The Orville: Majority Rule
October 27, 2017 12:42 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

On a mission to rescue two missing Union anthropologists, the Orville encounters a planet where everyone wears a badge with the running total of the positive and negative impressions they leave on each other. Navigator John LaMarr makes a spectacle of himself acting lewdly towards a memorial statue and is forced to go on a public apology tour, where he must make a good enough impression of himself or else get his behavior "corrected" with a lobotomy.
posted by Small Dollar (23 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Majority Rule: What if Reddit (but too much)?
posted by Marticus at 12:53 PM on October 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I thought this was a misstep, even for a fairly silly show. I like the humorous elements of the Orville, but having a Union officer dry hump a statue on a covert mission to a new culture was about six steps too far. And while they want to make a statement about social media, it's kind of an obvious statement, and one that Black Mirror has already done better. Overall: meh. It did remind me of old school Trek in a way that pushed my nostalgia buttons, so maybe I'll bump that to Meh+.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:56 PM on October 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Well that was a scathing indictment of contemporary social media.
posted by Talez at 3:33 PM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

One angle that Nosedive didn't get into was the "apology tour". It was kinda weird seeing this episode minutes after noticing for some reason Meyers and Colbert recently had Kelly and Carlson on their shows. I mean, nobody deserves what they went through, but are they really fishing for sympathy after a decade of saying the vilest shit on Fox News?

In a way, that makes it a lot different than Nosebleed or MeowMeowBeenz. I don't think the episode is as much as trying to be as pleasant to others to fit in and the problems it leads to, but about the power of social media, instant gratification, outrage bait, and the dangers of mob rule.
I mean, John was saved thanks to a bunch of fabrications injected into the discussion because nobody would bother to check the Verrit code. Just share and upvote.
posted by lmfsilva at 4:28 PM on October 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

I just looked up "ham-fisted" in the dictionary, and it made me watch this episode.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:33 PM on October 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

That was pretty heavy handed. Of course, I was a kid when I watched Star Trek TOS and I didn't recognize the Vietnam allegory episodes - maybe adults did. I agree with Pater above that it seems like anyone not trained to keep a low profile on an away mission wouldn't be sent on one. And what kind of anthropologist is not aware enough of social mores on an alien world that he wouldn't give his subway seat to a pregnant woman? You can tell Seth Macfarlane wrote this one. Hopefully the next episode is better.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:03 PM on October 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

Nothing says "classic Trek" like tackling social issues with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer! Also, planets with very tiny populations and/or social structures that cannot possibly scale up to full-planet-wide-size (I mean, 10 million votes is...what percentage of the population, exactly?) is also pretty classic Trek.

And what kind of anthropologist is not aware enough of social mores on an alien world that he wouldn't give his subway seat to a pregnant woman?

They mentioned that he had his nose buried in what he was working on and didn't see her; he was convicted entirely based on the picture and people's judgment, from looking at the picture, that he should have seen her.

The "apology tour" thing was a pretty good bit, but yeah I do wish they'd come up with something better than dry-humping a statue to get the plot rolling. The "cultural appropriation hat" schtick worked better, IMO (...and is honestly probably something that should happen to away teams that try to blend in with the locals on a planet they've never visited before more often).

It feels silly to point out plot holes in this show, but if you're just going to hammer Ye Global Twitter Feed with spambots posting dog videos, why not just hack the vote count? Have the spambots give him a billion upvotes? Find out how many upvotes are required to become Supreme Ruler of The World, get him "elected", throw in a bunch of cheap obvious Trump jokes, have him give himself a pardon right before the investigation into how spambots got him elected can catch up with him, and then have him peace out back to the ship. I dunno, maybe they can't get away with that, being on FOX and all.

I'm sure it saves money but I really hope they aren't gonna lean too heavily on the "parallel evolution has just COINCIDENTALLY resulted in a planet exactly like 21st century Earth except for this one change!" thing.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:49 PM on October 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

All in all, I liked this one.

I quite enjoyed seeing the familiar TOS/TNG "space morality play" format applied to more contemporary issues. It's certainly no longer groundbreaking, but it's great comfort food. Official Trek has drifted away from that formula over the years, and it's refreshing to see someone playing it straight, cliche as that might be.

Convenient Earthlike society? Check.

Incognito anthropologists bound by a Prime Directive? Check.

Space Volkswagens? Check.

