Firefly Film Festival #7 - "Jaynestown"

Firefly Film Festival #7 - “Jaynestown”
Not sure if NE Texan is still away, and I’m a little ahead of you Merkins, so I’ll start the film fest thread!:

Welcome to episode seven of the Firefly Film Festival.

As discussed here , we’ll be reviewing and talking about one Firefly episode each week.

In this thread, please remember the following as a warning to yourself and courtesy to other posters:

  • There will be unboxed spoilers about the current episode in this thread; you are forewarned.
  • Please use spoiler boxes if you want to bring up points from later episodes.
  • Please use spoiler warnings if you want to use info from the movie. Also be prepared for massive jealosy.
  • Label what the spoilers are about so that readers can decide whether to open the box.
  • We’ll be talking about both the episode and the DVD commentary here.

Previous episodes:
2. The Train Job
3. Bushwacked
4. Shindig
5. Safe
6.Our Mrs. Reynolds

This week’s episode: Jaynestown , in which we meet the Hero of Canton, and hear a rather good song.

“No. This is what going insane feels like”

I agree with the recap at TWOP that Mal et al. were curiously unconcerned with Jayne’s safety–he started out riotously paranoid that he not be recognized for what turns out to have been a very good reason. Not such good writing from a this-particular-episode point of view, but I guess it’s in keeping with the way Mal’s plans tend to go.

Otherwise one of my favorite episodes.

The Song! The Statue! The very idea!
I know this one seems to be some people’s favourite episode, but it doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid. It’s fun, for sure, but it ranks about 12th or 13th for me. This means it’s about the 13th or 14th greatest TV episode ever, of course, so not doing to badly.
The song is good, and there are some choice quotes:

Simon: This must be what going mad feels like.

Wash: We gotta go to the crappy town where I’m a hero.

and the whole River + Book + The Book scene:
River: Noah’s Ark is a problem.
Book: Really.
River: We’ll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit five thousand species of mammal on the same boat.

So, to sum up: This is the “funny episode” of the lot, IMO. For me, good, but knowing the greatest 45 mins of TV ever, otherwise known as “Out Of Gas”, is next, kind of makes me impatient.

Thanks. I’m around, but had a busy weekend and couldn’t start the thread yesterday. I might have gotten to it tonight, but better that someone start the thread.

In general, anyone that wants to starting Sunday night can start the thread - they don’t have to wait for me, though they should search to be certain no one else has. To make the search easier, it might be useful to post a link to each thread in the previous one.

This ep falls just a hair behind Our Mrs. Reynolds for funniest episode.

“They really…captured his essence.”
“He looks angry.”
“That’s kinda what I meant.”

This was mostly a ‘make fun of Jayne’ episode. Now that I think about it, it is a little weird for Mal to not pay attention to Jayne when he’s paranoid like that. Mal hired Jayne to be a gunman/tracker/muscle, and for him to survive so long he’d have to have a good sense of danger. Really, though, he gets antsy right around their encounter with the statue, so it’s plausible they’d be a bit too dumbfounded to pay much attention.

Despite all the hilarity, my favorite scene is at the end with Jayne and Mal talking. It’s a rare thing to see Jayne that confused, and also for Mal to be talking to him as calmly as he would with Kaylee.

I don’t care how many times I see this episode — the mystified expressions of the gang around the table when the folk singer cranks up his bouncy homage to Jayne put me on the floor every single time.

Plot’s a little weak, especially in the last few minutes, but the handful of brilliant comedic moments more than makes up for it, IMHO.

Oh, and the way River’s critique of the ancient Biblical myth mirrors the development of the fresh Jayne myth is, I think, some pretty nifty writing. Even a weaker episode of this show has more literary and thematic depth than virtually everything else on television.

yes, that. Wash’s “we gotta go to the crappy town where I’m a hero!” is a line that will never. stop. being. funny.

Dear Og, I can’t believe I forgot.

This is the Hair episode.

I need say no more.

I really love the way the tension gets ratcheted up during the first act. As in Empire Strikes Back, when Han Solo is coming back to Bespin to meet Lando, you’re not really sure what kind of reception he’s going to get. The statue is definitely at odds with Jayne’s paranoia… then there’s the singer, and the little boy, and the crowd (“JAYNE!”) and finally the scene where the bartender knocks the drink out of Jayne’s hands right as he’s about to sip it – and you’re still trying to figure out who wants him canonized and who wants him killed. Then the whiskey comes out and all is well with the world.

A nice counterpoint to Jayne’s story are the other sideplots where people try to be what they’re not – Simon tries to be an outlaw, Book tries to take care of River, Kaylee is even a little bit crafty about trying to be Simon’s girl. Fess, over in Inara’s shuttle, has been trying to grow into his father’s (loathesome) shoes, and has Inara set him straight. A great subtext to an episode that, in the end, is kind of a downer.

