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Firefly - Season 1 - Episode 06

Firefly - 1x06 - Safe - Originally Aired: 2002-11-8

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.06

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Synopsis
In the past: When Simon and River were children, the Tam family was happy. River, a genius, got along famously with her older brother, and they didn't want for anything. But when River went to the academy, things went sour, something only Simon could see, because their parents refused to believe that anything was wrong, even though River's letters were begging for Simon's help via an esoteric code known only to the two of them.

In the present: On the Serenity, River's outbursts are growing worse and disturbing the many cattle in the hold. The cattle are offloaded safely on Jiangyin, and Simon and River go into town. However, Mal and the crew run into trouble with the locals; Book is shot, and Simon and River go missing.

The doctor and his sister have been kidnapped by hill folk, who want Simon to treat them. With no choice, he does as they ask.

Meanwhile, Serenity makes a hasty takeoff to find a medical facility to treat Book. To everyone's surprise, Book's ID gets him VIP treatment at an Alliance facility, no questions asked.

To Simon's surprise, River shows enough evidence of psychic powers that the God-fearing people of Jiangyin decide to burn her as a witch. Only the timely return of the Serenity spares the Tams from a fiery death and convinces Simon that, for better or worse, he really is part of Serenity's crew. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- Simon believes that River's condition is paranoid schizophrenia.

Remarkable Scenes
- The flashback to River and Simon's childhood.
- Kaylee and Simon not exactly hitting it off in town.
- River dancing, intercut with the firefight.
- Book gravely wounded.
- The flashback to Simon knowing something went wrong with River at the academy.
- Serenity taking off, leaving Simon and River on the planet.
- Serenity intentionally seeking out an Alliance cruiser to help Book.
- Simon decided to help out his captors.
- River reading Ruby's mind and the teacher accusing River of being a witch.
- Simon's flashback to being bailed out of jail by his father for trying to rescue River.
- River reading the patron's mind.
- Serenity rescuing Simon and River.
- Mal: "Cut her down!" Patron: "The girl is a witch!" Mal: "Yeah, but she's our witch. So cut her the hell down!"

My Review
Safe is a sort of jumble of different stories. The focus on River is quite prominent here; this episode finally gives us some insight on what the government was doing to her as she has displayed some evidence of psychic abilities. This is something that has been building for quite a while actually. In previous episodes, River seems to have been having parallel emotional responses to things going on elsewhere that she could not have possibly been aware of any other way. This happens again in this episode as well. Also, in Shindig, River seemed to have a lot of knowledge of Badger she shouldn't have. That scene was somewhat ambiguous as to the reason, but events of this episode seem to make it pretty clear that she reads minds.

Unfortunately, aside from some interesting exposition concerning the long term plot arc regarding River, this episode's jumble of plot ranges from fairly interesting in some places to downright annoying in other places. The other most interesting plot thread is the revelation that Book has some sort of high profile connection to the Alliance which entitles him to first class medical care. While this makes his character a lot more interesting, the fact that he is not inclined to explain the reasons for this is rather irritating. That and Serenity's rather routine contact with Alliance ships is also becoming something of a cliche at this point. Though they sure are pretty to look at.

The most irritating aspect of this episode was the run down town that wanted to torch River because they thought she was a witch. In particular, the patron's reaction to his secret of his murdering the previous patron made the town look even more like a bunch of idiots as he said in response that River is "a witch that reads minds and spins falsehoods." Strictly speaking, if River outing his secret convinced him and thus the rest of the town that she could read minds, then the rest of the town should not have been so easily swayed that what River said was false. The town was given direct evidence that their patron murdered his predecessor, but as soon as he denies it, everyone buys it without giving it a second thought. Indeed a town of idiots.

Aside from those blemishes though the rather fast pace of the episode is enjoyable and while the flashbacks to Simon's and River's childhoods are questionably relevant, they are fun and fascinating to watch. Finally, Mal's affirmation of loyalty for his crew is true to his character and nice to see in that warm and fuzzy kind of way.

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