Mark Watches ‘Firefly': Episode 14 – Objects in Space

In the fourteenth (and final) episode of Firefly, Whedon tackles the complicated and sometimes disturbing implications of a world of existentialist absurdism as a bounty hunter brings his particularly frightening brand of terror onboard Serenity in order to collect the reward on River and Simon. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Firefly.

We are all just objects in space.

I have a long, single quote tattooed on my left arm. “For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.” It’s the final line of Albert Camus’s The Stranger, a book I read my senior year in high school that has, quite literally, changed my entire life.

I’ve written pretty extensively about what happened that led me to challenge my own thoughts about God, from my Mormon experience during Twilight and how that pervasive ideology disturbed me, to my rejection from the Catholic church. The truth is that religion never really deserved to be the source of my ire and anger. Religion can be a problem to oppressed groups and what’s happened in politics here in America has demonstrated how righteous, religious anger can effect legislation in our country. Still, reading The Stranger unseated a new thought in my mind: What if my problem isn’t with religion or ideology, but with how religion attempts to explain the world? Why can’t religion satisfy the vacancy inside my chest, despite that I was trying so hard?

The Stranger (which I highly recommend everyone read, and then follow it up with The Plague) was the book that finally seemed to explain why I felt so strange in the world and why these pillars of society made no sense to me.

I’m explaining this because it’s important to acknowledge that an existential episode of Firefly is like intellectual porn to me. It’s done brilliantly, so I understand how incredibly biased I am in my love of “Objects in Space,” so I welcome people to rap me on the head and yell at me if they think they have another perspective on this I should listen to.

It’s clear that this episode was not meant to end the series, but Whedon wrote one powerful episode to go out on. It was sort of inevitable that we’d have to deal with River and Simon in the end, so “Objects in Space” opens on River herself, as she walks through Serenity. For the first time, we get a complete look at her perspective, of how the people around her “speak” to her. It’s a visual explanation for her ability to read minds and it’s frightening because it’s so jarring. Unfortunately for her, she sees how she’s affected the crew, specifically her brother. She sees Jayne confessing his betrayal again; and she sees Book confess that his past is not at all what it seems. (Jesus, WHO IS BOOK. I really hope Serenity answers this.)

As she moves through the ship, reading the people inside and learning what they’re really thinking, she moves down to the cargo bay, and Whedon’s first inclinations towards existentialist thought appear: River finds a a branch on the ground. “It’s just an object. Doesn’t mean what you think.”

River divorces the physical world from the meaning it’s been given and it was my first sign that this episode wasn’t going to be anything like the past thirteen. The crew is upset that River was holding a loaded weapon, but I couldn’t help but feel that she was simply an easy target for them. She always has been. We know why she slashed Jayne’s chest in “Ariel” and we know that she’s been written off as “crazy” far too often. I wanted the vindication this episode brings for River, because she’s discarded too many times.

Thus begins the suspense. This episode is incredibly hard to watch; the claustrophobic silence is unsettling. When the camera pans up to the bounty hunter, Jubal Early, watching the ship, we are entirely unprepared for who he is. He is much more than just a local bounty hunter. For Whedon, he is the polar opposite to River. Both recognize the inherent absurdity in the universe. (Now, looking back, River’s scenes with Book make even more sense, especially when she tears up his Bible.) River chooses to appreciate the world around her, whereas as Early accepts the absurdity of the universe, but chooses to act out his life to a fatalistic, amoral end.

Before we get to Early, though, I love the scene between Simon and Kaylee, where we see him speak the exact words she “read” earlier that episode. So she can not only read their minds but predict the future. I know we knew this, but adding this detail in was a nice bit of symmetry.

Jubal Early. I know quite a few of you said that Niska was the most terrifying villain in the series, but you’re all wrong. Early is. His frank confidence, combined with his absurdism (that lends itself easily to nihilism), is the scariest thing in the entire series.

A moment of criticism: My brain immediately shut off when he threatened to rape Kaylee. I wish that wasn’t there. Not only is it distracting, it’s just too disturbing to me. I understand that it’s the logical extension of his nihilism. The only thing that Early seems to exist on is power and there is no greater display of male power than the act of rape. Even further, they’re all just “objects in space” to Early, and his line (“Ain’t nothing but a body to me”) is evidence of that. I get that. Still, I just didn’t want to see the scene at all.

Early’s true purpose (for Whedon, at least) comes after he’s disabled Book and confronts Simon. Their conversation takes a turn for the strange when Early sees that River is not in her room.

EARLY: So is it still he room when it’s empty? Does the room, the thing have purpose? Or are we…what’s the word…

SIMON: I really can’t help you.

EARLY: The plan is to take your sister, get the reward, which is substantial. “Imbue.” That’s the word.

Early knows that we imbue meanings in a meaningless world. In fact, that is all we really can do in this world; what frightens us is that Early chooses to act his meanings in the most destructive way possible. In the end, to Early, none of this matters. The universe will go on without him. He exists, he gives his own life meaning, and that’s it.

Whedon briefly contrasts Early’s nihilism with River when Early comments on his gun:

EARLY: I think this is very pretty. I like the weight of it.

SIMON: I thought the intention was not to kill me.

EARLY: You’re missing the point. The design. Of the thing. It’s functional.

Again, River sees a gun and imbues a meaning of natural beauty; Early sees a gun and imbues a function of death, destruction, and pain.

He uses this power, this certainty, to convince Simon to help him find his sister. As he walks about Serenity, he makes an important statement about the physicality of the ship:

I like the way the walls go out. Gives you an open feeling. Firefly’s a good design. People don’t appreciate the substance of things. Objects in space. People miss out on what’s solid.

We are all just objects in space. Do we miss out on the substance of it all?

The problem is that Early acts out his appreciation of the substance of these objects in the worst way possible, hitting Inara and then upping the misogyny by saying it isn’t right for the “weaker” gender to be able to have children. Again, Early divorces meaning when it’s convenient for him and when it comes to women, River included, they mean nothing to him. They’re obstacles, inconveniences, things to defeat and overpower.

But Early’s personal philosophy is directly challenged when he announces to the entire ship that if River doesn’t show herself, he will shoot Simon in the head.

River replies: “You’re wrong, Early.”

In perhaps the most perplexing and creepy scene in the entire show, River explains exactly what happened:

Wrong about River. River’s not on the ship. They didn’t want her here, but she couldn’t make herself leave, so she melted. Melted away. They didn’t know she could do that…but she did.

I have goosebumps just typing this. I sincerely believed we were being shown River’s true power: her ability to transform her own physical properties. It’s not that far-fetched, considering what else she can do, but the poetic reality of it is almost better than if she had actually done so. For River, Serenity is imbued with a meaning that Early can never take from her: it is her home. Functionally and emotionally, it is where she belongs.

