The Orville

"Twice in a Lifetime"

3 stars

Air date: 7/7/2022
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Jon Cassar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A breakthrough in experimental time-bending technology aboard the Orville brings with it significant new real-world risks in the potential for timeline contamination, especially if the technology were to fall into the wrong hands. Or even the right hands: An unexpected mishap sends Malloy 400 years into the past (to the year 2015) where he somehow sends a message through time that explains he's stuck there unless the Orville crew can find a way to retrieve him. The Orville uses the technology to jump back in time, but the jump lands them in 2025, at which point Malloy has long since given up hope of rescue (after having waited three years in self-imposed near-total isolation) and fully integrated himself into the 21st century, with a job as an airline pilot, a wife, son, and second baby on the way.

The core of "Twice in a Lifetime" tells a simple and effective emotional story: Malloy, who has moved on to another life, must now make the choice of what to do now that Ed and Kelly have found him and can take him home. Actually, it's not much of a choice at all: Malloy fully intends to stay in 2025, where his wife is the very woman, Laura (Leighton Meester), who put her cell phone into that time capsule in 2015 and was the subject of a series of simulated dates for Malloy in "Lasting Impressions." He intentionally sought her out here, having landed in her exact time period, and they are now happily married. (This is not purely a coincidence, as the story implies that his subconscious sent him to this year because he was already thinking about her.)

Malloy's actions are strictly forbidden by the Union protocols on timeline contamination in the unlikely event of a time-travel incident. But what was Malloy supposed to realistically do faced with the prospect of being trapped forever in another century? Live out his days in complete isolation and never talk to another human being again because it might cause the downfall of a future society?

Apparently, according to the Planetary Union, yes, he was. Ed and Kelly seem really disappointed in him. (Ed points out that Malloy has clearly been living in this century too long, on the account that he has become as selfish as someone from the era.) But given Malloy's extreme situation and the Union's general stupidity when it comes to protocols of any kind (like first contact with alien civilizations we know nothing about, or letting alien robot infiltrators become crew members without knowing anything about their civilization, or signing treaties with enemies on the eves of their elections, etc.; I could go on), would you really take one for the Union team when you only have one life to live?

The A-plot of "Twice in a Lifetime" is consistently strong and straightforward, and benefits from a particularly good performance from Scott Grimes as a man in an impossible situation where he is being asked — ordered — to return to the 25th century and abandon his family. The central question — whether he has the right to cast the timeline to the wind because of his own need to live his life and pursue happiness — makes for an interesting moral quandary, which is made all the more striking by Ed's and Kelly's almost dumbfounded disbelief and borderline disgust that Malloy could be so selfish as to do such a thing in the first place.

I'm less thrilled with the B-plot here, in which Isaac (underneath a holographic human-body projection, allowing Mark Jackson to play his part without the robot suit) and Charly team up to find the unobtainium/vibranium/whatever substance needed to power the time-travel device up to 1.21 gigawatts to get back to the future. This material is perfectly fine, but it's also sometimes needlessly protracted. It's certainly not nearly as strong as the main plot, and I get the sense the story really wants me to think Charly is awesome, the way she acts all badass and takes charge at a biker bar (a set that is far too pristine to feel lived-in, by the way) and makes unlikely wagers and throws back bourbon like nobody's business. There's some fun in watching the slightly built Isaac going up against a Big Biker Dude in an arm-wrestling contest, but I also suspect that anyone that would be suckered into such a hustle would be unlikely to honor the bet by handing over their bikes at the end of it. But I nitpick.

Truth be told, the pacing here again doesn't feel quite right — a theme for the season. At 70 minutes (not counting commercials), this is paced like a movie rather than a TV episode, but with scenes that don't feel necessary other than to be expansive and show off that the episode can do things because it can and not necessarily because there's a good reason for doing so. I also feel like the expanded VFX budget is a line item that Seth MacFarlane feels compelled to spend every week, whether justified or not. Yes, this show looks consistently great (well, except for the goofy technicolor FX representing time travel, which looked cheesy), but we're supplied yet another random Kaylon attack merely to stage a VFX set piece. It's getting to the point where the Kaylon show up just to be convenient bad guys to shoot at us, rather than serving as a real nemesis in a war that makes any real sense or has stakes. (I'm hoping the Kaylon threat is properly dealt with as a matter of direct storytelling at least once before the end of the season.)

But I digress. The main story is strong and confidently told, with the right level of detail, smartly building upon "Lasting Impressions" (still one of this series' low-key highlights), and with an anguishing sequence where Mercer flat-out tells Malloy that if he doesn't return to the future, the Orville will simply go back 10 years and retrieve him from a time when he didn't have these emotional attachments to keep him here. This makes for a great little thought experiment involving what it means to erase a family, including two children — one born and one soon to be — from existence through changing the timeline. (This was memorably explored in DS9's "Children of Time," but that doesn't make it any less effective here.)

If you stop and think about it, there's really no reason for Mercer to present Malloy with this awful choice, other than to provide the story with this intriguingly troubling dramatic sequence and the resulting great monologue from Grimes. I mean, why tell him at all? Just do it. In fact, why isn't just going back 10 years once they have the fuel, and retrieving Malloy from there, not Plan A in the first place? Why track him down in 2025 at all? (Also, there's a paradox here: The Orville ends up retrieving Malloy one month after he arrived in 2015 — but he didn't send his distress call to the ship until he had been there for six months. So how could the Orville retrieve him if he never sent the message? Furthermore, given the fact that the crew can read Malloy’s obituary 400 years after he arrived in the past, from a future that's still intact, doesn't that prove that his life in the past didn't undo history in any significant way?)

So, no, this is not ironclad. But few time-travel stories are. What really matters here are the questions and how the characters deal with them. That's where "Twice in a Lifetime" finds its value. It may seem obvious, but we value the things that are actualized far more than the things that are merely potential. This is why the Malloy who never lived a life with a family can be so amazed that there was a version of himself that broke Union protocols and was willing to remain in a century where he didn't belong — because he never got to have those experiences of the life that never was. We can ponder our hopes and futures in the hypothetical, but our memories of our lived experiences are what are actually real.

Also, bonus points if they pay off that egg-salad sandwich in a future episode.

Previous episode: A Tale of Two Topas
Next episode: From Unknown Graves

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123 comments on this post

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J.B.
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 2:05am (UTC -5)
Another strong episode, both poignant and often quite funny. They really got the balance right here. I'm sure people will be debating what the Orville crew did to Gordon for weeks to come.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 2:49am (UTC -5)
I'll have to sit on this episode to decide what I think of it.

Apparently LaMarr has broken up with the she-urchin...
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:02am (UTC -5)
*sigh of relief*

Finally!

This was great. Hands down, the best episode of the Orville to date, in my view. It had everything: loads of fun, action, drama, and a heart-wrenching dilemma.

Easy 4 stars from me.

Bonus points for:

1. Using good ol' 20th century science to get back to the future. How come they never did this in 50 year of Star Trek? Genius.

2. Spending an entire episode in our era without the tiniest wink to contemporary politics.

I also love Gordon's description of our times:

"It's like watching your little brother make a bunch of stupid mistakes. Sure, he's an idiot now, but you can see him learning, and growing, and you know that someday all those mistakes are gonna turn him into a smart guy."

Yeah. You tell them, Gordon. Truer words were never spoken.

Side note:

Am I the only person who thinks we haven't seen the last of Gordon's family?

There was a discussion, right at the beginning of the episode, about how a time paradox could result in "an entirely new universe branching off". Could this be a Chekhov's gun that will fire in a later episode?
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:29am (UTC -5)
Another four-star episode, as far as I'm concerned.

Shame about episodes two and three, otherwise this would be shaping up to be one of the best Star Trek seasons ever.

The premise here kind of reminds me of a book I read once, The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch. It isn't a particularly well-written book as far as the skills of the writer in that craft, but damn if it doesn't have a whole bunch of ideas that will make you lay awake at night. Basically, part of it (and only part of it) is that federal agents routinely take trips into possible future timelines to do investigations, and return. They return the moment they left. These timelines they visit don't really exist, because they become impossible the moment the agent returns, because all the future timelines the agent visits necessarily don't involve the presence of the agent during the time the agent is traveling into the future, so when the agent returns to the past . . . follow me? So, from the perspective of the people who aren't the agent, the second the agent embarks, if you don't see them immediately return . . . you know. You are in a fake future. You are walking through a life that will never exist. YOU DO NOT EXIST. Go get married, have kids. Raise those kids, in a timeline absent the agent. When the agent returns, the butterfly effect of their presence will erase the you that you are. Oh, you might still meet your wife. Somehow, at some different time or place, in some subtly different manner. But because of that, will you fuck in exactly the same manner at exactly the same time so exactly the same sperm will win the race to the egg--will you have the same kids? You will not.

BUT.

When the agent leaves and doesn't immediately return . . . well, something might have happened. Something might have gone wrong on the journey, with the equipment. So you don't KNOW for certain that you aren't living in the real timeline. You don't know for CERTAIN that what you're doing doesn't "count."

Until the agent lands. Twenty or so years later, if that was the distance into the future they traveled.

Jesus. Try living with that knowledge, for anyone who isn't the agent.

(And before anyone asks, if you try to stop the agent in the future from returning to the past and make your timeline real because of that, there's a reason that doesn't work. It's been a while and I don't remember it exactly. I think the remains of the agent or something like that returns back to the source, which pops your timeline anyway and makes it false, because any variable whatsoever that didn't happen makes your timeline false.)

So this episode really reminds me of that book.

. . .

But it didn't . . . quite . . . take the same stand as this book. Because it hedges its bets. It says it doesn't know how the rules of time travel work. The observer effect matters. They don't know what happens to alternate timelines. Somewhere out there, the timeline with 2025 Gordon might still exist, and after Ed and Kelly left, he went back to watching TV with his wife and kids and from his perspective, nothing happened. I fully expected the very last scene of the episode to show us that as a happy ending. But then the show didn't do it. The characters will never know, will never get that reassurance, so neither will we.

Props.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:38am (UTC -5)
When they lingered on the family photo I was wondering if the kid was gonna vanish Back To The Future style, indicating the moment when the Orville fetched Gordon in 2015.

When they did fetch him in 2015 and said they were going to tell him what had happened, I was like...why? What's the value-add there?
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:39am (UTC -5)
What do we think about the moral question of what Gordon "owes" the future he came from?

An argument can be made that we are all, as living beings imbued with agency, therefore making the future. So we are all "vested" with the right to make the future, just by being. Who is to say that Gordon doesn't have the right, morally, simply by being a living being, to make the future, even in the past, just as he had been doing by existing in the present?

Jesus. Words! Words weren't meant for these concepts! Haha.

"Two children will never be born because of what we did."
"And an entire future will be."

But an entire future would have been born one way or the other, 2015-Gordon. An entire different future that now won't be. Plus two little kids. That's no kind of argument, Gordon.

