Mark Watches ‘Firefly’: Episode 10 – War Stories

In the tenth episode of Firefly, the events of the episode, “The Train Job” come back to haunt Mal and Wash in the most brutal way imaginable. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Firefly.

It’s about time we had an episode about Wash.

He exists for a lot of comic relief in the show, but that isn’t to say he’s not a full character. Whedon and the talented cast of writers have managed to make each of the crew members a well-rounded individual. “War Stories” manages to fill out Wash’s character, while simultaneously adding to nearly every other character as well. (That’s a feat, by the way; for such a character-centric episode, I was impressed by how much growth we saw in Kaylee, Simon, Book, Zoe, AND Mal at the same time.)

The foreshadowing that opens the episode deals with a “warrior-poet” named Shin Yu, who believed you could only truly know a person by torturing them. This idea, suggested by Book, is meant as his way to help Simon figure out why surgeons removed River’s amygdala.

But that’s not Cheryl Cain’s (the writer for this episode) intentions with this detail. It represents the clash between Mal and Wash; Wash is becoming increasingly annoyed by Zoe’s dedication and inherent trust in Mal, despite that it has never once materialized in any sort of sexual manner. His jealousy is adorable for the most part, if slightly frustrating as he insists it’s time for him to accompany Mal on the next mission. It’s funny because, in hindsight, Wash was SERIOUSLY NOT PREPARED.

I made a misguided statement in “The Train Job” that Niska wasn’t very creepy and I would like to take all of it back immediately. I’m not sure that Niska showed his full potential in that episode, but he certainly does here. Upon notice that Mal’s ship is in the vicinity, he orchestrates the kidnapping of Wash and Mal, playing right into Wash’s complete lack of preparedness.

What happens upon their capture follows a pretty standard pattern for the show, but one that I’ve grown to love: A stressful situation is full of tons of humor and then, very suddenly, the scene becomes disturbingly serious.

It’s rare to find tv and film that rests so heavily on dialogue to hold tension; The Wire comes to mind, in terms of television, but Cheryl Cain’s writing during the Mal/Wash torture scene might be my favorite scene of the entire scene, especially every time it cuts to Niska’s face and he looks bewildered. Their frantic bickering in between being shocked is funny because of the contrast with what’s actually going on. But then Wash claims that Zoe blindly obeys the captain and Mal offers up evidence she doesn’t, and the tone of the scene immediately shifts:

He ordered Zoe not to marry Wash.

Now, maybe I heard it wrong, but when Wash then says that maybe Mal should just sleep with Zoe to get rid of the sexual tension, does Mal say something to the effect of, “I’ll dick your wife”? Because if so, what the fuck how did that ever air.

It was at that point that I stopped laughing and the whole scene made me feel dirty, like that time my mom insisted we watch Mulholland Drive together and I wanted to shrivel into a ball of lint and disappear into the couch.

Zoe manages to come up with a plan to rescue the two of them and collects all of the money on the ship that they’d earned from the job in “Ariel,” hoping to appeal to Niska’s bizarre business principles. She ends being correct, but he thinks he has the upper hand by telling her that the money is only good to save one of them.

The entertainment he hopes to derive from the situation is squashed before he can even finish a sentence. She chooses Wash without hesitation. I imagine Wash felt pretty damn stupid at that moment.

But, of course, Niska isn’t satisfied, so he changes his mind about the cost for Wash and gives her a slight refund: HE CUTS OFF MAL’S EAR.

NO SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE GODDAMN SHIT FUCK. Like…look, I am now expecting shit to get real all of the time, but CUTTING OFF HIS EAR? Oh, Cain, you are still keeping me guessing.

Remember me saying that this episode also showed growth in other characters? It happens when the episode shifts to a tense, action-packed rescue mission, as we watch Book and Simon suddenly become willing to shoot people. Book’s mysterious past is most intriguing to me, especially because he proves to be pretty damn talented with a shotgun. BOOK BACKSTORY NOW, PLEASE.

After saving Mal (well…he sort of saves himself, doesn’t he?) and returning to the ship, Mal makes good on his promise to have sex with Zoe’s wife, which proves to be not only unanimously unsettling, but frustrates Wash enough that he gets the point: they have a good relationship because they trust each other, not because they want to have sex.

