The Orville: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
April 21, 2019 9:58 AM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

A time distortion affects Ed and Kelly's relationship.

An erratic The Orville proves poor decisions aren't just for the young (Nick Wanserski on AV/TV Club)
Tonight’s episode, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” was a baffling combination of thoughtful, well-considered character moments and egregious emotional manipulation. It was like watching a group of friends who you know are very smart, but are involved in a relationship that’s so bad and so all-encompassing, they can’t even see the shape of it. Everyone was making dubious choices, and if those choices were called into question at all, it was for some tangential reason that didn’t even touch on how coercive it is for your ex-husband to date your past self.
posted by jzb (29 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I, too, was puzzled that present Kelly tolerated Ed's behavior here. I was having qualms about Ed's even entertaining the merest idea of dating past Kelly, but the "if you won't give me another chance I'll date your younger doppelgänger" made me yell loud enough to scare the cats. (Sorry, cats.)

Just... so much spectacularly bad decision-making going on here. Younger Kelly should have been quarantined from the rest of the crew and, at best, assigned a ship or post at the farthest point of the galaxy away from The Orville.

All that out of the way, I'm curious to see whether there are repercussions in this week's episode from past Kelly's decision - or if we find out that this creates an entirely new/divergent timeline.

Assuming The Orville is renewed, I'd really, deeply love the show to get over its "Love Boat in Space" tendencies and focus a lot less on the romantic lives of the crew in favor of more storylines like "Identity" and "Sanctuary."
posted by jzb at 10:08 AM on April 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would have laughed really loud if someone had referenced Thomas Riker.

I liked this episode. Another pleasing mix of nostalgia via recycled TNG plots with a modern twist. In these trying times it goes down real smooth for me. I actually liked that so many bad, weird, short-sighted decisions were being made left and right. Not every ship can have Picard on it, most will be led by technically competent man-babies because that's who most people are.
posted by bleep at 10:49 AM on April 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I've been watching how the Orville handles dating a superior officer, and the answer is, of course, not well. I finally just headcanon'ed that it's allowed, but somebody outside the chain of command has the authority to put a stop to it, and we just haven't seen that yet. Maybe the doctor periodically files reports with the Admiralty? Otherwise it's a freakin' nightmare, and that's even *without* the temporal loops and Ed being a big man-baby.
posted by Mogur at 1:23 PM on April 21, 2019

That being said, I did love the last 30 seconds of the episode.
posted by Mogur at 1:23 PM on April 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

This time travel romantic stuff is complicated and in some ways doesn't track with anything we know in conventional human romance. Past Kelly is her own person, an autonomous adult, and if she wants to date Ed and he wants to be with her you could argue the other Kelly isn't entitled to veto that. It is weird and it turned out to be a mistake, but I feel like this manbaby stuff is oversimplifying things. I don't think Ed was extorting present Kelly to be with him, I think he was telling her that he really wants to be with her and if he couldn't be with the her that he knows now he'd choose to be with this other her. Past Kelly isn't present Kelly... Except she kind of is. It's all a big temporal mess and I can see the argument that Ed was being creepy but I'm not sure he was.

I was impressed by the subtle de-aging effects. I don't know if that was CGI or if they had the actress taped up into some pseudo-facelift under that wig, but they did smooth her out just enough to read as younger without it looking weird. I want their secret for getting rid of eye bags!

It looked like past Kelly was in the preview for next week so I assume we'll learn more about why she chose to shoot down past Ed.

In conclusion, writing on your phone sucks.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:17 PM on April 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was impressed by the subtle de-aging effects.
I doubt that The Orville has the budget for CGI-based de-aging, so I guess that this was the combination of 10% make-up and 90% awesome acting by Adrianne Palicki.
posted by elgilito at 2:53 PM on April 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

In terms of creepiness I think the situation would be a lot different if they were on earth and just going about their separate lives. But Ed shouldn't be dating any subordinate. And there's already enough weirdness (like the stuff with Kelly 2 trying to bond with the crew)- it's like god, put your dick away and let this woman breathe, Jesus. I know she seemed into but it's like in Eternal Sunshine when Clementine was going after Bilbo because she was feeling lost after her memory wipe and wanted to replay her old relationship as something that felt familiar. At least acknowledge that her head isn't totally in the game. To me it felt akin to making moves on someone who was too drunk to consent (while not being *exactly* that.)

