Only, well, not really. And in what turns out to be my style of "if you can use a three-lines sentence instead of finding just the right word, why not write even about that, too, while you're at it", but that's the only one I have, so I can't help it.
First, a confession: I'm really not good with torture scenes. Yeah, I know, what am I thinking, watching a Joss-and-Tim show, and not liking the torture? What show do I think I'm watching? But, still. It's a weird combination of aching for the characters who suffer on the screen and - probably because the sole purpose of it is pain, there's not much straight-out story in there - I can't help but thinking 'what, they just shook and shouted all that day of shooting, repeatedly? Between the parts of the scenes when they actually talked, they just had to shake again and again?' Also, and that's just because I'm the sappest sap in sapponia, I simply can't watch when my beloved characters are being hurt. And I don't understand the purpose of pain only-in-order-for-pain (see above, re: sap). So, basically, I loved everything about the torture scenes, other than, well, the actual torture. I didn't like it with Faith and Wesley or Angelus and pretty much everybody, either.
Oh, and they killed Mal! Well, Westly mostly-dead killed, I know, but still! Is that the first time they've killed Mal? He was only nearly-mostly-dead in (this name is going to come up a lot in the following posts, you are warned) "Out of Gas", right? Is that the first time they've done their trademark 'let's kill an in-the-opening-credits character!' thing in this show?
I loved that scene at the beginning of Kaylee and River playing together. I mean, if there's anybody that River would be able to form any sort of non-Simon connection with, it's the person that everybody connects to, the 'heart' of the ship, so to speak - Kaylee. And I loved it that it was Kaylee who chased River, and not the other way around. In a way, the first time a person can feel welcome in a group of people is when they stop walking carefully around them, stop treating them like they should get some sort of special attention or treatment and just be themselves with them, and if that 'self' contains teasing and standing on your own and arguing, then that's the way it is. So, in a way, the best way to make River feel more at home and in a beginning-of-a-relationship with Kaylee, was for the latter to not let River go along with her trick, to chase her, to beat her and not let her win (the race or the apple). And it didn't seem to be done in a conscious thought, like the 'OK, this time I won't let the kid win the game' - it was completely natural and flowing, completely Kaylee.
I loved the way the continued from "Ariel" with Jayne - both with the apples that he had bought for everybody (Kaylee's love for fresh fruit is known pretty much from the beginning, now that I think about it), and with him going with Zoe and the rest to rescue Mal, in all the spirit of leaving-nobody-behind that he was made to think about back then. I loved it that they have absolutely no idea why he was so generous with his share (so Mal didn't tell them anything, not to anybody - just like Jayne wished), that they were a little leery as to why he had been so generous, and that he had supplied no explanations at all, and no favorites - it was for the entire crew, not just for Simon or Mal. Just like Mal had said - he hurt the entire crew, and that's whom he then tried to compensate. And I absolutely loved it that in nearly every scene he was in on "Serenity", Jayne was seen in one stage or another of eating an apple (in one form or another). Hey, it's his money, he's part of the crew, he's entitled to as much of it as he can, right?
Oh, and he knew (and bothered to tell everybody he could, too) that going out to the space station to try and save Mal may very well turn out to be a suicide mission - and he still went along, with all his might, without nobody asking him. Not leaving Mal behind. And, yeah, I wonder what his reaction would have been had it been another crew member, not the only one of them that seems to have his respect and some-sort-of connection to him. Because it does seem like he took what Mal told him in "Ariel" to heart, I just can't be sure, how deep to heart, and with how much money and risk-to-Jayne's-skin it's involved. And, again, I absolutely love it that I can't say for sure, that things could go, at least to my understanding, in more than one way.
I wonder if it made Simon suspect anything, though, or Book - they weren't seen touching an apple (and Inara, too, but then I wouldn't think she'd touch anything coming from Jayne, and she was completely oblivious to what happened in "Ariel"). Hmm.
