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And the only feeling I am left with, the only thing I know, is that a death has occurred.Bortus[1]

Primal Urges is the second episode of the second season of The Orville. The crew of the USS Orville race against time to save a group of survivors on a planet about to be destroyed by its sun. Second Officer Bortus and his mate Klyden start marriage counseling after Bortus develops an addiction to the Environmental Simulator.

The episode was written by Wellesley Wild and directed by Kevin Hooks. Music was composed by John Debney. Information about the episode is scarce. Neither Wild nor Hooks has ever commented on Primal Urges, the only instance in the show's history when both the writer and the director declined to speak publicly about their episode.

Primal Urges underwent significant re-scheduling by the 20th Century Fox network. For most of 2017, the episode was slated to be the twelfth episode of Season 1 and to air on December 7, after New Dimensions and before Mad Idolatry but was moved to Season 2 for unknown reasons. After a brief stint as the scheduled Season 2 premiere, Primal Urges was made the second episode.

While the episode was one of the most-watched that week across network television, by most metrics the episode performed below expectations. Nearly 3 million American households tuned in to the live broadcast, well under the Season 1 average;[2] and it currently holds a 6.7 rating on IMDB, by far the lowest rated episode of the show.[3] Professional critics gave the episode mixed reviews. With Bortus' ja'loja as the focus of the previous episode, many critics found the show too concerned with Moclan society at the expense of other civilizations.


Immediately after the Season 2 premiere concluded, 20th Century Fox aired a one-minute trailer for Primal Urges. The video mixes clips from this episode with scenes from Home, Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes, and All the World is Birthday Cake.


The Orville "Primal Urges"


Act 1[]

The bridge crew of the USS Orville watches an exploding red giant star devour the final planet of its system.

Second Officer Bortus retires from his shift 15 minutes early and heads to the Environmental Simulator. He initiates program Bortus 486, which turns out to be an erotic simulation with another Moclan.

Act 2[]

Bortus enters his quarters late at night, having spent the last few hours in the simulator. He resists Klyden's requests for sex and the two sleep. The next morning, Bortus, Klyden, and Topa eat plokta. Klyden requests Bortus make more time for the family. Bortus refuses to discuss the matter further but does agree to return to their quarters after work.

On the bridge, Isaac detects possible deposits of dysonium ore beneath the surface of the final surviving planet. Captain Ed Mercer directs Isaac to assist Chief Engineer John LaMarr and the Engineering team to modify the ship's tractor beam, which will be used to extract the dysonium once the giant star devours the planet's crust.

Bortus requests to leave work, ostensibly to spend time with the family, but he returns to the simulator for another erotic program. That night, Bortus lies to his mate that work kept him late. Klyden is deeply upset but attempts to make love. Bortus refuses and goes to sleep. In the middle of the night, Klyden stabs him in the chest with a dagger.

Act 3[]

Doctor Claire Finn and her medical team save Bortus' life. Awake, Bortus learns that Chief of Security Alara Kitan heard him scream and that Klyden is now in the Brig. He wishes Finn had let him die and explains that Klyden was divorcing him: On Moclus, a Moclan divorces his mate by killing him. He petitions Mercer to release Klyden and, after tentative permission from Planetary Union Central, Mercer allows it on the grounds that the couple receive counseling.

Isaac informs Mercer that the deposits of dysonium on the planet were not naturally formed; a vast, subterranean culture responsible for the deposits once existed. Unfortunately, the imminent breakup of the planet renders any recovery of the culture impossible.

In couples counseling, Bortus promises that he still feels attracted to Klyden. Finn assigns them "homework" to make a list of ten fun activities to do together. On their way out of Finn's office, Bortus says that he has a small task for the Captain, but he will return to quarters at 1800 hours to craft a list with Klyden. Bortus leaves for the simulator for another erotic simulation.

Act 4[]

Bortus meets with Lieutenant Unk, an alien whose species is famous for highly stimulating pornographic simulator programs, and requests a Moclan orgy program. Unk promises to deliver a new one from a friend on his planet.

Scanner logs show the subterranean civilization is still active, and Mercer speaks with their leader, Hallan Theece, First Minister of the Nyxian people. One hundred years ago, the planet's scientists learned their sun would engulf the planet and the people retreated underground. Only 75 people survive and the planet will break up in 24 hours. LaMarr believes that if the Orville moves very close to the planet and diverts all power to its deflector screens, the deflectors could cover a shuttle while it lands on the surface and rescues its survivors.

