Bortus was a Moclan Second Officer and Lieutenant Commander aboard the USS Orville. According to Admiral Halsey, Bortus served on the Orville under a previous captain as second officer prior to Ed Mercer assuming command. He mated Klyden in 2413,[n 1] and they lived together on the Orville with their son Topa.
Bortus is portrayed by Peter Macon.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career under Captain Mercer
- 3 Sex reassignment of Topa
- 4 Relationship with Klyden
- 5 Alternate timelines
- 6 Personality
- 7 Production
- 8 Trivia
- 9 Appearances
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
As a young man, Bortus served in the Moclan Fleet, stationed on the same ship as Locar, an engineer. "The attraction was immediate," Bortus recalled. "From the first day of our gomaskah, I thought I would be with him for the rest of my life."
When their ship visited Theta Draconis 4, Bortus - as the juniormost officer - stood watch while most of the crew, including Locar, took shore leave. However, the ship's captain let Bortus leave to surprise Locar. Bortus found Locar with a Thetan woman. The two broke up soon after.
The Union assigned Bortus to the USS Clemens, and Klyden decided to live with him on the ship as a civilian spouse. Later, Bortus was transferred to the Orville and Klyden followed. (Claire Finn later implies that Bortus was, and is, the only Moclan officer on the ship.) Bortus rose in rank to become Lieutenant Commander, and eventually promoted to the position of Second Officer on the Orville under a previous, unidentified captain.
Career under Captain Mercer
Bortus meets the new captain of the Orville, Ed Mercer, in September 2419, and Bortus quickly establishes himself as a competent Second Officer, even successfully leading the Orville in combat as acting commander several times.
Bortus is put in the captain's chair only several days after meeting his new superior officers, Mercer and Commander Kelly Grayson. After Mercer and Grayson take an away team to the surface of the planet Epsilon 2, Bortus guides the Orville through a difficult battle with a significantly stronger Krill destroyer. In order to survive the fight, Bortus is forced to utilize several highly unusual and dangerous flight maneuvers: first authorizing Helmsman Gordon Malloy to "hug the donkey," a tactic used to distract the enemy from the ground team, and later to align the Shuttle Bay doors so that the ground team's shuttle could enter the ship safely, a second risky maneuver. His daring leadership saves both the Orville and the ground team, though Bortus later said that he failed Mercer because the Krill managed to heavily damage the ship.[n 2]
In November of 2419, Bortus re-assumes command of the Orville when the Captain and the First Officer leave for "the Bio-ship." He is forced to abandon temporarily the away team to rescue the USS Druyan, a colony transport under attack from the Krill. Bortus leads the Orville to victory against the Krill destroyer, then returns to the bio-ship. By this point, Bortus had spent more time in the commander's chair during battle than any other bridge officer aside from the Captain himself.
Bortus is not only a capable commander, but able to fill the role of any member of the Bridge. As second officer, Bortus often finds himself assuming the responsibilities of other officers.In the winter of 2420, Science Officer Isaac left the ship, Bortus performed the Kaylon's duties on the bridge.
About a month later, Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson fall under the influence of Darulio's pheremones, Bortus is forced to liaise between the Navarians and Bruidians. War nearly breaks out between the two species; Bortus, Isaac, and Engineering attempt to erect a barrier between them to buy time, though the plan ultimately fails. Fortunately, Darulio instructs Medical to use his pheromones on the Navarian and Bruidian ambassadors. The ambassadors fall in love with each other and call an end to the hostilities.
Bortus' career hits a nadir in August, 2420, when he installs an unauthorized Environmental Simulator program into the Computer. The program contains a particularly sophisticated virus that shuts down ship systems as it spreads, and jeopardizes the lives of the crew when the ship loses helm control while in orbit of Nyxia. Though Isaac is able to eradicate the virus, Bortus' career receives its first major blemish. As Ed later states:
I have never witnessed an officer behave with such carelessness, selfishness and downright stupidity as you have. As a direct result of your thoughtless actions, you almost destroyed this entire ship and all 300 members of her crew.
