Season 2 of The Orville is reaching its end, and this week’s episode, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” brings the show back to the relationship episodes that permeated the first half of the run. This time, Ed and Kelly are the focus, so your mileage may vary in terms of your tolerance. If nothing else, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” made me officially over this romance, because I’m tired of what it does to Ed and how it makes me not like Kelly. It does have a killer ending, though.
While John and Isaac are working on what could effectively become a time machine, an encounter with a gravitational wave transports a seven-years-younger Kelly to the Orville. While Kelly fears her past self will reveal too much of her embarrassing history to the crew, Ed wonders if he’s been given a second chance to make his marriage work. Dancing ensues.
The opening of “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” finds Gordon telling some less-than-flattering Ed and Kelly stories to Tala while the captain and first officer try to hide their blushing. When Gordon and Tala depart, Ed once again tells Kelly he still loves her and wants to be with her, while she reiterates that she thinks it’s a bad idea. This early in, I decided I wanted this storyline to end. Ed is starting to look pathetic; pining for her is one thing, but he keeps bringing it up only to get shot down. I understand the lure of a will-they-won’t-they plot, but this one has run its course and needs to go away. Unfortunately, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is all about The Orville’s Ross and Rachel.
When the younger Kelly arrives, she’s fresh from her first date with Ed and still in the early stages of falling in love with him. It’s a rude awakening to find that she ends up marrying him, only to eventually get divorced. In fact, none of the dreams she’s chasing will be fulfilled, and the Kelly we know – first officer of a starship, capable leader, expert fighter – is a disappointment to her. “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” provides a rare instance where the usually self-assured Kelly doubts her worth and accomplishments. Moreover, her younger self is winning over the crew that Kelly deliberately keeps at a distance. She asks Past Kelly (Present Kelly’s preferred title for her youthful doppelganger) to stop telling them embarrassing stories so she doesn’t lose their respect, but what she misses is that those stories endear her to the others. The crew knows more about Ed than they do her, but they still respect him. Judging by Past Kelly’s attitude, this may be something Kelly lost over the years.
Another thing Kelly lost is Ed, and when the girl who knows him only as last night’s date asks him out again, she’s once more confronted with the possibility of watching someone she cares about choose a different, better version of herself. She tells Past Kelly and Ed that dating is a bad idea and frames it as being for their sakes, but it’s clear that she’s also worried about the possibility of success and how it will reflect on her choices. If Ed is a better husband to this other Kelly, maybe she’ll never cheat on him. (Sorry, I’m not buying that Darulio inadvertently mind-controlled her; he was iffy when he said he might have, and she had to have at least opened the door to it [not a euphemism]). And if Past Kelly goes into the relationship with a better understanding of where it could lead, maybe it will last where hers broke apart.
This is the central question of “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.” Is the future set in stone, or can it be changed? If we knew then what we know now, would we have been able to make our lives better? Kelly is at first adamant that she and Past Kelly are now different people who can lead their own lives. But when she’s faced with the prospect of watching someone live her life better than she did, she clings to the notion that they’re the same person and her present situation is/was inevitable. Past Kelly, on the other hand, has to believe she can do it differently, because she doesn’t want to end up a divorced subordinate with no friends. This is a good dynamic and shows the shifting perspective time gives people. Kelly tells her younger self that she’s older and, because of her experience, wiser, but Past Kelly believes her youth can help her avoid a lot of misery.
This is what makes the ending of “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” so fascinating. Past Kelly is able to return to her own time, having figured out that she isn’t part of a new timeline, but the same Kelly that will one day work on the Orville. She convinces everyone that she will live her life the same way, having her memory wiped so she won’t retain any knowledge of the future. But when she returns to the past, she dumps Ed. She hasn’t given up on the idea that she can change her life for the better, but she does decide she can only do that without Ed. This is a massive development, and will no doubt come up in the season finale next week. Ed and Kelly’s marriage is central to the series; without it, Ed may not even be on the Orville, nor may the others (certainly not Gordon). How many tidal waves will the flapping wings of this butterfly cause? I can’t wait to find out.
On the whole, however, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” isn’t one of the better episodes, and a lot of that has to do with Ed and Kelly’s relationship coming to the fore again. When they explain what went wrong to Past Kelly, it’s once again all Ed’s fault. Kelly’s always acted like that, but in the beginning, at least Ed gave it right back to her. Now he just capitulates and takes the blame for everything. It’s disheartening to see him like that, completely emasculated by someone he loves. I was ecstatic to see Past Kelly tell off her self-righteous future counterpart, but by the end, she takes it all back, lest we think there could be anything wrong with Kelly. If this is how it’s going to be between them, I hope this season puts the idea of a future for the former couple to rest. Ed deserves a lot better, and the whole plotline has grown boring.
On the plus side, I loved the scene between Kelly and Claire, in particular, because I found Claire’s words about reevaluating your dreams and priorities very uplifting. Most people end up somewhere different from where they intended, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing; just part of growing up. It looks like that may be something Past Kelly will have to learn for herself, unless the new future she creates ends up becoming the status quo. I also enjoyed the humor; there isn’t much in “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” but there are a few laugh-out-loud moments, the best of which is Bortus and Klyden dancing in the club. Bortus has been the comedy MVP this season, and I hope that doesn’t change. And Adrianne Palicki does stellar work as both Kelly and Past Kelly; for a minute, I actually thought it was a different actress playing Past Kelly. The blonde wig helps, sure, but it’s mostly on Palicki. Finally, I like that the threat that shows up toward the end is a pair of Kaylon ships; The Orville is keeping the threat they pose ever-present, and after “Identity,” just the mention of them is scary.
“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a decent but underwhelming episode that marks the point where the Ed and Kelly romance overstays its welcome. The time-travel conundrums and reflections on inevitability vs. a malleable future are fascinating, but they’re bogged down by more of Ed flogging himself and Kelly being smug and superior. The humor, the Kaylons, and Claire’s reassuring wisdom keep it from being a total bust, but, much like with Ed and Kelly themselves, it’s time to move on.