Tue
Apr 27 2010 6:22pm

Firefly Re-watch: “Our Mrs. Reynolds”

On the day of the re-watch, the blogger shall post for his readers as the troth to the cattle, and they shall consume well and again till he brings them to factoids, and then depart them with his squib and be gone.

Episode Summary:

A wagon-boat is fording a river as bandits surround it. The bandit leader demands all the goods on the thing, and then also demands some “one-on-one time with the missus.” The wagon driver lifts up his head and it turns out to be Jayne.

JAYNE: Oh, I think you might want to reconsider that last part. See, I married me a powerfully ugly creature.
MAL: (dressed as Jayne’s wife) How can you say that? How can you shame me in front of new people?
JAYNE: If I could make you prettier, I would.
MAL: You are not the man I met a year ago.

They quick draw their guns on the bandits. Mal offers the bandits an ultimatum that they don’t take, so Zoe appears out of the back and blasts one of them. A firefight ensues, and the crew comes out on top.

That night, the township that Mal helped throws a rustic party in their honor, complete with bonfires and ho-down. Mal and Inara walk amongst the locals, and Mal promises the next place they stop will be nicer. Meanwhile, a drunk Jayne is given a bead-filled log that sounds like rain by a village elder. Jayne is deeply moved by the gift. Off to the side, Book gives the bodies of the bandits some last rites while he notices a cute, younger woman putting a wreath on Mal’s head then giving him something to drink in a bowl. Wash and Zoe relax and watch on too, and Mal and Jayne are dragged into the dance.

The next day as the crew gets ready to go, Mal dismisses the elder’s concern that they had so little to pay with. Zoe tells Mal an alliance patrol boat is coming their way, and Mal shuffles the elder off, but rather politely, even promising to come back someday. Serenity takes off, and Mal goes about packing things away when he finds the girl he danced with last night in the cargo bay. He asks who she is and what’s she’s doing there, and she says that she is his wife.

Mal is dumbfounded, and the woman explains that she was given to him in lieu of payment. Jayne and Zoe walk in, and Jayne’s reaction is that he feels stiffed for having only gotten the stick. Mal protests that he isn’t really married and asks Zoe to call Wash down. Zoe instead makes a ship-wide call for all personnel to report to the cargo bay to “congratulate” Mal on his day of bliss. Mal continues his protests, but they fall on deaf ears as the crew shows up and Zoe introduces Mrs. Reynolds. Oddly, Kaylee is excited. Mal’s protests finally get to the girl, and she starts sobbing. He tries to get the ship to turn around, but Wash says they can’t as one of the bandits had family ties and there is a bulletin out over his murder. Mal instead tries to explain to the girl (after Inara berates him for being insensitive) that they aren’t married. Book, though, disagrees after looking up the marriage rites of the planet they were just on. Turns out, by her traditions, they are married. Mal asks after divorce, and she bolts. He starts to go after her, but Zoe holds him up.

ZOE: I really don’t think you’re the one to talk to her, sir.
MAL: The way I see it, me and her got one thing in common. We’re the only ones who don’t think this is funny.

Inara looks perturbed as Mal leaves after the girl, and his search finally ends in the engine room. He actually has a rather rational discussion with the girl, explaining his reaction as coming from the shock of having no clue of what was going on. She asks if he is going to kill her because he is displeased and she heard husbands do that, and Mal gets upset over the idea and actually chews her out for thinking that kind of thing is OK.  He even encourages her to have a spine and stand up for herself. He then tells her that when they get to the Beaumond in five days, she should be able to get off and find decent work in a factory or on a farm. She says that she’d still be a good wife, and Mal refuses the idea, claiming he’d make a terrible husband. She gets all excited at the idea of spending five days with him, at least, even if not as newlyweds, and Mal asks her if she’s hungry. She decides instead to cook him something to eat, and before he can protest too much, she gets all cheery bubbly and introduces herself as Saffron, so he relents.

Book arrives from below, looks after Saffron as she heads into the galley then looks back at Mal. Book informs Mal that divorce is rare and would be complicated, but he will send a wave to her pastor and see what they can do. Book then shows some concern over how eager she is to please Mal and warns him.

BOOK: If you take sexual advantage of her, you are going to burn in a very special level of Hell, a level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.
MAL: Wha—? I am not— Preacher, you got a smutty mind.
BOOK: Perhaps I spoke out of turn.
MAL: Per-maybe-haps I’m thinking.
BOOK: I apologize. I’ll make her up a room in the passenger dorm.
MAL: Good.
(Book leaves, then pokes his head back around the bulkhead.)
BOOK: The Special Hell.

