Tonight’s episode of The Orville, called Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, was phenomenal. The episode was reminiscent of a similar episode on The Next Generation involving Riker, but the ending was completely different. Exactly what did that ending mean? Read on for the details. This post will, of course, have spoilers for the latest episode of The Orville.
In tonight’s episode, an experiment by Isaac ends with The Orville accidentally picking up a Kelly from seven years in the past. Throughout the episode, we’re left wondering if she’s from a fractured timeline/parallel universe, or if she’s from the same timeline and it’s imperative to send her back or everything will change.
Well, the ending of the episode doesn’t give us a clearcut answer. In fact, we won’t know if the timeline changed until next week’s Season 2 finale.
The Episode Was Reminiscent of The Next Generation’s Second Chances
If tonight’s episode felt familiar, that’s because it was very similar to one of my all time favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, called Second Chances. (There are spoilers for Second Chances in this section. Skip on to the next section if you don’t want to be spoiled about TNG.)
Second Chances was episode 150 of TNG, when Commander Riker faced a duplicate of himself. Riker was part of a rescue team eight years earlier that helped evacuate a Federation research base. Now they’ve come back, and when the away team beams down they find a duplicate or Riker who’s been on the planet this entire time. Eight years earlier, there was a disruption in the transporter beam that duplicated Riker.
So the story is very similar to the one we saw on The Orville. Although Riker was the same age as his duplicate, they had been separated for eight years. Duplicate Riker was a lower ranked officer (a lieutenant compared to a commander). The two have quite a bit of conflict, and Lt. Riker and Troi even resume their relationship (now that Troi and Commander Riker are no longer together.) It ends with Lt. Riker taking a post on another ship and changing his name to Thomas Riker, and he and Troi don’t continue their relationship.
So there were some pretty significant similarities between that episode and tonight’s The Orville. But despite all that, I loved how they handled things. The decision for Ed not to continue trying a new relationship with younger Kelly made sense. They’re very different people now and not quite so compatible. Plus it was just too weird. I liked how this one involved time travel rather than a transporter accident, leaving the exact impact on our current timeline as a big mystery. This was an intelligent episode with a cliffhanger ending. Which brings us to explaining that ending…
The Ending Isn’t Clear: We Still Don’t Know if the Timeline Was Fractured
At the end of the episode, Isaac figures out a way to send “young Kelly” back to the past, but it’s risky. She’s also afraid she won’t be able to handle the temptation of the knowledge of the future, so Dr. Finn offers to mind wipe her so she won’t damage the timeline. Before she’s mind wiped, Ed apologizes for all the pain she’s going to deal with from him in the coming five years. (Note: This story inadvertently originally said that he apologized after she was mindwiped, but it was before. The premise of this story and conclusions were all based on the idea that he apologized before/during the mind wipe, not after.)
(As an interesting note, although Ed was far too involved in his work, it seems like their marriage wasn’t that terrible. If it hadn’t been for the alien that was in heat and essentially controlled Kelly at the time, they likely would never have divorced to begin with, because she probably would have never cheated on Ed.)
At the very end of the episode, Young Kelly wakes up seven years in the past, lying on the floor and very confused. It looks like Isaac’s experiment worked. But then something unexpected happens. Just like he said, Ed calls Kelly early in the morning to ask for a second date. Older Kelly had told Ed that she thought about turning him down, but they had so much fun the night before that she decided to accept his second date.
But Young Kelly does something different. She actually turns Ed down and decides there’s really no future for them. She takes a very different path than Older Kelly did.
We’re left with a few unanswered questions, likely on purpose. It’s possible the mind wipe did work, and Young Kelly simply subconsciously felt like she needed to turn down Ed because he had just rejected her in real life a few hours earlier. So her last experience with him wasn’t happy enough for her to accept a second date.
However, it’s also possible that the mind wipe failed. Young Kelly already said that she wouldn’t be strong enough to resist the temptation of using information from the future to help her with her past. So it’s possible that knowing had bad things were going to go (which was all anyone really told her), she decided not to accept his date.
Either way, we’ll find out next week if the timeline was fractured or not. If it was a parallel universe, then her decision won’t have any effect on the show next week. If she truly was part of the same timeline, then her decision will mean things are very different on the ship when we return for the Season 2 finale. We won’t know until next week. If things aren’t different, though, I still doubt this is the last we’ll see of this parallel universe storyline.