Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) is appointed Captain of a starship. Since this is a parody, he is an incompetent and the ship is considered second-rate. The Admiral (Victor Garber - Legends of Tomorrow ) says the Empire has three thousand ships but they are desperate to get Captains. The reality, revealed in the final scene, is a bit more complicated.
This is not dissimilar to the other great American SciFi parody, Futurama . That was created by the mind behind The Simpsons , while this is the product of the creator of Family Guy. They both parody US Science Fiction TV shows, and feature incompetent male heroes and super-competent females.
The Second Officer, Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ), is the protagonist's ex-wife. Medical Officer Dr. Claire Finn ( Penny Johnson Jerald ) is the best in the Fleet, and selected the Orville job because she knew she would be needed to clean up Captain's disasters. The Security Officer, Alara Kitan ( Halston Sage ), is a super-strong woman from a high gravity planet. She admits she is very young for the job, because she was fast-tracked for promotion due to a diversity quota. However, her super-human strength makes up for her inexperience.
The first mission is to a scientific outpost. In the manner of James Kirk, Mercer goes down with his top officers - and as noted, in this case that means the female ones. The place looks like a shopping mall, although there are no bars or strip-clubs registered on the planet so it must be a relatively boring place to live. The head scientist (Brian George) has summoned the Orville there for a secret mission. His team has invented a time-bending ray, which can be weaponised into a death-ray. Mercer and his crew have been summoned to take possession of the ray device before it can fall into the hands of a hostile alien species, the Krill.
A Krill warship arrives. Unfortunately, with the Captain and the best officers on the planet this leaves the Orville in the hands of the incompetent male crew. Of course, this show is a comedy so the incompetence is essential to the story. Likewise, it is one of the females who saves the day.
Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) and ex-wife/Second-in-Command Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) transfer across to another ship to see his parents. Unfortunately things do not turn out for the best, and they get stuck together.
In a sub-plot, Bortus the Second Officer (Peter Macon) is sitting on his egg. He is part of an all-male species, which seems very complicated but they seem to make it work. But while he is busy, the Security Officer, Alara Kitan ( Halston Sage ) is in charge.
Bortus the Second Officer (Peter Macon) is part of an all-male species. His egg has hatched, but the baby is a female. He and his husband want the Doctor to perform a surgical gender correction. The procedure is compared to circumcision, but is obviously far more life-changing. Naturally, the Doctor refuses. Everything snowballs from there.
The Orville is re-directed to the alien homeworld. Second-in-Command Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) is appointed as representative at a legal Tribuneral. The point of the trial is to show that women are strong and that men are stupid. The Orville's crew are called to testify, and prove the case quite well. Rena Owen makes a surprise guest-appearance too.
This is typical of the plots of many famous Star Trek episodes. The episode was directed by Brannon Braga , famous as a Trek show-runner. Yes, this episode at least could be deemed as more Trek than Star Trek: Discovery ...
In a sub-plot, Yaphit the green blob (Norm MacDonald) turns out to be romantically interested in the ship's Doctor. He still has nothing else to do in the plot, because he has no obvious role on the ship.
The Orville discovers a massive starship floating adrift in space. Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) goes down with his top officers - and always, that means the female ones. The annoying robot man comes along too, and asks lots of humourously inappropriate questions.
The interior of the starship is a terraformed area, a self-sustaining envitronmant with farms and a city. Unfortunately the locals are untrusting rednecks who shoot strangers on sight. However, Mercer and his team manage to meet up with James Morrison ( Space: Above And Beyond ).
The local society is a religious dictatorship led by Hemlock (Robert Knepper - Heroes: S4 ). McFarlane is a devout atheist, and the religious fundamentalists are obvious villains. It is evident that there is no Prime Directive in this show, because Mercer does not hesitate to destroy the religion - which means he also destroys the government and society in one fell swoop. Not that this is a bad thing in itself, but he has absolutely nothing to replace it with. In other words he spitefully condemns the population to civil war, anarchy and death.
Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) rescues mining ship captain Pria Levesque ( Charlize Theron ). Naturally he starts flirting with her, and his ex-wife Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) is jealous.
