Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Orville Season 2, Episode 11: Lasting Impressions

Yes, I know, this review's incredibly late. That's because I've been pretty busy lately. After a long, hard brutal winter that took a toll on my home and property, I've been doing a lot of yard work in an attempt to get the place in shape for spring. Sadly that hasn't left much time  for posting.

This week on The Orville we get a budget-friendly, bottle episode, as Gordon meets the love of his life— who sadly, turns out to be a simulation of someone who's been dead for four hundred years.

I don't mind low-stakes character building episodes like this, but that said, it seems odd to get two Gordon-centric episodes in a row like this. He was the focus last week in Blood Of Patriots as well. As much as I've grown to love this show, I do wish MacFarlane would learn to space out episodes like this a bit better.

The main theme this week is remembrance, and the cold hard truth that the vast majority of us all will eventually be forgotten. This hit particularly close to home for me, as I was thinking about this very topic recently. All four of my grandparents died years ago, and while I loved them all very much, even I have to admit they lived uneventful lives. It occurred to me that I'm one of the few people left on Earth who remembers them at all. When I'm gone, they'll be forgotten forever, as if they never existed. The only proof they were ever here are some numbers on their tombstones. Not a very satisfying legacy.

I'm amazed that a show that started out as a parody has evolved into such a thought-provoking and moving series.

Lasting Impressions is a sweet little relationship story, but it also features a minor cautionary subplot on the dangers of addiction in this case becoming obsessed with social media and unrequited love. Now that I think about it, it's pretty similar to Primal Urges (the one where Bortus is addicted to porn). In fact, it uses the same addiction theme TWICE in the same episode! Gordon can't stop seeing a holographic woman, and Bortus & Klyden get hooked on cigarettes! Odd.

Lastly, the series is taking a goddamned THREE WEEK hiatus after this episode. Jesus Jetskiing Christ! I HATE this one week on, three (or more) week off crap! And it's not just The Orville doing it either The Flash is taking off two or three weeks as well, and Legends Of Tomorrow just came back after a frakin' FOUR MONTH break!

In addition to being frustrating, these breaks can't be helping the ratings any. How can The Orville build up any momentum, with a randomized schedule like this? How's it supposed to build an audience when it's never on? These breaks are detrimental, and make me worry about the future of the series. Hopefully Fox takes these breaks into consideration when it looks at the ratings.


The Plot:
The crew meets with Dr. Sherman, an archaeologist who's just discovered a time capsule from 2015 in Albany, New York. The Orville's been assigned to transport Sherman and the capsule to a museum o Delta Pavonis. Sherman excitedly shows off the ancient artifacts inside the capsule to the crew.

Gordon picks up an iPhone and wonders what it is. Dr. Sherman explains that it was a communication device, but unfortunately he can't activate it. John offers to try and get it working. Bortus sees a pack of cigarettes and asks what they are. Dr. Finn pipes up and explains that cigarettes were a health hazard, as well as dangerously addictive. Bortus sniffs one of the cigs and says the odor's very interesting (uh-oh!).

Down in Engineering, John attempts to activate the cell phone. After a few attempts it finally powers up, but the keypad won't respond. Yaphit suggests turning it off and on again, which works! Gordon (who's there for no good reason) scrolls through hundreds of text messages on the phone, amazed at seeing casual chitchat four hundred years old.

Gordon pushes a button and plays a message from Laura Huggins, the owner of the phone. She explains that she stuck her old phone in the time capsule, and says to enjoy this peek into the life of someone who's been dead for four hundred years. Gordon seems mesmerized by her.

Dr. Sherman's delighted that John was able to activate the phone, saying it'll help give context to the other artifacts in the capsule. Gordon tells Sherman he's been reading Laura's texts, and she seemed like she'd have been "a cool person to know." Sherman's called away to meet with Kelly, leaving Gordon alone with the phone. Suddenly he gets an idea.

Meanwhile, Bortus orders a cigarette from the Synthesizer. Klyden sees it, picks it up and eats it. Bortus tells him it's not for eating, but for smoking. He orders two more, and lights them with a blaster (!). He and Klyden then inhale deeply. They're instantly hit by a nicotine rush, and Klyden comments that he's never experienced anything like it before. Bortus agrees, and immediately orders FIVE HUNDRED more!

