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The Orville’s Isaac Does What Data Never Could

Isaac gets married in The Orville’s season 3 finale, something Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data was unable to do before his death in Nemesis.

Warning! SPOILERS for The Orville, season 3, episode 10 “Future Unknown”

The Orville season 3 finale sees android Isaac (Mark Jackson) do something that Star Trek‘s Data (Brent Spiner) never could. Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi comedy-drama is both a loving homage to and thematic modernization of 1990s Star Trek. The most obvious touchstone for The Orville is Star Trek: The Next Generation and the crew of the titular ship is made up of a number of analogs to those classic characters.

As an artificial lifeform, Isaac is the closest analog to TNG‘s Data and is similarly curious about human emotions and customs. The Orville‘s season 3 finale, “Future Unknown,” is very similar to Star Trek: The Next Generation season 4, episode 11 “Data’s Day,” in which the Enterprise android observes the wedding of Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Keiko (Rosalind Chao). The Orville updates TNG’s android story by having Isaac marry his on-off romantic partner Doctor Finn (Penny Johnson-Jerald) rather than just observing another couple’s wedding.

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Isaac’s marriage proposal addresses Data’s own concerns about committing to marriage in “Data’s Day.” When Claire challenges Isaac on the fact that, as an organic lifeform, she has a finite lifespan, the android promises to continue to be a part of Claire’s family for generations to come. It’s this romantic idea that finally convinces Claire to take his proposal seriously, showing that Data could have been capable of making the same promise if he’d met the right person. Unfortunately, Data sacrificed himself to save the life of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis before he had a chance to seriously pursue a romantic relationship.


Isaac’s Orville Story Succeeds Where Star Trek: Nemesis Failed

Isaac and Claire get married in The Orville season 3 finale

The Orville season 3 ends with a wedding, while the final TNG movie, Star Trek: Nemesis begins with one. Isaac and Claire’s wedding is the happy ending to season 3’s Kaylon war arc, one that beautifully ties up Isaac’s own character arc. Throughout The Orville season 3, he’s faced bullying and prejudice from members of the crew for being Kaylon, despite how he saved everyone’s lives. For him to marry Claire, while having Gordon (Scott Grimes) and Bortus (Peter Macon) compete to be his Best Man, shows that he’s finally been accepted back into the crew on all levels.

He hasn’t even had to become more human to gain this acceptance, he’s used his skills and Kaylon roots to help the Union end the war. Isaac and Claire’s romance acts as the final stage in this peace process between the Union and the Kaylons and allows Isaac to stay true to his roots. Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data sought to be “more than I am,” essentially chasing a more human ideal. Ultimately, this led to him being seduced by the Borg Queen and caused him to heroically sacrifice himself to save the life of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), only to be replaced by an inferior version of himself, that tragically undid all of his learning. Isaac may become more human by adopting his holographic human shell during his wedding, but The Orville doesn’t negate Isaac’s synthetic origins.


If anything, Isaac now being married will give him further interesting stories to tell in The Orville season 4. If, however, The Orville isn’t recommissioned, then the wedding acts as a satisfying and happy ending to Isaac’s character arc. Like Data, he’s struggled to find his place on the ship, something made harder by the war with his own people. The love and support for his union with Claire, and the presence of the Kaylon delegation at his wedding show him that he is accepted on both sides. Data was loved and accepted by the crew of the Enterprise too and the audience didn’t need Star Trek: Nemesis’ heroic sacrifice and mourning friends to see this.


NEXT: The Orville Can Now Perfectly Copy The Star Trek: TOS Crew’s Return

All episodes of The Orville season 3 are streaming now on Hulu.

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