I love it that the story progresses, that the characters don't stay in the same place, that there's continuity - Simon is using the medications from the hospital in "Ariel" to try and improve River's situation, and River is responding to that treatment (reflected in her being better at the beginning of the episode, badly in the side effects, and in a I'm-not-sure-even-if-it-is-a-response at the end). Even the villain returned, and the whole plot started from his response to what happened in a former episode - things are not done without consequences.
Also, ever since "Out of Gas" (look, I had to mention this episode, it's related to the topic I'm writing about right now. No, really, it's not just because I love it so) I wanted to see more interaction between Mal and Wash.
[Edited to wave to Beverly. And, well, to be continued]
Well, ever since "Serenity", frankly, but mostly since that episode, the first time, to my memory, that they really had a conflict between them, and just the two of them, without Zoe being the middleperson. And it was about just the same subject, too - the split loyalties that Mal mentions is exactly what held Wash back at Zoe's bedside in "Out of Gas" instead of trying to save the entire ship.
I thought the way they treated the whole "female client" thing was interesting - everybody assumed the client was supposed to be a male, but nobody was astonished to find out it was a female. There seemed to be a lot of curiosity because of the privacy the client wanted (which is logical - the more somebody wants to hide something, the more other people would want to uncover it, I guess), and I didn't see at any point an indication that this privacy had anything to do with the gender (am I using this word right?) of the councilor, and everything to do with her important political status. It seemed that most of the surprise and the expectation was due to Inara's habit of having mostly male clients, not due to a revelation in the possibility of a Companion's client to be of the same gender (hmm, which makes me wonder - are there male Companions? Have Buffistas gone over these wonderings so many times in the posts I always have to skip that they now chuckle at my innocence and move their heads (each their own) smiling at my newness at all this? Oh, well. I'm late to the party, but at least I'm here. And I'm going to assume that there are male Companions, at least until proven otherwise).
I loved the episode's title - I loved it that what bothered Wash, at first, was the stories, the connection that Mal and Zoe had that he didn't, because he didn't take part in the events the stories were about (and it's in the 'field', in the lack of a better word, that is his sort of expertise - talking, spinning words - to top it all). I'm not sure how to say this, but the stories always seem so much different than the actual events, even in things much simpler and less loaded than war. So Wash's impression was wrong, in a way - in the stories you hear only the teller's version, only what he chooses to share and the way things look through their eyes, with their sensibilities. But when you're inside what happens, it's all completely different.
Also, I liked the way the villain fit with the title. He wasn't a villain I really liked. Well, liked as a villain, that is. He was pretty much one-sided: mean, crazy, sadistic, big about the torture, and the best thing that was going for him as a villain, in my eyes, was his cute-nice-grandpa appearance, with his accent and glasses and wife and all that - I could nearly expect him to start speaking in Yiddish at any minute. However, the thing that he seemed most concerned about was his reputation (in "The Train Job", as well - it was one of the first things he has ever said to Mal when they first met - and how much do I love the continuation? Lots and lots). And that's the whole point of the title - the stories, the things that people who didn't take part in the events got to hear about after the fact, the reputation of the events, as told and colored by the people creating and waving that reputation, and not really what had happened. So, in a way, he was the villain who fit the best to the title of the episode.
And even the scene with Inara and the councilor tied into that, in a way, because there's no way for anybody to know if what Inara was saying was the truth, what she really meant at that moment, or the story she needs to tell as the truth, in order for her to do her job in the best way that satisfies her client. It's like one of those things that go "it's not true, and even if it were true, I'd still deny it" - saying that everything is relaxed and enjoyable is part of her job, granting her client's wishes in that regard is part of Inara's job, so she can't give any other answer, anything that isn't a "me, too" and "let's just enjoy this time", without damaging the very thing she tries to build.
