The Orville #14: Primal Urges

"I can't have a ship with normal people? It's like, it's got to be all stabby and and--all right. You know what? Fine."
IN THIS ONE... Bortus' porn addiction causes problems in both his love life and a mission of mercy.

REVIEW: A sequel to About a Girl, this Moclan-heavy episode shows that Bortus never forgave Klyden for changing Topa's sex, causing a rift in their marriage, and in seeking refuge from it, a sex addiction with now deleterious effects on his work and home. Discussing pornography might seem juvenile in a way - DS9 and recently Lower Decks have intimated the same uses for the holodeck in a joking manner - but the topic is treated with some seriousness (Gordon talking about his masturbatory habits is the joke version of the idea, I agree with Kelly that the ship is "gross", or at least the over-sharing is). Naked Moclans lounging around, or whatever dungeon kink Bortus is into, is not the kind of thing I want to see, but Doctor Finn acting as couples counselor IS. I think one of the reasons we can take it so seriously is that the Moclans are culturally humorless. They're always in deadly earnest (deadly like their divorce proceedings). This is one of those episodes where I quite appreciated how precise their language is (by which I mean how they use English). It takes humor to turn a phrase, but they take part in the "sexual event" and discuss everything in the most academic terms. So Bortus is perhaps the best character to put words to his addiction, and that speech is quite well done -- except for the mother's teat metaphor which is so un-Moclan it hurts.

Parentheses: I do have problems with some of the details of the production. That reference, for one, but also things like the alien who sells Bortus the envirused simulator program saying he has a contact who would like a Union officer as a client, when he himself is a Union officer (I thought maybe not, but then he's named as Lieutenant Unk. (He is very cool though; I love how far the show is willing to take its alien looks.) Or how about the way they land the shuttle its hatch away from the door when ambient radiation and time are a big problem? Little things, but they bug me.

Okay, back to the meat of the episode... The mission with the planet being engulfed by a red giant is just one gorgeous effect after another (the stellar phenomena and the ship's hull burning up), but it serves a purpose. Bortus is one of the only ones physically built to go rescue some 75 survivors on the doomed world (the other is Isaac at his most dickish in this episode), and when things get worse and only one trip can be made, that shrinks to 30. He sees first hand a paired mate make the ultimate sacrifice, and that experience puts things in focus for him. Though expressive only in the most reserved way, the Moclans really can be touching, and they are in that final scene. We wish them well.

WHERE SOMEONE HAS GONE BEFORE:
Bortus' problem is a more lascivious version of Barclay's in "Hollow Pursuits". Captain Picard was also stabbed in the night - by Jono, in "Suddenly Human". A lot of Trek episodes where the ship/station has a computer virus feature a scene where the food replicators do something weird to foreshadow bigger problems. I don't normally talk about the music even if it has a lot of homages to Trek scores, but in this case, the Moclan theme sounds too much like the Klingon theme from the original cast movies not to mention it. Missed connection alert! Nana Visitor was cast to play Minister Theece (who may be named for TOS costume designer William Ware Theiss), but lost the role when her agent failed to inform her.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A little Moclan porn goes a long way, but the emotional core of the story is worthy.

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