Back to the future over my dead body
A breakthrough in experimental time-bending technology aboard the Orville brings with it significant new real-world risks in the potential for timeline contamination, especially if the technology were to fall into the wrong hands. Or even the right hands: An unexpected mishap sends Malloy 400 years into the past (to the year 2015) where he somehow sends a message through time that explains he’s stuck there unless the Orville crew can find a way to retrieve him. The Orville uses the technology to jump back in time, but the jump lands them in 2025, at which point Malloy has long since given up hope of rescue (after having waited three years in self-imposed near-total isolation) and fully integrated himself into the 21st century, with a job as an airline pilot, a wife, son, and second baby on the way.
The core of "Twice in a Lifetime" tells a simple and effective emotional story: Malloy, who has moved on to another life, must now make the choice of what to do now that Ed and Kelly have found him and can take him home. Actually, it’s not much of a choice at all: Malloy fully intends to stay in 2025, where his wife is the very woman, Laura (Leighton Meester), who put her cell phone into that time capsule in 2015 and was the subject of a series of simulated dates for Malloy in "Lasting Impressions." He intentionally sought her out here, having landed in her exact time period, and they are now happily married. (This is not purely a coincidence, as the story implies that his subconscious sent him to this year because he was already thinking about her.)
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