- One for those who know how badly William Shatner took all the good stories and lines for himself in Star Trek: The Original Series. Knowing that makes it nice that Ed Mercer a lot of time is in the background, allowing other crew members to get good lines and episodes for themselves. Granted, Seth MacFarlane being an executive producer, writer for most of the episodes, and director for a few, as well as still working on Family Guy and American Dad! means he's busier than William Shatner but it's still nice. This is definitely the series Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan WISH the original Star Trek was. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation and the later shows (Star Trek: Discovery excluded) tended to place the captain at the centre of most episodes.
- Ed asking Kelly to stay on as XO. Even though he's still struggling to trust her again, he admits that her staying is what's best for the ship and that she was a great help.
- The Reveal that Kelly was the one who advocated for Ed to get command in the first place, and that she sees it as a way to apologize for destroying their marriage.
- Learning that Ed and Kelly rescued the young alien boy from the zoo.
- Alara deciding to go against the admiralty's orders, wherein she is instantly forgiven by her crewmates.
- Alara, who spent most of the episode in a crisis of confidence, receiving a commendation for her actions.
- Despite the baby being made male during "About A Girl", Bortus still plans to love it just the same, and he and Klyden decide to stick it out together.Bortus: We must give him a good life, whoever he becomes.
- And before that, his revelation: rather than a cliché change of mind to the human perspective, it's the act of realizing that he might be taking away his child's future that compels him to change his mind.
- And at the end, Bortus gives his child a Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer toy. This somewhat implies that Bortus will tell his son about being born female, teach him to embrace who he is, and aspire to go behind Moclan societal bounds.
- Mercer's awestruck "My God!" at the sight of a city-sized spaceship. Seth MacFarlane shows serious acting chops with those two words perfectly summing up the joy of exploration and discovery that he wanted the show to return to the sci-fi genre.
- Alara admitting to Grayson that Mercer has so far been the only guy who isn't the slightest bit intimidated by her Super Strength.
- In a way that crosses with Awesome. Everyone barging down the door and being Big Damn Heroes by rescuing Grayson. Notable for the brief pause Mercer gives to make sure Grayson's okay before he starts laying into her torturer.
- When they open the dome, giving the ship's denizens their first view of the nighttime sky, even the episode's villain looks up with a face of dawning wonder.
- After Pria's scheme has been revealed, Mercer apologizes to Grayson for not believing her, instead having thought she was acting out of jealousy for his attraction to Pria. He promises not to doubt her again, which is a pretty big declaration, given his established issues with trusting her.
- A bit sideways, but Kelly's epic smackdown of Pria after her sabotage and betrayal were revealed. Sure, Kelly was protecting the ship...mostly. The fact Pria also broke Ed's heart and was threatening his life by that point probably didn't help matters.
- In a way only a comedy series can manage; Malloy admitting to the comatose Isaac that he forgives Isaac for amputating Malloy's leg in his sleep, admitting it was Actually Pretty Funny (their tech is advanced enough that Dr. Finn growing him a new one is pretty routine).
- One Krill child (Coja) is particularly curious and asks about Earth and the Union from Ed and Gordon (in disguise).
- Lysella turning off the Apology Tour broadcast without downvoting the person being judged. Sargusian society as a whole might not be there, but at least she has changed for the better.
- Isaac's emotional learning and growth. From almost dismissively popping Marcus' knee back into place at the start of the episode to getting 'angry' and 'annoyed' (insofar as he's capable of) to being an emotional support for the Finns culminating in him offering his hand to the Doctor and calmly encouraging Marcus on how to shoot better.
- Isaac protecting Dr. Finn's kids is great enough, but Finn thanking him at the end is the capper. Turns out the kids grew rather attached to Isaac.Isaac: May I make a final observation? Your children are unruly. Disrespectful. Volatile. And highly unpredictable. I am quite fond of them.Finn (smiling): Welcome to the family.
- Chief Engineer Newton talking about Lt. Payne after his death.
- Ed helping Alara firstly by refusing her resignation then giving her some sage advice for her situation, and then allowing Alara to create the simulation again after refusing a second attempt by Alara to resign.
- Ed later praising Alara for "owning" every crisis thrown at her in the simulator, followed by a scene where Alara goes to bed and falls asleep with a smile on her face.
- The scene where Alara is debriefed at the end shows her surrounded by her closest friends in the crew, and (with the exception of Bortus and Isaac), they're all out of uniform (their jackets are open), emphasizing the fact that this is a family, not just a crew.
- This is the first time in a while where we saw Bortus and Klyden not fighting as a couple, and even celebrating Ed's "victory" at the Moclan Hot Potato game.
- Isaac offers to stay on a planet for 700 years to help fix Kelly's mistake despite himself having no personal investment in the matter, other than maybe vague curiosity. His offer also comes with his fellow officers trying to object, despite being told - outright - that his body is built to last. They care about him as an individual, artificial or not, and he them.
