** WARNING: This recap contains spoilers for this season of The Orville. **
The third season of The Orville (officially titled The Orville: New Horizons) has wrapped and has also made itself a new home on Hulu (and additionally Disney+). The Seth MacFarlane-helmed series follows the titular ship as it travels through the galaxy in the 25th century for the Planetary Union. The show stars MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J Lee, Mark Jackson, and Jessica Szohr. Anne Winters joined the crew this season as Ensign Charly Burke as secondary navigator. The ten-episode season aired weekly on Hulu starting on June 2, 2022, and finished its last episode on August 4. As of this writing, all episodes are available on both Hulu and Disney+ (Hulu is a subsidiary or the Walt Disney Corporation).
For this third season, I feel like the move to Hulu and the additional prep time due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave MacFarlane time to really flesh out a high-quality, potent season. I think people get worried when a series goes from one network or service to another however, sometimes, that’s the best thing for it (Supergirl leaped from CBS to the CW and ran for 6 total seasons successfully). Hulu seems to have given him the time and support to do with his show as he wanted. We saw fleshed-out, heavy combat, intricate set designs, and the addition of other races not yet seen in the show. Even just the addition of the Pterodon, the one-person fighter craft, was a welcome addition and shows potential for more small craft combat in possibly future seasons.
I have always been a huge fan of this show’s writing and how it will tackle very modern-day issues through that 25th-century lens. The first season episode, “Majority Rule,” has stuck with me on its views about social media and how public opinion can affect a person’s life. The New Horizons season definitely didn’t let up on the gas when it came to the stories. Several callbacks to previous episodes came up in mostly great execution (I’m looking at you, “Mortality Paradox”). Subject matter included gender identity, survivor guilt, suicide, and race relations. The execution of these storylines was exceptional, and I felt some of the best writing I’ve seen from a series this soon into its run. I can only hope that future seasons will keep up with this caliber of storytelling.
Season Retrospective **Spoiler TERRITORY**
Diving deeper into the season itself, I saw that the writers of The Orville decided to really expand on the races of the Union. Some of the biggest growth that I saw was with the Kaylon and the Moclans. The Kaylon backstory was portrayed excellently in “From Unknown Graves” through Timmis. We have seen a turn in the imagery of the Kaylon, not solely just machines bent on destroying all biological life. There is a deeper honor in them that comes out through the mission to stop the Krill and Moclans. In the sacrifice that is made on behalf of the Kaylon, they see that not all life wants to enslave machines. The newly created alliances between the Kaylon/Union and the Moclans/Krill, I believe, will make for some more battle-laden storytelling in future seasons.
Character development was a little more gradual except in the case of Isaac. For example, his life was literally in the hands of the crew, some of which didn’t care for him. In the end, his biggest opponent became someone that gave up their life for him. The growth that he made, personally and “emotionally”, was something that kept your attention. The way the season ended for him culminated in his marriage to Claire, including some interesting guests. Besides the Kaylon, it was a joy to see the return of Alara Kitan, former chief of security. Her return was beautiful and hopefully gave at least one fan hope to see her in future guest appearances. Other notable guests included Bruce Boxleitner, Dolly Parton, and Ted Danson.
The new season of The Orville took a direction that will keep its spark alive. The stories felt more like a journey and less like episodic television. Deepening our connection to the characters helped make the experience more heartfelt. Seth MacFarlane took his creation and grew it even better than before. With all hope, I will be looking forward to reviewing future seasons of The Orville.