Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 1: Aruba-Con

I'm way, way behind on reviews this week, so bear with me as I try to catch up!

It's the Season 3 premiere of Legends Of Tomorrow!

If you're a regular viewer of the show, you'll remember that Season 1 was pretty dire. The sole Big Bad for the entire season was the lame and uninteresting Vandal Savage, played by the horribly miscast Casper Crump. Since Savage was the only villain, that meant the Legends couldn't defeat him until the season finale, else the series would be over. That led to an entire season of wheel spinning and dull stories.

Fortunately the producers seemed to learn from their mistakes, and Season 2 of the show was a VAST improvement. Legends quickly became my favorite show, as it gleefully embraced its goofy Silver Age comic book roots, and all the insanity that implies. Hopefully Season 3 will give us more of the same.

Unfortunately this Season 3 premiere got off to a bit of a rocky start though. Last season ended with a cliffhanger, in which the Legends discovered they'd "broken time," as modern day LA was overrun with dinosaurs and other temporal anomalies. Based on this compelling setup, most fans, including myself, assumed that the Legends having to "fix time" would be the theme of Season 3.

Nope! Apparently the writers changed their minds, because this cliffhanger was resolved in the quickest and most off-handed way humanly possible. It's like they couldn't wait to torpedo this storyline and get on with a different one.

Oddly enough, the exact same thing happened on Legend's sister show The Flash, as the writer's there unceremoniously resolved their cliffhanger in a similarly disinterested way.

The Legends now have to deal with former captain Rip Hunter and his brand new Time Bureau. The Bureau is a thinly disguised Men In Black, right down to their 1960s suits, high tech weaponry and handheld memory erasers. It's actually shocking how deliberately the show's copied the MIB franchise, and I'm not quite sure how they're getting away with it.

The show's never quite known what to do with the Rip character, so who knows, maybe this new role will finally give him a purpose.

Now the bad news. The day after this episode aired, the Hollywood Reporter announced that actor Victor Garber, who plays Professor Stein on Legends, is leaving the show sometime this season. Garber's exiting to star in a Broadway production of Hello Dolly! with Bernadette Peters.

Goddammit! This is a kick in the gut indeed, as Garber is undoubtedly the best actor on the show, and his Professor Stein character is one of the main highlights of the series. Jesus, Legends usually has truncated seasons that are sixteen or seventeen episodes long. Couldn't Garber tread the boards in his off-time from the show?

This means that once again we'll be getting a new half of Firestorm. Robbie Amell was one half of the original due before deciding he'd rather be making quality theatrical films like The Duff and Max. Now they're gonna have to replace Garber as well, which is gonna be damned near impossible. Feh!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We pick up right where we left off in the Season 2 cliffhanger. The Legends were headed for Aruba when the Waverider was caught in a "time storm" and crash-landed in present day L.A. As a result of their actions, time is now "broken" and they find themselves in a city where dinosaurs roam the streets and spaceships fill the sky.

As the Legends look around the city in astonishment, a T-Rex runs right toward them. Suddenly Rip Hunter, dressed in a snappy Men In Black suit, appears out of nowhere and opens a time portal. The dinosaur runs safely through it, back to its own era. All around the city, similarly dressed agents use portals to clean up the time aberrations in minutes. Well, that was certainly easy!

Rip explains that since he left the ship in last season's finale (which was about fifteen minutes ago from the Legends' point of view), he's been busy founding the Time Bureau, a highly advanced organization that protects the time stream. He confiscates the Waverider and tells the Legends their services are no longer needed and are free to go.

Six months pass. White Canary's now working at Sinks, Showers And Stuff (I guess the assassin business must be slow?), where she's yelled at by a way too serious boss. Atom works at a Silicon Valley startup company called UpSwipes, which is a slight variation on Tinder. He tells his boss— who's a good fifteen years younger than him— about his shrinking tech, but he's too occupied with making the next big app to listen. Steel is in Central City for some reason, fighting crime with Kid Flash. He's upset because his gal pal Vixen decided to return home to 1942 after all.

Heat Wave of course is relaxing on a beach in Aruba. He's approached by the real Julius Caesar, who apparently slipped past the notice of the Time Bureau. Heat Wave calls Canary and says he's got a time aberration on his hands. She tells him not to let Caesar out of his sight, and quits her dead-end job. She meets with Atom and Steel and they all decide to help Heat Wave in Aruba. But first they're gonna need their old ride back.

In Aruba, Heat Wave's tied up Caesar and is holding him captive in his hut. Caesar breaks loose, dropping a leather pouch full of gold coins (Plot Point!). He escapes and runs onto the beach, right into a Spring Break party full of toga-clad college students.

Canary, Atom and Steel travel to Star City, where they sneak into Time Bureau HQ, where they're immediately surrounded by security. Canary demands to see Rip, and tells him that Heat Wave captured Caesar in Aruba, and they need their ship. Rip takes them to a vast hangar, where they see the Waverider's been decommissioned and is now used a training simulator for new Time Bureau recruits.

