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Had it not been you, the mythology would have found another face. It's a part of every culture's evolution.Fadolin[1]
Mad Idolatry is the twelfth and final episode of the first season of The Orville. The crew encounters a planet from another universe whose inhabitants start to worship First Officer Kelly Grayson as a goddess. Meanwhile, Grayson and Captain Ed Mercer consider getting back together.

Mad Idolatry was the final episode produced, and was not finished until only two weeks before it aired. It was written by creator Seth MacFarlane, directed by executive producer Brannon Braga, and music was composed by Joel McNeely.

The episode is generally regarded by fans as the finest of the first season, and perhaps the most highly rated as well, even though general audience viewership was below the show's average. Critics note that the season concluded not on an expected cliffhanger, but with a thought-provoking commentary on religion's role in the development of society.

Teaser Edit

On November 30, 2017, Fox released a 30-second promotional teaser that emphasized the dramatic elements of the episode, a change in advertising from the early days of Season 1.

The Bridge crew is shocked by the appearance of a planet "out of thin air." A shuttle makes a sharp descent into the planet. Helmsman Gordon Malloy cries, "Where the Hell are we?" Mercer says, "You'll die there." The narrator calls the mission "so dangerous, the crew may sacrifice one of their own." Mercer grips Grayson's hand. Action scenes from previous episodes play. The teaser concludes with Mercer announcing, "All right, let's do this."

The Orville Promo "Mad Idolatry"

The Orville Promo "Mad Idolatry"

Plot synopsis Edit

Act 1 Edit

The episode opens to Captain Mercer knocking on doors inside the USS Orville, unsuccessfully asking his bridge officers if they would like to grab drinks until ringing Second Officer Bortus quarters, who invites Mercer in for oppsada with Klyden and him.

Bortus Klyden Ed Mercer latchcomb

An amused Captain Ed Mercer moments before "winning" the first round of latchkum against Second Officer Bortus and Klyden.

At Mercer's insistence, Bortus and Klyden introduce Mercer to the traditional Moclan party game of latchkum,where people quickly pass a ball between themselves. Mercer ignorantly holds the ball too long and a blade pierces his hand.

In his quarters, Mercer hails Commander Grayson and she asks why he won't go to Sick Bay to heal his hand. Mercer answers that he is too embarrassed, and requests she bring a dermoscanner the next day to heal the injury. The two agree to meet in the ship's Mess Hall for a drink.

Mercer acknowledges that Darulio's powerful Retepsian pheromones was responsible for the affair that fractured their marriage. He asks Grayson to go on a date later that week and she accepts. The scene concludes with the two happily pouring themselves generous amounts of alcohol.

The following day, Bortus and Isaac notice an unusual spatial anomaly by a nearby star. Grayson, Isaac, and Malloy take a shuttle to study the anomaly up close. Though the trio is in the middle of space, they suddenly finds themselves in planetary atmosphere. Those on the bridge of the Orville are shocked to see a planet appear in what was empty space.

Act 2 Edit

Kelly Grayson girl dermoscanner

Commander Kelly Grayson decides to heal the injured girl with her demoscanner and, in doing so, changes their world forever.

The shuttle crashes on the newly arrived planet. Isaac and Malloy report that the engine overloaded by suddenly entering a dense atmosphere, but a quick repair could be made within an hour.

Grayson decides to survey the area and happens upon a small village in a distance. She is noticed by two young girls; the girls flee but one stumbles and cuts her forehead. Using the dermoscanner she brought for Mercer, Grayson heals the girl's injury. Grayson realizes that a group of indigenous men and women are watching her intently. Aware that she has broken Planetary Union rules restricting contact with developing planets, Grayson runs back to Isaac and Malloy. The young girl says to her people the name of her "healer:" Kelly.

Act 3 Edit

Back aboard the Orville, Mercer reports to Admiral Ozawa the planet's strange appearance. She instructs the Orville to observe the planet for seventy-two hours before she can send a science cruiser for further study. Grayson thanks him for not reporting her infraction.

Meanwhile, the planet disappears. Isaac and Chief Engineer John LaMarr propose that the planet is locked in a multi-phasic orbit, meaning it travels through two universes while orbiting a star that exists simultaneously in both universes. Calculations of the planet's orbit suggest it will return in approximately 11 days.

Mercer and Grayson go on a dinner date in his quarters, concluding with a passionate kiss.

Act 4 Edit

Eleven days pass and the planet returns. A scan shows that the population and its state of technology have rapidly advanced.

Kelly Grayson

"Please, will you bless my son?" Grayson is confused why a local woman begs her to bless her child.

