DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Orville: New Horizons episode “Twice in a Lifetime” has spoilers. Prepare to engage quantum drive, and proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Union officers! Once again, The Orville delivers an astounding sci-fi spectacle with “Twice in a Lifetime.” This show effectively ripped my heart out for two consecutive Thursdays and trampled on it. Keep the tissues nearby for this one, folks.
Scott Grimes churns out a surprisingly poignant and nuanced performance, adding depth to a character usually seen as comedic relief. It’s so fun to explore the layers of these characters. “Twice in a Lifetime” also allows us to get to know Ensign Charly Burke, revealing a heartbreaking aspect of her story.
Ready to delve into “Twice in a Lifetime”? Let’s get to it.
“That’s All I’ve Got to Say.”
We open with Lt. Gordon Malloy (Grimes) hosting a party aboard the U.S.S. Orville. He entertains his guests with a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “That’s All I’ve Got to Say.” We heard Leighton Meester’s Laura Huggins in “Lasting Impressions” from Season 2. Admittedly, Grimes’ vocals are nothing short of swoon-worthy. Side note: when are we getting a duet with him and Seth MacFarlane on the show?
After his performance, Malloy shows Ensign Charly Burke (Anne Winters) Laura’s cellphone they uncovered from the 2015 time capsule. Well, a copy of it, anyway. Isaac (Mark Jackson) seeks advice from Lt. Cmdr. John LaMarr (J Lee) regarding how to approach Burke, who continues to give him the cold shoulder.
While explaining what a selfie is to Burke, Malloy invites Lt. Cmdr. Bortus (Peter Macon) to join them for said selfie. Bortus pastes on the most uncomfortable smile I’ve ever seen, and it’s hysterical.
Sending a Sandwich to the Future
Later, LaMarr and Isaac show Capt. Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) and Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) the updates they made to the Aronov device. LaMarr utilizes Malloy’s sandwich to showcase what the machine can do by sending it a few seconds back in time and forward three months.
Next, Mercer and Grayson update Admiral Perry (Ted Danson) regarding the advanced Aronov device. Perry plans to send a convoy to escort the Orville to the maximum-security research station on Sabik Three. The key is to ensure this device doesn’t fall into the hands of the Kaylon or the Krill. Time travel is still relatively uncharted territory at this point.
A Kaylon Interference
The Orville arrives with the convoy at the research station; however, they find only debris in its place. Admiral Ozawa (Kelly Hu) reveals the Kaylon took decisive action after discovering our heroes had the Aronov device. We see Kaylon vessels approaching, and a brief skirmish between the Union and Kaylon unfurls. Admiral Ozawa orders the fleet to retreat, but the Kaylon hail the Orville and demand Mercer hand over the Aronov device.
So, Malloy volunteers to destroy the device while the Kaylon lock a tractor beam on the ship to board. While the crew uses the quantum core to overload the deflectors, Malloy shoots at the Aronov device and quickly vanishes. Meanwhile, Burke pilots the vessel out of harm’s way.
Next, the gang realizes Malloy’s missing, but they can’t find traces of organic matter in the device or his presence on the ship. Isaac detects a transmission Malloy sent from 2015. Uh-oh.
LaMarr and Isaac show the group an obituary for Malloy, who perished on Earth in 2068 at the ripe old age of 96. Everyone wonders why he has an obituary to begin with — Union officers must swear to fly under the radar if they become trapped in a different time. They must do everything possible not to leave a temporal footprint or alter the timeline.
LaMarr believes they can Malloy by utilizing the coordinates he sent with his transmission and the upgraded Aronov device. However, LaMarr warns it will strain the quantum drive significantly. Isaac oversees the time jump, and the Orville leaps 400 years into the past.
Unfortunately, they arrive in 2025, not 2015, meaning Malloy already spent a decade in the 21st century. Nevertheless, Mercer hopes to rescue Malloy now and worry about that later. Isaac suggests they remove the undiscovered dysonium in Earth’s core to replenish their systems so they can get home.
Thus, Isaac uses a holographic generator to change his appearance. He looks human, as in “A Happy Refrain” from Season 2. Burke, Mercer and Grayson accompany him in a shuttle bound for Earth.
While flying into what appears to be Los Angeles (former Angeleno here, but always there in my heart), Isaac attempts to make small talk with Burke by asking her if she likes sports. Naturally, Burke appears bewildered by the unexpected question.
Later, the quarter splits into pairs — Mercer and Grayson track down Malloy while Burke and Isaac search for the optimal drilling spot to extract dysonium for the ship.
A Family Man
Grayson and Mercer find Malloy at an airport. He’s a commercial pilot, a fitting 21st-century profession for him. A shocked Malloy can’t believe they finally came for him after 10 years in 2025. Malloy drives them to his house (his license plate says “Oville”) and introduces them to his wife, Laura Huggins (Meester), and his son, Edward. We see Laura is also pregnant.
Of course, Mercer and Grayson recognize Laura from Malloy’s simulation on the Orville.
Meanwhile, Burke and Isaac encounter a biker bar after Isaac locates the dysonium drilling location. Burke notices the bevy of motorcycles parked in front of the establishment. So, she stages a bet with one of the bikers. She can steal a bike if Isaac bests their strongest guy in an arm-wrestling match. However, if the biker man wins, then, well, let’s face it — Isaac will win.
Naturally, Isaac prevails, much to the dismay of the bikers. We see Burke and Isaac speed away on motorcycles toward their final destination. I never thought I’d see the day when a human-looking Isaac would ride a bike.
