The first picture is of Seth MacFarlane (creator of The Orville) in Star Trek, highlighted and obscured by a question mark.
Besides the story of transmissions being encrypted, the title and flavortext also try several times to suggest that transmissions are happening again, similar to some earlier time but not exactly the same. ("Altered", "again", "seen these before".)
The main set of pictures is Star Trek screenshots. Their order is not identifiable, so it should be concluded that this is the extraction order.
With each picture is a string of letters, which is a Playfair encryption (Flavor mentions "Play … Fair"). If you decrypt with the title of the Star Trek episode, you get a question asking what episode of X has a certain plot, and the plot actually describes the same Star Trek episode. However, it also describes an episode of The Orville.
Find the Orville episode for each Star Trek episode. There have been 26 episodes of The Orville, so each episode translates to a letter. Further flavortext clues relevant to extraction:
|The dates don't matter.||Stardates and airdates are not part of the puzzle.|
|or even whether it was spring or summer.||When extracting via Orville episode, the season does not matter...|
|Just get an absolute position.||… just the absolute position of the episode within the entire run.|
Reading off those letters in the order of the pictures provided will spell FORD CALLED IT BUNK, to which the answer is HISTORY.
Here are the IDs, decryptions, and Orville episodes:
|Trek Episode||Trivia Description||Orville Episode Title||Orville Episode #||Letter|
|FACE OF THE ENEMY||What episode of X has our crew disguised as an enemy race||KRILL||6||F|
|PRODIGAL DAUGHTER||In what episode of X does family at home have its own independent drama||HOME||15||O|
|IN THEORY||The robot tries dating in what episode of X||A HAPPY REFRAIN||19||R|
|FOR THE WORLD IS HOLLOW AND I HAVE TOUCHED THE SKY||What episode of X has aliens who do not know they live on a shipt||IF THE STARS SHOULD APPEAR||4||D|
|THE OUTCAST||What episode of X has a trial for gender rights||ABOUT A GIRL||3||C|
|ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT||We pick up the brand new first officer en route in what episode of X||OLD WOUNDS||1||A|
|WHO WATCHES THE WATCHERS||Our crew member gets worshipped as a deity in which episode of X||MAD IDOLATRY||12||L|
|BLINK OF AN EYE||What episode of X has a planet where time passes quickly||MAD IDOLATRY||12||L|
|A MATTER OF TIME||We meet a mysterious time traveler in which episode of X||PRIA||5||E|
|THE RETURN OF THE ARCHONS||Which episode of X has aliens with a stagnant culture||IF THE STARS SHOULD APPEAR||4||D|
|FASCINATION||Pheremones cause trysts in which episode of X||CUPIDS DAGGER||9||I|
|DESCENT||The robot turns evil in what part one episode of X||IDENTITY||20||T|
|THE MENAGERIE||Humans are a zoo exhibit in what episode of X||COMMAND PERFORMANCE||2||B|
|DESCENT PART II||In what part II episode of X does that robot turn good once more||IDENTITY PT II||21||U|
|CONTAGION||Which episode of X has a computer virus||PRIMAL URGES||14||N|
|THE LOSS||What episode of X has two-dimensional space||NEW DIMENSIONS||11||K|
Note: conveniently enough, ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT and ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT, PART I give the same playfair cipher.