In the galley, Mal sits down to a rather tasty meal Saffron made for him, and Wash asks if there is any more. Saffron apologizes for not making more, but tells Zoe the galley is ready if she wants to makes her husband something, which of course puts Zoe’s back up. She accuses Mal of taking advantage of Saffron’s eagerness to please him, but Wash continues to obsess over the food. Mal tries to defend himself but makes no headway, so he instead excuses himself from the table, saying he’d already eaten, and Saffron offers to wash his feet. He only stares at her before walking off, and then Wash bogarts the plate of food.

Inara is in her shuttle, looking for clients on Beaumond, and Mal appears and asks if he can come in. When Inara says no, he barges in anyway, saying that is why he doesn’t usually ask. Inara is obviously cross at him being there, even when he says he just needs a place to hide. He tries to talk to her about Saffron, but Inara is completely aggressive to him, seeing the whole “degrading” situation as Mal’s fault somehow. After a few exchanges, she kicks him out. Out on the catwalk, he finds Jayne with a very large gun.

JAYNE: Do I have your attention.
MAL: Kind of going to extremes here, ain’t we?
JAYNE: There’s times I think you don’t take me seriously. I think that oughta change.
MAL: Do you think it’s likely to?
JAYNE: You got something you don’t deserve.
MAL: And it’s brought me a galaxy of fun, I’m here to tell ya.
JAYNE: Six men came to kill me one time, and the best of them carried this. It’s a Callahan full-bore auto lock. Customized trigger, Double cartridge thorough gauge. It is my very favorite gun. (holds it out to Mal)

Mal realizes Jayne is trying to trade with him and chews him out for thinking of Saffron that way. He leaves and goes down into the cargo bay, where Saffron sneaks up on him. She thanks him for not giving her to Jayne, then says she’d rather work on a ranch on Beaumond if she can’t be Mal’s wife. Mal starts talking to her about his youth growing up on a farm then catches himself, as he makes it a point to not talk about his past. Saffron shows some concern that he doesn’t feel like he can talk about his past, and he then turns it around and asks about her past. She demurs, saying her life is dull and boring, but Mal insists. Serenity passes by a shattered asteroid, and a camera snaps a picture of it. On a space station somewhere, some seedy men look at the ship, and the boss admires the firefly. He tells his underling that if it comes their way, they will prep the nets and take it.

Zoe and Wash argue over Saffron on the bridge, Zoe saying she’s crazy and Wash trying to defend her because of her upbringing. Zoe thinks Wash is just defending Saffron cause she’s hot and helpless and activates the basic White Knight reflex men are prone to have, and even blames Wash for the situation. Wash gets upset, and Zoe goes to bed alone.

Mal goes to his room, where he finds a very unclothed Saffron in his cot. She says that she has made the bed warm for him and herself ready for him. Mal tries to put her off, saying it is a question of what is morally right, and Saffron quotes “her bible.”

SAFFRON: On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man as the furrow to the plow, and he shall work in her in and again till she bring him to his full, and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast.
MAL: Whoa. Good Bible.

Saffron continues to try and convince Mal that he should bed her, and he continues to try and refuse. She uses his own argument for her to be bold, and as she moves up to him, he admits that he is going to the Special Hell. She kisses him, and he quickly realizes something is wrong as he faints.

Saffron, now clothed, walks up to the bridge and talks to Wash. She tries to seduce him, but he resists, so she just beats the ever loving crap out of him with a single kick. She then sabotages the ship and runs for the cargo bay.

There, she bumps into Inara, who she tries to somewhat seduce as well. Inara, though, sees through the façade and they have it out. Inara, amazingly, knows how to at least block and dodge Saffron’s attack. Saffron, though, gets into the spare shuttle and makes good her escape.

Inara rushes up to the crew quarters, sees Zoe worrying over Wash, Jayne trying to force his way onto the bridge (which has been flash-welded shut), and Kaylee confused. She slides down into Mal’s cabin, where she finds him laying on the floor and fears he is dead. When she sees that he is breathing, she kisses him in relief, calls for the doctor and then realizes how he was drugged as she succumbs to it too.

Mal wakes up with everyone hovering over him and is brought up to speed on what has happened. When Simon explains about “The Good-Night Kiss”, the drug Saffron used, Zoe and Book get on Mal’s case about the kissing. Inara, who is laying groggily on Mal’s bed, insists that she fell after calling for the doctor and hit her head.

