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Firefly: The Message

Mal: "You murdered yourself. I just carried the bullet awhile."

See, I knew he wasn't dead. But he turned out to be, anyway, and in more ways than one.

The shopping expedition in the space station with the sideshow barker, post office, and junk food was country fair crossed with Star Wars. (The final scene with Wash piloting Serenity through mountain chasms also had a Star Wars flavor.) But the whole thing about the aliens wasn't just to give us a funny scene, or to finally address the whole alien issue (as in, there aren't any in this fictional universe).

Mal and Zoe expected their old war buddy to share their code of honor. It didn't occur to them until it was staring them in the face that Tracey would take advantage of their loyalty. Tracey was an alien to them. It said a lot about them that, even betrayed, Mal and Zoe retained their honor. They showed Tracey compassion, and carried out his final request, to return his body to his parents. Jonathan M. Woodward gave an outstanding performance, with a very effective death scene. I liked him; then I hated him; then I felt sorry for him; then I even teared up a bit for him.

There was also an interesting insight on Zoe from the only other person we've met so far who knew her when. She was a robot back then, and now she's not, huh? Tracey's astonishment that Zoe was married suggested Wash might have had something to do with the change in Zoe. Which made sense.

It was nice to see Simon and Kaylee start to connect... except that he blew it again. What girl wants to hear that she's a guy's only option, even if it's true? At least the clumsy and cold Simon is a better possible mate than Tracey turned out to be. At least Kaylee is no longer in awe of Simon and is relating to him on her own terms. Maybe there's hope for that relationship.

Jayne's ugly hat was a sight gag that just kept on giving. Until the end. As we were watching Tracey's parents bury him, Jayne's hat reminded us that parents love their children, no matter how they turn out.

Serenity being buried under the rocks and snow on St. Albans was a precursor of Tracey's poignant funeral scene. It was also like a funeral for Firefly. Even though it wasn't the last episode in the DVD set, this was the last episode that they filmed.

Bits and pieces:

-- The flashbacks to the "Battle of Du-Khang" seven years ago were visually pretty stunning and effective. And somehow, the Starship Troopers uniforms looked even more Nazi-like than before.

-- The autopsy scene was very good. The way Tracey shrieked when Simon cut into him was downright startling, even though I could feel it coming.

-- They got a fine guest star to play Lieutenant Womack, who wasn't operating under the auspices of Allied Enforcement.

-- It appeared that Mal was having trouble unloading the Lassiter they stole in "Trash."

-- "Gut runners" and "wet ware." Smuggling organs in a person? Bleah.

-- Jayne has a mom. And someone in his family named Mattie is still sick from something with a Chinese name.

-- When Mal and Zoe were carrying Tracey's "casket" to the ship, they wouldn't allow anyone else to help them. It was for the two of them to put their comrade to rest, and no other.

-- The space station had a neon sign on the outside that said "Blue Sun." There was also a blue sun tattooed on the back of Tracey's shoulder.

-- Jayne admitted at one point that death makes him horny.

-- Mal has never heard of the Mona Lisa.

-- This week's planet: St. Albans, which appeared to be pretty cold. And Womack got his command stripes at Silver Hold colonies.

-- In this week's hair report, Inara's hair was suddenly straight.

-- Jonathan M. Woodward also played good gone bad in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. So I was sort of expecting him to appear good and turn out bad. Being a fan has its drawbacks.

Quotable quotes:

Wash: "Omigod, it's grotesque. Oh, and there's something in a jar."

Simon: "I really know how to show a girl a disgusting time."

Inara: "So do aliens live among us?"
Kaylee: "Yeah. One of them's a doctor."

Wash: "A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything."

Jayne: "What did y'all order a dead guy for?"

Tracey: "I didn't know you were out there."
Zoe: "Sort of the point. Stealth. You may have heard of it."
Tracey: "I don't think they covered that in basic."