Anyway everyone knows (from Futurama) that time duplicates are automatically doomed so like, don't get too comfortable there Ed.
posted by bleep at 3:39 PM on April 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

After a bunch of recent episodes and now this, I... don't think I have to stop being snooty to admit that I like The Orville and it's a fine show.

re: dating -7Kelly, Ed did learn that it's not the same thing. I really like how well crafted the aging/ growing up thing was handled. Maybe it's Stockholm syndrome/ the bar fell pretty low, but at least it wasn't cackhanded.

The bigger WTF is dating between ranks (which is a whole complicated thing even in an of itself - promotions, postings, yaddy yadda) being like, nbd.

I think this would have fit with Alara better than Talla. Talla feels like the 'aunt' of the group who's next to enter the Kelly/Finn stage (Gordon might be as old as Ed, but he's even less mature).

Yes fantastic makeup, very impressed, but also acting by Palicki. Body posture makes a big difference. I think the effect is amplified also by oldKelly maybe looking a little more chiseled and -7Kelly was made rounder and softer (and narrower - -7's hair covered up the sides of her face, making her look more narrow). Makeup colour palettes also makes a big difference (good example is the eyeshadow) with -7 being more pink and oKel was more towards the blue/ charcoal). Listen to some of the voice acting in the scene where OldKelly pulls -7 from the bar, too.

The Yaphit animation was fun, nice to see Bortus and Klyden not fighting.
posted by porpoise at 7:01 PM on April 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Did not like. Time travel is a bad gimmick. But I suppose it's inescapable in a world of faster-than-light travel and quantum technobabble. I had forgotten about that timey-wimey MacGuffin from the pilot episode; perhaps it was so dumb I subconsciously deleted it from my memory.

Nevertheless it seems it's here to stay. So why limit its uses to May-December hookups? Not one officer on the Orville wanted young Kelly to prevent the Kaylon battle, saving thousands of lives? Or to explain Krill Avis-based morality? Or to point out that a blacklight is a possible weapon against a homicidal Krill?

Nah, all we get is a parallel universe where Kelly avoids a bad relationship. Because... the memory wipe wasn't complete? Or something something Chaos Theory? Ugh. I hope this is the universe where Kelly grows a goatee and turns evil.
posted by Monochrome at 7:13 PM on April 21, 2019

You're overthinking it. Clearly, the Kellys performed a last minute prince-and-the-pauper switcheroo..

and THAT explains the ending. The memory wipe was done on old Kelly.

posted by some loser at 7:28 PM on April 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Still way better time travel than DISCO. there, I said it.
posted by some loser at 7:29 PM on April 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I doubt that The Orville has the budget for CGI-based de-aging

Really? This show has wall-to-wall special effects, some of them pretty amazing. The thing that stood out the most to me was their eyes. Present Kelly has some bags under her eyes and Past Kelly didn't, and bags are a lot harder to remove with makeup than they are to put on. (Palicki is beautiful, by the way, and I'm not knocking her for having little bags under her eyes like a human being.) Maybe they were just very careful with how they lit and angled her but I suspect it was CGI.

I thought it was a little funny that they were playing a 7-year difference like she was a wild kid back then and now she's so much older and more mature. For an adult seven years is a significant span of time and people can make big changes sometimes, but the time between, say, 28 and 35 (which is about the span I'm guessing we're looking at) isn't like the vast gulf between, say, 17 and 23. She just went from being a young adult to a slightly less young adult!

The twist at the end was so unexpected, and as I said the glimpse of Past Kelly in the previews for next time made me think she has a bigger role to play in the narrative than we'd expect. Either her decision not to be with Past Ed does end up changing things in the present, or... I dunno. I'd be surprised if she was really a Kaylon agent sent back in time or something, but then I never suspected the show would turn Isaac into a bad guy either. (And once again he was barely a character here. It's kind of weird how the show has made such a big deal out of the Kaylon plot at the same time they're sidelining Isaac.)

I did get a hoot out of Bortus and Klyden going nuts at the club. It's good to see them not at each other's throats for a change.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:53 AM on April 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

The CGI budget for this is nothing (or at least incompetent). They front loaded the CGI budget for the opener and have been very skimpy with episodes, qv space battles.
posted by porpoise at 4:13 AM on April 22, 2019

Bortus and Klyden going crazy at the club was definitely my cup of tea.

I'm team Ed wanting to date -7 Kelly was kind of weird, if not a little creepy. I'm relieved he came to that conclusion on his own, but it shouldn't have gotten so far as to climbing into bed in preparation for some frisky behavior. If anything, it highlights how attached he still is to Kelly. When he showed up in her office, I was hoping it was to ask her permission, at least, to date -7 Kelly, not to give her one more chance to say yes to his entreaties.

