We've been waiting a long time for The Orville Season 2 Episode 1 and it was definitely a satisfying return. Goofy, busy, and with a juvenile bent, but ultimately enjoyable.
I'll deal with the one major issue first: the characterization and treatment of Commander Kelly Grayson.
She's second in command of the ship, arguably a better officer than Mercer in many ways, and is making every effort to keep their working relationship WORK despite her ex-husband repeatedly declaring his love for her.
So why does she get painted as the emotional, unreasonable one? It was totally maddening to watching Cassius (the new guy) and Ed (the ex) discussing how to "handle" her.
Here's my theory. A woman can't really love a man unless he's part-dope. Be a little stupid every day and really stupid once in a while but just don't be perfect.Mercer
Can't imagine that she's going to be impressed that Ed gave Cassius advice on how to win her back.
Also, I can't believe she doesn't realize the Cassius didn't hit on Journey's "Open Arms" out of thin air. She's not stupid except, apparently, when she's reacting to relationship issues.
Okay, rant over. There's a lot of fun (and not offensive) stuff here too.
We'll start with dumb-funny and move up, shall we? Gordon's crush on Lt. Tyler was pretty adorbs. We learn a lot about his dating style and history. When he describes being dumped by his stalker... well, so many things made sense about that.
Moreover, Scott Grimes does awkward verbal diarrhea like a master.
I love it here. Like, I know for a lot of people, work is work. But for me, coming in here every day is like, 'That's not work.' I'm always like, 'Really? This is my job? How did I win at life?' But I did. I've won.Malloy
And the fact that he just chickens out and bails after LaMarr puts in all the preparation, training and costuming (SO MANY ZIPPERS) is perfectly in line with Molloy's modus operandi.
Some things haven't changed at all as seen in Alara's bad luck with dating.
She's a bit more whiny about it now though. How many times did it come up? Pretty redundant and unnecessary to have her harp on a sucky love life although I'll admit that my favorite scene is Bortus' offer to set her up in reaction to her "complaint."
Bortus: There is a young officer under my command who I have noticed also has no mate. If you wish, I will order him to mate with you.
Kitan: Wow, that is the sweetest and most totally wrong thing anyone has ever said to me.
Bortus: I have no reason to doubt his seed is fertile.
Dating Dann had some comedic potential that never really coalesced. It just played out as a series of uncomfortable encounters. Mind you, that might've been to draw attention to her quiet little moment of connection with Ed at the bar in the opening scene.
Mercer: Y'know there are times when I feel like you and I are more alike than any two people on the ship.
Kitan: How so?
Mercer: Well, we both know we're good at our jobs. And yet, we also seem to be the only two people who are haunted by this little voice that's always whispering that we don't really deserve to be here. And we're both alcoholics.
It wasn't as obvious that she's interested in the captain this time around but with Lt. Tyler showing some interest at the party, Ed may find he has a busier social calendar than he expected. It'll probably be more fun than a Krill invasion too. Hopefully.
It was a clever motivation to drive everyone into pairing off by making it clear that the Ja'loja party was intended for couples.
As for the Ja'loja itself, that was sort of a let-down. I'm not sure what I expected FOX to allow but... well... nothing is just nothing. No matter how much they talk it up afterward.
The most serious plot in this incredibly fast-paced episode was Dr. Finn's issues with her son Marcus and Isaac's "help" therein.
Although Isaac is obviously based on Star Trek: the Next Generation's Data, he gets points for being an alien species rather than a man-made synthetic lifeform.
Where Data was programmed with protocols to behave within acceptable social parameters, Isaac has no such restrictions and his complete disregard for tact or manners is perfectly contrasted to Alara's attempt to be polite about Dann's poetry.
Dr. Finn: I'm starting to think that I suck at this parenting thing.
Isaac: I must agree with that assessment.
There are potentially some deep underpinnings to Dr. Finn's conflict with James' parents. (I say "potentially" because MacFarlane has often used his comedy for social commentary but sometimes I wonder if it was accidental.)
The fact that James' parents were incapable of seeing through their son's deception while quick to assign blame to Marcus, the black classmate being raised by a single mother, was pretty on the nose.
Isaac's initial attempts at assistance are doubly hilarious because, except for the fact they'd rank as child abuse by human societal standards, they'd probably be pretty effective.
Dr. Finn: He's not sick. He's just growing up and I can't stop it.
Isaac: Are there not chemical compounds that could effectively stunt his physical development?
Dr. Finn: My gosh, what is the matter with you?
Isaac: I am merely trying to assist.
I know that they established on The Orville Season 1 Episode 8 that Isaac had formed a connection with the Finn boys but, here, he's in every Dr. Finn scene excepting the one in her office. That's a lot of observing.
A little aside: I really like the fact that Marcus ISN'T a straight-A student and that his mother doesn't seem to have a problem with that.
There's one last thing that I'm rather curious about. The enthusiastic and bright-eyed Lt. Tyler wasn't credited anywhere for this episode. Not in the opening or closing credits. Also, not on the IMDB page for THIS EPISODE.
A very odd oversight. However, she is identified in the cast listing for The Orville Season 2 Episode 2 and Michaela McManus played the Krill teacher on The Orville Season 1 Episode 6 who basically swore revenge on Mercer and Molloy.
Teleya: Why did you save the children
Mercer: They're kids. With their whole lives ahead of them. They're not my enemies.
Teleya: After what they saw you do today, they will be. They will be.
Coincidence? Or has The Orville taken a page from Star Trek: Discovery's playbook on the disguised enemy trope?
It occurred to me as a little suspicious that her first two questions were where the ship was heading and if she could check out the navigation controls. Also, the fact that her two major interactions with male crew members were with Mercer and Molloy.
There isn't a lot of time to watch The Orville online and consider the potential danger of the new cartographer before the next episode drops as it begins in its usual Thursday night timeslot on January 3.
Was The Orville's return a triumphant one or one you'd rather flush?
Did the jokes land for you or would you rather they just GO?
(I'm actually pretty proud that I held off using the pee jokes this long.)
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.