And I don't even think that it's different because the client is female - Inara has said, several times, to male clients that she is the one who chooses whom she's going to work with and that this makes them special. So she had more room to maneuver with the councilor (which, being a professional politician, maybe needed more in order to be convinced, I don't know), but it doesn't change the fact that it's impossible to know whether she really meant what she said, or just pretended to mean what she said. And the thing is, I like it that I can't tell whether Inara really meant it or not - there wasn't enough information for the character of the other woman to have, well, any sort of character, so I couldn't form a lot of my own opinion, and I like it that I think that Inara is good enough at being a gracious people's person (just like in "Jaynetown") to make them feel comfortable and relaxed, no matter how or why, which seems to be a big part of her job.
Everything sounds so different and glamorous and 'the best of' in a story. If I want to go all meta (I hope I'm using the word right), then that's how a dramatic story is written, isn't it? Life without the boring, tiring, dragging stuff? So what we get to read/listen/watch is the "Stories" version of the, um, well, stories. I think I lost my point somewhere.
Um, when my brother was home this week from his army service, I wanted to know all about his routine, his day-to-day life, and he kept repeating how really-not-interesting that is.
[more my-brother babbling (like that's on topic...) to follow]
He summed up weeks in "we live in a pillbox [that's how it's called in Hebrew, too, in the English word, because of its shape], it's rather bad when we do 3-3 [that is, 3 hours of watching and 3 hors of rest between shifts], and better when it's for a longer time. And we're in a good pillbox because we don't need a jeep to come guard whenever we have to go to the bathroom, like some". And I've never done it, but I don't think any amount of story, other than actually standing and waiting those hours of watching, when you're not allowed to do anything and have to be really alert because people's lives may depend on it, can convey what it's like, in any sort of closeness to the way the experience really is, well, experienced.
And whenever, and I do really mean pretty much each time, there are two men in the room who served in the army (even in completely different roles), it's practically inevitable that they're going to share their army stories. It's like a rule of nature, the way yawning is catching. And something about that shared experiences, even when I'm not sure what's shared about them because they seem so different, and I haven't served in the army, so I don't have an answer to that, I just know that this is the way it goes. is like an unbreakable bond. And it manifests itself in the stories, in the shared language (there is nothing that produced more slang in Israel than the army, and it also filters all the time to the 'citizen' language), in the immediate recognition and identification. Again, this is not something I went through, so I'm only an outside observer, but that's the way it seems to my outsider eyes.
And whenever men are called back on reserve duty (which pretty much means leaving their families and their jobs for up to a month each year, for usually poor conditions), I always get the sense of "buddies meeting" from the people doing it. And the friends people make in the army are friends for life - moreso than high-school or the university or work, in a way that, again, I can't really understand, not being a part of it. It's like there really is a secret hand shake, if I'm making any sense. And the wives and families, for example, are completely not a part of it, even if the families themselves are in touch - it's like a connection that exist separately from any other one. And I'm so far away from even remembering what was my actual point, I may have circled the world and would soon meet it coming from the other way, so I think I'll stop now.
So, back to Zoe - could she be any cooler? She took care of the first attempt to try to rescue Mal and Wash, having the entire crew following her. Her plan, her logic - and it worked, sorta. And she was already, while at it, planning for the possibility that it doesn't work, while she was at the space station - when Niska's men brought her in, she didn't, for a minute, stop looking around, counting the men around her, noticing everything she can about the station itself, assessing everything for a possibility of a break-in she'll have to lead. And she was right, again.
And the calmness, the coolness, in which she just took the ear (I mean, I knew it was just plastic and make-up and fictional, and I still couldn't look). She didn't say anything, there was no expression on her face, she just put it in her pocket. And returned to Wash (who turned his head and couldn't look, human character that he is).
I loved how she took charge - how she pulled everybody together, pretty much by her willingness to go all alone in the first place, became the leader, told everybody what to do, they all followed her (even Jayne! But then again, he always obeys her, eventually), and finally managed to save both Mal and Wash. I know that I said that I liked it that in "Shindig" the crew didn't manage to come up with a solid active plan to rescue Mal without Mal's presence, without him as the key and the one who energies the whole thing. But it was a different situation - not only in the viewers' eyes, though mostly there, I think, but still - they knew now how grave the situation was, and they didn't start to hesitate and look for one distraction after the other. Zoe jumped into action, they all realized how serious things were, and stood behind her.
