- The intro, definitely like something out of Star Trek.
- Captain Mercer puts Grayson's plan into action, to stunning (and improbable) results as a giant Redwood tree suddenly sprouts through the Krill's ship.Mercer: Happy Arbor Day.
- Commander Grayson for coming up with a plan to save the entire ship and crew from almost certain death.
- Captain Mercer again for putting aside his personal feelings and asking Kelly to stay on board for the good of the ship and crew.
- What first seems like just a fun nod to one of the more infamous foibles of Star Trek ends up saving the day when an intruder sneaks aboard their shuttle:Mercer: We have something he doesn't.
Grayson: What's that?
Mercer: Seatbelts. [cue hard brake that slams the Krill against the window]
- Malloy flying tight circles around the Krill destroyer, weaving in and out between its protrusions and sticking so close that its weapons can't target Orville. Not even the Enterprise could maneuver like that. And then pulling off a near-impossible maneuver to catch an out of control shuttle in the Orville's shuttle bay manually.Malloy: Time to hug the donkey.
- Alara Kitan gets two - smashing a huge door out of a wall to allow them to escape the science facility and then covering the entire distance to the shuttlecraft in a single bound to get the device to safety on board.
- Alara Kitan finds herself unexpectedly in command during a crisis when Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson are both abducted while Bortus is on paternity leave. She initially handles it poorly, first literally running away from the bridge to try and find someone else to be in charge, and then later overcompensating and failing to heed the advice of her subordinates, leading to the ship nearly being destroyed. By the end of the episode, she's found the right balance, developed a plan (with Isaac's help) to infiltrate the Calivon homeworld, and rescued their crewmates, despite orders from Admiral Tucker to return to Earth instead, all without antagonizing the technologically superior Calivons.Kitan: Can I have everyone's attention, please? I have been given a direct order from the fleet admiralty to abandon the search for Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson. But as far as I'm concerned, they can bite me because we're going anyway!
- When she orders all power to be rerouted to the scanners, a crewman objects that this means the ship won't be able to go anywhere. She counters that there's nowhere to go until they find Ed and Kelly, then reminds him to call her "sir", not "kid." Way to command respect, Alara.
"About a Girl"
- Mercer delivers a huge blow to the entirely male-gendered Moclans' sexist assumptions by revealing their most revered author was one of the rare members of the race to be born female, and didn't have the usual transgender surgery at birth. It doesn't work in the current case, but it does clearly pave the way for a serious reexamination of their culture.
- Ed telling off the Jerkass arbitrator.Ed: Dude, you have been a colossal dick all day. Shut. The hell. Up.
"If the Stars Should Appear"
- Grayson endlessly sassing Hamelac during her brutal interrogation was seriously hardcore. Ending with the mother of all Teeny Weenie jokes.
- The out of nowhere (and uncredited) appearance of Liam Neeson as the ship's captain.
- Dr. Finn gets an understated one, patching up Alara's bullet wounds with a couple of her medical gadgets in less than a minute. Downplayed because she credits Alara's Xelayan physiology for the security officer's survival, but it's a marked contrast to how her Star Trek counterpart, Dr. McCoy, seldom got to do more than pronounce people dead on his own away-missions.
- The bio-ship opening up at the end is some Visual Effects of Awesome.
- LaMarr showing his piloting and targeting chops while taking on the Krill ship, saving the Union colony vessel. "BOOM, bitch!" indeed.
- Ed's black belt in Confusion Fu. He walks up to the guard, pretending to be an old college pal. By the time the guard realizes what's going on, Ed stuns him with a palmed raygun, pretends to be giving the now-unconscious man a hug, and hurries the party inside.
- Alara's was when they found Commander Grayson being tortured and she picked up Hamelac by his throat and barked out one word, "TALK!" If looks could kill, everybody else in the room would have been hit by the shrapnel.
- The No-Holds-Barred Beatdown between Grayson and Pria. There's no cat fighting, hair-pulling, or Fanservice. It's just a full-on brawl where both of them come out with black eyes, split lips, and blood.
- Knowing they're outmatched against the Krill ship, Mercer brilliantly has the Orville skim the surface of the planet's atmosphere, creating a makeshift "smoke screen" that blinds the Krill sensors so they can't lock onto the Orville. At the right moment, the Orville banks sharply and fires all its torpedoes to destroy the Krill ship.
- In the end, Ed and Gordon are able to save a colony of 100,000 people and capture an entire Krill destroyer with no backup and Gordon only suffering a stab wound and severe sunburn.
