Apr 6 2010 5:02pm

Firefly Re-watch: “Bushwhacked”

And here we are with the next Firefly re-watch, in which we have space barbarians, a ghost ship, and a thrilling examination of bureaucracy verse inanity. Not that bureaucracies aren’t inane as a rule to begin with, but, well . . . I guess it was kind of like what happens when matter and anti-matter mix cold. They are both matter, just in ways that just don’t mix. Like me and the DMV. As always, you can find past re-watches on our index.  Now then, to core of the matter.

Episode Summary:

The crew is playing a rousing game similar to basketball three-on-three in the cargo hold while Simon, Inara, and River watch. Simon and Inara talk about River, and how Simon feels that he can’t help her, but Inara says he is. She replies to his counter of how he made them all fugitives by saying “We’re all running from something, I suppose.” A proximity alarm goes off, Wash leaves the game to see what it is, and Kaylee invites Simon down to play, who oddly accepts, despite his somewhat earlier disinterest in the game.

On the bridge and before Simon can even go down and play, Wash sees a derelict ship spinning in space, and then a body slams into bridge, causing the ship to shake. Mal rushes to the bridge to see what is happening, and upon seeing the spinning ship, Mal asks Wash to get them closer. Simon wonders aloud what it is, and River, who is back in the passage with a creepy smile, mutters “It’s a ghost.”

They quickly decide that the ship is likely a retrofitted short-range vessel that was carrying settlers to an outer planet. The ship is damaged, thus why it is spinning, and no one is answering a hail, nor is there a distress signal. Book presses that they should check for survivors, while Jayne suggests they just leave it. Mal decides to go over, look for survivors, and if there are none—which he obviously believes will be the case—they can look around for anything of value. This idea quickly gets Jayne onboard.

Mal and Zoe suit up in the cargo hold, and Simon shows up carrying a medical case, intent on helping. He clams up at the thought of wearing a spacesuit, though, and Jayne antagonizes him a bit.

Onboard the derelict, they find random children’s toys and tools strewn about, and the emergency power is up. They also find the mess-deck with half eaten meals, implying that whatever happened was quick. Everything indicates that the people just vanished.

Back on Serenity, River suddenly spazzes out, claiming that she can’t sleep cause there is too much screaming. Simon assures her that no one is screaming, but before he can say more, Jayne informs him that Mal wants himself and Simon over on the derelict. He makes a point of moving quickly, and parts by telling Simon that he needs to suit up.

Simon goes to the derelict, obviously worried and breathing hard in his suit. He turns a corner and finds everyone out of suits and wondering what he is doing. Kaylee helps him out, and Jayne’s deception becomes apparent as he breaks up laughing. Simon asks after the passengers, and Mal says the logs indicate the lifeboat launched a week ago, and they are going to assume everyone go out alright and they are just there to pick the bones. Simon goes with Kaylee to check the engine room while Jayne goes to the galley. Zoe and Mal head to the cargo hold. As they walk out, Kaylee let’s Simon know he had the spacesuit on wrong.

Zoe comments to Mal that there were sixteen families on the ship and that the lifeboat wouldn’t have held near that many, and Mal says he knows but insists on going after the valuables.

Simon and Kaylee wonder about why the ship was abandoned, and Kaylee reveals that it was not for mechanical reasons, as she pulls out parts from the engine for her own use.

Zoe and Mal get to the cargo area, which is locked, and Mal torches it open. Inside, they find the settlers’ seed supplies, which will fetch a pretty penny. River, who snuck off Serenity and onto the derelict, shows up and looks up to find the dangling corpses of the settlers. Mal is suddenly frightened, and orders everyone off the boat. While he is speaking to Jayne, Jayne is attacked by someone from behind.

Gunfire reports through the ship, and Mal, Zoe, and River go in search of it. They find Simon and Kaylee on the way, and soon make their way to the galley. Jayne is high-strung and says someone big and strong came at him from behind. Simon sees a blood trail, and they follow it to a vent, where they find a rather small, gangly man cowering, whom Mal punches out. They drag him out, and Simon takes a good return snipe at Jayne. They then take the man over to Serenity, where Simon starts to patch him up.