Mercer made the safe decision. That's all we can say about it. It's all there is to commend it. There's no way to argue he did or did not make a "right" one.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:41am (UTC -5)
Also interesting that the solution of bringing the whole family back to the Orville was apparently just as out of the question as letting Gordon stay.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:46am (UTC -5)
If anything lowers my score, it will be that they told Gordon what happened at all, and that once told, Gordon reacted so simplistically with "Good for you...totally right decision!" without any pondering or speculating whatsoever.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:50am (UTC -5)
@ Jaxon

"When they did fetch him in 2015 and said they were going to tell him what had happened, I was like...why? What's the value-add there?"

I had the same thought.

But I believe that Ed and Kelly, the kind of people they are, molded by the kind of society they live in, would believe they should tell him. If they know something like that about him, if his other friends and shipmates do . . . they would believe it is not moral to keep it from him.

I can see that perspective as well.

Me, personally, I think it depends on the person. There are friends I would tell. There are other friends I would not tell. I just know in my gut who is which.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:57am (UTC -5)
What if Gordon had become a monster in the interim time period of teh alternate reality? Would you tell him about it?

There's even an in-show similar example with the Krill Telaya.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 4:00am (UTC -5)
I also found it a little strange that the woman Gordon married did so even knowing about how Gordon first heard of her.

It reminded me a bit of Geordi LaForge and Leah Brahms in TNG.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 4:05am (UTC -5)
@ Jaxon

"What if Gordon had become a monster in the interim time period of teh alternate reality? Would you tell him about it?"

Probably not. I can't say for certain without specifics to weigh, but probably not. It isn't what happened, though.

I find it a moral-relative, judgement call thing. I don't see that we can arrive at a moral absolute for any case scenario through exploring equivalencies.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 4:14am (UTC -5)
@ Jaxon

"I also found it a little strange that the woman Gordon married did so even knowing about how Gordon first heard of her.

It reminded me a bit of Geordi LaForge and Leah Brahms in TNG."

Also true. But the fact that she was 300 years dead and therefore didn't exist contemporaneously when he made a facsimile of her that he fell in love with just makes it feel different somehow, doesn't it? It's less "I made a version of you I can edit to my liking that I'm having sex with" (which isn't what Geordi did, it only appeared that way) and more star-crossed romantic somehow. More "I did this because, if only . . . but there's no real you, anymore." If that makes sense.

I'm too tired to be certain the words I'm stringing together are making sense anymore, so I'm off to bed.
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Nolan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 4:14am (UTC -5)
Well, here's how disconnected I am from my own timestream: I keep forgetting we're lving in the ACTUAL 2020's. .. they said Gordon went back to 2015 and I was like, "oh yeah, not too far back, given the production time of these episodes and whatnot, few years back." Then they said they arrived in 2025 and I got excited to see what their ideas for a slightly more progressed from now Earth would be, what kinda "future" bit of society would we see. The skyline looked fairly normal, some furur-y looking buildings, but nothing extreme progress-wise. Then they got into a car and my brain went, "That's a fairly noral ho-hum sedan. Not super futury, buuut sci-fi road vehicles are always iffy on TV.

And then Gordon's wife mentioned the pandemic and I thought "that's an oddly recent/current thing for her to mention, and does that even fit the timeline of events? Surely that would've been early on in their relationship, if not around when he first arrived, I mean, if this is 2025 and the pandemic was way back in... wait. Wait. 2025 is only THREE YEARS AWAY?! WTF?!"

Somehow my brain just automatically thinks 2025 and presumably any date going forward is that era of speculative future and not mere days ahead. It threw me for a loop in this episode.

All in all decent episode, good character work, nice continuity and from what I've read about it, an interesting reflection of Picard S2. One wonders if Seth knew where that show was going and decided to do it more right.

And yeah, Charlie's anger being down to love does not surprise me at all. She took too long to confess her feelings, missed her chance and finds it eaier to blame Issac for the overall circumstance rather than herself for dragging her feet.

Dr. Finn is gonna want that holo-matrix as part of Issac's standard issue from now on methinks. (And she was absent this episode, but given her prominence so far this season, I don't begrudge that needed break)
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 7:44am (UTC -5)
@Jaxon
"I also found it a little strange that the woman Gordon married did so even knowing about how Gordon first heard of her."

She didn't know the specifics. When Gordon told her the whole story, she seemed shocked enough.

The only thing she seemed to guess was that Gordon is a time traveler from the future, and even that was only a subconscious thought.

I

At most she suspected that Gordon is a time traveller from the future, and even that knowledge was only subconscious. It would be pretty far-fetched for her to guess the entire "holodeck
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 7:44am (UTC -5)
Please disregard the last paragraph.
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KiminAsia
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 8:03am (UTC -5)
So Kelly let "slip" the files to Topa, and is now playing a hard ass on messing with timelines? This one was a big step down for me.
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Sungreenx
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Using Ed and Kelly’s logic for time travel and being willing to die to protect the timeline…shouldn’t Ed have self-destructed the ship after the events of “Priya”? After all, according to the timeline, they all should have died in that Dark Matter storm.
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voxymandias
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 10:50am (UTC -5)
This was such a punch to the gut, wow. The only part of this that didn't feel 100% true was the ending. I feel like Gordon (or anyone) would be much more upset about literally erasing their family, right or wrong.
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Anon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 11:04am (UTC -5)
Great episode but there should have been more stakes with their time dilation plan. Something dangerous that would make no one ever want to try it again. Are people just going to be time dilating into the future whenever they want now? Also, merely time dilating near the speed of light wouldn't technically progress time outside the bubble that fast.
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Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Sungreenx:
> Using Ed and Kelly’s logic for time travel and being willing to die to protect the timeline…shouldn’t Ed have self-destructed the ship after the events of “Priya”? After all, according to the timeline, they all should have died in that Dark Matter storm.

The difference here is that they are trying to protect the timeline they are currently in (the 25th century) and to which Union officers have a duty to protect. Messing up Pria's future by violating some ordained event is not their responsibility. I think that would be the rationale, and I would agree with it if it indeed were the case.

Anyway, for the entire episode. Wow. Heavy stuff.

Every character behaved in a logical and rational way that I would have expected in line with the character or with what I would have done. The ending wasn't unpredictable or subverting expectations, but that's fine. I don't need to constantly be surprised by every twist. I felt that going back another 10 years would be what they have to do.

But everything worked:
- Gordon did try to be discreet, but after 3 years went insane and decided to live a life.
- Kelly noted that having had a family would change someone's perspective greatly. (Didn't *need* to be said, but real life can be like that. Saying a three-year-old's death is sad isn't necessary, but we say that anyway.)
- Ed pursuing two tracks: get fuel for going back to 2015, but knowing that there was no guarantee there, wanted to reduce damage by at least removing Gordon from 2025 if the other plan failed.

The one thing that wasn't discussed and didn't have to be discussed aloud, or in reports, thankfully, was what to do with Gordon's family. If his wife had ended up dying single and childless in the original timeline, then the best corrective after removing Gordon would have been to bring his son to the future, force an abortion on her, then wiping her memory in the way Dr. Finn did at the end of Season 2 with young Kelly.

God damn, that would have been way too much for an episode of TV, however.

On politics in the show: Even though some people thought Gently Falling Rain dragged in too much of present-day America or mixed in too many political allegories, I strongly disagree. This episode really shows the focus the show has. To be crude, if the people behind Star Trek Picard had been involved on this episode then Ed, Gordon, and Kelly's conversation about the problems and mistakes of humanity in the 2020s would have had camera edits to montages of homeless people or weather reports on the radio about worsening droughts and global warming, at the very least. These are huge problems (the latter an existential crisis I doubt we'll make it through intact), and I don't think it's woke to point them out, but it would have made the episode bloated. And then NuTrek would have had some C-plot with Gordon's family having an undocumented Mexican housekeeper.

As with "Two Topas," this is sci-fi done right: it has multiple themes but also a focus, isn't a thinly veiled one-to-one allegory for one exact issue in our world, presents multiple viewpoints and explores the rationales even though it comes down on one side in the end, has multiple interpretations and generates conversations about the ethics and physical implications of the events. Pardon the pun, but this isn't rocket science, and the Orville always did a great job minding this, even if someone disliked the jokes, dialog, acting, budget, camerawork, etc. Seth MacFarlane and his team fundamentally get what sci-fi is supposed to be about.

The Orville reminds me of the amazing original _The Three Body Problem_. It's very bleak and misanthropic, not utopian, but isn't a direct allegory, has multiple moral questions and dilemmas, shows characters disagreeing and making different choices even if the story portrays some characters as ultimately more correct. There are many interpretation, and so on.

(If I can ramble ... _The Dark Forest_ was good in parts, but for those who don't know, the dark forest principle is waaaayyy over-rated and admired by fans because it brought the offensive realism school of international relations theory to inter-planetary relations. Too much was some weird incel nerd's fantasy. Too misogynistic. The final book, _The End of Time_ or _The Goddess of Death Lives Forever_, would have been better off as an anthology. I think the first book is the best sci-fi, even if the characterization and writing skills are more polished in Liu's later work. Luckily, the Orville has upped its technical qualities while maintaining the proper sci-fi spirit.)
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 11:52am (UTC -5)
"The difference here is that they are trying to protect the timeline they are currently in (the 25th century) "

That doesn't really explain the refusal to bringing his whole family into the future.

The kids can't have been destined to anything timeline shattering, since they weren't supposed to exist at all.
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Charles M.
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Very good episode, enjoyed the "Voyage Home" references.

The two things that bother me are if they could get more unobtanium to go ten more years, why didn't they just do that and not pursue Malloy in 2025?

And more importantly, how do the Kaylon always seem to know exactly when the Union is moving valuable research around?
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Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Jaxon:
> The kids can't have been destined to anything timeline shattering, since they weren't supposed to exist at all.

Good catch. They could have brought that one son (Edward Malloy) who was born into the future, but then it could mean that Ed and Kelly and Talla created a new life. What are the moral implications here? Is it like adoption or having a natural baby or is it like cloning or what Data in the Lal episode of TNG? (Remember, Picard got furious at Data for creating new life.) But ... was preventing Edward Malloy's birth by going back to 2015 an act of murder?

Just now I thought it could have parallels to abortion.

One view: after one month of pregnancy, the life doesn't "exist." It doesn't exist to any greater degree than it existed before conception. Carrying the fetus for another eight months is choosing to *create* a new human being where none had existed before.

Another view: after one month of pregnancy, the new human life *does* exist even though it's unnamed and unborn and someone murdering a pregnant woman at that point would be committing double homicide.

In a similar gray, way, maybe Edward Malloy is like a six-month-old fetus. He hasn't yet been born (i.e., he has not been brought into the "correct" 25th century and given an identity and Social Security card). However, preventing his birth and existence could be seen as murder.

