First, a little apology - it's been quite a while since I've watched the episode, but only now got the time to sit and see if I even remember the thoughts I want to un-entangle. So it may turn out to be even more ramble-y and less-connected than, well, other less-ramble-y things. Therefore, you are forewarned. I wanted to post this anyway, because, well, it's about time, after so long, you know? So, anyway.

I really liked the opening scene - watching it, I had no idea how they could get to that situation, what possible storyline may end in Mal sitting like that, completely alone, in the middle of nowhere, and without a single item of clothing, on top of all that. And it being Mal, he could actually mean that he thinks that him being in such a situation is a good ending, and I couldn't wait to see how.

Oh, I liked it that the current husband of Saffron was an old friend of Mal's (and, apparently, Zoe's). Not due to any sort of wish to have Saffron collect each person who was ever around Mal and seduce them, but because it gave a very nice opportunity to 'meet with an old friend' for Mal, a friend he still works with, apparently, and that Zoe knows, too (or at least enough to know that he can beat Mal in a fight without breaking a sweat). I love the sense of "the world is bigger than the parts of it that we get to see", both in the sense of the facets of the universe that are exposed to us, and in the fragments from the characters' lives that we get to follow.

And I loved it that this old friend was so strong and big that Mal looked nearly small next to him (and Saffron was practically toy-size), with his lots-of-hair and his bug mustache and the noticeable lack of a bird. Oh, and I loved it that it took Mal a second to realize that the beard, which seemed to be so important to Monty, was no longer on his face - it's such a human thing to do, to get so used to a person's face, that you miss a huge change in it. Maybe because you see it in your mind's eye, the was you think it is, without even bothering to monitor the real face in front of you (and that's in Mal, who is usually the first person to miss nothing that's going on around him).

I always like the way, in the Jossverse shows, scenes end in a way that hints at one thing, and turn up to be something completely different. So, when the scene in which a crying-for-both-real-and-not Saffron tricks Mal ends, and he says how she's not going to catch his crew with their pants down, we - well, I - sort of expected to see how they were all OK, because they're the good guys and they're supposed to emerge victorious, right? We knew that Mal was going to be pretty much naked and alone in the desert, but figured that the crew would be OK. And then, "Serenity" wasn't behaving and they couldn't come to Mal's rescue right away, they needed to stop and fix it first, after Saffron tricked them as well. And, yeah, after this upside-down there was another, but still.

So, everything, from the moment the box in which Saffron was held, was a game, right? The conversation between the whole crew and herself. The conversation between Inara and Zoe (was that the first time these two actually had a private talk on screen?), Mal letting her listen to that conversation, but his usual short-in-words grumpy self with calling her back to his side. He discussed things with Inara (and it's fun to think that what gave him the idea to include her in the plot in the first place was her slip-of-the-tongue in including herself in the crew and its less-than-legal adventures), then with the crew (how much did Simon and River and Book know? And guess?), and then took her out of that box, right?

And, yeah, I know it's only fictional, but these characters are real enough to me to wonder how much of the act was discussed beforehand and how much was improvised as they went along? I mean, obviously Inara's part was very much decided upon from the start, but all the others? I'm mostly wondering about Jayne, I think. With his occasional assurance that he's sometimes the most clever person in the room, while in fact being behind everybody else, in these instances (not always, of course - just in certain cases). Either way, it could perfectly fit to the episode, it's just a fun thing to play with in my mind, is all.

And all the acts they pulled in front of Saffron - in a way, they were not acts. Because it was her, because each of them knew exactly how much they really have no feelings of any nice sort to each other, because it was strictly a business connection, with trick-to-outdo-tricks or without them, there was no need to pretend emotions to anyone but Inara. Whose job is to pretend emotions, in a way. They hid facts from her, they hid Inara's part, but that was pretty much it - all the rest was played straight, right? I mean, they probably all had the very same objections when Mal presented them with the idea, regardless of how much they got to express them, I guess. Even Inara. Zoe even straight-out punched her! And things would have been suspicious if they behaved any other way, I think - if they suddenly were OK with Saffron. So they had to pretend that they have their real emotions, which they were actually having, in order to not reveal the key part of their plan. Confusing.

