"Bortus. A commander of few words... Mysterious. Male. Moclan." ― Peter Macon[source]Bortus is 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 is mated to Klyden, who live together on the Orville with their son Topa.
Bortus is portrayed by Peter Macon.
Bortus dated his future mate Klyden on Moclus. Their first date (or 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 some time in the year 2413.[n 1]
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. 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 Edit
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 Dorahl bioship. 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 bioship. 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 pheremones on the Navarian and Bruidian ambassadors. The ambassadors fall in love with each other and call an end to the hostilities.
Leave of Absence Edit
Shortly into his leave, Grayson and Mercer take a shuttle to what they assumed was the USS Blériot, making Chief of Security Alara Kitan the highest ranking officer and acting commander. At only 23 years, Kitan is by far the least experienced Bridge officer.[n 3] The Blériot is actually a Calivon buoy with a holographic projector designed to create the appearance of the Union ship. The buoy kidnaps Grayson and Mercer once they enter. Kitan runs to Bortus' quarters and pleads with him to take command. Bortus refuses: "I will not risk the life of my child."
Kitan manages to retrieve the kidnapped commanders after disobeying orders from admiralty, but Kitan's mistakes caused significant damage to the ship and jeopardized her position in the Union.
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.
Sex reassignment of Topa Edit
"On our planet, there are no females. For you to judge us by human standards is unfair." ― Bortus[source]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' mind. 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 4][n 5] Eventually, the couple begin to bicker constantly, which wears on Bortus' emotional resolve.
"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." ― Ed to Bortus after he laid an egg[source]Similar to other members of his species, Bortus carries a serious, formal demeanor, and he values combat ability and strength above other characteristics.[n 6] 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 7][n 8] and rarely breaking decorum even in casual situations.[n 9] 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 10]
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 Klyden Edit
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 when together 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." She advises that the first year after a child's birth is difficult for all parties, but Klyden and he will find a "rhythm."
Relationship with the crew Edit
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 11] 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 Edit
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 is described as "a thick, broad, very alien-looking humanoid with a rippling epidermis that looks like hardened lava" and works in the ship's Armory - a position that was eliminated by the time the show aired.
In an early draft of Old Wounds, Bortus claims to be a proud warrior to Mercer and that he does not dance because it is a "foolish waste of stamina." Later, he allows LaMarr to play a slapstick video of a cat attacking a human. The bridge crew cackles but Bortus simply calls the cat a brave warrior.
While Bortus was first seen in the May 2017 trailer from Fox, it was actor Peter Macon (Bortus) who 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 Edit
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 [MacFarlane], and we finally hit on what Bortus's look was.
The face prosthetics are in 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 or two-to-three to apply just the head.
- 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 12] 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. However, eating Yaphit causes him intense stomach discomfort.
- Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
- Episode 1x02: Command Performance
- Episode 1x03: About a Girl
- Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
- Episode 1x05: Pria
- Episode 1x06: Krill
- Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
- Episode 1x08: Into the Fold
- Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
- Episode 1x10: Firestorm
- Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
- Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
- ↑ 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 3: About a Girl.
- ↑ Bortus tells the Captain that he failed him for this reason after Mercer returns to the Bridge. Episode 1: Old Wounds
- ↑ Her age is established not in this episode (Command Performance) but in Episode One: Old Wounds.
- ↑ The first sign of his eating problem begins in Episode Four: If the Stars Should Appear.
- ↑ According to Bortus as stated to Doctor Finn. Episode Nine: Cupid's Dagger.
- ↑ Bortus is first attracted to Klyden's high score in the combat simulator. Episode 3: About a Girl.
- ↑ He does not understand the humor in Mercer's aside about urination at night during staff role call. Episode 1: Old Wounds.
- ↑ Bortus fails to see why "dibs on the omelet" is funny. Episode 2: Command Performance.
- ↑ Bortus does not understand why Mercer would make a social call. Episode 12: Mad Idolatry.
- ↑ Bortus agrees with Malloy that slapstick humor is funny. Episode 5: Pria.
- ↑ Bortus does not understand why Mercer would make a social call. Episode 12: Mad Idolatry.
- ↑ "I sing." Bortus in Episode 7: Majority Rule
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Episode 1: Old Wounds
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Episode 3: About a Girl
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Episode 4: If the Stars Should Appear
- ↑ Episode 8: Into the Fold
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Episode 9: Cupid's Dagger
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Episode 10: Firestorm
- ↑ Episode 4: If the Stars Should Appear
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Episode 12: Mad Idolatry
- ↑ Episode 5: Pria
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 MacFarlane, Seth. Orville 1x01 - Pilot. Fox Broadcasting Co.
- ↑ "SDCC 2017: The Orville - Peter Macon, Mark Jackson, Chad L Coleman". Whedonopolis Video. July 26, 2017.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Berger, Howard & Maxine Morris. "Space and Beyond". The Artisan. 2018.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 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.
- ↑ Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 74.
- ↑ Episode 11: New Dimensions