Mark Watches ‘Firefly’: Episode 4 – Shindig

In the fourth episode of Firefly, a slow episode dealing with aristocrats, ruffling dresses, and companions turns into a fast-paced (and, admittedly, bizarre) duel scenario in which Mal fights for Inara’s honor and respect. Yes, Mal gets into a fight. Again. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Firefly.

This is the first episode that didn’t draw me in immediately, but ultimately, I’m ok with that. Whedon is gradually introducing me more to the world of Firefly and I’m not the type of consumer who wants all my answers upfront without any context. Unless I’m halfway through Deathly Hallows and regretting my chapter-a-day project. Only then.

There’s a lot at work here in “Shindig,” and I must say that despite the slow pace, it was nice to see Kaylee in her element. When the crew lands on Persephone, Mal’s usually funny banter pisses off Kaylee and Zoe when he insults her for enjoying a frilly dress. It’s an uncomfortable moment and one Mal deserves. Mal’s interaction with women, which this episode revolves around, is shown to be one of conflicting virtues: alternately, he wants to protect the ones he cares about, but he’s also prone to insulting women with condescending and sometimes sexist language.

(And for the record, I do separate these sort of things from Fillion and Whedon. At the end of this episode, Whedon makes it abundantly clear how Mal’s bogus feelings towards sex work and women can actually damage people, both internally and externally. So bravo for that.)

As soon as this happens and Kaylee, Wash, and Zoe head back to the ship, Mal is hit up by Badger for a job: help transport an illegal cargo from a well-to-do aristocrat who won’t speak to a man like Badger. In order to do so, he gives Mal two tickets to the same ball that Inara is attending with a local aristocrat, Atherton Wing.

What this does is create a situation that sets all of these characters into place like a complex game of chess. Seeing Kaylee walk into that ball room in her frilly dress will probably remain one of the top moments of the entire series. It’s a great apology on Mal’s part, but I enjoy it mostly because Kaylee’s character is so radiant here, so full of life and joy. She fits in the dress because that’s her personality, and it’s hard not to break out into a wide grin when she waltzes into the room. (The scene where she sheds her expected gender role as a companion to talk shop with the men in the room is right below this, by the way. It’s a scene meant to honor Kaylee, not make fun of her, and I really appreciate Whedon’s tone there.)

Now Mal and Inara are ALSO in the room, and their awkward sexual tension begins to build over the next set of scenes. Here’s where things got really weird though. (For a reason, yes, but it’s still weird.) As we’re slowly introduced to high society on Persephone, which includes a form of dance that is very European and….look, I don’t know what it’s called. I was going to say it seemed to stem from Renaissance times, but now I sound like a history bigot who knows nothing of older European cultures. What’s the type of dancing they do? YOU CAN ANSWER THIS BELOW?

Anyway, Mal seems strangely interested in Inara’s client, Atherton, to the point that he asks Inara to dance and then a DISASTER of a conversation happens. Mal’s natural inclination to protect those around him seemingly erases Inara’s own wants and desires, making her feel as if Mal thinks he knows her life and her job better than she does. It is a deeply problematic attitude for Mal to have (which he’ll learn very shortly). Atherton has offered Inara permanent companionship on Persephone and Mal posits that Atherton is insincere in his desire to offer her a better life.

Mal is correct that Atherton is insincere and has ulterior motives. I won’t deny that. But what he does here is insist that his opinions overwrite the feelings and lived experiences of Inara. He knows better than she does about what is best for her. It’s a deeply privileged action and, beyond that, flat out rude. Inara’s reaction to this is justified because time and time again, Mal has demonstrated to her that the thinks he exists on some moral high ground above her due to her job.

And then…everything goes to hell. Because when Atherton orders Inara to leave with him and then says she must do what he says because “money exchanged hands,” Mal decides it’s now time for him to protect Inara’s honor: by punching Atherton in the face. When this happens, we learn that in this specific social circle on Persephone, that’s actually a challenge to duel. By sword. To the death.

Mal, seriously, must you fight everything in every episode ever.

I’m glad that Whedon is willing to criticize his own characters this early in the season. I think it’s a bold move as a writer to show that your “hero” can be wrong and can make potential cataclysmic mistakes. This is a mistake, no doubt; if Mal had taken a moment to stop being a COMPANION BIGOT and thought that maybe Inara has a bit more life experience in a situation like this, he probably could have avoided this entire situation.

From this moment on, “Shindig” returns to the intense plotting that I’ve come to expect and enjoy from this show. The threat of Atherton’s sword killing Mal is very real, especially since Atherton is a fine swordsman, and Inara and Mal’s relationship is further strained. She visits him in his private suite the night before the fight and has my favorite conversation of the series so far. She points out that Mal is quick to fight those who “offend” Inara (and implicitly his crew) through insults, yet he is also quick to insult Inara by calling her a whore. Mal tries to say that he is only insulting her profession, not her personally, as Atherton did, but he misunderstands her: her profession is her, or at least an extension of her. To insult one is to insult her, and Mal made this crucial mistake because…well, he’s a prejudicial asshole.


The episode ties up rather nicely, like most of them do, after a sword fight wherein Mal is injured pretty badly. (I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: A really good writer will allow his or her characters to suffer, experience loss, and hurt. Bravo, Whedon.) Mal gets the transport job and Inara back on the ship. And off they fly to a new adventure in episode five.


  • I wanted this review to focus on Inara and Mal, as the episode did, but the rest of the cast deserves nods for how well-played this episode is. The scenes inside Serenity while they play cards are humorous because we know that Mal’s situation is not as dire as they make it out to be, yet the actors manage to convey a sweaty intensity throughout.
  • It needs to be said: Nathan Fillion is perfect as Malcolm Reynolds. He’s so good, in fact, that I regret writing off this show AND Castle because the previews for Castle were so irritating. His comedic/dramatic timing is impeccable, but more importantly, he’s believable. And that makes all the difference.
  • WHY DID RIVER RIP THE LABELS OFF THOSE CANS. I don’t get it, guys. And how amazing was the scene where she perfectly mocked Badger’s accent and somehow KNEW HIS PAST. Jesus, she is so ~mysterious~
  • I like Wash and Zoe. I don’t think I want to see another scene with them covered in that much sweat ever again. Unless, of course, Wash is reciting poetry. I might let that slide.
  • “I’ll chip in.” “I’ll hurt you.” BLESS THE DIALOGUE IN THIS SHOW.
  • “Is she mad or something?” Jayne, your cluelessness is actually endearing.
  • “Yes sir, Captain TightPants.” BEST LINE OF ALL TIME.
  • “How can we be sure if we don’t question it?” Again, proof that Kaylee is the best character on the show
  • I was actually mad when the other companions dissed Kaylee. FUCK YOU, YOUR DRESS LOOKS LIKE DRAPERY.
  • KAYLEE’S ROOM. Oh god, I can’t handle it.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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578 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Firefly’: Episode 4 – Shindig

  1. Araniapriime says:

    I LOVE THIS EPISODE. But I always, always, no matter what episode, get really pissed off at the way Mal treats Inara's profession. If Companions are so revered and respected there should be no reason, in the context of the Firefly-universe society, for Mal to be so insulting!


    • Browncaot says:

      I think it's implied that Mal dislikes the companion profession because of its association with the elite who are the benefactors of Alliance control.

      He also views it as a form of slavery. It's obviously not because the woman is not forced into service, but chooses it as a profession willingly. Captain Tightpants does not see the distinction and chooses to see it as a man purchasing a woman i.e. slavery.

      • hassibah says:

        I don't know if there was evidence that he viewed it as slavery(I am open to being convinced!), but I kind of wonder if he used the word whore not the the sexual sense but in the "corporate whore" sense since she works with the establishment. Though obviously that doesn't take away the problems of the term.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          When Inara points out that Mal has trouble following the rules in any society, he says something like "and you think following the rules will buy you a better life, even if the rules make you a slave."

