Air date: 1/3/2019
Written by Wellesley Wild
Directed by Kevin Hooks
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Primal Urges" is an episode in need of a good script doctor. Maybe Dr. Finn should add "script doctor" to her resume. After all, she adds "marriage counselor" to it here (where apparently an MD and a psychology PhD fall under one umbrella), in an episode that bounces around like a haphazard mess. This is an ambitious episode prone to frequent tonal and narrative whiplash, and boy does it not work.
In it, Bortus suffers from holographic porn addiction, which has negative consequences for his marriage to Klyden. Bortus lies about what he's doing (claiming to work long hours when he's really in the EV simulator), they haven't had sex for a very long time, and they argue frequently in terse shouts. It's exactly like if you took two Klingon dudes and gave them dialogue from some sort of self-help video about a failing marriage. The dialogue itself is banal and clichéd; it's the fact that it's happening between two Moclan tough guys in Worf-like laconic deadpan that's supposed to give it an ironic twist. That is something, I suppose. It is not enough.
We get several iterations of the same sequence. (If you wanted to see several versions of the kind of porn scenarios Bortus is into, you won't be disappointed. These are frequently played for laughs in ways that eventually feel like they're at odds with the episode's desire to be About Something ostensibly serious.) The repetition is required to justify the shocking scene where a frustrated Klyden stabs Bortus in the chest as he sleeps, which is the Moclan way of declaring (not asking for) a divorce. Bortus miraculously survives, and the attempted murder is reluctantly swept under the rug by Ed because of internal cultural vacuums or whatever, and because Bortus won't press charges. I couldn't help but wonder how the Union has no understanding of Moclan culture or their dire divorce proceedings when they have a Moclan family on their ship. (For that matter, what did Klyden think would happen to him and his son after killing Bortus?)
It's about here we get Claire's role as marriage counselor. This happens because Klyden suddenly decides the marriage is worth saving, which strikes me as an odd change of heart considering he just tried to murder his partner — something which, had it been successful, would've been, you know, kinda permanent. Oh well. If Klyden's second thoughts make it seem like his first thoughts weren't very well thought through — well, such is the case for this episode. But here we at least get to the heart of the matter, which is that Bortus has lost all interest in his marriage because he hasn't been able to forgive Klyden for forcing their son Topa to undergo gender reassignment in "About a Girl." This idea shows potential for real character analysis, but the episode immediately drops it because "Primal Urges" has no sustained focus on the things that actually matter.
Instead, we have a subplot involving a star going supernova that's about to incinerate a planet, which the crew belatedly discovers has the last 75 people of a dying civilization living beneath its surface. The crew must figure out the technobabble solution to rescue these people before time expires. There are some very impressive visual effects in this subplot, as well as some hard choices, but overall it plays like one of those forced jeopardy premises tacked onto a fifth-season TNG episode — especially once the Orville itself is imperiled by a computer virus that starts disabling the ship's systems.
About that virus. It gets into the ship's computer because Bortus needs to upgrade his erotic material and seeks out another crew member on the down-low (performed by a massive, ugly CGI creation who speaks in dude-bro subtitles) to create a special program that provides sight gags in the background for the rest of the episode's race-against-the-clock premise. If you've ever used a company-issued computer, you'll know that external media connections can be blocked automatically by system policies. The Orville could use IT security from four centuries in its past. But there I go nitpicking.
"Primal Urges" was originally intended to air as episode 12 of season one before last-minute adjustments to Fox's December 2017 schedule shelved it for more than a year. If the intention was to hold a weak episode, they picked the right one. This tries to do way too many things and winds up doing few of them well. Porn addiction is a reasonable topic, sure. But "Primal Urges" mistakes showing images of something over and over (mostly on comic terms) for depth or meaning about that thing. And it filters a contemporary human problem through an alien character for reasons that aren't clear, considering the alien himself is still so loosely defined.
Possibly the best moment of the episode comes when Bortus explains his sexual proclivities in terms of a hunger that, once salved, leaves only emptiness. At the end of this speech, Isaac says, "It is prudent that you are in therapy." It's a glib laugh line, and I suppose I admit to chuckling, but it's indicative of this story's tendency to pull away after skimming the surface rather than dealing in a meaningful way with the issues it puts forward. Bortus deserves better, and so does the audience.
Previous episode: Ja'loja
Next episode: Home
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93 comments on this post
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
Lots to digest (i'll have to watch it again), but again we see what would really happen with Trek tech, in this case the holodeck *cough simulator cough*.
We also see why using it for porn wouldn't work out so well in the long run (you'd get caught eventually).
It was very smart to use a character with a believable motive to explore this issue .... and honestly, while it made me a tad uncomfortable (I felt like a voyeur),; at the same time it was anthtopologically fascinating and humorous (as well as boundary pushing).
How would single gender porn work out exactly?
I like that we saw Nurse Park and Dann again (his few lines were all hilarious, especially the handshake).
The planet side plot was great too ... nice to see there's no Prime Directive stopping them from doing the right thing! No warp drive required for rescue!
All in all, this was the least bored I've ever been with the Orville, I can say that for sure! A brave episode.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
I loved the exploration of the aftermath of the trial on Moclus: they both love their child and each other, but it is completely understandable that Bortus would be hurt to his core that he couldn't convince Klyden to change his mind. I legit felt for both of them.
Also, we see Dr. Finn in her therapist capacity: she does a grear professional job of moderating between them (perhaps enough that it'll convince a few viewers to give it marriage counseling a shot).
This also explains why the Doc doesn't know everyone on board: she spends half her time counseling and probably leaves a lot of the non- emergency work for Nurse Park and the rest of the staff.
Oh, and I loved the alien officer pill/porn guy! Probably just how it'll be in the future.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good episode. I wonder what people who didn’t know it was from last season thought about Gordon suddenly having his sunburn again, or the new navigator character being nowhere to be seen.
The whole evacuation and lottery plot was a cool idea, but I think it could have benefited from being given more time rather than being squeezed in near the end of the episode.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
Also, there are other places to find things online ... if we had mailboxes on this site, I'd say PM me. :)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
The Orville also continues to show that it's not TNG or VOY, and there really isn't a reset button. Bortus's relationship began souring all the way back at the time of About A Girl. Presumably the effects of this episode on his character will also become clearer as time passes.
I have a hard time believing that this episode was held over from last season, if only because Bortus and Klyven's son was rapidly aged in the same manner as in the last episode - not a baby.
Also, I'm glad to see that the Union doesn't believe that if a bunch of folks are going to get incinerated by their star, you just need to let them all die since they don't have warp drive.
The only down side is that while the planet breaking up looked amazing, they didn't even try to make it look scientifically accurate. Of course if the sun really had swelled to a supergiant, the planet would have been a ball of molten lava by the time they got there anyway. And I'm pretty sure it would be enveloped by the photosphere well before it was destroyed.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
At first, the Earth analog planet would go into an extremely irregular orbit before eventually flying into/grazing by the star quickly or being slingshotted into space. (Universal Sandbox 2 is a space emulator i've spent time using in the past).
I'm pretty sure they had the order correct for a highly parabolic entry: first atmosphere would be bled off by solar wind and gravity, then the oceans would boil and then finally stress fractures would disintegrate the planet as it was consumed.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
For all we know, their planet may have only begun its process of life only a billion years before (as the solar output began to increase). The planet could have spent most of its existence a frozen ball in a Saturnian orbit.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 11:24am (UTC -5)
I would have to rate this episode a -1 had they not brought up the forced sex change of the child. That wove it all together nicely. I was not enjoying this episode at all until it really meant something.
Bortus is a great character, and it only gets better when he's paired with Isaac.
They screwed up the timeline. First LT LaMarr said he can make the modifications in 9 hours and then when our Captain calls for an update he says 10 hours to complete it. (I think)
As mentioned above, the visuals are out of this world. This (and Discovery) are movie quality. Wow.
Isaac has to save the day at the end.... pretty funny when one of the porn Moclans is kissing his head :-)
Porn addiciton is a thing? .... and it's a disease?
We learn that the Orville has 300 folks onboard in this episode? I think it's the first time I've heard that.
The porn-master alien was fun.
I think they could have packed some more aliens in the shuttle craft. They were really sloppy with the costumes. The last two aliens, after saying goodbye to the grand poopa alien, just walk right out with no suits... then we see more in the shuttle without them.
There is only one shuttle craft on Orville? For some reason I seem to remember more.
Not sure I agree with our Captain's butt chewing at the end. Is he chewing Bortus out for watching Porn, or accidentally introducing a virus? I'm sure in a show where anything goes - watching porn isn't shunned upon and there certainly was not intent with the virus thing. It seems to me that our porn-master alien should have been involved in the clean-up.
