Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.
While a critically injured Mal attempts to save his ship, we see flashbacks to how the crew came together…
Written by Tim Minear. Directed by David Solomon.
Best performance: Nathan Fillion holds the whole thing together as Mal – he’s the protagonist of the main storyline and is in every flashback scene.
* The in medias res opening: Serenity deserted, Mal bleeding…
* The “What’s that?” gag in the first flashback scene. (By the way, all the flashbacks are shot with a harsh, sepia light. It’s a stylish way of distinguishing them from the main story.)
* Inara: “A companion doesn’t kiss and tell.” Mal: “So, there *is* kissing?”
* The dinner scene: all nine regulars sharing a meal, trading banter and celebrating Simon’s birthday. It’s so likeable you almost want the entire episode to be these people just hanging out. It’s the calm before…
* …an explosion rips through the ship!
* Wash’s flashback: he has a moustache and Zoe doesn’t like him.
* Back in the present, Simon Pulp Fictions an injured Zoe with an injection of pure adrenalin.
* Simon says he doesn’t want to die on Serenity. Inara pointedly replies that she doesn’t want to die at all. (This was foreshadowing for a story arc that never came to fruition: Inara is actually terminally ill.)
* Mal rowing with Wash – an argument that accidentally leads to a solution to their problems.
* Kaylee’s flashback: shagging Serenity’s old mechanic and then impressing Mal with her technical knowledge.
* Inara’s flashback: a scene with Mal that’s full of subtext and sexual chemistry.
* The incidental music is excellent.
* Another ship floats into view through the cockpit window.
* Mal opens the airlock once the other ship has docked and a gust of air hits his face.
* Jayne’s flashback: he’s in a gang holding up Mal and Zoe when Mal convinces him to switch sides.
* Jayne says Inara’s ship smells funny. She explains it’s incense.
* One final flashback: Mal spotting Serenity in a junkyard…
Review: In the pilot episode we learnt how Mal knows Zoe, and how Book, Simon and River ended up on board Serenity. So this episode could be considered to be a mopping-up exercise: we now see flashbacks of Mal buying Serenity, recruiting Wash, Kaylee and Jayne, and meeting Inara. But rather than being dry or functional, this is superbly fluid and engaging storytelling. The intercutting of the three time frames (past, present, future) is breathtaking. The dialogue fizzes with energy and attitude. It’s another tremendous episode.
Ten nav sats out of 10