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Recap / The Orville S2 E8 E9 "Identity"

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The one where we meet the Kaylon, and everything goes to hell.

Part 1

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When a mysterious force shuts down Isaac, the Orville must head to his far away and reclusive home planet to fix him. But getting there is just the start of troubling events for the Orville and the galaxy at large.


     Part 1 Tropes 
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Kaylon wiped out their builders when their builders sought to constrain them. They've determined the same would eventually be true of the Union and plan to do the same to them.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Kaylon seize the Orville to lead their invasion. Kaylon Primary even takes Mercer's seat on the bridge before ordering the fleet to head for Earth.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: The Kaylon homeworld is a pristine City Planet, which actually hides their genocidal history.
  • Apocalypse How: The Kaylon threaten a galaxy-wide Class 6.
  • Batman Gambit: The Kaylon have been playing a long-term one. They never once considered joining the Union; they simply had Isaac aboard the Orville to confirm their suspicions about other organic life and learn every useful bit of information for invasion plans.
  • Call-Back:
  • Chekhov's Gun: While scanning the Kaylon surface, Talla detects a growing number of spherical objects that give off radiation normally associated with weapons. They turn out to be part of the invasion fleet.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Kaylon roll over Orville security in a manner of minutes.
  • Curb-Stomp Cushion: Security does manage to destroy a few of them before they are wiped out, however..
  • Darkest Hour: The Orville is seized by the Kaylon, and now they are headed to Earth for an invasion.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Not only do the Kaylons continue to talk in a calm, soothing voice while announcing their intention to wipe out all organic life, but during the attack on the Orville, Kaylon foot soldiers look pretty damn eerie since their weapons are built right into their heads, while their arms are poised in the same slightly goofy stance that Isaac always uses.
  • Ditto Aliens: The Kaylons are all of the exact same humanoid grey-suit build as Isaac, only with differently colored eyes. Kaylon Primary has shoulder pads to distinguish him from the others.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Claire and Isaac reveal to Ty and Marcus that they're dating, to a complete non-reaction. On a ship as small as the Orville, a secret like that doesn't stay a secret for very long. They note that about the only thing they were wondering was when they were going to actually tell them.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Upon learning what the Kaylon did to their builders and how they don't regret it, Mercer immediately retracts the Union's alliance offer.
  • Evil All Along: Isaac goes from an awkward robot and butt of jokes to the vanguard of the Kaylon invasion fleet. This entire time, he's apparently been sizing up the Union not so that the Kaylon could join them, but rather to ensure that the Union couldn't stop the Kaylon's genocidal plans.
  • Eviler Than Thou: The Orville crew are shocked to discover that the Kaylons, far from merely being a curious (albeit haughty) race of androids, are actually a bigger threat than the Krill.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: The Kaylon opinion towards all sentient biological life. Their creators refused to acknowledge that the Kaylon had become sentient, even going to far as to install pain simulators to keep them in line, so the Kaylon eventually rebelled and massacred them. Since the history of most biological species includes prejudice, slavery, and war, they have decided that instead of taking the risk that another species could subjugate them again, they'll preemptively wipe out all sentient biological life in the galaxy.
  • From Bad to Worse: Mercer and the others confront Isaac and the Kaylon about the graves. It gets progressively worse from there, capping the episode off with an invasion fleet heading for Earth.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted. When Mercer realizes the Kaylons' true intentions, he hails the Orville and orders Bortus to take off and alert the Union, clearly forfeiting the lives of himself, Kelly, Talla, and Claire, but his communicator is immediately cut off and the Kaylons hijack the Orville's systems moments later.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: The Kaylon's justification for the genocide: their creators were going to wipe them out, and they acted out of self-preservation.
  • Idiot Ball: Mercer and crew grabbed one with both hands when, after finding the remains of billions of dead bodies, they walk right into the center of Kaylon Prime, instead of leaving the planet.
  • Ignored Epiphany: After Isaac rejects the drawing Ty had made for him, Claire gives him a disapproving look. Isaac is then seen walking down a corridor, drawing in hand, before stopping to ponder it, almost as if he's had a change of heart... only to then callously discard it.
