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My friend, I have learned never to make predictions in matters of love. I am usually dead wrong.Olix[1]
Ja'loja is the premiere episode of the second season of The Orville. The USS Orville heads towards Moclus for Bortus’ special once-a-year ceremony, and Ed discovers Kelly has moved on and has started dating. Meanwhile, Gordon asks for John’s help with his dating life, Alara goes on a blind date, and Claire deals with parenting troubles.

The episode was written and directed by creator Seth MacFarlane, and aired on December 30, 2018 a Sunday night. Music was composed by John Debney. The episode included special guest stars Jason Alexander as Olix and Will Sasso as Mooska, and Michaela McManus returned as the dark matter cartographer Janel Tyler. According to actress Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson), the episode takes place several months after the conclusion of Mad Idolatry.[2]

Ja'loja posted very high ratings among American television audiences. Roughly 5.683 million viewers watched the episode live, surpassed only by the series premiere Old Wounds and its follow-up Command Performance, which aired back when the show was scheduled after the heavily watched Sunday night football.[3]

This episode is also notable for reversing a Season 1 trend where general audiences rated The Orville far more positively than by professional critics. Professional critics gave Ja'loja a remarkable 100 percent "Certified Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes, praising the show for daring to focus the season premiere on character development.[4] The episode currently holds a rating of 7.3 on IMDB.[5]

PlotEdit

Act 1 Edit

Several months have passed since Kelly Grayson broke up with Ed Mercer. He sits alone at the bar at night in the Mess Hall, drinking and lamenting his ennui, when he is joined by Alara Kitan and the two co-miserate about their failures in love and self-doubt.

Second Officer Bortus approaches and formally requests redirection to his home world of Moclus for his yearly urination ritual.

Act 2 Edit

Ed Alara Janel Tyler

Alara gives newcomer Janel a tour of the Orville.

In the Briefing Room, the Captain orders the senior staff to treat Bortus' ritual with dignity. Bortus explains the importance of the ceremony, ja'loja, and invites them to attend with a significant other. Planetary Union Central grants clearance for the trip because Outpost 58 will be on the way, where the USS Orville was already scheduled to pick up their new dark matter cartographer Janel Tyler.

Grayson finds Mercer in his office to inform him that she is dating again, but refuses to name the man. Kelly also refuses to confess whether she loves Ed, pointing out that his judgment is warped as long as she remains his First Officer.

Tyler joins the Orville via shuttle, escorted to the Bridge by Kitan. While Tyler familiarizes herself with the navigational array, Helmsman Gordon Malloy awkwardly flirts with her.

Isaac teaches Ty Finn piano. Marcus Finn asks his mom, Claire, if he and James Duncan can go to the Environmental Simulator. When Claire says that he can go after dinner if his homework is done, James whispers loudly, "Dude, is your mom always such a pain in the ass?," causing Claire to dismiss James. Marcus leaves and Claire complains that she cannot understand why her teenage boy seemingly hates her.

Act 3 Edit

Cassius Marcus James Duncan

Marcus and James attend class under Cassius.

James, Marcus, and a third boy hack the Food Synthesizer of a vacant unit to synthesize a bottle of vodka and scurry to the simulator room.

Meanwhile, Malloy wants to invite the new dark matter cartographer as his date to Bortus's ja'loja. He first presses Kitan for information on Tyler but she demurs. He asks Chief Engineer John LaMarr for advice on approaching women.

Cassius, a school teacher on the Orville, teaches class. Both James and Marcus give snide answers to Cassius's questions. Cassius tells Grayson that he is concerned that James is a bad influence on Marcus.

That night, Mercer fawns over old photos of he and Grayson on a picnic, then he takes a shuttle from the Shuttle Bay.

Bortus offers Kitan a blind date with a subordinate officer. She agrees, curious to meet him.

Cassius and Grayson have a date in Cassius's quarters until she sees Mercer spying on them from outside in the shuttle. They take their date to the simulator where they find the three miscreant boys, drunk on vodka.

