Hathor Watch-Along – Firefly, S1 Ep8: “Out of Gas”

We’re just over halfway through Firefly with this week’s episode, “Out of Gas.” This episode is structured in an interesting way, mixing chunks of the A-Plot – starting out of order – with flashbacks that show how the crew came to live on Serenity. The first time I saw it, I was really impressed by the way the story structure helps build and hold tension throughout the episode. And even now that I’ve seen it many times, and know damn well how it ends, I still feel a little thrill of “ohnoes what will happen??” I guess that means that Tim Minear, who wrote this episode as well as “Bushwacked,” the other one that freaks me out, has a hell of a handle on things that make me nervous. If he ever writes a horror movie, I’m gonna skip it.

ANYWAY, enough about my scaredy-pantsness – back to the show!

One of the things I really like about this episode is the humor in the little vignettes that introduce the characters. I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone to hear that I find Jayne’s particularly entertaining, but they’ve all got some winning lines.

Well, except maybe Inara’s. I think she’s supposed to come off as sassy, a self-confident foil to Mal’s social ineptitude, but, well… Jenn said it:

This episode sadly established Inara’s ground rules that Mal breaks frequently. I know we’re supposed to find boundary trespassing romantic. I just still don’t understand why.


Also, wtf is up with Inara’s headgear? I dig her eye makeup, though.

You know, I just realized that I didn’t start this write-up off with a full summary of the plot. Sorry, guys. I’m a little distracted – the kids across the street are playing some kind of super-noisy game or something, and on top of the yelling every single dog in the neighborhood is barking and howling. But I’m sure all of you remember which one this episode is, anyway, so I’ll just leave my intro as-is.

…Er, back to the show!

So, yeah, Mal is frequently a dick, particularly to Inara, which we definitely see in this episode. Another thing we see here, though, is that Mal’s jackassery is sometimes an effective management strategy. Jenn said this, and I agree:

[W]e see Mal at his best – cultivating others toward their best, so they can all function and survive as a team. I like that it’s his brains and moxy that give him his prowess, not physical toughness or always having the biggest weapon.

It’s nice to see that, since most of the time Mal’s behavior leaves me wondering why anyone would put up with him for any length of time. (Some observations could be made about a pattern, here, with intended-to-be-sympathetic male characters in other Whedon shows…)

Okay, so, I wanted to talk about the awesome, not-at-all-romance-flavored interactions between Mal and Zoe that we see over a wide stretch of time, but the screaming from outside was grating on my eardrums, so I decided to go do a “you kids get off my lawn” impression, and –

Well. It’s not the kids across the street. God, I hope there still are kids across the street. No cars in the driveway, which is probably a good sign.

I don’t know exactly what I saw out there. I shut the door again fast, and I’m not going to risk moving the curtains to look. I don’t want them to see me.

I’m going to grab my laptop and camp out in the bathroom – no windows in there, and I can lock the door. I’ll check in when I can. Please do continue the discussion in the comment section, those of you who are able to. I suspect we’ll all be hungry for some distraction.

…Hungry might have been a poor choice of word, there.

Next week we’ll be watching “Ariel.” If we’re all still here next week.

ETA: Welcome to Blog Like It’s the Apocalypse 2011! 😀


  1. Shuu says

    Oh wow…. I have no idea what’s going on across the street, but I hope you’re okay and they’re okay and all involved dogs are okay…Sending good thoughts. Is there anything a random internet stranger from nowhere nearby can do to help?

    I really liked this episode too. It has a funny family history since my brother was already out of the house by the time my family watched the show, but whenever he saw Firefly on TV to watch the odd episode, it was always this one. It got to the point where he’d seen this episode 3 or 4 times and maaybe one other episode once. And I think that was the one where Mal and Walsh got tortured.

  2. sbg says

    Oh, man, Revena – I don’t know what’s happening in your part of the world, but something bad is going on in my neighborhood. My radio’s already gone and internet is spotty, but I won’t let it stop the signal.

    I don’t know how long I have. I didn’t get to rewatch this episode, but I remember bits of it. I remember being confused and incredibly drawn in and sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. What I do remember very clearly about the series is wondering what about Mal made him such a leader. More often than not he comes across as a teenager haha-how-cool-am-I, and then we get episodes like this.

    *whispers* I think something’s outside now. I’m gonna go se–

  3. Maria says

    :cuddles Firefly DVDs:

    God, thanks for posting. I just… I just really needed to hear from you guys.

    Um, anyways. I love Wash in this ep, and how it’s established that Kaylee is pretty much self taught. I gotta confess, I could use a bit of her brains now. Turns out, book smarts won’t get you out of every sticky situation.

    I’ve gotta pack for tomorrow. Check in soon!

  4. says


    @SBG, you still there? I’ve noticed the dogs in our area barking a lot, and strangely, the TV stations out here in LA aren’t reporting anything unusual, although there’ve been a LOT of helicopters flying over our neighborhood; we’re near a lot of freeways. Tons of uncharacteristic honking from the cars on the freeway, too. Lots of accidents, but I’ve been chalking that up to summer traffic!

  5. says

    I’m so relieved to hear from all of you! Guys, I was on my way up the 5 to Sacramento, and I haven’t seen a car since I got out of L.A. That just doesn’t happen, right??? Then I stopped off at a McDonald’s on the Kettleman City exit… and there’s fucking nobody around at all!! I can’t even get a radio station.

    Okay, focus, focus… one thing I loved was how Kaylee didn’t look stupid when she froze at the fireball and Zoe had to rescue her. Sometimes shows milk the drama and make it look like the frozen person had 10 minutes to pull herself together and is just a flake. But this happened fast enough that Kaylee’s reaction time pretty well matched mine, and Zoe came off as nearly super-human… but that makes complete sense. Zoe’s surely seen enough explosions to have developed a hair trigger reaction to them, and Kaylee probably hasn’t.

    I’ll try to check in with you guys again when I get to Sacramento.

  6. Robin says

    One of my favorite moments in this episode is the conversation between Simon and Inara outside the med bay. I love that Simon’s coping mechanism is to fall back on his medical training. Guts and asphyxiation are more comforting to him than dealing with the emotions of impending death. And Sean Maher’s delivery of “It was my birthday” just kills me every time. He was loving the fact that the girl he’s been crushing on made him a cake, and then all hell broke loose. :(

    Also… flashback mustache rules.

  7. Robin says

    Also, wtf is up with Inara’s headgear?

    Some sort of veil / hat thing. My guess is that the wardrobe department had extra netting left over from making her outfit and decided to accessorize.

    Trends come and go. Currently we’re seeing a resurgence in fedoras (which I’m totally okay with, in an Indiana Jones / Carmen Sandiego way), but I’m sure we’ll see another wave of snoods or something in a few years. If a 26th-century courtesan wants to wear a non-wedding veil, I’m cool with that, too.

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