Show name: The Orville
Episode Title: “Cupid’s Dagger”
Episode No.: 9
Air Date: November 9, 2017
The Orville has been tasked with hosting two rival factions in an interplanetary conflict, both of whom lay claim to a planet. An archaeological find, whose provenance will be arbitrated by the Union, will determine who owns the planet. The forensic archaeologist who needs to sort out the conflict is none other than Darulio (Rob Lowe). The Retepsian with whom Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) cheated on Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) in the pilot “Old Wounds.”
Quickly, however, it seems that something strange is happening aboard the Orville, hormones begin raging and people who are normally antagonistic toward one another begin throwing themselves at each other. This interferes with the peace talks, hurling the delicate situation into chaos.
What does all this mean for The Orville?
Obviously, the parallels of conflict are set up here. There’s both a planetary conflict and a personal one – each hinging on the other. On one hand, this is another in a line of many steps toward Ed and Kelly getting back together. Which I appreciate and believe is inevitable. On the other hand, this episode is an interesting dissection of love and attraction, though it’s not as deep as I believe they want it to be.
I remember, back in university, I’d meet those people (everyone knew at least one of these people) who would just ruminate on either love or weed, and pontificate about the incredible all-healing power of both. “Why can’t everyone just love one another?” they’d ask while cranking up some “Imagine” by John Lennon. While this episode espouses the same sentiment on the surface – the two factions find peace with one another because of Darulio’s pheromones that lead to their attraction. I appreciate that they don’t allow the solution to be so simple. Infatuation is one thing; love is another beast entirely. As the newly-infatuated envoys depart, averting a war, Kelly muses that, after the pheromones wear off, “the ambassadors will remember that they hate each other.” Something deeper needs to take the place of attraction.
Star Trek References
The setup of this story feels very much like the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Lonely Among Us,” in which two warring races are brought aboard the Enterprise for a peace conference, when things begin to go terribly wrong, but with a healthy dose of “Manhunt,” in which Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) pursues a husband during a diplomatic mission.
Random Thoughts on “Cupid’s Dagger”
I had no idea that Rob Lowe played Darulio in the pilot. Through the haze of an opening scene and a lot of blue goo, making him the first in the secretly-placed A-list guest stars this series boasts. I’m an avid West Wing and Parks and Recreation fan, so I was very nearly giddy when Lowe makes his appearance here. Rob Lowe is just the perfect person for Darulio –he’s earnest and so Rob Lowe. Plus, it’s entirely believable that people would just fawn all over him.
“Did you hear what he said? I’m ‘entitled to my feelings and the space to express them.’ My God, thank you for lighting me on fire and then giving me permission to be in pain.”
– Ed Mercer on his hatred for Darulio.
“I don’t need anything explained, you’re a sexual jihadist.”
– Ed Mercer after finding Kelly back in bed with Darulio.
Each episode increasingly impresses me with its visual effects, which weren’t quite there in the opening few outings. Now, even simple shots of the Orville gliding over a planet are stunning.
We open on Kelly Grayson doing karaoke (singing “Any Way You Want It”). Followed by the biggest unfulfilled tantalization: Bortus (Peter Macon) is about to sing “My Heart Will Go On” before being interrupted by a transmission from an Admiral (Victor Garber). Ed actually asks, “Is this happening?” Sadly, no. Bortus’ song will not go on; nor will our hearts.
Definitely! While this isn’t the strongest episode yet–there aren’t many flaws, per se, just not as deep a story as they hope it is–I’m still on board. Between developing their side-characters or upping the visual ante, The Orville just keeps putting out strong showings, getting subtly better each week. With the crew of the Discovery getting a second season order, I’m hoping to hear the same for the Orville crew very soon, and I’ll be happy to continue watching and covering it here.
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