Airs Thursdays on FOX in the UK at 9pm
Writer: Seth MacFarlane
Director: Brannon Braga
Essential Plot Points:
- Ed is bouncing around the ship, off shift. He asks Gordon if he wants a drink but he’s in bed. Then John (Who is VERY much on a date) and then Bortus. Bortus asks him in for a drink. A drink which, it turns out, will grow into a parasite into his body. Which is…good?
- Ed asks what the guys do for fun. Which turns out to be a version of Pass the Parcel where the Parcel is a ballistic knife.
- So Ed goes back to his quarters. Turns out Kelly can’t sleep either and they go for a drink.
- They, inevitably, circle back around to Darulio. Ed broaches the idea his pheromones may be the reason Kelly cheated on him. And then,E d does something amazing; he’s honest. He explains that he misses her. He asks her out on a date, she agrees. They get drunk to celebrate.
- And pay for it SO much.
- The next day, the Orville moves into uncharted space. Bortus detects something odd near the star. A spatial anomaly. Isaac wants to study it, and, reluctantly, Kelly puts a team together. She, Isaac and Gordon take a shuttle into open space and…suddenly…atmosphere.
- A planet. From out of nowhere.
- The shuttle crashes…
- Thankfully no one’s harmed and the damage is minimal. In orbit, Ed orders Bortus to scan the planet from top to bottom.
- On the surface, Kelly heads out to check the area. She finds a bronze age level village and calls in. She heads to the village, careful to remain unseen.
That doesn’t go well and she frightens two little girls, one of whom falls and cuts her head. Kelly offers to heal her and does so, sealing the cut with a handheld piece of medical equipment. Adults arrive and she runs off. Behind her, the little girl says ‘Kell…y…’
- Ed briefs Admiral Ozawa who asks them to stay on site and scan the planet. He doesn’t mention Kelly’s encounter with the girl and explains that, as far as he’s concerned, she did the right thing.
- 12 hours of scans reveal nothing. Until suddenly the planet simply phases out of existence.
- Isaac and John brief the team. The theory is that the planet is on a multi-phasic orbit, that takes it between two universes.
- John theorizes that the planet will re-enter their universe in 11 days. Ed makes the call; they’ll wait.
- Aaaaaand….date Kelly. In a legitimately lovely moment, they bond over Ed’s terrible cooking and are (sort of) a couple again.
- 11 days later, the planet reappears. But something has changed; the population has massively increased and the amount of artificial structures on the surface has increased too.
- They land at the spot where the previous shuttle crashed. Instead of a village there’s now a city. They call in and Isaac reveals that the planet passes through a temporal anomaly when it moves between worlds; 11 days in our universe last 700 years in the other.
- They steal clothes from a nearby farmhouse to blend in and are instantly spotted. But instead of sounding the alarm, the farmer brings her son to Kelly and begs her to bless the child…
- Ed is massively disturbed. More so when they find the string of corpses nailed up along the roadside. A passing cart driver identifies the bodies for them; deniers. Deniers of The Word of Kelly…
- The Orville team, arrive in the city just in time to see three men accused of theft being tied to gallows. The three are cut, and a priest entreats ‘Kelly’ to heal them if they’re innocent.
- Kelly wants to intervene but Ed reminds her that’s the worst possible thing she can do. With no choice, they carry on into what looks like a town hall.
- One with a statue of Kelly in it.
- They call Ozawa. She is not happy. She orders them to stay off the surface, making the point that at their rate of development, the planet will have space travel in under a month. Kelly has an official reprimand placed on her file and they’re ordered to hold off.
- Kelly is horrified that people have died and been killed in her name. She’s terrified of how many more will die in her name and asks to be alone.
- A little while later, Ed calls on her in her quarters. They’re going back.
- They make it back to the planet with 31 minutes before it phases out again.
- They arrive as a young man is dragged away to be cut. Kelly takes her robe off to reveal her uniform. ‘Kelly’ has returned.
- She walks the Pope of her religion through her ‘miracle’, first cutting then repairing her hand. She then has the pope do the same thing with the same effect.
- With nine minutes to go, Kelly asks if the Pope of her religion if he understands what he saw; Kelly isn’t a God. Kelly does not deserve worship. Faced with incontrovertible evidence that his religion is a lie he actually takes it pretty well and agrees to spread the word.
