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Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 12:22am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Lasting Impressions

This was quite the episode! At first I was worried this would be just another filler episode that tried to sell an old TNG/VOY plot but with an Orville twist. I ended up really liking this episode, not only because it showed depth to Gordon's character besides being the practical joker, but also for the concepts of having affection for simulated people.

I think this episode hit very close to a perfect balance between humor, philosophy, and pulling on the emotions of the viewers. The latter is IMO the closest any Orville episode has scored since "Home" earlier this season. Viewers like myself who have watched all of Star Trek are reminded of similar episodes with the concept of characters becoming emotionally invested in an illusion, such as Barclay's episodes, "11001001", "Galaxy's Child", and more recently, "If Memory Serves". "Lasting Impressions" is unique in that the main setting is not in the time frame of the rest of the show, but in *our* time. It definitely left me feeling hyper-aware of my own mortality and the meaningless of my daily life in the perspective of humans hundreds of years from now. It was a little unsettling, but not enough to detract from the rest of the episode.

The episode cleverly pulls its message with an A-plot initially focused on holodeck - er, "simulator" - addiction. This concept is present throughout and is mentioned more than once by other crew members. However, the real thought provoker here is the question posed to viewers: if you know something isn't real, does that diminish the value you place on it? Fortunately this is left open-ended, and for good reason. With the rise of increasingly realistic digital content, is our modern society comfortable placing value on digital content at the expense of real life content?What does that mean for younger generations that are now dependent on technology - they're missing out on the benefits of old-school ways, but is that necessarily "bad"?

Back to the episode, I also have to give credit to Scott Grimes and guest star Leighton Meester (playing Laura) for playing these characters convincingly. I got the sense that they were "real" people with depth, which in Gordon's case, is something that has been lacking thus far. What would really help Gordon's character was if he had a recurring romantic interest on the show, and over the course of the show we see him develop a legitimate, deep, meaningful, and not holodeck - er, "simulator" - relationship.

The B-plot played a supplementary role. Bortus' and Klyden's addictions to "ancient" cigarettes played as the "minor" to the A-plot. It's a rather obvious in-your-face method of pushing the addiction concept, which oddly enough works to add subtlety to the other concept. I'm starting to wonder if the writers are able to write stories for Bortus without being 100% serious or 100% comedy, it seems all we get are extremes. To be fair though, I can imagine it's hard to write character stories for such an unemotional species; after all, almost every Star Trek episode featuring a Vulcan has been 100% serious and very little comedy, with the exception of Star Trek VI.

I don't like to give out ratings, since the method of awarding stars is subjective to each viewer. I'll stick with a Vague Scale™. "Lasting Impressions" is in the upper third on the Vague Scale™ of Orville episodes.
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