So, there was this girl I hadn’t seen in a while. We didn’t part on the best of terms, and I sure as hell remembered what those terms were. But there she was, asking me to trust her again. Despite spoilers, I decided to. Shows what I know.
In a desert, Mal sits alone and naked on a rock, looking around. To no one, he says, “Yeah, that went well.” Seventy-two hours earlier, he is on a rock in space doing a cargo swap with an old friend, Monty. He notices some obvious changes in his friend, and finds out that Monty is married. Bridget, his wife, shows up, and wouldn’t you know it’s Saffron. Mal and Saffron pull guns on each other.
Mal and Saffron get into a scuffle while Mal outs Saffron’s identity to Monty. Monty is doubtful and breaks the fight up, but Saffron calls Mal by name while he is slinging accusations at her, and Monty notices that he hadn’t actually introduced them yet. Saffron lets up, defeated. Monty then leaves Mal (who is waiting on Serenity to come pick him up) and Saffron behind. Mal then gets semi-hostile with Saffron, patting her down to make sure she isn’t hiding a gun anywhere.
SAFFRON: Mmm, you missed a spot.
MAL: Can’t miss a place you’ve never been.
Saffron tries to convince Mal to forgive her, even asking him to not give up on their marriage. Mal laughs it off, and she makes a last effort by pointing out that she is really hot. Mal is not impressed and tells her to go wonder off into the desert, preferably to die. She begs for a ride, but he shoots the dirt in front of her to make his point. As she starts to saunter off, she goes off about this perfect seven-digit crime she had lined up and offers to let Mal in. Mal answers by cocking his gun in her face.
Serenity lands and picks Mal up with no sign of Saffron about. The crew notices Mal’s bloody nose and is worried he got into a fight with Monty, but Mal doesn’t want to talk about it and leaves them to load the goods while he goes to talk with Inara, who was looking for him.
In Inara’s shuttle (and apparently some time later as Mal’s nose is no longer stuffed and bleeding), Inara invites Mal to sit and have some tea while they talk business. Mal is instantly on guard at the civil demeanor. Inara tries to disarm his suspicion to no avail, so instead goes into a rant about how he is keeping her from doing her business by sticking to the outer rim and frontier moons. He says that he is just following the work, but Inara doesn’t buy it. The argument escalates. Mal reverts to his old standby of calling her a whore, but she slips to a new low of calling him a petty thief. This actually seems to dig at Mal quite a bit and he storms out. Down in the cargo hold, he opens a container and lets Saffron out.
In the galley, Saffron outlines the plan. They are going after a man named Durran Haymer, a collector of old Earth artifacts that collected them by gassing people in the war and stealing from the empty houses. His prize is the Lassiter, one of the first laser pistols. Saffron has somehow come into possession of amazing intel on the man, including the security codes for his compound on a private flying island, and thinks they can just waltz in and take the prize. Wash has a moment of confusion, and Saffron tries to predict his question but fails, as he wants to know why she is on the ship, not about the job.
Mal quiets Wash down, and then Jayne asks the question Saffron predicted from Wash, which is why she doesn’t just do it herself. Turns out the security on the way out will be worse than on the way in, so she needs help. Inara then walks in and calls the crew idiots. Mal revives the argument from earlier, and Inara storms off.
The crew starts to wonder how to pull off the job. Kaylee grabs the layout of the compound and starts looking, and Mal leaves her to it. He then asks Zoe to weigh in, and Zoe wonders how they are going to fence the prize. Saffron assures them there are buyers already lined up, so Zoe stands and reiterates Inara’s worry about Saffron’s trustworthiness. Mal assures Zoe that he’ll be there keeping an eye on Saffron the entire time, so Zoe agrees, but only after decking Saffron.
Down in the passenger quarters, Jayne is giving Simon and River a rundown that they need to stay out of sight. River keeps giving Jayne crazy-eyes, and starts going on about how Saffron is a liar and cannot be trusted. Jayne makes an off-handed comment that girls can’t be trust no matter what.
RIVER: Jayne is a girl’s name.
JAYNE: Well Jayne ain’t a girl! If she starts in on that girl’s name thing, I’ll show her good and all I got man parts.
Jayne leaves, and River says “Afraid.” At first Simon thinks River it expressing fear of Saffron, but she clarifies that Jayne is the one who is afraid that they’ll know what he did on Ariel. She leaves it kind of hanging on that, and Simon gets a contemplative look on his face.