Kelly gets the security girl to help her snoop. They assume the worst about Pria, and never give her the benefit of the doubt. In contrast, Mercer trusts Pria completely.
In a sub-plot, Mercer's beardy sidekick tries to teach humour to the ship's robot. Unfortunately the AI does not understand the concept, and takes things too far.
The story has a twist involving time travel. Just as we discovered in the previous episode that there is no Prime Directive, now we discover that there is no TEMPORAL Prime Directive either. Mercer has no hesitation in destroying the future, even if it means risking the destruction of his own ship.
The Orville saves a mining colony that is under attack from a Krill warship. not only do they save the day and destroy the warship, they also recover an intact and fully operational Krill shuttle.
The Admiral ( Kelly Hu ) provides some exposition about how the krill are religious fundamentalists. Beyond that, little is known about them. She orders Mercer to take the shuttle into Krill space so they can get a copy of the Oncana, the Krill bible.
Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) and his helmsman use personal holographic emittors, something that the crew of Star Trek: Voyager could probably have cooked up if they had taken the time. They easily con their way aboard a Krill warship.
The Krill keep their holy book on their altar. Mercer and his buddy attend the religious service, and try to copy the book afterwards. Unfortunately the book has a thousand pages and they have to photography them one at a time. Also, the High Priest becomes very suspicious of the newcomers.
While blending in, Mercer and his buddy befriend a female crew member. This is a blatant mind-screw on the audience, which humanises the enemy and then gives them a terrible choice. As well as female crew members, the ship also has a group of young children. Yes, this is the Krill equivalent of the Enterprise-D from Star Trek: TNG .
The Krill have developed a super-weapon, and are about to launch a genocidal attack on a defenceless farm-world. Our heroes have to save the day, but Mercer decides that the women and children must be protected. In the final scene, he learns that this may have been a mistake.
The Orville visits a planet where a couple of anthropologists went missing. The society is an almost exact copy of that in the USA circa 2017, which means that it can do what Star Trek did best - use Sci-Fi as a metaphor for contemporary issues. The result is ike something out of Black Mirror .
Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) stays aboard the ship for a change, and sends down an away team. Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) is in charge, accompanied by Medical Officer Dr. Claire Finn ( Penny Johnson Jerald ) and Security Officer Alara Kitan ( Halston Sage ). The token man is the token black guy.
It turns out that the planet has no proper government executive or legislature. The population use on-line voting to make all decisions. This might seem like a good thing, because it allows full participation for all citizens. However, as Alara later points out the people value opinion instead of knowledge.
The token man is accused of committing a disrespectful act. Because everyone in the society has the ability to video things and upload them instantly to the Internet, any social faux pas can be the subject of intense criticism. He gets arrested when he gets a million down-votes ... and if he gets ten million, he will be lobotomised.
The Admiral (Ron Canada - Star Trek: DS9 ) refuses permission to launch a rescue mission. They may not have a Prime Directive, but this seems to be where they draw the line. Instead, Mercer's crew must help their friend win an online popularity contest. They do what anyone would do - they decide to cheat the system by creating fake memes.
Medical Officer Dr. Claire Finn ( Penny Johnson Jerald ) goes off on a vacation with her two pre-teen sons. They have no father - she opted for IVF, so she deliberately chose to be a single parent. Well, it was either that or live alone with a lot of cats. Luckily Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ) orders the ship's robot to accompany her on the trip.
Claire's shuttle gets caught in a wormhole, and propelled a thousand light-years across space. This distance would normally take weeks for the ship to cross. In fact, at the speeds used in Star Trek: Voyager it would take a year to cross.
The shuttle is damaged, and has to crash-land on a nearby moon. Claire gets seperated from the others. Luckily she is found by a local survivalist (Brian Thompson - X-Files ), who tells her the recent history of his world. It is in a post-apocalyptic phase, since a war ended with a biohazard in the water supply. Now almost everyone is a cannibal.
The robot must look after the children. we get some humour form the situation. However, this is more than counter-balanced by the seriousness of Claire's storyline.