The rest of the crew discusses the man, with Kaylee thinking the man was brave to survive alone and Jayne suspects the man killed his fellow settlers. The man mutters about “no mercy” and how the rest were “too weak” and “cattle for the slaughter.” Mal insists that Simon dope the man.

The crew is at first relieved when Simon says the man will live, but Mal says the true charity would be to kill him, which instantly upsets Book and Inara. He then reveals that the ship was hit by Reavers, and everyone is instantly worried. Jayne enters denial over the concept of this being a Reaver hit.

JAYNE: Wasn’t Reavers. Reavers don’t leave no survivors.
MAL: Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t say they did.

Book tries to say that the man is not a lost cause, and goes on to say that whatever the man saw, it was only the acts of men he saw. Jayne protests that Reavers aren’t men, but Book persists, getting rather preachy. Mal sides with Jayne, though, but also refuses to instantly leave, seeing as there is substantial money value over on the boat still. Jayne protests, but Zoe puts him down quickly.

Simon volunteers, as he is not worried about bodies, being a doctor and all, and Book volunteers too as he wants to put the settlers to rest. Mal protests, but Book persists and wins. Mal assigns Jayne to help cut down the bodies, and when Jayne protests, Mal says that he doesn’t want those people looking over his shoulder when they are gone, and while he isn’t going to admit there is “peace to be had,” he thinks that if there is, the dead settlers deserve it. This at least earns him a warm smile and thanks from Inara, who is surprised by his actions.

After Simon, Book, and Jayne are gone to the derelict and Inara has taken River to her shuttle, Mal reveals he just wanted to keep the others busy while the rest of the crew deals with a booby trap the Reavers left on the derelict. Upon seeing it, Kaylee mutters about how it was probably put together, and when Mal asks if she thinks she can disarm it, she says probably, then has a rare pessimistic moment.

KAYLEE: Sides, if I mess up, it’s not like you’ll be able to yell at me.

Simon, Jayne, and Book lower the bodies and lay them out for the ceremony then tend to the goods, and Kaylee crawls into the bowels of the ship to disarm the trap. Inara watches over River, and the survivor starts to come to and mutter crazily. The moment he fully gains consciousness and finds a weapon, River goes ballistic.

Kaylee succeeds in disarming the trap, and Jayne gets the goods back on the ship. They button the ship up to leave and pull away, but they hear another proximity alarm. They think it is the Reavers, but Mal orders Jayne to stash the goods. It turns out to be the next worse thing: an Alliance cruiser. They are forced to relinquish control of their helm and prepare to be boarded.

The commander of the cruiser is considering all the violations they need to hammer Serenity with as it is being docked, and a junior officer tells him about the derelict, which was supposed to be on it’s new planet three weeks ago. Another junior officer remembers there is a flag for firefly, and they look it up, telling them to look for the Tams. The commander, unable to pull up the classified warrant, orders “shoot first” in the event of a surprise on a routine check.

Mal comes back down and orders Jayne to pull the goods back out since the Alliance is going to be crawling all over the boat shortly. Simon hears this and gets worried and begs Mal to run. Mal informs him they can’t as they are being pulled in. Mal has Simon go fetch River, and Simon instantly thinks Mal is going to just turn him in. Book defends Mal, though, and soon Serenity is boarded.

As the troops file in, Simon and River are nowhere to be found, and Mal is ten sorts of cooperative with the commander. Mal informs him of the survivor in the infirmary, and some soldiers go to check and find the place soaked in blood and the man laughing. Meanwhile, the officer threatens Mal with losing his boat over an illegal salvage operation, but then ups the threat by accusing him of harboring fugitives. Mal dissembles and assures the officer they are not on Serenity. The troops get back from the infirmary and whisper something to the commander. The crew is arrested and taken over to the cruiser, and the commander orders a full sweep of the ship.

