I write a series of mini-reviews of episodes 6-8 of Firefly, entitled Our Mrs. Reynolds, Jaynsetown and Out of Gas, some of the best episodes that the show has on offer.
S1x06 – “Our Mrs. Reynolds“
Our Mrs. Reynolds adds to the list of awesome Firefly episodes that is starting to make it very hard for me to pick a Top 5, let alone a Top 3 – and we’re only 8 episodes in if you include the reviews that I’ve written for Episodes 7 an 8 below. It’s probably the biggest comedy episode of the show date, with some great laughing moments provided by Joss Whedon, who is on top notch here as he manages to prevent this episode from being the cheese fest that it could have been.
If I were to do a list of quotable scenes from Firefly, most of them would come from this episode. The opening sequence with Mal disguised as a woman, and the “Special Hell” scene with Shepard Book and Mal are some of the most awesome moments of the show so far, and the episode itself is really strong as well, comedy moments aside. Following a good act on a frontier world, Mal is somehow married without ever knowing that it took place after he got drunk celebrating the job, and must deal with his new wife Saffron, whose mood changes from tearful, to flirty, to deadly all in the course of this episode. It’s a very strong installment of the series so far and if not for Jaynestown, I’d call it the best episode of the series so far to date.
The writing, and the characterisation is quite clearly the strength of this episode. Whedon is a really strong writer when it comes to comedy, as no doubt those of you who have seen Avengers will know, and he still manages to create a plot that is entertaining and comes to a pretty strong resolution.
S1x07 – “Jaynestown”
And so, we come to my favourite episode of Firefly so far. This episode sees the crew head to a planet to do a job, but it turns out that Jayne has some past history on the world, and as a result – must hide his identity in order to do the job undiscovered. However, as with what seems to be happening to the Serenity crew quite often nowadays, it isn’t as easy as it looks.
The plot itself is again, straightfoward – but made very entertaining due to the strong script that comes across with this episode and the characters themselves are also very well established by this point, and very likable from Simon’s “This what going mad must feel like”, to River’s discovery of Shepard Book with his hair down. This is a very Jayne-centric episode and it really reveals the depth of a character that’s usually only there for comic relief.
There are several strong moments about this episode aside from the characters though – the whole hero worshipping of Jayne is a very good, entertaining element of the episode, as well as the scene when the crew are in the pub being a standout one.
The non-Jayne subplots may be the weaker moments of this episode – Inara, and Simon/Kaylee’s storylines not feeling interesting enough to draw the reader away from the main plot, but the rest made Jaynestown a very entertaining watch. Whilst it may not contain as much action as the earlier The Train Job, which is one of the most action packed episodes of the show to date, Jaynestown helps prove that a science fiction show doesn’t have to focus on the action for it to be entertaining, and every character in a show done right has their own story to tell.
S1x08 – “Out of Gas“
Out of Gas is the last episode of Firefly that I’ll be writing a review of in this roundup, and it’s another strong one for the short-lived outing for the crew of the Serenity, and one of the strongest character-driven episodes that the show has given us to date, and it comes at the Serenity’s darkest hour, when the ship runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, with no way of contacting for help.
This show is split between three strong narratives, – a bleeding, dying Mal is wounded and running out of air on the Serenity alone in the future, the crew are celebrating Simon’s birthday in the present, and in the past – various flashbacks tell the story of how Mal and Zoe put a crew together, and examines how everybody who isn’t a Tam or a Shepard came to join the crew. Inara, Kaylee and Wash’ origin stories are all told in this episode, and it’s very entertaining to see how they each joined the crew – Wash’s story in particular was quite amusing, especially given the fact that he once had a mustache.
This episode shows what would happen to the crew in a dire situation, and most of them have trouble handling it, even if nobody panics. Mal’s leadership strengths also come clear in this episode, and whilst the crew themselves are of course stereotypes, it’s quite clear that Whedon’s approach to the characters has made us actually care for them – if they weren’t this likable and interesting, then this show is something that many people might not have hung around for this long.
Despite the flashback-heaviness of the episode, it never bogs the story down and the three storylines run almost without a hitch. A favourite scene in particular of this episode is the crew celebrating Simon’s birthday just before the ship does run out of gas, and this line by River is a strong favourite, just displaying how odd, how unique she is, when talking to her older brother: “Day is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles, it is not applicable. I didn’t get you anything.”
All said, Out of Gas is a very strong addition to Firefly. Entertaining, fun and serious – it’s everything you could want from everybody’s favourite science fiction western TV show.