The Orville #26: The Road Not Taken

"I'm not going to let our last meal be a Twinkie."

IN THIS ONE... The parallel timeline where Ed and Kelly's relationship did not go as planned.

While the second season finale is big epic fun, filled with battles and exciting sequences, it doesn't lost the intimate, personal core of the story that started in the previous episode (or if you'd rather, in the pilot). The truth is that Ed and Kelly not getting together really does spell the end of the world, taking his particular feeling at her rejection and taking it to the galactic stage. Her memories of the future intact, Kelly-7 knows she's the cause of this terrible parallel, so she recruits all the people she met in that future to restore the timeline. It's actually a pretty clever way to do the alternate universe story where no matter the changes, all the same people are grouped together without it seeming like writer fiat. And of course, Ed is in that number, there's another shot at a second date, and the characters falling in love all over again (albeit in a reality that is soon extinguished). There's even a marriage proposal. The episode will in fact end without revealing a restored future, but rather with history unfolding as it should. Fans did theorize that the memory wipe still didn't work, and that Kelly-7 makes an informed decision, but I don't think visual evidence really supports that (Alternate Claire disappears before a decision is made), and it would make things much too complicated going forward.

But mostly, this is about showing us cool stuff. Kaylons turning their heads into killer drones. Hiding a ship in a black hole's event horizon. Alana returning as a resistance leader. Earth and the Moon blasted to ruins. Bortus surviving aboard the Orville at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. And as must happen in Darkest Timeline narratives, the ship exploding at the end of the episode. And part of the coolness factor is seeing what happened to the characters in a reality where Mercer did not captain the Orville. For the most part they get it right. Claire didn't feel needed on that ship, consequently didn't serve with Isaac so her family's relationships with him didn't turn him against his own people. Ed and Gordon are of course together. Bortus sent his family to Moclus for safety, but tragically, that planet was destroyed as well. I do wonder why Talla was recruited to the Orville when it was Mercer's specific request to replace Alana with another Selayan. Or when LaMarr decided to be a super-competent engineer if Kelly wasn't on hand to push him into accepting a promotion. But we just don't have time for that. It's all go! Go! GO! Each solution bringing with it new problems (the classic Quest in Many Parts structure) until the universe is saved by a singular love.

I do wonder what Alana's beef with John was, though... And if it's sexual in nature, what prevented him from hooking up with her in the original timeline. The things that keep me from sleeping at night...

While the Mirror Universe is Star Trek's first parallel timeline, it doesn't really spark off of a specific turning point. Rather, The Road Not Taken's most direct ancestor is Yesterday's Enterprise where Starfleet is embroiled in a desperate war because of a singular change. But if we're looking for reference points, the episode takes more after Star Wars than it does Star Trek, with everyone unleashing their inner Han Solo and Yaphit answer the door like he works at Jabba's Palace. Kaylon ships kind of look like Tie-Fighters too.

- Parallel timelines are often quite cool and this one's no different.


Anonymous said...

Kelly’s pep talk to Gordon at the end of Lasting Impressions gave me the vibe that her memory wasn’t wiped.


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