The Orville set out to have fun with “Cupid’s Dagger” and that’s exactly what they did. Like most Orville episodes, there is a serious undertone to the more light-hearted story, and yet again it’s a hit with the fans. Seth MacFarlane continues to be praised for The Orville, and for all the right reasons. For me, The Orville is clearly a labor of love for everyone involved, and I appreciate the refreshing niche they’re filling in the sci-fi department. And before we dig too far into what went down, I absolutely have to take a moment and talk about the makeup team. One of my biggest pet peeves in the sci-fi industry overall is that so many productions are completing ignoring any kind of practical effects and sticking solely with CGI. I love love love that The Orville doesn’t make this mistake, from having an actual model ship of The Orville to film with to the most elaborate makeup on aliens, they get it right when it comes to practical effects. There is such an art, a beauty, and a classic feel behind practical makeup/effects done well, and it’s sadly becoming a lost art with CGI taking over. It makes my heart smile to see such beautiful work done on this show and I wish more shows would follow suit.
The Orville gets a new assignment this week, one of rather great importance in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the Union. Planet Lapovius is on the brink of war, and is very very close to Union controlled space. The Navarians and the Bruidians both claim ancestral rights to the planet and they’re both ready to destroy the other species in battle if they must. Both alien races have agreed to have a 3rd party forensic archaeologist complete a DNA scan of an ancient artifact recently found on the planet. Whichever species DNA is present on this artifact gets the planet and the other species will leave in peace. However, the best option for the Union is if these two warring races can instead come to an amicable agreement to live peacefully on planet Lapovius together. While the artifact is being tested, leaders from each race and their security teams will reside on The Orville, giving Ed and Kelly a chance to host some mediation talks in the hopes of some kind of peaceful agreement.
Nothing is ever quite that easy on The Orville though, and “Cupid’s Dagger” is no exception. The archaeologist called in to examine the artifact is none other than the blue skinned alien Darulio, played by lovable Rob Lowe, who was a main factor behind Ed and Kelly’s divorce. You’ll remember back to the first episode when Ed walks in on Kelly and Darulio in bed together, causing him to spiral a bit out of control and the beginning of the end for that marriage. But, Ed is a changed man now. He and Kelly have a fairly good working relationship together on The Orville, he can stick to business when he needs to, so even though he isn’t fond of this situation, Ed is determined to be professional. With tensions running high over the arrival of two warring alien species, a warring Ed and Kelly is the last thing The Orville needs, so everyone is a bit on edge about the entire thing.
There’s just one small detail that Darulio forgets to mention as he comes aboard The Orville and begins interacting with the top two commanding officers in charge, he’s in heat. So he is releasing this potent pheromone that basically makes people sexually attracted to him and lose their minds. The problem with this, and many fans pointed it out, is that Darulio tells Ed it’s disrespectful in his culture to turn down sexual relations. Yet, when they’re in heat, they alter the minds of those they come in contact with to want sexual relations. So while in heat, they basically cannot get any real form of consent from those they encounter and proceed to sleep with. As much as Rob Lowe is almost always a lovable character, Darulio is an ass for that. Not only do both Kelly and Ed go blind with love for him, he’s even able to get Yaphit some action by revving up Dr. Finn’s engine in a round about way. We’re talking two species ready to go to war and destroy an entire planet, and Darulio about pushes them to that brink after interfering with Kelly and Ed’s minds.
What ensues though is a pretty hilarious hour of television. Kelly is the first to fall to Darulio’s pheromone, causing her to miss the arrival of The Navarians and the Bruidians, leaving Alara to deal with the fighting rulers. Ed goes to investigate and walks in on Kelly and Darulio for the second time in his life. Kelly tries to explain it to Alara, and that she thinks she might be in love with Darulio, while Ed vents to his best friend, Gordon. Deciding enough is enough, Ed goes to kick Darulio off his ship, when the pheromone takes over for him. While Kelly and Ed spend the hour trying to out-do each other and seduce Darulio, Alara and Bortus are left to deal with the two warring species and the strange behavior of their commanding officers. After discovering Dr. Finn and Yaphit in a very questionable state, Alara has had enough and confines Darulio to his quarters.
Luckily, this pheromone is able to save the day after almost destroying the entire mission. One of the medical staff is able to replicate the pheromone on a strong enough scale, that they’re able to trick The Navarians and the Bruidians leaders into being “in love.” This ends the immediate threat of war, and probably has the two races quite confused for a few days. But at least it buys them a few days time to call in back up and prevents the immediate threat. Of course it turns out that the ancient artifact has DNA from both species in it, meaning that they share a common ancestor. We end with Kelly asking Darulio quite the question, on if he was in heat the last time they were together. To which he replies, “maybe…” And hello opening for Kelly and Ed to start working past that time in their lives, Ed is bound to be more understanding now that he too was under Darulio’s spell and even slept with the blue alien he claimed to hate so much.
The Orville continues to hit the mark each week, and fans from all around are enjoying the show. “Cupid’s Dagger” wasn’t the strongest episode for me, but it was a fun episode. With karaoke, elevator jokes, an angry Alara and school girl crushes bringing viewers an entertaining hour aboard The Orville. We’re slowly inching closer to the end of this first season, and “Cupid’s Dagger” is the perfect fun/breather episode before the intense buildup towards the finale begins.
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