The last two episodes I’ve talked about of Orville Season 3 have delved into popular political issues that have allowed writers’ bias to damage the plot. This episode, part 6, does something worse.
This may not seem like a big deal, at first. But let me explain why this episode is terrible from a point of view that goes beyond the writing. Yes, the writing is bad but that’s normal for this show. However, it is one thing to gossip about political issues that are in vogue. But it’s an entirely different matter to murder a family, defend the decision, and in the process try to establish a set of priorities that are, to say the least, unhealthy.
Writers describe the human condition, which can include revealing the most graphic events and exploring the darkest regions of the soul. But there is a difference between describing an event and defending it.
It may seem like just a story, but I would like you to try to detect their message. I would never recommend this season of the show – and this episode in particular – for fun, but after reading this article, I hope you’ll consider watching this episode to see if you can pick up – or be okay with it. – my interpretation. I’ll try to describe a very manipulative tactic the writers use in this story to get you to accept murder. Indeed, they force you to attend a ritual.
Our story begins with the invention of a time travel device. There have been time travel episodes in The Orville before. But the rules of how time travel works are ambiguous, as they must be, for any hope of continuity.
But this fact poses a problem from the start because the Union has a policy of preventing the butterfly effect without any clear understanding of the rules of time travel. The Union simply does not want to risk anything, so it does not take any risks. This means that there is no interaction with the past, if someone gets stuck there.
Now, that’s an absurd and impossible notion, as I discussed in a previous article, but we won’t focus on that for now. As an aside, this is also hypocritical. We will see why later.
The Orville has a time travel device on board, and the Union orders the crew to take it to a lab. During the conversation in which the orders are given, the Admiral – speaking to Ed and Kelly – mentions that the Union’s reason for wanting to move the device is that either the Kaylon or the Krill could use to time travel and dissolve the Union. So they recognize that – under Union and writers own rules – if anything were to happen that caused them to cease to exist in their current form, it would and should be considered something bad, something like an act of war, something akin to murder. Remember that little factoid. It comes back later.
Orville’s crew, along with other Union members, fly to the lab, only to find that it has been destroyed. Then, Kaylon ships appear and attack the Union fleet. The Orville is heavily damaged and caught in a tractor beam. In desperation, the crew members tell Gordon to destroy the time travel device.
He grabs a gun and walks towards the device. But LaMarr pulls some last-minute engineering and frees the ship from the tractor beam. We’re told it overloads the main engine, and the next discharge breaks the beam. But this also causes a glitch in the time travel device, and Gordon is sent to 2015.
Gordon manages to send a message back to the ship somehow, and the Orville must now use the device to travel to the past and save it. They use the device, but during the time jump the ship runs out of Dysonium – essentially, the ship’s fuel – and the ship stops in 2025 instead of 2015.
In the story, Earth has Dysonium in its mantle, so Charly and Isaac are sent to retrieve the mineral so that The Orville can fly again.
Now here comes the first major – and frankly unforgivable – plot hole. In an earlier scene, the crew consults Gordon’s obituary. So they know that Gordon lived a full life. Any obituary will contain a list of his children and relations. The ethical questions raised by this episode should therefore have been raised when the crew realized what they were about to do. Gordon has a wife and children. By taking him during this timeline, they would snuff out the children’s existence. It’s a big problem.
And, as clarified earlier, even the Union recognizes such a change as devastating – at least, when it comes to their own well-being. To make Gordon lose his family would be awful, especially if they don’t reach him before he starts his family. It would be traumatic, wouldn’t it. I wonder what will happen?
But ethical issues aside, the common-sense solution would be to wait for Charly and Isaac to come back with the mineral and fly out on the right date. True, the ship is damaged, but at this point the time machine is working fine, so the crew could afford to wait. If you’ll pardon the pun, they only have time, and waiting would have spared Gordon the trauma of losing his family, which is the moral conundrum of this episode.
But you see, dear reader, the writers want Gordon to endure this trauma. They have a message they want to sell you, and that message is just one reason to bring up the damage to the ship. They have to make it look like Ed has no choice but to come down to earth and get Gordon back in the present time. But as we’ve seen, it costs them nothing to wait, and it spares Gordon pain.
So why this contrived drama? Why does Ed really have to come down to earth and snatch poor Gordon from his family now? Because – as Kelly so delicately puts it – “family changes a man”.
We will continue this discussion next Saturday!
You can also read: Orville Episode 5: Bad Allegory – But Competent Writing Competent writing is compensation for an otherwise tedious exposition of transgender ideology. The writers of season three should have explored the character’s fear more, rather than pushing the anti-tradition narrative, for a more compelling story.
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