Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

675 minutes - Firefly, the series

Jonah and Rachel came over last Friday night and we watched the entire series (though Jonah left early and i fell asleep at the end).

The following contains spoilers for all episodes. Commentary is divided up by episode, but i mention connections to other episodes, so please don’t read unless you’ve seen the whole thing. I also mention deleted scenes (from the final disc of the DVD) and other deleted stuff i found in reading shooting scripts. Connections to the movie got added to a section in my post on the movie which i refuse to post until the day the movie comes out in theatres ‘cause spoilers=bad.

Episode quotations taken from shooting scripts via twiztv.com unless otherwise noted.

Serenity (The original pilot.)

I had forgotten just how atmospheric the first 5 minutes (the pre-credits section) are. We have this war (and in the darkness it’s difficult to see that the necklace Mal kisses is a cross) and the silent job in space.

Inara looked vulnerable, almost wounded, when she was in the shuttle coming back at the beginning, and she glances down at her lap, and i felt like i was looking at a rape victim.

Interesting that the Alliance actually doesn’t feel evil in this episode. Alliance Captain: "Illegal salvage. Lowlife vultures picking the flesh off the dead. [...] Gunships'd never get back to us in time...all right. Let's go help those people." In contrast to the scene on the same Alliance ship set (different people or the same i couldn’t tell) in “The Train Job” when the Captain is so callous. I kind of like

When her hand drops (or somewhere before then, i forget), Rachel said, “The lesbian can’t die!” I so don’t read Kaylee as lesbian since i have the whole series with her boycraziness in my head. But she and Inara do have subtext like whoa in the first couple episodes [and when Kaylee’s lying in the infirmary she comments on River’s beauty]. They seem to drop it around the time they start playing up the Mal/Inara and the Kaylee/Simon. (At some point during this rewatching, i also noticed that Inara’s clothes started to show off serious cleavage, and i can’t point to a change moment for that either.) And dude, i noticed the gorgeousness of Kaylee so much more this viewing than i have in the past.

Rachel says the whore/prostitute pairing is a common trope in lesbian erotica -- an extension of the butch/femme dichotomy. I take her word for it.

I hate Mal for playing that trick on Simon. And i hate the rest of the crew for laughing with him. (The trick Jayne plays on Simon in “Buswhacked,” though? I gotta admit i do laugh at that one.)

MAL: Wheel never stops turning, Badger.
BADGER: That only matter to the people on the rim.

After they talk to Patience on the com, Jayne says something like, “She’d ‘a tried to haggle you down if she intended to pay” (Shooting script says "She did give in awful easy.") which i had never caught before. I had always been confused as to how they all knew so certain that Patience was tricking them, but that makes complete sense.

Near the end, Book sees she’s fascinated with Mal. I’m not sure how he picked up on that from what little he sees in this episode, but in reading the shooting scripts i find i really like the extended version of that scene in which he brings her supper. And it makes his going to her shuttle at the end of the episode feel more in character. [They also cut a few lines from her scene with that guy at the very beginning which also tell us a bit more about what a Companion is.] And there was some line she says, either in this episode or another early one, that feels like she’s quoting a philosophy book or something, like no one really talks like that, but his (deleted) line, "Companions are educated in the literary arts, philosophy and whatnot" makes it feel much more in character for her. (It felt in character for me because i have the whole series worth of characterization of her in my head, but that early on, it felt kinda random. Of course this would be a more coherent argument if i could remember the line.)

Either Jonah or Rachel mentioned that the set for the cargo bay looks just like the set for the Bronze (BtVS), which i had never noticed before, but which seems right.

The Train Job (The episode that actually aired on FOX as the pilot.)

We open with belly dancers. On the most superficial level, a great contrast with how “Serenity” opens. And we get immediate action. Granted, we have no idea who the Alliance is or what this war was about or anything (unless of course we have been reading the interviews with Joss before the series started).

I do really like that my intro to Firefly the ship was it coming up from the gorge to take back the crew after that brawl.

When they mentioned Unification Day, Rachel mentioned that we were watching this on Fourth of July weekend.

Jonah said Simon is like Xander, that whole awkward out of place thing. I say Wash=Xander (goofy, Joss!self-insertion) but he does make a good point.

“Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?”
Way to go Simon taking initiative.

“Two by two, hands of blue.” I had forgotten that they have River doing the crazy rhyme all episode and don’t reveal its true sinister meaning until the very end of the episode.


During the credits, Rachel mentioned that Firefly is more conceptual, less action-driven, than Buffy is.

I don’t need to mention the themes of nothingness.

