When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek back in 1966, he was willing to take on subjects once considered taboo to television audiences. This was carried on in its future versions as The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, Enterprise and the new Star Trek Discovery all have taken on subjects once thought unapproachable. I don’t remember any of them ever taking on the subject of porn addiction. This is the basis for the second episode of season 2, of The Orville.
As the episode begins, the USS Orville is in orbit around an expanding red supergiant star. As it expands, it is devouring the last remaining planet in its solar system. As the bridge crew watches, fascinated by this rare stellar phenomenon, Lt. Cmdr. Bortus asks to leave the bridge early, before his shift ends, and says that he’s not feeling well. Capt. Ed Mercer tells Commander Grayson that this is the third time he has done that this week. While they ponder their 2nd officer’s behavior, he heads toward the simulation suite, but not before telling his mate Klyden that he had to work late. He enters the simulation asking it to run program Bortus 468. A campfire materializes and soon is followed by a scantily clad Moclan. In moments they embrace and start kissing as the opening credits began.
It turns out that this has become a habit for Bortus. Asking to leave duty early so he can explore his simulated fantasies. Bortus keeps leaving work early and coming home late. This does not set well with Klyden. So much in fact that after Bortus went to bed after refusing intimacy with his mate, he awoke to Klyden standing over him and then ramming a knife into Bortus chest. At first you might assume this was a dream that Bortus had but it was all too real. Dr. Finn worked feverishly to save Bortus and security had Klyden thrown into detention. After Dr. Finn’s ministrations proved successful, the Captain told him that he had put Klyden in the brig for assaulting him. Bortus quickly explained that Klyden had done nothing wrong as he was just following the Moclan custom for divorcing their mate. When a member of a married couple is unhappy, they have the right to end the marriage by killing their mate. Talk about your quicky divorce.
Later, both Klyden and Bortus appear before Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson. The Captain tells them that because of individual customs and the fact that Bortus refuses to press charges, they would not be holding Klyden. However, because of his actions, they would be making him leave the ship. Klyden asked Mercer to reconsider and promised he would never attack anyone again and that they would work through their problems so they don’t end up like Mercer and Grayson. Bortus quickly rebukes Klyden, apologizing to them both but also asked that Klyden be left aboard. This left the Captain and Commander Grayson with a tough decision. After conferring with Union command, they decided to let the couple stay on board but told them that they must undergo couples therapy with Dr. Finn and Bortus would be relieved from duty until such time that Dr. Finn was satisfied they had worked through their issues.
As they met with Dr. Finn, she explained what couples councilling is. Bortus asked if they could choose their own weapons which prompted Finn to try to explain once again what she was trying to do. She asked Klyden to make a list of “fun” things they could do together and she asked Bortus to set aside an hour a day to spend with Klyden. They both agree to her suggestions. Upon leaving Klyden tells Bortus he thought their councilling was productive. Bortus tells him he will meet him later in their quarters but he needs to do something for the Captain first.
So after this is decided, what does Bortus do but head straight to the simulation suite once again, but this time he is not satisfied with the program. He goes to engineering to ask a strange looking Alien crewman for a special program to be made as he has heard that he knows someone who has expertise in these types of simulations. He agrees and in a short amount of time brings the program to Bortus. He engages the program which features a number of Moclans in a group situation. He enjoys the new program until Klyden enters the simulation and catches him “ in the act.” Klyden tells Bortus he is sorry he promised the Captain he would not assault another person or he would stab Bortus again. This leads to another councilling session in which Bortus tells Klyden he still hasn’t forgiven him for forcing their daughter to become their son in “About a Girl” (S01, E03) and he is not sure he ever will be able to. If that wasn’t enough of a problem, unbeknownst to Bortus, the simulation program he obtained contained a virus that starts infecting systems throughout the ship.