How one feels about a six-month-old fetus being a human life or a potential life mirrors how could feel that Edward Malloy is already an existing human life worthy of protection or is a hypothetical life that doesn't yet firmly exist (given quantum-esque super-positions of times).

And to further go down the abortion rabbit hole, Laura was clearly pregnant with unholy baby #2. If the Orville crew could not go back to 2015 and had to correct 2025 as best as they could then return to the 25th century, would that entail giving Laura an abortion and wiping her memories if the baby was not yet viable outside the womb, even with futuristic science? Someone pointed out that the obituary for Gordon Malloy listed him as dying with only a son and two granddaughters alive. At the very least, even *if* Gordon was supposed to live out his days in the 21st century, the Orville crew would have had to ensure that their arrival didn't accidentally prevent Laura having a miscarriage. To this end, the crew in 2025 might have had to kill Edward Malloy's sibling.

I'm glad the show didn't have to go there.
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Nolan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
I think people are forgetting the one major error in thinking this timeline could continue, or the wife and kids could come slong: The Phone. It's the catalyst for this whole chain of events. Malloy is only wistful and longing for this 2015 woman she buried her phone that Gordon then got and lived out a fantasy with her based on past events that ended in this woman getting back with her boyfriend and sticking her phone in a time capsule. Only, 2025 Malloy inturrupted that part of her life, and she never got back with her ex, a change in narrative that could've changed Malloy's entire views and exeriences with that phone. Maybe he doesn't cherish it as much, or becomes obsessed with her story, maybe he gets rid of the phone instead of keeping it so that Charlie never asks about it and implants that thought in his head. Either way, as the reason for his time travel, any change to his experiences and relationship, as it were, with this woman with the past is a huge danger of causing a paradox.

The only issue there is, once the crew establish that Malloy is ingrained in society, why bother trying to convince him to leave at all, or threaten him with Talla when it's clear they need to prevent this interference at the start?

(Also, interesting exchange about eating animals and the future view on that nice touch of world building)
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PM
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
RE "voxymandias
the ending. I feel like Gordon (or anyone) would be much more upset about literally erasing their family, right or wrong."
Maybe because Maloy had already resigned himself to his relationship with holo-Laura being unrealistic, by the time he was told he was in an actual relationship with her in an alternate timeline, he was so used to having to recognize his holo-addiction was unhealthy that when he was told thr real thing came along, he was just all 'naw, that's still a bad idea'

RE "Anon
there should have been more stakes with their time dilation plan. Something dangerous that would make no one ever want to try it again. "
Wouldn't the temporal fallout of doing this all the time either make the move outlawed or just too fraught w thr danger of messing up time to ensure folks don't want to (or are kept from) make the attempt?
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Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
Charles M:
> The two things that bother me are if they could get more unobtanium to go ten more years, why didn't they just do that and not pursue Malloy in 2025?

I thought about this, too, but if I can be charitable, Ed had no guarantee that the plan to get more dysonium would work. If the plan to get more dysonium didn't work, then correcting 2025 to the best of their ability was the best thing that the Orville crew could do. Ed only resolved to go to 2015 after hearing that Isaac and Charley succeeded and seeing that 2025 Gordon was immovable.

Ed looks at Kelly for a second and she gives him a slight nod. At that moment, they realize they have no choice other than to go to 2015, even though this means they will have to risk being stuck back in 2015 and having to pick up 2015 Gordon and just hide behind the moon until they all die. They knew that a trip from 2025 to 2015 was do-able, but going to the 25th century would be very difficult, even if the Aranov machine didn't end up breaking.

Ed and Kelly didn't have to weigh their options at that point. It was clear that 2025 Gordon messed thing up in a huge way and was not going to lift a finger to undo anything and going back to 2015 had just become possible. It became clear to Ed, Kelly, and 2025 Gordon what it was that Ed and Kelly would do.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure I buy the argument that extracting Gordon from 2025 was absolutely crucial but somehow leaving his wife (who knows everything and would now have an axe to grind) and his offspring in 2025 was oakey-doakey.
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
Sounds to me like taking his whole family back to the 25th century would be preferable to that.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
"I think people are forgetting the one major error in thinking this timeline could continue, or the wife and kids could come along: The Phone."

Only because that episode aired so long ago that I no longer remembered how it ended or if her marrying Gordon was incompatible with the timeline of her life up until the point she put the phone in the time capsule.

If it is, then yes, we have a (potential) paradox problem caused by the phone to consider, as well.

Re: just taking the wife and kids to the future with Gordon from 2025 . . . doesn't have any guarantee of fixing things. The kid wasn't supposed to exist, but by existing, maybe he pushed some other kid on the playground, maybe that caused the kid to scrape his knee, maybe that caused his mother to take him home from the playground early that day, maybe they got hit by a car on the way home, maybe that kid's kids will never be born . . . blah blah maybe the Union doesn't exist.

Ed trying to take Gordon home was him trying to minimize potential damage. It wasn't the preferred solution. He doesn't even know what the rules of time travel are, though. He has no idea if it would have worked. For that matter, he has no idea if he could have left Gordon in the past to have twelve more children with his wife and nothing much would have really changed. He only knew he had to minimize the risks.

As it is, Gordon was still trapped in the past for a month in 2015 and ate a bunch of animals that otherwise wouldn't have been eaten. Maybe because of that, Harrison Ford played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films in the Orville universe rather than Han Solo. SOMETHING changed, without a doubt. SomeTHINGS. It's only that it's some things so small that Ed and Kelly and co will probably never discover any of the discrepancies
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
The episode never did say how Gordon installed himself in a cabin. Presumably it was off season and he squatted in it.
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Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Jeffrey's Tube:
> As it is, Gordon was still trapped in the past for a month in 2015 and ate a bunch of animals that otherwise wouldn't have been eaten. Maybe because of that, Harrison Ford played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films in the Orville universe rather than Han Solo. SOMETHING changed, without a doubt.

Hear, hear. The butterfly effect cannot but be true, right? Just think about conception of a child: one in a million sperm. Gotta canoodle and ... ... ... in the same positions at the *exact* same time.

This is a part of our brains we just have to turn off in order to enjoy these stories. I'm open to being wrong about time travel physics. Maybe the fabric of the universe folds in some way that self-corrects small changes so that long-term outcomes trend back towards what they should be, blah, blah, blah. Maybe the future has some "gravity" that pulls the past towards a certain path, blah, blah, blah.

I wish more sci-fi acknowledged on some level physical determinism and the butterfly effect, then had some lines of dialog to deal with the issue. If they had something like that, then maybe I could stomach "one month in the woods wouldn't change history whereas seven years in society would change history."
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
"Gotta canoodle and ... ... ... in the same positions at the *exact* same time."

This is why the same characters existing in the Star Trek Prime and Mirror Universes was so bonkers.
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Quincy
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
That turned out to be a pretty good episode, despite the mountain of stupidity necessary for the episode to actually happen. I mean seriously, you're escorting the most powerful WMD ever created to a "safe" facility and 1) said facility can be summarily destroyed without a red alert released across your entire security network, 2) your escort ISN'T a heavily armored and armed armada fully capable of waging a war in and of itself, and 3) the "secure" facility that you're on your way to suddenly goes offline and you just waltz right into an ambush instead of immediately rerouting to some other heavily armed military location or even signaling Union headquarters for instructions? Really?!?

This was a nice continuity call back to the Orville Season 2 episode, "Lasting Impressions": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utt2wLMbz0k That song they opened and closed the episode with was from a movie called "The Last Unicorn." I loved that song. It was the perfect sentiment for this episode. It's also a pretty good movie for children. If you have kids, I recommend it. BUT be warned; it does contain some nightmare fuel if your kids are very young.

That scene with Talla and LaMarr had me rolling. I have to say I really didn't like Talla at first. I was partial to Alara. However, lately she's grown on me... like a fungus. Both of them played that scene perfectly. LaMarr was like "that massage was slap your mama good. I owe you some dang-a-lang after that!"

Ensign Burke is growing on me to... also like a fungus. That biker bar scene was pretty good.

I was so glad that they dealt with the difference between past and future time travel. I don't think I've ever seen it dealt with at all, let alone as succinctly as this, on a television sci fi drama.

The Orville has turned in some real serious dilemmas this season. This one was far more personal. I'm hoping they will take this further. This should be a supervillain origin story for Gordon. They really should keep Gordon +10 around and turn him into an adversary next season. And they've already laid the groundwork for how to do it. The quantum bubble that isolates you from the space-time continuum and protects you from relativistic influences could conceivably protect him and his family from temporal fluctuations. He was smart enough to build a subquantum communicator that could reach them at exactly the right time and place 400 years ago with twenty-first century technology. He should be smart enough to think of this as well.

As far as Mercer's decision, I can't really blame him. Both sides have a point. And Mercer is holding the more morally correct position. The needs of the many do indeed outweigh the needs of the few and the one. But I'm going to tell you right now. If you threaten to murder my two children before they were ever born, while I'm the one holding a phaser, you're going to find out what it feels like to reach a bodily temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit a few seconds after you utter the words, "see you soon."
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Jaxon
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
I'd be fine with Isaac having that Mark Jackson shield turned on all the time. He;s not working in any capacity for his people anymore...so why not?

I liked the nod to continuity with Ed saying yeah I still don't trust that damned tech thing after they it F'd up last time.
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MossRoss
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Great episode, I particularly enjoyed the Johnny Knoxville sitcom.

However, I'm still not convinced that the best decision was to try to extract 2025 Malloy, even if not knowing the dysonium plan would work or not. But it's Isaac and Charly working together, of course they would succeed.

Clearly 2025 Gordon Malloy would be too invested in his life to want to leave, hence they should do the moral thing and extract the version of him that wants to leave. But I understand that we need some nice drama and all that. So that's fine.

Then I'm thinking that they would have to keep their failed attempt to extract him a secret, otherwise it would upset him or something. But no, they just tell him straight up. In a way it's interesting though, to see the two wildly different reactions the two version of him have.

At least Gordon didn't exit the show. I was worried for a second that Charly was brought in to replace him.
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A. C.
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Come on hulu give use a Renewal for Seasons 4 and 5! :-)

Probably means we wouldn't see NeW episodes till 2024 but now we have the experience to handle that kind of Wait...
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Quincy
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
@Nolan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
"I think people are forgetting the one major error in thinking this timeline could continue, or the wife and kids could come slong: The Phone. It's the catalyst for this whole chain of events. Malloy is only wistful and longing for this 2015 woman she buried her phone that Gordon then got and lived out a fantasy with her based on past events that ended in this woman getting back with her boyfriend and sticking her phone in a time capsule. Only, 2025 Malloy inturrupted that part of her life, and she never got back with her ex, a change in narrative that could've changed Malloy's entire views and exeriences with that phone. Maybe he doesn't cherish it as much, or becomes obsessed with her story, maybe he gets rid of the phone instead of keeping it so that Charlie never asks about it and implants that thought in his head. Either way, as the reason for his time travel, any change to his experiences and relationship, as it were, with this woman with the past is a huge danger of causing a paradox."


