Firefly - Season 1 - Episode 15
Firefly - 1x15 - Objects in Space - Originally Aired: 2002-12-13
River wanders the corridors of Serenity. She observes the members of the crew and in some cases eavesdrops on their thoughts, or, in the case of Wash and Zoe, their passions.
She then, somehow, gets her hands on one of Jayne's guns. Mal disarms her, but this display leads Kaylee to tell everyone what River did during their rescue of Mal from Niska. Mal is convinced River's telepathic, and, despite their skepticism, the others tend to agree. Everyone goes to bed while Mal thinks on the matter.
His mental perambulations are interrupted by a bounty hunter named Jubal Early, who boards the ship. He takes down Mal, and locks him in his quarters, and also locks Jayne, Wash and Zoe in theirs. Kaylee is in the engine room, and Early terrorizes her and ties her up, then neutralizes Book. Finally he escorts Simon at gunpoint around Serenity to find River, who isn't in her bunk. She isn't in Inara's shuttle, but Early confines Inara, as well.
Finally, River "shows" herself, as a disembodied voice, telling Early that she has blended her consciousness with the ship. She has become Serenity.
It's a bluff, however, she's on Early's ship, stalling him while she wakes up the crew and gets them to take care of the bounty hunter. Eventually, Early is left tumbling through space, while River is welcomed back by the crew. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- This episode is the winner of my "Best Episode of Firefly" award.
- Early's character was inspired by Boba Fett from Star Wars.
- Jubal Early was named after Confederate general Jubal Anderson Early, who fought in the American civil war on the side of the south. It is a perhaps deliberate historical irony that an African American actor played a character named after Confederate general.
- River walking through the ship, hearing the thoughts of the crew.
- River stepping on a twig in the cargo bay, then, in a cut, the entire cargo bay being filled with leaves and twigs.
- River holding the twig which is revealed in a cut to actually be a gun that she is perceiving to be a twig.
- Mal: "If I want a lot of medical jargon, I'll talk to a doctor." Simon: "You are talking to a doctor." Mal: "Yeah. Okay. My point is coulda been you she might have shot just then. The doctor, as you just made note of."
- The crew discussing their issues with River. I liked the various tidbits of continuity in here. Mal makes a reference to Jayne's betrayal (Ariel), Jayne makes a reference to her coming at him with a butcher knife (Ariel), and Kaylee makes a reference to River saving her during the assault on Niska (War Stories).
- The bounty hunter boarding Serenity.
- Kaylee telling her story about River saving her while River listens in, psychically.
- Mal: "I find River pleasant enough myself, but she does have an oddness to her. And I ain't just talking about her proficiency with firearms."
- Wash: "Psychic though? That sounds like something out of science fiction." Zoe: "We live in a space ship, dear."
- The bounty hunter taking down Mal.
- The bounty hunter surprising Kaylee. Kaylee: "How did you get on..?" The bounty hunter: "Strays the mind a bit, don't it?"
- Early forcing Simon to help him find River by threatening Kaylee.
- Early: "They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they can get certified, but they don't make a surgeon get cut on. That seem right to you?"
- Early: "It's not your moment, doctor."
- Early: "Man is stronger by far than woman, yet only woman can create a child. Does that seem right to you?"
- River talking to Early, claiming to have "melted" and become the ship.
- Early: "Where'd she go?" Simon: "I can't keep track of her when she's not incorporeally possessing a space ship. Don't look at me!" Early: "That's some nonsensical crap. Ain't nobody can do that."
- The revelation that River got aboard Early's ship.
- Mal spinning Early off into space to float away and die.
- Simon direcing his own surgery.
Easily the best episode, Objects in Space finishes off Firefly in style. Unfortunately, due to Firefly's cancellation, it was not possible to quite wrap up all the ongoing long term plot threads. In fact, this episode further complicates them with regards to Book and River to some extent while leaving others hanging such as Mal and Inara. However, were the series allowed to continue I'm sure these issues would have been dealt with.
Instead, I choose to grade this episode solely on its own merits and it has merits aplenty. Firstly, this episode finally gives us a much fuller profile of just who River is and what was done to her. It has been fairly obvious for some time that she has some sort of psychic ability and this episode further confirms it as she's seen directly reading the minds of the crew. In doing so, she comes across one interesting piece of new information when Book thinks to himself: "I don't give half a hump if you're innocent or not. So where does that put you?"
The meaning of that statement is ambiguous but it lends weight to the pre established idea that Book has a rather colorful and less than honorable past. The line from Early "that ain't a shepherd" also speaks to this idea. Speaking of Early, he is easily the most compelling antagonist depicted on the show. Between his quirky dialog and the well crafted music underscoring his actions, he comes across as a combination of fascinating, menacing, and hilarious all in one. His role in the story and what it does for River's character easily earn this episode its perfect score.
Overall, it is sad that this amazing show was canceled, especially so early in its production. Personally, I believe Firefly had the potential to be one of the greatest science fiction shows in history if its first fifteen episodes were any indication. It had a few duds, but the overall quality of the storytelling easily rivaled some of the best of Star Trek. Nevertheless, we can all continue to enjoy what episodes were completed and hope some day that the series is reborn in some fashion. No television series deserves to be brought back to life more than Firefly.
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