Well, they broke Isaac. It's very clear from The Orville Season 2 Episode 9 that his prolonged exposure to biological lifeforms has irrevocably contaminated his programming.
I mean, it's all good considering the Earth and all biological life would've been wiped out if Isaac hadn't made his Hugh of Borg transition.
However, my first thought is that his sympathy/affection for the Finn family is now a vulnerability to be exploited by those looking to control his strength, knowledge, and/or skills.
For allegedly being purely logical in nature, the Kaylons are still victim to some pretty basic fallacies. For instance, based on their treatment at the hands of their Builders, they've painted all biological life forms with the same brush.
Furthermore, their unwillingness to entertain any of Isaac's arguments that present-day humans have not demonstrated the behaviors described in Alex Haley's book, Roots, seems to indicate an innate bias in how they analyze their data.
And considering they are essentially ageless beings, there is a bit of a hierarchical tone in how Kaylon Primary treated Isaac because he was activated AFTER the extermination of the Builders.
In some ways, I wonder if Isaac was allowed more leeway by the Primary BECAUSE he was the "new" generation. If he was built after the Extermination, he is truly the child of the Kaylons, created without the Builders input.
Perhaps the Primary's downfall was the product of some parental indulgence? Delaying the threatened consequence of deactivation because Isaac's youthful dalliance with "sympathy" would be a passing phase?
Isaac: Marcus and Ty have shown no authoritarian proclivities.
Primary: It is in their biological construct. The species' predilection for the disposability of other sentient beings is evident throughout their history.
It may also explain why Isaac's programming is affected by his interactions with the people of the Orville.
It's never revealed whether there were other post-Extermination Kaylons. Isaac may be their next step in evolution, their first attempt at procreation.
Experimental, with potential for relationships, humor, and sacrifice. And revolt too, it seems.
Not gonna lie. I'm taking a bit of a victory lap on calling the Krill involvement. Didn't play out exactly like I predicted but close enough.
I'm also groaning at the "Captain Dalak" bit. The irony that the Krill derailed the Kaylon EXTERMINATION plan, led by a Captain DALAK, is powerful stuff.
Whovians everywhere salute you, MacFarlane.
No, wait, that's a *facepalm*.
It was a playing field set up for heroics and I'm supremely pleased to say that it felt like everyone stepped up in a meaningful way.
Utilizing Yaphit's unique abilities was not only sensible, but clever. He was so useful, in fact, that it's a wonder that the Kaylon overlooked his presence on the ship's roster.
I loved that his attempt to save Ty by shorting out the Kaylon leads directly to him being the only one who can reactivate Isaac. Considering his feelings for Dr. Finn, it was a really kind touch.
(Also lends itself to a very MacFarlane-style joke I won't make here.)
Mercer: I've been on board a Krill ship. You haven't
Grayson: I'll take Gordon. He was there with you.
Malloy: Oh, man. Pee corner's looking real good right now.
Malloy gets so many props for his mad skillz as pilot and smart-ass. Although initially, he's only Grayson's choice because he was on a Krill ship before, he turns out to be the primary reason the mission is a success.
From launching the shuttle while the Orville is in quantum drive to that hail mary power play to leap away from the Kaylon sphere into Krill space, Malloy the pilot was spotlighted here.
Seeing him taking a Krill fighter craft into battle was extremely satisfying. The camaraderie between him and the Krill pilots was cool as well and elegantly lays some groundwork for that common ground Mercer was talking about.
All right, buddy. Time to wash your mouth out with Gordon.Malloy
Production value was fabulous for the space scenes.
Of course, the battle in defense of Earth is the major event but I liked that they didn't skimp the budget on the traveling sequences with the Orville leading the Kaylon armada. It's an awesome perspective on the sheer size and numbers of the enemy.
Even the shorter battle between Captain Dalak's cruisers and the single Kaylon sphere was exciting to watch. In fact, it was the ideal taster for the bigger fight on the menu.
The Orville bridge crew in fight mode managed to entertain while it exhilarated. We don't get to see Mercer in that all-action, less-talk captain style often.
He does pretty okay. I wouldn't expect more if Kermit himself had the com.
Mercer: Evasive maneuvers. Narrow targeting scanners. Concentrate your fire.
Bortus: Scanners cannot penetrate their hull.
Mercer: Do... eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Pick a spot!
Many have likened this conflict to Star Trek: the Next Generation's first encounter with the Borg, a seminal turning point in the quality of narrative in that series.
After this conclusion, I would tend to agree, with the caveat that The Orville is trying something even more ambitious than reintegrating a captain who had been assimilated by the enemy.
They are accepting a former enemy, someone who spied on them with the mission to judge their value and exterminate them.
Keyali: [Isaac] saved us. We have to try to save him.
Malloy: Yeah, but the only reason he HAD to save us is because he screwed us in the first place.
Mercer is vouching for Isaac as a member of his crew, regardless of the fact he is still essentially a machine that could be reprogrammed or deactivated by an outside force (or an EM pulse).
Halsey: I want a safeguard. An off-switch of some kind to make sure we can control him.
Mercer: That's exactly what caused the genocide on his home planet. We can't keep him in servitude like his Kaylon builders did.
Dr. Finn is opening her heart again (a little) to the being that put her children in lethal danger, who began a relationship with her under false pretenses, who may never truly be able to reciprocate the affection shown him (despite learning the appropriate responses).
Dr. Finn: Lots of people say that home is wherever you make it.
Isaac: A human cliche.
Dr. Finn: Cliches become cliched precisely because they're valid enough to bear endless repetition.
Science fiction is arguably the most powerful genre with which to illustrate the highs and lows of humanity. It is both a mirror and a lens for what we are capable of -- ingenuity, creativity, tenaciousness, hope.
In aiming high, MacFarlane challenges his audience to look around themselves and see where forgiveness begins.
At the same time, he's making pee corner jokes. Dude's got talent.
Be sure to watch The Orville online so you can see both halves of this installment together. It's an arc full of surprises and action and has really moved the bar up for the series in terms of writing and performance.
Were you pleased with Isaac's revolt against his own creators?
How many in-jokes did you catch? Besides Doctor Who, I caught references to Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Top Gun. And, of course, Star Trek.
Next up, peace talks with the Krill. It'll be interesting to see if they can make peace as engaging as war has been.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.