Lion of the Blogosphere

The Orville S01E07 “Majority Rule”

Read my thoughts below. Spoilers!

Mike Street Station calls this episode “a brilliant satire on social media culture.”

Although it’s not believable that there would be an alien planet where the aliens look identical to humans and everyone speaks English, as a parody of Star Trek where that happened quite a bit, we can accept this. A lot of other stuff doesn’t make sense if you try to think about it too deeply, but The Orville, can get away with it because, hey, it’s parody, satire, and dramedy, don’t take it too seriously.

The satire here reminds me of the book Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart which takes place in a satirical near-future where everyone is broadcasting themselves on social media all the time, and everyone knows everyone else’s “credit rating.” In this episode of The Orville, the “credit rating” is replaced with likes and dislikes. Which, if you think about it, makes a lot more sense.

As in many TOS episodes where Spock had to cover his ears to pass for human, Alara had to wear a hat to cover her ears, as well as her forehead and nose, to pass for human. Alara’s hat set up the scene that satirizes SJWs being outraged about cultural appropriation, so kudos there.

LaMarr facing the punishment of a lobotomy for the minor crime of making obnoxious gestures with a statue, reminds me of the TNG episode where Wesley Crusher faces the death penalty for accidentally damaging a flower bed.

I liked the opening scene showing the cute blonde girl in her home. At first, I assumed we were seeing someone on Earth and getting a glimpse into everyday life in the world of The Orville, so I was a little disappointed that it turned out to be an alien planet.

I think it’s completely unbelievable that the crewmembers of the Orville don’t know what money is. Until now, I didn’t get the impression that the Planetary Union was 100% communist with no currency at all. Even on Star Trek, they used “gold-pressed latinum” to buy stuff. Surely, as space explorers, this wouldn’t be the first planet they encounter where people use money. Furthermore, with everyone in the crew obsessed with watching 20th and early 21st century television and movies, they must have seen people in the past use money a zillion times. So this joke about the crew never having seen money before is a big fail.

I wondered before about whether the Planetary Union has a Prime Directive, and it turns out that they do, although it’s not called that. Captain Mercer is not allowed to rescue LaMarr because he’s not allowed to reveal their presence to people of a planet who don’t possess space travel or knowledge of aliens. But unlike Picard, Mercer sees this rule as an annoyance and not as a way of life. It’s OK to take the pretty blonde alien girl aboard the ship so she can help Isaac hack the planet’s social media, because they figure no one will believe her anyway, as long as she’s not able to take any pictures with her smartphone. (Another episode where Isaac is useful!)

My conclusion: This is another fun episode to watch, as long as you don’t try to nitpick stuff. The Orville definitely does not deserve its bashing from the critics.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

October 26, 2017 at EDT pm

Posted in Television

19 Responses

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  1. You should watch Nathan For You instead.

    Magnavox

    October 27, 2017 at EDT am

    • Nathan and his team troubleshoot the chili suit that will allow him to sell chili at a local hockey arena undetected.

      Magnavox

      October 27, 2017 at EDT am

  2. I am not sure if turning off the voting touchscreen / tv at the end is the best move. A better move would be to always upvote and spread your message of political reform. If the girl could convince people to upvote no matter what then it would break the system. But it works as a 30 second ender to the episode.

    NotWesley

    October 27, 2017 at EDT am

  3. I would have titled it “Like makes right.”

    guest

    October 27, 2017 at EDT am

  4. Again…loved it! A brilliant satire on social media culture! This show is out Star Treking Star Trek.

    Mike Street Station

    October 27, 2017 at EDT am

  5. The libtards at NeoGaf have migrated over to the new site created my many former NeoGaf mods: “ResetEra”. It is amazing how rapidly they were able to rebuild such a massive community.

    I was expecting them to be talking about Flake and Bannon but right now they are instead talk about how Russia is about to bring Trump down shortly.

    Greasy William

    October 27, 2017 at EDT am

  6. Great episode!

    Episode One of “Black Mirror” last year was based on the same plot device: a society based on social media scores:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosedive

    That episode was more psychological. This episode was more political. I was surprised to see this episode of The Orville “go there” and be so explicitly anti-democratic. There is even a line in there about how Democracy is not Scientific (that is, that scientific truth is not the same as poll results.)

    “Until now, I didn’t get the impression that the Planetary Union was 100% communist with no currency at all.

    Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge tried to abolish money. Been there, done that — got blood all over my tee-shirt. A society without money is a society based on force and bloodshed.

    You could argue that a society with replicators is a society without scarcity and therefore without a need for money, but the energy needed to run those replicators will still be scarce.

    Comic Book Nerd

    October 27, 2017 at EDT am

    • Well, clearly starships are scarce, not everyone can have one or travel around the galaxy as they want. And land will always be scared. Only the richest of the rich would be able to have their own planet.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      October 27, 2017 at EDT am

    • Well, clearly starships are scarce, not everyone can have one or travel around the galaxy as they want.

      In Star Trek some items are not replicable either because the item itself is inherently non-replicable or because there are some sort of security restrictions on what can be replicated. They most likely came up with this explanation as a way to not deal with the full implications of zero scarcity.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      October 27, 2017 at EDT am

    • “There is even a line in there about how Democracy is not Scientific (that is, that scientific truth is not the same as poll results.)”

