Firefly: Trash (21 July 2003, Vern Gillum)


Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

When Mal bumps into con artist Saffron, who’s also kinda his ex-wife, she tempts him with a job that could make them both rich…

Written by Ben Edlund & Jose Molina. Directed by Vern Gillum.

Best performance: Christina Hendricks again. Her character was clearly being set up as a recurring villain/adversary/flirting partner for Mal, but sadly the show was axed before she appeared again. She’s a shameless liar and con artist, can beat people up, and has no scruples – yet you also feel sorry for her. At one point, Mal calls her Yo-Saff-Bridge, a jokey portmanteau of her aliases. We never learn her real name.

Best bits:
* The episode begins with Mal, alone and naked and stranded in a desert. “Yeah,” he says to himself. “That went well.” Cut to 72 hours earlier…
* Mal meets a friend’s new wife… who turns out to be Saffron, the con artist from the episode Our Mrs Reynolds. Saffron and Mal immediately pull guns on each other. (The mate thinks she’s called Bridget. For ease, I’ll keep calling her Saffron.)
* Saffron tries to convince her husband that Mal a liar, but slips up and gives herself away. Mal looks smug.
* A long while after he gets back to Serenity with some crates, Mal opens one of them up… to reveal Saffron trapped inside it.
* While Saffron pitches her heist plan, there’s a funny two-shot of Wash and Kaylee listening to her. The former looks confused; the latter hangs on her every word.
* Jayne proudly asks a question that the conversation has already covered.
* Zoe punches Saffron.
* The intercutting of planning the heist and carrying it out.
* Jayne, Zoe and Kaylee in their aviation goggles as they dangle underneath Serenity to reprogramme a drone.
* While stealing the MacGuffin, Mal and Saffron are rumbled… by another of her husbands. (He knows her as Yolande.)
* Saffron lifts Mal’s gun while he’s being nice to her.
* Mal is abandoned in the desert. Naked. “Yeah, you better run!” he shouts at the departing space ship.
* Saffron, having tricked everyone, searches in a rubbish bin for the antique gun they were stealing… But Inara has got there first! (The reveal that Inara – who flounced off in a huff earlier in the episode – is actually part of a plan to double-cross Saffron is audacious. Add an extra mark to the score!)
* Inara traps Saffron in the garbage bin. As the lid closes, you can hear Saffron shout, “You can’t do this! I’ve got a condition!”
* Simon confronts Jayne about the events of the episode Ariel. He’s forceful but calm and reasonable. Then River adds: “Also, I can kill you with my brain.”
* Mal walks back on board Serenity and chats to his colleagues… while still naked.

Review: This is a sequel to Our Mrs Reynolds, and the second heist plotline in three episodes. And like that previous heist story, the cast needs to be whittled down so everyone gets a role to play. Shepherd Book barely features – he does seem like one character too many at times – while Simon and River are shuffled off. Another good one, with twists and turns aplenty.

Nine feminine wiles out of 10

Firefly: Shindig (1 November 2002, Vern Gillum)


Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

While Mal tries to negotiate a bit of business, Inara takes on a possessive client. And then the two men collide at a party…

Written by Jane Espensen. Directed by Vern Gillum.

Best performance: Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is the baby of the gang and therefore whatever emotion she goes through we feel in spades.

Best bits:
* Inara and Mal’s banter. You could watch it all day. They clearly want each other.
* The town of Persephone has a dress shop that has live models in its windows.
* Jayne’s confusion over whether a clearly upset Kaylee is upset or not.
* Badger’s back from episode one; as is his hat.
* Badger says someone has taken a dislike to him. “Did he see your face?” asks Jayne.
* Mal and Jayne’s smirks when Badger inadvertently says something smutty.
* Kaylee – in her enormous dress – showing up at the party.
* Inara’s saying how much she dislikes the swearword gosa when she sees Mal arrive at the party. “Oh, gosa,” she says to herself.
* “Yes, sir, Captain Tightpants.”
* Kaylee’s obsession with the buffet table.
* Jayne, Simon and Book playing cards and betting with daily chores.
* At the party, Kaylee charms a gaggle of men by talking about engines.
* Mal punches Atherton, the twat who’s paid to spend the evening with Inara.
* Mal’s double-take when he realises the upcoming duel involves swords.
* River mimicking Badger’s English accent. Dick Van Dyke would be proud.
* Having won the duel, Mal nobly declines to kill Atherton… but can’t resist poking him with the sword a couple more times.
* The reveal of what the all-important shipment is: a herd of cows.

Review: It’s another very smart script – watch it tell a story, reveal character, make jokes, provide cute scene transitions, spin numerous plates and not neglect anyone. And it’s made with style and a huge sense of fun. Marvellous.

Nine little pieces of wrapping paper blowing around out of 10