With no discernable fall-out from Isaac's return to the crew, the attention here shifted totally to the question of peace with the Krill.
Mercer asks a really good question of Admiral Perry when he and the Orville are tapped to represent the Planetary Union in the first step towards a peace treaty:
Perry's answer -- that Mercer and Malloy's undercover mission on The Orville Season 1 Episode 6 was the most contact any Union officers had ever had with the Krill -- seems rather flimsy.
Also, the idea that being duped by the Krill's double agent, Teleya, makes them somehow suitable for ambassadorial duties is patently ridiculous.
Finally, they once again seem to forget, or ignore, the fact that Mercer and Malloy KILLED a shipful of Krill, both civilian and military, on that undercover mission and that some of the Krill still view that as a war crime.
Laughs are few and far between on this excursion which is in keeping with the seriousness of the subject matter. And that's totally okay. I'd much rather they tell a story well than try to make it fit a brand.
I mean, there's a couple of Dann scenes but I just don't find him funny. And that's on me. I know he has a lot of fans out there.
What does land a bit of humor for me is Malloy's trademark verbiage in the face of adversity.
Malloy: What is it?
Malloy: Looks more like egg nog.
More than any other episode-specific character so far in the series, Orin Channing is one that ticks all the boxes in terms of nostalgic ties, traumatic loss, sinister objectives, and fanatical motivation.
His presence is disruptive not only to the peace process but to Mercer and Malloy's relationship. Malloy's description is perhaps overly-simplistic because he projects the divide he feels onto Mercer.
His divided loyalties would probably feel more tortured if Orin wasn't so blatant about leveraging their history multiple times.
Orin: Ungrateful bastard. I saved your life.
Malloy: And I'll always be in your debt. But asking me to commit kamikaze suicide with you if kind of a back-pedal, don't you think?
And, of course, the fact that Keyali's spidey senses have her zeroed in on Orin from the get-go makes the cat-and-mouse aspect rather perfunctory.
What is so engaging about this dilemma is that Orin voices the many very real issues with establishing peace between long-warring parties where atrocities have been committed on both sides.
And, unlike episodes of yesteryear, his perspective is given respect and understanding.
Keyali: Even if he had destroyed those ships, could you blame him? If I had been through what he has, I'd probably want every last one of them dead.
Mercer: And this is why peace treaties don't happen every day.
Reconciliation was never an option for Orin. His path is clear. And fatal.
The spectacle of his demise can't help but make me wonder about how many other prisoners of war remain in those Krill camps and what their paths will look like when they are released under a peace treaty.
The Layna twist was both surprising and not. I didn't expect her not to be Layna but I did expect she was the key to how Orin destroyed the ships.
I suspected some sort of River Tam, weaponized brain/berserker secret ability, perhaps a side-effect of Krill experimentation.
Of course, that wouldn't explain how they destroyed ships from a shuttle (unless she could blow things up with her brain!) so explosive blood makes a lot more sense. I guess.
Explosive blood from a species the Union knows about but agreed to never have contact with. A little heavy on the deus ex machina but that's not exactly a new move for The Orville either.
I had to really think to parse the A and B plotlines here because, like all their strongest episodes, The Orville effectively interweaves them here.
One would think that the peace talks with the Krill would be the primary but, in a clever bait-and-switch, the mystery of Orin takes center stage while the Krill literally leave the premises in order to give Mercer et al to solve it, returning only at the end to sign the agreement to talk about peace.
Makes diplomacy look pretty simple if you don't have a terrorist running around blowing ships up.
Mind you, the Krill never make things EASY. An agreement to come to the table doesn't guarantee any lasting truce and they're up-front about that.
Malloy: Look, Orin, I know you're a patriot at heart. And, when you boil it down, that's what this is about.
Orin: Patriotism is only for people with large families.
The intended theme here seems to be that of patriotism. It's in the title. Malloy and Orin mention it specifically.
However, what comes through most for me is that of forgiveness.
As I noted at the start, there was no follow-through on Isaac's return to the crew after the Kaylon Conflict. I'm going to assume they're saving that for a future episode.
Peace with the Krill is a slap in the face of Sophie's memory. It's the Union saying,'We forgive you for all the atrocities. We didn't care about those people anyway.'Orin
Instead, we look at the wrongs committed by both sides in the much longer war between the Planetary Union and the Krill.
Brokering peace is a move to preserve the future. It requires both parties to let go of the past, to forgive the crimes of the past.
Exemplified by Orin, some will never be able to do that.
And then, there's the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is a moment in time. Reconciliation is a process.
Mercer: I hope that this marks a new era of non-violence between our two peoples.
Krill Ambassador: We will see. A peace is only as strong as those who uphold it.
Grayson: And, of course, trust is earned.
Krill Ambassador: We agree on that, Commander.
A few questions to ponder as you watch The Orville online:
1) What do you think they'll do with not-Layna? I'm picturing packing her in a bubble-suit devoid of nitrogen and shipping her home.
2) How does the Planetary Union proceed knowing there are humans being held as prisoners of war?
3) How many shuttles can they afford to lose in a season?
4) Did anyone else see LaMarr's eye roll when he was told to resume his old seat as pilot?
5) Why did Orin have to puncture not-Layna so many times? Or were the multiple wounds from the times he used her blood for the previous four ships they destroyed?
With only four episodes left in the season, which storylines do you think will get a proper wrap-up? Which will be left dangling?
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.