In the sixth episode of Firefly, Malâ€™s bizarre relation with women is put to the test when he drunkenly marries a complete stranger. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Firefly.
Truthfully, by about the mid-way point of this episode, I had an entire review planned out in my head. I was waiting more than anything else for an episode dealing with Inara, Mal, his weird sense of male privilege, and their collective sexual tension. And holy shit, this episode brought it and with CHRISTINA HENDRICKS AS WELL. Swoon. My god, she is so beautiful.
Which is entirely not the point. Thoughâ€¦actually it kind of is? Well, we will get to that.
Letâ€™s first talk about the UNBELIEVABLY FANTASTIC opening scene. Mal in a bonnet? Jayne as his loving husband? And ZOE DOING HER BADASS SIDEWAYS GUNSHOT JUMP THINGY. I donâ€™t know what to call it, so that will have to do. The use of humor throughout this show is a big reason why I like it so much, but I also want to compliment how Whedon and the writers have crafted characters who all have their own sense of humor, so itâ€™s feels believable that theyâ€™d actually pull of a stunt like this just to amuse themselves.
Does that make sense? IN MY HEAD IT DOES. Please validate all of my thoughts right now fandom thank you.
The drunken celebration that follows (which included a great scene of Jayne and Mal simply enjoying themselves) is what leads to the conflict of the entire episode. Unknowingly (drunkenly?), Mal gets involved with a sacred marriage ritual and returns to Serenity the next morning to find that he has a wife.
Everyoneâ€™s natural reaction (mine included) was to laugh. Really, really hard. The comedy of the set up is incredibly obvious: Could anything be more awkward for Mal than finding out heâ€™s married to an absolute stranger?
However, this does something incredibly interesting to me: through Inara (and someone Book), it forces us to feel guilty for turning the scene into a play for laughs. It seemed so easy to laugh at a naÃ¯ve girl from a culture we donâ€™t understand, and we (as well as other characters) do exactly that. But Inaraâ€™s angry plea towards Mal to act like a human being is jarring because I couldnâ€™t help but think about how my laughter was at Saffronâ€™s expense.
The other great focus of this episode, written by Whedon himself, is that it doesnâ€™t spare the entire cast (aside from a strangely silent River) from commenting on the issue. I loved that they flipped Wash and Zoe and had Wash be the empathetic, understanding one. It was absolutely in character (and, thankfully, openly criticized) for Jayne to treat Saffron as property.
But we all know that what we most look forwarded to (and what proved to be most interesting) was how Mal dealt with all this. We know that he cares about his crew more than pretty much anything. He has an intrinsic desire to protect women. Sort of? But as we saw in â€œShindig,â€ he has an immense disrespect for companions because he somehow believes he knows whatâ€™s best for women involved with sex work.
Here, heâ€™s presented with a subservient, naÃ¯ve, and gorgeous woman. Who heâ€™s now bound to. (Book makes sure to point that out.) Watching him squirm as she offers to cook him food, wash his feet and then â€œpreparesâ€ herself for himâ€¦itâ€™s entertaining, for sure, because Mal is always so sure of himself. Here, heâ€™s not at all. But it is an amazing chance to watch him grow. He sides more with Wash and Inara, choosing not to turn the situation into a joke, choosing to be more empathetic towards her instead of condescending. He refuses to sell or trade her, as if sheâ€™s a commodity. He tries to think of the best way to both accommodate her on the ship and to figure out how he can mutually solve the situation.
Itâ€™s honestly a very difficult situation and despite that OBVS I WOULDNâ€™T BE IN A SITUATION WHERE Iâ€™D BE MARRYING A WOMAN lulz gay lulz, I could not even imagine what I would do. This episode is about a culture clash, the privilege that comes along with it, and the way these sort of these intersect with each other. Iâ€™m not even sure there is a right answer to what should have been done in this situation.
Because of that, Iâ€™m glad that Whedon never answers the question. We learn that Saffron is a plant, a companion who is well-trained in deception, who uses her situation to finally seduce Mal. (We get a tiny bit more back story on Mal, who reveals it has been a VERY long time since he last had sex. Or even a relationship.) Surprisingly, though, when Inara figures out that Saffron doesnâ€™t real and goes to see if Mal is ok, she kisses him. WHOA. Did not expect in episode six, but the seeds have been sowed for a future story line I am actually anxious to see unfold.
I also have to admit that as much as I love the majority of this episode, things sort of fizzle out in the last third. Iâ€™m reminded of Danny Boyleâ€™s Sunshine, which has two amazing acts before a third one thatâ€™s just not as strong. Whedon set up an amazing story, delivered some of the best dialogue and character interaction weâ€™ve seen all season, and the finish isâ€¦well, not quite as great.
Itâ€™s ok. Iâ€™m not expecting perfection from this show and this episode is definitely more of the positive than the negative. Itâ€™s a huge episode for the greater story arc as well, even though thereâ€™s not much River and Simon. Iâ€™m hooked and I want more. Which is unfortunate because I know there are only eight more of these left what is the saddest image on the Internet right now that I can use here
- â€œHow drunk was I last night?â€ â€œI donâ€™t know. I passed out.â€ Always a good sign.â€
- â€œYum, Iâ€™ll get you a refill!â€ Wash you are my favorite.
- â€œWe are still two fleshes here.â€ THE MOST AWKWARD DIALOGUE OF ALL TIME.
- â€œGood Bible.â€ Coming from Mal, thatâ€™s a compliment.
- Seriously, why does Book know so much about crime? BACKSTORY, NOW, PLZ.
- â€œThatâ€™s why I never kiss them on the mouth.â€ Oh, Jayne, please never change.
- Soâ€¦Mal is so naÃ¯ve he doesnâ€™t realize Inara kissed him. I was actually surprised by that twist at the end. DRAMA IS COMING IN THE FUTURE.
- Mal. In a bonnet. Seriously, guys.