- The In Spite of a Nail ending, where the planet's civilization has evolved into a spectacularly advanced society of peaceful explorers, even with Kelly's interference. Also heartwarming is how the envoys from the planet can meet their erstwhile god with no ill will, giving a rationale to absolve Kelly of guilt that if not her, their primitive ancestors would just have deified something else. And it's strongly implied they took care of Isaac while he waited, too, accepting him into their civilization.
- As awkward as the concept of the Ja'loja is, it's rather sweet that Bortus wanted all his friends there.
- Dr. Finn and Isaac have continued their friendship from "Into the Fold", with Isaac helping Dr. Finn when Marcus is accused of hacking the food synthesizer.
- Ed gets an opportunity to sabotage Kelly's new relationship when she and Cassius have a misunderstanding. He decides to be the bigger man and offers Cassius advice to win Kelly back.
- The survivors of the planet's storms discover that only 40 of the 70 people left can be saved. After deciding the children will all live, the rest of the group draw lots. Their First Minister could have opted out of it but instead took part, refusing to let her people take a risk she wasn't willing to. She's among those forced to stay, making it clear she's fine dying with her world as long as at least some of her people survive.
- The end of the episode when Bortus reconciles with Klyden. While Bortus admits he may never get over what happened to Topa, he still loves Klyden and cannot imagine life without his family.
- Alara saving her family from being killed by a man bent on revenge against her father and her father telling her that he's proud of her. And her realizing she family has the shot she never had at having a true family and deciding to stay at home.
- Ed vouching for Alara to her parents and telling them that she has distinguished herself beyond all expectations. They brush it off, but the fact that he tried is still nice.
"All the World is a Birthday Cake"
- The entire crew's absolute joy at getting to make a First Contact with a new planet, another big tribute to Seth MacFarlane's love of exploration that he wants to see more of in the genre.
- Even the music is a wonderful upbeat orchestra to sell how great this moment is.
"A Happy Refrain"
- In an episode that's nearly one big CMOH from start to finish, Isaac's grand romantic gesture at the very end tops them all. He simulates rainfall on the bridge (soaking the entire crew, whose initial annoyance turns to mild amusement once they realize what's happening) while very aptly having the ship's computer play Singin' in the Rain, all in an effort to win Dr. Finn back. Best of all: it works.
- Isaac realizing that his programming is having difficulty adjusting to Dr. Finn not being part of his life. Ed points out this is effectively the programming equivalent of love.
- Isaac using the simulator to take human form so that he and Finn can kiss, allowing Mark Jackson to be out of costume, and be amazingly Adorkable on the date.
"Identity, Part 1"
- The Farewell Party the crew throws for Isaac. It's great that they weren't willing to let him leave without him knowing just how much they appreciate him.
"Identity, Part 2"
- Yaphit safeguarding Claire's son, Ty. It feels completely sincere, and you get the feeling he won't even try to use it later in his ongoing attempts to pursue romance with her.
- Isaac turns against his people when they order him to kill Ty, and later says he doesnt even want to be accepted by them again after that. And while Claire is understandably not yet ready to forgive him, she has hope that it can happen one day.
"Blood of Patriots"
- The opening scene. Yaphit gets a well-deserved medal of honor for his heroism in "Identity, Part 2."
- Ed coming by Gordon's quarters to check up on him, and share his condolences for Orin's death. He then admits that he was jealous of Orin and Gordon's friendship. He goes on to say that he relies on Gordon as the only person who doesn't just see him as The Captain, and that fact eases the pressure of command he feels all the time. Gordon is quick to point out that Ed is his best friend, and nothing will ever change that.
- While Gordon is saddened by the loss of his experimental simulation of Laura, Kelly comes by and shows off a goofy stunt (making her eyes roll different directions), and saying that she learned that from Ed, admitting that even though their marriage didn't work out, she wouldn't have erased it for anything as it made her who she is today.
- Bortus wanting to raise Topa to be accepting, regardless of Moclan tradition, definitely qualifies. He is upset when Topa gets in a fight with a girl in his class, thanks to Klyden's bigoted teachings. When he visits the classroom in the end, he sees Topa and the girl playing together, now friends. Bortus smiles.
- A small one, but the look on Helvina's face when Ed pulls up a database of female human artists and authors. Moclan culture places a high value on poetry and literature, and her discovering that Earth has so many female contributors makes her wide-eyed with joy. And then she finds Dolly Parton.
"The Road Not Taken"
- There's something heartwarming about how, even in the Bad Future setting, the Orville crew still manages to find one another and pull off the impossible working together.
- On a meta level, it's realizing that The Power of Love really did save their universe. First with Ed and Kelly's screwed up history leading to them being captain and XO of the Orville, which led to Claire coming on board, which led to Claire and Isaac dating, which led to Isaac having a HeelFace Turn and giving the Union a chance against the Kaylon. Matt Stover was right. Love can light the stars!
- Ed and Kelly having an awkward, but sweet "second date" with replicated spaghetti served on a cargo crate.
- They're giving it all they have to activate the Timey-Wimey Ball and undo the Bad Future. The Kaylons are closing in, the ship's about to blow. And Ed's idea of an Obi-Wan Moment?Ed (to Kelly): If this doesn't work? Marry me?