Elsewhere on the ship, for reasons unknown, the Food Synthesizer produces only an inedible black slop and LaMarr sends a technician to work on it. Meanwhile Klyden catches Bortus in the simulator with the new orgy program.

Act 5[]

Bortus is addicted to the simulator and Klyden wants a divorce. Bortus confesses that he lost his desire for sex with his mate since the Tribunal on Moclus.[4] He feels deep shame that Topa's sex was changed without consent and resents Klyden for forcing it: "I resent you, Klyden. I resent what you put our child through and I don't know if I can ever move on."

The engineering team notices persistent power disruptions in the shuttle they planned to use. Thanks to LaMarr's hunch, Isaac finds a computer virus responsible for both the food synthesizer's problems and the disruptions. The virus' source is Bortus' new program running in Environmental Simulator 3. Isaac writes a program to eradicate it, which can be implemented in the simulation room.

Act 6[]

Meanwhile, the shuttle's power was re-routed to avoid the virus altogether. Bortus and Isaac, the only two officers on board who can withstand the star's enormous radiation output, are sent to Nyxia. En route, the two discuss Bortus' addiction and the toll it has on his psyche. Bortus and Isaac make contact with the Nyxians but the break up accelerates, leaving only time to evacuate 30 people.

A lottery is held and the 30 Nyxians board the shuttle. The First Minister had abstained from the lottery, but her husband Altox and their daughter Nathius were among those selected. The shuttle returns with the survivors and the planet is destroyed.

Unfortunately, the virus has severed helm's control over the ship and the Orville begins descending into the star. Isaac employs a counter-virus that restores control, and the Orville, badly damaged, escapes.

Act 7[]

Dann Isaac John Cove of Pleasure

Isaac deploys a counter-virus to restore control of the ship, distracted by Bortus' erotic program.

The Captain is furious with Bortus, and the Moclan tenders his resignation. Mercer refuses to accept it, recognizing that Bortus saved 30 lives.

Back at home, Bortus speaks with his mate. "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."

"I do not wish to lose you either," Klyden answers, and the family spends the night together.


Seth built this world where the comedy is slap sticky and wrong. There are some things where I was saying I can’t believe that we are filming this.Peter Macon[5]

Primal Urges was written by Wellesley Wild between June and October 2016 although, curiously, the earliest cast lists reported the episode as written by Seth MacFarlane,[6] which may represent an old clerical error.

The concept of Bortus' addiction to sex in the Environmental Simulator was inspired by Star Trek. In panel discussion at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, MacFarlane pointed to executive producer Brannon Braga, remarking "we used to joke about, that if there are actual holodecks [Star Trek's version of the simulator] you wouldn't be playing Robin Hood,[n 1] you'd basically be going in there to masturbate."[7]

The set of the surface of Nyxia was constructed in the Orville's large and spacious Shuttle Bay.[8] Filming began in late July or very early August 2017 under the direction of Kevin Hooks.[9]

While filming the erotic simulation between Bortus and the Moclan prison guard, actor Jude B. Lanston struggled to pretend to spit water on Peter Macon in a convincing fashion on camera. Macon eventually gave up and told Lanston to spit directly on him.[10]

In an interview with The Orville Podcast, Macon spoke of how being a father has helped him understand Bortus's role as a father and Second Officer. He believes that Bortus ran to his family when the Orville was nearly destroyed by the red giant star:

There's an episode that comes up where Isaac and I get off the shuttle, and the ship is not good. We did two separate runs and I was like, 'Where would I be going right now? Maybe he's going to go check on his family 'cause his family is on the ship.[11]

Music was composed by John Debney. When the Orville leaves Nyxia, abandoning many Nyxians to their deaths, MacFarlane originally had Debney compose exciting travel music. However, Debney wrote a second version that was sadder and more pensive, attempting to capture the meloncholy of the situation. After listening to both takes, MacFarlane selected Debney's alternate, sadder composition.[12]


Mess Hall-0

Scenes inside the Mess Hall were re-shot to include the new Season 2 dining tables (right). Note the old Season 1 tables from Krill (top-left) and Mad Idolatry (bottom-left)

To comport with the timeline of the show, Macon said that scenes were either re-shot or otherwise edited.[13] According to associate producer and editor Tom Costantino,[14] those new scenes are:

  • The argument between Bortus and Klyden at breakfast was re-shot so that Topa (played by the older Blesson Yates) caught up to his correct age.
  • All scenes inside the Mess Hall were re-shot as different tables were used in Season 2.

