L. Coleman (Klyden), Deobia Oparei (Captain Vorak), David Barrera (Vasquez), Rena Owen (Heveena), Lamont Thompson (Kaybrak), Jonathan Adams (Moclan Arbitrator), Antonio D. Charity (Advocate Kagus), Norm MacDonald (voice of Yaphit), D. Elliot Woods (Moclan Council Foreman), Rico E. Anderson (Moclan Doctor), Julius Sharpe (Reptilian Alien)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Vulcan Hello

Star Trek: DiscoveryStardate 1207.2: An uncrewed communications relay at the edge of Federation space suddenly stops working, and the starship U.S.S. Shenzhou is sent to investigate. Captain Philippa Georgiou sends her first officer, Commander Michael Burnham, to investigate an object near a binary star that seems to be deliberately scattering the entire electromagnetic spectrum, including visible wavelengths. Burnham flies a thruster suit toward the unknown object, finding it to be an ancient vessel of some kind. When Burnham lands on the object, her presence triggers a sudden activation of the vessel, and an armed Klingon warrior appears behind her. When the Klingon attacks, Burnham attempts to escape, accidentally impaling the Klingon with his own weapon before slamming into part of the Klingon vessel and tumbling back toward the Shenzhou, unconscious.

Burnham awakens aboard the Shenzhou, rescued by suffering from acute effects of exposure to the radiation emanating from the binary star nearby. She leaves sick bay before her treatment is complete to warn Captain Georgiou of the Klingons’ presence. When Georgiou orders the Shenzhou‘s weapons brought to bear on the object just visited by Burnham, an enormous Klingon ship decloaks just ahead. As Georgiou consults with Starfleet, Burnham seeks the advice of her adoptive father, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan. Georgiou is steadfast in her desire for a diplomatic solution, but Burnham advises her that the Klingons will only respect a show of strength: a battle worthy of their mettle. When she is unable to convince her Captain of this course of action, Burnham attempts a mutiny, but it’s too late: as the Shenzhou waits alone for reinforcements, an entire Klingon fleet warps into view.

The Klingons have been anticipating the humans’ spreading influence in the galaxy, and T’Kuvma, the leader of the Klingons aboard the ceremonial ship discovered by the Shenzhou, wants to unite all 24 of the Klingons’ disparate houses to attack the Federation before they themselves are attacked. T’Kuvma is annoyed when not all of the Klingons share his zeal…but the Federation ship before him has fallen so easily into the trap, he sees no reason to delay the war he sees as not only inevitable, but prophesied.

teleplay by Bryan Fuller and Akiva Goldsman
story by Bryan Fuller and Akiva Goldsman
directed by David Semel
music by Jeff Russo

Star Trek: DiscoveryCast: Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Lt. Commander Saru), Shazad Latif (Lt. Ash Tyler), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Cadet Sylvia Tilly), Jason Isaacs (Captain Gabriel Lorca), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Philippa Georgiou), Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), James Frain (Sarek), Chris Obi (T’Kuvma), Maulik Pancholy (Dr. Nambue), Terry Serpico (Admiral Anderson), Sam Vartholomeos (Ensign Danby Connor), Arista Arhin (young Michael Burnham), Emily Coutts (Keyla Detmer), Justin Howell (Torchbearer / Rejac), Javid Iqbal (Voq), Ali Momen (Kamran Grant), Bonnie Morgan (Crepuscula), David Benjamin Tomlinson (Or’eq), Tasia Valenza (Computer Voice), Chris Violette (Britch Weeton), Romaine Waite (Troy Januzzi)

Star Trek: DiscoveryNotes: Stardate 1207.2 equates to May 11th, 2256 – ten years before the first season of the original Star Trek (and 2-3 years after the events depicted in The Cage and the Cage-derived flashback scenes from The Menagerie), and 95 years after These Are The Voyages…, the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise. As that finale takes place 5 years after the remainder of the fourth season of Enterprise, this may mean that Captain Archer’s last contact with the Klingons (in Affliction and Divergence) was one of the last contacts with the Klingons “a hundred years ago”.

