I’m filling in for Revena this week and covering the Firefly episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds.” In it, our big damn heroes save a settlement from bandits, and get rewarded with lots of gifts. After Serenity takes off, they find amongst those gifts a young woman named Saffron who claims to be Mal’s wife, thanks to a custom performed at the settlement which Mal didn’t recognize as a wedding, thanks to his unfamiliarity with their ways – the classic “anthropologist discovers he’s been gifted a wife” trope. She seems very sheltered, yet determined to seduce Mal. Eventually she kisses him with a lip seal that knocks him unconscious, then she tries to do the same to Wash (but has to settle for knocking him out as he resists her advances) and Inara (who sees through her). Then Inara rushes to Mal to make sure he’s not dead, kisses him while he lays there unconscious, and passes out, too (she claims she hit her head). Saffron, it seems, is a thief trying to steal Serenity, but the crew outwits her. Then Mal confronts her and they chat briefly about her trust issues. Then he confronts Inara and insists she didn’t hit her head… she let Saffron kiss her, too. (Or is this just his way of getting her to sort of admit she kissed him, but then let her off the hook?)
- Jayne. Jayne and the rainstick. Jayne and his gun, Vera.
- Mal posing as Jayne’s wife.
- Everyone – except Jayne – expressing horror at the idea of a woman being bartered into marriage with no say in the matter. (Jayne tries to trade Vera for her, natch.)
Then there are the bad points. Purtek reviewed this one a while back and pointed out the main problems:
I’m not comfortable seeing yet another femme fatale using the realities of victimization in order to gain power. It feels, to me, far too much like yet another “women abuse men by lying about rape in order to gain power or money” storyline. Granted, Saffron didn’t invent a rape story, per se, but she did present herself as a victim, and I don’t like the “crying wolf” style implications… I’m sort of insecure about how much countermessage we got about legitimately believing the stories of abuse, control and objectification that women tell, in order to contrast the all-too-common (on TV) but much more interesting story of a lying, manipulative, sexually aggressive threat. I get the impression that the writers on this episode never questioned that of course everyone would believe this “victim” narrative that Saffron sells – because doesn’t everyone always feel sorry for these poor, abused young women? – and that’s why she uses it so frequently. In my experience, of course, the opposite is true.
Yes – once again, we have a woman easily using her sexuality to manipulate, con and callously put lives at risk, and everyone falling for her story. We are reminded never to trust women who claim to have been victimized, because they’re always just after something from us.
There’s a much-beloved line from this episode that I take issue with: Book tells Mal that if he takes advantage of Saffron sexually, he will go a “special hell” reserved for “child molesters and people who talk at the theater.” This is played for comedy repeatedly. If any of you have trouble seeing the vast degrees of evilness between child molestation and talking in a theater, I would like you to immediately go read, oh, at least six books on child molesters and what they do to children and how often they kill them after raping them. Honestly. Imagine if Book had spoken of a “special hell” for “Reavers and people who wear last year’s fashions.”
I get the feeling this episode’s real objective is a kiss that can be forensically traced to prove that Inara really secretly loves Mal, and all other plot elements are subject to serving that end. And that brings me to Inara kissing Mal while he’s unconscious. Yeah, I laughed, too – I mean, they’re the show’s OTP, so what’s the harm, right? But on the other hand, that seems to be the way most female-on-male rapes occur – when a man is incapacitated from drugs or drink. Once again, this relationship comes across way more creepy than I suspect the writers intend.
And Zoe threatening never to have sex with Wash again – not buying that as her style.
And then there’s the conversation Mal and Saffron have when he catches up with her for no obvious reason. She dismisses his complaints with “everyone plays everyone” and he counters by saying the reason his crew outwitted her was that they trust each other. Oh, dear – it’s Bad Girl With Trust Issues Meets Nice Guy (with Mal, Mr. Trust Issues himself, cast most ironically as Nice Guy – I know, right?). This theme continues into the next episode featuring Saffron, so we can talk about it more then.
There is so much going on in this episode, I’m sure I missed some points. Let the discussion begin!