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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

TV episode

Written by Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by Michael Grossman


When Simon is kidnapped by a village in need of a doctor, Serenity is forced to dock with an Alliance ship to seek medical help for a critically wounded Shepherd Book.


Read the full episode summary at the Firefly and Serenity Database


Didja Notice?


Notice that during the Serenity scenes early in the episode, the sounds of mooing cattle can vaguely be heard in the background throughout the ship. In the previous episode, "Shindig", Serenity picked up a herd of live cattle on Persephone for delivery on the border world of Jiangyin in this episode. 


The casting director did a great job of casting kids in the roles of young Simon and River who actually look like they could be young versions of the adult actors Sean Maher and Summer Glau. (The boy is Zac Efron, who would go on to become a teen heartthrob after starring in High School Musical in 2006).


Interestingly, at 0:24 on the DVD, young Simon appears to be doing his homework on an Ipad about 8 years ahead of its time (at least in our world)!


At 9:45 on the DVD, we can see that Kaylee has a cartoon rabbit on the left chest pocket of her coveralls.


On Jiangyin, River wanders off from the general store and joins in at what appears to be a sort of maypole dance, but with a decorated tree in the middle of the dance stage in place of the pole. The music that plays is "The Sailor's Wife" (1864) by Francis Boott (1813-1904).


I'm not sure if it was intentional on Whedon's part, but notice that River doesn't have her sudden, long-distance reaction at the moment when Book actually gets shot, but seemingly at the moment that Mal notices that Book has been shot. Maybe she has a certain attunement to the captain even though she called him a "stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey" (in Chinese) earlier in the episode.


As Simon and River are led into the village by their kidnappers at 22:47 on the DVD, there is a mural painted on a cement wall in the background. The mural appears to show a helmeted astronaut with a red and white striped flag (either U.S. or Alliance) and to his left is the logo "See Tomorrow Today". Maybe it's an old advertisement meant to entice Alliance citizens to colonize the outer worlds?


Upon Simon's arrival in the village, the villagers are relieved to finally have a doctor to care for their sick. But how did the kidnappers know he was a doctor, and therefore worth kidnapping, in the first place? (PopApostle reader Jason Reimche set me straight in pointing out that there is a brief shot of rustling foliage at 6:52 on the DVD, as Mal and the crew are prepping the cattle for sale, indicating that they are being observed by someone. And just seconds later, Mal refers to Simon as Doctor, which was obviously overheard by the observers.)


The ship's papers presented to the Alliance captain by Zoe name Mal as "Captain Harbatkin".


River finds and picks wild hodgeberries near the village to which she and Simon have been kidnapped. As far as I know, hodgeberries are a fictional fruit; they must be native to one of the worlds humans settled on after the exodus from Earth-That-Was.


Doralee believes that River may be a witch and horrorifiedly utters, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." This is a quote from the King James version of the Bible, Exodus 22:18.


Notice a slight flaw in the CGI at 33:31 is that there are no reflections of the flying cars against the glass of the building even though the cityscape and ground traffic are reflected.


What is the small light that appears at 39:45 on the DVD before winking out at 39:47 (on the left side of the screen). Is it a...firefly? (Although a pair of lights that appears at 40:12 suggests the lights are car headlights in the distance.)


Even though Jayne put back the things he stole from the Tams before they noticed them missing, it would still be obvious something happened since he just dumped it all out on the bed instead of putting it back where he found it.


Notice that at 41:42 on the DVD, Simon pulls the chair out for Kaylee at the dining table and then pushes it in for her. This may be his way of showing her he is sorry for what he said earlier in the episode about Serenity and the life the crew aboard her leads. 


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Time on DVD Chinese English
1:06 Simon says, "Jien tah-duh guay!" "Like Hell!"
1:17 Gabriel Tam says, "Nah mei guan-shee." "That has nothing to do with it."
1:35 Gabriel Tam says, "tyen-shiao duh" "heaven knows what"
2:01 Simon says, "da bianhua" "big change"
2:51 River says, "Liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze." "Stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey."
5:21 Simon says, "Niou fun." "Cow poop."
8:22 Kaylee says, "shuai" in reference to Simon "cute"
9:24 Simon says, "luh-suh" in reference to Serenity "garbage"
9:29 Simon says, "pyen juh duh jiou cha wen" in reference to Mal "stubborn martinet"
9:35 Kaylee says, "Luh-suh?" "Garbage?"
9:42 Chinese symbol on the back of Kaylee's coveralls. unknown
12:27 Chinese characters on Jayne's t-shirt unknown
10:58 Mal says, "Fei hua." "Nonsense."
16:48 Mal says, "Ma-Shong!" "Now!"
17:29 Wash says, "Lao-tyen, boo." "Oh, God, no."
17:33 Mal says, "jing-tzahng mei yong-duh" in reference to Simon "consistently useless"
23:39 Chinese writing (Wo) on cone shape in Serenity Living Quarters
24:59 Chinese writing (Qian) on the bridge of Serenity Firefly
31:21 Simon says, "Mei mei." "Little sister."
33:55 Chinese writing on a sign in the police station. unknown
34:45 Gabriel Tam says, "Chu fei wo si le." "Over my dead body."
35:43 The patron of the village says, "nyen ching-duh" "young one"
40:29 Chinese writing (Zhan dou de Xiao jing ling) on Jayne's t-shirt, with a number 28 below it The Fighting Elves (presumably some kind of sports team)


Notes from Firefly Role-Playing Game Core Book


The one-person Alliance fighter that appears in this episode is a Justice-class gunship.


Memorable Dialog


give up the fantasy.wav

is it bad that what she said made perfect sense to me?.wav

cunningly concealed herd of cows.wav

possibly you're not recalling some of his previous plans.wav


a lovely little community of kidnappers.wav


connection with the Alliance.wav 

you are such a brat.wav

are you trying destroy this family?.wav

men of God.wav

big damn heroes.wav

she's our witch.wav 


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