Rob Freakin' Lowe. On The Orville Season 1 Episode 9, we discover that the reason Mercer and Grayson's marriage broke down is that she slept with Rob Freakin' Lowe.
And when the surprise wears off, we're like,"Oh yeah, of course she did," because it's Rob Freakin' Lowe.
Kitan: It's Darulio
Brooks: The guys she cheated with? The one with the stuff coming out of his head?
Kitan: How did you know about that?
Brooks: You told me
Of course, he's blue, bald, and ejaculates stuff out of his face but, as it turns out, he's completely irresistible to anyone he touches when he's in heat and not only does he reunite with Grayson here but he pushes Mercer's buttons and even manages to rev Dr. Finn's engine by remote.
Malloy: Ed's been acting really strange with Darulio [too]. He seems kinda into him.
Bortus: What do you mean 'into him'?
Malloy: I mean, into him.
Isaac: Your statement is confusing. Has the captain entered Mr. Darulio in some fashion?
Malloy: Not yet.
It's a fun twist on the standard "crew-under-the-influence" plot. Star Trek used the drunk virus in both TOS ("The Naked Time") and TNG ("The Naked Now") and introduced the power of pheromones in Enterprise's run-ins with the Orion species.
Not only does Darulio's sexual aura set off all sorts of drama between the captain and the commander, it puts the Orville's main mission in jeopardy, with two highly antagonistic species warring over a planet they both claim to have colonized first.
The make-up teams must've worked overtime for this production as they had to blue-ify Rob Lowe as well as perform the extreme transformations needed for both the Bruidian and Navarian delegations.
There's also the silly side story of Dann, played by MacFarlane's buddy from Family Guy and American Dad, Mike Henry. Made up in yet another prosthetics triumph, Dann only seems to run into Mercer and Grayson in the elevator and petitions for music to be piped into the lift.
With all the make-up budget being spent in one fell swoop, I suspect (and will need confirmation) that Norm MacDonald got tired of being a purely CGI-ed gelatinous blob and masked up to emcee the karoake night at the beginning of the episode.
Mind you, this was a Yaphit-heavy story in its own right as he accidentally picks up Darulio's pheromones and manages to entangle Dr. Finn in a heady wave of horniness. This leads to both an amazing look at a glammed-up Dr. Finn as well as the weirdest-looking kiss ever.
When Kitan orders Yaphit to stay away from Dr. Finn, we get to see the good doctor wielding a weapon yet again when she confronts Yaphit in the corridor with her feelings of abandonment and rejection. We never do find out what exactly she does to him.
What? You just wanna slime all over me and then kick me to the curb?Dr. Finn
It's a credit to the writing here that the episode functions on multiple levels.
First, there's the whole Navarian-Bruidian conflict. Ostensibly, brokering a peace between the warring species is the Orville's primary objective. As the captain and commander come under the pheromone influence and become distracted, the animosity builds exponentially, leading to an actual battle.
Apparently, the make-up excess budget was pulled from the space battle funds since this was the slowest-moving starship fight ever.
A major problem with the solution to the conflict is the fact they introduced a suped-up alien pheromone to the sweat glands of a different alien species in order to cause them to fall in love with a third alien species.
Beyond the fact that the attraction should've only been one-way, the Bruidian ambassador couldn't possibly have agreed to it since he didn't even want to shake the Navarian's hand. So Nurse Park secretly drugs a visiting dignitary and gets a commendation for that?
Next, with Mercer and Grayson out-to-nooners, it was great to see Kitan and Bortus step up as leaders. As keen as I was to hear Bortus tackle a Celine Dion hit, I liked even more that he got to spend some time in the captain's chair making important decisions about the welfare of the ship.
Darulio: Once a year, members of my species go through heat. We release a pheromone through our skin to help us attract mates. It's transferred through touch. I didn't mean to affect Ed and Kelly but it probably happened when we shook hands in the shuttle bay.
Kitan: And now they're both in artificial crippling love with you.
Kitan gets to play Nancy Drew, tracking down the source of the ship's disruption to Darulio and his pheromones. Watching her basically order Mercer to meet with the delegations was very Freaky Friday in humor.
And how cool was it for Malloy to be the voice of reason and intelligent observation?
Mercer: Why do we have to put people in boxes? Why even call a box 'a box'?
Malloy: I think it's just easier to have words.
Of course, the Yaphit - Dr. Finn relationship is never going to be the same. The issue with this scenario (and even more so with the Darulio/Grayson/Mercer one) is that of consent.
To be fair, Yaphit had no idea he had contracted Retepsian pheromones but Dr. Finn had been extremely clear that she was NEVER going to consent to a relationship with him.
If he actually loves her as he claims, he probably should've recognized how out of character she was behaving and investigated her change of heart rather than ... err, "jump"ing at the opportunity that presented itself.
A gelatinous life-form as a Retepsian pheromonal carrier! Could you believe it?Darulio
In regards to Darulio, he basically roofied both Grayson and Mercer, having sex with both of them because they were enthralled to chemically-induced horniness. But he knew what his pheromones were doing to them and that they weren't really making their own choices. It's a pretty murky ethical quandary.
But I may be digging deeper than the show really warrants.
Darulio: You're the captain and there's a war starting out there.
Mercer: The only thing I'm captain of right now is your taut physique. Now, get over here.
However, this question of consent and choice feeds into the final function of the story. Grayson and Mercer divorced because he caught her in bed with Darulio. If he was in heat then (as Darulio seems to admit in his final scene) and she was being influenced by his pheromones, she didn't willingly cheat on Mercer.
So this opens the door for them to repair their personal relationship now, something that was impossible when both believed that it was a consensual liaison.
So, what do you think? Is there hope for Graycer (or is it Merson?) Do we want there to be?
If you have the time to rewatch The Orville online, it's interesting to note that all the kissing that happens is inter-species and kind of fling-y while all the established couples are having domestic issues.
Not sure I could handle re-watching the episode myself purely because I don't think I'll ever unsee Yaphit sliming Dr. Finn (but I'm hoping it'll fade... soon)
One last question that's bugging me. What the heck does the Retepsian homeworld look like when everyone's pheromone cycle syncs up? I feel like it would be like some sort of Smurf porn party. And how would THEY get blue out of a white lampshade?
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.