Minor actions having huge unforeseen consequences is a staple of time-travel stories. Pull on a thread, and you unravel the tapestry. "You go back before World War II and kill Hitler, and maybe you make everything worse," says Mercer, taking the opposing view of the conventional wisdom of the classic premise. In his mind, you just don’t make that supposedly obvious choice.
I enjoyed hearing that, because the "kill Hitler" time-travel scenario always sounds good on paper, but you truly have no idea what the downstream ramifications of doing that would be. If you kill Hitler and change the course of history, the results could be counter-intuitively catastrophic. Maybe now the Cuban Missile Crisis ends in global nuclear annihilation. At the very least, you are all but ensuring you will not be born. Maybe I’m selfish and we’re historically far enough removed from World War II to distance ourselves from that pain, but I happen to like the world as it exists today, and doing something as universe-altering as killing Hitler could mean I’m not only erasing my own existence in favor of that alternate reality, but creating a potentially worse one.
“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” — a title with a repetition I must confess I don’t exactly understand the rationale for — is a high-concept sci-fi premise that produces a middling character episode focusing on a worn-out thread on this series, and exhibits no shortage of misguided character decisions. The episode is redeemed almost entirely by the subtle and nuanced performance of Adrianne Palicki, who wins this week’s MVP by taking some decent insights and strange sitcom situations and spinning them into sympathy-earning gold.
This episode is okay, but it’s a notable step down from what the series has done recently, and it relies on plot developments we see coming a mile away — but the characters for some reason choose not to. It unfortunately feels like the Orville falling back on old habits, as if the writers woke up one morning and decided to go shopping at the TNG Store, found the “Second Chances” kit on the shelf, brought it home, and then made their personal modifications during assembly.
Well, they didn’t exactly stick the landing, but they were still standing by the end of it. This got the job done. And it was, let it be said, epic.
"Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2" had a tall order before it: to fundamentally change the status quo of the series (implicitly promised by all the build-up and goodbyes in last week’s overly schmaltzy episode, which at least in context now feels slightly more valid) while trying to satisfactorily make sense of this season’s ongoing plot and character arcs. While they don’t completely overcome the dopiness of some of the ideas that have been swirling about for several episodes now, they do close as many loops as possible while bringing massive cinematic showmanship to this finale in a way that helps paper over some of the seams.
The issues surrounding Moclan culture have been slowly and steadily building since "About a Girl" last season, and have continued to magnify ("Primal Urges," "Deflectors") throughout this season. They reach a boiling point with "Sanctuary," which is an effective and involving drama that falls back on a number of classic Trekkian elements, including the impassioned public hearing and the tense diplomatic crisis.
While one could argue that we’ve perhaps seen too much of the Moclans over these first two seasons, I would instead argue that what the writers have done is build a solid arc across a series using an episodic format. I’m reminded of the way Worf’s discommendation arc and the Klingon civil war played out in the middle seasons of TNG.
"Such Sweet Sorrow," right down to its corny Shakespeare-quoting title, is an hour of extreme earnestness, featuring grand gestures of selflessness, last-minute family reunions, naked sentimentality, and lots of tearful goodbyes. I mean, they really laid it on thick here. Here’s an hour that slows down to acknowledge the character relationships, but is completely ham-fisted about it. I’ll also say this: There had better be a major shakeup of this series coming in next week’s season finale for this episode to have been remotely earned. Discovery — or at least Michael Burnham — had better be riding permanently off into the sunset of the distant future.
We left last week with the Enterprise en route to rescue the crew of the Discovery after it was decided the only way to destroy the sphere data and keep it out of Control’s hands was to auto-destruct the ship. Well, it turns out this plan also doesn’t work, because the data has now merged with Discovery‘s computer and has enough control of the ship to disarm the auto-destruct. It also raises its shields when the Enterprise starts firing torpedoes at it. So it’s back to the drawing board, with only an hour before Control’s Section 31 ships arrive.