Doctors pull the survivor out of the infirmary, and the troops search the entire ship. Meanwhile, the commander interviews the crew in turn, questioning the unlikelihood of their stories but never finding a solid crack. As the scenes progress, the commander is continually perplexed and putout, especially as Kaylee starts to complain to him about how hard it is to keep Serenity running. The search scenes conclude with us seeing River and Simon outside the ship in suits, hiding. Simon is freaking out, but River seems to be enjoying herself.

The commander finally interviews Mal, acting all tough by reading a file. Mal instead starts talking, verifying that the Alliance had been over to the derelict and then suggesting they destroy it. The commander declines, saying the ship is evidence, and Mal goes on to guess the commander is on his first tour in the border worlds. The commander declines to answer and espouses his theory that Mal is still a loyal browncoat who mercilessly killed loyal alliance citizens in an act of piracy, including torturing and disfiguring the survivor. The commander starts to bind Mal by law, but Mal starts to panic and warns the commander about the threat of Reavers, in particular the survivor. In the cruiser’s infirmary, the survivor kills the medical crew working on him.

The commander is skeptical, but Mal is persistent, saying the man had no option but to become a Reaver after having been tormented by them himself. The commander is not convinced until he receives word of what has happened in the infirmary. The Reaver has gone missing, but Mal knows where it is: Serenity.

Back on Serenity, Simon and River come back inside, and as they are heading to the spare shuttle to lay low, River freaks out (she does that a lot) and refuses to enter the galley, where the Reaver is hiding. Soon, they see the Alliance coming back aboard looking for the Reaver, and hide in the passageway.

The alliance finds a dead trooper in the airlock to Serenity, and the officer finally really starts to believe Mal, even allowing Mal to help, but only so he can stand point and be the first to likely be killed. They keep him handcuffed, though, and give him no weapon.

The Alliance almost stumbled across River and Simon’s hiding place, but the Reaver attacks the commander before they get there. Mal manages to kill the Reaver and save the commander’s life. In return, the commander lets them go, but not with the cargo from the derelict. The cruiser then destroys the derelict.


(Yes, I had to put that picture there. I just loved the commander’s expression too much.)

Well, this was a fun Reaver-centric episode, and while I can understand the desire to have it where it is in the DVD order, I don’t really like it. The ground-laying with River being psychic is well placed, although she is still coming off slightly more on the moon-touched side here. Also, the first airing had not been introduced to Reavers yet, which one could assume were going to be fairly series-centric, if the movie is anything to go by, but for us DVD watchers, this is really close together. Two out of three episodes are Reaver stories then none of the others are. Like, we will never see Reavers again. This alone makes me wonder why they focused on the Reavers for the movie. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back on River: I am really enjoying her depiction here. Even knowing what I know about her, I still find myself watching and wondering if she is just moon-touched or channeling her particular talents when she talks. The addition of her sprite-like appearance, up to and including the fact that she almost never wears shoes, especially when she is out by herself, gives her otherworldliness that really sticks to ya. Like good ribs, or a hearty steak. Mmm, steak.

So, we had some interesting allusions here. The first of which, right up front, is that Inara is running from something. Of course, it really goes along with the “everyone has something to hide” feeling the show is going with. We also got to see the much more spiritual side of Book in this episode, as opposed to the “oh, I only play a preacher on TV” Book. Whatever Book’s past was, he has truly adopted the shepherd way.

Jayne continues to be Jayne. I feel more comfortable with him now to have his immediate “nope, no way, no how” over Reavers affect me a little stronger, which as I said before, it just didn’t hit me as heavily in the pilot. Jayne does really solidify his “I’m the devil on your shoulder” attitude, though. Maybe not so much the “do evil” bad conscience, but the “sluff of work and tend to yourself” bad conscience. This is both in his desire to skip by the ship being won over with greed, and then his instant belief that someone on the ship went stir-crazy and murdered everyone else.