Joss does his master of cutting/segue thing, having River react to stuff going on elsewhere, but since she is damaged and PTSD she might not be reacting to those things at all. ‘S kind of like how Troy chose to do the no gods thing.

Mmm, River in the ghost ship. (Oh Joss and his foot fetish.)

Zoe lingering over the doll was a nice subtle touch that i only noticed because i had that scene from “Heart of Gold” in my head, feels in character and so subtly alludes to the emptiness inherent in a wanderer life.

"No one escaped" and then we see River (looking up) -- oh that’s an amazing moment/scene.

"Don't matter we took him off that boat, Shepherd. It's the place he's gonna live from now on."

I was reminded of the deleted “Serenity” scene: “Once you’ve been in Serenity you never leave; you just learn to live there.” I actually thought that scene (the Simon and Zoe one, with the Hitchhiker’s Guide-esque book) was from “The Message” but no, it’s a deleted scene that’s on the last disc of the DVDs. The DVD says of the deleted scene: “Since the revised opening scene to the pilot actually shows the battle, these two original scenes were not considered necessary and were deleted.” I disagree and think it should have been left in. It retreads some ground that gets covered in that and other episodes, but it doesn’t feel heavy-handed-ly expositiony

"War's over." / "For some the war'll never be over."


The opening is so much like that of “The Train Job.”

I’m surprised i haven’t seen LJ icons of the “ball failure” sign.

When Kaylee was drooling over the dress, Rachel said she reminded her of Willow.

Early on, Jonah called that this episode was written by Jane Espenson. I was impressed.

I like the egalitarianism of the way people are announced [list taken from shooting script]: William and Lady Cortland... Colonel Cyrus Momsen and escort... Atherton Wang Wing & Inara Serra... Miss Kaywinnit Lee Frye and escort.

"All of them wish you were in their bed." Oh the look of loathing on Inara’s face. (Shooting script says, "Inara finds that in bad taste," which surprises me since we also have stuff like her line in “Heart of Gold”: "One of the virtues of not being puritanical about sex is not being embarrassed afterwards. You should look into it.") It is made explicit canon in “War Stories” that Companions are selective about whom they choose, and this is said in so many words in probably every episode. So why is Inara with Atherton? Admittedly, when we first meet him over the com in Inara’s shuttle, Rachel said she wanted a boy like that. He is charming.

During the poker game when we see River come in, she is so pretty. I think it’s really the first time in the series. (In DVD order anyhow. FOX aired Our Mrs. Reynolds, Jaynestown, and Out of Gas before Shindig.)

She says something about “hands all over,” and Rachel pointed out that that’s rape language.

Rachel says she reads Badger as gay. I don’t, but whatever. I do think Firefly is the queerest of Joss’ shows. "Well you're holding my mechanic in thrall ... Have you got time to do my hair?" (“The Train Job”) Not only is there queer subtext, but it’s a non-issue amongst the characters, and they play with gender roles (Kaylee who drools over a layer cake dress also talks to machines, and that whole Mal-in-a-dress thing in “Our Mrs. Reynolds”) and it’s also so matter-of-fact about sex. Not just the whole Companion thing, but stuff like “I need this man to tear all my clothes off” at the end of “Serenity.”

"Mal, you always break the rules. It doesn't matter which 'society' you're in!"

"For a man to lie beaten and yet breathing, it makes him a coward."
Even though Mal totally cheated? I always have trouble with the logic there. I mean, i understand what Harrow is saying, but i have difficulty believing that it holds when your opponent cheats.

"I should have uglied you up so no one else'd want you."
Wow. You are a bad bad man, Atherton.

“My world. If it is that.”

"Besides, why would I want to leave Serenity?" The DVD subtitles do Serenity as lowercase. I always heard it as uppercase, which the shooting script actually validated for me. (I hear the theme song the same way. Some episodes in to this rewatching i noticed that the subtitle is lowercase.


"It's dirty and sharp. Come over here."
“She’s schizophrenic, not a toddler,” i complained. I had forgotten that we only ever see River dance in the May scene later in this episode. My mental canon is of her as a person with such grace and self-assuredness and such a good sense of how to manipulate her body, but i forget that you don’t know that when you see this episode the first time.
[Edit after rewatching "Serenity" a week later: Actually, in "Serenity," Simon says of River: "Everything she did, music, Maths, theoretical physics -- even dance -- there was nothing that didn't come as naturally to her as breathing does to us."]

"And if that's what you think of this life, then you can't think much of them that choose it, can you?"
Which pretty much encapsulates why Kaylee/Simon doesn’t work. I was much more willing to grant its possibility this viewing, however. I guess i just felt like he could grow to feel at home in Kaylee’s world.

