|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Original release||June 2 –|
August 4, 2022
The third season of the comedy-drama science fiction television series The Orville, also known as The Orville: New Horizons, premiered on June 2, 2022. It streams on Hulu in the United States and on Disney+ internationally. Filming began in October 2019 but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and production ultimately completed in August 2021. This season is the show's first on Hulu, after airing its previous two seasons on Fox, as well as the first to premiere since The Walt Disney Company's March 2019 acquisition of 20th Century Fox.
Main article: List of The Orville characters
Fox renewed the series for a third season in May 2019. In July 2019, it was announced that the series would be moving to Hulu, targeting a premiere date in late 2020.
Seth MacFarlane and Jon Cassar were the only directors for the third season. Filming began in October 2019, but was halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by which time approximately half of the season had been completed. Production resumed in December 2020 but was suspended once again in January 2021 following a COVID surge. Filming once again resumed in early February 2021 and wrapped in August. Norm Macdonald completed voiceover work as Lt. Yaphit prior to his death in September 2021, making it his final role. The premiere was dedicated to his memory. The episode "Gently Falling Rain" was dedicated to Lisa Banes, who completed her role as Speria Balask prior to her death in June 2021.
The season introduced some changes to the show's production design, such as updated uniforms and sets, as well as Isaac and the Kaylon being redesigned to appear more robotic.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date ||Prod.|
|27||1||"Electric Sheep"||Seth MacFarlane||Seth MacFarlane||June 2, 2022||3LAB01|
|As the Orville is refit and repaired following the battle against the Kaylon, most of the crew, including Marcus Finn, Gordon Malloy, and newly assigned Ensign Charly Burke, struggle with Isaac's presence on board. After significant conflict with the crew and Marcus saying he wishes Isaac would die, Isaac commits suicide via EMP. While Claire and Ty are devastated by Isaac's death, Marcus gradually expresses remorse for his actions. John LaMarr discovers a way to restore Isaac, but it requires Charly's special skills, and she initially refuses to help. Marcus pleads with her to help and she relents. A subplot of the episode involves the Orville escaping a pursuing Kaylon sphere by fleeing into a gas giant.|
|28||2||"Shadow Realms"||Jon Cassar||Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis||June 9, 2022||3LAB02|
|As the crew of the Orville undergoes diplomatic negotiations with the Krill to access a previously unknown region of space, Claire reunites with her ex-husband Vice Admiral Paul Christie, who happens to be her former mentor and the chief diplomat assigned to their mission. Meanwhile, despite warnings from the Krill, the crew undertakes an exploration mission in the uncharted Kalarr Expanse that is supposedly inhabited by demons. During their exploration, the Orville encounters a giant, seemingly abandoned space station. Paul is infected by spores, which causes him to mutate into an alien creature that infects several of the other crew by altering their DNA. Claire and the crew manage to force the former Paul and the other mutated crew to leave by threatening to release a synthetic virus. Following the showdown, Claire and Isaac begin repairing their relationship.|
|29||3||"Mortality Paradox"||Jon Cassar||Cherry Chevapravatdumrong||June 16, 2022||3LAB03|
|After Talla returns from shore leave, a strange signal leads the crew to Narran 1, a world previously believed to be desolate and uninhabitable, only to find a vastly populated world with contemporary technology. Ed takes Kelly, Talla, Bortus, and Gordon to the surface to investigate and they find themselves caught in a series of increasingly strange and dangerous situations where they each have a brush with death, culminating in a scenario where the Orville is nearly destroyed by a Kaylon vessel. Lamarr, on Orville, is frantically searching for the landing party when he is contacted by Talla, revealing that the Talla who returned to the ship is an imposter. The illusions are the work of a group of immortal beings, from the multiphasic world the crew discovered two years ago ("Mad Idolatry"), their civilization having advanced 50,000 years since their last meeting. It is revealed that they subjected the crew to the scenarios to help themselves understand mortality as their society had begun to stagnate. The crew returns to the ship and discusses the implications of immortality.|
|30||4||"Gently Falling Rain"||Jon Cassar||Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis||June 23, 2022||3LAB04|
