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Tearjerker / The Orville

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"All he wanted was love. And yet because of you, his life is over. For no reason, except your own prejudice."
Some of the most powerful moments Seth MacFarlane ever put on screen are on this show.
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WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.


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    Season 1 
About a Girl
  • Despite their best efforts and the likelihood that they've started a cultural revolution that will eventually reverse the Moclans' sexist society, the crew is unable to save Bortus' daughter from her mandatory sex change. He's left to soldier on as best he can and insist his new son is going to have as good a life as he can provide.
    • To wit, rather than Grayson's somewhat absurd (and human-centric) approach, Bortus' personal idea that his child's future is unknown and undecidable would probably have been a better strategy.
    • Not only that but, as one of the more law-abiding officers, Bortus has seen his justice system essentially fail him in his eyes and from the human perspective.

If the Stars Should Appear

  • A surprise appearance from Liam Neeson sees him pouring every bit of his natural gravitas into a starship captain who becomes marooned in space and can only hope that one day they'll come across someone who can help (and doesn't live to see it happen).
    "Space is vast, and cold, and lonely."
  • After coming down on opposite sides on the debate over their child's future, the relationship between Bortus and Klyden is showing some serious strife. Klyden expresses feeling neglect, while the more stoic Bortus clearly feels betrayed. We don't see any resolution of this subplot by the episode's end and, given slight emotional parallels shown between the couple and Mercer and Grayson, there's a good chance of more than a few miles of bad prairie ahead.
    • Speaking of which, Klyden's request to the TV after their argument:
      Klyden: I wish to see something that will make me happy.

"Pria"

  • Ed confronting Pria at the end of the episode, asking Was It All a Lie?, and Pria acknowledging that while she did have some feelings for Ed, it was mostly business to her. Even sadder was that it was the first time he opened up romantically after divorcing Kelly, only to be betrayed in a fashion that was even worse.

"Krill"

  • Ed does everything he can to save a group of Krill children, only to learn that his efforts succeeded in ensuring that another generation of Krill come to see the Union as a bitter enemy. If anything, the children he saved will be even more determined to defeat the Union, having seen an entire crew disintegrated by just two Union officers.

"Majority Rule"

  • Lewis' fate. Lobotomized just because he failed to give up his seat to a pregnant woman (whom he may not have even known was there) and ten million people thought he was a jerk. Even worse is that this lobotomy is confirmed to be irreversible.
  • His colleague's fate. He is spared the Fate Worse than Death of electro-lobotomy, but he leaves behind a family, which Claire brings up in trying to shake Lewis out of it.
  • The fact it really was All for Nothing. The scientists; one is dead and the other is a vegetable. John was able to escape the same fate, but that planet will merrily chug along with its culture of virtue signaling, reality TV, and constant fear of doing anything that might get a down vote. Sure, they may have changed one mind, but how long until she is found out and gets down votes?

"Into the Fold"

  • Claire's wail of despair as the fore and aft sections of her shuttle get separated. You can tell she's not screaming because she thinks she might die, but because her sons might.
  • In the shuttle, with Claire and one of her sons dying and Isaac holding her hand and the sympathetic look on his "face".
  • Claire's older son telling Isaac how bad he felt that his parting words to his mom were an argument. Thankfully, when they get back in touch, it's all tearful apologies and Heartwarming Moments.
  • While downplayed, Isaac's non-answer on how "awesome" it is to not feel anything will leave a mark.

"Firestorm"

  • Lieutenant Payne's death and funeral. He may have been just a Red Shirt, but it's clear that the crew of the Orville are affected by his loss. Especially Alara, who spends several scenes beating herself up for failing to save him, twice nearly losing it when she talks about his parents (which sets up her later scene with her own folks).
  • Alara's scene with her parents. She turns to them for support and to figure out why she might be scared of fire. They (particularly her dad) proceed to use the opening to berate her choice of career, express their low opinion of her human friends, call her intellectually "slow", and tell her to come home to them so she can live a life more in accordance with their ideas of what's proper. No wonder she proceeds to do a Batman Gambit with the simulator.

