For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Adventures of Jack Burton ] Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] The Fly ] Galaxy Quest ] Indiana Jones ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Matrix ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Sapphire & Steel ] Snake Plissken Chronicles ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] Waterworld ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]

Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Heart of Gold"
TV episode

Written by Brett Matthews
Directed by Thomas J. Wright


A bordello, whose madam is an old friend of Inara’s, hires the crew to protect them from a gunslinger and his gang.


Read the full episode summary at the Firefly and Serenity Database


Didja Know?


The planet Deadwood is a reference to the the city of Deadwood, South Dakota, an historic location in the American old west.


Didja Notice?


At 0:11 on the DVD, some of the "aluminum foil" reflecting surface of the bordello can be seen peeling away from the wall. But it stays that way consistently through the scene, so I guess the director decided it added some authenticity to the idea of a struggling small business on a backwater moon.


At 0:31 on the DVD, a tear in the "aluminum foil" reflecting surface of the bordello is visible below what appears to be a covered-over air conditioning unit.


At 2:37 on the DVD, Han Solo in carbonite makes another appearance (see "The Message" for the first). Han is also seen in the same location at 34:25.


It seems that since Inara saw that calling Mal a "petty crook" bothered him in "The Message", she has decided to continue using it, much the same way he insists on referring to her job as "whoring".


Faster-than-light communication in the 'Verse is referred to as a wave.


At 4:56 on the DVD, notice that Nandi's wallpaper appears to be old newspapers. This is true in many of the rooms and hallways of the bordello.


At 7:40 on the DVD, notice that there is an old pick-up truck behind the bordello. Later, at 15:29, it appears the cab has been covered up with a gray tarp to hide it!

In the bordello, Jayne remarks that his John Thomas is about to "pop off and fly around the room". The term "John Thomas" is a British slang term for "penis".


At 10:56 on the DVD, notice that the image on the shadow-theater screen is that of a globe with the continents of Earth-That-Was. However, the continents appear to be somewhat deformed from the way we know them today, perhaps an indication of rising sea levels due to climate change over the centuries. As the scene in the theater progresses, the shadow theater screen has a red hue cast onto it, with fluttering pieces of thin silk that give the impression of a burning Earth.


At 13:05 on the DVD, notice that Jayne is brushing the hair of his favorite whore during Mal's announcement that they should all run if they want to survive Rance Burgess' likely assault.


On the shelf of the bar behind Jayne at 13:05 on the DVD, there is what appears to be a bottle of Seagram's 7, an American blended whisky.


At 15:25 on the DVD, there appears to be a van or motor home parked in the background.


At 16:17 on the DVD, Jayne is explaining to his favorite whore how to hand him the next gun in his cache when he runs out of ammo in the upcoming battle. His cache of guns is laid out on the bed and the gun third from the bottom of the screen appears to be the same model as used by Inara in "Trash", but without the suppressor/brake at the end of the muzzle and the laser-target attached to the top; perhaps the accessories are removable and the gun was Jayne's all along and he loaned it to Inara for the heist, or he may just own one of the same (or similar) model. I like to think though that the weapon used by Inara was, in fact, her own.


Apparently the word "sly" is a slang term for homosexuality in the Verse. When Mal doesn't make use of credit at the bordello, Nandi asks if he's sly, the implication being that she's asking if he's gay. He soon disabuses of her of that notion.


After kissing Nandi, Mal pauses and tells her, "I'm just waiting to see if I pass out. Long story." This is a reference to his last kiss, with Saffron, who was wearing lipstick that drugged him and made him pass out in "Our Mrs. Reynolds".


The bordello is called the Heart of Gold. This is a play on the stock character in many works of fiction of the hooker with a heart of gold, a supposedly immoral woman is kind and generous to someone who needs help.


I think the use of Rance's weapon during the shootout at the Heart of Gold is the only time we see a laser gun used in the course of the TV series. (The Lassiter doesn't count since it doesn't work.) 


At 33:26 on the DVD, a large canister outside the bordello looks like it may say "FIREFLY SET DRESSING" or something similar! In this same shot, it looks like Zoe and Book might be standing in front of the grill of the old white pick-up truck spotted earlier.


At 33:52 on the DVD, we see a couple of tractor-trailers for a semi-truck in the background. Seconds later, we see another tractor-trailer with a sign for Anderson's Terra Firma Supplies. The signage looks shiny--so to speak--so was probably made for the production. Anderson's Terra Firma Supplies appears to be a fictional company.


How do Petaline and the girls know that Chari tipped off Rance about the protection being offered by Mal's crew? After the battle, Petaline orders Chari to go on with the defeated men back to town. I suppose one of the captured men might have ratted her out. 


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Time on DVD Chinese English
5:11 Inara says, "gen houzi bi diushi" "engage in a feces hurling contest with a monkey"
5:31 Nandi says, "Zhufu ni, mei-mei." "Blessing on you, dear sister."
7:57 Nandi says, "mei-mei" little sister
9:26 Some Chinese characters flow across a computer screensaver behind the bar. Unknown.
10:56 The puppet theater narrator says, "Wei zuozhe manzai er qu." "Swollen of her, they left."
17:26 Jayne says, "Dong ma?" "Understand?"
22:57 Nandi says, "Zhen mei naixing de Fozu." "Extraordinarily impatient Buddha."
27:37 Chinese characters on Jayne's t-shirt: Wanmei Mao Perfect Cat
32:46 Nandi says, "Wang ba dan--" "Dirty bastard sons-of--""
34:57 Wash says, "Niao shi de dugui." "Piss-soaked pikers."


Notes from Firefly Role-Playing Game Core Book


The planet Deadwood is in the Blue Sun system.


Memorable Dialog


strikes fear.wav

handling his weapon.wav

distress call.wav

they've got guns.wav

that's what I'm sayin'.wav

I'm in.wav

hope the whores are prettier than the house.wav

can I start gettin' sexed.wav

boy whores.wav

so much tasty in here.wav

your most poetical.wav

tell me I'm pretty.wav

will you wash it first?.wav

you're my kind of stupid.wav

so your legend tells.wav

more or less a miracle.wav

one of the virtues of not being puritanical about sex.wav

I'm a little appalled at her taste.wav

a little funny.wav

I'm leaving.wav


Back to Firefly/Serenity Episode Studies