I'll go 3 stars.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Perhaps the funniest moment for me was the set of standard metal basement doors protecting the underground civilization.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 11:55am (UTC -5)
1. Why didn't they at least try and modify two shuttles? Isaac and Bortus could have both flown one over separately and ultimately saved 2/3rds of the group.
2. So, the natives had radiation suits. But the atmosphere of the planet was already gone and the seas had boiled off. They should have both run out of breath and cooked to death in the short time period between leaving the tunnel and getting onboard the shuttle. For that matter, Isaac and Bortus didn't even deal with an airlock or depressurization when they entered.
3. The entire planetary population being winnowed down to only 75 people was kinda ridiculous, but perhaps understandable if only one small "prepper" colony survived the surface holocaust. But what was a bit worse was that 75 INCLUDED CHILDREN!!! Obviously aliens can have starkly different moralities, but what kind of sick fucks would bring children into this world that they knew would die before ever seeing adulthood?
But all of these foibles are no worse than the average Trek episode - and relatively minor compared to say some of Discovery's head-scratchers. They're also understandable considering the point of the B plot was all to set up for that final scene where the colony leader had to split up with her husband and child, staying behind to die while they went to safety. It might have been contrived as all hell, but at least it was contrived for a good narrative reason - and led to a decent payoff.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Trek, of course, did many "addiction" episodes. "Hollo-pursuits" and "The Game " (underrated, and a personal fave) come to mine, and several Janeway episodes which I thought were well done. I prefer all of these, largely because they treat the issue of addiction/pornography tangentially, metaphorically, whereas Orville goes for blunt literalism (the porn dealer is himself a walking penis monster). You could probably argue, though, that the bluntness is more radical (as a statement, and as an effect on the audience?). I don't know.
Bortas' description of masturbation/orgasm as "a little death" (what the French coined as La petite mort), was a nice scene; there's something profoundly tragic about it.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Bortus's porn scenarios are hilarious, hot and relatable - they get the balance just right between being ridiculous and funny to the audience (especially in the context of Lamarr, Dan and Isaac trying to eradicate the virus while the simulation is running) yet being exactly what we imagine Bortus would be turned on by. I applaud the show for going there, and Gordon's masturbation line was hilarious, partly because there's such a realism and honesty to it - it's not a throwaway wank gag but part of the show's general acknowledgement that porn and masturbation are simply things that people do. Porn is not the joke here, neither is the same-sex relationship, and there is emotional truth to everything that happens in the episode - it's for those three reasons that Primal Urges truly succeeds. It's an excellent example of the show doing an episode that Trek could never do (and I'm not sure I'd want it to) and doing a great job of it. I agree with Trent on The Game btw, it's way underrated and has become more relevant than ever, and it uses Wesley (and Ensign Lefler) really well.
As a gay guy, I love The Orville's depiction of same-sex relationships, not just because it's an original sci-fi spin on the concept but because the fact Bortus and Klytus feel like real people and the fact they're in a same-sex relationship isn't the point. This isn't a rights episode (like The Outcast), a doomed queer romance (like The Outcast, Rejoined and Chimera) or a superficial-only "look, they're gay" moment with little to no further substance or characterization (like Stamets/Culber or the Sulu STB moment). It also has the balls to maturely tackle sex addiction/porn addiction, an issue that's absolutely rampant in gay male culture, in a way that's relatable yet never a direct analogy. My only nitpicks are J Lee's continued weak line delivery, the fact Dr Finn conducts the couples counselling (instead of a ship's counsellor), and the rescue story - which is very well executed but disposable and doesn't really work, other than in terms of Bortus's story. Bortus's interaction with Isaac, and his little monologue in the shuttlecraft, were fantastic.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Apparently J Lee was Seth's receptionist. He seems to have little or no acting training; Seth just sort of threw him a bone and gave him a starring role.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
That being said, I still struggle with the show's tone. One minute, Bortus is being stabbed in the chest, and the next, Gordon is making masturbation jokes. At this point, the tonal shifts are a feature of the show, rather than a bug. You like them or you don't. It mostly works for me, but during the porn scenes, it led to some cognitive dissonance. I watch the show in a mixed group of Trek / sci-fi fans and non-fans, and most people were laughing simply at the novel sight of rubber-headed aliens acting out porn scenarios. Whereas it seemed the episode wanted us to feel sad for Bortus screwing up his life. I worry that the show undercuts its own intentions by priming us to expect humor, even during dramatic scenes.
@wolfstar, totally agree that Bortus and Klyden blow Stamets and Culber out of the water as far as a same-sex relationship with characters you care about. Stamets / Culber felt like they were ticking a box ("No same-sex couples so far on Trek? Check!"), but Bortus / Klyden have real arguments, moments of affection, etc. Their relationship lives and breathes, instead of being just a tool in the season arc.
The visual effects are just astounding for TV. The final plunge into the sun was genuinely intense, and the score had a strong Wrath of Khan vibe. My group actually rewound the episode (we DVR it) to figure out if the penis monster with the Jabba the Hutt voice was CGI or a puppet. It looks like a combination to me, maybe a suit with CGI filling in the vocal articulation. I almost wish the refugee subplot had been saved for a different episode, since it's such a dark, rich scenario that could've used more exploration than just a component of Bortus' story. I guess the Orville writers are following the TNG rule of combining character-based A-plots with sci-fi B-plots.
Finally, I do love Bortus, but the rest of the cast is starting to feel underdeveloped. Would love to see more LaMarr / Alarra / Finn episodes that give them this kind of depth.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
@Quibbles: I also enjoyed your contribution. I am okay with the amount of Bortus we have had so far, as long as they start giving other characters their turns in the limelight.
@Karl Zimmerman: The issue of whether to bring children into a dying or post-apocalyptic world has been raised in a lot of SF. A recent example is the 2018 movie “A Quiet Place”. Another one that was in a hidden gem that unfortunately very few people have seen, is the 1999 Don McKellar film (starring Sarah Polley and some other familiar faces) “Last Night”, in which the Sandra Oh character purposely gets pregnant “just to see if I could” even though she knows the world will end before her pregnancy reaches full term. She asks McKellar’s character if he thinks that was immoral of her.
Count me as one of the “sick fucks” who would do it. “Where there’s life, there’s hope”—right to the bitter end. And note that it paid off for them!
As for prepping two shuttles, I don’t see how they could have done so in time. I didn’t get the impression there were very many people on the ship who would have known how to do it.
@Trent: I agree that Bortus’s explanation of the sex drive, and its aftermath, was quite profound (again rebutting the claim that this show is anti-intellectual). I also appreciate your recommendations for TNG episodes. I have added them to my watch list, as I have seen all episodes of TOS, most of Voyager and DS9, all of Enterprise, and all of Discovery, but have only seen maybe ten percent of TNG (I was initially turned off by the first season and only revisited it relatively recently).
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
If the world was actually ending before gestation could finish and you knew the apocalypse will probably be a physically painful experience, why would you create another life knowing it would sentenced to boiling in the womb while flailing in wordless agony?
Doesn't that seem like the cruelest, most selfish action you could possibly entertain?
You can have hope without creating some kind of baby totem to ward off the 4 Horsemen.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 3:23am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 3:34am (UTC -5)
Did you judge the couple in “A Quiet Place” poorly as well? I can see the argument for doing so, but I’m just wondering.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 5:18am (UTC -5)
Would those same species stop procreating prior to the situation presented on Orville? Yes, because the conditions on the surface would have prevented it, but in the caverns below... stress would have caused procreation. There are kids because these "aliens of the week" had stress sex.
Toss in morality and philosophy and religion framework and suddenly the viewpoint changes. We humans begin to examine things in relationship to time and our notions of what is worthwhile. Other species: Time is not important only life.
Possibly in the earliest stages of life clinging to this planet going through Filter stages, this is extremely important. Later on, a society could choose it is not worth saving itself... this one certainly did not do a moonshot. There are complex thoughts to us in relation to us as well, and I damn well hope that those NASA guys pulled a fast one with Voyager 1 & 2.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 8:23am (UTC -5)
So, just want to be sure I understand: its ok to create a life even though it is cursed to die before birth .... if it makes you feel better?
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 9:27am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 10:38am (UTC -5)
The story outline is superb. Had you shown me a two-page summary of the beats in this episode, I would have told you that it's a stroke of genius. A genuine classic. I was quite impressed by both the progression of the A and B plots, as well as the way they were interwoven together in the end.
