"It's not the feather, Dumbo. It's you." ― Kelly Grayson to Ed Mercer[source]New Dimensions is the eleventh episode of the first season of The Orville. An encounter with a bizarre spatial anomaly damages the USS Orville, which is left stranded in space. Meanwhile, Chief Engineer Steve Newton departs the Orville and Captain Ed Mercer must decide who to promote to Newton's empty seat.
New Dimensions explores themes of self-reliance, faith in one's own abilities, and the value of accepting help. The episode was written by Seth MacFarlane, considered a strong character-developing episode centered around Navigator John LaMarr. Kelly Cronin directed and Andrew Cottee composed the score, New Dimensions being the only episode they worked on in these roles.
Though New Dimension's network ratings were on par for the show's Season 1 average, the reception from general audiences and professional critics alike were strongly positive. The episode is now one of the highest-rated of the show, praised for its strong characters and original plot.
Fox released a 30 second promotional teaser on November 16, 2017. Commander Kelly Grayson asks LaMarr and Helmsman Gordon Malloy: "At any point, did you consider the possibility that what you did was stupid?" To which LaMarr and Malloy hesitantly reply "no." Scenes of action play and a narrator says, "On the next all-new Orville, the crew enters a dimension unlike anything they've seen before." Doctor Claire Finn sees something off camera (the dead Horbalak smuggler Blavaroch) and says, "Oh, my God." More action sequences fly by (some from previous episodes) and Mercer concludes, "Alright, let's move fast."
Plot Synopsis Edit
Act 1 Edit
The crew of the Orville gathers in the Mess Hall for a good-bye party for Lieutenant Commander Newton, leaving the ship to design a space station under the Planetary Union. Meanwhile, Malloy and LaMarr snicker place a piece of Lieutenant Yaphit's body into the nearby buffet.
Yaphit feels discomfort after losing a piece of his own body and goes to Sick Bay to see Doctor Finn. Second Officer Bortus enters and complains of "digestive discomfort." The trio figure out that Bortus ate a piece of Yaphit, and that Malloy and LaMarr are likely responsible.
Commander Grayson scolds LaMarr and Malloy and places formal reprimands on each of their records. While looking at their personnel files she pauses, stunned: "You got to be kidding me."
Act 2 Edit
Grayson goes to Captain Mercer and shows him LaMarr's academic background. LaMarr's achievements at Union Point were "off the charts." Grayson suggests LaMarr be promoted to Newton's old position of Chief Engineer. Mercer concedes that LaMarr is brilliant, perhaps the most intelligent member of the crew after Isaac, but also inexperienced and immature.
Suddenly, the ship is rocked by a spatial anomaly. The ship is partially damaged. With Mercer's blessing, Grayson assigns LaMarr to work with Isaac is assigned to scan the anomaly to study and map it. LaMarr and Isaac find Yaphit and the three begin scanning the ship for structural damage from the anomaly. Oddly, they find that plants in a room of the ship have died.
Grayson petitions Mercer again to promote LaMarr. Mercer had chosen Yaphit, but Grayson convinces him to give LaMarr a chance to prove himself. However, Grayson slips that she asked Admiral Halsey to promote Mercer to Captain of the Orville, which wounds Mercer's pride. She apologizes for not telling him the truth and leaves, but the damage to their professional relationship was done.
Act 3 Edit
"Look, I don't want to mince words . . . I just want to know the truth," a distraught Mercer petitions Halsey by call. Halsey assures him that, while Grayson did recommend Mercer, he has proven himself qualified for the job.
LaMarr is then called into Grayson's office where she assigns him control of the Science and Engineering task force to study the spatial anomaly. She asks why he does not "make productive use" of his intelligence. LaMarr insists that he wants simple life free of stress and worries.
Meanwhile, on the main deck, the crew tries to warn a Horbalak smuggling ship to avoid the spatial anomaly, but its Captain is convinced the Union ship is lying. The Horbalak ship passes through the anomaly and emerges intact but adrift, its systems offline and no life signs found. A small away team enters the ship by shuttle only to find the Captain dead.
