In the eighth episode of Firefly, nothing is really that funny at all and I might have to use the “Jurassic Bark” GIF more times than should be legal. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Firefly.
This episode is evidence for why Firefly should never have been cancelled.
Obviously, there are reasons littered throughout the whole series and the fact that FOX fucked up the broadcast order is certainly one way you can blame the network for the show’s demise. This episode, however, showed that even in the early stages of the season and the show’s greater mythology, the writers were willing to escape from the traditional narrative format in order to deliver one of the more moving and poetic stories told through the medium of television.
Tim Minear, who helmed the writing for this episode, eschewed the traditional linear model of narration to tackle something more akin to The Fountain or Amores Perros. All unfolding in real-time for us, we deal with the past (how Mal bought Serenity and assembled his crew), the near past (the events that lead to the oxygen leak) and the present (Mal, alone on his ship). The story lines are just confusing enough that I was engaged to the point of wanting to know what was going on, but not to the point where I was frustrated.
The point of the cuts and flashes to the other narrative lines are perfectly placed to create a visual poetry to the action on the screen. Every cut is a reference to a place, a thing, of something said in another part of the story, providing an almost ironic symmetry to everything. They operate like memories do: we can’t control what triggers them, and neither can Mal. Despite that this was obviously composed with careful attention to detail, Minear never makes the flashes seem out of place. When Mal stumbles to the floor after the captain of the second ship shoots him, he’s reminded of stepping over that exact place when he first brought Zoe on board Serenity. The show never briefly flashes to these moments in the past like most shows might; instead, the memory takes over and we see it in its entirety. It gives a sense of realism to the point of view; we start feeling that we are actually inside Mal’s head.
I sort of want to avoid doing a plot summary for this review because the multiple narrative lines would make this a bit too convoluted than I’d like, so I’m going to jump right into a long list section because I seriously have a lot of ~really deep thoughts~ I’d like to share.
- The immediate compliment I want to make: This is Nathan Fillion’s best acting. He’s always dependable and believable, but in this episode, he clearly outshines everyone else. From the gasps in the cargo bay as he tries to make it to the engine room, to the damning look of defeat on his face as he stares at Inara for what might be the last time, Fillion is completely in his element throughout “Out of Gas.” Bravo, sir, you’ve made me a fan.
- I felt that this episode would have made an amazing season ender, especially if it cut to black when Mal collapsed from blood loss and then IT NEVER WENT TO THE NEXT SCENE. Best cliffhanger of all time? Yes, I am an utter genius, someone get me a TV show to write for.
- Wash’s mustache must come back. It has to. It was spectacular.
- When Mal walked in on the sex acts in the engine room, my first thought was that he discovered Zoe and Wash. When it was revealed to be Bester, I thought it was going to be Inara in there, especially once I saw the flower print top. Could seriously not believe it was Kaylee and that makes me love her a billion times over.
- Inara’s flashback demonstrated that she has far more control over Mal than we ever thought. It was pretty ironic that she said he could no longer call her a “whore” again, since that seems to be his go-to insult. That being said, he has actually stopped calling her that for the last couple episodes.
- Jayne’s recruitment, though, is my favorite of the bunch. The look on his face when he realizes he can get his own bunk? Priceless.
- “The ugly one.” “Could you be more specific?”
- I like that the port compression coil has been mentioned multiple times by Kaylee, always needing to be fixed. Oops. 🙁
- This episode, aside from the humor in the flashbacks, is overwhelmingly not funny at all. This is made incredibly evident when the AMAZING scene of Simon’s birthday celebration is contrasted with everything else. It’s the calm before the storm and it makes everything after it a thousand times worse.
- When River goes to talk to Book, he is awash in darkness and River is lit up and bright. Loved that detail.
- “But that won’t happen. You’ll freeze to death first.”
- Mal effectively prevents a Lord of the Flies incident from happening aboard the ship and that’s why he’s such a great captain. His fight with Wash was tense.
- This is only the eighth episode of the season, so it’s obvious that Mal is going to survive. It’s what makes this episode so unreal: as Mal bids goodbye to all of his friends and crew members, it’s heart-wrenching. It feels completely real. Major kudos the entire cast and crew for making me believe this.
- I’m now more than halfway through the series. Goddamn it.