River begins to visit the crew, her only friends, telling them exactly what they need to do. She sets these chess pieces in order for her final move. Her power to “read” minds proves infinitely valuable, as she begins to get right to the problem of Early: he has a darkness in him. That darkness, his fatalistic existentialism, has motivated him to pursue the darkest corners of the human condition.

Brutal. I love you, River. Oh, by the way, River never became Serenity. She’s actually sitting in Early’s ship. BOOYAH, YOU ASSHOLE.

But this victorious moment is overshadowed when River says that she is going to solve this problem by staying on Early’s ship. She’s going to go with him.

Don’t belong. Dangerous. Like you. Can’t be controlled. Can’t be trusted. Everybody could just go on without me, not have to worry. People could be who they wanted to be, could be with the people they wanted…could live simple. No secrets.

Her ability to read people has shown her that for the entire time she’s been on Serenity, she’s inherently contributed to nearly every problem or complication they’ve seen thus far. In a moment of supreme, depressing understanding, she decides to give herself up.

Simon isn’t having it and, like River, he decides he’d rather sacrifice himself than lose his sister. He attacks Early, who shoots him in the leg. Using this opportunity to escape, he leaves Serenity, only to discover that Mal’s part of the plan was to wait until Early left and then…well, he boots him into space. Literally.

Even if River never intended to leave Serenity, her lines still hold a poignant reality to them. I’m not sure they should be discounted as a mere con. She knows she’s been difficult, but when Mal invites her back on board, she also knows that she’s found a home, flaws and all.

Early has found his home floating in space; his finally statement seems to suggest his acceptance of his fate. “Well….here I am…” he says. It’s a statement of reality and a statement of identity. His nihilism has followed to its logical extension and his death ratifies it all.

We are all just objects in space.

THOUGHTS:

  • “That ain’t a Shepherd.” WELL THEN JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, WHO IS HE. I HATE YOU FOREVER, FOX.
  • “I can’t keep track of her when she’s NOT incorporeally possessing a spaceship, don’t look at me–“
  • “Well, my sister’s a ship, we had a complicated childhood.”
  • “What about his face? Is his face wearing armor?”
  • “Can I mop your brow? I’m at the ready with the fearsome brow mopping.”
  • I seriously cannot believe this is almost over. It’s goddamn depressing to think about.

The Serenity liveblog takes place tomorrow at 11am PST. I’ll post the actually blog later today with instructions.

Ugh. Please never end. :(

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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339 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Firefly': Episode 14 – Objects in Space

  1. Nomie says:

    Mark, you may be busy, but you really need to go back and listen to the commentary for this episode. It is entirely Joss Whedon discussing Camus. (And Sean Maher's hot abs, but how can we ignore those.)

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I only have the episodes on Netflix. I asked for the series on Blu-Ray for xmas, so hopefully I get that!

      • kernelm says:

        Yeah, all the commentaries are great, with Serenity the Pilot and War Stories having particularly hilarious ones, but the Objects in Space commentary is _essential_. And a slight correction, while I think he does mention Camus a bit, Joss mostly talks about Sartre and La Nausee.

        • diane says:

          And just to circle around, there's a scene in season 3 of Buffy where Angel is reading La Nausee (well, English title "Nausea", but still.) Angel reading extentialism is another concept that's too scary to contemplate for long.

  2. katherinemh says:

    "Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction."
    "We live on a spaceship, dear."
    "So?"

  3. barnswallowkate says:

    The first time I saw this episode I was 100% ready to believe that River had become the ship. I was even a little sad she hadn't!

    Also, people may have said Niska was the scariest because they didn't want to spoil you about Early. Or maybe we'll have some Scariest Villain Wars in the comments on this post :)

  4. ramondestroys says:

    I absolutely hated the scene with Early and Kaylee. It creeps me out just thinking about it.

    I love River so, so much. She is one of the best characters on any show ever.

    MARK READS THE SERENITY GRAPHIC NOVELS NEXT, PLZ.

  5. bibliotrek says:

    For me, the creepiest thing about Early (after the rape threat) is that he's dressed in all that creaky leather. Combined with what River says about how he likes to hurt animals, it gives me the most intense of chills. He's utterly sadistic, and calmly, sociopathically so. Ugh.

    • Laurel says:

      I have to agree entirely. It makes me uncomfortable, and I'm not even sure it *needed* to be done, but… Here, I'll let Joss explain for me:

      "[ ... ] Early has a very specific way of dealing with every character on the ship. He has listened to their conversations and so he understands, he knows enough about them. And he understands that when you are with Mal, you have to take him out instantly, because Mal is a physical threat that is very real. And then y’know he closes up Jayne and Zoe and all the threats. [ ... ] Kaylee is someone that he approaches a different way, through a really horrible form of sexual intimidation. This is one of those scenes that y’know…you write and then you worry that maybe you’re not as good a person as you hoped you were. You film this scene and everybody kinda wants to avoid you for the rest of the day. It really is just as creepy as possible."

  6. cait0716 says:

    Shirtless!Simon needed to have happened more often. Why did we have to wait until the last episode to see that glorious torso?

    I love River telling Mal not to scowl. And her asking permission to come aboard is a gorgeous moment. Basically all the Mal/River interactions.

    I have to wonder how long Early waited before he popped his helmet off. He clearly wasn't going to be rescued. Did he wait until he was hungry? Until he was out of air? Did he just do it to get it over with? Did he resist until the end? I suppose I wonder what I would do in that situation. It's a strange thing to spend time thinking about, but whatever.

    I also think this episode works decently as a finale. The family is whole. River is accepted. What more could you want? Oh right, backstory.

  7. Sid says:

    I liked Jayne's crowning moment of awesome in this episode.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      He clearly contributed to EVERYTHING.

    • fireflyfan says:

      Jayne's always good for a laugh. In River's grand plan she didn't trust him so just let him sleep. Much more believable than Jayne waking up and saving the day.

  8. elusivebreath says:

    I just LOVED this episode. I think it's my favorite, actually, although I did cry ALL THE TEARS when it was over. Thank goodness for the movie, which leads my to my next point:

    I have to work tomorrow so cannot enjoy the livebloggy goodness. WHY IS MY LIFE SO TRAGIC.

    Anyway, I'm going to watch Serenity tonight so I can maybe pop in and discuss in the comments or something lol.

    Also, you've inspired me to read The Stranger, so it's on my book list now.

  9. Karen says:

    I adore this episode. This is one of the episodes that I go back and forth on being my favorite (the other is Out of Gas). I'm not an existentialist, but it is an ideology that I've liked to think about in that slightly pretentious college student thinking for the sake of thinking kind of way. It's a philosophy that I like to think about and I LOVED reading The Stranger back when I was a freshman in college. This episode just gives me so much to think about and consider. And Early is terrifying. And River is awesome and will forever be my favorite character. But in all of that, you still get these little moments of dry humor from Simon. Guh. It's just such a fabulous episode.