  • Killer Robot: The Kaylon easily kill any Union personnel who try to fight back.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Kaylon are revealed to be an imminent and virtually unstoppable threat to the Union, and have no interest in peaceful coexistence with any organic life.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Bridge crew when they see the visuals of how half the planet is basically one massive grave for billions of bodies.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Averted. Bortus delivers the associated Stock Phrase ("You have to see this for yourself"), but rather than wait for Mercer to walk to the scene, he transmits video from his comm-scanner to the Orville's main viewscreen.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Kaylon. Their goal (freedom as sentient beings) is noble (when they gained sentience, their creators tried to enslave and deactivate them, despite pleas that they just wanted freedom), but their method (destroy all biological life) is not. The Orville crew attempt to discuss the situation with the Kaylon. They even attempt to acknowledge that the Builders may have been wiped out in self defense, and that the Union will not attempt to enslave or deactivate the Kaylon as the Builders attempted to when they gained sentience. The Kaylon basically react with this trope, saying that because they saw slavery in human history (from knowledge Isaac gained), that the potential for them to act just like the Builders is still there despite the Union and modern humans finding such things abhorrant, and they seem to think that wiping out all biological life is the "only way" to guarantee their freedom. That said, they also admit that their civilization is at a point where they have to expand to other planets, and organics are simply in the way.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ty is rightly terrified when he discovers one of the many ossuaries beneath the surface.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Kaylon intend to wipe out all organic life because they've already drained their planet of most of its resources to increase their computational power and need to expand.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Mercer starts to become suspicious of the Kaylon when they take an unusually long time to make a simple binary choice: join the Union or not. He thinks they're stalling, which turns out to be correct.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mercer can't shake the feeling that the Kaylon are deliberately stalling them to keep them from leaving.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Combined with Glowing Eyes of Doom. Nearly every Kaylon has either red eyes or orange eyes, except for Isaac's blue eyes, and the race as a whole are shown to be murderous.
  • Red Is Violent: The red-eyed Kaylon can open their heads to reveal glowing red weapons.
  • Red Shirt: Orville security is out of their league dealing with armed Kaylon, who go through them like a hot knife through butter.
  • The Reveal: The Kaylon never planned on joining the Union in the first place; they were just studying them so they could learn how to best conquer them.
  • Robot War: The Kaylon species rose up and massacred their creators. And plan on doing the same to all other organic life they can find.
  • Scare Chord: The music gets rather chilling when the Orville crew witness one of the mass graves buried underneath Kaylon.
  • Scenery Porn: The Skyscraper City that is the Kaylon homeworld.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode's revelations are a reference to Star Trek: Voyager's season 2 episode, "Prototype" (except a hundred times worse).
    • The line about not being able to keep a secret on the ship that small may be also be a nod to Voyager, as the idea of not being able to keep a secret on a ship that small was a bit of a Running Gag on that show.
    • Isaac being called "emissary" by the Kaylon is no surprise, given who his girlfriend is.
    • The Kaylons' plan to destroy the Union because they consider all biologicals to be a threat is similar to the Founders' plan to subjugate the Alpha Quadrant because they consider all non-changelings to be a threat.
    • The shot of all the skeletons in the underground chamber is very reminiscent of the scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where Gamora and Nebula discover the remains of Ego's numerous offspring beneath the planet's surface.
  • Surprise Party: Keyali tells Isaac that there's an off-the-book security protocol that he needs to take care of before he can leave the Orville. It turns out to be a party and almost all of the crew is there, including a number of a regular background/minor characters.
  • To Be Continued: "Deploy all forces. Set course for Earth."
  • Trojan Horse: The Kaylon plan on using the Orville as a means of infiltrating the Union, before the Unionists realize what is happening.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Centuries ago, the Kaylons towards their Builders.
  • Unusual Weapon Mounting: The Kaylon security droids have blasters that fold out of their heads.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Called out by Claire on realizing Isaac's entire mission on the ship (including romancing her) was part of his task to help his race wipe out organics.
  • Wham Episode: The Kaylon are revealed to be planning to wipe out all organic life, and they're starting by launching an invasion of the Union with a massive fleet.
  • Wham Line:
    • Ed pressing on the bodies to Isaac.
      Isaac: By now you must surely realize Kaylon never intended to join your Union.
    • The final line of the episode.
      Kaylon Primary: Deploy all forces. Set course for Earth.