Tasia Valenza, the new Federation computer voice (assuming the role left vacant by the late Majel Barrett Roddenberry), is the only cast member with ties to prior Star Trek: she was a Vulcan would-be Starfleet cadet vying against Wesley Crusher and others for a coveted slot at the Academy in 1988’s Coming Of Age. She also appeared in the 1990s series Space: Above And Beyond.

Star Trek: DiscoveryThe Klingons’ ritual scream at the heavens – a warning that a dead warrior is ascending – was first established in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Heart Of Glory, 1988); the concept of a multitude of Klingon “houses” originated in another TNG episode (Sins Of The Father, 1990). Ironically, Burnham’s adoptive brother, Spock, took a similar headlong plunge into danger in a Starfleet thruster suit in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The original Klingon Torchbearer’s weapon is identified by Burnham’s heads-up display as a bat’leth, though very different in design to the one wielded by Worf in many an episode of TNG; it’s possible that, much like the Torchbearer’s title, this bat’leth is more ornately ceremonial than functional (though that doesn’t prevent it from being deadly).

Star Trek: DiscoveryCredited, but not appearing in, this episode are series regulars Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, and Jason Isaacs.

The Shenzhou is named for a real family of Chinese spacecraft that had only just started flying the last time there was a Star Trek series on the air.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Battle At The Binary Stars

Star Trek: DiscoveryStardate not given: Starfleet reinforcements arrive to assist the Shenzhou, with further ships on the way. As Captain Georgiou orders Burnham escorted to the brig, the shooting begins, and heavy losses are incurred on both sides. Admiral Anderson arrives, commanding the Europa, and tries to broker a cease-fire with the Klingons, only to have his ship rammed head-on by a cloaked Klingon ship. The Shenzhou is in no shape to keep fighting, but when the Klingons begin retrieving their dead from the vacuum of space, Captain Georgiou decides to attach an armed photon torpedo warhead to one of the floating Klingon corpses, causing critical damage to T’Kuvma’s ship. Georgiou and Burnham beam aboard the ship to try to capture T’Kuvma, which would disgrace him in the eyes of his society, but their mission has a far higher price than they expect – and rather than making T’Kuvma a pariah, they make him a martyr…and the Federation and the Klingon Empire are now at war.

teleplay by Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts
story by Bryan Fuller
directed by Adam Kane
music by Jeff Russo

Star Trek: DiscoveryCast: Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Lt. Commander Saru), Shazad Latif (Lt. Ash Tyler), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Cadet Sylvia Tilly), Jason Isaacs (Captain Gabriel Lorca), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Philippa Georgiou), Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), James Frain (Sarek), Kenneth Mitchell (Kol), Chris Obi (T’Kuvma), Terry Serpico (Admiral Anderson), Sam Vartholomeos (Ensign Danby Connor), Arista Arhin (young Michael Burnham), Emily Coutts (Keyla Detmer), Javid Iqbal (Voq), Ali Momen (Kamran Grant), Clare McConnell (Dennas), Thamela Mpumlwana (young T’Kuvma), Damon Runyan (Ujilli), Tasia Valenza (Computer Voice), Chris Violette (Britch Weeton), Romaine Waite (Troy Januzzi)

Star Trek: DiscoveryNotes: This episode includes a mention of the last Klingon/Federation battle taking place at Donatu V, a planet first mentioned in The Trouble With Tribbles (1967), though Trouble established that battle as having taken place in the 2240s, not a century ago. Donatu V was a Klingon planet by the 24th century (DS9: Sons And Daughters). The unusual design of the Shenzhou‘s transporter room – an early reveal of which caused fan uproar – is cited as being an outmoded transporter design still in use aboard the Shenzhou due to the ship’s advanced age.