Preparing to air[]

There's definitely some interesting things that go on in that simulator. Some mildly disturbing things...Adrianne Palicki[15]

On June 10, 2017, Fox announced Primal Urges as the twelfth episode. A short cast list was published briefly on IMDB,[6] which - though later removed - was independently confirmed by its actors.[16][17]

Because actors and crew expected Primal Urges to air in the first season, the episode was the subject of much discussion from the cast. The plot or elements of the plot were teased by Peter Macon (Bortus),[18] Chad L. Coleman,[19] MacFarlane,[7] Adrianne Palicki (Kelly),[20] Scott Grimes (Gordon),[21] and the executive producers.[22][13]

Macon especially found the episode hilarious,[23][n 2] frequently addressing it interviews with statements such as, "There's things on this show that happen I cannot believe that this is what we're doing. It's so wrong; it's so wrong; it's so wrong. You'll see and remember me saying that."[24]

Season rescheduling[]

Moclan Prison Guard

Actor Jude B. Lanston published this image to his Twitter as Moclan Prison Guard.

Fox renewed The Orville for a second season on November 2, 2017. On November 14, Fox announced that the first season would lose an episode, Primal Urges, and move it to Season 2 as its premiere. On November 21, 2018, Fox announced that Primal Urges would air on December 30, 2018 after Sunday Night Football.[25] However, on December 18, Fox quietly moved the episode to January 3, 2019, and made Ja'loja the premiere episode.[26]

Little explanation has been given for the schedule changes although the Planetary Union Network, which had intimate knowledge of the show's production, reported that the order was always intended to start with Ja'loja.[27] Editor and associate producer Tom Costantino later said that the episode was moved to Season 2 due to its "intimacy."[28]



Largely because of its sharp sexual material, the cast and crew wondered how audiences would receive Primal Urges. Several days after airing, actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) stated: "I watched [Primal Urges] and wondered how the people were gonna take it. This show surprises me, every week, with the social and political commentary that is underlying and sometimes not underlying."[29]

Unfortunately, relative to preceding episodes, Primal Urges' performance was disappointing. Two million, eight hundred and twenty-one thousand Americans watched the episode live, 0.63 million of whom were ages 18-49.[2] Primal Urges became the least-watched episode of The Orville to that point by a wide margin. Fortunately, an additional 2.152 million viewers watched Primal Urges in the three days after its premiere, making The Orville easily the highest percentage growth in viewers that week.[30]

The episode currently holds a 6.7 rating on IMDB, making it the lowest-rated episode of the show by nearly a full point.[3]

Critical response[]

Critics responded lukewarmly to Primal Urges. Both Ryan Britt of Den of Geek and Nick Wanserski of AV Club thought this episode (and Season 2 in general) was too "weirdly focused" on Bortus and Moclan culture.[31][32] Jammer of Jammer's Reviews gave the episode two stars. He recalled that 20th Century Fox withheld Primal Urges from Season 1 and concluded, "If the intention was to hold a weak episode, they picked the right one."[33]