The ship’s status is bad. Kaylee and Jayne are working on getting access back to the bridge, and their course has been changed. Jayne welds his way into the bridge, and then Wash and Kaylee admiringly examine just how well Saffron screwed the ship’s controls up. The crew quickly realizes just how much Saffron was lying about her naivety and Inara even shares about how Saffron is well-schooled, although she continues to insist on her story of hitting her head. But, according to Inara, Saffron had to have been in the Companion Academy. The crew bickers a bit more about Mal having kissed Saffron, and Wash finally kicks everyone but Kaylee off the bridge.

On the space station, the seedy men see Serenity heading their way and “get ready.” We find out that Saffron was indeed working with them.

Back on the ship, Wash and Kaylee get the ship partially back under control, but not navigation. They quickly see that they are headed towards a giant electromagnetic mess, “a net”. Book explains how the net is a chop-shop, and that getting caught in it is a deathtrap. Mal quickly thinks up a plan and orders Zoe to prep the spacesuits and Jayne to go fetch Vera.

They dress the gun up in a spacesuit, and Mal instructs Jayne to shoot for the breakers on the net. They get into the airlock and open the hatch, and Jayne succeeds in shorting the net out in a single shot, in addition to using several follow-up shots before Vera’s oxygen is completely gone in the suit to blow a window out too, killing the station’s crew. After they are past the danger, Wash and Kaylee manage to get the ship steerable, and they turn around.

On a planet where it is snowing on a cabin, Saffron is sitting alone when Mal busts in and pulls a gun on her. They fight, and Mal comes out on top in more than one way. Instead of killing her, though, he questions her about why she did it. She more or less hints that it was strictly for the thrill. She asks how he found her, and he says it wasn’t hard, being as there were only so many places that shuttle would reach. He quizzes her again about the games she played, and she claims that is all anyone ever does: play games. He points out that she is better at the game, but he still has the gun to her head, and that was because he has a crew that is loyal and trusts each other. She begs him to kill her, but he doesn’t and lets her up.

She then complements him for not just melting and instead trying to teach her to have a spine. He says he has one more question for her that he wants to know straight up, then asks what her real name is. She pauses in confusion, and he punches her out, saying she’d only have lied anyway.

Back in Inara’s shuttle, Mal visits Inara and complements her out of the blue. He then accuses her of not having just tripped. She admits that she did not, thinking she is about to have to admit she kissed Mal, but he laughs before she can, says he knew that she kissed Saffron too, and leaves whistling.

Commentary:

Yay, another episode about Mal and Inara? Well, sort of. Mal and Inara’s uneasy relationship is a centerpiece, but it is also nicely contrasted with Zoe and Wash’s. Where Inara is actually very unforgiving and not understanding of Mal’s position, Zoe and Wash at least can get their argument out in the air.

Now, before I go an iota further, I want to say that there is something about this episode that bugs me, and it is the “idiot ball” the entire crew is carrying around for Mal. I can understand Book a bit—he hasn’t known Mal as long—but Zoe, Wash, and Inara all are instantly damning in what is obvious to even a casual observer something that isn’t Mal’s fault and that he wants no part of. There, it’s out of my system.

This episode addresses several heavy topics in subtle ways. The first is the concept of respecting other cultures, even when at first glance you think everything they do is stupid. Now granted, that required for us the audience to pretty well universally think Saffron comes from a stupid culture, so it might seem broken, but notice how, despite Mal trying to “civilize” Saffron, he still at least has some understanding to her issues.

Conversely, Zoe and Wash show the other side of this, with Wash actually trying to defend Saffron’s position because of her sheltered life, and Zoe not blinding herself to the potential trouble Saffron is bringing to the ship.

I am also somewhat annoyed at the “feminist” theme. Not that I don’t like feminism, I just don’t think this episode did it justice. It made for good watching and decent humor, but the more I think on it, the more it kind of annoys me that “making a person dinner” was so negatively slammed on. Last I checked, real feminism is about the right to choose. If a woman wants to be a housewife, she can, so long as she freely made the choice and doesn’t feel forced there. It is just as anti-feminist to force a woman to go out and work when she’d rather be a housewife as the opposite. Now granted, Saffron is showing the “forced into housewife” role, but it is contrasted to Zoe, the action woman who is more likely to expect her husband to make her dinner than make it for him. Which, of course, there is nothing wrong with Zoe the Action Woman being an action woman because that is her choice. GAH! Crazy net of political correctness and headaches and sandwiches! I guess it was just a hard subject to try and address in the same hour as other stuff too.