- Bear in mind, command was impressed when he managed to capture a Krill shuttle. And they sent him on a mission simply to take photos of the Krill holy book. Instead, he brings back the physical book... saves 100,000 lives and captures the Krill destroyer in perfect operating condition! One can only imagine a few of those Admirals who considered Mercer a "bottom of the list" kind of guy just a few months ago are revising their opinions pretty sharply. Not to mention Gordon, reputed to be a drunken idiot who was only part of the crew because Captain Mercer insisted on it.
- Bortus rather succinctly explaining to Lysella why her planet's philosophy, "The majority are the truth" is flawed.Bortus: A voice should be earned, not given away.
"Into the Fold"
- Claire escaping her captor (played by perennial '90s TV badass Brian Thompson) with some quick thinking that lets her get her hands on a knife and a gun. She also braves a trip along a high, narrow ledge.
- Isaac and Claire's son hold off the locals for a bit but clearly can't do it much longer...then some much bigger blasts send them scattering as the Orville arrives.
- One for the SFX team: when Yaphit is facing gun-toting Yandere Finn, he shows actual fear on his face — which is pretty impressive for a blob with no eyes.
- We finally get to see Isaac and Alara throw down. Even if it's just a simulation. It's predictably awesome.
- There's also Alara channeling Ripley and T2 Sarah Connor. She makes one hell of a Final Girl.
- On a Meta level, the Proscenium Reveal does something that Star Trek never did: showing how a holodeck works to create a "space" apparently larger than the physical dimensions of the holodeck.
- The 2D world is a jaw-dropping sight, resembling a computer processor stretching to infinity while its inhabitants are visible as a constant stream of lights. It's perhaps the clearest sign yet of Seth McFarlane's love of old school exploratory science fiction.
- LaMarr proving himself in a crisis, in the midst of a surprising amount of Character Development. Capping it off is his promotion to Chief Engineer.
- The Admiral, when Ed calls him out on not telling him that Kelly recommended him for command, points out that yes, the Admiralty had their reservations about giving Mercer his command on the Orville. But then pointing out that since he took command, he has more than proven he's qualified for the job and banished any doubts. Yes, all that stuff in the last ten episodes was noticed and didn't happen in a vacuum.
- Meta Awesomeness for the writing team, who manage to articulate the goals of a post-scarcity economic system better than any episode of Trek ever did:Grayson: [Money] became obsolete with the invention of matter synthesis. The predominant currency became reputation. Human ambition didn't vanish. The only thing that changed was how we quantify "wealth". People still want to be "rich," only now being "rich" means being the best at what you do.
- Ed referencing Flatland, cementing once and for all that the show is not just a low-brow comedy set on a spaceship.
- Isaac proves himself to be the biggest trooper ever by staying on a phase-shifted planet for seven hundred years - you read that correctly - just to fix Kelly's cultural contamination. That's insane.
- With the planet collapsing too fast to save everyone, Isaac, in the usual cold logic of his species, suggests saving the smartest among them. Bortus doesn't let that go.Bortus: I may be a "primitive organism", but I am happy I am not like you.
Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes
- Gordon spends most of the episode trying and failing the test to go into command. He eventually admits that he wants to try something other than piloting because he's worried that girls just see him as a one-trick pony. Finally, at the end of the episode, he is sent to pilot a shuttle to rescue Captain Mercer, and is questioned how he is going to rescue them on a planet where there's really no good to place to land. He states simply that's he's a pilot and proceeds to prove it by making a point-perfect landing right in front of where Mercer and his alien kidnapper are standing, then safely pilots them away from the aliens that are shooting at them.
All The World is Birthday Cake
- Even though the situation goes sideways almost immediately afterwards, and even though Ed admits that he "plagiarized it from, like, nine different things," Ed's speech at the state dinner is both impressive and heartfelt. Jean-Luc Picard and Carl Sagan would both be proud.Mercer: In the vast emptiness of the universe, we have found a fullness of cultural diversity. And when a First Contact unfolds like this, the cosmos becomes a living, breathing organism, so that, within that organism, we become a way for the universe to know itself. We are honored to know Regor II.
- Given how the writers have tended to use Bortus mostly for comedic value, it was refreshing to see him in full-on badass mode at the prison camp. Go away, indeed.
A Happy Refrain
- Its pretty clear that the cast got rained on for real in the last scene, in what was probably a long, complicated shoot. Thats dedication!