And I totally believe the actress when she stands so straight and looks so tense and alert. I love the way she moves - I don't have the vocabulary to describe what I'm wordlessly thinking about. The way she walks? All upright and with force and it's beautiful just to look at her move - not dance-like, the way River sometimes moves, beautiful in a more strong, harsh way, perhaps. And that's even just the walk, without anything else, it's already both pretty and purposeful. And then there are her facial expressions. And her voice. Sigh.
How much did I love it, that Zoe didn't let Niska the pleasure of putting her in a position of a force to choose between Mal and Wash? She knew he's an evil crazy man, she knew it was coming, she didn't let herself have any false hopes that he may soften up or not do the cruelest thing possible. So she made it as quick as possible, as less-worthwhile for him as possible, because he didn't get to have her anguish at the force to make the choice, to rejoice about.
And I loved it that she chose Wash. And I love it that I can see (at least) two reasons for that, and that they are so interwined between them, that I can't even begin to see where one ends and the other begins - that, IMHO, her first choice is Wash, because it's her husband, because she loves him, because she chose to tie their lives together in marriage and make that the most important and meaningful connection in her life, despite all the history and trust and the running-deep really strong bond she has to Mal, as well.
[Edit: more on-topic now, wouldn't you say?]
And at the same time, she knows what's going on in front of her eyes, she sees that if any one of the two men has a chance to stay alive longer, until she - and the others - manage to find a way to rescue him, that's Mal, and therefore that ability of him, that thing in him that is better, in a way, is what makes him be the one who is going to be left behind. And the part where I can't help but have these reasons woven together is just that - it's Wash being a not-military man, without those skills and strengths, those seemingly weaknesses of him, that I think were a part in what drew Zoe to him in the first place, made her choose him at her companion for life, as her choice, in the first place. Um, or something.
So much more hints about Book - he's wondering at the government's purpose at the first scene with Simon, he is the first to describe the shooters of the people Mal and Simon met, and their work (I loved the dryness in which he said "rabbits" in response to Jayne), and he is so completely business-like and absorbed in his goal when that is what has to be done, with both keeping his sets of beliefs (and I'm not just talking about the kneecaps line, but also about him going to save the man who saved him right back). And then reassuring Simon - which means he either was able to notice so much of what was going on around him during that battle that he could tell what was going on with not only his part of it, or that he told the scared brave young man what he needed to hear. Or both, at the same time (and with that wonderful voice of his, too). So now it's completely obvious that he has a past, with weapons and fighting and taking charge in it, and being a bit ruthless and excellent at what he used to do. And - other than Jayne, mostly - everybody just seem to accept him for what he is right now, not prodding, not nosing. Letting him be known in his own terms.
I loved the very many different ways in which Jayne ate the apples all throughout the episode. This sentence looks silly to me, and I just wrote it, but still - with sticking a knife in one, with just biting, with rolling a knife in order to bite - it was like he couldn't stop eating, whenever he was on screen, or at least touch that knife that went along with him there. It was a thing that looked to be done completely absent-mindedly, I'm not sure how come I've noticed it, in fact - but I want to think that it was deliberate, because I loved it, the way he always wanted to feel as much as he could from his wasted money in his hands, as much as he could of, well, anything, in his hands.
I loved River's lines - the way they seem disconnected, fragments of thought, but they all make perfect sense in a - I'm not sure what's the word - poetic sort of way. "walked with my feet and heard with my ears" - because of that sensitivity that can't be shut that Simon talked about in "Ariel", I guess that just doing the simple physical things can mean something to her (also, it means that the medications are making a different, too). "I function like I'm a girl" - poor thing, and then, in a way that reminds me of "Flowers for Algernon", she says that she hates it "because I know it'll go away" - so the possibility of improvement, the hope, makes it even more difficult for her to cope with what she has to. And after all this fragility (is that a word?) and shaking, she has a surprising (and even a bit creepy) fountain of strength, when the need arises.
