Pria is the fifth episode of the first season of the The Orville. Charlize Theron guest stars as the titular Pria Lavesque, a time-travelling antiques dealer determined to steal the USS Orville for private collectors in the future.
The episode was written by Seth MacFarlane and directed by Jonathan Frakes. It features the music of John Debney. Pria was originally written as the sixth episode of the season after Krill, but producers swapped the order after they learned Theron would be unavailable.
Despite middle-of-the-road ratings among television audiences in the United States, Pria proved a hit among critics who gave the episode some of its strongest reviews until that point in the season. Two years after airing, one writer reflected that Pria "marked something of a turning point for The Orville."
Fox released a 30-second promotional teaser on September 28, 2017. A narrator announces that actress Theron will guest star on The Orville the upcoming Thursday and that Pria may be "the most surprising episode yet." First Officer Kelly Grayson says, "She may not be what she seems." Captain Ed Mercer tells someone off camera, "Give me back my ship." Helmsman Gordon Malloy tells the bridge: "I think everyone's going to want to see this."
The bridge crew of the USS Orville enjoys an episode of Seinfeld. Isaac, however, does not understand the humor of the show. Helmsman Gordon Malloy explains that slapstick comedy is enjoyable, and promises to show Isaac why later.
The Orville shortly after receives an emergency message from a mining ship caught on a sun diver, a moribund comet trapped in the gravitational pull of a star. From her ship, consortium miner Pria Lavesque is patched to the bridge, who says that she is in trouble.
Lavesque tells the Orville that the heat of the nearby star has damaged her ship beyond recovery. Captain Ed Mercer, Malloy, and Chief of Security Alara Kitan land on the ship by shuttle. They take Lavesque aboard and quickly launch back to the Orville. The star's gravity proves too strong for the shuttle's engines, but Navigator John LaMarr reins it in via the ship's tractor beam.
Back on the Orville, Lavesque is given a temporary quarters and invited to join the officers for cocktails later that evening. Meanwhile, Isaac enters the bridge with Mr. Potato Head pieces on his robotic head. Malloy cackles and explains that this was a practical joke and that it is now Isaac's turn to prank him.
At cocktail hour, Mercer and Lavesque connect over similar childhood experiences growing up in Massachusetts, Earth. After, Lavesque invites herself into Mercer's quarters to thank him personally and she kisses his cheek.
Grayson searches the Vega Mining Consortium data logs for anyone named "Pria Lavesque" but to no avail. She approaches Mercer in Engineering where he is introducing Lavesque to the greater crew. Grayson tells Mercer in private that the lack of a personnel file for Lavesque is suspicious, but Mercer dismisses her request to search Lavesque's quarters.
Grayson convinces Kitan to investigate Lavesque's room, and the two find a strange metallic box under her bed, which their scanners are unable to penetrate. Lavesque enters and the pair is forced to end their search early.
Mercer is furious that Grayson and Kitan searched their guest's room without probable cause. They mention the impenetrable box, but Mercer retorts, "So it could just be a belt buckle pin for all you know?" He formally reprimands Kitan. When Kitan exits, Mercer discloses that he believes Grayson is concerned only as he develops intimate feelings with Lavesque. They are interrupted by an emergency on the bridge.
The ship is rocked by collisions with invisible objects in space. Isaac believes that the ship is caught in a dark matter storm. With no way to detect dark matter, their deflectors deplete rapidly and destruction grows imminent. However, Lavesque convinces Mercer and Isaac to flood space with neutral axion particles through their weapons array, which renders the dark matter visible.
Malloy is unable to navigate through the astounding amount of destructive dark matter. With no options left, Mercer turns helm control over to Lavesque, who successfully navigates them to safety. The Orville survives but its communications array was completely destroyed. Lavesque gives Mercer the coordinates to a nearby mining outpost capable of repairing the ship.
Mercer takes Lavesque on a date in the Environmental Simulator to show her a recreation of Unuk 4 and to get better acquainted. They kiss and have sex in Mercer's quarters. In bed, Mercer opens up to her about his marriage and the affair, and admits that she is the first person he trusts since the divorce.
Later, Malloy wakes to find his left leg missing below the knee. He hops angrily to the bridge to confront Isaac, who informs Malloy that he played a practical joke on Malloy. Malloy is sent to Sick Bay to regenerate his limb in the Mass Tissue Regenerator.