I liked the way they interwove the planning-discussion with the actual execution of the plan, the jumping back and forth between the talking-the-details parts on "Serenity" to the actual implementation on the planet. Like it was done in "Ariel" - the plan, as it seems in the head of the planner.

Only here, there were several planners, each on charge of their own part, and the pieces came together - pretty much the way the pieces came together in front of my eyes, I guess, now that I type it out loud, with each one contributing their share to create one big picture, even when jumping from one to the other. They did that in the part that was all execution, as well, cutting between "Serenity" with Wash and Kaylee and Zoe and Jayne to the planet with Mal and Saffron. I liked that it made things look more like a team-work, which is such a big part of what this show is about, to me.

I'm continuing to like the continuity. I liked the several mentions to Saffron's earlier visit of "Serenity", and the way they were done. Not in a "if you didn't see it, you'll have no clue", but in a "nobody died last time" making-sure-the-sort-of-history-is-clear light general way. And the mention of the lipstick having a possibility to being dangerous, for example - we see that she's not an enemy to keep-your-guard-down when you're in front of her, even if without seeing the exact details of the lipstick-risk. And if we do remember them - an added layer of fun (oh, and connects us back to Inara and her relationship with Mal, too). Oh, and I liked how they repeated the fact that Jayne is heavy - it was also mentioned in "The Train Job" (it is a sad brain of mine, that remembers this, and not the paper I just read yesterday and need for work, you know?). And I just had another not-really-continuity thought: Saffron was a girl in a box, just like River was.

Alas, I don't speak Music, so I very rarely manage to actually pay attention to the score (and I wish I could learn how to do that - I'm missing out on so much!). However, in this episode, because there was a scene that repeated itself, I actually managed to pay attention to something that was score-related, yay me! On the first run of the "that went well" scene, at the beginning of the episode, we only get to hear desert sound s- some bugs and the wind, and Mal is all alone in all that big not-much-more-than-nothing. However, when the scene is shown again, and we know already what exactly this "that" was, and that it did, indeed, go well despite it all, there's a background music - a fun playful one, and it's such a nice part in making that scene look completely different than in the beginning. It's like that now, that we know the backstory, we can hear the fun music that plays over it.

Oh, and the tattoo - is it the actor's tattoo, and they just didn't blur it with makeup, or is it the character's tattoo, and they chose it especially for Mal? Also, what's in it? All I could see was blurry dark shapes, nothing that turned up as any shape I could decipher.

This episode wasn't only about the fun, though - it was all about pretending, and about what one chooses to hide and what they choose to show. And about how people treat other people based on these things, the hidden and the shown, and what's revealed in those treatments, as well. Oh, and about how we love and care for people despite what they keep hidden, or because of that, or regardless. And how that emotion is true in any way that this can be measured. I know that these were some of the things I got to think about, based on this episode - I just didn't manage to articulate them. but they were there. Maybe after I watch it again? Sigh.

I loved how Kaylee asked to make sure that "we", herself included, love Monty - and asked it not in a surprised "what happened?" way, like Zoe addressed Mal a second later, but in a real genuine "wasn't he on our side?" wondering. And how her question was about "we" - such a part-of-a-crew question, everybody-who-beats-my-friends-is-not-a-friend-of-mine thing to think. Such a Kaylee thing to think, connecting herself immediately with the other crew members.

It was the closest we got to ever seeing Kaylee being snappish at somebody. Even when "Serenity" was insulted, she was hurt in her name, not outright (in Kaylee terms) cold, the way she reacted to Saffron. Then again, Saffron tried to pretty much kill, not only the whole crew, but through what can only be described as killing "Serenity", so I guess that even the most people-liking person, such as Kaylee, can't respond favorably to that. I guess that if Saffron's constant lack of trust in people and connection to anybody would grate on anybody's nerves, it would be Kaylee's, because these are things that are important to her so very much. So it was like a combination of lack of respect to her tech abilities with a lack of ability to work in a team in Saffron, I guess.

Also, it was so impressive, how the one who was more anxious and stressed when both Kaylee and Zoe were on top of "Serenity" trying to re-program the garbage disposal, was the cool always-calm Zoe. And, well, any fictional character would have been crazy-stressed in that situation. Only Kaylee wasn't - she was in her element, in a way, with working with machines, and she acted as if she could know that the machines wouldn't hurt her, that just like she can talk to "Serenity" and know what's going on with her, she can trust the other machines around her, and she can work with them and make the efforts of all the other crew-mates worth their while, do her part. And, well, she was right.

