Take my love, take my land, take me where I can not stand. I don't care I'm still free you can't take the sky from me. But you can take my Firefly away. Which is what Fox did in the middle of its first season. Something that myself and many other fans have never gotten over. And how could we? It is one of the best shows ever made bar none.
The show opens in the middle of an epic battle in Serenity Valley where Sargent Malcolm Reynolds is holding down what remains of the Independence forces as the Alliance swarms in. Zoe and Bendis are the only two members of his squad who hold out through the battle while they wait for air support. One of Mal's strongest character traits is his faith. He routinely relies on his faith to keep him going, believing that God will get him through everything, after all he is just too damn pretty for God to let him die. He even kisses his cross neckless for good luck. He is a man of unshakable faith.
Until it gets shaken. The Independence have surrendered and orders Mal and co to do the same. It is a moment that will change the course of Mal's life forever. Bendis and Mal's faith both die in this moment of defeat. Mal will never be the same again.
6 years later Mal and Zoe have a ship, named Serenity in honor of the battle they lost. They have a crew of misfits, Zoe's husband Wash, the kid who never grew up but boy could he fly. Kaylee, the mechanic who is far too sweet and innocent to fit in with this crew, only she's not. And Jayne the hired muscle. Oh and uh, Jayne is a guy, don't let the girl name fool you. He is a man.
Also on the ship is Inara, the ships Companion or what we would call a prostitute. A career in the future that is not only legal but highly respected. It's a sign of class to be allowed to train as one. Mal is the only one who doesn't see it that way.
Our unlikely heroes steal goods off of a broken down wreck as the Alliance shows up and tries to stop them, Wash uses a trick called the cry baby, a device that I personally think is just genius. It sends out a distress signal so that the Alliance will go and check it out rather than chase after them. Wash is G like that, even with his toy dinosaurs.
Can we take a minute to just talk about how amazing the title song is? It's so catchy you just can't help but sing along with it.
It isn't long before a major point of conflict among the crew is introduced. Wash and Zoe are married, happily so. Zoe is loyal to her long time friend and Captain Malcolm Reynolds. To the point where she follows his lead and orders no matter what. Wash can't stand that, the man is jealous of Mal.
One of the best parts of the show is the way they define culture. It's the future and nothing stays the same forever. English has more or less fused with Chinese, though Chinese is used mostly for cursing. It is a really neat thing that strikes Firefly as unique. Even the way people dress and talk. It's futuristic yet a throw back to the old west. It's a fully fleshed out world, more so than most other shows.
Mal, Zoe and Jayne try to drop off the goods to Badger, the character Joss Whedon wrote for himself to play before becoming too busy, only things don't go as planned. Badger knows that the goods are marked and that the Alliance is on the hunt for Mal and co. He sends them packing but not before putting Mal in his place. Telling him that he thinks he is a man of honor in a den of thieves and that in the end he is no better than anyone else.
Kaylee talks Shepherd Book into traveling on the ship. He's an older man of faith who wants to explore the verse after spending time studying the good book. A man of faith living on the ship of a man who saw his faith die in front of his eyes not 6 years prior. Also don't call him grandpa, he never married.
Rounding out the passengers are Dobson and Simon. Neither man is who they say they are. But both go on to play important parts of the story. Right off the bat there is something unnerving about Simon. He is hiding something and that is clear as day.
Mal is trying to do business with a woman who once shot him. He is one crazy ass dude to just let things like that go. I know personally if someone shot me they would be the last person I'd do business with. Mal takes great joy in tormenting Book, almost as if he blames Book for the death of his own faith. He also bullies Inara much in the same way that a little kid picks on someone they like. It's a playful teasing that she doesn't much care for.
Jayne shows himself to have no people skills at all during dinner. Simon asks his job and Mal replies human relations. Just one example of how witty the writing of this show is. After all, this episode is written by the man himself. Joss Whedon.