Star Trek: DiscoveryRepresentatives from House D’Ghor and House Mokai stick around to listen to T’Kuvma’s sales pitch; other known Klingon houses include Duras, Martok, Mogh, Korath, Kozak, and Antaak, though it is not known how fragmented this system of Klingon society might have become by the 24th century. (It is clearly stated that the Klingon Empire is currently comprised of 24 Houses.) Voq says that T’Kuvma devised the cloaking device; though in much official and unofficial backstory surrounding Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, the Klingons are said to have gotten cloaking technology from the Romulans. Both could be right: perhaps T’Kuvma is padding his resume just a bit. When T’Kuvma is shot by Burnham, his blood briefly vaporizes purple – the color of Klingon blood as it appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (in nearly every other instance in the franchise, it appears red).

Star Trek: DiscoveryChris Obi is the latest crossover actor to have appeared in both Star Trek and Doctor Who, having appeared in the 2011 Doctor Who episode Closing Time.

Credited, but not appearing in, their second episode in a row are series regulars Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, and Jason Isaacs. Not showing up is good work if you can find it.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

If The Stars Should Appear

The OrvilleA routine – actually, boring – star-mapping mission is interrupted by the discovery of a massive artificial structure in space, adrift but falling into the gravity well of a nearby star. Ed, Kelly, Dr. Finn, Alara and Isaac board the ship, and are left speechless by its sheer scale. Artificial walkways lead to a naturalistic setting with human inhabitants, and Ed quickly learns that they have no idea where they really are, or what fate awaits them. Word of the arrival of the strangely-dressed people from the Orville spreads, and Kelly and Alara are accosted by thuggish uniformed security guards; Kelly is taken into custody and interrogated, while Alara is shot and left for dead. Ed, Dr. Finn and Isaac are introduced to a group of quiet revolutionaries, who do believe that there’s more out there than the religious rule of law that keeps most of the humans from questioning anything about their existence. Ed is determined to reveal the truth to everyone, even if it means their primitive society will fall into disarray.

Download this episode via Amazonwritten by Seth McFarlane
directed by James L. Conway
music by Joel McNeely

The OrvilleCast: Seth McFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer), Adrianne Palicki (Commander Kelly Grayson), Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Claire Finn), Scott Grimes (Lt. Gordon Malloy), Peter Macon (Lt. Commander Bortus), Halston Sage (Lt. Alara Kitan), J Lee (Lt. John LaMarr), Mark Jackson (Isaac), Chad L. Coleman (Klyden), Larry Joe Campbell (Chief Newton), Robert Knepper (Hamelac), James Morrison (Kemka), Max Burkholder (Tomilin), Norm MacDonald (voice of Yaphit), Liam Neeson (Jahavus Dorahl), Rachael MacFarlane (Computer Voice), Julie Mitchell (Woman), Kane Lieu (Security Station Officer), Casey Sander (Druyan Captain), David Hutchison (Alien Man), Michael Duisenberg (Uniformed Man #1), Derek Graf (Uniformed Man #2), Eddie Davenport (Guard #1), Justice Hedenberg (Dissident)

The OrvilleNotes: This episode of The Orville, like most others, has just a few connections to classic sci-fi. Uncredited on screen but unmistakable once he begins speaking, Liam Neeson plays the generational ship’s captain. Though he’s now associated with present-day action thrillers, Neeson has played characters who, to cite just one example, tried to restore peace and justice to the galaxy. James L. Conway is a veteran director of the Star Trek franchise, with his work stretching from the first season of TNG to one of the final episodes of Enterprise, with frequent stops at Deep Space Nine and Voyager along the way. Robert Knepper also appeared on TNG as well as Voyager. James Morrison was a regular as Col. McQueen on Fox’s ’90s space opera Space: Above And Beyond. In homages more scientific than fictional, the colony ship Druyan is named after Ann Druyan, wife of the late Carl Sagan and co-writer of both the original and modern iterations of the TV series Cosmos. (Seth MacFarlane, incidentally, produced the 21st century revival; the original series premiered exactly 37 years to the day before this episode of The Orville.) And finally, the concept of a generational ship falling toward a star, its inhabitants blissfully unaware that they’re aboard a space vessel, complete with a religion that forbids knowledge of their true whereabouts, bears more than a passing resemblance to the plot of the pilot episode of Harlan Ellison’s brilliantly conceived (but crappily produced) early 1970s sci-fi series, The Starlost.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

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