"Mad Idolatry"

  • For much of the episode, Kelly has to watch helplessly as her simple act of kindness spawns a cruel theocracy that probably killed thousands of innocent people. And then her attempts to stop the theocracy results in centuries of holy war. Her self-confidence is so badly damaged that she ends up breaking off her nascent efforts to reconcile with Ed, afraid that she'll make another horrible decision that Ed will feel compelled to back up.
  • It's also a tough episode for Ed, too. He begins the episode bored and lonely, and as he looks up his friends and coworkers, it's clear that everyone else has something going on, while all he has is his command. So he reaches out to the one person onboard he knows the best, and they actually start to reconcile...and then the main plot happens, Kelly breaks off the reconciliation efforts, and he's left alone again.
  • Poor Valondis, a man who at first would be easily dismissed as a simple villain, has an epiphany after he meets Kelly. Once she informs Valondis of the truth, he is more than willing to reveal it to the rest of his people. Sadly, his own subordinate assassinates him so their group can maintain power over the people.

    Season 2 
"Jal'oja"
  • The conversation between Ed and Kelly. Ed is still very much in love with her, and she refuses to answer his point-blank question as to if she still loves him, instead pointing out their duties as Captain and XO will make it an impossibility, no matter what their personal feelings are. Then she follows it up by admitting she's seeing someone else.

"Primal Urges"

  • Bortus and Klyden's marital problems finally boil over when Bortus is discovered to be cheating on Klyden via the simulation deck. During counseling with Claire, Bortus finally admits what a lot of fans have suspected: That he's still very angry about what happened to Topa back in "About a Girl" and he doesn't know how to just move on from that anger.
  • Despite the crew's best efforts, they simply don't have time to rescue all 70 of the surviving citizens of the planet and are forced to leave 40 behind to be consumed by the dying sun.
    • The First Minister of the group bids a tearful farewell to her husband and son, who are among those spared by drawing lots. Her husband says she could have opted out of it as the leader, but she tells him that would be wrong to ask her people to risk a chance she wasn't willing to take. She's simply happy that he and their child will live on.
    • And there's some extra Fridge Horror that even the whole 70 people couldn't make up a sustainable population and the species was always doomed to be functionally extinct. All the survivors have is their own lives and maybe a few in the next generation before it truly is over.

"Home"

  • Alara's dad finally admits he's been wrong about judging his daughter all these years and tearfully begs for her forgiveness. Alara simply says there's nothing to forgive, as she knows her father was doing it all out of love, and they finally bond as parent and child.
  • The final scene. Alara decides to leave the Orville to focus full-time on reconnecting with her family. She gets a hug from everyone on the bridge crew, before Gordon flies her home. And when Ed goes back to his office, he finally opens the gift Alara left: An unopened jar of pickles. (Also a Heartwarming Moment.)

"Nothing Left On Earth Excepting Fishes"

  • Ed is finally with a woman he loves, and even Kelly approves of this. Then it turns out that his girlfriend is actually a Krill sleeper agent out for revenge.
  • The ending itself is one hell of a tearjerker. Ed lets her go, all to the tune "Always a Woman" by Billy Joel. Even the look in his eyes as the Krill ship takes off shows how hurt he is by it.

"All The World is Birthday Cake"

  • Inside the camps, Bortus and Kelly realize none of the prisoners have tried to escape because they totally believe their race's talk that being born in a certain month makes them monsters. Even as they are totally nice people, they believe they're "cursed" and thus belong there.
  • The sad predicament of Ukania and Rokal, a couple who are forced to have a baby in the camp. And because the baby was born in a different month, if she's discovered, she'll be taken away to be raised by a foster family. Their dilemma of what to do (give away their newborn child or try to keep her hidden away for the rest of her life) is tragic.
  • Ed clearly feels hurt that an otherwise intelligent and good-hearted people are so bound to their long-backward beliefs in astrology that they clearly aren't ready to join the rest of the galaxy. Given how excited he was at this first contact, he's depressed it went so badly.

