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The history of moral progress can be measured by the expansion of fundamental rights to those who have been denied them.Heveena[1]
Sanctuary is the twelfth episode of the second season of The Orville. When the crew of the USS Orville discovers a hidden Moclan colony for females, the secret threatens to fracture the Planetary Union.

The episode was written by Joe Menosky and directed by Jonathan Frakes, who also directed the Season 1 episode Pria. Music was composed by Andrew Cottee. Sanctuary aired on April 11, 2019, after a repeat of the episodes Identity, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.

By relying upon diplomacy and debate to create (and resolve) the story's problem, fans accepted the episode as one of The Orville's best almost immediately after it aired. Interestingly, Sanctuary is one of several Season 2 episode that received overall higher praise from professional critics than from general audiences. It holds a rating of 8.4 on IMDB, above the show's average,[2] but was watched live by only 2.585 million American households, the lowest in the show's history.[3]

Trailer Edit

Fox aired a trailer for Sanctuary at the conclusion of Lasting Impressions.

The Orville 'Sanctuary'

The Orville 'Sanctuary'

Plot summaryEdit

Act 1Edit

Admiral Halsey informs the senior staff of the USS Orville that in the light of the Kaylon attack the Moclans have proposed a new round of weapons upgrades for all Exploratory-class vessels and above. He also informs them that they are transporting a Moclan Science Division engineer to a research vessel in the Nekkar system.

The Orville receives weapons upgrades at a dockyard orbiting Moclus. Chief of Security Talla Keyali escorts the engineer, Toren, and his mate Korick to their quarters. In the privacy of their unit, the two Moclans nervously discuss secret "cargo" they managed to sneak past the Orville's scanners.

Act 2Edit

In the ship's classroom, Second Officer Bortus' son Topa gets into a fight with a girl named Olivia and shoves her. Topa says he doesn't have to share with females. The teacher reprimands him. That evening, she summons his parents Bortus and Klyden to discuss his behavior. Klyden suggests separating the boys, but Bortus says he will speak with their son. When Bortus speaks with Topa, the boy justifies his behavior by arguing females are inferior and says it was Klyden who taught him that. Topa leaves; Klyden defends himself, arguing that he is only passing down Moclan traditions.

Captain Mercer and First Officer Kelly Grayson send Bortus to investigate a power fluctuation on Deck C. The Second Officer visits Korick and Toren, who claim they had simply adjusted their food synthesizer. After a quick scan of their quarters, however, he discovers their "cargo" is siphoning power from the ship. Bortus orders them to open the case and discovers a Moclan child asleep in a stasis chamber.

Act 3 Edit

The couple reveals that the child is their daughter and they do not want her to undergo a gender corrective procedure or to live in hiding on Moclus as an outcast. They continue that the Retepsian government has granted them asylum and that the captain of the research vessel has agreed to take them there. They beg Bortus not to report them to Ed and reveal their secret. Bortus tells the commanders that the Moclans are using a stasis chamber for perishable supplies. Grateful, Toren replies, "We will not forget your kindness."

Bortus removes Topa from class and takes him to Korick and Toren's quarters to see the female child. Topa thinks there are no Moclan females, but Bortus explains that there are a few born each generation.

The Orville rendezvouses with the Moclan vessel and Korick and Toren depart by shuttle.

Later, Captain Mercer summons Bortus to his office, where Kelly, Talla, and Doctor Claire Finn await. Topa has revealed the truth of Toren and Korick's child. Bortus should have informed them so Claire could have verified their story. Ed orders an interception with the Moclan ship.

The Orville's bridge crew are unable to trace the Moclan vessel, but after Helmsman Gordon Malloy suggests Isaac scan for mass ion signatures, the vessel is found not heading to Retepsia but a nearby Class 6 nebula. Realizing the Moclan ship's mission has nothing to do with research, Ed commands Gordon to set an intercept course at maximum speed.

Once the Orville arrives, the crew finds a K-type star hidden inside the nebula with an orbiting, habitable planet. Scanners show thousands of Moclans living there. Mercer, Grayson, Bortus, and Keyali travel down by shuttle, but are quickly surrounded by a dozen armed Moclan women.

