DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Orville: New Horizons episode “Midnight Blue” has spoilers. Prepare to engage quantum drive, and proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, Union officers! The Orville‘s latest installment is another immersive sci-fi spectacle chock full of mesmerizing visuals, a captivating narrative and heartwrenching performances. “Midnight Blue” provides a happy conclusion to Heveena’s story while bringing Klyden back into the fold. Of course, the Union cutting ties with Moclus is a significant decision that’ll affect the Union’s defensive posture against an inevitable attack from the Kaylon and Krill. 

The Moclans own this outing. Peter Macon, Rena Owen and Chad L. Coleman deliver compelling, nuanced, vulnerable work, with powerful moments viscerally felt in the body. I dare you to watch the scene with Topa and Klyden and not react to it. 

Ready to delve into “Midnight Blue”? Let’s get to it. 

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Crushin’ on Boys

We open with Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) and Lt. Cmdr. Bortus (Macon) sharing a few drinks. Bortus laments the absence of Klyden and how difficult it is to parent a child. He discloses that Topa has a crush on a boy, but she refuses to confide in him. Bortus asks Grayson if she’ll chat with Topa. 

Next, Grayson reassures Topa (Imani Pullum) that she has a confidant in the former. Topa reveals her infatuation but doesn’t know how to read the often perplexing signals from boys (been there, done that). Grayson encourages Topa to share her feelings with this boy.

Lt. Cmdr. Bortus and Cmdr. Kelly Grayson sit side-by-side at a dinner table on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 8 "Midnight Blue."

The Orville: New Horizons — “Midnight Blue” – Season 3 Episode 8 — Lt. Cmdr. Bortus (Peter Macon) and Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), shown. (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

We see the boy in question is none other than Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes), who doesn’t seem to pick up on Topa’s crush despite the group around him catching on instantly. Malloy reveals that he sees Topa as a little sister, which isn’t the answer one wants to hear. Ah, unrequited love. 

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Visiting Heveena

Later, Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber) divulges a private mission to Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane), Grayson and Bortus. The Moclans are visiting Heveena’s sanctuary to ensure she’s abiding by their agreement. Halsey suggests the Union send a few representatives to Heveena’s world to make sure the Moclans aren’t being self-righteous a-holes. He proposes Grayson and Bortus for the task. 

Then, Topa asks Bortus and Grayson if she can accompany them to Heveena’s planet. She’s never met a female Moclan before. While Bortus appears apprehensive, Grayson urges Bortus to give his permission, citing that it could be a life-altering journey for Topa. 

We see Bortus, Grayson and Topa land on Heveena’s planet to a trio of Moclan soldiers led by Cmdr. Kodon. Kodon claims they surveyed the area and found it within the terms of the Union-Moclus agreement. He invites Grayson and Bortus to commence their investigation. However, when he spots Topa, he accuses our crew of smuggling another Moclan female into the sanctuary, which Heveena isn’t supposed to do. 

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Working 9 to 5 With the Luminites

Next, Topa meets Heveena (Owen), who offers to show Topa around her quarters and answer any questions the young Moclan might have. They discuss the inspirational goddess Dolly Parton, the patron saint of female Moclans everywhere. Heveena apologizes for “failing” Topa regarding the trial on Moclus when Topa was a baby. 

Topa admires artwork of Dolly Parton in Heveena's quarters on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 8 "Midnight Blue."

The Orville: New Horizons — “Midnight Blue” – Season 3 Episode 8 — Topa (Imani Pullum), shown. (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

That evening, Grayson, Bortus and Topa join Heveena and the others for dinner by the light of two dazzling moons. We hear a delightful instrumental version of “Jolene.” When can I move to this planet? 

Topa admires the luminites alongside Heveena, who reveals that, occasionally, one can spot the rare blue luminite among the rest. Heveena discloses her dangerous mission to Topa. She’s still transporting female infants from Moclus, violating her agreement with the Union and Moclus. Heveena asks Topa to become their point of contact since she resides on a Union vessel. Topa can assist by smuggling babies on the Orville. Topa heartily agrees to this. 

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Later, Topa sees a blue luminite and follows it deep into the forest. Suddenly, a Moclan soldier kidnaps her, throwing her onto Kodon’s shuttle. The shuttle departs in a flurry. 

A Kidnapping

Then, Bortus, Grayson, Heveena and the others embark on a massive hunt for Topa. Grayson finds a necklace Heveena gave Topa. Heveena doesn’t divulge the nature of her chat with Topa for fear that her violation will jeopardize her mission. Bortus and Grayson flee and decide to track Kodon’s shuttle themselves without returning to the Orville.

Meanwhile, we see Topa sitting aboard Kodon’s vessel. She demands to speak with Bortus, but Kodon refuses, mocking her for her “cowardice.” 

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Mercer and Lt Cmdr. Talla Keyali (Jessica Szohr) chat with Heveena aboard the Orville, who remains tight-lipped regarding Topa’s disappearance. Mercer also cannot communicate with Bortus and Grayson, putting him on edge. Once Keyali departs, Mercer asks Heveena to tell him the truth. She reveals her continued mission to save Moclan females and how she enlisted Topa to help. Mercer, irate, chastises Heveena for putting a child in danger. 

Dolly Parton sits in a cabin while looking intently at Heveena on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 8 "Midnight Blue."

The Orville: New Horizons — “Midnight Blue” – Season 3 Episode 8 — Dolly Parton, shown. (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

Pulling Out the Stops

Later, Mercer, Keyali and Heveena talk to Admiral Halsey, who believes their best option is for Heveena to testify before the Union Council. Heveena must admit she violated their agreement and provide irrefutable evidence that Cmdr. Kodon kidnapped Topa. Unfortunately, Heveena resolutely refuses, citing that Moclus will retaliate against her and destroy the sanctuary. 

