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A really outstanding episode of The Orville this past week—2.3—high on powerful storyline, a little less broad humor than usual (but enough to get some chuckles) and that was before the shocker of an ending.
It's always satisfying to see a non-human world fleshed out, and we get that as Alara goes back to her home planet Xelayah and her family, to get a slow cure for her physical deterioration. Plus, we get a good psycho story, in the form of John Billingsley playing an intelligent neighbor driven over the edge by the need to avenge (a perfect part for Billingsley) the death of his son, which he sees as due to Alara's father (played by another natural in the role, Robert Picardo). We get beautiful seaside scenes (which reminded me of where we go for summers on Cape Cod) and an unnerving rendition of you can't trust the neighbors. (I told my wife that now I'm a little worried about our neighbors on the Cape).
But that ending ... Alara announces, after she returns to The Orville and is back in the fold, that she want to go home to her planet and family. This is a refreshing, even brilliant, twist on similar stories we've encountered many times before, in science fiction and otherwise, which always end with the character in question returning from that alluring shore leave to resume her or his professional post. Kudos to Cherry Chevapravatdumrong for writing this and Seth MacFarlane for approving this (though I have no idea who came up with the twist). Jon Cassar, whose work I always liked in 24, did a good job directing.
But amidst all this praise, I can't say I'm happy at all about Alara leaving. I'm hoping that the real twist here will be that she rejoins The Orville pretty soon. When departures like this happen, it's always possible that the actress called this shot, because she got a starring role in a big movie. Halston Sage could certainly carry such a role, but I'd still rather see her continue her fine work on The Orville.
I'll keep you posted.