    But I have to agree with you about Early threatening rape. It fits in with his character 100%, but I always skip that scene when I rewatch it. It just makes me feel so awful and uncomfortable to watch.

  10. Victoria_Allen says:

    I love the way this episode was done-especially the shot when River and Kaylee are playing jacks, and River bounces the ball, everything goes in slow-motion, and the camera zooms down through the levels of the ship.
    As to the episode itself, I’m sorry to say I didn’t pick up on much of the existential nature of this one-at the time, I was more focused on the fact that it was the last episode ever :(

    • cait0716 says:

      Also, the shot of River holding the ball exactly matches the opening shot of Serenity and the planet. Because we're all just objects

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      That is entirely understandable. :(

      • Victoria_Allen says:

        Mixed in with the sad was guilt that I didn’t watch it when it was on tv, which is ENTIRELY IRRATIONAL given the fact that I was 8 years old at the time and still in a Lizzie McGuire phase :/

  11. ramondestroys says:

    Early, on one of his hunting missions, found old video footage from Earth-that-was… and it contained Eddie Murphy Delirious.

    Upon his first viewing, he immediately threw out all of his old clothing and had a suit handmade nearly identicle to that of Murphy's.

  12. monkeybutter says:

    I won't disabuse you of anything, your reaction to this episode is perfect. The only thing I'll add is that I love the conversation around the table, even if I feel sorry for River, because it was nice to have one last group conversation. I HATE the scene where Jubal threatens Kaylee with rape. The rest of the scenes do a fine job illuminating his character, and that one just makes me chew on my cheek and hope that it ends soon. Hate.

    I look forward to your Serenity liveblog! I'm actually going to try to be around for this one!

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  14. stellaaaaakris says:

    I watched this episode at 12:30 AM. Big mistake. HUGE. My neighborhood has had a string of robberies and break ins. I was terrified to go to sleep. I had to watch the blooper reel and then read about Diagon Alley just to calm down.

    I actually hate thinking about philosophy for too long so I'm not going to touch the existentialist aspects you found. At least not directly or on purpose. I like this episode, it's not my favorite, but it's not like there's a BAD episode of Firefly. Things I like: the scene with Kaylee and Simon on the couch was cute; pretty much of River's lines made me want to give her a hug; Simon attacking Early (what a change in his attack style from the episode with the sonic brain melters, literally falling into the guy); what the hell is Book's backstory; Simon's snarky comments about River to Early.

    Also, hi, Simon's abs. Nice to meet ya.

    I have questions. How did Early get on the ship/River get off? Don't you need to open that special door? How did River see/talk to the individual rooms/people? Why is the show over now?

    • pica_scribit says:

      Well, Simon's attack style in "Ariel" was affected by the fact that he had his hands cuffed behind his back. Really, though, getting the guy down and then putting a knee on his throat until he passed out was not a terrible plan under those circumstances.

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        I forgot he was still handcuffed. I just remember it looking like he tripped into the guy. Well done, Simon, work with what you got.

    • Karen says:

      Also, hi, Simon's abs. Nice to meet ya.
      So true.

    • cait0716 says:

      Well River is a genius of epic proportions. I figure she hacked the comm system and aided that with her psychic abilities

      • fireflyfan says:

        At the beginning of the show when River wakes up she hears a voice "Were all just floating" which is coming from Early but it doesn't seem like she believes it's real at that moment.

  15. pica_scribit says:

    You know, I get so caught up in the fact that this is the LAST EPISODE OF FIREFLY EVER OMG!!! that I don't know if I've ever really sat back and appreciated what a fucking amazing hour of television this is. Seriously. It's visually beautiful, it's terrifying, it's moving. It really is Joss at his finest.

  16. celestineangel1 says:

    I ordered Serenity on DVD from Amazon.com last week, it was supposed to be here Monday. I still don't have it. >:( I am unhappy.

    This, and "Out of Gas" are hands down the best episodes of the series. I mean… every episide is awesome in its own way, every episode has things that show what a great series this is and what it could have been if only Fox hadn't fucked it up so badly… but these two….

    I am totally with you on Early being scarier than Niska, btw. Niska hurts the body, which is bad enough. Early is cool with hurting the body, but in reality, he wants to go straight past that to the core of a person.

    Also, as we didn't actually see him die, I posit that had the series continued, it would have been revealed later that Early was picked up by a ship or something, and he would have made a come back.

  17. bookling says:

    "Permission to come aboard?"

    I love this episode so much, and it's a great moment when Mal welcomes River back on the ship, even though they've been at odds and she's caused him some trouble. I love River forever.

  18. Sara says:

    Not sure if anybody else has mentioned it… but you know there are comics too, right? Save them for after Serenity, but they're worth tracking down.

    Also, Firefly is like Christmas: it never ends as long as you keep it alive in your heart. (And as long as Nathan Fillion keeps making references on Castle. Bless the man.)

  19. SunburntCounsel says:

    In addition to everything you highlighted, I adore the interaction between River and Mal when she's coming back on the ship. She's so small and little-sisterish compared to Mal, and he looks at her so fondly. And the dialogue:
    River: Permission to come aboard?
    Mal: You know, you ain't quite right.
    River: [Laughing] That's a popular theory.
    Mal:[Smiling] Go on get in there. Give your brother a trashing for ruining your plan.
    River:[Sighing] He takes so much looking after.

  20. fireflyfan says:

    This is my favorite episode. It pulls at the heart and tickles the brain at the same time. Also have to give a mention to the creepy music everytime Jubal Early came into scene.

  21. doesntsparkle says:

    I'm not a big fan of director's commentaries, but the commentary for this episode is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

  22. echinodermata says:

    THIS EPISODE, THIS FUCKING EPISODE I CAN'T EVEN — Joss is by no means perfect, but when he pulls shit out like this it's just glorious and amazing and I wish all TV could be this good and it's the reason I'm kind of okay Firefly was cancelled because if they made more, they could have had some mediocrity following this episode, which would ruin how amazing I think this is, and if this is how you're gonna go out, then by all means.

    I remember reading an entry on LJ about how this person likes and reads fanfiction, but never did get into Firefly fanfiction, mostly because their take on fanfic was that it exists to explore and improve that which wasn't done enough/well in canon, and that in their mind, Firefly is perfect so there's no need for fic. And I don't really agree, but it still resonated because I can understand that feeling, where something is so good you don't need any more.

    I like Serenity, I think it's exciting and fun and emotionally-draining and a really good movie, but it's Serenity, not Firefly. Emotionally, it's Firefly that I love, not Serenity or Firefly + Serenity. I love the television medium, and the change in format necessarily alters the approach to which stories to tell and how to tell it, and so while I appreciate the existence of the movie and what it gave us, I consider it peripheral and I consider Objects in Space to be a beautiful culmination of this story.

    tl;dr: Damn you Whedon for making me care so much.

