The Orville: 2.02 Primal Urges
The second episode of The Orville season two was intended to make up part of the show's first season. It was then held back with the intention to kick off the second season but at some point was again rescheduled making Ja'loja the season premiere. As a result we're not quite into new season territory yet and there are clear links between Primal Urges and About A Girl with this latest tale acting as something of a follow up to the events in that episode.
You'd be forgiven for feeling like The Orville was turing into The Bortus Show - as for the second week in a row his story is the core of the episode and we find that the the gender reassignment that was carried out on Klyden and Bortus child might not have been totally forgiven. It's good to see that such a challenging subject was something Seth MacFarlane is still keen to tackle on the show.
Primal Urges sees The Orville tasked with rescuing the last surviving members of a civilization set to be destroyed as their sun rips their planet apart. In the meantime we learn that Bortus is hiding something from Klyden, and is spending a lot of time in The Orville's equivalent of the Star Trek's Holodeck taking part in erotic simulations with other Moclans. The pair eventually end up in marriage counselling in which we discover that Bortus hasn't forgiven or forgotten the surgery their child was put through.
Much has been made of The Orville being a natural follow up to Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that continues to be the case, MacFarlane's use of the show to tackle current day issues is a clear reflection of Roddenberry's earliest intentions. While The Orville might have a more adult edge than Trek of a couple of decades ago, the themes and subjects are again very much the sort of thing we could have expected a modern TNG-style Trek to address.
The Orville continues to impress in other ways too. The cast all turn in great performances - we really feel for Bortus (Peter Macon) and Klyden (Chad L. Coleman) as they struggle through their relationship problems. There was a real risk that the Moclans could have been little more than Klingons on steroids, but there's a subtlety to Macon and Coleman's portrayals that really works. There was less to laugh about than in some episodes of the show - and the fact that The Orville can play it as straight as it can funny is a real strength.