The Orville Season 2 Gag Reel

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

  • According to science consultant André Bormanis, the spectrum of the red giant star that appears on the Orville's monitors is a real spectrum from a star.[34]
  • Nana Visitor, who played Major Kira on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was originally cast as Minister Theece, but lost the role after her agent forgot to tell her.[35]
  • When Bortus lies in the Mass Tissue Regenerator in Sick Bay, he seems to refer to Klyden as female, saying, "I did not realize she was this unhappy with me."
    • This may be an unintentional linguistic phenomenon known as assibilation. Actor Peter Macon was lying on his back and gravity might have caused his tongue to fall back and closer to the corona of the mouth, which would produce a sound closer to <sh> in English. This would also explain why Macon, earlier in the same scene, twice said "he" with an unusual pronunciation.
  • The gloves of Bortus' unique spacesuit are in fact Icon Hypersport Pro Short Gloves with the black knuckle guard painted white.[36]
  • The perverted Lieutenant Unk was secretly performed by Seth MacFarlane.[37]
  • While filming the erotic simulation between Bortus and the Moclan prison guard, actor Jude B. Lanston struggled to pretend to spit water on Peter Macon in a convincing fashion on camera. Macon eventually gave up and told Lanston to spit directly on him.[10]
  • 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.[38]
  • Associate producer Aaron McPherson makes a cameo appearance as Crew Member, an unnamed Ensign who says, "Hi, Commander," to Bortus.
  • This episode received The Orville's only broadcast standards note from 20th Century Fox's corporate board due to its sexual, controversial material. MacFarlane responded, "Oh, that's right. We have a broadcast standards department; I never hear from them."[39]
  • This episode and A Happy Refrain are actor Mark Jackson's (Isaac) favorites.[10]
  • This episode is Macon's favorite.[10]
  • Macon watched the episode live with his mother, which proved an uncomfortable experience: "We were just super silent the whole episode. I felt 14 all over again."[10]
  • Bortus tells Isaac that his urge for sexual release is primal, "like a baby seeking its mother's teat." The choice of metaphor is odd considering that, with rare exceptions, Moclans have no mothers and their children do not suckle.


  • Gordon asks if the exposure to Nyxia's solar radiation will be "ark of the covenant bad," referring to the movie Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Ed and Kelly wonder what Moclans do on a birthday - "Light the parents on fire?" In All the World is Birthday Cake, Bortus celebrates his birthday with a simple birthday cake, laughter, and music.


  • The episode takes place in August 2420.
    • The episode takes place over three days, from the initial observation of Nyxia until its final destruction.
    • A week before the episode begins, Dann finds out he shares a birthday with Ed.
  • Bortus told Klyden he would meet him in their quarters to make a list of fun activities at 1800 hours.
  • First contact with, and rescue of, the Nyxians takes place in under 24 hours, which is the amount of time the computer estimated the planet had left.
    • The engineers initially believe the shuttle will be prepared in nine hours, but later say there are 10 hours remaining to Ed.
      • Ed answers the Nyxia will "be gone" in less than 10 hours. Unless Ed is exaggerating, that means over 14 hours had elapsed since first contact.
    • After the shuttle returns with the Nyxians, the Orville has six minutes to regain helm control before the star destroys them.
  • Isaac states Earth's star will not become a red supergiant for another five billion years.
  • Nyxians first learned of the destruction of their planet around the year 2320.

Episode titles[]

Title Language Translation
Désir primal French "primal desire"
Urtriebe German "primal instincts"
Elemi ösztön Hungarian "basic instinct"
Bisogni primordiali Italian "primordial needs"
原始の衝動 (Genshi no Shōdō) Japanese "primitive impulse"
Примитивные позывы Russian "primitive urge"
Instintos básicos Spanish "basic instincts"
Примітивні бажання Ukranian "primitive desires"


  • Sick Bay treats Bortus in a Mass Tissue Regenerator. In Season 1, the production team established that the Regenerator is used to regrow limbs. However, contrary to the Regenerator's original intended use, we see the device used to maintain metabolic rate and for defibrillation when Bortus entered cardiac arrest.
    • This is not a formal error, as the original intended use of the Regenerator was only established in extra-canonical comments by the show's producers.
  • In the simulator program Bortus 931, the Moclan script on the wall is accidentally written sideways.
    • The writing, in the Moclan language, reads "MOCLUS" in a circle.
  • When Bortus stands topless in the "Cove of Pleasure" program, a seam in the costume can be spotted on his shoulder.
  • When the star gravity well begins pulling the Orville in Gordon exclaims "I've lost attitude control" instead of "I've lost altitude control." (Mistaken as an error, but actually correct. "Attitude" refers to "the orientation of an aircraft or spacecraft, relative to the direction of travel.")


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

Main Cast[]

Special Guest Star[]

Recurring Cast[]

Uncredited Recurring Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Uncredited Guest Cast[]


  1. MacFarlane is referring to the episode "Qpid" from Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which the character Q forces Captain Jean-Luc Picard and several other officers to play Robin Hood characters.
  2. The interview is not dated by the author. However, a different article discusses the interview that is dated September 21, 2017, and thus Macon's comment must be earlier. Eddy, Art. "PETER MACON – MY LIFE OF DAD". Life of Dad. Last accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  3. Not found in the episode cast list but included in a season-wide cast list released in the Summer of 2017. Confirmed by Jordan's Twitter page.

