The Orville: Deflectors
February 15, 2019 7:32 AM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

It's a relationship episode! And an episode about Moclan society! And some spacecraft engineering. Oh, and there's a murder mystery ... IN SPAAAACE!

Synopsis from IMDb: Kelly breaks up with Cassius, while the Orville has its deflectors upgraded by a Moclan engineer who used to be Bortus' boyfriend.
posted by filthy light thief (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Star Trek connection: searching for a person who has faked their own death and is now hiding aboard the ship occurs in TOS "Court Martial." Including the part about the "victim" having altered data logs in order to frame someone for their death.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:54 AM on February 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another Star Trek connection : the starboard emitter on the Orville malfunctions - just as the Enterprise seemed to always have issues with its starboard power coupling.

I laughed at Gordon having to "dumb down" his piloting so the other ship could actually hit them during the deflector test.

Who else picked up on the Bruce Willis cameo?
posted by Roger Pittman at 7:58 AM on February 15, 2019

Who else picked up on the Bruce Willis cameo?

Like, in the vents? *Searches online* Nope, I was way off.

(I was influenced by the Lego Movie 2 in this thought, it seems -- minor movie spoilers therein.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

The most glaring Star Trek connection is to the TNG episode The Outcast (which I happened to have just seen pretty recently) where Riker (naturally!) falls in love with a member of an androgynous species, who also falls for him despite romantic attraction for gendered people being considered a serious taboo for...kind of poorly-explained reasons because how would an androgynous race (that doesn't do forced gender-reassignments to get that way) even develop taboos against something that they literally don't have, and wouldn't the interspecies nature of the relationship kind of trump the gender issues anyhow? But I digress. Honestly, I was glad that they had the stuff with the deflector and the murder mystery because the setup for the romance plot was so similar to that episode it felt like it was moving the needle from "homage/reference" to "plagiarism/rehash". Also glad that our new Security Chief got a little more development, even if I still can't remember her name.

I also think it was a better choice to use a species we're already pretty closely involved with rather than (as in the TNG episode) a one-off species we'll never see again. I'll be interested to see if they're setting up some payoff down the road for those questions about how long the alliance between the Moclans and the UFP can possibly last when their underlying values are so different.

Saddest thing about it all though is that the TNG episode, while deeply flawed in its own ways (including some really trans-unfriendly stuff that has not aged well), was at least an attempt to tackle basically the same LGBTQ issues that The Orville is still not-unreasonably tackling 27 years later.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:18 PM on February 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't know about this whole species of portly black gay men who resex female infants and kill anyone who is interested in women.

They need to spread some of this out. They're putting a lot of on these Moclans.

This show is starting to make me uncomfortable.
posted by yonega at 5:25 AM on February 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't know about this whole species

It is pleasingly, narratively elegant to put a lot on the Moclans for me (somehow the overemphasis on the species makes all the worldbuilding feel more rich) and also I find it problematic that they are acted by black men.
posted by zeek321 at 4:56 PM on February 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

To use an "allied" alien species as an embodiment of rigid sexual repression does go into the weeds regarding cultural relativism - but portraying said species as portly black anthropomorphs with roughly human dimensions might have been a mis-step.

It'd be harder to discuss xeno-sexuallity as metaphor for human sociology of sexuality if the aliens were non anthropomorphs (and that gets even weirder - and would probably just revert to being something like Isaac using a holobody for sex).

Speaking of, I thought Isaac's "I was merely attempting to provide Dr. Finn with the most dutifully calibrated coital experience." was really endearing.

I do hope that sometime in the future they drop that Isaac finally "gets" sex with biological life forms and has an analogous experience with Talla teaching the Moclan to dance. "I applied adaptive AI algorithms that I have custom written for myself..."
posted by porpoise at 5:58 PM on February 16, 2019

I don't know about this whole species of portly black gay men who resex female infants and kill anyone who is interested in women.

... and who have a hyper-violent culture where divorce includes stabbing, and are not particularly in tuned with their emotions ...

They need to spread some of this out. They're putting a lot of on these Moclans.

posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 PM on February 16, 2019

My favorite moment was comic relief crew member Lt. Dann eating the cupcake.

"Uh oh! Tractor beam activated! It's pulling us in!
Oh, no! The field strength is up over 60%.
What's the phase differential?
40 radians. Well within operational limits."

posted by scalefree at 3:37 PM on February 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

As queer TV this goes it was kind of OK. Right up until the big reveal of who the murderer is. Having a very hard time with his character arc now.

Agreed the decision to make Moclans both a repulsively violent and sexist society and yet identified with African-Americans is looking pretty awkward right now.
posted by Nelson at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2019

I think that 80% of the reason I'm still watching this show is that it does TNG nostalgia so well. The cinematography, the dramatic beats, the musical's all pitch-perfect.

But, yeah. I didn't think this was an especially strong episode. I really dislike how the Moclans have become a ham-fisted stand-in for, like...the entire spectrum of non-hetero sexuality and non-cis gender identity. I like Bortus well enough, but conceiving the Moclans as an all-male species was a mistake, IMO.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:37 PM on February 19, 2019

I like the Moclans but I agree that it's time to give them a break from carrying all the social issues episodes.

Once again, I got suckerpunched with a seemingly light and fluffy episode that turned way dark. It wasn't their best IMO, but I think it did what it needed to do to establish Talla's character as more than just an Alara stand-in.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:11 PM on February 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Disliking hetero relationships actually makes sense, given the lengths they go through to get rid of any Moclan women. I'm more surprised that the Moclans are so easily able to deal with other species that do keep women around. Given that their stated reason for forced sex change is that it is shameful to be shorter with smaller muscles, you'd expect them to be assholes around every woman of a species with any amount of sexual dimorphism.

I'm still trying to work out whether I somehow missed how the whole male-female thing works with Moclans given that clearly they are engaging in some sort of biological two-DNA-donor single-sex reproduction. Presumably at some point the Moclan's had male-female partnered reproduction or... the categories of male and female as they apply in humans does not apply and they should be using different terms. Were they always able to reproduce via male-male shared genetics and an egg, in addition to the male-female reproduction, or did they somehow add it after they decided to get rid of all the women?
posted by Karmakaze at 2:52 PM on March 18, 2019

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