The Legends finally convince Rip to at least check out Heat Wave's claim, so he opens a portal to Aruba. They go through, and see Heat Wave fighting with Caesar. Rip summons his agents, who take Heat Wave and Caesar back to the Time Bureau. Once there, they discover it's not Caesar at all, but a drunken frat boy in a toga. An angry Rip kicks the Legends out of the building.

On the way out, Heat Wave tries to buy a coke with a gold coin. Steel recognizes it as currency from Caesar's era, and they realize Heat Wave was telling the truth (told you it was a Plot Point!). They decide to capture him themselves, to prove to Rip they're still a viable team. They sneak into the hangar, throw the students out of the Waverider and fly it out of the building.

Cut to Professor Stein's house, where we see his time aberration daughter Lilly is now pregnant. Jackson shows up for their weekly Firestorm "bonding session," so they don't blow up. He says he's dropped out of school because it's boring after saving the world so many times. Just then the Waverider appears and lands in Stein's front yard. Canary says they're getting the band back together. Jackson's all for it, but Stein's reluctant to leave his family again. Jackson talks him into it and boards the ship.

The Waverider lands in Aruba, where Caesar's trying to recruit a bunch of drunken frat boys to join his army. Canary fights Caesar and eventually knocks him out. Rip then contacts the Legends, congratulating them on capturing Caesar (I guess he was monitoring them through the Waverider?). He orders them to return to the Time Bureau so he can put Caesar back where he belongs. The others want to finish the mission themselves, but tell Canary (their captain) they'll go along with whatever she decides. She thinks for a moment and orders Gideon to Ancient Rome. Woohoo!

Canary and Steel— who's carrying a Roman history book for no apparent reason— walk Caesar to the edge of his camp. They zap his memory with a Men In Black gizmo they stole from the Time Bureau, and send him on his way. They return to the ship, and Canary orders Gideon to take them home. She says she can't, as there's no home to go to. According to her database, North America is now called "Magna Hesperia."

Steel, who's apparently the most unobservant person on Earth, realizes that Caesar must have stolen the large, heavy history book he was carrying without him noticing. Caesar now has knowledge of what's to come and changed the future (even though the Waverider's still sitting there in 49 AD).

Rip and a team of Time Agents create a portal and enter the Waverider. Rip tells the Legends to sit quietly and not screw up any more history, thanks. His Time Agents move out to retrieve the history book, but they're easily captured by Caesar and his Centurions. Canary tells Rip that they can help, and he reluctantly lets them try.

There's a big battle between Caesar's men and the Legends. The Legends eventually rescue the Agents, destroy the book, wipe everyone's memories and restore history. For no reason other than because the script says so, Rip decides to let the Legends keep the Waverider, and tells them to try and stay out of trouble.

After Rip leaves, Heat Wave reveals he stole one of the Time Agent's portal openers. Stein decides to stay with the team a while longer. Atom sees Steel looking wistfully at photos of Vixen.

Cut to 1942, as a group of Belgian soldiers approach Vixen's village in Zambesi. They ominously say they have business here, and she tells them they should leave, as the village is under her protection. When they refuse, she summons several spirit animals who attack and kill the soldiers (!), which is a definite upgrade to her powers.

Thoughts:
• There's no opening narration this week, which is something the show's done since day one. I've always liked the narrations, and the fact that each of the cast members gets their own version, so I hope they start using them again soon.

• After exiting a time storm, the Waverider smashes through several buildings and crash-lands in present day LA. The Legends then see that their time travel shenanigans have broken time, as the past, present and future have seemingly merged. Dinosaurs roam the streets, as ancient buildings stand next to futuristic skyscrapers.

Luckily for the residents of LA, Rip Hunter and the Time Bureau appear. Within seconds, they send all the time aberrations back to their appropriate periods, and restore the city to normal.

Hmm. When the Waverider first appeared, it plowed right through the center of a downtown LA high-rise. I wonder... did the Time Bureau fix THAT too? Did they somehow restore the dozens of floors wiped out by the ship, as well as resurrecting the hundreds, if not thousands of people who were killed in the crash?

• Rip says he's spent the past five years forming the Time Bureau, a massive, top secret FBI-type organization, complete with its own weapons, technology and bureaucracy.

At first I scoffed at the idea that one man could do all that in just five years. But the more I thought about it, I realized it wouldn't be impossible for a time traveler.

The first thing Rip would need is money, and lots of it. That'd be no problem for a time traveler, as he could use his knowledge of the future to play the stock market and easily amass a vast fortune. He'd also be able to use time travel to outfit his agents with advanced technology that hasn't yet been invented. So it's not as far-fetched as it first seems.

• Nice attention to detail: When Heat Wave's sunning himself, we see his arms are covered in burn scars. Makes perfect sense for someone who's a pyromaniac.

