We're once again outside the comfort zone with Moclan culture on The Orville Season 2 Episode 7. This time, Keyali gets drawn in, both personally and professionally.
First, though, let's deal with the secondary plot line quickly. We never really thought Grayson and Cassius were going to last, did we?
I'll admit I did wonder for a second if the simulator break-up was actually a practice run for Grayson but then it didn't really matter because it was obvious she was completely over the relationship.
And it seemed a bit sudden. Although she tells Mercer that it had been falling apart over time, we never really saw that.
I'm mildly disappointed that they're moving back towards a Mercer-Grayson hook-up because it was really refreshing to see an ex-couple working together effectively and (momentarily) moving into healthy new relationships.
Yeah, I know that Mercer fell for a Krill spy but from his perspective, it was a healthy new relationship until she kidnapped him.
There was also that Kitana vibe for a while but that's another jar of pickles altogether.
I don't know. The galaxy is full of so many unhappy people. Why ignore something good?Keyali
After the Isaac-Dr. Finn development on The Orville Season 2 Episode 6 the relationship pendulum definitely swung the other way with Grayson's break-up and then Keyali's star-crossed attraction with the Moclan, Lokar.
Nice of them to check in with the status of Isaac and Dr. Finn though.
Isaac: I was merely attempting to provide Dr. Finn with the most dutifully calibrated coital experience.
Malloy: No. Yeah, that's what women want -- dutiful coitus.
Now Keyali gets a helluva a lot of scenery to chew here. Her attraction to Lokar was pretty obvious in their first scenes together and I really wasn't sure what they were playing at with that.
Once he had outed himself to her, I loved that her first reaction was to take a measured approach, pointing out to him that they know nothing about each other.
In fact, both she and Grayson have some delightfully, clear insights into their personal relationships.
Keyali's realization that she should take the chance with Lokar is drawn elegantly and, for once, the secondary plot ties in effectively with the main one.
Their courtship is also convincingly genuine. The writers seem to be getting better at these romantic relationship things.
(Inside joke alert: Anyone else notice Kathryn Grayson's name up on the marquee in the 1945 New York City simulation program? Also, the movie was Anchors Aweigh which ties into Bortus' story about when he and Lokar met and shore leave.)
When Keyali goes from being Lokar's Ophelia to being his Horatio, it really demonstrated the nuanced ability of Jessica Szohr to convey Keyali's personal investment as well as her professional acumen.
As mysteries go, it probably wasn't the stuff of Poirot or Marple but it had enough twists and double-backs to keep me guessing.
And the truth it revealed was a solid gut-punch.
There's a strong urge in me to cheer for some sort of happier conclusion for Lokar, some sort of social justice addendum or a future Moclan rescue for all those imprisoned for being true to themselves.
But there's also a sense that sort of tidiness would lessen the point of this story.
My brother says,'No friendship is complete until your friend turns to you in despair.'Lokar
There's a lot to appreciate in the shaping of this narrative.
There was the red herring of Lokar's previous relationship with Bortus. I thought there would be more tension or jealousy. Instead, Klyden seemed to enjoy poking at Bortus with his ex's presence on the ship even in front of Topa.
Topa: What is a relationship?
Bortus: It is what comes before the egg.
There was the sudden evolution of the story from blossoming forbidden romance to murder mystery.
And there was, yet again, the conflict between the dogmatic nature of Moclan culture and the values embodied by the Planetary Union.
Bortus is very much stranded in the middle and there was a huge range in his emotions at play here, possibly even more so than in The Orville Season 1 Episode 3 when he tried to fight to prevent Topa's gender change surgery.
Whether this can be attributed to the show having more confidence in its characters or an indication of Bortus' increasing divergence from traditional Moclan beliefs or some combination of the two, it was both impressive and painful to see.
Furthermore, in his final (silent) scene with Klyden, I wonder if their relationship will, once again, see rockier waters as Klyden has now sent someone Bortus cares about to a lifetime of incarceration and public humiliation.
We know Keyali's feelings on that after all. I feel like her scene with Klyden doubled for some of what Bortus would not be able to say out loud.
What I applaud The Orville for in dealing with these societal topics is not needing to have the characters refer back to the "bad old days" of human history where they treated outliers just as badly as, and worse than, Moclan culture treats theirs.
It shows a degree of respect for the intelligence of the audience that we will see the parallels between Lokar's despair and the fear and depression displaced and marginalized individuals experience today.
Malloy: When Moclans break up, is there, like, all that stabbing like with the divorce?
Bortus: No, each Moclan extracts a tooth and leaves it with his former mate.
Malloy: Yeah, I knew it had to be something like that.
Malloy and LaMarr carry the comedic weight once again -- although it was amusing watching Mercer take off with that cookie bouquet --while still demonstrating that they are huge assets to the crew.
The comedy was also largely tied into references to previous adventures which is not only gratifying to those of us watching faithfully but highly effective in illustrating how crazy life on this ship can be.
Keyali: This has to be the most insane thing that's ever happened on this ship.
LaMarr: One time I almost died because I humped a statue.
Malloy: Isaac once cut my leg off.
LaMarr: The Captain and Commander made up in a zoo.
Malloy: And Bortus almost crashed the ship because of porn.
Keyali: I see.
Except for that scene with Dann and the cupcake. That stuck out as totally out of sync with the rest of the episode but I know there's a lot of Dann fans out there so... yay? I guess.
And, once again, Malloy gets the prize for delivering the best line of truth.
Y'know, there's something seriously wrong with all of us when the most stable relationship on the Orville is Isaac's.Malloy
With the multitude of times Mercer and Grayson have pointed out how much they disagree with Moclan culture, I strongly suspect there will be a declared conflict eventually. After all, the Krill can't be the only adversaries out there.
When you watch The Orville online, lay your bets on the Moclans breaking with the Planetary Union somewhere down the line.
Either that or the P.U. imposes some sort of restorative justice on all its member planets.
How about Bortus and Klyden's chances of smoothing out this bump in their relationship and their family life? Klyden has spent a considerable amount of time in the brig this season. Topa's gotta have questions.
Where would you like Mercer and Grayson go with their relationship?
Are we done with relationships for a while? Grayson said they were headed into unexplored space. What sort of encounter are you hankering for?
Me, I'd like some tribble-like trouble please.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.