The Orville: Home
January 11, 2019 9:39 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Ed, Gordon and Alara visit Alara's home planet of Xelayah.

The Orville Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Home (Diana Keng for TV Fanatic)
There are a lot of narrative styles woven throughout The Orville Season 2 Episode 3. Disguised as a bit of a mystery-turned-hostage-situation, it's also a family reconciliation story and a farewell episode.
A crew member departs on an otherwise middling The Orville (Nick Wanserski for TV/A.V. Club, rated episode "C")
About halfway through tonight’s episode, “Home”, Alara Kitan, chief security officer for the Orville, is sitting on a beach at her parent’s summer home. She briefly closes her eyes and indulges in a fantasy where —decked out like a full-on druid princess— she rides a space hippogriff across a shell pink beach at sunset as great arcing planetary rings and moons swirl behind her. The scene, which is part airbrushed conversion van painting, part backdrop for the song title scroll of an as seen on TV, 6 CD/12 cassette collection of rock ballads, is supposed to represent a longing for the freedom that tugs at an otherwise literally and figuratively entrapped Alara. It was also, in its earnest, befuddling cheesiness, the highlight of an otherwise very mediocre episode.
posted by filthy light thief (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Orville Wiki informs me that Alara's home world is "Xelaya," not "Xelayah." [Foxes official synopsis includes that typo, which I carried over into this episode synopsis.]

Patrick Warburton was listed as a Special Guest Star, so it's unclear if Lt. Tharl and his external esophagus will return.

Either way, it seems that Capt. Mercer will have to open his own pickle jars now.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:43 AM on January 11

They really missed an opportunity to make a nod towards Skin of Evil.
posted by peeedro at 10:58 AM on January 11

To me the highlight of this episode was having not one but two Star Trek actors in this episode - Robert Picardo (Voyager) and John Billingsley (Enterprise). DOCTOR VS DOCTOR
posted by Roger Pittman at 12:37 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]

Wait, are you telling me Alara's leaving the show?

posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:27 PM on January 11 [7 favorites]

Not to abuse the edit window:

posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:27 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]

This one got surprisingly hardcore, with Alara's arm break, the hand-in-the-soup thing (sweet Jesus), Alara's sister very nearly losing a pinkie to the garden shears and Mercer's legs snapping like dry twigs. I think the Av Club reviewer who called this "middling" was way, way off. This thing was traumatic, in a good way. It was also maybe the show's most visually impressive episode yet, with endless special effects all over the place.

The pacing was really deliberate on this one, it felt like we were kind of taking our time with the shuttle rides over Pretty City and Alara's awesome-goofy beach horsey-bird ride fantasy, but then the soup scene happened and shit got crazy. I was delighted to see Robert Picardo again, and he aced it of course, but when John Billingsley first showed up I thought, "Gee, it's kind of a shame that they've just got him playing this affable neighbor guy who's probably gonna die somehow." Little did I know he was about to go full psycho, and sweet Jesus was he ever terrifying. Calculating and sadistic, yet still affectionate to his equally violent wife, he came across as a truly dangerous guy. It was a trip seeing these two Trek alums in the same scene, and having the scene be such a nasty shocker.

It's a shame Alara's leaving, because with this episode it felt like her character really gelled in a way she hadn't before. Having the security chief leave so early in the show's run is yet another weird TNG parallel, but at least Alara didn't get unceremoniously killed by a talking oil slick. (I kind of wish Denise Crosby had had a chance to sit down with Halston Sage and give her a good talking to. Unless Sage has already got a big movie lined up or something, leaving the show this soon could well be something she comes to regret.)

So, are they gonna stick with the Warburton Elephant guy as the security chief? He was fine as a one-off gag and he brought some comedic relief to an episode that was otherwise full-on drama/thriller, but he did have that 2D Family Guy feel and his schtick could get old fast. Besides, we've already got the perpetually awkward bro Dann and the perpetually awkward bro Yaphit. The show doesn't really need another weird-looking alien guy trying to bro around with everybody.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:43 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]

I loved this episode right up to the end which I hated because Alara is leaving!!!

