Cupid's Dagger is the ninth episode of the first season of The Orville. The USS Orville is called to host peace talks between two enemy species. However, joining negotiations is the same man of Commander Kelly Grayson's affair.
The episode was written by Liz Heldens and directed by Jamie Babbit. Music was composed by John Debney. The title Cupid's Dagger is a play off the mythical arrows of Cupid, said to spark romance and lust in the target.
The episode performed well among general television audiences. However, Cupid's Dagger is considered particularly caustic for its themes of sexuality, manipulation, and consent, because it aired at a time when allegations surfaced of widespread sexual harassment in Hollywood.
On November 2, 2017, Fox released a 20 second promotional teaser, ten seconds shorter than other teasers. Second Officer Bortus asks, "Where are the Captain and the Commander?" A narrator says: "An old rival returns and sends the ship into chaos." Scenes of explosions and ships fighting play.
Plot Synopsis Edit
Act 1 Edit
In the Briefing Room, Halsey explains that two warring species of the planet Lopovius, Navarians and Bruidians, are open to a peace agreement that may conclude the years-long Navarian-Bruidian conflict. Both species lay claim as the original settlers of the planet.
A year ago, an ancient artifact containing residual DNA was discovered. The Navarians and Bruidians agree that the Planetary Union, acting as a neutral third party, can analyze the DNA to determine which species was the first colonizer. Both sides agree that the DNA would prove rightful control of Lopovius, and the Orville is to host the forensic archaeologist who will analyze the artifact.
The Orville rendezvouses with the USS Olympia, which delivers the artifact and the archaeologist via shuttle. Mercer and Grayson greet the archaeologist in the Shuttle Bay, and are stunned to see that the archaeologist is none other than Darulio (the man whom Grayson slept with).
Act 2 Edit
Darulio wants to respect the boundaries of Grayson and Mercer, and the trio agree that he may stay in the interest of peace between the Navarians and Bruidians. Darulio shakes hands with the officers.
Grayson meets Darulio in Science Lab 1 to discuss personal boundaries, but she starts flirting with him after several minutes.
On the bridge, Isaac tells the Captain that the ambassadors of the Navarrians and Bruidians are arriving. Grayson was supposed to greet them, but scans show that she is in her quarters. Concerned, Mercer goes to her quarters to tell her that the ambassadors arrived, only to find her having sex with Darulio once again.
Act 3 Edit
Mercer is incensed, but must leave to the Shuttle Bay to meet the ambassadors himself. The ambassadors loathe each other, but are respectful to Union species and agree to peace negotiations the following day.
Later, Grayson and Kitan talk about why she originally cheated on her husband with Darulio a year ago. She admits that she feels a sexual electricity with Darulio, and speculates that she may be in love with him.
Mercer storms into the science lab to fire Darulio, but Darulio explains that he is 36 hours away from concluding his study of the artifact. Oddly, Mercer's attitude softens and he begins to forgive Darulio. By the end of the conversation, Mercer asks if they can get drinks later. The two make a date for eight o'clock.
Doctor Finn, wearing a cocktail dress, rings Yaphit's quarters and he invites her in.
Act 4 Edit
Yaphit shows Finn his quarters. The two kiss, and Yaphit asks if she wants "to go for a swim."
Lieutenant Gordon Malloy talks with Mercer about the peace talks, but Mercer appears to more interested in is his "date" with Darulio.
At the Mess Hall, Kitan and Navigator John LaMarr talk about Grayson's strange behavior until interrupted by the Navarian Ambassador, who is upset that the results of the artifact are not yet complete. Only tables away, Grayson sits down with Darulio and Mercer.
Back on the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Bortus is forced to deal with both races while the Captain and Commander compete for Darulio's attention in the Mess Hall. The bridge officers observe that their superior officers' behavior is erratic. Kitan finds Ty and Marcus Finn from their own quarters. She enters the Finns' quarters to find Claire having sex with Yaphit.
Act 5 Edit
In the lab, Mercer arranges dinner with Darulio later that afternoon. After Mercer leaves, a frustrated and suspicious Kitan talks to Darulio demanding answers. He explains that his species releases a pheremones when in heat that causes powerful sexual attraction behavior. Grayson and Mercer absorbed his pheremones when they shook hands; Claire absorbed them from Yaphit (who passively carried them after bumping into Darulio).