          I think that could be interpreted in a few different ways, though.

          • hassibah says:

            I think I took stuff like that as like the way somebody that's chained to a cubicle considers themselves a slave, like in the metaphorical sense. But yeah, it's been a year or so since I've had a good rewatch.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        Inara has also mentioned before (when talking to Kaylee, maybe?) that she's part of an Alliance guild for Companions, so obviously she's not opposed to benefitting from the Alliance more directly.

        Though since the guild seems to protect Companions from dangerous clients like Atherton (well, at least at the end) and lets Companions choose their own clients, it doesn't seem like Mal would have a problem with that particular aspect of it.

    • jenniearcheo says:

      I think the other elephant in the room is the fact that Mal is obviously hopelessly in love with her, and insanely jealous of every client she has. It's the institution of Companionhood that keeps her out of his grasp, and so he slams it every chance he gets. However, I don't think, if he'd never met Inara, that he'd have any real problem with Companions at all. It is, after all, their choice of profession, and they choose their clients. That the profession is structured shouldn't bother him much. Of course, he's much too proud to admit any of this, perhaps even to himself. Inara, for her part, obviously loves him, too, but is also too proud to admit it.

      • Araniapriime says:

        That is still absolutely no reason to call her a whore. It's demeaning and offensive. Not to mention, if he LOVES Inara, it's certainly not the way to get her to fall in love with him!

        • anon. says:

          I definitely agree that Mal has romantic feelings for Inara, and is jealous of her clients, and that him calling her a whore is related to this, but I think it also has a lot to do with the ties the Companions have to the Alliance. It also doesn't seem out of context for his character, or for the Firefly verse for him to be prejudiced against sex workers.

  2. grlgoddess says:

    Kaylee is the best person to exist ever in the history of ever, ever. And I am unanimous in that!

  3. Hypatia_ says:

    I LOVE THIS EPISODE. The dialog is amazing. "Mercy is the mark of a great man." ::jab:: "Guess I'm just a good man." ::jab:: "Well, I'm alright." Mal, you are kind of a bastard, but I love you.

  4. thewatergirl says:

    I have no idea what kind of dancing that is, but I would like to inform you that Browncoats actually now refer to Mal as "Captain Tightpants"…like all the time…like it's his name.
    The end.
    Also, holy cow are you funny.

  5. Starsea28 says:

    This is actually one of my favourite episodes because of the way it examines Kaylee, Inara and how Mal relates to them. Yes, Mal, if you just sat back for a moment and weren't such a chauvinist, you might have saved yourself a lot of trouble. On the other hand, Inara teaching Mal how to fight was both hilarious and hot.

    • Tanbarkie says:

      I love how Whedon turns the cliche ("man learns to swordfight overnight, beats far superior opponent") on its head. Mal actually suggests that very idea to Inara – sure, you can teach me to fight with a sword and I'll kick Wing's ass with my courage and pluck. It's a plot that's been done a thousand times before. And then Inara kicks his ass over and over again. And then he doesn't fare much better in the actual duel… he really only wins because of luck (and to a lesser extent, because he fights dirty).

      • Starsea28 says:

        Yeah, I love how the next sequence is Mal failing repeatedly at sword fighting while Inara shows off her warrior skills. Fortunately, Mal has a lot of luck.

      • notemily says:

        It's a great averted trope because you really CAN'T learn to swordfight overnight. A lot of swordfighting is about your body instinctively knowing how to do it, and you only get that way with lots of practice. (Or so it seems to me–I don't have a sword or know how to use one!) Mal is the consummate underdog though. The whole show is about underdogs–a junker of a ship, a ragtag crew, and a big bad Alliance threatening their safety and well-being at every turn… and yet they get out of it every time 😀

  6. Kaci says:

    Ah, you finally got to the Captain TightPants line! BEST NICKNAME EVER, Y/Y?

    I love Kaylee so much. Seriously. When people ask me for recommendations re: amazing female characters, she's one of the first I point to.

    I love that you love Firefly. I know there's a tendency to hear "Sci-fi western" and immediately scoff, but I've found that if people give it a fair chance, very few people don't fall in love with it.

    So now that you're all stoked on Whedon, I'm wondering if you have any plans to do Buffy and/or Angel, or Dollhouse? I know Buffy and Angel are longer (by a lot), but they're both rewarding in their own ways, and while Dollhouse had a ton of shaky moments, it also had some true brilliance in it, too.

    • Starsea28 says:

      Sorry but it has to be Dr Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog next! 😉

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        I've seen that already. I'll do Buffy some point in the future.

        • Hypatia_ says:

          YESSSSSS BUFFY!!!!!!!!!

          Ahem. I am totally an adult. Really.

        • Starsea28 says:

          You just made a lot of people very happy with that statement. Including me. I can't wait to see what you think of Buffy (both the character and the series).

        • Karen says:

          If you do Buffy, I'll tip my hat to you,. Buffy is a massive undertaking- seven seasons. I mean it's brilliant (even with a shaky start) and one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but that's a LOT of TV to review.

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            Oh god, I know. But I'm going to attempt to tackle as much of Doctor Who after Firefly, and THAT is a truly overwhelming undertaking.

            • Karen says:

              OMG. Are you thinking of doing Classic Who? That's impressive. I mean, I love Doctor Who, but even I need to be in a certain mood to watch stories from the First or Second Doctor's eras.

              If you're just thinking of doing New Who, then that's a lot less daunting. Only 5 series of 13 episodes a piece with various specials thrown in there. Plus, New Who is a lot easier for 21st century viewers to get into since it's a lot more like TV like we're used to. Some of Classic Who can be… challenging. I had to force myself to finish watching a First Doctor story about the Aztecs because when the show first started it, it thought of itself as an educational show, so you get these stories where it's just the Doctor going back in time and getting into shenanigans back in the day. It wasn't until later that Doctor Who became a purely scifi show.

              But if you make the brave decision to tackle Classic Who, I would recommend some stories from the Fourth Doctor's era because he is wonderful. And I am personally a fan of the Seventh Doctor, primarily because a lot of his stories are so very fantastically tacky 80s stuff. It's slightly magnificent.

              • nanceoir says:

                Actually, I rather enjoyed the Aztecs story, for what it is. I wish there was more First and Second Doctors on streaming Netflix. I mean, the Second Doctor has a recorder. A recorder! I love that.

                I need to get back into watching the Classic Who stories. In my instant Netflixing, I sort of stalled out really early on in the Fourth Doctor's run, and what I did see of him didn't bowl me over.

                Oh, Doctor Who and your crazy amounts of available stories to watch!

                • Karen says:

                  The Aztecs story is the only First Doctor story I ever attempted (excluding the mutli-Doctor stories) and… idk. I just was not a fan. Maybe it was because I found Susan to be so grating. I think she might be my least favorite Companion ever. But I did enjoy the Second Doctor stories that I've seen. I really loved the one called … "Mind Reader", I think. And "War Games". Basically, I just really liked Two and I enjoyed Jamie as a companion.

                  I'm sad that you didn't like what you saw of Four! He's my 2nd or 3rd favorite Doctor ever, depending on my mood that day. I think he's really funny and I loved his relationships with Sarah Jane and Romana I. But ah well. Doctor Who is a fandom with so many varied opinions. (E.g. my ~unpopular~ Doctor Who opinions are that I really don't care for Five and I think that Torchwood was a pretty lame show until Children of Earth which most of Torchwood fandom was not a fan of, lol.)

                  I really miss being able to stream Old Who from Netflix. FML for moving to the UK- the land of no Netflix.