Bortus offers his resignation, which Ed rejects. Bortus had traveled to Nyxia to rescue 30 Nyxians at great risk to his own life, so Ed decides to overlook his error. "Porn virus aside, I am very grateful to have you on board."
Sex reassignment of Topa
On our planet, there are no females. For you to judge us by human standards is unfair.— Bortus
After the gestation period is complete, Bortus and Klyden eagerly await the hatching of their egg. They are stunned to discover their newborn is a female.
The birth of the child proves to cause problems on the ship and strains his relations with his husband and with the rest of the crew. In Moclan society, the Moclan female sex is not only rare, but derided as aberrant and disgusting.
Rather than force their child to live the life of an outcast, Bortus and his mate attempt the surgically alter the child's sex from female to male. Bortus is refused by Doctor Claire Finn and Mercer denies his request to order the Doctor to perform it. "My world is different than yours," Bortus objects. "I was hoping you would respect that."
Bortus believes an immediate operation is necessary before the child develops further as a female, and goes behind the Captain's back to hail a Moclan vessel to take the child and perform the surgery. Mercer is furious with Bortus and Grayson tries to show Bortus that the debacle has jeopardized Moclus' position in the Planetary Union, but Bortus and Klyden believe they had no choice. Mercer relieves Bortus of duty.
Fellow commanding officers attempt to change Bortus's mind. Chief of Security Alara Kitan takes Bortus boxing. She easily defeats him in the ring to show him that, on a person-by-person basis, women can be superior to men in certain things. Bortus is angry and, perhaps, embarrassed, and leaves to his quarters. Malloy and Navigator John LaMarr greet Bortus with beer and the movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The attempt succeeds: "Without Rudolph's nose, Santa would not be able to complete his voyage... What was clearly a deformity became a supreme advantage. One could never know."
Bortus attempts to convert Klyden, but his mate is adamant the operation proceed. When Bortus learns that Klyden was born female, he is shocked and hurt that his mate hid such information from him for years.
Bortus meets Captain Vorak in the briefing room alongside Grayson and Mercer. Vorak implies a threat against Mercer; Bortus defuses the situation by formally requesting Tribunal for an injunction staying the procedure. It is a two week trip to planet Moclus. Bortus, Klyden, and the child stay on the Moclan vessel for their trip.
The Tribunal pits Bortus against his mate. Bortus requests Grayson to serve as his advocate, who squares off against Advocate Kagus. The trial lasts several days, but the council finds insufficient cause to enjoin the operation and the child's sex is change to male shortly after.
In a private conversation with Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson, Bortus reaffirms his love for his mate, no matter the outcome. After the operation is performed and back aboard the Orville, Bortus names the child Topa and tells Klyden that they must work together to give their son the best life he can have.
Yet the trial created an emotional rift between the two. A month later, Bortus has begun working increasing hours, and avoiding discussing the matter with Klyden. Klyden begins persistent over-eating as a means of therapy.[n 3][n 4] Eventually, the couple begin to bicker constantly, which wears on Bortus' emotional resolve.
By June, the now eight month old Topa has matured to the equivalent of a seven year old human. As Klyden complains that he cannot spend his day entertaining Topa, Bortus requests that Topa be enrolled in the Orville school.
Relationship with Klyden
Bortus and Klyden met while the former was stationed on Moclus. Their gomaskah consisted of an evening meal in the Moclan Central Arcade followed by combat games in an environmental simulator. Bortus was pleased with Klyden's combat skills: together they shot 339 simulated opponents. They became mates around 2413.
Bortus loves his mate Klyden deeply, but their relationship grows strained after the tribunal over their child's sex drives a wedge between them. After the child's sex is reassigned, the couple begin to argue when they had not before. According to Bortus, the two fight constantly, which begins to disrupt his sleep. Bortus spends increasing amounts of time at work and less time with the family, sometimes showing up to work an hour ahead of schedule to avoid arguments. during a private moment, he confides in Doctor Finn that "all we do is fight; Klyden will not stop eating; the child never sleeps; and we have not resumed normal relations."