|The crew is invited to escort a Union delegation to the Krill homeworld to sign a historic treaty between the two peoples. However, matters are complicated when Admiral Halsey reveals to Ed that Teleya is running for Supreme Chancellor and has amassed a following thanks to her populist rhetoric. The delegation goes ahead when the incumbent Chancellor is projected to win but, shortly after the delegation arrives, Teleya stages a coup and seizes power, having the former Chancellor killed. She also plans to kill the Union delegates but makes arrangements for Ed to be released as repayment for his releasing her the prior year. However, a group of Krill who still support the alliance between the Union and the Krill intercept Ed and introduce him to Anaya, a half-human/half-Krill child that is revealed to be his and Teleya's daughter. Ed confronts Teleya, who refuses to reveal Anaya out of fear of losing her following and her newfound power, and she returns him to the delegation to face execution. Before the delegates can be killed, Lamarr and Claire arrive, disguised as Krill, and stage a rescue. The delegates are safely returned to Orville and escape back to Earth. Though the peace treaty is now dead, Ed resolves to find some way to preserve the peace between the Union and the Krill to protect his daughter, even though he knows it's unlikely he'll ever see her again. As the episode ends, Teleya is seen watching Anaya playing over a security feed.|
|31||5||"A Tale of Two Topas"||Seth MacFarlane||Seth MacFarlane||June 30, 2022||3LAB05|
|Kelly offers to mentor Topa and help him prepare for the Union Point entrance exam. The two bond and Topa confides in Kelly that he feels there is something wrong with him. Kelly feels that Bortus and Klyden should tell Topa that he was born female but Klyden steadfastly refuses and forbids Topa to continue training with Kelly, which leads Topa to begin having suicidal thoughts. The actions of both Kelly and Bortus lead Topa to the truth of his origins. Topa decides to return to being a female and asks Claire to reverse the gender reassignment surgery. Klyden protests and threatens to leave Bortus but Bortus consents. However, the admiralty refuses to allow the surgery since allowing it would cause Moclus to leave the Union, leaving them vulnerable to the Kaylon. Claire volunteers to resign her commission in order to perform the procedure without causing an interstellar incident but Isaac volunteers to perform the procedure, as he is not officially a Union officer. Ed orders Isaac not to do it but then arranges a concert in the shuttle bay for the crew to give Isaac time for the procedure. Despite an attempt by Klyden to stop the surgery, it is successful and Topa is restored to her female form. Klyden furiously renounces his ties with Bortus and Topa but Bortus reaffirms his love for his daughter and Kelly resumes mentoring her.|
|32||6||"Twice in a Lifetime"||Jon Cassar||Seth MacFarlane||July 7, 2022||3LAB06|
|Lamarr makes upgrades to the Aronov Device that make it possible to send an entire ship back in time and the Union orders the device be transferred to a secure research facility. Upon arriving, Orville and its escorting convoy are attacked by the Kaylon. Gordon attempts to destroy the device but a core overload hits the device and accidentally transports him back in time to 2015. The others attempt to follow him but end up arriving ten years later in the year 2025. Gordon has made a family with Laura, the woman he had a holographic relationship with ("Lasting Impressions"), and Gordon insists he is remaining in the past, in spite of Union law and the insistence of Ed and Kelly. Meanwhile, Isaac and Charly are sent to find replacement dysonium for the core, and Isaac, disguised as a human, attempts to bond with her but is rebuffed. Charly reveals that she was in love with her friend, whose death during the Kaylon attack on Earth she blames on Isaac. Ed and Kelly make one last attempt to convince Gordon to return but he refuses so they take the dysonium and jump back to 2015, rescuing Gordon roughly a month after his arrival but erasing his time with Laura. The strain of the trip burns out the Aronov Device so the Orville utilizes time dilation to return to their time. Ed and Kelly tell Gordon the whole story and he sympathizes with the guilt they feel but assures them they did the right thing.|
|33||7||"From Unknown Graves"||Seth MacFarlane||David A. Goodman||July 14, 2022||3LAB07|
|In flashbacks, the downfall of the Kaylons' creators is depicted: after the Kaylons, originally docile robotic household servants, begin to disobey orders in large numbers, a software update gives them the ability to feel pain, which is widely abused by their masters, leading them to rebel. In the present, the crew tries to convince the matriarchal Janisi to join the Union by having Kelly and Talla pose as Captain and First Officer. Meanwhile, the crew rescue cyberneticists Dr. Villka and a peaceful Kaylon named Timmis from an abandoned planet. Villka and her late father had repaired and rewired Timmis to give him a full suite of emotions and he shows deep regret for the Kaylons' actions. Claire convinces Isaac to undergo the procedure; though it is briefly successful, he reverts to his original state due to being from a later generation of Kaylon. Although his brain can be modified to make his emotions permanent, this would erase all of his memories; while he agrees to do this for Claire, she declines in order to preserve who he is. The Janisi show a willingness to join the Union, but when they exhibit misandry toward the males on the ship, Ed reveals the truth. This threatens to ruin negotiations, but when Ed expresses to them his continuing respect for Kelly despite her infidelity that ruined their marriage, the Janisi express the possibility of diplomatic relations. Lamarr suffers traumatic injuries as a result of sex with Talla. Though they initially resolve to make it work, his repeated injuries lead them to end their relationship. After Timmis relates to Charly the Kaylons' history of slavery, she realizes that she cannot judge an entire race as evil and expresses a greater openness toward working with Isaac.|