Book and Inara bond, just going to show that not everyone who believes in the good book is a judgmental asshole. Something that I strongly believe myself, seeing as I am Catholic, lapsed but still. Meanwhile one of the passengers call the feds, Wash managed to stop the transmission but who knows how much information got out.
Mal catches Simon and knocks him to the ground, he believes he is the Fed, Book tells him he has the wrong man, putting the thought in our heads that Book is the fed before we find out that Dobson is. He came for Simon but tells Mal that he will take them all to jail before accidentally shooting Kaylee. Book knocks him out, he is not what he seems. Something that will play on and off throughout the show.
Simon tells Mal that he will let Kaylee die if he doesn't get him away from the Alliance while Book keeps Dobson alive. Mal caves and lets the fed live and runs from the Alliance as Simon tries to help Kaylee. As Simon works Jayne watches on in secret, worried about Kaylee. Jayne may not want to admit it but he cares about the crew.
Wanting to know why the feds are after Simon, Mal opens up his create and finds River frozen. We learn that she is Simon's sister and that she went off to a private school run by the Alliance before vanishing. He risked everything to get her away from the school. That is why the Alliance is after them. She is special. Boy is she special and it isn't just because she is played by Summer Glau.
Inara tells Mal that if he kicks Simon and River off the ship she'll take off too. First episode in and everything is already coming to a head. Even more so once Dobson tries to get Jayne to turn on the crew. For a while it seems like he is going to take him up on the offer.
Before the crew can make it planet-side they are attacked by Reavers, who are they? what are they? Oh now that would be telling. For now, lets just say that they are crazy cannibals who live on the edge of space. Zoe tells us that they will rape you to death, eat your flesh and use your skin for clothing. Eat your flesh but still have skin left for clothes? These people are skilled!
Kaylee lives but Mal tells Simon that she died, freaking him out. Mal can be a jackass sometimes but it's why we love him.
Mal figures that Patience is going to shoot him again so he plans a trap to protect himself and crew from her. He sends Jayne, the man who might still betray him to go and clear out any enemy snipers. Meanwhile Book tries to help Dobson and is beat to the ground for it by Dobson. I really dislike this guy. On all three Whedonverse shows. If he was on Dollhouse I probably wouldn't like him on there ether.
It turns out that the stolen goods that Mal and crew stole were nothing more than food stuffs. Turns out in the wild west of space food has a great deal more value. While Mal deals with being double crossed once again by this lady, Dobson gets a hold of River. Jayne gets his crosshairs on Mal, could this be when he kills Mal and sells him out to the Alliance? Nope! He saves the day. Jayne isn't so bad!
Reavers show up planet side just as Simon goes to confront Dobson and try to save his sister. Mal, Zoe and Jayne are still in a gun fight with Patience. So much tension, is it any wonder this show is so beloved? The craziest part about this episode, Fox didn't think people would get it, or even like it so they made Joss and co make a new first episode, we will talk about that one next week but how could anyone think this wasn't the best pilot since The Shield? Or maybe till The Shield? I don't know they both came out in 02. Don't judge me, I'm not Law P knowing the date of everything.
The Reavers are coming but Wash can't take off till Mal and co get on the ship. Simon has Dobson at gun point but doesn't make a move and Dobson turns the tables getting ahold of both a gun and River. Mal shoots him dead. Or does he? Only time and comic books will tell. Serenity takes off just in time as the Reavers close in on them. Mal orders Inara to take the none crew members and head to town in her shuttle. She doesn't want to leave him and we see for the first time the budding romance between the two. I always wanted them to get together, once more damn you Fox!
Wash saves the day and gets Serenity the hell out of dodge losing the Reavers in his dust. Zoe takes Wash for some married fun time as Mal breaths a sigh of relief. It was a crazy few days but they got paid and are all alive. It wasn't a bad job after all. Well for some of them, Book starts to have a crisis of faith but Inara helps him see that testing his faith isn't bad. It can only help him grow. After all that is what faith is.