Gordon takes the phone to the Environmental Simulator, and asks the computer to upload the contents. He then asks if it can analyze all of Laura's data and extrapolate a simulation of her. The computer dweedles for a few seconds, and announces it's done. Gordon runs the program, and finds himself in a recreation of a party in Laura's apartment.

Gordon weaves his way through the simulated crowd and into the kitchen, where he spots Laura. She greets Gordon, thinking he's a friend of a friend. He goes along with it and introduces himself. She comments on his uniform, and he covers by saying he lost a bet and had to wear his pajamas.

Laura gives him a tour of the apartment, and the two flirt a bit. She asks what he does for a living, and tells her he's a "pilot." She's mightily impressed by this, saying she's just a salesperson at Macy's. She says her dream is to become a singer, and she invites Gordon to an upcoming gig at a local bar. He tells her he'll be there.

Later on, Gordon gushes to John about Laura and how real she seemed. He says he never thought about people in the past before, but this simulation made him realize they had real lives that mattered. John says that's great and all, but cautions him not to get too caught up in all this. He reminds Gordon that Laura's been dead for four hundred years.

Elsewhere, Talla calls Kelly to the Bridge. Once there, Kelly sees Bortus sitting in the command chair, puffing up a storm and filling the Bridge with noxious cigarette smoke. She tells Bortus to knock off early for the day, and assures Talla that she and Ed will talk with him.

Gordon, now dressed in casual clothes, resumes the Laura simulation. He enters a bar, where Laura's onstage playing guitar and singing. He's enraptured by her voice, and applauds enthusiastically when she's done. After her set, he tells her she could be a big success if the right person heard her sing. She laughs it off, knowing it'll never happen. She mentions that she'd like to be remembered for something though, as most people are forgotten after they die.

For some reason Gordon asks about Laura's previous relationship. She says his name was Greg, and she broke up with because he refused to act like an adult. She then invites Gordon to game night at her place, and tells him to bring his friends along too. She gives him her number, and he realizes he doesn't have a number of his own. He fumbles an excuse and says he'll text it to her later.

Later in his quarters, Gordon has the computer synthesize a cell phone of his own. He uses it to text Laura his number (more on THAT below!).

In a staff meeting the next day, Gordon invites Mercer and the others to Laura's game night. Thy're puzzled, wondering who Laura is. Gordon explains that she's a simulation from the past that he's been spending time with. They hesitantly agree to go. Once Gordon's gone, the others worry about Gordon's new obsession.

Mercer and Kelly then go to Bortus' quarters to discuss his smoking. As they enter, they see him and Klyden frantically chain smoking. Mercer tells them they have a serious problem and orders them to Sickbay.

Claire examines the two, and discovers that Moclans are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction. She says if they don't quit immediately, they'll never be able to stop. Bortus asks if she can give them an injection to make them quit, but Claire says no one's smoked in hundreds of years, so it'll take some time and research to come up with one. In the meantime, she offers to let Topa stay with her family for his own safety.

That night Mercer, Kelly, John and Talla accompany Gordon to game night at Laura's house. The group plays Pictionary, and discover Gordon's particularly bad at it. Mercer notes how late it is, so he and the others can get the hell out of there. Gordon stays, and Laura asks him if he can help her get over her fear of flying. He explains turbulence to her, and assures her it's nothing to be scared of. She kisses him.

The next morning we see Gordon and Laura lying in bed. Kelly pages him, saying he's late for his shift. Gordon panics and tells the computer to save the simulation and end it. Laura's apartment— including her bed— immediately vanishes, causing him to fall to the floor.

Gordon hurriedly dresses and runs to the Bridge, apologizing as he takes his post. Kelly tells him not to let it happen again. Just then everyone becomes aware of Bortus, who's loudly chewing gum. Mercer asks what he's doing, and Bortus says he read that gum helps stop nicotine addiction. Mercer asks if it's working, and Bortus admits it's not.

