Firefly: The Message (28 July 2003, Tim Minear)

JayneHat

Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

The crew call in at a post office to find a package waiting for them. The package contains a dead body…

Written by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear. Directed by Tim Minear.

Best performance: Surprisingly, given that it’s not especially ‘about’ her, this is a good Kaylee episode. Jewel Staite has flirting and frustration to play in scenes with Simon, while the A-plot affects her character deeply.

Best bits:
* Kaylee and Simon swapping playful banter while at a freak show – until, that is, Simon jokes that every other woman he knows is married, a prostitute or his sister, so Kaylee’s his only option.
* River and her candy-floss-style confectionary that dangles from a string. “My food is problematic,” she says.
* Jayne received a package from his mother: it contains a hat. (“Pretty cunning, don’t you think?” he says.)
* Mal and Zoe received a package too: it contains a dead body.
* A flashback to seven years previously: Mal and Zoe fighting in the war and meeting a guy called Tracey (who we recognise as the corpse).
* Zoe: “First rule of battle… Never let them know where you are.” Mal then runs in, screaming and shouting at the enemy troops he’s shooting at.
* The space station, with its Asian aesthetic and big-screen advertisements, is not a million miles away from Blade Runner.
* Kaylee’s hammock in the engine room – a delightful example of how good this show’s production design is. There’s storytelling in every little detail.
* Simon begins an autopsy… and the body wakes up.
* Wash freaked out by seeing Tracey alive and well.
* Jayne wearing his new hat during the climactic showdown.
* The gang delivering Tracey’s now-dead-for-real body to his family on a snow-covered planet. Aside from one small pick-up, this was the final scene ever shot for the series, a fact the cast knew at the time.

Review: A low-key episode that – despite a nice melancholic tone – never quite punches home. Still eminently watchable.

Seven other schools of thought out of 10

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