We first saw his scars back in the Season 1 episode Fail-Safe, in which he and Atom were tortured by Russian agents. Good to see someone on the crew (probably Dominic Purcell himself!) remembered this little detail about Heat Wave. 

Oddly enough, the scars he has in Fail-Safe seem to be much worse than the ones here! Maybe Gideon partially healed them last season while we weren't watching?

• Was there any reason for Steel to be hanging out and fighting crime in Central City, other than to give Wally West, aka Kid Flash, a cameo?

• When Caesar appears in 2017, he can inexplicably understand everything Heat Wave says, and vice versa. According to Rip, this is a side effect of time travel, called "Temporal Linguistic Dysplasia." It allows anyone from any time period to comprehend any language. Well that's certainly convenient!

This is similar to the translation explanation over on Doctor Who. Supposedly the Doctor's TARDIS features a "translation circuit," which is a telepathic field that enters a passenger's brain and allows them to instantly understand anyone from any time period.

• As Caesar approaches Heat Wave, we see he's wearing a typical Roman helmet. Unfortunately whenever he speaks, the helmet's cheek guards flap back and forth in front of his mouth. It's pretty funny once you notice it! Hopefully real Roman helmets didn't flop around like that, else the Britains would have fallen off their horses laughing.

• Caesar escapes from Heat Wave and runs into Aruba-Con, a Roman-themed beach party filled with drunken frat boys dressed in togas. It's called Aruba-Con because they're in Aruba, and also because in 49 BC, Caesar crossed the Rubicon river. Get it? Rubicon, Aruba-Con? Eh? Get it?

• Rip asks Agent Sharpe if she knows where Heat Wave is located in Aruba. Sharpe says, "Mm, we followed a trail of petty larceny reports. He's been holed up on the beach, running up a room service tab and a serious collection of STDs."

Ew! I could happily live out the rest of my life without ever having to hear about Heat Wave's STDs again!

• The Time Bureau is filled with dozens of transparent monitors depicting the various aberrations caused by the Legends. Those screens look pretty cool. I wonder— are they real, or CGI? If it's a special effect, it's a very well done one. Not only can you see through the screens a bit, but you can see the reflections of the Agents' heads in them. And a soft blue glow from the screens on their faces!

• Inside the Time Bureau, Rip takes a break from screaming at the Legends to zap King Arthur with a high tech memory eraser before sending him home. A couple things here:

First of all, this is the same King Arthur (played by actor Nils Hognestad) we saw last season in Camelot 3000

Secondly, man, they're not even attempting to hide the fact that the Time Bureau is lifted straight from the Men In Black franchise. Not only do the Time Agents look like the Men In Black, they've got the exact same technology as well!

Is that legal? Aren't there copyright laws in place to prevent one show from shamelessly copying another? Apparently not, since over on Fox The Orville's currently lifting practically every element from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I have a feeling Sony (who owns Men In Black) may be sending a cease and desist letter to Warner Bros. (owners of the Arrowverse) in the near future.

• Something to think about: Somehow this vast space...

And this one...

As well as this...

All somehow fit inside a ship of this shape and size. There's also a brig, a medbay, a mess hall, individual crew quarters, an engine room, a cargo hold and a small hangar with at least one shuttle inside.

I would dearly love to see a blueprint of the inside of this ship! I still say the Waverider's like the Doctor's TARDIS, and is bigger on the inside. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

• Of course it makes sense that a conquerer like Julius Caesar would be a "manspreader."

Ye gods, how I hate that word. That and "mansplaining."

• There's some wonky time travel (is there any other kind?) going on near the end of the episode. The Legends take Caesar back to 49 BC, and order Gideon to take them home. She says she can't, as Caesar secretly stole Steel's history book and changed the future. Wha...?

I don't have a problem with the concept of Caesar using knowledge of history to alter the future. Makes perfect sense. But how could the future change the instant they leave him? He's only been back in 49 BC for thirty seconds. He hasn't had time to do any changing yet! 

I could understand it if they returned to 2017 and found it drastically altered by Caesar's actions. But it makes zero sense for the future to change before he has a chance to modify it!

You could also argue that if Caesar's altered the future so radically, then the Legends would likely have never been born. I guess you could say that the Waverider protects them from changes to the time stream or something.

By the way, after Caesar alters the future, the U.S. is now known as "Magna Hesperia." According to the inter webs, that means "The Great West."

• At one point the Legends team up with the Time Bureau to retrieve Steel's history book and prevent Caesar from changing the future. During the battle, there's a reeeeally cool stunt in which Canary literally runs across the shields of several Roman Centurions. 

I suspect Canary, aka Caity Lots, was on some kind of wire rig here. Even so, it was still pretty impressive. I bet they went through a ton of takes to get it right!

• Apparently Vixen's powers have changed drastically since we last saw her. Last season she'd touch the amulet around her neck to summon the power of various animals. For example, a glowing blue image of an elephant would briefly appear around her, and she'd then have the proportionate strength of one. She could only invoke the powers of one animal at a time.