                  • Openattheclose says:

                    The writing on Torchwood was horrible. I think Torchwood was basically created just so RTD could be smutty. The Sara Jane Adventures is the better spin off IMO.

                    I will love Ianto forever though.

                    • Karen says:

                      Well the idea was to do a sci fi show for adults as opposed to the family show that DW is or the kid's show that SJA is. But in his book RTD talks about how in series 1 of Torchwood they made a major misstep with the characters. Basically, they tried to separate themselves from Doctor Who and show that this was for adults by having the characters swear and have sex with each other. But then after series 1, RTD saw this for the mistake it was because it really just made all the characters seem incredibly childish. So series 2 is a pretty big improvement over series 1, but it wasn't until CoE when RTD was really writing most of it that the series grow to its full potential. Instead of making it scifi for adults by adding sex, Torchwood explore complex and dark themes. Like I LOVE CoE, it's so creepy and upsetting and exactly what sci fi for adults should be.

                      But I totally agree that the writing for series 1 and 2 of Torchwood was baaaaad. But I lay the blame on Chris Chibnall for that. Ugh. Chibnall. He was running Torchwood for the first two series and I am not a fan of his work. His episode for series 3 of Doctor Who, "42" is one of my least liked episodes of Doctor Who.

                    • Openattheclose says:

                      Yeah, they focused too much on making it "adult" and not enough on making it interesting. I really did like CoE though.

                      I can't hate "42" because it has my pretty, pretty Doctor in his orange spacesuit in it. Sigh.

            • Kaci says:

              OMG, DOCTOR WHO! Mark, you are making me so happy today. I think I'm having the same reaction as you did to Hagrid. MARRY ME ON THE ASTRAL PLANE.

              Are you going to start with 9 (New Who) or go back to the beginning? I've only ever been able to finish one old school Who arc (Genesis of the Daleks) and while I thought it was brilliant, I definitely agree with most commenters saying to just start with New Who.

        • elusivebreath says:

          Oh. Em. Gee. Buffy is hands down the BEST tv show that has ever existed of ALL TIME. I'm seriously not even exxagerating and the only people who don't know this are the people who haven't watched it. You have no idea how happy you just made me. Like seriously, there are tears in my eyes RIGHT NOW.

        • hassibah says:

          Yessss I totally called this.

        • Openattheclose says:

          YESSS! I think you will LOVE it.

        • cait0716 says:

          Hooray! But at the same time, I'm almost scared for you to do Buffy. That show is my childhood; I've been watching it since I was 10. And I've seen it so many times. I've already rationalized every plot hole, shaky bit of dialogue, and sub-par acting in that series. (I know that was bad grammar.) I get a little defensive of Buffy and kind of stressed when I watch it with other people. If you do watch it, I really hope you love it.

          • Openattheclose says:

            I think you don't notice those things as much when you watch it back to back. It will be okay! Although I could see the comments for some of the later seasons getting kind of messy.

            • cait0716 says:

              I don't know. I watched each season in a single sitting. I think I started to notice them more.

              I'm sure it will be ok though. I've just reached a point where I've made peace with everything – Dawn, Riley, season 7, everything. But most of the fandom doesn't feel that way. And it can get painful

              • Openattheclose says:

                I think I have made peace with everything except for that one episode in Season 6 (I don't want to name it for fear of spoilers, but the one that made everyone from two different ships very, very mad.) and Kennedy. Oh, and Caleb, even though I shouldn't say that on a Firefly blog!

                • cait0716 says:

                  See, I can even accept Kennedy and Caleb. As for that episode in season 6….why don't I know which one you're talking about? I feel like a bad Buffy fan now

                  • Openattheclose says:

                    Because I was being purposely vague. You're not a bad Buffy fan. The episode before the real big bad of that season was revealed… if that makes any sense.

              • notemily says:

                I have not yet made peace with season 7, mostly because I can't bring myself to watch it again 😛

                But "Into the Woods" made me appreciate Riley. I've been on both sides of that situation and that episode gets me Every. Time.

                Dawn I'm fine with, except I still get angry at how Buffy treats her. BUFFY was staking vampires at age 16, and yet Dawn is still treated like a little kid.

                • Openattheclose says:

                  Really? I hated that episode because it seemed like it was all "Wow! Look how cool Riley is. Aren't you all sorry you didn't like him?" And I actually LIKED Riley before that. That was my big problem with Buffy towards the end. It seemed to me like they tried to stick it to the fans when they were vocal about their dislike of something.

                  • notemily says:

                    I agree that that's what the show is trying to do, with Xander as a mouthpiece, and I DON'T agree with that. I just think the dynamic of one person being emotionally unavailable and the other one starving for affection and compromising their morals to get it is completely accurate to a lot of relationships in real life. I don't necessarily think that Buffy should have appreciated Riley more because I think the point of their relationship is that he wasn't the right person for her, but I liked the way their relationship was portrayed.

                • cait0716 says:

                  I agree completely about Dawn.

        • lyvanna says:

          YES! YES! YES! YAY!

          (that is all)


  7. IsabelArcher2 says:

    1) I think I like Badger solely because he has a british accent. Why??
    2) I’ve been trying to not like Kaylee because I feel the writers are trying SO HARD to make me like her, but then I realized all of my efforts were pointless when those BITCHES insulted her. I WANTED TO CUT THEM. As it turns out, I love Kaylee!
    3) Why is Inara with that guy? Didn’t she say in one of the earlier episodes that companions choose because of a similar psychic aura/personality or something like that? That guy is a D-bag.

    This wasn't my favorite episode either, but I'm still really liking this series.

  8. totiebinds says:

    ONE OF MY FAVORITE EPISODES! One of the most beautiful moment's is Kaylee getting her dress though I seriously hate those stuck-up girls at the ball. "Your dress looks like it was bought in a shop." Seriously? The statement is obnoxious enough as it is but her tone makes your skin crawl. And there was a mention of servant girls too, wasn't there? 😐 Nice to see the looks on their faces when the men all want to talk to Kaylee once she starts talking about ships, though 😀

    I think this episode really established the relationship between Mal and Kaylee too. Loved the father/daughterish thing going on there. <3

  9. Ashley says:

    Don't go giving Whedon ALL the credit. His writing staff was aces. This was one was written by Jane Espenson, who has gone on to work on BSG, Caprica, Warehouse 13, and now Torchwood. But yes, he hired her, and he has overall approval, but still. Gotta give credit to his people.

    • Karen says:

      I LOVE Jane Espenson's work on Buffy sfm. She wrote some great episodes in seasons 3 and 4, and did a lot of fantastic work in the later seasons too (haters to the left, I love the UPN seasons just as much as the WB ones). I'm SO excited to see what she's going to bring to Torchwood.

      • Avery says:

        aaaaah I love this comment. Sometimes I feel like Jane was more consistent than Joss, since she was largely tasked with the less glamorous MOTW episodes but made most of them memorable. He wrote the heavy-hitters, but I am always amazed at how rich and revealing her episodes could be week to week, even when the plot was total fluff. She's also the only writer on his staff who's made me laugh until I cried.

        Shindig isn't one of my favorites just because I could never get invested in Mal/Inara, but I am so fond of her writing style and range that I often put on the DVD commentary just to listen to her talk. JANE ESPENSON APPRECIATION LIFE.

        • Karen says:

          I'm not a huge fan of Mal/Inara either (they're a bit too obvious to me- I like being able to discover characters and their chemistry instead of having it pushed at me, if that makes sense).

          And yeeeees. Jane really did some fantastic work on Buffy. I'm wondering if the line that made you laugh until you cried came from Band Candy or perhaps from Earshot (referencing Band Candy) because if so… I agree. hahaha.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Thanks for pointing this out! I WILL MAKE SURE TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE.