Shit is so real and I love it. I have many, many thoughts about this episode:


  • WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT TENDRIL THING NISKA HAD. Oh god, that is the stuff of nightmares?
  • How fucked up was the scene where Zoe announces they are going to go get the captain and then it cuts to Niska and Niska’s guard announces that Mal is dead? HEAD ASPLODE.
  • Are apples like a main food source or something? Because if I knew griswalds were real, I would simply never eat an apple ever.
  • I didn’t comment on Inara’s storyline at all because I wanted to focus on Wash/Mal/Zoe, but I was surprised to see a female customer walk on board. I don’t know if it will be addressed again, but I’m wondering if that scene was a reference to Inara’s sexuality or was just a different companion job to her. It doesn’t really matter either way, but it was nice to see her so comfortable.
  • “I’ll be in my bunk.” Oh, Jayne, never change.
  • OH MAN, I WANT RIVER TO BE ON MY SIDE IN A GUN FIGHT. Like…what the shit???? That was amazing.
  • Why does this show have to end 🙁 🙁 🙁

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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215 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Firefly’: Episode 10 – War Stories

  1. Randomcheeses says:

    Niska. Creepiest villain ever, Y?

    Also, Zoe cutting off Niska's Sadistic Choice cliché before he even finishes is awesome!

    Oh heck, ZOE IS AWESOME!!!

  2. EldaTaluta says:

    Is that picture supposed to be of the scary faceless guy?

  3. hazelwillow says:

    I once watched The Unbearable Lightness of Being with my dad. It has a lot of sex scenes in it (actually quite creative, interesting ones, but still… that just makes it worse). I believe I know the Ball of Lint feeling.

    Kudos for your perfect description.

  4. Hanah says:

    I basically agree with all of this. XD

    Who is Shan Yu? He sounds…a fun guy
    Is this the most unsubtle foreshadowing ever? WHO CAN TELL ME WHAT A PORTKEY IS?
    Oh okay, no. It's just about River
    Shepherd. You are creepy. Stop
    Yay! 😀
    Oh Simon, ILU
    Oh god it's the dude I cannot take seriously again. I know he's fucking crazy and evil but he's just so pantomime…
    Totes inappropriate but I'm just thinking Robert deNiro going CIRCLE OF TRUST
    What the fuck is that knife?
    Okay so I love continuity, but I wish they had a different villain coming back. Bring back Saffron, she was awesome! This dude…I am bored.
    Aww they're so cute!
    Lol no Mal, it's not clean
    Omgomgomgomgomgomg I LOVE THEM
    Kaylee please exist forever
    I always cut my apples too 🙂
    Wash ILU too
    That's fucking disgusting. I thought it was going to be a cute story like the RL Christmas Day football one 🙁
    No don't fight D:
    That was some drawn-out Chinese
    Oh god River. This is so heartbreaking :'(
    Ha don't pretend you aren't interested Shepherd
    Wash. What are you doing?
    Yayyyy girlie sexytimes. 😀 NOT ENOUGH OF THEM IN TV
    Pretty, pretty dresses <3
    LOL. That may not have been meant as a joke but LOL
    Wow Shepherd. You know a lot about guns
    This should be worrying but it's just HILARIOUS
    Ooooh BURN
    Aww they're giving up all their savings
    Fuck that's nasty D:
    Awwww they're fighting whilst getting tortured. GOOD DISTRACTION TECHNIQUE FROM THE PAIN GUYS
    Wash, your logic is EPIC FAIL
    >:( You're such a jerk dude
    :'( Oh Wash. Oh Mal
    Niska. That is evil dude's name. I still think he's a bit pantomime-y, but also FUCKING SCARY
    LOL. Nice Jayne XD
    Kaylee. ILU
    Oh Kaylee-cakes. It's okay. YOU CAN DO THIS SWEETIE
    OH BABY! D:

    well fuck
    Woo he has his ear back!
    Didn't he chuck him down the tube?
    River. ILU but you are creepy

    • Anri says:

      Oh my god, this is amazing. It's like you took my thoughts and made them coherent.