The phone was from 2015 wasn't it? Her getting back with her boyfriend had to have happened in 2015. The phone itself was buried in 2015. She actually mentioned it in Malloy's simulation that they were about to bury the time capsule. Malloy said when he arrived in 2015 he waited 3 years out in the wilderness trying to abide by Union laws on time travel. He wouldn't have made contact with her until at least 2018. That's plenty of time for her to have finished with her ex again as people break up to make up only to break up all the time. The phone would've long since been buried by then.


@Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 5:57pm (UTC -5)

"I wish more sci-fi acknowledged on some level physical determinism and the butterfly effect, then had some lines of dialog to deal with the issue. If they had something like that, then maybe I could stomach "one month in the woods wouldn't change history whereas seven years in society would change history.""

This is why Picard pissed me off so much this season. They actually have a cursory conversation about avoiding "the butterflies" then go on to totally disregard those butterflies with full on car chases and Borg queen murders. It was so ridiculous I had to quit watching at some point.

I haven't really seen a good treatment of the butterfly effect in television sci fi. Sci fi literature maybe, but not tv, or even film. I remember one low budget sci fi B movie on the sci fi channel years ago had some time bridge to the Jurassic era. A prehistoric butterfly (yes, it was that on the nose) landed on the time bridge and one of the travelers stepped on it. When they returned there were extinct creatures appearing all over the place. They had a certain amount of time before the changes became irreversible. It was a hilariously bad movie.
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Troy G
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Wow. If “Topas” got **** then so should this. Even better
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Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Quincy:
> I haven't really seen a good treatment of the butterfly effect in television sci-fi.

I know you mentioned TV, but the film _Primer_ deals with time travel in a very nerdy way that I love.

In the world of _Primer_, you go back in time at 1x speed, not instantaneously, which means that the time machine has to be hidden somewhere where it won't affect you and you won't affect it. The main characters just do day-long trips by staying inside all day, checking stocks at 5 PM and then going back to that morning and just avoiding anything that would cause a paradox or splitting. I think it acknowledges that going further would have effects you can't correct for, but no one who's been holed up in a hotel all day would think that the timeline of the past 12 hours is holy. It makes sense. The butterfly effect couldn't impact you within a 12-hour window if you're careful. If I go back in time 20 years, one sneeze will radically change the direction of events, but I wouldn't notice if someone went back in time 20 hours and sneezed in Beijing.

And when you repeat that same day as an older version of yourself who now knows how the stock markets fared that day, just avoid anything that would prevent your younger self from climbing in the time machine that night or warp your younger self's reading of the stocks. (I.e., don't do anything that crazy with the stocks as with the Gamestop affair). Just see which stocks went up a lot by the end of the day and buy some back in the morning, but not so much that you caused the stock to go up wildly in the first place. They're nerds, and so they do this methodically and carefully.

******
\begin{SPOILERS}[The movie Primer]
******

It's only in the last act that the two friends start betraying each other and messing with paradoxes and creating parallel, stranded selves or universes that they don't care about. And there's no solution or happy ending. The two main characters just go their separate ways in a world that is not their own timeline (they themselves are the paradox versions) and leave their original selves to go on living after one of them sabotages their youngest selves' time machine. We just have to assume that they create false identities and avoid their slightly younger selves.

******
\end{SPOILERS}[The movie Primer]
******

I can't think of a single other mini-series or movie that handled time travel well (although I've warmed up to the Orville's quantum super-position/in flux stuff).
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
@ Quincy

"I haven't really seen a good treatment of the butterfly effect in television sci fi. Sci fi literature maybe, but not tv, or even film. I remember one low budget sci fi B movie on the sci fi channel years ago had some time bridge to the Jurassic era. A prehistoric butterfly (yes, it was that on the nose) landed on the time bridge and one of the travelers stepped on it. When they returned there were extinct creatures appearing all over the place. They had a certain amount of time before the changes became irreversible. It was a hilariously bad movie."

That's the plot of A Sound of Thunder, the very famous Ray Bradbury short story which popularized the term "The Butterfly Effect." In fact that story and that plot is probably what most people first think of when they hear the term, heh.

There aren't any monsters when they return from having stepped on the butterfly in the Jurassic, just a changed outcome of a political election, but B-movies do need their creatures, so give the adaptation some license, heh.

(The whole reason they're back there in the first place is to hunt dinosaurs on safari. They identify ones that are about to die, then kill them with bullets seconds beforehand. They stay on a floating platform / pathway and otherwise aren't supposed to make contact with anything.)

Bradbury didn't come up with the idea of the butterfly effect or originate using a butterfly as the example, the person who first wrote about it did, but he is the one who brought widespread recognition to the idea with that story.
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JCJC
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 12:05am (UTC -5)
There was really no need for Ed to tell Gordon they were going back to 2015. That was only done for added (forced) dramatic effect.
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Tom
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Definitely a switch-your-brain-off episode, and a decent one on that basis. It's fun to speculate, but the science here doesn't hold up at all. The branching universe theory and possible timelines are nonsensical.

We already know that choice is illusory, neuroscientists have have proven that. The idea that thoughts can somehow be selected and made to happen to lead to two different possible alternatives makes no sense whatsoever except in fiction.

It even makes no logical sense. In the situation involving Lamarr sending the sandwich back in time, to not send it back he would have had to think "i'm not going to send this sandwich back in time". But he didn't. So how is he going to make that thought and all the thoughts leading up to it happen, including the changes in brain chemistry required? And at what point does the branching happen?

The deeper you think about it, the more it impacts the episode. One second they're talking about everything being "in flux", the next they're talking about "irreparable damage to the timeline."

Nor do I think time travel is possible, but that's for another time.
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OmcironThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 3:04am (UTC -5)
@Tom

You might want to look up the "Many Worlds Interpretation" of quantum mechanics. It's the idea that the universe splits whenever a situation can have more than one outcome.

This idea is firmly ingrained in modern physics. And contrary to common belief, it has nothing to do with "choice" or "thought". According to this theory, the universe splits like this EVERY TIME a quantum measurement can have multiple outcomes.

Normally these universes don't interact with one another, so it is of no practical consequence. Even if the universe really splits in two every time we flip a coin, the two parallel outcomes are unable to influence one another.

But when dealing with time travel, this is no longer true.

For example, imagine that we connect the Aronov device to a computer, and give it the following instructions:

(1) If nothing appears on the platform at 11:59:50, grab a sandwich at 12:00:00 and sent it back 10 seconds into the past.
(2) If a sandwich appears on the platform at 11:59:50, do nothing at 12:00:00.


What would happen in this scenario?
(note that by giving the above task to a computer, we've eliminated the pesky element of human choice)

It is clear that there's no self-consistent way to describe the above scenario in a single timeline. But it can easily be done with two interacting timelines:

In timeline A, the sandwich did not appear at 11:59:50, so the computer was forced to send a sandwich back at 12:00:00...

...which leads to timeline B, in which the sandwich *did* appear at 11:59:50, which lead to the computer *not* sending anything back at 12:00:00, thus leading us back to timeline A.

If you observed this experiment from the outside, you would directly perceive only one of these timelines. If you're in timeline B, you'll see a sandwich magically appear at 11:59:50, and you'll never see anyone send it. You could, however, *deduce* the existence of timeline A, because that sandwich had to come from somewhere.
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OmcironThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 3:12am (UTC -5)
@Nolan

The time capsule with the phone was buried in 2015. Malloy first contacted the real Laura in 2018.

So it's actually conceivable that The Laura/Gordon family existed in the prime timeline.

Then again, if this is the case, Mercer just ruined the prime timeline by snatching Gordon from 2015. Now that would be an amazing twist... I kinda wish they'd do this, because it would be epic.
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Tom
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 3:59am (UTC -5)
@Omicron
So proposing experiments that can't be performed (like the one you described) and involve time travel is proof of multiple timelines?

The problem with the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics is it assumes both the subject and object are real, separate things, and that before and after in time are real, separate things. As far as I know, science has never proven the existence of subject and object, nor a temporal before and after. These are no more than useful theoretical suppositions and assumptions.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 5:21am (UTC -5)
@Jaxon "If anything lowers my score, it will be that they told Gordon what happened at all, and that once told, Gordon reacted so simplistically with "Good for you...totally right decision!" without any pondering or speculating whatsoever."

I agree. However, I think the writers thought Gordon had come off pretty bad in this episode and didn't want to assassinate his character. I'm not sure they were right (personally I didn't find his 2025 position that untenable), but that is the vibe I got from the weird epilogue. It was trying to wash Gordon's image more than Mercer's.
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 7:01am (UTC -5)
3.5 stars.

I didn't think Gordon came across poorly in the episode or needed rehabilitation.

Did anyone else think of "Tuvix"?

@Jonathan: "And then NuTrek would have had some C-plot with Gordon's family having an undocumented Mexican housekeeper."

OMG this is exactly right! Maybe the housekeeper can have a daughter she hugs a lot.

"Re: just taking the wife and kids to the future with Gordon from 2025 . . . doesn't have any guarantee of fixing things. The kid wasn't supposed to exist, but by existing, maybe he pushed some other kid on the playground, maybe that caused the kid to scrape his knee, maybe that caused his mother to take him home from the playground early that day, maybe they got hit by a car on the way home, maybe that kid's kids will never be born . . . blah blah maybe the Union doesn't exist."

You're reminding me of my cameo in one of Jammer's reviews. Although he referred to me only as "someone in the comments" or something along those lines, he expressed agreement with my philosophy that even going back in time to some deserted spot and taking a breath, you would change time enough so that a year later, the babies born would all be at least slightly different (if they were still conceived at all).

But of course both Jammer and I realize that while you might be able to have a few interesting stories with this kind of worldbuilding, most time travel stories get messed up by being this strict.

"I can't think of a single other mini-series or movie that handled time travel well"

I love "Primer" too, but there are a few other good ones. My Top 5 in the genre:

1. History of Time Travel
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Predestination
4. Primer
5. About Time

There's also an interesting one called "Time Trap" that involves only forward movement in time, but at wildly different rates depending on what part of a cave you move into. It's low budget (though they used their entire VFX budget at the very end, surprising me), but cleverly conceived and well executed.

@Quincy: "But I'm going to tell you right now. If you threaten to murder my two children before they were ever born, while I'm the one holding a phaser, you're going to find out what it feels like to reach a bodily temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit a few seconds after you utter the words, 'see you soon.'"

Haha, yeah, I was thinking something similar. Can you imagine if McFarlane had no fraks left to give, and just went for a Tarantinoesque scene there? With no reset button?
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 9:20am (UTC -5)
Finally got to see this last night, and while I thought it was a good episode, there was obviously some stuff "left on the floor" as it were, despite the long runtime.