I have no idea if it's meaningful or not, but when Zoe punched Saffron, she did it with her left hand. Since my brother is left-handed, he always used to stop on movies and TV when characters are left-handed, and I got that custom from him. I'd find myself muttering "He/she is left-handed" before even realizing that I've said it. You can imagine how exciting watching the Man-in-blank/Inigo duel in "The Princess Bride" was for us, with all this "I am not left-handed" fun.

[Edit: yup, another TBC]

Anyway, it took me by surprise that Zoe punched using her left arm, because on every other punching/hitting/shooting that I can remember her doing, she used her right one. I don't know if they did it this way because it was easier to shoot, what with Mal standing at her right, or for whatever other reason, but it's cool that she can use both hands.

And it was strange to see how in the plot itself she hardly ever had any part at all - nothing would have proceeded without her agreement, it seemed, when Mal asked her. But on the practical scheme of things, the one thing she technically did was be on the back of "Serenity" when Kaylee tried to do Jayne's part after he was injured.

Oh, and I loved Wash's response to Mal's handkerchief-up-his-nose and angry-expression all-over-him. So many expressions ran on his face, so fast! Mal's constant line of facial expressions behind the earliest husband's back - he had full conversation with Saffron without saying a word - was absolutely great, too. I love it when they talk without talking. Definitely easier to understand than Chinese.

Book was hardly present in this episode, which makes sense in a story that involves an active breaking of the law. He took no part of the planning, but when his help was needed with a wounded Jayne, he jumped right out to help. I'm little repeat-herself here, but like I said before, I like it that not all the characters have to be pushed inside each story. That, instead, the crew is treated as a crew and therefore if a certain person is in the background for a certain story, that still doesn't damage that.

I liked it that the clothes that Inara wore when revealing the plot to Saffron were similar (at least to my untrained eyes) to the ones she wore in "Out of Gas" when she was first on "Serenity" - that short shirt, that shows her stomach, in dark colors, and that hat with the veil. It's like she's the same woman - and she still puts lots of importance on the way she looks, what with it being part of her job and all - and still, taking part in a scheme like this, nearly as far from that woman as possible. Especially with how much fun she seemed to be having, while pointing a gun at Saffron. So a lot of the same, and a lot of being the opposite, at the same time. And, now that I think about it, that's a lot of what the episode was about. Hmm.

I loved it that Inara so naturally included herself in the crew, talking about "our profit". It seemed to have just slipped her lips - the immediate connection she felt for the crew, the ship, Mal - even without her actually taking part in the everyday running of the ship, even when her work and business are separated, she automatically included herself in the crew, without thinking about it. So, yeah, a moment later she tried to excuse it and make it seem like having a different meaning than I just pointed out, but I think those were just excuses - despite starting from a completely different place, opposite, even, in some ways, than any other character on the ship, she sees herself as part of it now, as a crew member.

She pretty much admits it, too, by taking part in the illegal theft of a very expensive artifact. And, yes, her way of taking part in this is by pretending she doesn't want to have anything to do with it, and it works, too, in front of a very cunning opponent, which means that it makes sense to most people that the respectful Companion doesn't want to have anything to do with the bunch of people who became a crew on "Serenity". But that's not the way it is. And it makes me wonder about the difference between Inara and the other Companions in her position. Because if it makes so much sense that she wouldn't want to have anything to do with "Serenity" and its crew and their way of life, then what is she doing there in the first place? And, yes, I had my thoughts and assumptions on the matter, especially in (say it with me) "Out of Gas", but there are still, at least to me, more open questions than answered ones.

Oh, and again, I like it that Mal isn't stronger-than-anybody, that it was so very obvious that if Monty wanted it, he really would have beaten him easily. No superheroes with super abilities, no "best in the universe" - just people trying to get by (well, maybe River - I'm still not sure about her).

I loved it that Mal didn't try to be nice to his crew, explain, cover up what happened - he's not, well, nice, and he's not going to pretend he is, even to the people he's closest to. He'll give his life for them in a second, he'll stop anything that threatens them, even from within, but he wouldn't even bother to take the bloody handkerchief out of his nose or make a friendly face. Did I mention already how much I like it that he's not perfect-hero-type? Um, less than just a paragraph ago?