    • hpfish13 says:

      I really had trouble holding in my laughter at the "WHO CAN TELL ME WHAT A PORTKEY IS?" part.

    • kayla says:

      Hanah you are the pest person ever. <3 Never ever change <3

    • Pseudonymph says:


      I think I have this exact thought every time I watch this episode.

    • takashid says:

      and this episodes best line(s)/scene ever was:
      "This is something the captain has to do himself" "No, No it isn't!" "Oh" BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG SO AWESOME XD! i almost felt sorry for the guy when i wasn't cheering at that scene. he must have been shot over a dozen times before he fell.

  5. shoroko says:

    My impression of Inara is that's she's something like a 2 on the Kinsey scale. It's just not my feeling that she'd take on a client to whom she wasn't sexually attracted; part of being a Companion means she chooses whom she contracts with (as she explains in Jaynestown), and just from her character and the way she describes being a Companion, I feel she'd think it would be somewhat dishonest to accept a client to whom she didn't feel some physical as well as emotional attachment. She certainly prefers men, but I took this as a comment on her sexuality to the extent that, in this case, she is attracted to this woman.

    And apropos of nothing: "Now I'm learning about scary!"

    • D.J. says:

      Something I kind of love about Inara, is she has her own version of a pick-up line – she did this with her client in Bushwhacked too, where you get a moment of her saying something to the effect of "I chose YOU because you're SPECIAL". And she really makes you believe it!

      • notemily says:

        That's her job! And she's damn great at it. I mean, considering everyone she's with KNOWS she's a companion and it's her job to make them feel special, and SHE MAKES THEM FEEL SPECIAL ANYWAY, that's pretty great.

  6. Hermione_Danger says:

    I just love, love, love how Wash knew (after the fact) that Mal was being such an ass to keep Wash's mind away from the torture, because Wash was of course not prepared for it.
    "Bastard's not gonna get days," fuck yes.
    Also, my poor Kaylee. And poor River. And poor everyone (except Book, who rocks).

  7. exbestfriend says:

    I love this episode so much, if only because it was one of the few I was able to catch real time as it premiered on Fox. So when they said that Mal was dead, I had to sit through a whole commercial break and it was torture.

    Also WASH! He may be my favorite character of all time which now carries over to my love of Alan Tudyk in all of his roles.

  8. Anonymouse says:

    How sweet is it that Jayne bought apples for the whole crew to make amends? Not even close to cutting it, but the gesture is so out of character that it really shows how much he's regretting what he did. Also, the scene with Kaylee and River playing and fighting over the apple was so adorable. Don't ever change Kaylee and River!

    MAL:"I know it's a difficult mission, but you and I have to get it on."
    ZOE: "I understand. We have no choice. Take me sir. Take me hard."
    I just about died laughing!

    • ldwy says:

      Yes, I liked the apple bit too, and how they all notice that it's weird…they're all "what's up with Jayne?" Haha

      Loved that exchange. SO deadpan.

  9. Araniapriime says:

    You see "I'll be in my bunk" on LJ a lot as a compliment comment to authors of particularly (*cough*) appealing fan fictions.

  10. hazelwillow says:

    This is an excellent review. That's interesting what you say about dependence on dialogue… I haven't watched a lot of tv (except joss whedon, hehe) so it's hard for me to compare.

    Wait, HOW ARE YOU NOT OBSESSING over River's awesome shotgun scene? ….Oh, right, you're probably not obsessed with her like i am. Heh.
    It was pretty badass, though, right? 🙂
    To be fair, Book was badass too.

    • ldwy says:

      It was badass, but also a little scary. That line: "No power in the 'verse can stop me." And her eyes. Summer Glau had great delivery.

  11. Kaci says:

    I think (and it's been a very long time since I saw the episode, so I may be remembering this entirely wrong) that Inara says she takes female clients only rarely; that she is choosier with them. I always interpreted that to mean that she was mostly straight, but heteroflexible or whatever it is that you prefer to call someone who mostly likes a member of the opposite sex but occassionally, a member of the same-sex will catch their eye and they enjoy their time with that person, too. But I don't think it's ever really discussed. I've always liked the idea of her having female clients, though, not only because hey, women can be johns too, amirite, but also, I just like the idea that Inara herself doesn't make a big deal out of it. It's a woman, they enjoy each other, and she treats the situation no better or worse than she would a male client. It just IS. I kind of like that about her and the way she does her job.