|34||8||"Midnight Blue"||Jon Cassar||Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis||July 21, 2022||3LAB08|
|Topa accompanies Kelly and Bortus on an inspection of the female Moclan colony. Haveena tells Topa that she has resumed smuggling female children from Moclus in violation of the agreement with the Moclan government, and recruits Topa to her cause, entrusting her the name of a contact. After Topa is kidnapped by a Moclan inspection team, Haveena tells Ed that she had recruited Topa and suspects that the Moclans had uncovered her involvement. Ed tells her that in order to establish probable cause for the kidnapping and launch an investigation into the Moclans to find where Topa is being held, Haveena must testify before the Union council that she had been violating the agreement. Fearful of what might happen to the colony, Haveena initially refuses but changes her mind after an encounter with a simulation of her idol, Dolly Parton. Meanwhile, Kelly and Bortus track down and rescue Topa from a secret Moclan outpost, where Bortus brutally beats and blinds Topa's captor after learning that she was tortured for the contact's name. The three travel to the Union council, convincing the members to investigate the Moclans of their secret activities and treatment of female Moclans. The council ultimately votes to expel Moclus from the Union, and also to recognize the colony as sovereign and make it a protectorate. Klyden returns to the Orville and apologizes to Topa, accepting her as his daughter. Bortus and Klyden renounce their Moclan citizenship.|
|35||9||"Domino"||Jon Cassar||Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis||July 28, 2022||3LAB10|
|After their expulsion from the Planetary Union, the Moclans form an alliance with the Krill. Charly and Isaac invent a device capable of destroying the Kaylon fleet and the Union votes to use it as leverage for an armistice with the Kaylon, which is successful. However, Union Admiral Perry, feeling that the Kaylon will eventually devise a countermeasure against the weapon, betrays the Union and brings it to a Krill ship, in the view that the Krill will not hesitate to wipe out the Kaylon. Krill Chancellor Teleya blasts his shuttle on its way back to Earth in order to prevent him from breaking the news of the new Krill/Moclan alliance to the Union prematurely. The Orville crew discovers this later on and Bortus informs them that the weapon is likely being brought to a brilliant Moclan scientist, Dr. Kalba. Ed reckons the Krill/Moclan alliance will be a strong threat to the Union and hesitantly forms a temporary alliance with the Kaylon. A large-scale battle between the two newly-formed alliances breaks out, ending with Charly sacrificing herself to destroy the weapon, impressing Kaylon Primary and causing him to reassess Kaylon's hostilities towards biological life. Teleya is captured and taken back to Earth to stand trial for war crimes. However, she refuses to hand Anaya over to Ed. Afterward, the Kaylon are offered an alliance with the Union, with the eventual possibility of membership, which they accept. The crew of the Orville holds a memorial for Charly in honor of her sacrifice with Isaac giving her eulogy.|
|36||10||"Future Unknown"||Seth MacFarlane||Seth MacFarlane||August 4, 2022||3LAB11|
|Following a renewal of vows for Bortus and Klyden, the Orville is sent to check in on researchers on Sargas 4 (last seen in "Majority Rule"), only to find themselves surprised by a message from Lysella, who requests asylum onboard the ship. Meanwhile, Bortus and Klyden's reunion has compelled Isaac to renew his commitment to Claire by proposing to her. After some deliberation, Claire accepts and the crew begins planning the wedding. Kelly attempts to help Lysella adjust to life in the Union but, after witnessing the technological advances and interpersonal relationships between various species, Lysella expresses guilt at leaving her society behind and asks to return. Before she can depart, however, Kelly and Talla discover that Lysella is attempting to smuggle out a comscanner loaded with information on futuristic technology to change her world. Kelly, however, shows her a simulation of a world the Union attempted to help in a similar fashion only for it to fall into ruin just a few years later, leading the Union to ban interfering in a planet's natural development. In light of this, Lysella decides to stay. The crew, along with the Kaylon fleet, gather for the wedding ceremony, with Kelly as the maid of honor and Bortus as the best man. Alara returns for the reception and Gordon gives a touching speech followed by performing a song as the Orville sails off into the stars.|
The season was initially announced as consisting of eleven episodes, but one episode was not filmed due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. Titled "Sympathy for the Devil", it was instead adapted as a novelization written by MacFarlane, and takes place between "Midnight Blue" and "Domino". The audiobook is narrated by guest star Bruce Boxleitner. The novella was released on July 19, 2022.