The two discussed the tribunal many times, and eventually decided to move on but Bortus internally resents Klyden. "I resent what [he] put our child through," he later stated. "And I do not know if I can move on."
Soon after the tribunal, Bortus begins to seek sexual and emotional fulfillment in the Environmental Simulator through various erotic programs, and his interest in Klyden wanes. By August of the next year, his prurient interest develops into a full-blown addiction. At one point, Ed notes that Bortus leaves work early for the simulator five times in a single week.
Divorce and reconciliation
As Bortus' sex addiction worsens, Klyden grows increasingly despondent and the two do not copulate for some time. Bortus lies, stating his long absences were from work and refuses to discuss the emotional rift between them. In August, Klyden tries to divorce Bortus by Moclan tradition: driving a dagger through his heart and attempting to kill him.
The attempt was unsuccessful and Bortus survives. Ed relieves Bortus of duty and requires him and Klyden to attend daily couples counseling with Claire. The next day, one of Bortus' erotic simulation infects the ship's Computer with a virus that jeopardizes the lives of the entire crew, and Bortus realizes the harm his addiction causes. He confesses to his mate that he has been a poor husband, and "retreated into a fantasy world" instead communicating the pain of Topa's tribunal.
I do not know that I will ever be fully at peace with what happened to Topa. But today, I witnessed events that I am very fortunate to have you and Topa in my life. And I do not wish to lose you again.
The couple get back together, albeit cautiously.
In the months that followed, Klyden and Bortus maintained a strained peace.
Klyden's persistent and deep disrespect of women grated on Bortus. When Topa shoved his classmate Olivia for a toy, Bortus was upset to hear Topa say Klyden believed females were inferior and therefore "it doesn't matter what they think." Klyden, on the other hand, believed life aboard the Orville had changed Bortus' view of women for the worse.
Soon after, The Sanctuary, a refuge for Moclan females, applied for recognition within the Planetary Union, and Moclus threatened to secede. Bortus accused Klyden of being happy to return to Moclus, that he never felt comfortable aboard the ship and did not like living around so many women and girls on the Orville.
In an alternate timeline where Ed Mercer did not become captain of the Orville in September 2419, Griffith took command. Bortus served under Griffith in the Battle of Earth, and became its acting captain when Griffith and an unnamed first officer were killed. Bortus stayed with the ship as crashed into the Earth, but most of the crew escaped. He waited for months, trapped in the ship at the bottom of the Mariana's trench, until he was rescued by a group of surviving officers led by Kelly Grayson. When Bortus learned that Klyden and Topa were killed when the Kaylon destroyed Moclus, he joined the group to send Claire Finn to the year 2414 to restore the timeline.
Tell Klyden congrats, and if you got one more in you, dibs on the omelet. Sorry. Bad joke. Bad yolk. ... You know, I'm just not gonna try at comedy with you anymore.🔈ℹ︎— Ed to Bortus after he laid an egg
Similar to other members of his species, Bortus carries a serious, formal demeanor, and he values combat ability and strength above other characteristics.[n 5] More so than other Moclans, he is career-focused to the point that he is away from his family. Bortus approaches conversations coldly and logically, often misunderstanding jokes[n 6][n 7] and rarely breaking decorum even in casual situations.[n 8] For this reason, non-Moclans often struggle to communicate properly with him. Nevertheless, Bortus does have a sense of humor, finding slapstick humor to be genuinely amusing.[n 9]
Bortus is hard on himself, believing any result less than perfect is failure. For example, as acting commander, Bortus was able to save the Orville from destruction at the hands of a superior Krill ship. Yet he later confesses to Mercer that he failed the Captain, because the Krill were able to destroy the upper spatial tensor coil. This is further illustrated by his confession that his greatest fear is to lose to a superior opponent.
Perhaps one of the most notable attributes is that Bortus does not follow Planetary Union directives or social mores if those standards conflict with his own highly-developed personal moral code. For example, Bortus has no problem going behind Captain Mercer's back to call for a Moclan vessel to perform a sex reassignment of his child. Bortus' reasoning is that failure to change his child's sex would lead to her living the life of an outcast in Moclan society, a result that would be far worse than a broken Union rule. Bortus's moral vision is sharply criticized by Commander Grayson, who accuses Bortus of "failing to see" that his actions jeopardized relations between Moclus and the rest of the Planetary Union.