Just then Gordon gets a call from Laura on his cell phone (???). He tells her he's at work and can't talk, and makes kissy noises to her. Mercer and Kelly overhear and exchange worried glances.

Later in the Mess Hall, Mercer, Kelly, Talla and John discuss the Gordon situation. They consider blocking the Laura program to curb his obsession. Just then Gordon walks up, asking what they all think of Laura. They tell him she seemed like a nice person, back when she was alive. They remind him that this holographic version of her isn't real. Gordon disagrees, saying that no one wrote her program— it was created from her thoughts and info stored on her phone. He claims she's as every bit as real as Isaac. When they point out that Isaac is sentient, Gordon asks how they can really know that.

Mercer says the universe is governed by truth, not perception. Gordon takes offense, wondering why it was OK for Mercer to date a Krill in disguise, but he's not allowed to be happy with a hologram. Mercer points out that Teleya lied to him— he didn't lie to himself. Gordon angrily returns to his post.

Meanwhile, Bortus looks for Klyden and finally finds him hiding in an airlock, smoking. They return to their quarters, where Bortus accuses Klyden of not being committed to quitting. Just then Klyden spots a cigarette that Bortus tried to hide. He says Bortus doesn't seem to be trying to quit either, and demands to know where he's hiding his other smokes. Bortus begins going around their quarters, pulling cigarettes from various hiding places. He finally picks up a pillow and unzips it, causing hundreds of cigs to spill out. They both announce they're going to watch each other even more closely from now on.

Gordon goes back to the Simulator to see Laura. Unfortunately when he walks in, she's talking and holding hands with Greg, her ex. Laura looks surprised to see him, and Greg excuses himself so the two can talk. Laura tells Gordon that she doesn't want to hurt him, but she's decided to give Greg another chance. Of course she says she hopes they can still be friends.

Cut to Gordon telling John about Laura. He says he should have seen it coming, because the fact that she eventually got back together with Greg is all there in her text history. John says it's for the best, reminding Gordon once again that Laura's been dead for hundreds of years and he's in love with a fantasy.

Gordon returns to the Simulator, but before he enters, he tells the computer to delete Greg from the program. He enters and finds himself inside Macy's, where Laura works. She excitedly tells him she's up for a promotion, and suggests they take a romantic trip together on one of his "flights." He agrees, but only if he gets to sing a duet with her at the bar.

Laura's taken aback at this, saying there's no way she could ever sing in public. Gordon pauses the simulation and asks the computer what the hell's going on. It replies that data has been deleted, which has changed the nature of the simulation. By removing Greg, Laura isn't the same person.

Sometime later, Gordon sits in his quarters thumbing through photos on Laura's phone. Kelly enters, and he tells her that Greg was the one who encouraged Laura to sing. Without him, she never tried and remained a sales clerk. Kelly says that everyone's shaped by their relationships, and points out that if Mercer were removed from the equation, none of them would even be here right now.

Gordon says he's worried he'll never meet someone real who made him feel like Laura did, and he's gonna miss her. Kelly says most people are forgotten after they die, but Laura reached across four centuries and caused someone to fall in love with her. She says we should all be so rare.

Elsewhere, Bortus and Klyden are angrily eating, still in the throes of nicotine withdrawal. Klyden says he can't take it anymore, and starts to synthesize another cigarette. Bortus stops him, and a violent brawl soon breaks out. They smash through their dining room table just as Claire enters with the nicotine antidote. She asks which one wants to go first, and they both raise their hands.

Gordon returns to the Simulator (after adding Greg back to the program), and enters the bar. He walks up on stage and sings a heartfelt duet with Laura. Afterwards, Laura hugs Greg, who was in the audience. Gordon tells Laura he's leaving, as he's "accepted a job across the country." She's sad to see him go, and says she hopes he doesn't forget her. Gordon assures her that won't happen.

Before he leaves, Laura has Greg take a photo of her and Gordon on her phone. She says she's planning on putting the phone in a time capsule next week, and hopes someone a thousand years from now finds it and sees what kind of person she was.

We see the photo of the two as the screen fades to black.

