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'Firefly' recap: Train trouble

Editors’ Note: Firefly fans rejoice! The Joss Whedon show was only with us for a year, but it lives on in The EW Community. Check back each week for Nathan Fillion goodness and watch with Brandi McCormick as she recaps the series from the very beginning.

Season 1 | Ep. 2 | “The Train Job” | Aired Sept 27, 2002

It’s Unification Day in the Firefly universe, and boy howdy, that does not sit well with Capt. Mal. At a local watering hole on a nearby moon, the captain, Zoe and Jayne are cooling off, scouting the joint for possible clients, when an Alliance sympathizer crosses paths with Mal and remarks about his Browncoat. You see, because it’s U-Day, it’s the celebration of the Alliance and their victory over the rebels. You know, the victory that left Mal and Co. on the run as rebels and many of their brethren slain six years ago. Snarky remarks are swapped back and forth between a staunch Alliance supporter and Mal. The ends with the Serenity crew members in an all-out brawl, fleeing the bar in a hilarious peacocking maneuver when Wash shows up to save the day and haul them off. It’s all fun and games between enemies, except this time Mal managed to snag a paying gig! Success.

Quick update on the rest of the crew: Kaylee is back in action — yay! River is still sort of skulking around. She seems to slip between lucidity and what seems like nonsense; she frequently bursts into unintelligible chatter, sometimes about crew members (“Mal. Mal, bad … in the Latin”), other times about who knows what. Nightmares from her time in the academy haunt her, but her brother, Handsome-Shady Doctor Simon, is always there to calm her down.

Back to the gig Mal scored: Turns out, it’s not just your everyday salvage. It’s a train heist. As you can imagine, the rest of the crew isn’t thrilled with the idea, but Mal being Mal, he convinces them it’s no biggie. And he would probably be right any other day of the week, except this time he couldn’t be more wrong, as he and Zoe board the train only to realize it’s crawling with Feds (the Alliance).


Now that things are nice and exciting, Zoe and Mal are in it to win it. After a very close call with some Feds, they manage to do what they came for and steal the necessary goods. Upon landing at Paradiso, however, they overhear just exactly what it was they stole, and it’s not good; turns out it’s medicine for the noticeably sick citizens surrounding them. A wave of guilt and Oh, crap creeps over both their faces.

Double whoops.

In order to maintain their cover and remain inconspicuous, Zoe and Mal take on the identities of a Mr. and Mrs. Raymond, a husband-and-wife team who’ve just come to find work. Everyone’s being questioned by Sheriff Bourne (Gregg Henry), including Mal and Zoe, who aren’t doing so hot. Bourne suspects they aren’t who they claim to be, and just as things are about to get extra-hairy, who else comes to save the day but Serenity crew member Inara? Using the respectability inherent in her being a Companion, she too spins a tale for the sheriff, claiming Mal and Zoe are her indentured servants (the look on Mal’s face is PRICELESS). Her plan works like a charm, and off they go, back to the comforts of Serenity.

Upon returning, Mal decides the only respectable thing to do is to return the medicine to the train. Knowing the client that hired him, the gruff (and kind of scary) Mr. Niska, will not be very pleased with this doesn’t stop him from doing what he feels is right. Just about the time the crew is set to return the goods, Mr. Niska’s henchmen show up to wreak havoc. They aren’t having any of Mal’s do-the-right-thing mindset, and almost instantly the Serenity crew and the Niska mercenaries are at each other’s throats. It’s a rough fight, indeed, but naturally the Serenity crew members show those bullies what’s up. Except for Jayne, who was doped by Handsome-Shady Doctor Simon, to the delight of viewers everywhere. Doped up Jayne Cobb is my favorite Jayne Cobb.

When Mal and Zoe head out to return the medicine, they’re surprised by Sheriff Bourne, and everything seems for an instant to hinge on Is this going to be a fight?. But everyone agrees that they see eye to eye, Sheriff Bourne gladly accepts the return of the medicine, and each side leaves in peace.

Back on Serenity, Niska’s lead bully, Crow, refuses to accept Mal’s offer to just give them back the money they were fronted and leave peacefully. Too bad for him, because his inability to get on the same page as Mal results in him being pushed into a jet engine. R.I.P. Crow; you won’t be missed. A secondary henchmen gladly accepts the offer Crow passed up, and he and the Serenity crew agree to just stay out of each other’s business. Good call, buddy.

Meanwhile, some very prickly-looking men who belong to the Blue Sun initiative get heavily involved with the Alliance in the hunt for River.


Oh, and by the way:

  • I’m still so intrigued by Companions. Essentially, that job is an escort, a high-class hooker, a prostitute. But it’s seen as one of the more respectable occupations, the one that brings Serenity “legitimacy.” So interesting!
  • I also love that despite his protest that her job is lowly, Mal totally has the hots for Inara, right? They would have the sassiest babies ever.
  • I take it back. I have a lot of favorite Jayne moments. Like this one:

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Get more of Brandi’s take on all things entertainment over at ReelSnarky.com!