The latest episode of The Orville tugged at the heartstrings, brought back a couple of former Star Trek alums, and ended with a series regular making their goodbyes. Being a sentimental type of guy, I would call that a successful episode. So let’s delve into this installment entitled “Home.”
The show starts out in the ship’s mess hall, which is becoming a popular set piece for life aboard ship. Being Friday, the crew has come to expect and wager on a weekly arm-wrestling match between Issac and Alara (Halston Sage). It has been a competitive series with Alara getting the best of Issac by only a number of matches. This particular one ends when Issac puts her arm down, but breaks Alara’s arm in the process. Realizing that shouldn’t have happened, she goes to Dr. Finn to get the break fixed but more importantly, to learn why it happened in the first place.
After examining Alara, Dr. Finn discovers that Alara has been slowly losing muscle mass and bone density after long exposure to earth style gravity. To combat this and perhaps reverse it, she is told she should return home to reacclimate herself to Xelayah‘s gravity and regain her strength. The time frame for this was uncertain as medical records had shown some patients recovering in a relatively short period of time while in some isolated cases, the patient never recovered. As much as Captain Mercer didn’t want to lose his head of security, he supported whatever she needed to do and told her she would have her job waiting for her upon her return.
As it turns out, Alara is not necessarily looking forward to returning home as her family still does not totally support her choice of military service. This may sound familiar to those Star Trek fans who know the story of Spock and his father’s opinion of his son’s Starfleet choice. In both cases, the father thought their child should concentrate on academia instead of using their talents for military purposes. In Alara’s case, at least according to her parents, she didn’t thrive in the learning environment like most children on their planet did. With her return home, they thought she might return to school and get her degree like her older sister. They had arranged to get her the help she would need to get through school. Alara however, only wanted to stay until she had regained her strength and then return to the Orville. If for some reason she never got her strength back, she had no intention of returning to school. Until that time came, she did require the use of a hover chair that resembled a wheel chair.
In the meantime, Alara’s temporary replacement on the Orville is introduced with Patrick Warburton brought on to play Lt. Tharl, another member of the random weird looking alien club that seems to make an appearance in every episode. Tharl appears to have learned to speak by watching the Sea Turtle on Finding Nemo. Sentences that include phrases like “bitchin,” boner, and “sick” make for a character who I hope remains temporary (although I am usually a big fan of Patrick Warburton). The fact that he prefers to eat on the bridge making loud slurping sounds while he “pounds down” his food didn’t exactly endear himself to the crew, or to me either.
Back on Xelayah, Alara’s family decided to visit their beach home, as a means of family building. While sitting on the beach, Alara notices that one of the houses down from where they are has a light on. She finds this strange since the caretaker of their property told them that they were the only family there seeing as this was the off-season. Her curiosity peaked, she decided not to investigate any further at this time. Not long after however, a knock on their door reveals a man and wife who claim that the house in question was theirs and they believed someone had broken into their house. When the couple (Cambis and Floratta) asked about the property caretaker, they tried to contact him but couldn’t. Alara agreed to go investigate their house and her sister Solana decides to go with her. During the trip Solana tells Alana she is somewhat envious of her little sister much to Alara’s surprise. She remarks how she gets to go strange and exciting places and meet new people. She also explains her theory about the differences between the soldiers and the “intellectuals.”
I think the soldiers and the intellectuals all secretly wants what the other has. The muscle wants the brains, and the brains wish they had what it takes to clobber the barroom drunk who gets out of line.
Alara wanted to know why they couldn’t have both? Upon arriving at the visitors home, they find the caretakers things, still unpacked. He apparently hadn’t left the area. They found no other trace of him or anyone else.
Upon returning home, their father( Robert Picardy) was making a meal for the visiting couple and he told them if they didn’t hear from the caretaker by morning, they would call the police. While waiting for their father’s sauce to finish, the couples bragged about their children. Cambis (Star Trek alum John Billingsley) talked about his son and his achievements and her mother Drenala bragged about Solana, which didn’t go unnoticed by Alara. Once the alarm went off telling Ildis that his sauce was ready, Cambis brought his plate over but before Ildis could serve him the sauce, Cambis told him the ladle looked dirty and he should use his hand to serve him. Ildis looked at him in disbelief until Cambis pulled a gun from his jacket and made him put his hand into the boiling hot sauce. After burning his hand, Cambis and Floratta, who also had a gun, explained that their son had in fact committed suicide and it was Ildis fault. Their son, Galdus Harona had been a proponent of the stoppage of using a widely accepted vaccine. He claimed it was not safe and should not be used and wrote a paper about it. Ildis had written a paper countering their son’s argument saying that his methodology was flawed and he came to the wrong conclusions. Due to Ildis paper, Galdus reputation was irreparably damaged which put him in a long term depression. Eventually he took his own life.
