Totally. Called. It.
Surprising only because I kind of expected them to draw it out a little longer with a bigger reveal.
There's a lot of shading in the writing here which seems more thoughtful and complex than the first big encounter with the Krill on The Orville Season 1 Episode 6.
This is probably because Mercer is the mark this time and the charade was carried out aboard the Orville.
First, there's the title of the episode "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" which is a reference to a line from a song in the musical The King and I which Mercer and Tyler/Teleya watch on their date wherein civility is arguably brought to the Kingdom of Siam by a British teacher.
When Mercer first met Teleya, she was a teacher aboard a Krill ship. Their encounter turns her into a fanatical soldier for the Krill militia. Perhaps there is something about her beginnings as a teacher which indicates an ability to compromise and return to civility?
The King of Siam bringing in a British governess and transforming his court to something Western European nations might respect is similar to how Mercer describes the Krill's discovery of other species in the galaxy.
And although I know small "k" krill are actually crustaceans, the big "k" Krill, at this point in time, would very much like to wipe out humanity on Earth, leaving it for them to add to their territory and possibly occupying it like so many "fishes" as in the song.
You lead a godless existence. You have no soul. You reject the guiding hand of Avis. And without belief, there can be no moral code.Teleya
The metaphor is strong with this one. There's the literal climb for "higher ground" but the figurative one is far more difficult as Teleya, understandably, cannot get past the baggage she carries from her first meeting with Mercer and Mercer is still reeling from the Tyler-is-Teleya reveal.
Finally, there's the Shawkta (I'm naming them phonetically since I can't seem to track down any authority on an official correct spelling) and Teleya's description of them: "They are savage and do not retreat. And they never leave survivors."
It doesn't appear that Krill have a natural sense of irony.
Of course, this is echoed in Bortus' reaction to Malloy's decision to try for command. As third in command, you'd think he'd have some sympathy for someone enthusiastic about climbing the same ladder he's on.
Grayson: First, you'll need a medical and psych evaluation. I'll tell Dr. Finn to expect you.
Malloy: Thank you, Commander. I won't let you down. Future captain right here!
Bortus: He will fail.
I understand the inclusion of Malloy's story. It adds the laughs. Scott Grimes gets some neat material to work with. I loved his reactions to the psychological stimuli and his simulation deck negotiation techniques were pathetic yet funny still.
But, ultimately, it just came across as so light and fluffy that it didn't balance out what was happening with Mercer.
Teleya: You are painfully attentive. The failure of your marriage has caused you to overcompensate in the moment. And yet, paradoxically, despite this, your work remains your first priority. You have no balance.
Mercer: My god. You sound like my ex-wife.
And the depth isn't all in lines spoken out loud. When Mercer has to use his uniform jacket to shield Teleya from the sunlight, they both hesitate because it mimics his tender use of the same jacket when she complained of being cold in his quarters on the ship.
It's a wordless exchange but it makes it clear that she is suspicious and skittish and he's still hurting.
I like that there are consequences for what Mercer and Malloy did to that Krill ship. I appreciate that there was some care taken and cleverness in the representation of a non-human, religiously-centered species and that we get a bit of the doctrine and history.
I actually liked Tyler too. There's a moment when the Krill ships are coming back towards the shuttle when I entertained the idea that she wasn't a spy but a refugee, hiding from her own people.
Mercer: She's cool. She's smart. She's funny. She checks every box. I've never met a woman who checked every box.
Malloy: You said Kelly checked every box.
Mercer: Yeah, well I got more boxes now. She checks those too.
What this episode does best is Mercer and Grayson's discussion of his new relationship. She was maybe a tad smug about knowing about it before being told but it's a gentle smug.
They have a long history and they know each other well. It makes sense that she would recognize the signs that he'd fallen in love.
I see the way you smile when she walks onto the bridge. I know your smiles. You have fifteen. Three are for happiness, eleven are passive-aggressive, and one is for being in love. I've seen it before, y'know.Grayson
If you're a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, when you watch The Orville online this week, let me know if you get a Darmok vibe off the scenes between Mercer and Teleya on the planet.
The theme of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 Episode 2 was one of the vital importance of communication in order to foster peace. Although TNG did it with more innovation, there a certain finesse in The Orville's take on it.
I'll confess I really like Billy Joel lyrics so that was the winning point for me. Don't judge.
Anyone sad to see Patrick Warburton's Tharl heading out?
Grayson: Tharl driving you crazy too?
Bortus: He does not stop talking and he makes loud noises when he consumes food. He comes to the mess hall wearing...SANDALS.
Will the next Security Chief be a new Alara or something completely different?
And just because continuity errors are apparently my jam, did anyone else notice that the shuttle Malloy and Bortus used to save Mercer and Teleya was actually the same shuttle Mercer and Tyler left on holiday in? ECV-197-1
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.