In this episode she activates her amulet and huge waves of energy flow out of her body...


Which then form into four or five different INDEPENDENT glowing animals. These ghostly beasts are apparently solid, as they attack and kill the soldiers who threatened her.

That's a hell of an upgrade! Vixen's supposed to return to the crew full time, so I'm assuming we'll eventually get the whole story and find out what the heck happened to her.

• When we first catch up with the Legends, Jackson's anxious to rejoin the team, while Professor Stein would rather spend time at home with his family. At the end of the episode, Professor Stein agrees to return to the Legends for the sake of his pal Jackson.

This was a nice little moment, since if you'll recall, Stein practically kidnapped Jackson and forced him to join the Legends way back in the first episode. It was good to see Stein acknowledge that mistake and try to make up for it.
On the other hand, it didn't take much arm-twisting to get Stein to join the old gang again. I'm starting to get the feeling he doesn't like spending time with his real family as much as he claims he does!

• I'm still not sure why Rip let the Legends keep the Waverider, especially after he spent the entire episode being a dick and telling them all what screw ups they are. The writers try to smooth this over by having Rip say he senses they have a destiny or role to play in coming events or something. Nice try, guys, but I don't buy it. His sudden turn was clunky and unbelievable.

• As the Legends depart, Heat Wave secretly steals Rip's "Time Courier" (his wrist-mounted time portal opener). A few seconds later Rip realizes it's gone and nonchalantly says, "Hmm... I must have misplaced it." He then asks Agent Sharpe to open a portal back to the Time Bureau. 

Rip can't possibly be stupid enough to not realize what happened. I'm assuming he knows the Legends have it, and it's all part of some plan, otherwise he'd be appearing on the Waverider and demanding they give it back. 

• At the end of the episode, Rip hints at this season's big bad:

Agent Sharpe: "They are irresponsible, undependable, unpredictable, dangerous."
Rip: "And yet effective. At least on occasion."
Sharpe: "Is that the reason they're not warming a cell back at headquarters as we speak?"
Rip: "They're not warming a cell, Agent Sharpe, because they might just be our best hope of defeating what's coming."
Sharpe: "They are the reason Mallus is a threat."
Rip: "Indeed. But there might just come a day when we need the Legends to do what they do best."

So, who the heck is Mallus? I have no idea. I searched the internet, and there doesn't appear to be any character with that name in any DC comic. 

Since this is Legends Of Tomorrow, it's a safe bet to assume Mallus will have something to do with time travel. In this episode we just happen to find out that Professor Stein's time aberration daughter Lily is pregnant. I'm calling it right now— Lily's unborn child will somehow turn out to be Mallus! Eh, maybe not. We'll see.

• This Week's Best Lines:
Heat Wave: (to Caesar) "Your salad sucks!"

Canary: (as the Legends steal the Waverider) "Gideon, engines to power, turbines to speed!"
(Apparently Canary's a fan of the 1966 Batman TV show. That's what the Dynamic Duo would shout as they powered up the Batmobile)

Steel: "The point is, sometimes we screw things up for the better."
Canary: "That's a good motto. We should use that."

Steel: "We know how to handle ourselves."
Rip: "Not against Julius Caesar, who has an entire legion at his command."
Steel: "We're pretty good at taking down legions."
(this is a reference to last season, when the Legends defeated the Legion Of Doom— all for members of it!)

Stein: (after the Legends fix the Caesar time aberration) "We came, we saw..."
Atom and Steel: "We kicked Caesar's ass!"
(yep, that's a Ghostbusters reference)

Agent Sharpe: "I've got to say, Ms. Lance, now that I've seen your team in action with my own eyes, you are even worse than I imagined."
Canary: "You're welcome. Well, like Nate said, sometimes we screw things up for the better."
Agent Sharpe: "I fail to see how that's true in this case."
Canary: "It's our new motto."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hey, Why So-lo? (Get It?)

For months now, Disney's troubled Young Han Solo movie has been shooting without an official title. Most have been referring to it simply as the "Untitled Han Solo Movie."

Welp, today Disney and director Ron Howard finally, at long, long last, revealed the movie's official title to the world. 


Really, Opie-Wan? After all this time, that's what you came up with? Oy.

That's gotta be the most generic and least interesting title they could have possibly come up with. Heck, it's not even a title, it's a TV Guide listing (ask your parents what that was, kids).

I have a feeling Howard forgot he had a meeting with the Disney brass to discuss the title and slept in late. He then sprang from bed, threw on some clothes and sped across town to the meeting. On the way he stopped at a traffic light, and jotted down this gem of a title on a fast food napkin he found on the floor of his car.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a series of Han Solo (and Chewie) novels, chronicling their days as smugglers before the events of A New Hope. They had titles like Han Solo At Stars' End and Han Solo And The Lost Legacy

Why not come up with a fun, pulpy title like that for this upcoming movie? Something like Han Solo And The Incident At Kessel Run? Or Han Solo And The Mystery Of Who Shot First? How about Han Solo And The Incredible Disappearing Directors? Something, anything besides the snooze-fest they chose.

