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Recap / The Orville S1E10 "Firestorm"

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Your bad day at work has nothing on Alara's bad day at work.
When a crewman's death sends her into a spiral of crippling self-doubt, Alara fears she's losing her mind. But the madness may be affecting the whole ship.


  • Action Girl: Alara, especially in the final third of the episode.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mercer says that Directive 38 is meant for situations where the captain is compromised, such as alien influence or extreme drunkenness.
  • Bookends: To "Command Performance" in at least two ways:
    • Both episodes deal with Alara experiencing a crisis of confidence and proving to herself that she's a capable officer.
    • Both episodes have scenes in which a crewmember (Ed previously, Alara now) having awkward and embarrassing conversations with their parents via viewscreen.
  • Continuity Nod: Claire is afraid of heights.
  • Cosmic Horror: While in the brig, Claire starts monologuing about the emptiness of space and the unfathomable horrors that exist between the stars. H. P. Lovecraft would probably approve.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Alara freezes up when she sees the fire in engineering, preventing her from reaching Payne in time.
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  • Determinator: Ed remarks in the end that Alara made it through every challenge and obstacle without cracking or failing.
  • Duel to the Death: Malloy, LaMarr, and Bortus are apparently planning to do a Hamilton/Burr reenactment in the simulator given their pistols and style of dress. It's used as a gag.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Isaac's voice grows menacingly deeper, with traces of Voice of the Legion, when he's revealed to be the villain.
  • Face Your Fears: The main focus of the episode.
  • Failsafe Failure: Zigzagged. When Ed says no one got hurt by Alara's simulation, he is actually incorrect as Alara ends the simulation physically injured, albeit just cuts and bruises that are healed off-screen before the next scene. Since the simulation was intended to be as real as possible - and knowing (as established in previous episodes) that Dr. Finn has technology capable of instantly healing even gunshot wounds - it's technically not a "failure."
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  • Gallows Humor: Newton says that Lt. Payne's last name was appropriate since he probably died in considerable pain, then immediately notes Payne would have appreciated the joke before anyone says it's in bad taste.
  • Giant Spider: After the swarm of smaller spiders, a really large one chases Alara and Gordon through the ship, eventually catching and eating Gordon.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: Alara experiences this after failing to save the crewmember and, technically, the entire episode is about how she "reboots" from the BSOD.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Inverted. Although it initially seems as if Alara is trapped within a holodeck simulation gone mad, it ends up this was her decision.
  • Humans Are Morons: Alara's people have this view of humans, calling them "hillbillies."
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When they're the only two left on the ship, Alara tells Isaac that she saw Gordon die. He expresses sympathy and suggests they keep an eye out for the creature which killed him. Alara notes that she never said what killed him, causing Isaac to reveal himself as the villain. It doesn't fully make sense as the entire ship would have been aware of weird situations, and the potential culprit being some kind of alien lifeform.
  • In Medias Res: The episode begins with the Orville trapped in a lightning storm.
  • Irony: The heavyworlder species known for their strength is actually a society of intellectuals that disdain the military and consider humans "hillbillies." Although Alara has distinguished herself by rising to the rank of Lieutenant at the age of 23, her parents make little effort to hide their disappointment that she didn't finish her education on Xelaya.
  • Irrevocable Order: Alara invokes Directive 38 — a security emergency in case the captain is compromised — so Isaac will be compelled to run the simulation to its conclusion even if Mercer tries to have it shut down.
  • Killed Off for Real: Averted with Nurse Park and Gordon inside the simulation, but Payne is still dead at the end of the episode.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Alara has Claire wipe her short-term memory before the simulation so she won't know it's fake and will act accordingly, thereby letting her determine whether she'll be able to overcome her fears in a real emergency.
  • Mad Doctor: Doctor Finn tries to eviscerate Alara after restraining her for some unapproved "surgery". Taken Up to Eleven when Finn is later interrogated.
  • Magical Security Cam: Averted. When the crew examines footage of the clown running at Alara, the image angle is from where one would expect a security camera to be located, and the actual act of the clown running into Alara isn't even captured.
  • Meaningful Name: While delivering the eulogy, Newton jokingly notes that Lt Payne died painfully but quickly points out he was the type of person who would find that funny.
  • Monster Clown: Alara faces a clown that has jagged teeth and Super Strength.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • After Alara's mother explains the home fire which gave Alara a subconscious fear of fire, her father chimes in to ask if he's gotten fatter.
    • Gordon and Ed's bizarro warning about watching out for pies and seltzer bottles seems at odds with the seriousness of the situation and comes between two very tense sequences.
  • No Antagonist: The only true "villain" is Alara's lack of self-confidence. Everything else is just a simulation.
  • No-Sell: The giant spider is immune to energy weapons.
  • No Sympathy: Alara's parents are very unsupportive of her when she turns to them for advice regarding her fear of fire.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome:
    • Bortus vs. the alligator. He crushed it with a chair.