The execution, however, left much to be desired. The first half had huge pacing issues. The simulators scenes in the that part of the episode were instant pace-killers. Really, Orville, *that's* what you do with the few additional minutes per episode that Fox gave you?
They should have either made these scenes shorter, or made them more interesting. I mean, there are so many wacky directions you can take the general concept of alien porn. And if there's a show that shouldn't be afraid of going in wacky directions, that's the Orville.
Instead, we got the most banal sex fantasies imaginable, played in the most boring possible way. The prison scene, in particular, seemed to drag on forever. You could condense that scene from two minutes to ten seconds and absolutely nothing would have been lost. And then you could have spent those two minutes to add depth to the "disintegrating planet" part of the story.
"I have serious doubts that such a guy should handle stuff like gender reassignment surgery and the problems that come with it."
That's like saying that a greedy skirt-chasing guy with shady morals shouldn't write about an utopian post-scarcity future with no prejudice.
Good thing Gene Roddenberry didn't listen to your advice ;-)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 11:23am (UTC -5)
Short answer, Yes. I'm not immortal. It's a good line, you captured existence beautifully.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
"I am stuck with the barbaric scenario as regards this show of having to watch it live on antenna with no recording available, since FOX does not make full episodes available any longer on its website for 'cordcutters' like myself, and I don’t have cable or satellite for a signin, nor do I subscribe to Hulu."
I don't have satellite or cable either. Do you have a smartphone and/or a tablet? The episodes are available from the iTunes Store and maybe from Google Play. If you have a smart TV you can stream the content to the TV.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
@navamske: I did buy the season premiere from iTunes, but I can’t make a habit of it. The reason I don’t have cable, satellite, or Hulu is a very tight budget.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
No matter the reason, I'm actually happy you enjoyed this episode!
It definitely touched upon many subjects in unique ways and it was humorous to boot (in my very subjective opinion).
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Basically, Fox streams The Orville online, but for those without Cable only gives a 60-minute pass - a pass which runs down regardless of whether or not you pause the play, so make the bathroom breaks quick.
I used up mine for the season premier. Thought I was going to have to buy the second episode, but an incognito window on Chrome was enough to get to see it. Presumably it will work for future weeks as well.
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Can't say I'm surprised, though. Ja'loja was a terrible choice for a season permier (not a bad episode, but a terrible permier).
Let's hope the numbers improve next week. Given the heavily polarized reactions of Orville fans to "Primal Urges" there's no way to tell how it will go. But right now, things do not look good.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 7:54am (UTC -5)
And I want to end it with a clarification. I do not think that a white heterosexual cis man shouldn't write about trans issues. Perfectly fine. It is different when this person has made openly transphobic statements and cultural products without even realizing that they are transphobic. It was a common trope in 90s movies to show people puke when they found out that they had sex with a trans woman or saw one( this is always aimed at trans women), for example Ace Ventura, Naked Gun.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 8:40am (UTC -5)
The way the episode maps onto the real-life issues faced by transgender people, or those who seek gender reassignment, is very weak and superficial. Indeed, TNG's "Outcast" is a better example of an episode which tackles the pressures transgender people face (the pressure to conform to gender/sex codes when your brain and body is chromosomally pushing another way).
And the kind of "gender reassignment" we see in Orville is something almost not worth critiquing, because in real life its either obviously wrong, or done with the best intentions (to conform a person to their chromosomal sex using hormone replace therapies or sex change operations, none of which can legally be given to people before a certain age).
But this unintentionally forces the Orville episode into a icky position. Because it's not interested in critiquing literal gender reassignment, and the episode exists simply to make the point that women are equal to men, a point it can't make without demonizing a single act of gender reassignment to make a larger metaphorical point, it might come across to dumbasses that the episode is criticizing transsexual people who seek to move away from the sex assigned to them at birth.
Your stance on the episode basically boils to how insensitive you think the writer is, and how much responsibility an artist has to cater for dumbass audience members. It's a good episode IMO, but a better artist would arguably be more robust and maybe insert a blatantly pro "sex change" line somewhere. Something that really rams home that gender reassignment/conforming is in most cases a positive, vital and necessary thing.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 9:01am (UTC -5)
Also, I'm sick and tired of people who put political-correctness ahead of giving actual respect to minorities. "About a Girl" may not be PC, but it most definitely *is* an episode with a pro-diversity message.
By "diversity" I don't just mean gender issues. It's an episode about the importance of allowing people the chance to be themselves, instead of forcefully conforming them to society's norms. And as a person who is... different... in other ways, I deeply thank Seth for this wonderful instructive piece of television.
(Season 2, unfortunately, has nothing that approaches this level of profoundness yet. But the season is still young)
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
The season premiere picked up over 3 million viewers in the +3s ... no other show on TV comes close in the +3s (which doesn't calculate pirated views, by the way).
Besides, once you factor in DVD sales (which have been brisk), merchandising profits and sizable tax credits, its obvious the show is doing ok.
Let's not proclaim the sky is falling quite yet.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
As always, I don't care much for the humor, and I agree that there were too many issues - in the end, Bortus didn't really so much suffer from porn addiction as from general depression/escapism, so there was no need to bring that up. The counseling session was also pretty shallow.
The dying civilization could have been more fleshed out, but it really needn't be. We know the drill by now. I was pleasantly reminded of wacky TNG and Voyager holodeck episodes. It felt really cheesy and humorous, while having the courtesy to not go into too much detail (I really have no need for more explicit sex scenes in movies and TV, let alone alien sex between two guys, I just don't swing that way).
Aside from Kellys wooden acting (was she always this bad?) this was your typical run-of-the-mill Star Trek episode. Nothing groundbreaking, but not bad either, and for me personally, great, because I got to see more Star Trek.
So, I would rate this episode a high 3 stars at least, it was definitely stronger than the series opener.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
The rescue contains my biggest problem with this episode:
1. The shuttle needs to be beefed up to resist the star's gravity. Is that so? Does USS Orville, which is not much bigger (comparatively speaking) escape the gravitational pull easier than the shuttle? And how do deflectors help? They create anti-gravity? If they work that way then I don't remember that being explained.
2. The shuttle can carry just 30 people? Why is this? There aren't 30 seats. Are there load limits to the shuttle? Will 31 individuals keep it from taking off? Perhaps these people weigh less than other humanoids. Or weigh more. If it's just a matter of space then cram those 75 people in. They'll fit.
3. "The ____seconds/minutes/hours until____!" nonsense. I understand this is TV and that there is only so much time to show or to explain a given crisis, but condensing it down to a very specific time had been done too much before on other Trek shows and it never was the best idea to begin with.
If The Orville wants to give Trek fans "nostalgia" then perhaps it has succeeded. But I don't pine for more mediocre Voyager.
There are good bits I liked. The visuals were great. They made the 10 year old 720p 26" Dynex TV (not the best) I happened to be watching it on look great (I did calibrate it, but, still...)
I want to see more interaction between Isaac and Bortus.
I also liked that the first alien species the planet's inhabitants see do not resemble them, but are instead Isaac and Bortus.
Watching Lt Unk poke the console in front of him with his big claws is amusing.
And so on. Now, time to read Jammer's review. Hope it's a long one!
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
"There is [...] no real issue when it comes to genital mutilation in the West at least. We are against it."
Perhaps this is not quite correct in one case, and quite wrong in another. (With all do respect to Booming. I only mention Booming so that the source of the quote is known, in case anyone is interested in the surrounding discussion.) Female genital mutilation is of course very largely condemned, although that does not mean it is 100% absent in Western society / never illegally carried out in private homes. (Small point here really for our purposes ... yet while I do not have numbers or statistics at hand, however rare it may be, it is worth realizing.)
Otherwise though, male circumcision continues to be a highly controversial matter. (Not adult men choosing circumcision for themselves so much; in fact, there is probably more controversy around adult women choosing elective genital procedures for themselves than adult men choosing circumcision. But circumcision of infant and young boys, yes.) Some people and groups are at least okay with it or even supportive; yet others are strongly against it. Many men circumcised as children are quite content with it as adults; others are anything from not quite happy to devastated. Among adult men who choose circumcision, some are happy with their choice; others end up regretting it.
And through it all, again, it remains a very controversial issue. So while supporters would not agree with the label "male genital mutilation" as some critics do, still, it is clear: there *is* an issue when it comes to [elective genital procedures on children] in the West. We are *not* all against it. No matter which side a given person takes in the circumcision debate, for instance ... it *is* an issue. And this, too, is worth realizing.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
“eat, or you will die”
Hard to dislike a show with such self aware silly sci fi dialogue.