I loved that whole scene with River shooting - the way she glanced once, then retreated, and when she shot, it was obvious she wasn't looking, her hair was completely covering her face on that angle, she couldn't see a thing of what she was aiming at. It was like she was doing the shooting, only not wanting to shoot, trying to hide it from herself, at the same time. And that conflict between that big heavy gun and her slender form and her long undone hair and the way she looked more fragile and childish than ever. And the sentence she used - which was the one Kaylee used at the beginning of the episode. She came to help her friend, to save her friend, she used the sentence of that short bonding between them - and by that, she scared Kaylee enough to break - or maybe only fracture - that very bond.
I love the relationship between Simon and River - how, despite all that he did for her, her fragile situation and not-always-there contact to what seems to be going on around her, he's not stopping from teasing her ('definitely my sister' when she tells him that it's his bed, not hers, that she threw up on). And just that, this normal tease between sibling, and not his more fatherly gestures and the really incredible things he has done for her, is what makes her smile and eventually relax on his shoulders (it reminded me a bit of Buffy promising Dawn that she's her really her sister, because how otherwise could she annoy her so much, and that being the only way Dawn was convinced).
And brave little Simon, so out of his element, tries to do what seems right, joins the rest of the crew, carries a gun, even shoots - he really tries his best. And the fact that he probably missed (whether Book said it to reassure him, because he needed to hear that, or because it was for real), of all of that list, is what I liked the most about him, in this instance. The fact that he tried.
I don't think I can go on enough (behold the irony) about how much I like the character of Mal. I like it that he's not perfect, that it seems like nobody is trying to make him perfect-hero-character. He has a short temper, he wants to boss things around, he could have more respect for other people's boundaries (like, say, Inara). But even those faults tie right back up to his other characteristics, fits his, well, personality (yeah, I do still remember that he's fictional, no matter how it may seem).
[Edited, you know how that is]
And it's like in "Safe" - it's not about being nice, it's about doing the thing that needs to be done, about being, well, good. So he has an argument with Wash, and he definitely has problems with both him and Zoe's relationship with him, and he's not going to deny that, but when that is what it takes to keep Wash alive, he's going to do whatever it takes, even be as not-nice to him as possible and hurt him the most (and as fainting as Wash was there and then, the conversation was, IMHO, really honest - probably on both sides - that's what made it so staying-together for, well, the both of them).
And I couldn't help but thinking, that sticking with keeping Wash OK (well, as OK as possible under the circumstances) and alive and awake was as important to Mal and as vital to him as that being-awake was to Wash, that this was his way of holding things together for himself - taking care of his crew, of one of his family, of the world he built for himself. As long as that world is still there, somehow, with him, then he's OK, too (yeah, yeah, I'm again with the "Out of Gas", I can't help it). And then, when Wash was not there anymore, and all he got left to take care of was himself, that's what he tried to maintain, that last shred of that life he built - so he quipped and joked and maintained as strong a sense of self as he possible could. Because, it seemed to me, once he lost that, he'd really lose, not even when he actually dies (which, well, um, he did, being in a Joss-and-Tim show).
I can't stop seeing Mal in the light of that scene in "Becoming II", the "No weapon, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what's left?" - "Me" scene. Because that's what he seems to be doing, again, once he's left all alone at the torture room - he continues to hold to that 'him' that he has left. And, what do you know, it's again like in "Out of Gas" (I know what the credits say, but are we sure that Tim didn't write this episode? Or at least these parts? Or that I'm not completely get-over-herself little fan-girl?).
