Sunday, March 6, 2011


Mal and Inara dance on "Firefly"
Credit: FOX

I continue my look back on Firefly with the 4th episode produced and the  "Shindig". My thoughts on this fantastic episode are after the jump.

This was an amazing episode. Quite frankly it was my favorite episode yet. It put the mission onto the relative backburner (it wasn't nonexistent but it certainly wasn't the focus of the episode) to tell a fantastic character stories. It was a great showcase for Mal, Inara, and Kaylee and it was filled with many great moments. Now I know what my Dad was talking about when he said that this was one of his favorites of the series. It works on every level to make a fantastic episode of Firefly and a fantastic episode of television.

Even though the episode was a character focus (or at least I found it to be) the plot was fantastic. I usually find that when a show tries to do an episode like this, the plot is pretty much nonexistant. This was an example of a character episode that was able to tell a fantastic story as well. (I guess that's a Joss Whedon staple, to be able to tell fantastic character stories within an episode).

The gang lands in Persephone and hijinks ensue. When Mal (aka "Captain Tightpants, I love that nickname) is forced to go to a party to find the person with whom he wants to make a deal with, he happens upon Inara and her "friend" Athernon Wing (or Ath for short, which sounds a lot like ass, as Jane Espenson pointed out in the commentary). This was a good opportunity to combine the worlds of Mal and Inara. Seeing Mal in a traditional 1700s costume was very funny, and a way to show that this world was completely out of character for him. Fillion did a great job showing exactly out of the ordinary this was to Mal, and showing how uncomfortable this was for him. It especially shows when Mal's traditional starting of a fight leads to something completely different, a sword duel. This was something that Mal seemed uncomfortable doing, as he's not used to working with swords. The duel scene itself was fantastically done. It was a fantastic fight, the show does these really well and this was no exception. Fillion, again, got to speak sharply, with fantastic dialogue by Jane Espenson, and got to really showcase his character.

This episode was also a fantastic showcase for Inara and it provided a lot of development for her character and more about her job. We find out exactly how she picks to whom she is a "companion" and what luxurious things she gets to do because of her job. We get more of her world, like the banquet, then we've ever seen on the show. It was interesting to see her in the way she's used to living. We also got proof that the character is truly a part of the family on "Serenity" and she does belong there. That scene at the end, with Inara and Mal, was a great example of this. The beautiful Morena Baccarin was fantastic in this episode. She played everything she was given fantastically. She is able to show all the hidden feelings of Inara and does a great job with all the details of her character, and the character's dialogue.

The episode also took the opportunity to develop the relationship between Mal and Inara. It was able to add (and release) tension between these two characters really well. Every scene with them together had meaning and worked really well. The scene in Inara's cabin showed how their relationship was at the start of the series. There's clearly tension there and it shows. The dance scene at the ball was another great example of this tension. Mal's reaction to her possibly leaving was fantastic. But my favorite Mal/Inara scene in this episode was the one in Mal's hotel room before the ball. Inara's genuine concern for Mal really showed as she tried to train him for the fight. It was fantastically played by Fillion and Baccarin, who's chemistry really showed in this episode.

Even though I loved the Mal/Inara plotline, my favorite parts of the episode involved Kaylee. I've mentioned many times how much I've grown to love the character and everything involving her being Eliza Dolittle-esque really worked. Seeing her pure joy as she entered the ball was fantastic. Jewel Staite did a great job in this episode and she was fantastic at showing Kaylee's pure joy at being at the ball. It was interesting to see her enter a word that she was not used to being in and seeing how she fit into that world was very interesting and was a great use of her character. Seeing her interacting with the proper girls and using her knowledge of ship mechanics in conversation was very entertaining and great examples of how much I love her character. Also, the scenes on the ship at the beginning and the end with her character were great. The scene at the end allowed us a look into her room, and it showed how personalized her room is. The dress hanging on the wall was a nice touch.

Some other thoughts:

  • Loved the Wash/Zoe stuff in this episode. It wasn't much, but it was  a good showcase for those characters and their married life.
  • Loved the use of River in this episode. From her messing with the food to her coherently talking to Mark A. Sheppard in his accent, this was a great episode for her. Summer Glau is great at accents and the little bit with her talking in a cockney accent worked very well and was very funny. Again, we didn't get much of her, but what we got worked very well.
  • It was very entertaining to see more of what people do in their spare time, including a made up poker game.
  • Mark. A Sheppard was great in his return. He's a very talented actor and can steal a scene from very talented people with ease.
  • I'm sad that we didn't get to see the trapped people's plan for getting rid of Badger. that would have been entertaining.
  • I'm glad they had the costume designer on the commentary for this episode. She had some very interesting things to say about how she costumed these actors.
Overall, I really enjoyed this very fun episode of Firefly. I love Jane Espenson's writing and this was another great example of her writing. It was a fun episode that I really enjoyed watching.

What did everyone else think?

Next up: I look at the 5th produced episode and the 7th aired episdoe "Safe". (You can find my old Firefly reviews on the Old TV Watch Page Here)

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