Which brings me to the other big thing I keyed on this episode, and that was the harping about White Knighting. When Wash is trying to defend Saffron, Zoe blithely comments about how of course a man would rush to defend her. Mal is instantly demonized because, I think, the crew is more likely expecting him to soften up and take advantage of Saffron in a “White Knight” capacity instead of a lecherous one. Oh, and then there is Saffron herself, who engineers her very personality to scream out “protect and comfort me!”

I have to wonder how this theme would play out to a group of strong matriarchs who don’t expect that from their men. Our “gentleman’s” society sees and sympathizes with Mal and Wash, both of whom are doing exactly what society says they should: which is trying to reach out and understand what is different and comfort a woman in need. And I do mean to say woman, not just person. Our society does not encourage men to comfort other men nearly as much as we are expected to offer succor across the sexes, with more an expectation of it on men to women.

So yeah, a matriarchal society would probably see this episode as all backwards, and egalitarians would not even understand it. But, I guess that is something about telling a story: you can’t ever make one without including your own biases on at least a fundamental level. So, what do you think? Is White Knighting more likely to lead to trouble, or should it still be called “being a gentleman” and encouraged?

Oh, and I noted several times about Kaylee’s reactions above because they kind of confuse me. Kaylee doesn’t take me as the kind of person to go whole-hog on a mean joke like this, especially when there is someone that is likely not finding it funny nearby. After all, Kaylee is supposed to be a moral compass, so are we supposed to be getting from this that it is OK to ignore the feelings of someone in a frightening situation if it lets you make fun of your boss? Or, perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. Perhaps Kaylee, on some level, knew that Saffron wasn’t really frightened, so she never actually felt like she was being mean by what she was doing. Or, on the third hand (yes, we are in the Hitchhiker’s Guide now), her enthusiasm might have been genuine as a means to try and make Saffron not feel so ostracized. Thoughts?

A few other things, River was there for a second. Simon had about half again as much screen time (and at least a few lines), and Book’s mysteriousness is lampshade hung. In particular, not only does he know about the “net” and the chop shop, Mal actually looks to him first after seeing the net, knowing that Book is more likely to recognize it than anyone else. Jayne’s little line about how Book needs to tell them one day how he knows what he knows is the said hanging of shade for lamps.

I also enjoy the clever introduction of Chekhov’s Gun. Jayne offering Vera for the barter was good on it’s own for Jayne’s character, but then letting him use it, that was nice. Oh, and speaking of character, I am curious, how many people think that Mal only took the opening job out of desperation, and how many think he was honestly just being a big damn hero and helping out some poor people? Personally, I’m going for both.

Factoids:
Originally Aired: 4 October 2002
Original Position: Episode 3
Richard’s Favorite Line:

WASH: I wish I was somebody else right now. Somebody not married, not madly in love with a beautiful woman who can kill me with her pinky.

Fun Goofs: Vera’s type of bullet actually doesn’t need oxygen to fire. The producers were unsure, though, so they called in a supposed expert who lied like Saffron. Well, at least gave them the wrong answer.

Well, that’s it. I told you I’d manage to get this up on time, although I admit it was a close thing, what with the JordanCon this past weekend. Luckily, I am pretty anchored at home for the next good long while, so I will not be having to stay up super late on a “school night” to get these in. See you next week for the song of a man named Jayne (Jaynestown, that is).


Richard Fife is a blogger, writer, and very happy he is not going to the Special Hell. You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short stories on http://RichardFife.com.

34 comments
Ashe Armstrong
1. AsheSaoirse
A buddy of mine made this in tribute to Book.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v423/battousaiashe/motivationals/Thespecialhell.jpg

Fantastic review as always. No real thoughts other than I completely agree about the idiot ball. I despise the idiot ball.
David Goldfarb
2. David_Goldfarb
You left out the best line! You quoted the setup of Jayne saying Mal doesn't take him seriously, and then you didn't quote Mal saying, "Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle."
***Dave
3. ***Dave
This tale is all full of character goodness (and some delightful dialog), but the underlying plot is, um ... kinda stupid. To wit, "Saffron" apparently lies in wait on planets (including hanging out in a backwater village), then sneaks aboard ships, takes them over sufficiently to lock them on course to a chop shop in space, then shuttles away until ... the next job?

That makes more traditional space piracy seem like an utterly sane and economical setup.

