The Orville episode “Pria” opens on the bridge. The crew watches an episode of Seinfeld projected on the window. While the humans are having a heck of a good time, the non-humans don’t get it. As the crew attempts to explain the concept of humor to Isaac (Mark Jackson), an alarm sounds, interrupting the moment.
It seems a crashed vessel is nearby. To make matters worse, the ship is trapped on the surface of a comet. Furthermore, the rock is locked in a kamikaze death spiral towards the surface of a nearby sun. Luckily, the Orville is able to make contact. While the footage is shaky, the captain, Pria Lavesque (Charlize Theron), manages to make one thing clear. She’s in trouble.
It seems her only chance for rescue is for the crew to pilot a landing shuttle to her trapped ship. However, they only have seven minutes to conduct a rescue. After that point, the comet will be too close to the sun. Luckily, they manage to escape with 11 seconds to spare. There’s a tense moment as the star’s gravitational pull seems to have them trapped. Thanks to some quick thinking from the bridge (and The Orville’s tractor beam), the crew manages to pull the shuttle to safety.
Returning to the Orville, the crew assigns Pria a place to stay (the one that doesn’t smell like hamster). There’s enough time to freshen up before they all attend a social mixer for the senior officers.
As they sip drinks, Ed (Seth MacFarlane) and Pria spark almost immediately. It seems both hail from Massachusetts. They seem to connect on a new level, far beyond what Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) can understand. Why did Ed never tell her about the Salem Witch Museum? Later, Pria and Ed talk as the party’s coming to an end. Pria gently leans in to give him a quick kiss. As she leaves, Ed’s reaction is unreadable.
Later, Kelly sits alone in her quarters… googling her competition. It seems there’s no record of anyone named Pria Lavesque anywhere. What could this mean?
Struggling with her thoughts, a concerned Kelly takes her worries to Ed. However, he’s less than receptive. Could this have something to do with the “goo-goo” eyes he was making at Pria over drinks? With few other options, Kelly takes her concerns to Alara (Halston Sage). As the Orville’s head of security, Alara must be able to do something, right? Together, the two women conduct a “radiation check” of Pria’s quarters. After all, would she want to “fall asleep and wake up with a third eye, or an extra kidney?”. While Pria suddenly arrives, it isn’t before they find something strange in her quarters. It’s a strange metal object which their scanners can’t identify.
Later, Ed and Kelly fall into a good old fashioned, married couple fight when Kelly tries to convince him that Pria isn’t what she seems. However, they’re violently jolted back to reality. Rushing to the bridge, they discover the Orville is trapped in a “concentrated dark matter storm”.
As things seems particularly bleak, Pria suddenly enters. It seems she’s flown through a dark matter storm before. She just needs helm control. As a nervous Kelly looks on, Pria takes control of the ship. She steers the Orville like an absolute boss, and with only a few close calls, they emerge from the storm safe and sound. “Pound it!”.
The chemistry grows between Ed and Pria as the two sit inside a planetary simulator. Looking around the picturesque landscape, Pria leans in for another kiss. This time, Ed sinks into it as well. There’s a beat as he falls further into the moment; however, he suddenly pulls back. He’s just out of a divorce. He needs to take this slow…
Or they could have sex. Ed looks around stunned as he and Pria lounge in bed, bathed in a post-coital glow. With each passing moment, Ed seems to be falling further into her spell.
Later, the crew sits on the bridge as Gordon (Scott Grimes) storms inside half naked. The crew looks horrified as they realize he’s missing a leg. It seems Issac amputated his leg overnight as a practical joke. Never dare a robot to one up you. However, engineering pages Ed and Kelly, bringing the scene to an end.
Looking down at one of the panels, they find the object from Pria’s quarters wedged into the ship’s instruments. Ed seems unable to disagree with Kelly any longer. They leave for Pria’s quarters. They need to figure this out.
Meanwhile, Pria lounges on the sofa, slowly sipping a brandy. She looks up at Ed and Kelly as they burst inside. As they launch into their line of questions, her response is interesting. “I’m from 400 years in your future”. She informs the crew the dark matter storm should have killed them. (Yup, we’re getting into timey-wimey stuff here). However, she didn’t actually mean to save the crew. It is the Orville she wanted. It seems Pria is a dealer in artifacts from the future. However, as the tension in the moment grows, Gordon’s missing leg falls from the ceiling. Ed shuffles nervously, “Never mind that”.
While Kelly leaves with the leg, a vulnerable Ed faces off with Pria. How could she do this to him? Telling her to go to hell, he storms off.
The team returns to work on the mysterious object in engineering. They seem to come out ahead when they drill through the block, but as Isaac take a step towards it, the robot is blown back violently. Is he dead?
Later, the team is stupefied as they come upon the wormhole… they’ve fallen straight into Pria’s trap. Like clockwork, Pria teleports into the room, fully in control of everything. She pilots the ship through the wormhole, safely coming out the other side. While the crew watches, Pria negotiates to sell the Orville to an alien crime-boss. However, thanks to a distraction from Isaac, a fight breaks out as Kelly lunges at Pria. With the two women distracted, Ed is able to regain control of the ship.
As the episode winds to a close, it seems Isaac survived. The robot beamed himself into the main systems of the ship, helping Mercer regain control of The Orville. As Pria watches, the Orville blows up the wormhole. And because of… science!…, she’s transported back to her own future. Everything is back to normal and all is well.
The Orville airs Thursday nights on Fox. Previous episodes stream on Hulu.
A Few Notes:
- This is an absolutely amazing episode for actor Seth MacFarlane. Not only does he have electric chemistry with Theron, but he takes Ed into some new places this week. His vulnerability in the episode is palpable, and you feel for the betrayal he’s internalized. We’ve seen MacFarlane play a lot of wise-cracking characters, and I can’t wait to see more heart coming through in his portrayals.
- A note for Star Trek: The Next Generation fans, Jonathan Frakes directed this episode.
- Once again, the show served up a fascinating story this week. Seth MacFarlane penned the episode, which very much seems like an ode to Star Trek of the Kirk and Piccard eras. The complicated and intricate story was a joy to watch. Hopefully with a talented creative team that includes legendary Star Trek writer Brannon Braga, there’s a lot more of this to come.
- An ongoing criticism of the show is that Kelly continually has very little to do. Most of her storylines revolve around her ongoing, conflicted feelings for Ed. This storyline works; however, it would be excellent to see the show use actress Adrianne Palicki as the smart, independent and butt-kicking actress she is. She can do more than simply obsess over her ex-husband.