Mercer, along with Grayson, Malloy, LaMarr, and Chief of Security Alara Kitan, take a shuttle to the surface. The Bronze Age village Grayson stumbled upon has developed into a city akin to Earth's 14th century. From the Bridge, Isaac speculates that while it may appear the planet was gone for eleven days, seven centuries have passed for the planet in the other universe.

In order to blend in the team goes to a nearby cottage and fashion disguises from clothes drying on a line. The owner, however, sees Grayson and begs her to please bless the owner's child. Down the road, the team finds several corpses hung on stakes. Mercer asks a passerby what happened and he explains they were killed for blasphemy against "the Word of Kelly."

Act 5 Edit

In the city, a mother tells her son that Kelly is all around and always watching. A man cuts the wrists of several accused men, saying that if the accused are innocent then Kelly should "heal them now." The crew enters church and finds a giant statue of Grayson.

On the Orville, Admiral Ozawa is furious with Captain Mercer for filing a report without mentioning contact with a developing planet. She orders them not to contact the planet further.

Grayson is deeply concerned. That night, Mercer wakes her up saying that they will return to the planet to set things aright. The away team enters the church and finds a religious leader called the Valondis.

Act 6 Edit


The Valondis, head of the Church of Kelly, is both a political and religious leader on the planet.

Kelly explain to the Valondis in fine detail that she is not divine: the healing of a girl 700 years ago was simply thanks to her more advanced technology. The Valondis is convinced and the crew returns to the Orville. In the church, there is a discussion if the public should be told the truth of Kelly. A church dignitary, worried that power concentrated in the church will wane, quietly assassinates the Valondis.

Act 7 Edit

Another 11 days pass and the planet re-emerges. The planet made another jump in technology, boasting functioning satellites, a large population, but also pollution. To the crew's disappointment, scans show that the planet continues to worship Kelly as a deity.

In the Briefing Room, Grayson supposes there was not enough time to change the planet, and Doctor Claire Finn suggests that they might need to leave something permanent to actually shift the cultural paradigm. Isaac volunteers to remain on the planet for another 700 years as his artificial Kaylon body can endure for millions of years.

A final 11 days pass. The planet re-appears, its inhabitants advancing slightly beyond 25th century standards. A vessel approaches: Isaac and two of the planet's representatives, Fadolin and Baleth, teleport onto the main deck. The two representatives report that they no longer worship Kelly as a deity, recognizing her as a woman who played a necessary role in their planet's development. "Our planet worshiped you as a deity for many centuries, but had it not been you, the mythology would have found another face. It's a part of every culture's evolution."

Mercer has a drink in the Mess Hall and is greeted by Grayson. The Commander insists their relationship will not work, as he had to defy an admiral to protect her grave mistake. Mercer understands but is deeply saddened, as he does still love her. He dismisses her, left alone to stare at the stars.

Production Edit

Though the script of Mad Idolatry was completed by Seth MacFarlane some time between June and October, 2016,[2] filming was not completed until August 23, 2017,[3] and post-production did not finish until remarkably late.[4] Even by November 20, 2017, MacFarlane and producer David A. Goodman confirmed that the episode was still in editing, only two weeks before it aired.[5] Composer Joel McNeely spent roughly three weeks to complete the score.[6]

According to The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1, songs composed for this episode are "Investigating an Anomaly," "Emergency Landing," "Searching the Planet," "Walking Through Town," "Spread the Word," and "Isaac Steps Up / Civilization Restored."

  • A "mysterious motif" occurs one minute, 26 seconds into "Searching the Planet" meant to "underscore" the inhabitants' awe of Kelly.[7]
  • McNeely attempted to mix a sense of mystery with Medieval chords in "Walking Through Town."[7]
  • Both "Spread the Word" and "Isaac Steps Up" strategically utilize liturgical music to highlight the efforts of Kelly and Isaac to evangelize disbelief in the deity of Kelly.[7]

Leading up to airing, actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) said the script was the best television writing he had worked on, and that the concept of a multi-phasic planet was "the most original science fiction" he had ever read.[8]

Mad Idolatry was originally the thirteenth scheduled episode of the season, planned for December 14, 2017. However, on November 21, 20th Century Fox unexpectedly moved the twelfth episode Primal Urges to Season 2 for undisclosed reasons, and Mad Idolatry aired on December 7 in its place.[9]

Deleted scene Edit

In an unreleased deleted scene, the planet's inhabitants broadcast a puppet show of Kelly healing the girl that the bridge crew watch when they scan for broadcast signals of 'Kelly.' The funny scene was cut after editors and producers agreed it did not fit with the tone.[10]

The puppets were designed and created by MJL Puppet Design and used on camera by prop master Bryan Rodgers (who handled the puppet of the injured girl) and the head of the makeup department for Season 1, Howard Berger (who handled Kelly).

