Martin Carr reviews the seventh episode of The Orville…
Written by Seth MacFarlane this episode has more in common with Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror than anything else. Referencing ‘Nosedive’ from season three The Orville passes comment on our smartphone driven way of life, without lessening the impact with levity. Taking a cue from the feature film documentary Catfish MacFarlane grabs elements of these influences and expands on their initial premise.
Using a thinly plotted rescue mission as their jumping off point, most of ‘Majority Rule’ focuses on the consequences of a society shaped, ruled and led without any form of segregated government. Answering questions on religion, shopping habits and the ability of people to operate in a construct completely decided by public opinion. MacFarlane is quick to illustrate the double-edged sword of uploaded videos for entertainment, where their purpose is for something far more sinister. This is a satirist using storyline to forewarn those with self-awareness of our proximity to this final evolutionary step.
Touching on the intentional fabrication of image, history and what people choose to do with this form of media is not only relevant, topical and savage in its depiction but remains entertaining. Elements of American Idol and afternoon chat shows with an interactive element are all employed for his purposes. It lacks the darker endings of Brooker’s Black Mirror but MacFarlane’s expansion of the premise more than makes up for it.
There is minimal humour and the interactions between Mercer and his remaining crew are focused primarily on helping their stranded colleagues. As for Kelly, Alara, Clare and LeMarr this expedition gives them moments away from The Orville, but ultimately are employed as a means to further MacFarlane’s agenda. However ‘Majority Rule’ is still solid on character interaction, familiarity and off-hand one liners so a balance is struck.
More than anything this episode illustrates social reliance on other people. MacFarlane suggests that individual opinion unsullied by peer pressure or social agenda is fast becoming obsolete. People are increasingly lead by their desire to keep up with the Joneses, use social media for frivolous things which they deem important or trivialise world issues. Everyone deserves a voice and by extension must be heard, but recognised methods of rule are imperative unless we want it to devolve into a technological mob rule. That the solution to the plotline is found through a direct contravention of this established rule completes the satirist circle that MacFarlane begins with. Sharply observed yet sold as entertainment with a satirical edge, The Orville proves once again how sci-fi can challenge conventional thinking and say something important.