Next week: Well, there ain't no next week, as the series is taking a THREE WEEK hiatus. Have I mentioned how much I hate these goddamned forced breaks?


• First things first: Last week in Blood Of Patriots, Gordon said the following to Mercer: "Dude, you can always count on me. That's never gonna change. You're my best friend. Nobody's ever gonna come along and mess it up, I swear. I mean, maybe, like, a really hot girl, but other than that, it's rock-solid."

At the time I thought that sounded like some pretty obvious foreshadowing.

Well, guess what? In this week's episode, Gordon meets a really hot girl (OK, technically she's a hologram) and guess what— she causes a fight between he and Mercer! Told you!

• The episode begins with a shot of items unearthed from a time capsule buried on Earth in 2015.

From left to right, the items are: 
— A 5 Hour Energy drink
— A can of Coke
— A fluorescent light bulb (Thank Thor those things went away! I bet someone tossed it in the capsule just to get rid of it!)
— A copy of Adele's 25 CD
— A can of Spam
— A Snickers candy bar
— A copy of Fifty Shades Of Grey (Shudder!)
— A pair of headphones (Beats, perhaps?)
— A bottle of red nail polish
— A pack of cigarettes (With no brand name, oddly enough)
— A bottle of ibuprofen
— A doctor's stethoscope
— What appears to be a tube of toothpaste (It says "White" on the label, but I can't read the rest)
— A dollar bill and change
— A copy of USA Today (Supposedly a prop and not a real issue)
— A Yankees cap
— A bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport sunscreen
— A bottle of Purell hand sanitizer

As the camera pans, we also see:
— A pair of flip-flops
— A birthday card
— A toy car
— A box of Double Stuff Oreos
— An X-Men t-shirt (Because Fox)
— A Fitbit on a clear base
— A pair of reading glasses and a pair of sunglasses
— A takeout pizza menu

Not shown in this image:
— A restaurant menu for The Hungry Diner (An actual restaurant located in Walpole, New Hampshire, which is a couple hours away from Laura's hometown of Saratoga Springs)
— A copy of Minecraft for the XBox 360
— A copy of US Weekly magazine

For some reason, the crew seems oddly clueless about most of these artifacts. That's strange, considering they're usually extremely well-versed in 20th and 21st Century pop culture.

For example, Gordon picks up Laura's cell phone and asks what it is. C'mon, given how deeply he's steeped in archaic pop culture, there's no way he wouldn't recognize a phone. Heck, current cell phones don't look all that different from the Orville's communicators!

• In a similar vein, the first time I saw the episode I wondered how the crew could be completely unfamiliar with the cigarettes in the time capsule.

This was particularly strange when you consider the fact that many of them (like John and Ensign Turco in particular) routinely smoke marijuana. It's implied the others do as well.

After watching the time capsule scene a few times, I realized that that the only ones unfamiliar with cigarettes and smoking are the alien officers. Bortus doesn't even recognize a cig when he sees one, while Talla wonders why anyone would deliberately inhale smoke.

The human members of the crew ask what they are because even though they don't puff away on cigarettes, they're familiar with the concept of smoking in general.

• We know the year the time capsule was buried, but there's no way to know the exact date. We get a possible clue from Laura's phone though. When John successfully powers it up, her phone thinks it's Saturday, March 21st, 2015. So it had to be buried shortly before then. 

If that's true, then the Adele CD shouldn't be there, as 25 wasn't released until November 20, 2015. Whoops!

Am I bothered by this admittedly minor discrepancy? Nope! Do I really expect the production team to be this thorough? Of course not. I just like checking stuff like this.

• Tim Russ plays Dr. Sherman, finder of the capsule. Russ also played Vulcan Science Officer Tuvok over on Star Trek: Voyager. Good to see him onscreen again. It's been a while!

• By all means Orville crew, feel free to grab these priceless, four hundred year old relics and manhandle them to your heart's content.

I'm honestly surprised that Dr. Sherman's hair didn't fly off here, as he shrieked at them to stop pawing at these ancient artifacts.

• Presented for your viewing pleasure: Isaac's one and only appearance in this episode. He's literally onscreen for under three seconds.