Act 4 Edit

The Moclans bring them to a village informally known as "The Sanctuary," inhabited with Moclan women and children, as well as Korick and Toren. In a hut, their leader Heveena recognizes Mercer and his crew. She reveals that far more females are born than the Moclan government admits. The planet alone is home to six-thousand women. Heveena and Osaia, debate fleeing the planet, but Ed proposes they apply to be an independent colony in the Planetary Union. Heveena accepts.

Admiral Halsey informs Ed and Kelly that Heveena's request for a hearing was approved by Planetary Union Central. The Moclan delegation is furious and demands to know the location of the system to extradite the "fugitives." Ed and Heveena fly to the USS Burnell to the Union headquarters on Earth while the Orville will remain in orbit over by the planet.

While shuttling to the Burnell, Heveena listens to Dolly Parton's song "9 to 5." Enamored, she declares the song the voice of their "revolution."

The Planetary Union Council convenes. Heveena addresses the Council over the objection of Dojin, the ambassador of Moclus. Heveena asks the Council to admit the sanctuary planet as a colony and quotes the lyrics of Dolly Parton. After, Dojin promises that Moclus will leave the Union if the Council admits the planet.

Act 5Edit

Back on the Orville, a Moclan Battle cruiser approaches. Its captain, Jakohn, claims they are there to monitor the colony. Kelly orders a yellow alert.

Dojin argues the colony is essentially a child-trafficking planet, and reminds the Union that Moclus is their main arms supplier. Captain Mercer and the Human admiralty debate the morality of their next move, and what would happen if Moclus allies with the Krill against the Kaylon.

Meanwhile, Kelly asks Bortus what he will do if Moclus leaves the Union, but he does not know. When Klyden approaches, Bortus confronts him about his prejudice against women. They are interrupted by news that four Moclan shuttles are heading to the planet and the battle cruiser raised its Deflector Screens.

Kelly confronts Jakohn. He answers that they have been given orders to extradite the colonists to Moclus. The Orville contacts the Union.

Act 6 Edit

The Human admirals demand Dojin to retract their soldiers, but he responds that they are merely apprehending "fugitives" under their jurisdiction. While official orders to the Orville are "to do nothing," Ed subtly directs Kelly to go to the planet.

Kelly and Bortus take a shuttle, which is caught in the battle cruiser's tractor beam. Keyali makes a crucial decision to fire on the Moclan ship's tractor beam emitters, which ignites a battle between the ships. On the surface of the sanctuary colony, a skirmish breaks out between the two Union officers and the Moclan soldiers. Moclan women also join the fight and together they overpower the soldiers. In space, the Orville runs circles around the Moclan battle cruiser but take hull damage. Malloy takes the ship into the nebula to confuse their electromagnetic scans.

Act 7Edit

At the Council, the prospect of peace looks fraught. The Xelayan delegation and a delegation of an unknown species believe the conflict to be an internal Moclan matter, while the Moclan representative threatens to secede. Captain Mercer has a different argument: He warns that if the Kaylon destroy the Moclans, the only Moclans in the galaxy will be female because their world is masked by a nebula; then Mercer quips that they would still be a single-sex species.

Admiral Halsey proposes a provisional compromise to delay their recognition of the colony and the colonists end their clandestine trafficking network immediately. In exchange, the Moclan government will agree to leave the colonists in peace and take no further action against them now or in the future.

Back on the colony world, battle is interrupted when news of a Council agreement arrives.

The colonists rebuild their lives. Ed apologizes to Heveena that their plan did not succeed as they had hoped, yet she reassures them that the colonists escaped corrective surgery and imprisonment. She says that her people can rest with the knowledge they are safe; a revolution has begun and they will rise one small victory at a time. She asks if Dolly Parton will be proud of them, and Mercer answers 'yes.'

On the Orville, Bortus sees Topa playing with the same girl he had pushed, and smiles.

Production Edit

Sanctuary was written by executive producer Joe Menosky at an unknown date, possibly as early as 2017 (see discussion under sub-section Writing).

