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'Firefly' recap: Men versus monsters

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 | Episode 3 | “Bushwacked” | Aired Sept 27, 2002

It’s all fun and games until the front of your spaceship is struck by a dead body.

As the crew members of Serenity blow off some steam in a very welcome scene of horseplay and basketball, a darker threat is just outside their windows. The perimeter alarm sounds, and Wash heads to the cockpit to check it out. He notices a derelict transport ship out in the distance, and as he’s searching for more information about it, he is shocked silly when a dead body hits the window right in front of him with a thud.

Naturally, Mal decides that the only thing that makes sense is to board the ship, check for survivors, and if there aren’t any, loot what they can and get out of there.







Upon entering the ship, they realize it’s completely deserted. It’s an eery sight aboard the craft; meals sit just placed upon the tables but left untouched, a crew member’s personal log is mid-entry. It’s clear something bad happened here. Realizing they are alone, they begin hitting up the cargo hold and looting whatever supplies and valuables they can find. Turns out that’s quite a lot, as they find out the ship was transporting around 15 families that were supposed to have arrived at their destination some three weeks ago.

They quickly realize the families never made it.

Upon further inspection of the cargo hold, they discover a grisly sight just above their heads: The passengers of the ship are strung up in a (very Hannibal-esque) grotesque manner, their bodies ravaged and mutilated beyond recognition. It’s a Reaver job through and through, and now the clock is ticking to get the goods and get off that ship.

Little do they know there is someone on that ship who has other plans.

During the salvaging, Jayne is ambushed by a crazed passenger, apparently the sole survivor of the attack. He gets the jump on Jayne but is discovered hiding in a vent only a few moments later. He’s maniacal, nonsensical, violent. His behavior is a stark reminder of the horrors the Reavers can inflict. And it begs the question: If you’re witness to an attack from the worst species, the once-human monsters that are the Reavers, what will that do to you? Will you remain human or will you lose sight of everything and cling to the horror you now know?

After bringing the survivor back to Serenity and locking him up, the rest of the crew is been briefed on what happened on the transport ship. Book (Ron Glass), upon hearing of the travesty done to the families, insists he go back and perform their a makeshift funeral in the hopes their souls can be at rest. In a surprise move, Mal agrees to let Book tend to the victims, and since no one else cares to venture back onto the ship, Handsome Shady Doctor Simon offers to go with. It’s a brief moment of religious tolerance from Mal, and one that does not go unnoticed by Inara, who comments, “Just when I think I’ve got you figured out.” (Make out already, will you!?)

The joke is on her, though. No sooner than she’s out of earshot, Mal reveals his true intentions: He needed a distraction for the others to deal with the real problem at hand. The Reavers left behind a nice little parting gift for Serenity, a booby trap rigged to blow them to pieces upon undocking from the ship.

But it’s Kaylee’s time to shine, and she tackles the booby trap with aplomb, dismantling it with a smile. Psh, that girl can do it all.

The entire crew has now returned to Serenity, and they think they’re out of the woods, but OF COURSE they aren’t.

Who should come knocking at the most inconvenient time but the Alliance? They’re approached by a huge Alliance ship, which pulls them in to question them about Simon and River.

Serenity is bombarded with Alliance soldiers, who begin ransacking the place to find the fugitives. They’re good, but Mal is better. He’s stuck Simon and River in space suits and they’re just casually hanging on outside the ship, unseen by the Alliance soldiers. Hiding in plain sight. Brilliant.


Each crew member is then subjected to intense questioning from the ship’s commander, Harken (Doug Savant), but of course they give him no useful information. Frustrated, Harken begins to cite Mal for all of his transgressions, assuring him he’ll have to answer to the law. But once again, that sole survivor from the derelict ship has other plans. In a whirlwind of blood, he attacks the doctors tending to him and makes his way back to Serenity, searching for familiar ground.

All the while, Mal has been trying to convince Harken just what is going on. He realizes the survivor is emulating his attackers because he’s too traumatized to function any other way. They head back to Serenity to find him, and once again things get brutally bloody, and fast.

The survivor attacks one of Harken’s men and then Harken himself, but it’s Mal’s turn to shine this time. He kills the survivor in an instant.

And with that — Harken’s life saved and no fugitives found — the crew of Serenity is free to leave in peace, with all charges dropped.

River and Simon are safe for now, but for how long? Sooner or later Mal’s quick thinking isn’t going to be enough to protect them from the Feds, and I’m not sure I’m ready to see what happens when that time comes.

What did you think of “Bushwacked”? What do you make of River’s conduit-like abilities? It was as if she could sense what was happening with the survivor as it was happening. What’s up with that?

Oh, and by the way, this exchange between Zoe and Commander Harken was priceless:

Harken: You fought with Captain Reynolds in the war?
 Fought with a lot of people in the war.
 And your husband?
Zoe: Fight with him sometimes, too.

Also, this was the first episode to feature a narrative voiceover at the beginning of the episode, essentially summarizing the entire show’s premise. Book’s voice stoically regales us:

After the Earth was used up, we found a new solar system and hundreds of new Earths were terraformed and colonized. The central planets formed the Alliance and decided all the planets had to join under their rule. There was some disagreement on that point. After the War, many of the Independents who had fought and lost drifted to the edges of the system, far from Alliance control. Out here, people struggled to get by with the most basic technologies; a ship would bring you work, a gun would help you keep it. A captain’s goal was simple: Find a crew, find a job, keep flying.

Firefly is available for rental or purchase on Netflix, Hulu Plus, Xbox Video, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and more.

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

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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