Reversely, Kaylee, Book, and Inara all get to share the good conscience, which in and of itself is both character building of Jayne—he’s just that bad—and of Mal, who needs three angels on his shoulder to counter a single devil. Mal is continuing his slow but steady development as both an uncaring badass and a very deeply loyal captain, though, so that’s all right.

Oh, and I just have to make an aside. When Kaylee made her above quoted pessimistic comment, I seriously had the urge to jump into my TV and give her a comforting hug. She delivered the “chipper has failed” hit so powerfully. Which, I feel, is the depth to Kaylee. We have seen her as the sweet, innocent, Earth Mother thus far, but here we see that she gets down and worried sometimes. The third angel, Inara, sadly plays a very limited role in this episode, so nothing much on her.

Simon is the hidden hero of this story. Sure, he doesn’t get into any fights, none of this external conflict all the others are enjoying, but he faces a nearly petrifying fear of his not once but twice. The first time proved his idealism: he is going to go help people that need help no matter what. The second is his devotion to his sister, and again continues to make me champion Simon as a man of untapped resources. I mean, I wouldn’t want him at my side in a shootout, and I wouldn’t be scared to face him in fisticuffs, but there is a vast amount of will behind that boy. Already he is making an interesting foil to Mal, who is everything Simon is but diminished and subverted.

The final thing is that this is our first really nice, long experience with the Alliance. The strongest, most establishing shot is really right when we first meet them, and the commander is being an over-glorified cop and saying they need to be sure to cite the ship for this or that violation. His harassed attitude also is quickly established in both his demeanor and his decision to shoot-first-ask-later. There is a little something I didn’t understand him, though, which was on the bridge he seemed to think it unlikely they would find the Tams on Serenity. Yet when he was talking to Mal, he spoke like it was a forgone conclusion. Now I guess this is just an interrogation tactic, but combined with his other suspicions of the crew, it just seems odd to me. He quickly turned the “routine check” into something quite a bit more.

On last thought I have: why is it that the ships dock upside-down to each-other, but there is no need to switch into a gravity free mode and flip over when going between hulls. I am guessing it is partly for ease of shooting and production, but it really makes me twitch a little sometimes. I also wonder how they got the third-person view of the trap attached to the ship’s underbelly. Just broke my fourth wall a bit.

Originally aired: 27 September 2002
Original position: Episode 2
Richard’s Favorite Line: It’s a tie:


JAYNE: Oh, I ain’t going over there with them bodies. No rutting way. Not if Reavers messed with them.
ZOE: Jayne, you’ll scare the women.


MAL: It’s a real burden being right so often.

Fun Goofs: I couldn’t find any online in my brief search, nor did I notice any aside from my above complaint about the airlocks and the camera-angle.

So, that’s it for this episode. Join us sometime next week for “Shindig,” in which we get some awesome one-liners and swords!  On a final note, I love feedback in addition to commentary.  I’ve already gotten some, but I am curious, how is the re-watch working for you?  Do you want me to ramble even more in the commentary (I can find more to say, I'm sure)? Do you want the summaries to be more compact? Not that I think anyone would be reserved, but feel free to let me know.

Richard Fife is a writer, blogger, and most definitely not a Reaver, although he might be a junior officer on an Alliance ship from time to time. You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short stories at http://RichardFife.com.

Rikka Cordin
1. Rikka
more ridiculous commentary! more comments on Mal's tight pants and Jayne's notquiteonthesameplanetness! MORE ON SHEPARD BOOK'S HAIR.


I'm a greedy little thing... XD

Actually, in all seriousness I'd say more quotes. Firefly is such a quotable show...
Sumana Harihareswara
2. brainwane
I'd say, write shorter and link to other people's interesting perspectives, and let us know why you agree or disagree.
Jennifer B
3. JennB
Once again, I haven't watched this one yet but I will put in my two cents anyways. (Seems to be my standard MoA.) I will watch it though, I promise. This is one of my two least favorite episodes. I often skip it when I am doing a rewatch. It is a good episode, but I just don't like the reavers.

