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I think we can all agree that the end of the bloodshed on Lopovius would be a wonderful thing, and I think that's bigger than the three of us. I'm just saying I'm here to work. What about you guys?Darulio to Ed Mercer and Kelly Grayson[1]

Cupid's Dagger is the ninth episode of the first season of The Orville. The USS Orville is called to host peace talks between two enemy species. However, joining negotiations is the same man of Commander Kelly Grayson's affair.

The episode was written by Liz Heldens and directed by Jamie Babbit. Music was composed by John Debney. The title Cupid's Dagger is a play off the mythical arrows of Cupid, said to spark romance and lust in the target.

The episode performed well among general television audiences. Cupid's Dagger is considered divisive for its themes of sexuality, manipulation, and consent; it aired at a time when allegations surfaced of widespread sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Teaser[edit | edit source]

On November 2, 2017, Fox released a 20 second promotional teaser, ten seconds shorter than other teasers. Second Officer Bortus asks, "Where are the Captain and the Commander?" A narrator says: "An old rival returns and sends the ship into chaos." Scenes of explosions and ships fighting play.


The Orville Promo "Cupid's Dagger"

Plot Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Act 1[edit | edit source]

The episode to the crew enjoying karaoke in the Mess Hall when Captain Ed Mercer and Kelly Grayson are interrupted by a priority communication from Admiral Halsey.

In the Briefing Room, Halsey explains that two warring species of the planet Lopovius, Navarians and Bruidians, are open to a peace agreement that may conclude the years-long Navarian-Bruidian conflict. Both species lay claim as the original settlers of the planet.

A year ago, an ancient artifact containing residual DNA was discovered. The Navarians and Bruidians agree that the Planetary Union, acting as a neutral third party, can analyze the DNA to determine which species was the first colonizer. Both sides agree that the DNA would prove rightful control of Lopovius, and the Orville is to host the forensic archaeologist who will analyze the artifact.

The Orville rendezvouses with the USS Olympia, which delivers the artifact and the archaeologist via shuttle. Mercer and Grayson greet the archaeologist in the Shuttle Bay, and are stunned to see that the archaeologist is none other than Darulio, the man whom Grayson slept with.

Act 2[edit | edit source]

Darulio wants to respect the boundaries of Grayson and Mercer, and the trio agree that he may stay in the interest of peace between the Navarians and Bruidians. Darulio shakes hands with the officers.

On his way to his quarters, Darulio bumps into Lieutenant Yaphit. In Sick Bay, Yaphit tries to woo Doctor Claire Finn with flowers and a song, but she angrily rejects him.

Grayson meets Darulio in Science Lab 1 to discuss personal boundaries, but she starts flirting with him after several minutes.

On the bridge, Isaac tells the Captain that the ambassadors of the Navarians and Bruidians are arriving. Grayson was supposed to greet them, but scans show that she is in her quarters. Concerned, Mercer goes to her quarters to tell her that the ambassadors arrived, only to find her having sex with Darulio once again.

Act 3[edit | edit source]

Mercer is incensed, but must leave to the Shuttle Bay to meet the ambassadors himself. The ambassadors loathe each other, but are respectful to Union species and agree to peace negotiations the following day.

Later, Grayson and Chief of Security Alara Kitan talk about why she originally cheated on her husband with Darulio a year ago. She admits that she feels a sexual electricity with Darulio, and speculates that she may be in love with him.

Mercer storms into the science lab to fire Darulio, but Darulio explains that he is 36 hours away from concluding his study of the artifact. Oddly, Mercer's attitude softens and he begins to forgive Darulio. By the end of the conversation, Mercer asks if they can get drinks later. The two make a date for eight o'clock.

Doctor Finn, wearing a cocktail dress, rings Yaphit's quarters and he invites her in.

Act 4[edit | edit source]

Yaphit shows Finn his quarters. The two kiss, and Yaphit asks if she wants "to go for a swim."

Helmsman Gordon Malloy talks with Mercer about the peace talks, but Mercer appears to more interested in is his "date" with Darulio.