There are several ways to view the scene:

  • Between December 2017 and January 2018, MJL published several photos on the making of the dolls.[11]
  • In February 2019, Berger and the Planetary Union Network published production photos of the filming of the scene.[12][13]

Reception Edit

Viewership Edit

Mad Idolatry was well received by general audiences, and has become a favorite among fans of the series. The episode premiere was watched by roughly 3.53 million television viewers in the United States.[14] It enjoys an 8.6 rating on IMDB, the highest-rated episode of the season.[15]

Critical Response Edit

Though The Orville had been panned by critics for much of the first season, the finale became a favorite of both fans and professional critics alike, and generally taken to be the best-received episode of the year. Michael Ahr of Den of Geek awarded the episode four stars, writing that the innovative plot was not necessarily "game changing, it gave us food for thought and allowed for the evolution of Ed and Kelly’s relationship."[16]

Nick Wanserski of the AV Club, enjoyed the episode as an enjoyable, low-intensity finale that innovated on the typical television plot arch where the protagonists are also the ones who correct an episode's problem:

[T]onight’s episode was surprisingly anti-climactic. And I mean that in a good way. It’s a satisfying defiance of convention that the central problem of tonight’s episode ultimately managed to self-correct without any help from the Orville crew.[17]

Jammer of Jammer's Reviews gave the episode three of four stars, calling Mad Idolatry the best episode of the season and its most ambitious, concluding: "Stories like "Mad Idolatry" have the sort of ambitious themes and scope that could be mined for greatness."[18]

Trivia Edit

  • Originally, there were supposed to be 13 episodes in Season 1, but the original twelfth episode Primal Urges was moved to Season 2, making this episode the twelfth, and not the thirteenth, episode.
  • The originally intended Season 1 finale was to be Identity, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2, but they were moved to Season 2 to allow more room for character development.[19]
  • Lieutenant Malloy holds a pair of binoculars which are in fact a repainted toy periscope from the game Sub Assault.
  • Actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) has praised the episode as the best hour of television he has been a part of.[20]
  • Actress Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) agrees with Kelly's decision to break things off with Ed: "She's right. You wouldn't be able to make decisions if you had to send her down to a fatal mission; you wouldn't be able to do it."[21]
  • The opening credits are amended in recognition of John LaMarr's promotion from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander as seen in the previous episode.

References Edit

  • The rise of the Kelly religion mimics the origins of Roman Catholicism and, less overtly, organized religion as a whole. The religious conflicts and arguments with secularization mirrors Earth's growing secularism and religious extremism of the 20th and 21st centuries.
    • Those accused of crimes are fatally cut on the presumption that if they are innocent, Kelly will heal them. From the Middle Ages through the 17th century, the accused were sometimes given a "Trial by Ordeal," where a typically fatal scenario was imposed upon the accused. For example, women and men accused of witchcraft were thrown into water. If they floated, they were guilty.
  • The Planetary Union's prohibition against "cultural contamination" of an undeveloped civilization constitutes a "Prime Directive" against contact with developing worlds.
  • Ed suggests playing the board game Monopoly in lieu of latchkum while the crew waits for the planet to re-appear.
  • Healing someone from a less developed culture leading to the healer becoming deified occurred in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Who Watches the Watchers.
  • The injured girl healed by Kelly is Jasper McPherson , daughter of the show's associate producer Aaron McPherson.
  • The concept of time dilation on a planet is common in science fiction, but this episode most closely parallels Blink of an Eye from the show Star Trek: Voyager. The starship Voyager witnesses the whole of a planet's history while the people on the surface grow increasingly devoted to the foreign ship.
    • The Voyager sends the Doctor to the surface (who, as a hologram, does not experience the passage of time in the way organic species would) to contact them.
    • Two of the inhabitants journey to the Voyager on their own, mirroring Baleth and Fadolin.
    • MacFarlane may allude to Blink of an Eye here. In the Voyager episode, the character Kelemene says, "I'm willing to offer a recompense." In The Orville, Isaac tells Kelly, "Recompense is unnecessary, Commander."[22]
  • One of the three people hung for disbelief in Kelly is Alina Andrei, the stunt double for Krill school teacher Teleya.