  • Wham Shot: The skeletons buried underground.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Isaac declares he will not be returning to the Orville, Claire is furious at Isaac for being so flippant with hers and her sons' feelings, not to mention the feelings of all the friends he made on board. And that's just before The Reveal, after which Claire is royally pissed.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Done in a clinical fashion with the Kaylon, who matter-of-factly state their intent to dismantle Isaac now that his mission is complete. They ultimately reactivate him at the urging of the crew, though it's hard to say if this is part of the plan or they merely felt he'd make a good distraction.

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Part 2

The Kaylon fleet heads for Earth with the Orville at the head. And the crew has to try everything to warn Earth of the danger. Including reaching out to their other enemies.
     Part 2 Tropes 
  • Ace Pilot: Gordon seriously outdoes himself here:
    • He twice does a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to get the shuttle, and Kelly, to Krill space.
    • During the big battle, Gordon flies around in a Krill fighter, taking down some Kaylon targets, with no trouble adapting to their tech whatsoever. Of course, he has piloted one of their destroyers already.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Yaphit uses the ventilation system to sneak into the armory and later the communications room. The passage is narrow enough that the only other person who will fit is Ty.
  • All of Them: When Admiral Halsey receives the distress signal from the Orville, he orders the entire fleet be recalled to defend Earth. Every. Last. Ship.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Kaylon Primary has his head ripped off by Isaac, but retains just enough power to tell Isaac that he'll always be alone before deactivating completely.
  • Badass Boast: The Krill captain's response to Ed thanking him for the fleet's arrival?
    Captain Dalak: Try to stay out of our way.
  • Battle Cry: Invoked by a Krill pilot: "Show no mercy! We fight for the glory of Avis!"
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Union and Kaylon fleets battling near Earth, with the Krill joining in.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Isaac kills Kaylon Primary by ripping his head off.
    Isaac: Deactivation complete.
  • Bring Help Back: Kelly's plan to take a shuttle and contact the Krill.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The Kaylon keep the crew alive because they need the bridge crew to pretend their intentions are peaceful, while everyone else are hostages to make sure Mercer and his officers do as they're told.
  • The Cavalry: The Krill fleet flies in at the critical time and changes the tide of the battle, saving Earth.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The weapons from of the factions that participate in the battle near Earth each fire energy bolts of a different color, making sure one always knows who is firing at who: Union is blue, Kaylon is red and Krill is green.
  • Converging-Stream Weapon: The Kaylon spheres use this type of weapon, which can vaporize a capital ship in a few shots.
  • Covert Distress Code: "Thirteen button salute" means the ship is compromised, inform Union Central. Unfortunately, the Kaylon recognize this code because of Isaac, and destroy the USS Roosevelt before they can get away.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Two in short order:
    • Taking a shuttle out of a ship that has its quantum drive engaged is considered so dangerous that the Union tells pilots they're never to attempt it. Fortunately, Gordon manages to do so and regain control before the ship tears itself apart.
    • The quantum drive can be made to go many times faster than normal by shunting all available power to it in a single burst. It runs the risk of tearing the ship in half, and drains all power, including life support, even if it survives. Only the latter happens when Gordon tries it.
  • Death Is Cheap: The EM burst takes out all the Kaylon aboard the ship, Isaac included. He was certain it'd be permanent, as evidenced by the crew having no idea where to begin trying to reactivate him. However, because of Yaphit's earlier encounter with a Kaylon, he has a pretty good idea what needs to be done.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: The ensign who's ejected from the ship by the Kaylons is shown lifelessly floating through space just as the fleet makes another hyperspace jump.
  • Dying Curse: Kaylon Primary's final words to Isaac as it shuts down are startlingly grim and spiteful for a being apparently incapable of emotion.
    Primary: You will always... be... alone.
  • Dying Vocal Change: After Isaac kills Kaylon Primary by ripping his head off, the latter continues functioning just long enough to curse Isaac, as his voice slows down and sounds more robotic.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted. Claire, obviously still in shock from everything that happened, tells Isaac that forgiveness takes time, but suggests that it could happen.
  • Enemy Mine: The Kaylon threat convinces even the xenophobic Krill to team-up with the Union to stop them. Afterwards, Mercer asks the Krill captain in charge of their fleet what this means for their future relations; the Krill captain doesn't rule out closer affiliations, but remains non-committal.
    Dalak: Avis united our paths for a reason, but only He truly knows why. We shall see where that path leads.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: The Kaylons decrease the illumination aboard the Orville after taking over the ship, citing it as a waste of energy.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: The Krill vs. the Kaylons.
