“The Orville” has had great episodes and middling episodes this season; there haven’t been any bad episodes, and there haven’t been any just good episodes. It’s entirely fantastic, or it’s relatively bland (for “Orville,” so still well-written, acted, directed, just not a zowee).
This season finale—and current series finale—is a wowee zowee; directed by and script credited to creator and top-billed Seth MacFarlane, it does a phenomenal job of wrapping up the season’s outstanding story arcs (which in turn are the show’s outstanding story arcs). In addition, there are a few returning guest stars—Victor Garber’s got a brief scene towards the beginning of the episode; he’s the only admiral who comes back for the finale. One is a big surprise for a quick hello, and the other gets the episode’s second plot.
While the title, Future Unknown, kept having me waiting for Q to show up and whisk MacFarlane off to the past and the future to see what went wrong with the Enterprise after Picard retired, it’s not an homage to any “Trek.” It’s “Orville” being “Orville,” bringing back Giorgia Whigham from the first season. She lived on the planet where people up and down voted each other as a societal thing; it was one of “Orville”’s great early episodes. Now she’s sick of living on such a crappy planet when there’s a bright universe out there, so she calls up Orville and asks for asylum.
First officer Adrianne Palicki–in my dreams, they’re setting her up for the center seat in a sequel series where MacFarlane zooms it in most of the season like one of the admirals—takes it upon herself to acclimate Whigham to the “future.” In doing so, Palicki gives the audience a more thorough history lesson of the future than the show usually allows. Whigham’s the perfect stand-in for the audience while also being a great character. She also looks surprisingly similar to Season Three regular Anne Winters; so much so I had to look them up.
But the main plot once again involves killer alien robot Mark Jackson and his lady love, the ship’s doctor, Penny Johnson Jerald. After witnessing Peter Macon’s vow renewal ceremony with mate Chad L. Coleman (a tremendous, unique sequence), Jackson decides it’s time he and Jerald tie the knot, only she’s not sure she wants to marry a killer alien robot. Then Jackson’s bros tell him maybe he should play the field a bit before settling down.
It’s a wonderful, romantic, touching episode. MacFarlane’s shown exceptional, probably inimitable range this season as a director, and Unknown’s no different. Great performances from everyone, particularly (of course) Jerald, Jackson, Palicki, Macon, Scott Grimes, J. Lee, and Whigham. Coleman’s got some great comic moments. The only crew members without significant arcs are MacFarlane and Jessica Szohr. Maybe next time for Szohr.
Everyone involved has made something exceptional with “The Orville,” “New Horizons,” and old; it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Though I am wondering if the dress whites are supposed to be so ugly, like a nod to Star Trek: The Motion Picture.