Martin Carr reviews the second episode of The Orville season 2…
There is a sensitivity, skill and structural balance at work here which demonstrates what continues to make The Orville so special. Multiple story threads, taboo subjects and same sex unions explored with consideration within a plausibly dramatic set of scenarios. MacFarlane starts from a place of family dysfunction before moving into on-line addiction and touching on a non-biased evaluation of human issues without missing a beat. ‘Primal Urges’ may seemingly be about one thing but as with almost all Orville episodes there are more topics being discussed.
By giving Bortus and Klyden their own episode as in season one MacFarlane explores rarefied territory by examining same sex family dysfunction. What begins as a series of arguments devolves quickly into more primal territory that is at once funny, emotive but always contextual. Both actors play the situation for dramatic integrity rather than anything else which engages without drifting into archetype. Counterpointing that with a life threatening seismic event broadens the scope and allows other cast members dramatic moments and comedic asides. This is a true ensemble episode as each play their part while the writing continues to be perfectly balanced between conflict resolution and literal penis gags.
There is a continued sense of family, familiarity and confidence which comes through, while the depth of ideas breathes life into long term events. MacFarlane is generous, measured and conscientious in allowing each cast member their time in the sun peppering exchanges with something unique. Primal Urges may have been a conventional set of scenarios in any other hands, but with MacFarlane at the helm The Orville repeatedly surprises without being blatant. A point which is no clearer than in the climatic moments where one of the most outrageous structural twists is by turns appallingly tasteless, emotionally riveting but laugh out loud funny.
For those looking for something left of centre which promises to make you think, keep you engaged but never condescend The Orville should be your first stop. MacFarlane and crew remind lesser shows with higher ratings what it takes to reward an audience’s valuable time. Time which is increasingly precious in a television schedule that offers endless choices and no end of alternatives for the attention deficit generation.