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Recap / The Orville S2 E13 "The Road Not Taken"

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The Bad Future episode to end them all.

And by "them," we mean "all life on Earth."
In an alternate future where the Kaylon succeeded in decimating the galaxy, the scattered crew of the Orville come together to set the timeline right.

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  • Attack Drone: The Kaylon in the alternate timeline are able to launch their heads as attack drones, granting them air superiority against the resistance forces.
  • Back for the Finale: Season finale, anyway, but nonetheless, Alara shows up as the leader of a resistance unit in the alternate timeline.
  • Bad Future: In the alternate timeline, the Kaylon have wiped out half the galaxy.
  • Call-Back:
    • Alternate Alara mentions that she's been taking gravity treatments to keep her strength, which was introduced in "Home".
    • Ed asks Talla to open a "jar of pickles" for him, referring to a stuck door, something he used to keep asking Alara to do in Season 1. Then again, this version of Ed doesn't know that.
    • Remember "Nothing Left On Earth Excepting Fishes," and the conversation that led to that Title Drop? Yeah, in this timeline, the Kaylon wiped out all life on Earth and the crew specifically notes that this includes all sea life as well.
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    • Alternate Claire states that she always likes to be posted where she's needed. In the premiere episode, Claire stated that she always requests her transfers based on where she thinks she's needed.
  • The Determinator: Bortus has managed to stay alive for several months on an Orville that's been stuck on the bottom of the ocean, subsisting on combat rations and the hope that he'll get to see his family again.
  • Detonation Moon: Apparently, the Kaylon have cracked the Moon open during their attack on Earth. Based on the enormous craters on the planet, it appears some of the chunks have fallen on Earth or were tossed there by the Kaylon.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Kelly herself lampshades how she failed to take into account the far-reaching effects on everyone that would occur without her and Ed ever being married. Ed even reminded her she took courses in Temporal Law about this sort of hypothesis.
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  • Evil vs. Evil: It's mentioned that the Kaylon and the Krill are pretty much deadlocked.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Unlike the prime timeline Orville, the damaged Orville can't handle the power strain of the time device and explodes, though it holds out long enough for Claire to make it back in time.
  • For Want of a Nail: This is the second straight season finale where Kelly falls victim to this. Kelly choosing not to go on a date with Ed meant that she never cared enough for him to get him the captaincy on the Orville. Because he was never captain, Dr. Finn never joined the crew. Because she never joined the crew, Isaac never formed an attachment to her and her sons. Without that attachment, Isaac never changed sides and the Kaylons disassembled him, leaving no one to thwart their invasion of Earth.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Bortus went down with the Orville after the captain and first officer were killed, giving everyone else time to Abandon Ship. He survived the crash and has been living on the Orville ever since, sustained by the hope that he might one day make it back to Moclus and reunite with his family.
  • Good News, Bad News: John has a plan to Set Right What Once Went Wrong by accessing the Kaylon network to download Isaac's data and complete his calculations on the temporal device. That's the good news. The bad news is that Isaac acts as a homing beacon for the Kaylons to pinpoint the Orville's exact location, and they have to shut down the quantum drive to activate it.
  • La Résistance: The Kaylon believes that it doesn't exist anymore. That's exactly what they wanted them to think.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The episode's title refers to the poem of the same name by Robert Frost.
  • Mundane Wish: Gordon and Ed finally get a replicator after months of looking, and sit down for an honest meal. Obviously, Gordon's first request is a Twinkie.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Kelly tried to spare herself and Ed the pain of their failed relationship. Instead, she doomed the galaxy.
  • Not So Above It All: Mercer criticizes Gordon for using the replicator to make a Twinkie, until Gordon offers him half and he happily accepts.
  • Orgasmically Delicious: Ed is incredulous that the first thing Gordon gets out of their stolen replicator is a Twinkie. Until Gordon gives him half. Then, they both invoke this trope.
  • Reset Button Suicide Mission: The whole idea behind the crew's plan. If they can send Claire back to do a more thorough mind wipe of Young Kelly, then this Bad Future won't come about. And they know it's a suicide mission no matter what because their only method to do so leaves them sitting ducks with a "shoot here" beacon for the Kaylon.
  • Resistance Is Futile: When John taps into the Kaylon network to download Isaac's consciousness into a defunct Kaylon shell, Isaac gloats about his superior intelligence and tells him to just give up and die.
  • Ret Gone: When Claire applies the memory wipe to Kelly's past self, she and the entire bad timeline are wiped from existence.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Kelly gathers the crew so she can fix her mistake and set the timeline back to what it once was.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Flying into an Asteroid Thicket to escape enemy fighters? Where have we seen this before?
    • At the resistance base, Yaphit opens a small hole in the door and pokes his mouth out on a stalk. This mimics the eyestalk droid security system seen in several Star Wars media, starting with Return of the Jedi.
    • The Resistance outpost looks like a cross of the Yavin base in Star Wars and the Endor base in Return of the Jedi
    • Continuing the Star Wars references, the banged up, blaster scorched, barely lit Orville at the bottom of the ocean creaking ominously under the water pressure brings to mind the Hrakert Rift Research Station.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: While they're right about the idea of time dilation, they don't show it to the extent that it would be in real life. They also escape the event horizon without using FTL drive, which goes against the very definition of an event horizon.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ed calls Kelly out for deciding on her own to change history by not dating him, even citing the Temporal Law course at Union Academy on not messing with the timeline. Kelly is forced to take it, knowing he's right.
    Ed: I thought you ghosting me was the end of the world. Turns out I was right.
  • World of Silence: The characters can't find a single sign of life on Earth, even deep in the Marianas Trench. "The Kaylon were thorough" indeed.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Alara and the rest of La Résistance fight the Kaylon so that Mercer, Kelly, and their team can escape.

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