Lieutenant Yaphit discovers the metallic box planted inside their computer system, which cannot be removed. Mercer, Grayson, and Kitan storm Lavesque's room; she tells them that she is a time traveler from the 29th century.
Lavesque presses buttons on the skin of her arm to activate the box and assume control of the ship. She explains that the Orville and its crew were supposed to be destroyed in the dark matter storm, but that she traveled back in time to rescue the ship and sell it to private antique collectors from the 29th century who will bid a high price. The good news, Lavesque continues, is that the crew gets to live on in her century when they "should" have died in the 25th. It is also revealed that Isaac hid Malloy's severed leg in the ceiling in Lavesque's room.
Chief Engineer Steve Newton uses a diamond drill to break into the box and Isaac scans its data stored inside, but the box sends a fatal electrical shock into Isaac before he can report his findings.
The Orville enters the wormhole to the 29th century. On the other side waits a Benzian ship of extraordinarily advanced technology. However, Lavesque is surprised by a sudden attack from Grayson and forcibly restrained. LaMarr modulates the ship's deflectors to evade the Benzian craft's tractor beam while Malloy pilots back through the wormhole.
Kitan hauls Lavesque to the brig and Isaac is revealed to be alive, having uploaded his consciousness to the ship's computer just before inspecting the box. A humbled Mercer tells the crew that he will never again make the mistake of not trusting his First Officer.
Lavesque, now captured, pleads with Mercer to send the Orville back through the wormhole before the current timeline is irreparably damaged. Mercer explains that time is always open to change and that he is not beholden to continue the future's preferred version of events. He orders the bridge to destroy the entrance to the wormhole and Lavesque disappears.
Pria was originally written to take place after Krill but the order was swapped due to availability issues with Theron. Filming was completed during the week of May 2, 2017 under the direction of Jonathan Frakes. Filming took roughly eight days while composer John Debney's score took three weeks to complete.
Creator Seth MacFarlane wrote the script for the episode some time between June and October, 2016. However, even after completing Pria, MacFarlane lacked a suitable, suspenseful scenario where the crew of the Orville would be introduced to the character of Pria Lavesque. Science consultant André Bormanis suggested stranding Lavesque on a "sun diver," a comet colliding with a star. MacFarlane loved the idea. "Everybody thought that could look really amazing," Bormanis recalled. "And it gave us a good 'ticking clock' to build suspense into a rescue mission."
To simulate Gordon as one-legged and hopping onto the bridge, actor Scott Grimes wore a large green sock over his "amputated" leg. The sock was then greenscreened out during digital processing. According to Peter Macon (Bortus), that scene took 15 to 20 takes due to the cast laughing constantly. For the scene when Gordon hobbles onto the bridge with a tiny, partially grown leg, effects make-up artist Howard Berger designed a small, prosthetic leg for Grimes to wear. Grimes has added that he spent a total of 12 hours hopping as an amputee on set, which has left him with permanent back pain.
According to The Orville: Original Television Soundtrack - Season 1, the songs composed for this episode are "Searching Pria's Room / Dark Matter Storm / Navigating the Storm," "Approaching the Coordinates / Isaac Saves the Crew," and "Pria's Theme." All of the songs were meant to convey the suspense of the episode with the exception of "Pria's Theme," which was scored as a love theme.
Preparing to air
After Entertainment Weekly leaked news that Charlize Theron would guest star in the episode, MacFarlane revealed that recruiting Theron was remarkably simple. "I had worked with her on the western that I did [A Million Ways to Die in the West], and I had one of the best experiences of my life. You know, call and ask her to do the show, and . . . she astonishingly said, 'Yes, I'll come do your little TV show.'" (In fact, Theron once said that working with MacFarlane on the Western film helped her recover from a two-year malaise on acting.) Coincidentally, Frakes recommended Theron to MacFarlane for the role of Pria, unaware that MacFarlane had already cast her.
Comparisons with Star Trek
I call it Star Trek with comedy.— Jonathan Frakes
The episode has received attention for its notable similarities with the Star Trek franchise, especially The Next Generation and The Original Series. The character of Pria Lavesque parallels the time-travelling antiques thief Berlinghoff Rasmussen and the ethically-questionable archaeologist Vash. For example, Rasmussen claims to be a historian from the future in order to gain the trust of the USS Enterprise and steal valuable items from the ship. Though in the case of Rasmussen he was from the past and stole future technology and didn't actually originate there.
