• This is one my favorite Firefly episodes, probably because I like the humor and because it’s very Kaylee-centric and seems to try to make her more of a person. There are a lot of great line in here, from “a swhat?” to “sleepiness is weakness of character.” Indeed, the scene with Zoe and Wash is an utter delight. So is Mark Shepard, but I can’t think of a time where the king of TV guest stars isn’t.

    The question of how the show treats the idea of a Companion is a good one, and I really can’t tell what it wants to do. But I will reserve further commentary on that till one of the latter episodes really makes us think about what Joss and crew were up to.

    And the older Clark Gable lookalike is such a strange one-off character. I always wondered just what inspiration led to having him show up. The actor, BTW, was named

    Larry Pennell and he actually played Gable three times in a long but unstoried career.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      It’s really just a great hangout episode with a minor plot attached to it to justify all these fun scenes – I had trouble trimming down which quotes I used because I didn’t want to take all the good ones in case people wanted to quote it in the comments. That’s a good point about Kaylee, too – I know a lot of women like her, and it becomes clearer this episode.

      From a genre standpoint, I see the purpose of Old Clark Gable – there’s always a cool old dude going around owning people in these stories, like Mr Bennet in Pride And Prejudice.

    • DJ JD

      I’m looking forward to that discussion on Companions, because they never even remotely worked for me as a device but I kept changing my mind about why. The idea that the show itself didn’t entirely buy its premise is one I could get behind, though.

  • ZoeZ

    Continued mourning of Ron Glass: his reading of the “mystery meals” line is excellently layered, because you can hear the kind of bubble of anger underneath it that he’s not only striving to control, but trying to control not only to repress it, but to repress it enough to reassure Simon. Which is kind of Book in a nutshell–going past some kind of buried violence to the deliberate choice of kindness.

    Kaylee’s dress is an excellent layer cake.

    I think the only time I bought the Companions was when Inara was hired by the mid-level bureaucrat to deflower his son and she provides serenity more than seduction: there’s the division there between what people expect (prostitution, but not the kind just any schmuck can afford) and the more meditative and generalized way the Companions regard their own work. But most of the time it just doesn’t work, nor do the services seem like they’re so particular that they would ever actually be rare. (There’s always a problem with depicting genius in art, because the moment comes when you have to show brilliance in action, and it doesn’t always come across.)

    • Drunk Napoleon

      I love that reading.

      I think the kind of ownage Inara delivers really says something about the gulf between what the show is trying to do with her and what it actually achieves. Her casual strolling in to save Mal and Zoe in “The Train Job” worked perfectly, but “Now NOBODY will EVER have sex with you AGAIN!” just kinda thuds.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        One of the many bummers of Firefly being cancelled (besides that we just don’t get much more of this universe) is that we understandably don’t get a lot of the nuances and depth a show that lasts longer could bring here.

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford

    “Mercy is the mark of a great man…”
    *stab*
    “Guess I’m just a good one.”
    *stab*
    “Eh, I’m alright.”

    Probably the biggest difference between Mal and say Vic Mackey is that while Mal has some self-righteousness about the war he has a sense of survival and workaday “do what you gotta do” morality that keeps him from seeing himself as inherently superior. The Operative believes anything he does is justified by the world without sin (and admits freely that he does not believe he has a place in that world and would martyr himself for it) where Mal doesn’t give a damn about martyrdom or true utopia, just maintaining himself, the crew, and maybe doing the right thing if he can. That’s an ethic I can get behind: one day at a time, pragmatic justice.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      That quote is on a whole other level. Even the way Fillion delivers it is hilarious – that last line, he’s genuinely exasperated with himself.

      That’s really the appeal of Mal as a character in a nutshell – he wants to do good, but he can’t always, so he does the best he can.

      • Mal’s highest goal is heroism and he’ll settle for ownage.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          God damn, I’m stealing that.

  • Rucker and Cohlchez vs. Evil 🌹

    Mal lays out the difference between he and Atherton as being that while he doesn’t respect Inara’s job, he respects Inara herself and Atherton doesn’t, and I think the episode agrees with him while I don’t – “I may not respect your choice of a career, your choice of friends, or your privacy, but I respect you!” – and I think that, if the show was less head-over-heels for Mal and didn’t apologise for his hypocrisy, I’d take it a lot better.

    Yeah, I think this is bang on and why a lot of this stuff never worked for me, either. Your “quote” of Mal’s thought process definitely strikes me as a distinction without a difference, and Mal himself has absolutely no grounds to be so high-minded and judgmental. Is it mere jealousy? They portray Mal’s attitude, as you said, a fair bit more forgivingly than they ought.