Martin Carr reviews the tenth episode of The Orville season 2…
Hidden beneath the surface of this back story building exercise and cloaked in thin character work sits a relevant topic for discussion. Extremist groups are sadly prevalent in this world and people rise up against governments, regimes and dictatorships on a daily basis. Their reasons are often solid but subjective focusing on personal impact and therefore potentially biased. If Blood of Patriots tries to teach us anything it is a lesson of tolerance in the face of anger, resentment and individual loss.
What also becomes apparent quickly is how punishment can often have an adverse affect upon a person, when incarceration is supposed to be an exercise in penitence for those who have done wrong. Unfortunately those who staff prisons have to be put in positions of authority so there is the chance that abuses of power can occur. So it is that The Orville passes comment on terrorist groups, universal imprisonment strategy and by default the affect these actions have on the wider world. Going hand in hand with that is the examination of peace treaties and how as people we rely on each other to maintain order. On a more basic level we also discover a little more about Gordon Mallory and what makes him tick.
In truth the broadening of character which has been attempted in this episode feels a little thin. An old friend making a return into his life following an altercation provides drama, but almost from the outset you get the impression something is wrong. There is a nice film reference made which has relevance to anyone who has seen it providing an insight into the difficulties experienced but other elements feel a little copybook in nature. During moments of dramatic peril the audience investment is limited and whether that is because these story lines have been done before remains only one possibility.
At no point do we feel The Orville is under threat, that this new person represents a problem or that things will not be tied up neatly come the credits. For that reason episode ten succeeds in getting those underlying topics across with flair, but somehow the necessary character work fails to gel on a similar level. Gordon Mallory may be put in perilous situations but as an actor Grimes is not given enough to work with. You suspect that there is more than just the wisecracking helmsman persona, but sadly we never get beneath that thin veneer.