Overall, I did enjoy the episode. And I'm irritated we don't know if the show will be renewed or not.
posted by Atreides at 7:04 AM on April 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

It felt like extortion to me; Date me or I'll date a more vulnerable version of you. I didn't think the episode was *deeply* flawed, though.
posted by zeek321 at 7:49 AM on April 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, CGI de-aging is very expensive and most of it has been done for tentpole movies, usually for short flashback scenes. Westworld, a very expensive show, used it for a 4-second static shot of Anthony Hopkins. Until Captain Marvel, where de-aged Sam Jackson and Clark Gregg have both significant screen time, it has been used sparingly because it falls quickly in the Uncanny Valley (young Temuera Morrison in Aquaman was barely recognizable). The technology is described as a painstaking, frame-by-frame manipulation of the image, which is not something that a 40-minute TV show episode can afford. In the Orville episode, young Kelly's screen time is probably longer than the cumulated screen time of all CGI de-aged characters before Captain Marvel! One exception is Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, where 63-year old Paul Rubens was rejuvenated by a combination of make-up, tape, and CGI touch-up: still, the de-aging cost $2 million (out of a $30 million budget), and the original character was already in the Uncanny Valley.

The CGI in The Orville is nice for the budget they have, but it's mostly used for simpler effects: exterior shots (the Kaylon planet was really pretty), the occasional space battles (though the battle in Episode 209 was much better than the messy one from the Discovery finale), Yaphit, holodeck sequences and the food synthetizer. Shameless plug: though I'm not a CGI artist, I tried to replicate the Orville's food synthetizer effect in this video using After Effects and Cinema 4D; that was a lot of fun.
posted by elgilito at 8:18 AM on April 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

The bigger WTF is dating between ranks (which is a whole complicated thing even in an of itself - promotions, postings, yaddy yadda) being like, nbd.

In fairness to the Orville, this is a trope in basically all of Star Trek as well. (See the TNG episode "Lessons" for a look at how even Jean-Luc Picard can get messed up by the intricacies of dating a lower-ranking officer.)

And honestly, what're you gonna do? You've got all these people cooped up on a starship together for literally years at a time. And basically every person on the ship has a rank and a place in the chain of command. You can't just put out a blanket prohibition on dating other crew members, that'd be an absurd expectation that they'll all be celibate the whole time and it'll never actually work. And if you limit it to relationships between crew members of the same or close to the same rank, then your Captain and First Officer basically either have to date each other (problematic for all the reasons Kelly says it is) or they have to be celibate. It's a legitimately tricky situation.

I'm really curious where this show is going with the apparently-not-mindwiped Kelly. I don't know if the show will address this (or if the writers even remember) but in that episode where Charlize Theron played the baddie, time-travel shenanigans already created a whole different timeline, since in the "original" timeline the Orville was supposed to be destroyed. (Which, in retrospect, seems like it would have had major consequences for the UFP's relationships with the Krill, the Moclans, and the Kaylons.) I dunno if that would impact these timeline shenanigans because, as Ed says, nobody really understands time travel, including me, but....well, it's a wrinkle.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:23 AM on April 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm actually kind of surprised no one is talking about the very actually creepy implications of the memory wipe technology though. Just imagine what an unscrupulous person could accomplish with nefarious use of such technology? Surely this must be heavily regulated/restricted/logged/audited tech? But they just bust it out here like it's NBD and has no possibility of misuse, or even questioning the ethics of wiping NewKelly's brain, despite what you learned in temporal physics class.
posted by some loser at 6:14 AM on April 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Good question. I think I remember Ed being surprised that it was even possible to wipe YoungKelly's recent memories, so maybe it's a very recent development? ie up until recently, they could do a complete wipe, but this kind of selective-last-three-days wipe is a new thing?
posted by Mogur at 7:39 AM on April 23, 2019

Also, it's risky, with the chance of brain damage, so it's not something to be done lightly. If it was more reliable, I could see it being abused, but if you have a significant chance of causing brain damage, that means a nefarious person would have a chance of leaving a mark of their work, and that mark is also a sign that they've likely done something so awful to a person that they'd rather take the chance of damaging a person's mind than leave them able to identify a culprit.

But dating a younger version of your ex? Yeah, super icky, like dating your ex's younger sister or brother. "Hey, I know I screwed up our relationship, but I'd like to try again with your kid sister/brother. And if you say we can't get back together, I'll date your sibling instead."

