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Many people refuse to accept an irrefutable truth simply because that truth puts them in the wrong.Kemka[1]
If the Stars Should Appear is the fourth episode of the first season of The Orville. The USS Orville finds an alien ship adrift in space and on course to collide with a nearby star, only to discover inside a species that is completely unaware of their plight.

The episode was written by creator Seth MacFarlane, directed by James L. Conway, and features the music of Joel McNeely. Actor Liam Neeson cameos as the ship captain Jahavus Dorahl.

If the Stars Should Appear performed above-average for its time slot and was well received by audiences and critics alike, reviewed as one of the more enduring, original stories in television science fiction and frequently compared to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Following the conclusion of the first season, the episode was widely cited as evidence that the show improved with each episode.

Teaser Edit

Fox released one thirty second promotional video on September 21, 2017.[2] Isaac warns he is "picking up a large artificial mass." The camera shows the Orville in front of part of a ship, only to zoom out quickly and show that the Orville is dwarfed by the ship by several orders of magnitude. Helmsman Gordon Malloy says, "Kids, roll the windows up" (from Command Performance). A selection of actions shots from the episode play in quick rapidity. A narrator talks, "Next Thursday, Seth MacFarlane stars in a brand new adventure."
The Orville Promo "If the Stars Should Appear"

The Orville Promo "If the Stars Should Appear"

Plot Synopsis Edit

Act 1 Edit

Klyden wakes his mate, Second Officer Bortus, before the usual time to discuss spending more time with him and Topa. Bortus grumpily refuses as he wants to sleep more. Upset, Klyden eats ice cream and watches The Sound of Music. Unable to sleep now, Bortus leaves for his shift on the bridge early.

The crew of the USS Orville are mapping local stars when they detect a space vessel larger than anything they have encountered yet. The camera then shows the Orville as a small blip against the enormous ship.

Act 2 Edit

The Orville observes that the ship is two-thousand years old, drifting through space, and set to collide with a nearby star in six months. An exploratory team consisting of Captain Ed Mercer, Commander Kelly Grayson, Chief of Security Alara Kitan, Doctor Claire Finn, and Science and Engineering Officer Isaac is formed, and enters the ship via shuttle. Remaining on board, Bortus assumes control of the captain's chair.

The team passes through an exterior of the ship only to enter a vast ecosystem. They realize the ship is mostly hollow, designed to house an ecosystem several tens of thousands of kilometers wide. They break into two groups, one consisting of Mercer, Finn, and Isaac; the other, Grayson and Kitan.

Soon Mercer's team finds a small cabin. One occupant shoots at the team with a shotgun, but misses and is stunned by Isaac with a PM-44. They attempt to interview two other occupants, but they are frightened and confused. The group deduces that the people of the ship are completely unaware that they live in a spacecraft.

Act 3 Edit

Tomilin Stars Mercer Isaac Finn

Tomilin guides part of the landing team to the Reformers.

One of the occupants, a boy named Tomilin, asks if the group if they are "from the Beyond," to which Mercer replies, "What if we are?" Tomilin tells them to follow him.

Walking through a meadow, Kitan and Grayson discuss Grayson's affair. They are approached by armed men in a vehicle who sternly demand identification. Before the Union officers can try to explain themselves, the men shoot Kitan and knock Grayson out and take her, leaving Kitan to die in the field.

Mercer's group follows the boy to the hideout of the "Reformers", a group of dissidents who believe that their world is larger than a simple ecosystem.

Act 4 Edit

Back on the Orville, a crewman says they are receiving a priority distress message from the USS Druyan. The Druyan is under attack from enemy Krill, so Bortus is forced to temporarily abandon the exploratory team.

The Reformers offer meals to Mercer's team, and explain that the ecosystem is governed through a dictatorial theocracy. Belief in a supreme deity named Dorahl is violently enforced by political leaders. A badly-wounded Kitan manages to send a message to Mercer of her wounds and transmit her coordinates.

Meanwhile, Grayson is taken into a government building for questioning. Outside, she witnesses a captured Reformer beaten to death by an angry mob. Hamelac, the leader of the bioship, believes Grayson is a Reformer as well, and tortures her for their location.

Mercer's group finds Kitan and heals her with a Foreign Object Retractor and a dermoscanner. The Reformers dress the Orville team in common, native attire and fake Dorahlian spots in order to infiltrate the government building and rescue Grayson.

The Orville itself successfully destroys the attacking Krill destroyer, rescues the Druyan, and begins its return to the bioship.

Grayson attempts to explain to Hamelac that he is part of a ship that will soon be destroyed by a star, but Hamelac does not believe her nor understands, and continues to press for the location of other dissidents. "You'll be with us for a long, long time," he vows.

Act 5 Edit

Grayson Tomilin Mercer Finn Torture

Commander Kelly Grayson is rescued from her nightmarish interrogation.

The rescue team breaks into the facility and saves Grayson, holding Hamelac and his team at bay with their guns. Tomilin says that Hamelac suspects that Grayson tells the truth; with the barrel of a PM-44 pointed at him, Hamelac admits there may be more than the mere ecosystem. Mercer stuns Hamelac. Another dissident, Kemka, takes the group to an exit door known by the Reformers to lead to the ship's bridge.