Mercer and Grayson meet the ambassadors who demand results from the artifact. The two sides begin threatening each other, yet Mercer is completely uninterested. The meeting concludes with each species declaring war on each other while Mercer happily leaves for his date.
Kitan takes Darulio to the Medical Bay. Analysis concludes that there is no antidote to his pheremones. The scene ends with war fleets from the Navarians and Bruidians entering Lopovian space.
Act 6 Edit
Worried, Bortus calls for Mercer and Grayson; yet Mercer is in his quarters with Darulio and Grayson cries in hers. Looking out the window at the warring fleets, Darulio is disturbed that Mercer ignores the impending bloodshed. Bortus and Isaac decide to erect a barrier between the two fleets to buy time. Darulio enters the bridge with a solution to the conflict.
Claire's obsession with Yaphit reaches delusion, and she detains Yaphit from leaving to Engineering by gunpoint. Without Yaphit, Engineering is unable to erect the barrier, and the two species begin fighting. The ambassadors of the Navarians and Bruidians enter the bridge, call their respective worlds, and announce that a ceasefire has been reached.
Mercer learns that the medical team synthesized pheremones of Darulio to plant on the ambassadors, making them fall in love with each other and attaining a temporary peace. Darulio finishes his analysis and announces that both species are the "heirs" of the artifact: the original settlers are a common ancestor of both Navarians and Bruidians.
At the Shuttle Bay and about to return to the Olympia, Grayson asks if he was in heat when she slept with him a year before. He pauses, then answers, "Maybe".
Cupid's Dagger was written by Liz Heldens. Filming was completed sometime in 2016 or early 2017 under the direction of Jamie Babbit. Filming took roughly eight days while composer John Debney's score took three weeks to complete. The episode is one of the few that creator Seth MacFarlane neither wrote nor directed.
For more information on the episode in the context of the season, see main article: Season 1.Cupid's Dagger was well received by TV audiences, with an 8.1 rating on IMDB. It was watched by 3.69 million viewers in the United States, near the average for its Thursday time slot.
Critical Response Edit
Despite a warm reception from the general public, Cupid's Dagger received middling reviews from professional critics. Michael Ahr of Den of Geek gave the episode 2.5 stars, writing: "In what can only be described as a silly episode, The Orville gives closure to the captain and his XO but accomplishes little else."
Jammer of Jammer's Reviews awarded only two out of four stars. Jammer wrote that the love triangle between Darulio, Grayson, and Mercer was at times funny and enjoyable; but panned the sub-plot of Claire Finn falling for Yaphit as more "humiliation than humor."
Nick Wanserski of the AV Club noted that the episode aired at a particularly tense time in Hollywood, when many allegations of sexual harassment against high-profile film and television men were surfacing. Even still, he praised the season's character development as it made Cupid's Dagger's tension, conflict, and chemistry all the more interesting.
- The Planetary Union ship that carries Darulio is USS Olympia (SCV-183), and is smaller than the Orville. In the episode Krill, the Orville stops alongside the USS Olympia (LCV-529), a flagship Leviathan-class heavy cruiser. Thus, the Planetary Union uses the name "USS Olympia" for two distinct vessels.
Names and titles 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
Recurring Cast Edit
- Chad L. Coleman as Klyden
- Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey
- Larry Joe Campbell as Steve Newton
- Norm MacDonald as Yaphit (voice only)
- Mike Henry as Dann
Special Guest CastEdit
Guest Cast Edit
- J. Paul Boehmer as Navarian Ambassador
- Derek Mears as Bruidian Ambassador
- Ralph Garman as Kanoot
- Stevens Gaston as Ensign Brooks
- Gavin Lee as Henry Park
- BJ Tanner as Marcus Finn
- Kai Wener as Ty Finn
- Alexander Bedria as Voice from Comm (voice only)
Uncredited Cast Edit
- ↑ "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
- ↑ ""The Orville" Pria (TV Episode)". IMDB. Last accessed Jan. 16, 2018.
- ↑ "The Orville:Season One Ratings". TVSeriesFinale.com. Last accessed Dec. 6, 2017.
- ↑ Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 9 Review: Cupid’s Dagger". Den of Geek. Nov. 9, 2017.
- ↑ Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Cupid's Dagger". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Jan. 16, 2018.
- ↑ Wanserski, Nick. "On The Orville, an old friend returns". AV Club. Nov. 10, 2017.