Act 4 Edit

Claire is incensed with her child. "I'm starting to think I suck at this parenting thing," she later tells Isaac.

In the Matter Synthesizer room, LaMarr synthesizes a stylish new jacket for Malloy.

Kitan finds out Dann is her blind date. While she initially attempts to politely cancel the date, she feels bad that Dann struggles to find love on the ship and schedules drinks with him for later that night.

Grayson confronts Mercer in his office about spying on them but he redirects the conversation to Cassius. Grayson states that she believes the two would actually get along were circumstances different.

Act 5 Edit

Claire meets James' parents, Nathan and Jody Duncan. James had lied to his parents about hacking the food synthesizer, and the parents now place blame on Marcus and schedule a parent-teacher conference to request Marcus be removed from the classroom.

Cassius's "evolved," "high-road" attitude towards the Captain irritates Grayson. "I'm not going to be angry at Ed if I don't feel it," he says. "Now, if you just calm down-." But is interrupted by his girlfriend, who leaves madder than before.

Malloy practices meeting women in the simulator room under the tutelage of LaMarr. After a few rounds, LaMarr believes his friend is ready to approach Tyler.

Claire invites Isaac to the parent-teacher conference. "At least it won't be two-against-one."

Act 6 Edit

Kitan and Dann meet at Mooska's for their date. He reads a romantic poem to her and insists upon criticism, but then is crushed by her feedback. She excuses herself to the bathroom and even then Dann sends her a comscanner message: "I miss you."

Mercer meets Cassius to apologize for spying. When Cassius admits that Grayson walked out on him after a fight, and that he already comes from a failed marriage, Mercer empathizes and provides crucial dating tips to mollify her.

Act 7 Edit

Bortus Ja'loja

Bortus stands atop his n'kafas, ready to urinate and complete the ja'loja ritual.

The parents and Isaac meet Cassius for the parent-teacher conference. The Duncans cannot believe their son is rebellious. Jody maintains that her son is a straight-A student, which contradicts Cassius's grades. Isaac looks up Cassius's academic file and discovers it was manipulated while Marcus's file was not. Isaac reports James to Commander Grayson for hacking academic records. Elated, Claire invites Isaac to ja'loja.

Malloy is about to ask Tyler out but flees at the last second.

The Orville has arrived at Bortus' n'kafas on Moclus, and he urinates on a cliffside before a crowd.

At the ja'loja after-party, Grayson tells Cassius that a date with red wine and the band Journey reminded her why she loves him. (In fact, those were Mercer's suggestions.) Malloy is amazed by Dann's poem and the two bond. The Finns tell Isaac they owe him one.

But Mercer sits alone at the bar, once again nursing a drink. He wishes he did not give Cassius advice that will end them up together, but the bartender Olix is not so sure, "My friend, I have learned never to make predictions in matters of love. I'm usually dead wrong." They are interrupted: "Hey, is anyone sitting here?" And Tyler takes a seat next to Mercer.

Production Edit

Ja'loja Shuttle Bay

Preparing to film Bortus' "ja'loja" on a set constructed in the Orville's Shuttle Bay.

After having been off the air for over a year, MacFarlane wanted to write a premiere episode that would "reacquaint" audiences with the crew. "We’ve been off the air for a little while, and hopefully by the end [viewers] will feel like [the show] never left."[6] New recurring characters were written, Cassius and Janel Tyler, who indirectly formed a rift between Ed and Kelly.[2]

He decided to write a premiere that would feature an ensemble of "character pieces"[2] in place of space exploration or, as Ed says, "a Krill invasion." According to actress Adrianne Palicki (Kelly), the episode takes place several months after the events of Mad Idolatry.[2]

Early development Edit

A fragment of a production script published on February 15, 2018 shows that the opening scene of the episode originally had Kanoot, and not Olix, as the bartender, and an unused alien species called "Florites."[7]

Ed Mercer
. . . [Florit]es have to play all these [depre]ssing songs? Maybe somethin[g] . . . [lit]tle more upbeat?
Kanoot
. . . [i]f I could talk to him . . . Florites have a spe[cial] . . . [langu]age that is . . . to translate.
Ed Mercer
. . .