Oh, well -- it's all worth handwaving away to get Jayne and Vera, Inara and the kiss, Zoe the cook, and Book and his "Special Hell."
Jennifer B
4. JennB
I think this is my least favorite episode. I can't stand the way everyone treats Mal.

Saffron is annoying.

Zoe has feelings of inadequacy that she really needs to deal with, rather than blaming her husband.

Wash wishes he was someone else? Gag. Maybe Zoe was right.

Book is judgemental. What business is it of his anyways.

Kaylee is unsympathetic.

Here we have the start of Inara being jealous of Mal having a potential sexual relationship despite the fact that she has not told him she has feelings for him.

I usually love all the characters, but in this episode the only ones who didn't annoy the heck out of me were Mal, River and Simon. Why? Well because River and Simon weren't really in this episode and Mal was just reacting to everyone else.

Needless to say I didn't find much of this episode funny, though the line David_Goldfarb@2 mentions is good. I also like that Mal was in the dress while Zoe was in the back. I also love the shot of Zoe and Wash enjoying the party together by firelight.

That's about it. Thank goodness Jaynestown is next.

PS I also like the continued use of silence in space. Very dramatic.
Vincent Lane
5. Aegnor
Yeah, in that scene in Mal's bunk, Saffron's seduction skills were...impressive. Actually all three of her seduction scenes (with Mal, Wash, and Inara) were...impressive.

I do somewhat agree that the crew's response towards Mal was a bit unfair, but not entirely unrealistic. Book was just taking precautions to make sure Mal didn't try to take advantage of Saffron. Inara's reactions were unfair, but I think that was entirely driven by jealousy. She loves Mal, so him ending up married, even under these circumstances, is a bit unnerving for her, and she let jealousy rear its head (which definitely happens in situations in real life where it is unwarranted).

Jayne is driven by envy. He just wants what Mal got. Not very complicated, and its perfectly in his character. Kayle just turns on Mal when he starts to make Saffron cry. Zoe is the only one that I thought was completely unfair, and out of character. When he says "When did this stop being funny" and she says "When you didn't turn the ship around and drop her off". Excuse me? Didn't he try exactly that, but Wash said that they couldn't because one of the guys they killed had an important father, and his "murder" was being looked into? Did she expect him to turn around and drop her off and risk them all getting arrested for murder? Sheesh...

Anyway, overall I really liked this episode and thought it was extremely funny. I love the fact that the first cut, at the beginning, ends with Mal speechless (after the stowaway says she's his wife), and the last cut right before the credits ends with Inara speechless (after Mal accuses her of kissing Saffron).
Jennifer B
6. JennB
Oops, I forgot Jayne. He didn't really annoy me because I expect him to act the way he did. Perfectly in character.

Aegenor@5 I agree that the reactions are not unrealistic in any of the characters. I just find them so annoying, especially all added together, that I have trouble with the entire episode.
Vincent Lane
7. Aegnor
"Saffron is annoying."

Interesting. I wonder if how she is perceived has something to do with how different genders perceive things. As Richard mentioned in his commentary, Saffron pushes all the right "protect me!" buttons that are ingrained in the male psyche by thousands of years of evolution. That would be significantly less effective on a woman (unless the one trying it was a child).

And it is Book's business because he thought Saffron was a naive girl, who, if Mal had his way with and then dumped, would be shamed and destroyed. In a society such as she claimed to be from, such a thing would cause her to be an outcast. He was just trying to protect her and make sure Mal didn't take advantage of her.

"Wash wishes he was someone else? Gag. Maybe Zoe was right."

What? Some very attractive woman makes an extremely sensual pass at him, something most guys fantasize about, but he's happily married. Its only natural for him to think..."If I were someone else..." I don't see what your issue with this is. Please explain.
Jennifer B
8. JennB
Please explain...

Maybe it is a gender thing, but if a sexy guy made a pass at me, I would be flattered and probably a bit uncomfortable if he got in my face the way Saffron gets in Wash's face, (Wash is also clearly uncomfortable.) but I would never wish I was someone else BECAUSE I am happily married.

Basically Wash is happily married and would never do anything to jepardize his marriage. Good for him, but he is also saying that he wishes that he was not married so he could have sex with Saffron without consequences. Not cool when you are in a mutually monogomous relationship.

I don't care if my husband looks at other women and is appreciative of them, but if he wished he wasn't married to me so he could have sex with another woman, I would be very hurt.

Well that's the best I can do.

