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Recap / The Orville S2 E12 "Sanctuary"

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Okay, this episode's really about a huge Reveal in Moclan society, but holy crap, everybody, it's Marina Sirtis!
The Orville takes on two Moclan passengers with mysterious cargo, the reveal of which leads to a discovery that nearly tears the Union apart.

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  • Absentee Actor: This is the first episode where John LeMarr is absent.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The colony has been granted independence from the Moclans, but they aren't formally recognized by the council and Heveena is forced to dismantle her underground network which rescues females. Nevertheless, Heveena praises it as a grand first step, and has faith that the revolution they started will go on.
  • Book-Ends: The episode begins with Topa shoving a girl in school. The episode ends with him getting along with the same girl.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: There are fair reasons raised for both sides of the debate as to whether the Union should recognise the Moclan colony - on one hand, it's morally the right thing to do, but on the other hand, it could be seen as the Union sticking its nose into others' business, and also annoyingly they might lose their source of weapons which, in the face of the Kaylon threat and prospect of the tenuous peace with the Krill dissolving, is not a good thing.
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  • The Bus Came Back: Heveena, who was last seen in the Season 1 episode "About a Girl", makes her return in this episode with an important role.
  • The Cameo: Quite a few besides the returns of Victor Garber, Kelly Hu and Ted Danson.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Admiral Halsey brings up the convenient "fact" that the nebula might screw up communications with the Orville, Mercer's initial reaction is an indignant comment that they have just upgraded the ship's communication systems before it dawns on him what Halsey is getting at. He admits he hasn't had much sleep.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: The general Moclan attitude towards the sanctuary colony, and the existence of female Moclans as a whole.
  • Gun Fu: During the climax, various characters use their guns as clubs when their opponents get too close to shoot.
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  • Halfway Plot Switch: It starts as a story about Bortus risking his position to cover up smuggling, but that quickly gives way to the discovery of the hidden planet, which becomes a huge controversy for the Union at large.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Topa has this problem thanks to Klyden's teachings, but Bortus manages to break him of it.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A Dolly Parton song from the 1980's becomes a rallying cry for female resistance against an oppressive male authority... which, considering the movie that particular song was written for, isn't too far wrong.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bortus comes as close as a Moclan can to this when he walks into the office to realize Topal has told Klyden who's told Mercer and Kelly about the Moclan infant.
    • This is Mercer's reaction when he realizes Heveena is about to quote Dolly Parton to the council.
  • Reality Ensues: The problems with allowing a One-Product Planet scenario to happen come to light in this episode, as the Union sourcing almost all of their weapon on Moclas means that the Moclans have the means to basically blackmail the entire rest of the Union. Mercer actually lampshades this but Admiral Ozawa shuts him up.
  • Realpolitik: The Union brass are reluctant to grant the colony autonomy because the Moclans are vehemently opposed to its existence and might leave the Union if it were to go through. As the primary weapons supplier of the Union at a time when the Kaylon threaten all organic life, this would present a serious security issue.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: What bothers Mercer is not so much that Bortus violated Moclan law, but that Bortus didn't tell him about it, not trusting what his reaction would be.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • When Klyden interrupts Bortus's meeting with Kelly, and Bortus notes that Klyden refused to acknowledge Kelly when approaching the table, which is a jumping off point for Bortus to absolutely tear into Klyden for his misogyny. And right in front of Kelly, his commanding officer!
    • Mercer gets one when he points out that Moclus leaving the Union to ally with the Krill would cause a problem in the near-future, when the Kaylons inevitably destroy their planet and the male-only portion of their species, while the "inferior" (in the males' eyes) female population may have a chance of being undiscovered, and becoming the only remaining "single-sex" portion of their species.
  • The Reveal: Bortus is as stunned as the rest of the group to discover that rather than being incredibly rare, female Moclans are quite commonly born every generation. The Moclan ruling council keeps it quiet for fear of ruining their culture. Heveena lampshades how "this will come as a shock to you."
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When the Moclans attempt to take the colony by force even though the council hasn't ruled on the matter, Admiral Halsey allows Mercer to let Grayson defend it. In turn, when the Moclan battlecruiser tractors her shuttle to prevent her from interfering, Talla fires on them to take out their tractors and let Grayson proceed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Moclans lied about the statistics that say that Moclan females are only born about once every 75 years. This is exactly like in "Equilibrium" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in how the Trill government lied in saying that only about one in a thousand Trill could be joined successfully when in fact nearly half of the population was capable of being joined.
    • Malloy flies the Orville into the nebula surrounding the planet in order to confuse the targeting sensors of the Moclan ship. This is similar to what the Enterprise does in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The firefight on the colony and the skirmish in orbit are set to Dolly Parton's "9 to 5".
  • When He Smiles: Bortus when he sees his son finally getting along with women.

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