(Spoilers) Firefly Film Festival #8: "Out of Gas"

Welcome to episode eight 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

Time for a thread on this week’s episode: Out of Gas. “Maybe I should do that then!”

Probably the best episode of the lot. I love getting the background on everyone. Who would have suspected it of Kaylee? Oddly enough, looking through a transcript, I don’t see lots of hilarious lines like I usually do. It’s not the witty banter that makes this episode, it’s the storyline. And hey! The captain? Perhaps a little crazy!

Oh, okay, fine.

Kaylee: Catalyzer on the port compression coil blew. That’s where the trouble started.
Mal: I need that in Captain Dummy-Talk, Kaylee.

And Jayne’s attempt to get Inara to tell some “funny whorin’ stories”.

You know the button that Wash installed to call everyone back? Alan Tudyk filched it when the show was cancelled.

:: sniffle ::

Mal: “Ship like this will be with you till the day you die.”

Zoe: “That’s 'cause she’s a deathtrap.”

I had liked Firefly from the first time I’d seen it, but this was the episode that tipped me over to thinking “Dang, this just may be the best TV show ever”. Beautifully filmed and directed in almost a graphic-novel style, the ep seamlessly integrates poignant and sometimes hilarious vignettes concerning how the crew came together with a reasonably convincing main story describing the dangers inherent in spacefaring aboard an old, indequately-maintained vessel.

As ever, the cast nails their performances; there are so many great scenes it’s almost impossible to highlight one, but if pressed I would say the most impressive is the sequence in which Mal first tells the crew they’re going to have to abandon ship, and their reactions to the news, followed by him rejecting Inara’s plea that he come with her in here shuttle. The fear in his eyes and voice, that he is indeed about to go down with his ship, seems pefectly genuine.

Note to self: If my mechanic ever says we need to replace the port catalyzer, I’ll be sure to replace the damn port catalyzer.

Oh, and the story (related in the commentary track) concerning what Alan Tudyk did with the red button after the show had been cancelled really touched me.

This is a great episode - even though it has a very thin plot - because it has such character moments.

We get to see when and why everyone joined, and some unique moments about them.

Like Zoe not liking Wash at first.

Like Jayne turning on his previous crew. (Which really should make us think about those episodes where he nearly turns on Mal…)

Like Kaylee replacing the “genius” mechanic. (“Genius? No one’s ever called me that before.” Yeah, we can see why.)

And the dialogue as ever:

“It’s an easy, langorous journey.”
“Gee, I wonder what that would be like.”

Oh, and I love the revelation at the end that the ship that will last if treated properly is not the Firefly that Mal ended up with.

Definitely my favorite episode.
“C’mon. You ain’t even seen most of it. I’ll show you the rest… Try to see past what she is, on to what she can be.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“Freedom, is what.”

“No, I meant – what’s that?”

“Oh. Just step around it. I think something must’ve been living in here.”

One of my favorite episodes, partly because of the background and partly because you get to see how the whole crew has really become a family: as a group during the birthday scene and when Mal tells them they need to leave on the shuttles, and in smaller scenes like the one with Simon and Inara talking about dying on the ship or River and Book talking about Book being afraid.

Technically, I think it’s really neat to see how they weave in and out of the different points in time. It was really interesting to hear the commentary on that. It’s much different than how they originally planned it, but I can’t imagine the flashbacks being woven in more effectively.


“When we get it flying. You mean it’s not flyable now?”
“Not so much.”

Great episode. I loved the last scene, where it’s love at first sight between Mal and Serenity. This was the episode where the ship itself became one of the characters in the show.

And I thought Kaylee’s scene was about perfect. Clearly, sexuality in the Firefly universe is much more casual than it is today. Which makes sense, given the advanced medicine, no doubt perfect birth control, etc. I liked how she could be that open sexually, while still being a nice, innocent girl, without it being a contradiction.

One nit was with Wash’s character. He just didn’t seem like Wash, and it wasn’t just the cheezy mustache. I think he was trying to roll the character back and show how different he was ‘back then’, but the change was just a bit too much.

But anyway, the non-linear storytelling was handled very well, the character development stuff was perfect, and the pacing was great. A great hour of Firefly.

Leading to one of the best gag reel moments, when Wash-with-moustache ets up from behind the console and Mal and Zoe have cheesy moustaches of their own.

Yes, he filched it, but then he gave it to Joss, so that when the show got picked up again he could call everyone back.

I don’t think so - look at Simon. And the big deal made about sex in “Our Mrs Reynolds.” Like today, some people are more casual about sex than others.

There are a few:

Mal: Which one you figured tracked us?
Zoe: The ugly one, sir.
Mal: Could you be more specific?