Relationship with the crew
While Bortus is unquestionably a capable and level-headed leader, his relationship with the rest of the crew is somewhat complicated. He associates most closely with LaMarr, Malloy, and Kitan, and infrequently spends his free time with other crewmembers. When Captain Mercer makes a social call, Bortus thinks that he is "suspected of some misdeed."[n 10] Bortus and Klyden invite Mercer for an evening of oppsada, a Moclan beverage, and a game of latchkum, but Mercer's hand is impaled by the latchkum's dagger and he calls oppsada a "poo drink." Bortus does host LaMarr and Malloy for beers and a movie, but LaMarr and Malloy invited themselves.
Because of the wide social divide between Moclans and other humanoid species, Bortus often misses social cues that other crewmembers find obvious. Kitan, LaMarr, and Malloy delight in challenging him to eat various inedible items. Later, he ends up an unwitting part of a prank on Lieutenant Yaphit by Malloy and LaMarr. At a good-bye party for Chief Engineer Steve Newton, the pilots place a piece of Yaphit in a cake, a piece of which Bortus eats. Yaphit is forced to retrieve his body part by entering Bortus' stomach through the mouth.
Early character drafts
The character of Bortus was introduced in the pilot script by April, 2016, though his lines were changed from that time until the show's premiere in September, 2017. He was described as "a thick, broad, very alien-looking humanoid with a rippling epidermis that looks like hardened lava" and worked in the ship's armory. His armory position was eliminated during production of Season 1, though he sporadically visited it in Season 2.
In an early draft of Old Wounds, Bortus claimed to be a proud warrior and that he does not dance because it is a "foolish waste of stamina." Later, he allowed LaMarr to play a slapstick video of a cat attacking a human. While bridge crew cackled, Bortus called the cat a brave warrior.
Bortus was first seen in the May 2017 trailer from Fox. Actor Peter Macon (Bortus) revealed the character at the San Diego Comic Con on July 22, 2017, giving details of his character's career, his relationship with Klyden, and the intricacies of being a member of an all-male species.
Costume and makeup
Early looks of Bortus varied widely; one included an extremely wide neck and chin, another a far more recessed nose. The only stipulation while drafting Bortus was that Macon's mouth area be kept clear to prevent prosthetic breakdown after hours of shooting.
Howard Berger, the make-up department head for Season 1, presented a final head sculpture to creator Seth MacFarlane by November, 2016 for approval so production of the prosthetic make-up could begin. Berger explained:
Bortus had a big evolution. The initial design process was pretty long for Bortus. It was at least a five month period. Once Peter Macon was hired, we brought him into KNB and we live-cast him so we had his head and we could sculpt on that. And we went through a couple different versions, we never quite hit it. ... I set up a little sculpting area, and I just sat and sculpted for like three or four hours with Seth, and we finally hit on what Bortus's look was.
The face prosthetics are three pieces: a head cowl made of foam rubber, a chin piece, and a face piece, all blended in with the actor's skin. The face piece in particular was challenging, requiring Macon to flare his nostrils at a precise moment to make the prosthetic fit his head when applied. Additionally, Macon wears a foam rubber body piece.
The physical design of the character took substantially longer to complete than other characters. It took the department artists four hours to apply a full costume on Peter Macon and two-to-three hours to apply just the head. In total, Macon would spend 12-to-16 hours per day, four days a week, six-to-seven months of the year in his makeup.
The head cowl and face piece slightly disorient Macon, who says he loses "about 30% of [his] hearing" while wearing them: "[I]t's a lot like walking around with your hands over your ears and talking, and I can hear my voice in an almost unnatural way. It took me a while to get used to that and to figure out how to play with that. It made me extremely self-conscious because I didn't feel natural just talking and listening to my fellow actors. I've got really good at lip-reading [laughter]. Which is fun, but people make all these jokes around me on set, I can't hear it and they know it, so I'm the butt of the joke."
