The Orville: Command Performance

Friday January 12th 2018

Written by: Lily Le (Moon)
Featured image by: Lily Le (Moon)
Episode number: S01E02
Episode airdate: September 17, 2017

** Contain spoiler **

The conversation between Captain Ed Mercer and Officer Bortus at the beginning is a clever introduction to what this episode is about: Diversity and leadership.


The vast differences between species are hilariously portrayed through the reference of pop culture from Earth, as well as the gestation process of the Morcan race. During their conversation, Bortus cannot seem to understand the idea of admiring a fictional figure, just like Mercer who finds the single-gender egg-laying process extremely humorous. This shows how little each species understand about each other culturally and biologically, no matter how much they think they do. What seems ordinary to one may feel weird and even alien to others.

However, even with these major differences, these species still accepts and values each other’s uniqueness, and collaborate together as a team, striving towards the same goals. This I truly believe is the most beautiful thing. Therefore, a great lesson to be learned here is to embrace the value of diversity in a team.

Mercer’s explanation of why he admires Kermit the Frog is also a great lead to the second topic of the episode.


This episode communicated that in order to truly understand ourselves and our potential, we have to be thrown into uncomfortable situations, and go through trials and errors.

Originally, the position of officer Alara Kitan (24 year old Lieutenant, Chief of Security) in the Orville ship was rather routine-oriented. With Captain Mercer and First Officer Kelly Grayson kidnapped and transported to a Calivon zoo, and officer Bortus taking a leave of absence to.. sit on his egg, Kitan is unexpectedly thrust as the chief commanding officer in a time of extreme crisis. Young, inexperienced and unprepared, this situation obviously leaves her extremely terrified. There is a lesson conveyed here: in life, sometimes shit happens when we are the least ready. What matters is how we choose to deal with it, which may lead to either a disaster or an opportunity for growth. Here, I really love the transition of Kitan’s character. From remaining isolated and reaching for alcohol to calm her nerves, letting her ego control her decisions (due to fear of being disrespected by the crew), to finally opening up and asking for help from someone she respects, and in this case, Dr Claire Finn. This provides a lesson to seek help from your team rather than having a silo mentality.

Shortly after Kitan’s first order, which blew up part of the ship, she begs Dr Finn to relieve her of duty. However, Dr Finn refuses to do so and instead encourages her to continue. When the crew discover that Mercer and Grayson are imprisoned as zoo attractions on the powerful Calivon planet, Kitan is now left with two choices: adhere to the instructions of her admiral and head back home, or disobey and attempt a rescue mission, putting the ship and crew in danger. Inspired by advice given from Dr Finn, Kitan listens to her heart and takes the risky road and successfully rescues her crewmates.

“Command is all about the balance between inspiring confidence in your leadership and knowing when to trust your people.” – Finn

Dr Finn is a great example of a mentor – someone who inspires confidence and helps by giving honest advice along the way, while not directing on what to do.

Kitan: Will you help me?

Finn: I’m not going to whisper the right answers in your ear but I’ll try to be your Obi-Wan however I can.

Kitan: My what?

The unexpected reference of a Star Wars mentor character makes me giggle a bit. Also, the idea of using Earth’s reality shows as the trade item towards the ending is just simply brilliant and funny.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The show seems to be striving towards classic Star Trek series full of moral lessons. I am truly hopeful that it will only get better from here.


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