And, despite all that, he does bother to clean up and wear a slightly less-antagonizing expression before going into Inara's shuttle. And, yes, I realize that it's mostly because it's probably harder for an actor to, well, breath, with stuff stuck up his nose, let alone talk and respond. But I wouldn't let it stand in the way of a perfectly good large paragraph I can throw at that, see. Because the only person he bothered to wear a mask for, to not appear as exactly he is (well, at least this time) is Inara. Not even his kid-sister Kaylee, obviously not his know-him-in-all-situations loyal Zoe. And, then, of course, he complains about her trying to hide her true intention behind manners and female tricks. Pretense-inside-a-pretense-inside-being-real all wrapped up in just another pretense-inside-a-pretense-inside-being-real, and rolled all over. All throughout the episode, in face, with so many of the characters, too.

And I think that Saffron's little meltdown in front of Mal was completely emotionally true, that she actually cried, that she actually felt something in that whatever she may call a heart. The fact that it's genuine emotion has nothing to do, of course, with what she can gain from it, and therefore I don't see any problem with the fact that she cold-bloodedly used it in order to get the better hand of Mal. And I would like to think that Mal was both really touched by this strong calculated woman breaking up in front of him, and let himself be moved by it because he knew that he has a backup plan already in motion, anyway. In fact, now that I type it out loud, maybe that was the thing that let him actually respond to Saffron in that moment, according to what his nature 'wanted' him to do in the first place. Both because she needed the comfort, but also - I can't help but think this - because comforting her, falling for her trick, leaving her believing she fooled him and won over him, and then beat her in her own game - I don't think he could resist the fun in that thought. So he was, at the same time, fooled and cunning, reaching-emotionally and tricking-all-the-way.

In so many cases, at least in what I manage to read/watch, it seems like it's difficult to follow a character's straight, I'm not sure how to call it, emotional path? To have a character have a consistent, well, character, personality, motives, reactions. And even in action, to keep one reasonable line of reasons-behind-acts, of motives and goals. And here, I could see at least two lines in Mal - the plot to get the artifact, and the genuine playing for fun. Oh, no, there was a third thread, there, because he really did want to let Saffron have her moment and comfort her, as well. And they were all consistent with the character, they all were completely interwoven within each other, the way it is with real human emotions and reasons-for-actions, when they're not fictional. I liked that so very much.

And he was so pleased, with himself and with the world, at the end of the episode. So satisfied, so content - I can't think of an English word that fits the exact emotion I got from him. Not a Hebrew word, in fact, either. However, there's a word in Arabic, that is now being used in Hebrew as if its a local citizen not different from all the ones from the bible and the talmud, that jumped into my head when I watched his expression. It's a word I usually use to describe a child who managed to score another piece of chocolate despite him mom strictly forbidding him, and getting away with it, and the taste of the chocolate is way better for that (and it doesn't hurt if the kid's face get all messy in the process, too). It's a word for "all is well in the world, and everyone in it", though I know how different that is from the usual way I think Mal sees the world. For that moment, everything was well, his place, the people around him, the ship, the connections between them all. The clotheslessness wasn't even close to being an issue. The word, for the record, is "mabsut" (the 'a' is like in 'Aragorn", the 'u' is like in "Dru").

I kept wondering, after "Ariel", if Simon is going to guess, somehow, that Jayne was the one who had turned him and River in - if he could figure it out. I was tricked, just like the characters themselves, to forget about River's sensitivity and her ability to nearly-read the people around her, to be so strongly attuned to their emotions and to have such rich intuition regarding their actions and their past. I mean, of course that River could see how uncomfortable Jayne is in their presence! Of course. And I'm so glad that I was fooled, that even after Simon said it out loud in "Ariel" (how she can't-not feel everything), I still didn't make the connection.

And I thought it was great, the way Simon so immediately and so readily believed River - he doesn't think she babbles without any sort of connection or reason anymore, he sees the meaning behind her words, even if those words are mot as linear as they could have been. It's always annoying, in shows/books, that the characters never listen to the one who, despite seeming not-altogether-there, knows what's going on. I remember myself wondering, at the beginning of the show, when will somebody start to pay attention to what she says and listen to the actual meaning of her words. I think it's wonderful that Simon didn't even need to question Jayne before completely accepting the way River interpreted what had happened. And I guess it was partly due to his respect to her sensitivity, and partly due to the way Jayne's behavior may look, now that the seed of the idea was planted in his brain.

