How Designers Achieved the Sci-Fi Sound Magic of ‘The Orville’The Orville Brings a Much Better Trailer to SDCC Stay on target The Orville has had its ups and downs over the course of its first season, but it seems to have its mix of comedy and sci-fi drama figured out. Though some episodes are still on the weak side, it’s consistently followed them up with something great. Something that follows through on the promise of this show. It’s a real good time to be a Star Trek fan. Not only is there an official modern Star Trek show this season, we also got a loving tribute to the Trek of old. This week, The Orville once again riffs on a classic Trek episode formula and puts a new spin on it. It led to a fun, character-driven mystery with some fantastic scares.Once again, The Orville succeeds by focusing on character. That’s the show’s biggest strength. Somewhere in the process of creating characters that mock sci-fi tropes and casual bro-y guys in space, the show ended up some interesting characters we actually care about. The sci-fi concepts the show deals with are OK, but when the story revolves around how an individual character reacts to those big concepts, that’s when The Orville really shines.Halston Sage, Adrianne Palicki, Seth MacFarlane and Peter Macon (Cr: Michael Becker/FOX)This week was all about Alara, giving the incredibly strong character a chance to show some vulnerability and growth. It starts with the ship flying too close to a storm in space and taking heavy damage. Down in engineering, a beam falls on a crewmember, and Alara is needed to lift it off of him. Once she gets there, she’s scared by a sudden fire and freezes in place for a second. That hesitation causes another beam to fall, killing the crewmember. Despite the autopsy revealing fatal injuries from the first beam, and her superiors’ reassurance that she would have only gotten herself hurt by rushing in faster, she blames herself for the engineer’s death. She’s taking out her frustrations in a holodeck, sorry, simulation room version of a boxing gym. It doesn’t look like the healthiest way to deal with her emotions.Right away, it’s a much more serious episode than we’re used to from The Orville. The show handles it very well. What few jokes there are come as natural and needed bits of comic relief. They’re the kind of jokes people would actually make during a moment of loss. Even Ed’s struggle with how to write a letter to the guy’s parents, considering he didn’t really know him that well, is a nice and honest character moment. “I’m not making that up, he was a neat guy!”Robert Picardo, Molly Hagan (Photo: Screenshot via FOX)Alara calls her parents to try and figure out why she froze, and we get our first Star Trek cameo of the series. With all the celebrity guests and one episode directed by a Star Trek alumnus, it’s surprising that it took this long for a Star Trek actor to show up. Maybe The Orville wanted to establish itself as its own thing before reminding us too much of its inspiration. In any case, Alara’s father is played by Robert Picardo! You know, the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager. He only gets this one scene, but it’s cool nonetheless. Man, I really need to watch Voyager again. Anyway, Alara learns that when she was a baby, she and her mother barely escaped a fire. They might not have if Alara’s cries hadn’t woken her mother up. Alara wonders if there are any other repressed traumas her parents have kept from her, and they insist there aren’t.The rest of the episode goes off in a very strange direction, but The Orville miraculously pulls it off. Alara sees a scary clown in the hall that attacks her and runs off. When she chases it, it disappears. At first, she thinks she’s going crazy and is unfit for duty, but Isaac checks the ship’s security cameras, and sure enough, there was a clown in the hallway. From that point on, the ship experiences horror after horror. The clown comes back and it’s easily the scariest clown on TV this year. (Heavy side-eye towards American Horror Story.) Alara and Kelly almost fall to their deaths in a bottomless pit. Doctor Finn goes insane, straps Alara down and tries to dissect her. If all that wasn’t enough, there are spiders everywhere, including a giant one that eats Malloy. I can’t get over how effectively scary this all was. It’s not something you expect from this show, but they really nailed it.Penny Johnson Jerald and Halston Sage (Cr: Michael Becker/FOX)Once Malloy dies, Alara finds herself alone on a suddenly empty Orville. Well, almost alone. Isaac is also there, but he’s gone rogue and is trying to kill her. By now, you’ve probably figured out that none of this is actually happening. It’s all in the Simulation Room. That’s right, The Orville gave us a holodeck episode. Normally, I’d be mad about the “it was all a dream” storytelling, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Holodeck episodes. They were always some of my favorites on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The Orville gave us a really good one. I also appreciate that bit of foreshadowing early on with the boxing gym. This was just a really well put together episode overall. Once Alara completes the simulation, forcing herself to fly an escape pod through fire and conquering her deep-seated fear, we learn exactly what happened. She collected a list of everyone’s greatest fear and had Isaac program a simulation where she’d have to face all of them. She also had Dr. Finn erase her memory so the simulation would seem real to her. That was a smart move on the show’s part. That makes it so it doesn’t matter if it was all a simulation. It was real to Alara, which made it real to us.This is the kind of episode I want from The Orville. It’s classic Star Trek fun all the way, but the show’s characters give it a unique perspective. As ridiculous as the premise is on its face, it makes complete sense because it’s all motivated by Alara. The fact that it’s a simulation even excuses some of the strange leaps of logic Ed displays in the episode. Thinking you might be insane means you’re probably not insane? I don’t think that’s how that works. But it doesn’t matter because it’s a simulation. It wasn’t really Ed saying that, it was the program convincing Alara to keep playing. Even though I wasn’t a fan of last week’s episode, this one proved that The Orville really has found its voice. It’s found what makes it unique and is capable of producing thoroughly enjoyable television. I’m actually sad there are only two episodes left in the season now. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.