Friday, October 27, 2017

The Orville--"Majority Rule"

     There was no new episode of The Orville last week. I definitely missed my fix. The ratings are holding steady with impressive numbers for a rookie series. It looks like I am not the only one who digs the show. Tonight's episode is further example of why I like it so much. It was thought provoking while not being preachy, with a solid mix of funny and creepy.
     The ship is sent to a planet roughly equivalent to 21st century Earth to search for an undercover anthropological team with whom the Union lost contact a month prior. A four man team goes searching on the planet. LaMarr, while teasing Alara, simulates dry humping a statue and is filmed in the act. The video is uploaded and receives so many down votes, LaMarr is arrested and forced to go on a televised apology tour. If he cannot convince enough his apology is sincere, he will be essentially lobotomized by the removal of bad impulses.
     The plot is a satire of online sites like Facebook and Reddit as well as the growing impression opinion is equal to facts. LaMarr is saved from the lobotomy when Isaac floods the [planet’s version of the internet with rumors LaMarr is the sole support for his 90 year old grandmother, fake photos of him as a cute kid, and a fictitious video of him as a soldier coming home and greeted excitedly by his dog. These are all examples of things that would score a high number of likes on social media. Yet none of it has any bearing on the facts surrounding LaMarr's crime—in as much as it is a crime. Opinion makes fact irrelevant.
     Also note Isaac is a bot spreading fake information on social media in order to influence a vote to go the way our heroes desire.
     “Majority Rule” is a good mix of comedy and horror. It is incredibly difficult to show a character dry humping a statue in one scene, then revealing the horrific effects of a lobotomy on one of the anthropologists our heroes were sent to rescue a few minutes later. (They obliviously fell a foul of popular opinion as well. One was killed trying to escape lobotomy.) The plot is pure Trek at its best in a way we have not seen since the best seasons of TNG. They even threw in Gene Roddenberry's absurd notion every planet will develop along the same lines as Earth but it was made a plausible matter of probabilities.
     Some fans and critics noted the similarities between “Majority Rule” and an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror. I have never seen the show, so I cannot say it taints my views on the episode. If someone familiar with the episode in question thinks 'Majority Rule” is a rip off or homage, they may do so. I cannot offer an argument as to how the two episodes compare. I have heard good things about Black mirror, though. Maybe I will check it out in the near future.
     Rating: *** (out of 5)

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