FOX's The Orville's "All the World is Birthday Cake" provided an example of what blind faith can do to a world while also serving as an important commentary on our own. In this week's episode, the crew lands on a planet to make first contact with a species that just figured out how to communicate outward into space.
While Star Trek's Prime Directive allows the Federation to make first contact to a world when they discover warp drive, the Planetary Union on The Orville requires the world to just send a message as a form of engagement before a visit.
Joining the senior staff is the new chief of security, Lt. Talla Keylai (Jessica Szohr), who is Xelayan like Alara. Talla appears to be more resolute and no-nonsense than her predecessor–thankfully Seth MacFarlane knows better than to just give her Alara's traits.
Things started cordial enough with the Regorians until Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) reveals her and Bortus' (Peter Macon) birthday is nearing. In response, the Prefect (John Rubinstein) declares them "Gilliacs" and imprisons them, banishing the rest of the crew for bringing them to their planet.
Confused, Mercer (MacFarlane) and the remaining senior staff attempt to understand what went wrong in order to rescue Grayson and Bortus from an uncertain fate.
Directed by Star Trek: Voyager alum Robert Duncan McNeill and written by MacFarlane, the episode masterfully depicts what xenophobia does to a civilization, especially as the crew (and audience) discover what it is that makes the Regorians act as they do against the "Gilliacs."
As attempts are made to figure out what makes one a "Gilliac," the show reminds us that whatever traits a person has–whether it's physical or emotional–they can't help or control who and what they are. There's no doubt the detainment of the "Gilliacs" into internment camps reflects the contemporary bigotry against non-naturalized immigrants and serves as a striking reminder that this country's history with prejudice and racism started a long, long time ago.
This episode was a perfect example of what the show can really offer: keeping itself focused on such a heavy subject matter while not allowing itself to get side-lined by side-storylines or comedic distractions. Strong performances by MacFarlane, Palicki, and a fiercely intimidating Rubinstein. While it's a low key guest-starring role, The Good Place's Ted Danson made the most of his screen time as Admiral Perry. While it could have been filled by another older actor, it speaks volumes about the show's popularity when high-profile names like Danson want to appear as the show begins hitting its stride, and this episode definitely represented some of the best The Orville can offer.
The Orville s02e06 'A Happy Refrain': The Orville crew is surprised when Claire's personal life takes an unexpected turn, and Gordon makes an unusual grooming suggestion to Bortus