I do really like the interigation scene where it cuts from crew member to crew member. I love the contrast between Wash and Zoe. Jayne's reaction is great too and always makes me laugh.

Simon is so endearing in this episode. I love how Jayne screws with him, but he still does his best. I am not the least bit surprised that he comes down to play basketball even though he is not very interested in the game. Look who asked him to join the game.

I think the budding relationship between Kaylee and Simon is very well written. Mal may be better looking, but in my opinion, Simon has the more attractive personality.

As for feedback...
I'm more with Rikka@1 than brainwane@2.

John Massey
4. subwoofer

First off- I love this episode.

Second- IMHO Fife is doing us a solid by blogging about this. The man deserves props.

I'll get more into the show later, but keep this going. The 'verse is a big place for all of us:)

j p
5. sps49
The Alliance cruiser is HUGE. It looks made of more steel (and ceramic?) than four Enterprises, CVN-65 version. There is a real economy somewhere, but the Serenity isn't part of it.

The Reavers may not have been figured out yet (and I didn't realize they had disappeared); how did this person becoma a Reaver exactly? How was he (and maybe the other passengers aboard suffered the "lay down and die" bit) affected, but noone else? Not even visitors to Miranda?

I still don't know what is up with Book. If he didn't push for some last words for the derelict victims, who would believe him a Shepherd? Heck, Jubal Early sure didn't.

I admit to finishing the series last night on DVD. I was going to watch last week to keep up with the rewatch, but couldn't stop.

Good work, and thanks, Mr. Fife!
john mullen
6. johntheirishmongol
Good episode, like they all were. I did really like Kaylee in this one as well. I was surprised that the Alliance cruiser didnt have better scanners than they evidently have. As always, the best part of the episode is the dialogue, which is funny, smart and unexpected.

Simon may have some appealing qualitites but he has always been the most annoying character, mostly because he is so self righteous, but also because he seems to be without a sense of humor.

One thing about the Reaver's is that at this point of the series, I thought whatever they had that was causing the madness was somewhat contagious.
Jennifer B
7. JennB
RFife, Subwoofer@4 is right, of course. No changes are necessary. The re-watch is great as it is!

Eli Bishop
8. EliBishop
sps49 & johntheirishmongol: I don't think they had any biological cause in mind for the Reavers at this point. Mal's explanation for the guy's behavior was basically that he'd been forced to watch the horrible fate of the other passengers, couldn't deal with the memory, and went nuts. So he's not necessarily nuts for the same reason that the Reavers are nuts, but he's going to imitate them because it's better to be a monster than a victim.

On the one hand, this is pretty bad horror-movie psychology. From the last 100 years of looking at PTSD in war survivors, it's clear that a person who witnesses horrible crimes may end up emotionally damaged, very likely depressed and fearful, and possibly violent-- but violent like a person overreacting violently to an imagined threat; not like a rabid drooling super-killer slashing up everything in sight.

On the other hand, the way Mal's speech is written sounds to me as if it's meant to be sort of common knowledge, something he's heard of or seen before, but that the Alliance guy is too naive to understand-- so I just more or less accepted that in the Firefly 'verse, PTSD works according to bad horror-movie rules.

Or, to be more generous, you could imagine that the awful things the Reavers do (since they're left to the imagination) are just that much worse than all the worst murders and war crimes in recorded history, so that we'd all go nuts in a whole new way if we saw them.
9. ***Dave
The reaction of the Survivor here was in line with the early explanation of the Reavers -- folks who went so far off to the edge of the 'Verse that, looking over that edge, they went nuts. Sort of a Nietzschean "gazing into the Abyss" thing. That's part myth, sure, but it provides a justification for Survivor to go all feral, too, and makes the Reavers much scarier than how they eventually turn out.

Aside from Jayne's prank on Simon (which calls to mind Mal's from the Real First Episode), my favorite bits here are the intercutting interrogations. You learn a lot about the characters even as they interact with someone not part of the crew.
Marcus W
11. toryx
I'm with Rikka @ 1. More quotes would be fantastic.

