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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"What Holds Us Down"
Short story
Firefly: Still Flying
Written by Jane Espenson

(Page numbers come from the first edition, May 2010)


A junkyard heist goes wrong, leaving Kaylee to play the hero to get herself and the injured Wash out alive.


Story Summary


During a heist to steal some ship parts from a floating junkyard in space, Wash and Kaylee are injured, Wash seriously so. Serenity has no choice but escape without the two of them. Hiding inside an old Series One Firefly, Kaylee comes up with an idea to get the old girl's engine running again to make their own escape. She begins scrounging the parts she needs to make the engine work, all while trying to keep Wash from slipping into death's embrace and remaining hidden from the Bad Guys who run the yard.


During their intermittent conversation between his periods of unconsciousness and Kaylee running back-and-forth to get the engine running, Wash remarks that, while he's not heroic, he's a carrier of heroism for others; all the people around him act heroic, having caught the "disease" from him. After he convinces her that the ship is ready to go, that she just needs to trust her work and start 'er up, they make a successful escape and rendezvous with Serenity. Kaylee begins to think Wash is a carrier indeed.




Notes from the Firefly/Serenity Chronology


I've chosen to place this story after "War Stories" because here Kaylee provokes the injured Wash into remaining conscious by asking him about Zoe's relationship with Mal, which may be an indication that this takes place some time after Wash's irritation about Zoe and Mal's closeness comes to a head for all to see in the aforementioned episode. There is also a mention that the ship's money was tight, which would also be the case after "War Stories" due to the crew having had to pay off Niska for the return of Wash.


Didja Notice?


Page 1 of the story tells us that the injured Kaylee and Wash are aboard an old Series One Firefly inside a floating junkyard. Serenity is a Series 3 Firefly.


It's possible the floating spaceship scrapyard is one of the two existing in the L4 and L5 positions of the planet Whittier's moon, Ita, as recorded in The Verse in Numbers. L1 through L5 represent Lagrange points, "the five positions in an orbital configuration where a small object affected only by gravity can theoretically be stationary relative to two larger objects (such as a satellite with respect to the Earth and Moon)" (from Wikipedia), named for Italian mathematician and astronomer, Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736-1813).


Page 3 of the story reveals there are grav dampeners under the floor plating of a ship's deck to provide an effect of gravity (up and down) for the ship.


On page 4 of the story, Kaylee is taking the Honnecourt Capacitors (frequently known as honeys in the 'Verse) from the old ship's grav dampeners. According to an article on the Firefly Ship Works website, the Honnecourt name comes from the 13th Century historical figure Villard de Honnecourt, who left drawings for his proposed perpetual motion machine among other mechanical designs.


On page 6 of the story, Wash and Kaylee both use the Chinese word "gou shi", which means "crap".


Back to Firefly/Serenity Episode Studies