"My friend, I have learned never to make predictions in matters of love. I am usually dead wrong." Olix[source]
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.

Ja'loja 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.


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

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

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

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 Moclus and Bortus 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.

Scripts were released on February 5, 2018.[1] A table read of the episode occurred on February 23, 2018.[2] Filming began February 26 at 8 a.m.[3] with the working title of "TBD."[4]

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.[5]
On March 19, editor and associate producer Tom Costantino confirmed the episode was in post-production.[6]

Writing Edit

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."[7] He decided to write a premiere that would feature "character pieces"[8] in place of space exploration or, as Ed says, "a Krill invasion."

Development of the opening scene Edit

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

Person 1 (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 [text unclear] . . . to translate.
ED: . . .[9]
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.
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: 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: The late . . . jazz. Depressing . . . at-the- . . . same time. I can help you there.
KANOOT serves . . .: Here you go.
. . .
ED: Y'know what the worst days are, . . . the days when you can't . . . Just watch.
ALARA appears or something like this.
ALARA: Mind if I join you?
ED: Have a seat. I can see . . .[10]

Development of the office and shuttle scenes Edit

Michaela McManus Gordon

An image released by Fox in December 2018 shows actress Michaela McManus at the navigator's station.

A February 26 leak by Ivy Thaide of the wardrobe department revealed another page of the script.[11]

[They exit 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.]
[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.
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, including Kanoot and someone named Gabbino.[11]

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.[13] (This was from Bortus' final "ja'loja" on the cliffside.)

However, the first direct mention to the episode did not come until March 18, when actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy), said the premiere would concern "love" and "relationships on board [the USS Orville]."[14] A day later at PaleyFest, Grimes added that he was excited to have an upcoming episode that takes place entirely on the Orville; Seth MacFarlane added that the episode was an ensemble of "character pieces" without a science-fiction plot; and actress Adrianne Palicki (Kelly Grayson) said the premiere would take place several months after the conclusion of Mad Idolatry.[8] Grimes 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.[8]
After PaleyFest, the cast and crew spoke did not speak of the episode. Shortly before airing, executive producer David A. 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."[15]

Actors Kai Wener (Ty Finn) and BJ Tanner (Marcus Finn) live-tweeted during the premiere, answering fan questions and posting behind-the-scenes photos.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20]

Critical response Edit

Professional critics responded very warmly to Ja'loja. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Season 2 the rare score "100% Fresh."[21] "Well, shit," Seth MacFarlane tweeted. "Let's enjoy this while it lasts."[22]

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.[23] Nick Wanserski of the AV Club wrote the episode was a "low-stakes" premiere that focused on developing its characters. "And honestly," he conclude. "That's great."[24]

Trivia Edit

  • 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.[5]
  • The vinyl record playing in the opening scene of the episode is the album, 'Theme From "Z" And Other Film Music' by Henry Mancini, released by RCA Victor, Catalog # "LSP-4350", released in April of 1970. [1] As shown in the episode, Side 2 of the vinyl record starts with "As Time Goes By".

References Edit

  • 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.[25]
    • The song probably alludes to Rick in Casablanca who similarly found himself alone, miserable, and aimless in a bar through the movie.
    • The version playing on Olix's phonograph is by Henry Mancini.
  • 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).[26]
    • 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

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

Notes Edit

References Edit

  1. Thaide, Ivy. Instagram. Feb. 5, 2018. Online at
  2. Snapchat videos by jleefilms. Compiled by /u/arrowsofshield. "The first table read of season 2 is today!" Feb. 23, 2018.
  3. 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.
  4. Cassar, Jon. "Here we go #TheOrville season 2 starts shooting. Stay tuned." Instagram. Feb. 26, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Radish, Christina. "Scott Grimes on ‘The Orville’ Season 2’s Bigger Scope and Working with Seth MacFarlane". Collider. Jan. 10, 2019.
  6. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Tom Costantino, Scott Powell, Bart Rachmil & Hillary Wills". Planetary Union Network. March 19, 2018.
  7. Keveney, Bill. "Seth MacFarlane offers mix of old and new on return of ‘The Orville’". Chicago Sun-Times. Dec. 27, 2018.
  9. @maxhair706. "And so we begin Season 2 #THEORVILLE". Instagram. Feb. 15, 2018.
  10. Snapchat videos of @jleefilms compiled by /u/arrosofshield. "The First Table Read of Season 2 is today!" Feb. 22, 2018. Script transcribed by /u/u_suck_paterson.
  11. 11.0 11.1 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.
  12. Transcription by /u/xeow. "Page from the Season 2, Ep 1 script has been posted. Can we read it?" Reddit. Feb. 27, 2018.
  13. @TomConstantino. "We decided to green up the place. @TheOrville #TheOrville". Twitter. March 6, 2018.
  15. Bennett, Tara. "The Joy of Seth". SFX Magazine. Jan. 2019. Pg. 42-43. (However, article published online Dec. 4, 2018.)
  16. @KaiWener. "Hey @EgotasticFT @planetary_union @The_Orville_Fan @trekkerprise tell ur #theorville fans that @BJTannerTv and I will be live tweeting & posting some bts pics tonight during the season 2 premiere of @TheOrville We will be answering questions too! Just use the hashtag #FinnFamily". Twitter. Dec. 30, 2018.
  17. 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.
  18. The Orville: Season Two Ratings. TV Series Finale. Jan. 2, 2019.
  19. Lovett, Jamie. "'The Orville' Ratings Rise With Season 2 Premiere". ComicBook. Dec. 31, 2018.
  20. Pucci, Douglas. "Live+3 Weekly Ratings: ‘The Orville’ Second Season Premiere Leads in Overall Raw Gains During Holiday Week". Programming Insider. Jan. 4, 2019.
  21. The Orville: Season 2. Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed Jan. 5, 2019.
  22. @SethMacFarlane. "Well shit, let’s enjoy this while it lasts.". Twitter. Jan. 3, 2019.
  23. Britt, Ryan. "The Orville Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Ja’loja". Den of Geek. Dec. 31, 2018.
  24. Wanserski, Nick. "The Orville begins its second season with a strong, low-stakes, character-focused episode". AV Club. Dec. 31, 2018.
  25. "Seth MacFarlane - As time goes by". Youtube. Published Feb. 8, 2011. Last accessed Feb. 23, 2018.
  26. @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.