    • Alara's demand to be allowed to undergo the simulation (including a second resignation threat), followed by her invoking Directive 38 with Isaac and convincing Claire to mindwipe her, are described but we never see the actual events.
  • Proscenium Reveal: As Alara is running for the shuttlebay to escape the soon-to-be-destroyed Orville, the camera pulls back to reveal that she's in a simulation being monitored by Isaac, Mercer, Kelly, and Claire.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Mercer struggles to write a condolence letter for a crewmember he barely knew; even the most conscientious commanding officer can't be expected to know the intimate details of everyone in his or her charge.
    • The simulator is revealed to work on a treadmill principle, explaining how Alara can be roaming around the ship while remaining inside a relatively small chamber.
    • Alara gets thrown around and attacked inside the simulator, and sports actual (if minor) physical injury when the program ends.
    • Although it's treated as a joke, having a rule prohibiting someone from having bare feet in the engine room isn't an unreasonable regulation, especially given that Directive 38 was apparently, in part, created to address the possibility of inebriated commanding officers.
    • At the same time, however, averted with regards to Directive 38 being an order that cannot be rescinded by anyone; in reality some level of authority (if not the commanding officer, then definitely the chief medical officer or the security chief or officer filling the role, or failing that someone of higher command such as an admiral) would exist to countermand the order, especially if it unnecessarily endangered the ship or the crew member. Though if the order really CAN'T be rescinded, this would explain why, as Mercer states, an officer using Directive 38 in error would be cashiered from Union service.
    • It could stand to reason that there would not be a countermeasure for this specific scenario since Directive 38 was never meant to be used for this kind of situation.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Isaac's eyes turn red when he's threatening Alara.
  • Red Shirt: Despite being an homage to Star Trek, the episode actually averts this trope when dealing with the death of Payne. It quickly becomes obvious that the Orville handles the death a crew member differently as Payne receives a funeral, a eulogy from his immediate superior, and we see Captain Mercer struggling to write a proper condolence letter due to barely knowing the man. Furthermore, Alara is unable to shrug off his death which sets off a growing spiral of self-doubt that drives the episode and leads to a substantial moment of character development for her.
  • Robotic Psychopath: Isaac turns into an Ax-Crazy killer robot in Alara's simulation.
  • Shackle Seat Trap: When Claire has Alara lie down on an examination table for a neurological scan, automatic restraints pop out of it and tie her down. In this case, she's astonished that she can't break loose, until Claire claims she had the restraints upgraded specifically to overcome Alara's Super Strength.
  • Shout-Out: Alara stripping down to her T-shirt and hoisting a laser rifle invokes Ripley's endgame mode in Aliens.
    • The concept of Alara engaging in a hyper-real simulation (real enough that she suffers actual physical injury from it) - and her inability to leave the program - recall countless holodeck storylines in the Star Trek franchise.
    • The episode aired not long after the release of It (2017), a film featuring an evil clown, and when Alara first encounters the clown, he superficially resembles Pennywise.
  • Space Clouds: The Orville travels through an intense plasma storm that causes severe damage to Engineering, leading to the death of a crewmember.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Especially a room full of them, or one really big one.
  • Swallowed Whole: The Giant Spider swallows Gordon from head to boots in a couple seconds, then runs off before Alara can do anything about it.
  • Trauma Button: Seeing a fire causes Alara to freeze up while trying to rescue Lt. Payne in Engineering, before Newton manages to snap her out of it. The wait is long enough for a second piece of bulkhead to fall and crush Payne, killing him.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Alara inflicts this upon herself by way of Issac's simulator program in order to detect any other fears she may have. Although she determines there aren't any others, she still isn't having a fun time, witnessing the apparent deaths of several friends and the insanity of another, not to mention getting banged up, before the program ends.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: Shortly after Gordon's death, Alara finds herself seemingly the last crew member on ship.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Played with in that the simulation uses various fears to test Alara, but only one fear is actually hers. Isaac takes suggestions from other crew members in what frightens them and programs it into the simulation, but they never have to face their own phobias.
    • Alara has a fear of fire.
    • LaMarr has a fear of clowns.
    • Gordon has a fear of surgery.
    • Claire has a fear of heights.
    • Kelly has a fear of isolation.
    • Mercer has a fear of spiders.
    • Bortus fears being conquered by a superior foe.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mercer calls out Alara for invoking Directive 38 in order to prevent him from calling off the simulation, pointing out that A) She worried the entire crew and B) Directive 38 is only to be used in serious emergencies. He notes that he could have her court-martialed, but elects not to since no one got hurt (although Alara did receive light injuries herself).
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Ed helping Alara firstly by refusing her resignation then giving her some sage advice for her situation.
    Captain Mercer: If I was being rushed by an angry Moclan who wanted to kill me, the one person I would want between him and me, is you. I do not accept your resignation... You are still my Chief of Security. I don't want anyone else.
    • Inverted by Alara's parents who call her intellectually inferior.


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