The Orville Season 1, Episode 6: Krill

This week The Orville continues to improve, and demonstrates that it's much more than just a spoof of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This week's episode finally brings back the Krill, the enemy aliens who were introduced in the series' pilot but haven't been seen since. It gives us some much needed background on the Klingons, er, I mean the Krill and their culture, as we find out their society is eerily similar to our own.

At first glance this episode, in which the Krill refuse to tolerate any race not blessed by their god, seems to be making a comment about Middle Eastern religious extremism, specifically Muslims. Scratch a bit deeper though and I think it's actually commenting on ALL religions— even Christian fundamentalism! Think about it— over the centuries there's been more blood shed in the name of the Christian God than for any other reason. Heck, the Krill temple even looks amazingly like the inside of a Christian church!

The religious angle gets abandoned halfway through the episode though, as it switches gears and becomes a morality play about casualties of war. Mercer's forced to killa ship full of Krill in order to save a human colony. It's not quite the victory he hoped for though, as his actions inadvertently make future enemies of a group of Krill children. Mercer's realization that violence just begets violence was legitimately chilling, and something I never expected to see on this show.

Krill is the first episode that's not written by series creator Seth MacFarlane. It was penned by David A. Goodman, who's written and produced many of MacFarlane's various animated shows. Goodman's also a Trek alum, as he wrote several scripts for Enterprise (and even an episode of The Golden Girls!). 

SPOILERS!

The Plot:

In Ten Forward, er, I mean the crew lounge, the bridge staff discovers Bortus can eat virtually anything and hilarity ensues. Suddenly their good time's interrupted as they're called to the bridge. A Krill Battle Cruiser is attacking a human colony on Castor IV. Captain Mercer hails the ship and orders them to cease fire. The Battle Cruiser complies, but unfortunately it turns and begins firing on the Orville.

Mercer uses some fancy tactics to obscure the Krill vessel's targeting scanners, then unexpectedly unleashes all torpedoes on the enemy ship, destroying it. Even better, Kelly notices a Krill shuttle floating in the wreckage.

Admiral Ozawa arrives on the Orville, and has a plan for the captured Krill shuttle. She says the Union knows very little about the Krill, except that they're extremely religious, and attack human colonies because they see it as their divine right. She says they need to understand the Krill better in order to have a lasting peace, and the only way to do that is to obtain a copy of the Ancana— the Krill bible.

Union intelligence believes every Krill ship has at least one Ancana on board, and Ozawa wants one. She orders Mercer and Gordon to take the stolen shuttle, use it to infiltrate a Krill ship and steal a bible. Mercer's less than enthusiastic about this insane plan, but agrees.


The crew preps the Krill ship in the shuttle bay. Suddenly a Krill soldier enters, holding a gun to Mercer's head. The crew tries to diffuse the tense situation, but the Krill starts laughing and suddenly morphs into Gordon. Mercer explains that Isaac helped develop sophisticated holographic projectors to disguise them as Krill. The projectors will even fool the Krill sensors.

Kelly tells Mercer and Gordon to be careful. They take off in the shuttle and head for the nearest Krill ship. On the way, Mercer reads up on the enemy race. He says the Krill Homeworld is surrounded by thick clouds that obscure 96% of their sun's light, meaning the planet's shrouded in perpetual darkness. Plot Point!

They dock with the Krill ship Y'kar, and are met by Captain Haros and High Priest Sazeron. Mercer and Gordon can't think of suitable Krill names, so they introduce themselves as "Chris" and "Devon."

Sazeron is instantly suspicious, wondering how they survived when everyone else onboard the ship was killed. Just then a bell sounds, and Sazeron says it's time for services. Mercer and Gordon follow everyone into a chapel, where they sit next to a female Krill named Telaya. She introduces herself, and says her brother was on the Kakov, the ship the Orville destroyed. This makes Mercer uncomfortable, as he realizes his actions had very real consequences for the Krill.

Sazeron leads the service, praying to Avis (yeah, Avis), the Krill god. As part of the service, Sazeron holds up the head of a human captured in a raid, saying the man believed he was entitled to the resources of his colony world. Sazeron says the human was not touched by Avis' divine hand, and is therefore unworthy. He then stabs the head a dozen times or so, horrifying Mercer and Gordon. Mercer spots a copy of the Ancana on the altar.

After services, Mercer and Gordon sneak into the chapel. Mercer starts photographing every page of the Ancana, which is easily a foot thick. Suddenly Sazeron enters and catches them. They make a lame excuse and leave. Sazeron eyes them suspiciously.

Sazeron asks Haros to post a guard on the chapel, saying he doesn't trust "Chris" and "Devon." Haros agrees, and orders a guard. Mercer and Gordon sneak back into the chapel and finish copying the book (I guess?). While they're doing so, their holographic generators glitch and stop working, causing them to revert to their true forms. Uh-oh.

