Near as I can tell, the purpose of The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 4 is three-fold: famous faces, fickle fancies, and fake news. None of it lands as particularly funny.
With the return of Admirals Halsey, Perry, and Ozawa -- portrayed by Victor Garber, Ted Danson, and Kelly Hu, respectively -- and by adding Babylon 5's Bruce Boxleitner as President Alcuzan, they had all their big guns in play.
Unfortunately, the parade of star power isn't enough to distract from the fact Mercer relationship storylines are always problematic.
And finally, the social commentary on election shenanigans and populist politics is pretty on the nose.
If Trek trolls have been lurking The Orville: New Horizons hoping to find a sci-fi series without that icky "woke" -ness they take such offense to, they're probably pretty irritated at the moment.
To present Teleya as the populist leader pushing a fear and anger agenda with a hypocritical helping of religious fanaticism isn't a shocking way to reinvent the character.
Her rise as a folk hero after surviving the "so-called massacre" of her brother and crew is not only believable; it's canonical.
I was born in a time of dreams. We were pure of spirit and devout in our beliefs. The blessings of Avis were showered upon us and brought our greatest hopes to life. But now, we face a looming nightmare. We brought this nightmare upon ourselves when we placed our faith into the hands of a false prophet.Teleya
Halsey's flippant description of what happened aboard the Yakar on The Orville Season 1 Episode 6 bothers me a lot.
A quick refresher: what Mercer and Malloy did there -- killing a shipful of Krill using UV -- was, by definition, a war crime, and there has never been satisfactory closure on the fact they slaughtered everyone aboard except one classroom of children and their teacher.
That would include the civilian parents of the children they saved and any other classrooms of children.
And killing them all didn't even serve their objective, which was to stop the deployment of a bomb that turned out to be automated. So brutal and meaningless.
Teleya's warning to Mercer then was that his actions would ensure the classroom he had saved would grow to be his staunchest enemies.
When you go home to your children, will you tell them you chose to destroy our future? Or will you tell them you have reclaimed our dreams and placed your trust in the Word of Avis, a Word which declares that Krill comes first!Teleya
She has been the most high-profile individual in that group: converting several Union xenoanthropologists to the Word of Avis, joining the Krill military, infiltrating the Orville for a long-haul undercover mission as Janel Tyler, and now successfully overthrowing the established order on Krill.
And while I deeply appreciate the complicated nature of Teleya's character, I find Mercer's belief that he achieved some sort of reconciliation with her on The Orville Season 2 Episode 4 laughable to the point of insulting.
Captivity notwithstanding, it's nice to see your face.Mercer
He massacres (yeah, I said it) her entire crew, including her brother, and somehow thinks The Best of Billy Joel will heal the divide?
In a nutshell, it's hard to buy into adventures involving Teleya because I might always see Mercer as the villain of the piece.
Yes, she stabbed and killed the defeated Chancellor, but at least she did it herself, whereas Mercer and Malloy fried the crew of the Yakar by flipping a switch and covering their eyes.
And now there's a kid in the picture.
Adding Anaya to the mix feels deliberately manipulative. She's essentially an orphan, having no contact with either biological parent.
Krill obviously age up more quickly than humans as Anaya is less than a year old since Teleya commented that Mercer and her only parted a year ago.
Will Anaya's positive and compliant nature wane as becomes more aware of her isolation and differences? Will she grow to resent the mother who hides from her and the father who abandoned her?
Or will the Admiralty eventually coerce Mercer into exercising his paternal rights in the interests of putting pressure on Teleya?
You should feel validated. Your faith in me has made this victory possible.Teleya
Teleya credits Mercer with her victory because he freed her. Of course, what's not said is that if he hadn't released her, she wouldn't have been able to hide Anaya from him or anyone else.
Honestly, it's kind of insane what Teleya's been able to accomplish in a year. Mother, folk hero, Supreme Chancellor. Did the role of Chancellor always include public executions, or is that a new perk?
Teleya is inexperienced. She's a populist, not a politician. She's running on rhetoric and fire.Mercer
Never underestimate a populist movement or the abilities of a pissed-off teacher.
Krill society has been The Orville's primary "other" since the beginning.
The differences have been vast, and the Union hasn't always been thoughtful or even respectful in their dealings with them.
Halsey: Did you enjoy your evening on Broadway, Chancellor?
Chancellor: Indeed. However, the repeated prophecy of the orphan child was quite haunting. 'The SUN will come out TOMORROW!'
Ambassador: In our culture, the sun is a symbol of suffering and death.
Halsey: Yes, in retrospect, Oklahoma might have been a better choice.
Even as recently as The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 2, we see the Planetary Union disregard the Krill warnings about the Shadow Realms as the ramblings of a primitive and superstitious tribe.
And where The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 1 expressed some specifics views on suicide, abortion gets a brief and weird treatment here.
My takeaway from this offering is that the supersized nature of this season's episodes is pushing their new horizons a little too far out there.
Rather than take on one societal issue -- like on The Orville Season 1 Episode 7 -- we've been grappling with multiple topics on every outing while also building a long-arc conflict and dealing with many types of trauma.
It's almost like yesterday was one life, and today's another, and everything's different on this side of time.Grayson
Grayson and Mercer's little tête-à-tête near the end also raised my irk as I'd hoped they'd dropped the possibility of a romantic reunion.
I have all my fingers crossed that they're just having breakfast as good work buddies who know better than to plow that fallow field again.
So yeah, overall, in terms of narrative, it's an overfull, underwhelming, problematic tale with an unsatisfying conflict, unnecessary romantic overtures (LaMarr and Keyali? Seriously?), and an innocent who will either grow into a formidable adversary or be sacrificed for someone's greater good. Argh.
Hubris has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass.Mercer
The space battle stuff, shuttle landing, and high-speed chases are very pretty, though. There's no question that the visual effects team does a stellar job.
And I will give a gold star to Isaac's Wild West entrance. The mustache takes it to eleven.
This town will not accommodate the numerical totality of our combined mass.Isaac
What's on your highlights reel for this visit to Krill, Fanatics?
Was it all the familiar guest stars?
Was it the Krazy Krill game of Spy vs. Spy that involved handing off and handing over Mercer until our heads spun?
Park your shuttle in our comments hanger and record a personal log to share!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.