- Gordon once again subtly proves his status as the best pilot in the fleet during the test exercise. The Moclan warship can't even keep up with him.Mercer: Gordon, we want them to hit us, remember?Malloy: Aye, Sir. Dumbing it down.
- Talla's big moment comes in the final scene. Klyden catches up with Talla, to say thanks for clearing his name. Talla coldly points out that Klyden's prejudice against heterosexual Moclans is what set the events in motion to ruin Locar's life in the first place, so Talla more or less tells Klyden to fuck right off. (Doubles as a Tear Jerker - after Klyden shrinks away, Talla can't help but burst into tears.)Talia: You wanna repay me? Here's how. When you see me in the corridor, walk the other way.Klyden: I do not understand.Talia: Locar didn't hurt you. He didn't hurt anyone. All he wanted was love. And yet because of you, his life is over. For no reason, except your own prejudice. So as far as I'm concerned, you can go straight to Hell.
- Adding to Talla's awesomeness here is that she knows this the whole time. She's fully aware of how awful Klyden's prejudice is and the consequences of it. She COULD just let Klyden take the fall and rationalize that he deserves it. But she doesn't. Klyden is innocent of murder and she will not let an innocent man, no matter how repugnant she finds him, be wrongfully convicted.
Identity, Part 1
- On a meta level, the show has taken its first big risk in terms of story. Isaac has seemingly betrayed the entire crew of the Orville by letting his people take over the ship, and a full-scale, seemingly unbeatable android armada of battleships, with the Orville as its flagship, is headed straight for Earth, with, in the viewers' eyes, no hope for the Planetary Union or the rest of the Milky Way Galaxy, or any peaceful conclusion in sight.
- Meta-moment of awesome for Gordon's actor, Scott Grimes, who absolutely slays a rendition of Air Supply's "Goodbye," in the scene where Gordon says goodbye to Isaac. (Friendly reminder that Grimes is an accomplished vocalist outside of his acting career.)
Identity, Part 2
- On a meta note: Seth MacFarlane often talks up the show's special effects team on his Twitter, and he has every right to - the gigantic space battle between the Union fleet and the Kaylon fleet is easily the most visually impressive sequence the show has delivered up to this point.
- Said space battle becomes even more awesome when the Krill fleet arrives and easily turn the tide.
- When his Kaylon masters order him to kill Ty, Isaac finally turns against his masters in grand fashion - he takes out all of them in the briefing room, then strolls onto the bridge and wipes them out in mere seconds. Keep in mind we've never seen Isaac use his... uh, head-gun things till now. Becomes a Tear Jerker when Isaac has to deactivate all the rest of the the Kaylon on board to get his crew in control again, including himself. And all Ty can do is watch.
- And how exactly does Isaac begin his coup d'etat? By throttling Kaylon Pramary and yanking his titanium spine clean out of his chassis with about as much effort as pulling a weed. It's a stark reminder that, in spite of his quiet and reserved nature, Issac is perhaps the deadliest character throughout the setting.Isaac: Deactivation complete.
- And how exactly does Isaac begin his coup d'etat? By throttling Kaylon Pramary and yanking his titanium spine clean out of his chassis with about as much effort as pulling a weed. It's a stark reminder that, in spite of his quiet and reserved nature, Issac is perhaps the deadliest character throughout the setting.
- Gordon taking Kelly to Krill space to get some unlikely reinforcements. Twice Gordon attempts something with the ship that's only theoretical, and is not at all recommended for Union ships, and being the Ace Pilot that he is, he pulls these tricks off easily.
- Yaphit, of all people, gets two. The moment two Kaylon appear near Ty, Yaphit immediately launches his gelatinous form into one of them and shorts them out even though it nearly kills him. Ty still gets captured by the other, but that was a great Papa Wolf moment from an unlikely source. Also a moment of awesome for Ty as well - he helped Yaphit send a scrambled signal to the Union on Earth.
- The other doubles as a Heartwarming Moment. Having new knowledge of what the Kaylon look like from the inside, he's the one to singlehandedly reactivate Isaac while everyone else was unsure of what to do with his body.
- Mercer's going to bat for Isaac to Admiral Halsey after he's reactivated. Ed refuses to let the Admiral install an "off" switch to control Isaac, saying they can't make Isaac a slave like his race's creators did.
Blood of Patriots
- Talla gets a knife pushed against her throat by Orrin's "daughter." Unfortunately, as Talla points out, this lady has clearly never met a Xelayan before, and Talla throws her sorry ass against the wall with no effort whatsoever.
