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Recap / The Orville S1 E01 "Old Wounds"

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Look, Ed, just... just don't fuck this up, okay?
Captain Ed Mercer is given command of the Orville, an exploratory vessel and his first command. This is his last chance to prove himself, after a year of poor performance in the aftermath of a divorce. On their way to their first mission, they stop to pick up Mercer's new first officer... his ex-wife, Commander Kelly Grayson.

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  • Armor Is Useless: The Krill troopers on the surface get gunned down left and right.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: "Papa Smurf". In addition to being a Rubber-Forehead Alien, he also squirts some kind of blue liquid from his face after being interrupted mid-coitus with Kelly. And then it turns out that he gives off pheromones that may have had Kelly Kissing Under the Influence.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The apparently merely interesting information that the genetically engineered redwoods can grow anywhere, even in space, becomes critically important to dealing with the Krill.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Orville is called in to protect a science facility that has developed technology capable of accelerating the flow of time. Before they explain, a banana is used in a demonstration, rotting in seconds. Ed and Kelly promptly tag team some snark until the explanation begins.
    Ed: So ... it's an anti-banana ray.
    Kelly: That's really interesting.
    Ed: We need no longer fear the banana.
    Kelly: Does it work on all fruit?
    Ed: What about salads?
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  • Cool vs. Awesome: Malloy's holo-program lets him dress as a samurai and fight an ogre.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage:
    • All things being equal, Ed Mercer wasn't exactly on the short list for command of a starship. But, as the admiral meeting with him admits, they have three thousand ships to staff and are in dire need of captains to command them, so he's getting a shot. In actuality, however, they wouldn't have brought him on if not for Kelly secretly pleading on his behalf.
    • Kelly also gets the chance to be his first officer because of this alleged shortage but also because her father is close friends with the Admiral.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: Heavily Downplayed on the "distant" part, but while Mercer is arguing with Kelly in his office, the camera cuts to The Bridge where everyone can hear the argument. Malloy's face clearly says "I Warned You".
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  • Drinking on Duty: Malloy has a beer while shuttling Mercer to the Orville. Mercer is not amused by this, especially when Malloy pretends to be a Drunk Driver and almost causes a crash.
  • Dull Surprise: When the Orville launches, Lamarr is too busy drinking a soda to look as awed as the other humans.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Isaac is introduced as the science and engineering officer. Future episodes have a separate Chief Engineer, Steve Newton who is later replaced by LaMarr.
    • Also, Alara had no eyebrows in this episode.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: First Ed and Kelly, then Malloy, and then everyone else on the Orville.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: A few sparks fly across The Bridge during the battle, but don't kill anyone.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Orville may not be as powerful or durable as a Krill destroyer, but she (almost) makes up for it by flying circles around the destroyer, allowing her to dodge more hits than she would have otherwise.
  • Funny Background Event: While Aronov is talking to Mercer on the viewscreen, his dog is busy licking his balls. Naturally, that's what Malloy and LaMarr focus on.
    LaMarr: You see that dog in the background lickin' its balls?
    Malloy: First thing I saw.
  • Genius Bonus: For anyone who knows what a tardigrade is.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Krill raiding party are all really lousy shots.
  • Impossible Pickle Jar: When Mercer can't open a heavy door, he asks Alara to "open this jar of pickles for me". She then uses her Super Strength to smash the door down.
    Mercer: (beat) I loosened it for you.
  • Inertial Damping: Averted on the shuttle, and to the benefit of our heroes when Mercer defeats a Krill stowaway by hitting the brakes. Because the Krill isn't wearing a seatbelt, he flies into the windshield.
  • It's All My Fault: After giving Mercer a damage report, Bortus says "I have failed you." Mercer reassures him that he did a good job.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Doctor Aronov extols the potential benefits of the quantum field manipulator, especially when it comes to feeding people with fast-growing crops and healing injuries in an instant.
  • The Mole: One of the scientists at the Epsilon station is in league with the Krill.
  • No OSHA Compliance: So the temporal field that hyper-ages things doesn't have anything to prevent people from, say, falling into the field?
  • No-Sell: The Orville's weapons don't inflict any damage to the Krill destroyer.
  • Not This One, That One: A variation - the admiral who gives Mercer command of the Orville tells him that if it hadn't been for the recent downturn in his job performance stemming from the divorce, he could've been given a heavy cruiser instead of a mid-level explorer. Fortunately, Mercer's too excited about being in space to care much about what kind of ship he commands.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Mercer gets shot in the shoulder, but after a bit of griping, shrugs it off.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kelly, when Mercer catches her in bed with a blue alien.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Apparently, Arbor Day is a holiday not practiced by the majority of the quadrant.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Mercer gives one to the Krill captain moments before the time-acceleration device activates and grows a redwood tree in moments, breaking the Krill destroyer in two: "Happy Arbor Day." Subverted in that most of the bridge crew have no idea what he meant. Kelly tells him what she would've said, and even he has to admit that would've been better.
  • Rapid Aging: The inventor of the quantum field technology is pushed into her own device, aging her 100 years in 10 seconds. This kills her, of course.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Ed when he's informed that Kelly is being assigned to his ship, which is stretched over several scenes as he sprints to his office.
  • The Reveal: The final scene reveals it was Kelly who pressed for Ed to get command of the ship, thinking he needed encouragement to get out of his funk.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted, as Mercer takes a moment to comment that 3,000 ships exploring a quadrant of the galaxy really isn't that many when you think about it.
  • Shout-Out: "Papa Smurf"
  • Starfish Alien: Finn mistakes a fish-like scientist for one of the facility's experiments until she's corrected.
  • That's an Order!: Mercer tries this when Gordon is deliberately flying the shuttle erratically, saying "I am literally ordering you to stop." It doesn't work (a near-collision seconds later does the trick, though.)
  • Trojan Horse: The crew rigs the quantum field manipulator to immediately accelerate time by 100 years when the Krill activate it, having glued a modified redwood seed to the emitter. Cue a redwood sapling splitting the Krill Destroyer in half.
  • We Need a Distraction: In order to buy some time for Isaac to get the engines working, Ed and Kelly start arguing with the Krill commander about their failed marriage. It works for a bit, but he loses patience and fires a warning shot to get them back on task, forcing them to come up with an alternate plan.
  • Working with the Ex: Captain Mercer is unhappy to learn that his new first officer is none other than his ex-wife. While they tend to bicker, they also agree to put aside their differences as best they can. For the most part, they tend to work well together.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Kelly with "Papa Smurf" in the prologue.
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