But the rest of it I loved. It was tense and unpredictable (I knew Ed's gravity suit timer would be important, but I pictured him fighting the bad guys while watching the clock - I never expected him to just get knocked over in the first few seconds and just lie there for the whole damn fight. Kudos to Seth McFarlane!) and really moving.

I wasn't sure why Ed showed up at that exact moment though - was he there to tell her about the doctor's new gravity treatment? To complain about Patrick Warburton's character and ask her to come back? He seemed really urgent but never really told her why he'd shown up when he did - or did I miss something?
posted by Mogur at 2:54 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]

Unless Sage has already got a big movie lined up or something, leaving the show this soon could well be something she comes to regret.

I dunno about "big movie" but she's in an upcoming Netflix film called "The Last Summer". They certainly left the door wide open for her to return, so it may be she's just leaving temporarily due to a shooting schedule conflict.

I hope so, because I really liked Alara as a character. The new security guy didn't even quite land for me just as a gag, let alone as an actual character. (I could've said the same about Yaphit early on, yet I got a good laugh out of the brief "Is he thinking of splitting in half?" "We're not allowed to ask him that." exchange in this episode. So maybe they'll make better use of extra-esophagus guy in the future but I agree the crew feels seriously bro-heavy already.)

As for the rest of the episode, echoing everyone else that I really enjoyed how unpredictable and suspenseful it got. At first when Alara was rolling around the beach house I expected them to do some kind of Rear Window-spoof but they ended up going a much more interesting and unexpected route.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:16 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]

The show doesn't really need another weird-looking alien guy trying to bro around with everybody.
The Oracles on the Internet say that the new security chief and series regular is another Xelayan named Talla Keyali played by Jessica Szohr.
posted by elgilito at 7:46 AM on January 12

From elgilito's link:

"Sage was in production on the Netflix film Last Summer during much of the time the second season of The Orville was being shot"

Well, there you go.
posted by chazlarson at 9:42 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]

Alara telling her dad "you can do this" and his breakdown at the end really diced my onions. I'm so bummed she's leaving. I love this show.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:52 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

I really liked the planetary-ring-from-the-ground effect.

The dinner party twist was kind of clever.

Can someone explain the pickles thing?
posted by porpoise at 5:25 PM on January 12

Every time Mercer needed a door opened throughout the series, he asked Alara to “open this jar of pickles”.
posted by idb at 6:12 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]

To me the highlight of this episode was having not one but two Star Trek actors in this episode - Robert Picardo (Voyager) and John Billingsley (Enterprise). DOCTOR VS DOCTOR

THREE Star Trek actors. The lovely Molly Hagan, who plays Alara's mom, was the first Vorta that we ever met on DS9. She played Eris in the episode "The Jem Ha'dar".

I am going to miss Alara. She was, hands down, my favorite character.
posted by hanov3r at 9:22 PM on January 12 [4 favorites]

Wait, Alara is being replaced as security chief by ANOTHER Xelayan woman? Maybe they'll surprise me, but it's all too easy to picture the show's creators saying, "Shit, we already wrote the rest of the season with Alara in it! Well, maybe if we bring in another Xelayan woman we won't have to take out all the super-strength gags and re-write everything." If that was the plan they probably should have just recast the character, frankly. There are endless sci-fi ways to swap out an actor, you can say they caught some weird space bug and it altered their DNA or something, or you can just pull a Darren Stevens and not even acknowledge the change. Having a new actor play a new character who just happens to be conveniently Alara-like would be awkward, so hopefully they have something more interesting in mind.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:15 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

She played Eris in the episode "The Jem Ha'dar".

If I'm not mistaken she's also Liv's mom on iZombie (and the Jem Ha'dar captor is Black Lightning).
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:49 AM on January 13

I'm so bummed she's leaving. I love this show.

While it has it's "highs" and "lows", I am constantly telling people that it is more in-line with the traditional Gene Roddenberry "trekiverse" than the current TV/movie offerings.

