Welcome back to Firefly Rewatch! It’s time to get chugging along on “The Train Job” (womp womp).
We open in a bar with a Hollywood-ized belly dancer and a conglomeration of instruments trying to sound sort of Middle Eastern, while Mal, Zoë, and Jayne play Chinese checkers, which I’m pretty sure is an American game. Hurray exoticism. I do, however, love the cut-off water bottles used as glasses.
Come to find out, it’s Unification Day, which commemorates the loss of the Independents. Sad day for Browncoats. And, as Zoë later points out, Mal always seems to find a good fight on Unification Day. So of course, they get in way over their heads. Even Jayne gets involved, despite claiming, “I didn’t fight in no war.” Oh, Jayne. Your morality is suspect.
Serenity shows up over the cliff’s edge and Wash makes a great funny by threatening the Alliance friendlies with the ship’s guns that don’t exist. Guess the Independents had less in number, but they certainly make up for it in brains.
“I don’t care, I’m still free”
Well, now we’re right into a freaky brain surgery scene. This is all happening inside River’s head, no wonder the poor thing has trouble sleeping. When she returns to the world of the living, we finally start to see how much she holds in her incredible brain when she recites all the crazy facts for a Firefly class ship. “‘Mal’… bad, in the Latin.” Girl, we all know that. We read Harry Potter.
Book starts to point out Mal’s good qualities, to Mal’s annoyance. Mal also makes it clear that he’s not interested in God – a somewhat different attitude than the Battle at Serenity Valley.
“If I’m your mission, Shepherd, best give it up. You’re welcome on my boat. God ain’t.”
More Inara and Kaylee moments. This relationship is one of the many that did not get as much time as I wanted due to The Cancellation (anyone have a better name for this? Let’s all take a moment to shake our fists at the TV execs. *SHAKES FIST*)
Inara explains a bit about Guild law. Each Companion chooses her clients, rather than the clients choosing her. Mal comes in and makes more nasty comments about Inara’s career, but I think he mostly just does this because he’s jealous and doesn’t understand. Again Mal’s feelings for Inara surfaces a bit when he mentions the supremely evil Niska. He asks her to stick to the ship – clearly Niska makes him a bit nervous and he tends to get a bit overprotective of Inara. It’s nice to see a bit of their relationship when they’re not in the presence of other people – immediately after Kaylee leaves the room Mal softens up a bit and it’s clear they are keenly aware of their feelings. Or at least Inara is. Mal might be too stubborn.
“What did I say to you about barging into my shuttle?”
“That it was manly and impulsive?”
“Yes, precisely. Only the exact phrase I used was ‘don’t’.”
Also, I should point out that this the first mention of the ominous “crappy compression coil” that needs replacing. Kaylee’s rigged Serenity to deal with it for a bit but Mal won’t buy a new one because he’s cheap. It’s going to come back to bite them in the ass.
We meet Adelai Niska, an old guy with some kind of generic eastern European accent. And creepy tiny glasses. HE’S SO EVIL. He shows some guy who didn’t get the job done, hanging from his ankles, dead. Great. Glad you got yourself into this one, Mal. Niska’s evilness seems to be of the epic variety, one that would probably have been explored more deeply if not for The Cancellation.
So what we have right here is a classic train job. Alliance goods. And of course, there’s a car full of Alliance patrols. Awesome. Mal is psyched about pulling a job with Feds on the train, because he’s a crazy person.
Wouldn’t the Doctor make an amazing addition to the Firefly crew? Although I think he would butt heads a bit with the chain of command…
Meanwhile, on Serenity: Inara and Book are having a talk in the kitchen. It’s nice to see them getting along despite Book’s initial reaction to Inara’s presence and “heathen” status. No more threats of sermons here. Book continues to feel conflicted about the crew and its mission: he wants to help but he doesn’t want to be a criminal. I think it’s clear that Book is starting to care more about the crew than their actions, because they’re generally good people. Well, maybe not Jayne. Inara admits to praying for them all to come back safely but, advisedly, not telling Mal. He probably wouldn’t like that much.
Kaylee and Simon interact for the first time when you really start to see the sexual tension. Their relationship is one of my favorites, second only to Zoë and Wash. It helps that Jewel Staite and Sean Maher have the cutest friendship in real life and I just want to pinch them. Kaylee happily explains the crime, because Kaylee is the happiest crew member. Jayne comes in and things get tense because I’m pretty sure Jayne secretly wishes that Kaylee loved him. Also, first appearance of Jayne’s ridiculous headgear.
Heist time. It’s actually going ok until one of the Alliance goons stumbles upon them loading the cargo. Jayne gets shot in the leg, and Mal and Zoë are left behind.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t share this excellent fanart from a recent TeeFury bid, The Time Job:
Once they reach their destination of Paradiso, we find out that their cargo is a medical shipment. The Sheriff of Paradiso explains explains that the mining in Paradiso has caused an unavoidable epidemic of a degenerative bone and muscle disease. Treatable, but only with the medicine. I have a close hatred for degenerative diseases, so the first time I watched this show I screamed “GIVE IT BACK!” at the TV. Still feeling that way, y’all. Luckily, Mal and Zoë are a lot more decent than Niska.
We get a brief view of the Alliance higher-ups not giving a shit about their people in the outlying planets. Good job, way to be government jerks. Also, the guy in charge mentions he has more important things to deal with at the moment. Cut to…
“Two by two, hands of blue”
River starts speaking cryptically about the Alliance or someone chasing them. She freaks herself out a little bit by saying this stuff aloud. Also, the ever-more-mysterious Shepherd Book seems to know who Niska is and what it means to upset him. He’s seen a lot more than he initially let on.
Jayne gets real mad about not leaving to make the hand-off yet, and stands up, ignoring Simon’s warning to stay down.
“Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?”
Uh, whoops. Simon doped Jayne because he wasn’t comfortable with Jayne trying to take charge of the ship. Hilarious. They try to get him up the stairs and fail, because the man is a giant. Comes in useful though, when Jayne shoots one of Niska’s men in the leg.
“These are stone killers, little man. They ain’t cuddly like me.”
We get to see how much power a Companion can wave around when Inara shows up and takes Mal and Zoë back with a quick story. No questions asked, they walk out with her. Pretty impressive.
Mal, being the good-bad guy, is planning on giving Niska his down payment back and dropping the medicine off in Paradiso. Except there is one tiny little snag in the shape of Niska’s cronies standing in the ship’s bay. Mal gets knifed in the shoulder, Zoë gets to be a badass, and Jayne fires the aforementioned leg shot despite semi-consciousness.
Mal kills the first crony who refuses to take the money back to Niska by throwing him in the engines. The next guy agrees immediately.
The Paradiso Sheriff catches the Serenity crew bringing the cargo back into the area. The Sheriff knows that they’re all on rough times, and is grateful that Mal chose to bring the medicine back. Mal says it wasn’t a choice. GOOD ON YOU, SIR. *slow clap*
Simon and Mal have a bonding moment discussing Jayne and River in the infirmary. Simon still doesn’t know how to deal with her yet. She continues to repeat: “two by two, hands of blue.” WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Back on the Alliance ship two creepy guys with blue gloves ask about the train robbery. They’re looking for River. Looks like we got ourselves a problem.
Next up: REAVERS.