But still pretty damn good!

Okay, gotta say, one of my favorite episodes. I’m glad we’ve come to this, though. My friends and I think that the story of the ‘fall and rise and fall’ of Jayne might be allegory for something, but we really don’t know what. I mean, the death of the boy seemed pointless, but it also seemed… I dunno… Somehow -symbolic- of something. And the younger boy giving him back the knife as well. I keep feeling like there’s something being said there at a different level about heroes or deities or… Something. Anyone have ideas?

I’m not entirely certain it’s as deep as that, though I could surely be mistaken. The boy who took the shot and the boy who gave him back the knife were to illustrate just how much the town revered him; even in the face of reality they clung desperately to their idea of Jayne as a hero, as it’s all they have.

So long as you have faith in something, it doesn’t matter what it is, or what you do, or how things turn out in the end. If you keep your faith, you’ll be okay.

That’s what I see it as, anyway. Jayne lost his faith at the end when the guy died, so he wasn’t okay with it. The guy, however, is fine. That little kid, maybe not so much faith there when he saw how disgusted Jayne was.

This is the second-weakest episode plotwise, I think (weakest being The Message). The not-caring-about-Jayne’s-safety thing didn’t bother me; Mal seemed to have a sort of contempt for the whole planet and its government, so it’s not that he didn’t care about Jayne so much as he wasn’t taking the government’s ability to enforce the law at all seriously. This turned out to be good policy; upon learning that a wanted felon has returned to Canton, the local magistrate frees said felon’s partner and hands him a loaded shotgun. Smooth. Although I guess they get some credit for keeping a guy in a box for three years without deforming him or costing him any muscle development.

I’ll happily forgive all of that in exchange for the scene with Jayne’s Ballad, though. That and the flirtation between Kaylee and Simon. And Inara’s speech about Mal. And her reaction when Fess explains. And Jayne’s utter bewilderment at the very end. Yeah.

“River? He’s putting the hair away now.”

“Jayne? Jayne Cobb? You’re talking about Jayne Cobb?”
::Fess says something about how he hates to see him arrested::
“Yes… that… would be … bad…”

There’s a lot of funny in this episode, but there’s also a big annoying plot hole.

Why the hell doesn’t Jayne’s old partner SHOOT THE MAGISTRATE when he get that gun??
HE has more than one bullet. He can hunt Jayne down too. (That and the fact that no one would be able to move if they’d been sitting in a box that size for that long - muscles atrophy.)

Maybe because the magistrate’s muscle is standing right there?

If he shoots the magistrate, then Fess is in charge, and everything changes. How Stitch knew that, I’m not sure, but, when in doubt, don’t shoot the magistrate. Shoot the bad guy.

Fair point.

“The hero of Canton, the man they call…me.”

Definitely NOT one of my favorite eps, but that line cracks me up every single time, and as so often with this show, there are plenty of nuggets of great stuff scattered here and there. “Bible’s broken”; love that bit. Inara getting all set to make a speech about Mal’s nobility, then the look on her face when she discovers that it’s Jayne who’s the town hero. Jayne’s speech to the Mudders. “Mudder’s milk”, haw haw. The really quite sweet little drunken interchange between Simon and Kaylee, followed by Simon, as usual, firmly inserting foot in mouth.

As others have mentioned, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that Mal would insist on Jayne coming with them to town, especially after Jayne had repeatedly said he wasn’t welcome there. There seems to be a lot of padding and not a whole lot of subtlety, with people standing around with perplexed looks on their faces for what seems like days on end. Also, the joke concerning Book’s hair and River’s fear of it is cute, but ultimately pointless and silly.

Anyway, ultimately Jayne has become for me the most fascinating character on the show, and I’ve gotta give props to Adam Baldwin for making him so. Yes, the character is a repulsive oaf, a legend in his own tiny mind, the delinquent high school bully more or less grown up, but there is a sense that deep down he knows, and is ashamed, that he’s an uneducated yokel, and has a clear desire to be part of a family, something he’s apparently never really had. Being on Mal’s crew gives him that feeling, even if it takes his attempted betrayal of another character in a later episode for him to acknowledge how important that feeling is.

The most interesting point in the episode is just when he’s gone berserk and beaten Stitch to death in front of the assembled Mudders. It seems clear that he’s not just upset about the kid who threw himself in front of the shotgun blast; he almost appears to be trying to beat himself to death in shame over the fraud that he is, and the look of self-loathing on his face is truly wrenching. And there, I guess, is the main reason I like this show so much: almost every action one of the main characters takes supports what we know about them already, and despite the show’s short run, we can see the consequences of their actions changing them.