Let’s talk about this shot in “New Dimensions”:

That’s Kelly reacting to Ed kissing her on the cheek at the end of a long-delayed apology. See, this is the episode where he finally learns what we’ve known since the pilot: he’s only Captain because Kelly, guilt-ridden over her part in their divorce and willing to call in a lot of political favors, made it happen. This could have been the type of secret repeatedly teased throughout the season, possibly via continued status updates from Kelly to Victor Garber’s Admiral character. Instead and probably for the best, it’s largely been forgotten until Kelly accidentally mentions it in passing in “New Dimensions,” setting off a crisis of conscience in Ed.

This actually comes about because Kelly suggests LaMarr for a possible promotion to Chief Engineer. She, as it turns out, is a bit of a Kingmaker, sensing greatness and untapped potential in others (in this case, two men) and giving them the necessary push to become their better selves. She did it with Ed, and here she is doing it again with LaMarr, whose personnel file reveals an aptitude and intelligence level rarely displayed in what has been an undistinguished and unambitious career. When Ed expresses doubt over her view of LaMarr’s potential but relents and yields to his faith in her opinion she inadvertently lets it out that Ed’s only in the Captain’s chair because of her (a fact she sees as validating the strength of her opinions).

Thus, “New Dimensions” turns into a story about male ego and ambition or lack thereof. Ed doesn’t know how to proceed forward as Captain without second guessing every one of his decisions since he didn’t actually earn his promotion in the first place whereas LaMarr wants nothing to do with his potential promotion until it turns out he’s kind of good at it.

This, in Star Trek terms, is mostly a LaMarr episode. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your opinion of the character, sort of like how saying a Counselor Troi episode means something different to Next Gen fans than saying a Data episode. LaMarr, to this point, has been a comic relief character, even when his life was in peril in the Black Mirror scenario. On top of that, J. Lee’s has a seriously limited range as an actor. So, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to a serious LaMarr episode, and I’m not really looking forward to another one. Through a combination of his acting and a script which overly burdened the entire cast with endless technobabble, “New Dimensions” falls about as flat as the 2-D dimension (which looks oddly like a screensaver, ala Malloy’s joke in the last episode) the characters visit.

That being said, I do like the idea of a story about a crewmember being pushed to achieve their full potential. What I would really like, though, would be a story about Kelly achieving her potential.

Simply put, why isn’t she Captain? Why is she being used to prop up two male co-stars in “New Dimensions”? There is a tinge of sadness in her face in the shot I included, but it is followed by a more self-assured expression, Adrianne Palicki playing the moment as Kelly feeling justifiably satisfied with being so right about both Ed and LaMarr. The temporary display of sadness, I take it, is meant to reflect her complicated feelings over not being with Ed anymore, his kissing her on the cheek serving as a physical reminder of what they used to have versus what they have now. But for a moment I imagined Kelly thinking to herself, “Maybe it’s time I got my own ship,” and I liked it.

“New Dimensions” is The Orville’s equivalent of the old expression about there being a great woman behind every great man, with Kelly slipping into a nurturing role to coach the men around her. I didn’t take it as a sexist storyline. In fact, I think there was a lot of truth in it about male and female tendencies. The episode, to its credit, arrives at a point of chastising the idiot male, in this case, Ed, who couldn’t accept help. He has to learn to get over himself. But it struck me the far more interesting storyline might be Kelly seizing her own dreams instead of pushing others into theirs, that is unless she doesn’t actually want to be Captain. Has anyone asked?