Oh, and I've said that already, but I adore the way Mal keeps being alert and taking-opportunities all the time. And I don't mean it only in the 'opportunist' sense, but also in the wheels-never-stop-turning sense (it must be really tiring, though, poor dear). In the scene when both Mal and Wash are blindfolded, Mal kept walking around, trying to get a sense as to the perimeter of the room in which they're in, the materials around them (he kept trying to feel things up with his hands, as tied-behind-his-back as they were), always on the move, even while talking to Wash (though, not when the discussion was really heated). In a way, he took the opportunity of that terrible need of keeping Wash alive, and used it to throw in his face things I guess he wanted to tell him for quite some time now.
Oh, and I love it that he's not about being-the-hero. I guess that in most shows, they would make him be the one who beat the guy who tortured him, that what Zoe had said, about how he needs to do it on his own, in order to claim his sense of self back on that person who tried to take it away from him or something, is going to be true, and once he manages to beat the bad guy (with some more bruises and being-strangled, probably, but still), he can stand up proudly and all that. But Mal doesn't need that - he's all business, all let's-just-do-what-needs-to-be-done, with as few games as possible (um, well, when he is not the one making the joke, that is, I guess). So, yeah, it could be that he would have been beaten by torturing-guy and really needed Zoe's help (yeah, I do realize that it's a fictional story and that the person who has written it could go either way), but I like the whole 'forget the big hero gestures' approach.
I love the way Mal treats people differently - he asked both Book and Simon about the shooting being not-common for them, but only Simon about being OK with it - I guess that just like us viewers, he has his guesses as to Book's past, and realizes he's not a man who needs to be asked that question (if one wants a straight sincere answer, I guess).
That short little moment between Mal and Kaylee at the end, when she's sitting all alone on the stairs and she's both disappointed at herself for not being able to help save her beloved captain and is a little frightened from River and is detached from the whole group, the one in which she is usually the heart-est of its center. And he goes up, and just gives her his hand as he goes along, he doesn't stay beside her, doesn't sit with her and make her talk about anything, but he doesn't just have his hand go over hers - he holds it, keeps it in his grasp for a couple of seconds, until he's too high up the stairs for them to have it comfortably. He's there for her. I don't know if he knows that she abandoned her post, and that if it weren't for River's quick action, he might not have been saved - I'm not sure he knows (at least at that point) what it is that his 'little sister' needs comfort for, but he assures her that it's there for her, if she needs it. I don't seem to be able to shut up about how much I love the relationship between those two.
I loved it that at least one character, and one that we know is competent and doesn't hesitate to get involved in crimes, and in dangerous ones, at that, finds herself unable to shoot people. Even in the heat of battle, even when they're aiming big scary weapons at her and her 'family' is threatened by them. You know, I have absolutely no idea how I may respond in any similar situation (not the 'my captain is being held on a space station by a good-grandpa-looking maniac who is set upon killing him, and my crew-mates are about to save him, with ita leading the front', I know that's fictional (well, except for the ita part), but the 'stuck in the middle of danger' scenario).
It reminds me of one of the reasons I love LotR Sam so much - the superpowers that he does have aren't the ones that are usually considered, well, super. Hmm, now that I type this out loud, I think I've babbled about that in the old LotR thread (yup - right here. Oh, the innocent days when I thought that filling up one post is rambling).
Anyway, about Kaylee - I loved it that they didn't need to super-hero-fy her. They have Simon, who is already scheming theft-plots with the best of them, stands up to scary cops and to scary Jayne and is willing to keep standing up for himself, and don't get me wrong - I thought it was amazing of him to try and stand up like the 'big kids' and at least trying to help the man who has helped him and his sister so much. And I loved it that it seems like he, too, despite trying, didn't seem to work a gun like a professional without any sort of training.