  12. Whitney says:

    Oh also, whatever image you have in this post doesn't seem to be working for me, dunno if that's the case for everyone though.

  13. ZOMG! Normally you don't mention any of my favorite lines from an episode, but this time you got almost all of them! Well, actually, I could probably quote the entire episode. It's just so full of brilliant moments.
    When Wash says "What this marriage could use is one less husband. Right now it's a little crowded." How heartbreaking is his tone? It's all angry then it kinda breaks with the last sentence 🙁 And how bad-ass is he in the rescue? 😀

    Just a few quotes you missed:
    "Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin'?"
    "Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."
    "I'd forgotten, you're moonlighting as a criminal mastermind now. Got your next heist planned?"
    "No… but I'm thinking about growing a big black mustache. I'm a traditionalist."
    "once in flight school I was laconic" <== Reminds me so hard of Joker from the Mass Effect games. Right?
    and according to quotes on the internets what Mal says is
    "Okay, Wash. I'm gonna do it. Wash? Wash! Listen, first thing, we get back – Listen to me! First thing when we get back, I'm gonna – I'm gonna take your wife into my bed. I'm gonna get me a piece'a th…" That's right at the end when he gets desperate because he sees Wash fading.

    This is my second favorite episode, first favorite being Out of Gas. That's probably because Wash is my favorite character and if it counted as a character, Wash and Zoe's relationship would probably be my second favorite. I actually just did some homework which involved reviewing a tv show in 500 words or less (and I managed to get it down to 630). It takes examples from this episode so I'll post it here. 🙂

    Just to recap: THIS EPISODE IS AWESOME! I seriously love it. Zoe and Wash are an unexpected couple and up until now we've been presented with how they make it work, and how they are sweet together. This shows us how they have big arguments, and big issues, but how they work through them too.

  14. echinodermata says:

    Ooh Mark, have you been hotlinking?

  15. cait0716 says:

    One of my favorite things in the entire series is River's apple monologue. I mean, can you even imagine reading that line on paper and then doing what she did with it? Summer Glau is awesome (and thankfully managed to not get pigeon-holed as the crazy chick)

    "I threw up in your bed"
    "Definitely my sister"

    • fireflyfan says:

      River was always my favorite character. I think it was because her entrance in the pilot (jumping out of that box) and Simon's description of her brain being messed with was where I knew I was hooked on the show. She has small parts and alot of one liners but Summer does them so amazingly.

      • cait0716 says:

        I've never really been able to settle on a favorite character from the main cast, or even a least favorite one. But Simon/River is definitely my favorite relationship. It's just so pure and sweet.

        • fireflyfan says:

          Yea, I know what you mean. Saying River is my favorite means she's only slightly higher on my list over Mal, Jayne and the others. I absolutely love "Objects in Space" but the others episodes are awesome too. And best quotes from the series? Oh god, don't even get me started on that one.

  16. Karen says:

    My one possible quibble with Inara's storyline is that the way that it was filmed seemed more about exploiting women's bodies as opposed to looking at female sexuality (even though the dialogue was really good). Idk. Something about the style felt very "lesbians hooking up for the benefit of the male gaze". Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I just don't recall a scene as sensual as that when Inara was with male clients, so it made me pause and think for a second.

    ANYWAY, other than that, I really do love this episode. ZOE/WASH OTP, Y'ALL. I loved that Zoe said Wash without even thinking or waiting for Niska to officially make her choose.

    I made a misguided statement in “The Train Job” that Niska wasn’t very creepy and I would like to take all of it back immediately.
    LOL. When you made that comment I was all "you have NO idea", but obviously I couldn't really say anything due to spoilers. heh.

    Oh and RIVER!!!!! I love her. And it's just so insane when she picks up the gun and closes her eyes and the fires. Gaaah.

    • bookling says:

      I don't think it's exploitative, but it definitely ADDRESSES the male gaze by having Jayne be all "I'll be in my bunk" every time he sees them together.