THE NOTES & NITPICKS 

  1. Goodbye, Chief Engineer whose name I could never remember. Due to his parting joke, I will now think of him as He Who Drinks a Lot.
  2. He Who Drinks a Lot is leaving to design a space station? That has to be some kind of Chief O’Brien going from Next Gen to DS9 reference, right?
  3. A cat on the bridge? There’s no way Alara, the Chief of Security, would second it.
  4. Totally expected them to make an Alf-loves-to-eat-cat joke when Bortus asked what a cat was.
  5. Might this finally be the end of Malloy and LaMarr’s asinine pranks? Nah. They’ll probably be gluing people’s buttcheeks to toilet seats next week.
  6. When exactly did Yaphet go from protesting LaMarr’s promotion to embracing him and sincerely asking if there was anything he could do to help? Being on the verge of death-by-flattening probably helped.
  7. Is using Doctor Who was a reference point to help explain “bigger on the inside” another unnecessary Orville pop culture reference? Or a classic Star Trek “it’s just like…” explanation?
  8. “I behaved like a whiny little bitch” – Another Orville line you’ll probably never hear in an actual Star Trek show.
  9. Yaphet got so thoroughly screwed in this episode. The dude who literally cut off a piece of his body and fed it to someone else is now his boss even though he has absolutely no credentials and almost no work experience for the job. Bitter pill to swallow, man.
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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

2 Comments

  1. I agree with the heart of your review. But, I don’t know why you had to turn it into a battle of the sexes.

    Ed’s ego could just have been “ego”. It didn’t have to be “male ego”.

    Kelly could have been described as propping up two other characters, not “male co-stars”.

    Seems to me that Kelly has been nurturing and coaching both males and females this season. So, why make it out that the writers are sexist? Her character could just be someone who likes to build people up. It doesn’t have to be because she’s a woman.

    Setting that aside, my thoughts about the episode are:

    The issue of LaMarr and Malloy taking a glob of Yaffat should have been a career ender — or at least a demotion. Certainly not merely a demerit in their record. That shows a serious lack of judgement as well as sensitivity to the feelings and even well-being of others. As was shown, what they did was actually making Yaffat ill. Who knows what harm they could have done. And what if someone other other than Bortus had eaten the glob? Could have possibly killed them.

    LaMarr showed a similar lack of judgement when he dry humped that statue.

    Leadership is far more than intelligence.

    In fact, LaMarr’s hidden talent should have earned him a spot in engineering, but certainly not the head of it. Leadership qualification is far more than IQ, so the premise of the story was highly flawed.

    Also, it seems rather silly and unlikely that the First Office would not have already reviewed the entire files of all the senior officers. For her to just now discover LaMarr’s intelligence is stupid.

    And I agree his acting is sub par. So is Grimes’.


    I agree about how ludicrous it would be to have a cat on the bridge. Walking all over the panels pushing buttons, shooting phasers and turning off life support along the way. Getting under foot during emergencies. Stupid all around. Makes sense for Malloy to muse over it but not for Alara to approve.


    There was a big difference between Kelly advocating for Ed and her advocating for LaMarr. In LaMarr’s case, she suspected his potential based on an intelligence rating that he has never ever exhibited. In Ed’s case, she already knew his skill set. He’d already been top of his class. Already been seen as an up and comer. But he spiraled ever downward after the affair and that was killing his career. So, she didn’t get him the job because she hoped he’d be good at it. She already knew he was qualified and just needed something to pull him out of his funk.


    As I’ve said before, (and I think you have, too), the main problem with The Orville is that it can’t decide whether it’s a serious Trek show or an ongoing SNL skit. For the most part, they do the serious bits quite well. They’re failing at the humor in two key ways. First, most of the humor just isn’t that funny. Second, the humor bits are so out of sync with the serious bits that it’s jarring. They’re polar opposites.

    A crew that says and does the funny stuff would never have become senior officers on the Orville. And a crew that is as competent as these folks have been shown to be would never say and do the funny stuff.

    So, it makes it impossible to become immersed in the story telling and it makes watching it highly frustrating.

    Weirdly, I still look forward to each upcoming episode.

    Reply

    1. “So, it makes it impossible to become immersed in the story telling and it makes watching it highly frustrating.

      Weirdly, I still look forward to each upcoming episode.”

      Perfect summation of the show in general.

      Reply

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