Sunday, May 8, 2011

Firefly-"War Stories"

Mal and Wash get into a sticky situation on "Firefly"
Credit: FOX

I continue my look back on Firefly with the episode with episode 10, "War Stories" after the jump.

If "Ariel" was one of the series's lighter episodes, "War Stories" was definitely one of the heavier episodes. Some of the material in the episode did cross that a line into a little too heavy for my personal taste. But the episode handles it very well, and never goes to a place that's too much. And hidden within the episode is a story that the show looked like it wanted to tell, a story involving Wash and Mal going on a mission together. The plot was relatively simple in this one, but what really made this episode great was the character material. The show addressed the Mal/Zoe/Wash relationship in a way that was very interesting and very good.

If there was one character that was serviced very well in this one it was Alan Tudyk's Wash. During the first set of episodes, he doesn't really get to do much besides comic relief (he does get that moment in the hospital room in Out of Gas, but he didn't really get to show a lot of range besides that). In this episode, Alan Tudyk finally gets to show off his huge dramatic range. He was absolutely fantastic in the scenes with the torture. Yes, part of that was he was able to be very funny while getting zapped by electricity, but another part was the depth of his performance. Wash didn't seem like Alan Tudyk saying funny things, I actually saw the person behind the character. I saw the combination of fear, worry, and the need to pass out. The reason for me seeing this can be put very simply: Alan Tudyk is amazing.

It wasn't only a strong episode for Wash, it was also a strong episode for Mal and Zoe as well. Malcolm Reynolds is a strong man, that's they only way that he could survive the torture. But even if he was amazing at this, he was even better at getting Wash through the torture. Mal taunting Wash was an amazing scene because of the determination portrayed in Mal by Nathan Fillion. That was one of the major driving forces in that scene (along with Tudyk).

Gina Torres is absolutely amazing, and this episode was a good showcase of that. Like Alan Tudyk keeps saying in the commentary, she portrays Zoe as a very strong woman and that made every action of Zoe that much more powerful. Her determination was clear throughout the episode was very clear and very strong. She was determined to get the Captain and Wash back at any cost was clear and very well portrayed. And I loved her in the scene where she tries to save Mal and Wash. I loved that she very quickly decides to take her husband over the captain without any thought.

The episode confronts the tension between Mal, Zoe, and Wash and it resolves it. Wash realizes that the two of them will never actually get together and the tension in their marriage resolves. There's that funny scene with the Captain and Zoe at the end of the episode, but after that the tension is resolved.

We also get a continuation of the arc involving River. We find out that the Alliance had a purpose in cutting into her brain. They weren't just playing around in there, they were doing something. And at the end of the climax, River grabs a gun and shoots the bad guys without even looking, and without missing. I have a gut feeling that there's a lot more to that. I do have guesses but I'm not going to say anything else (and you shouldn't in the comments).

Some other thoughts:

  • Who knew preachers had knowledge about guns and some crime scene skills? I feel like there's something that we don't know about Book and his past. 
  • There were some great Kaylee moments in this episode. I loved her having pure fun chasing River around the ship, her reacting to the gunfight by running and hiding, and her pure shock when River shoots the men. I love this character.
  • All I have to say on the Inara plotline is that was hot.
  • Loved the little references to Ariel, from Jayne buying the apples to them delivering the last bit of medicine.
  • That Niska is very creepy. Michael Fairman does a fantastic job playing this character. He would have made a damn good recurring villain for this show if it had lasted longer. 
That was a very well put together episode. I may have cringed a little bit at the violence, but that wasn't too much for me to stop enjoying the episode. I loved all of the actors in this one, especially Tudyk, Torres, and Fillion.

What did everyone else think?

Next up: An old "friend" returns in the episode "Trash"

For more information about the Old TV Watch Project and an archive of reviews of previous Firefly episodes please go to the home of the project right here.

Please vote for the shows that you would like to see me cover this summer. For more information about those shows, go here

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