Dear producers of The Orville: More episodes like this one, please.
Not sure yet if this episode will be the exception or the rule, but I’m hoping it becomes the rule. While not perfect, “About a Girl” feels like it’s a step in the right direction.
Which, knowing Seth MacFarlane can only mean next week will the series take on “The Naked Now” only instead of acting drunk, everyone will act like they’ve had one too many of the special brownies the replicators can whip at the drop of a hat.
Last week ended with the birth of Bortus and Klyden’s baby. This week, we find out that the child is a girl, something that rarely happens to the Moclans and which is considered a huge deficiency. So, the two want to have the girl undergo a gender reassignment surgery, only to find some resistance from various players on the Union ship. Finn out and out refuses to do the procedure, citing that no Union doctor would do so while Mercer won’t set course for the Moclan homeworld nor will he order Finn to perform the procedure.
Just as Bortus is won over to the idea that letting his daughter stay that way (by watching the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer special, no less), Klyden refuses to go along and calls up a ship from their home world to take them home and perform the procedure.
For much of the episode, The Orville presents a wide variety of arguments and takes on the central issue at hand. It’s not exactly the most subtle take on the material, but it’s well executed enough and gives us some interesting insights into the characters to make the whole ride worthwhile. The episode does reaffirm my feeling that MacFarlane is in over his head when it comes to the really dramatic parts of this series (I breathed a sigh of huge relief when Mercer insisted that Grayson argue the pro-girl position).
But even for all the good things this episode did, it still felt a bit scattered. The circumstances of Klyden’s birth and how his parents dealt with is quickly brought up and then dropped again. Then throw in that the greatest Moclan writer of them all is a)a female and b)just happens to be found in time to make a dramatic entrance and argue her side of the debate and it feels like the show is willing to bring up ideas without necessarily being willing to give them time to settle in or really be examined beyond a surface level.
So, while I think this episode is a step in the right direction, The Orville still has some work to do to really win me over to its camp.
But it’s a step in the right direction.
I will say that the humor continues to be strained at times. As much as I laughed out loud at the holodeck adversaries wanting to have a dance-off instead of a shoot-out, I couldn’t help but feel that the show’s attempts to go for a one-liner really distracted from the drama here. Putting aside the obvious gelatinous blob’s dick joke, I found the asides various crew members were making in the Moclan court room to be a bit too much and very out of place. Malloy’s looking foolish on the stand at not knowing anything worked. His asides and the crews’ asides didn’t.