    Okay, one comment about the content of this episode. I appreciate that the beginning scene with Early and Kaylee depicts her victimhood in a way that doesn't fetishize it – the way the camera focuses on Kaylee's face while Early talks to her, I think, really helps personalize it so that it's about him hurting our dear, sweet Kaylee. Admitedly, there was a body pan while she's tied up, but it's way less sexual than most shows/movies make it (just contrast how Joss does this versus how he does Dollhouse), and my interpretation of Early was that he was manipulating her and us into fear, as opposed to really being all that interested in Kaylee.
    Basically, if you're going to victimize a mostly defenseless female character, I'd rather it be done like this, where it's supposed to be horrifying and not sexy.

    Okay, two comments. The alliance/a lion thing is super amazing – can't let that moment go uncommented.

    • Hermione_Danger says:

      I FUCKING LOVE THAT LINE.

      I don't even…it just slays me. Like, TV characters never mishear each other for one thing, and then it's also just ridiculous and funny, and yet it is such a good character moment…just GAH. Probably my favorite non-Kaylee/River moment in the series.

    • siobhangx says:

      I agree, as much as it hurts me that it didn't get the end it deserved, if they had made more it might have run out of steam. And the film would have never been made!

  23. Stacie says:

    If you really want existentialism, watch Life, the TV series that lasted 2 seasons, with Damian Lewis and Adam Arkin.

    May have been the loosing side, still not convinced it was the wrong one.

  24. whatsername says:

    Jubal Early is DEFINITELY the creepiest bad guy of the series. Except maybe the blue hand guys, maybe.

  25. Camus Dude says:

    It's nice to find another Firefly lover who is also strongly influenced by Camus! (The Plague has influenced my outlook on life more than any other single book.) Make sure to listen to the commentary for this episode, if you're able!

  26. Karen says:

    Aw man. This is just making me so sad that we didn't get more seasons of this show. I didn't know that before. But now I'm sad for what will never be.

  27. fireflyfan says:

    This last episode is where "firefly disease" set in (before the movie came out). The fans didn't have enough to satisfy them. You know your afflicted when you find yourself scouring the internet for fansites and fanvids on youtube to get your fix.

    • cait0716 says:

      Seriously. I spent hours looking for easter eggs on the DVDs and watching all of the commentaries and special features. I was so excited when they announced the movie, even more excited when it was going to be a trilogy and heartbroken when that failed, too. And the comic books! I also think I made nearly everyone I met watch Firefly so I could relive it vicariously through them again and again and again

      • fireflyfan says:

        Yea, me too. And every new show you'd watch you would catch yourself saying "It's good, but not as good as Firefly"

  28. Alex says:

    I love this episode, and despite the fact that it was obviously not intended to end the series, it manages to be about as good of an ending as one could have hoped for given the situation. Love your review of this one too, Mark, you had a lot of interesting insights.

    Also, on a more personal note, you have no idea how happy I am that your final Firefly review came out on my birthday. So thanks, I'm sure it was totally intentional.

  29. fizzybomb says:

    On the topic of existentialism, has anyone here read The Adventures of Blue Avenger?

    I'd type something longer, but I really have to go.

    EDIT: Okay, I'm back. Huh, no replies? Oh well. I was hoping someone had heard of it, but I'll just take this opportunity to recommend the book to anyone who's interested.

  30. Hotaru-hime says:

    WTF, I'm going to miss the liveblog!!!! Stupid being in transit back to California.
    River was so awesome in this.
    I hope you enjoy Serenity- it's not fair that that's all we got.

  31. bookling says:

    Plus I love the dreamy way Whedon filmed the opening scene from River's point of view. He did a dream scene in Buffy that reminded me of it, and the scene with Echo in the Attic from Dollhouse. They're such beautiful scenes and they all kind of combine the natural world with the manmade world (like the leaves surrounding River in Serenity's cargo hold).

    • notemily says:

      Watching it this time around I noticed a bird call in the background of the scene with the leaves. I thought that was a great touch.

  32. Diane says:

    I don't know what Book's backstory really was, but IIRC my assumption once I watched this episode is that he once did what Jubal Early did. I bet plenty of people who were more into the show and its details can tell me all about why I was wrong, though. :P

    Also, apropos of nothing, your talk about L'Etranger reminded me of high school French, which in retrospect gave me a weird selective exposure to French cultural products. It was all Existentialists, Symbolist poets, and Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. Oh, and MC Solaar. I don't get it either.

  33. buyn says:

    "Am I lion? Well people do say I have a mighty roar."

    Creepiest weird quote ever.

  34. fireflyfan says:

    Here's a short backstory video on River that Joss did after firefly was done and the movie was in production.
    http://www.spike.com/video/river-tam-sessions/272
    http://www.session416.com/

  35. jshen says:

    Random fact: Jubal Early was one of Nathan Fillion's ancestors, a general for South during the Civil War.

    • myeck waters says:

      Random sub-fact: If you go to the National Museum of the Civil War, you can see Jubal Early mentioned in a weird pre-war incident at West Point. (Someone got expelled for breaking a plate over Early's head, as I recall.)

  36. Sara says:

    Mark, I had a very similar reaction at the threat of rape. For me it was more about how rape seems to be almost standard in television dramas, particularly crime shows. If there's a female victim, even if she's already dead, we find out there was a rape first. It sometimes feels like a show can't even HAVE a female victim without her being raped on top of whatever else is done to her. I was so excited the Firefly had come all this way, and was so disappointed to be, in the last episode, presented with the threat of rape. But you describe it accurately: my brain shut off.

  37. quizzabella says:

    If you are looking for a bit more about Shepherd Books back story Whedon wrote a pretty good graphic novel called "The Shepherd's Tale" that came out last november (in the UK anyway). It's available from most big online shops, and most comic shops I expect.
    I loved this episode – Jayne seemingly to be about to come to the rescue only to turn over and go back to sleep was classic, as was the "am I a lion?" conversation. The whole thing was almost dream-like; all the formulaic tropes got thrown out of the window and I genuinely believed anything could happen.
    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Serenity (oh and give Castle a try – Nathan Fillion is awesome in it promise, and there's a halloween special that you'll probably love given your tastes in tv and films).

  38. D.J. says:

    Someone needs to post Shirtless Simon pic PRONTO. I'd do it but I don't know how…

  39. fireflyfan says:

    For anybody who's a Summer Glau fan (I confess I'm one), she was a ballet dancer before firefly. That's why Joss is always showing her walking barefoot in the shows.
    This is in 2001. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M27QBJSjTk8

    • D.J. says:

      Isn't that just gorgeous? I love the song too.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      I interpreted River's walking barefoot to be about how she senses the world around her in a very naturalistic way. I thought it was meant to run parallel to (but be infinitely less creepy than) the scene where Jubal Early licks the pole holding up the walkway to figure out what it *means.*

      • fireflyfan says:

        You are absolutely right in your interpretation. I was talking more in general terms of her being barefoot in almost every episode. Joss always tried to find a way of showing her barefoot. Almost like a running joke of his appreciation of her moving through her scenes like a dancer. Or something to that effect.

