Hello, Hathor readers! Ready to watch a show together? We’re starting our first watch-along today, with the pilot episode of Firefly, Joss Whedon’s 2002 sci-fi series about a ragtag group of characters living on the “raggedy edge” of our future, space-faring civilization. We’ll be posting some discussion starters for an episode of the series each week on Sundays from here on out – watch the episode at some point during the week, then stop in at the post on Sunday to share your thoughts.
The episode starts with a flashback to the Battle of Serenity Valley, featuring Malcom Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) as things go from bad to defeated for their side. Then we cut to the show’s present-day, as Mal and Zoe, joined by Jayne (Adam Baldwin), Wash (Alan Tudyk), and Kaylee (Jewel Staite), pull off an illegal scavenging operation on a derelict ship, narrowly escaping from an Alliance cruiser (aka, the law). Even with the ill-gotten goods, the crew of Serenity, the macabrely-named ship, is going to be short on cash. They decide to take on passengers at their next stop, bringing Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), Dobson (Carlos Jacott), and Simon Tam (Sean Maher) on board, along with Tam’s mysterious cargo. Inara (Morena Baccarin), a Companion (read: sex-worker), rejoins Serenity after an appointment with a client.
In short order, Book is introduced to Inara in a way calculated by Mal to embarrass and annoy as many people as possible, Simon is revealed to be a fugitive, and Dobson shoots Kaylee. There is some tense negotiating, Serenity runs from the law once again, and Simon’s luggage turns out to be carrying his sister, River (Summer Glau).
There’s some expositing all around, and then the ship narrowly avoids the attention of some Reavers before landing on Whitefall, where Mal wants to move their stolen goods. Things don’t work out perfectly during the transaction, but Our Heroes make it through okay. MEANWHILE, Dobson escapes and attacks Book, and then tries to kidnap River. Mal, who is so totally over this nonsense, shoots him in the face and throws him off the ship just in time for a daring escape from the returned Reavers. After all the excitement, Simon and River are offered a place on the ship and accept, and we’re all ready to go for episode two.
Okay, let’s chat. FIRST, some things I totally love about this episode:
- Kaylee. D’awwww. SO CUTE.
- The bond between Simon and River. One of the things I think Firefly does really well is show the strength of connections between characters who love each other, whether the love is familial or romantic or what. Simon’s devotion to his sister is awesome, and the first scene between them always makes me tear up, no lie.
- I’m a sucker for action scenes, and “Serenity” has quite a few excellent ones. w00t.
- Simon’s little red glasses. Shallow and a little strange, I know, but I just think they’re hawt.
Annnnd things I do not love:
- Our first intro to Inara’s work as a theoretically well-respected professional woman is via a client who totally disrespects her? Uncool.
- Cultural appropriation and related ickiness. The “good dogs” thing, man! Why? Have y’all seen Shati’s “Secret Asian Man” vid? It is an excellently succinct critique. Check it: link.
- The overwrought imagery of Inara resting her hand on Book’s bent head in silhouette after tending his wounds. Yes, yes, whore, man of God, we get it. Blech. I just think it’d work better if our cultural expectations had actually been in any way subverted, y’know?
Okay, enough outta me – what do you think about this episode?
And don’t forget to come back next Sunday, to discuss “The Train Job”!