Back at the ranch, or the Orville, scans of the planet during the stars expansion have picked up a subterranean structure deep in the planet. After further investigation they find that 75 inhabitants still live in the structure but their time is rapidly running out. After discussing the problem, they find that they can boost the shields of a shuttle to go the planet to retrieve the survivors but the radiation produced means only two crew members have the capabilities of going down safely, Issac and Bortus. As they make their ascent, Issac wants to discuss Bortus’ addiction and how it effects him. He was reluctant to discuss the matter saying he was humiliated enough. He eventually described how he felt when he was doing it and Issac told him he shouldn’t be ashamed as he is “a primitive being.” They land the shuttle and find the survivors but the effects of the supergiant’s effect on the planet has accelerated. Instead of having time to make three trips to evacuate all the colonists, they only have time for one. That means that only 30 of the 75 can be saved. They step away to make a random drawing to see who will be spared. Issac explains that he doesn’t see the logic in that decision and that they should choose the people with the most intelligence. Bortus retorts that while he might be a “primitive being,” he’s glad he isn’t like Issac. The survivors return with the 30 people chosen to be saved, but this doesn’t include their leader while it does include her husband and child. He tries to get her to change her mind but she tells him it wouldn’t be right and he must raise their child and try to make their lives great to honor her.
The shuttle makes its escape just as the planet disintegrates and docks with the Orville but the virus has now reached the ships helm and is preventing them from escaping the gravity well produced by the supergiant. Issac is sent to the simulation suite to try to eliminate the virus while Bortus program is still running and simulated Moclans are trying to show Issac a “good time” as he is working. This is actually the 2nd time he was asked to remove the virus with his first efforts proving to be unsuccessful. This time he removes the virus just in time as they are able to engage navigation and escape the supergiant.
In the end, the tragic death of these innocent people combined with the Orville barely escaping the gravity well of the red supergiant causes Bortus to reflect upon his recent behavior. He goes to Klyden and apologizes to him that he has shown him disrespect and that he vows to never let this sort of thing happen again. He also promises to make more of an effort with his family.
I always though Klingons were complicated but Moclans make them seem almost tame in comparison. I know couples in a bad marriage have thought about killing each other but Moclans take it to a whole other level. Couldn’t they do what other couples do and just hire expensive lawyers to fight it out?
Apparently, trying to kill another crewman can be forgiven if you just say please to the Captain. When asking Mercer to release Klyden from the brig for trying to kill him, Mercer told him “out of the question,” and Bortus said, “please.” Next thing you know, Klyden is out of jail. That certainly saves time from lengthy things like trials and other types of punishment. As for Bortus, he didn’t even face any consequences for almost destroying the ship with his virus other than a mild scolding. I realize he tried to resign but he should have at least have had a formal reprimand on his record…a demotion, something. Instead he’s just told to report for duty the next day.
Even with subjects like Addiction and preventing a species extinction it doesn’t mean that Seth MacFarlane can’t find a place to for humor. When discussing the difficulties of dealing with Moclan culture with Commander Grayson: “They mutilate their female children, they kill their spouse in a divorce. What do they do when it’s somebody’s birthday, light their parents on fire?”
When facing Klyden and Bortus and telling Klyden he will have to leave the ship, he asks for another chance and Bortus echoes his request. Mercer: “ This is insane. I can’t have a normal ship…with normal people? It has to be all stabby….and…ok fine…you can stay.”
The visual effects on this episode were outstanding even down to Mercer and Grayson’s “day drinks.” I wonder how much that little bit of fluff cost them in their budget?
As to the episode itself, it was alright but I would be less than honest if I said it was great. There were problems. For starters, wouldn’t you think if your entire race is facing extinction there would be more pandemonium? Crying, fear…something? These people are so calm in the face of losing over half their remaining population it is almost unbelievable. They also seemed to have a lot of room left on that shuttle when they took off. They couldn’t fit anymore people in there? Reminded me of the lifeboats on the Titanic. Fill those boats, Mister!
The software virus in the systems has been done before but they get an extra credit for the cause. Porn addiction has been known to cause problems in a marriage (although it usually doesn’t result in a homicide) but it might be the first time it almost destroyed a Star Ship. In addition, system engineers might want to invest in a good anti-virus program. You would think in a ship this sophisticated, a computer virus would be identified and eliminated by the system itself. It also reflects poorly on Issac that his first attempt at ridding the ship of the virus failed. Makes you wonder why he seems so pompous all the time.
Also, it might be time to focus on another character other than Bortus. Last time I checked there are other crew members. Time to share the wealth Seth. Grade C+
Did you see Primal Urges? What did you think of the episode? Share your opinions with us at GVNation.
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 15 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.