The latest episode of The Orville
After watching several episodes of the Orville, Seth McFarland’s latest TV series, I finally actually loved one of the episodes. There were two previous parts one and two episodes where Isaac, the robot (think Commander Data) becomes deactivated. He ends up starting an all-out war with the earth in this episode. It was sad, funny, action-packed and interesting. It added a layer of action I never expected.
The not so hidden base message of this whole story is one of inclusion and acceptance. In fact, this is sort of Seth McFarland’s modus operandi. In his storytelling and in this series, robots are now dating real women. There is also a woman who is the muscle of the group. She has superhuman strength because she was born on a planet with extreme gravity like Superman. The point is, he usually has an idea associated with many of his episodes of how to be or how not to be as a human.
This episode, The Orville lasting Impressions, it is like all others, Seth takes every available opportunity at comedy and does it well. I mean seriously, the movie, “A 1000 Ways to Die in The Old West”, holy crap that is funny. However, somehow, the Family Guy creator has recently taken his comedic genius to a different place. I have followed him for years and have not seen him seriously explore drama in such a layered way. While he has taken opportunities to use comedy to bring humility to drama. This series is the first time I have been aware that he actually went there. He disconnected comedy and allowed the vulnerability of judgment of his storytelling and intellect to become present.
A New Impression of Seth McFarland
This week, the Orville Lasting Impressions was like two episodes in one. One episode was very serious and intriguing, while the other was more fully developed. It had an enlightening view. The latest episode, “Lasting Impressions”, was a wonderful exploration of events that may transpire with people who find a time capsule several hundred years in the future. The story swerves into the people from which the technology of the past came from. It is interesting to think that, data never truly goes away. In this episode, cell phones and several other pieces of 21st-century technology are found in a time capsule. The time capsule included a bunch of items. A can of Spam, a carton of cigarettes and a cell phone among other things.
The crew of the Orville was most intrigued by the cell phone. In fact, Lt. Gordon Malloy took a special interest in the device. Besides Lt. Malloy’s interest in the phone, Lt. Commander Bortis, who is an analog of Lt. Commander Worf from Star Trek. However, as it turns out, Maclan, the species of Bortis and his mate Klyden are super sensitive to nicotine addiction. Bortis first started eating a cigarette, not really understanding them, and he loved the smell and could not seem to put the things down. Eventually, along with his mate Klyden, the two started smoking, becoming quickly addicted. They were soon smoking casually everywhere on the ship. Bortis was even smoking on the bridge while on duty until he was sort of relieved for doing so.
The Orville Lasting Impressions Two Episodes in One
This got the attention of the rest of the crew and an intervention soon became necessary. Several members of the crew confronted and advised them to quit smoking or their addiction would become overwhelming because of the strong addiction level of their species. They both eventually quit, but there were more drama and hijinks. This part of the show was funny. It made an interesting observation of how a normal person can lose self-control and fall into addictive behavior.
In my opinion, this episode was different because of the events that played out with Gordon. Gordo is often portrayed as aloof and brazen. However, he is caring, thoughtful, intelligent and intellectual. He is probably someone we should all choose to be even though he is someone drawn to the margins of the story. I say this because I believe he is seen as a sort of goofy, maybe even socially awkward while uncaring what other people think. He is a sensitive, pilot cool guy, who is a dorky nerd that is cool.
Anyway, enough analyzing the personality of the hero of this episode. However, I must say he is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters and actors on the show. Scott Grimes is knocking it out of the park with excellent acting. Not to mention Seth’s great character development in this show. I think he is doing a great job of making fun of the world, poking fun of the Star Trek world while adding some serious acting and special effects very similar to past Star Trek episodes. Now ease down Trekkies, I am also a Star Trek fan, so cool it. I was watching Star trek when most of you reading this were not yet even thought of. So, don’t give me shit about my interpretations, lol. You damn whippersnappers. Yes, I am old, I am, like 50 and shit.
While the crew is checking out the phone, they finally figure out how to turn it on. That is where the magic happened because apparently, batteries can last 300 years. Either that or they become auto-charged like in the movie Independence Day. Sort of kidding, but seriously what the hell Seth. In any case, the phone came alive with a simple swipe.
