Firefly Watch: Episodes 10 and 11

This is my sixth post in my ongoing series wherein I discuss Joss Whedon’s show Firefly.  Links to all of the previous posts can be found here.

Firefly Episode 10 – War Stories

 

I briefly discuss each episode, but this one has more spoilers relating to the plot than most.

This is an interesting episode for two reasons.  The first is that is calls back to one of the earlier episodes as we run into Niska again.  He was the crime lord from The Train Job, and he has a reputation to uphold about not letting anyone get away from him as Mal did in that episode.  The second reason I really liked this episode is that it gave more backstory about River.

After Mal and Wash are captured doing what should have been a simple drop, Zoe goes to try and buy their freedom.  Niska being who he is, decides to only let one of them go, Zoe chooses Wash and returns to the ship.  So of course they have to go rescue Mal.  After the crew gets over the insanity of the mission, everyone decides to help, including Book, Simon, and Kaylee.

Book obviously has a much more interesting past than he has told anyone on the crew, and I really hope they explore it more in the next four episodes.  I just realized that I’ve said that about 4 or 5 times in reference to different characters in the show, and I’ve meant it every time, the characters really are that interesting.  The part of the episode that really intrigued me was at the very end dealing with River.  Kaylee goes into shock towards the end of the episode when faced with having to possibly shoot some of Niska’s soldiers.  River comes in, picks up the gun and quickly dispatches 3 soldiers without blinking.  She then says “no power in the ‘verse can stop me.”

So the mystery of what was going on with her clears up a little more.  The Alliance was obviously training her to be a superior soldier.  This also explains why they were messing with the part of her brain that deals with emotional regulation.  If you have a brilliant tactician who is completely cut off from their emotions you would have a very powerful weapon on your hands.  Considering Summer Glau (River) is billed second for Serenity, I’m sure that at least her part of the storyline comes to a conclusion, even if other threads of the story are left unresolved.

Not a whole lot else to say at this point except that I’m really intrigued by everything going on in the show, I love the characters, and I can’t wait to watch the remaining episodes.

Firefly Episode 11 – Trash

 

Another recap from a previous episode, Saffron shows up again, this time offering to cut Mal in on a job for a priceless artifact.  The various crewmembers work extremely well at setting up Mission Impossible types of stories, and this is the second time in 3 episodes that they’ve done it.

I had a couple of small issues with this episode though.  The first came when they were just about to steal the gun they’re after and the owner walks in on them.  Just brain the guy, take the gun, and leave.  Especially once he says that he’s called the cops on you.  The second part came at the end, Mal knows that Saffron is going to try and double cross him at some point, hence the final twist at the end of the episode (which really was well done).  So why does he even put himself in a situation where she could get his gun?  Setting up the opening/final shot of Mal naked in the desert was funny, but kind of suffered from idiot plotting.

Even though they played a very minor part in the episode, Simon and River probably had the biggest move in their story.  Along with the brain damage that the Alliance did to River, they’ve also done some other strange things.  One of the effects of this is that she displays ESP in various episodes.  For example, in Out of Gas she realizes that there is going to be a fire before the explosion occurs.  She is also able to read minds, and I think that Simon is starting to realize this.

Jayne gets knocked out in the episode, and of course Simon is called upon to help him, which of course he does.  But there is a very short and very effective scene where Simon confronts Jayne and asks him how much he was offered to sell them out.  Mal was able to figure it out immediately, but he didn’t tell anyone else on the crew.  Jayne was obviously remorseful since he bought apples for everyone in the crew, but didn’t tell them why.  This scene ends up doing a wonderful job of building Simon’s character by showing that he’s willing to trust someone that obviously can’t stand him, and it does an even better job of increasing the mystery around River when she threatens Jayne.

As I’ve said with every episode, really solid and I enjoyed it.  I’m starting to get upset because I’m running out of episodes though.  It really is depressing.

The Last Colony

The Last Colony is the third book in John Scalzi’s Science Fiction series that started with Old Man’s War.  It’s kind of weird to even think of these books as being in a series, because while they’re in the same universe and contain the same characters, the books are all episodic, and you really don’t need to have read all of the books to enjoy any individual book.

Book Stats

320 pages

Science Fiction

Third book in the series (sequel to Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades)

Characters

John and Jane are both back in this book, and they’ve managed to achieve one of their goals from the earlier books, they’re both out of the military and living as colonists.  They’re essentially the same as they were in the first two books, and they’re still well written if not exactly going through a great arc during the course of this book.  This book is set several years after The Ghost Brigades, and Zoe is now a teenager living with John and Jane.  One of the best parts about this entire series has been how real the characters feel.  Scalzi does an excellent job of making the characters feel real through their dialog, and a lot of the banter between characters is interesting to read as well.

Setting

The book primarily takes place on Roanoke, a new colony consisting of people from previously established colonies rather than from Earth.  But the characters also spend some time in various other parts of space and Colonial Union spaceships.

Plot

There are two separate plots to this book, the first is the beginning plot wherein John and Jane are chosen to lead a new group of colonists on Roanoke, and the second is the larger overall plot of the CU and CDF fighting against the Conclave – a collection of hundreds of different alien species who are uniting to maintain power in their part of the universe.

Enjoyment

Of the two separate plot arcs, I greatly preferred the first one which dealt with colonizing the planet.  Unfortunately, the larger part of the book (and the series as a whole) dealt with the second part.  The larger conspiracy was well done, but it was introduced later in the book, and really took away from the early plot of colonizing the planet.  There were several aspects of the colonists problems that were just swept under the rug and ignored due to the later issues.  And I understand that when compared to the problems of 2500 colonists the possible extinction of humans is the bigger issue.  The problem isn’t that the stories weren’t well told, or that they don’t belong in the same book together, I think the problem that I had was that the transition between the two stories left a lot to be desired (for me at least).

Overall Grade

This is probably the weakest novel in the series (for me at least), but if you enjoyed the first two books there’s no reason not to pick this one up.

6/10