It is interesting, funny, charming, gauche and yet somehow still manages to capture the overall "pre" Discovery spirit.
posted by jkaczor at 11:41 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]

While it has it's "highs" and "lows", I am constantly telling people that it is more in-line with the traditional Gene Roddenberry "trekiverse" than the current TV/movie offerings.

Seth MacFarlane is having a ball cosplaying Star Trek, everyone is going along with him, and he's doing a good job.
posted by mikelieman at 8:03 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]

"The Orville": FOX Confirms Halston Sage's Exit
FOX Television has confirmed to that Halston Sage has exited The Orville.

After reached out, FOX confirmed that “Home” was Sage's last episode as a series regular, but that the door remained open for her to return in the future.

FOX did not provide a reason for Sage’s departure.
posted by hanov3r at 8:10 AM on January 15

What a shame; Alara's been the best part of this show IMHO. I liked under_petticoat_rule's comment a couple of threads ago:
Halston Sage is always so fully present in every scene she's in, and she manages to create moments with other characters even when she's not speaking.
She's been really great as a supporting actor, and this episode shows she can do just fine as the lead actortoo. I really liked this episode, it was well written and well acted. The stunt casting of Picardo and Billingsey works not only as a "hey, I know them!" trick but because both of them are pretty good actors.

The odd thing structurally for this episode is it doesn't really have a B plot. The whole show is pretty much the A plot. They could have made a full B plot out of finding the magic not-holodeck cure for Alara instead of just coming up with it out of nowhere, but I'm glad they didn't. Unfortunately the stupid esophagus-bro alien's introduction was the stunted B-plot, doubly awkward if he's not a recurring character and they bring in someone for real to be the new security officer. I agree with Ursula Hitler they could have replaced her much more deftly. Personally I wish they'd done a running gag where they slotted in a new actor and then just never explained the change, like they did with Becky on Roseanne. But maybe that's not respectful to Halston Sage, she really made that character.

Just to say again, I loved this episode, it was great. Far from the "middlin" the linked review said IMHO. Only caremad because we're losing one of my favorite actors.
posted by Nelson at 9:53 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

Also shout-out to the set designers. Both the city they fly through and that beach house are really beautiful. (screencaps). I spent a lot of time being distracted because I was trying to figure out how they got that house. I think it must be a real set, not just a painting, but then the architecture is so distinctive.
posted by Nelson at 10:11 AM on January 15

Long-time fan of Hal Clement here - I kept thinking of the classic Mission of Gravity.

The everyday effects of higher gravity were probably beyond the scope (and budget) of the show, but it would have been neat to see. I was watching, for example, the ocean to see if the waves slopped differently, but a more mundane example might be reflexes - what happens when you knock a glass off a table? Do the Xeleyans (sp?) have super-fast reflexes to catch very rapidly accelerating objects, or do they just let stuff fall to the floor and pick it up later?

Granted, when Dad was climbing over the balcony, he did seem a lot more nervous than I expected - I expected him to be worried about the gun, not a ten-foot drop to the lawn below. It was probably all about the gun, though I was kind of hoping that jumping that far on a high-gravity planet was actually really risky, even for a Xeleyan.
posted by Mogur at 10:51 AM on January 15

If I'm not mistaken she's also Liv's mom on iZombie (and the Jem Ha'dar captor is Black Lightning).

I remember her from Herman's Head!
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:19 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]

At the time I wondered why the mother or sister didn't go over the balcony, since the father had a mangled hand that would make something like that extra difficult. It seemed sort of sexist to assume it would be up to Dad to save the day! But it ended up making sense dramatically, since the father was the one Alara had the main conflict with and he had to go through that ordeal to gain a new understanding of his daughter's life. I also wondered if the shuttle couldn't land just a few feet over to pick up the floundering Mercer or if Gordon couldn't throw him a rope or something... but again, it all worked out dramatically so I'm not gonna fuss over it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:55 PM on January 15

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