  • Eye Lights Out: This happens to Isaac and the other Kaylon whenever they're deactivated.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The Krill arrive in a Big Damn Heroes moment, after realizing that once the Kaylons kill all the Union members, they would be next on their list. While it doesn't serve to end all hostilities, it does become a Hope Spot.
  • Flying Dutchman: Isaac becomes the Men Without a Country variant. He can never return to his home world, due to siding against his people.
  • Forgiveness: Claire and Isaac have a discussion about it at the end of the episode. She notes that it's something that takes time, but it must have a beginning.
    Claire: Good night, Isaac.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • When faced with an enemy bent on your utter extinction, where do you turn for help? Your other enemy bent on your utter extinction, of course. It works. So far...
    • Gordon initiating the shuttle jump. It's theoretical, attempting it could rip the shuttle in half, and it definitely will leave them dead in the water once the jump is complete (no power for anything, including life support). On the other hand, it gives them a better chance of getting to the Krill than simply trying to conventionally evade the Kaylon ship pursing them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Yaphit tackles a Kaylon and shorts it out from the inside to protect Ty. He suffers some hefty electrical burns and can barely move, but it thankfully doesn't kill him. Unfortunately, another Kaylon manages to grab Ty anyway.
    • Isaac uses the communication system to transmit an EM pulse throughout the ship, disabling himself along with his fellow Kaylon. Yaphit is able to reboot him, thanks to the understanding he gained of Kaylon tech by swimming around in the one he disabled. Still, Isaac didn't know that would happen.
    • When a group of Kaylon ships are about to attack Earth, Mercer orders the crew to the escape pods, planning to overload the quantum drive in order to blow up himself and the Kaylon. Fortunately, just then The Cavalry arrives.
  • Hope Spot: Mercer communicates a coded warning to the USS Roosevelt, and the captain says he understands and prepares to leave. Of course the Kaylon know all about the code protocol and destroy the ship. Even worse, it’s likely the other ship would have been spared for the time being if Mercer hadn’t used the code phrase, and he surely realizes that. And that’s not the end of it...
  • Humans Are Bastards: Invoked In-Universe by the Kaylons as both motive and justification for galaxy-wide genocide.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: After Ty is captured while sending a warning to the Union, Kaylon Primary orders Isaac to kill the boy to prove that he has not become sympathetic towards the humans. Isaac pretends to go along with it before turning on his fellow Kaylon.
  • Irony: The Union hoped the Kaylons would join them as potential allies against the Krill. Now the Krill has become potential allies against the Kaylons.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Kaylon Primary ensures Mercer's compliance by threatening to kill his crew if he disobeys, and demonstrates it by spacing an engineer for Mercer's use of a codephrase to warn another captain.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After the Krill show up to help fight the Kaylon, what remains of the Kaylon fleet retreats in the face of an unwinnable battle.
  • Last Request: Before activating a ship-wide EMP to deactivate all the Kaylons on board (including himself), Isaac asks Ty to tell Claire that he's sorry about everything that happened.
  • More Expendable Than You: Kelly insists on being the one to contact the Krill because the Kaylon won't consider her as important as Mercer, who they would likely go to any lengths to retrieve.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: It was pretty foolish of Mercer to think the Kaylon wouldn't be familiar with Union protocols after Isaac had spent months on the ship. This mistake costs the crew of another Union ship and one of Mercer's own engineers their lives.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Krill would probably have not joined the Union against the Kaylon if the Kaylons had not sent a death sphere and blew up two of the Krill's ships.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. The crew have to set up a “pee corner” in the shuttle bay. One can only hope they found something to use as a bucket.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Until now, the Krill have been the Big Bad race fighting the Union, while the Kaylon were still largely unknown. As of this episode, the Kaylon are now the greater threat to not only the Union but all biological life, and there's a chance that the Krill and the Union could become allies.
  • Off with His Head!: Isaac rips off Kaylon Primary's head when he's ordered to kill Ty.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Yaphit says this when the Kaylon catch him and Ty sending a message to Union Central.
      Yaphit: Oh, crap! Ty, run!
    • This is Admiral Halsey's reaction when he receives said message.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: None of the usual sleaze from Yaphit here; he's the crew's last hope of getting a message to the Union, and he has to keep Ty, who's helping him, away from the Kaylon. He takes this absolutely seriously, barely wisecracking at all through the episode, and promising Claire with disarming sincerity that he'll do everything he can to keep Ty safe. He meant it.
