In seeing the preview photos and reading the synopsis for this week’s episode, I wondered if this would be one of those “trap” episodes. You know, like in sports: a team has a big game against a quality opponent, followed by a game against a subpar opponent, and that one is followed by another important game. The middle game, against the lower-quality opponent, becomes an issue when the team doesn’t look too closely at it, instead focusing on its other large challenges, and gets caught in a “trap” and loses. Coming off some huge episodes in the last few weeks and taking the next two weeks off from new episodes, could “Lasting Impressions” be a “trap” episode for ‘The Orville?’
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘The Orville’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: The plot of this episode is fairly straightforward. A time capsule from 2015 (about 400 years in the past, in ‘The Orville’ timeline) is unearthed, and the Orville is tasked with delivering it to an archaeology colony for further analysis. While en route, the caretaker Dr. Sherman invites the senior staff to try their hand at understanding the artifacts. Among the relics: a cellular telephone, one that hasn’t been powered on in centuries. LaMarr and Malloy give it a go, and wouldn’t you know it, they get the dang thing to work – they are already better than my grandparents!
They discover that the phone belonged to a woman named Laura (Leighton Meester), who was upgrading her phone and decided to record a video and leave all her personal info on this phone, in the hopes that “future people” would gain some insight into who she was and what the time period was like. Gordon becomes enamored with her – so much so that he interfaces the phone with the simulator and creates a simulation of her life – which he promptly inserts himself into.
Meanwhile, Bortus becomes fascinated with another item found in the time capsule: a cigarette. After smoking one, he shares the experience with his mate, Klyden (Chad Coleman), and the two become enamored with smoking. There’s good reason, as is discovered by Dr. Finn (medicine woman): Moclan physiology is highly susceptible to nicotine addiction, and the duo are forced to try and break the habit, which as always, is easier said than done.
Gordon, meanwhile, has fully insulated himself into Laura’s virtual life. He becomes entangled romantically with the simulated version of the woman, even going so far as to invite the senior staff to a highly awkward game night in the simulation. His feelings are hurt, though, when Laura gets back together with her ex-boyfriend – as she was destined to do, as the simulator is simply reading off of what happened in Laura’s life via her info on the phone. Gordon tries to delete Greg from the simulation but learns an important after-school-special lesson about how humans’ relationships and experiences as a whole make up who we are, and changing or removing those experiences would change who we are fundamentally as a person.
- While Leighton Meester did just fine in her guest appearance in this episode, let’s get excited for a Tim Russ appearance! Seeing ‘Star Trek: Voyager’s’ Tuvok (the actor who played him, not the character himself, obvi) on a spaceship again gave me all the feels, and cements the idea in my head that Seth MacFarlane is officially on a mission to get every single Star Trek actor alive to be on ‘The Orville.’ Make it happen, Seth!
- The concept of a time capsule as a plot device is a cool idea, but I don’t think they’d let just anybody be all touchy-feely with stuff that is 400+ years old – the Orville senior staff certainly aren’t ginger with anything they are touching or, uh, feeling.
- Tie for the best line of the episode: Ed’s response to a simulated-girl’s question of if military time is a hipster thing: “No, Trisha, it’s not,” and Bortus’ mid-addicition demand of the replicator: “500 cigarettes.”
- Where the heck is Isaac? I understand the need to not go to the Kaylon well too much right now, but he should at least be on-board or referenced in some way, right?
- MacFarlane must really hate the nuances of a social drawing/guessing game! I can’t be the only one who caught how similar the Pictionary joke in this episode where the male partygoer kept guessing “Cereal Guy!” loudly as a throw-back to the classic ‘Family Guy’ joke with Stewie:
CLOSING THOUGHTS: While it didn’t exactly break new ground or blow me away with its “big ideas,” this episode was serviceable enough. It was well-written and well-paced, which I appreciate seeing ‘The Orville’ continue to focus on after the up-and-down first season. As I mentioned above, the show takes two weeks off from new episodes, so we’ll see you back here in three weeks with more discussion!
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Seth MacFarlane as Ed Mercer
Adrianne Palicki as Kelly Grayson
Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Claire Finn
Scott Grimes as Gordon Malloy
Peter Macon as Lt. Commander Bortus
Jessica Szohr as Lt. Talla Keyali
J. Lee as John LaMarr
Mark Jackson as Isaac
New episodes of ‘The Orville’ are premiering on FOX every Thursday this season.