(Spoilers) Firefly Film Festival #12: "The Message"

Welcome to episode twelve 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:

  1. Serenity
  2. The Train Job
  3. Bushwacked
  4. Shindig
  5. Safe
  6. Our Mrs. Reynolds
  7. Jaynestown
  8. Out of Gas
  9. Ariel
  10. War Stories
  11. Trash

Time for a thread on this week’s episode: The Message. “Why’d you guys order a body?”

As much as I love “Objects in Space,” this always felt like the last episode to me (of course it was the final episode filmed and many of the cast felt the same way)
That last shot of the group at Tracey’s funeral, when Simon and Kaylee hold hands and it pans to Mal before the fadeout, all to that beautiful music. Damn. Thats what TV Should feel like.

All in all I put this episode above average, but not in the same league as “Out of Gas,” “War Stories,” or “Objects in Space.” Jonathan M. Woodward was good, if slightly drunk sounding, as Tracey, even though I never trusted him to be straight will Mal (residual Knox syndrome).

Lets see, Favorite moments:

“Why, are there people you ARE good at talking to?”

“Mal, you’re dead army buddy is on the bridge”

“I’m very comfortable”

I have to say, this is not one of my favorites. It seemed like the plot was rather thin. I also couldn’t quite believe that the bad cops that were ready to flambe the gruntled postal worker would leave Serenity in peace so easily.

However, it did have a few good lines, and good backstory on Mal and Zoe. You gotta appreciate that hat, too. “Man walks down the street in that hat, you know he’s not afraid of anything!”

What is it with Kaylee and falling for guys that are going to hold her hostage?

The commentary is funny. I’d love to see the scene they shot (as described) where Mal kept moving around in the circle so the camera would catch him more than once.

This episode has the most egregious (only?) use of the “Stupid Characters” plot device in all of Firefly, when Mal and Co. don’t just EXPLAIN the plan to Tracey instead of risking getting Wash shot. Fortunately, the resulting gunfight is well-played by both Woodward and Fillion, and the following scene between Book and the Alliance officer is amazing as well, which evens it out for me. Add the usual passle of hilarious Firefly moments and the beautiful denouement scene, and you get a net win.

Favorite moments:
-Simon, officially the Least Smooth Guy Ever
-Jayne’s hat (and the way it’s referenced throughout the episode, from the Alliance officer mocking it to Jayne sorrowfully removing it as Tracey’s family receives his coffin)
-Tracey and the beans. I really enjoy how this scene shows Zoe and Mal in their pre-Serenity Valley days, Zoe as the professional soldier par excellence, and Mal as the cheerful sergeant who doesn’t take things too seriously.

Special mention has to be given to one of the funniest exchanges in all of Firefly:
Mal: Using corpses for smuggling is a time-honored repulsive custom.
Jayne: eyes light up Maybe it’s gold.
Zoe: And maybe he was a friend of ours, and you need to show a little respect.
Jayne: I got respect. I’m just sayin’… points gold!

Freakin’ hilarious. :stuck_out_tongue:

You can! It’s in Part 3 of the extended blooper reel, which you can download here. (Mods: IIRC, this site has Joss’s blessing for distributing the downloads listed, particularly the extended blooper reel, which isn’t available elsewhere).

This is one of my favorites, mostly for the emotional impact. It’s just so sad. If he had trusted his old army buddies, he probably would have lived. But he didn’t trust them. He believed he had to play them to be safe and it killed him.
Um, and I also liked the hat and the bit where Wash took Serenity jinking through the canyon to lose the ship on their tail. . .

. . . only to have the ship pull up high enough to watch it and fire from up above the canyon.

“Why’d y’all order a dead guy?” – Jayne

I seem to recall numerous comments in previous threads that this is the weakest episode of the series (my vote goes to Bushwhacked). Having just watched it again, I think it’s there are some quite interesting moments. The central theme, a contemplation some of the unsavory ways Independents have had to scrape by since their defeat, was reasonably well-treated. Once again, the guest actors are first-rate; the guy that plays Tracey is perfectly believable as the sort of person that has plenty of charm but is bone lazy and not overendowed with smarts, and so does his best to get by on the former. The whole subplot setup, with Tracey posed as possibly a better ‘fit’ for Kaylee than stuffy Simon, also works pretty well.