On the bridge, Kemka and Tomilin observe outer space for the first time. Isaac finds and plays a recording left 2,000 years ago by the final ship captain, Jahavus Dorahl. Dorahl explains that their vessel is part of a planet's goal to colonize another world. Unfortunately, the ship was hit by an ion storm and marooned in space. The propulsion system was damaged but the ship's ecosystem is self-sustaining. Dorahl had no choice but take the crew into the ecosystem and hope for an alien society to discover them.

Mercer proceeds to order Isaac to open the ship's "sun roof" to display the starry sky to all of the ecosystem, and reveal to all the truth of their world. Finn marvels and quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson:

If the stars should appear once in a thousand years, how would man believe and adore and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the City of God?[3]

The Orville arranges a special training crew from the Planetary Union to reintroduce the inhabitants to their own ship and repair the vessel.

Production Edit

Barn Reformers

The crew films inside the set of the Reformers' hideout.

Creator Seth MacFarlane wrote the episode script in either late March or April 2016, shortly after Fox bought The Orville for a 13-episode season run. Originally, If the Stars Should Appear was to be the third episode of Season 1, but was moved to fourth when it performed poorly with test audiences.[4]

Filming was completed during the week of April 7, 2017 under the direction of James L. Conway.[5] Conway had directed episodes of four separate Star Trek series, keeping with a tradition to use past Trek employees to direct episodes of The Orville. Filming took roughly eight days. Editing concluded on July 3.[6]

Actor Liam Neeson's surprise cameo as Jahavus Dorahl was a closely guarded secret hidden even from the other actors. Neeson recorded his material off-location. When the actors filmed their final scene on the bioship's bridge, the video of Neeson as Jahavus appeared on the bridge monitor. The actors broke character and cheered.[7]

Music Edit

Composer Joel McNeely's score took three weeks to complete.[8] He remembers "there were a lot of fun sequences to score in [If the Stars Should Appear], and the ending where they opened up the dome was really fun.[9]

Due to the last-minute change in episode ordering, this episode was McNeely's first. "[It] was pretty difficult for me finding out what the rules are and what the musical world is," he later commented. "And I'm still finding that."[9]

According to The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1, the songs composed by Joel McNeely are "The Bio-Ship / Exploring the Hull", "Exploring the Bio-Ship", "Finding Alara / Space Battle", and "Dorahl / The Roof Opens".

  • "The Bio-Ship / Exploring the Hull" and "Exploring the Bio-Ship" were meant as homages to the scores of earlier science fiction movies.[9]
  • McNeely composed "intimate" music for "Finding Alara" to encourage the listener to sympathize with Alara as she had just been shot.[9]
  • "Space Battle" features energetic brass instruments to capture the drama of a battle with the Krill.[9]

Reception Edit

Viewership Edit

For more information on the episode in the context of the season, see main article: Season 1.

If the Stars Should Appear was well received by TV audiences, and enjoys an 8.5 rating on IMDB, tied with Majority Rule for the second highest rating of the first season. It was watched by 3.7 million viewers in the United States.

Critical Response Edit

Alien crowd If the Stars Should Appear

A concept sketch of the people of the bioship by the show's wardrobe designer Joseph Porro and illustrator Luca Nemolato.

Along with episode three, About a Girl, If the Stars Should Appear is generally considered the "break-out" episode of the show, rated by critics much more highly than the preceding episodes and among the highest rated episodes of season one. In a review of The Orville's first season, a panel of critics agreed that while they were nonplussed by the first two episodes, "by Episodes 3 and 4 they started to find their footing, and it’s just gotten stronger and stronger with each episode."[10]

Michael Ahr of Den of Geek gave the episode 3.5 stars, writing: "You’d think that after many seasons and spinoffs of Star Trek, we’d have seen an episode like this one, but The Orville is proving that it can break new ground even as it treads familiar territory."[11]

Not all reviews of the episode were positive. Jammer of Jammer's Reviews gave the episode two stars, one his lowest ratings of the show: "[I]f MacFarlane wants to bring back old stories he liked in his youth and present them as if they were new to his audience, he needs to also bring some perspective or at least conviction to the whole affair."[12] Nick Wanserski of the AV Club found the episode mediocre.[13]

Trivia Edit

  • If the Stars Should Appear was to have been the second episode of Season 1, but was moved to fourth when it performed poorly with test audiences.[4]
    • For that reason, Doctor Finn seems unfamiliar with Yaphit's persistent and annoying wooing, even though she says that he frequently pesters her for a date in the previous episode, About a Girl.
  • In this episode, Claire reveals that she suffers from near-debilitating acrophobia, a fear of heights, and grabs Isaac's hand for comfort. In the episode Into the Fold, she is forced to overcome her fear when she has to escape from Drogen's compound. Later, Isaac holds her hand to comfort her.
  • The code used by Isaac to enter the bioship's exterior is 6 4 7 3 8.
  • When Claire uses a dermoscanner to extract the bullets from Alara and heal her, Tomilin asks if she is using magic. This foreshadows the episode Mad Idolatry, when Kelly's using the dermoscanner inadvertently creates an entire religion on an undeveloped planet.
  • When Claire says that the size of New York City is approximately 790 square kilometers, that means New York City has not changed in size in over 400 years.