I liked the exploration of Gordon's plight regarding his family - it was certainly relatable. I think anyone who has had kids will say that any desire to go back and "fix" mistakes you made in the past goes away entirely, because you don't want to butterfly your children out of existence. And I think Scott Grimes did great work here.

My problem was Ed and Kelly's roles trying to persuade him were just underdone. I can't remember if this temporal "prime directive" stuff was established in an earlier episode, but until the epilogue they came across as unfeeling autonomations who just kept spitting out Union law. They should have at least found Gordon's decision to have a family understandable, even if they believed it was the wrong choice, but they just sort of stood around dumbfounded.

I also think the ending should have been that 2025 Gordon went with them when they said they would just go get 2015 Malloy instead. As a parent, if I was left with either the option of either never seeing my kids again and going into the future long after they were dead, or my children never having existed at all (and my current instance being winked out of existence) I know what I would have picked. Plus, even though this is not a serialized show, Gordon could have had some added pathos in later episodes which I think would have helped the character.

Ultimately yes, this is another "Tuvix" episode. Everyone does something horrible within our moral framework which results in a character suffering a "death" and then the status quo is returned and we never speak of it again. Though at least they had the sense to add on a melancholy note doing this episode.

Regarding the B plot, it was nice to see Mike Jackson out of makeup again. The character of Ensign Burke is still completely unlikable (and played by a woman who can't act - Seth needs to up his dating game) but I'm happy we finally get a non-straight character who isn't an alien.

Three stars.
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Akom
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 9:48am (UTC -5)
New on the site (but a long time reader), I apology on advance for the writing (english is not my first language).

Nice episode!, one of the best of the Orville for me. I was reeeeally worried after the second and third of this season (pacing issues mostly), but I really enjoyed the last three.

On this episode, the most interesting part to me was to read comments (on different sites) questioning "rescued" Gordon for being "too harsh and dismissive" respect to "family Gordon".

I did not see problem at all. At this point, I think we can consider "rescued" Gordon and "family" Gordon two different persons almost entirely, with a different set of values. "Rescued" Gordon does not carry the experience and reasoning that "other Gordon" constructed over time. And he also didn't have the fortune of chatting with his older version, sometimes the immediate experience of a situation "feels" very different to a told one (maybe that could have changed his views on the topic).

Dang, I can easily notice this on myself, on how I "mutated" my points of view respect some "hot topics" with the passing years (I just can hope for the best).


Cheers
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Akom
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 9:56am (UTC -5)
Sorry, I forgot to add:

What a great performance of Scott Grimes! **chef’s kiss**
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Yanks
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 11:20am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this one, but not nearly as much as last weeks masterpiece.

It's interesting to see how different Star Trek and The Orville handle time travel.

Star Trek: A whole organization dedicated to protecting the timeline.
The Orville: Every officer seems to be responsible to enforce/obey the time travel LAW.

I though it was silly to have Mercer and Grayson go to Gordon's home and threaten to physically remove him (with Talla). Kind of stupid actually. Once he heard that Issac and Charly got the unobtanium blah blah, only then did he decide to go back 10 years and retrieve him then? Why wasn't that the plan all along? They all were stating over and over how all the stuff he did over the 10 years would/could have an unforeseen impact on the timeline so isn't the only logical answer to go back further and get him? Come to think about it, why even look for him? Even if they can't get this magical pixie dust, isn't the right (mandatory) thing to do is to disappear? How much did they alter the timeline or violate their own laws by looking for Gordon?

No real surprises here. I'm not sure why Mercer and Grayson thought they had to tell Gordon what happened. Why does he "need to know"? Are they just looking to depress the guy? Hey, you had a beautiful family, but no you don't. Have a nice day.

Adding real science to the plot. I like it. Einstein wins again!! Time travel to the future is PROVEN in our time. It's only the technology of The Orville that allows it to work on such a large scale.

I can't go over 2.5 stars here.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
@ Akom

"I did not see problem at all. At this point, I think we can consider "rescued" Gordon and "family" Gordon two different persons almost entirely, with a different set of values. "Rescued" Gordon does not carry the experience and reasoning that "other Gordon" constructed over time. And he also didn't have the fortune of chatting with his older version, sometimes the immediate experience of a situation "feels" very different to a told one (maybe that could have changed his views on the topic)."

Yes, I agree. Good point.
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TheRealTrent
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
IMO this was another excellent episode.

It seems clear that Seth - who wrote the episode, and also its season 2 precursor, the slightly better "Lasting Impressions" - built the episode around two big scenes: the scene in which Gordon reveals his struggles and his desires to stay in the "past", and the scene in which Mercer reveals to Gordon that he's essentially about to murder him.

These are two powerful scenes, and they elevate the episode to near-greatness, but IMO the script never fully lays the groundwork for them (How'd Gordon settle so easily into a normal life? Why'd Mercer come down on Gordon so hard? Why'd Mercer reveal that he was going to assassinate Gordon? etc etc). The script's too focused on getting to its two big dramatic scenes, that it skips necessarily details.

People above are complaining that Future Gordon is ashamed of breaking the Temporal Code and settling down with a family, but I found that to be believable. And we're not sure how truthful he's being anyway.

People above are also praising the scene in which the Orville uses its quantum drive to travel into the future, but I actually disliked that idea. The ease at which time-travel is possible in Trek has always bugged me. It somehow trivializes all achievements, as anything can theoretically be undone, or spun off into an alternative universe. Better IMO to ignore this stuff and pretend these things don't exist. So while the scene is cool, and makes more sense than the time-travel conceits we've seen in Trek, I'd have preferred if it didn't exist. I prefer maintaining the illusion that these quantum drives have nothing to do with time-travel.

Many have complained about the pacing and scoring problems in this season's early episodes, but the show seems to have fixed these problems. Here the score's beautifully low-key at times, and the last 3 episodes have used their long running times perfectly.

That said, this episode would arguably play better as a 45 minute episode. Imagine this: you begin the episode with Gordon working on the alien time-travel device. It simply malfunctions and throws him back in time. Mercer uses the device to follow him, kill him, and then the device is destroyed taking our heroes back to the future. No Kaylon action scenes, no quantum-time-jump, no LaMar technobabble. This leaves you with a lean 45 minute episode which climaxes with the big scene in which Gordon learns of his murder.

As the episode currently is, the climax occurs about 12 minutes from the end, leaving the episode with a kind of unbalanced structure.

Still, these are minor complaints. I've generally found the last three episodes to be excellent, fun and gripping. They've re-captured the blend of drama, comedy and science fiction that elevated season 2 from 1.
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TheRealTrent
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Quincy said: "This was a nice continuity call back to the Orville Season 2 episode, "Lasting Impressions": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utt2wLMbz0k That song they opened and closed the episode with was from a movie called "The Last Unicorn.""

Seth has been packing the show with some unique song choices. "Nature Boy" in the last episode was an idiosyncratic pick too.

I'm surprised they didn't get Leighton Meester to sing again in this episode. Her duet in "Lasting Impressions" was one of its best scenes.
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Jaxon
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Maybe I'm the minority, but I rather like having 12 minutes take place after the climax instead of 2.

Would have been nice on, say, Voyager's Endgame.
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TheRealTrent
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Akom said: "New on the site, I apology on advance for the writing (english is not my first language)."

You're English is very good and very understandable. And welcome to the site.



Akim said: "I did not see problem at all. At this point, I think we can consider "rescued" Gordon and "family" Gordon two different persons almost entirely, with a different set of values."

Mercer's "blunt", "aggressive" style didn't bother me too much, but I think it would have worked better if we got one more scene between him and Kelly in which they discussed what to do with Gordon. A scene in which they debate whether or not bringing him into the future, or "killing" him and his family, would meaningfully alter the timeline.

Mercer's passion for "Union rules on time-traveling" just doesn't seem well-established enough.

His blunt, almost militant stance does lead to that great scene with Talla, though. When she suddenly appears at the door, there's something very horrific about it.
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Troy G
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
Can somebody help me with this? If the ship is traveling just barely below the speed of light, with no “quantum bubble” to shield the ship from the passing of time, wouldn’t it take 200 real-time years to travel to the star, and 200 back again?
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P_Car
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Marvellous episode. Real sci fi.

If you watch again on the obituary it tells you all about Gordon’s life and that he married. No way they didn’t read that before going back. So it wouldn’t be a surprise he was married.

Further they had to be careful to go back after he sent the message… otherwise there’d be a paradox. On their 2nd attempt:

‘Gordon arrived about a month ago.’

So he hasn’t sent the message. So how do they know where he is?

Finally the reason he had to be taken from 2025 was because he was a murderer. Not actually the rest of it. He admits it himself in the private chat in his house.

‘I ate animals. I’m a serial murderer.’

It’s all even worse than Ed feared.

Finally there are some comedic moments alive and well. Isaac is channeling Data. Biker scene.
‘This is Isaac ‘
‘Pleasure to meet you. What are your hobbies?’

(Does he become flesh and blood btw? Surely the arm wrestler would feel the metal?)

Shame about the paradox. Otherwise perfect.
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Yanks
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
@Tom

"The deeper you think about it, the more it impacts the episode. One second they're talking about everything being "in flux", the next they're talking about "irreparable damage to the timeline.""

Outstanding point Tom.
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phenaproxima
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
@Troy G, I did a spit-take when Lamar said that they'd need a couple of minutes to travel 200 light years at 99.9999% the speed of light. Um, no...at 100% the speed of light, that should take 200 years. Right? Am I crazy? Or is that just bald-faced nonsense they hoped we wouldn't notice?

Nerd quibbles aside, this was a pretty great episode.
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Yanks
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
BTW, I think 'Lasting Impressions' is MUCH better than this episode.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
@ Troy G, @ phenaproxima

Relativity, you guys. It DID take the Orville 200 years to travel there, and 200 years to travel back. That was why they did it. Because they needed to go 400 years into the future. But due to time dilation as the speed of light was approached, it was subjectively only a few minutes aboard the ship.

Put another way: from the perspective of the universe, it took the Orville 400 years to make the trip there and back. From the perspective of the Orville, it was only a few minutes. That's how relativity works. It's why we call it . . . "RELATIVE-ity."
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Quincy
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
@Jonathan
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 9:18pm (UTC -5)

I've seen Primer. It's a pretty interesting take on time travel. I haven't thought about it in terms of the butterfly effect. I'll have to watch it again, since it's been over a decade since I've watched it.


@Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 10:15pm (UTC -5)

"That's the plot of A Sound of Thunder, the very famous Ray Bradbury short story which popularized the term "The Butterfly Effect." In fact that story and that plot is probably what most people first think of when they hear the term, heh. There aren't any monsters when they return from having stepped on the butterfly in the Jurassic, just a changed outcome of a political election, but B-movies do need their creatures, so give the adaptation some license, heh. (The whole reason they're back there in the first place is to hunt dinosaurs on safari. They identify ones that are about to die, then kill them with bullets seconds beforehand. They stay on a floating platform / pathway and otherwise aren't supposed to make contact with anything.) Bradbury didn't come up with the idea of the butterfly effect or originate using a butterfly as the example, the person who first wrote about it did, but he is the one who brought widespread recognition to the idea with that story."