Inara preps to leave and talks with Zoe, informing her that she doesn’t want anything to do with the job but still restating her worries with Saffron, all while Saffron eavesdrops from across the way. Zoe is confident in Mal’s ability to stay a step ahead of Saffron.
As they get closer to the planet, Wash explains the plan to the crew. Mal and Saffron will split off in shuttle-2 to grab the gun. Meanwhile, the ship will go under the island and reprogram a trash container to fly off to a new, desired drop point instead of the incinerator. This will allow them to get the weapon off the premise without triggering the security sensors. Mal and Saffron go about their part, posing as florists helping set up for a big party. They easily get inside and to the Lassiter’s parlor, which also has a plethora of other old-earth artifacts. Mal goes about disarming the pedestal.
Meanwhile, Jayne and Kaylee climb astride Serenity and go about reprogramming the bin on the bottom of the compound while Wash tries to keep the ship steady. Kaylee manages to quickly reprogram the bin, but the ship starts get shaky as Jayne re-inserts the card. Kaylee warns him to not touch something in the bin, but Jayne either doesn’t hear her or doesn’t know what she’s talking about, ‘cause he gets shocked, blown back, and starts to slide off the side of the ship, unconscious.
Back in the parlor, Mal starts to disable the pedestal just as someone shows up: Durran himself! Durran throws an accusation at Mal, but then notices Saffron and is ecstatic that his wife has been found. Mal tries to motion for her to knock him silly, but she doesn’t, instead letting him fawn over her.
Zoe and Book help Jayne back inside and turn him over to Simon’s care. Simon regards Jayne with a kind of creepy calm, and Zoe goes up top to help Kaylee finish the programming.
Back in the parlor, Durran thanks Mal profusely for finding “Yolanda,” who had apparently gone missing six years ago. Yolanda spins a tale of slavers having kidnapped her. Durran says that he had been worried, as she disappeared the same day as the security programmer, and he feared she had run off with him. But then they found his dead body, and he feared for her too. Saffron lays it on thick, continuing to spin Durran’s head, and she tries to send him off peacefully. He goes off to fetch money to reward Mal for finding his missing wife.
Mal goes back to working on the pedestal, but questions why they are sneaking around a place Saffron could have just waltzed into. She tries to continue saying that Durran is a cold-hearted killer, but Mal isn’t buying it so much anymore. Mal instead suspects that she actually cares for Durran, unlike the many other men she has likely married and later left to die, she doesn’t want “Yolanda” to be just another Saffron or Bridget. She takes offense and pulls a gun on him just as he turns off the pedestal and removes the Lassiter. At that moment, Durran walks in. Mal hides behind Durran, who is heartbroken. In the background, Mal puts the Lassiter in the trash.
Below, Kaylee gets the card in just in time. Zoe and Kaylee get in and Wash flies them away.
Mal then eases back into the room, tells Saffron to calm down, who is going a bit off the deep end, and pulls a gun on her too. He orders her to drop her weapon, and she does but continues to break Durran’s heart by revealing her true colors. Mal tries to hurry them along, but Saffron and Durran keep going at it. Durran then reveals that he knew something was suspicious the moment he saw her back and has already signaled the feds. Saffron then lays it on a bit, but Durran doesn’t fall for it, so she knocks him out cold with a kick. Mal and Saffron make good their escape with minimal fighting, a quick rewire of the security doors, and a stolen stun gun. Mal ditches the gun rather purposely, doesn’t let Saffron grab it, and they fly away.
On the shuttle, Mal has a heart to heart with Saffron, where she seems to open up to him. Of course, this is a bit of a play, as she uses his tender, close moment to steal his gun. She then leaves him naked in the desert and goes off to collect the goods.
On Serenity, they find out that Saffron fiddled with the engine and made it so that they can’t turn, which Kaylee can fix but it will make them late.
At the dumpster, Saffron tries to find the gun but can’t, when Inara reveals herself from above with the Lassiter pointed at Saffron. Inara tries to fire it, but it doesn’t go off, so she pulls out a regular gun instead and reveals that the entire thing was a setup against Saffron, from the staged fight between Mal and Inara onward. Inara then locks Saffron in the container and lets her know the feds will come get her in a few hours.