That felt like a very Family Guy sort of Seth MacFarlane idea, especially in that it was not called out as a skeezy move. Seth didn't write this episode (credit there to Janet Lin, a co-executive producer on this season), but it still has that feel for me. Sure, interesting idea (would you recognize how much you've changed with time, and due to a relationship?), but not my favorite episode. Though it might be an interesting set-up to the next episode, "The Road Not Taken" (IMDb already has a short summary up, which I won't copy here), which is the season finale. There might be a big pay-off with this set-up, though the last season's finale didn't end in a cliff-hanger.

Also, the show has not yet been renewed, or cancelled. The second season was announced mid-way through Season 1, FWIW.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

That felt like a very Family Guy sort of Seth MacFarlane idea, especially in that it was not called out as a skeezy move.

Yes I think this is a good point. Now that you mention it I do remember watching it and being like "ok so SOMEONE's gotta find this just a little unethical right?, surely THIS NEXT PERSON will... no? ok.. wel surelly this next one tho? no... ok.. so just gonna let that slide then eh? huh."
posted by some loser at 4:05 PM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, like I said before, time travel romance is complicated. Past Kelly is the same person as present Kelly, but she's also a totally separate person. Past Kelly isn't a sibling or something, she's a different Kelly. I don't know if we can say it's sleazy or whatever for Ed to be with her when she's an intelligent adult and she wants to be with him. Present Kelly sure didn't seem crazy about the idea but she didn't forbid it and I'm not sure she would have had the right to, given that past Kelly is her own person. It's all very confusing but I feel like it's a very long way from Family Guy, which is all about deliberately offensive shock comedy. This was raising questions instead of trying to outrage you into laughing.

I think de-aging effects get expensive when you're talking about turning fifty-something Robert Downey Jr. into twenty-something Robert Downey Jr., when it's a really involved process, but I suspect this show could use CGI to smooth out a few lines. But I'm not an effects artist, so I don't know for sure.

The memory wipe is another Trek thing, going back to the original series. They used it once when they went back in time and accidentally picked up a jet pilot from the 20th century, so he wouldn't know all about the future and potentially screw up the timeline. Tech like that would seem really useful, given the kinds of adventures these folks get into, but I presume there are all sorts of laws about its application. (IIRC I read some article suggesting we're not too far from that sort of thing now, and they were talking about people who'd survived traumas being able to erase those memories before they were set.) This is another thing that Past Kelly readily consented to, so I don't see the ethical issue there.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just think that if this were AskMe I'd tell the asker, whether it was Kelly 2 or Ed, to just cool off for a few months and give Kelly 2 time to adjust. If it was Kelly 1 asking, I'd say therapy would be a good option, and not with your buddy the doctor.
posted by bleep at 8:20 PM on April 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah and riddle me this:

Why would sending a brain-damaged Kelly back to her original timeline be somehow better than sending an un-redacted Kelly back? I mean, assuming those fears about brain damage were legit.
posted by some loser at 4:53 AM on April 24, 2019

They believe it is the same timeline, so un-redacted Kelly's knowledge of the future could change their past. but it looks like redacted-Kelly is doing that anyway, so you're probably right that it is a different timeline. Or something.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:02 AM on April 24, 2019

It's no more brain damage than a night of heavy drinking (I prefer that all of my fiction takes place in the same universe)
posted by bleep at 11:09 AM on April 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I thought this was a pretty interesting episode. I like this show's "thing" of doing really high-concept episodic plots (time travel, AI takeover, finding a "ghost" in the machine (from 2015), alien insurrection, etc) but then focusing almost entirely on how those plots affect the characters' feelings and relationships. I know a lot of people get sick of the Love Boat in Space thing, but I actually like that the show is so obsessed with feelings and relationships -- *shrug* honestly, that's what I'm most interested in, too. Fingers crossed for a renewal.

Anyway, character-wise: Kelly has put her career first throughout the show, and I never thought much of it (just figured that she was ambitious), but in light of this episode, I wonder if that's maybe just as much of a reaction to Ed's careerism during their relationship and her cheating (and to their basically inevitable divorce) as Ed constantly trying to get a re-do of their relationship is. I mean, love and relationships/camaraderie/friendships clearly used to be a priority for her, in a way that she rejects pretty vehemently now. Oh, and I think that the focus on Kelly's partying was at least partly to show how open and friendly she used to be, that she wasn't all about work back in the day. I mean, she was ambitious even back then, I guess, with her whole "captain before forty" thing, but she was really open to relationships (all of them, I mean, not just romantic ones) in a way that she holds herself back from now.