As to Book being protective of a naive girl, it is in character and I suppose that I have to allow for the fact that he doesn't see that Saffron is coming on to Mal not the other way around, but the part that really bugs me is that he continues to act this way even after it has been made clear that Mal has been taken advantage of. (I am referring to the scene in the bunk room right after Mal comes to.)
Vincent Lane
9. Aegnor
I can kind of understand where you are coming from, but I think you are misunderstanding.

If I remember right he says something along the lines of "I wish I was someone else right now". He didn't say he wished he wasn't married. There is a big difference. As he makes clear, he is very happily married, and certainly doesn't want to not be married.

He is judging the experience she is offering as something valuable, but is incompatible with something he holds with more value; being happily married to Zoe. He's just wishing he was temporarily someone else, so that that incompatibility wouldn't exist. Its an impossibility, of course, and he is well aware of it. Which is why he rejects her.
john massey
10. subwoofer
@1- brilliant

We could be juggling geese:)

The days of not taking you seriously are coming to a middle- that floored me LOL

Loved this episode- especially the bit about the flowery bonnet.

Of all the pics of this episode- Mal and Jayne on the wagon, Everyone in the cargo bay etc etc, we get "Mrs. Reynolds" nekked. NTTIAWWT.

And Jayne's "can I have her"- yeah, my knuckles drag a bit, but it is a funny episode regardless.

Edited because I spelt nekked wrong;)

Woof™.
Angus McIntyre
11. angusm
@JennB wrote: "I think this is my least favorite episode."

I think it's one of the best-written episodes in the series, and a really beautiful piece of writing all round. It establishes all the characters, based on their interaction with Mal and their reaction to the situation: by the end of the episode, you know exactly who everyone is. It's also extremely funny, fast-moving, exciting and tense by turns. And underneath the wit and the action, there's something genuinely moving in the Mal/Inara parts.

It's well-acted, not least by Christina Hendricks as Saffron, but it's the writing that sets it apart. Every screenwriter should aspire to write something as good.
April Moore
12. aprildmoore
I liked this episode. It was frustrating from Mal's perspective (and from mine as a fan of his character), but it set up a long-standing ...hmm, well, villain might be too strong a word, but certainly Saffron made several memorable appearances in later episodes. I liked how Inara was the first to get a true reading of the situation, realizing that Saffron's vulnerability was an act.

I agree about the "coming to a middle line" - one of my favorites of a long list in Firefly. But one memorable enough that I quote it fairly often. Also, props for the opening - that had me in stitches -- and also for the infamous "Special Hell" quote.

I have mixed feelings about some of the discussions around feminism, White Knighting, etc. both here and elsewhere. In general, I have seen both extremes taken to, well, the extreme. :-) I guess I don't have a problem with someone acting strong or weak, regardless of their sex, provided that is how they wish to be perceived. And if someone else's consideration of me - even if it is misplaced or driven by a misconception of my need for protection/special consideration, whatever - well, that doesn't really impact my self-image and so I don't really mind. If it starts to cramp my style, I'll say something.

Eh, enough about that for now - must go look for JordanCon posts. :-)
j p
13. sps49
I felt Zoe and Wash were teasing Mal because he was in a pickle because he was too nice to spurn his new "bride" outright, and had to come up with a nice way to do so. At least at first for Zoe.

Kaylee was happy for Mal at first, although I expected more surprise. Then did she get confused?

Inara, Mal isn't as good as you are at reading whatever cues you think you are giving. Let him know or stop the jealousy! (Of course, she does neither.)

I do wonder why there isn't a manual trip for the engine. Serenity's drive is hard enough to keep going; how hard can it be to shut it down? I didn't catch anything about a destruct setup, so....

And somebody told them a cartridge wouldn't work in space? Heinlein got that right in the 40's in Rocket Ship Galileo, fer chrissake.
***Dave
14. spuds
I thought ammunition like we currently use had it's own oxidizer. Just look at a bullet, where the air supposed to get in anyway?
James Hogan
15. Sonofthunder
Last year when my roommates didn't have anything else to watch, they grabbed my Firefly set...and this was the episode that hooked them. Such a classic. Saffron episodes(ok, I guess there's only two of them) are always awesome. But I think my favorite parts included Inara desparately trying to hide the fact that she kissed Mal.

And fascinating to think about the difference between the ways men and women view Saffron...as a guy, I found her more pitiable than annoying. I would have felt and acted the same as Mal, most likely. Is this a male failing? No wait, don't answer that.

Of course, after we find out who Saffron really is, I think she's just a punk. Still feel a little sorry for her though...

