Well, this was another very good episode, and Gordon got his moment in the sun for some serious drama. I suspect that this is another step in the long-term character arc that started with his odd admission of low self-esteem at Alara's homeworld and continued with his request to take the command test.
The story was somewhat reminiscent of the TNG episode that introduced the Cardassians in that the enemy aliens seemed to be falsely accusing one of our people of crimes, but are proven to be correct-- however there are a few substantial differences and twists. Most notably, the officer in Orville
was not on active duty, but in fact had been a Krill PO(undeclared)W for twenty years; and the Krill, unlike the Cardassians, seemed to be making sincere overtures for peace. This led to a whole spectrum of moral quandaries, both on the personal and larger scales, that had no easy answers or satisfactory solutions. But while the presentation of the moral ambiguity of peaceful coexistence between conflicting ideologies was realistically disturbing, there was nothing ambiguous about Gordon's characterization-- his moral character, both in terms of personal relationships and patriotism, were shown to be solidly grounded, which was really nice.
The episode was essentially about Gordon being tortured, from the moment he found out his old friend had been in a prison camp all those years to the moment he had to let him die in the shuttle. It was painful to watch their quiet catch-up conversation slowly become Gordon's bitter realization of how deeply his pal was damaged, and to see him bewildered and conflicted over the guy's attempt to enlist him in a treasonous terrorist attack, to watch his face as the others on the bridge discussed his theft of the tube, to see him report their conversation to Talla, and to see him have to fight the guy who saved his life-- essentially a fight to the death. And that was one brutal TOS-style fight. Gordon is no longer the class clown.
They did fool me a bit when Gordon went to the guy's cabin, seemingly straight from his meeting with Talla, and agreed to help him. I knew that Gordon was setting him up, but I thought he was going to unilaterally try to keep him out of trouble, only to be implicated as an accomplice, so I was pleased to see that he had done the smart and mature thing for a change.
There were a lot of other great moments in this episode as well: Yaphit got a well-deserved medal, Talla got to be Supergirl twice, Claire got to save the day with a bit of arcane space knowledge, Ed got to broker a peace treaty, and Ed and Gordon got to reaffirm their friendship. And Gordon getting flung through space in his spacesuit was pretty harrowing. And the Sci-Fi gimmick of the girl with the explosive blood from "a distant part of space" was pretty cool. And just so we don't forget it's The Orville
, we got urine tests and rubber gloves.
There were a couple of plot holes, like some fudging around the sensor scans and medical exams, and Gordon failing to just stun the guy in the shuttle, but overall this was another strong episode.