Synopsis: The Orville crew go on a mission that makes them ponder their mortality.
The Orville goes to the planet Narran 1, a desolate world that seems to have no life on it, until they answer a distress signal coming from there. When they arrive on the planet, they first scan what seems to be a bustling city, but when the landing party arrives, all they find is a forest. The cities are gone, but they determine there are several hundred life forms nearby. They discover what appears to be a high school, but the only life forms the ship is picking up are the landing party. The doors lock, and the landing party find they can’t get out.
Suddenly, the bell rings, and students pile into the hallways from classrooms. In the meantime, the ship can’t detect the landing party.
Malloy (Scott Grimes) suddenly finds himself in the boys room being beaten up by two bullies to get money for someone named Randall. It turns out, even if everything is a hallucination, they can be hurt.
They then enter a lunchroom, where several kids warn them to pay Randall. Randall turns out to be a reptilian monster. Running away from Randall, they climb a flight of steps and find themselves in an airplane which has no pilot. Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and Malloy take control of the ship. but it crash lands on a cliff.
They then find themselves in a Moclan morgue, where sarcophagi open. Bortus (Peter Macon) finds himself dead in one of them. It reaches out to grab him. He felt outside his own body in that moment.
The landing party soon find themselves on a lake on Xelaya. They see a signal coming from a mountain. They find a raft. Kelly (Adrianne Palicki), Keyali (Jessica Szohr), and Malloy take the raft across the water toward the signal, but encounter a sea monster, that pulls Kelly into the lake. The landing party decides not to follow the signal, because every sign they’ve encountered so far has been a trap.
At every turn, the landing party finds themselves in life-threatening, yet familiar, situations. Each time they encounter a new scenario, one of the characters experiences something like an out of body experience, just as they come close to death. They find a device that appears to be projecting holographic imagery that has come from the pasts and experiences of each of the people in the landing party.
After Keyali nearly dies via sea monster, Dinal (Elizabeth Gillies), a woman from a planet the Orville had visited in the past, appears to explain that their people had evolved some 500,000 years into being immortal. They cannot die, and thus find many are losing the drive for purpose in life. They were observing the crew in life-or-death situations, to vicariously live lives that come to an end. In living forever, they have lost the desire to live life to its fullest.
Once again, the acting in this episode is good. While there is no one standout performance, the ensemble of actors is engaging and capable.
CGI & Effects
The CGI and special effects are fine for advancing the story. They’re on par with the effects on any Star Trek series, and essentially secondary to the story.
Once again, The Orville ponders universal issues. In this case, they ponder life, and the role death plays in giving it meaning. Mercer, not believing in a deity or afterlife, wonders about not existing, or having a memory of existence, or the presence of thought. This is what science fiction was meant for – posing questions about society, social problems, life, death, and existence. This is the kind of sci-fi I love.
- CGI & Effects9