Mark Watches ‘Firefly’: Episode 11 – Trash

In the eleventh episode of Firefly, Saffron comes back to plague the Serenity crew with an irresistible job. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it doesn’t end as planned. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Firefly.

Though there are some moments of grim realism that ground this episode, I did appreciate that, largely, “Trash” is a pretty hysterical episode of Firefly, full of plenty of grin-inducing plot twists.

I don’t read the couple plot line summaries that Netflix provides before each episode because I like going into these completely blind. This proved to be a wonderful tool for this episode specifically, which opens with a rather strange scene of Mal sitting completely naked on a rock.

“Yeah….that went well.”

The flashback that leads to this point deals with a shipment Mal picks up from a former war buddy, Monty, who he hasn’t seen for many years. It’s Monty’s new wife, however, that Mal is much more familiar with.

Monty is married to Saffron.

(True story: I was watching this episode with Kasper and I literally yelped and almost fell out of my chair. I never thought we’d see her again.)

Saffron is a fascinating character to me and Christina Hendricks could not be better suited for the job. She’s a mix of feminine power and aggressive control and she switches between her many acts with confidence. That’s really what makes her such a convincing character: her identity is based so much on deception that you never really see which part of her is the actual her. (Well…sort of, but we’ll get to that.)

I was surprised that Mal willingly let Saffron stow in the cargo and his motivations for doing so are still a bit shady to me. When she tried to use her “feminine wiles” (Mal’s words, not mine) on him, I knew it wouldn’t work. I mean…SERIOUSLY, LOOK WHAT SHE DID. Why would anyone trust her? I think this episode suggests that maybe Mal’s quest for a job that pays well might actually work to his disadvantage. But I also wonder if Saffron stirred up something in him the last time they saw each other: Is Mal actually lonely enough that working with a female partner like Saffron actually makes him feel better?

I wasn’t happy that this situation caused yet ANOTHER immature, childish round of bickering between Mal and Inara. (And for the record, I feel like Mal was the abrasive, inflammatory one in that scene.) We now know that Inara has feelings for Mal beyond just friendship and respect, and it’s frustrating to watch Mal unknowingly rebuff her attempts to develop that, as well as his constant need to insult her profession. (I thought we’d moved past that, but I guess not.)

It takes a bit of effort on Mal’s part to convince the crew (particularly Wash, who is aghast that they haven’t just outright dumped her into space for trying to kill them all), but Zoe’s well-timed punch to Saffron’s face sort of made everything ok? Like I was totally ok with them working with her once that happened. I am but a simple man.

But actually, that’s not totally true. I was beginning to understand why they were working with Saffron, but I didn’t trust her in the slightest. Her flippant confidence was unsettling. She had just the right thing to say and her plan worked far too well, so it became a game in my head to try and anticipate the exact moment she would turn on Mal and take the laser for herself.

And then Durren Haymer walks in on Mal and Saffron stealing the laser and, instead of trying to stop them, rushes to embrace Safron, thanking Mal for returning his wife Yolanda.

It’s at that moment that we realize the true scope of Saffron’s con, which most likely involved many, many men over the years. In those first few seconds, as Mal’s face reflects the shock of our own, her character transforms before our eyes. Props to Ben Edlund and Jose Molina, who co-wrote this episode together, because it’s a particularly fantastic bit of writing. So much about character building on Firefly is slow, with pieces fall into place bit-by-bit. Saffron’s character changes in an instant and it’s a great change for the scope of the show.

Mal also begins to have his own thoughts about Saffron and he theorizes that Durran was actually Saffron’s first husband and her initial betrayal as well. She breaks down, briefly, realizing that she lost something that may have actually given her meaning to her life, to allow her to stop running from everything. When she tries to play it off as part of a con on Mal, I felt that she was merely covering for what she viewed as a moment of weakness on her part. I don’t know, maybe I was tricked by Saffron’s character as well, but the moment seemed so genuine there for a second that I couldn’t believe it was all fake.

Anyway, it leads us to the opening scene: Mal, stranded in Isis Canyon, completely naked and without the gun or the shuttle. This is when the scene is re-contextualized yet again when we learn that Inara is the ACTUAL long con, the failsafe in case Saffron tries to cheat Mal. She confronts Saffron, takes the laser, and shuts her into one of the garbage containers. It’s probably the last time we’ll ever see her.

This ending does tie things up nicely, but in a way that shows Mal that he should really stop second-guessing Inara. She ends up the one with the last laugh, so to speak, and I imagine it was her idea to be the failsafe against Saffron.

Here’s to hoping that the Mal/Inara relationship sees better days in the future.


  • Oh wow, Nathan Fillion was actually naked.
  • “She’ll turn you in before you can say….don’t turn me in, lady.”
  • “You can’t do this! I have a condition!”
  • The River/Simon/Jayne story line was almost more interesting than the entire episode, which is pretty damn spectacular, considering how the main plot thrust was also incredibly engaging. It seems Simon is ready to accept that River is much more special than he ever thought; it motivated his confrontation with Jayne, which, by the way, was riveting. It also set a tone for his character that directly contrasted with what Jayne would probably have done if the roles were reversed. Simon’s threat is actually one of non-violence. Jayne is part of the crew and Simon unconditionally exists to protect and save him.
  • I have a friend who lives in Lake L.A. up in the Antelope Valley and as the episode opened, I yelled, “FILMED IN DESIREE’S BACKYARD.” Because that is EXACTLY what her backyard looks like.
  • “Also, I can kill you with my brain.” Best threat ever????

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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