Mal has standards. This is good to know. Given the finer establishments he and Jayne frequent for business and recreation a certain restraint and deference to the customs and mores of the clientele lends itself to a far more convivial atmosphere for crime. So Mal will only pickpocket slavers, not your garden variety smuggler, that’s just gauche. Inara, quick study that she is, seems to get that eventually most of these fetes of Mal’s end up with Jayne swinging a very big stick. Thus it was ever so. After the jump.
Ah another planet, another bar, another bar fight, and another quick departure. Life on Serenity has its own rhythm as we are now beginning to see. As Mal says “Resupply, look for work, move along. We sniff the air. We don’t kiss the dirt.” Too many people are looking for Mal and his merry band, so a life on the move is the better part of valor.
Inara has standards. We start to get a hint of them as we see her reviewing some prospective clients. It seems she has little interest in perhaps de-flowering a rather nervous young man, but can be sweet talked into an arrangement with an apparently charming regular client. They’ll be attending the social even of the year it seems, and this charming fellow has another proposition for Inara. Mal of course needs to visit Inara’s shuttle to tell her it’s 10:30 local time and to set up the sexual tension.
A quick stop on Persephone and they’ll be on their way. Ahhh, but the comforts of civilization and what it could add to their lives. Zoe’d like a slinky dress. So would Wash and Jayne. A slinky dress for Zoe that is. Kaylee the farm girl is more taken with a layer-cake monstrosity. Sorry, but I’m guessing our new friends the SWFGs would agree. Still, Mal is a bit clueless and manages to get the women-folk riled at him. Oh he’ll have to patch all that up eventually, but he and Jayne have more immediate patching up to do.
Persephone is the home of our old friend Badger, the local fixer and black marketeer who left Mal and the crew in the lurch with some hot cargo recently, sending them into the loving arms of Patience, who once again shot Mal. That happens a lot.
Badger, while he may have roots in the community doesn’t have Mal’s social graces and discerning taste in company, so he needs Mal’s help. A social event for the cream of Persephone’s society is scheduled, and Badger has a business proposition for a member of that smart set. He wants Mal to deliver it. As an aside I just have to observe here that I love some of Whedon’s sight gags. The tea set, and tea sandwiches were classic, and Jayne stuffing them in his mouth three at a time hilarious, set off with Jayne’s sudden command of a broader vocabulary than we ever thought him capable. I know I often gloss over the funnier bits, but there are usually far too many in any one episode to note them all.
So Mal needs to make amends to Kaylee. He needs a respectable date for the shindig. With Inara and Zoe both otherwise engaged (and River still a bit crazy) that leaves Kaylee, and her lovely dress. On to the shindig where Mal sort of fits in and Kaylee seems a bit of a fish out of water. But they have a great buffet and a floating chandelier. I don’t know why they have a floating chandelier either. Mal manages to navigate the new social environment long enough to make contact with the prospective client, but not quite long enough to close the deal. Kaylee manages to find a sympathetic soul and become the belle of the ball. But Mal being Mal and this being a party we all know what’s coming, especially since Inara is there in a professional capacity.
Mal has standards. He may not approve of what Inara does, but he really disapproves of her “date’s” attitude. Whoring is one thing, being a manhandling jerk is another. Mal’s more noble (or jealous) instincts kick in and the offending party is laid out on the floor, courtesy of Mal’s fist. Now Mal is in his element, a fight. Except he isn’t, quite.
It seems that the local customs and mores require that for a fight, rather than beat on each other and then go their separate ways, they both get a good night sleep and then hack at each other with swords the next morning till one of them is dead, in a civilized manner. Civilized fights aren’t really Mal’s forte.
Mal never runs from a fight. Well that’s not quite true. He runs from fights all the time. But not this one. Mal also has a sense of honor. A really, really weird sense of honor. I guess it’s OK for Mal to split hairs and disapprove of Inara’s profession, but for another guy to show her a different sort of disrespect is beyond the pale. It’s a bit confusing, but it comes back to Mal not liking people feeling they can push others around. Especially when one of those others is part of Mal’s crew. Or who he considers part of his crew. Only Mal gets to push them around and be rude to them. Mal has standards after all.
On to the duel. Civilized fights aren’t Mal’s forte, so Mal fairs poorly. It looks like the end for our fearless leader, until he get’s the chance to make the fight into a rather uncivilized one. Brawls are Mal’s forte, and with fortunes reversed Mal shows some mercy, of a sort. After all, he only wanted to beat on the cad for a bit, not kill him. But payback is a bit of a bitch. I’m sorry, I know it’s not civilized of me, but I laughed.
With the job secured and the crew re-united and the cargo loaded it’s time for everyone to get back to their own little bit of civilization on Serenity, where everyone understands the rules and they’re all on the same page. Sort of.
Overall I saw this episode as a mid-packer. In one sense it’s sort of a bottle show, but some of the plot points tie into other episodes. Once again this was aired out of order by Fox, though I must admit that the one they aired in its place is one of what I consider the strongest episodes of the series. Still, an entertaining if not astounding episode.
Since I understand there is some confusion with the order of the episodes I’ll take a moment to clarify. We’re piggybacking on Alan Sepinwall’s summer rewind, which will air the episodes in the order Joss Whedon intended, the order they are presented on the DVD. If you are following IMDB you’ll be hopelessly lost very quickly. To avoid confusion here is the order of the episodes we will follow.
1.00 Serenity (pilot)
1.01 The Train Job
1.05 Our Mrs. Reynolds
1.07 Out of Gas
1.09 War Stories
1.11 The Message
1.12 Heart of Gold
1.13 Objects in Space
Serenity (the theatrical release)
Once again my appologies for the late review, but hey it’s summer.