I think the most depressing moment (for the viewer) is when we see the transmission and Mal doesn't wake up in time to see it. Of course, you don't have a chance to be depressed for very long since the ship looms up in the windshield. When we panned out, Eric asked something and it took me a moment to realize what he was asking (he had said something like "Is that the bad guys?") but I could confirm for him that no, those were not Reavers.
I'd been looking at Serenity (movie) icons recently, and I noticed how much the lighting is similar to the scenes in this episode when Serenity is dead in the water.
Also: Mal forcing Wash to the bridge; Mal's a right bastard about getting stuff done when there is a serious danger -- mentality which fits well with war ("obey my command or you'll die... no time for explanations/discussions").
The yellow lighting of the wayback flashbacks reminds me of the lighting in "Shindig." I'm not a big fan of the green lighting of the Inara introduction scenes, though.
In her icon meme, musesfool mentioned that "Live to Tell" is so the movie from River's POV -- which is so true. Having that song in my mind, though, it also reminds me some of Mal and Serenity in this episode.
I have a tale to tell
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well
I was not ready for the fall
Too blind to see the writing on the wall
A man can tell a thousand lies
I've learned my lesson well
Hope I live to tell
The secret I have learned, till then
It will burn inside of me
I know where beauty lives
Ive seen it once, I know the warm she gives
The light that you could never see
It shines inside, you can't take that from me
Okay, yes, that was in part because that last line to me echoes "You can't take the sky from me."
"This isn't the ancient sea; you don't have to go down with your ship."
I want to make a Rime of the Ancient Mariner connection here, but it just isn't working.
Watching this time, I thought "Mal totally should have pushed that button after he and the other captain made their agreement."
(Oh, and as soon as Wash+Mal start talking about the signal I recalled Can't Stop the Signal, and after the episode was over I told the story of Alan Tudyk stealing the red button after the cancellation was announced and sending it to Joss with a note saying "When your miracle gets here...." The memory of that made me teary watching the scene in this episode. P.S. Googling for the exact phrasing of the note gets me an interview with Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau which contains this exchange:
Interviewer: I understand the ship was reconstructed completely.::cries a little bit::)
Nathan: Yes, they had to build it again because they’d torn it down. There’s only two pieces that survived from the original show, one was the red button from the episode “Out of Gas”, Alan Tudyk stole that, and actually I have the catalyzer from “Out of Gas”…
Interviewer: The thing that you dragged across the ship and almost died for.
And yes, in real life the bastards totally would have shot Mal 'cause they way outnumbered him, but they did call the ship go-se, so it makes sense that they wouldn't have felt it worth getting wounded over. Eric suggested they'd just wait around a few hours for him to die of blood loss. (Which obviously they didn't do, but which is a moderately plausible possibility.)
"No need to sound so defensive, Captain. I prefer something with a few miles on it."
I totally feel like she's also talking about the captain there. (Though yes, I know, it's her job to be flirtatious)
"You want me." She knows that's flirtatious. "You want me on your ship."
Also, Zoe is gorgeous in this episode. Not that we're surprised. (Kaylee is v. attractive as well.)
In that end scene? Mal looks so young, boyish -- it's the jacket.