Pria's plot points resemble the episode Mudd's Women:
|The Enterprise rescues transport captain Harry Mudd and three hypnotically beautiful women from a cargo ship about to implode.||The Orville rescues the disarmingly beautiful mining captain Pria from a mining ship about to crash into a star.|
|Rescue depleted and damaged the ship's lithium crystals, and the Enterprise is forced to go to a mining company base for repairs.||Damage from a dark matter storm forces the Orville to a mining consortium base for repairs.|
|Mudd is revealed to be a smuggler and con man.||Pria is revealed to be an antiquities thief and con woman.|
Not all the similarities were coincidental. Frakes as director intentionally aimed to recreate the look and feel of The Next Generation, in which he co-starred about 20 years before, while capturing a lighthearted, funny tone to appeal to younger viewers:
- I was afraid that it was going to be like Family Guy, and it’s not really, but it’s also not really as serious as Next Generation. I think Seth [MacFarlane], and Brannon [Braga], and whoever else is involved in all this, they found a tone that clicks with this audience, either the millennial audience or the old school audience. Everyone is very pleasantly surprised at how well the show has been received. I’m happy to see the homage, and I’m happy to see success for whoever wants to steal good ideas.
Additionally, several Star Trek shows had visitors from the 29th century, which may have inspired the choice to have Lavesque come from that particular century.
Pria was well received by TV audiences, and enjoys an 8.2 rating on IMDB. It was seen by 3.43 million viewers in the United States. Although respectable, it was the lowest viewer rating until that point and the third-lowest of the season.
Pria still performed well compared to other shows in the same time slot, and it now became apparent that a growing community of ardent fans was forming around The Orville. Shortly after the episode aired, producer David A. Goodman remarked:
- The feedback's been great: I think the audience is really responding; ratings have been great. Fox really did a great job promoting the show so people could find it, which obviously helps. In an environment of 450 television shows, to have Fox behind you is very helpful; but the audience stayed and they're coming back, and that's really gratifying.
While general television audiences were strongly enthusiastic for the show, professional critics responded more tepidly. In a joint interview held shortly after Pria aired, actors Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) and Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) remarked:
- Grimes: It's been tough reading some of the critiques of the show because we knew that were doing something different.
- Palicki: And special.
- Grimes: When the first reviews came out, it's like, I really wish everyone had seen 10 episodes first, then tell us what you did or didn't like. But you had to see what was happening.
Later, the interviewer noted that fans love the show, and their reaction is different from that of critics:
- Grimes: It has been great. That's the thing that's kept us...
- Palicki: I think that the fans are loving it...
- Grimes: Yeah. And I've seen reviews go, 'You know what? I was wrong. You know, now that I've-' And that's good to watch too.
- Palicki: 'Now that I get what it is or I'm seeing it evolve.' You know. Ultimately the fans were right as they usually are.
The division between fans and critics narrowed when The Orville enjoyed some of its highest praise of the season from critics after Pria aired. Michael Ahr of Den of Geek gave the episode 3.5 stars, writing that the time travel plot was well-done but that the romantic subplot felt "clunky." Jammer of Jammer's Reviews awarded the episode 2.5 out of four stars, noting: "Pria' features probably the most successful and natural integration of comedy into an Orville episode yet."
Nick Wanserski of the AV Club, who had given the show some of its harshest criticism, praised the episode as "the first episode of the season that feels like taking a lungful of real air. It’s clever . . . and generally delivers a packed, often very funny hour of television."
- This episode features one of the smallest casts of the entire show with only the main cast and Steve Newton, Yaphit, Pria, and the ship's Computer.
- The beverages drunk by Mercer, Lavesque, and Grayson at the officer's cocktail hour were in fact really alcoholic, and were glasses of whiskey.
- This was the second episode in a row to feature a major cast member from Seth MacFarlane's film, A Million Ways to Die in the West.
- Director Jonathan Frakes is best known for playing Commander Will Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also directed the first-season Star Trek: Discovery episode, "Despite Yourself", which aired a couple of months after "Pria," making Frakes the first individual to direct episodes of both "competing" shows.
- Coincidentally, the Discovery episode also includes a time-travel element in its plot.
- To simulate Gordon as one-legged and hopping onto the Bridge, actor Scott Grimes wore a large green sock over his "amputated" leg. The sock was then greenscreened out during digital processing.
