Firefly: Bushwhacked (27 September 2002, Tim Minear)

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Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

The crew find a derelict space ship with just one survivor aboard. The assumption is that it’s been attacked by savage rapist cannibals called Reavers…

Written and directed by Tim Minear.

Best performance: Jayne (Adam Baldwin) is always funny. And after how mean he was to Kaylee in the first episode, it’s really sweet to see hints of a brother/sister vibe in this one.

Best bits:
* The crew enjoying a basketball-like game in Serenity’s cargo hold. It’s a bit of fun before the darkness descends.
* Unlike most sci-fi films and TV shows, space is silent in Firefly – a really nice, eerie touch.
* The gag of Jayne tricking a nervous Simon into wearing a space suit for no reason.
* The reveal of the dead bodies.
* As in the pilot episode, the sheer fear in everyone’s eyes when the zombie-like Reavers are mentioned.
* Zoe, telling a freaking-out Jayne to calm down: “You’ll scare the women.”
* The reveal of why Mal’s acting more compassionately than you’d expect: it’s just a diversion because he has another problem to deal with.
* The Alliance agents board the ship and Wash puts his hands up.
* The interrogation montage: unflappable Inara, defensive Zoe, chatty Wash, pissed-off Kaylee, stone-faced Jayne, serene Book…
* The reveal of where Simon and River have been hiding.

Review: There’s a horror-movie shock in the teaser as a dead body hits Serenity’s cockpit window – and that sets the tone for the next 20 minutes. The episode starts out as a haunted-house format (a la Alien) and is creepy… to a point. But the fact we’re stepping outside the show’s USP (Wild West meets science fiction) means it doesn’t feel especially Firefly-ish. The story also takes a drab turn halfway in when the feds arrive – it’s very much an episode of two halves. Sadly the result is underwhelming, a bit flat, and has a simplistic resolution.

Six pirates with their own chaplain (there’s an oddity) out of 10

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