More importantly, I appreciate that the show is attempting more challenging material than the stock relationship comedy and fratboy shenanigans that opened the season. The last few episodes have been earnest (if flawed) attempts at Real Trek. The characters are finally being allowed to deal with real problems, and consequently are beginning to take on dimension. B-team or not, they are being forced into life-or-death decisions, and doing their best not to screw things up too badly. It's a very Galaxy Quest vibe. And so far they're pulling through. Let's hope this is a hint at the show's intended direction, rather than a temporary arc.
posted by edlinfan at 2:40 AM on October 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would have liked to have seen what an acceptable apology looked like.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:19 PM on October 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

My biggest problem with this episode: what do the upvotes mean?
posted by The Tensor at 1:26 AM on October 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

I felt sorry for the woman in the bar who could not get served because she had a bunch of historic downvotes.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 5:38 AM on October 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Also, the antropologist who got "fixed" had a 1984 vibe to it.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 5:40 AM on October 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

because she had a bunch of historic downvotes.

This was the highlight of the episode for me, the concept of persistent historical public opinion with zero context. Otherwise, very meh.

She could have really been a monster or she could have been an extreme downvote bullying victim or something (see brigading). She had just shy of 200,000 upvotes (to 540,000 down); the away team were sold counterfeit badges preloaded with 200,000 upvotes.
posted by porpoise at 5:45 PM on October 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

This episode was terrible. Are they just hoping their audience is unaware of Black Mirror?
posted by Nelson at 10:21 PM on October 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

B-team or not

I've seen the comparison made more than once that this is like Star Trek, but if you had a bunch of second-rate officers instead of Starfleet's Finest, like you usually see in various Treks. But I feel even that only applies to about half the crew — only Mercer, Grayson, Gordon, and John really fit that mold. Bortus, Alara, and Dr. Finn could fit pretty seamlessly into a Star Trek series as they are. Isaac is the odd one out, more of a Star Wars type droid.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:53 AM on October 30, 2017

Ugh, this was the first episode I couldn't finish. I gave up 5 min in.

I mean that Black Mirror episode was so on the nose and was written to exploit the anxieties of an audience that doesn't actually understand technology very well, but at least it had very high writing and production values. And I bailed on it halfway through! There was no hope of me making it through this Orville episode.
posted by danny the boy at 11:52 AM on October 30, 2017

This episode was terrible. Are they just hoping their audience is unaware of Black Mirror?

About as much as Charlie was hoping the BM audience was unaware of App Development and Condiments? I'm finding amusing on how people are using Nosedive to slag off Majority Rule when it even wasn't the first TV show to take on a society ruled by karma/Yelp/upvotes. Not to mention, other than that, each episode went in very different directions with the concept.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Two knock offs for the price of one.

I really didn't like the way they painted direct democracy as chaos and promoted republicanism as the one true way.

I also wonder why some of these people haven't been pushed out of an airlock already. I know this is supposed to be a comedy but these characters behave so idiotically it's not funny.
posted by yonega at 8:24 PM on October 30, 2017

Yet here we are and keeping on watching this thing; and talking about it.
posted by porpoise at 9:30 PM on October 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Renewed early for season 2. Apparently it's being a shitty year for network TV, and the Orville is doing well enough to get a second run.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:16 AM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

The location they used was LA Center Studios. I've been to a beer fest there (throngs of people competing for shade under those pedestrian overpasses, and I saw Rachel Bloom's husband there), I saw Survival Research Labs there, and I've had post-screening snacks in that coffeeshop (at that screening I got free tickets to the new (at the time) musical "Ten Commandments: The Musical" starring Val Kilmer as Moses, produced by BCBG Max Azria, which was the BEST WORST thing I've ever seen in my LIFE). The new Korean Air tower is visible in the background. The Flash ran past the site of that tower a couple seasons ago when it was still a hole in the ground.

That location shows up a lot because it has those overpasses and a completely locked-off street. It gets used as government/CIA/FBI etc. buildings a lot.

The show is better if you use CBT techniques to divert your thinking anytime your internal voice says "But why..." or "Why don't they just..." or "Wouldn't they..." It's kind of refreshing in a retro way to have a show that isn't dark and gritty, that can explore these highly conceptual civilizations without having to get too deep in the justifications/rationalizations. The supporting cast is doing great work with what they have, and episodes like this where Seth is less prominent help paper over his acting skill level.

I felt like the humor was synthesized better in this episode, it didn't feel like it disrupted the flow like it has in past instances. I actually laughed at a couple points (like when Mercer asks Bortus to provide pretzels and water in the future and Bortus replies "I will not fail you").

The PR guy was played by Trek alum Steven Culp, who was the MACO commander on Enterprise.

All in all I guess this show is entertaining enough and fills a void in the genre, but it doesn't feel essential in any way. Like if it got canceled while I was away for a few weeks I might not notice.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:47 AM on November 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

so no-one's going to mention of the gaping plot hole: why didn't they do a minute's worth of research before landing on the planet? the whole society is based around up/downvoting and they have no idea about it before barging in? arrrrg
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:47 AM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Isn't going on a planet without being aware of the local customs the regular course of action in sci-fi?
posted by lmfsilva at 11:13 AM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

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