Mal: Well. Looks can be deceiving.
Jayne: Not as deceiving as a low down dirty… deceiver.
Mal: Well said. Wasn’t that well said, Zoe?
Zoe: Had a kind poetry to it, sir.

everyone: Happy birthday!
River: “Day” is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles. It’s not applicable.
Simon: ???
River: I didn’t get you anything.

Wash: Yes, Mal. It’d boost the signal, but even if some passerby did happen to receive, all it’d do is muck up their navigation!
Mal: Could be that’s true.
Wash: Damn right it’s true! They’d be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could go anyplace! … <pause> … Well, maybe I should do that!!

Okay, I’ve been following all of the Firefly threads religiously, because I’m a shamelessly nerdy Firefly fan (as evidenced), but I haven’t posted yet. I’m jumping in here, though, because this is the beginning of what I’ve heard called the Whiplash Point - the point at which Firefly hits and sustains a level of television that I’ve just never seen equalled. The last few episodes were enough to firmly grab you, but this, and the next few, just smack you silly with their quality. Or at least did to me.

This is a terrific episode, my second-favourite of the series (Objects in Space comes first). By now we’ve got the characters down pat and we can go all emotional (in a good way). They did a terrific job with the transitions (always important in a time-jumpy story) and the color schemes / camera work really set the mood for the origin flashbacks.

The origin chronology is a bit confusing - Mal’s “finally got ourselves a genius mechanic” line is clearly meant to refer to Kaylee, so the Wash flashback takes place after the Kaylee flashback, but is shown before it - and since they’re so close together, chronologically, the tendency is to take them as sequential. Doesn’t matter much, I guess, in the end.

Absolutely love the scene of the shuttles departing, and Mal closing all of the doors behind him. The commentary’s right, you just don’t get to do that on TV anymore. I guess that’s one of the reasons Firefly really stands out - they trust the audience to be interested enough in the characters to enjoy taking their time with the storytelling.

Also this episode provides a speculative spoiler for a possible future Inara plotline:

[spoiler]During the quiet Simon / Inara scene, in the commentary, Tim Minear says there’s a clue in the scene’s dialogue as to an unused Inara backstory. There’s really only one line it could be, and it fits in nicely with the Inara-is-dying speculation mentioned in numerous threads:

Inara: I love this ship. I have from the first moment I saw it.
Simon: I just don’t want to die on it.
Inara: (distantly) I don’t want to die at all.[/spoiler]

This episode also has one of my favorite guest stars - Bester the mechanic. The guy playing him is just perfect, a wonderful, futuristic blend of surfer/stoner/poseur, like Kato Kaelin moved into Han Solo’s guest house. I fully believe you could make a comedic Firefly spinoff starring Bestor as a sort of luckless, hapless, amiable Surfer Cowboy, hanging out in spaceports and stumbling in and out of trouble. Perhaps with a sidekick. A flying monkey of some kind.

Other episode likes: “Captain dummy-talk”, Wash’s pornostache, Kaylee heartbroken over not being able to fix Serenity, Mal’s leading-Wash-to-water-but-letting-him-drink-on-his-own argumentation technique, Jayne’s heartfelt goodbye, Mal letting his guard drop before falling back asleep, and of course the final scene, the origin of Serenity.

How could I forget this? This is one of my favorite lines in anything, ever. I’m just dying to work “deceiving as a low down dirty deceiver” into a conversation.

I really love this episode.

Well, no, the “genius” does not refer to Kaylee. He’s playing with us there. We hear “genius mechanic”, and we all think Kaylee (who was in the previous scene) - and in walks Bester. He even says “Wow, no one’s ever called me a genius before.” (I mentioned that in my post).

Bester and Wash are both hired before they get Serenity off the ground the first time (it doesn’t fly, “not so much”, at first).

Kaylee is picked up later - they’re on a rock for a few days on their way to some job, and Mal’s on Bester’s back for not fixing the problem faster, while Bester’s on his back - erm… anyway, Kaylee shows how easily the problem can be fixed. So those two flashbacks are in order.

But in general, most of the flashbacks don’t need to be in order. Inara, Jayne, Kaylee - can you tell from evidence in the episode what order those happened in? I can’t. You don’t need to. (I do suspect, though, that Inara’s shuttle was rented out before they left the first time, but I can’t support that with a quote from this episode.)
Jayne, in this episode and the last, obviously has a way with words. (Not a good way, just a way…)

One of my favorite episodes. (of course, I have 14 favorite episodes)

Definitely one of the most important episodes. As others have mentioned, this one gives us backstory on how our basic family formed; Wash, Kaylee, Jayne.