In too many cases in the movies (even the little I know of them), people who had never even seen a gun or thrust a punch, suddenly become so very much good at doing that, nearly as good as those who are supposed to be professionals and even veterans. I've never liked it (and not because the 'if I were in the story' Mary-Sue-ish aspect alone) - I never like it when a character becomes something different throughout the plot without any good reason or build for that, when a character does something that the plot needs done even when its characteristics, the way they were built all the way before, contradict that. That's the character we have, that's the one that's in the plot, that's the one that has to get along with it and emerge at its end, and if it needs a new set of skills, either build them with a good explanation, or be more creative in ways-to-solve-the-plot (hey, that's why I'm not a writer, I don't have enough imagination to work out all those things. But at least I have the right to complain!). And the way Kaylee acted fits, in my eyes, to everything we knew about her up to that point. And what's more - the way River acted did, as well.
I loved the character of Wash pretty much from his first moment on screen (don't worry, Allyson, he's still all yours) - I fell in love with "Firefly" in his first scene, with the dinosaurs, with him dubbing them so seriously and becoming all Mr. professional in an instant. He's great at what he does, he's less than great in other fields, he knows that and most of the time acts according to his strengths and limits (like in "Shindig", when he said that he was going to watch the other crew-members attempting to rescue Mal). And on occasions, he surpasses himself - he was way more than semi-anything in the rescue mission for Mal, he went with Zoe and Jayne all the way, and did his share in a way I don't think he believed he could, himself.
Poor Wash, he felt left out pretty much from the first minute he was on screen in that episode. First, Kaylee noticed something about Zoe, something which he had no idea about before Kaylee drew their attention to it. Then, it was a thing that Zoe shared with Mal, not just her own. And on top of all that, it involved a story from their past together, in which Wash cannot set a foot, to which he's completely alien. And I do think, like I've said before, that one of the things that Zoe loves about Wash is his not being part of that world, the difference between him and his life and what life used to be for her (and, well, Mal). Not that it helps Wash when he feels like such an outsider, I guess. And then he tries to pull the conversation to his territory - playing with words - but fails. And then the worst part of all, he realizes, out of an innocent comment by Mal (of all people) that Zoe lied to him.
And, you know, the seeds of what started the argument between Wash and Zoe - they were there all along, ever since "Serenity", with him being bothered by her constant obedience of Mal and she trying to settle her loyalties, or, rather, to assure her husband that he is her priority (and I really think he is), but that doesn't mean that she doesn't have an opinion of her own in front of him, as well. I loved it that this argument didn't start there and then, that the whole split loyalties issues hung there all along, for both Wash and Zoe (did anyone say "Out of Gas"? Just so that it won't be me mentioning this episode on my own again? Thanks).
The thing is, it's like Zoe's doomed whatever she does. Even if her own opinion is the same as Mal's, Wash is going to blame her for following blindly after whatever her captain says (and it even makes sense for their opinions to be similar, having a similar background in fighting and all - which, now that I type it out loud, may be exactly what disturbs Wash, so never mind those parentheses), and if she agrees with Wash, he may always wonder if she's doing it in order to please him and reassure him of the strength of the relationship. So, in my eyes, anyway, it all comes to the attitude with which one looks at things, because no matter what, you can twist them to mean the worst of what you're afraid of.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, the problem may not be in the marriage, in the relationship between Zoe and Wash, but in Wash's own insecurities and fears (I should post without re-reading anything, not even for typos, because I'm afraid this sentence reads terribly pompous and know-it-all. Sigh). No, but really - Zoe had chosen him. And she did so without not even a second thought, but any thought at all, it was as immediate and as clear to her as anything (and, um, well, I already threw a big paragraph at that). So, in a way, Wash is blaming Zoe for hiding behind Mal, but who is actually hiding behind the excuses of the shared-past (with ribcages) is Wash himself.
And, in a way, Zoe doesn't trust them enough either - she didn't tell Wash that his idea was rejected, not only by Mal, but also (and more importantly), in her opinion. So it was like the problem between them wasn't in the difference of their backgrounds, in the somewhat reversal of male-female roles between them, in her deep relationship with another very prominent man that Wash has to work with, as well - but in them not trusting each other with those things. They fell in love with each other with those existing differences, maybe even, to an extent, because of them - and the fear of the possibility of them being disruptive is the very main thing that is causing the conflict. The 'stories', war-ones or others, become more important, become the main point, over life, in the emotional sense, too - the stories they tell themselves. And now I'm not sure I'm making sense anymore.