I really like this episode. I love how at first it seems to be centered on the mystery of the ship and its lone survivor and then suddenly the ante got upped when the Alliance ship appeared.

I also appreciated all the little hints about the main characters: Inara has something she's running from, River is getting spooky psychic, Mal and Jayne are both seriously concerned by the Reavers...it all added a great deal to the overall suspense of the show and made me want to see more.

I actually prefer the notion that Reavers "procreate" by driving others mad enough to become one of them. That was far more appealing to me than the eventual Miranda explanation. And though we don't really get them again, I loved the existence of them as a mysterious force of sheer dread and terror. I sure wish there could have been more development of them as the dark and mysterious aspect of space in the show.

That's the one thing about watching Firefly again; it makes me mourn the loss of the story all over again. *sigh*
Church Tucker
12. Church
Also, the first airing had not been introduced to Reavers yet, which one could assume were going to be fairly series-centric, if the movie is anything to go by, but for us DVD watchers, this is really close together.

Meh, it was intended to be recurring. Suits messing about don't detract from the actual (vs. the presented) order of the 'verse.

Last time, I promise, but having an FF virgin onboard would have been a great asset with these reviews. (Although, yeah, hard to find these days.)
John Fitzingo
13. Xandar01
I have noticed on the Airbender rewatch, one of the authors include extra content in the comments after some people have posted. That seems a good way to balance shortening it up and giving more. :)

I personally like to hear your thoughts, but providing some links to other sites might give some extra fuel.

As for the 3rd person view of the trap, I'll just ret-con myself into believing there is some camera robot drone thingy (kinda like the Kino's on SGU) that automatically deploy and check the ship for damage on docking.
Nathan Martin
14. lerris
What Mal believes regarding the origins of the reavers may well be a product of his own misunderstanding; the fact that the eventually-revealed truth is not consistent with the exposition at this point is not in itself a continuity-breaking error. Mal's theory sounds more superstitious than clinical to me.

As far as why some "survivors" become reavers themselves... I'm much happier without a provable explanation.
15. Will Belegon
I like the format you've got going.

I love this episode mostly because of the writing and delivery of the dialogue. Some wonderful stuff.

Commander Harken: Seems odd you'd name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of.
Captain Reynolds: May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.

...or Jayne saying : He looked bigger when I couldn't see him.

I think the episode is effective in many ways and wasn't this also the second one broadcast? When you consider that this was, in that format, the first appearance of Reavers, then it makes sense for those two appearances to be front-loaded. Also, we get a much better feel for the Alliance, learn the orgin of the name Serenity... It is "pilot exposition" part 2.
Vincent Lane
16. Aegnor
"especially as Kaylee starts to complain to him about how hard it is to keep Serenity running."

I haven't watched this episode in a while, but I don't think she was talking about how hard it is to keep Serenity running. She was still mad because the officer had insulted Serenity. She was describing other ships that fit his insult. She was just defending her baby.
Richard Fife
17. R.Fife
All: thanks for the feedback. I was honestly worried that I was being too detailed in the summary, but as no one is bringing it up, I'll keep them about the length they are. Anyway, typing out the detail like that also really helps me think about the episode, so yeah. I'll see if I can scrap up the time to throw in more "commentary", and I'll suspect I'll have more to say as we start the second DVD as I have more to draw on backwardsly. Still trying to refrain from forward discussion so I don't burn up all my material too fast.

@16 Aegnor: Yeah, possible, although as we find out about Kaylee in "Out of Gas", she had never fully worked on a full up spaceship (or been off her home planet) until Mal picked her up as an engineer. I mean, she got her mechanical knowledge somewhere, and this is going completely off memory, but I thought she denied having actual spaceship experience when Mal asked her, but that the stuff just talked to her and that she'd worked on smaller things.