In an interview with Trek Movie, director Jonathan Frakes teased that the action in Sanctuary would be "epic." Adding:

We spent a lot of time on another planet I can say. The casting is epic with Ted Danson, Victor Garber, Tony Todd and somebody named Marina Sirtis is in it. It is a big ambitious episode. But The Orville has done that this season. They have expanded their approach. It used to be – not a ship-based show, but a more traditional episodic event. But now I don’t know if it is influenced by [Star Trek:] Discovery or if it is just audience appetite, but the episodes compared to what I did last season is more fun when it is a bigger event.[4]

He also commented that the show sought to transition from episodic storytelling to character studies.[4]

Writing Edit

The first mention of the episode might have been in December 2017 when wardrobe designer Joseph Porro told Planetary Union Network that one episode would feature a great many aliens, far more than seen in any episode of Season 1, and described it as "eye candy."[5] It is believed Porro was referring to the many aliens of seen at the Planetary Union Council, the most number of costumes of any episode of Season 2. However, the episode's writer, Joe Menosky, was not hired until February 2018, two months after Porro's comments.

The most likely explanation is that another writer, possibly creator Seth MacFarlane, engineered the scenes in the Union Council for a different story, which Menosky later incorporated into his script for Sanctuary. Writers have done this for other episodes; for example, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong wrote the episode Firestorm, but many elements of the story came from MacFarlane.[6]

Another possibility is that Menosky wrote the script for Sanctuary prior to joining The Orville as part of a speculative script pitch, and the script was quickly purchased prior to formally hiring Menosky and circulated among development heads for early preparation.[7]

Preparing to air Edit

Jonathan Frakes spoke candidly and excitedly about Sanctuary during the summer of 2018, revealing that F. Murray Abraham would join as a Union admiral, Tony Todd would appear as a Moclan, and Ron Canada would return as Admiral Tucker.[8]

Frakes' comments may reflect an early stage of development. Abraham's character may be an admiral, though his canonical title is the Planetary Union Council's chairman and he does not wear a uniform on screen (note that he does wear a unique command insignia on his left breast). Todd appears as the Moclan delegate Dojin.

The title Sanctuary was first revealed on January 25, 2019.[9]

Deleted scenes Edit

Editor and associate producer Tom Costantino has said that material from the episode was deleted during editing due to time constraints.[10] These scenes have not been released to the public.

Reception Edit

Viewership Edit

General audiences enjoyed Sanctuary greatly, and it quickly garnered a rating of 8.4 on IMDB - above the show's average.[2] Sadly, the episode was watched live by only 2.585 million American households, the lowest in the show's history.[3]

Critical response Edit

Professional critics adored the episode for its reliance upon diplomacy and debate, which some likened to a return to "classic Trekkian" storytelling elements.[11]

Nick Wanserski gave the episode its second 'A' grade of the series, after Identity, Pt. 2. He called attention to its strong central plot and good editing during action sequences, and added that Sanctuary "hits home what a damn shame it would be" if The Orville were not renewed for a third season.[12] (The Orville was not renewed for another month.)

Jammer of Jammer's Reviews gave the episode 3.5 stars of four, finding Sanctuary to be "well-written ..., well-acted, and well-executed.... This ticks a lot of good old-school Trek boxes, and ticks them well."[11]

Trivia Edit

The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

A composite video with outtakes from this, and other, Season 2 episodes.

  • Outtakes and bloopers from this episode were compiled by the show's editors for the Season 2 wrap party and were published by the Planetary Union Network.[13]
  • Creator Seth MacFarlane originally wanted actress Marina Sirtis for a different role until suggested by Jonathan Frakes.[4]
    • Both Frakes and MacFarlane texted Sirtis with an offer at the same time.[4]
    • Due to a last-minute scheduling change, Sirtis had to perform her role on camera a mere 24 hours after she was hired.[4]
  • Gordon says the colony planet is 12 light years from the Nekkar system. The star Nekkar is in the Boötes constellation, roughly 226 light years from Earth. That means The Sanctuary is between 214 and 238 light years from Earth.
  • The female Moclan baby Mersa was actually a prop made by property master Bryan Rodgers.[14]
    • Post-production crew digitally superimposed shots of a real baby onto scenes the doll for added realism.[15]
  • The Planetary Union Council meeting features numerous species both old and new. In addition to Humans, Moclans and Xelayans:
  • The sides of Mersa's stasis case code panel read "ǽgh kj mo" both forwards and backwards, according to the cipher printed in The World of the Orville. (See Moclan § Language.)
    • Fans speculate that the book's cipher was an early, outdated version and that the real translation reads "mo kl an" (Moclan). This is unconfirmed.
    • The center of the panel contain four unknown symbols that are probably numbers as number symbols are still undeciphered.
    • The center of the panel also contain two buttons with small sentences that have not yet been deciphered as well.
    • Despite the fact that Talla says the stasis case looks heavy, the prop was fairly light.[15]
  • This episode marks the first appearance of a Moclan space station and the prominent appearance of a large number of Moclan ships like the battlecruiser and transport vessel.
    • When all Union ships "Explorer-class and above" undergo upgrades in orbit around Moclus, the only Union ships present are several Leviathan- and Science-class ships and the Orville herself.