      • D.J. says:

        Oooh I though that too! I love you for pointing that out!

    • pica_scribit says:

      You can see it all the time in the way she moves. The first role she did for Joss was in the ballet episode of Angel.

  40. redheadedgirl says:

    What I love best about this episode is when River is reading everyone's mind, she gets nothing from Kaylee. Kaylee is what she presents, no hidden facets.

    • bookling says:

      I never thought about this before! Kaylee definitely wears her heart on her sleeve. But River knew that Kaylee was scared, and she was able to comfort her and ask her to be brave in order to help her. And considering that usually people are trying to comfort or calm River, that was a nice reversal.

  41. Hanah says:

    So, my copy of Serenity hasn't been delivered yet and now I have left uni to return to my family. And therefore will not be getting it until January and so CANNOT TAKE PART IN THE LIVEBLOG OH GOD BIGGEST TRAGEDY OF MY LIFE EVER! D: I hope you all enjoy it and that it's awesome though!

    God can't believe this is the last episode :(
    YAY KAYLEE AND SIMON! :D AWWWW THERE IS TOUCHING! (I am so overly invested in these two)
    Aww this is the cutest scene in the UNIVERSE
    Wait what was that? Did River just have a vision or something?
    Hee nice apron Jayne XD
    THIS IS SO WEIRD. Is she dreaming? Or seeing what they're thinking?
    Least sexy make-out scene ever?
    Random branch. Okay.
    Huh? So was that really a gun?
    OH SHIT NO YOU'RE NOT
    Oh god last time of the credits. :'( What FUCKING MORON cancelled this programme?? *clings*
    Is he a bad dude? Yes. Yes he is a bad dude
    Hee Vera-reference :D
    I love Zoe's shirt
    Oh Kaylee no, don't tell them!
    Shit bad dude is coming
    Aww Kaylee <3 It's okay sweetie
    KAYLEE WHY OH FUCK WHAT IS RIVER DOING, LEVITATING?
    SHUT UP GUYS BAD GUY CAN HEAR
    HA Wash I love you
    Lol science fiction XD
    How do you measure days on a spaceship?
    Oh Simon's cheekbones… <3
    Simon, sweetie. But then you'd never have met Kaylee!
    Come on Simon, PICK UP ON THE HINTS!
    OH FUCK OFF SHEPHERD! THERE WAS ABOUT TO BE FACE-TOUCHING AND POTENTIAL KISSINGS D:<
    NOOO HE GOT ONBOARD D:
    Lol that suit looks kind of like Iron Man
    That moment was bizarrely amusing
    DAMN WHAT ARE HIS FIGHTING SKILLS?!
    Oh no Mal!
    Is it going to be up to Kaylee to save the day?! :D
    OH! That made me jump! PLEASE don't hurt Kaylee dude!
    He is creepy
    NO. YOU DID NOT JUST THREATEN TO RAPE MY KAYLEE
    PLEASE DIE IN ALL THE FIRES FOR THIS CONVERSATION
    OH GOD YOU ARE EVIL
    FUCK OFF. JUST. FUCK OFF.
    Shepherd will he-oh. Shit. No he won't
    Oh god please come and save her Simon D: This is the worst ever
    OH! Okay, can he stop making me jump now?
    Shirtless Simon? :P I am not going to argue with such things!
    This is so many levels of not good
    That was weird. Has he got hearing problems? Is he crazy?
    Yeah, he is crazy
    SHIT PLEASE DON'T SHOOT SIMON
    Oh nooo now he's threatened Kaylee he has to help
    Simon I don't think you can psych him out
    ILU Simon
    If you are thinking of pushing him off the edge, you are totally going to fail
    Yeah. Like that
    Um. That was weird
    CAN YOU STOP WITH THE HURTING OF MY CHARACTERS?!
    YAY RIVER. She's out in space isn't she?
    Um. What?
    Oh Kaylee. *hugs*
    I'm crying right now, just so y'all know
    'That's somewhat unsettling' You have that right!
    Simon I love you SO MUCH. And also River too. Or Serenity, whatever you are now
    Go on Kaylee. Save the day
    OH well done Kaylee!
    This is really, really creepy
    Oh god he really, really is crazy
    FUCK yeah well done River! :D I was sort of right with the being in space thing!
    Please don't kill yourself River. Please please please
    OH FUCK NO NOT SIMON
    SOMEONE PLEASE KILL HIM VERY SOON
    Nice one Mal :)
    OH JAYNE <33333
    WOOT! NICE ONE CAPTAIN
    She's so cute :)
    Can you go and save Simon now please?!?
    Oh Wash <3
    *sigh* I really hope they get it together in the film
    KAYLEE, YOU ARE AMAZING
    Ooooh doing the maths!
    I cannot believe that's it. I'm really, really devestated. FUCK why did they cancel this, it was SO good. D: One of the most amazing, amazing programmes ever with the best characters and I am FEELING ACTUAL REAL FEELINGS OF GRIEF RIGHT NOW. THE TEARS, THEY FUCKING COURSE DOWN MY FACE D:

    • fireflyfan says:

      Hanah, you are the best ever. I can pretty much watch the episode flash before my eyes through your comments. Sorry about you getting your movie so late. If I could wish you one I would.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Welcome to the club! The great thing about this show is that you can watch it over and over again and always find new things to appreciate. And the movie is every bit as awesome as the show. I've seen it several times, and there are still scenes that get my heart racing and my palms sweating. You will love it. Joss pulls no punches.

      • fireflyfan says:

        You know that scene with River in Jubal Early's ship talking about how everybody can go on without her? For as many times as I've seen it, I still cannot watch it without getting a little choked up. Her tears and the way Summer says her lines just get me every time.

    • Daniel Stanfield says:

      No Big Damn Movie comment? :( THIS IS TRADGEDY HANAH, HOW WILL WE GET YOUR REACTIONS NOW?

  42. Fuchsia says:

    Now that you've finished the show and haven't watched Serenity yet, I'm curious: what do you think the movie will tackle in terms of plot, character revelations, etc.? I watched all fourteen episodes and the movie in one weekend, so I never had time to stop and consider what direction the movie would go in. There are a LOT of things from the show that could be answered in the movie…

  43. eleniel says:

    I completely agree WRT Early threatening to rape Kaylee… fortunately I was warned about it beforehand. I suppose this was on purpose, but it made the entire episode THAT much more uncomfortable to watch. And I dunno if the lines about being called a lion were supposed to be funny, but they weren't to me, because of what had just happened. The fear of being raped is very real, and I hate when writers/creators invoke it thoughtlessly. Or, frankly, even with a purpose. It is something that is overused far, far too often.