At the Mess Hall, Kitan and Navigator John LaMarr talk about Grayson's strange behavior until interrupted by the Navarian ambassador, who is upset that the results of the artifact are not yet complete. Only tables away, Grayson sits down with Darulio and Mercer.

Back on the bridge, Second Officer Bortus is forced to deal with both races while the Captain and Commander compete for Darulio's attention in the Mess Hall. The bridge officers observe that their superior officers' behavior is erratic. Kitan finds Ty and Marcus Finn from their own quarters. She enters the Finns' quarters to find Claire having sex with Yaphit.

Act 5[edit | edit source]

In the lab, Mercer arranges dinner with Darulio later that afternoon. After Mercer leaves, a frustrated and suspicious Kitan talks to Darulio demanding answers. He explains that his species releases a pheremones when in heat that causes powerful sexual attraction behavior. Grayson and Mercer absorbed his pheremones when they shook hands; Claire absorbed them from Yaphit (who passively carried them after bumping into Darulio).

Mercer and Grayson meet the ambassadors who demand results from the artifact. The two sides begin threatening each other, yet Mercer is completely uninterested. The meeting concludes with each species declaring war on each other while Mercer happily leaves for his date.

Kitan takes Darulio to Sick Bay. Analysis concludes that there is no antidote to his pheremones. The scene ends with war fleets from the Navarians and Bruidians entering Lopovian space.

Act 6[edit | edit source]

Worried, Bortus calls for Mercer and Grayson, yet Mercer is in his quarters with Darulio while Grayson cries in hers. Looking out the window at the warring fleets, Darulio is disturbed that Mercer ignores the impending bloodshed. Bortus and Isaac decide to erect a barrier between the two fleets to buy time. Darulio enters the bridge with a solution to the conflict.

Claire's obsession with Yaphit reaches delusion, and she detains Yaphit from leaving to Engineering at gunpoint. Without Yaphit, Engineering is unable to erect the barrier, and the two species begin fighting. The ambassadors of the Navarians and Bruidians enter the bridge, call their respective worlds, and announce that a ceasefire has been reached.

Mercer learns that the medical team synthesized pheromones of Darulio to plant on the ambassadors, making them fall in love with each other and attaining a temporary peace. Darulio finishes his analysis and announces that both species are the "heirs" of the artifact: the original settlers are a common ancestor of both Navarians and Bruidians.

At the Shuttle Bay and about to return to the Olympia, Grayson asks if he was in heat when she slept with him a year before. He pauses, then answers, "Maybe".

Production[edit | edit source]

Writing[edit | edit source]

The Orville's writing team developed the overall plot of Cupid's Dagger as a group,[2] but the script was written by Liz Heldens between June and October, 2016.[3] Seth MacFarlane then gave the script a final edit.[2] Two years later, executive producer David A. Goodman and actress Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) said that MacFarlane's editing was so significant that he effectively re-wrote the script - a comment echoed by the cast for the episode Krill as well.[4]

Science consultant André Bormanis had significant input in this episode. He was responsible for the idea that Darulio's sex pheromones were transferred by touch and also conceived that the warring Bruidians and Navarians would share a common ancestor through evolutionary descent.[5]

Filming[edit | edit source]

Filming was completed during the week of June 20, 2017 under the direction of Jamie Babbit.[6] Filming took roughly eight days to complete.[7] The episode is one of the few that creator Seth MacFarlane neither wrote nor directed.

Before post-production added Yaphit in, only a small prop sat where Yaphit would be and Penny Johnson Jerald kissed the air.

When asked if there was anything surprising about shooting the first season, Penny Johnson Jerald (Claire Finn) commented on the filming of the intercourse scene between her character and Yaphit.