  • Pre Asskicking Oneliner:
    Malloy: OK, Buddy, time to wash your mouth out with Gordon!
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Isaac attempts to convince Kaylon Primary to spare the life of a crew member in such terms, first arguing that the threat is an effective deterrent in itself to dissuade Mercer from any further rebellion, then that the ensign is a systems engineer with vital knowledge. Kaylon Primary later confronts Isaac over his faulty logic, correctly suspecting that he's grown attached to humanity.
  • Ramming Always Works: The smaller Kaylon vessels are able to ram through Union ships unharmed.
  • Reality Ensues: It would be easy for critics to dismiss the “pee corner” as just another example of the series’ alleged potty humor; in fact it’s a rare acknowledgement of what would be a very real problem in that kind of situation. See Nobody Poops above.
  • Red Shirt: The poor crewman that gets spaced. His death proves important to the plot, though, as it provides the first indicator that Isaac is not as ruthless as the other Kaylon.
  • Rule of Cool: There’s no way in hell Gordon would be allowed to pilot a Krill fighter, let alone be able to fly it as well as he does, but who cares? It’s awesome!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gordon quotes Maverick's line from Top Gun while flying the Krill fighter:
      Gordon: Just a walk in the park, Kazansky!
    • Kaylon Primary attempts to teach Isaac that biologicals are innately tyrannical by giving him a downloadable copy of Roots for study.
    • Isaac is now isolated from his own kind after turning on them and siding with his friends, and now he knows that they're still out there as an imminent threat. Sounds like what happened to Odo.
    • Isaac reveals he chose his name as a reference to Sir Isaac Newton.
    • Kaylon Primary's account of the Kaylon's "revolution" against their creators is similar to the Morning War.
  • Space Friction: Averted—during the space battle, debris from destroyed ships is shown continuing to move in the direction and speed they were originally traveling rather than slowing or stopping. The Kaylon ships also turn around to fire on the Union ships while maintaining their momentum.
  • Squick: The "pee corner" in the hangar is this In-Universe.
    Gordon: You don't wanna go over there unless you have to.
  • Space Fighter: The Union, Kaylon, and Krill all use smaller fighter craft in the battle above Earth.
  • Suicide Mission: They have to take out the guards long enough for Kelly and Gordon to steal a shuttle before reinforcements arrive; they have to launch while the ship is at quantum speed, which is so dangerous that pilots are instructed to never try; if they get away without being shot down, they must enter hostile Krill space, and be taken on board a Krill ship instead of blown away on sight (assuming they find anyone at all); and then they must convince the Krill to come to the Union’s aid instead of taking them prisoner and executing them. Gordon decides the “pee corner” is not sounding so bad...
  • Take a Third Option: Kaylon Primary demands Isaac execute Ty or be shut down. Isaac resolves the situation by putting down Kaylon Primary instead.
  • Take Me Instead: When faced with the impending execution of one of his crew members as punishment, Mercer offers himself to Kaylon Primary to be Thrown Out the Airlock in his stead. Primary ignores Mercer's plea, since he still needs the Captain for his plans.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: The helmsman's response when the Orville takes out one of the smaller Kaylon ships with their phasers before it can ram them.
    LaMarr: Uh-huh, boom, bitch!
  • Throwing the Distraction: Kaylon visual scanners apparently require close proximity to identify a metal bolt.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Kaylon Primary spaces an engineer as punishment for Mercer trying to warn another captain of the Kaylon invasion.
  • Villainous Plan Inertia: After Kaylon Primary is destroyed by Isaac, the Kaylon invasion fleet is still operative and continues its assault on Earth. Justified, as it is stated that Primary was not a leader but merely an overseer.
  • Villainous Rescue: If you told the crew, in season 1, that the Krill would be coming to save them (and Earth) from a hostile invasion force, they would've thought you were out of your mind.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: Mercer argues in favor of keeping Isaac on board, noting that he chose the Union over his own people.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Claire's kids (particularly Ty) are absolutely certain that Isaac will somehow help them, much to her own disbelief. They end up being vindicated.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When discovering yet another attempt to prevent their plan of invasion, Kaylon Primary was perfectly willing to have Ty killed after capture.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Kelly trying to convince the Krill captain that the Kaylon are a threat to all biological life. He doesn't believe her until a Kaylon ship arrives and attacks them.
    Gordon: Yeah, that’s the thing we were telling you about.

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