September 28, 2017
I just got caught up on episode 3 of “The Orville”, subtitled “About A Girl”.
I was completely enthralled.
I was excited right off the bat: The flan crewman was back! He’s got a name! He could be a regular! He has a crush on the doctor? Hmm. That was unexpected. Now he’s gone. Come back!
His absence for the rest of the show was not a problem. This was such a meaty episode that I was happy to sink my teeth into it and watch the rest in a state of continuous joy and fascination.
The core of the story is the alien girl born at the end of Episode 2. I was at first concerned that the crew would have to go on the run, saving the girl from certain death.
However, the reality of the episode was much, much worse. The aliens were not planning to kill the girl quietly, but to surgically alter the girl into a male, to match the rest of the alien species.
They brought up multiple interesting points. I was surprised that they did not visit the Chinese regulation where they insist that a family has a limited number of children, resulting in a preference for male offspring, leading to various ethical failures in the treatment of female babies, even to the point of murdering them after they are born. Perhaps that discussion was too heavy for this show.
I was also wondering if they would discuss humans born with more than two chromosomes. That would have been an interesting parallel to a female born to a male-only species. I found myself wondering if the future will have altered children born with that difference to have only two chromosomes, leading to more normalized sexual characteristics, possibly leading to a more normalized growth period. Would such altered children be happier? Surely there would be studies. I found myself wishing I were a member of the crew, researching such studies, providing the command crew with detailed analysis of similar situations. However, that also may be too heavy and too real for this light-hearted show. On the other hand, it made me seriously think about serious issues. Isn’t that the most glorious calling for science fiction? Score for “The Orville”!
I am surprised that the doctor did not share a more… “universal” view of the Hippocratic Oath, which more closely respected the customs, sociology, and demands of alien species. Her reaction to the parents’ initial request struck me as exceptionally insensitive to alternate social constructs. Surely she has received more training than that. I was expecting her to call her own meeting with the captain and the family all together to discuss the whole situation in detail. Instead, the doctor outright denies the family’s request.
Similarly, I was surprised when the captain was similarly quick to refuse the family’s request. No consultations, no meetings, just a “No” answer. This was another point in the show where I expected them to pull together a meeting to discuss the situation. I found myself as dismayed as the parents.
It was entertaining, how the captain arranged to try to change the parents’ mind with a “girl power” boxing match, where the security officer knocks the officer parent right out of a hidden boxing ring. However, he is still not convinced, yelling that he will not allow them to dictate how he performs his parenting responsibilities. I liked how he continued to feel the hit long after that punch. We see him sitting in his quarters with a heat pack held over his head. Assuming that medicine is so much more advanced in that future, this suggests that the officer parent received some level of concussion. That would, in turn, make it hard to believe that the officer parent would be able to walk away from the fight. On the other hand, they were going to keep the boxing match a secret, since it involved striking fellow officers. In that case, the officer would pursue no medical attention. That’s the likeliest scenario. Still, he was hurt.
There were a number of jokes that I found hilarious, but appropriate. I was laughing out loud at least twice, probably three times. It was really funny, while still being very human.
The result of these continuous refusals for surgery for the alien baby daughter is that the parent officer demanded a ship from his home planet to take them aboard and perform the desired surgery. I was surprised that there was no discussion with higher command, and no punishment for working outside the chain of command. This quasi-military organization has a very hard time with maintaining discipline.
Immediately after the failed boxing match, the parent officer was visited by the two pilot officers, even while he was nursing his hurting head.
It was at this unofficial meeting that they reached through to the officer parent. They were drinking beer and watching one of those old stop-motion animation Christmas specials. It was the one where Santa realizes the utility of Rudolf’s glowing nose, and this inspires the officer parent to change his mind and realize that his offspring could grow up to be a great person, regardless of the child’s sex.
However, the civilian parent did not view the Christmas special at this time, and did not share the officer parent’s revelation, so now the two parents disagree on the future of their child’s sex, and the necessity for surgery.
The captain refuses to release the child to the alien vessel and agrees to accompany the alien vessel to the alien homeworld, to participate in a tribunal, to decide the fate of the child. The tribunal is fascinating and reveals an alien culture that is ripe for exploration in the show. I look forward to seeing more in future episodes. The results of the tribunal are at once both surprising and unsurprising.
The show ends well, and I was completely into it from start to finish. I loved it so much.