In the infirmary, Jayne wakes up with a neck brace on and finds he can’t move. Simon tells Jayne that he hit his spine really hard when he fell, insinuating that Jayne is paralyzed for a moment, then reveals that he only gave Jayne a drug to stop him from moving so he wouldn’t hurt himself when he woke up. Simon then asks how much Jayne was promised on Ariel for turning in the Tams. Jayne tries to play dumb, but Simon doesn’t buy it. Jayne calls for help, but the only head that pokes in is River’s. Simon then tells Jayne that no matter what, he won’t take it out on Jayne on the operating table. He offers a truce, so to speak, and leaves, and River has one last thing to add.
RIVER: Also, I can kill you with my brain.
The ship lands and picks up a naked Mal. Inara wonders at how Mal can call it a win, but he stays chipper and walks about without a worry to his clothes-less-ness. The crew stammers a bit but snaps-to at his orders, and Mal enjoys the view one last time as he closes the cargo bay doors.
Well, here is the first of the unaired episodes. It is odd, but I really don’t feel like I have all that much to say about this. Despite the twists and turns of YoSaffBridg, the characters were pretty well locked into who they were. I enjoyed the interplay, enjoyed the plot for what it was as far as capers go, but I don’t really feel like there was much motion in the characters except for Simon in respect to Jayne.
And even that, well, was very in character for Simon, though I did like the ambiguous way it came off. The first time I watched that I was curious exactly how much Simon was going to freak Jayne out. I never feared that he was going to actually maim or truly threaten Jayne, but I had a moment of concern that maybe he would cross the moral event horizon anyway. Who knows, maybe further down the line we could have seen what would happen to Simon when protecting River meant crossing the crew. That might have made a good episode. Alas. So yeah, the ultimatum the followed the creepy crazy-doctor stuff was well played.
About the only other thing that happens here is Mal and Inara. It is funny because this isn’t the first time she has called him a petty thief. In “Shindig” she mentions Mal’s night on the town as including petty theft, but then he takes it as a matter of course. I guess what really ground his gears this time was the fact that Inara accused him of being nothing more than a petty thief.
So, what way did Mal take it badly? Was it that he was angered at not being called a criminal mastermind? That doesn’t seem very Mal-like to me. Perhaps there could be the simple male pride of having been said that what you pride yourself in doing is inadequate, especially coming from a gal who you secretly have the hots for. And that might be it, seeing as Mal apparently didn’t stay “truly” mad all that long before he made the plan to scam Saffron with the crew. But there was still that initial hurting sting on his face when she said it.
Perhaps it was more of the noble Mal being told that he has degenerated into a life of petty theft. Yeah, he isn’t aiming to be a Robin Hood, but I think part of his life on Serenity stems from a desire to still stick it to the Alliance, and he has realized that he has indeed lost some of the gumption he had and settled for less than risky jobs, such as smuggling wobbly-headed geisha dolls. Also note that Mal, at least in his act, is fairly more gung-ho to strike out for the Lassiter when the owner is a vile Alliance genocidal maniac. Once Durren is all wuvvy-duvvy on Saffron, Mal still goes through with the job, but he sure does go on about digging at Saffron. That last bit might be me reading too much in to it, though.
But yeah, Wash, Zoe, Book, Jayne? Really just “there” in this episode. A lot of the screen-time was dedicated to the tension and action, and it was fun and enjoyable, but actually not really normal fare for Firefly. The pacing of it was well done, though, and the swapping back and forth (much of which I cut in the summary so I didn’t make the word “meanwhile” lose its meaning) did a good job of keeping me on the edge of my seat for both threads.
Originally Aired: 21 June 2003
Original Position: Episode 13
Richard’s Favorite Line:
MAL: We are not together.
YOSAFFBRIDGE: He’s my husband.
MAL: Well, who in the damn galaxy ain’t?
Fun Goof: The one I noticed was that when Mal was shooting the dirt in front of Saffron, he aimed the completely wrong way for where the dirt spat up. Granted, it was a cut shot.
And that is all I’ve got. Next week is “The Message,” which I remember as having a bunch more fodder for my rambling, so there is at least that. Hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and hey, summer is almost here. If only that meant Summer Glau was almost here too. Oh well.
Richard Fife is a blogger, writer, and the only man in the ‘verse that isn’t YoSaffBridg’s husband. Dang it. You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short stories at http://RichardFife.com.