      • MichelleZB says:

        To become a true Whedonite, Mark, you have to be familiar with all his writers. The staff writers on Whedon shows are all super-famous (within the fandom). And we are obsessed with analyzing their unique writing styles for some reason.

        Jane is known for her funny writing, but she's delved more into horror, etc. these past few years. She always had a great depth to her writing–her dialogue has that Whedon flair, where it can turn from funny to incredibly serious in a few seconds.

        Afterlife in Season 6 of Buffy. Amirite, people? I can't post any Buffy spoilers here (don't want to upset the inevitable Mark Watches Buffy) but… that line. You know the line I'm talking about.

    • Openattheclose says:

      I think she was my favorite Buffy writer. Or maybe it was Petrie. Or Fury. or… Ah screw it, I can't choose.

    • hassibah says:

      Oh damn I knew I was too slow. Jane is definitely one of my favourites(possibly my favourite non-Joss Buffy writer), her work almost always cracks me up.

    • bookling says:

      JANE ESPENSON LOVE. I forgot this was one of her episodes! She's so fucking amazing.

  10. Browncoat says:

    I think it must be said

    Badger is not a very good Hufflepuff representative

  11. randomcheeses says:

    The previews for Castle might have been irritating, but I promise you Mark, the show itself is awesomeness in a can.


  12. Steph says:

    Sir, You need to get to Dragon*Con next year and go to the Mighty Fine Shindig. It's such a good time!

    I'm so excited for you to watch more. These reviews are fabulous and I love seeing new people get into Whedon. He's an amazing writer. As a Joss fangirl, I think you should totally review all his shows. Your enthusiasm is infectious and I'd love to see your thoughts about his other work. 🙂

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      • tiltingheartand says:

        dragon*con: gigantic sf/f convention held annually in atlanta over labor day weekend. it's amazing.

        mighty fine shindig: the giant party the whedon track (whedon creations get their own track) has, i think on saturday usually. the one year i happened to pass by it the room was full to capacity and it had been fifteen minutes or so.

    • DameDallas says:

      I second this question.
      There's a Mighty Fine Shindig? That sounds awesome!

  13. stellaaaaakris says:

    So I started freaking out when I saw the dancing because (I'm pretty sure) it's SQUARE DANCING!!!! A slowed down version, but square dancing. My public school education has provided me with over 6 years of square dancing experience (2 months each year, every other day) and all I could keep thinking in a warbly voice was, "Do-si-do your partner, alaman left your corner, take your partner and promenade. What would Robinson Carusoe do with Friday on a Saturday night?"

    I agree with the best line ever in your thoughts. And I was so glad River had something to do on the show other than cower and look scared. I adored her imitation of Badger. Spot on. Also did the apple peeler of the gods make a reappearance? I tried to keep an eye out but I get distracted by lots of things.

    • MichelleZB says:

      I think they are dancing a version of those Regency-style group dances, like a quadrille or whatever. They are attempting to give an odd skew on Regency high society and probably went with those dances on purpose to give it that feel.

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        I'm thinking it's a combination of both. I definitely recognize every move they used from my middle and high school days. Square dancing definitely fits with the whole cowboys theme this show has got going but the Regency thing adds to the high class of the party-goers.

        • pica_scribit says:

          It does look very much like the usual 18th century high-society dancing you get in a lot of movies. Square dancing is for commoners, not these fine folks!

          • alienbooknose says:

            Square dancing is actually descended from those Regency era dances, you can trace most of the steps to that stuff, which in turn is descended from 17th century English country dance.

      • LizzzM says:

        I agree! I mean, we don't know for sure, but the dancing style looked an awful lot like an country dance from 18th century England.

        Which made the Jane Austen fangirl in me squee like you would not believe. 🙂

    • ldwy says:

      Really? I don't know anything about square dancing. That would be kind of cool if it's really just slowed down.

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        Haha like I said, I have MANY years of square dancing in school. I found myself saying the names of each of the moves. All the ladies go into the center, put in your hand and turn, guys circle independently in the other direction. Oh, god, the memories. 🙂 But I think it fits well with the show.

        • ldwy says:

          Yeah, I totally agree.
          I imagine it would be very fun, but also very awkward?, to learn square dancing (any dancing, really) in school. Was it part of your phys.ed?

          • stellaaaaakris says:

            Yes, yes, it was. It was especially awkward in 7th/8th grade when most of the girls were taller than the guys but we're still expected to twirl under their arms. Considering I've always been tall, especially for a girl, this led to lots of bending and slumping on my part. But it was a lot of fun. Every year we learned more moves.

        • nanceoir says:

          You know, I think square dancing and that Regency dancing that we see in all the Jane Austen adaptations are related. Closely related, even. Like, brothers? Or half-brothers or something?

          • stellaaaaakris says:

            Yeah, I definitely agree. Regency dancing (which I only know through Jane Austen adaptations so if they're not accurate, I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about) is the ambitious oldest sibling while square dancing might be the wild youngest sibling rebelling against the rules.

          • Openattheclose says:

            Yeah, I think square dancing was what the commoners and servants did outside while the gentry were doing their quadrilles or whatever in the ballroom.

            I did square dancing in gym class too and I thought it was really fun!

          • ldwy says:

            Ah, the regency dancing was what I was thinking of.

          • notemily says:

            They are. Wikipedia:

            The various square dance movements are based on the steps and figures used in traditional folk dances and social dances of the various people who migrated to the USA. Some of these traditional dances include Morris dance, English Country Dance, Caledonians and the quadrille.

            English Country Dance is what the Jane Austen stuff is.

            • jenniearcheo says:

              You beat me to it. It's English Country Dance, which evolved in the 16th century out of medieval line and group dancing, which was less formalized. Square dancing is similar, but became what it is in the 19th century in the U.S., and grew out of Scottish Country Dancing, which is like doing English Country Dancing while skipping the entire time. In a kilt.

      • notemily says:

        The moves are the same, but they're not unique to square dance. Any dance that came out of British folk dancing is going to have those moves. What makes it a square dance is that four couples dance in a square, with a caller (the episode doesn't have a caller, so it must be a well-known dance, even Mal says "I actually know this dance", whereas square dancing is different every time you do it) and it's usually more fast-paced than the stuff we saw in this episode.

    • notemily says:

      I recognized it from contra dancing, which is like square dancing only it's in a line, not a square, and you dance with everyone's partner down the line as well as your own. The moves/calls in a lot of those dances are the same, it's just the way you set them up that's different. You ever do a hey for four? 😀

  14. Syd K. says:

    "I say Zoe gets nekkid."
    "I could get nekkid?"

  15. buyn says:

    Time for my most favorite gif ever.
    Gather round for arm porn.
    <img src=>

  16. Karen says:

    To be honest, this is probably my least favorite episode of the show. I just find the plot not particularly exciting and I'm not a fan of Mal/Inara because it's just a little too obvious for my tastes. BUT in spite of that, there is a lot that I enjoy. For example, I loved Kaylee's story in this episode and I loved getting to see her relationship with Mal. And I really loved that scene where River is mimicking Badger's Cockney accent back at him. River <3

    So yeah, still enjoyable, but not my favorite episode.

  17. Dom says:

    The dancing isn't an actual historical dance- in keeping with the whole Space Western theme, it's actually a fancied up version of square dancing.

  18. ramondestroys says:

    Favorite scene had to be Kaylee getting ripped on by the other companions, being saved by the old man (forgot his name/did they mention it?), and then talking shop with all the men. Hilarious. And, of course, Inara and Malcolm's scene in his suite was exceptional.

    "Captain Tightpants" brought me a good laugh, and so did Jayne saying he could get naked.

    Oh, and fuck Atherton. He seemed like such a prick as soon as Inara answered his call.