Just then a guard enters the chapel and snoops around. Mercer and Gordon somehow elude him and run back to their quarters, where they fix their holo-disguises. Mercer says their holograms were disrupted by a massive power source two decks below, and of course they decide to investigate.

They track the power source and discover the Krill are building a massive neutron bomb. Mercer invites Telaya to dinner to pump her for more info. She claims that anything not Krill doesn't have a soul, and they'll be carrying out the will of Avis when they use the bomb to kill the human colony of Rana III.

Gordon wants to leave immediately and warn the Union, as they've completed their mission and apparently copied the 50,000 page Ancana. Mercer says the mission's changed, as they need to sabotage the bomb while they're already here. He theorizes they could board their shuttle, then use their holo-emitters to remotely detonate the bomb inside the Krill ship. Gordon uncharacteristically points out that they came here to try and make peace, but now they're talking about killing everyone on board. Mercer says there's no alternative.

On their way to look for tools, they're approached by Telaya, who wants them to speak to the class she teaches. They reluctantly agree, and enter the classroom full of Krill child trainees. One asks Mercer how many humans he's killed, while another wants to know why the Union doesn't believe in Avis. Telaya reminds the kids that humans have no souls.

Back in their quarters, Mercer's unnerved by the incident, and tells Gordon that colony or no colony, he's not blowing up a ship full of kids. Just then, Coja, one of Telaya's students, enters and starts asking questions. He wants to know where humans are from and why they don't look like Krill. Mercer explains that it's perpetually dark on Krill, hence their pale skin, while on Earth the sun's UV rays cause some humans to be darker. This spurs the old "Random Comment Inspires A Brilliant Idea" cliche, and Mercer tells Coja to get the hell out. See?

Mercer asks Gordon if it's possible to turn up the lights inside the ship and amplify the UV spectrum. Gordon says yes, even thought there's no way he could possibly know how the internal mechanisms of an alien ship would work. Gordon says that would fry the Krill, who are basically "space vampires," while he and Mercer would just get a bad sunburn. 
Told you that was a Plot Point! 

Gordon brings up the matter of the kids, and Mercer says they could round them all up in the classroom and blow out the lights inside, saving them. Gordon sets up the overload, and activates a ten minute countdown. Unfortunately he's then captured by Sazeron, who confiscates his holo-emiter. He shuts it off, revealing Gordon's humanity, and takes him to the Captain. Mercer returns to the classroom and sees Coja's missing. Just then an intruder alarm sounds. Mercer begs Telaya to keep the kids inside the classroom, and runs off to look for Coja.

Mercer runs through the corridors, pursued by Krill soldiers. On the bridge, Haros questions Gordon, who claims they're on a mission of peace. Haros doesn't believe him, and stabs Gordon in the leg— the same leg he had regenerated just last week.

Just then the ship arrives at Rana III, and Haros launches the bomb. Mercer finds Coja and returns him to the classroom, just as the lights flare up. All over the ship, the Krill collapse as they're burned alive and killed. I guess when Gordon said they'd be "fried," he wasn't kidding!

Gordon sees the bomb heading for Rana III. Luckily he knows how to fire a torpedo on an alien ship, and destroys the bomb at the last second.

Cut to the Orville towing the Krill Destroyer back to the Union. Mercer meets with Telaya before she's taken to the brig. He tells her the children will be returned to their families on Krill, and promises she won't be harmed. She says she finds that hard to believe, since he just murdered her entire crew. Mercer says their mission was one of peace, but the Krill were planning on wiping out Rana III, leaving him with no choice.

Telaya asks Mercer why he saved the Krill children. He says because they're just kids with their whole lives ahead of them. He says they're not his enemy. Telaya ominously says after they saw what he did, they will be


Thoughts:
• A short little disclaimer here before we start. I wasn't all that impressed with The Orville at first, but I quickly grew to like it over the past month or so. I liked this week's episode a lot as well, even though I'm about to rip it a new one. 
That's because it's entirely possible to like something while simultaneously pointing out its flaws. I can enjoy the episode while admitting it's far from perfect. OK, on with the review!


• When the crew finds out Bortus can eat anything, they have a field day offering him various items. Gordon runs to the replicator, er, I mean the synthesizer and asks it to materialize "one cactus plant." Woah, wait a minute... that means the Orville's synthesizers can create life!

This opens up a HUGE can of worms, one I don't think the writer quite thought through. Conjuring up a bowl of cereal or even a cooked sirloin steak is one thing. Creating a living cactus plant is quite another! And that's just what happened. No one would ever ask for a dead, simulated cactus— they'd want a real, living, growing one!

If the synthesizers can indeed create life, then the people in the 25th Century can keep their pets forever. 
I'm assuming it works by scanning an item and storing it in its memory, so it can create a copy later. So when you first get a dog or cat, just stick it in the synthesizer and scan it. When the pet inevitably dies, all you have to do is order up another one! Sure, its memories would be a few years out of date, but hey, you'd still have Mr. Barkers back!


