Orville’s Holodeck Does Something That Never Happened in Star Trek


Warning: SPOILERS for the 3rd season of “Orville”, the 3rd series, “The Paradox of mortality”.

Orville Season 3, episode 3, “The Paradox of Mortality” offers a deadly, unused upgrade to Star Trek Holodeck technology. Written by Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” colleague Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, “The Paradox of Mortality” shows how the Orville landing party experiences simulations of various near-death experiences organized by a godlike, omnipotent species. These simulations appear to be the work of a fraudulent holographic projector, which assumes terrible consequences for the Orville universe.

As soon as Orville’s troops safely return to the ship, it becomes clear that this holographic projector is the work of their enemies, the Kaylons. By placing them on planets that may be of strategic importance, the Borg Orville version used the deadly potential of the Star Trek Holodecks. Arriving on a seemingly uninhabited planet, a holographic projector distracts Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and his team from their current mission, trapping them in mind-blowing simulations. Although it eventually turns out that this is also a simulation, the decisive battle of the 3rd episode of the 3rd episode of “Orville” with Kaylon involves a more deadly use of Star Trek holodeck technology.

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While aboard the Orville, the crew believes that their enemies are using holographic projectors as weapons in their ongoing war with the Planetary Alliance. It soon becomes apparent that this, too, is a simulation orchestrated by the Q-like new species of Orville, but it still suggests a hostile use that the Star Trek franchise has never used. While the use of holographic technology in “Kaylon” turns out to be just another simulation of clinical death, “Orville” briefly reveals the potential of the “Star Trek” holodecks as a deadly weapon. Arriving on the seemingly barren planet Narran-1, Orville’s landing party is subjected to hallucinogenic experiences involving school bullies, plane crashes and terrifying sea monsters. When the team refuses to play along with the near-death games, they discover a holographic projector, which they believe is the cause of their unhappiness. This is an alarming development of the “Star Trek” holographic technology, which suggests that it can be used as a weapon of psychological warfare.

This potential as a weapon is taken a step further as the 3rd episode of the 3rd season of the TV series “Orville” develops. Believing they are back aboard the Orville, Captain Mercer and his crew warn the Planetary Alliance about this new weapon. After notifying Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber) of this alarming development, Ed and his deputy Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) are ordered to wait for reinforcements. When they arrive, it quickly turns out that the ships are using these holographic projectors to hide their Keylonian origins.

When Kaylon’s comrade Isaac warns Ed and Kelly that everything is not as it seems, the new helmsman Charlie (Ann Winters) demonstrates his prejudice against the enemies of the Union and begs them not to believe Isaac. Continuing the dark subversion of Orville’s “Star Trek,” this scene also hints at the holographic projection of Kaylon as a means of playing on human fears and prejudices. When it turns out that Isaac is right and Orville is being attacked by the spheres of Kylon, it becomes clear that this new hologram technology can make Star Trek’s cloaking technology even more dangerous.

Hiding a battleship is deadly enough, but if a battleship can pretend to be an ally during a hostile situation, then nothing is safe. Even though this particular situation turns out to be the creation of an omnipotent species that wants to experience the nearness of death, it’s still a frightening implementation of the technology. This is a plot point that confirms Orville’s place as a reinterpretation of the tried and tested tropes of “Star Trek” for a modern audience.