  19. Meltha says:

    For the dancing, it's not a specific European folkdance, though it seems heavily influenced by some Elizabethan-era partner dances with a side order of the minuet and that scene from Sound of Music where Maria and the Captain (hmm… interesting parallel name) dance an Austrian folkdance I wouldn't be able to spell for the life of me.

    And yes, Mal does wrong here (which of course realistic characters do), but I think he does wrong out of a desire to do what he thought was right, so the mistake is at least an honest one, and he does learn from it.

    In a way, though, the whole idea that companions are highly respected in this society is a bit off. They're desired, obviously, and what they do isn't illegal, but Inara's clients seem as likely as not to treat her with contempt, as with the client who claimed she sped up her clock to cheat him in the first ep. The bath she takes afterwards, in Joss's commentary, is referred to as a cleansing from insult.

    I'm splitting this in two as I got all wordy and thinky.

    • Meltha says:

      I'm more reminded of the status of a traditional Japanese geisha by Inara's companion job than a typical prostitute, and while geisha were (their modern role is so different from the original one it's difficult to see it as the same occupation) considered highly trained, highly desirable artists, they're also still very much outside normal society. They're highly thought of, but only in their own society. People didn't marry a geisha except under rare circumstances, or bring her to meet the family, they consider her feelings. She was a nice piece of art (and almost any time people are judged predominantly on their appearnce very catty behavior happens, like the Mean Girls here), and when she was too old, she went away. I think Mal, who hates anything that smacks of upper class elitism, sees the way Inara's treated as a veneer of politeness over the idea they think of her as cattle… which, frankly, seems to be true from what we see.

      Regardless, it's still her choice to continue as a companion, and he doesn't have the right to take that choice away from her. Sorry, this got really long!

      • Chairman Wow says:

        Yeah, the high status of Companions as it's described always seemed off to me, too. I am tempted to give it the benefot of the doubt in that maybe if they went to a more central, elite planet people there would have a different understanding of the role and status of Companions and be more respectful.

        Though, if Companions choose their clients, why does Inara keep chosing people who, as you say, are as likely as not to disrespect her?

        • Kripa says:

          Companions are choosing among potential clients, i.e., men who WOULD buy the services of Companions. They probably don't represent the male population at large.

          • Chairman Wow says:

            I suppose that's the problem at the root of the inconsistency. We're told that companions are highly respected and revered members of society, but from what we see they work for – what, jerks who can't get women and people who want to show them off as pretty status symbols? It all just doesn't quite jell.

  20. tethysdust says:

    I don't know how to comment on Firefly, so I tried keeping comments while I was watching this time:

    Inara looks so uncomfortable in that bar.
    Haha I totally forgot the electric pool. So unneccessary, and inferior to actual playing.
    Inara has a girly drink :).
    I love playing pool.
    I really like Inara's defense of herself. Mal is trying so hard to slut-shame her, but she actually feels no shame about her sexuality or her job.
    Haha Zoe "I can hurt you"
    Kaylee is so adorable, and Mal is an utter ass today. I'm glad they didn't let him get away with that.
    Lol, Jayne "Hurt our feelings"
    I kind of love how immature they were just then.
    Nice gun security
    She is not blushing because she's ashamed, she's blushing because you're being socially inappropriate, you jerk.
    She is so fucking cute. "And so do I, how bout that!"
    Poor River.
    I love the Wash/Zoe conversations
    Stupid bitches.
    I think the funny part of him telling the girls off is that their offense was totally wrong. They were completely pleased with perpetrating human trafficking, but horrified that people knew they had _sex_.
    Casual ownership >.>. Though I'm pretty sure Mal didn't mean it as such. I think he meant "Inara, that we both know" and Atherton heard "Inara, that we've both had"
    And she called him on his attempt to shame her.
    Yeah, just shut up Mal. Digging a hole.
    "These people like me…". most awkward line ever.
    Kaylee found her crowd! And I like that they are respecting her femininity as well.
    Haha, why the fuck do they even have duels. I guess just for fun?
    Aww Kaylee's party got ruined.
    "Because it's my decision, not yours" you tell him Inara
    And Inara is teaching him how to swordfight, talk about reversal.
    Diversions don't work if they divert the people that need them.
    Mal, you just can't keep your mouth shut.
    This is some romance cliche stuff here. Rule Breaker/Slave to the Rules
    He kind of reminds me of Edward Cullen (Atherton).
    "You lost her lad, be gracious" second most awkward line ever.
    Haha, Wash.
    "Why's that?" "Because I love you, duh" Come on, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife.

    • notemily says:

      The electric pool is one of those things they put into science fiction shows that are supposed to be like "ooh, that's cool," but in reality it's no better or more useful than REGULAR BILLIARD BALLS. I did like the little "zap" noise the ball made when you hit it though 🙂

      I'm not too impressed with Morena Baccarin's acting in this episode. I think she has better moments. Like some scenes in later episodes on which I will not elaborate.

      • notemily says:

        I should add though that I like the closing scene with her being like "plus, all my things are here." Earlier in the episode, basically until Mal punches Atherton, I think she's awkward and stilted for some reason.

  21. Annette says:

    Reading your reviews is like watching the series again for the very first time… thank you for that!! I only discovered it a couple years ago, but I've watched it thru easily a dozen times (and discover new bits every time).

  22. Jeanette says:

    I started watching Castle because I was a big Nathan Fillion fan after seeing him in Firefly. Hands down, best moment in Castle was a Halloween episode where his costume was a space cowboy!!!!! And yeah, he dressed up as Captain Malcolm Reynolds. It was a beautiful little homage to this great and short-lived show.

    • Hypatia_ says:

      And I love Alexis' response to it (this may not be a perfect quote, I'm going from memory here): "Okay, one, there are no cows in space" (CLEARLY you are wrong, my dear!) "and two, didn't you wear that, like, five years ago? I think it's time to move on." No, Alexis. It is never time to move on from Firefly.

    • echinodermata says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      Crappy quality gif is better than none at all

    • Sierra says:

      Oh, Castle is full of Firefly references. I think Nathan tries to sneak one in at least every week. He even stole a prop (won't say what because I don't remember which episode it was in) and it sits on Castle's bookcase.

  23. Danielle says:

    My favourite part in this episode is when those guys are all hanging on Kaylee's every word while she talks about engines, and that one guy tries to ask her to dance, and the other guys are all "SHUT UP, DUDE, SHE'S TALKING."

  24. Steve says:

    In the writer's commentary for the episode, Espenson mentions that she wrote the ball as a reference to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" – the Mal/Inara conversation and dance parallels Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy. So English Country Dancing is on the mark. We had an English Country Dancing lesson at my college. One of the lit classes was focusing on Austen's work and put the program together – it was a lot of fun, though harder than it looks.

    I love Kayleigh's ongoing love of strawberries. A very nice character shade, a reference to the rules of the characters' world (lack of fresh fruit), and also a nice callback to the pilot.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Oh shit, thanks for that insight! That makes that scene even better than before.

    • Tanbarkie says:

      Plus, Kaylee + strawberries is, for those of us attracted to women, roughly akin to Shirtless!Fillion from a previous thread (or JayneArmPorn from this one).

    • Openattheclose says:

      I think I love JE even more for doing a Pride and Prejudice call back (even though it's been done many times before).

    • Nibor says:

      I'm ashamed I didn't pick up on that until you pointed it out. P&P is my favorite book.

    • ldwy says:

      "Jane Austen Dance" is exactly what it made me think of.

  25. pica_scribit says:

    I love this episode so much, in spite of the slightly stilted dialogue and the very distractingly obvious smoke machine during the duel scene. It has some really fantastic character moments.