Act 4 Edit
Back on the Orville, Mercer is still upset that he got his job only because Grayson fought for him before the Union Admiralty, which he interprets as a hand-out from his ex-wife. Yaphit is upset with Mercer for LaMarr's recent attention from command; he accuses Mercer of discrimination against gelatinous persons and leaves in a storm.
A nervous LaMarr stands outside the Engineering deck. Malloy encourages him to "break the ice" with a bowl of gum drops. LaMarr attempts Maloy's suggestion with Engineering but Yaphit lashes out at John, saying they should be working instead. LaMarr agrees and they start their to research of the anomaly.
Poring over the data recovered from Engineering, Isaac and LaMarr realize "the quantum phasing signature of the anomaly does not conform to the Universal Constant" and that the anomaly is "a doorway."
Act 5 Edit
The pair explain to the Bridge crew that the doorway is an opening to a two-dimensional reality. The plants and the Horbalak Captain died because they were compressed into two-dimensional space.
From the Bridge, Bortus informs the commanders that Krill ships are on their way to reclaim their stolen goods. With 14 minutes until the Krill arrive and the engines still offline, LaMarr and Yaphit conceive they go through the anomaly via a protective "quantum bubble" which would maintain three-dimensions inside. Mercer gives the go-ahead and, fortunately, the plan works.
Act 6 Edit
The Bridge crew marvels at two-dimensional space and the two-dimensional lifeforms that live within. While the ship can leave the anomaly into normal space, Mercer orders they wait several more hours for the Krill to leave.
Mercer relaxes in the Mess Hall when Grayson approaches him. He talks about his discontentment with her recommending him for his position but Grayson grows frustrated: everyone gets to where they are thanks to the help of others, "so what's so wrong with speaking up?"
The Orville is rocked by tremors as the bubble begins to weaken, yet Engineering cannot return them to normal space as the anomaly's "doorway" to normal space has now closed.
Act 7 Edit
Isaac and LaMarr find another doorway on the other side of the two-dimensional reality. LaMarr explains that he might be able to create a new bubble via a shuttle, which can then drag the Orville. The Orville over over to the doorway and free them before the ship gives out. Mercer demands to pilot the shuttle with LaMarr, feeling the need to prove that he is a capable leader to himself.
In Engineering, several engineers mock Yaphit for the idea of a quantum bubble that now endangers the lives of the ship. LaMarr is incensed, and says that the idea was both his and Yaphit's.
LaMarr and Mercer leave in a shuttle and open a Spatial Conduit over the two vessels, and then drag the Orville by tractor beam to the next aperture to three-dimensional space. While they fly the shuttle, LaMarr talks about his childhood that led to him hiding his own intelligence from the others. Mercer offers LaMarr the position of Chief Engineer to LaMarr: "Kelly was right about you. She was right about a lot of things."
The quantum bubble begins to give out as before but the Captain and his newly-minted Chief Engineer manage to drag the Orville through the doorway.
Safe in three dimensions and back on the Orville, Mercer apologizes to Grayson for his behavior; he should have thanked her for all she's done for him, not criticize and resent her for it. Grayson gives Mercer a light kiss before he leaves the room.
LaMarr goes to the Engineering and begins to confidently lead his team, embracing his position as the next Chief of Engineering.
New Dimensions was written by creator Seth MacFarlane some time between June and October, 2016. Filming was completed sometime in early July, 2017 under the direction of Kelly Cronin, whose normal position on The Orville is Script Supervisor. Filming took roughly eight days while composer Andrew Cottee's score took three weeks to complete.
Like several other episodes of the first season, New Dimensions is a "thematic" episode that develops a story founded on certain moral concepts that are not explicitly stated. The generally accepted interpretation of New Dimensions is that it explores the meaning of self-reliance and personal development, building off of the earlier episodes Command Performance and Firestorm, which explored similar themes.
John LaMarr's childhood spent on a Luddite farming colony taught him to hide his intelligence, but also crafted him into an un-ambitious young man who doubts his own ability to lead. Ed Mercer experiences a crisis of faith in himself when he learns that he attained captaincy only through the advocacy of his ex-wife, and not on his own merits alone. Ed questions his own judgment and place in society, whether he truly deserved to the promotion.
