The Orville failed to find success with the critics. However, the same can’t be said for the consumers, who embraced the first season to a surprising extent, so much so that the gulf of opinion between critics and consumers received a fair amount of interest in the media. Regardless, The Orville was popular enough to warrant a second season, which has started up with “Ja’loja” on December 30 of 2018. On the whole, it wasn’t bad, which could be interpreted as evidence for the popular position that Season 2 of The Orville will be even better than the last.
Why Season 2 of The Orville Promises to Be Better than the First
First, “Ja’loga” suggests that The Orville will be maintaining a mix of comedy and drama, which is one of the points that seem to have sold it to interested individuals when the first season was on. In short, the titular Ja’loga refers to a ritual in which Moclans have their annual urination, which is important enough that the Orville is heading to Bortus’s home planet to accommodate his need to perform it. The whole thing is very much a product of Seth MacFarlane’s fondness for bodily function humor, though chances are good that there are people who found it even funnier because the show proceeded to play it perfectly serious. Regardless, what is neat is that the Ja’loja isn’t actually the focus for the opening episode. Instead, it served as a narrative framework for a number of focuses on the various characters that make up the crew of the titular ship, which were centered to a considerable extent on their romantic relationships.
Of course, there is a fair amount of humor mixed into these focuses, but in a lot of cases, they were surprisingly serious. For example, there is something of a clash between Ed and Kelley because Ed wants to get back together with Kelley while Kelley has already moved on with a new relationship. Moreover, the episode makes it clear that Kelley has pretty sound reasoning for not wanting a romantic relationship with Ed, pointing out that a romance between them is bound to lead to favoritism, which would be particularly unfair to the other members of the crew if Ed had to make life-or-death choices. In contrast, Ed’s position receives no such consideration, seeing as how it can be summed up as nothing matters but love. This is further supported by Ed playing the jealous ex throughout much of the episode, though in a somewhat different manner than other series because of technological differences. Eventually, Ed does come around, which is helped out by his conversation with Kelley’s new boyfriend Cassius, who took a sympathetic view of Ed’s jealousy. Something that might have been prompted by his job as a school teacher.
Other focuses had various other outcomes. For example, there was a plotline about Isaac helping out Claire with her family issues, which is a neat continuation to one of the more memorable episodes from last season. The plotline isn’t perfect because Claire’s concerns with Marcus drifting away from her because of him becoming a teenager are undermined by how his motivations in this regard are depicted as being external rather than internal in nature. However, Isaac does a surprisingly good job at integrating himself into Claire’s family life in spite of the fact that he doesn’t actually get humans, so much so that by the end of the episode, Claire has asked him to accompany her to the Ja’loga.
In contrast, Gordon’s attempt to ask out a new crew member with John’s coaching worked out about as well as one would expect, while Alara being guilt-tripped into giving Dan a chance in spite of her initial reluctance worked out much the same, which is to say, not at all. Both of these plotlines should be very familiar for TV viewers in the present, but they are nonetheless freshened up by their sci-fi future context as well as helped along by plenty of humor.
Summed up, “Ja’loga” was a good opening for the second season of The Orville. As a result, it is an encouraging piece of evidence that the people behind the show have managed to hit their stride, meaning that the new season could very well prove to be even better than its predecessor.