If The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 2 was meant to be a take on the Alien/Aliens horror film franchise, I can’t help but feel it fell a little short.
I’ll own the jumpscares were effective, but the tension build was undercut by the number of scene shifts to the various spaces where different crew members were deployed.
However, as an introduction to a new alien threat, it is an excellent start to a potentially terrifying conflict in the future.
Dr. Finn’s visible apprehension regarding Admiral Christie’s presence on the ship initially led me to the erroneous assumption that they had some violent sexual encounter in the past.
And while I’m glad that Dr. Finn doesn’t identify as the trope of violated ingenue, part of me wonders about the power dynamic between a professor and his university student.
While Christie’s affection for her seems genuine, and her talk with Grayson reveals that she doesn’t harbor resentment towards him, there is something to the fact she recognizes that he only stayed in the relationship as long as he ranked higher than she did.
Dr. Finn: There’s a line from a very old book I once read. ‘It is only with greatest care that memory can be kept from becoming a prison or a gallows.’
Grayson: I’d go along with that.
I appreciate that Dr. Finn is confident enough to articulate her feelings on the matter clearly to Christie, leaving him no doubt as to where she stands on their relationship.
I also respect that Christie doesn’t push in on Marcus and Ty when he learns about them.
His talk with Isaac is probably my favorite scene. The only thing that could’ve made it better is if Yaphit threw in his two cents on his infatuation and pheromone-fueled encounter with the doctor.
Mind you, that might’ve lowered the tone of the discussion to locker room banter.
While I know Marcus and Ty’s escapade serves the purpose of putting eyes on the spider-alien, I can’t help but be distracted by the fact Ty ALWAYS behaves more maturely than Marcus.
Love them both to bits, but Marcus needs to be something besides the impulsive, emotional teen.
Christie: We are explorers. So, if it’s all the same to you, we’d like to see for ourselves what’s out there.
Krill Negotiator: We will not stop you. But do not expect us to save you.
The spider-aliens (for lack of a better term) take their lead from Ridley Scott’s Alien on a lot of parallel fronts.
Instead of a face-hugger, we have the atomized puff of bacterial spore. Instead of a chest-buster, the spores rewrite the host’s DNA to change them into a new spider-alien.
The detail that I missed the first time through was the pile of clothes Nurse Park found. Until the spider-alien in the mess hall sprayed Lt. Woodson, and he transformed, I thought Christie was the only spider-alien roaming the ship.
Poor Woodson. Poor Park. The extraneous crew members take a real hit here.
On that topic, a quick aside: crew utilization made me blink a couple of times this go-round.
Does anyone know why they recruited Chief Engineer LaMarr to pilot the shuttle to the alien outpost when they have Malloy, the ship’s actual pilot, as well as she-sees-in-four-dimensions helmsperson Burke who, as an ensign, is a weird addition to the senior crew briefing table?
Talla kicking the spider-alien butts is a fantastic fight scene, even with the odd little moments of accelerated action.
Meanwhile, my adrenaline peaked with LaMarr’s escape from the spider-alien in the conduits. I was actually pretty concerned for his survival.
Mercer: Visions of horror always have mortal origins. If there is something out there, it’s not supernatural.
Grayson: Could still be dangerous.
Mercer: Exploration always carries risk.
Giving in to the temptation to be meta is what breaks the conviction of the horror bent for me.
Commenting on how the scenario echoes classic horror tropes when discussing the Krill’s warning with Admiral Halsey just put it too on the nose.
But, if you disregard the hard run they take at shaping a horror narrative, there are a lot of solid elements to carry forward.
The one that I’m most intrigued by is how the spider-alien treated Isaac. With the Kaylon being the major threat to the known species up until now, what happens when the two species meet?
What does a species that requires an organic host to propagate do when encountering a wholly inorganic species that believes all organic life should be eradicated?
You always had the heart of an explorer. It was only a matter of time before you left the university for the universe.
Now that Christie is a spider-alien capable of communicating with the collective, how much of his knowledge of space do the spider-aliens gain?
Is it like a Borg assimilation? Will they now be driven or convinced by Christie to explore beyond the limits of the K’Lar Expanse?
Will the Krill ever allow the Planetary Union passage through their territory again if it turns out their first incursion has stirred up the proverbial wasp nest?
The outpost itself is a marvelous invention of alien function and aesthetic. I loved how it even looks like a spider.
As with The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 1, the VFX continues to impress beyond the superlative.
To nitpick a little at the science (but only a little bit), Dr. Finn’s counter to the spider-alien parasite epidemic is to take advantage of the hosts’ beaten-down immune systems.
I would guess that only works if their immune system works like a human’s. Who knows how other species’ immunity works or if they’d even be susceptible to a synthetic virus?
One last plot question: Does anyone know how the spider-aliens got from The Orville to their ship? Did Mercer give them a shuttle?
How did this foray into new territory — figuratively and literally — play out for you, Fanatics?
All hands. This is the Captain. We’re about to enter unexplored space. I know you all are just as excited as I am and I know you’re all going to do your best. So, let’s give this everything we’ve got, and may the Force be with you.
Hit our comments with your kudos and critiques!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.