The cutting between the fight (violent, chaos, low light) and the dance (organized, choreographed, happy, sunlight.)

During the flashback, Rachel asked if the parents knew.

Mmm, Jayne and Simon’s purple silk shirt. Make of that what you will.

When the woman asks Simon’s name, River gives it and glows with pride.

Rachel pointed out that the Alliance probably wouldn’t find him there (or know him if they did encounter him).

“Ruby doesn’t talk.” I know it’s a statement, but it sounds like a question to me every time.
Interesting that she turns from a miracle to a witch by virtue of the fact that people can’t understand how she could have known what she did -- that issue of the unknown being scary.

“I will not come for you. Now, are you coming home?”
“Men of God make people feel guilty and judged.” [“It’s good to be home.”]
“Time to go.”

Our Mrs. Reynolds

“Like woman, I’m a mystery.”

Wow, the look on Inara’s face when she learns of the marriage.
"We're the only ones who don't think this is funny."
Inara also doesn’t think it’s funny.

Mal head kisses Kaylee :) It’s not a forehead kiss, but it’s close.

“You’re assuming the payoff is the point.”

"Everybody plays each other. That's all anybody ever does. We play parts."

Mal has so many chances and he never kills her. This seems foolish to me. Especially since he kills people all the time. It’s like once he’s established some sort of relationship with you, he can’t kill you. After watching the full series, i rewatched the deleted scenes, and in one of the “Serenity” ones, Zoe talks about the war and says of Mal, “He won't kill unless he's got no other option.” I think that helps explain it some.


The swearing thing? But in “Safe” he says “rutting” and “lo se.” Though the shooting script translates “lo se” merely as “garbage,” so maybe it’s just not cussy enough.

When Simon’s down, Kaylee calls him “Honey.”

During that last scene with the statue, Rachel said the show revolves around symbol.

RIVER: I'm--I tore these out of your symbol, and they turned into paper-- but I want to put them back, so–

MAL: It's my estimation that every man ever got a' statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another. Ain't about you, Jayne. 'Bout what they need.

Out of Gas

"Yep. A real beauty, ain't she? Yessir. A right smart purchase, this vessel. Tell you what, you buy this ship, treat her proper, she'll be with ya for the rest of your life."

And Mal tells Zoe, "Ship like this, be with ya 'til the day you die."

But then there’s that final scene. And i paid close attention this time round ‘cause i wonder every time. And yes indeed. And here’s the shooting script:
As we PUSH IN closer to his face, which, if I can say, exhibits a kind of serenity, we start to HEAR what HE HEARS... VOICES IN HIS HEAD:

Yep. A real beauty, ain't she? Yessir. A right
smart purchase, this vessel.


Tell you what, you buy this ship, treat her proper,
she'll be with ya for the rest of your life.

The Used Ship SALESMAN giving Mal the hard sell.

Now WE SEE that they're standing in front of a totally different ship. Not Serenity at all.

Son? Hey, son?

The Salesman notices that Mal doesn't seem to be paying a bit of attention.

You hear a word I been sayin'?

He hasn't, really. Because he's looking across the lot at something else...


Across the lot sits Serenity, dirty, a bit broken down... and silently speaking to Mal. Off that --


So what do we make of that? In “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” Corbin says, "The parts are crap, but you put 'em together, you got a Firefly. Thing will run forever, they got a mechanic even half awake." I feel like Joss is trying to have it both ways.

"When your miracle gets here, just hit this button." Trivia: After the show got cancelled, Alan Tudyk sent the button to Joss Whedon with the same message enclosed.


Opens with flashbacks of the experiments done on River. Rachel was appropriately freaked. (It occurred to me that Firefly has creepy villains. A lot of them. The Blue Handed men. Reavers. Niska. Jubal Early.) She said it was like Wolverine.

The subtitle actually has “Copper for a kiss” as [Unintelligible].

Mmm, badass Simon saving that guy and laying the smack down. And River’s proud grin.

“You owe me a shirt.” *cough* “That was me favorite shirt. That was me only shirt.”

The Companion policy on dating is “complicated.”

War Stories

“What this marriage needs is one less husband.”
Wash, that is so not okay. (Especially after all my talk about fluidity of gender roles etc. Though it occurs to me later that maybe what he really meant was that it feels like Zoe is married to Mal ["You, she obeys"], which makes sense and makes me less angry.)

"Well, gosh, I knew she took female clients but... They look so glamorous together..."
It occurred to me for the first time upon this rewatch, is Kaylee jealous?

Speaking of, the amount of jealousy in this episode (mostly Wash) bugs me. Which is interesting, because i am so a jealous person.

