The Orville: New Horizons Continues Pop Culture TV Trope

The Orville: New Horizons -- “Domino” - Episode 309 -- Lt. Talla Keyali (Jessica Szohr), Issac (Mark Jackson), Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), and Charly Burke (Anne Winters), shown. (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

The Orville: New Horizons unfortunately plays into a longstanding pop culture TV trope in the season’s penultimate episode.

I’m going to get into spoiler territory as I discuss the most recent episode. After getting kicked out of the Planetary Union, the Moclans form an alliance with the Krill. In response to this unfortunate turn of events, the Union surprisingly forms an alliance with Kaylon. Not everyone is on board with this, leading Union Admiral Perry (Ted Danson) to turn against them and transfer a weapon to a Krill ship. Major spoilers follow below the photo.

The Orville: New Horizons
The Orville: New Horizons — “Domino” – Episode 309 — Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane), shown. (Photo by: Michael Desmond/Hulu)

Unfortunately, the episode plays right into the bury your gays TV trope. Or as it is also known, dead lesbian syndrome. It’s really sad. I was just beginning to think that Ensign Charly Burke (Anne Winters) was coming into her own. She’s suffered heartbreak at the start of the season because of Isaac. Their was a tension in their professional relationship until recently–in fact, she even came out to him when they traveled back to 2015 during “Twice in a Lifetime.” It was certainly nice to see them finally get along with each other. And then this episode happens. Of all the people to kill off, they could have killed one of the Kaylon. Instead, it’s none other than Charly. Sure, she’s new to the Orville and sacrifices herself for the greater good but this doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

Anyone fans of fantasy or sci-fi TV are certainly no stranger to the bury your gays trope. It was also discussed in a documentary, Queering the Script, that premiered a few years ago. If I wasn’t familiar with the doc, I probably would have just shrugged off Charly’s death. But after watching the doc and being LGBTQ myself, it only doubles the frustration. Again, why is she expendable? Could anyone else have sacrificed themselves? We know that The Orville: New Horizons is capable of turning in some strong episodes. All you need to do is look at the recent transgender episodes involving Topa. Pulling this stunt just leads all of the goodwill to just evaporate in a matter of a few minutes.

There is some good news to come out of this episode. The Kaylon surprisingly become probationary members of the Union. The downside to this is that Charly sacrifices herself so that the Kaylon could live. It is an act that, in theory, helps bring peace to the galaxy and especially leaves a strong mark on Kaylon Primary. Prior to this episode, the Kaylon wanted to wipe out all living lifeforms after their previous enslavement. But again, The Orville: New Horizons enters the bury your gays territory in the penultimate episode of the third season.

CREATOR: Seth MacFarlane
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Seth MacFarlane, Brannon Braga, David A. Goodman, Jon Cassar, Jason Clark and Howard Griffith
CAST: Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J Lee, Mark Jackson, Jessica Szohr, Anne Winters, Chad L. Coleman

The Orville: New Horizons streams new episodes on Hulu on Thursdays through August 4, 2022. Starting August 10, all episodes will be available to stream on Disney+. “Domino” – Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.