You have got to be $#!%'ing me? I couldn't for the life of me remember the title of this thing. I googled "'a sound of thunder' movie" and it pops right up! That's it! I had no idea somebody had royally crapped all over Ray Bradbury's story! Either that or I contracted hysterical amnesia and just forgot due to my subconscious protecting my mind. I'd heard of the title, but never read the story. That's horrific! They had flesh devouring insects like the sinister scarabs in that movie, "The Mummy," giant bats crashing through the walls, mutated killer monkeys, etc. It was ridiculous. Here's the trailer and a review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTmKsKhMcIg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb27kymB_AQ

YouTube has the nerve to be charging people to watch this. It's criminal. They should be tried, convicted, and sentenced to have Pelé kick them in the buttocks several hundred times. (Sorry if Pelé is no longer a well known player or dead or something. He's the only soccer player I know by name.)
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RobSolf
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
Wow... it's amazing how much this show has matured in 3 seasons. The B story was pretty weak, but the A story was top notch. And to solve their final predicament with an honest to goodness forealz science concept... nice...

Where'd the sammich go, though? Will it save the day in the season finale? Will it pop in on Family Guy and hit Peter in the face? Easter egg salad?
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman: I agree with your critique about the way Kelly and Ed reacted; I also think you make a good point that 2025 Malloy could have saved his kids, and his memories of them, by going with them. But of course that would also leave Laura as a heartbroken single mother.

@Akom: Your English is very good!

@Jeffrey's Tube is right. The forward time travel we saw at the end is the one absolutely realistic form of time travel you will see in sci-fi. Similar things can also happen near the event horizon of a black hole, as illustrated in the Christopher Nolan film "Interstellar".

The one thing they have left unexplained (and which probably can't be explained in any scientifically realistic way) is what happens if they turn off that same compensation field when they are traveling faster than light.
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nacho Picard
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
This, to me, felt like Orville's Tuvix, only with a much more satisfying ending.

Like Tuvix, the plot presented us a "no good answer" problem, but unlike in Tuvix, the story was constructed in such a way that everyone could win. It doesn't seem like it, and I'm disappointed Seth (who wrote it) either didn't think of it or didn't bother to show it, but the early part of the episode teased the notion of string theory. If I understand it right, despite what Mercer and co. said/thought, their going back 10 years won't erase the family man Gordon from existence, it will just spin off into a new timeline. Family Man Gordon will not disappear. How could it? When would that happen? The moment the Orville went back in time the ship left Family Man's timeline/universe. So, as I understand it, Family Man continued living his life, happily ever after.

It would have made no sense but I think the best way to illustrate that, from a storytelling perspective, would have been for Gordan, at the end of the episode, to look at the cell phone and see pictures of himself now inserted alongside Laura, to let him know that the other Gordon is still out there (back there...back then), living happy.

Wouldn't have worked according to the science, but that string theory idea is sound, I think.

Really great episode. Almost felt like a protracted movie. 9/10
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nacho Picard
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
I agree it made no sense to tell Gordon they were going back to pick him up 10 years earlier, but I think it makes perfect sense why they would tell THAT Gordon what happened in 2025.

Mercer shows clear guilt over his actions, as, in his mind, he caused the erasure of two human beings. He needed to confess that, whether Gordon agreed with him or not. Fortunately, for Mercer, he did.
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nacho Picard
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and I LOVED the idea of using faster than light travel as an easy way to skip to the future. It's so obvious, I can't believe it never occured to me in all my years rewatching The Voyage Home!
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SlackerInc
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 2:16am (UTC -5)
@nacho Picard: At the risk of being pedantic, they didn't use FTL travel to go to the future. They went at 99.999% the speed of light, so actually very slightly slower-than-light travel.

It's fortunate that in the last few years of their journey, no one on the Orville (or some other Planetary Union ship) noticed them making their way "slowly" along and pulled alongside to try to see what the heck was happening. Especially since toward the end they would have been very close to Earth (so in reality it probably would have been wiser to do the whole thing somewhere more out-of-the-way).
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Akom
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 6:41am (UTC -5)
@nacho Picard: "Mercer shows clear guilt over his actions, as, in his mind, he caused the erasure of two human beings. He needed to confess that, whether Gordon agreed with him or not. Fortunately, for Mercer, he did."

From the point of view of Mercer, I think was a interesting episode. Is not the first time that Mercer "ducks up" with some Union laws, but here almost every time that he tries to fix something result in something worse without real agency from his part, just have to deal with very bad cards.

When Mercer learn about Gordon having constructed a "normal" life in the past, he carries a grim face onward, I think is because he understand that there is no way that the situation ends in a "clean reset situation". Even if he tries his best, something will go wrong: Gordon being heavily punished by his actions; a lifetime friendship broken; a family ruined (if they kidnapped Gordon); two disturbed timelines (if they mixed timelines by carrying the family of Gordon with them) or the possibility of wipe a universe entirely (the chosen path, but with the open end of the family continuing given by a possible paradox)

Some people complains about the possibility of Gordon being kidnapped -the "Talla appears on the front door scene"- but I think that Mercer does that just as a medium of coercion, you know, "because of the implication" . The fact that finally they do not kidnap Gordon and leave I think is suggested that is more because they fail to convince Gordon and not because they really feel threatened by his weapon.
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Peter Howie
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
This episode would have been much better if it was cut down by 10 minutes. I especially could have been done without the guitar/song in the opening.
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Tim
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
Found a general relativity calculator: https://www.emc2-explained.info/Dilation-Calc/

99.999% of C still leaves them at almost two years ship time to make a 400 light year trip. Getting it down to roughly 5 minutes requires a speed of 99.99999999999997% of C.
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Daya
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
Since they were travelling without a (warp) field, they saw frequency shifts in the starlight. But the stars they were travelling towards should have looked blue, not red. And the stars they were travelling away from should have looked red, not green. There is no green shift!
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Lynos
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode, it had a great premise and a tough dilemma. Froma different perspective, if this was Gordon's show or just a stand-along movie, the Orville crew would be the bad guys here.
Charly and Issac's B story was also well done.

Two nitpicks: 1. couldn't they have gone back just a little early to warn everyone from the Kaylon ambush? That whole deal was abandoned the moment Gordon was zapped to the past.
2. I didn't really need that final scene where they confess to Gordon. It would make more sense, and be more poignant on both sides, if he never learns what happened. And the flippant way Gordon just accepts it... ouch.

Other than than, stellar episode, and pretty funny too.
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Lupe
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
So, probably three episodes from now, that sandwich should turn up?
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P_Car
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
@Lynos

Like 10 minutes in BTTF?

No, they’d have changed the time line, something they’d just had to undo with Gordon.

One thing I forgot to mention was the other error - when they go back 10 years they are in the same place behind the moon. It wouldn’t be in the same place.
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Del_Duio
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
See this is how you do time travel back to the 2020s. A thousand times better than Seven and Raffi speeding around in a cop car for an hour.

I expected that a second timeline where Gordon got to have his family still happened, and that the final scene would’ve been everyone watching TV together. No dice.

I also thought that he was going to kill Ed, Kelly, and Talia once they left his house, to protect his family.

Very good episode. Only the 2nd and 3rd this season didn’t really fully do it for me. Everything else has been really great. Let’s hope for a S4!
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Del_Duio
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
I also think a huge reason why Ed and Kelly were such hard asses about the rules were due to the dressing down they just got in the last episode from the admiral.

If they let this one slide they were done for in the Union.
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Lupe
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
@Del_Duio: "I also thought that he was going to kill Ed, Kelly, and Talia once they left his house, to protect his family."

I know how incorrect this is, but I was so rooting for him to do that.
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mosley
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Another excellent episode.

I am starting to become really curious about the supposedly not so good episodes one and two (which for unknown reasons are still not available here). I've only seen it from ep 3 on, and as far as 3-6 go, this is easily the best trek season in a long long time to me.

And yes, I just call it trek now. Why kid ourselves. They're doing trek, they're just not allowed to use the names. Totally fine with me, long gotten used to it.
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Del_Duio
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
I’ll tell you this much: When Talia showed up at their door you knew it was to take Gordon by force. Probably the first time she seemed pretty scary.
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David Staum
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
So many time travel movies or shows have the silly idea that a reality will just disappear. But if a reality exists, why would it just stop being? In this case, 2025 Gordon was huddled there with his wife and kid, waiting for... what? To fade out, a- la BTTF? If his timeline disappears, that would have already happened.

But maybe the writers are aware of that and planning a follow-up. After all, they have Isaac's speculation about realities being in flux, and Mercer's comment about not really understanding how time travel rules work.
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Lynos
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 1:00am (UTC -5)
@P_Car
"No, they’d have changed the time line, something they’d just had to undo with Gordon. "

That's the thing: I don't understand why the current timeline is so sacred. Earlier in the episode there is a pretty interesting discussion about how time is constantly in flux and everything is in superimposition until someone makes a decision/becomes the observer. But who's to say this observation can't be re-written? Who says the "original" timeline is the one we must protect at all costs? If time travel is possible, than time travel is now a variable that needs to be taken into consideration. The mere existence of a time-travel technology means that all bets are off now, and there isn't just "one timeline" anymore.

So why can't Gordon be allowed to live his new life?
Why can't the Orville go back a little earlier to save lives? Especially when it's their
present, not their future. Who's to say that using the time machine isn't part of the equation and that this is "supposed" to happen?

And of course all this holds water only if you subscribe to the one timeline theory. In the sandwich scene, Lamar pointedly says that not sending the sandwich back in time will create another universe. So if there no one timeline, but many, why all the rules and protocols? If something changes in the past it simply create an alternate timeline, but the current timeline still exists. In other words, if we subscribe to the many worlds theory, Gordon's actions will not affect the current "original" timeline.
Actually, he should not be leaving the Orville at all. In this scenario, he's the sandwich not sent. He would be zapped during the overload, but then he would wake up, dust off his clothes, and continue his life as usual aboard the Orville, oblivious to the fact that another version of him has just been created in an alternate universe...
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SlackerInc
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 4:40am (UTC -5)
@Del_Duio: "Only the 2nd and 3rd this season didn’t really fully do it for me. Everything else has been really great."

Interesting. I thought the second episode was the only one that didn't work for me, so we agree on that; but the third was stellar in my book.

Good point about the admiral's reading them the riot act factoring into their hardass application of the rules.

@mosley: "I am starting to become really curious about the supposedly not so good episodes one and two (which for unknown reasons are still not available here)."

