Tonight, The Orville produced another great episode with “Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes,” Season 2 Episode 4. But there was a plot twist that reminded us quite a bit of Star Trek: Discovery. Is The Orville technically a parody or is it simply paying homage to Star Trek’s unique plotlines? Don’t read this review unless you are caught up on Star Trek: Discovery, or if you don’t care about being spoiled about a major plot twist that happened tonight and in Season 1 of Discovery.
First, we’ll discuss the B Storyline, and then we’ll go on in the second section to talk about Discovery vs. The Orville and the similarities from tonight.
[See top theories about the Star Trek: Picard trailer released on July 20, 2019 here.]
Plot B, with Gordon Malloy & Kelly Grayson, Is Extra Touching When You Realize The Actors Are Engaged in Real LIfe
As usual, Plots A and B for tonight’s episode were very enjoyable. For the B Plot, we got to see Gordon Malloy start attempting a series of tests to move into command ranks. First Officer Kelly Grayson wasn’t so sure about his motivations, but Malloy seemed really excited about trying this new role. (His scene with Dr. Claire Finn was hilarious. When she asked him to identify ink blots that legitimately looked like nothing, I was laughing out loud as he got more and more disturbed, finally declaring a “hostile work environment.” They couldn’t have chosen more ambiguous ink blots than they used.)
In the end, we see Gordon using his newfound confidence to get a date (when he couldn’t muster up the courage to ask for a date in a previous episode.) Kelly tells him that he already has proven himself in many ways, and the scene was extra sweet when you realize that Adrianne Palicki (Grayson) and Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) just got engaged in real life.
I doubt they’ll carry that relationship onto the show’s plot, but it’s kind of cute to think of what was going on behind-the-scenes.
That Tyler Storyline Sure Sounds Familiar
The main storyline, meanwhile, was heartbreaking for Ed Mercer. He found love in the lovely Janel Tyler (played by Michaela McManus.) He’s finally happy, dealing with Kelly’s decision to move on, and is able to be on “Mellow Alert.”
But things take a turn for the horrible when they go on a vacation and are tracked down by the Krill. That’s when Janel reveals the truth — she’s really Telaya, the Krill that Mercer betrayed when he went undercover as a Krill in Season 1 Episode 6. She was a schoolteacher, and he killed her brother when he had to destroy everyone on the ship in order to stop the ship from destroying a colony. He saved Telaya and the schoolchildren by blocking them from the blinding light, but her brother wasn’t so lucky.
Mercer had developed a bond with Telaya, and she was very angry. She had been harboring resentment all this time, escaped, and volunteered to undergo a painful transformation so she could go undercover, woo Mercer, and take him captive.
I was heartbroken for Ed because really, he can’t catch a break.
But all this was a little too similar to Star Trek: Discovery.
MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS BELOW FOR STAR TREK DISCOVERY.
Last season, Ash Tyler started a romantic relationship with Michael Burnham, the main character (although not the captain.) We learned that he was the Klingon Voq in disguise. He underwent a painful transformation so he could gather valuable intel about the Federation. Sure, some things were a little different. Tyler had to lose his memories too, and his “Tyler” personality ended up being the dominant one in the end. Meanwhile, on The Orville, Telaya never lost her memories and knew what she was doing the whole time.
But it’s obvious that The Orville was paying some kind of homage to Star Trek (as the entire series seems to be doing.) They had a similar storyline, involving a similar alien species, and they gave the characters the exact same last name.
I’m not the only fan who noticed this.
I liked how the episode ended, with Ed deciding to let Telaya go back to the Krill in an attempt at establishing positive relations with their race. And I enjoyed the Billy Joel song they played as they flew away. But I hope Ed doesn’t keep holding onto feelings for her, because she can’t be trusted.
Which show do you think do that plot twist better: The Orville or Discovery?