Also the pill pushing holodeck hacker puppet character was an amazing costume! Seriously one of the best sci fi creature designs Ive seen!!
yeah the plot was pretty weird but it does at least try and touch on real modern issues, which is more than i can say for most shows. Also I just love the wierdness of a sci fi show plot about a gay alien couple openly making love. Much more progressive on lgbtq issues than Star Trek got actually!
Overall I enjoyed it! I think the show is finding its tone, which is sort of the B team of star trek mixed with some intentionally silly and out there sci fi played overly straight.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
A few thoughts:
- I did not wholly buy the "I divorce you so I stab you in the heart" plot line. It was a little too out there to be played straight.
- The full-body makeup on Bortus and the other Moclans in the simulation. Wow.
Ditto for the visual effects. This show does not hold back when it comes to production value.
- Even though it was amusing, the scene where the virus needs to be eracticated while the simulation is active felt contrived. I didn't see why it couldn't be shut off. Oh yeah, because of the joke.
- Kelly's delivery of the line "this ship is gross" was perfect.
- Two guys went from the cave into the radiation outside without a suit. What?
- The Kermit the Frog doll on Ed's desk is distracting.
- The Orville has only 300 people onboard. It's certainly not the Enterprise.
All in all I agree with Jamar's opinion, it was just okay. But the series continues to be highly watchable even if it's not stellar.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Lighthearted episodes are the hallmark of TNG and DS9 so that the more serious content doesn’t turn away the audience (Shakespeare clowns in Hamlet?). This episode is a mix of tones for that reason.
That’s said, the episode has problems. Primarily this is all rehash of earlier Trek themes. Barclay holodeck addiction to boot, with a throwback to Quark tailoring programs, etc.
Yet this is a character episode. Much better than what passes for Trek on DSC.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
I get that comedy should be *funny*. And that the tone of a show that mixes elements should make some sort of sense, not just throw a bunch of jokes at a wall and see what sticks. (Admittedly, some of them do.)
You know what one of the funniest dramas ever made was? "The Sopranos." There was a show in masterful control of its varying tones, without it coming across with a completely jarring and nonsensical sense of whiplash.
"The Wire" was also often funny. McNulty drunkenly crashing his car and then deconstructing the crash in his mind in a drunken stupor and then *trying to do it over again*? Now that is some funny shit.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
@Dave: Glad to hear there are mitigating circumstances around the show’s low overnight Nielsen numbers!
@brian: Very interesting point about the lack of polish being an asset. I hadn’t thought of it this way, but I think you might be right.
@Jammer: Nice pushback about comedy. But it strikes me that you cited two “Mt. Rushmore” TV shows there. Which means you certainly have good taste, and kudos for that; but it also seems like unfair competition. So what would for you be good examples of three-star-level success in comedic terms?
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
That's actually a fair question.
I don't know how I'd grade comedy based SOLELY on humor value ... it's very subjective on what makes great comedy, butthen again, almost anyone can agree on what makes failed comedy. (Pauly Shore, Carrot Top, etc) Would I rate it based on my personal tastes or likelihood of appealing to the audience? Hmmm. And what would be 4 star TV comedy?
But, again, the show is much more than a comedy: there's often multiple plot threads running through the show and the philosophical Trek-like elements .... from being a regular reader of Jammer, he seems to base his star reviews not just on content, but on integration of elements.
I grade this higher than him, but I get his reasons ... and honestly, it's his website. He can rate it three bananas and a redwood tree if he wants. ;)
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
I'll go as far as saying that the Orville isn't a comedy at all, really. It's a light-hearted sci fi drama with comedic elements, and it should be judged as what it is.
So while I don't know if Jammer "gets comedy" or not, I'm pretty sure it isn't particularly relevant to his reviews of the Orville.
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 12:21am (UTC -5)
McNulty's problem with drinking was setup early, and then revisited over and over again. It was mined for both drama and for dark comedy over the course of the show. The same could be said for The Sopranos.
The Orville isn't doing that.
Ja'loja pays off a joke from season one, but instead of leaning into the weirdness of the ritual "release," the show spends no time on it. It was an opportunity to get more insight into Moclan culture, learn more about Bortus, and wring (pun intended) a lot of low and high brow humor out of the whole setup. Not only that, it could have gotten the whole crew involved.
If this was TNG, Data would have gone to absurd lengths to prepare for the release. Picard would naturally have to ask Data to shut up. As for Picard, he'd likely have some role he'd rather not have. Yet, he'd dive into it because it's a crew member. And if this was DS9, Quark would be finding ways to make money off the entire thing (get your genuine Ja'loja wipes...consecrated by the great so and so for five strips of latinum).
Other than showing up, why exactly does Brotus want the crew there? From a writing prospective, it was just a flimsy way to setup a bunch of relationship sub-plots. They could have just had the crew celebrating Valentine's Day on the ship and gotten the same results without the wasted setup.
Primal Urges further highlights how little we get to know the characters, and how awkwardly they integrate the cast, plots and themes.
Primary example is the shuttle scene with Issac. That traditionally is the point of the episode in which a character has the "talk" that hashes out the core themes and conflicts of the episode. The character has a chance to dig deeper into what is going on with them. But, the show missteps.
The core discussion should be about Bortus's resentment towards Klyden and what happened to Topa. According to the show, Bortus's alleged porn addiction isn't the primary problem, it's just the symptom. Even if that's resolved, it won't automatically change Bortus's feelings towards Klyden.
So what does the writer have the characters do?
Issac asks Bortus why organics need sex/porn for release. Basically the show backtracks and pretends that Bortus didn't drop a huge emotional bombshell. As a result, Bortus doesn't talk about his deep feelings for Klyden. Nor his feelings for his son. Nor does he get into what he now thinks about Moclan society. Nor, after months have passed, does he give us any insight into how he now sees the events from About a Girl.
Lastly, I'm having a hard time with this show not because of the jokes, but because of where the jokes are occurring.
The Orville shifts from being a workplace drama/comedy that happens to be on a spaceship one episode, to being a sci-fi drama with comedy elements the next. Ja'loja and Primal Urges both exemplify the former.
Fine. Just don't have characters like Gordon make highly inappropriate jokes in a meeting with senior staff. Nor, have Kelly, as the second-in-command, comment on how gross the entire ship is. If someone in a position of authority is saying that, it makes you wonder what other men and women on the ship think about the ship's culture. Someone, like Gordon must have more than a handful of write-ups in is own file.
Move that entire scene to the bar or someone's room, when they are off-duty, and it functions much better. Gordon can talk about shooting one off, and Kelly can jokingly say the ship is gross.
That change of local allows them to remain professionals on the bridge, and also act as friends comfortable enough to talk and joke about sex in front of each other. All while not making it seem like The Orville is just one comment away from being investigated for workplace harassment.
I mean come on. Just one episode before, Ed uses the shuttle to spy on his ex-wife, and subordinate. It's multiple levels of creepy.
Again, if you just change that scene a bit you don't have to remove it. Kelly and her new boyfriend are on a date planet side, something happens to the communications. Ed uses that as an excuse to do his fly-by. You could even have someone like Lamar come with him, and Lamar could call him out on what's happening. Wait, is this a fly-by? No. It's not. This IS a fly-by!
Just few changes, and that scene doesn't come off as a major violation of someone's privacy and a court-marshal-able offense.
It also doesn't make Kelly's new boyfriend Cassius seem like an oblivious idiot when he defends Ed. Even Cassius should be at least a little upset Ed was spying on them. Because, for one, drive-by's are just that, drive-by's. They aren't opportunities to peak in someone's window, unless you're in full stalker mode--or your ex just happens to leave their blinds wide open. And two, Kelly and Cassius totally could have been mid-coitus when Ed flew by--which is something Ed should have thought about as a possibility*. Unless Cassius's an exhibitionist, I doubt he'd be defending Ed if that had been the case.
* Which is also something they could have leaned into. If Ed HAD caught them having sex, that could have been played for laughs, acknowledged why that type of behavior is creepy, been a little bit of comeuppance for Ed's behavior, and illustrated why Ed needs to butt out of Kelly's personal life.
Geez. I had a lot of pent up thoughts.
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 3:30am (UTC -5)
@ Trent: misogyny is also aimed an transwomen. The concept is called intersectionality which means that a cis woman has to deal with misogyny and a trans woman has to deal with misogyny and transphobia (and maybe even with racism if they are black for example) and I'm not sure that I agree that the episode was "more" about gender based discrimination and less about gender reassignment surgery. The whole problem of the episode is about effects of that specific surgery. The misogyny is the cultural framework. But this is probably more a question of viewpoint. And there is no real right or wrong here. The rest of what you write seems ok to me even though I want to state again that I have a problem specifically with Macfarlane because of his comments about the subject. His comments are obviously transphobic. Not in a "I want to gas all those degenerates." kind of way and more like:" Trannies are icky."