I don't remember anyone saying the season premiere was bad...? I mean, maybe someone did (there's always someone); but I thought I remembered most people digging it. I certainly did.
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P_Car
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 10:29am (UTC -5)
@Lynos

Thanks for the reply, enjoy this discussion.

There are 2 reasons he can’t continue his new life as I see it. 1, the main reason Kelly and Ed went there - it is as they argued, what if…? questions about the next Hitler, or if this relative stopped the union.

2, The other was (which he confessed to) was that to survive he had to murder - what, an animal a week? - so let’s say 150 animals. They didn’t know this but this was actually very dark. They had to go back and get him before this.

Regarding the new universe theory, if you consciously don’t send the egg sandwich back, then you have a problem. If you consciously leave Gordon there, now you know where he is, that will affect the universe we are in. I think anyway.

Anyway, no one notice they went for him before he sent the message, creating a paradox?
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Lynos
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
@ P_Car

Yeah, you can't really make a time omelet without breaking some paradox eggs.

I give the episode a pass despitre all the plot holes because the dilemma in its center is well worth exploring. Again, I was not wholly convinced by Ed and Kelly's vehemence on upholding the law because information said previously seems to contradict the one timeline theory. And as you say, once they went to get Gordon they alreasy added a new wrinkle. So basically you can't really clean the slate a 100 perecnt.

This thing about what if this person kills Hitler or invents the cure for cancer. That's a kind of cliche of stories having to do with time travel. Let's be frank here: 99.9 percent of people do not do something so significant with their lives and do not change so many fates. It's interesting that this comes out the same week Strange New Worlds has a story about a man changing the course of history for the worse with one decision, but in SNW it's a "what if" scenario (which i'm not sure I totally buy as well) while in Orville it happens for real.

Again, I liked the episode quite a bit, i only have a problem with the coda which lessens the episode's impact considerably, I feel.
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SC
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Another strong episode. Brave to turn Mercer, Kelly and co into the bad guys. The time stuff was a little or a lot convenient but it was so entertaining. Shame we're starting to see all of this excellent character progression and the show might never return. There was too much blasphemy in the episode, like Seth was trying to break a record, not sure they'd be saying Jesus C and Goddamn 400 years in the future.
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SC
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
"If anything lowers my score, it will be that they told Gordon what happened at all, and that once told, Gordon reacted so simplistically with "Good for you...totally right decision!" without any pondering or speculating whatsoever."

Ah, but you see that's the Gordon from the past, it's easy for him to say that because his future is just an idea that never happened to him.
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Jaxon
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
The only "I want that hour of my life back" episode this season was the second one.
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Jaxon
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Midseason rankings, from best to worst

5 >> 1 ≥ 6 > 4 >>> 3 >>>>> 2
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Maq
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
It started like an Orville episode where you do not really know what you vill get.

Then a great time travel episodes. Scott Grimes acting as a ten year older man who aceppted his fate and built a life. He was totally convincing and the love storey just great, but you knew that it somehow would end and the solution was quite forseeable.

It was a very good plot and they made moste of it well. Bike bar scene quite forsable, Winter's acting was fair but not more.

Not using pseudo physichs to get back to the future was really cool.

I don't mind Gordons reaction when he was told the truth. He was then the ten year youger still Orvill crew. And honstly, he is not the most mature person.

I had expected a smal tying up of Burke and Isac plot.

The big question, where is the sandwich?
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Del_Duio
Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
RE: 99.9% of people won’t affect major change to a timeline

Even in TNG I’m almost positive that Q told Picard that this was him exactly, that he was just not all that important. And that was PICARD.

I’d say there’s no way the junior Malloys would be able to match Picard’s accomplishments and influence or even come close to it.
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Maq
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 1:02am (UTC -5)
Probabyl true, I mean, if Q said so.... MacFarlane is probably just a wannabe sci-fy producer who has no clue whats going on in the big universe.
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Yanks
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 9:40am (UTC -5)
@Maq

"The big question, where is the sandwich?"

It will be interesting if it shows up in 3 months.
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Jaxon
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 11:57am (UTC -5)
The sandwich should be like the cucumber/pickle in the Family Guy episode.
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Steve Peeve from Cleeve
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this. Did Mercer make the right call? Per Union law it appears so and credit to him I guess, he put the well being of the Union over his friends.

I know people are saying Mercer should have taken them all to the Orville in 2025, but his wife was meant to live and die in that century. It would have been just as destructive to take her back as to leave Gordon there.

Only main quibble was the terrible math at the end there. Going 99% the speed of light to a star 200 light years away is going to take.....200 years (and back again). Not sure where they got 4 minutes from?!

Probably give it 3.5 stars. It was good fun.
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Elliott
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
It’s amazing that the episode can lay out exactly how the maths work regarding relativistic speeds and people still fault the show for it. Like…listen to the dialogue. It’s right there.
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Tom
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
As a science graduate, physics in particular has issues with communication to the general public. It's not that the physics that is difficult to understand, it's just physicists tend to be poor at explaining it to non-physicists (yes, even the "great" Richard Feynman).
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Jeffrey's Tube
Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
You would think science fiction fans would understand relativity without needing it explained by this episode, though. It's a concept extremely frequently encountered in the genre.
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Tom
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Perhaps. But it's apparent from the comments that they don't, and I'm not inclined to say they should. The onus is on the show to explain it, and in this case they've not succeeded.
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Steve the Peeve
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Well how does it work? My brain hurts trying to figure it out.
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Jonathan
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 11:38am (UTC -5)
@Steve the Peeve:

The Orville makes a trip that is 400 light years (round trip to and from a place 200 light years away). This trip is 3,784,000,000,000,000 kilometers. The ship is traveling at almost 1,080,000,000 kilometers per hour.

To the universe, this journey takes 400 years and five minutes.

To the people on the ship, they become very slow. 400 years and 5 minutes feels like only 5 minutes to the ship and to the people on the ship.

Therefore, the Orville does a journey of 3,784,000,000,000,000 kilometers over a period of 400 years and 5 minutes but the characters only aged by 5 minutes and the whole experience felt like 5 minutes.


For this reason, all "faster than lightspeed travel" is impractical. However, many science fiction stories make up a reason to avoid this "time dilation" effect. In the show _The Orville_, the ships use a special magical shield around the ship so that time does *not* dilate. Much more importantly, however, is that the magical shield around the ship makes it *possible* for the ship to go faster than the speed of light
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Steve the Peeve
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Ah I see. That makes perfect sense. Thanks for the explanation.
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A. C.
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
My friend 'The Dude' texted me his thoughts...

The ending made it seem like the fleet was all fine & dandy after that battle at the beginning of the episode. Maybe they averted that by sending a message while in the past. They could have even advised to stop that scientist from making that time machine, or keep it more secret. But what about that egg salad sandwich? Now thats a paradox!

The previous episode was a pretty good follow-up in tricking conservative viewers into supporting trans rights for Topa. Then there was the one with the Krill punishing for abortion. Was this episode also about abortion in a way? Using time travel, they aborted Gordon's baby, kid & happy relationship with the girl he was stalking.

I keep forgetting about the alternate universes - so the little old Gordon from Pasadena lives on with his family. What about the other handful of Gordons that split off when the time machine had a power-gasm? I smell a followup episode!

However, none of the crew or Gordon himself thought his happily married existence would continue... thus the drama at phaser-point. Even afterward there was a sense of guilt! So, did they just forget about alternate universes to add more drama to the show?

Inconsistent...
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A. C.
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
There was an inconsistency in the show.

When John did the experiment with the sandwich, he explained that, if he had not sent the sandwich into the future so that it could then be sent back into the past, then a branch universe would have been created due to the temporal paradox.

However, the supposed need to return Gordon to his own time supposes that there is only one timeline.

These two views are incompatible. Given John's comment about the sandwich, Gordon's presence in the past should create a branch timeline, without risking anything about the timeline in which Ed and Kelly and the crew exist. There should be no imperative for Gordon to return to his own time in order to "protect" the timeline, as whatever changes Gordon causes by his presence in the past would manifest themselves in a branch universe.

The show had already given us the "one true timeline" approach in the aftermath of the previous incident with the Aronov device, the incident that led to the younger version of Kelly going seven years into the future and then back to her own time period. This episode was the show's chance to break with that approach and to embrace the "branching universes" approach, and I was excited upon hearing John's explanation, because I thought that the show was going to do it. I regret that the show didn't stick with the "branching universes" approach, which not only makes more sense, but also offers greater opportunities for storytelling. -- FerdinandCesarano


Interesting... Now that you mention it, there is kind of a lack of symmetry with what they did, isn't there? This may have nothing to do with physics, but there's a certain amount of closure with going back-to-the-future using the same method you used to go back-to-the-past. It just feels like using the time travel device again would somehow fix any temporal anomalies. -- neoprenewedgie
^
|_ https://www.reddit.com/r/TheOrville/comments/vtd363/physics_in_s3x06_spoilers/?set=old
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modulum
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
overall really cool episode, orville's been on a hot streak lately doing these heavy emotionally driven stories. this one feels very VERY voyager both in style, in its emphasis on experimental tech, and in the reset-buttony resolution. actually, i'm starting to realize that the feel of this show feels very voyager-inspired in general.

3.5 stars!
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P_Car
Wed, Jul 13, 2022, 4:55am (UTC -5)
I noticed a strong similarity to Back to the Future also, which Seth is a huge fan of.

They decide to destroy the time machine because of the problems it causes.
Time machine is hit by a huge amount of power by accident (end of BTTF part 2)
Sent back to, of all years, 2015 (the exact year that the Doc goes forward to. Surely a tip of the hat)

Man sent back falls in love but realises he has to return. Doesn’t return/doesn’t want to.

Only difference is Mercer forced him back.
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Jammer
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 12:28am (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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John Harmon
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Wow. I'm shocked this is only three stars. Great review though.

Except the "cheesy" time travel effects were done that way to be scientifically accurate. It's the relativistic doppler effect from the time dilation. That's supposedly how it would actually look. It actually amazed me to see it portrayed so well in science fiction. Just the fact that they found a way to get back to their time in a way that somehow no Star Trek writer ever had is amazing enough, but for them to portray it scientifically and mathematically accurate is even more amazing
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Booming
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 3:11am (UTC -5)
"It may seem obvious, but we value the things that are actualized far more than the things that are merely potential"
I would say that we can put that sentence on humanity's gravestone. :)
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Tom
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 3:59am (UTC -5)
If that were true, religion wouldn't be as large as it is.
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nacho Picard
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 9:23am (UTC -5)
@John Harmon - Seth mentioned not long ago about the science consultant they rely on for things like that. It's great to see them making an effort, even though they don't go all the way with it for the purposes of "good TV" (there are still sounds in space, for example).
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Jonathan
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 11:50am (UTC -5)
@nacho Picard:

In re science consultants, how one uses them is a litmus test for good sci-fi.

Do you use scientific theories to come up with scenarios our characters must deal with and/or for solutions to problems?

