Now that the second season of The Orville is over, it’s clear that one of the series’ strong points has been its variety. Comedy? Drama? Thoughtful science fiction? Fart jokes? It’s a show that can do it all – and these are the 10 episodes that do it best.
10: Krill (season 1, episode 6)
Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) and best buddy Lieutenant Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes) are sent on an undercover mission to steal a copy of the alien Krill bible. It’s the first real look we get at the show’s bad guys, who become a lot more central to events as the series progresses. Also, it turns out their god is named Avis, which, as dumb jokes go is pretty good.
9: Lasting Impressions (season 2, episode 11)
In which the Orville discovers a time capsule from 2015 and Gordon falls in love with a woman (Leighton Meester) recreated entirely from the information on her mobile phone. It’s not quite Black Mirror material, but people falling in love with holograms is always good value. Also, it turns out that aliens can totally get hooked on 400-year-old cigarettes.
8: Mad Idolatry (season 1, episode 12)
The first season of The Orville ends with an episode that combines a decent science fiction idea – a planet that ages 700 years every 11 days – with bringing the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Ed and his first officer-slash-ex wife Commander Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) to a head.
7: About a Girl (season 1, episode 3)
In an early sign that this series had more on its mind than just fart jokes, Ed is faced with a moral dilemma when Moclan crew members Bortus (Peter Macon) and Klyden (Chad Coleman) ask him to sign off on sex reassignment surgery for their daughter. He refuses, as she’s perfectly healthy; they insist, saying it’s standard practice when a rare (for their species) female is born. Much thoughtful discussion (and a twist or two) follow.
6: Pria (season 1, episode 5)
Hey, it’s Charlize Theron! She’s a time-travelling thief from the future who wants to steal the Orville, and while these kinds of episodes are par for the course in pretty much every long-running science fiction series, this one features Charlize Theron clearly having a lot of fun.
5: Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes (season 2, episode 4)
There’s nothing worse than someone telling you an episode contains a big twist, because then you end up just wishing it would hurry up and get to the twist (which you’ve already guessed thanks to your now heightened twist-awareness). Fortunately here the twist (which is great) comes early, and adds up to a major development in one of the show’s long-running storylines.
4: Sanctuary (season 2, episode 12)
In an episode that builds on About a Girl, a pair of Moclan passengers are discovered smuggling their daughter off-world to avoid persecution. Over two seasons The Orville has become a surprisingly nuanced show when it comes to showing more than one side of an issue, and this episode juggles a range of moral dilemmas without going for the easy options.
3: Ja’loja (season 2, episode 1)
The first episode of the second season hit the ground running – well, not in a plot sense, but definitely in a character sense (and as a statement of where the show was heading) with a range of small-scale stories that focus on various crew members’ attempts at romance. Also, Bortus has to return to his home planet for a urination ceremony.
2: Identity pt 1 (season 2, episode 8)
Remember when Star Trek: The Next Generation ended fan-favourite episode The Best of Both Worlds with “to be continued”? Seth MacFarlane sure does, and The Orville pulls out all the stops with its first two-parter. When artificial life-form and ship’s science and engineering officer Issac (Mark Jackson) mysteriously shuts down, the Orville returns him to his home planet. But the mysteries are far from over…
1: Identity pt 2 (season 2, episode 9)
Coming off a great cliffhanger, this episode had a lot to live up to. It’s not exactly joke free but the laughs are definitely turned way, way down in this all-action episode packed with twists and turns. A big part of The Orville’s strength is the way it can move from character comedy to dumb jokes to thought-provoking science fiction; after this episode, you can add action to the mix.
Watch seasons 1 and 2 of The Orville at SBS On Demand.
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