And last line is classic. "I knew you kissed her!"
Scott Taylor
16. izzylobo
I thought ammunition like we currently use had it's own oxidizer. Just look at a bullet, where the air supposed to get in anyway?

It does. Modern ammunition is perfectly functional in space. Smokeless powder formulations include oxidizers (although there might be enough air left in the casing when loaded that it wouldn't matter).

The weapon itself might not like working in hard vacc all that much - but that would be because of things like vacuum welding of parts (like the bolt) or lubricants sublimating away, things like that, rather than because the ammunition doesn't get enough oxidizer to function.

And you'd probably be able to get a handful of shots off before the weapon seized up and needed to be repaired.

Their consultant was full of it - a search of any of dozens of SFnal websites would have told them that.
Marcus W
17. toryx
I can see some of the issues about this episode that bug people but I generally manage to turn a blind eye to those issues to enjoy it for what it is.

I actually think the way everyone treats Mal is a direct consequence of his attitude of acting more the scoundrel than he actually is. It's sort of payback for all his male macho bullshit.

More than anything though, I love this episode because Book's line about the special hell is my favorite line of the whole series. I and all my friends quote that line repeatedly. It's endlessly useful and satisfying.
M Linden
18. mlinden
One question I always ask about this episode: when Mal says "I knew you kissed her" at the end, is he really saying "I knew you kissed ME, but I'm not saying it out loud"? I could be reading too much into it, but his smirk kind of says that to me, and it's the kind of subtle shade of meaning I would expect from this show. Or not.
james loyd
19. gaijin
The crew's reaction to Mal was annoying and seemed willfully ignorant, but look at it from their perspective. The captain of your ship is sarcastic and moody and ALWAYS has a witty retort for anything you might say. He finds himself in a situation where (as long as everyone plays along) he CAN'T WIN. I'd probably play obtuse too to milk the situation for every last iota of irony.

Oh, and I think Kaylee is genuinely happy. Mal's surprise marriage, like Kaylee's dress in Shindig, offers both romanticism and novelty (not to mention huge comedic potential). Don't disparage Kaylee's glee or my White Knight instincts may kick in.
james loyd
20. gaijin
As for Wash, he's probably my favorite character because he is brutally honest about himself and can't keep his mouth shut. Therefore the entire point of him saying he wished he was someone else was to point out that he WASN'T someone else. Having said that, I agree he could have expressed the same sentiment without implying he'd rather not be married (at that moment), e.g. "You're extremely attractive, but I am completely committed to my thoroughly dangerous and beautiful wife. In fact, why don't I just go and cook something for my wife right now?"
***Dave
21. Calimac
And last line is classic. "I knew you kissed her!"

And what helps make it so classic is the absolutely gobsmacked look on Inara's face after Mal says it, contrasted with the smug look on his. The acting on this show was so wonderful ...

Everybody here knows that Christina Hendricks, who played Saffron, went on to pile her hair on top of her head to be the bitchy chief secretary, Joan, on Mad Men, right?
***Dave
22. peachy
Inara had a bad case of the green-eyed gazongas, and Jayne just wanted him some of that sweet Christina Hendricks booty. But I think the others - at least at the beginning, before real feelings got stepped on - were mostly just screwing with Mal. The tough, self-reliant, no-nonsense captain-rogue, routed with ease by a blushing backwoods maiden? Who could have resisted the temptation to needle him just a little bit? (Not me, for sure.) And Yo-Saff-Bridge's act was perfectly calculated to get under all the defences of a guy like Mal. Poor chap never had a chance.
***Dave
23. Foxessa
This viewer simply cannot buy the faux future in space 19th century western frontier sun bonnets and all the rest of the costumery, set dressing, dialects, locutions and rhetoric. Each time this stuff shows up the sillier it is and the more it throws one out of this very bad world building.

What this viewer could buy very well is that our little Missis Reynolds was a troublemaker, because like Zoe and Inara, the erotically and sexually mature females of the crew, we see from the gitgo Saffron's objective was to divide the crew against itself.

