Firefly E1: Serenity

As I am no longer the last person on Earth to see the Firefly TV series, here are my thoughts and a little recap. I’m going episode by episode and as I watch. Netflix codes the show as season 1 but that is unnecessary as there are no other seasons.  The first episode is titled the same as the after-series movie.  My thoughts will not be protected from spoilers.  As the last living viewer, I shouldn’t have to screen for spoilers.  Anyway, here goes…

It starts out like a war movie.  Nathan Fillion, later identified as Captain Mal but Sergeant here, and some other soldiers are in a battle on a planet.  I caught Zoe as part of the platoon in a 2nd viewing.  Sergeant Mal gives the group a pep talk.  The air support is coming.  Let’s go kick some butt and be great.  Whoops, no such luck.  The zone is too hot.  The air support is not coming.  Have fun with that.

My first expectation of this scene was space LARPing or something from a holodeck (blame ST:TNG), but not the case here.  This is very real.  High tech but the weapons all fire bullets and not lasers.  Important motif to the space western?  Lasers appear later but mostly bullets for now.

6 years later, we see Mal, now Captain, and his crew exploring a wrecked ship of some sort. Assumption: it is something to do with the space battle previous.  The ship could be the one Mal shot down 6 years before.  They call it a vault and it contains precious cargo.  Cue the Western music.  Alliance cruiser is also here to meddle.

“Firefly class.” “Vultures picking off salvage from the dead.” Crybaby.  “Let’s moon them.” “They’re rabbiting.”  “A Firefly with stolen goods on board.”

Mal is a very troubled man.  My note here is “Empire-esque ship crew” and I know I was thinking this: Captain (Mal), First Mate (Zoe), Pilot (Wash), Strong Arm (Jayne), Mechanic (Kaylee), Companion (Inara; shown on ship later; she’s being companionable on a planet right now), and the later additions of Medic (Simon), Religious figure (Book) and Medic’s sibling (River.)  River could be the brainiac but that is to be seen as she’s in status until the 2nd half of the episode and is critical to the plot but not due to current use of her intelligence.  The Alliance agent may or not be a recurring character due to his fate (and what a fate it is) but is he really dead?  More on that later.

On the planet Persephone, Inara is working as a companion.  Back on Serenity, I get a space saga/western vibe.  The loot from the wreck is valuable; looks like bars of precious metal.  Mal vs. Badger – assuming here he’s a sleazy bad guy.  We meet Shepherd Book as he’s looking to board a ship and Kaylee talks him into the Serenity.  He offers a box of mysterious contents as payment.  “Woo, Grandpa.” “I never married.”

Taking on more passengers, this Simon looks up to no good with his extra-large crate of who knows what.  Back to the ship after sleazy Badger says he won’t buy the loot even though he said he would and Mal and Zoe dickered with him for a while.  They return to the ship and say they need to run to a backwater planet, Whitefall, to deliver “medical supplies.”  “Didn’t she shoot you?” becomes a running gag about Patience(?). IMDB didn’t have anything on her.   I get that Dr. Simon is running from someone or something and his precious cargo is a person, possibly daughter or clone of wife.  Unnamed Federal agent is the other passenger, later named as Lawrence.

Meal time.  The good Shepherd brought fresh produce with him, including the fresh strawberries that Kaylee enjoyed earlier.  Jayne is a real hot head.  I’ve been a bit of an Adam Baldwin fan since “My Bodyguard” and this is a great part for him.  Jayne’s job on the ship is “public relations.”

Intimate moment with Inara, then joined by Book.  Stand off with the Doctor and the Federal agent.  Kaylee gets shot.  Serenity is hailed by another ship.  Doctor advises to run; he’s the only one who can save Kaylee.  Kaylee is stable.  Now to find out what’s with Simon’s crate.  Simon’s sister River is in it and we get some background on the brother and sister.  He’s a genius and she is so smart she makes him look stupid.  They run into some trouble with a bad deal.

Don’t disparage the captain, he’ll knock you on your butt.  That girl is a precious commodity.  The Alliance will come after her.  Lawrence makes a deal with Jayne?  Jayne doesn’t play that.  Kaylee is doing okay and likes things that are shiny.

Later: Kaylee’s dead???  Prank on doctor?  They land on Whitefall to try to sell the loot.  Mal, Zoe and Jayne go on-planet to make the deal.  It gets very western (rural) here.  Back on the ship, the agent gets loose and holds River at gunpoint.  Mal and away team stand-off with lady and her accomplices.  Jayne takes out a sniper and then the stand-off turns into a shootout.  Zoe gets shot.  Thank goodness for body armor.  A ship closes in on the Firefly.  Rainbirds?

My favorite part of the episode is Simon vs. Lawrence on the loading ramp.  Simon has the upper hand on agent until agent grabs River.  “If anyone makes so much as…” Blam!  Mal shoots Lawrence.  Body dumped off the ship.  So long, agent.  Ships making maneuvers to get Serenity to make it off-planet.

Wash shows his expert piloting ability and loses the other ship with a 180.  Mal has to take over as Zoe takes Wash to show her appreciation.  Book confesses to Inara he thinks he’s on the wrong ship.  Inara says maybe he’s where he’s supposed to be.  Jayne didn’t sell out Mal because the “money wasn’t good enough” but we all know Jayne is a softie deep (very, very deep) down.  He isn’t going to admit it. Mal lets Simon know he won’t get shot in his sleep.  “You don’t know me son, so let me explain this once.  If I kill you, you’ll be awake, facing me and armed.”

I like the show so far.  There’s a lot of pacing until the action needs to really move.  There’s a nice variety of characters.  It helps that some are known actors (some better now, 11 years later.). Looking for the browncoat reference. I see Mal wearing one. Zoe’s might be one too but I’m thinking brown duster.

Up next: The Train Job

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