See also[]


  1. Primal Urges
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Orville:Season Two Ratings. TV Series Finale. Last accessed Jan. 5, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Episode List. IMDB. Last accessed May 6, 2019. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":7" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Episode 1x03: About a Girl
  5. [[1]]
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Episode #1.12". IMDB. Archive Nov. 4, 2017. Last accessed Jan. 14, 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Seth MacFarlane at The Orville panel. San Diego ComicCon, 2017. July 20-23, 2017.
  8. Lineweaver, Stephen & Robert Strohmaier. "The Orville: A Chance to Design the Future". ADG Perspective. July-Aug. 2018. Pg. 101.
  9. "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Adrianne Palicki, Seth McFarlane". Whedonopolis Videos. July 26, 2017.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Sun - Main Stage | NYCC 2019 | SYFY WIRE. SyFy Wire. Oct. 6, 2019.
  11. "THE ORVILLE PODCAST EPISODE 3 - THE PETER MACON INTERVIEW". The Orville Podcast. Sept. 22, 2017.
  12. The Orville Q&A with Stan Jones, Jason Clark and Oscar Nominated Composer John Debney. The Los Angeles Film School. June 8, 2020.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Surette, Tim. "The Orville: Everything We Know About Season 2". TVGuide. March 19, 2018.
  14. /u/editboy1000. "At least one scene of Primal Urges has been re-shot for season 2 - The tables are new". Reddit. Jan. 4, 2019.
  15. [[2]]
  19. Video by The Paley Center for Media. March 17, 2018.
  20. Surette, Tim. "The Orville Is Headed for a 'Bigger' and 'Intense' Season 2". TV Guide. Dec. 23, 2018.
  21. Stuart, Alasdair. "Scott Grimes Interview: The Orville actor on going boldly the MacFarlane way". MYM Buzz. Dec. 7, 2017.
  22. "NYCC 2017: Brannon Braga & David A. Goodman - The Orville". WithAnAccentTV. Oct. 13, 2017.
  23. "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Peter Macon, Mark Jackson, Chad L Coleman". Whedonopolis Video. July 26, 2017.
  24. "SDCC2017 The Orville Interview with Peter Macon". FanboyNation. July 26, 2017.
  25. Griffin, Jennifer. "THE ORVILLE 2×01 “Primal Urges” Photos Read more at THE ORVILLE 2×01 “Primal Urges” Photos | ScreenSpy". ScreenSpy. Nov. 21, 2018.
  26. THE ORVILLE [EPISODE CHANGE]. The Futon Critic. Last accessed Dec. 19, 2018.
  27. @planetary_union. "As we replied to another comment; This is the order they were supposed to run in initially.". Twitter. Dec. 18, 2018.
  28. "Tom Costantino Interview". 151 The Show. Jan. 20, 2019.
  29. Radish, Christina. "Scott Grimes on ‘The Orville’ Season 2’s Bigger Scope and Working with Seth MacFarlane". Collider. Jan. 10, 2019.
  30. Pucci, Douglas. "Live+3 Weekly Ratings: ‘The Masked Singer’ on Fox is Also a Hit in Delayed Viewing". Programming Insider. Jan. 12, 2019.
  31. Britt, Ryan. "The Orville Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Primal Urges". Den of Geek. Jan. 5, 2019.
  32. Wanserski, Nick. "The Orvilleexplores 3-dimensional porn addiction, exploding planets". AV Club. Jan. 4, 2019.
  33. Epsicokhan, Jamal. "Primal Urges". Jammer's Reviews. Last accessed May 6, 2019.
  34. Oulette, Jennifer. "The Orville blends science fiction and science fact into a winning mix". Ars Technica. Dec. 29, 2018.
  35. Ulster, Laurie. "Nana Visitor Says She Wanted To Be Captain Janeway, Explains Why She’s Not On ‘The Orville’". April 10, 2018.
  36. Icon Hypersport Pro Short Gloves. Revzilla. Last accessed Feb. 6, 2019.
  37. /u/editboy1000. "At least one scene of Primal Urges has been re-shot for season 2 - The tables are new". Reddit. Jan. 2019.
  38. THE ORVILLE SEASON 2 GAG REEL. Planetary Union Network. April 30, 2019.
  39. "Mindscape 58 | Seth MacFarlane on Using Science Fiction to Explore Humanity". Sean Carroll. Aug. 5, 2019.