    Anyway. This review is awesome, especially because I am totally not a philosophy person, so I didn't get all of the existentialist stuff in the episode. Very interesting! I liked the episode, but my favorite is still Ariel!

  44. lisra says:

    Early scared the hell out of me. He makes the most intense moments in the show (the runner up is the reavers scene in the pilot) and makes Nizca and the silly alliance "ill-light-you-on-fire" look like saturday morning cartoon villains.

    Interesting closer, really.

    I never felt that Firefly was *brilliant*, but I was very entertainend, and it is a shame we never saw it all resolved.

    Also:
    His treatment of Kaylee gives me murder-rage.

  45. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Because I'm apparently more of a psychologist than a philosopher…

    What really stood out for me in this episode is that it's peppered with evidence that both River and Early have symptoms of formal thought disorder (their illogicality and thought derailment, and Early's pressurized speech patterns), which is the common thread in people who have disorganized schizophrenia. (In an earlier episode, Simon misdiagnosed River as paranoid schizophrenic, which by the DSM definition probably can't be comorbid with formal thought disorder and makes no sense as a diagnosis for River, anyway.)

    Though I don't think that's what this episode was shooting for, one could argue that the existentialist bent of River and Early's thinking is actually a cognitive problem called agnosia, in which a person can't recognize (or in other words, derive meaning from) certain stimuli despite their senses and memory being fully functional.

    It's possible that they can't derive meaning from objects the way *normal people* do, but instead have to use their seemingly psychic cognitive powers to deduce the meanings of objects, which could be why the way they interact with those objects is so different from the way other people do.

  46. fireflyfan says:

    I know it's been posted before but here is the blooper reel for firefly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H1BZ5QUMYM

  47. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    I just noticed we never saw the Reavers.

    :(

    • fireflyfan says:

      Joss definitely wrote season one with the firm idea there would be a season two. How could there not be?

    • pica_scribit says:

      Well, we saw the guy who sort of became one in Bushwhacked. But Joss is good at knowing when to leave things to the imagination of the fans. The unseen/unknown can be creepier than anything we ever see on screen.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Good point. It does make them creepier.

        • SorrowsSolace says:

          I have the books that go over the scripts for each episode, as well as little tidbits for episodes, characters and plots. They mention quite a few episode ideas they had that never got off the ground. One was involving a baby the crew picks up when a job goes south and they have to find it a good home; looking after the kid in the mean time.

    • PJG says:

      Didn't we? In that episode where they were robbing a bank, and River joined them on the mission… Mal "showed him a mercy" by killing the guy the reavers had grabbed rather than overloading the vehicle they were in (Zoe, Mal, Jayne, and River). They were being chased by reavers and harpooned Jayne in the leg…. we didnt see them *well* but we did kind of see them. (and sorry, cant remember which episode it was)… a fave line in it, Jayne being harpooned and holding on asks Mal to shoot him rather than let the reavers get him. Mal stands up to shoot (at the rope to set Jayne free) and Jayne, thinking he's going to be killed says "Well, not yet!"

    • cait0716 says:

      I think they're scarier for us never having seen them

  48. Kripa says:

    What bothered me about Early threatening Kaylee with rape is that Early was black and Kaylee was white. Scary black man threatening cute white girl with rape? Where have I seen that trope before? I love you Joss Whedon, but seriously, that shit ain't cool. :(

    • Pseudonymph says:

      I was just trying to comment on this and I was surprised no one else had. I think my comment was eaten by Intense Debate or something.

      Yeah, I actually didn't notice the racism until someone else pointed it out (thanks, white privilege) but now it's so fucking blatant every time I watch this episode. It's so frustrating to me because Joss tries so hard to be a good feminist but you can't be a good feminist while completely ignoring racism and perpetuating racist stereotypes.

    • pica_scribit says:

      Tell me if I'm being totally naive (always a possibility), but is it not possible to ever portray that dynamic without it having a racist subtext. I feel like, in the context of this episode, race is pretty incidental. I mean, yes, I know all kinds of things about cultural context, but in this case, to me at least, I see a character who is a creepy dude who happens to be portrayed by a black actor. I don't think the dynamic would feel any different to me, or would have been portrayed any different if a white man had been cast in the role.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      I realized that after I starting thinking that Early possibly has disorganized schizophrenia, specifically because violent behavior like Early's is commonly believed to be a symptom of schizophrenia but is actually rather uncommon in schizophrenics. (Cases of violence in schizophrenic people are often caused by other factors like the fact that schizophrenia leads to a higher risk of poverty and drug abuse.)

      Because the stereotypes surrounding schizophrenic people and the stereotypes surrounding black people (and black men in particular) are very similar, the black male population is particularly prone to being overdiagnosed with schizophrenia, leading to some misperceptions of schizophrenia as being a 'black people's disease."
      http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/07/black-men

      So, yes, there's a very problematic conglomeration of attributes present in Early's characterization. I don't think it was at all intentional, but still…

    • hassibah says:

      Yeah, I thought this when I first watched the episode too. Honestly I don't think it would have been so obvious if like, threatening the most visibly innocent and helpless female on the ship with rape wasn't a massive cliche in and of itself.

      This is definitely my least favourite episode.

    • anna says:

      THIS. And not only is it a black man threatening a beloved white girl with rape, but he's darker-skinned by far than the other black characters in the series, which to my mind just reinforces the stereotype.

      Every time I see this episode, my brain just goes: "Really, Joss Whedon? REALLY??" :-/

  49. Kay says:

    Hey Mark, thoroughly enjoyed your HP reviews (read the whole bunch in two weeks). I agree with a post before: it would be fun if you did a little prediction for the contents of Serenity the way you did with the Potter books before you started a next one – they were really fun to read :)

    Obviously don't want to spoil anything, so I will only say this: Serenity will blow your mind. Interestingly, I did not like it very much the first time I saw it in the movies – I had super high expectations for anything Whedon-related and I guess I expected something slightly different. But it just kept getting better every time I watched and is now for sure my favourite movie. After you finish, you may want to check out the http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com review of the movie – it is really heartfelt.

    And to finish off, some random suggestions on what to watch next:
    1. Dr. Horrible
    2. The Guild (Felicia Day's web series http://www.watchtheguild.com)
    3. Veronica Mars
    4. Buffy and Angel
    5. Dollhouse

    Keep up the good work :)

    • fireflyfan says:

      How about "Dead Like Me". Is anybody else a fan of that show?

    • Pseudonymph says:

      Veronica Mars! I can't promote this show enough nor can I describe how amazing it would be if Mark reviewed it. SO GOOD.