Why stop with pets? Build a bigger synthesizer and scan your kids! If one dies, just make a new copy! You could even scan yourself and live forever (sort of— a copy of you could live on long after you were gone).

As I said, I think the cactus thing slipped under everyone's radar, and they didn't quite think through the implications.


• Alara hands Bortus a drinking glass to see if he can eat it. He picks it up and delicately takes a big bite out of it, chewing the glass shards and swallowing them.

Sorry, Orville SFX Guys, but that had to be the WORST LOOKING fake glass I've ever seen. It didn't even look like a glass— it looked like it was make out of sugar or something.

• When the Orville encounters the Krill Battle Cruiser, Mercer orders Alara to hail them and immediately starts addressing the ship. Alara sheepishly stops him, admitting she's not opened haling frequencies yet!


OK, the joke was kind of out of place in what was a serious situation, but it was still pretty funny. It took a decades-old sci-fi convention— one we saw over and over on every Trek series— and turned it right on its ear. I guess Alara's just not as quick at opening frequencies as Uhura or Worf!


• Once again I gotta point out that although the Orville certainly looks cool, it's a terribly, terribly designed ship. Near the beginning of the episode, Bortus fires all torpedoes at the pursuing Krill Battle Cruiser.

Note that the rear torpedo tubes are on each side of the main (only?) shuttle bay. That means the torpedoes have to fly between the three engine rings in order to hit their target! 

Jesus Christ! Surely there's a better spot for the launchers— one that doesn't risk blowing up the goddamned ship every time they're used!


• This week we get our first ever look at a Union ship besides the Orville. Admiral arrives on the Olympia, which must be some sort of heavy cruiser. It has the same basic layout as the Orville (complete with three engine rings), but is much, much larger.

• Not a nitpick, just an observation: Do you think it just might be possible that the Orville's Ten Forward, er, I mean crew lounge is a redress of the corridor set seen in this episode?

This isn't something unique to The Orville, as all the various Star Trek series constantly reused their sets over the years. Heck, it's not just Trek— ALL shows have done this at one time or another. Sets are expensive and time consuming to build, so it makes sense to repurpose them whenever possible.

• Gordon holographically disguises himself as a Krill and enters the shuttlebay, pretending he's holding Mercer captive. He completely fools the crew, causing him to double over with laughter. I've listened to Gordon's next line twenty times, and it sound for all the world like he says, "Oh man, your faces were f*cking priceless!" I'm sure the censors didn't actually let that slip through, but boy does it sure sound like it. Maybe he said "freakin."


On the other hand, over on Star Trek: Discovery this week, they actually DID drop the F-bomb for the first time in the fifty one year history of the franchise. In fact they did it twice. Sigh... Congratulations, CBS! You finally figured out what was missing from the Star Trek formula. It's not well-written scripts, likable characters or complex moral dilemmas— it's profanity, and lots of it!

• After boarding the Krill ship, Mercer and Gordon introduce themselves as "Chris" and "Devon." I'm betting the "Chris" alias was an obvious Family Guy reference.

• The Krill in this episode all have slightly different features such as chin horns and cheek ridges, which makes it easier to tell them apart. 

The makeup's done by KNB EFX Group, which is apparently taking cues from Michael Westmore, who created alien prosthetics for all the modern Trek series. Westmore did the same thing with the Klingons, giving each of them all subtly different forehead ridges.

• James Horan plays Sazeron, the Krill High Priest. Horan's name should be familiar to fans of modern Trek, as he's guest-starred on ST:TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.

• The look of the Krill makeup seems to have been tweaked slightly since the pilot (just like Alara's look). When we first saw them they appeared to have solid black eyes with glowing white pupils. It was a cool effect, and made the Krill look even more alien.

For some reason, all the Krill in this episode have plain old solid black eyes. So what happened to the white pupils? I have a feeling that was probably a CGI effect and turned out to be too expensive to use in the long run, so... solid black eyes it is. Too bad, as I really liked the white pupil look.

One last thing about eyeballs. The holographic Krill versions of Mercer and Gordon, er, I mean "Chris" and "Devon" have distinctly human-looking eyes. Luckily for the two of them the other Krill either didn't notice this physical anomaly or were too polite to mention it.

I'm assuming the makeup team left their eyes alone to help the audience recognize which Krill were Mercer and Gordon.

• How's this for some really hardcore nitpicking? Mercer and Gordon use holographic projectors to disguise themselves as Krill soldiers, right? But when Mercer's talking to Captain Haros, he tries to cross his arms and can't, as his thick Krill gauntlets get in the way. 

Wha...? I thought the holograms were just images projected around their bodies. Apparently they're somehow solid. They'd have to have some kind of substance, or else Mercer would be able to cross his arms, and it would probably look like his gauntlets were melding into one another. 

Told you it was hardcore!

• It was certainly lucky for Mercer and Gordon that the Krill speak perfect, unaccented English, and their alien computer systems and ship controls are all instantly understandable!

OK, the "Aliens Speaking English" thing is something we're just all going to have to accept and ignore. It's happened in every Trek series ever aired, and every attempt to explain how everyone's understanding everybody else always ends up making things worse. So I'm willing to give 'em this one.


The Krill computers and screens are a different matter though...

Apparently Mercer has absolutely no trouble reading and comprehending this page from the Ancana.

Or this Krill control panel.

I suppose I could be really generous here and propose the idea that the holographic projectors that Isaac whipped up for Mercer and Gordon also automatically translate spoken and written Krillish into English and vice-versa. After all, it's a sci-fi show with advanced tech.

Of course none of that can explain this. When Gordon rigs up a timer to crank up the lights in the Krill ship, for some reason it uses Earthly Arabic numbers.

As I said, this is something we all just need to accept and forget about so we can get on with the story.

• Some more hardcore nitpicking: Coja, a curious Krill kid, asks Mercer where humans come from. Gordon then points to a bright star outside the window. He says if Coja used a very powerful telescope and looked just to the left of it, he'd see Earth's star.

That's some good star charting there by Gordon. They're likely many, many, MANY light years from Earth, and all the familiar constellations are likely to be scrambled and look completely different from what Gordon's used to. That means he's somehow calculated his position in the galaxy and figured out where Earth is, even though he's too far away to see it. I guess he really IS the best pilot in the galaxy!

By the way Gordon, it might not be a good idea to tell a member of an enemy race that hates all other life forms how to find your home planet. Just saying.


I wonder if that seemingly innocent little scene was a bit of foreshadowing, and will come back to bite the Orville crew in the ass?


• Mercer mentions that in their first encounter with the Krill, the aliens never took their helmets off outside in sunlight, and theorizes they may be highly susceptible to UV rays.

I went back and checked the pilot episode, and by god he's right. They take their helmets off inside the science lab, and one appears helmetless in the Orville's shuttle, but when they're outside those helmets stay on the entire time. Either way, well done!

I don't know if the Krill's aversion to sunlight was planned from the beginning, or if the writer of this episode got lucky and it just happened to work out perfectly for him.


• One last bit of hardcore nitpicking before I stop. Mercer gets the bright (heh) idea to crank up the lights inside the Krill ship, which will bathe it in UV light and "fry" the Krill.

Why the hell is that even possible? If you were a race that had a deadly aversion to sunlight, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU EVER INSTALL UV LIGHTING INSIDE YOUR SHIP? It's like being allergic to bee venom and then wearing a hive on your head.


By the way, when Gordon said the increased UV lighting would "fry" the Krill, I assumed he meant it would cause them intense discomfort and incapacitate them. Nope! He literally meant FRY. As in cook until dead.

• Now that (almost) everyone on the Y'kar is dead, I guess Mercer can just pick up the real Ankana and hand it over to Admiral Ozawa. 

I'm kind of wondering how the Admiral's gonna react to Mercer's actions here. He wiped out an entire ship full of Krill on what was ostensibly a mission of peace. Yes, he did so to save the Rana III colony, but still... This incident probably isn't going to help the peace process.

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:There were only a couple I spotted in this episode. The biggest one of course is Avis, which is not only a 20th Century car rental company but the name of the Krill god as well. 
Somehow Gordon has not only heard of Avis but is intimately familiar with their marketing slogan as well! Impressive! Maybe Avis is still around in 2419 and rents flying cars?


On their way to infiltrate the Krill ship, Gordon listens to The Midnight Special by Credence Clearwater Revival.

• THIS WEEK'S JAW-DROPPING STAR TREK SWIPES THAT MAKE ME WONDER HOW LONG IT'LL BE BEFORE CBS SUES THE PANTS OFF OF FOX:The Orville has a fire suppression system, just like the Enterprise-D did. Unfortunately the Orville's catches fire! Com-O-Dee!


Ever since the Krill appeared in the pilot they seemed familiar, but I could never quite figure out why. This week it finally dawned on me— they look amazingly like the Jem'Hadar from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Jem'Hadar were cloned soldiers grown by the Founders, a civilization of shape-shifting aliens from the Gamma Quadrant.

The idea of crew members going undercover as members of an enemy race is nothing new, and was done many times in the various Trek series over the years. Captain Kirk was altered to look like a Romulan in The Enterprise Incident. Picard and Data did the same in Unification Part I. Counselor Troi also masqueraded as a Romulan in Face Of The Enemy. Commander Riker and Troi posed as Mintakans in Who Watches The Watchers. Riker disguised himself as a Malcorian in First Contact (the TV episode, not the theatrical movie). Worf and his human brother disguised themselves as a Boraalians in Homeward. Over on DS9, Major Kira posed as a Cardassian in Second Skin. There are probably many other instances, but those are the ones I can come up with off the top of my head.
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