“They’d be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could even go any place…
Well maybe I should do that then!”
“Maybe you should!”
“Hey, what you two think you’re doing, fighting at a time like this? Use up all the air.”

“She likes engines, they make her hot. Secondary grav-boot’s shot.”
"No it ain’t! Secondary grav-boot’s just fine… Hello!
“She doesn’t… that’s not what it… no it ain’t!”
“Sure it is, grav-boot ain’t your trouble. I seen the trouble plain as day when I was down there on my back before… Your right couple’s bad.”
“Right couple… no it ain’t.”
“Sure it is. Your right-couple. Right… here. This. I’m pointin’ right at it.”

“She fixed it.”
“It wadn’t really broke.”

“You got much experience with a vessel such as this?”
“I ain’t never been up in one before.”
“Just gotta ask my folks!”

“Mal, whattaya need two mechanics for?”
“Really don’t.”

“Yeah, 'cuz sick people are hi-larious!”

“Out of Gas” is the episode that really cemented my love for Firefly. It’s probably the most character-driven episode of the series, the plot existing primarily to show our heroes’ responses to utter disaster. Plus, the cinematography is gorgeous… as Randolph noted, it’s very rare that you get to see long, dialogue-free sequences in which the imagery alone tells the story on television. Scenes like the opening shot of Serenity adrift (and how great is it that she actually drifts in space, instead of slowing to a stop like in every other sci-fi show ever?), the departure of the shuttles, and Mal’s subsequent journey back to the cockpit give the episode a truly cinematic feel.

As much as I love this episode, though, I wince every time Simon says the line “pure adrenaline,” comically enormous syringe in hand. That much adrenaline would kill a freakin’ elephant, even if it were injected in some halfway realistic manner, rather than straight into the gut (WTF?!).

About the adrenaline, here’s what the Master has to say about a similar scene in Pulp Fiction:

Given that Zoe was going into cardiac arrest, I suppose it’s not completely inaccurate. More accurate than Pulp Fiction, in fact. The later scene with Mal injecting himself is ridiculous though - his heart is obviously still beating and there’s no need for an intracardiac injection. Then again Mal isn’t a doctor and maybe he didn’t know any better.

There are a few other technical/scientific problems I saw too. For example, opening the hatch to put out the fire should have reduced cabin pressure considerably, and with life support down, they shouldn’t have been able to replenish the air in that area. And the very memorable scene of Mal closing all the doors as he goes up to the bridge - that makes no sense. Mal has no way of extracting oxygen from the closed-off sections and pumping it into the bridge, so he’s better off leaving all the doors open.

Not that I care much about these technical problems. It’s still the best hour of any show on TV, IMHO. It’s a complex episode with three different time periods interlaced, but they pulled it off wonderfully.

This is definitely my favorite episode of the series, and that’s saying quite a lot. I remember during the series’ original run, I couldn’t watch this episode as it aired (prior engagement or summat) and the tape I’d set to record didn’t take – I had to wait a few days for a friend to send it to me. And when I finally saw it? HOO BOY. That was love. Like a lot of other people have mentioned in this thread, this was the turning point from “It’s a great show!” to “It’s an amazing show.”

I’d end up quoting the whole episode if I talked about dialogue I loved – it’s not all witty-quotable, but for character and emotional resonance, there’s not a single line of dialogue I dislike. Highlights for me was the dinner/birthday party scene (as the fireball came through, especially) and Mal and Inara having their last conversation – but choosing favorite scenes in this episode is like pointing out the strongest part of Casablanca. There’s not a single flaw here, IMO, and beyond that, it’s all wonderful.

Even then, it would be an extremely dilute epinephrine solution:

-From RXlist.com

A shot of saturated epinephrine solution in a syringe as large as the one Simon uses would almost certainly be fatal, although to be fair I don’t know of any specific experiments where people were injected with massive epinephrine overdoses. :wink:

The whole beginning scene, with Mal introducing Zoe to Serenity, that’s a scene, a dialogue, that every married couple goes through. Not just married couples, every couple of close people, friends, lovers, whatever, that’s a conversation they have. “What made you buy this piece of gorram?” “Gorram, why, with some love and attention, she’ll be with you 'til the day you die.” “Yeah, 'cause it’s a death-trap.”

Mal & Zoe are, in their own way, married. But lots of us are married to our friends, we just don’t acknowledge it as the whole “married” thing.

Mal is married to every single member of his crew. I guess we call it love, family, friendship, loyalty, whatever. Joss Whedon’s got it right on. The crew of Serenity is a loving family, and we all feel like a part of that family. Damn it Whedon, don’t make me feel this way! You’re like a heroin pusher!