Martin Carr reviews the tenth episode of The Orville…
With more twists and turns than a Kubrick hedge maze The Orville delivers, surprises, engages and entertains without once dropping the ball. ‘Firestorm’ is by turns inventive, emotive and laced with subtle moments of humour which break things up without detracting from the overall structure. Every cast member gets their moment in the sun and episode ten punches in at just under forty-five minutes.
Driven primarily by Alara and given flesh by everyone else ‘Firestorm’ feels like copybook stuff before deviating and expanding on the simple premise. Humour is more hit and miss in this scenario which is why MacFarlane has chosen once again to be sparing in its application. J Lee and Bortus get the one liners which are delivered with timing and subtlety, allowing them to be effective without draining moments of drama.
‘Firestorm’ is an effects heavy plot reliant on some mean and creepy visuals but the execution, even when faced with the impossible remains exemplary. Our main protagonists continue to convince as crew and captain, while Isaac especially gets his character arc expanded. Both emotionally and dramatically structured with some subtle audience sleight of hand, ‘Firestorm’ shows maturity, restraint and contains an in-joke of delicate savagery. Playing with recent cinematic preoccupations and tapping into primordial fears, The Orville genuinely frightens, pays homage and expands its universe simultaneously.
Breaking with a long-held science fiction tradition it uses an overly emotional reaction to current events as a jumping off point for dramatic purposes. This setup feels stretched and endangers other elements from gaining momentum, but thankfully soon kicks up a gear. This ‘Twilight Zone’ segue throws everything into question allowing conventional characterisation off the chain. Doctor Finn and Isaac are the ones most radically affected and also coincidentally those most successful at creeping you out. James Cameron throwbacks abound in the final reel adding yet another layer to an already combustible mix.
With only three episodes left in this season The Orville has successfully lodged itself in the public consciousness giving us a fresh take on an old formula. Sassy, savvy, respectful yet unique it has remained consistent and provided MacFarlane with another burgeoning success to build on. As of yesterday Peter Griffin and family adorned the side of a building over at FOX. This is no Banksy effort with socio-political overtones, but a forty-foot Peter Griffin which speaks volumes about the creator. The Orville merely demonstrates that he is far from finished with having walls dedicated to his creativity.