      • Karen says:

        Yeah. I think that the dialogue and lines like that were meant to lampshade the objectification of women. But the directorial choices in actually filming the scenes between Inara and her client seemed to subvert that. Idk. It just made me raise an eyebrow.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          Definitely agree. I mean, exactly how much footage do we need to be shown of the councilor's naked back?

  17. Gaz says:

    Whoah, I see no love anywhere on this page for my favourite exchange. Such a good subversion of an old heroic trope:

    ‘This is something he has to do for himself.’

    ‘NO IT’S NOT!’

  18. echinodermata says:

    HAHAHAHA you once wrote that "Niska is largely forgettable" HAHAHAHA.

    I love Zoe stopping the cliche choice Niska gives, and obviously choosing her husband.

    Oh Wash, your insecurities are embarrassing, and make me really uncomfortable.

    And I love Book being a badass, and Zoe's little roll.

    But River's awesome gun skills? AHMAZING.

    Okay, so does anyone have gifs of Zoe's somersault and/or River's shooting? I can't believe I don't have them.

  19. sistinas says:

    For some Book backstory you'll have to start up "Mark Reads Comics" but it's finally come out –

  20. Sam says:

    No power in the 'verse can stop me. People have tattoos of that, and I kinda want one. One of my favourite River moments.

  21. auddie956 says:

    Mark… you so need to listen to the commentary for this episode. in fact… when you are finished… you need to watch all the episodes again with commentary on!

    I'll be in my bunk

  22. pica_scribit says:

    I love this episode and I was very curious to see what you would say about it. I'm actually really surprised that you didn't hit up the theme of gender roles at all, between expectation about Zoe, Wash and Inara. Oh, and River kicking ass is always the best thing ever.

  23. kaleidoscoptics says:

    River's line in the shoot out is the creepiest thing ever.

    "No power in the 'verse can stop me."

    It absolutely gives me chills.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      It wasn't until my second or third rewatch that I realized she was repeating what Kaylee had jokingly said to her after getting her apple back in the beginning. It is so unsettling to hear it from River in that context.

  24. Hotaru-hime says:

    This episode had me on such edge!! When Mal lost his ear… ugh.
    And it was sad that when Zoe came to save them all I thought was "ALL THAT MONEY! LOST! LOST!"

  25. Hypatia_ says:

    One of my favorite lines in the entire series: "Ah, the pitter-patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots. SHUT UP!"

    I love how Mal keeps Wash going during the torture scenes, just by pissing him off as much as possible. And Wash doesn't really get what he's doing and thinks they're having a 100% genuine argument, whereas Mal may be airing some actual grievances (i.e., he told Zoe not to marry Wash and she did it anyway because SHE IS A BADASS) but mostly he's just trying to keep Wash together. Mal being Mal, the best way he can think of is to just make Wash mad as hell.

    With Inara and her female client, like lots of other people I get the impression that she's mostly straight, but is attracted to the occasional woman. Once again, I love Kaylee's reaction. She's a bit surprised at first, then immediately comments, totally sincerely, on how glamorous they look together. Completely non-judgmental yet again. ILU so much, Kaylee.

  26. kayla says:

    Yay for you getting to this point. Epic sadfaces forever for there only being four episodes (and the Big Damn Movie) left.

  27. buyn says:

    Zoe: Jayne, this is something the captain has to do for himself.
    Mal: No it's not.
    Zoe: Oh. *her and Jayne open fire*

  28. Pseudonymph says:

    Favorite episode of all time. OF ALL TIME.

    I completely agree with you about the development of all the characters. When I was trying to figure out why I like this episode so much I realized it's because every character has a defining moment that tells us more about them.
    Plus the action.

    The Mal/Wash torture scene is just brilliant. It's fun to see Niska have his fun spoiled because Mal and Wash are so awesome. I guess he did get to meet the real them.

    Also, you forgot:

    "You wanna meet the real me now?" Ugh, god, the sexiness of that moment is incalculable.

    • KellyG says:

      "You wanna meet the real me now?" Ugh, god, the sexiness of that moment is incalculable.

