Tue
Jun 1 2010 4:49pm
Firefly Re-watch: “Trash”

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.

Episode Summary:
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.

Commentary:

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.

Factoids:
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.

15 comments
Nathan Martin
1. lerris
I found this episode to be a fun ride from beginning to end. It had me from "Yeah, that went well." And of course, it was up to Inara in the end to ask the question that was on everyone's mind from the beginning.

"Also, I can kill you with my brain." Priceless.
j p
2. sps49
I wonder if River really can kill with her brain.
peachy
3. peachy
"I shaved my beard for you, devil woman!"

Someday I'm going to get a chance to use that line...
Luke M
4. lmelior
This episode is similar to the Prophecy Twist trope common in WoT and other fantasy literature - the opening scene does come to pass, but Things Are Not What They Seem. We take Mal's comment for a sarcastic one, but it turns out that it actually did go well. That was nicely played; after the more straight-forward flashback in "Out of Gas" I wasn't expecting the outcome of this one.
Catherine Ford
5. KitFord
I always kind of thought that when Simon said he wouldn't harm Jayne while treating him, that he was trying to put doubt into Jayne's mind as to whether he was telling the truth, as in "Of course I wouldn't hurt you," *evil eye glint*. I saw that whole scene in quite an ominous light. Not that he would hurt Jayne in that way, at least not for another couple of seasons, but I definitely think it was a threat of sorts.

Simon isn't the most likable Firefly character, but he is the one of the few who I think we got relatively little of the planned character development out of, compared with the rest of the crew. Quite a lot happened to Jayne. Kaylee, Zoe and Wash probably would have been played as the 'solid, dependable' and therefore relatively static characters, and with Mal, Inara, Book and River we could at least see where they were headed. Where was Simon going? All we know is that he would have continued to protect River, but how? In a decent, honorable way, or would he have become something shadier, such as the criminal mastermind he started to show potential as? And would he have felt resentment towards River because of what he had become?
peachy
6. Megaduck
I think Simon's little speech to Jayne is probably one of my favorite scenes in the show. Simon's both threatening and extending the olive branch to Jayne at the same time.

To Kitford @5

I always thought that Simon was being sincere when he said he wouldn't harm Jayne. At that point he was trying to ratchet down the pressure and make the point that they needed to work together and they were on the same crew.
j p
7. sps49
KitFord @5-

Why does everyone (including River's character) think Simon holds anything against her? His grudge is with the Alliance; River is an innocent.
Justin Adair
8. Hobbyns
This is easily one of my fave episodes for all the hi-jinks and one-liners. Not particularly deep or profound, just good fun.
peachy
9. Jainx
I never got the slightest impression Simon felt any resentment towards River's abilities...even as a child when you would have expected more rivalry he seemed rather to be proud of her instead. I tend to find him one of the most likable of the Firefly characters, for a whole host of reasons including that and everything he displayed about himself in that scene in Trash. That said, we got hints through the series and in the film that there's more to Simon than meets the eye, and that he was becoming (as time progressed) more of a dangerous person. The question is who would he have ultimately become dangerous to...
Church Tucker
10. Church
Yeah, it's funny that this is ultimately a Simon episode, despite his lack of screen time. I like that it's not clear whether he was intentionally being intimidating to Jayne. I tend to think that he was, but not admitting it to himself.

@2 sps49 At this point, I don't think River could have. Joss was pretty cagey about whether she had any actual psychic powers, or was just extremely intuitive (at least, during the series.) That's rather besides the point, of course, since Jayne thought she might be able to.
peachy
11. executrix
Replying to Church--I think it's pretty clear that River does have both precognitive (e.g., I think in Out of Gas she KNOWS about the explosion before it happens) and telepathic powers (it sure looks to me like she reads both Badger's and The Patrician's mind)--although, as the case of The Patrician shows, she has ATROCIOUS judgment. I don't know if she could kill somebody with her mind, though. I think it's significant that when Mal says River may be "a Reader" it sounds like it has a capital letter, like "CPA"--Mal *expects* there to be Readers.

IMO Jossverse moral standards are all about not behaving worse than you have to in the situation you find yourself in. So Simon would not *harm* a patient, even one toward whom he harbored revengeful motives. But he's not above yanking Jayne's chain a little.
peachy
12. Looking Glass
I don't think anyone, including River, believes that Simon resents her greater abilities. Rather, River thinks he might resent her for a different reason: because he gave up so much for her sake.

Before River got into her predicament, Simon had a comfortable life, an (apparently) good relationship with his parents, a promising career in a job he loved. He gave all that up to save her; now he's a fugitive, patching up criminals and robbing hospitals to pay the rent.

Yes, he knows it's the Alliance that forced them into this situation; yes, he made the choice to help her knowing what he'd be giving up. But still, if River hadn't gotten into trouble, he wouldn't have had to give up the life he loved to help her. It's hard to imagine that he doesn't resent her at all for that, even if he knows it's irrational, that she couldn't have known to do otherwise, etc.
peachy
13. CSmith
"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

Best line EVER! Just sayin'
peachy
14. Lili
I hated this episode because i hate, no loathe, saffron and i think it's actually more like i just dont like Christina Hendricks and the way she talks and her smug smile. But really, it's her character here. I have no use for her. I didnt even buy her crying and supposed moment of vulnerability. I would have expelled her out the nearest air lock if i had been Zoe, but only after punching her face in. She is a totally mean bitch with absolutely no redeeming qualities. She makes Jayne look like a loving, sensitive, trustworthy kinda guy. She is completely psychotic

As to Mal and Inara, maybe it's the romantic in me, but all these teasing comments and all - they are like building up towards a climax that doesnt happen because right before it is supposed to, the rug is pulled from underneath both of them and whizz, there goes the climax. Speaking of climaxes: one part of me wished mal would take Inara into his arms, throw her against the wall and have his way with her, because the way he looks at her sometimes it's like he's doing that anyway visually so he may as well. But then again, i dont like happy endings and sappy lovers getting together living happily ever after. That's boring. So I can forgive Whedon for not ever explicitly making it happen between them - though a few passionate kisses here and there would have been nice for this gal here :)

The reason Mal got upset at being called a petty thief is because he knew that she was right. He didnt want to take Saffron's job but after having had his ego bruised, he went for it. I thought the exchange they had where Inara accuses him of not going to civilized planets so she doesnt get to do her "job" interesting but i was not sure how to take it. It was not clear from how it was played out whether she was right or not. I honestly could not tell.

Also interesting how Mal and Inara only seem ot be getting along when they insult each other and are bickering. I know, expressing hostility is sometimes part of humanoid mating rituals but in this case, note how Mal did not want her to offer him tea and do her companion moves on her. I think that's one of the reasons he never came through, in addition of his incapacity to love or express love: he dosn't know if she is for real and even if she is, he doesnt want her to treat her like a john. He doesnt want to be played like a client so he resists that.

Anyway my favorite part in this was when Zoe punched the fuck out of Saffron's face to wipe that cunning grin off her stupid ass face.
Jennifer B
15. JennB
@ 14
I am so glad that I am not the only one who despises Saffron. I felt like I was definatly in the minority in the comments on Our Mrs. Reynolds. She is so incredibly annoying. Luckily Mal gets the better of her so this episode isn't bad.

I also agree with everyone that the highlight is Simon and River interacting with Jayne. He deserved it.

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