10.17.2017

Television: The Orville, "Krill"

Aren't krill the thing whales eat? Like, something in the sea? I'm too lazy to go look it up because it's not that important to me, but it's what I think of every time I hear "krill." Even if I did look it up, and even if it isn't true, I'd still think it.

Anyway. This episode. We learn Bortus can eat almost anything, I guess? But the bulk of the story is Ed and Gordon masquerading as Krill so as to learn more about their culture—specifically their holy book—in the hopes of finding common ground and forging peace.

I have some basic, logistical issues. For one, Ed and Gordon spend time talking about how they don't know any Krill names and so don't know what fake names to use while in disguise. Okay, so... They've been briefed on the fact that the Krill are very religious and that their belief system tells them they are better than all other forms of life and therefore it is okay to kill other species and take their planets and resources. They know this much about the Krill but no names? Not even the name of the Krill god (which turns out to be Avis)? Can they read Krill? If so, how did they learn, and if not, how will they read the snaps of the holy book Ed is supposed to take? There just doesn't seem to be a lot of internal logic about the way humans and Krill interact since the Krill are always aggressive. Surely the Union has captured Krill before and learned a few things? I dunno. It's really unclear.

The underlying story of how the Krill's religion is the cause of all the problems is... troublesome. We're given little to no sense of the Krill as having any good qualities, and this seems tied to their beliefs. True, the Krill children seem more open minded, though they are clearly being indoctrinated. But the subtext here is not very, well, sub. It's pretty heavy handed and paints all beliefs with one brush. The idea that in the future humans will not have religion but will still watch Seinfeld is just dumb. I'm not saying it can't happen, but if they want me to believe it, I want more information. How do they explain the Charlie Brown Christmas special if no one is Christian any more? Or have all things that have any religious "taint" been banned, eliminated? Are we supposed to see ourselves [the humans, the Union] as better than the Krill for having risen above religion? If we do that, aren't we just as bad as the Krill in thinking we are superior?

Oh, but we don't go killing people and taking their stuff, you say. Except in this episode they totally do.

But we do it for the good of... Of what? Our own race and allies? Yup. So do the Krill.

But we do it to protect our own. We don't start fights but we end them. Fair enough. But you're asking me to believe the Krill use their religion as the reason they start fights. Or the excuse. Removing their beliefs wouldn't change their behavior, I don't think. They'd find another reason/excuse to take what they want. We see people with money do that all the time, people with better technology—anyone with the upper hand. Religion doesn't have to be the reason. It can be a reason, but it's almost never the only reason.

I didn't mean for this to turn into a treatise. I myself am not religious, though I grew up in a religious household. I know that strong beliefs can cause problems, but not believing isn't the solution. I think it matters what you emphasize, whether it's the "love thy neighbor" and "judge not lest ye be judged" versus "an eye for an eye" or whatever the verse is that says to kill everyone who doesn't believe the same thing as you. Like, if a majority of the Union converted and worshiped Avis, would the Krill still kill people? Is this really about the belief or is it a racial thing?

Whatever. This episode had some truly tense moments, I'll give it that. And it certainly made me think.