Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Firefly: Out of Gas

Inara: "Mal, you don't have to die alone."
Mal: "Everybody dies alone."

Beginnings and endings, life and death.

The opening scene with Mal's blood dripping through the grate pretty much said it all. Serenity is Mal's life. No reason for Mal to go on living if Serenity dies. Except the final scene where Wash was giving Mal a blood transfusion also said it all in a great big symbolic way. Mal doesn't just have Serenity. The wonderful dinner scene flashback with the entire cast told us that this group of diverse people were a family. A family that returned to Serenity to die with Mal, since he never did reach that call-back button.

Mal made some terribly difficult decisions here, like pulling Wash away from the seriously injured Zoe, making everyone leave in the shuttles, staying alone on the ship to die. Mal also made all of the decisions concerning the initial purchase of Serenity, as well as who would sail on her. Those scenes where we saw Mal meeting Wash, Kaylee, Inara, and Jayne for the first time were just right.

Loved Wash with that ridiculous mustache. (Interesting that Zoe showed her extreme lack of imagination twice; she didn't like either Serenity or Wash the first time she saw them.) How appropriate that we met Kaylee having sex in, of all places, the engine room. And of course Mal and Inara struck antagonistic sparks off each other at their first meeting. My favorite was that gem of a scene where Mal hired Jayne away from his gang with the offer of a higher percentage of the take, and a room of his own.

This was a beautifully constructed episode. What I particularly loved were the seamless connections between the present and the many flashbacks; it was done so well that we always knew where we were. Flashback Mal and Zoe talked about a stain on the floor; in the present, it was a puddle of Mal's blood. After Mal injected himself with adrenalin (omigod, that was hard to watch), he looked at the door, and saw Kaylee in the past.

And the final scene, a flashback of Mal seeing Serenity for the first time and falling in love with her, was just perfect.

Bits and pieces:

-- The score was beautiful and mournful, especially in the scenes where Mal was alone on the dying ship.

-- Mal just keeps getting hurt. I don't like it when Mal gets hurt. I'm sure that's why Joss Whedon keeps doing it to us.

-- Mal called Kaylee a "prairie harpie" right before he met her.

-- Even Jayne was helpful here. Mal hired Jayne not only to get out of a bad situation, but because Jayne was a good tracker.

-- River, the psychic, said the word "fire" right before the fire. We also got a little follow up on the River, Shepherd Book and Bible scenes in "Jaynestown."

-- Liked the special effect of the fire blowing through the ship and out into space.

-- The captain and crew of the "rescue ship" were like darker versions of Mal and his crew.

-- We never did hear Book's funny story about the monastery.

-- Bester the mechanic, who literally screwed himself out of a job, may have been named after science fiction writer Alfred Bester. There was a great continuing character on Babylon 5 named Bester, too.

-- This week's planets: There was a reference to Pacquin and Ita Moon. And weren't they on their way to Greenleaf?

Quotable quotes:

Mal: "Ship like this, be with you till the day you die."
Zoe: "Because she's a death trap."

Inara: "A companion doesn't kiss and tell."
Mal: "So there is kissing."

Mal: "Which one you figure tracked us?"
Zoe: "The ugly one, sir."
Mal: "Could you be more specific?"

Kaylee: "I seen the trouble plain as day when I was down there on my back before."

Inara: "I prefer something with a few miles on it." She was talking about Serenity, but she could also have been talking about Mal.

Inara: "That's the last time you get to call me whore." Well, that didn't take, did it.

Jayne: "Hey, what do you two think you're doing, fighting at a time like this? (pause) You'll use up all the air."

This was an outstanding episode, my favorite in the series. Four out of four stars,

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


  1. What an episode. Beautifully written and beautifully shot. Each meeting was unique and only added to the characters we already know. The juxtaposition of the two most important things to Mal -- his crew and his ship -- was perfect.

    And it all came together seamlessly at the end. His crew standing by him and then the flashback to the first time he saw the ship -- sigh.

    It's episodes like this that makes one wonder what Fox was thinking...

  2. At the beginning, I didn't think I'd like this episode - but I was wrong.
    With no kids making a noise around me, I sat in thhe quiet and absorbed this completely.
    The flashbacks, filling in many parts of how Mal fell in love with Serenity, and the gradual enlistment of each crew member, brought the family into our comfort zone - and into our hearts.
    Of course we knew that Mal and Serenity wouldn't die so early in the series; but how they didn't die kept me gued to the TV set.
    Brilliant direction and music make this a special stepping stone in the series.

  3. I think I might have to say this is my favorite episode of TV ever. Funny, poignant, tense, revealing, sentimental in the best possible way...

    I really love the structure of the show, and seeing how Mal meets each of the crew (and how he finds and falls in love with Serenity) just deepens everything. And this episode contains one of my favorite bits of dialog:

    Mal: Looks can be deceiving.
    Jayne: Not as deceiving as a low down, dirty... deceiver.
    Mal: Well said. Wasn't that well said, Zoë?
    Zoë Washburne: It had a kinda poetry to it, sir.

  4. Inara: "Mal, you don't have to die alone."
    Mal: "Everybody dies alone."

    That's exactly the lead quote I would have chosen, too.

    Although I'm not willing to go all the way and say this is my favorite episode of television ever, it's definitely in the top ten. It might be in the top five. Plus, most of my best-of episodes involve extreme sadness and massive death. This one, everyone lives! Hooray!


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.