This scene was revised. On February 22, actor J. Lee (John LaMarr) published a partially-obscured updated version of the first page of the script that showed significant revisions.[8]

[ANGLE ON a 1940s-era phonograph, which plays "As Time Goes By". FAR to find ED, sitting alone at the bar. KANOOT gives him a drink.]
Ed Mercer
How long have you had that thing?
Kanoot
Had the computer replicate it last week. I'm trying to warm this place up a little, y'know? Get a nice vibe goin'.
Ed Mercer
The late . . . jazz. Depressing . . . at-the- . . . same time. I can help you there.
[KANOOT serves . . .:]
Kanoot
Here you go. . . .
Ed Mercer
Y'know what the worst days are, . . . the days when you can't . . . Just watch.
[ALARA appears or something like this.]
Alara Kitan
Mind if I join you?
Ed Mercer
Have a seat. I can see . . .

Jon Cassar Season 2 filming

Producer Jon Cassar published this photo to his Instagram showing the set of Captain Ed Mercer's office for the episode.

A February 26 leak by Ivy Thaide of the wardrobe department revealed another page of the script.[9][10]

[They exit Ed's office.]
[INT. ORVILLE - ED'S OFFICE]
[Ed sits at his desk, [text unclear] . . . [text unclear]: we see a few i[text unclear] . . . picnic, inexorably while th. . . fun, looking very happy.]
[INT. ORVILLE - SHUTTLE BAY - . . .]
[Ed enters, stands about awkwardly . . . approaches one of the LIEUTENANTS o[n duty.]]
Ed Mercer
Hey, Lieutenant, I'm gonna... [text unclear]p.
Lieutenant (beat; confused)
Okay, sir.
Ed Mercer
I'll be back in a little bit.
Lieutenant
Do you want me to assign a pilot?
Ed Mercer
Oh no, I'm just going to... go for a drive.

Cast changes Edit

Thaide's image also showed several characters planned for this early stage, including Mooska, Woman, Xelayan Woman, and Nathan, but also two who were removed: Kanoot and someone named Gabbino.[9]

Filming Edit

Table read ja'loja

In this photo by Jon Cassar, the cast assemble to read the episode script.

Scripts were released on February 5, 2018.[11] A table read of the episode occurred on February 23, 2018.[12] Filming began February 26 at 8 a.m.[13] with the working title of "TBD."[14] While filming likely took only seven or eight days, actors report some filming was conducted in the last week of March, which may have been second unit film.[15][16]

Actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) reflected that it was very difficult to shoot scenes discussing Bortus' "ja'loja" and not break out into laughter:

At the end of that episode, when we watch him pee, it took everything in all of our power to get through that. It’s a serious moment, where he’s having his Ja’loja and he’s peeing in front of us. What you didn’t get to see, ‘cause they edited it out, was that he continues and you actually hear him pee. Bortus just went to town and made all these pee noises. Imagine how good it would feel, after a year. It was hilarious. So, we don’t keep a straight face, at all. Seth laughs at everything.[17]

According to Peter Macon (Bortus), the full urination scene was about 28 seconds with Bortus loudly groaning in satisfaction. An alternate take of the scene had Bortus peeing first and then quietly moaning 'ja'loja.'[18]

Post-production Edit

On March 19, editor and associate producer Tom Costantino confirmed the episode was in post-production.[19]

During filming, Bortus' "ja'loja" scene included the sound of him urinating. However in post-production, MacFarlane unilaterally removed the sound because he felt its humor made the Moclan species appear silly, which in the long run undercut an intended sense of equal dignity across species.[20]

Preparing to air Edit

The first information from the episode came on March 6, 2018, when editor and associate producer Tom Costantino published a photo of a green screen set with several props like a gnarly tree.[21] (This was from the scene of Bortus' urination off a cliff.) On March 18, actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy), said the premiere would concern "love" and "relationships on board [the USS Orville]."[22]

A day later at PaleyFest, Grimes added that he was excited to have an upcoming episode that takes place entirely on the Orville and elaborated:

