‘The Orville’ Season 2 Episode 6 Recap & Review: Unexpectedly Heartwarming

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Tonight is Season 2 Episode 6 of The Orville, called “A Happy Refrain.” The synopsis for tonight’s episode reads, “The Orville crew is surprised when Claire’s personal life takes an unexpected turn; Gordon makes an unusual grooming suggestion to Bortus.” 

This recap and review of the episode is going to be posted live as the episode airs. (UPDATE: Now that the episode has concluded, I can share that I was pleasantly surprised. This was a heartwarming episode that went in a direction Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t dare to go with Data. I was surprised and really enjoyed the story. I can’t wait to see where Claire & Isaac’s journey leads them next.)

And now on to the live review and recap:

The episode begins with Dr. Claire Finn in her office. She asks Isaac to help her with a paper on tissue regeneration. Bortus arrives first and asks for a mustache. (OK, I’m already laughing.) He says Lt. Malloy told him he’d look pretty good with one. Oh this is going to be good… She offers to run a follicle stimulator to help a mustache grow. Is this a prank from Malloy? LOL.

Isaac shows into her office with a banana. He’s noticed she gets cantankerous after 1600 hours if she hasn’t eaten. She thanks him and gets right back to work, asking him to review her paper for errors. “I owe you one,” she says. He says it’s unlikely she could ever help his research because of how smart he is. Isaac then says he noticed she modified her hair. “I just felt like changing it,” she says. “Odd.” As he walks away, she looks up with an odd smile. Has anyone else thought that Claire has some romantic interest in Isaac? It’s kind of obvious to me that they’re heading in that direction, but not everyone is thrilled.

Next we have the beautiful Orville opening, which I honestly can never get enough of. It reminds me a bit of Voyager’s opening. They put a lot of work into it, and it’s stunning every time.

After the commercial, Bortus debuts his new mustache. “The Lt. told me it would be appealing.” Ed says that everyone’s going to be talking about it (well, that’s true.) Ed tells Malloy he needs to be more selective about what he says to Bortus.

Claire comes on the bridge and invites everyone to Ty’s piano recital. Bortus wants to know if it’s required (LOL). Claire is quick to give praise to Isaac for teaching him.

Now it’s the recital and dang, Ty is really good! (OK, this was literally said by Yaphit one minute in the dialogue after I wrote this line, ha.)

At the after party, Claire sees Isaac standing alone and goes over to chat with him. Isaac’s just enjoying studying everyone, because that’s his primary function. He said he doesn’t have emotional responses like enjoying things, like biologicals do.

Isaac tells Claire she should be very proud of Ty. That was a nice, socially smart thing to say. Isaac isn’t 100 percent clueless it seems.

Claire meets with Kelly later and confesses that she’s developing feelings for Isaac. (This reminds me of every time someone developed feelings for Data. Never worked out then, likely won’t work out now.)

“We get along really well, I feel warmth,” Claire says. She acknowledges she might be projecting. But then again, she says, we all do that in every relationship. Honestly, I’m enjoying this “girl talk” moment between Claire and Kelly. And I like how Kelly says that Claire’s smart and mature, so she must be picking up on something (unlike if Malloy approached her with this question.) Kelly warns her to be careful. “The reality is, he can’t love. Just make sure you won’t get hurt.”

OK, I’m totally on board for Kelly and Claire being best friends.

Then Claire asks Isaac on a date to the symphony on Friday. “Such an outing would yield substantial data regarding human behavioral patterns,” Isaac says, accepting her offer.

By the way, the episode where Jenna D’Sora fell in love with Data was called “In Theory” on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was more from Data’s view though, so slightly different than today’s episode.

Oh wait! After the commercial break, Isaac goes to John and Gordon for advice about dating. Although he doesn’t think Gordon can offer good advice (HA.)

And Yaphit is pretty upset about this, considering that he was in love with Claire last season. Malloy and John take off to the bridge to share the news, and who can blame them.

I love this plot.

Talla says they’ve always been close (I guess she picked up on that in the week she’s been here.) In the next scene, Claire is in an amazing dress, ready for the symphony. She looks beautiful! And Isaac shows up dressed for his date, thanks to Commander Lamarr’s advice, and he’s brought flowers for her too. Very sweet. :)

There’s a funny moment when Claire says she’s nervous and Isaac suggests she go home. No, no, that’s not what she meant, she said.

Clyden is NOT happy about Bortus’ mustache. But their kid likes it, so mustache might be here to stay. Bortus does kind of have a Tom Selleck vibe going with the mustache.