      I love this quote from Joss Whedon: "It's the Harry Potter of shows." Although Veronica Mars has nothing to do with magic or Christ allegories.

      Oh, and Mark has already seen Dr. Horrible, by the way.

  50. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Did anyone else think that Early's line about women being weaker but being the ones who bear children was implying that Inara is pregnant (or maybe was pregnant when she fled her home planet)?

    I know it's might be futile to ascribe meaning to Early's more disorganized thoughts, but he uses the same sort of logic/structure in all three of his "does that seem right to you?" scenarios:

    Stimulus is Simon getting injured: "They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they get certified, yet they don't make surgeons get cut on. Does that seem right to you?"
    Debatable stimulus: "Man is by far stronger than woman, yet only woman can create a child. Does that seem right to you?"
    Stimulus is River's weirdness: (simplified) River is one of the smallest cargoes I've ever had to transport, yet she's the most troublesome. Does that seem right to you?"

    In two of the cases at least, Early takes an unrelated thought and illogically attributes meaning to it that relates back to the "yet" part of his statement, which is the part that actually has real-life implications for the crew. Is he possibly using the same structure in the second instance?

    Perhaps when he licked the pole (which I think may be the one we see Inara habitually holding onto when she's standing on the catwalk in other episodes) he was able to realize something important about her. Then again, maybe it's just the pole that River was hanging onto earlier in this episode and he was just using it to figure out where River was.

  51. IsabelArcher2 says:

    I think the reason Early was so disturbing (for me) was that there were times when I was really interested in the things that he said. If you would have pulled parts of his conversations out, like when he was talking about River's room, and shown them to me before I had seen the creepy parts, I would have probably liked his character. How terrifying is that?

  52. affableevil says:

    I'm not going to be able to making the liveblog tomorrow because I will be baking cookies all day at my family's annual Cookie Day BUT I WILL BE THERE IN SPIRIT.

    Also, Mark, what are your feelings on fanfiction? I feel like it's mostly not so great, but there's a few gems worth wading through the muck for and there's one very short fic that I have in mind which I love and I'd recommend for reading post-Serenity. Should I link it after the movie's over for you, or nix the idea?

  53. Ashley says:

    I can't believe you didn't mention the lion thing. Priceless.

    Simon: Are you Alliance?
    Jubal Early: Am I a lion?
    Simon: What?
    Jubal Early: I don't think of myself as a lion. You might as well though, I have a mighty roar.

    One of the best things Joss Whedon ever wrote.

    • hassibah says:

      YES that's my favourite line from this one. The kind of shit that people say IRL all the time but apparently on tv noone ever mishears anyone, ever.

  54. grlgoddess says:

    1. Maybe it's because I don't watch a lot of shows where the issue of rape comes up, but the rape threat didn't bother me excessively (beyond 'Oh no! Not Kaylee!' and Rape Is Bad). It really set up the whole creepy tone of the rest of the ep and Early's way of thinking. It wasn't a 'I'm going to do this because I enjoy it' thing, but a 'I'm doing this to keep you out of the way' thing. He didn't want to hurt Kaylee, but he would if he had to, and he would get what enjoyment from it he could.

    2. Rewatching this is when I finally got River. I was resistant to liking her from all the hype (oh God, so many River stans out there), and the friend who I first watched Firefly with wasn't all that great at the 'no spoilers' thing (EVERYTHING RIVER SAYS/DOES IS IMPORTANT, but the instant I google to see if Kaylee dies [cuz I couldn't handle that unprepared if she did], she freaks at me). It was nice to see her be almost normal, and have interactions with the crew that went beyond her just being freaky psychic chick/Simon's little sister.

    3. Simon should go shirtless more often.

  55. The Queen of Harts says:

    I specifically refrained from commenting about Niska at all because I knew I couldn't stop myself from saying something along the lines of "Just wait till you meet Jubal Early".

    I really love this episode (hell I love them ALL) and I think it was a good way to close the series – powerful, moving, thought-provoking, deep, and at the end you feel…alright. Even though things aren't perfect, you feel like they'll be okay.

    I can't believe you're almost done ;__; it is so completely awful that stupid FOX canceled Firefly after one season. This show was incredible and had such potential to be totally epic forever and ever. (I mean, it is, but it could have been LONGER and MORE EPIC)

  56. agirlinport says:

    The way River talks, especially in this episode, kind of reminds me of Rorschach from Watchmen….just a random thought.

  57. executrix says:

    My personal fanon is that Jubal Early is a graduate of an earlier class at The Academy.

    When I saw the episode for the first time (note careful non-spoiler framing) I figured that Simon and Kaylee must have become lovers by that time, because Simon is just not the kind of person who lets just ANYBODY sit with their feet in his face.

    And now that Heart of Gold has been viewed and this is no longer a spoiler, I figured that the reason Book wouldn't lead a prayer service for the working girls at the brothel was that he in fact *wasn't* a Shepherd, just pretending to be one.

    • Erika says:

      Wait, what? I thought Book did do their service for them, especially after he found out what the last Shepherd did.

      Also re: Early, yeah I too thought that his similarity to River's speech patterns and cyclical disjointed-to-clarity thought processes indicated that he was also a result of the Blue Hands guys. Basically, Jubal Early is what River would have become if Simon hadn't rescued her.

  58. Mauve_Avenger says:

    A friend of mine told me that the end scene of this episode was specifically designed to be done in one continuous take, with some funny results.

    So the scene starts with Simon and Zoe in the Infirmary, then Wash has to enter the Infirmary at precisely the right time, then Inara and Mal have to walk to the Infirmary door at precisely the right time, then Inara has to walk to the cargo bay at the exact same time as Book and Jayne walk there from upstairs, and then River and Kaylee have to start playing jacks and talking at exactly the right time after that.

    Since it was all done in one take, any one person could mess up the take and force the entire process to start up from the beginning, which was particularly frustrating when the mistake happened at the very end of the take with Summer Glau and Jewel Staite. And Summer was having trouble with her part, so even when everyone else got through their part they had to stop filming and start over again.

    Apparently, it got so bad at one point that every time she messed up the other actors would start yelling "Summer!!" at her. Eventually, though, it became the casts' running gag throughout the show and movie, with the actors yelling "Summer!" even when the screw up was their own fault.

  59. Mauve_Avenger says:

    The code is < img src="URLhere" > without the spaces. Since I never learned it in school, I'm thinking I might try to use every HTML formatting code I possibly can in this blog, to help me learn it.

    And I like how when I did an image search for "Simon Tam," one of the the first related search at top was "Simon Tam shirtless."

    <img src="http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d39/whiskpirate/other/Firefly_1x14_OiS_404.jpg"&gt;

    Well, this was supposed to be a reply, so…Bah.

  60. Aldermere says:

    Mark, DON"T LIVEBLOG THE MOVIE!