Simon was wonderful. Just wonderful. And I loved it that at first glance I wasn't 100% sure if he didn't drug Jayne so that he could talk to him without being thug-ed to pieces in the process. I mean, I was 99% sure of that - I knew he wouldn't do anything to actually harm Jayne, he's a doctor, he mentioned that so many times. But then again, he did drug Jayne in "The Train Job" when the life and safety of Mal and Zoe demanded it, so it wasn't like it's something he would never ever do.

And he chose the perfect way to deal with the situation, in my opinion. He didn't try to ignore it or to hide it. He didn't try to confront Jayne in a who-is-stronger (in more than physical strength, of course) contest. He found just the way to avoid from making this a you-or-me situation, from which none of them would have gained and River might have been hurt. And he made no demands or threats. He just let Jayne know that they are part of the same crew. That he, Simon, trusts Jayne. And, well, he did show Jayne how very much he is in a position to hurt him, if he ever wanted to. And how he never ever would do anything like that. That he is trust-worthy.

[Do I need to even post it?]

No matter what their history, how much they dislike each other - and they very much do, and will probably continue, and we got such a nice reminder to that earlier in the episode - that, just like in "Safe", it's not about being nice and friends. It's about doing something together and being a part of the same thing and how the only way to work as a team is to trust the people around you. And how Simon was willing to give Jayne that trust by, well, doing no harm to him, by, in a way, showing that he is trustworthy himself, as well. And it is a way to work together, to share a ship and a crew, not to be friends, and it can be a practical choice, rational, even against emotions. But that it is the only way that things would work. And the proof to that is in Saffron's failure.

And nobody was there but the three of them. Just like Mal didn't tell any of the others, Simon and River didn't, either. It's as if, in a way, Simon understands Mal's point of view, and shares it, and gives Jayne that respect and that opportunity to work together - without ever having the slightest idea that Mal knows about it, himself (River probably knows, though). Just reaching to the same conclusion, of allowing Jayne to be trusted as a crew member again, beside him and his sister, as Mal did in "Ariel" - through a different path, of course, and with the personal risk being even more direct, but still.

And he was so calm when he talked to Jayne - not afraid, shocked or stressed-out, as probably expected. As if he knew that, since this is the only way, and he does indeed come to this from a position of power, both in being a doctor and in understanding what was going on, Jayne would have no choice but to be trusted, but to accept this offer. And it was not in a trade-off way, of "you give me this, now that I have you in power, and I'll hand you that". It was the other way around, it was the "I already gave you what I could, now all you can do for this to work is to share it with me". The - and I say it again with regards to a show with a space-ship that takes place in the fictional future - grown-up thing to do. And it was completely in character. I believed that this boy who started as pretty much a leaf that would fly if you blow your breath on it, would find in himself such wisdom and such strength. I love the character of Simon.

Oh, and, of course, he also has River, who has no problem to intimidate Jayne. I don't think she has such abilities, that are more in the realm on BtVS/AtS than "Firefly", but I do think that if she decided to kill Jayne, she would find a way, scheme a way. And hearing her talking about killing is so much stronger in this episode, after she didn't blink before shooting straight and without looking at three soldiers in "War Stories", than it could have been in any other episode before that. And how strange is it, that right after typing the last sentence, I wanted to write that, despite all that, I'm pretty sure that River wouldn't be able to kill anybody? I wanted to say that, I think that this is how she's like, despite the evidence to the contrary. I still think that the shooting was protecting a friend, not attacking an enemy. Which doesn't make these three soldiers any less dead, but put the whole meaning around that in a completely different place. I'm not sure I'm making myself clear here.

And I like it, that the main plot, and the main guest character were, to me, only a background to the most emotional point of the episode. In a way, that it was more about the idea of it and the "inside" of the crew, their own interactions and story, than any outsider's. And I loved all the let's-plot-and-execute-a-great-theft parts very much, they were lots of fun! It's just that this part is what made me think the most, you know?