Zoe: "First rule of battle, little one. Don't ever let them know where you are."
Mal: (guns blazing) "Whoo-hoo! I'm right here. I'm right here! You want some of me? Yeah, you do. Come on. Come on!"
Zoe: "'Course, there are other schools of thought."

Mal: "I mean, in all my life, I will never love a woman the way this officer loved that lip ferret."

Mal: "Using corpses for smuggling is a time-honored, repulsive custom."

Tracey: "When you can't run, you crawl. And when you can't crawl, when you can't do that..."
Zoe: "You find someone to carry you." They carried him.

At least three stars. This was a very good episode,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

6 comments:

  1. I saw the theme of this episode as being about how we see people versus what they are.

    Mal/Irana -- although she was the one that enabled them to pull off the heist last week, he refuses to see her as a thief. He even goes so far as to tell her that he doesn't want to ruin her career (!!) over something like this.

    Simon/Kaylee -- he obviously has feelings for her, yet can't stop himself from saying all the wrong things. Although no girl wants to be told she's the only game in town, I think by the end she sees him less through rose glasses. I agree with Billie that this bodes well for the relationship.

    Tracey/Zoe -- he has always seen her as a robot, yet we know differently. While I agree that marriage to Wash would have changed her in some ways, my guess is that it is also the fact that she is no longer fighting a war and can now put down her gun to eat a tin of bins.

    Mal and Zoe/Tracey -- as Billie stated above, they saw him as their comrade in arms, still adhering to such niceties as honour. While he was redeemed at the end, he did throw their expectations into a bit of a swirl.

    The other thing I found interesting about this episode was how much we learned inadvertently about Jayne. He still has a mother somewhere whom he obviously cares for. He iis barely literate. And, he is capable of great respect. It was the moment at the funeral when he removed his hat that I shed a tear.

    PS -- I saw Joss give an interview about 'Firefly' in which he stated that if the series had carried on, Blue Sun was going to be the Big Bad corporation that was exploiting River in her flashbacks. Hence, the blue gloves.

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  2. Except for a few bits, not my favourite episode.

    This was actually the episode they were filming when they found out the series had been cancelled.

    I din't take to the actor playing Tracey. Although by his own definition, he\d made some stupid mistakes, I found him unconvincing to the point where I didn't really care if he died.

    The best parts for me were all the relationship comments that wer going on, and of course Wash, making daft remarks guaranteed to bring a smile.

    Jayne's Cunning Hat.

    What can I say? This hat has now become the easiest to recognise symbol of Firefly.

    It may look rediculous, but if you see anyone wearing one in the street, or at a conventio, you know he/she's aBrowncoat.

    I have one; and so do two of my three daughters. The thidr daughter's nearly a teenager !

    When we wear 'em out, everyone knows we ain't afraid of nobody.

    Best line: Jayne, "Who ordered the dead guy?"

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  3. I haven't seen this episode in a while, but I thought it was cool when Jayne was reading his letter from his mother and accidentally implied that he is smarter than he lets on. I distinctly remember him struggling with a lot of the words, but I also somewhat-less-distinctly remember him pronouncing a word correctly before "correcting" himself but saying the word wrong. I like to think that that means he slipped up on how dumb he was supposed to be acting before he caught himself.

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  4. I have watched this more than once, and either I have missed something or there is a major plot hole. Tracey is carrying special organs, and is trying to sell them for more money than the original deal. However, if he doesn't work with the original deal - and that's where his organs are - what's he going to do for organs?

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  5. Victoria Grossack, I think Tracy had now given up on selling the organs and was intending to keep the fake ones. His plan was now to try to escape.

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  6. Victoria, that's a good point. Maybe he thought that with the extra money he could buy new ones of his own? It doesn't make sense to us, but it might make sense to Tracey, who is a bear of very little brains.

    The biggest plot hole, for me, is that Mal and Zoe don't just tell Tracey they have a good plan. Sure, it could be about trust--but he hasn't seen them in years. Why should he trust them?

    However, none of those tiny quibbles change the fact that I love this episode. I cry at the end. I always tell myself I won't, and then I do.

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