A Lunch, a Kiss and a Serious Chat
Next, Mercer and Grayson have lunch with Malloy and Laura as they recount how they met. Lt. Cmdr. Talla Keyali (Jessica Szohr) helps LaMarr with a knot in his back, which yields naughty noises, along with some bewildered glances from crew members. This massage session transforms into a makeout sesh as LaMarr and Keyali get their smooch on. Remember when I said I shipped this pairing? I still do.
Then, Mercer and Grayson pull Malloy aside for an honest chat. Malloy refuses to go home, even though he’s broken countless temporal laws. Mercer threatens to snatch up Malloy against his will and throw him in the brig for insubordination. Malloy’s superior officers remind him that he took an oath not to interfere with any timeline.
Malloy discloses that he waited three years for the Orville to save him. He camped out in a cabin, never leaving, and killed animals with the gun he had in his hand when he vanished. It was torturous for him. So, Malloy gave up on his crew finding him and ventured out into the world, accepting that this was his new reality.
Laura overhears the conversation, and Malloy orders Grayson and Mercer to leave. Grimes gives a powerful performance here.
Divulge the Truth
Malloy lays it bare for Laura, and she doesn’t seem surprised. Laura reveals she always thought Malloy was “different,” so discovering he’s from another timeline doesn’t shock her. Malloy vows not to leave her side and the family they’re cultivating. He fell in love with her 300 years after she died, and now they’re together. Admittedly, I’m convinced. I’m Team Malloy/Laura.
Meanwhile, Isaac and Burke arrive at an empty house in a residential neighborhood. The realtor responsible for it mistakes them for a couple, giving them a tour of the property. Burke asks to see the basement and then claims she must discuss this potential purchase with Isaac in private.
We see the pair probe for dysonium; thankfully, they hit the jackpot. Isaac thanks Burke for reactivating him and, as per human custom, expects a “you’re welcome” in return. Burke explains why she struggles to forgive him. Remember her best friend, Amanda? Well, Burke was in love with Amanda. She never got the opportunity to confess her feelings to Amanda. Burke reveals she could envision them growing old together, but now that dream will never come to fruition.
This scene is utterly heartbreaking. Winters does an excellent job peeling back the layers of Ensign Burke, while Jackson has me convinced he’s an AI. He’s got the physicality down pat.
Time to Go Home
Next, Malloy, Laura and Edward are watching TV on the couch. They’re watching a sitcom starring Jack McBrayer and Johnny Knoxville in what appears to be a version of The Odd Couple. Mercer, Grayson and Keyali barge into the living room. It’s abundantly clear that Keyali, the Xelayan, is there to provide the muscle.
They urge Malloy to accompany them. Keyali will forcefully transport him back to the Orville if necessary. Malloy refuses to leave without his family, but Mercer and Grayson remind him that they cannot return to their timeline. Malloy procures his stun gun and threatens to shoot them, while Mercer gets the idea to utilize the newly acquired dysonium to go to 2015 to retrieve Malloy before he meets Laura.
After Mercer, Grayson and Keyali depart, Malloy kisses Laura and embraces his family, vowing always to love them. Good grief, The Orville: New Horizons tramples on our hearts two weeks in a row.
Mercer and the crew utilize Malloy’s 2015 coordinates, the Aronov device and their new dysonium reserves to arrive in the correct time frame. Instead of spending a decade on Earth, Malloy only spent one month in a solitary cabin. Of course, he doesn’t recall anything from his time with Laura because that hasn’t happened yet.
After retrieving Malloy, we see the Aronov device looking worse for the wear. So, how will our heroes get home? LaMarr suggests they remove the quantum field and fly the ship as close to the speed of light as possible to travel 400 years into the future. I love that LaMarr gets to flex his advanced intellect in this episode. I’m smitten. John LaMarr’s got it all!
So, LaMarr’s plan works in a breathtaking sequence that proves why The Orville moving to Hulu is the best choice the show made. Look at the fruits of a bigger budget!
Finally, our crew lands in the correct timeline and docks at the station for some repairs.
A Life Never Lived
Later, Mercer and Grayson have drinks with Malloy and reveal what happened. Mercer and Grayson feel terrible for essentially plucking Malloy from a well-established family life, but Malloy doesn’t blame them for doing the right thing. He commends them for prioritizing duty above all else and apologizes for his behavior in 2025. I thought he might be angry that he’s missing out on a life with Laura. Good ole Malloy.
“Twice in a Lifetime” gives us a thought-provoking, profound and heartwrenching outing that feels like an epic movie on the small screen. MacFarlane and company are knocking it out of the park this season, blessing us with a wholly immersive, escapist experience necessary in times like these.
Not only do we get brilliant dramatic performances from the cast, but we also get a bit more comedy this go-round. My comedic highlights include Keyali massaging LaMarr, Grayson and Mercer trying to figure out what “the Sox” means and Isaac arm-wrestling that biker. There’s a nice balance of humor and heart in this episode, plus a thoughtful examination of time travel and how little we understand it.
Do you think our heroes will reencounter the Kaylon soon? Will we get another run-in with the Krill? Can Burke and Isaac mend fences now? What’s our ship name for Keyali and LaMarr (Layali? KeyMarr?)? Join me while I continue recapping The Orville: New Horizons, only on Geek Girl Authority.
The Orville: New Horizons drops new episodes every Thursday on Hulu.