  26. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mark Watches ‘Firefly’: Episode 4 – Shindig | Mark Watches --

  27. newageamazon says:

    This is probably my favorite episode, if only for the scene of Kaylee, in her frilly dress, commanding the attention of just about every guy at the party because she can talk about ships with them. I love how Joss and his team manage to nail an awesome balance with the women of Serenity: being strong hasn't made them less feminine or erased all of their "feminine" interests…which is sadly the case with how a lot of strong women in media are portrayed. Zoe can shoot your face off, but she still sometimes likes to wear slinky dresses and is very much in love with her husband.

  28. echinodermata says:

    Anyone who doesn't love Kaylee after this episode is dead inside.

    Wow, I forgot how awesome this episode is. I remembered the major points, but I totally forgot some of the awesome dialogue…the slinky dress, "captain tightpants," just fantastic writing. And I loved the door to Kaylee's room and other details about how the layout of the ship isn't what we're used to.

    Also, I remember the first time I watched it, and was like…cows? Seriously? Haha, I love it.

  29. paceofnature says:

    I'm not sure how not knowing something (dance history) makes you a bigot, Mark, and I think fandoms' tendency to analyze things and race to raise the social justice banner might be heading into overkill if people are confusing ignorance or even disinterest with bigotry.

    But it was probably just a joke, and now I look like the asshole. *sigh* Sorry.

  30. summeriris says:

    I did love in the cast comments on this episode where Morena was talking about how her dress was the cotsume designers wedding dress with the bodice on backwards.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      Oh thank you for mentioning this! I was actually admiring the back of Inara's dress during the whole dance scene – I guess that explains it!

    • notemily says:

      I love Mal's comment of "I think she's wearing gold." He would never openly admit how much attention he pays to her.

  31. Tanbarkie says:

    Hate to break it to ya, but this isn't really a show about plot (at least, not in the sense that, say, "Lost" or "Battlestar Galactica" are). There *is* an overarching arc, and each individual episode has a self-contained story (and I do promise those episode plots get better!), but as with "Buffy" and "Angel," Whedon is always more interested in exploring character than setting up long-running mysteries. In Whedon's shows, the cataclysmic plot twists tend to be kind of minor if viewed from a "global" scale (yes, even in "Buffy"), but utterly devastating to the characters we know and love.

  32. shadeedge says:

    I like that Mal actually gets properly injured here. It would have been very easy to give him some kind of superficial or even no wound in an effort to make him look cool, but that he actually gets pretty badly hurt lends credence to the fight and ends up making him look more awesome than if he'd won easily.

  33. bibliotrek says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes precisely because of the Jane Austen connection. I also love the send-up of dueling — I mean, the assumption is that con-man space cowboy Mal will win at any fight, and in a lot of other texts he'd end up being a great fencer too. But I love that he can't handle a sword at all, and that he gets wounded, and that he refuses to do EITHER "honorable" thing when defeating Atherton (he could let him live, or he could abide by Persephone's honor code and kill him, but instead he just stabs him a few times). There's so much great dialogue, — in keeping with the Austen theme — and I just love it so much!

    I do have one major critique, though. The episode celebrates different versions of femininity, from Kaylee's frilly-dress and ship talk to Zoe's being able to both hurt Jayne and be so in love with Wash to Inara's right not to be judged negatively for her job. And yet — I mentioned this in another comment — when the old dude comes to Kaylee's defense with the snobby women, he slut-shames the Mean Girl instead of calling her out on her classism. All that emphasis on different versions of femininity, but that's the put down that we're supposed to cheer? Really? While Mal and Atherton are fighting over calling Inara a whore, people can call other women whores and be thanked?

    I'm not saying that the woman shouldn't have been called out; she should have been. But she should have been called out for her elitist attitude, not for how many people she decides to sleep with.

    • Kripa says:

      I think the purpose of the "slutshaming" was all about how the mean girl would have reacted, not the attitude of the guy making the comment. Basically, she'd get all offended at the suggestion that she likes sex, but she sees nothing wrong with owning slaves. Kaylee, Zoe, and Inara would all OWN their sexuality, but the classist girl can't.

    • takashid says:

      "I'm not saying that the woman shouldn't have been called out; she should have been. But she should have been called out for her elitist attitude, not for how many people she decides to sleep with. "

      …um, the old guy who calls her out is another one of those same elitist, super rich types. hes not gonna call her out for that when he is part of the same social structure. thus, he goes with something else.

      • bibliotrek says:

        Because no one who is part of a privileged social structure could ever recognize their own privilege and call other people out when they act like asses?

        Besides, there's absolutely no indication that the show finds his statement problematic.

    • notemily says:

      When he explains it to Kaylee he says "I cannot abide useless people," which I assume meant shallow and petty, so I wish his insult to the girl had been about that and not about how easy she is.

    • Sierra says:

      I think it's because him stating the obvious/truthful wouldn't have hurt her: "You're a useless dilettante" and she would have been like, "um, so?" It's like when kids taunt each other with "your mama" jokes; they may or may not be accurate, and more often than not they have absolutely nothing to do with anything else that's being discussed at the moment. It's just a cheap and easy jab that's pretty sure to have the desired effect of getting under the other person's skin.

  34. D.J. says:

    I liked this episode most for a glimpse of how "society" works on the different planets – Persephone is a border planet and seem to have their own form of "landed aristocracy" but the overwhelming impression I got is that they really really WANT to be like they think the aristocracy is in the Core (or whatever passes for it) but don't really know how. I'm betting they were all carpet-baggers before they started giving themselves titles and such.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      Interesting thought! I feel like I may have heard a justification for this viewpoint in a commentary or an interview or something. . . But yeah, that would make a lot of sense and make the Firefly universe even more encompassing than it already seems.

  35. Openattheclose says:

    Does anyone else love that there is a Jones soda Buffy comic ad in the right corner of the screen right now? I want some of Giles's Grape Potion!

  36. Elfy says:

    This is one of my favourite episodes and when the series really kicked into high gear for me. I loved the blending of the cultures that we saw in this, the Old West mixed with pre Civil War South, but overseen by a heavy Asian influence. I mentioned this before, but there’s a scene in Chris Wooding’s great book Retribution Falls that immediately made me flash on this episode.

  37. Enigmaticrose4 says:

    "# It needs to be said: Nathan Fillion is perfect as Malcolm Reynolds. He’s so good, in fact, that I regret writing off this show AND Castle because the previews for Castle were so irritating. His comedic/dramatic timing is impeccable, but more importantly, he’s believable. And that makes all the difference."


    You have to do Castle next!!!! He's just as amazing in there as he is in here. And Stana Katic is the perfect straight man (woman) as Detective Kate Beckett.

    Can you tell I'm a super fan of the show?

    • cait0716 says:

      I always get the slight impression that Nathan Fillion is more or less playing himself in Castle. Maybe he's not quite as extreme in some sense (arrogant, carefree, etc), but from the interviews and behind the scenes stuff I've seen, they definitely share a sense of humor.

      Also, I'll watch pretty much anything Nathan Fillion is in

  38. cait0716 says:

    We can start referring to Mal as Captain Tightpants! Hooray!

    I have to say, Mark, when I re-watched this episode, all I could think about was your reaction to Inara and Mal's conversation when she was teaching him to swordfight. Joss does a pretty spectacular job of dealing with the fact that Inara is a companion and Mal is uncomfortable with this. But it isn't just a deeply ingrained sexist/classist attitude that colors Mal's actions. He has feelings for Inara that he doesn't quite understand, and that causes him to lash out in not-so-good ways when he deals with her.

    On an unrelated note, River affecting Badger's accent is a great moment. So is Kaylee talking space ships at the party.

  39. hassibah says:

    I don't know if this was mentioned already but I guess we should be giving props to Jane Espenson also since she was the main writer of this episode!