I'm shooting a scene with Yaphit, and of course there's no one there but me and I hear over the megaphone, "Penny, more tongue." I thought, Wait a minute, did he just say my more tongue because there's no other tongue here but mine. I'm hard of hearing, so I said, "Seth, did you say more tongue?" And he said, "Yeah, we need more tongue." So when I saw the episode -whew, Lord have mercy - I needed a lot more tongue than I gave.[8]

She later recalled that when she heard MacFarlane call for 'more tongue,' she thought, Are you kidding me?[9] When Jerald was asked how she prepared as an actress to be "physically intimate" with the gelatin, Jerald quipped, "It helps to be a married woman," and then added,

What’s really so funny about shooting with something that’s not there is finding out what looks sexy to you and what will translate as something that’s actually beautiful too, cause that’s something that I wanted to make sure got through. ... I decided... to the old figure girl route of making the figure eight with your body.[9]

Music[edit | edit source]

Composer John Debney's score took three weeks to complete.[7] According to The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1, songs composed by John Debney for this episode are "Archaeologist Arrives / Claire Visits Yaphit / Claire Kisses Yaphit" and "Fleets Approach / War Before Peace / Cleared for Duty / Darulio Departs."

Post-production[edit | edit source]

Cupid's Dagger featured an unusually high number of scenes in space with an enormous number of alien ships, so many that Tippett Studios, a private company responsible for rendering digital visual effects like Lieutenant Yaphit, could not handle workload alone. Visual effects supervisor Luke McDonald was forced to partition the job, giving part to Tippett and farming the rest out to other digital effects companies.[10]

Preparing to air[edit | edit source]

Cast members were relatively silent about Cupid's Dagger, although at the 2017 New York Comic Con, Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) and Palicki told the audience that she would sing a karaoke version of "Any Way You Want It" in an upcoming episode.[11]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Viewership[edit | edit source]

Cupid's Dagger was well received by TV audiences, with an 8.1 rating on IMDB.[12] It was watched by 3.69 million viewers in the United States, near the average for its Thursday time slot.[13]

Critical Response[edit | edit source]

Despite a warm reception from the general public, Cupid's Dagger received middling reviews from professional critics. Michael Ahr of Den of Geek gave the episode 2.5 stars, writing: "In what can only be described as a silly episode, The Orville gives closure to the captain and his XO but accomplishes little else."[14]

Jammer of Jammer's Reviews awarded only two out of four stars. Jammer wrote that the love triangle between Darulio, Grayson, and Mercer was at times funny and enjoyable; but panned the sub-plot of Claire Finn falling for Yaphit as more "humiliation than humor."[15]

Nick Wanserski of the AV Club noted that the episode aired at a particularly tense time in Hollywood, when many allegations of sexual harassment against high-profile film and television men were surfacing. Even still, he praised the season's character development as it made Cupid's Dagger's tension, conflict, and chemistry all the more interesting.[16]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Planetary Union ship that carries Darulio is USS Olympia (SCV-183), and is smaller than the Orville. In the episode Krill, the Orville stops alongside the USS Olympia (LCV-529), a flagship Leviathan-class heavy cruiser. Thus, the Planetary Union uses the name "USS Olympia" for two distinct vessels.
  • When Ed and Kelly enter the Lift and Lieutenant Dann's music plays, the song is "The Straight Life" by Bobby Goldsboro. Just as Ed finishes boasting how he wound up with the man Kelly cheated with, Goldsboro sings, 'leaving the straight life behind.
  • The song "Any Way You Want It" by Journey was handpicked by Adrianne Palicki for her karaoke performance as Kelly Grayson. Palicki was initially petrified of singing and refused; MacFarlane assuaged her by suggesting she pick something from Journey's discography. Palicki was drunk while singing.[17]
  • During a March 20, 2018 Season 2 sneak-peak of The Orville to members of the Academy, drinks of "Cupid's Dagger" were served. The description was bourbon, splash bitters, simple syrup, orange wheel, and cherry garnish.[18]
  • Actor Ralph Garman, who played the karaoke host Kanoot, suffers from severe claustrophobia. He had to take multiple breaks and several shots of Jack Daniels supplied by Seth MacFarlane to get through filming.[19]
    • In fact, Kanoot was originally intended to be a series regular but was dropped after Garman suffered a panic attack in the middle of filming Ja'loja.[19]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • The episode takes place sometime before March in the year 2420.[20]
  • Darulio says he has been digging on Lopovius for six months, or since mid-2419.
  • Multiple characters say Retepsian pheromones take "a few days" to wear off, which means only a few days pass from Darulio's arrival to departure. Note that the pheromones had not yet worn off of the ambassadors by the episode's end.
    • Thirty-six hours pass between Ed confronting Darulio in Science Lab 1 (intending to remove him from the ship) and the results of the DNA tests showing an ancestor common to Bruidians and Navarians.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Kelly sings Journey's "Any Way You Want It" at karaoke. Bortus almost sings "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie Titanic until the crew is interrupted by a message from Admiral Halsey.
  • Yaphit attempts to woo Claire by playing the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend."
  • Kelly listens to "It's too Late" by Carole King as she weeps in her quarters.
  • Paralleling the opening of Old Wounds: Ed walks in on Kelly in bed with Darulio, who again sprays blue liquid over the two of them.

Episode titles[edit | edit source]

Title Language Translation
邱比特之箭 (Qiū bǐtè zhī jiàn) Chinese "Cupid's arrow"
Une visite inattendue French "an unexpected visit"
Amors Dolch German "Cupid's dagger"
Ámor tőre Hungarian "Cupid's dagger"
La pugnalata di Cupido Italian "the stab of Cupid"
厄介なフェロモン (Yakkaina feromon) Japanese "awkward pheromones"
Кинжал Купидона Russian "Cupid's dagger"
Las dagas de cupido Spanish "the daggers of Cupid"
Любов зла Ukranian "love is evil"

Mistakes[edit | edit source]

  • After Ed catches Kelly in bed with Darulio, Ed yells to the ship, "Are you worried people are gonna hear that you banged Darulio again?" with his right hand at his mouth. In the next shot, he is yelling with his left hand at his mouth.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Names and titles are as they appear in the credits unless otherwise noted.

Main Cast[edit | edit source]

Special Guest Cast[edit | edit source]

Recurring Cast[edit | edit source]

Guest Cast[edit | edit source]

Uncredited Cast[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Cupid's Dagger
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Seth MacFarlane and behind-the-scenes creative team: "The Orville" | Talks at Google". Talks at Google. Nov. 16, 2017.
  3. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ David A. Goodman (06)". Planetary Union Network. Oct. 14, 2017.
  4. Sisk, Angela. "The Orville Panel Comic Con 2018 Part One". YouTube. July 22, 2018.
  5. Oullette, Jennifer. "The Orville blends science fiction and science fact into a winning mix". Ars Technica. Dec. 29, 2018.
  6. @SethMacFarlane. "The awesomely talented @BabbitJamie directing on @TheOrville this week -- fun days". Twitter. June 20, 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
  8. Video by Paley Center for Media. March 17, 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Snowden, Scott. "The Orville, cast interview – Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr Claire Finn)". MYMBuzz. Jan. 8, 2019.
  10. Martin, Kevin H. "VFX for a Better, Brighter Future in Fox’s The Orville". Studio Daily. Feb. 9, 2018.
  11. "NYCC 2017 - The Orville Panel". Channel Control. Oct. 11, 2017.
  12. ""The Orville" Pria (TV Episode)". IMDB. Last accessed Jan. 16, 2018.
  13. "The Orville:Season One Ratings". Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017.
  14. Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 9 Review: Cupid’s Dagger". Den of Geek. Nov. 9, 2017.
  15. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Cupid's Dagger". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Jan. 16, 2018.
  16. Wanserski, Nick. "On The Orville, an old friend returns". AV Club. Nov. 10, 2017.
  17. "Adrianne Palicki talks fighting Charlize Theron, karaoke on The Orville and GI Joe." Afterbuzz TV. March 17, 2018.
  18. u/MrHelloOperator. "Good to know...". June 1, 2018.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Garman, Ralph. THE RALPH REPORT for Wednesday, February 28, 2018. The Ralph Report. Feb. 28, 2018.
  20. In the following episode, Firestorm, Ed Mercer states that the current month is March.
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