OR

Do you use some nods to scientific theories as an aesthetic on top of pure fantasy stories?

Good use: using time dilation to move forward in time (actually to just remain around and just age very slowly). While you're at it, get the doppler effect on light kind of correct.

Bad use: write something that is like _Star Wars_ or some generic space opera, but then show light accurately in space (without light diffraction in the air, every object is in perfect highlight or in total shadow). Science consultancy doesn't help inform answers to problems in this use case. Science consultancy just comes in after all else is done, just to be some window dressing.

I think _The Orville_ tries to play the sci-fi and real science properly. The biggest issues with the series are in pacing, editing, etc., or in subjective preferences (whether one finds it fun or annoying that Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" plays during the Moclan women's fight).

For all the attention TNG got for its nerdiness, it actually was mind-numbingly bad with the science fairly often.

"Reverse the neutron polarity"? Any B-level high schooler knows how ridiculous that sounds.

"The Next Phase" only holds up on the story and character drama. It's not sci-fi. It's a supernatural and fun story about being a ghost observing your own funeral and trying to cone back to life. Just turn off your science brain completely. This _Yu Yu Hakusho_ in space. (The characters go through walls, but not floors. They breathe our air, see our kight, hear our sound waves in air despite being unable to physically interact with our world. Gravity affects them. They can't blow our air or speak into our air, but die in space without access to our air, air which they can't breathe in any case. Nothing makes sense unless you pretend it's a supernatural story.) To my knowledge, _The Orville_ hasn't done anything that flatly contradicts its own physical laws. In that way, it is better at being hard sci-fi than Star Trek. The Season 3 Episode 2 ending where you can't magically undo DNA changes, only retain some memories, not regain or lose them, shows a much better commitment that Star Trek never had. Star Trek used the reset button far too often and deflated all tension in maybe 25% of all episodes because I knew the reset button was there.

Undoing Isaac's emotions chip is fine. Undoing you captain becoming a small slug lizard is ludicrous. Killing Tuvix is ... actually okay in my book. Science can help with "this software patch doesn't work on newer chip models." Science cannot help with "turn this primitive lizard into a full human and restore her memories from DNA buried in her that doesn't exist."
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Akom
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 11:56am (UTC -5)
Jammer says:

"...there's really no reason for Mercer to present Malloy with this awful choice, other than to provide the story with this intriguingly troubling dramatic sequence and the resulting great monologue from Grimes. I mean, why tell him at all? "

About Mercer telling that to Gordon, from what I get from the scenes the reason is to threat him. He tried first to convince him the "good" way, and that clearly didn't work, so then he tried the bad way: threatening him with Talla or with going to pick another Gordon and erasing him (this was a last resort). Mercer finally fails in both ways, but still never takes him by force and let Gordon to decide.

If I'm not misremembering it, when they arrived to 2015 I think that was implied that they can make just one more time-jump at that moment (and maybe they also want to avoid to f**k-up... I mean, to generate, yet another timeline) and that is why they do not take the "let's come back 10 years back" path and also explains the "harshness" of Mercer.
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Jonathan
Sun, Jul 17, 2022, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Akom:
> If I'm not misremembering it, when they arrived to 2015 I think that was implied that they can make just one more time-jump at that moment

I got a similar impression, when they arrived in 2025. They arrived in 2025 and said "unless something changes, we will just barely return to our time intact." They only went into 2015 from 2025 after leaving Family Gordon's house with the knowledge that they now had enough dysonium where going back to 2015 and then to their homes was feasible, but ... !

The time machine was on its last legs/they were not confident in their abilities to be precise/the dysonium chase had no guarantee of working out/all of the above -- and therefore, they tried to fix things from 2025 if possible. When that became clearly impossible, and at the same time that Ed got the update that Charly and Isaac did get dysonium, then and only then did Ed decide "we have to take our chances going back to 2015. It's our only hope to fix the timeline, even if we get stranded or mis-shoot things."

Sure enough, they were off by five months and the time machine broke. It seemed that they would have to live out the rest of their lives behind the moon on their admittedly nice ship, but in isolation.

I think the episode did a good job with why they couldn't just go back to 2015 after they realized they accidentally went to 2025.

***

The bigger problem for me is why no one thought to just hang back behind the moon for five months so as to not to create a bootstrap paradox with saving Gordon before he sent the "rescue me, sempai!" message.

That is a genuine flaw. The other "problems" were clear to me and I didn't need the show to spell out the plot at every point as if I'm some toddler who needs to be spoon-fed.

They should have had some line where someone thinks of this and then Ed says "we don't know for sure that even six months in isolation really had little effect, and the sooner we pick him up the better," or "yes, we know that issue, but we want to keep that family Gordon happy and alive in a parallel timeline, and picking up Gordon five months early would accomplish that goal" or "the 2025 Family Gordon was clearly corrupted. We can't be sure that he wasn't going to Atlantic City and shooting varmints for fun for the entirety of the first three years. I think that he was just lying about having tried to lie low for the first three years. He became untrustworthy."

I chalk this writing problem up to the pandemic. In a live writers' room, not an awkward Zoom call where everyone wants to leave, someone would have brought this up and said "we need a quick line that says 'XYZ.' " The writer (Seth) likely had something in mind. He would have had an answer *if* someone had asked him.

I see this in teaching all the time. I will look at some written essay with a passage that makes zero sense. Then I will talk to the student afterward in office hours and he or she will able to explain things as I ask.

"Oh, by 'the succession of American leaders in the early 21st century,' you don't mean the continuing *line* of increasingly emotionally polarizing figures -- you actually meant to write 'the *secession* of American leaders,' as in the *retreat* of people with leadership skills from the political sphere to the private sector."

You need to be in person to have these moments.
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SlackerInc
Wed, Jul 20, 2022, 1:41am (UTC -5)
@Lynos: "This thing about what if this person kills Hitler or invents the cure for cancer. That's a kind of cliche of stories having to do with time travel. Let's be frank here: 99.9 percent of people do not do something so significant with their lives and do not change so many fates."

Jammer agreed with me a while back that due to the butterfly effect, if you even went back a hundred years and took a breath of air in an empty field where no one saw you, and that was all you did before returning to your own time, you'd find that when you came back every single person on the planet would be someone different. There might be some people with similar names, but they'd have different genetics, different jobs, etc. And after four hundred years, that's guaranteed to have a major impact on society--whether good, bad, or just weird, who knows.

I too am surprised by how many science fiction fans don't seem to know about time dilation. It's one of the only "weird" concepts you'll encounter in SF that is actually totally real (like they've measured it with atomic clocks put on planes and stuff like that, although the effect is of course small at those speeds).

@A.C.: "However, none of the crew or Gordon himself thought his happily married existence would continue... thus the drama at phaser-point. Even afterward there was a sense of guilt! So, did they just forget about alternate universes to add more drama to the show?

Inconsistent..."

It's really hard to be consistent with timey-wimey stuff. Let's also recall that the whole deal in last season's finale (years and years ago) with Kelly going back in time, with a mind-wipe that didn't take, created an apocalyptic future that appeared to be treated as a single timeline situation. (I subsequently saw that you commented on--or quoted comments about--that storyline.)

But although it's still somewhat handwavy, I like the way they put it in this episode. It's not airtight, but better than what I ususally see in these stories: "As long as we still have to act, the timeline is in flux." What I take from that is that even though they can see Gordon's obituary and everything, that doesn't mean what's done is done, the end. It's sort of like what you have in some games, where someone does something to you but you still have an opportunity to go back and pre-empt it, with your "counterspell" resolving first.

@modulum: "i'm starting to realize that the feel of this show feels very voyager-inspired in general."

Yes, good call, but with a better batting average than Voyager.

@nacho Picard: "Seth mentioned not long ago about the science consultant they rely on for things like that. It's great to see them making an effort, even though they don't go all the way with it for the purposes of "good TV" (there are still sounds in space, for example)."

I handwave that away as it being a presentation of what the sounds (e.g., of a gun firing) would sound like inside each ship.

@Jonathan: "The bigger problem for me is why no one thought to just hang back behind the moon for five months so as to not to create a bootstrap paradox with saving Gordon before he sent the 'rescue me, sempai!' message."

Yes, and this was also a missed opportunity to engage in some low-stakes interpersonal drama, with no pressing mission to accomplish.

I don't agree with you about Zoom vs. in person though. Inspired by the pandemic originally, my extended family has been doing monthly video chats (on Teams, actually) for the past three years. As far-flung as we are, it's nice to meet up several times a year instead of just at holidays. And I've found that once we got used to it, it's pretty chill and very close to the feeling of hanging out in person (which we also still do on occasion, so we can compare). You don't get hugs or to actually share food, but the tone and tenor conversation is similar.
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Christine
Sat, Jul 23, 2022, 1:55am (UTC -5)
I don't know if I've just seen too many of these kind of shows, or I'm psychic lol, but once I saw the cell phone show up again, the time device, and Malloy disappearing, I just knew the story was going to involve him traveling to the past, the crew arriving too late and finding him happy, then going further back to retrieve him (my husband hates it when I get the prediction right, haha). It gave me Tuvix vibes because I knew the captain would be presented with a moral choice to effectively end one lifetime in favor of another for an individual.

Time travel episodes always make my head hurt, but you guys should totally check out the 12 Monkeys TV series if you want a real head scratcher.
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SlackerInc
Mon, Jul 25, 2022, 11:31am (UTC -5)
I bet 2025 Gordon wishes he would have hidden earlier, or at least used a different name to make him harder to find.

There's no way to do this within the confines of this show of course, but it's also interesting to imagine that as he is aiming the phaser (or blaster or whatever it is called) at the three of them as they walk away, he actually vaporizes them out of defense of his son and unborn child.
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Proud Capitalist Pig
Wed, Aug 3, 2022, 8:22am (UTC -5)
Jammer,

I do apologize for so blatantly bypassing your comment ban on “A Tale of Two Topas” by placing my thoughts about it on this thread instead, but I really wanted to share my reaction to it. So I bought you a few coffees. That’s how I make amends as a capitalist pig, of course--with money.
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Jammer
Wed, Aug 3, 2022, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
@Proud Capitalist Pig,

No problem. I will go ahead and move your comment to that thread for the sake of better relevance.

Thanks for buying me coffee!
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Proud Capitalist Pig
Fri, Aug 5, 2022, 7:01am (UTC -5)
@Charles M:

"And more importantly, how do the Kaylon always seem to know exactly when the Union is moving valuable research around?"

Easy! Evil Isaac is still feeding them information clandestinely. But I kid (sort of).
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Proud Capitalist Pig
Fri, Aug 5, 2022, 7:03am (UTC -5)
@ Jammer

"I will go ahead and move your comment to that thread for the sake of better relevance."

Thanks Jammer, I noticed this. Much appreciated! And yes, enjoy the coffee. It's well deserved.

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