As with last time, I am hyperaware of all the ways/moments in which the episode [and probably the series] is... not necessarily even flawed, just not something someone is necessarily going to fall in love with. I don't have too many thoughts that I didn't already think back when I marathoned the show, though I did notice a few little details.
There's that marked contrast between the openings of the two episodes, obviously. The opening shot of this was practically tailored for FOX with the scantily-clad woman. I noticed throughout this episode how it gives us the information we need about all the major players and situations without feeling very expositiony. There is a lot I like about "Serenity," but this episode is really tightly written in terms of getting the exposition acomplished, and it mostly feels seamless, and the in in media res works very well.
I love that they're playing Chinese Checkers.
guy: The Alliance sent the browncoats running, pissing their pants.
Eric: Mal's wearing a brown coat.
guy [to Mal]: Your coat's kind of a brownish color...
[This definitely caused me to notice how Mal's not wearing his brown coat when he and Zoe are on the train to do the job.]
guy: I'm thinking someone should put you down, dog. What do you think?
Mal: I'm thinking we'll rise again.
me: You are so cheesy, Mal.
SIMON: You know who I...?
RIVER (duh): Simon.
I love River's whole "You are such a boob" treatment of Simon, but I also find this moment really powerful in the way that she shifts from crazy-out-of-place to fully with-it and "normal" almost like flipping a switch.
RIVER: This isn't home.
Which is jarring having seen through to the end when that becomes very much not true.
I still don't understand the "Mal. (pause) Bad. (even longer pause) In the Latin."
I was noticing this time around just how dramatically the scene is played. It feels especially overkill given that the whole point of the episode is that Mal may be a criminal but he's a good guy. The only thing I can think of is that it's supposed to make us unsure of how far Mal's goodness goes -- a la Jayne's "Captain's got a move he ain't made yet. You'll see." -- but given that he braves the wrath of Niska to give medicine back to a whole bunch of people he has no connection to it doesn't ring true (and honestly, Niska is so frightening that Mal's nobility seems understandable only in the context of his incredible stubbornness). [Jayne's argument with Kaylee, btw, I think even without "Serenity" is clear that he's projecting onto Mal.]
I remember saying before that they play up the Inara/Kaylee like whoa in the first two pilots and then drop it to focus on the Inara/Mal and Kaylee/Simon, but I had forgotten how the (sub)text Kaylee/Inara hair scene is almost immediately undercut by Inara mentioning Simon. And yes, near the end of the episode, Eric was all "Aww, she has a crush on him, and he has a crush on her," re: Inara and Mal.
I recall mentioning when I marathoned how the Alliance seemed sympathetic in "Serenity." Very much not the case in "The Train Job."
After Jayne "goes crazy and falls asleep," Wash props his feet on Jayne.
KAYLEE: How'd it go?
MAL: She hit me.
At which, Kaylee smiles at Inara. (And yes, I just want to comment that the whole Inara-rescuing-them scene is made of awesome.)
When Crow gets shot we pan to Zoe, implying that she did it (a la the U-Day trick) but it's actually Jayne.
BOURNE: You were truthful back in town. These are tough times. Hard to find yourself work. A man can get a job, he might not look too close at what that job is. (to Mal) But a man learns all the details of a situation like ours, well then he has a choice.
MAL: I don't believe he does.
I know, I know, it's obvious, but I felt like I was seeing it all anew, how he's talking both about Mal's fake story and his real one. I was also thinking a lot about Mal's position that there really is no choice in a situation like this and how that refusal to compromise his integrity seems almost beyond human to me (says the girls who avoids confrontation like whoa). This quickly leads to thoughts about the necessity of fanwanking how the landscape has changed come movie time, but I'd rather not spoil the movie in posts just about the episodes, so we'll just leave that be (unless someone really wants me to open up a new post to talk about that).
MAL: Now. this is all the money Niska --
HENCHMAN: Oh I get it. I'm good. Best for everyone, I'm right there with you.
This is funny, but we've gotta know that Niska will torture these guys for not getting Mal.
Reading the shooting script for ease of quoting, of course I notice the stuff that got cut, but I also notice the Joss voice of the stage directions.
Crow furrows his brow.
Still with the brow furrowing from Crow.
REVERSE ANGLE to see TWO MEN sitting at the table. They reek of government. Whatever the CIA is in the future, it's these guys. They are blank as slate.