Because of this, they blamed Ildis and they wanted him to admit he was wrong and their son was right. When he refused, they threatened to kill him but Alara interjected saying if he made that statement, there would be no more reason for him to keep them alive. Cambis acknowledged this and changed tactics and threatened to have his wife cut off Solana’s fingers if he didn’t comply.
Meanwhile back on the Orville, Dr. Finn and Lamarr discover a treatment they believe will allow Alara to continue her position as Head of Security. They go to Captain Mercer and Lt. Commander Grayson to report their findings. Upon hearing their plan, Ed and Gordon once again board a shuttle to return to Xelayah to tell her of their solution. Their arrival is fortuitous as it coincides with Floratta’s attempt to cut off one of Solana’s fingers. As the shuttle lands, Alara tells Cambis that he and his wife should run while they still can. They refuse, instead telling Ildis to get rid of Mercer, while he hid and watched. Floratta sat with the rest of the family, keeping her gun hidden but still trained mainly on Solana and Drenala. Ed approaches the house asked to speak to Alara, not knowing the danger her family was in. Ildis told Ed she was resting but he would let her know he had come by. Cambis, shaken by Mercer’s arrival, panicked and shot Ed, temporarily incapacitating him. The issue was however that the shot had damaged his atmosphere suit and he had only minutes before it failed and the extreme gravity of the planet would crush him like an empty aluminum can.
Floratta lost focus when Cambis had shot Ed, giving Alara a chance to act, engaging Floratta and after a brief struggle, Alara disarmed and shot her. She quickly told her Mother and Sister to head upstairs and hide. At the same time, her father came back locking the door behind him but with Cambis in pursuit. Alara, having watched what happened to Ed told her father that she could handle Cambis but she needed him to go help Ed. Ildis told her he couldn’t do it and suggested she should. She reminded him that although she was on her feet, her legs were not yet strong enough to save Ed in time. He would have to do it.
She hid upstairs waiting for Cambis to make his appearance. Once he came into view, she came out, with him shooting at Alara but missing. He was not as fortunate as she shot and took him down. Meanwhile Ildis climbed over the balcony (more like fell from it). As he got to his feet he found the caretaker’s body in the bushes. With some effort, Ildis was able to drag Ed to the shuttle. Although Ed did suffer two broken legs due to the effects of the heavy gravity taking effect, he was safe.
Ildris returned to check on his family to find that Alara had saved them all. She told her Dad she was just doing her job. He began crying saying that they could have been killed. She responded that he was probably right. “I don’t know you anymore. I haven’t even tried.” He said. “All I’ve ever wanted is for you to see me, to be proud of me,” she replied. He told her he was so very proud and they awkwardly embraced.
Later, Alara returned to the Orville and Dr. Finn told her if the treatments they have devised for her. They would be painful at first but they would eventually allow her to return to her position. After some soul searching Alara returned to Captain Mercer and told him she would not be taking the treatments and would be going back home. She had found something with her family and she wanted to explore it. As much as Ed didn’t want to lose her, he agreed with her decision. Before she left she left a present for him and said an emotional goodbye to her Orville Family. Upon his return to his office, he opened Alara’s Gift to find a jar of pickles.
This episode has many layers and touched on a number of different topics. It explored the conflicts between parents who want the best for their children without taking into consideration their desires and children who just want their parents acceptance. It also gave a brief glimpse of social classes between academics and those who chose more physical, laborious occupations. And if that wasn’t enough, it also found time to examine the vaccine/no vaccine debate. That’s a lot for a 60 minute episode and they did a nice job of touching each one.
While it was somewhat sad to see Alara leave the ship, I can understand her need to refamilarize herself with her family. She came to the Orville looking for her place, someplace to belong and she found it with these diverse collection of crew members that became her family. Now that her father has acknowledged who she is, perhaps she can find what she is looking for at home. In any event, she didn’t die so it’s not like she cannot return sometime.
Star Trek alum Robert Picardo who returned once again to play Alara’s father was great as usual. His breaking down at the end when talking to Alara was gut wrenching and as much proof as you might need that Alara probably needs more time at home. She was more emotional leaving the Orville than she was when her father was bearing his soul in front of her. Hug that man, Girl.
In all honesty, I had to look up what the whole “jar of pickles” thing meant (since I didn’t watch the first season). Apparently, last season whenever Captain Mercer needed a door opened, he would call upon Alara to “open up this jar of pickles.” Cute.
Grade: I gave this one a solid A for emotional content, just enough action to keep things interesting and as always, production value that is exceptional. You might want to rethink Lt. Tharl however. Go back to the drawing board and find Patrick Warburton another character to play.
What did you think of the latest Orville episode? Share your thoughts with us at GVNation.
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 15 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.