So, that being said, she could have been trying to say how Serenity had been in the past until she cleaned her up. Also recall that Mal is stingy, so while Serenity is not "a piece of crap" in Kaylee's mind, she is rather jerry-rigged together. Perhaps it was both, but regardless, she was techno-babbling him into a stupor and so full of nerd-rage that it was righteous.
Vincent Lane
18. Aegnor
I'm going completely off memory, but in the scene where the officer is arresting them and taking them off the ship, he insults Serenity, and Kaylee takes great offense right then (asking Mal if he heard what the officer just called Serenity, or something like that). So then she spends the questioning describing in detail what a real crappy ship is. And Kaylee did have experience helping her father fix ships. She knows all about other ships engines.

Here we go...found the script...

Every inch of this junker gets tossed.

(as they go)

Settle down, Kaylee.

But, Cap'n! You hear what that purple belly
called Serenity?

Shut up."

Then later...


Still indignant.

...six Gurstler's crammed right under every
cooling drive so that you strain your primary
artery function and end up having to recycle
secondary exhaust through a bypass system just so's
you don't end up pumping it into the main atmo
feed and asphyxiating your crew. What
thought up that lame design? Now that's 'junk.'"

and still later...

She ain't 'junk.'"

I just love how she defends her ship, is why I bring it up.
19. Elizabeth Randall
I read Kaylee's rant as insulting the Alliance ship for it's bad design.
Church Tucker
20. Church
@17 R.Fife "I was honestly worried that I was being too detailed in the summary, but as no one is bringing it up, I'll keep them about the length they are."

Yes, do.

@18 Aegnor I think the part Richard is thinking of is this:

Where'd you learn to do that, miss?

Just do it, that's all. My daddy says I got
a natural talent.

I'd say you do at that.

(re: the part)
We don't need this?

Not 'specially.

You work for your daddy, do you?

When he's got work. Which lately ain't
been too often.

And have you had much experience on a
vessel like this?

Never even been up in one before.
21. Foxessa
" ... folks who went so far off to the edge of the 'Verse that, looking over that edge, they went nuts."

There have been some scholars of early American settlement and settlers who have posited that this happened to many of the Europeans who came to the New World -- they literally went mad from so much alieness and emptiness, coming as so many of them did from densely urbanized, for centuries, environments.

That said, this epsisode works smoothly to lead us into the popularity of Kaylee at the ball of "Shindig," one of the elements of that episode that works, among many others that do not.

I probably liked "Bushwhacked" more than many as an episode. The scenes of each member of the crew's interrogation were splendid -- so characteristic of each of them, while none of them give a bit away about Simon and River.

Love, C.
j p
22. sps49
R. Fife @17-

Mal isn't stingy. He's frugal

Okay, very frugal.
23. Shanna Swendson
It's not really an error (at least, I don't think so) but it cracks me up every time when the Alliance men are searching the ship for people, and they lift and look under the placemats on the table. I guess you never know what could be hiding under there.

This episode contains one of the most beautiful shots of the entire series, when it starts close on Simon and River clinging to the hull, then pulls out to show how tiny they are on that ship, then pulls out to show how tiny Serenity is against the Alliance ship.

I also love the way in that scene that River is gazing in wonder and joy at space while Simon is facing the ship, his eyes squeezed shut. Then he notices how much River is loving it, and he looks out, too, like he's trying to see what she sees, but then he can't take it and has to turn away from the vastness of space. It's a lovely little character moment, and what I love is that in spite of his fears, he does try to look at space the way River does.
Vincent Lane
24. Aegnor
Shanna Swendson@23,

Lol...I noticed the same thing. Searching for Simon and River beneath the place-mats.


Yeah, Out of Gas is my favorite episode. You notice though, that all she is saying is she's never flown in one. Its very clear that she has worked on them before (with her father). She's very knowledgeable about engines and spacecraft of all kinds.
james loyd
25. gaijin
FWIW, I AM a FF virgin and am watching each episode just before reading the rewatch entry.

