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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

TV episode

Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Vern Gillum


In order to secure a job transporting cargo off-planet for a client, Mal attends a social event that leads to him being challenged to a swordfight in defense of Inara’s honor.


Read the full episode summary at the Firefly and Serenity Database


Didja Notice?


As the episode opens, Jayne gets a drink at the bar in the pool hall he, Mal, and Inara are in. The drink is provided to him in a bowl rather than a glass. This is common practice for some drinks such as sake served in Asian communities.


During the bar fight at 1:43 on the DVD, you can see that actor Nathan Fillion as Mal doesn't actually get hit by anything when he suddenly falls backward to the sound of a punch! There's not even another person's fist in the shot!


At 6:56 on the DVD there is a bus that says Persephone Coaches. At 7:19 we see Chinese writing on the side which translates to "tour bus".


It's not clear whether all of the canned and packaged food items attacked by River were made by Blue Sun, by at least some are. If all were, could that be what set off River's attack, seeing as how Blue Sun seems to have been involved in her previous incarceration at the special academy and has since sent agents to bring her back (as suggested in later stories)? This supposition may be supported by her mumbled comments as she tears the labels off the items:

"It's the ones that'll take you."

"They're the ones reaching and doing it."

"They're the ones keeping you--"

"They're everywhere."

"Hands go everywhere and--"


"And they come."


During the card game aboard Serenity, the crewmembers place bets against their various chores on board, such as "dishes" and "garbage". At one point, Shepherd bets "septic vac"...that sounds like a pretty gross chore!


Kaylee seems to be particularly enamored of fresh strawberries as seen at the party here and earlier in "Serenity".


At one point during the party, Inara pretends to be be looking for the servant serving the shimmerwine. Presumably, "shimmerwine" is a type of alcoholic beverage similar to Earth wine.


Mal remarks to Inara that Kaylee cried Cinderella tears and then he bought her the "layer cake" dress. Cinderella, of course, is a reference to the character in the folk tale of the same name, about a young woman living in in a poor situation until a moment of good fortune changes her life completely.


At 28:53 on the DVD, we see that Inara uses a "portable doorknob" as a key to open Mal's guest room door. In the audio commentary of this episode, writer Jane Espenson remarks on the concept of rooms in a hotel, etc. having a removable doorknob given to the guest instead of a key. In my mind, it makes for a nice visual but it seems much more impractical for a guest to have to carry a doorknob around with them instead of a simple key or card as we do nowadays! For that matter, in the future, hotel room doors could probably be keyed to your fingerprint more easily.


Badger seems to have a fondness for apples. He eats one here while keeping an eye on the Serenity crew and we also saw him peeling one in "Serenity".


Badger remarks that he is orginally from Dyton colony. This appears to have been the source of his Cockney accent.


When River reveals herself on board Serenity while Badger is holding the rest of the crew in the hold until Mal's duel in town is completed, why does he allow her to wander off again? River seems to have some limited ability of psychic reading of others; does she also have an ability to make others behave differently than they might otherwise?


There appears to be a microphone or other device on a boom moving around in the top right corner of the screen at 40:41 on the DVD.


At the end of the episode, Inara remarks, "Why would I want to leave Serenity?" Ironically, she will make the decision to do so not long after in "Heart of Gold".


In the last scene of the episode, for some reason the cows seem to remain silent throughout Inara and Mal's conversation, not mooing until the final shot. Of course, the real reason is that the viewer is supposed to be surprised when the cows are revealed as the Serenity's new cargo in the final shot. 


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Time on DVD Chinese English
0:25 Bar patron says, "Wei!" "Hey!"
0:28 Sign in pool hall Management Not Responsible for Ball Failure
1:37 Bar patron says, "Wei!" "Hey!"
5:08 Atherton says, "baobei" "sweetheart"
4:19 Chinese text on Inara's cortex screen Incoming message
6:38 Yellow pennant with Chinese writing Chinese caterpillar fungus (a traditional Chinese medicinal remedy for a number of ailments or as an aphrodisiac)
6:53 Sign painted on store window Elegant
6:54 Sign painted on store window with green dress Stylish Clothing
7:18 Jayne is wearing his "Yong" t-shirt again (last seen in "The Train Job") Soldier
7:19 Chinese writing on bus Tour Bus
7:22 Sign painted on store window with Kaylee's pink dress Formal Attire
7:42 Chinese writing on window Bar & Grill
8:25 Japanese writing on red and white banner Miyamoto Five Virtuous Pleasures
8:26 Chinese writing on blue banner unknown
9:41 Badger says, "wen guo pi" "smelled a fart"
10:13 Badger says, "pi gu" "bottom"
11:42 Inara says, "Lao pung yo, nee can chi lai hun yo jing shen."  "You're looking wonderful, old friend."
13:28 Atherton says, "gosa" several times, describing Serenity as "a piece of..." "crap"
13:45 Chinese writing on wall-hanging at the formal party unknown
13:56 Inara says, "Gosa." "Crap."
15:34 Kaylee says, "sheh-sheh" "thank you"
16:15 Chinese writing on various canned and packaged food items in a crate in the Serenity kitchen "nutritious food" "Blue Sun"
20:03 Kaylee says, "Shuh muh?" "What?"
24:33 Kaylee says, "Cai bu shi." "No way."
34:16 Mal says, "yu ben de" "stupid"


Notes from the Audio Commentary by Jane Espenson, Morena Baccarin, and Shawna Trpcic


The necklace worn by Zoe throughout the series is a symbol of her marriage to Wash, which is why she is always seen wearing it and never takes it off. (Although in the flashback scene in "Out of Gas", before she met Wash, she is already seen wearing it!)


The card game, tall card, played by the crew in this episode was invented by writer Jane Espenson for the episode, including rules for play. An actual card deck and rules is available for purchase from various online vendors.


The barn seen in the background during the sword fight is a barn that was constructed for the 2002 Disney film The Country Bears.


Notes from Firefly Role-Playing Game Core Book


Atherton Wing has his own personal spaceship, sort of a space yacht, called the Julius Caesar, a Tchaikovsky-class passenger liner.


Memorable Dialog


giving Jayne a heavy stick and standing back.wav

change is good.wav

planet's coming up a mite fast.wav

the finest party.wav

can I have money for a slinky dress?.wav

like a sheep walking on its hind legs.wav


I got my hands on a couple.wav

Jayne slits my throat and takes over.wav

the space of a school boy's wink.wav

the psychotic lowlife community.wav

what's not to like?.wav

I think she looks adorable.wav

turns out this is my kind of party.wav

there has been a challenge.wav

up until the punching.wav

I think he knows which end to hold.wav

that killing in the morning and then a haircut later.wav

I never back down from a fight.wav

what we need's a diversion.wav

they teach you that in whore academy?.wav

you have a strange sense of nobility.wav

I don't like fellas that kill me.wav

I think I've grown.wav

God help you.wav

did you ever see such a lazy crew?.wav

why would I want to leave Serenity?.wav 


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