I'm assuming the writers are deliberately having him lay low for a bit after the Identity two-parter. Once again, I wonder if that's even Mark Jackson in the costume? Would they make him go through the trouble of suiting up for two seconds of screen time?

• When Laura's phone is reactivated, it apparently thinks the date is Saturday, March 21, 2015. I'm assuming the phone probably can't find a wi-fi signal, so it's just displaying the last known date?

And yes, I checked and March 21, 2015 did indeed fall on a Saturday. Also note that this episode first aired on March 21, 2019.

Gordon scrolls through Laura's text messages. Note that there's one from somebody named "Grayson." An ancestor of Kelly, perhaps?

For some reason the producers on the show like sneaking that name into episodes. It popped up in Deflectors as well.

• Once John gets the phone up and running, Dr. Sherman reads Laura's texts, fascinated by this priceless glimpse into the past. He says, "Look at this. She's clearly asking her friend where to find the nearest repair service for her device, but instead of writing "wireless telecommunications facility," she just wrote "WTF.' Now, we can decode things like this by applying historical context.

On the surface this is just a "What The F*ck" joke, but there's an extra level here. Wireless Telecommunication Facilities really are labeled "WTF!" Dr. Sherman obviously doesn't understand 21st Century leetspeak, but he's not wrong about the definition!

• Dr. Sherman calls the info on Laura's phone a "treasure trove," and says it's a look at an actual human life, nearly 400 years gone. He says it'll take at least ten years to analyze all the data.

While Sherman's fumbling around trying to piece together a picture of the past from ancient texts, Gordon (of all people) uses the Simulator to create a highly accurate recreation of 21st Century life in thirty seconds.

I wonder if Gordon handed over his Laura Alpha program to Dr. Sherman once he was done with it? Think how much time it would save Sherman, and how much more he'd learn with it!

And how come a smartypants professor like Dr. Sherman didn't think to do this himself?

• Over in the B-plot, Bortus orders a couple of cigarettes from the Synthesizer so he and Klyden can try smoking. Incredibly, Bortus lights their cigs with a blaster, rather than simply synthesizing a lighter like a sane being.

Let's hope that blaster's got an extreeeeeeemely low power setting, else he's gonna blow Kylden's head clean off!

• Somehow Bortus and Klyden immediately know to hold their cigarettes between their index and middle fingers! Just like two old smoking pros!

• Bortus and Klyden decide they like smoking so much they order up 500 more cigarettes from the Synthesizer. Yet for some reason, only 464 appear (Yes, I counted them, because I'm insane). Looks like it's time for a Level 1 diagnostic, because something's seriously wrong with the ship's systems!

• Nothing to say here, I just think it's funny to see a couple of aliens puffing away as they enjoy their smokes.

• So the Orville's mission in this episode is to ferry Dr. Sherman and his time capsule to a museum on Delta Pavonis. Is there any reason why the ship pokes along at sub-light speed for the entire trip? All through the episode, every time we see a beauty shot of the Orville, the stars are stationary, rather than streaking past like they do at quantum speed. It'll take years to get to the museum at that rate!

• After Gordon and Laura meet at her party, she invites him to her gig at a local bar. Gordon returns the next day to see her perform. The song she sings, titled That's All I've Got To Say, first appeared in the 1982 animated movie The Last Unicorn. It was written by Jimmy Webb, and originally performed by America.

• Laura gives Gordon her phone number and asks for his. He fumbles an excuse, saying he left his at home. Later he goes to the Synthesizer and orders up "an old Earth-style phone."

I love Gordon's look of abject disgust when the Synthesizer conjures up a 1950s rotary landline phone. It's such an odd reaction!

• After he finally manages to synthesize a cell phone, Gordon texts his number to Laura. A few seconds later she texts him back. And a couple scenes after this, she actually calls his new phone and the two of them chat! There's a lot to unpack here.

First of all, Gordon's phone clearly has two bars of reception, along with a wi-fi signal (!). OK, it's not unreasonable to assume that the Orville comes equipped with some sort of wireless network. But it's unlikely that a four hundred year old device would be able to recognize or connect to it.