Oh, and they did that lovely thing when a person seems to be talking about one thing and then it turns out it's another (I love it when they do that, like in you-know-which-episode, when Kaylee seems to be talking about the wounded Zoe when she says that "She isn't moving" and she actually means "Serenity"). This time, with Wash seemingly talking about Niska, but actually about Mal, and Zoe (who knows and loves both of them most) failing to understand him. Was it the first time that Wash was with Mal in such a dire situation, and had Mal holding him, not even single-handedly, but tied-handed-ly and tortured himself? It seemed like it was the first time that Wash realized how deep Mal goes in his need to keep his world from shutter, his crew and himself. And therefore, in a way, the depth of the loyalty and trust that Zoe feels towards him. I wonder how, if another "Out of Gas" sort of scenario took place after this had happened, Wash would react to Mal, how deeply did his understanding on him really change.
My let's-make-a-really-big-paragraph list: Kaylee being the one who notices how Zoe (and Mal) eat fruit - her being so aware of the people around her and their actions (and Mal cutting the apple as well, once he enters, after Zoe's story). The smudge on River's face after she threw up (on Simon's bed) - it's messy and dirty, not just words and looking-uncomfortable. Mal having Wash carrying the heavy box all on his own. The men buying the medication adoring the story of robbing an Alliance hospital (it ties so beautifully to the episode's name). Book lifting weights. Jayne not noticing Book's need for his help with the weight when looking at Inara and her client. The look between Inara and Jayne (and the way Inara rolls her eyes at him). The gorgeous Tiffany lamp in Niska's lair (I know it was there in "The Train Job" as well, I just love both that it was there in the first place, and that they remembered to bring it back). Zoe pronouncing the name of the former episode with Niska. Wash, nearly fainted and all hurt, going straight to fly the shuttle back to "Serenity", claiming his best place and value. Everyone's responses to the ear - Kaylee and Inara not looking, Simon being professional, Book cursing (I assume it's cursing, because it's Chinese), and my favorite - Jayne reaching out to touch the cloth in which Mal's ear was wrapped (he can't help but touch stuff, can't he?). The reappearance of Vera (it was Vera, right? the second CD is at my parents, I can't check). Zoe taking the moment to make sure Book is OK with joining them, based on his religious beliefs. Book's completely business-like way of handling the weapons, when arranging them to the attack. That little gun that Wash held when he was in the macho-man-iest of all his moments. Zoe's hands being on Wash's chair when they were closing in on the space station (not touching him, so that she wouldn't disturb or distract him, but as close to that as possible), and her obvious pride in his flying abilities. Mal's voice sounding completely different (and yet, well, not) when he turned to ask his tormentor if he wants to meet the 'real him' - he looked genuinely scary in that scene, in that instance. The effects with the torturer falling down that big hole - not that I liked seeing him getting sliced like that, with the blood spattering and all (I'm not so good in the presence of blood, sappy me, and, yeah, again, a Joss-and-Tim show, what am I doing here, all that), but that they thought about all the little details. That Niska wasn't dead at the end of the episode. Simon playing with his own ear after re-attaching Mal's. Delicate Inara (the only one who didn't take any sort of part in the fight) being the bloodthirsty expressing her wish that Niska would be dead. Zoe's hair being completely down when she cooked for Wash, and her tucking the napkin in his shirt (like she did in past episodes, too). Mal and Zoe's (but mostly Mal's, because there were so many more of them) expressions when they had their hands on each other. Jayne's expression when seeing that. Oh, and did Wash really slap Zoe playfully at the very very end? Or did I just imagine that? I hope I didn't, because it was such a lovely touch to end the whole episode with.
I surely hope this list gets longer each time because the crew knows each other and their characters better, and not because I'm getting nutsier. That's my version, and I'm sticking to it. Oh, and could Zoe be any cooler?.