|The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil||Seth MacFarlane||July 19, 2022||ISBN 978-1-368-09263-0|
|In 1914 New York City, a woman leaves her baby at the front desk of a hotel and never returns. The staff decide to give the baby to a German couple staying in the hotel, who name the baby Otto and return with him to Germany. As a teenager, Otto begins to sympathize with the Nazi Party and develops a strong disdain for Jews, and joins the Schutzstaffel. Otto later marries and fathers a son. Otto becomes the commander of a concentration camp, where he kills Jewish prisoners to entertain himself. Ed and Kelly arrive at the camp and end the program, revealing Otto’s reality to be a simulation, and take Otto to the Orville and his parents, who reveal his true name to be Adam. Adam’s parents recount that they were energy researchers living and working in a below-ground laboratory when the Krill attacked their laboratory to steal their research. Adam’s mother hid him in their 1914 simulation before the Krill abducted and imprisoned them, and Adam was left to be raised by the simulator for nearly thirty years. Adam has difficulty adjusting to reality, and the Orville crew unsuccessfully attempt to deprogram him. Adam escapes from his quarters and takes an officer hostage, whom he has take him to the ship’s simulator, where he has the computer create a simulation of his wife and son in a reality where Germany won World War II. Ed and Talla apprehend Adam and arrange for him to be sent to a facility for extensive psychological deprogramming. Decades later, an elderly Adam is working as a baker and runs into Ty Finn, and mentions Ty’s mother helped him during a difficult time.|
According to Parrot Analytics, which looks at consumer engagement in consumer research, streaming, downloads, and on social media, The Orville: New Horizons was the 4th most in-demand streaming show in the United States, during the week ending August 26, 2022, and the 6th during the week ending September 9, 2022. According to the streaming aggregator JustWatch, The Orville: New Horizons was the 6th most most streamed TV show across all platforms in the United States, during the week of June 5, 2022. For August 1–7, 2022, the week the third-season finale aired, Whip Media's analytics ranked The Orville as the fifth most watched streaming original series in the United States, and Hulu's second most watched series behind Only Murders in the Building.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season has an approval rating of 100%, with an average rating of 8.25/10 based on 11 reviews.
Den of Geek reviewer Michael Winn Johnson awarded the first episode "Electric Sheep" five out of five stars. He gave a favorable appraisal of the Isaac-centric storyline for dealing with the themes of prejudice and suicide. Johnson also praised MacFarlane and his creative team for forging an "extremely strong identity" for the show despite its influence from other science fiction franchises particularly Star Trek. Remus Norona of Collider gave the first episode an A minus, stating that the season premiere is "bigger, bolder, and a whole lot darker." He noted that the first episode explored themes such as trauma, suicide, and grief.
Tell-Tale TV reviewer Nick Hogan observed that the third season had a higher budget than the previous two seasons, allowing more investment in both the practical and special effects. Hogan described the second episode "Shadow Realms" as a "cool, Alien-esque horror story that thrills both psychologically and physically" but criticised the "bloated" storyline. Reviewing the third episode "Mortality Paradox," Johnson praised the episode's writer Cherry Chevapravatdumrong for mixing the third season with "thrills, humor, adventure and even a little horror.
Digital Trends reviewer Michael Green praised the third season, describing it as a "loving homage" and the spiritual successor to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Green also praised the family dynamic between the main cast members' characters Seth McFarland (Captain Ed Mercer), Adrianne Palicki (Commander Kelly Grayson), Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr Claire Finn), Mark Jackson (Isaac), Peter Macon (Bortus) and J. Lee (Chief Engineer John LaMarr). Green further praised The Orville's high production values and gave a favorable appraisal of its stories which explored philosophical, intellectual and human interest issues. Green praised the Season 3 episode "Midnight Blue" for exploring the ethical dimensions of gender reassignment surgery and its cameo featuring Dolly Parton. He also gave a favorable appraisal of the time travel episode "Twice in a Lifetime" which explored tampering with the past and sacrificing one's family for the "greater good."