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The Orville - A Happy Refrain - Review

The Orville gave us their Valentine's Day episode two weeks early, and for someone who does not like the romance genre, as well as, not being too fond of both Dr. Finn and Isaac, much recognition must still be given to what the episode achieved.

'A Happy Refrain' was unlike anything we had seen before on the show, focusing pretty much all of its time on Claire and Isaac within the confines of the ship. There was minimal time for other characters, except for the hilarious moustache gag with Bortus.

The beauty of the relationship between Isaac and Claire at this point of the series was that it had been organically built starting way back in the middle of Season 1 when both characters found themselves stranded in 'Lost In the Fold.' We had since seen Isaac having a positive impact on Claire's life teaching her son piano and offering his advice to Claire when her other son was getting into trouble. Claire considering asking Isaac out leading up to their first date thus felt earned and not some shoed in relationship, a big plus to the proceedings.

The episode was essentially an ode to the classic robot understanding human emotion trope and the complexities that arise when metal gets too close to flesh.

No new ground was broken in the telling of this age-old tale, but regardless, ‘Happy Refrain’ fleshed out the ups and downs of a human dating a robot, making viewers, fans of the characters especially, feel the stress that arises as these two characters explore new ground when it comes to relationships. All the while, there were also some classic humorous moments, Isaac in a wife beater chief among them.

On a side note, there some nice touches to the episode that were not necessarily needed, but really helped set the tone, like the Union Symphony concert and Claire's son piano recital. Also, a Kyra Santoro sighting as Ensign Turco in the audience at the concerts and then in the bowling alley. Can we have more of her, please?

It was also nice to see new security chief Keyali (Jessica Szohr) already settled into the social fabric of the ship, taking part in the girl talk between herself and Claire and Grayson, and then offering her insightful opinions on the main deck. The character is slowly growing on me.

Some other surprises in ‘Happy Refrain’ were the reveal of the faces behind Isaac and Yaphit, as both Marc Jackson and Norm McDonald appeared in Claire’s simulator. The perverseness of Yaphit really does make you appreciate Isaac more.

Overall, ‘A Happy Refrain’ was a great episode for fans of Isaac and Claire, and one – by slowing things down to explore the relationship between two central characters – that provided a nice change pace to The Orville.


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