And Saffron, with all the trust issues she immediately brings to my mind, is the best background, IMHO, to the conflict between Simon and Jayne. That's what the bestest strength of the crew is all about, I think - their ability to get over all the stuff that is not-OK between them, once the emergency is severe enough (or, well, the possible-amount-of-money-to-earn is large enough), and work together, as a team, trusting that each member of the crew is performing their job, as best they can, and working together towards a common goal.

I babbled at length about it, I think, when I watched "Our Mrs. Reynolds" - about how Saffron's strength and self-reliance and quickness-of-mind are probably the very things that prevented her from grasping the web of trust between each and every crew-member of "Serenity" and the others. That her strength was her failure. So I will try not to repeat myself. Well, not much. Because that will require actually looking up the past burble and actually reading it and making sure I don't duplicate stuff, which is actual work, so I'm going to lazy out of that. I guess I simply mean, then "apologies in advance on being repetitive". Sorry about that.

And, yeah, you already know that I'm such a sap they'd be embarrassed to put me in the dictionary near the definition of a "sap", but still: poor Saffron. Not poor because she was beaten by the crew of "Serenity" or was left without her theft-prize or was stuck in the dumpster or any of those other "being on the loser side" things. Poor Saffron because she doesn't have anyone she trusts, any expectations from people to be anything other than stupid and gullible and annoying and a nuisance and either a tool in her getting what she wants or a bump on her road for that. I mean, what dull, sad, empty life it must be, for a (yeah, fictional, I know!) character like that - absolutely no friends, no real human connection, nobody around her that she even treats as remotely human. And, yeah, well, evil - but how empty such a life must be.

[Edit: and yet, still I do]

And Saffron really did pretty much try to use every other possible path she had, when she and Mal were deserted on that lonely moon, and her only chance of leaving it was Mal agreeing to give her a ride, before finally giving up and mentioning the big-robbery possibility. I mean, she first tried to act all seducing-like, then tried to talk like they actually had some sort of relationship going on between them that needed solving, and when that fails (and she is very quick to notice whenever a tactic fails!), she calls to his natural decency, to his humanity (she knows very well how to play with these aspects of people, having them herself or not), and then even goes to pleading (maybe even trying to appeal to his sense of humor and fun, I don't know), before she despairs of all other options and brings up the let's-share-a-crime possibility. She really did want to avoid bringing that up, at all costs. And she really does know when she runs out of options and has to play with that last card she kept - a true survivor.

She keeps seeing things as a game, with a winner and a loser, and no other option in between, and no other definition for what can be better or worse. A relationship for her is only measured in how easy or difficult it is to crack. A place in life, choices, are to her only the cards that are being dealt in a struggle over who wins over whom - nothing has meaning on its own merit. Nothing emotional, anyway.

Saffron keeps assuming that people can't surprise her: she realized how tight the crew of "Serenity" is, once, but fell for a fight-display again, not realizing, maybe unable to realize, the way they get together when the need arises. She mocks the earliest husband for not calling the cops, when he had already done it long ago, when she was thinking he kept falling for her lies. It's like the smart kid who thinks that because he's right most of the time, nobody else is, or the semi-magician who thinks that nobody but him learned his clever card-trick.

And the - well, not first, earliest - husband, as we were informed at the beginning of the scheme, wasn't a wholesomely good person, too - he was Alliance, he destroyed people in order to get their precious belongings, he became rich thanks to war and suffering. In Hebrew there's an expression, "a talit who is all light-blue", meaning - good all through and through, with no faults and having not a single bad point in the matter. And the earliest husband certainly wasn't a person like this, even if his treatment to Saffron was all kindness and love. Nobody is a straight-out "good guy" or "bad guy". He had a few tricks up his sleeve, as well. And he didn't let his emotions stand in the ways of calling the cops. and he had such sadness in his voice when he asked Yolanda to stop with her tricks - and he still didn't believe her for a moment, even when it broke his heart.

Because the grown-up relationship is to love somebody while knowing who they really are, with open eyes to their faults and less-than-great characteristics, and accepting the "whole package", the person with all that they are, not just the projection of the good qualities in them, not just a mask on the less-than-good aspects.

