‘The Orville’: Hold up, where did these kids come from?

The Orville
“Into the Fold”
November 2, 2017

Um … apparently Dr. Finn has kids? Two sons? Marcus and Ty, who appear to be about 13 and 8? And we’re just going to introduce this fact in the 8th episode without any previous suggestions or hints and just act like this was common knowledge?

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Anyway, so we’re just supposed to go along with this newly discovered fact that Dr. Finn has these two kids who bicker a lot and she’s taking them to an amusement planet for a vacation. Robot pilots the shuttle for her, but whoops! they get sucked into a “spatial fold” and are spit out some 1 million light years from their previous location. The shuttle, damaged after having gone through this fold, crash lands on a planet, with the rear of the shuttle where Dr. Finn was sitting separating from the front upon impact.

Dr. Finn is dragged away from her crash site by some creature; Robot is forced to babysit the still bickering children while trying to find Dr. Finn, repair the shuttle’s communications system to send a distress signal, and fend off the Wayward Pines creatures that inhabit the planet and want to eat the children.

Dr. Finn’s kidnapper is one of the Abbies, but a nice-ish one who, though he keeps her in a locked room, keeps trying to feed her and trying to explain to her that she’s safe now. When Dr. Finn explains that her children are out in the wilderness and Kidnapper needs to let her go to try to find them, Kidnapper is like, “Yeah, it’s probably too late for them. Our planet had a terrible war, the water supply was contaminated, and the survivors are sick and desperate and cannibals. But I am a prepper and have stocked up on plenty of canned goods and bottled water, and am happy to share with you. You’re welcome.”

Dr. Finn is not particularly grateful, however, and after deliberately cutting herself so that she can demand that Kidnapper go fetch her medical supplies from her shuttle, Dr. Finn pries open a bolted shut window and climbs into Kidnapper’s quarters where she arms herself with a knife and waits. When Kidnapper returns, Dr. Finn stabs him in the gut before taking his gun and killing him with it. Soooooooo, thanks for the porridge?

Meanwhile, out in the wilderness, while out trekking around, the smaller boy falls into a poisoned creek and later comes down with a fever and boils. By the time Dr. Finn finds her communicator and connects with Robot and the boys, Smaller Boy is in pretty bad shape. Dr. Finn eventually catches up with her kids at the shuttle where Robot sends the briefest of distress signals. As the Abbies begin to descend on them, Dr. Finn tries to treat Smaller Boy, while Robot and Bigger Boy protect the shuttle with stun guns because, as Dr. Finn — THE WOMAN WHO JUST KILLED SOMEONE WHO SAVED HER LIFE AND FED HER SOUP — explains to her son, “they may not value life, but we do.”

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Oh, and improbably, during all of this, the Orville has learned that Finn’s shuttle went missing and they figure out they slipped through the “spatial fold” to try to find them. The Orville obviously sees Robot’s super-brief distress signal and follows it to the planet. Where they arrive just in time to kill all the Abbies and save the day.

obviously

Finally, the Robot tells Dr. Finn that her kids are irritating and she’s like, “I KNOW.”

Also, there’s some Seth MacFarlane nonsense about Barry Manilow.

This episode wasn’t terrible. It was boring and predictable and tiresome, but it wasn’t  rage-inducing. And you know why? Because the biggest “idea” expressed here is “don’t judge parents (especially if you are childless).” Also, maybe, “Robots can be family, too.” Or something, I don’t know.

And — brace yourselves — I”m actually going to PAY THE ORVILLE A COMPLIMENT.

(I will pause here so that you can fetch your smelling salts or grasping pearls …)

You ready? Alright, here it goes:

The Orville did a better job of capturing what bickering pre-pubescent siblings sound like than any other television show I’ve ever seen. Ever. I have raised boys who were 13 and 9, and THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY SOUNDED LIKE. Whiny, incessant, and irritating — The Orville didn’t make the kids “cute” or “funny” or deliver witty zingers, they were just maddeningly annoying. And the point was that despite all how frustrating and noisy and defiant kids are, we love them anyway. That’s a weird point for a sci-fi show to make, but here we are.

Compliment out of the way, let me just say two things:

1. the realistic kid characters — the best thing this dumb show has done to date — were shoved into an episode without any preamble or suggestion up to this point that they even existed which makes them feel more like a convenient plot device than real characters and

2. The Orville has some real soul-searching to do if they want to keep trying to peddle this Star Trek-ian notion that the protagonists’ moral code is far superior to other societies’ and therefore they can do no wrong. I know that the series tried to explore the issue a bit with the “Krill” episode, in which Seth MacFarlane killed off all of the adult Krill, but may have created enemies with the young Krill in the process. (<stage whisper> IT WAS AN ALLUSION TO OUR WAR ON TERROR, YOU GUYS</stage whisper>) But for the most part, like in this episode where Dr. Finn just straight-up kills an alien who had up to that point been fairly helpful to her simply because: TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! and KIDS!, it just seemed lazy and untrue about a character or a culture that supposedly values life so damn much.

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This show is not good, y’all.

The Orville airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox and I’ll never forgive you guys for this.

 

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