Somehow I didn't put it together until reading the comments here, but I absolutely LOVE the juxtaposition of the explanation of the Reavers ("...looking over that edge, they went nuts") with River's elation while staring off into literally nothing. Is she the anti-Reaver: just as nuts, but in a better way?

I even failed to connect the names: River/Reaver . It also hints that Simon is (or should be) at least a little scared OF River as well as scared FOR her. Nicely done.
Vincent Lane
26. Aegnor

I don't think River is literally the "anti-reaver" (won't say more about what an anti-reaver would be, as that would get into Serenity movie spoilers). The "looking over the edge" explanation for the reavers is just speculation. At this point, almost no-one knows where the reavers came from, or how they came to be so crazy.

The linking of River and the Reavers could have been intentional though. I hadn't thought of that before, and River might be an "anti-reaver" in a more symbolic sense.
james loyd
27. gaijin
Aegnor @26

I guess by "anti-Reaver" I did mean it in a symbolic sense. Maybe something like yearning for the abyss as an escape from internalized violence as opposed to emerging from the abyss as the embodiment of extroverted violence.

Sorry, I took too many undergrad lit-crit classes (1) and now I look for parallels in all fiction.

I know a little about the movie and bringing the Reavers back at all after a series-long hiatus, but especially with a completely different explanation seems forced. "My series was canceled but fans want the loose ends tied up. OK, here's the Gordian Knot." But I'm sure I'm getting ahead of myself. I should just keep watching.
Vincent Lane
28. Aegnor
Well, it isn't really a matter of a completely different explanation. The "staring off into space making people reavers" explanation was never meant to be a serious explanation for the origin of the reavers, IMO. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you really think about it. As Jane says, there's nothing out on the edge, but more space. Its more of a poetic hand-wavy explanation used by people that really have no clue where they came from.
james loyd
29. gaijin
The Reavers themselves are pretty laden with symbolism anyway.
Richard Fife
30. R.Fife
Hmm, I had never actually linked the river-reaver thing either until that Gaijin. Funny, that. And the looking out into the abyss part, that was tickling the back of my mind but slipped off until you brought it back up.

I am going to say the parallel was very intentional, although more to make us wonder at River, or give us a "two sides of the coin." After all, it wasn't "The Black" that made River go off the deep end, it was the blue-hands and their tinkering. So whether or not we are supposed to take the reavers origin myth from Mal to be literal or not (which again, I think not, but it is the touch of the mystical in an otherwise scientific world).

Also remember, River and the reavers are both almost magical aspects in this Sci-Fi world. Remember the fay elements to her with the wispy dresses and bare feet. And then the reavers are monstrous almost smoke and fear creatures. The first time they were just this lumbering, evil ship that looked like it shouldn't even be flying, and now we only get a pseudo-reaver, a person trying to become like them. Damn bloody shame we never get to see this parallel fully realized.
james loyd
31. gaijin
Yes, the reaver explanation in the series is weak and most likely only symbolic. Whether it's literal or magical is almost irrelevant; it's definitely there for a reason. That makes a "real" origin all the more bothersome though.

It's like suddenly finding out that the Borg had a queen all along or that Anakin Skywalker was EVER capable of squealing "Yippee!" (not once but twice). Seriously? THAT's the backstory you want to go with?

Still, love the series so far and looking forward to the movie anyway.
Vincent Lane
32. Aegnor
I don't know, I guess I never bought the "staring into space" theory, so it was an unanswered mystery as to where the Reavers came from, until the movie. And I really like how the movie handled it. Its exactly like something the Alliance would do.
Liza .
33. aedifica
I'm mostly really enjoying reading your posts, but this is the second time I've noticed you saying River "spazzes out." Really not cool. How about "gets upset" or some other phrase that doesn't insult people with epilepsy or cerebral palsy?
34. Rev J
RE: The upside-down docking and no gravity-changing effects.

The Alliance Bruiser's orientation to Firefly on approach was 180 out. When Firefly docked, she switched to the B... Cruiser's orientation, landing on the platform marked "This Side Up." It was only upside-down to the television screen, not to the people. :)

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