Because i’m taking a massage class, i was more attuned to that part of the scene than i was in previous viewings. I still think Inara’s performance feels forced. But if you’re gonna be a Companion, you have to enjoy using your body and giving other people physical pleasure, and the dynamic of that scene is definitely different than what we usually see when Inara is with a client. ("I just need to relax with someone who's making no demands on me." "If I choose a woman, she tends to be extraordinary in some way. And the fact is, I occasionally have the exact same need you do. One cannot always be one's self in the company of men. So no show. Let's just enjoy ourselves.")

Mmm, when River shoots those men? Best Scene. Kaylee looks horrified. At the end, River looks dark.

P.S. Reading the shooting script, interesting the bits deleted, but the deleted scene where Inara goes to ask the Councilor for helping getting the men back? O.M.G.


INARA: I haven't had a client in three weeks. Backwater moons, slums frontier planets without so much as a temple built -
Is this the first time we hear about Companionship as a religious thing? I’d be really interested to know what Joss has in mind for how that all works.

I always get confused when Inara backs off and gets so apologetic for insulting Mal’s job since he insults hers all the time.

“stick you back in your crate” *cough*Justine*cough*

The loss of Mal’s brown coat saddens me.

YoSaffBridge was subtitled as [Chinese].

The Message

Rachel says Simon and Kaylee are both geeks.

I hate the end of “The Message.” With Tracey being so stupid, and Mal never actually telling him what their plan is. Watching it this time, though, i was struck by how mean Tracey is. And as far as Mal not telling him the plan, Mal is used to people obeying him ("You don't wait to be told when to breathe, you don't take orders from anyone. Except me - and that's just 'cause I'm the captain, and people take orders from captains even in the world." -“Our Mrs. Reynolds”) and he wants Tracey to listen to him, to obey him, hell to trust him, without having to prove anything to Tracey or convince him of anything

Heart of Gold

I still maintain that two funerals in a row diminishes the emotional impact.

Objects in Space

Kaylee and River play together so much. It makes them seem like the same age. Aging Kaylee down, or aging River up? Or both?

General thoughts:

I watched with attention to possible Mal/Simon subtext since that’s what Emma’s all about. I still remain sold on the possibility far more more from Emma’s arguments than from source text.

I said this last time i rewatched, but that time wasn’t a full series rewatch, but this time through it’s still true: i don’t see Simon/River. The very first subtext i saw on Firefly was Inara/Kaylee because i started with “The Train Job” (watching this time through i realized we do encounter Kaylee before the hair brushing scene, but that scene was definitely the first time i noticed her when i first) but Simon/River was the pairing i was all about. And i still totally read and write it, because one of my major fic!kinks is the siblings who only have each other, where the tenderness and aloneness and need lead to sex (and i always have River initiating -- the vulnerable girl as initiator being another one of my kinks) so i can totally believe it happening given the canon we have. And i’m honestly not sure how to read the “Our Mrs. Reynolds” deleted scene.

Also of interest, i wasn’t into Jayne the first time i watched the show, and as i rewatched i saw why my friends liked him though i still wasn’t a fan, but watching this time around i was just like “I like Jayne” -- very matter-of-fact, not really thinking about it.

Last time i rewatched with Emma, we tried to count how many of the crew got shot, so i took notes this time.

     Kaylee gets shot.
     Zoe gets shot, though it hits her bulletproof vest. (She also nearly dies in “Out of Gas,” but that’s not a bullet wound.)
The Train Job
     Jayne gets shot.
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
     Book gets shot.
Our Mrs. Reynolds
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
Out of Gas
     Mal gets shot.
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
War Stories
     Jayne gets shot.
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
The Message
     Wash gets shot.
Heart of Gold
     No one who’s in the credits gets shot.
Objects in Space
     Simon gets shot.

So, people in credits get shot in 7/14 episodes. Inara and River never get shot. Jayne gets shot twice. Everyone else gets shot once.
Tags: tv: firefly: episodes, tv: firefly: episodes: ariel, tv: firefly: episodes: bushwhacked, tv: firefly: episodes: heart of gold, tv: firefly: episodes: jaynestown, tv: firefly: episodes: objects in space, tv: firefly: episodes: our mrs. reynolds, tv: firefly: episodes: out of gas, tv: firefly: episodes: safe, tv: firefly: episodes: serenity, tv: firefly: episodes: shindig, tv: firefly: episodes: the message, tv: firefly: episodes: the train job, tv: firefly: episodes: trash, tv: firefly: episodes: war stories, tv: firefly: viewing: marathon

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