On the other hand, it's possible that the computer realized Gordon wanted a functioning phone, so it did a little bit of modification and synthesized one that was compatible with the ship's systems. So I'll give 'em this one.

Secondly, Laura's from Saratoga Springs, New York, and her phone number has an 838 area code. That's the actual areal code for Saratoga Springs! Welllll, sort of. The city originally had a 518 area code, and the 838 one was added in 2017 two years AFTER Laura put her phone in the time capsule. Whoops!

Lastly, how the hell can Laura text and call Gordon when he's outside the Environmental Simulator? We clearly see him shut down the Laura Alpha program whenever he exits. She shouldn't "exist" when the program's off.

Eh, it's not that big a stretch. Computers will no doubt be a million times more advanced in the 25th Century. The Orville's computer can probably set aside a tiny portion of its vast memory capacity to run the Laura Alpha program in the background, even when the Simulator's inactive. It would be a simple matter for it to fabricate a text and send it to Gordon's phone. Or recreate her voice in a phone call.

• Gordon invites the senior staff to game night at Laura's place (inside the Simulator, of course). They're puzzled, but agree to go. Note that they all dress in 21st Century clothing, presumably so they don't confuse the holographic characters in the simulation.

Check out Talla there on the right. Is it just me, or is she dressed a lot like Meg Griffin of Family Guy (except infinitely hotter)?

• At Laura's game night, the group plays PictionaryUnfortunately Gordon's not a very good artist, as his team guesses his drawing is "Cereal Man" rather than "Caesar Salad." I have to agree with them, as I see a bowl of cereal as well.

• Mercer and the other senior staff are underwhelmed by game night. Looking for an excuse to leave, Mercer says it's 2300 hours and he has to get up early. Tricia asks if military time is a "hipster thing," and Mercer snaps that it's not.

Apparently Mercer's been boning up on his military time. Back in If The Stars Should Appear, he didn't know that 1300 hours is 1 pm!

• Once her guests leave, Laura and Gordon have the following conversation:

Laura: "Oh, your friends are great. I really liked 'em."

Gordon: "Oh, man, they totally dug you. I could tell."
Laura: "Oh, yeah? Even though we burned their asses at Pictionary?"
Gordon: "Yeah, well, you did most of the heavy lifting there. Sorry again about the Dick Van Dyke one. I- I didn't know who he was, so I was just working with what I had."
Laura: "It's all right. Everyone was fine."

The joke here's similar to one that appeared in the Family Guy episode PTV, in which the FCC goes crazy and starts censoring parts of shows that were previously deemed OK. In one bit the FCC even censors and bleeps the title of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

• After game night's over Gordon ends up spending the night with Laura (!!!). The next morning he oversleeps, and an irate Kelly pages him to inform him he's late for his duty shift. Without thinking, Gordon orders the computer to end the simulation, and he unceremoniously plops to the floor.

YES! It's about time! At long last, someone's thought about what happens when a holodeck, er, I mean Simulator program is ended. Over on the various Trek series, many's the time the crews would be in their respective holodecks, sitting in simulated cockpits or at holographic tables. Someone would order the computer to end the program, and the simulation would vanish as the crewmembers would magically be standing (See the TNG episode A Matter Of Perspective for a prime example).

I've always wanted to see a scene exactly like this one, where someone forgets they're not sitting on a real piece of furniture when they end a program.

• Something I never thought about before— Moclans apparently don't have surnames. Bortus searches his quarters for Klyden, but can't find him. He then asks the computer, "Where's Klyden?" If they had last names, surely he'd have said, "Locate Klyden Zorkberg" or something like that.

On the other hand, it's unlikely there's more than one person named "Klyden" onboard, so who knows? Maybe they do have surnames after all.

• Bortus searches the ship for Klyden, and finally finds him sneaking a smoke in an airlock.

It's a funny scene until you realize that's likely the same airlock the Orange Shirt Ensign was blasted out of in Identity, Part 2!

• My favorite scene of the episode: Klyden accuses Bortus of stashing smokes in their quarters. He eventually owns up to it, and reveals his various hiding places— with attitude, of course.