- He has a fear of being overwhelmed by a stronger opponent, which may explain his unexpectedly emotional reaction to losing to Alara Kitan at boxing.
- Though he is only second officer, Bortus has spent more time as acting captain than any other bridge officer aside from the Captain himself.
- According to Peter Macon, Bortus is fascinated by the "zaniness of his fellow crewmembers."
- Bortus fancies himself a singer, telling the Bridge crew he sings,[n 11] and later singing "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion at karaoke.
- It was Gordon who taught Bortus "My Heart Will Go On."
- Bortus can eat nearly any common organic or inorganic object, but eating Yaphit causes him intense stomach discomfort.
- His birthday is six days apart from Kelly's birthday in either late October or early November.
- In 2420, his birthday fell on a Monday.
- His authorization code is 5-2-8-9-1.
- He finds Lieutenant Tharl annoying because he "does not stop talking," "makes loud noises when he consumes food," and "comes to the Mess Hall wearing sandals."
- In December 2420, Bortus grows a mustache at the suggestion of Helmsman Gordon Malloy.
- He views heterosexuality in Moclans as "a dangerous impulse."
- The IKS Bortas is the name of a Klingon vessel that assists the USS Enterprise in a stand-off in the episode The Defector on the show Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- The only episode in which Bortus makes no appearance is the comic book Heroes, Pt. 1, although he is incorrectly credited as appearing.
- Bortus testifies that Klyden and he became mates six and a half years prior. Because the date was at the tail end of the year 2419, that means they mated some time in 2413. Episode 1x03: About a Girl.
- Bortus tells the Captain that he failed him for this reason after Mercer returns to the Bridge. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
- The first sign of his eating problem begins in Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear.
- According to Bortus as stated to Doctor Finn. Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger.
- Bortus is first attracted to Klyden's high score in the combat simulator. Episode 1x03: About a Girl.
- He does not understand the humor in Mercer's aside about urination at night during staff role call. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds.
- Bortus fails to see why "dibs on the omelet" is funny. Episode 1x02: Command Performance.
- Bortus does not understand why Mercer would make a social call. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry.
- Bortus agrees with Malloy that slapstick humor is funny. Episode 1x05: Pria.
- Bortus does not understand why Mercer would make a social call. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry.
- "I sing." Bortus in Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
- Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
- Episode 2x13: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
- Episode 2x01: Ja'loja
- Episode 2x07: Deflectors
- Episode 1x03: About a Girl
- Claire: "There are only two officers on board who may be able to withstand the radiation [of Nyxia's sun], Isaac and Bortus." This implies there are no other Moclan officers on the Orville. Episode 2x02: Primal Urges
- Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
- Episode 1x08: Into the Fold
- Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
- Episode 2x01: Ja'loja
- Episode 3: About a Girl
- Episode 1x02: Command Performance
- New Beginnings, Pt. 1
- Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
- Episode 2x12: Sanctuary
- Episode 1x05: Pria
- Episode 2x14: The Road Not Taken
- Command Performance
- Episode 1x10: Firestorm
- Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
- The World of the Orville
- MacFarlane, Seth. Orville 1x01 - Pilot. Fox Broadcasting Co.
- "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Peter Macon, Mark Jackson, Chad L Coleman". Whedonopolis Video. July 26, 2017.
- Berger, Howard & Maxine Morris. "Space and Beyond". The Artisan. 2018.
- Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 78.
- "Crafting Aliens With Howard Berger | Season 1 | THE ORVILLE". The Orville. Oct. 31, 2017.
- Video by The Paley Center for Media. March 17, 2018.
- "SDCC2017 The Orville Interview with Peter Macon". FanboyNation. July 26, 2017.
- Brennan, Mark. "Peter Macon on the man behind the mask in The Orville". exit 6. Aug. 18, 2020.
- Orville Live Stream Q&A with Scott Grimes, Kelly Hu, J Lee, Peter Macon, & Mark Jackson. GalaxyCon. July 16, 2020.
- Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 74.
- Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
- Episode 1x06: Krill
- Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
- Episode 2x04: Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes
- Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain