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People seem to think that being brave means not being afraid. The way I see it, if you're not afraid, there's nothing to be brave about.Ed Mercer[1]

Firestorm is the tenth episode of the first season of The Orville. The episode features Chief of Security Alara Kitan confronting her fears in a "haunted" USS Orville.

Firestorm was written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and directed by Jon Cassar, one of the few episodes of the season not to be written or directed by creator Seth MacFarlane. It features the music of John Debney. The title refers to Kitan's fear of fire and a growing "storm" of terrifying happenings on the ship.

While the episode suffered the worst TV viewership numbers of the season, it was very well received by general audiences. Firestorm holds 8.4 on IMDB, the fourth highest of the year.[2]

Teaser[edit | edit source]

Fox released a 30 second promotional teaser on November 9, 2017. A panicked Helmsman Gordon Malloy asks, "What do we do?" Kitan answers, "Run!" Captain Ed Mercer demands to know "what the Hell is happening on my ship?" A narrator announces that "the Orville is under attack in the scariest adventure yet." Scenes of fighting and explosions play. Commander Kelly Grayson and Mercer make a joke about marriage.


The Orville Promo "Firestorm"

Plot Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Act 1[edit | edit source]

The episode opens to the Orville in the midst of a fierce plasma storm. The storm damages the Engineering section, and Lieutenant Harrison Payne is crushed by a piece of fallen debris. Chief Engineer Steve Newton calls for Kitan to use her heightened Xelayan strength to lift the bulkhead. Just before reaching Payne, she is frozen in fear by the fire in front of her and he dies.

Act 2[edit | edit source]

Lieutenant Harrison Payne moments before he is crushed by a collapsed bulkhead.

Blaming herself for failing to reach Payne before he passed, Kitan boxes in the Environmental Simulator. First Officer Grayson and Doctor Claire Finn tell Kitan that Payne would have died from blood loss anyway, but she insists that freezing from fear was inexcusable.

Kitan goes to Captain Mercer and attempts to resign, but he refuses and advises her that, if she is in emotional turmoil, to introspect. "Find out why you were afraid," he says. "Talk to your parents; talk to Doctor Finn."

Kitan calls her parents to ask if she had a traumatic incident involving fire as a child. Her mother explains that when Kitan was an infant there was a fire in their home, and if not for Kitan's screams they could have been seriously hurt. Kitan exits her quarters and sees a man on the other end of the hall dressed as a clown, who runs into her before disappearing in the corner.

Act 3[edit | edit source]

Kitan rushes to the bridge and announces that she may be mentally unstable. Mercer and Grayson are unsure if Kitan is hallucinating, and agree to watch video feeds of the ship's hallways. The ship's feed recorded the clown and Kitan is vindicated. The crew needs to find the creature so they sweep the ship.

In the Cargo Hold, the clown attacks Kitan and manages to wrest her PM-44 from her. Kitan recovers her gun and shoots him. Unbeknownst to Kitan, the clown had switched its setting from stun to kill, so when she fired the gun, she inadvertently killed him.

Act 4[edit | edit source]

The clown's ability to appear and disappear cannot be explained. A cautious Captain Mercer puts the Orville on Yellow Alert until they learn more of their intruders. Attempting to enter her quarters, Grayson nearly plummets down an infinite void that has replaced her room. Realizing the impossibility of these occurrences, Mercer speculates the crew may suffer a collective mental deterioration or mass hallucination. Bortus reports that he crushed an alligator in the Cargo Bay.

Doctor Finn decides to conduct brain scans on the crew. Kitan goes to Sick Bay for her scans. Finn locks Kitan with specially-fortified restraints.

Act 5[edit | edit source]

Finn nearly tortures Kitan before she is able to break free. The Doctor is confined to the Brig where the senior staff interrogates her. Finn mocks the crew, speaking only in riddles.

The bridge crew holds an emergency meeting that is cut short by a swarm of tarantulas. Grayson speculates that the plasma storm may have severed ties between reality and "something else." With no better ideas, the Captain agrees to bring the Orville back on the chance that returning to the storm might end what it started.

In the hallway, Kitan and Helmsman Gordon Malloy are accosted by an enormous arachnid monster. Kitan flees but Malloy is devoured, and none of the other crewmembers answers her message that Malloy is dead.

Act 6[edit | edit source]

No one answers Kitan's continued pleas for help. Apart from the spider, Kitan is alone on the ship.

Unfortunately, the Orville is en route to the plasma storm and the ship's deflector screens must be raised or be destroyed. Kitan hurries to Engineering to raise the shields herself and discovers Isaac, who claims he was about to do the same.

Though most power systems have failed, Isaac notes that communication scanners are functioning and can be checked to look for the fate of the crew. While working together, Kitan confesses that she witnessed Malloy die. Isaac consoles her, but presses her to continue working "in case the alien creature returns." She points out that she never told Isaac how Malloy died, and realizes that Isaac is responsible. After a difficult hand-to-hand fight, Kitan manages to shoot Isaac, killing him. With the Orville now in the plasma storm and deflectors not restored, the ship is nearly destroyed. Kitan has no choice but to escape by shuttle.

The audience is shown the real Mercer, Grayson, Finn and Isaac in the Environmental Simulator's control room, watching Kitan in the Simulator run to the virtual Shuttle Bay. Finn tells Mercer, "Captain, we need to shut this down now."

Act 7[edit | edit source]

Kitan is locked in the Simulator. Isaac explains that no one but Kitan is able to turn it off as she invoked Directive 38, which gives the Chief of Security complete control over the ship.

Within the simulation, Kitan secures a shuttle but the evil Isaac arrives, who ignites combustible materials near the Bay's exit that send large flames across the entire deck. Kitan faces her fear of fire to pilot the shuttle through the flames and exit the Orville, and the simulation promptly ends.

Now back in reality, Mercer explains to Kitan that she came to him after speaking with her parents and requested Isaac to create a simulation to confront any fears she may subconsciously harbor. Mercer chastises her reckless behavior, saying that use of Directive 38 without just cause is an infraction worthy of court martial. However, because of Kitan's exemplary performance over the last few months, Mercer says he will look the other way.

The episode concludes with Kitan in bed, smiling.

Production[edit | edit source]

Actor Mark Jackson (Isaac) tweeted this composite photo from filming of the episode. Bottom left is Selkie Hom, stunt double of actress Halston Sage (Kitan).

Writing[edit | edit source]

Firestorm was written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong to fit into the "horror" genre. The episode was written backwards, with the final revelation of Kitan running in the Environmental Simulator occuring first to creator Seth MacFarlane, and then Chevapravatdumrong building a plot leading to the reveal. At MacFarlane's suggestion, Chevapravatdumrong relied upon phobias as a way to develop Kitan's character.[3] She completed the script some time between June and October, 2016.[4]

Chevapravatdumrong later commented on which phobias she decided to include: "We wanted to do something that was a horror movie. Then it as a matter of the rest of us [the staff] brainstorming scary things, and of course clowns were at the top of the list."[3]

Filming[edit | edit source]

Filming was completed sometime in July, 2017, under the direction of Brannon Braga. Filming took roughly eight days while composer John Debney's score took three weeks to complete.[5] The episode is one of the few that MacFarlane neither wrote nor directed.

Prosthetics and dentures were designed by Howard Berger for the clown to give the monster a smile that a human face could not otherwise make.[6] The actual look of the clown was designed by wardrobe designer Joseph Porro who sought to transform a common "birthday clown" into something terrifying.[7]

To film the scene where Kelly nearly falls into an abyss inside the ship, the crew constructed a special two-story set. Adrianne Palicki and Halston Sage, who play Kelly and Alara respectively, wore safety harnesses while shooting. Sage suffers from a fear of heights and felt nervous the entire time.[8]

Live tarantulas were used for shooting some scenes, supervised by a professional handler, which terrified MacFarlane and creeped Mark Jackson out. Scott Grimes on the other hand enjoyed the scenes and petitioned to use a real tarantula where one drops onto Gordon's face, but production did not allow it.[9]

Adding the giant arachnid digitally during post-production.

Music[edit | edit source]

According to The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1, songs composed by John Debney for this episode are "Plasma Storm / It Was Late Evening," "Alara Blows off Steam / There Was a Clown," "Alara Hallucinates / Deserted Ship," and "Cannot End Simulation / Back to Normal."