It would have been interesting to see River deal with Saffron. As this episode seems intentioned to be light-hearted, maybe River would have pulled it into the angst spectrum. Instead we get more of that faux Inara loves Mal and Mal loves Inara, but they can't sit in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G -- and why is that exactly, when they are both free to be she and he?
Luis Milan
24. LuisMilan
"Or, on the third hand (yes, we are in the Hitchhiker’s Guide now)"

Aren't we supposed to call it the Gripping Hand?
Nathan Martin
25. lerris
Highlights for me were definitely the "special hell" line and Mal's assumption that Inara kissed Saffron.
Not my favorite episode ( that's next week ), but set the stage for the next Saffron episode which I liked much better.
***Dave
26. politeruin
It seems to me that Saffron is the perfect example of the only 2 female character types Joss Whedon seems able to write; first she's the naive, helpless, submissive and then she becomes the strong, kick arse warrior woman. There's just no subtly is there. I know there's been a lot written about this elsewhere but i've come to believe it after first being dismissive. I don't think it's his intention to do this, i'm sure he thinks he's writing progressive female characters but apart from the odd one that maybe approaching the middle ground, such as Zoe, he just can't do it. Even then he doesn't really give Zoe anything much to do, she's not really a stand-out character and she should be.

Don't get me wrong i do love his writing! Though he does get way too much credit for his seemingly, on the surface, strong female characters. But then it's not an easy thing to do to write a convincing character of the other gender without coming at it full of clichés and a male/female bias. Or not bias, what's the word...
james loyd
27. gaijin
"Even then he doesn't really give Zoe anything much to do" -@26

Well, not other than wielding weaponry, running things when Mal doesn't, and keeping Mal's ego in check, all while still managing to have a private life.

Jayne complains and shoots. Wash pilots Serenity (at least take-off, re-entry, and evasion). Kaylee maintains the ship. Mal sets up cri..."jobs." Simon patches people up and worries about River. River eavesdrops and freaks people (and herself) out. Inara, well...let's not go there. Zoe is probably the MOST active person in the crew.

Book, as much as I like him and as often as he KNOWS and SAYS important things, is really the one who doesn't DO anything.
Jennifer B
28. JennB
politeruin@ 26
I don't think Kaylee fits into either of you categories. She is definately not helpless or submissive, nor is she a warrior. She is peace loving and is not capable of harming someone, but she is also smart and assertive.

Inara also does not fit into either of you categories. She is strong, assertive and while she may have some skills such as fencing, she is not a warrior.

Perhaps you have one of them mixed up with Zoe, who is the strongest, "kick arse warrior women" in the series (until River's super powers kick in, at least).

gaijin@27
I think Book does most of the cooking. Very important. :-)
Vincent Lane
29. Aegnor
LuisMilan@24,

Gripping Hand! That is exactly what I was thinking.
***Dave
30. Calimac
Zoe may be a major character, but she is more of a cypher than anyone else on the ship. Her thoughts are more closed off; her relations with anyone except Mal and Wash more of a blank. Only in "The Message" does the shell begin to crack.

Kaylee is a kick-ass warrior woman, she's just not a physical warrior woman. She's the kick-ass engineer. She can do a lot more with her spinning engine than Scotty could ever do with his dilithium crystals.

Foxessa @23: Yeah, the premise isn't really purchasable, but for me that's cancelled out by what was done with it. That's the big difference from Dollhouse. Firefly: really stupid premise, really great execution. Dollhouse: really intriguing premise, really gawdawful execution.
james loyd
31. gaijin
JennB @28 "I think Book does most of the cooking."

That would make sense. Thank you for defending him. I felt bad for belittling his shipboard role. As both a Christian and a librarian (a book shepherd), how could I not love that character?
Church Tucker
32. Church
"...but Zoe, Wash, and Inara all are instantly damning in what is obvious to even a casual observer something that isn’t Mal’s fault and that he wants no part of."

You thought they were serious? Really?

I like this one a lot, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better if YoSafBridge was playing it straight, and Mal had to deal with *that.*
Del C
33. del
MAL: Whoa. Good Bible.

And later, Wash: "Good myth."

MAL: It's been a long damn while since anybody but me took a hold of my plow.

(which goes with Kaylee's line about batteries in Serenity to give you a picture of that ship)

JAYNE: That's why I never kiss 'em on the mouth.
CREW: *?!*
Ian Brown
34. RunawayPenguin
@26, I would probably agree, Joss does have a habit of only being able to have one or the other a lot of the time, but he tries. I mean, Buffy may have been the epic warrior woman, but he (and the other writers of course) also gave her some lightheartedness, some vulnerability and such. And of course, Cordelia in Angel, growing from the rich bitch into a character with a lot of depth, when she's not trying to act at least.

But at least he tries to keep it balanced, or less balanced, however it is the real world is as he sees it.


*Also, one of the best lines so far, "The Special Hell", always loved the fact that people who talk in the theaters are lumped into that group, as it should be.

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