Firefly - Season 1 - Episode 12
Firefly - 1x12 - Trash - Originally Aired: 2003-6-28
While exchanging contraband with fellow rogue Monty, another former "browncoat," Mal meets Monty's new wife. To Mal's shock, it's Saffron, now calling herself Bridgit. Monty is not thrilled to find out that his wife also married Mal once, so he leaves her behind on the moon with Mal while the latter waits for the Serenity to return.
Frustrated with Inara's complaints about Mal not flying to worlds where she can entertain clients, Mal brings Saffron aboard with a job she insists will provide them all with tremendous wealth: stealing a "Lassiter", a rare old laser weapon, from a collector on Bellerophon.
Kaylee comes up with a method of getting the Lassiter out of the estate without the sensors detecting its departure: by throwing it out with the garbage, then having Serenity intercept the trash carrier. Mal and Saffron infiltrate the estate and start to make the theft, when Durran, the owner, walks in and recognizes Saffron as his wife, Yolanda.
Mal, not entirely surprised to meet yet another husband of Saffron's, quickly pretends to have "rescued" Yolanda, who went "missing" some years before. The tables are soon turned, and Mal and "Yo-Saff-Bridg" depart with the Lassiter, tossing it in the disposal.
Saffron then double-crosses Mal, taking his sidearm and leaving him naked in the desert. When Saffron arrives at the trash can, though, she finds nothing, even after digging through all the filth. Then Inara arrives with the Lassiter, which she claimed before Saffron arrived, as Mal planned from the start, the Serenity crew has conned the con artist. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- There is a Windows XP "Add New Hardware Wizard" screen clearly visible on the computer screen while Jayne is messing with the dumpster, though this may be an intentional joke.
- This episode won the 2006 SyFy Genre Awards for Best Special Guest in Television for Christina Hendricks as Saffron and Best Episode of Television.
- This episode was never aired in the original 2002 Fox run and was not seen until after the series was canceled.
- Naked Mal.
- Saffron's appearance as "Bridget."
- Mal accusing Inara of using her feminine wiles on him, something which he's "had just about enough of today."
- Mal and Inara's argument.
- River: "Jayne is a girl's name."
- Going over and executing the plan.
- "Yolanda" being reunited with her husband.
- Kaylee reprogramming the trash unit just in time.
- Saffron digging through the trash, only to discover she was double-crossed by Inara.
- Simon confronting Jayne about having sold him and River out.
- Mal shouting orders naked.
Trash is the first lackluster episode of Firefly in quite a while. Picking up the Saffron character again is a worthwhile idea and we get some of the depth here in this episode that was unfortunately missing from that one. However, there isn't much more depth to have. Her performance is largely a repeat of her previous one with little else to distinguish it.
The most annoying aspect of the plot is how it relies so heavily on misdirecting the audience. At the beginning of the episode it is implied that everything went terribly and that teaming up with Saffron in the first place was an ill-conceived notion resulting from Mal and Inara arguing with each other.
However, in the end it turns out the crew was playing Saffron from the start, as well as the audience. This kind of storytelling significantly reduces the impact of the drama since it hinges so much on audience surprise. However, there are quite a few scenes which make this episode well worth watching.
Particularly interesting is the fact that River could tell, perhaps telepathically, that Jayne had betrayed her and Simon. She then proceeded to tell Simon about it. I enjoyed Simon's response to this which was to let Jayne know that he knew, but do nothing else. It's both true to his character and true to his Hippocratic Oath.
The most interesting detail however is River's line to Jayne that she could kill him with her brain. This line was spoken in jest, but given how often Firefly likes to misdirect the audience, and particularly in this episode, it would not surprise me if this were actually true. Otherwise, however, this episode significantly fails to measure up to the quality of most of what's come before.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Eric on 2009-10-26 at 5:26am:
I think the misdirection was a lovely touch and a "necssary evil" in this episode because it helped drive the point, by contrast, that despite the fact that Mal and his crew looked as if they were up a creek, they actually had the upper hand the entire time. The opening and closing scene where Mal congratulates himself is a rare sight because we hardly ever see a caper of his go off without a hitch i.e. "Safe" where he says "It never goes smoothly," while ducking beneath a hail of gunfire and again in "Ariel" when he states "Just once I'd like for things to go according to plan," as he and Zoe turn back around to retrieve Simon, River, and Jayne.
Also, I think it's fair to say that whenever the audience is in on the plan, a snag in that plan is almost always inevitable. Had we known from the get-go that Saffron was being played, the episode itself would have been rather boring. Plus, I enjoyed the revelation myself.