Kelly stands in counter-point against self-doubt: she can see that John and Ed are fully qualified, and becomes their chief advocates. A year ago, Kelly knew Ed had the makings of a fine captain, and successfully pushed for his promotion. Now Kelly recognizes John's unparalleled test scores, and guides him to become Chief Engineer.
Both John and Ed are forced to confront their underlying flaws to survive, and, together on the shuttle, Ed and John realize it was their own talents that saved the Orville from attacking Krill and travel through two-dimensional space. Ed promotes John to Chief Engineer, but also sees that he can accept the help of friends.
Critical Response Edit
Though critics and general audiences rarely agreed through most of the first season of The Orville, New Dimensions marked a rare consensus between both sides. Michael Ahr awarded New Dimensions 4.5 stars and praised the episode for its "completely unique story" and "impressively deep character development."
Nick Wanserski of the AV Club, who had criticized the show for failing to be consistently good, noted that the run of Into the Fold (the previous episode) and New Dimensions indicated that the show may have hit its stride.
A rare dissent: Jammer of Jammer's Reviews awarded the episode 2.5 out of four stars, calling the writing an "amateurish" attempt to retcon LaMarr's character from a laid-back, underachieving officer into a brilliant prodigy.
- The notion of a quantum bubble is first introduced in Old Wounds when Doctor Aronov explains how the quantum accelerator works. There, the accelerator generates a bubble and time within the bubble is accelerated. Here, a quantum bubble is used to maintain three-dimensional space while inside two-dimensional space.
- Creator Seth MacFarlane revealed that John and Kelly's conversation about matter synthesis, reputation, and the end of money is an intentional nod to "replicators" and a post-scarcity economy in Star Trek.
- Ed tells Kelly about the book Flatland, a story set in a two-dimensional world.
- After Kelly calls him a "prideful ass," he asks if they are in a Jane Austen novel.
- Yaphit accuses Ed of specieism against gelatinous beings, to which Ed replies, "I am not, I have several gelatinous friends." This is a reference to a trope of white Americans defending against accusations of racism by saying they have several friends of color.
- To explain how the Orville will preserve three-dimensional space within flattened, two-dimensional space, the crew references the TARDIS of Doctor Who, Oscar the Grouch's trashcan from Sesame Street, and Snoopy's doghouse from Charlie Brown.
- After Isaac treats Marcus and Ty Finn brusquely, John says, "Why don't you give 'em wedgies and stuff them in a locker while you're at it?," referencing bullying in American high schools.
Names and titles are as they appear in the credits unless otherwise noted.
Main Cast Edit
- 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
- Larry Joe Campbell as Steve Newton
- Norm MacDonald as Yaphit (voice only)
- Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey
- BJ Tanner as Marcus Finn
- Kai Wener as Ty Finn (as Kai Di'Nilo Wener)
- Mike Henry as Dann
Guest Cast Edit
- Dan J. Evans as Engineer #1
- Michael J. Sielaff as Palovis
- Paul Vogt as Horbalak Captain
- Erica Mathlin as Engineer #2
- ↑ "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ David A. Goodman (06)". Planetary Union Network. Oct. 14, 2017.
- ↑ "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Adrianne Palicki, Seth McFarlane". Whedonopolis Videos. July 26, 2017.
- ↑ "I believe each score takes roughly 3 weeks for the composer to write". MacFarlane, Seth. Twitter. Oct. 12, 2017.
- ↑ ""The Orville" New Dimensions (TV Episode)". IMDB. Last accessed Jan. 29, 2018.
- ↑ "The Orville:Season One Ratings". TVSeriesFinale.com. Last accessed Jan. 29, 2018.
- ↑ Ahr, Michael. "The Orville Episode 11 Review: New Dimensions". Den of Geek. Nov. 30, 2017.
- ↑ Wanswerski, Nick. "We meet John LaMarr again for the first time on a solid Orville". AV Club. Dec. 1, 2017.
- ↑ Epsicokhan, Jamal. "New Dimensions". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed Jan. 29, 2018.
- ↑ Saadia, Manu. "Seth MacFarlane Discusses “The Orville,” “Star Trek,” and the Struggle to Make Science Fiction Funny". The New Yorker. Sept. 9, 2017.