- They leave and the Pope is assassinated by one of his cardinals, desperate to protect the people from the existential shock of their religion collapsing…
- 11 days later, the planet re-emerges. There are cities everywhere, satellites in orbit, computer technology and broadcasts from the surface. Broadcasts which mention ‘Kelly’ thousands of times…
- The command crew reconvene and Kelly makes it clear that they just don’t have enough time on the surface. Claire suggests they leave something there,
- Kelly suggests they leave someone behind.
- Ed refuses to let her sacrifice herself but she’s adamant. Until Isaac volunteers. His construct can survive for millions of years and 700 years for him is almost nothing. He’s signing off as the planet phases out and…all the crew can do is wait.
- 11 days later, the planet re-emerges. It’s beautiful, littered with massive constructs and seemingly at peace. A vessel appears from the surface and asks permission to come aboard. It’s granted and two crew members transport onto the bridge, with Isaac.
- The two crew members explain that Isaac, in the end, had no real impact. They got used to his presence and their society developed around him, peacefully. They reveal that they’re settled the galaxy in the other universe. They reassure Kelly that if it hadn’t been her, their faith would have found another face.
- After they leave, Kelly visits Ed in the Mess. She explains that their relationship can’t work. It jeopardizes the ship, Ed’s command and their friendship. Ed agrees even though it doesn’t change how he feels. She agrees, but tells him, for now, those are feelings they have to forget.
- Kelly leaves, and Ed drinks in the Mess, alone…
The Orville tackles organized religion and duty in its season finale and has interesting things to say about both of them. ‘mad Idolatry’ is a very thematically heavy episode but everything here works, thanks to the very thing the show struggled against at first; it’s dual tones.
The drama here comes from Kelly’s justifiable horror at how her presence has been perverted and the desire to do something about it. It’s classic science fiction (After all Starfleet’s Prime Directive was always more a set of guidelines…) but the consequences are very well handled. Ed gets in trouble, so does she, and they go back anyway because it’s the right thing to do. That, coupled with the revelation that the planet would always have gone that way, places this solidly outside Star Trek territory. The Union has none of the UFP’s fundamental confidence and Admiral Ozawa’s horror at events shows that. It’s a nice way of differentiating the show too; the Union, like Ed and his crew, are still feeling their way.
That focuses down to Ed and Kelly, whoa re in a very different place than they were at the top of the season. The fact they finally talk about the Darulio incident is a huge relief. The fact that they do so like adults even more so. MacFarlane and Palicki have great natural chemistry too. It’s relaxed in a wayt most screen couples aren’t and the fact the pair are comfortable in each other’s presence lifts each one of their scenes. They clearly have feelings for one another but as the episode shows, their jobs get in the way. And, at this stage, the pair of them are more focused on those careers than on each other. That doesn’t mean the romance is off the table, but it does mean other things are there with it. That’s a smart, mature, realistic way to approach it and that shows just how far the show has come.
Plus this episode is funny in about three diferent ways. The silent comedy of Ed and Kelly hungover on the bridge, Gordon’s two or three legitimate zingers and Ed and Kelly’s unforced, funny banter are all a pleasure to see. The fact they’re used to deliver a story that’s massively angry and, ultimately, immensely reassuring, only helps make the episode better.
‘Mad Idolatry’ is a great standalone episode, a brave season finale and a mark of just what The Orville is capable of. Bring on season 2. Just don’t make us play any games with Bortus…
- John’s frantic headshake when Ed interrupts his date is great.
- Hungover Ed and Kelly are also hilarious.
- Admiral Ozawa! Nice little continuity grace note.
- The music is lovely this episode. Very original series Star Trek.
- The stained glass window of Kelly is great.
- The skewering of Fox News and mega churches is on point.
- Purd! From Parks and Rec! As a newscaster! Like he always is!
- Ed holding Kelly’s hand as the planet re-appears is SO sweet.
- Yet more gorgeous special effects.
- The accents. Oh Good Lord the accents…
- There’s maybe more story here. It would have been nice to see this develop over two episodes although we absolutely respect the show’s commitment to single episode stories in its first year.
- That being said the Pope and Cardinal both felt like characters who deserved more time.
And The Random:
- Jay Jackson gets a brief appearance as a newscaster which will make Parks and Recreation fans very happy. Jackson is best known for his role there as the host of Ya Heard? with Perd but he’s played reporters everywhere from Battleship and Fast Five through to The Mentalist and Supergirl. We like to believe they’re all the same character too…
- Brannon Braga directed this episode. He also did ‘Into The Fold’ which he co-wrote with Andre Bormanis and ‘About A Girl‘ meaning he’s been directly involved in three of the best episodes so far.
Review by Alasdair Stuart