We literally did an episode that was kind of all inclusive to the ship.... If you’re on a ship of 300 people, and it’s allowed to have relationships — obviously, Bortus and Klyden have a relationship right there — so of course stuff is going to happen, more so with some characters than the other characters.[2]

After PaleyFest, the cast and crew spoke did not speak of the episode until the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con when executive producer David A. Goodman revealed that the crew would return to the planet Moclus.[23] Shortly before airing, Goodman promised only that Ed and Kelly will "pick up" where Mad Idolatry left off, "and we take it, I think, in a really interesting direction. We get to see [Adrianne and Seth] really do some interesting, fun, compelling work as actors."[24]

Reception Edit

Viewership Edit

Ja'loja performed very well on its debut, the third-most watched television series of the week and the ninth-most watched overall.[25] Nearly six million Americans watched the premiere live, including 1.52 million viewers aged 18-49, making it the third-most watched episode of The Orville after the series premiere and Command Performance.[3] This was a significant improvement over the Season 1 average of 4.3 million and even higher than the well-received finale Mad Idolatry of 3.5 million.[26]

The episode performed even better over "delayed" audiences. Over the next three days, The Orville's audience grew by a tremendous two million viewers to 7.6 million, making the show easily the most popular across all networks for the entire week.[27]

Among general audience viewers, Ja'loja was widely seen as a good episode but weaker than Season 1. It currently holds a 7.3 rating on IMDB, the second-lowest rated episode of the show.[5]

Critical response Edit

Professional critics responded very warmly to Ja'loja. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Season 2 the rare score "100% Fresh."[4] "Well, shit," Seth MacFarlane tweeted. "Let's enjoy this while it lasts."[28]

Critics gave the episode very high praise. For example, Den of Geek, now reviewing through Ryan Britt, gave the episode four stars writing that the show was finally playing to all of its strengths.[29] (Although a lone dissent, Jammer of Jammer's Reviews, called Ja'loja a "middling" episode and gave it 2.5 stars.[30])

Ja'loja changed the minds of many who were sharply critical of The Orville in Season 1. Nick Wanserski, who gave the show only modest scores in Season 1, praised Ja'loja as a "low-stakes" premiere that developed its characters in lieu of battles and action. "And honestly," he concluded. "That's great."[31] But perhaps the most abrupt about-face was Liz Shannon Miller of indieWire. Miller, who had once pilloried The Orville as "creatively, morally, and ethically bankrupt" and a "Star Trek rip-off,"[32] wrote that Ja'loja was a "character-driven dramedy" that makes The Orville "a show worth watching."[33]

Trivia Edit

  • The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

    The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

    A composite video with outtakes from this, and other, Season 2 episodes.

    The 29th century time-traveler Pria Lavesque taught the Orville how to map dark matter in Pria. The knowledge was adapted by the Planetary Union and formalized into dark matter cartography.
  • Bortus mentioned that Moclans urinate only once a year in Old Wounds.
  • According to Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy), the original footage of Bortus' urination included the sounds of him peeing, which was edited out in post-production.[17]
  • Outtakes and bloopers from this episode were compiled by the show's editors for the Season 2 wrap party and were published by the Planetary Union Network.[34]
  • Executive producer David A. Goodman has said:

I think our characters are more flawed than [characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation]. ... They are still jealous; they still get pissed off. One of my favorite scenes is ... where Ed steals a shuttle and spies on Kelly with her new boyfriend, which was Seth’s idea. To me, that is great. This captain on this ship borrowing a shuttlecraft to spy on his ex-wife while she is making out with her boyfriend. That is not something you would ever see Captain Picard [of Star Trek] do.[35]

References Edit

Cassius classroom Ja'loja

A stellar chart behind Cassius shows Tarazed 3.

  • Star Trek Alpha Quadrant

    Cassius' map of Tarazed 3 looks to be an homage to Star Trek's official map of its alpha quadrant.