      And thinking on that line, as much as we know about Mal, I'm not entirely certain that we have every *really* met the real Mal, not that we'd "really" want to, at least not when he's in one of his cold rage moments. Now in the "Heart of Gold" sense of meeting the real him? Hell Yeah!

      • lsq says:

        not that we'd "really" want to, at least not when he's in one of his cold rage moments.

        And now you made me want Natha Fillon as Deavid Edding's Sparhawk XD

  29. SunburntCounsel says:

    So Mark, I've been reading since Chamber of Secrets, but finally, finally decided to sign up to comment.

    My favourite thing about this episode is the way it plays on specific action tropes and expectations, as well as fleshes out the crew's notions of loyalty.
    -When Niska is expecting an excruciatingly prolonged torture in Zoe having to pick- and she cuts him off, totally undermining that trope and taking the wind out of his sick, sick sails.
    -When Zoe tells Jayne that "this is just something the captain has to do" and Mal yells "no it's not" and Zoe, Jayne, and Book all shot the dude. It's such a cliched moment, made really really fresh and funny.
    -It's clear that Wash has a much…shallower maybe? understanding of loyalty then Zoe and Mal, and links it to sex and attraction in some ways. Where it's clear- for instance when Mal gives Zoe and Wash a "go on then, I'll survive this" look when Zoe is taking Wash out after being tortured. Zoe and Mal understand each other, and their strengths and loyalty, on such a deeper level then sex. Zoe needs to save Wash because he is her husband, and he cannot survive more torture.

    I love everything about this episode. And you Mark.

  30. Neb989 says:

    The creepiest part about Niska is that Mal is pronounced dead and Niska revives Mal because he hasn't had enough time to use all of his extra special torturing devices. Apparently killing is not enough.

  31. forthejokes says:

    I think fruit in general is a luxury for the crew because they pretty much eat protein all the time as opposed to real food. Then again, the whole grenade thing is creepy.

    Also you thinking that Niska wasn't that creepy reminds me of when you thought Umbridge wasn't that bad in Order of the Phoenix.

  32. jshen says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that a large part of Zoe's decision came from the fact that she knows Mal can handle the torture a LOT better than Wash can? I mean yes, obviously, she loves Wash…

    • hassibah says:

      Yeah, did she not say this?

      I mean I don't doubt for a second that she loves her husband but it was never a question of leaving either man behind. They were going to get the both of them no matter what Niska says.

  33. Tee says:

    I think Mal says "I'll "bunk" your wife, not "dick" your wife. Maybe.

  34. bookling says:

    Dude, what about fucking apple grenades? That shit gives me chills every time.

    I watched this episode again last night and I seriously jumped up and cheered when River shot those guys and saved Kaylee. SHE SHOT THEM WITH HER EYES CLOSED. That is so fucking badass. That's one of the most famous moments in the series.

    Also, Wash = Ron. Helloooo, being jealous of your best friend and the woman you love. I love the interrogation scenes, and the way Niska is almost like, "Will you two SHUT UP so I can get to torturing you properly?" And then the way Wash goes all Rambo after Zoe rescues him. HELLO ALAN TUDYK'S ARMS, WILL YOU MARRY ME.

    • nanceoir says:

      Wash is totally Ron, 'cause he's also the funny one. And ginger…ish. And has big woolly sweaters? I think I'm starting to stretch the comparison now.

    • Red says:

      yes. Wash/Zoe OTP and I've always rooted for Hermione/Ron. And yes, yes, yes to Alan Tudyk's arms. Mmmmmmmm

  35. Mel says:

    Zoe's response to Mal's advances will forever crack me up. "Take me sir. Take me hard." Zoeeee.
    Also? I love how they're all "No, this is Mal's fight." and Mal's like "FUCK THAT HELP ME."

    …I don't think Mal says "I'll dick your wife." At least, I don't remember that bit. Maybe he said "I'll take your wife." Idk it's been a while. But I love the bit where Was starts to fall unconscious and Mal starts talking about what he'll do to Zoe just to keep him awake. Aaaagh <3 I love this show.

  36. D.J. says:

    I don;t really have much to say about this episode other that I love Zoe, every single second of Zoe.

  37. leenwitit says:

    Zoe: Preacher, doesn't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin?
    Book: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.

