Firefly: Ariel (15 November 2002, Allan Kroeker)

firefly-2002-ep09-ariel-265

Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

Simon offers the gang a job: help him break into a hospital so he can treat his sister and he’ll tell them which valuable medicines to steal…

Written by Jose Molina. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

Best performance: It’s a real ensemble one, this. Because he drives the story, Simon (Sean Maher) gets a lot of good screen time.

Best bits:
* While the team are chatting, River calmly picks up a knife and slashes Jayne across the chest. (Fun fact: his T-shirt has a Blue Sun logo on it. A plot thread would have revealed that the Blue Sun corporation are the bad guys who experimented on River, hence her reaction. But the show was axed before it was really developed.)
* Just in case we doubt our heroes’ morals while they’re planning to rob a hospital, Zoe points out that the stores of medicine will soon be restocked.
* The Ocean’s 11-style planning-the-heist montage – a briefing scene loaded with how difficult the mission will be, intercut with shots of preparation and rehearsal.
* Mal, Zoe and Jayne are given detailed jargon to recite when posing as paramedics. They spend ages mastering it, then don’t need it…
* Wash and Kaylee’s A-Team-style scene: suiting up the fake ambulance.
* The harshly lit and colourless hospital, a real contrast to the more earthy settings we usually see in this show.
* Jayne’s double-crossing them!
* Zoe electrocutes a troublesome doctor with defibrillation paddles. “Clear,” she deadpans once he’s unconscious.
* When Simon and River are arrested, Jayne’s also taken in for abetting criminals. Hashtag dramatic irony.
* The two guys with the blue gloves – creepy government types who are hunting for River and gruesomely kill anyone who’s come into contact with her. (The same characters had also featured in The Train Job.)
* During a scene in the hanger, Mal grabs Kaylee and pulls her in for a hug – an adlib, apparently. You can actually see how surprised actress Jewel Staite is.
* Mal punches Jayne then puts him in the airlock and threatens to kill him unless he admits his betrayal.

Review: Shepherd Book doesn’t feature at all, while Inara goes off on an unseen errand. The script is whittling down the characters so everyone has a role to play in the heist plot. And like all the best heist stories this is slick, breezy, infectious fun, which takes a number of surprising turns. It’s not especially Wild Westy, but in this instance that works as a nice change of pace.

Nine beautiful museums, not to mention some of the finest restaurants in the Core, out of 10

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