• Hidden Talents Department: Kelly can cross one eye at a time! I'm assuming MacFarlane wrote this scene into his script after seeing Adrianne Palicki do it during down time on the set.

• Say what you will about Laura's ex Greg, but at the least he knows how to take a cell phone photo— HORIZONTALLY!

• The episode ends with a closeup of the photo of Gordon and Laura taken by Greg. Many fans have said they expected the camera to zoom out, revealing the photo actually existed on Laura's phone in the real world.

That'd tie up the plot in a nice little bow, but it wouldn't make much sense. Remember, Greg didn't take the photo with Laura's REAL phone
— he shot it with a holographic version inside the Simulator! The camera Greg used doesn't really exist!

On the other hand, it's not entirely out of the question for the photo to appear on Laura's real phone. When the photo was taken on the holographic camera, the computer could have easily beamed it to Laura's phone in the real world. A bit of a stretch though.

This Week's Best Lines: 
John: (trying to reactivate Laura's cell phone) "I've accessed the data, but the keypad's not responding."
Yaphit: "Just a crazy idea: try turning it off and turning it back on again."
(Looks like Yaphit's a fan of The IT Crowd!)

(Once the phone's activated, Gordon plays a video recorded by Laura in 2015.)
Laura: "Hey, what's up, future people? Hi. I'm Laura Huggins. And, uh, if you're seeing this, you found my phone. So I'm from Saratoga Springs, New York, and some people in my town had this idea to make a time capsule. And I thought this was a really cool thing to do, and I was trying to think of what I could put in there that would show the future something about who I am. And since I just got the new iPhone, I thought, instead of sticking my old one in a drawer somewhere, I'd put it in the capsule. So here I am. Here you are. And since I'm probably long dead by now, you can read all my texts and e-mails and look at all my pictures and decide whether you think I was, I don't know, cool or a bitch or whatever. Anyway, I hope you guys have, like, flying cars or something by now, and if you do, I'm super jealous. And I'm really sorry I'm not there to hang with you guys. Um, but hey. Have fun getting to know who I was."

Klyden: (after smoking for the first time) "The sensation is wonderful.'

Bortus: "I have never experienced such a flavor."
Klyden: "I feel as if I have been standing my entire life, and I just sat down."

Laura: (seeing Gordon in his Union uniform) "Are those pajamas, or are you a NASCAR driver?"

Trisha: "Oh. Wait. Let me guess. Are you in a marching band?"
Gordon: "I lost a bet with Lorenzo, so I had to come here in m-my pajamas."
Laura: "That sounds like Lorenzo."
Trisha: "Yep. That's Lorenzo."
Gordon: "I know. It's so Lorenzo, right? He he's such a tool."
Laura: "Oh, but he's the best, though."
Gordon: "The best tool. The best. Don't you forget it."

Laura: (discussing her ex Greg) "We were together nine years."

Gordon: "Wow. I've never even owned a shirt that long."

Gordon: "We look at these images of people who lived hundreds of years ago, and they're so distant-looking that it's easy to think that they don't matter. But then you stand in a room like that, and you realize this used to be their world. And it was just as alive to them as ours is to us."

(Mercer and Kelly read a copy of USA Today from the time capsule.)

Mercer: "God. They were on the verge of a major climate disaster, and there's a whole page about teeth whitening."
Kelly: "It's a miracle the human race survived."

Laura: "Every time I'm up there, I have this fantasy about some big record exec watching me from the crowd and signing me on the spot. Then I get to call my boss and say, 'Stick your designer handbags up your butt. I quit!' 

Gordon: "That's beautiful."

Laura: "No, more important than that, I just think it would be nice to be remembered for something. You know? I mean, we all live and die on this planet, and most of us are just forgotten. To me, there's nothing sadder about the world than that."

Karl: "Uh, uh It's a cereal man! Hello? Is it a Is it cereal man? It's a man who likes cereal. Cereal man!"

