The Orville season 2 review: A good but flawed season


The Orville wrapped up a second season that placed them firmly in the echelon of the better science fiction shows on television. However, that doesn’t excuse the show for some critical missteps.

Season two of The Orville has come to a close and it’s an improvement on what was already a solid first season. The Orville has now officially joined the ranks of “good science fiction television shows.” That said, there are still the classic markers of a Seth MacFarlane production that hold the show back.

Before we get into it, let me just say, I was so disappointed to see Halston Sage’s Alara leave the show. The show and writers gave her a perfect send-off, allowing her to rejoin her family who finally learns to accept who she is.

I’m mainly sad because the first season put in some nice effort examining who Alara is as a leader and not just as muscle. It would have been nice to see that continue developing throughout this season.

More. The Orville season 2 finale recap: The Road Not Taken. light

More from Show Snob

(Though, I will say, bringing Alara back for the season finale is a nice touch.)

Still, adding Jessica Szohr’s Talla has been perfect anyway. Her temperament does fit in with the rest of the crew a little better. Where Alara sometimes still felt like the child of the group, Talla’s is much more on the same level as Ed, Kelly, and Gordon.

Speaking of those friends, I went into this season expecting John’s promotion to Lieutenant Commander to take away from the show because he wouldn’t always be on the bridge. Instead, it really balanced out the storytelling. It allowed the writers to utilize John’s status as a friend and confidant of the rest of the main crew to bring in the engineering side of the Orville without having to use lesser-known characters.

Anyway, the biggest improvement for The Orville this season was the way they crafted their character arcs for the season. If someone thinks a little differently as a result of one episode, then that completely affects the plot of future episodes.

The most obvious is Kelly rejecting Ed’s desires to get back together. That leads to Ed dating a Krill and a very confusing tryst with Kelly’s self from the past.

Other examples are Claire and Isaac’s relationship (which came in pretty huge) and Bortus and Klyden’s relationship (and the crew’s reaction last season to the Moclan trial determining the gender of their baby—that really came back a lot this season).

It’s a seemingly simple thing, but a lot of sci-fi keeps relationships separate from plot. It’s exactly what the first season of The Orville did. For the most part, you could remove character relationships and arcs and still have relatively the same plots. If you try to separate them this season, it’s a completely different show.

But that interweaving does come with a drawback.

The Orville’s handling of the Moclans has been questionable for a while. This season, they really doubled down on examining whether or not you should try to change cultures whose ideals differ from yours.

Last season it was what happens to Moclan baby girls. And this season they look at Moclan infidelity, heterosexuality, and (again) gender.

All of these occurrences with the Moclans built to this season’s Sanctuary episode, where the Union had to choose between protecting the sovereignty of Moclan women hiding from persecution and keeping the Moclan empire as allies.

That episode ends with an agreement that essentially says that the women can remain free, but the Union won’t recognize their freedom and won’t protect and future girls born or their parents who may want them to leave a happy life as a woman.

(That’d be like saying “cool, we won’t fight the Civil War if you agree not to pursue any slaves who are currently free. We’ll look the other way on the ones still enslaved, though.”)

It’s hard to tell if the show is knowingly saying that the Union made a morally bad deal in favor of keeping their strongest ally at their side or if the Union actually thought it was a good, fair deal. MacFarlane’s shows haven’t exactly been devoid of insensitive or morally questionable aspects in the past, so it’s tough to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

All of my complaints about the handling of the Moclan storylines aside, The Orville really did join the ranks of good sci-fi television this season. They utilized two-part episodes multiple times this season, allowing them to effectively tell larger, more intricate stories. Plus, they even wrapped up this season by tackling time travel (my favorite sci-fi topic) much better than they ever could have been expected to.

Most shows don’t even attempt to mess too much with time travel because it’s so hard to explain and justify. The Orville did it with ease.

Next. 10 classic Twilight Zone episodes to watch before CBS All-Access launch. dark

Add to that the really epic space battles and forcing enemies to team up to defeat a common enemy, you’ve got a really good show. The Orville’s second season still managed to maintain its great sense of humor (which is arguably lighter than most sci-fi shows) while delivering on really solid sci-fi plotlines.

How much did you enjoy this season of The Orville? What are you hoping to see next season? Let us know all of your thoughts on season two of The Orville in the comments.