This review contains spoilers.
2.13 Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow
The latest episode of The Orville demonstrates how likeable this series is. It takes a typical science fiction trope and skillfully uses it to craft something meaningful for us to think about, in a way that is thoughtful, humourous, and relatable. We all have those past loves to reminisce about who we believe could have been the one if we hadn’t screwed it up. Sometimes we think about what we could have done differently and if there is a chance we could rekindle the love that once was.
In the opening scene of Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, Commander Kelly Grayson and Captain Ed Mercer are with Lieutenant Gordon Malloy and Talla Keyali having a great time telling stories about their past over drinks. In nearly every scene Ed and Kelly are in together, they have a great rapport and obviously, consider each other good friends. Gordon and Talla leave, and Ed begins to get sentimental. He reminds Kelly he would still like to get back together.
Their responses demonstrate two perspectives one can take regarding rekindling lost love. Ed takes the emotional, less logical route. He knows there are hurdles, but he remembers their relationship so fondly that he is willing to throw caution to the wind and jump in. Kelly, on the other hand, takes the more logical route. She says it would be unprofessional for a captain to have a romantic relationship with his first mate, and notes their circumstances have changed and what they have now is good.
There are clues in the episode that more could be going on with Kelly. While talking it over with Doctor Claire Finn, Kelly recalls the difficulties in marriage, like times when you are not sure you are in love anymore. She is the one who committed the adultery that led to the end of the marriage. Although, Ed has admitted he was not around as much as he should have been.
What happens next relates to time travel goobly goo. Isaac is working on a time travel experiment. Lieutenant John LaMarr is helping Isaac, and he and Isaac throw out terms like quantum gravitational fields and other scienc-y stuff. Ed hilariously can’t stand the time travel talk. Later, on the bridge, he says he would rather chew glass than talk “time travel logic.”
To make a long story short, somehow something screws up, and after getting hit by a wave of energy, a younger Kelly appears in Isaac’s time travel lab. She is from seven years in the past, and Isaac does not know how to send her back.
This introduces the problem of how Kelly and Ed will face their pasts. The new Kelly has just had her first date with Ed. She still likes him. Ed sees this as an opportunity to rekindle that old love. This is when Kelly fears that young Kelly will break Ed’s heart. Does this mean Kelly fears getting back together because she does not want to hurt Ed, or does she not want to get hurt herself again?
The other issue that arises is that older Kelly feels superior to young Kelly. She takes a bossy older sister approach to deal with her. Younger Kelly is more into having fun, dancing, telling embarrassing stories, and older Kelly sees this as immature.This comes to a head when young Kelly finally tells older Kelly she is not as great as she thinks. Younger Kelly says she is disappointed that older Kelly has not achieved any of the goals she had set for herself.
Problems also arise for Ed. He can’t handle all of the partying younger Kelly does. Perhaps he had been thinking of the past too fondly and was not being realistic.
This all makes older Kelly reflect on her choices. Maybe she is not superior to younger Kelly. Perhaps there are some unique and special parts of herself she has lost.
The title of this episode is taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Kelly seems to be having similar thoughts. Is she foolishly wasting away, passing up happiness, like Shakespeare’s tragic player? Meanwhile, young Kelly realises older Kelly is pretty badass. Maybe her goals were too lofty. As for Ed, he realises that young Kelly is not what he wants or needs anymore. That is all in the past.
“It’s hard to find a really good original time travel story,” The Orville writer/producer Andre Bormanis told Ars Technica. “You have to find a new approach to it that hasn’t been done on other science fiction shows, and that’s pretty much an impossible task at this point.”
He is right, but in this episode, they achieved the impossible. A superb performance from Adrianne Palicki, who plays Kelly, also makes both younger and older Kelly and their feelings relatable.
Some of this all will play out further in the last episode. But perhaps we should all take some time to consider our lives, and remember how important it is to live for today, lest we foolishly suppress the flames of the brief candle that is the finite time we have to live our one and only life.