A 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.
Cast: Seth MacFarlane (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)
Notes: 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