    Cassius mentions the Battle of Tarazed in class. The planet Tarazed 3 is visited by Krill and Planetary Union ambassadors to sign a Lak'vai in the episode Blood of Patriots.
    • The battle is probably a shout-out to the "Battle of Tarazed" from Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, another television sci-fi show.
    • A chart of a planet is displayed on the wall of Cassius' classroom (presumably Tarazed 3). The chart is clearly a nod to "The Alpha Quadrant," an old map from the Star Trek series drawn by Mahyar Entezari.
  • A song played throughout the episode is the 1931 classic "As Time Goes By," written by Herman Hupfield and made popular through the film Casablanca.
    • The choice of "As Time Goes By" is particularly interesting as the song is a staple in MacFarlane's work, having recorded the song and used it in an episode of his earlier show Family Guy.[38]
    • The song probably alludes to Rick in Casablanca who similarly found himself alone, miserable, and aimless in a bar through the movie.
    • The vinyl record on Olix's phonograph is the album "Theme From 'Z' And Other Film Music" by Henry Mancini, released in April 1970. Side 2 of the vinyl record starts with "As Time Goes By."
  • MacFarlane confirmed that the central conceit of Ja'loja was a nod to Theodore Sturgeon, writer of the episode "Amok Time" in Star Trek: The Original Series (which was also its second season premiere).[39]
    • In "Amok Time," Spock must return to his home world of Vulcan for pon farr, the rare act of procreation.
  • Ty Finn practices Beethoven's "Für Elise" on the piano.

Mistakes Edit

  • When Ed asks Olix about his phonograph, Olix replies that he had "the Computer replicate it last week." This possibly arose from confusion with Star Trek's replicators; ordinarily, inedible matter on The Orville is "synthesized," not "replicated," via matter synthesis. (Jason Alexander, the actor behind Olix, is famous for his love of Star Trek.[40])

Cast Edit

James Duncan Jake Brennan

Actor Jake Brennan published this promotional still just hours before the episode premiere.

Names and titles are as they appear in the credits unless otherwise noted.