@ Omicron: Your stance on political correctness is clear at this point and I don't understand why you feel the need to point out repeatedly that you are different. Everybody deviates from the cultural norm in some way. And I'm sure that nobody here would condemn you for whatever makes you different and if a few do then you know how for example transpeople feel all the time but you'd have to change a few people with half of society.
And I fail to see the connection with me pointing out Macfarlanes transphobic comments and therefore finding it problematic that he makes an episode which can be condensed to: "Gender reassignment surgery is bad." and political correctness. If somebody made antisemitic comments in the past shouldn't we be concerned when this person makes a show or whatever about Jewish issues. And as Trent rightly points out in none of these two episodes it is mentioned that in most cases gender reassignment surgery is a good and necessary procedure. The procedure is just presented as bad and hurtful.
@ Darren: While I personally think that boys shouldn't be forced to have circumcision that is a religious issue. Think about baptism for example. Quite a few babies die because of it (bacteria in the water, suffocation because of swallowed water, neck injuries) but try telling Christians that they aren't allowed to do it anymore. There would probably be civil war. And here we are not talking about foreskin but dead babies. And I also find it questionable to compare circumcision to female genital mutilation. While the removal of a basically unnecessary part of the penis could be a childhood trauma and of course these operations going wrong can leave the boy actually mutilated but that is in now way comparable to the willful removal of the clitoris and sowing shut the vagina because of the need to control women.
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 3:53am (UTC -5)
I find Kelly's comment funny.
I found Ed's stalking via a shuttle funny.
But it *needs* to be this kind of show at least 90 percent of the time for it to feel really organic.
While "this ship is gross" comment made me laugh, the scene does undermine the tone of the show yet again. And as I mentioned before this is a recurring issue with this show for me, that while in the moment it can be quite funny, when you think about it in retrospect it feels problematic.
I think the discussion about humor and whether one "gets it" or not is very relevant here. While I like Family Guy, both shows have similar problems, where characters will almost always be sacrificed for a joke. So Family Guy has no character development to speak of, which is OK by me in an animated sitcom, but here it's more jarring. Good humor should arise naturally from the situation. But The Orville has too many random jokes and characters speaking like extras from Family Guy. The reason I absolutely loved Cupid's Dagger from last season was because its premise was humorous to begin with and it was played to the hilt. Now, your mileage may vary whether you find these kinds of shenanigans funny, but the point here is that the humor was natural to the story and was not inserted randomly.
So yeah, when you see these staff meetings and Gordon says how he "went to town this morning" you know you are not on the Enterprise and that this is a different show.
But then, on the next scene, the episode tries really hard to sell you that it is like sort-of the Enterprise, or Voyager. So you're confused. Who are these people really? what is their relationship to one another? Is there any kind of military hierarchy or is it just random? What are the "rules" here? The Orville seems to be making it up as it goes along.
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 11:14am (UTC -5)
Exactly Lynos. Problematic date rape issues aside, the story is built on both the incidents that kicked off the show (Kelly's cheating and Ed's career collapse) and Ed and Kelly's relationship as it's been built up to that point.
Also, in the context of a workplace comedy, it's logical that Ed would eventually run into the dude his wife had an affair with. Where else was Kelly likely to meet someone like Darulio, other than at work. That's the type of stuff that happens in real life. Even if it doesn't happen to you, you work long enough, you'll know of someone that's been in that situation. Hell, people having to interact with their ex's new flames on a project/team/in class happens regularly in high school and college. Which makes the entire episode infinitely more relatable from jump.
"But then, in the next scene, the episode tries really hard to sell you that it is like sort-of the Enterprise, or Voyager."
The episode I laughed at the most so far was Ja'loja. Precisely because it didn't try to be TNG-lite.
At no point did my brain have to reconcile The Orville's superficial and often contradictory exploration of morals and ethics. Nor, did I get pulled out of the story because I was reminded of a similar episode of TNG. I could just enjoy a bunch of characters trying to awkwardly live their lives on a starship.
It's difficult to just have fun when a character's actions hurt his spouse (and possibly his kid) to the point that spouse wants to divorce him via murder, directly endangers 300 lives, and may have indirectly lead to the deaths of 45 people. That's just too much f-ed-upness* committed by one character in one episode.
* Which does not exemplify the moral and ethical Star Trek I remember. The frequent praising of this show as a more "real" and optimistic Star Trek than Discovery honestly baffles me. No captain in Star Trek would have let Bortus get away with that much in one episode. Not without serious repercussions.
Worf only gets away with killing Duras because he did it off ship, and under the jurisdiction of the Klingon High Council. Even then, he's still formally reprimanded by Picard.
Will Bortus's actions have any impact? If the original episode order is an indication, most likely not.
Imagine the fan uproar there would be if immediately after the Battle of the Binary Stars, the remaining crew of the Shenzhou took a detour to Vulcan to celebrate Burnham's birthday.
I can't imagine all of The Orville would have been happy to go to Moclan after Bortus's illicit porn program almost got them fried by giant red sun, and may have accidentally killed a bunch of folks.
Even with the new episode order, I'm pretty sure some crew members would be grumbling. "Didn't we recently just go to Moclan for Bortus? And now he's almost gotten us all killed, just so he can ignore his husband for months while he gets his rocks off. You know what f*** Bortus." In fact, as we've seen so far, Gordon should be the first person to say exactly that.
We'll just have to wait and see.
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 2:14am (UTC -5)
"It's difficult to just have fun when a character's actions hurt his spouse (and possibly his kid) to the point that spouse wants to divorce him via murder..."
I don't think we are expected to "just have fun" in this episode. The inter-character drama was played completely straight (no pun intended) and the audience were expected to treat it as such. The "disintegrating planet" plot wasn't particularly "fun" either. This is a pretty heavy episode, all things considered.
Also, the way you described the situation is pretty unfair to Bortus. You kinda forgot to mention that the whole thing started because Klyden insisted on conforming their child to society's expectations against Bortus' wishes. That's a pretty big thing, so there's plenty of blame to pass around here.
"No captain in Star Trek would have let Bortus get away with that much in one episode. Not without serious repercussions."
What do you mean by "that much"?
The stuff between Bortus and Klyden isn't any of the Captain's business (at least, not until it becomes a case of attempted-murder). Bortus' porn activities isn't any of the Captain's business either, unless in interferes with his duties. We could argue that it *does* interfere with his duties to a certain extent, but requesting to leave your post 15 minutes early a few days in a row is hardly a court-martial offense.
There's exactly one thing that Bortus did in this episode for which he deserves serious repercussions: He installed an unknown piece of software in the simulator without checking it for viruses. And he did this on a f***-ing spaceship, where such things can become deadly.
Had he pulled such a stunt on a real navy ship, he would have been expelled from the service at the very least. But does it really work that way in Star Trek?
I don't think so.
Shall I count the number of times that a Star Trek senior officer endangered the ship because they were criminally careless and nobody batted an eye? The main cast were always above the law to a certain extent, especially when it came to issues of negligence.
"The frequent praising of this show as a more 'real' and optimistic Star Trek than Discovery honestly baffles me."
First of all, it isn't too difficult to be "more optimistic" then dark-and-gritty-Discovery, so that's a pretty low bar to clear.
Secondly, the Orville is indeed more optimistic than anything else on TV these days. Heck, I'll say that DS9 pushed the boundaries of "optimistic sci fi" far beyond what the Orville ever did.
Thirdly, the Orville has intelligent plots and it makes you think, which is more that can be said about 99% of present day TV shows.
Also, remember: The Orville is not *supposed* to be Star Trek. It's in the same general genre of "optimistic sci fi" but there's a big difference in tone It may be similar to Trek in many ways, but it is different in others. This isn't a bad thing. On the contrary, this is what enables the Orville to be its own thing rather than yet-another-Star-Trek-clone.
BTW I *do* think that one of the differences between Classic Trek and the Orville is that the Orville is more realistic when it comes to the characters (with the possible exception of DS9).
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 2:50am (UTC -5)
And yet, the fact that "FGM is far more severe and therefore not comparable" (generalized paraphrase; not specifically what you said) can be said, belies nonetheless an indisputable similarity: that *any* medically unnecessary alteration to a child's genitals, no matter what form, how severe, or indeed, on girls, boys, or intersex individuals, is still, well, an unneeded alteration / destruction of natural form and healthy tissue. One which the individual may grow up to resent / not agree with, only by then, it's long been far too late. Can we really set standards for what's too extreme or severe, and what else is okay?