- Claire's subsequent jump to action once she realizes "what" Orrin's daughter is. Talla has absolutely no objection when she starts firing off orders. Although flustered by the reveal, she spouts off protocol without the slightest hesitation.
- Gordon's handling of Orrin. Faking a defection, he gets them on a shuttle, and forces Orrin to tell the whole plan. Realizing that his former friend has gone completely insane, Gordon not only covertly signals the Orville with an open channel so they hear the whole thing, but manages to try and subdue Orrin...but not before the bomb is armed. Gordon then suits up and gives Orrin a Last-Second Chance, but Orrin is too far gone to take it. That's when Gordon jumps out the shuttle airlock and into the black with nothing but his survival suit and hope the Orville's going to find him. Sure, it's not the ending Gordon hoped for, but it was certainly awesome.
- In a way both funny and awesome; Gordon figures out immediately how the Moclan scientists are cloaking their vessel...because he used the same trick in the academy to make a "party bus" out of a stolen shuttle. Genius Ditz, thy name is Gordon Malloy.
- Mercer eventually gets fed up with the Moclan ambassador's threats that Moclas might secede from the Union and forge a separate alliance with the Krill, denying the Union two powerful allies in the war against the Kaylon. He points out that, without full Union backing, the Kaylon would probably wipe out a Moclan-Krill alliance, but might overlook the planet of fugitives, in which case all surviving Moclans would be female.Mercer: But hey, at least you'd still be a single-sex species.
- Heveena, last seen in "About A Girl," is revealed to be the Moclan equivalent of Harriet Tubman, running a secret network to smuggle females to a planet hidden inside a nebula where they can live as their true selves. And when the Orville crew accidentally exposes them, she simply accepts that it was inevitable and switches to open defiance, taking on "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton as her anthem. And she actually manages to make a dead serious and earnest delivery of the lyrics to the Union's top members work as a Rousing Speech.
- Bortus finally calls Klyden out on his sexism and close-mindedness, pointing out how he didn't even bother to acknowledge the presence of Commander Grayson, and how he's teaching their son to be just like him. And Bortus would've kept going, had he and Kelly not been called to the bridge.Bortus: Has your time aboard this ship taught you nothing?
- Doubly awesome when you remember that Klyden is Bortus's husband, who once stabbed him in his sleep with the intention of divorce, showing that Moclans don't take each other's crap just because they're married. And they're still married!
- Take a guess what song plays when Kelly and Bortus lead the colonists fighting off the Moclan forces...
- Kelly and Bortus in that scene are merely the start of the awesome. It begins with Kelly telling the Moclan soldiers that her initial shot was her one warning shot. It continues when both Kelly and Bortus start soundly handing the Moclan soldiers their asses, with Bortus having to go hands-on when the soldiers come too close for him to shoot. It piques when the colonists begin fighting back, dropping soldiers and taking their weapons. Wusses, these colonists decidedly are not.
- Up in the nebula, Talla has command, Gordon has the helm, and they lead the ship against a firefight with a freaking battlecruiser. Mind you, the Orville is a relatively dinky exploration boat and this is a full-on battlecruiser from the Proud Warrior Race guys. They still manage to hold their own, using the nebula as a distraction.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
- On a meta level, Adrienne Palicki does a fantastic job as both the present and past versions of Kelly, making the storyline work amazingly well. Acting against yourself can be tricky but she pulls it off.
- Look closely in the first scene where Past and Present Kelly meet; they do a complete 360 circle examining each other without moving the camera. The split-screen effect is seamless.
The Road Not Taken
- Gordon and Ed's epic getaway from the Kaylon ships in the opener. No matter what timeline, Gordon's still an Ace Pilot.
- The surprise return of Alara (albeit an alternate timeline Alara) who gives the crew the supply they need, and makes a Heroic Sacrifice with her resistance faction so they can get away.
- Lamarr is able to jury rig time travel with limited resources, no engineering team, and by data mining a technology advanced AI that used to be his ship mate.
- It's pretty fair to say that when the show was first announced, many expected it to be a silly parody of Star Trek, to the point they expected it to be crushed handily by Star Trek: Discovery. But The Orville has gone on to defy those expectations completely, not only being successful on its own to already be renewed for a third season as of this writing, but proving that there's still some gas in the tank for optimistic sci-fi and that successful shows down't need to be grim and gritty.