Reception[edit | edit source]

Viewership[edit | edit source]

Firestorm was very well received by TV audiences, with an 8.4 rating on IMDB, the fourth highest for Season 1.[2] However, very few watched the episode relative to the show's performance overall. It was watched by 3.15 million viewers in the United States, the lowest of the season.[10]

Critical Response[edit | edit source]

Despite a strongly positive reception from the general public, Firestorm received mixed reviews from critics. Michael Ahr of Den of Geek gave the episode three stars, writing that while the it accomplished nothing innovative, it at least kept audiences guessing until the end.[11] Jammer of Jammer's Reviews awarded 2.5 out of four stars.[12] On the other hand, Nick Wanserski of the AV Club enjoyed the episode, noting that the episode rested in strong character development and well-timed banter.[13]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • According to the book The World of the Orville, there are in fact two clowns terrorizing the ship.[3]
  • In production, the title of the episode was "Nightmares."
  • This episode book-ends Command Performance. Both episodes challenge Alara's ability to lead, and her lack of confidence serves as a central plot point.
  • MacFarlane and Palicki are deathly afraid of spiders and Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) loves them. When filming the scene when spiders crawl invade the Briefing Room, a live spider was brought in. MacFarlane and Palicki were terrified while Grimes cackled.[14]
  • Alara's fear of fires seems to pertain only to engulfing fires as she easily put out a fire on her control panel in the earlier episode Krill. This may be because Alara's fear springs from being surrounded by fire in her house when she was eight months old.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • Ed mentions that it has been six months since taking command of the Orville. In the episode Old Wounds, we learn that Ed assumed command in September 2419. That means the events of Firestorm take place in March 2420.
  • Alara boxes in the Environmental Simulator prior to 3:00 p.m.
  • Alara survived a fire in her family home when she was less than eight months old, which would be around 2396 or 2397.
  • Alara's run-in with a Clown occurs at time index 468.2.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Bortus, Gordon, and John want to enact an 18th century duel in the Environmental Simulator.
  • The clown who terrorizes the ship holds many striking similarities to Deadlights and Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the Stephen King novels the Dark Tower series and It respectively, transforming into its victims' greatest fears and often taking the form of either a frightening circus clown or a monstrous spider.

Episode titles[edit | edit source]

Title Language Translation
烈焰風暴 (Lièyàn fēngbào) Chinese "flame storm"
Hallucinations French "hallucinations"
Feuersturm German "firestorm"
Tűzveszély Hungarian "fire risk"
Tempesta di fuoco Italian "firestorm"
知られざる恐怖 (Shira rezaru kyōfu) Japanese "unknown fear"
Огненный шторм Russian "firestorm"
Tormenta de fuego Spanish "firestorm"
Вогняна буря Ukranian "firestorm"

Mistakes[edit | edit source]

In Krill, Alara puts out a fire.

  • When Grayson nearly plummets into the void, she receives a large, red mark on her forearm. In the next cut, the mark has disappeared.

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]

Uncreditted Cast[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Firestorm
  2. 2.0 2.1 ""The Orville" Firestorm (TV Episode)". IMDB. Last accessed Jan. 19, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 154.
  4. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ David A. Goodman (06)". Planetary Union Network. Oct. 14, 2017.
  5. "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
  6. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 155.
  7. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Jason Roberts (The Orville Unit Production Manager)". Planetary Union Network. April 19, 2018.
  8. "The Orville: Halston Sage at PaleyFest 2018". High Voltage. March 18, 2018.
  9. Orville Live Stream Q&A with Scott Grimes, Kelly Hu, J Lee, Peter Macon, & Mark Jackson. GalaxyCon. July 16, 2020.
  10. "The Orville:Season One Ratings". Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017.
  11. Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 10 Review: Firestorm". Den of Geek. Nov. 16, 2017.
  12. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Firestorm". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Jan. 19, 2018.
  13. Wanserski, Nick. "The Orville gets spooky in an enjoyable episode". AV Club. Nov. 17, 2017.
  14. "LT. Gordon Malloy - Scott Grimes The Orville Interview". Jim Conlan. 2018.
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