      I think the episode was trying to squeeze in some other digs, such global warming “deniers” and of course…Trump. Everything is always about Trump.

      Mike Street Station

      October 28, 2017 at EDT am

  7. Yet another great episode.

    My main nitpicks are that the down votes counter stopped at an unlikely 999996.
    And that Dr. Claire Finn pretentiously tells Lysella “Well, maybe all you need to tell them that their world can do better!”

    This society seems to function fairly well. Sure, there is some irrational injustice but that exists in any system. The forced transgenderism and misogyny of the Moclan society seem much more disagreeable by our standards, but the crew ultimately accepted that.

    The critique of direct democracy and populism does not hold. Donald Trump got votes based on how people liked his haircut, his wife or whether or not they liked him on celebrity apprentice. The Swiss vote directly about issues and they haven’t passed any obviously outrageous laws as far as I am aware of. Representatives make stupid and vain decision all the time.
    You can make a perfectly rational case for the system of the planet other than “the majority is the truth”.

    The Orville Union/Star Trek Federation are supposedly democratic, yet we never see any evidence of this on any of the shows. Both are really militaristic technocracies. This is exactly the form of government that the western establishment, Hillary Clinton, Merkel, CNN, NYT, the EU, GOP, etc., actually believe in.

    P.S:: I prefer alien species to be anthropomorphic and anglophone. Subtitles, made up languages and CGI creatures are silly gimmicks for nerds.

    Contrarian

    October 27, 2017 at EDT pm

    • But in the episode, Pria, the show tells us that people are still driven by money in the future of the Orville. The 29th century? That is why Pria wanted to steal the ship, to sell. Maybe society regresses in the 29th century and during The Orville they are more Star Trek like?

      NotWesley

      October 27, 2017 at EDT pm

    • The critique of direct democracy and populism does not hold.

      The critique of direct democracy in the episode is that mob rule leads to lynch law. This is why the character that gets strapped to the lobotomy chair in the penultimate scene is black.

      The best critique of direct democracy is that it’s ultimately impossible. Everywhere is always an oligopoly. But the episode doesn’t really address that.

      The Orville Union/Star Trek Federation are supposedly democratic, yet we never see any evidence of this on any of the shows. Both are really militaristic technocracies.

      Yes. It’s funny. Our egalitarian future is based on a strict quasi-military hierarchy!

      Comic Book Nerd

      October 28, 2017 at EDT am

      • The critique of direct democracy in the episode is that mob rule leads to lynch law. This is why the character that gets strapped to the lobotomy chair in the penultimate scene is black.”
        I don’t think they were playing up the racial angle. The society was not racist. The interaction between John LaMarr and the public relations attorney was hilarious.

        It was mainly a critique on excessive online shaming and the apology circuit for celebrities on talk shows. The episodes critique on direct democracy was secondary, not well thought out and based on contemporary western establishment thinking.

        The establishment used to celebrate internet culture. Remember the Arab Spring? But since then, they have begun to shut down comment sections because the hoi polloi keep disproving some of their core beliefs. Jared Taylor’s sober explanation of racial differences was the first Youtube video to end up in Youtube jail. It is actually us who are targeted the most. But we are winning the debate in “the stream” anyway. “The stream” gives us a fighting chance that we didn’t even have before.

        Contrarian

        October 28, 2017 at EDT pm

    • “The Orville Union/Star Trek Federation are supposedly democratic, yet we never see any evidence of this on any of the shows. Both are really militaristic technocracies. ”

      They both to seem less the Democratic Republic of the US and more the bureaucratic superstate of the EU. The EU is far more the liberal dream than the US model. In Star Trek, I never recall them mentioning voting. I suspect in the Federation each planetary government picks it’s own representative to the “Federation Council.” Not Federation Congress or Parliament. So basically a Politburo runs the Federation.

      Mike Street Station

      October 28, 2017 at EDT am

  8. Speaking of Shteyngart, most of the occasions on which I see his name nowadays are when my SJW cousin retweets anti-Trump tweets from him.

    Hermes

    October 27, 2017 at EDT pm

  9. This was the best episode so far. The show continues to improve.

    I like that the concept is a pretty deep one. It is both commentary on our internet mass media culture and an examination of a total democracy – something which turns out to be not a good idea. As well, it is an example of an extreme shame culture (as opposed to the “guilt” cultures of NW Euros). Though there is no corruption in this shame culture which is slightly unbelievable. The society was indeed pretty innocent because there were no elites gaming the system behind the scenes.

    Dumb points:

    Why didn’t the crew do their homework before going down to the planet? It’s not like their people there weren’t sending information, enough that they should have been away of the basic facts about the planet.

    Why didn’t LaMarr get bitched out by the Captain or First Officer by the end of the episode? He more than deserves it, and the character is shown as learning absolutely nothing from his experience.

    JayMan

    October 28, 2017 at EDT pm

    • It’s a TV trope that there is never any learning from experience. See Seinfeld and of course Family Guy.

      Mike Street Station

      October 29, 2017 at EDT am

      • Sure but that’s definitely not the Star Trek way, which is very disappointing considering how many other things they got right in this episode.

        JayMan

        October 29, 2017 at EDT pm


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