References Edit

  • Bioship police If the Stars Should Appear

    Concept costume art for the police of the bioship. Ultimately, the show went with the middle design.

    Klyden watches the song "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" performed in the movie The Sound of Music.
    • When the scene fades, Charmian Carr sings: "Totally unprepared am I to face a world of men." This is a clever nod to Bortus' and Klyden's relationship problems in the context of an all-male Moclan society.
    • Just before Seth MacFarlane presented the show to the Television Critics Association, he revealed that The Sound of Music is his favorite film. He said the movie encapsulates his approach to The Orville, a melange of "cynicism and warm fuzziness".[14]
    • MacFarlane said the scene in The Sound of Music, coupled with an alcoholic drink, always makes him cry.[15]
  • The episode has similarities with the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" , where an asteroid set to collide with a Federation planet is found to harbor an alien civilization that has forgotten its ancient, advanced past. The asteroid is in fact a "generation ship".
  • The title is a reference to the essay Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which in 1836 introduced his philosophy of transcendentalism.
  • The Union ship Druyan is named after writer/producer Ann Druyan, who worked with MacFarlane to create the 2014 version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
  • The music used when the away team enters the bioship is from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.[16]
  • Kelly references the show Friends when she says her crewmates are at a cafe called Central Perk in Soho, New York City. In the actual show Friends, Central Perk is located in Greenwich Village.[16]
    • According to actress Adrianne Palicki, who plays Kelly, Seth MacFarlane wrote the line for her: "He knows that I’m obsessed with Friends. I remember I was on the elliptical reading that script and I fell off the elliptical laughing at that line. Definitely there are things like that."[17]
  • The songs "The Bio-Ship / Exploring the Hull" and "Exploring the Bio-Ship" were meant as homages to the scores of earlier science fiction movies.[9]

Mistakes Edit

  • Kelly syringe

    Arabic numberals were not removed from this syringe.

    Arabic numbers can be seen on the syringe Hamelac holds, despite the fact that the episode establishes that the Dorahlians use a unique writing system.
  • Isaac asks the bridge crew to explain the meaning of the word "dick". However, Alara used that word in front of Isaac in the episode Command Performance. This continuity error arose because If the Stars Should Appear was originally filmed as the second, and not fourth, episode of the season.
  • While inside the bioship, the ground team wears Dorahlian spots around their faces. When the team enters the bioship's bridge, their spots are gone.
  • Scenes of Hamelac's building exterior are flipped, which can be noticed because the Dorahlian language is reversed in these shots but returns to normal when the building exterior is not in the scene.
    • For the same reason, the scenes of the crew in the bioship's Lift can be shown to be reversed as well.
  • The guard's car transporting Kelly drives past Hamelac speaking to a mob. After Hamelac asks if the crowd embraces the Word of Dorahl, the car drives up again and parks. However, the car had already driven past that point in the preceding shot.

Cast Edit

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

Main Cast Edit

Uncredited Guest Star Edit

Recurring Cast Edit

Guest Cast Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. If the Stars Should Appear
  2. "The Orville Promo "If the Stars Should Appear"". Fox Broadcasting Co. Sept. 21, 2017.
  3. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature. James Munroe & Co. 1836.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Jason Roberts (The Orville Unit Production Manager)". Planetary Union Network. April 19, 2018.
  5. @SethMacFarlane. "A million thanks to the brilliant @jameslconway for his epic direction of #Orville episode 2!". Twitter. April 7, 2017.
  6. @SethMacFarlane. "Just finished final edit on episode 4 of @TheOrville - you gonna love this one". Twitter. July 3, 2017.
  7. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Jason Roberts (The Orville Unit Production Manager)". Planetary Union Network. April 19, 2018.
  8. "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 "Voyage to Utopia" in The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1 by Jeff Bond (2019). Pg. 10.
  10. "Don't Give Up on The Orville Too Quickly". Wired. Dec. 30, 2017.
  11. Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 4 Review: If the Stars Should Appear". Den of Geek. Sept. 28, 2017.
  12. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "If the Stars Should Appear". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Dec. 28, 2017.
  13. Wanswerski, Nick. "After a promising episode, The Orville slips back into mediocrity". AV Club. Sept. 29, 2017.
  14. "Seth MacFarlane thinks mixing sci-fi and comedy is 'tricky'". Associated Press. Aug. 10, 2017.
  15. Jordan, Julie. "Seth MacFarlane". People. Vol. 81, No. 21. 2018.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Recap / The Orville S1E04 "If the Stars Should Appear"". Last accessed April 30, 2018.
  17. "The Orville: Interview: Adrianne Palicki". Sci Fi Bulletin. Nov. 10, 2017.
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