  40. FireflyRocks says:

    Okay if you never watch Castle you at least have to watch the opening to the Halloween episode Vampire Diaries. Made me and my brother rofl. I wonder how many people got it though.

    *no spoilers involved*

  41. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Can I just say that I love that Kaylee (or Kaywinnit Lee Frye, as she probably hates to be called) always has slightly frizzy hair and that Zoe always has her hair up?

    I often feel that the people responsible for those kinds of decisions on TV shows think we're going to forget that their Action Girls are women if they don't wear high heels and have OMG!PerfectLongFlowingHair, even though it would realistically get in the way of their jobs.

  42. porcupine8 says:

    This episode left me confused about the actual political and social status of companions in this universe.

    Up until now, we've been led to believe that it is a very high-ranking and elite profession, although that may be because we've mostly heard about it from Inara. But Atherton's attitudes and how he treats Inara don't suggest that. On the one hand, she can blacklist him from all companions forever, and this seems to be shameful. But on the other hand, he apparently wasn't aware of this and thought that he was the one with the power in the relationship. How could he (who clearly is of a class that should be uber-aware of social status and niceties) be so completely unaware of this if companions are truly as respected as we've been led to believe? How could he think he could treat her like that and get away with it? It's as though Atherton were from our world and is shocked to have been thrown into this one and have to conform to their norms.

    Anyhow, that bothered me about this episode and continued to bother me throughout the series. But Kaylee is just about awesome enough to make up for it. This is one of my two favorite Kaylee episodes. (The other is upcoming.)

    • D.J. says:

      I think it has to do with the difference between the Core and the Border planets. Compare/contrast for example how Simon treats Inara – with extraordinary respect – vs how Atherton and some others do. Recall the interrogator from Bushwhacked was respectful towards her as well, and expressed some surprise that someone like herself would be on that ship and so far away from "civilization". Companions are more common on the Core and remember Inara left to travel the more recently settled outer planets, many of which have probably only heard of Companions and not been exposed to them. Also following from a comment I made above, my personal theory is that the "nobility" of Persephone aren't so much actual nobility as they are sort of "nouveau riche" – esque, if that makes any sense. I think if we ever get to see Inara on her home planet or one of the other Core ones, we'd see her getting a much different reaction.
      Plus Atherton's a bit of a dick, no?

    • Sierra says:

      Atherton strikes me as the type who thinks he can throw money and/or his name at anybody and anything and get his way (as mentioned below, a very nouveau riche attitude), and his selfishness trumps societal conventions or demands. At the duel at the end, he's told "you've lost her, lad, be gracious," and he should have stopped, but kept going because he couldn't see (or care) beyond his wounded pride.

  43. jonni13 says:

    So glad you're enjoying it! Not sure I would have coped if you'd ripped it to shreds 8~}
    Kaylee is made of sunshine and phoenix feathers 🙂
    Wash is possibly my favourite character, certainly the one I most relate to (but I wish I was more like Zoe)

  44. takashid says:

    Wow, so much talk about bad Mal and his prejudice! i don't know if I'm not analyzing enough or something, but i didn't think Mal was being prejudiced or a bigot, i just figured he makes cracks about Inara's job because he wanted her to himself, but couldn't admit it or something like that. its pretty obvious theres something between them, and i dont think any guy would be happy that the girl he likes sleeps with a bunch of other men, even if it was her job. besides (sort of a spoler, not really anything big though) you will see down the line that mal doesnt hate on other people in Inara's line of work.

  45. embers says:

    I thought that they were waltzing, which is a dance which developed out of the old English country dances during the Edwardian Age (when Jane Austen was alive and writing novels), and which continues to be the high class/society dance done today…. But I could be wrong.

    One of my favorite moments in Shindig was when River talked to Badger, perfectly imitating his accent, and masterfully putting him down. This was quite an accomplishment for the young actress Summer Glau whose career in acting started with Joss Whedon recognizing how awesome she is.

    • summeriris says:

      Jane Austin lived during the Late Georgian/Regency period. Austen died in 1817. That was 100 years before the Edwardian Age

      • summeriris says:

        Sorry I posted too soon. The waltz originated in Vienna during the Regency/Napolionic era. It did not evolve from the Counrty style dancing as Counrty style dancing is performed by 4 or more couples dancing in sets. The waltz was very different and it derived from the minuet which was also a couple only dance, which features the most distinctive element in waltzing which was turning in a circle. Try and do a Vienesse Waltz. You will quickly discover the neccessity of 'spotting'. Waltzing was considered very shocking as it entailed the gentleman taking the lady in his arms. You can see elements of the minuet when Mal and Inara are dancing, their hands touch as they turn contra to each other and then they join their hands and proceed in a very dignified manner around the room.

  46. Beth says:

    I felt the same way about it when I watched it. The characters were fun, but the plots were sort of annoying. I thought it was a cute show, and definitely enjoyable and watchable, but I wasn't in love.

    Though I had heard from so many people that it was OMG AMAZING that maybe I went in with too high of expectations.

  47. notemily says:

    This is a great episode for character moments, but on re-watching I grow bored of the Mal/Inara/Atherton triangle. I would rather watch Kaylee question the buffet table and win over all the dudes in the room by talking about engines nonstop. I love the part where someone wants to ask her to dance and the other dude is like "Hey, she's talking! Let her talk!" Hahaha awesome. Kaylee <3333

    River's moment when she talks to Badger IN HIS OWN ACCENT is one of my favorite River moments. The best part is how Simon is so nervous about what's going to happen, and then she just totally stuns them all AND keeps Badger from asking more questions about why she's on board. I WILL NOT TALK ABOUT WHY SHE RIPS LABELS OFF CANS. I like the game they're playing, though. "Plums are tall." WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN

    I really enjoy your perspective on the feminist aspects of the show. I think a lot of people tend to take whatever Mal says as what Whedon thinks is right, but it's not true. (I mean come on, the Joss stand-in is OBVIOUSLY Wash.) Mal honestly doesn't realize that there isn't much of a difference between insulting what Inara does and insulting who she is.

    The dance to me looked like an English country dance, the kind they do in Jane Austen's time. (There's a good one in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley.) Its modern cousin is called contra dance and is very popular among hippies in New England but not, sadly, in Milwaukee, where I live.

    I love the bit at the end where Kaylee has her dress in her room and is playing the music and reliving the experience. Especially when put in the context of Mal's insult to her earlier, about what she was going to do with the dress. And her delight at getting to wear the dress and go to a fancy party is wonderful. I love how she loves engines and ships and ALSO fancy parties and floofy dresses.

    My roommate MADE HERSELF this dress and wore it to the premiere of Serenity. She still has it, too.

    "It's the only party." "And I can see why!"

  48. RiverRocks says:


    They had Blue Sun labels on them. If you go back to the first episode when they were picking up passengers you will notice Blue Sun posters on various things.

    • notemily says:

      Please stop spoiling.

    • takashid says:

      Dude! dont tell Mark that!

    • steph says:

      I’m not going to say much because I don’t want to even remotely get close to spoilers but I didn’t even know why and I’ve seen all of the show multiple times. Sure you guys are remembering the show correctly. Meaning…. things found out later…(ahhh this is difficult and I don’t eve know anything to spoil. Maybe because of that? Lol) I guess it still counts though…..=/

      • Hermione_Danger says:

        There are also spoilers in the sense of "HEY MARK YOU KNOW THIS TINY INSIGNIFICANT DETAIL???? IT"S ACTUALLY SUPER IMPORTANT!!!" i.e. the locket found in Grimmauld Place in Harry Potter. Pointing out something that hasn't become important yet counts as a spoiler.

        • RiverRocks says:

          "WHY DID RIVER RIP THE LABELS OFF THOSE CANS. I don’t get it, guys."