Also, in a way, this episode was really romantic -- present-day Kelly and present-day Ed are apparently "meant to be," even more than any other version of themselves would be. Kelly-7 and present-day Ed sure weren't soulmates, and then Kelly-7 even decided not to give Ed-7 a chance after all. It makes it seem like Kelly and Ed Prime's relationship was fate, or at least serendipity. But then the show also rejected the idea of fate, by keeping so much mystery around whether Kelly-7 would end up living the same life as Kelly Prime and what her connection to Kelly Prime was at all.

It's also interesting to think that the you that was in the past is a totally different person than the you who exists now and that you're both totally different people than the you that might exist in the future. The show made such a point that the various Kellys didn't owe each other anything and how their lives might branch out was unknowable. Like, Kelly-7's future was a Schroedinger's cat situation; it could be the same as Kelly Prime, but who knows (and in the end, it seemed like it wouldn't, given that she rejected Ed)? An interesting way to think of identity, especially since Kelly was really explicitly trying to be true to herself (and worried about being a disappointment to her past self). I mean, what does being true to yourself mean when past you isn't really you at all?

Anyway, in general, I think Kelly's right that a captain dating a first officer is weird. But in this particular case, they're also exes, which is even weirder, so...And I didn't find Ed dating Kelly-7 that off-putting, because it was clear that it was because he's still in love with Kelly, and would date her again in a heartbeat if he could, and didn't have the heart to reject any version of her who actually was interested in him. He even said so. It's not the best idea to date a younger version of her, but since it was coming from his genuine feelings for her getting the better of him, I didn't think it was sleazy or exploitative in the end (and actually thought it was really understandable). Sort of like when Gordon was trying to date the simulation of that girl with the phone. A terrible idea with a huge potential to be sleazy as hell, but how things actually played out, it ended up more sad and doomed than anything else. That was my feeling about it, anyway. I actually appreciate how on this show, the characters are all looking for connection in very earnest ways (including the male characters), and very worried about not finding it. The one exception is Isaac, and he ended up finding genuine connection anyway.
posted by rue72 at 2:23 PM on April 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this but man, what kind of fucked up showrunner / writer / producer / god would create this episode? "I'm gonna have a show where I get to date a younger version of my ex-wife and start over again. And I'm going to make my ex-wife watch! In fact, I'm even gonna ask her for permission." I mean decent people don't date their ex-wife's sisters, friends, roommates, etc (in general). You're gonna date your ex-wife's younger time clone? Gross. That being said they took the idea to a plausible place and I liked it. If the end result is a reboot of a bit of the show where now Kelly and Mercer were never married, that'll be fine. As long as they never ever hook up in the new timeline, that is. I can also imagine that the only change in the timeline is this one bit about the romance; maybe she woke up with a feeling about the desperate guy calling too early in the morning.

Loved every little bit of the disco scene. In many episodes we here on Fanfare are baffled at Orville's mixture of high sci-fi and then low humor shtick, it usually falls flat. In this case it was great. I think solely because Bortus was just so into it. Also the new Alara is so much better than the old Alara. I liked her, but Talla just has more edge to her in a way that works.
posted by Nelson at 7:21 AM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

One of the problems with the Orville, I think, is that the show is smarter than the characters. I thought the plot device here put the characters in really interesting position - a way more interesting position than many sci fi shows are capable of. They show Ed very much wanting a relationship with Kelly and Kelly realizing it wasn't going to work. All of a sudden a younger, "funner", more eager version of Kelly drops into his lap. And she wants to pursue a relationship with him. This is a setup for a really interesting, deep, interpersonal and sci fi plot as Ed and the others try to figure out what the moral, ethical, and timeline consequences may be.

What do the characters of this show do with all of this potential? Absolutely nothing interesting. Ed just decides he think she's hot so he's going to pursue it. No sign of any internal hesitance or tension. No sign that he's thought at all about what either the interpersonal or sci-fi time travel related consequences may be.

There are parts of this show that I really like. But there's far, far too many times where they tee up a really interesting plot and then way, way, way underdeliver. I had some hope, after the first season, that this was something they'd grow into, but I don't see much sign of growth there. I'll watch a third season, but I also won't shed many tears if it's not renewed.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:49 AM on May 11, 2019

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