As far as redemption arcs go, The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 9 manages a strong follow-through on the one it teed up on the premiere with Ensign Charly Burke.
Between developing a genocidal weapon and paying spiritual homage to A New Hope’s Rebel attack on the Deathstar, there is more than enough narrative material to flesh out a feature film. Still, it all fits into the brevity of a mere hour and eighteen minutes.
For Isaac to have the final speech at Burke’s memorial is a magnificent bookend to his own funeral on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 1, and including the pancake story she told him just before expressing her hate for him and all Kaylons was an especially elegant conclusion to their relationship.
Faithful readers will know that I’ve never been able to connect to Ensign Burke’s character or her internal conflict.
Her four-dimensional thinking ability seemed like a contrived effort to make her important, and her need to stoke her hatred for the Kaylon with the trauma of Amanda’s death was an incredibly unhealthy and needlessly toxic way to deal with her (legitimate) trauma.
But in her final moments, I found an admirable trait in her determination to complete her mission despite her personal feelings.
It’s a big one-eighty from advocating for wiping all Kaylons off the face of the galaxy, but that seems to be the point.
Mercer: It’s a fundamental tenet of Union philosophy that we don’t kill unless we have to. We didn’t have to.
Burke: I just hope those high-minded morals don’t kill us.
By giving her life to save the Kaylons, she creates a logical feedback loop for Kaylon Primary — similar to how the device creates a mechanical one in the matrix — that causes him to stop and re-evaluate.
The domino metaphor is fitting in both cases.
To be perfectly frank, I won’t mourn the character’s death, but I respect her sacrifice and acknowledge its significance. It’s very much the linchpin to the season’s long game.
(Regarding the Kaylon-killing device she and Isaac created, I would like to know if Timmis is also no longer part of the synchronization matrix. If he is — and is thus safe from the device’s effect — how was he able to provide the information they needed to invent it?)
This was a high body-count adventure. Besides Burke, the Orville lost several Pteradon squadron pilots, and the Union lost Admiral Perry.
(Also, many Moclans and Krill would’ve died when the quantum core overloaded, but, historically, we don’t look too closely at those casualties, do we? *cough*Yakar*cough*)
Moclan Ambassador: The Union imposes its values on other cultures while refusing to confront its own hypocrisy. A governance of elitist fools.
Chancellor Teleya: On that we agree.
Admiral Perry’s betrayal caught me off-guard. I suspected the officers who stole the device to be planted Krill operatives, not faithful officers following the admiral’s orders. Of course, they probably felt as he did about the device’s use.
Once Teleya had the weapon, his death was inevitable. Her waiting until he boarded his shuttle and headed out was the only surprise.
It’s interesting that the Moclans agree to the joint command with her. I can’t imagine they would allow a female Union commander to share power in the same way. Perhaps it indicates some masked anxiety at being expelled from the Union Council.
And, of course, the fact the ground team is composed entirely of female and Kaylon members is another poke in the eye at the Moclans’ misogyny.
Can we talk about how badass the Grayson and Keyali team-up is?
As we edge towards the season finale, I feel more and more confident that if a renewal comes through, we’ll see Grayson as the Orville’s captain or commanding her own ship.
Admiral Halsey hints at it on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 7 when he comments on making her charade as captain permanent.
Keep in mind that she could’ve been commanding her own ship this whole time but instead chose to be Mercer’s XO when he got the Orville’s command.
Grayson: You know, ever since we lost the Moclans, I’ve had this pit in my stomach about the Kaylon. Wondering how much time we have left. When are they coming for us? And now, it’s all over.
Dr. Finn: So what are we gonna stress about?
Grayson: Today? Hangovers.
Dr. Finn: Ugh. No kidding. It’s mornings like this I’m jealous of Talla.
Grayson: No liver?
Dr. Finn: Yep.
Grayson: Yeah, we were born on the wrong planet.
And Keyali’s been equal parts fun and fierce all season. Of all the core crew members, her consistent integrity and sense of right and wrong is an anchor in a sea of ship-board shenanigans.
We’re talking about exterminating an entire species. I can’t think of anything that runs more contrary to Union values.
While I assume her romantic relationship with LaMarr is benched until he develops a sturdier body, it’s still nice to see them shoulder-to-shoulder on the debate of whether or not to commit genocide.
As a penultimate episode, there’s a lot of finality to it.
We’ve laid Burke (and her plot device abilities) to rest.
The Moclans and Krill are settled into a military alliance. It may even be stronger now that Teleya is the Planetary Union’s prisoner. If her second-in-command is male, the Moclans may be happier.
For the Union to land in an alliance with the Kaylons in light of the new Krill-Moclan threat required a dramatic and meaningful reversal of perspective for Kaylons, a species not known for their flexible thinking.
Now that the idea that not all biological beings are like the Builders is accepted as verified data, it looks like the Kaylons are fully on Team Planetary Union.
Not without first making very Kaylon observations about the state of biological governance, but that’s to be expected.
Kaylon Primary: We have reviewed the organizational structure of your Council and its history of deliberations. What you call ‘representative democracy’ is a most inefficient form of governance.
Admiral Halsey: Maybe. But the one thing you can say for democracy is that all other forms of government are even worse. Over thousands of years and on countless planets, it’s the best system anyone’s ever come up with to ensure the strong don’t dominate the weak. At least not for long.
It occurs to me that the Moclan ire over Topa’s restorative procedure on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 5 was only tempered at the time by the fact it was performed by Isaac, a Kaylon, not a Union member species.
Now that the Kaylons are de facto Union allies, the Moclans could consider that another strike against the monstrous Planetary Union.
We believe the quality of mercy is mightiest in the mightiest.
Anyone else catch Admiral Halsey slipping in that Shakespearean reference with a Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hat tip?
As for our friendly neighborhood Moclans, it’s weirdly reassuring to see them back to their bickering ways.
It seems repetitive to say again, but the VFX on this show are, as always, a helluva ride.
Not only do we get multiple space fleet battles and that MASSIVE explosion from the quantum core, but how much fun does free-jumping out of a shuttle in egress suits look?
LaMarr leading Malloy and the Pteradon squadron to take down the transmitter array looked just like Beggar’s Canyon back home. Too bad they couldn’t find that thermal exhaust port, eh?
But all joking aside, it’s been a sci-fi delight to watch this season unfurl such gorgeous VFX work.
So where do we go from here, Fanatics?
SMF and his team have been notoriously tight with information on upcoming episodes. With only the finale left, you can bet it’ll be a total lockdown on any intel.
So let’s have fun with speculating.
Will Malloy’s erased family prove to be stronger than time? Will the magical Dinal return for a curtain call? Can we expect more of Isaac’s “innie” person (actor Mark Jackson) on the outside? What about the shadow realm xenomorph creatures? Could they come out to play?
Hit our comments with everything you think the finale might hold! It’s your last chance to make a wishlist for this season! Make it good!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.