Firefly Season 1 Episode 2: The Train Job – TV Review

I review the second episode of Firefly, aired first on TV, entitled The Train Job.

“Another spectacular episode that makes Firefly my new favourite show.”

Before The Train Job, Firefly was in my Top 3 TV series, along with The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. But now, despite the brilliance of those two series, Firefly has done the impossible, and leaped up to top spot. I’m going to say right now that I probably shouldn’t have given Serenity a five star, because upon a re-watch (as I wanted to introduce a friend to Firefly), I thought that there were some parts more boring than others, hence why I have decided to lower it down to a 4.5. The Train Job though, raises the game from Serenity and strays further into Western territory than its predecessor, and manages to deliver a thrill ride that not only re-introduces the characters for those who didn’t watch Serenity (as The Train Job was originally aired first), but it also – for those who are watching the series in order like myself, doesn’t retread old ground by telling us the same things in the same manner.

The episode kicks off on Unification Day, the day that the Browncoats were defeated by the Alliance, and Mal, Zoe and Jayne find themselves in an Alliance friendly bar, and a resultant brawl with a pro-alliance man is one of my funniest moments in the show so far particularly with the following exchange, quite early on in the episode:

Lund: [drunk] Hey, you gonna drink t’the Alliance with me? Six years today, the Alliance sent the Browncoats runnin’, pissin’ their pants. You know, your coat is kind of a brownish color.
Mal: It was on sale.
Lund: You didn’t toast. Y’know, I’m thinkin’ you’re one o’ them In’apendants.
Mal: And I’m thinking you weren’t burdened with an overabundance of schooling. So why don’t we just ignore each other till we go away?
Lund: The Independents were a bunch o’ cowardly inbred piss pots. Should’a been killed off o’ every world spinnin’.
Mal: [puts down drink] Say that to my face.
Lund: [threateningly] I said… you’re a coward and a pisspot. Now what’re you gonna do about it?
Mal: [smiles suddenly] Nothing. I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind ya.
[Lund turns, and Zoë hits him in the face with the butt of her gun]
Mal: Drunks are so cute.

And it doesn’t relent from there. As we’re told from the title, The Train Job is an episode revolving a heist on a train. Only things don’t go according to plan, and the crew of the Serenity must make a choice between doing the job and doing what’s right. This episode is an interesting one for me because it shows again just what separates the crew of the Serenity from your average criminals, and really develops the characters even further – making us care for them even more. At not one point did I want the Alliance or any of the other forces in The Train Job to capture any of our heroes – and Joss Whedon really makes us feel sympathy for the underdogs.

This is a episode that presumably sets the tone for the series to come and has a more western feel than the last one, mostly because of the Train robbery. Whilst the episode has a simple plot, its execution and the strong characterization allow for a thrilling ride, with Nathan Fillion (Mal) and the rest of the crew acting really well.

The Train Job was also aired first on TV, and it’s interesting to see that Whedon has come up with a new way of introducing the characters to the show without making it a carbon copy of the original, thus keeping it fresh when you’re watching it on DVD, however – the opening sequence from Serenity featuring Mal and Zoe’s stand in Serenity Valley is not repeated here, making the sympathy for our main character become slightly lessened, but we still want to, right from the start – root for our crew over the say, pro-Alliance members in the bar and the man who hires the crew of Serenity for the said Train Job.

This is a great episode for exploring the morality of the crew particularly when they’re faced with an interesting question – do they do the job even though the contents are desperately needed by the local citizens or risk the wrath of their employer and not get paid?

The Train Job is tight, and focused – not as slow as Serenity was but not as slow so that we might not understand what is going on. It’s a great ride of “Thrilling Heroics”, and the series itself looks only to get better from here on out.

Verdict: 5/5

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