So, Mercer pulls out all the stops to persuade Heveena. He invites her to the simulator, wherein Heveena enters a quaint mountain cabin. We see the Dolly Parton make her grand entrance. The Queen of Country! Gobsmacked, Heveena receives much-needed advice from our sage country goddess regarding her dilemma. This scene makes me so giddy. 

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Heveena tells Mercer she’ll testify before the Union Council, so he sets a course for Earth. Meanwhile, one formidable Moclan soldier tortures Topa for information. They believe Heveena is communicating with a traitor on Moclus, so the torturer demands to know the informant’s name. Topa refuses to relent, so the Moclan soldier inflicts his first wound. 

An Arrival/A Testimony

Grayson and Bortus arrive on a desolate planet after tailing Kodon’s vessel. Heveena provides testimony before the Union Council, admitting to her agreement violation. President Alcuzan (Bruce Boxleitner) advises the Union launch a full investigation into this so that they can bring Topa home. However, the Moclan delegates claim innocence, believing Heveena’s violation to be the more significant crime. 

Heveena sits with her hands clasped at a table on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 8 "Midnight Blue."

The Orville: New Horizons — “Midnight Blue” – Season 3 Episode 8 — Heveena (Rena Owen), shown. (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

Next, Bortus and Grayson reach the base wherein Topa is captive. Grayson injures her shoulder when attempting to jump across a chasm. Bortus heals her torn ligament, and the pair discuss Grayson’s role in the Bortus/Topa family. Bortus thanks Grayson for taking Topa under her wing and insists she’s family now. A lingering moment between these two almost made me believe they would kiss. But the show doesn’t go there, and the duo continues their trek toward the base. 

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Bortus and Grayson breach the base, engaging in a shoot-off with the Moclan soldiers. Meanwhile, Topa suffers significant torture at the hands of the scary Moclan dude. Kodon enters after Topa reveals the traitor’s name, but we don’t hear who that is. Kodon instructs the torturer to kill Topa. Thankfully, Bortus and Grayson arrive in time to save her. 

Saving the Day and Making Them Pay

Bortus, enraged, beats the ever-loving snot out of the torturer. We love a caring and loving daddy who would throttle necks to protect his baby. 

Then, our trio narrowly escapes the planet as Kodon and his forces tail them. Fortunately, Bortus provides critical insight into hitting the Moclans where it hurts. On Earth, Halsey, Mercer and the others sit with the Moclan delegates to reach a compromise. However, Malloy, who observes from the sidelines, gives his two cents. He’s tired of the Union bowing down to the a-holes at every turn because they might lose their defensive posture against the Kaylon. Someone might get court-martialed!

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Later, the Moclan delegates accuse the Union of siding with Heveena and claim they have no evidence that Kodon kidnapped Topa. Suddenly, Bortus, Grayson and Topa enter the council chambers to the collective gasps of those around them. Bortus and Grayson explain Topa’s ordeal and that Moclans tortured her. 

We see every council member save the Moclans stand in support of Topa. It’s an emotionally-charged and heartwarming moment. 

Cmdr. Kelly Grayson and Lt. Cmdr. Bortus stand in tactical gear in a dimly lit tunnel on The Orville: New Horizons Season 3 Episode 8 "Midnight Blue."

The Orville: New Horizons — “Midnight Blue” – Season 3 Episode 8 — Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) and Lt. Cmdr. Bortus (Peter Macon), shown. (Photo by: Greg Gayne/Hulu)

A Union Expulsion and Tearful Reunion 

Next, Heveena apologizes profusely to Bortus for putting his daughter in danger and claims she expects zero forgiveness on his part. A fair assumption. Mercer doles out coffee for a shaken Grayson. Admiral Halsey reveals the Union will part ways with Moclus. It’s time to sever ties, and the voting was unanimous. Additionally, the Union will recognize Heveena’s planet as a sovereign state and place it under their protection. 

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Back aboard the Orville, Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) tends to Topa’s wounds and runs some tests. Keyali brings an unexpected visitor into the sick bay — Klyden (Coleman). Klyden boarded the first transport shuttle he could when he learned of Topa’s kidnapping. Klyden reconnects with Topa and tearfully apologizes for turning his back on her. Klyden admits he’s proud to have Topa for a daughter. Topa forgives her papa.

My Dinner With Kelly

Good grief, this scene has me bawling like a baby. What a powerful, gut-wrenching moment, with a tremendous turn from Coleman. 

Later, Bortus, Klyden and Topa have dinner in their quarters. Grayson informs them they’ll leave Earth’s orbit shortly. Bortus and Klyden have renounced their Moclan citizenship, declaring the Orville to be their home now. Klyden thanks Grayson for saving his daughter and invites the commander to have dinner with them. It’s such a heartwarming, gratifying gesture. Klyden’s changed for the better. 

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“Midnight Blue” is another stellar Orville episode. I’d be remiss if I omitted the effervescent Dolly Parton’s guest role. Talk about one of my favorite cameos in the history of television! I may or may not have let out a squeak when she appeared onscreen. Who knew Dolly would inadvertently become a symbol of Moclan female resistance? 

Once again, this outing deftly addresses the theme of identity as Topa and the female Moclans fight to be accepted by a narrowminded race that refuses to see beyond the scope of their limited perspective. Klyden accepting Topa for who she is resonates profoundly and is a heartwarming moment of trans acceptance. Yes, this storyline is clearly about letting people live as their authentic selves (science fiction always has its finger on the societal pulse, never shying away from addressing what’s important). 

May we get approximately 100 more seasons of The Orville. 

The Orville: New Horizons drops new episodes every Thursday on Hulu

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