5 Point Discussions – The Orville Episode 11: “New Dimensions”

by Sage Ashford

The Orville
The crew runs into a mysterious anomaly in the middle of space, and the only one who can help them out is…the crew’s navigator, Lieutenant LaMarr?! Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. It took most of the season, but as we close in on The Orville Season One Finale, Ed finally learns that he only got his captain position through Kelly’s help, and you know…it feels somewhat mishandled. Instead of it coming off like Ed has a legitimate gripe, he spends most of this episode sounding rather whiny. If this plot point had come earlier on, when Ed was still untested, he would’ve had a point. If the show was a bigger farce and they were constantly bumbling about, he would’ve had a point. But this late in the season, he’s proven himself time and again and made decisions that saved not only his crew but helped the UP as well. Really all he has to fall back on is some garbage argument about bootstraps and how he wanted to earn his place, even though technically Kelly was only ever fixing a mistake that she caused to begin with.
2. One of the biggest surprises of “New Dimensions” was learning that Lt. Commander John LaMarr is actually one of the smartest members of the crew, and seeing him promoted from his position as a navigator to becoming the ship’s Chief Engineer. It’s the kind of change you’d expect to come out of the blue in a third or fourth season as the writers cobble together something new to say about their characters after several years of working on the same project, but happening this early suggests that the intention was always to elevate this character to something above simple comic relief. They gave him a believable motivation for keeping his intelligence hidden–growing up on a simple mining colony his intelligence was seen as threatening to the people around him and he preferred fitting in to being the smartest being in the room. And it’s an equally understandable reasoning for having him put it to use, with the ship needing every intelligent crew member on board in order to fight against this week’s threat.
Having said that, maybe it’s not the best thing that Kelly continues to meddle in people’s lives. It’s not the worst character trait to have, but this episode they just kind of hammer home how she tends to be right about everything, and while Ed’s pushback made him sound more childish, John complaining about her forcing him into a position he wasn’t comfortable with probably could’ve given the show the friction it needed this episode. Instead he just kind of adapts and by the end seems as comfortable with his new job as he did with his old.
3. ANACHRONISM WATCH: We got a Doctor Who reference, a Snoopy reference, and an Oscar the Grouch reference, all at the same time, in this episode as they found a way to insert the classic “bigger on the inside” idea into their “serious” sci-fi universe. To be fair, Doctor Who’s almost the blue-print for optimistic space-focused science fiction, and I could see it being viewed as evidence of humanity’s imagination and confidence that we would one day reach the stars. And no one’s going to tell me Sesame Street isn’t timeless, so I can let all of these off the hook.
4. It was mentioned before in “Majority Rule”, but we finally revisit the fact that the Orville society has no concept of money. Specifically, after the invention of matter synthesizers (futuristic 3D printers) eliminated the need to struggle for property or food, money simply started to vanish as a concept. That’s not a particularly new idea, but as Kelly explains it to John we learn that this world’s priorities have shifted, and instead of making money the center of everyone’s goals, status has become the new focal point instead. Human society has focused on proving one’s worth and value as an individual, and showing how you can be the best as whatever it is you work at.
This doesn’t really inform much as far as the show’s plot this week, but it does help fill in the margins and allows geeks like me to understand the background of this world a bit more. From Kelly’s explanation, it’s almost understandable that Ed’s so driven to prove himself. If the only “currency” is proof of a person’s talents then realizing you didn’t get there on your own is probably a lot like counterfeiting.

5. The actual meat of the episode centers around an anomaly the crew discovers while exploring. It damages their ship and leaves them briefly stranded after hitting their engines, but while the crew tries to fix their engines, they learn the anomaly is actually a hole into two-dimensional space, after a smuggling ship passes through it,  ignoring their warnings. The ship escapes unscathed, but its pilot is left dead after his body doesn’t quite return to its original shape after exiting back into 3D space. Just as the crew realizes what the anomaly actually is though, they’re forced to go inside it in order to avoid contact with a group of Krill ships in search of the weapons being carried on the smuggler’s ship. Creating a quantum bubble to protect them from the dangers of 2D space, they survive just long enough to escape the grasp of the Krill, and emerge…largely unscathed, proving Ed’s abilities as Captain once again.
Above is a shot of what 2D space looked like for them. I’m a little disappointed it wasn’t literally a bunch of comic book panels, but I can’t fault them for the beautiful circuit board imagery they provided. Unfortunately, they were incapable of actually communicating with the beings there, but they did bring up the possibility of 4 and 5 dimensional beings that will hopefully pay off down the line.
With only two episodes of The Orville left, will the show end with a (big) bang?  Will they set up some storylines for next season?  Tune in to find out, and make sure to be back here so we can talk about it.
The Orville airs on FOX on Thursday nights and is available for streaming on Hulu.

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