Timeline Edit

  • This episode takes place over a minimum of three days, but likely many more.
    • The weapons refit took at most one day.
    • When Bortus discovered Mersa, the Orville was only a few hours away from the transport ship.
    • Topa pushed Olivia at least a full day before Bortus took Topa to Mersa.
    • Based on the distance of The Sanctuary from Earth and the Orville's top flying speed,[16] it took between 20 and 24 hours to travel from the refuge to Planetary Union Central.
  • Toren states that he has been mates with Korick for nine years, which places their mating at 2412.

References Edit

  • Ed complains that the Orville feels like a taxi cab. In the previous episode, Lasting Impressions, the ship was responsible for transporting the Saratoga Springs time capsule.
  • Sanctuary features the song "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton.
    • This is the first episode to use a musical montage during a fight sequence.
  • Heveena quoted the works of a different author, though she did not know who said it: "Every revolution begins with a single act of defiance." The quote is typically attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The USS Burnell takes Ed and Heveena to the Council. It is probably named after astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Episode titles Edit

Title Language Translation
Le Sanctuaire French "the sanctuary"
Im Inneren des Nebels German "inside the nebula"
Menedék Hungarian "shelter"
Santuario Italian "sanctuary"
歴史の一歩 (Rekishi no Ippo) Japanese "one step in history"
Убежище Russian "shelter"
Santuario Spanish "sanctuary"

Mistakes Edit

 Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Special guest cast Edit

Special recurring cast Edit

Recurring cast Edit

Uncredited recurring cast Edit

Uncredited Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Sanctuary
  2. 2.0 2.1 Episode List. IMDB. Last accessed May 13, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Orville:Season Two Ratings. TV Series Finale. Last accessed May 14, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Pascale, Anthony. "Interview: Jonathan Frakes On Casting Marina Sirtis And What ‘The Orville’ And ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Share". TrekMovie. April 10, 2019.
  5. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Joseph A. Porro (13)". Planetary Union Network. Dec. 20, 2017.
  6. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 154.
  7. A third explanation is that Porro was not referring to Sanctuary. Sanctuary airs very late in Season 2, and Porro might not have seen a script with such a late production date. The problem with this theory is that Sanctuary was the only Season 2 episode to feature more alien costumes than the Season 1 episodes Old Wounds and Command Performance.
  8. Iacovino, Kayla. "STLV18: Jonathan Frakes Reveals Ted Danson And More Stars Join Marina Sirtis In His ‘The Orville’ Episode". TrekMovie. Aug. 4, 2018.
  9. The Orville. Fox Sweden. Last accessed Jan. 25, 2019.
  10. "Tom Costantino, Co-Producer". Quantum Drive. Sept. 10, 2019.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Sanctuary". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed May 13, 2019.
  12. Wanserski, Nick. "A smart and kinetic The Orville makes the case for independence". AV Club. April 12, 2019.
  13. THE ORVILLE SEASON 2 GAG REEL. Planetary Union Network. April 30, 2019.
  14. @BryanRodgerssoa. "Here are a couple more @GDNaturedVLLN  renderings of the  Moclan baby stasis conversion along with proof it takes a village to create a Moclan village.". April 12, 2019.
  15. 15.0 15.1 THE ORVILLE | Sanctuary - Becoming A Moclan "BTS" | SHAWN T. ANDREW INTERVIEW. Egotastic FunTime. June 5, 2020.
  16. See Episode 1x05: Pria.
  17. The Orville: Sanctuary. Video Detective. June 8, 2020.
  18. Full Cast & Crew. IMDB. Last accessed June 29, 2020.
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