Episode titles Edit

Title Language Translation
盲目崇拜者 (Mángmù Chóngbài Zhě) Chinese "blind worship"
Crise de foi French "crisis of faith"
Gotteskult German "god's cult"
Bálvány imádás Hungarian "idol worship"
Kelly la guaritrice Italian "Kelly the healer"
狂気の偶像崇拝 (Kyōki no Gūzō Sūhai) Japanese "mad idol worship"
Безумное поклонение Russian "mad worship"
Loca idolatría Spanish "mad idolatry"
Божевільне ідолопоклонство Ukranian "mad idolatry"

Mistakes Edit

  • Grayson drops her robe when she reveals her identity to Valondis. When she hurries to the shuttle, she leaves her robe on the floor. As the church is in the center of a busy city, she would be seen by hundreds of people, defeating the reason to wear the disguise.
  • The stained glass depiction of Grayson, based on a promotional image, features her with the hairstyle she sported in the earlier episodes of the season rather than her current one.
  • When the Orville away team encounters three hanging, crucified bodies, carabiners can be spotted between their napes and the poles holding their bodies in place.

Cast Edit

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

Main Cast Edit

Recurring Cast Edit

Uncredited recurring cast Edit

Guest Cast Edit

Uncredited Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Mad Idolatry
  2. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ David A. Goodman (06)". Planetary Union Network. Oct. 14, 2017.
  3. @SethMacFarlane. "That is a wrap on season 1 of @TheOrville -- Thanks to our incomparable cast and crew for everything!". Twitter. Aug. 23, 2017.
  4. "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Adrianne Palicki, Seth McFarlane". Whedonopolis Videos. July 26, 2017.
  5. "Brannon Braga & The Orville Cast Full interview 2017 Panel NYC convention". NYC ComicCon. Nov. 20, 2017.
  6. "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Voyage to Utopia" in The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1 by Jeff Bond (2019). Pg. 17.
  8. "NYCC 2017: Adrianne Palicki & Scott Grimes - The Orville". WithAnAccentTV. Oct. 13, 2017.
  9. Griffin, Jennifer. "THE ORVILLE 2×01 “Primal Urges” Photos Read more at THE ORVILLE 2×01 “Primal Urges” Photos | ScreenSpy". ScreenSpy. Nov. 21, 2018.
  10. u/HillaryEdits. "AMAHi Reddit! Want to talk editing? AMA with Tom Costantino happening here!". Reddit. Aug. 20, 2018.
  11. "What a pleasure designing Kelly from THE ORVILLE for THE ORVILLE! Adrianne Palicki The Orville Seth MacFarlane". MJL Puppet Design. Jan. 17, 2018.
  12. @hoops511. "Looks like the episode we did with these amazing puppets created by my pal Mike Lisa @mjl_puppet_design for THE ORVILLE @theorville will now show the brilliant puppeteer skills of myself and genius prop master Bryan Rodgers @bryan.rodgers106 . Make sure to watch it! @macfarlaneseth @tomtheorville@palicki.adrianne #puppets #spaceadventure#muppets #sagpuppeteers #makeup#teamwork". Instagram. Feb. 6, 2019.
  13. @planetary_union. "New behind the, um, wait. What scene is this? S1 See the mystery clip on Thursday. @TomCostantino @AdriannePalicki @TheOrville @SethMacFarlane @planetary_union #TheOrville". Planetary Union Network. Feb. 5, 2019.
  14. "The Orville:Season One Ratings". Last accessed Jan. 29, 2018.
  15. ""The Orville" Mad Idolatry (TV Episode)". IMDB. Last accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
  16. Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 12 Review: Mad Idolatry". Den of Geek. Dec. 7, 2017.
  17. Wanserski, Nick. "The Orville’s season finale goes out without a single bang". AV Club. Dec. 8, 2017.
  18. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Mad Idolatry". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Jan. 31, 2018.
  19. Trekyards. Mark Jackson Isaac Orville Interview (Issac/Identity PT 1+2) (2019). YouTube. March 9, 2019.
  20. "THE ORVILLE PODCAST EP 14 - THE SCOTT GRIMES INTERVIEW". The Orville Podcast. Dec. 8, 2017.
  21. @TheOrville. "Some things aren't always meant to be. 💔 @AdriannePalicki talks Kelly and Ed's relationship. #TheOrville". Twitter. Dec. 4, 2018.
  22. @jasonbaumgartne. "@SethMacFarlane @TheOrville I noticed during the last episode "Mad Idolatry" this scene and then remembered another scene from the Voyager episode "Blink of an Eye" (S06E12) which had some similarities.  Seth -- was this intentional on your part?  Super impressive my friend!". Twitter. Dec. 13, 2017.
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