    I am afraid if your attention is divided you'll miss awesome scenes and dialog.
    Please watch it once either tonight or earlier tomorrow and liveblog your second viewing — you'll want to watch it more than once anyway!

    • Will says:

      He could just liveblog his first viewing and then watch it again properly a second time, actually I wouldn't be surprised if that's what he does already.

  61. SorrowsSolace says:

    Reading your blog post made me think of a line from Neil Gaiman's Sandman. The seventh graphic novel in the series is entitled "Brief Lives." The embodiment of Death is talking to the embodiment of Destruction (her brother) Destruction states that with all his power he still feels insignificant. Death; she responds by saying "Everyone can know what Destiny (another brother of theirs) knows, and more than that. We all could not know everything, but we do. We just tell ourselves we don't to make it all bearable." Destruction is still confused by all this and the youngest of them, Delirium pipes up with ""Not knowing everything is all that makes it okay, sometimes."

    I always loved that bit in the book; how much do we really know, how much do we let ourselves forget, how much do we ignore in the world to keep from losing our minds? It made me think of people burning out ( some are cops, paramedics, doctors, social workers, or just people that see the dark side of humanity) they know too much of what people can be capable of and it can break them. Sometimes we forget all that for a short time too keep going, or sometimes we strike a balance between the bad and good to keep sane.

    It may not be what Whedon, or even you was getting at Mark; but the good thing about episodes and books like this is that make you think, they open your mind to your own idea of things and help you to reflect and expand on old ideas.

  62. spectralbovine says:

    Great post. Now I want to read Camus. At first, I wasn't sure about this episode, or about Jubal Early, but the commentary made me appreciate it a lot more, and now I dig it.

    One of my favorite moments is at the end, when River comes back to Mal:

    "Permission to come aboard?"
    "You know, you ain't quite right."
    "That's the popular theory."

    SO ADORABLE.

  63. Mreeb says:

    Aaaah, I adore this episode. It is just so beautiful and amazing. It is also the episode that made River and Simon my favourite characters (it had, up until that point, been Wash). Simon lets his snark flag fly in this episode and it is so very wonderful.

    God, I love this show. So, so, so much.

  64. shadeedge says:

    What I liked most about this when I watched the episode is one of the same things Mark points out; when River says she's become part of the ship, we entirely believe her, even though all we've really seen her do is some apparent mind-reading and craziness. It's moving into a completely different area of sci-fi, and yet we're sitting there going "Yes, I believe she's done that". It's a testimony to the excellence of the episode that we're prepared to accept such an absurd idea entirely on face value.

  65. siobhangx says:

    I find this episode incredibly uncomfortable to watch, and I usually avoid it. I do think though that it worked as a nice way to end the series, even though it wasn't intentional. River's "Permission to come aboard?" was such a lovely touch, that the show ended with her being invited and acknowledged back on the ship as a valued member of the crew made it all the more fitting.

  66. dumbxblonde07 says:

    The Stranger! I read that book my senior year also; I got it for my 18th birthday. I really want to reread it now

    Also, Who is Book?!?! And I was saddened by the lack of Jayne this episode.

  67. ricaviolist says:

    This whole episode made me feel incredibly stupid. I never took any kind of philosophy in college or even high school, so I know next to nothing about existentialism. So the whole time I watched this one, I knew I was missing something important. I watched the commentary with Whedon in hopes that he would clear things up, but he just got me even more confused.

  68. notemily says:

    god I can't even watch scenes with Early in them. he freaks me out so much. When he starts in on Kaylee and threatening to rape her, I just can't deal with it. God, and River can read his mind! That must be a terrifying place to be.

    This episode has some of my all-time favorite Firefly lines:

    – "If wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak."

    – "Well, my sister's a ship. We had a complicated childhood." (I love Simon's calmness and snark in the face of danger. We've seen it before, like when they were captured on Ariel. He's not as much of a rich big-city wimp as they first thought.)

    – "Am I a lion?" and the whole exchange that follows, when they're like "I thought you said…" "no." "weird." I just laugh every time. THEN IT GOES BACK TO TERRIFYING.

    – "Come on out River… the nice man wants to kidnap you…" Simoonnnnnn

    I love the theme of the spaceships looking like insects. Early's ship reminds me of a dragonfly, or a wasp. Sinister. Serenity's shuttles look like beetles hitching a ride on its wings.

    mmm, Sean Maher's arms. ANYWAY

    When River starts talking as Serenity, I just LOVE it. LOVE. Such a great turning point to a great episode. And the looks on Simon's and Early's faces!

    "River? River? …Serenity?"

  69. notemily says:

    Do they deal with Blue Sun in the comics at all? I know they deal with what happened to the blue hand guys.

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  72. lolwat says:

    I didn't hate the scene where Jubal threatenes Kaylee, it makes me want to cry and it's one of the most uncomfortable scenes of anything I've ever seen. I think that's why I don't hate it, the characters have been set up in such a way as to provoke this response, we're supposed to be uncomfortable and creeped out, and it does it fantastically, so I wouldn't say I hate it, it just creeps me out and makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry.

  73. My coder is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform. I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into it? Any help would be really appreciated!

  74. @glyphs02 says:

    We had to read The Stranger in one of the many English course I took in high school. It is the only book I've ever read that I hated (through no fault of the book itself or Camus). In real life at the time, I was dealing with the emotional issues that came with a number of triggers, mainly my parents splitting up. My coping mechanism throughout those couple years was basically to disconnect and not feel anything. As I was reading I couldn't help but relate the sense of emotional detachment Meursault feels with my own and the entire book made me incredibly uncomfortable because of it. I was literally squirming around while reading because I was trying to objectively read and understand this character, but at the same time felt like I was getting a possible glimpse of myself from an outside angle and I did not like it.

    I'm a firm believer that books should always be given a second chance because how one relates to things changes over time and I've always meant to go back and read The Stranger again. I'm curious if I'd be able to appreciate it more; I just haven't gotten around to re-reading it yet.

  75. AlmostLiterally says:

    I agree that the Kaylee / Early scene is absolutely horribly gut-wrenching on epic proportions – I mean, I literally felt sick to my stomach after watching it. BUT. I don't think the scene itself is worthy of hate, because that was some ridiculously powerful acting on Jewel Staite's part.

    This was a brilliant episode. I love seeing how River walks about the ship, the similarities and differences between Early and River, River FINALLLY being accepted on the ship, shirtless Simon (Oh God don't even get me started *drool*), and the couch cuddling. Another thing I liked was River encountering Zoe and Wash being intimate, and the way she sort of experienced it along with them – grabbing her arm. I think that's the only time River's sexuality is mentioned ever.

  76. Delia says:

    Please review the 5 River Tam sessions! It chronicles a little bit of what River went through in The Academy. Quite interesting. You can find them on youtube.

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