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"This vessel was constructed by my people as a first attempt to visit another planet. Our world is remote, and we knew that a journey to even the nearest habitable world would take over a century." Jahavus Dorahl[source]
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. The title is a reference to the essay Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which in 1836 introduced his philosophy of transcendentalism.

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.[1] 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. Lieutenant 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, Lieutenant 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, Lieutenant Alara Kitan, Doctor Claire Finn, and 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 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 follow 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 abandon temporarily the exploratory team.

The Reformers offer meals to Mercer's team, and explain 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 dermoscanner. The Reformers dress the Orville team in common attire and 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?
The Orville arranges the a special training crew from the Planetary Union to reintroduce the inhabitants to their own ship and repair the vessel.

Production 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.

Filming was completed sometime in 2016 or early 2017 under the direction of James L. Conway. 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 while composer Joel McNeely's score took three weeks to complete.[2]

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

Bioship police If the Stars Should Appear

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

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."[3]

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."[4]

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."[5] Nick Wanserski of the AV Club found the episode mediocre.[6]

Trivia Edit

  • The USS Druyan is named after writer/producer Ann Druyan, who worked with MacFarlane to create the 2014 version of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
  • As said by Doctor Finn, the episode's name is taken from a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Mistakes Edit

  • 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.

Cast Edit

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

Main Cast Edit

Also Starring Edit

Uncredited Guest Star Edit

Recurring Cast Edit

Guest Cast Edit

References Edit

  1. "The Orville Promo "If the Stars Should Appear"". Fox Broadcasting Co. Sept. 21, 2017.
  2. "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
  3. "Don't Give Up on The Orville Too Quickly". Wired. Dec. 30, 2017.
  4. Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 4 Review: If the Stars Should Appear". Den of Geek. Sept. 28, 2017.
  5. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "If the Stars Should Appear". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Dec. 28, 2017.
  6. Wanswerski, Nick. "After a promising episode, The Orville slips back into mediocrity". AV Club. Sept. 29, 2017.