Main Cast Edit

Special Guest Star Edit

Recurring Cast Edit

Uncredited Recurring Cast Edit

Guest Cast Edit

Uncredited Edit

References Edit

  1. Ja'loja
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Topel, Fred. "SETH MACFARLANE ADDRESSES CRITICS’ HARSH TAKE ON THE ORVILLE STORY LINE". Rotten Tomatoes.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Orville: Season Two Ratings. TV Series Finale. Jan. 2, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Orville: Season 2. Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed Jan. 5, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Episode List. IMDB. Last accessed May 6, 2019.
  6. Keveney, Bill. "Seth MacFarlane offers mix of old and new on return of ‘The Orville’". Chicago Sun-Times. Dec. 27, 2018.
  7. @maxhair706. "And so we begin Season 2 #THEORVILLE". Instagram. Feb. 15, 2018.
  8. Snapchat videos of @jleefilms compiled by /u/arrosofshield. "The First Table Read of Season 2 is today!" Reddit.com. Feb. 22, 2018. Script transcribed by /u/u_suck_paterson.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Thaide, Ivy. "Here we go! Season 2 Day 1 of our first Ep. May the costume Gods be ever in our favor #firstday #hollywood #theorville #costumedept #syfy". Instagram. Feb. 26, 2018.
  10. Transcription by /u/xeow. "Page from the Season 2, Ep 1 script has been posted. Can we read it?" Reddit. Feb. 27, 2018.
  11. Thaide, Ivy. Instagram. Feb. 5, 2018. Online at https://www.instagram.com/p/Be0dyLyn1Bk/
  12. Snapchat videos by jleefilms. Compiled by /u/arrowsofshield. "The first table read of season 2 is today!" Reddit.com. Feb. 23, 2018.
  13. Thaide, Ivy. "Here we go! Season 2 Day 1 of our first Ep. May the costume Gods be ever in our favor #firstday #hollywood #theorville #costumedept #syfy". Instagram. Feb. 26, 2018.
  14. Cassar, Jon. "Here we go #TheOrville season 2 starts shooting. Stay tuned." Instagram. Feb. 26, 2018.
  15. @melvindiggs_. "#fbf shooting tv show last week. Had a dope time. Thank you.Happy Friday". Instagram. April 6, 2018.
  16. @AliciaLWillis. "Just booked a guest star on The Orville with Seth Macfarlane directing:) Can’t wait to work with him! Also My costume is Amazing!!!!!". Twitter. March 5, 2018.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Radish, Christina. "Scott Grimes on ‘The Orville’ Season 2’s Bigger Scope and Working with Seth MacFarlane". Collider. Jan. 10, 2019.
  18. "The Orville Official Fan Podcast w/ Peter Macon (30)". Planetary Union Network. Feb. 13, 2019.
  19. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Tom Costantino, Scott Powell, Bart Rachmil & Hillary Wills". Planetary Union Network. March 19, 2018.
  20. "Tom Costantino Interview". 151 The Show. Jan. 20, 2019.
  21. @TomConstantino. "We decided to green up the place. @TheOrville #TheOrville". Twitter. March 6, 2018.
  22. Topel, Fred. "SETH MACFARLANE ADDRESSES CRITICS’ HARSH TAKE ON THE ORVILLE STORY LINE". Rotten Tomatoes. March 18, 2018.
  23. Steinberg, Lisa. "David A. Goodman, Brannon Braga & Jon Cassar – The Orville – Comic Con 2018". YouTube. July 21, 2018.
  24. Bennett, Tara. "The Joy of Seth". SFX Magazine. Jan. 2019. Pg. 42-43. (However, article published online Dec. 4, 2018.)
  25. Welch, Alex. "‘The Orville’ premiere lands high, ‘Sunday Night Football’ stays on top: Broadcast top 25 and network rankings for Dec. 24-30". TV by the Numbers. Jan. 3, 2019.
  26. Lovett, Jamie. "'The Orville' Ratings Rise With Season 2 Premiere". ComicBook. Dec. 31, 2018.
  27. Pucci, Douglas. "Live+3 Weekly Ratings: ‘The Orville’ Second Season Premiere Leads in Overall Raw Gains During Holiday Week". Programming Insider. Jan. 4, 2019.
  28. @SethMacFarlane. "Well shit, let’s enjoy this while it lasts.". Twitter. Jan. 3, 2019.
  29. Britt, Ryan. "The Orville Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Ja’loja". Den of Geek. Dec. 31, 2018.
  30. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Ja'loja". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed May 6, 2019.
  31. Wanserski, Nick. "The Orville begins its second season with a strong, low-stakes, character-focused episode". AV Club. Dec. 31, 2018.
  32. Miller, Liz Shannon. "‘The Orville’ Review: Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Star Trek’ Rip-Off is Creatively, Morally, and Ethically Bankrupt". indieWire. Sept. 8, 2017.
  33. Miller, Liz Shannon. "‘The Orville’ Season 2 Premiere Review: ‘Ja’loja’ Might Be the Show At Its Best". indieWire. Dec. 31, 2018.
  34. THE ORVILLE SEASON 2 GAG REEL. Planetary Union Network. April 30, 2019.
  35. Pascale, Anthony. "Interview: David A. Goodman On How ‘The Orville’ Wrapped Up Season Two And Where It Could Go Next". TrekMovie. May 3, 2019.
  36. "Adrianne Palicki Talks With GYGO". Get Your Own Geek. May 3, 2019.
  37. "Seth MacFarlane Dating Much Younger Costar Halston Sage, Actress' Family Confirms". Radar Online. June 11, 2018.
  38. "Seth MacFarlane - As time goes by". Youtube. Published Feb. 8, 2011. Last accessed Feb. 23, 2018.
  39. @SethMacFarlane. "For the sci-fi deep divers: Tonight’s show contains a little nod to writer Theodore Sturgeon, who was blending sci-fi and comedy before any of us #theorville". Twitter. Dec. 30, 2018.
  40. See, e.g., Archive of American Television, "Jason Alexander discusses appearing on "Star Trek Voyager"", YouTube (July 9, 2014).
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