Consider a murder versus a mugging. To be murdered is far, far worse than to be mugged. One's very life is taken, and all who cared for and depended on said person forever lose them. Compared to being held at gunpoint, say, and having money and credit cards taken is so much lesser that, indeed, legally even, it's quite a different level of crime. And yet, we don't disregard muggings because they're not too akin to murder. We don't want arbitrary standards of what's significantly bad; we just want a lawful society where all are safe and protected.
@ [Everyone]: It's to the credit of "Primal Urges" and "About a Girl" that they have inspired discussions on everything from intersex and trans issues to FGM and circumcision even. Even though the episodes themselves, technically, concern none of these matters. In general, it's one sign of a good story if it speaks to different people in different ways. And for Trek (or Trek-esque), well, Vic Mignogna, the visionary behind Star Trek Continues, once said that a good Star Trek story doesn't tell you what to think, but rather *makes* you think. And while the episodes do seem to want us to side with Bortus, still, enough respect is given to Klyden and the Moclans in general that we can still empathize with them.
And, as impressed as I was that at the end of "About a Girl", Bortus said that no matter the disagreement, Klyden was still his mate and he loved him, here again in "Primal Urges", we have that same sentiment, basically: he may never be able to forgive him for not sparing Topa from the procedure, yet he is still fortunate to have them both in his life. In a world of so much division and isolationism, it's just .... optimistic ... to see characters who struggle with deeply-held personal feelings in conflict, yet come through it all still striving to remain close. (But, the question now is, will Topa ever learn of what was done to him? And how will *he* react to it? Presuming this plot line will continue, this is, of course, a very logical further step to explore.)
In any case, this episode was stellar. It seemed to embody much of what made "About a Girl" good--but without some of the flaws it had--while nonetheless featuring good original content. And to me at least, it substantially contributed to Bortus as a character. I seem to recall having read that, in general, this season will more deeply explore all the characters. If episodes like "Primal Urges" are the result, I think this season will be quite good. (Then, in a third season especially, maybe we could continue with more world-building beyond the ship and crew. Probably my biggest complaint about "The Orville" would be that it can feel too lightweight at times, and maybe a bit too "confined". The humor and such can coexist with deep explorations of the characters that really make us feel for them; and, there's an entire universe to expand upon and explore. For one, I remain very interested in Isaac's reason for serving on the Orville. Is it *really* merely to observe the interactions of the crew? Is he there purely of his own volition, or perhaps at the direction of his government? Either way, what practical gain, if any, does he hope to achieve via his observations? How does he compare to other members of his species? In what ways do the Kaylons interact with and affect the Planetary Union, the Krill, and such, and given their technological superiority, are they alone in that? Or is there at least one other species / civilization that more directly compares to them? I feel there is a *lot* or potential with Isaac ... except so far, he has remained a somewhat bland and insubstantial character. And I mean, given "The Orville" isn't "Babylon 5" or technically even Star Trek, I'm probably imagining a level of complexity it simply won't reach. Still though ... expansions on Isaac and his people are, for one, very welcome.)
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 5:12am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 7:59am (UTC -5)
I'm VERY glad my parents didn't mutilate me.
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
"Also, the way you described the situation is pretty unfair to Bortus. You kinda forgot to mention that the whole thing started because Klyden insisted on conforming their child to society's expectations against Bortus' wishes. That's a pretty big thing, so there's plenty of blame to pass around here. "
You can't lay blame on Klyden for Bortus's actions in this episode.
For one, it was Bortus who went against Moclan traditions and cultural norms, not Klyden. While we as the audience may side with Bortus and his argument, that doesn't make Klyden unreasonable. Even Bortus was for the sex-change from the start. He’s the one that called for the ship to pick them up, not Klyden.
Two, Bortus asked for a tribunal to make the final decision. Klyden didn't go behind Bortus's back to make that happen. IIRC, Klyden even apologized to Bortus for hurting him.
Bortus has the right to still be resentful and angry about the decision. Bortus also has the right to still be upset that Klyden didn't fully consider the reasons why he no longer wanted Topa to go through with the procedure.
However, Bortus is responsible for how he processes his emotions, and for his own actions, not Klyden.
"There's exactly one thing that Bortus did in this episode for which he deserves serious repercussions: He installed an unknown piece of software in the simulator without checking it for viruses. And he did this on a f***-ing spaceship, where such things can become deadly."
On a personal level, it's forgivable that Bortus unknowingly installed a virus. Professionally, he should pay a price.
Bortus is third in command. He's not some lowly ensign.
To your point, it’s a spaceship where it’s much more dangerous for things to go wrong. It’s also essentially a military vessel. Not doing anything to knowingly compromise the ship should be first and foremost on his mind. Installing software he knew nothing about, and didn’t scan, demonstrates extremely poor judgement. Asking a subordinate who's also on duty to help you get said software just compounds the poor judgement.
'"The frequent praising of this show as a more 'real' and optimistic Star Trek than Discovery honestly baffles me."
I'll say the first moment that let me know this wasn't more optimistic than Discovery was when Lamar made a joke that implied he could still be profiled as a black man in the 25th Century. It's passable as a joke we all get as an audience watching from a 21st century perspective. As a bit of world building, it undermines the idea that this is a more optimistic future. It’s like yep, guess racism is definitely still a thing 400 years from now.
Same goes for when Kelly uses the women are just as capable as men argument to persuade the Moclan tribunal. If this was a contemporary drama, she would be arguing for Topa's right to personhood, personal agency, and body autonomy. She’d be explaining how the Moclan’s understanding of gender and gender roles is outdated (the plus in LGBTQ+ must be insanely long 400 years into the future). Which is backed up by the fact that Moclan females are not as rare they purport.
The argument Kelly uses is so regressive, so built on outdated gender stereotypes, and so out of touch with where we are currently, it indicates a future that either hasn't progressed much further than where we are now, or has actually gone backwards.
This is a show that turned a Krill ship into a giant Easy Bake oven, and dusted all of the adults to death [insert inappropriate Mel Brooks WWII Oven Joke here]. While there were kids still on board. As the teacher rightly points out, just how do they not learn the manner of their family and friends’ deaths and that not negatively affect how the see the Planetary Union and the rest of the galaxy. The entire ending of that episode, including it's implications for the future, is the definition of grim-dark.
Then there’s the fact that the show so far has demonstrated a poor grasp on concepts like consent and harassment.
While it can be argued that a captain stealing a shuttle to spy on his wife and her date is comedy, it cannot be argued that it exemplifies an enlightened and more optimistic future. Not unless you really wouldn’t mind your boss driving around peaking in your windows.
Considering that stalking in real life is a crime, and often escalates into some form of domestic violence, it’s not a healthy behavior we should condone. Nor is stalking something we should aspire to.
A character--and species--having the ability to roofie others without their knowledge or consent, is terrifying when you take it to its logical conclusion. Neither Ed or Kelly get super upset when they find out. Nor do they acknowledge that because Darulio knows what effect he has on people, and he still has sex with them, that might be a criminal act.
If people find The Orville more light-hearted and fun, that's cool. The show’s issues aside, totally makes sense. It IS more lite and fun. And it’s true Discovery could use WAY more humor. If it fully wants to live up to the Trek tradition, it needs lighter episodes to balance out the show, as well as give all the characters more depth.
What’s hard to argue is that The Orville is MORE optimistic than Discovery. Just because The Orville is brightly lit, tells more jokes per minute than Discovery does most episodes, and isn’t action oriented doesn't make it automatically more optimistic.
I’d say there isn’t one scene in The Orville that compares to Tilly challenging her fellow crew members to be more compassionate towards Tyler in spite of his crimes, then sitting down to eat with him. That is Star Trek’s optimism and best of humanity distilled into a single moment. If a comparable scene exists in The Orville, please point it out to me.
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
For the record, I've noticed a definite change in what constitutes a professional workplace just in the 25 years I've been working.
Casual Fridays have become casual everydqys. Tattoos and piercings are no longer prohibited. Use if personal tech is tolerated. And so on.
Think about casual things might be 400 years in the future, especially if machines can do almost everything for us for free.
I don't think the Orville is as implausible as you believe.
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 1:37am (UTC -5)
@ Booming: But thanks for the discussion. I feel we both kept it civil, and in the process, a valid perspective on these episodes was brought to light. (Again, one thing I certainly say was good about them was precisely that different viewers can read into them differently. And maybe, in part, to the extents and which ways we each do determines how affecting we found them to be.)
