Review: Fox’s ‘The Orville’ Season 2 Episode One: Ja’loja (Spoilers)

the-orville-seth-mcfarlane-season-2-hub-fox

For those of you who have read my bio, you know I am a huge Star Trek fan. Because of that, I was more than a little intrigued by Seth MacFarlane’s show The Orville. How typical it is that I never saw the first season. It looked like it might be good and the production values looked promising, but I never got the chance. With the new seasons arrival, I decided to check it out and see what I missed. For their second season premier, they decided to focus on the characters more than jumping into a far flung space drama. This seems like a good idea for those who hadn’t watched the first season (like yours truly). It served to help catch you up on who’s who and some of the character dynamics.

Spoilers

As season two begins, Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) is still struggling to resolve his feelings for his ex-wife and first officer Commander Grayson (played by former Marvel’s Agents of Shield actress Adrianne Palicki). This is further complicated when Grayson informs Mercer she is seeing someone else on the ship without mentioning who it is. We’ll get back to this…

In the meantime, in a direct parallel to Star Trek original series episode Amok Time, we have Lt. Commander Bortus ( Peter Macon) informing the Captain that he must return to a designated location on his home world so he can observe a Moclan ceremony called the Ja’loja. This involves his once a year urination. Hardly as exciting as having to return home to mate like Spock, but I guess on the plus side, there’s a big party after the ceremony. It is this event that frames the rest of the episode where crew members are trying to find dates to attend the ceremony with. Apparently it is considered bad luck to come to the ceremony alone.

Fortunately for Gordon (Scott Grimes) the new dark matter cartographer Janel Tyler has just come on board and he sees an opportunity to perhaps get a companion for the Ja’loja. However there is one problem, he is scared to invite her. Recognizing his lack of game with the ladies, he asks John (J. Lee) for dating advice. His answer is to suit up Gordon in a many zippered jacket and then bring him to a environmental simulated bar to practice his skills. After a number of awkward attempts he eventually woos the simulated woman by telling her he is dying and that he wants to spend his remaining time with her. When this appears to work, John ends the simulation, tells Gordon he is ready and takes him to ask the new crewman to be his guest for the ceremony. Unfortunately, Gordon can’t bring himself to do it and at the last minute leaves without even talking to her.

Elsewhere, Lt. Alara (Halston Sage) is also having dating issues which Commander Bortus overhears. He offers to order one of his officers to “mate” with her. She explained that he didn’t need to do that but after thinking it over, she agreed to at least meet whoever he had in mind. This turned out to be Dan, who has a crainium similar to one of the Martians from Mars Attacks. Dan is friendly enough but he is fairly self-centered, clingy, somewhat awkward. In addition to that, he writes some fairly bad poetry. He shared this with Alara but made the mistake of asking her to be brutally honest with him about it. After she critiqued it, he was upset that she tore down his work so readily. Seeing that this date was not going anywhere, Alara excused herself, but was hardly gone a moment when Dan sent her a text saying he “missed her.” Run Alara, RUN! Don’t feel too bad for Dan, Gordon liked his poetry.

Now let’s get back to Captain Mercer who, in a move that is familiar to many a heartbroken and obsessed young man, decides to do a “drive-by” of Commander Grayson’s quarters to perhaps see her with her new boyfriend who he sees is the ship’s school teacher Cassius. In this case, instead of using his souped up car to buzz by his girlfriends parents house, Ed borrows a shuttle to fly by. Unfortunately for him, she sees him. When confronted, he tries to act like he has no idea what she is talking about. He then admits to it after being faced with the flight log proving his use of the shuttle. After this, she goes to her boyfriend to vent about Ed’s behavior but is irritated that he appears to be defending him, or at least sympathizes with him. He then makes the mistake of asking her to calm down. Apparently that is a push-button word and she storms off.

Bewildered by what he did wrong, he is later visited by Ed, who upon hearing what transpired, explains that telling her to calm down is like telling her she is over-reacting. Reluctantly, he tells him to make her a nice dinner with wine and that she likes Journey. In this case, not a journey as in a trip, but the band Journey. This apparently worked as after the ceremony, she said she forgave him and the dinner and the music reminded her how much she loves him. He can thank Ed for that.

Finally, in the only storyline that DIDN’T involve romance, Dr. Finn (Penny Johnson) is having issues with her rebellious son Marcus and his new friend who is proving to be a bad influence on him. After hacking into the food synthesizer and obtaining a bottle of vodka, the boys are caught drinking and the parents of the boy who was responsible believe it is Claire’s son who is the bad influence on THEIR son. Luckily for Dr. Finn, she has Issac to point out her parenting failures and save the day when he proves that the wayward boy James hacked into the school computer to change his grades. Because only James’ grades were changed and not Marcus, it was a logical conclusion that it was James and James alone who hacked the school system and more than likely, the food synthesizer. Because he helped her with Marcus, Dr. Finn invited Issac to be her companion at the Ja’loja.

In the end, the ceremony proceeds and afterwards during the “after party,” Mercer sits at the bar lamenting to the Bartender Olix (Jason Alexander) about possibly helping Cassius cement his relationship with Grayson while the ships new Dark Matter Cartagrapher Tyler asks if she can sit down and takes the seat next to Mercer. Possibilities?

Thoughts:

While this episode didn’t have any battles or profound dramatic moments, it did explore the crew in a way that if you had watched season one, it would help refamilarize you with the crew. It also helped define them for new viewers.

Considering the whole “Urination” ceremony, they were quite restrained with not going overboard on the humorous comments. Captain’s Orders. In that, they were better than I would have been. It was crying for Bortus to ask the crew to be part of his URI-Nation (with apologies to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation). MacFarlane (who wrote this episode) was a better man than me.

The whole romance vibe in this episode kept me thinking that this was a lost Love Boat show.(To the tune of the Love Boat): “The Orville…soon will be making another run. The Orville, promises something for everyone. Set your course for adventure your task on a new romance…”

All silliness aside, as a whole, I enjoyed my first episode. All of the crew members had their moments and they are all likable enough. I look forward to the next episode to see the different aspects they intend to explore. Of course, it took me so long to write this, the next episode is tonight. Well at least I won’t have long to wait.

For those of you who saw the Season Premier of The Orville, what did you think? Are you a fan of the show? If not, what prevents you from being so? Share your thoughts with us at GVNation.