Laura: "Karl, what the hell is a cereal man?"
Karl: "I don't know. That!"
John: "And time."
Gordon: "It was Julius Caesar!" 
Laura & Karl: "What?"
Gordon: "Yeah, see, this is the laurel around his head."
Laura: "Gordon, that just looks like hair."
Karl: "What was the cereal?"
Gordon: "It's a Caesar salad."
Laura: "Yeah. See, no, you can't draw."
Gordon: "Oh, come on!"
Trisha: "A salad doesn't have tiny little flakes like that. They're bigger."
Gordon: "A Cobb salad does."
Laura: "What the hell does a Cobb salad have to do with Julius Caesar?"

Mercer: "Bortus, what are you eating?"

Bortus: "I apologize, Captain. Am I disturbing you?"
Mercer: "No, I'm just curious."
Bortus: "It is called gum. According to the ship's database, it was once used as an addiction recovery aid."
Kelly: "Is it helping?"
Bortus: "It is not."

(Mercer and the others tell Gordon that his relationship with Laura isn't healthy.)

Gordon: "Why? Because she's technically not flesh and blood, she can't be real? I mean, what does that say about Isaac?"
Talla: "Isaac is self-aware."
Gordon: "Is he? Do we really know that? Or is he just so sophisticated that he can fool us all? And, if so, wh-what does it matter? He seems real. We treat him that way. So, in our world, he is."
Mercer: "The universe is not governed by individual perception. It matters what's true.
(Gordon may not realize it, but he just described the Turing Test, which was designed to determine if a machine could appear human or even think.)

John: "I know how you're feeling right now."

Gordon: "Do you?"
John: "No. No, actually I don't. I've never been dumped. Even the worst breakup I ever had, the girl was like, 'You could still come over and have sex with me whenever you want.' But but I can imagine, and it sucks."

Kelly: (trying to comfort Gordon) "People have been living and dying for as long as humans have existed. Most are forgotten but not this one. She reached across four centuries and got a guy to fall in love. We should all be so rare."

Laura: "Oh, hey, we have to take a picture before my phone goes in the capsule."

Gordon: "Capsule?"
Laura: "Yeah, they're burying a time capsule next week, and I decided to put my phone in the mix. Figure, I don't know, maybe someone'll dig it up in a thousand years, learn who I was."
Gordon: "Hey, you never know. Could even be sooner than that."

• This Week's Incongruous 21st Century (And Earlier!) References:
Technically the bulk of the episode is one huge 21st Century reference! Most of it takes place inside a simulation of 2015, and Bortus and Klyden take up smoking.

This Week's Star Trek Swipes:

There's nothing in the actual plot that's similar to anything in Trek. But the crewmembers of the various series have fallen for holographic characters before.

In the TNG episode 11001001, Commander Riker falls in love with a sophisticated holodeck character named Minuet. She was created by a technologically advanced race called the Bynars, in order to distract Riker long enough for them to hijack the Enterprise-D. Riker gushed about how real Minuet seemed to him— much like Gordon did when talking about Laura in this episode.

A few seasons later in the TNG episode Booby Trap, the Enterprise-D was caught in a deadly power-dampening field. In order to come up with a way out of the trap, Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge went to the holodeck and recreated the propulsion lab that created the ship's engines. This recreation included Dr. Leah Brahms, the head of the project. After working with the holographic version of Leah, Geordi found himself falling in love with her.


  1. By a bizarre coincidence I happen to be from the town of Walpole NH, and a long time reader of your blog. Walpole is a very very small town in New England and fairly obscure, and The Hungry Diner is a brand new (and struggling) restaurant that just opened in the last year or two.

    How in the heck a menu from that tiny restaurant in the middle of nowhere ended up on national TV I have no idea. Maybe MacFarlane or another writer happened to pass through town? Seems unlikely but small world I guess!

  2. Funny! MacFarlane's from Connecticut, so who knows? Maybe he's got family in New Hampshire and passed through Walpole! Thanks for reading!

  3. I emailed the folks at the diner about this find, only to figure out that the place only opened in 2017... So looks like there's another oops moment in the time capsule XD

    Love your blog, always happy to support!

  4. Ha ha! Well, maybe Dr. Sherman was confused about that 2015 date. After all, it was 400 years ago.


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