@ Charles J said:
"While it can be argued that a captain stealing a shuttle to spy on his wife and her date is comedy, it cannot be argued that it exemplifies an enlightened and more optimistic future. Not unless you really wouldn’t mind your boss driving around peaking in your windows.
Considering that stalking in real life is a crime, and often escalates into some form of domestic violence, it’s not a healthy behavior we should condone. Nor is stalking something we should aspire to."
@ Dave in MN said:
"I'd rather watch flawed characters I can identify with & relate to than walking paragons of virtue."
Indeed. In fact YouTube was cycling through videos related to DSC and "The Orville" in the background yesterday, and in one, the point was made that good drama comes from heroes being so in spite of their own flaws. (Although oddly, I don't find the Orville crew to be *too* terribly flawed, and nor did I find DSC's characters overly virtuous.)
Take Ed's spying. Yes, it wasn't right, and in real life, would be just as wrong and could lead to things far worse. Yet I feel confident enough in Ed as a character that I don't fear for him indeed progressing to outright stalking. And indeed, that the season is presumably going to show him coming to terms with Kelly's new love interest is precisely the optimism that I feel generally pervades "The Orville".
I mean, I can easily think of so many moments so far that were really uplifting and even inspiring. Something as simple as when Gordon took the time to introduce himself to John (unless it was the other way around ... but same difference), for instance. Or Bortus' sentiments that he still loved Klyden / maybe could never forgive him yet is fortunate to be with him. Or that whole resolution to "If Should the Stars Appear", which, whether by intention or not, to me at least, strongly evoked thoughts of real-life scenarios where people have been abused or neglected or such-or otherwise "trapped" in some situation--but are then given a new lease on life as it were.
"Majority Rule" ended quite nicely as well, with the barista starting to engage again with the "voting" device, but instead then just shutting it off. And even Ed and Kelly's relationship, generally, has been depicted as one of mutual respect. (Obviously, not 100%; but overall.) I mean, former spouses effectively and pleasantly working together in the two highest positions on the ship is really quite something, right? Or even in "Krill", whereby Ed was clearly pained for what they had to do to the people on the ship.
So despite the character flaws, overall, I still find "The Orville" to indeed be optimistic, and uplifting. DSC (which I stopped watching halfway through season one) *did* have it's nice moments. (Michael advocating for and ultimately releasing the tardigrade was one; I seem to recall something with Tilly; and I think something with Sarek.) But then there was, say, Tyler and Lorca leaving Mudd to rot on the Klingon ship, irregardless of his crimes. Or Michael being the only one as I recall who really paid attention to and cared about the tardigrade. Or Lorca (mirror-Lorca) effectively raping Cornwell (insofar as she believed him to be a different man, when in reality not only was he not, but further had no affection or emotional caring for her whatsoever and just preyed on an opportunity). You'd think dialogue could've addressed the severe violation and crime that took place; yet as I recall (and granted, I guess I was aware of this all through YouTube clips and discussions by that point), other than something from Cornwell like "Based on what that universe is like, my Gabriel is gone", absolutely in no way was it recognized. (At least Kelly confronted Ed about his flyby; and didn't he apologize? Granted I saw the episode just over a week ago and should remember; but didn't he? The bad behavior was addressed.)
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 3:49am (UTC -5)
@Darren: Yes, civility seems to be dwindling concept. So thank you for you honest approach to a difficult subject.
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 8:42am (UTC -5)
"What’s hard to argue is that The Orville is MORE optimistic than Discovery. Just because The Orville is brightly lit, tells more jokes per minute than Discovery does most episodes, and isn’t action oriented doesn't make it automatically more optimistic."
I agree. That's not the reason I'm saying that the Orville is optimistic.
"I’d say there isn’t one scene in The Orville that compares to Tilly challenging her fellow crew members to be more compassionate towards Tyler in spite of his crimes, then sitting down to eat with him. That is Star Trek’s optimism and best of humanity distilled into a single moment."
That's a single scene.
On the other hand, Discovery also gave us heros that perform war crimes, and a version of Sarek that advocates genocide. And there's no scene comparable to these horrible horrible things in the Orville either, is there?
So yes, the Orville is far more optimistic. Sure, it doesn't depict a future as "perfect" as TNG, but it is still a version of the 25th century I would very much like to live in.
One can even argue that showing us a crew with everyday human flaws is *more* optimistic than the traditional Star Trek take on the issue. Because the Orville basically tells us:
"hey, it's okay. Humans, even thought they are flawed and will always be flawed, are going to do alright. We won't destroy ourselves and we'll go to the stars and we'll have world peace and a post-scarcity society". That's not optimistic enough for you?
Also, keep in mind that while the Orville crew are not paragons of virtue, they *are* trying to do good in the universe. They are mostly decent people, even though they also have weaknesses and flaws.
And at least none of them planted a bomb in a body to kill mourners, or advocated the obliteration of an entire planet with the excuse of "self-defense". Yes, Ed's flyby is creepy. But (a) the fact that it's creepy was addressed within the show and (b) it's peanuts when compared to genocide.
It is true that the brightly-lit atmosphere helps to cement to the optimistic feeling. There's no denying that it sets a certain vibe and creates certain expectations. But the important thing here is that the Orville delivers on those expectations successfully. Putting it all together, the Orville's 25th century is a pretty cool place to live in. Can you honestly say the same thing about Discovery?
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 11:26am (UTC -5)
The best we can hope for is that they ease up on the dark tone a little and give us more straightforward Star Wars Trek. And don't forget SPOCK!!! This is all so desperate.
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 10, 2019, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
If you want to see my thoughts in depth, see here: https://slackerinc.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/in-which-i-talk-about-my-penis/
I particularly recommend the comments section.
Fri, Jan 11, 2019, 1:33am (UTC -5)
My critique was more aimed at you disagreeing with my characterization and I don't think that I gave one. The only personal opinion I gave was that I think that it should be done when you are old enough to choose. The rest was basically quoting numbers.
Fri, Jan 11, 2019, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 2:16am (UTC -5)
I don't think you understand what a PhD is for. A PhD is for people who want to carry on doing research, not some trade school for clinical practice. Even if we ignore that psychology will likely be different (and hopefully less of a pseudoscience) 400 years from now, even today it's quite possible for someone to have a B.S. in Psychology as well as an M.D.. Such an individual would be qualified to practice medicine as well as to provide marriage counseling. Especially so given the constraints of life within a small starship.
Sun, Feb 3, 2019, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Good boy Seth.
Sun, Mar 29, 2020, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Story A is about Bortus and how he deals with the forced surgery of his child. With porn, they call it but is that even porn anymore. I found it somewhat bold to go that deep into Bortus psyche. There is some meaty stuff going. Then Klyden stabs him because he wants a divorce. Couples counseling. Porn addiction. This could be interesting but felt rushed. Nitpick is the obvious: Why does nobody lock the door of the holodeck? Especially when you have an orgy going.
This is all connected to the B story about a dying planet through a virus that ups the stakes at the end. Again this feels rushed and I must admit there were moments when I enjoyed it. The exploration, sense of wonder, finding the last remnants of a civilization. I also liked it that they didn't take the easy way out. More than half had to be left to die.
I read Jammer's reviews after posting my own ramblings and he gave it a two star rating. I'm interested what he has to say.
Thu, Apr 2, 2020, 11:27am (UTC -5)
Those are fair criticisms.
I'm happy that you're giving this a chance.
Thu, Apr 2, 2020, 11:59am (UTC -5)
I always try to be fair. I just watched the first two episodes of the Mandalorian and I think that it is ok. Like a somewhat childish version of a Clint Eastwood western in space. Great looking obviously but so far eh..., it is better than STP but is it better than the Orville... hmmm... no. It is very effective, I'll give it that. They use the "kindchenschema" (baby schema) meaning big eyes and so on which activates primal instincts in Humans. On the other hand there is the protagonist which uses the other extreme. When you cannot see emotions in a face then your brain fills the blanks which makes it easier to identify with a protagonist. 2-3 things from the good Star Wars movies.
I'm using the 7 day trail for disney plus and those, to quote STP, sneaky motherfuckers are releasing one episode a week. I think I can work my way through all the movies I want to see on that platform in seven days. Problem is that I would not be able to see the last four episodes of the Mandalorian.
I think many people like this show because the last trilogy was such a clusterfuck.
Sorry I just wanted to write about the Mandalorian. :)
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 12:47am (UTC -5)
To me, The Mandalorian has the same feel to it that The Goonies and Indiana Jones have: it's pure adventure with a likeable cast. I can't imagine a kid under 13 that wouldn't find it appealing.