The Crew of the Orville Becomes Cynical
In The Orville lasting Impressions, they searched messages and found one from the owner. It was a message to the future inviting the crew to go through her stuff, read her emails and see if she was, as she stated, “cool or not”. Gordon fell enamored by the beauty on the screen. Gordon took the phone to the holodeck to make a simulation of the woman who owned the phone. His intent was purely and emotionally to connect with her, to get to know her. It was obvious he was already in love with her.
When he first gave the holodeck computer the phone, the computer could not recognize it. But then it did because he told it that the device was a cell phone, so there is that. There was some humor there but, wow, thud. Anyway, back at the ranch, Gordon asked the computer to extrapolate the woman whom he is taken with and who owned the phone. He wanted a program for her and the computer made one based on her words, her photos, voice, her texts and letters, everything about her as Gordon asked.
The problem started when the computer-based everything on a timeline of events as found in the phone. Had Gordon been aware, he could have easily researched her timeline of events, which later on he did. Had he done so earlier, he would have ascertained that she would soon get back with her old boyfriend. Gordon new the old boyfriend was actually a really nice guy and that she loved him The guy was even a little like him in certain ways, but certainly in the way that he loved her deeply and honestly.
The very first “date” Gordon and this woman from the past went on was at a bar where she was onstage singing. The song was emotional and the lyrics were based around the idea of “all I have to say is I Love You and that’s all I have to say”. It was an emotional moment set in the early 2000s, with a folk and jazz base with blues overtones. That was a little comedy of my own, but seriously.
Scott Grime as Lt. Gordon Mallo is Awesome!
In the midst of the story, Gordon falls in love and gets judged by his friends for the unorthodox relationship. This turn of events was interesting because the doctor has been dating Isaac. A female and a robot, which Gordon brought up as an example of his friend’s hypocrisy. He asked, why he could not have a relationship with a woman in the holodeck if she was actually based on history versus just a program. However, we must assume that all holodeck programs are based on all available data about a person and history.
Gordon is crushed, not only from the reality that this woman from 100’s of years in the past actually loved someone else. Deeper he realized he could have never really had her anyway. In his attempt to cope, he tries to remove the boyfriend from the program, resounding in a massive failure. After removing him, the computer interpreted a paradox in the request. It seemed to extrapolate a new reality and the woman now displayed a different future. This was represented in the fact that she was no longer able to sing on stage. She could sing, but her old boyfriend had been the one that gives her the courage for a stage performance. He gave her the strength to do it in the first place.
Gordon, being the truly good guy he is, realized this. He could have ignored it and had the holodeck program ignore this. He could have taken credit for her love for music and singing. However, in this paradox, she is still a program, so there is no paradox of reality, (or is there). He could have even taken credit for it in the holodeck and been with her for the rest of his life. However, he could not change her programmatically to suit his needs, he wanted her and he knew that whatever happened between them would not be who she actually was even if he could have a relationship with her.
The episode ended with Gordon going to a bar with herself and her boyfriend, Gordon told her he was going away because he got a new job as a test pilot. This is interesting because the only person he was really saying goodbye was himself. Although this gave a certain wonder that, wow, maybe she is real. Then to cap that thought off, Gordon asked her to take a picture with him on her cell phone. Which time frame was the picture taken from on the phone? Anyway, obviously we know it was a program but the end showed the picture on the phone of the two of them and it sort of made you think about reality for a second.
Kelly Grayson is a Human After All
There was a moment in the end where Commander Kelly Grayson recognized Gordons loss and acceptance of reality as a true friend. This story was told well and it really drew me in. Moreover, it made me think. I found myself asking what I would want someone 300 or 400 years in the future to be able to extrapolate about the life I lived and who I am.
Sometimes life lessons don’t come from novels, nor critically acclaimed pieces of art. They can also come from real people swinging from the depths of humanity that scares many off. Seth will likely never receive the credit for the comedic and intellectual genius he is. Let’s be clear, he writes, produces, directs and acts in this series. I wish I had that talent, I really do. Some people get things handed to them, Seth has truly earned it.
I want to say one more thing about Seth McFarland that I admire. He could have taken on a political leaning with all of the media he has at his disposal. Instead of becoming overtly political, he has used his intellect. His cartoon fame and comedic façade hide a talented storyteller whom I love following. I appreciate that Seth uses his influence wisely for the most part. His messages are often left-leaning but you have to get there through interpolation versus influence. He tells a story that shows people the ridiculousness of how people behave, the realness of why they behave that way and how we could be better. He is a modern-day mother goose for the woke and un-woke alike.
Written by Stacy Glasgow