    Simon: I never…never shot someone before.
    Book: I was there son. I'm fair sure you haven't shot anyone yet.


  38. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Imagining the moment when Jayne donates the apples to the rest of the crew is lulzy; there's no way he wasn't just as ham-handed about it as he was delivering his line to the hospital desk in the last episode. Poor Jayne, he's actually trying to make amends but everyone knows there's something amiss because it's him.

    It's subtle, but I like how Book tells Jayne and Kaylee off for invading Inara's privacy, but the moment Kaylee says "ooh, there he is," he jumps out of his seat and does just the same, though from a more discreet distance.

    And the conflict between Mal and Wash that was hinted at in Out of Gas is finally coming to a head, and it turns Wash into the Irrationally Jealous Wife Who's Trying to Prove a Point. And Zoe's "there's no way I'm going to get out of this, is there?" after being caught in a lie is typical Husband in Doghouse, though she's quick to point out when Wash digresses into blaming her for bonding with Mal. It's definitely an interesting role reversal.

  39. TheRedQueen says:

    Oh this episode…such a great episode.

    Now what you need to do, Mark, is watch it with the commentary, which is done by Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk and is so tremendously hilarious that I find myself quoting the commentary as much as the actual episode XD

    Oh noz you're so close to the end now :'( It pains me that Firefly is no more…

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  41. hassibah says:

    I think this is tied with Jaynestown for my favourite episode that's not the pilot.

    Also when Zoe wasn't phased about having to choose between her husband and Mal, Niska was totally calling her bluff and cut the ear off just to get a reaction out of her, but she maintained her pokerface like a pro. Major Zoe appreciation here, she is amazing. Though if I was Niska at that point I might have suspected that she wasn't going to just walk away like nothing happened.

    Also Mark if you have the dvds, the commentary with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk on this ep is awesome!

  42. Browncoat says:


    There is an AWESOME Firefly t-shirt at right now. Its only available for 24 hours. THERE'S ONLY 21 HOURS LEFT!!

    Thought you ought to know…

  43. para_bellum says:

    Oh, War stories. This is my second least favorite episode, but only because it is so gruesome *hides under the blanket, hoping Niska will not come for me* Otherwise, more of Wash is always better, and I really like how insecure he is about his importance in Zoe's life. It is of course completely stupid, but still more endearing instead of annoying. I also love, that the show has no qualms about accepting the concept of fluid sexuality, according to TV such thing as bisexuals don't exist. Hell, even homosexuals exist hardly at all, and here in Firefly stereotypical gender roles are constantly challenged. No wonder the show got cancelled *bitter*.

    • notemily says:

      I do think it's because Inara's a woman though that they were even able to address the subject. The only male analogue I can think of is Jack Harkness and he's on British TV. Americans don't like their male sexuality to be very fluid.

  44. exbestfriend says:

    Gina Torres kills it in this episode. I mean, she is great in every episode, but her work in this one is amazing.

  45. MichelleZB says:

    This episode has one of my favourite Firefly moments. It's just like a Whedon show to play a torture scene for laughs, I thought. There Mal and Wash are, being tortured, and having a hilarious fight about Zoe. But here's the favourite moment: Wash blanks out for a second, and Mal says, "Wash? WASH?!" and you realize that this isn't funny at all, that Mal has been trash talking this whole time TO KEEP WASH ALIVE. Oh god.

  46. SpiritWolf1201 says:

    I don't watch this episode in the dark because Niska creeps me out so bad. He is TERRIFYING.

  47. carnilia says:

    A detail I always loved about this episode is the sadness you can see in Zoe when Wash is ready to storm in shooting to get Mal back. There are moments earlier where she seems to be saying he shouldn't go on the job for his own good, and I think this is the moment where she shows that she wasn't just protecting him physically, but mentally and emotionally, and that she's now grieving for what is, in a sense, Wash's loss of innocence.

  48. Nikki says:

    I have to say, last time I commented here, I was saying I wasn't that big a fan of the show, but now I totally am! I wasn't so big the first few episodes, but the show keeps getting better and better! I still do have a few issues with it, but I can easily see past them now.