"A Happy Refrain"

  • Claire telling Kelly and Talla how happy she is with Isaac is a very heartwarming scene... followed immediately by Isaac asking John and Gordon how to terminate the "experiment." Ouch!
  • Claire finding out that Isaac was only using her for his research and had no compunctions about deep-sixing her once he gathered enough data.

"Deflectors"

  • An episode positively jam-packed with tear-jerking moments kicks off with Cassius and Kelly breaking up. It becomes clear from their conversation that Kelly doesn't really respect him, and poor Nice Guy Cassius keeps trying to make it work. Ultimately, he gives up and requests a re-assignment.
  • The final scene. Klyden thanks Talla for clearing his name after Locar was seemingly murdered. But what really wound up happening in the end was Locar getting dragged to Moclan court after being outed as a heterosexual, and Talla makes it brutally clear that this is Klyden's fault. And after she's left alone in the room, Talla just starts weeping over everything that happened.
    • Just to rub it in, Klyden goes back to his quarters and is met with a Death Glare from Bortus, who is not letting Klyden off the hook for what he's done, and all Klyden can do is silently go to bed. Just in case it wasn't already clear that their marriage is in a really bad place.

"Identity, Part 1"

  • Isaac leaving the crew to stay on Kaylon. Not helped by all the relationships he formed with his crewmates. Later events will probably make it easier to live without him, though.
  • Isaac's betrayal of the crew. The way he so casually reacts to it treats it like all his connections, even his relationship with Claire, makes it seem like he never really valued them, thus twisting the knife.

"Identity, Part 2"

  • The Kaylons' backstory is further revealed: they were created as simple tools, and upon achieving sentience their creators forced them to continue working as slaves, even adding an ability to feel pain so they could be controlled. They then point out humans have their own long history with slavery, which no one can exactly dispute, and the point is further driven home when the Primary shows Isaac Roots to give him an idea what it was like.
  • After all is said and done, Claire told Isaac it would take some time for her to forgive him. But whether or not she'll rekindle her relationship with him remains to be seen.

"Blood of Patriots"

  • The episode in its entirety, namely Orrin's story. Losing his wife and daughter and being imprisoned by the Krill made him a bitter, cynical man who was willing to drag Gordon into a suicide mission. After disabling the ship to stop his plan, Gordon tried to convince Orrin to escape with him, but to no avail, forcing him to leave him behind to die in the explosion.
    • It's even worse for Gordon, as Orrin had been captured after saving his life. Gordon spends the whole episode torn between his debt to his friend and his duty to the Orville and the Union; in the end, he's forced to abandon the former in favor of the latter.

"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow"

  • Young!Kelly chewing out her future self. Young!Kelly wanted to be captain of a starship, be married and have close friends. She realizes her future self has none of these and is justifiably upset and angry at what she's become. It slaps Current!Kelly hard because she clearly hadn't thought about what she wanted out of life for a very long time.
  • When Young!Kelly is put back in "her" time, she turns down the second date with Ed because she is so hurt over what happened that she wants to spare them both that kind of pain...which leads to a Bad Future

The Road Not Taken

  • Pretty much the entire Bad Future where the Kaylons have conquered the galaxy. All life on Earth is utterly obliterated. Including fishes.
  • Special note is when Bortus, who's been stuck for over half a year on the submerged Orville, says he sustained himself by thinking of reuniting with his husband and son on Moclus. Talla has to break it to him that Moclus was destroyed, and Bortus just silently bows his head - he's not one to cry, but he looks devastated.
  • Claire saying goodbye to her boys.
  • Isaac is briefly brought back online and shows a cold disdain telling the crew they're doomed. It shows that without his connection to Claire and her sons, Isaac would have turned out as much a monster as any of the Kaylons.
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