“We gotta go to the crappy town where I’m a hero!”
Firefly is awash with quotable one-liners and quippy comebacks, but if there’s one episode that really amps up the absurd, it has to be the surprisingly hilarious, Jaynestown.
When Mal and the crew land on a poor planet on the outer rims of space, their perfect smuggling plan goes awry when they discover that Jayne Cobb is a local folk hero — complete with his own statue in the town square.
Adam Baldwin took the Jayne’s statue head after the episode finished filming, but when reshoots were needed they had to reattach it, leaving a visible crack.
The shock value of seeing a mounted, muddy Jayne Cobb statue is humor enough, but of course our witty crew supplement the absurd sight with a running commentary that gets straight to the heart of the matter.
SIMON: This must be what going mad feels like.
WASH: I think they captured him, though, you know? Captured his essence.
KAYLEE: He looks sorta angry, don’t he?
WASH: That’s kinda what I meant.
JAYNE: Oh hey, I got an idea. Instead of us hangin’ around playing art critic ’til I get pinched by the man, hows about we move away from this eerie-ass piece of work and get on with our increasingly eerie-ass day. How’s that?
MAL: I don’t know. This here’s a spectacle might warrant a moment’s consideration.
KAYLEE: Everywhere I go, his eyes keep following me…
As it turns out, Jayne was an accidental hero; when a smuggling job went bad a few years back, he was forced to throw all his money out of the ship… right in the middle of the mudder’s town square. So Jayne’s act of extreme selfishness became an anthem of hope for these forgotten and forsaken mud people, and when they realize their hero is back in town, they welcome him with a hero’s return — complete with his own legendary ballad.
Of course, because this is Firefly, a show that revels in emotional truths, the laughter doesn’t last forever. When Jayne’s old betrayed partner hunts him down, bent on revenge, a young mudder sacrifices himself for his hero. And while Jayne is left devastated that an honest man would die to save a lying thief, the message left behind is one of hope — the hope that even within our own selfish hearts, we have the capacity for heroism. “It ain’t about you, Jayne. It’s about what they need.”
When your miracle gets here, you just pound this button once, it’ll call back both shuttles.
A space saga with such high stakes is bound to leave its characters emotionally exhausted on a weekly basis, but the single most emotionally driven episode has to be the fan-favorite Out of Gas.
In Out of Gas, we traverse three different timelines, each as emotional as the next, though often for different reasons.
In the present, we struggle alongside a clearly dying Captain, as he fights for survival on a ship that’s falling apart in a flurry of sirens. We assume we are with him as he recounts the day’s events leading up to his sure demise, as well as his memories of how he met each of his beloved crewmembers.
We watch as he hires a highly-recommended Wash — despite Zoe’s apprehensions. We watch as he meets Kaylee in a less than ladylike fashion, and smile as he hires her on the spot. We watch as he works Jayne’s opportunistic nature, and switches him over to his side. And finally, we watch as the Captain meets his true love, Serenity, and dreams of flying her into the sky.
And finally, we watch in astonishment as the Serenity crew’s birthday celebration is horrifically interrupted with the realization that unless a miracle happens their way, they are all surely going to die. Kaylee stares helpless at the broken compression coil that can never be fixed. Wash breaks his usually lighthearted demeanor to break down over his dying wife. And through it all, the Captain keeps his calm, assuring his crew, and sacrificing himself in the hope that he can save them all.
|I’m not on the ship. I’m in the ship. I am the ship.”|
After Firefly’s all too short series run, the Serenity crew got a second life in the 2005 film Serenity, written and directed by ‘Firefly’ showrunner Joss Whedon.
The film takes place about a year after the series left off, and expanded the heroes’ backstory to answer many of Firefly’s questions – from Simon’s rescue of River, to the development of River’s powers, to the unintentional creation of the savage Reavers.
In the film, Summer Glau used a hybrid of Kung Fu, kickboxing and ballet to create a “balletic” martial art.
The story for Serenity is based on Joss Whedon’s original story ideas for what would have been Firefly’s second season. After the Serenity crew discover that the Alliance is using subliminal messages to trigger River into exposing herself, they are forced to go into hiding as The Operative begins killing off all of Mal’s allies to deny them a safe haven as they try and protect River.
They travel to Miranda, a planet that they believe will hold some answers, but discover only a wasteland — an experiment gone wrong by the Alliance. Thus, the renegade crew must simultaneously fight off both the Alliance and the Reavers to send out their message of truth into the verse.
The entire Firefly series is available to watch on Netflix and Hulu Plus! The DVD set also offers fun commentaries and special features for the devoted Firefly fan.