    This was a great episode. I was a little worried at first, but the writers came through for me. See, one of my very favorite things in all of Firefly is that Zoe and Mal's relationship has absolutely NO sexual undertones! FINALLY a man and woman with a deep friendship, mutual respect, long history, unending loyalty, and closeness, that has no sexual aspect at all. And they, in fact, seem to think the idea is quite absurd. I LOVE IT!

    I love how the show handled it being brought up, too. Mal and Zoe's exchange at the end was hilarious. XD

  49. Narcissaa says:


    My favourite part of this AMAZING episode besides the obvious River love is that we get to see Inara with a female client. ILU show for going there. ILU SO MUCH.


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  50. eleniel says:

    No mention of River?? She gets a pretty major moment at the end there, shooting those three dudes with her eyes closed. That is the biggest manifestation of her powers we've seen so far.

    I feel like this episode is a rebuttal of the anti-feminist idea that men and women can never, ever be friends and all relationships between men and women can only be sexual. I understand Wash's frustration with Zoe always seeming to defer to "the captain", but he's being sexist when he assumes that her respect for him is based on sexual desire. And much of the episode is dedicated to showing what a terrible assumption that is.

    I also love how this show completely eviscerates cliches in just a few lines. "This is something Mal needs to take care of on his own." "No, no it isn't!" rofl.

    This episode really weirded me out (in a good way!) with how it was constantly funny-sad-hilarious-disturbing. But one subtle thing that upset me was how Kaylee and River were having so much fun at the beginning, and by the episode Kaylee can't even look at River because she is so disturbed by what happened =(

    Oh, and last thing–it annoyed me how everyone made a big deal about Inara taking a female client. It's the year 2517 or something, why do people still think two women having sex is a big deal?? Other than that, this was a really excellent episode.

  51. notemily says:

    "Just to see how much she could take." You're creeping me out, Book.

    I don't know why, but that apple-in-grenade story bugs me. Seems kind of cliche. I do like that Jayne is still feeling bad about what he did in the previous episode, and gives them all apples. Hee.

    Zoe is awesome. That's all.

    I love River's "I hate it because I know it'll go away" part when she's talking about the medication. As someone who's struggled with The Crazy, I empathize, River.

    Ah yes, the famous "I'll be in my bunk" line. 😀

    "It was at that point that I stopped laughing and the whole scene made me feel dirty, like that time my mom insisted we watch Mulholland Drive together and I wanted to shrivel into a ball of lint and disappear into the couch."

    LOLOL. My dad loves that movie and has a huge crush on Naomi Watts that my mom likes to tease him about.

    "One cannot always be oneself in the company of men." True that.

    "Actually I was fired."

    I love how River cowers in fear whenever there's a gun fight on this show… until this episode. Hah! She's getting better AND GETTING SUPER FIGHTING POWERS. Those drugs must be awesome.

    There are a lot of great tropes turned on their head in this episode. "This is something the captain needs to do himself." "No it's not!", Zoe picking Wash instead of having a big choosy decision, etc.

    "Once in flight school, I was laconic."

    "She swore to obey?" Hee hee.

    Mal actually says "I'm gonna TAKE your wife into my bed."

    I love how they're just bickering and it's kind of funny and then you realize Wash isn't getting up and Mal is keeping him talking so he won't fade out.

    Simon is WILLING to shoot people but… he's not very good at it. Hee hee. Criminal mastermind he may be, but crack shot he is not.

    "What are we going to do, clone him?" 😀 Jayne.

    I love how Wash, who has just BEEN TORTURED, is like "let's go back in there and save Mal!!" Uh, take a nap or a Tylenol or something, dude!

    "The Bible is somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."

    Usually I kind of tune out during gunfights because it's just like, yeah, people shooting, whatever. But this one is actually interesting to watch because the characters you wouldn't expect to be fighting are in on it too.

    "You wanna meet the real me now?" MAL IS SO AWESOME.

    "No power in the verse can stop me." Kaylee is like WHAT THE FUCK.

    "Just don't… don't fiddle with it." Simon, the position of "my hott doctor boyfriend" is still open.

    And yeah, as someone else mentioned, Niska's machine is totally the "I've just sucked one year of your life away." from Princess Bride. 😀

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