And it ties things, to me, back to Mal's character. He's trying to hide some aspects of himself, pretty much like everybody does, but in a way the things he tries to hide are different - he's not pretending he's nice, not pretending he likes people he doesn't, not pretending to treat people any different than he feels, completely honest in admitting that he doesn't like somebody or some aspect in somebody's life (I babbled about that at embarrassing length when I talked about "Shindig", too).

Oh, and I love it that I find myself referring, in my minds, to things I thought about with regards to former episodes - that themes continue, that there's continuity not just in the plot-level or even the characters-interactions-development level, but also with themes and subjects-for-thought and sort of "these are the things we're thinking about when we tell the story" way (um, of course, I mean the "things *I* think about because of the episode" sort of way, not presuming to put any thoughts or words in the heads of anybody else but me).

I loved it that we got to see connections between characters that didn't get to interact all that much yet: Zoe and Inara in the pair that jumps most to my mind, but also Zoe and Kaylee, Wash and Kaylee, River and Jayne - just on top of my head. We saw how well, again, Book and Zoe work together. So many possibilities, the 10 characters (yeah, I'm again with the counting of "Serenity". All the others are just as fictional!), all the possible pairs and more-than-pairs connections between them. And each is different, and each fits the built personality of the specific characters interacting. And there is so much more left to explore, to build, to see what-turns-out. All those possibilities. Sigh.

Tra-la-la-look-here-list: When Monty hugged Mal, he practically picked him up from the floor, and Mal's feet dangled in the air - how sweet was it? And such a rare confidence from Mal, to let somebody completely hug him like that (not that he had that much of a choice, I guess). Saffron not missing a moment in stealing someone's gun and pointing it at Mal, who already has one pointed at her. Monty shouting at whomever has the upper hand in the fight, regardless of the surprise factor or lack thereof. Monty just pulling Mal and Saffron off each other, after they both fought so hard, each with only the one huge hand (for a character who appeared in such a short time, he does have lots of great moments, doesn't he?). That Mal had a white clean handkerchief ready, on him, to wipe his bloody nose (what other outlaw has one?). That the handkerchief stayed up his nose all the way up the stairs in "Serenity", as silly as it looked.

[in the middle of my list!]

My beloved list, the continuation: Saffron being so sure of herself in anticipating Wash's question, and having it turned out to be a completely different one. Oh, and of course, Jayne bringing the subject up again, looking very proud of himself for thinking about it on his own. That Inara, who is an expert in showing emotions she doesn't feel, had criticism on the performances of the crew-members when fooling Saffron. Zoe talking to Mal about Saffron as if the latter isn't even in the room, let alone standing by his side. River mentioning that the name of the thugiest bully on board is a girl's name (especially after, in the French dubbing that my mom watches, his name is changed to "Jaynie", and when I pointed it out to my mom she said: "well, of course. Jayne is a girl's name"). Simon being displeased with the "sit and wait" part he got in the story, even when he probably knows that this story involves breaking lots of laws carelessly. Mal being caught, for a minute, in the meaning and history of what he's about to steal - long enough for Saffron, who finds meaning in nothing, to remind him they have to get back to work - and that's Mal, who is the first usually to be all-business. Zoe's hand resting on Wash's chair when he kept "Serenity" steady for Jayne - not on his shoulder, so that she wouldn't disturb his concentration, but as near to that as possible. Mal never stopping working while talking to Yolanda (and always using the name he thinks has more meaning) - and it's even more poignant after his short delay that I just mentioned earlier, the value he gives to Saffron's history in comparison to, well, history. Mal not letting Saffron steal the gun from the soldiers they punched. Inara mocking the way Saffron looks in the dumpster - the thing both of them value. Jayne asking first thing about the payment when he wakes up, that's his order of priorities. How River wasn't there for the conversation between Simon and Jayne, but popped her head in the doorway in just the right moments. Kaylee being completely unbothered by Mal's complete nakedness.

After finishing watching that, I remembered that it was the first episode, in order, that wasn't shown in the USA. The first episode I got to see only thanks to the DVDs. And it included a recurring villain, some on-going themes, at least one important nearly-arc-y plot point (Simon and Jayne) continuing from past episodes. And, above all, lots of fun. It is so unfair that the UnUnAmericans didn't get to see it in place! Yeah, joining the chorus, I know - but I've only felt it for the first time just now. Sigh

Nilly - May 13, 2004