Martin Carr reviews the ninth episode of The Orville…
Aside from the slick piece of casting which reminds us all exactly how likeable Rob Lowe can actually be, The Orville is out to have fun this week. With karaoke, incidental lift music and gelatinous coupling on a carnal level ‘Cupid’s Dagger’ is one hell of a curve ball. With nookie on the brain of Kelly and Ed this verges towards farce, while plot specific interplanetary peace talks feel surplus to requirements.
Once again there is an abundance of charm on display from all concerned who are playing it for laughs, while Mercer and Grayson remain distracted. Plot wise we are talking rogue pheromones, ancient artefact analysis and fleet to fleet stand offs over an inhabited planet. Peter Macon and Halston Sage get to run around, take command, talk sense and avert disaster while artificial attraction causes havoc.
If there are any underlying themes or narrative progressions achieved it is through final reel epiphany moments when the cause is discovered. Aside from that the laugh out loud moments come from through comic asides which purposely break up things up. Elsewhere the farcical nature of ‘Cupid’s Dagger’ works best when Lowe brings reconciliation to the table. His affability proving to be the perfect foil for MacFarlane and Palicki infatuation.
In the last nine weeks MacFarlane has worked hard alongside a dedicated cast and crew to create an original science fiction serial with gumption. Having addressed some heavy themes in the previous weeks ‘Cupid’s Dagger’ feels like MacFarlane and company just having fun. They have settled into these characters and it represents the first time we have not left ‘The Orville’ for some time. For the time being it has earned the right to stop trying so hard and chosen to just entertain rather than pitch something complex.
With four more episodes left The Orville has hit its stride and is looking to cement that place by not dropping the ball. By throwing in recognisable realities and pastimes whilst incorporating new alien species, MacFarlane is aiming at universal demographics rather than specifics. Or maybe he is simply trying to create something to be enjoyed rather than broken down, analysed, focus grouped and ratings savvy.