          That was Mark's comment that I was replying to. The label thing is not not explained very well in the show and I thought that my comment wasn't saying anything that the writers didn't already want you to know. If you guys disagree then let me say sorry and that I'll be more careful.

  49. Naazneen says:

    I really loved this episode. It brought up so many interesting issues between Mal & Inara specifically. He might be attracted to her, and she to him on some level, but there is a massive elephant in the room. And unless Mal gets his head out of his ass, it wont help anything ever. God i love Joss so much!

  50. bookling says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: A really good writer will allow his or her characters to suffer, experience loss, and hurt. Bravo, Whedon.

    Oh my god Mark, you don't even know. Whedon is like an evil master of tragedy. JKR-level tragedy. I think the saddest thing I've ever seen on television is a certain episode of Buffy, where I cried and cried because it was so heartbreaking.

    Shindig is one of my favorite episodes because Kaylee is my favorite character. I absolutely love her talking about engines with all the men after being dissed by the other women. Fuck y'all, Kaylee doesn't need your approval.

    And you've nailed the Inara/Mal dynamic perfectly. Mal thinks he's being all knight-in-shining-armor, but he's really being a condescending arrogant bumrag. And yet — Fillion still makes him likeable. I'm glad you are coming around to like Nathan Fillion, because he's really fantastic.

  51. Stephalopolis says:

    For some reason, I don't have many Random Thoughts/Memorable Quotes for this episode. It was a good episode, just… I dunno, not much for me to comment on. Anyhoos…

    Random Thoughts/Memorable Quotes

    * The fight scenes are starting to improve 🙂 That first fight in the bar didn’t seem as choreographed as the ones in the beginning of the show were.
    * "Yes sir, Captain Tightpants"
    * I kind of assumed Kaylee would get her ruffly dress, but I smiled when it came true 🙂 She’s so sweet, how could Mal say no to her? (I mean, sure, he had ulterior motives, but she got her dress anyway.)
    * Kaylee smiles the same way I do when I’m trying to get something.
    * “Turns out this is my kind of party!”
    * I loved the scheming of the crew while Mal was dueling. Sure, it ended up being necessary, but it was entertaining how they "tried".
    * At first, I was thinking to myself "Huh, River has an accent? I guess I never heard her talk enough before to know that." It wasn't until I read your review that I realized she was mocking Badger 😛
    * Every scene with Kaylee makes my day. Makes me happy, makes me smile. I loved her window shopping, I loved her at the party, I loved her in her room…. I loved it all 🙂
    * Cows.

  52. Plummy says:

    This is awesome! I have been a huge fan of your reviews for ages, but am just now commenting with the new server. 🙂 I love reading all of your reviews (especially HP!) because it's like being a new reader/viewer, all over again, and your commentary is hilarious. After you finish Firefly, I wanted to recommend Dollhouse–Joss' newest TV show. It was cancelled after two seasons so it's not an epic Buffy-level commitement, and it is definitley worth a watch. It has great characterization, interesting commentary on morality, and some phenominal acting. You would like it!

  53. hazelwillow says:

    I think Mal insults Inara and is opposed to her job because he likes her and actually deep down wants a monogamous relationship with her, and as a companion she wouldn't be able to do that. So he's jealous of all the men who are her clients.

    When I first saw this episode, I thought Mal "saving" Inara was problematic. It made me mad. But when I saw it a second time I didn't have such a strong reaction to it. It does acknowledge that Mal's attitude is wrong and stupid.
    Originally, when I was watching the fight at the end I wanted Inara to just step in and fight herself. She is the better swordswoman. But I guess she wouldn't do that, because she doesn't need to defend herself that way anyway. I don't know… I have a hard time deciphering this episode. On the one hand, Mal is an idiot and we all know it. On the other hand, Inara's profession isn't depicted in the most positive light either –people seem to disrespect companions more than they should –making Mal's "I need to come in and stand up for you" more justified.
    I should watch it again…


  54. whatsername says:

    "It needs to be said: Nathan Fillion is perfect as Malcolm Reynolds. He’s so good, in fact, that I regret writing off this show AND Castle because the previews for Castle were so irritating. His comedic/dramatic timing is impeccable, but more importantly, he’s believable. And that makes all the difference."

    And now you're starting to understand why I run the Fuck Yeah Nathan Fillion tumblr. 😉

  55. Tilja says:

    I finally found this ep, under the title of episode 7 'Our Mrs Reynolds.' So I guess I'm reliving the original out-of-order order of eps FOX had, and badly named to boot.

    What can I say? Kaylee keeps top place in my list of favorite characters on this show, followed by Mal, now not so close up. I still think all his attitude fits his character so I'll leave him on a good place. River is still on the same level as before and I hope I can see more on why she's the way she is before the finish of this short series.

    All that said, being short is not so bad for me. I wish it had been planned short, so we would have all the necessary answers before the end. Anyway, thanks to my discovery of the bad naming of the chapters, I'll keep behind your watching in order to actually find out which episode is which before watching it. So I'm behind intentionally now. I'll watch Serenity with you, though, there's no way that one is wrongly put! … Is there?

    • Hermione_Danger says:

      Wait, what? How are you watching these? Online, or on a DVD, or what? 'Cause on the DVD the order shouldn't be messed up…

  56. Jim says:

    I think it's an oversimplification to refer to Inara as a sex worker. What she does is more akin to a Courtesan or a Geisha. The service she offers is to give the client what they need. For a rustic Borderworld baron that may be bringing a bit of culture to make him feel like he's as good as those Wealthy Core folks who look down on him. For the magistrates son in Jaynestown it was the boost in self esteem he needed to step out of his domineering fathers shadow. Atherton wanted to enhance his prestige in the community by owning a companion much like someone might display a Monet to show he has both wealth and taste. Of course Mal's only seeing the sex either.
    Therein lies the problem. The girl he likes is having sex with other guys and he doesn't like it. It doesn't help that she doesn't have any qualms about sleeping with the arrogant condescending pricks who lounged around in luxury on the core worlds while thier Storm Troopers slaughtered all his friends in the war. So he's torn between a real contempt for what she does and with who, and a real attraction and admiration for who she is as a person.

    • Erika says:

      I'm glad you said this, I was starting to feel like everyone is so focused on "Mal is TTLY sexist, and disrespects the profession of Companion!" … that we're overlooking the main issue he has with Inara's profession: Jealousy! Hello? He loves Inara; he can't have her but other men get to – ergo quid pro quo summa cum laude veni vedi vici… he gets hostile about it. I can't really call Mal sexist, his relationships with the women are professional, respectful, and affectionate – it's only towards Inara that he behaves badly, and that's pure and simple jealousy. Other than that, I can't say much about him being a chauvinist. Sure, he has his "protect the womenfolk" mode, but I've never really seen protectiveness as chauvinistic. You protect that which you value. And it's not limited to the women, he's protective of ALL of his crew. Even Simon and Shepherd Book.

      tl;dr – Mal is awesome and he's lovable even if he's cranky and rude and bullheaded and somewhat of a dumbass at times. Because he'd do anything for his crew and he has a weird nobility that makes him a Good Guy.

  57. Do you people have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

  58. Sierra says:

    OMG Firefly and Doctor Who and Harry Potter and Labyrinth and Love Actually? I LOVE IT.

  59. Hantarbinee says:

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  60. Rattie Mattie says:

    You want subtext, Mark?

    You need to see these two links. They are trailers for the Korean television airings of Sherlock. These showed up in one of my fan communities and we all fell over after seeing them.

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  61. AlmostLiterally says:

    "I was actually mad when the other companions dissed Kaylee. FUCK YOU, YOUR DRESS LOOKS LIKE DRAPERY."

    Oh man, same here. That was middle school all over again. God bless the old man that came to Kaylee's rescue.

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