Firefly Friday: Ep6 Our Mrs Reynolds

On the one hand, this episode features a cast clearly enjoying the script and on the other hand, there’s a whole pile of yikes here made all the more uncomfortable by later revelations of Joss Whedon’s history of infidelity. But let’s get to the plot.

The Serenity crew defeat a gang of bandits by disguising Jayne and Mal as husband and wife in other to stage a reverse ambush. That night the whole town celebrates and in the morning the head of the town is apologetic that they couldn’t give Mal et al. a bigger reward. This is just a preamble to the main story which begins in earnest once the ship has left the moon/planet. Mal discovers an apparent stowaway who reveals herself to be his new wife — part of the impoverished town’s reward.

The initial premise here is that a naive (and very, very attractive) young woman, who has been brought up to be very subservient to her husband, is now Mal’s wife due to a ritual in the celebrations that he thought was just part of the party. The woman (“Saffron” played by Christina Hendricks in an early role) want nothing more than to please Mal and be a good wife much to Mal’s consternation and the initial amusement of much of the crew.

I’ll spoil the plot as it makes some of this much less creepy. Saffron is actually a skilled seductress whose actual mission is to help space pirates capture the ship. Even so, the set-up feels like a minefield. Sure, Sheppard Book overtly tells Mal that if he in any way takes advantage of the young woman then this would be morally equivalent to child abuse (the actual age difference between Fillon and Hendricks is only 4 years) and yet even this intervention is there to make it all the more of a dilemma for Mal.

While the subgenre of Steven Moffat Sci-Fi sex comedy had yet to be invented, this is a prototype and along with the uncomfortable situation, the script presents Mal as just a poor misunderstood man with natural urges and also places Zoë and Inara as inherently jealous.

Jayne, on the other hand, tries to trade his prize gun to Mal in exchange for Saffron, making it that much harder to distinguish the character from my existing perspective on Adam Baldwin.

I guess it all works out in the end. Not knowing where it was going made the whole thing more uncomfortable than fun. On balance, the story avoids the worst aspects of the premise but then heads into dodgy dialogue towards the end. The comedic aspects and the group dynamics work out well…sort of…but are hard to untangle from a storyline whose main narrative tensions arises out of potential sexual abuse.


26 responses to “Firefly Friday: Ep6 Our Mrs Reynolds”

  1. Yeah the criticisms are fair and I haven’t rewatched this ep, Altho I don’t recall the issue being Saffron’s age as much as her alleged innocence.

    Saffron will be one of three minor characters to return in a later ep, and this at least makes that one more entertaining.

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  2. Oh, Adam Baldwin is absolutely playing himself in this show. The real dissonance comes later in the series when there are some character redemption moments.

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    • The problem with Adam Baldwin is that you’re never sure that he is so good at playing gun-toting arseholes, because he is one himself, or if he played so many gun-toting arseholes that he eventually became one himself in a case of method acting gone horribly wrong.

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            • Though Adam has been in a movie with William, one with Stephen, and one with Daniel, which makes me wonder if the Casting Director on those movies cast Adam because they thought he was one of the famous brothers.

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            • I actually knew that Adam Baldwin is not related to the other bunch. But when I wrote “I had never come across Baldwin before Firefly and Chuck”, I thought “Well, of course I’d come across the Baldwin brothers, but not Adam Baldwin”, so I added “this particular Baldwin”.

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          • He is also playing an a hole in the 2006 Tv series Day Break, which got absolute lost somehow, despite being an A+ series imho (I only mentioned this because I want this series to get more attention, so it gets to a streaming service)

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            • It was a first-rate TV series and one of the better time-loop stories I’ve seen. I became a Netflix subscriber so I could see it on DVD (it was low-rated and ABC didn’t finish the run).

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                • One of the details I like is that as the protagonist (Taye Diggs) doesn’t know what caused him to start looping, he’s very conscious it could stop at any time — so he can’t simply relax and assume he has enough time to beat the bad guys, and he can’t just start killing people because what happens then if things don’t loop?

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    • Weird that both he an R. Lee Ermey had their breakout roles in the same film essentially playing variations of themselves. Although Baldwin did leave a bit of an impression in his very first role in My Bodyguard (1980).

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      • Baldwin reprised that role in the only funny joke to be found in the movie Drillbit Taylor.

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  3. The main thing I remember about this one, besides it being the first time I saw Christina Hendricks, is that I really live Morena Baccarin’s delivery of the line “Who ARE you?” Like she’s clearly pissed off and is not at all cool with this person’s choices, but still can’t help being impressed by a really skilled actor. I’ve been there.

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  4. I dunno. I generally feel that stories should be evaluated on their own terms–based on what they actually contain–and not on the basis of things you know (or suspect) about the authors, editors, directors, actors, etc. That said, this was a pretty forgettable episode: Even after reading your review, I don’t remember it at all.

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  5. Someone, maybe Ana Mardoll also pointed out this is extremely dubious consent for MAL. He’s basically handed a woman by the planet (as far as he is aware) and told “go **** her” without being asked if this is an acceptable prize or not. We don’t tend to take this as being as serious because we see him as having the power. (and because we rarely take a man’s agency being trampled as seriously). Like, would we have been so blithe if a female character suddenly had a stowaway claiming to be her husband and hoping for his marital rights (yes, even if she’s also a bit tempted)? But his side is played for laughs.

    It also leads to the question; does the planet even have this tradition, and if so. how did Saffron convince them to let her take the place of one of their daughters? And if not, what would have happened if he did try to return her, despite her comments about the consequences?

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    • Good points. On the specific question of the tradition, Book sort of confirms it by finding details of the marriage ritual that was followed (however, from memory Saffron may have done most of that – putting a wreath on Mal’s head, sharing a drink and then dancing)

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      • Which leads me still to wonder why nobody checked the stranger(s?) had a clue what those things implied.

        Much us made about people historically made to marry “against their will” but as it happens. Western Christan based tradition at least required you be committing the ceremony itself knowingly and in as sound mind as you ever are. People were coerced in a LOT of ugly ways, but they still were required to know what the ceremony meant.

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