Claire and Isaac are having a nice conversation, and Isaac has replicated her favorite restaurant. He figured this out by reading her personnel file. Claire seems surprisingly unbothered by this. “I downloaded all available information prior to our date,” Isaac said. He said he wanted to maximize efficiency to conclude their date more promptly. Claire explains that takes some of the fun out of dating. So instead, she asks Isaac about his life and his homeworld. After they’ve finished gathering their information, his people will decide whether to join the Union.

By the way, that moment when Isaac flipped the table was soooo funny. People sometimes ask where the humor has gone in the show this season, but it’s right here.

The date ends with Claire saying they “might” have another date, and she gives him a kiss before retiring to her quarters. I love the closeups of Isaac, because he obviously can’t have any expressions.

The next day, Isaac returns to the Bridge and Malloy must know immediately know how the date went. “We’re all dying to find out what happened.” Isaac says, “We attended the symphony and then Dr. Finn consumed an evening meal.” Isaac said the one element confusing him is that Claire said he wasn’t spontaneous enough. The crew suggests he surprise her somehow. This can’t POSSIBLY be a good thing to say to Isaac. …

Claire tells Kelly that the date didn’t go as well as she expected. Talla and Kelly think the one positive thing is that he doesn’t eat, so she won’t gain a lot of weight. But Claire is thinking she was projecting and isn’t sure what to do now.

In the next scene she’s sleeping peacefully when Isaac shows up at 3 a.m. with a cake. “Surprise, I’m taking you on a date.” NO not now, Claire says. This is hilarious. “I was lonely and I just reached out in the wrong direction,” Claire says. But Isaac says the data he accumulated was helpful. “Does this mean you do not want to go on a date with me right now?”

The next scene is at a bowling alley. Isaac wants to observe John and Turco dating so he can do a better job next time. When John asks what she said, Isaac plays back a recording of what she said. That was unexpected and perfect.

In the next scene, Isaac sends Claire a message asking her to meet him in the simulator. He initiates a simulation that makes him look a human man. Now THAT was unexpected. And now he really reminds me of Data. He says he created a simulation so they can kiss. He also said he deleted all his background information on her so he could get to know her for real.

They have the same conversation that they had before, and when Isaac says he’d be interested in seeing Baltimore, she holds his hands and gives him a kiss. And then they sleep together in her quarters. Wait, what? That was fast.

Claire later says that the moment he transformed was magical, because he was a machine who could only use logic and yet still tried. They all conclude it doesn’t matter that he’s the machine, or doesn’t look like she thought it would. “I think I’m in love with him,” Claire says.

BUT THEN ISAAC SAYS HE WANTS TO BREAK UP. He says he needs to conclude the experiment because he’s gathered all the information he needs. John suggests that he gets her to break up with him. OK, this was not what I expected AT ALL. This show is throwing curveballs.

Isaac is wearing underwear and is acting mad that she’s home late. “The last thing you need is more dessert,” he said. “I’m sorry you’re upset. Perhaps you’re on your period.” Oh my gosh, that was so funny.

But Claire sees through it and realizes he’s trying to get her to break up with him. Isaac says he experienced the full arc of their relationship and now he’s done. This is heartbreaking for Claire. :(

Malloy calls Isaac a jerk under his breath. And Talla tells Kelly that if a guy treated her that way, she’d want to break his bones. And Malloy says those actions “take a special kind of garbage person.” I think Isaac is surprised by this.

Yaphit shows up at Claire’s simulation looking like a man, hoping maybe it will work for him. That cameo by Norm MacDonald was perfect.

Later, we see Isaac making a calculation error, which is pretty much impossible for him. So he performs a self-diagnostic and doesn’t have a significant malfunction, but is suffering issues from changes he made to his systems to accommodate her desire not to see him much anymore. Ed explains that his various programs are used to her and she’s not so easy to delete.

Ed says he needs to win back the girl.

Next we learn that Bortus shaved his mustache in the most amusing B Plot in a scifi show yet.

Claire shows up on the bridge because someone called her. Isaac says it was him, and he plays “Singing in the Rain.” Bortus’ expression of unhappiness is priceless right now.

Isaac initiates a rain subprogram (and it’s somehow really raining on the bridge!) He apologizes and says he wants to commit to a long relationship with her. But Claire says the relationship has to matter to both people. Isaac says his internal programs will function more efficiently if she takes him back. “You’re saying you’re better with me than without me?” “Affirmative doctor.”

So she takes him back.

OK, that was adorable. I didn’t expect to be a fan of Claire-and-Isaac, but now I am. It was perfect how they worked the plot to show how an artificial being could legitimately “fall in love.”

Have a comment about tonight’s episode of The Orville or see a guest star the article missed? Tweet to the author of this article. You can also join her email list for updates on new TV stories or share your questions or comments on a Reddit discussion here.

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