Firefly: Shindig

Mal: "I got stabbed. Right here."
Inara: "You also lined up exciting new crime."

And it was the Mal and Inara show. They're so obviously in love. But the only place they seem to connect is on Serenity. Why can't he tell her how he feels? Why does he have to be all manly and obtuse? Instead, he snapped at Kaylee for no reason at all, and got himself into a duel he couldn't possibly win. Except that he did.

Mal, a.k.a. Captain Tightpants, is both obnoxious and adorable, an appealing mix of scary adult and needy little boy. He seems incapable of handling any social occasion for long without getting into a fight. I thought there was no way he could survive that duel without outside intervention, so I was expecting outside intervention. Instead, Mal won by fighting dirty. (Although Inara did, helpfully, distract Atherton Wing at a critical point. Pun intended.)

Mal: "Mercy is the mark of a great man."
(stabs Atherton)
"Guess I'm just a good man."
(stabs Atherton again)
"Well, I'm all right."

Now, that was a character statement. Mal really did show mercy. He could easily have killed Atherton; it was expected, and he must have wanted to do it in the worst way. Instead, he expressed his rage with humor, and probably created an enemy for life.

The "social event of the season" impressed me. The clothes were an outrageous mix of styles, time periods, and cultures, but somehow, it all worked. Well, except for Kaylee's layer cake of a dress which was exceptionally ugly, although her unabashed pleasure in it was very sweet. As was her entrancing a large group of male party-goers with her knowledge of engineering. A little karmic payback after she was so royally snubbed, I suppose.

River showed her brilliance for the first time by doing a fascinating imitation of Badger, complete with cockney accent. It was so much fun seeing the rest of the crew so stunned by River that they didn't take advantage of the diversion she created. And that they were still in the middle of planning a daring rescue when Mal walked in the door.

Bits and pieces:

-- Zoe and Wash have a passionate relationship. And they were so cute together. "Out there, it seems like it's all fancy parties. I like our party better. The dress code's easier, and I know all the steps."

-- Terraformers as slaves, prodigious death rate, makes sense. Ripping off a slaver was oddly appropriate. Sort of like upside-down morality.

-- Gotta love a hovering chandelier. And cows.

-- More strawberries for Kaylee.

-- Meanwhile back on the ship, Book, Simon, and Jayne were playing fizzbin and the stakes included chores. Jayne cheated when the other two were occupied with River tearing the labels off cans. Which will make for some exciting meals.

-- The unpleasant Badger was back. Sir Warrick Harrow showed good sense in taking an "irrational" dislike to him.

-- Inara's full name is Inara Serra. Kaylee's is Kaywinnit Lee Frye.

-- The commentary pointed out a fun fact that I missed: the whole Mal/Inara talking (okay, arguing) while dancing scene mimicked Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I should have caught that.

-- This week's planets: The initial bar fight was on Santho. Most of the action took place on Persephone. Cockney River said she was off Titan colony.

-- The mannequins in the Persephone shop windows were human beings.

-- Holographic pool. "Management not responsible for ball failure."

Quotable quotes:

Inara: "The key seems to be giving Jayne a heavy stick and standing back."

Zoe: "Thought you got land crazy that long in port."
Wash: "Probably, but I've been sane a long while now, and change is good."

Wash: "You want a slinky dress? I can buy you a slinky dress. Captain, can I have money for a slinky dress?"
Jayne: "I'll chip in."
Zoe: "I can hurt you."

Badger: "Thought we might have a bit of a sit-down."
Mal: "Prefer a bit of a piss-off."

Badger: "'Course, you couldn't buy an invite with a diamond the size of a testicle. I got my hands on a couple." (Mal and Jayne snicker)

Harrow: "I know him and I think he's a psychotic lowlife."
Mal: "And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic lowlife community."

Gentleman: "If you require it, any gentleman here can give you use of his sword."
Mal: "Use of his sw-what?"

Inara: "He's an expert swordsman, Mal. You had trouble with the pillar."

Jayne: "I say Zoe gets naked."
Wash: "No!"
Jayne: "I could get naked."
Everybody: "No!"

I loved this one. I think I'll have to give it four out of four stars,

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

5 comments:

ChrisB said...

I haven't watched the commentary, but I laughed when I saw your comment about the Jane Austen dance. Being a huge Austen fan, a lot of this episode struck me as an homage to her:

The sparring couple who are mad for each other, yet can't figure out how to make it work. I like the fact that Inara enters into Mal's world (the bar) and he enters into hers (the ball). Yet, they seemed to be their most comfortable with each other on neutral territory (Serenity).

The ball -- always have to have the ball. Dancing and talking is right out of all of Austen's novels. I loved the ball scene and its juxtaposition of the past (hoop skirts) and the future (floating chandelier).

The duel, especially with swords. This duel was right out of Sense and Sensability -- a man defending the honour, not of his lover, but a friend for whom he has strong feelings. Does it make me sound too girly if I admit that I am totally shipping Mal and Irana (Malana?).

Finally, the thing for which I most respect Miss Austen is her use of strong, smart women. I said it in an earlier post, but it's worth repeating. All of the women on Serenity impress me, but I have a soft spot for Kaylee. Yes, the dress was silly, but she felt beautiful in it which, finally, is all that matters.

PS -- is it just me, or did the gentleman who came to Kaylee's rescue at the ball sound just like Clark Gable?

a.m. said...

I loved this episode, too. Maybe it was because it drew so much from Austen (nicely drawn parallels, ChrisB!)...Jane Austen if it were done in the future in a space western, who knew? Jess Whedon continually proves just how talented he is:)

Anonymous said...

dam
river's cockney accent is the worst ive ever heard and ive seen mary poppins

Josie Kafka said...

He seems incapable of handling any social occasion for long without getting into a fight.

Definitely true. I hadn't thought of it this way before, but do you think that means Mal fought the Alliance (during the war) just because he likes to fight? Or did he develop the noble/petulant fighting thing after the war?

NomadUK said...

And, of course, fizbin is the card game that James Kirk invents on the spot to catch his captors off guard in 'A Piece of the Action'. Nice reference.