Sunday, April 24, 2011

Firefly-"Out of Gas"

Mal stands strong on "Firefly"
Credit: FOX

It's been a few weeks, but I'm back. I've had a lot going on outside of the blog for the past few weeks but for now, I continue my look back at Joss Whedon's Firefly with one of the best episodes of the series, "Out of Gas". My thoughts on the episode are after the jump.

This was a brilliant episode, I really don't know how else to put it besides that. TV episodes usually don't take risks like this episode was within the first 13 episodes, and this episode pulled it off beautifully. I would normally question a show that would try to tell a "how the team got together" episode and another story about the ship running out of gas in the same episode, but I knew that somehow this show would pull it off in the end. Telling stories in three separate timelines is very difficult to do, but somehow Firefly pulled it off with this episode. Director David Soloman and writer Tim Minear did a fantastic job making sure that there was no confusion for me while watching the episode. The flow was seamless between the three timeliness. What I really love is that it didn't forget character and had quite a bit of interesting character development, mostly centering on the relationships between the characters (and I'm including the ship as the tenth character here).

In one aspect, you could call this episode a Mal focus. One of the timelines in the episode is essentially him trying to fix the ship's engine. This shows exactly how strong Malcom Reynolds is. Seeing him stagger across the ship was fantastic. He had such a presence and didn't need words to express exactly how he was feeling. Because of how good Nathan Fillion was in this episode, you could see all the pain that Mal was going through. Seeing him struggle to put the part into the engine was very good because of how amazing Fillion was. He had me sucked into that third storyline because of how awesome he was. He also got so many one liners to play off of, especially while dealing with that other crew.

Even if Mal feels like he's alone, the other two timelines show that he's not alone. He has this surrogate family, and they are a very important presence in his life. What one timeline in this episode did was it told the story of how these people met and became the family that they became. The first flashback we got was to the mustached Wash. Seeing him at the pilots helm was very funny. Even funnier then that, Zoe's reaction, she doesn't like him. I guess that she doesn't realize what these feelings are, because she must turn around at some point. We then meet Kaylee (while she's banging the mechanic at that time (*). She was the same person then as she is in the present. She's excited to be on the ship, and the ship speaks to her in the same way. She diagnoses the problem that the other guy couldn't.

We then meet Inara, and it seems like the time on the ship has loosened her a little bit lot. In that scene she was very uptight. But I didn't mind that because in that scene the dynamic between Mal and Inara was perfect. It became clear that there was something between them, there's a friendship there. We then meet Jayne, and he's as much of a brute as ever, except he's probably learned a lot since joining the crew of Serenity. But that scene with Mal, Zoe, Jayne and the other brutes was very funny, and very interesting.

We also get to see both Mal and Zoe meet Serenity for the first time. Zoe didn't really love the ship at first on her first tour with Mal. She contradicted Mal's enthusiasm for the ship by being less then enthusiastic. But Mal was in love with the ship from the moment he set eyes on it, like that final scene suggested. He knew that this was his ship, and decided that it would be his.

(*) Who was a fantastic character. He was so well conceived in the role that he played at the time that he was on the ship, and his reaction to Kaylee getting hired.

Then there's the timeline that takes place hours before the present with Mal. We've seen Mal alone and how he met his family, then we see how this family works together in crisis. The scenes in this part of the timeline were very well done, with scenes between many different members of this family addressing the situation, and seeing how the crisis affects them as people. First off, Zoe gets hurt in the explosion and Wash wants to stay by her side. Mal has to draw him away from her in one of the two brilliant scenes between the two of them. With the other one, I didn't think of it as strangely comedic at first, but the more I watched it, the more I laughed at it. There were also great scenes between Mal and Kaylee. The second scene especially was very well performed by the two of them, and showed Kaylee's thoughts on what was going on very well. There was also a cute scene between Book and River, with her trying to reassure Book by saying "We'll freeze to death first".

Later, pretty much every scene after Mal decides to evacuate the ship is so well done, especially the moments between Mal and Inara. These two have such a strong dynamic that these scenes showed the tension that was between them at this point in time. The scenes were so well performed by the two of them. There was also the scene with the big red button (**) which was very well done.

(**) There's a cute story that has to do with the red button. Alan Tudyk took the red button and gave it to Joss Whedon and said, if the story continues you can push the button to call all of us back.

This episode showed that even if Mal thinks he's alone, he does have a family, the crew on Serenity.

This was such a well done episode. It executed everything that it tried to do to perfection. It was just a brilliant episode of television and one of my favorite episodes of the series so far.

What did everyone else think?

Tuesday: You guys get a bonus review this week! I take a look at another very good caper episode, "Ariel".

For more information about the Old TV Watch Project and for an archive of Firefly reviews you can go to the home of the project right here.

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