I will agree with NE Texan that the cop seemed a poorly developed character; it would have made much more sense storywise if he had lit up the unfortunate postal worker, and having him supposedly wait several hours from first demanding that he board Serenity to making his final ultimatum was clearly done just to provide space in the story for reviving Tracey and the subsequent planetside chase. All rather clumsy, IMO.

The ending, while unusually maudlin for the series, is still rather touching, knowing (as we learn from the commentary, IIRC) that the funeral scene was filmed around the time the cast learned the show had been cancelled.

I have to rewatch the episode for more in depth comments, but can I just say…the postal worker is wearing a kipa! Possibly the only time I have ever seen someone in a network show wearing a kipa.

Ice Planets!

I second what’s been said about the “stupid moment”, when they could have just told him the plan.

I particularly liked the voiceover culled from Tracey’s recorded message, it serves very well as commentary to the whole series too, in some indefinite way. At least, it does to me.

Thios one sits just outside my top ten, but this scene stops it from being the worst one :
Zoe: First rule of battle, little one - don’t ever let them know where you are.
Mal: (running in shouting) Wheee! I’m right here! I’m right here! I’m comin’ in!
Zoe: 'Course there are other schools of thought.
My quote:

Wash: (to “alien” in jar) Do not fear me. Ours is a peaceful race. And we must live in harmony.

Why do I get the impression Wash is the MST(4/5/n?)K fan on the ship?

He’s a Space Jew, or “Spjew,” as they said on the commentary.

This bugs me a lot. Indeed, it id for this reason that The Message is my least-favorite episode.

Even so, there is much to love, especially Jayne’s labored reading of his letter from his Mom.

Ooh, thanks for that link!

This episode isn’t one of my favorites, but it does make me cry at the end (it’s the music, mostly. Beautiful sad music always makes me cry.) And I love Jayne’s hat and slow reading.

In addition to the Angel spot, he played Holden Webster on Buffy in the episode Converstations with Dead People, perhaps the best episode of season 7.

It’s remarkable how loyal Joss is towards actors. Adam, Summer, Nathan and Gina have all appeared on either Buffy or Angel.

This is definitely my least favorite episode, but it’s still pretty decent. The scene at the end is particularly poignant, especially the musical score. Ice planets are great. I just don’t like the plot and flow of the episode nearly as much as most of the others.

What you said about Book lead me wondering. Maybe Book is ex-Alliance police, or maybe even current Alliance Police (investigating the Men with blue gloves?). This would explain why he knows so much, but also why the police that were following Firefly left without a fight after so much violence to capture the organ smugler.

I think my favorite part of this episode is Jayne’s letter from his mom. Not just for his hysterical reading, either. Who knew that a mercenary bad guy like Jayne had a mom? Or that he sends her money? (Let me repeat that. Jayne gives money away to someone who isn’t holding a gun on him.) And that his mom loves him and worries about him enough to send him a handmade hat? And doesn’t it explain a lot about Jayne (including him having a girl’s name) that his mom thinks that hat is a good idea?

It adds a whole new dimension to the guy.

That was hilarious! I didn’t even notice what was going on until they showed Simon & Kaylee cracking up.

I used to think that Mal not explaining the plan to Tracy was a plot hole, but after watching the series again for these threads, I’m starting to think it’s a character note for Mal. He does exactly the same thing to Simon in “Bushwhacked,” when he agrees to let the Alliance board him. I think Mal has a problem with people questioning his orders, and instead of explaining his orders, just gets in their face about it. A holdover from his seargenting days, I guess. I’ve never been in the military myself, but I can’t imagine a whole lot of seargents having a good reaction to troops in their command asking, “Why?”

I agree. I still need to rewatch the episode, but I recall thinking that Mal must not trust Tracy.

Two words: Jayne’s hat.


And I love the way he read the letter from mom.