Claire tells her kids They (the cannibals) may not value life, but we do. However, this is pure hypocrisy on her part. She happily slaughters anyone who gets in her way, without any attempt to negotiate with, capture or simply wound them. Worst of all, this un-Trek-like behaviour is directed by Brannon Braga !
It is kareoke night in the mess-hall. Just like in Star Trek: TNG , where the crew have no television so they must entertain themselves with endless poetry recitals, open mic nights and amateur dramatics. The Admiral (Victor Garber - Legends of Tomorrow ) interrupts it with a special mission.
The ship is sent to a planet on the border of the Union. It is being fought over by two races, each of which claims it was the first to settle there. The Union has sent along an archaeologist to solve the mystery. Unfortunately it is Durulio (Rob Lowe - ), the blue-skinned alien whose sex with Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) led to the break-up of her marriage to Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane - Ted ).
Kelly finds herself strangely attracted to Durulio. Despite his anger due to the end of his marriage, Ed also finds himself attracted to the man.
Meanwhile, Medical Officer Dr. Claire Finn ( Penny Johnson Jerald ) actually gives in to temptation and spends the night with Yaphit the green blob (Norm MacDonald). He is confused by happy about this development. Also, it is logical because she has to sex-partner and yet as a human she has a biological need for sex. Unfortunately she turns out to be a bunny-boiler.
The Security Officer realises that something is badly wrong. She does her best to control the situation. Despite the fact that the two alien species are about to go to war, she does come across as a bit of a cock-blocker.
The ship encounters a subspace anomaly. Security Officer Alara Kitan ( Halston Sage ) discovers she has a phobia of fire. Unfortunately she discovers this during a fatal incident. She blames herself for the death of a crewman, even though she could not have made any real difference anyway.
Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) and Medical Officer Dr. Claire Finn ( Penny Johnson Jerald ) try to help Alara. However, she prefers to spend her energy working out on the holodeck. Yes, this piece of tech - generally used as leisure equipment, in a joky homage to its use in Star Trek: TNG - actually turns out to be useful for a change.
The crew start to fall victim to unusual events. For example, there is a murderous clown on the loose. Their worst fears start to come true. It seems like the subspace anomaly might be responsible.
Gordon and TBG play a practical joke on Yaphit the green blob (Norm MacDonald). This leads to some tension between them. Especially when Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) recommends that TBG be given the chance to serve as Chief Engineer. Obviously, the idea of moving a bridge officer to Engineering is a reference to the promotion of Geordi Laforge in Star Trek: TNG .
Yaphit is less than happy about the situation. Basically he has been passed over for promotion, despite being next in line. Worse, the guy that bullied him has been given the job that he was meant to get. Naturally Yaphit complains to the Captain about this treatment. In all fairness, the show would have been better in Yaphit had been Chief Engineer all along. This would have allowed him to actually have something to do every week.
The ship discovers a subspace anomaly. It turns out to be the gateway to a two-dimensional universe. This leads to a discussion about Flatland, the Victorian novel set in just such a society. It seems as if at least one of the show's writers has actually read the book, unlike those of Big Bang Theory who merely quoted the synopsis listed on the Amazon website.
The ship encounters a mysterious planet that appeared out of nowhere. Kelly Grayson ( Adrianne Palicki ) is on a shuttle mission. She accidentally crash-lands on the planet, and encounters some children from a bronze age civilization.
The Federation has a law against interfering in other cultures. The idea of a Prime Directive was ignored in previous episodes, but now it is central to the plot. The Captain is trying to get back together with Kelly so he decides to cover up for her in his report to the Admiral ( Kelly Hu ).
The planet appears to be in an interdimensional orbit. It will next return to the regular universe in eleven days time, so the Captain orders the ship to stay in orbit of the star for the next fortnight. Presumably they did not have any other missions elsewhere.
When the planet returns, the explorers discover seven centuries have passed. Yes, this idea has been used several times in Star Trek franchise shows, although non-Trekkies will think of Narnia from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe .
The world has, predictably, developed a religion about kelly. Naturally they twisted her association with healing into a trial-by-ordeal system. She and the rest of the crew try to restore the world to its natural state of blissful atheist.