- Pria says she captured Amelia Earhart and brought her to the 29th century for the same reason that she sought the Orville.
- Adrianne Palicki (Kelly) and Theron declined the use of stuntwomen for their fight on the Bridge, preferring to duke it out themselves.
- According to Palicki, all of the male crew members stayed on set to watch them fight.
- This episode was written to take place after Krill but the order was swapped due to availability issues with Theron.
- While filming this episode, Frakes brought actor Brent Spiner to the set. Spiner is best known for playing the character of Data on The Next Generation.
- During the scene where Gordon sticks oversized Mr. Potato Head pieces to Isaac, pieces kept falling off. Jackson later recalls: "[E]veryone found that hilarious. And I wouldn’t even notice, to be honest with you because you can’t feel it when you lose something."
- An early visual effects draft of the wormhole was markedly brighter and spinning rapidly. Associate producer and editor Tom Costantino has posted a video of it.
- The lighting pattern of Pria's override device (i.e., the silver block she implanted in Engineering) is intentionally the same as the lighting on the M-5 computer in Star Trek: The Original Series.
- The scene where Gordon talks to Isaac lying dead upon a Sick Bay bed was actually filmed later, after the episode was completed, in order to add context and sentimentality between the characters.
- The episode takes place around December 2419 and, briefly, in the 29th century.
- In the original timeline, the Orville is destroyed by a dark matter storm.
- In 1937, Pria captures Amelia Earhart.
- The Orville finds and rescues Pria from the comet within seven minutes, 23 seconds.
- Ed, Alara, and Gordon land on the comet after in five minutes.
- Ed's cocktail party for senior officers takes place at 1800 hours.
- In the 29th century,
- After Pria teaches the crew how to map dark matter, the technology is adapted by the Union within a year. Dark matter cartography becomes a new, important position in the episode Ja'loja.
- The song that plays during Ed's cocktail hour is "Penthouse Serenade" by Errol Garner.
- MacFarlane has confirmed that Mercer's heated response to Grayson, "I never do it near the food. You know that," is in fact a nod to writer P.G. Wodehouse and the show Jeeves and Wooster ("I never do it near the food. You know that, Jeeves.").
- The Bridge crew watches the Seinfeld episode "The Junior Mint."
- Ed and Pria reminisce about growing up in Massachusetts, both visiting a Salem witch trials museum. Ed had "nightmares for a month" after seeing a holographic interrogation of Giles Corey at the museum. In real life, Salem, Massachusetts has several visceral witch trials museums, albeit none with holographic projections.
- Ed chastises Kelly for playing "Nancy Drew," the titular character of a number of mystery detective books.
- Isaac lies when he says that his eyelights serve no function but are merely aesthetic. As revealed in Identity, Pt. 1, they are the barrels of Kaylon gun turrets.
- In order to meet the Orville for the first time, Pria strands herself on a sun diver in the Gatria system and sends a distress call. Gatria is a real star roughly 182 light years from Earth.
- Because the wormhole to the 29th century is a day's journey from Gatria and factoring the Orville's top speed at over 10 light years per hour, the wormhole is between 58 and 422 light years from Earth depending on the direction the Orville travels.
- When the Orville discovers the Horizon trapped in a sun diver, the crew asks if extracting it by tractor beam is possible. In the background, Isaac's screen shows that its likelihood of success is 0.214 percent.
|普莉亞 (pǔ lì yà)||Chinese||"Pria"|
- Isaac severs Malloy's leg at the knee. However, when the amputated limb is shown, it is severed at the hip.
Names and title are as they appear in the credits unless otherwise noted.
- Seth MacFarlane as Capt. Ed Mercer
- Adrianne Palicki as Cmdr. Kelly Grayson
- Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Claire Finn
- Scott Grimes as Lt. Gordon Malloy
- Peter Macon as Lt. Cmdr. Bortus
- Halston Sage as Lt. Alara Kitan
- J. Lee as Lt. John Lamarr (as J Lee)
- Mark Jackson as Isaac
Special Guest Star
- Larry Joe Campbell as Steve Newton
- Norm Macdonald as Yaphit (voice only)
- Rachael MacFarlane as Computer (voice only)
- Unknown as Benzian (voice only)
- Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld (archive footage)
- Michael Richards as Kramer (archive footage)
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