An open letter to Seth MacFarlane:
Do you mind if I call you Seth?
I understand that your new series, The Orville is intended as a homage to the optimistic spirit of Star Trek. And I know that many of your other animated comedies feature callbacks to certain moments from popular culture.
So, you will understand if I’m a bit concerned that it feels like the latest (at least to me) episode of The Orville feels like you crossed the streams of your series. I can understand and forgive the plot line where Gordon is taking the command test and pulls out the “we’ve got this weapon that will reflect back whatever you throw at us” moment. After all, Captain James T. Kirk only used that twice in the original series (and did it better. Of course, when does James T. Kirk not make just about anything better?!?).
But, in the course of the same episode, you crib the exact same character revelation that Star Trek: Discovery used last season. I could forgive the plot point if it came last season, because the odds of both writer’s room coming up with the same plot twist separately is a bit more believable. Or maybe if both characters didn’t use the last name Tyler as part of their cover identity, I could buy it.
But that didn’t happen. And I came away from “Fishies” thinking it was one of the better episodes this series has done to date, actually building an internal continuity I gave a damn about (as opposed to Ed and Kelly…which I guess we’re back to that triangle again, aren’t we?) and instead left me annoyed that you took not one but two plot points that were done, quite frankly, better on Star Trek.
You even got me to care about Ed as a character, something the show has struggled to do since it debuted. And with two moments, you flushed all that out an airlock.
Look, I get that having Tyler as a double agent, exacting revenge on Ed for his actions last season is interesting. And I like that Ed pulls a Kirk, giving the Krill bogus command codes that will give them huge piles of gibberish instead of allowing them the access to the files they really want or need. And I did like the sparring between the two as the enemies are forced to work together for survival. You even earned an internal callback when Ed gives Tyler his coat.
But then the plot twist just ruined all of that.
All I can wonder is why?
I’m hoping you can explain it to me. Or maybe that you’ve got it out of your system for this year. I got to a point last year where watching the show became less about spotting the Trek episode being cribbed this week and more about investing in these characters and universe. But, I fear we’ve moved back to square one now.
I’m not giving up on your show, Seth. I guess I was just expecting more.