Lion of the Blogosphere

The Orville S01E12 “Mad Idolatry”

Very sadly, this is the last episode of the season, and there won’t be a new season until next fall?

I found the most enjoyable episodes of the season to be the ones that focused on character development and satire. This final episode takes a break from that and is plot-driven and surprisingly earnest science fiction, definitely in the spirit of what Gene Roddenberry envisioned for Star Trek.

We find out that, like the Federation, the Planetary Union also has a law against “cultural contamination” that’s similar to the Prime Directive.

An away team takes a shuttle down to a newly discovered planet, where they discover a bronze-age civilization of humanoids who could pass for human. Kelly encounters a little girl who falls down and injures herself, and feeling bad for the girl, she uses her healing thingamabob to fix her wound. But unbeknownst to Kelly, a group of adults witnessed the healing miracle (as it would appear to primitives). Oops! Cultural contamination?

Because the planet happens to be in a “multiphasic orbit,” it shifts into a different universe and reemerges 11 days later but during those 11 days 700 years have passed for the planet. This allows us to witness the development of civilization in just a single one-hour episode.

So the planet re-emerges from the other universe and they discover that after 700 years the planet has a religion that’s very much like Christianity, except that they worship “Kelly.” Aghast at the cultural contamination that they caused, Ed and Kelly decide to visit the planet’s equivalent of the pope and explain that Kelly is not a god, just a visiting alien. But alas, it didn’t work.

700 years later, the planet is in the technological equivalent of the early 21st century, and from the Orville they watch television broadcasts very similar to what you might see on cable news today, except instead of Christianity vs. Islam, it’s the religion of “Kelly” against whatever other religions are on the planet.

And this is where Isaac comes in. Because Isaac’s body never wears out, he volunteers to go down to the planet to try to fix the “cultural contamination.” I was expecting a funny ironic result 700 years later, but surprisingly that didn’t happen. Isaac says that he didn’t do anything at all, he just observed.

The message of the episode is that believing in stupid religions is the natural state of things for primitive superstitious man, but we eventually grow out of it and achieve enlightened atheism.

Gene Roddenberry would approve. The Orville explained his message better than any episode of Star Trek was ever able to do. Although this is not one of my favorite episodes, it definitely has its place in a series that pays homage to Star Trek and does Star Trek better in some ways than Star Trek itself.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 10, 2017 at EST am

Posted in Television

12 Responses

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  1. It was a pretty good episode with the Roddenberry approved message that religion is dumb but being atheist is smart. But it wasn’t over the top Christianity bashing, it was Kellyanity bashing, get it? Stay tuned next season when the Orville goes back in time about 2000 years and Malloy gets crucified after using high tech technology to perform what look like miracles.

    Mike Street Station

    December 10, 2017 at EST am

  2. Gotta say, Lion, haven’t watched the series but love these reviews.

    Bob

    December 10, 2017 at EST am

  3. The message of the episode is that believing in stupid religions is the natural state of things for primitive superstitious man, but we eventually grow out of it and achieve enlightened atheism.

    Taken in isolation, yes. But taken in the context of the rest of the season, not necessarily. Episode 6 “Krill” shows us a species who is as advanced or perhaps slightly more technologically advanced than the humans in the show who nonetheless believe in a religion – a religion that leads them to be aggressive.

    (This is a point of disagreement with myself and Mrs. JayMan, by the way). I think the real message is that religion is a thing that societies create. But they may or may not go on to an enlightened path. Hence it wasn’t completely foolish for Kelly to try to steer the direction of the society.

    JayMan

    December 10, 2017 at EST pm

  4. I loled at the “We Waz Kangs” ending. Considering it would have been easy enough to have a multi-ethnic group, I have to wonder if this wasn’t some winking by MacFarlane at the “white men will all die and then we’ll go to the stars thereinafter” trope so pervasive among the SJW’s. My kid, who works in/for the Industry says he was red-pillied awhile back, but I very seriously doubt this. He’s probably not as far left as the rest of Hollyweird is.

    Jack Cade

    December 10, 2017 at EST pm

    • Who was red-pilled… MacFarlane or your kid? I think MacFarlane is a lefty. But lefties come in different shades.

      destructure

      December 10, 2017 at EST pm

  5. Interesting that they didn’t use the opening to set up a Captain-Alara romance for next season. Earlier in the season they were hinting that she had the hots for him. Although I didn’t mind the Bortus scene. He’s the second best character on the show after Isaac and provides much of the show’s best humor.

    PerezHBD

    December 10, 2017 at EST pm

    • And I say Yaphit ranks third after Isaac and Bortus, too bad there was never an episode that was mainly about Yaphit.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 10, 2017 at EST pm

  6. I watched this episode and feel you’re being cynical in your approach. The episode is less about atheism than it is about the relationship between mercer and his ex-wife, and his desire to protect and reconnect with her.

    As far as the religious aspect, the message is that societies usurp religion for purposes of power play and dominion. While apropos to history this in and of itself does not negate the possibility of a spiritual reality, rather in the plot’s context a ‘higher being’s’ actions were misconstrued then misappropriated with malevolent intent.

    It is entirely possible that what are today called aliens were once called gods, demons and angels. This means neither that they’re one or the other, but rather our perception of a constant has altered over time. What that constant is remains a matter for debate.

    toomanyspiders

    December 10, 2017 at EST pm

  7. >we eventually grow out of it and achieve enlightened atheism

    Except we don’t, we just find another hamster wheel to run in.
    Case in point, the most orthodox today are enlightened liberals.

    When i tell my libtard friends the world wont end, they get hostile.

    They really believe the doomsday clock is ticking.

    guest

    December 10, 2017 at EST pm

  8. [[definitely in the spirit of what Gene Roddenberry envisioned for Star Trek]]

    sorry, meant also to mention that what suprises me the most about this series is how elegantly it captures the true spirit of star trek, all this with a skeleton crew and relatively simple stories. And while it may be satire it is only mildly so. I walked away from this with the star trek itch scratched.

    toomanyspiders

    December 10, 2017 at EST pm

  9. The message of the episode is that believing in stupid religions is the natural state of things for primitive superstitious man, but we eventually grow out of it and achieve enlightened atheism.

    I would be nice to believe that religion is just a superstition that people outgrow on the path to a glorious atheist future. Unfortunately, our atheist future is more likely to look like the one lampooned on South Park: a war of all against all where atheist gangs disagree with each other for petty reasons.

    http://southpark.cc.com/clips/2y8xoh/atheist-war

    The atheists of the 20th Century were anything but harmonious to each other.

    Comic Book Nerd

    December 11, 2017 at EST pm


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