No spoilers of course, but having seen the whole thing, my opinion is that there's not much by way of intellectual depth to the show, the characters are perhaps too broadly sketched and the nostalgia-baiting is sometimes too obvious.
Still, The Mandalorian generally succeeds at what it attempts and not many shows nowadays can say that.
PS: I can't wait to see your review of the next Orville episode! I think you'll like it (he said hopefully).
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 1:50am (UTC -5)
I don't want to call it the genius of the Mandalorian because it really isn't all that genius, let's call it the smart gamble of the show is to tell small and simple stories. That is the real difference. For 10 years or more we have seen one doomsday scenario after another. Even STP used the incredibly overused "Beam creates gate to evil/doomsday" trope from almost every superhero movie. Society was in love with these stupid movies. The only superhero movie I really liked was "Logan" and that was coincidentally also a small story where the heroes were far from borderline/completely invincible. Bottom line. I think in the future we will see more small stories. And ,even though it is horribly manipulative, baby yoda is the cutest thing ever. I want to reach into the screen and hug and care for that little bugger.
The Orville, more by accident I believe, also tells smaller stories, which is one of the good things so far. I'm not sure when I will continue but there is definitely a good chance that I will like it somewhat because now that I know that STP was a thud like Discovery, the Orville shines a lot brighter. Still working my way through Disney+ though (7 day free trail) and I must repeat that I have no idea why anybody would need more than a few days of that subscription. Netflix has a gigantic library, Amazon Prime has a pretty big one and one can also rent stuff there but Disney+ has maybe half a dozen movies and the Mandalorian that interest me. Maybe it is aimed at families with young children. But starting your streaming service shortly before a pandemic that forces everybody to stay at home is almost incredible luck. I waiting for the conspiracy theories about secret Disney bio weapon labs in China.
Tue, Jan 26, 2021, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 14, 2021, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 8:15am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 10:28am (UTC -5)
Also in an overwhelming majority of studies, women preferred a circumcised member over uncircumcised, so there’s that.
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 11:22am (UTC -5)
That is not the point. If parents would hire some butcher son to cut off their children's earlobes, they would end up in prison and the kid would be taken away forever. Doesn't matter if women say that no earlobes makes foreplay more enjoyable or that the guy can run faster because he is more aerodynamic.
" Mutilation is in the eye of the beholder in this case. In some societies like the U.S. or the Philippines, for example, circumcising your child will save them from awkward locker room and bedroom conversations."
What kind of argument is that? First of all, female genital mutilation is fairly accepted in many countries. Doesn't make it right and more specifically circumcision rates in the USA go down quickly. From 85% in 1965 to 57% in 2011 (last data point). On the US west coast circumcised men are probably the ones getting mocked considering that less than 30% are circumcised.
Sat, Sep 25, 2021, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
I think the word mutilation should be left for more serious things like limbs and facial disfigurement.
Tue, Apr 12, 2022, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
I did also find the evacuation scen strange. I normaly not nit pick but I would have expected the people in the cave to be more prepared.
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
Leave it to The Orville to have the central crisis involve a systems failure caused by a computer virus buried within Bortus’ pornography. It’s maniacally funny and tragic on the surface, but as others have mentioned above, it’s treated here with a surprising amount of adult sensibility and compassion. There’s nothing inherently wrong with consenting-adult pornography -- my wife and I watch it together many times! But that’s the point. It depends on how you use it, and why. If you’re addicted to it to the point of it interfering with your work and relationships, as Bortus is, now it’s a problem.
And by the way, what a perfect use for the simulator room (the fact that there’s an icky aspect to the Orville’s being a communal one notwithstanding). In the future, you don’t just watch the porn. You’re a participant in it. I’m sure High-Priest Zuckerberg’s Goddamn Metaverse will allow us all to do this in just a few years. The “Primal Urges” porn scenes themselves are hilarious, full of intentionally bad dialogue, stilted acting and stupidly simple scenarios who bare-bones plots only exist to get right to the sex (just like real porn). One of my favorite South Park moments of all time is when Randy starts watching Lord of the Rings, thinking it’s the porn video he rented, and says, “Ugh, I hate it when pornos try to have a story.” When things start to get serious, Mercer and Grayson discover the program of scantily-clad Moclans on a resort island, and one of the Moclans leers at them while rubbing his nipples. What a hoot!
And after that scene, when it becomes clear that Bortus unknowingly unleashed a virus into the Orville’s system, the whole uncomfortable, cringe-worthy mess unravels and the real story begins. It’s uncomfortable to have your deep-rooted predilections exposed. Both Spock and Bortus are shown to have great shame over their urges. Spock, in “Amok Time,” finds it painful to disclose this part of Vulcan culture to “outsider” Kirk, and Bortus lies to Klyden (“I need to work extra hours”) and Mercer (“I am not feeling well” / “I promised Klyden I’d spend time with him”) to cover himself. This is all well and good, but the real meat is in *why* Bortus is seeking a release through pornography instead of his husband, and this is where “Primal Urges” shines. A mindless sitcom would have “Bortus develops a porn addiction!” be sufficient fodder for the entire episode and the show would basically write itself. But “Primal Urges” delves into the root causes of the issue. It’s genius to call back the events of “About a Girl” and see that, as I suspected might be the case, Bortus is holding his son’s sex change against Klyden.
Peter Macon and Chad L. Coleman both slay this plot. Particularly amusing is the moment in Finn’s couples counseling sessions when they acknowledge each other’s feelings, “using their names as much as possible.” Bortus' and Klyden's dynamic is interesting. Even though Klyden just tried to kill Bortus, Bortus doesn’t want to see Klyden punished and Klyden seems open and willing to work through Bortus’ problem. It’s a neat slap at Moclan culture, by the way, because as Jammer points out, stabbing someone to divorce them requires a moment of *anger* and is rather permanent. But once Klyden’s anger calms down, he starts acting more rationally. I’d imagine a lot of Moclans who have “divorced” their spouses end up feeling remorseful after a few days, or even a few hours, after their anger subsides. Bortus and Klyden, at the end of the episode, share a wonderful scene together. Things are not good, but they’re willing to try.
What leads Bortus to that point is seeing how quickly he could lose the family that he's been taking for granted. His experience on the doomed planet -- while an awfully convenient redemption for his work-related troubles here (I’ll get to that in a bit) -- was deeply moving for him and for us. Macon acts expertly in these scenes, using only his eyes. You can almost see his exact moment of epiphany as he overhears Minister Theece’s-Pieces wishing her husband well in her final goodbye.
Goofy nitpick (no effect on the episode grade) -- For God’s sake, judging by the interior visuals of the shuttle here, they seemed to have *plenty* of room for 45 more colonists! I expected to see them packed in like sardines, standing-room only, like rush-hour subways at 7 A.M. If it’s good enough for us human folk on our way to work, it ought to be good enough for 75 people crammed into one shuttle for a few minutes so that they won’t be incinerated along with their planet. Shit, I remember how in gym class we got 25 people to fit within a small square by having half of the kids hold the other kids up on their shoulders. There must be a weight limit on those shuttles or something.
The porn’s effect on Bortus’ relationship is believable and well-done, but better still is how it affects his job. Bortus apparently doesn’t know that what you do on your own time, on your own personal computer, is your business. But he did the equivalent of downloading porn onto his work computer. And *of course* the boss discovers it! The computer virus angle makes the central shipboard systems crisis grounded in character rather than the result of a science-fiction Macguffin, and it’s a brilliant, welcome choice--a jeopardy angle that doesn't seem artificially forced. I actually laughed when Isaac discovers that a virus traced back to Bortus is the cause of their technical issues -- even hundreds of years in the future, why wouldn’t porn contain loads of malicious code just as it does in our present? I didn’t object to the idea that the Orville could be vulnerable to something like this at all--as security systems get more advanced, so do the tactics of the computer-virus creators; it’s like an arms race. Tough break, Bortus. I wonder if this “infraction” will follow him on his record. That would sure be an awkward conversation in his future job interviews. But because Bortus is in the opening credits and Mercer can’t “fire” him, he is able to redeem himself in the rescue of the colonists. It ties things up for him almost too conveniently. But ultimately there’s still a second redemption he needs to earn -- patching things up with Klyden. Perhaps that journey won’t be so easy.
Bortus -- “Is there an injection I can receive to cure this disease?”
Klyden -- “You have had enough injections.”
My Grade: B+
Thu, Jun 9, 2022, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
“Clean-up.” LMAO. LOL. Har har har. Yikes.
“God, this whole thread is gross.” -- Cmdr. Kelly Grayson
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