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'Firefly' recap: Shindigs and swords

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 4 | “Shindig” | Aired Nov 1, 2002

Like so many days in the Firefly universe, “Shindig” starts off with a fight.

After playing a friendly game of pool with a few folks in a bar on the planet Santo, what are Jayne and Mal to do when they find out those folks are slave-traders? Steal from them and get into a brawl, of course!

Brawl aside, back on Serenity, Inara is busy combing through the Companion database, looking for her next client. She lands on a regular of hers, Atherton Wing (Edward Atterton), and agrees to accompany him for a multiday engagement that includes a fancy and formal soirée on the planet Persephone. When Mal gets wind of this (because he pops by her room unexpectedly, per usual), he makes known his dislike of Atherton and the idea of going to a buttoned-up ball. But Inara pays him no mind and, after a healthy snark attack between the two, Mal leaves.

Upon landing on Persephone, the crew makes their way through the bustling town. Their eyes land on a group of fanciful women in even more fanciful dresses. Kaylee, being the adorable, romantic little sister that she is, finds herself drooling over a Gone With the Wind-inspired gown, a gown she could only dream of wearing. Much to Mal’s annoyance — he’s in a real pissy mood for the first half of the episode, if you couldn’t tell — he makes a barb at how preposterous it might be for someone like Kaylee to wear a gown like that. It stung Kaylee, and the rest of the crew, and from there on out Kaylee refuses to speak to him.

That is, of course, until an opportunity presents itself!

Remember back in episode  1, when Mal and the gang were stiffed by a sneaky little bugger named Badger (Mark A. Sheppard) after he tried to back out of a deal? Well, that sneaky little bugger shows up and has — you guessed it! — another tricky proposition for the Serenity team.

He’s in cahoots with a man named Sir Warwick Harrow, and he’s got some as-yet-unspecified very important cargo he needs move. Mal is intrigued (even though he should be pretty leery to do business with this man again), and he can’t help himself but to take on another challenge. But the joke’s on him when Badger informs him that in order to get the deal signed, sealed and delivered, Mal’s going to have to deal with Sir Warwick Harrow face-to-face himself, at none other than the same ball that Inara and Atherton are attending.

*Insert world’s largest Captain Mal Reynolds eye roll here.*

So, in order to A) have a date, and B) make good on the hurtful things he said to her earlier, Mal goes hat in hand (or should it be dress in hand?) to Kaylee. The two get all duded up and make quite the entrance, much to the surprise — and annoyance — of Inara.

*Insert world’s largest Inara Serra eye roll here.*

And like all big social events with Mal in attendance, it’s only a matter of time before he’s gotten himself into fisticuffs with Atherton. You see, Inara informs him that Atherton has made her an offer to stay on Persephone for good and be his permanent Companion. Mal does NOT like this idea whatsoever, and though it really is none of his business, he makes his opinions known to Inara. They disagree on just why this is a bad or good idea. Atherton’s jealousy takes over and he steps in, insulting Inara and getting forceful with her in the process. And if there’s one thing Mal doesn’t like more than the idea of Inara setting up shop on Persephone for good, it’s that she might do it with an a-hole like Atherton. He punches Atherton in Inara’s honor, which (unbeknownst to Mal) enters him into an unbreakable agreement: ATHERTON AND MAL MUST DUEL NOW! With swords and everything.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 9.39.20 PM

Mild panic sets in, as Atherton is said to be much more skilled than Mal, and the murmurs around the ball make it apparent that Mal faces certain death.

Later that night, Inara visits Mal in his room and offers him an escape. Naturally, Mal refuses to do such a cowardly thing, and instead Inara spends the night practicing with him in the hopes he might actually defeat Atherton. (They SO love each other.)

The next day, as the duel is about to be underway, the crew of Serenity is taken “hostage,” for lack of a better word. Naturally, Badger sent his men there to keep an eye on them so they can’t interfere with the duel and try to get Mal out of there alive. What party poopers.

Back at the duel, it’s a bit dicey at first, but just as Atherton gets one over on Mal and is about to end it, Inara screams that she’ll accept Atherton’s offer to stay on Persephone indefinitely with him, if he just lets Mal live. Atherton is distracted just long enough to let Mal jump up and pull one over on him. He wounds Atherton a few times, and ultimately ends the duel on top, the handsome victor we all know and love.

Aside from Mal still being alive, though, there is other good news to come out of the duel: Sir Warwick Harrow is so impressed with Mal’s valiant efforts that he agrees to the deal Badger had set up with them. Hooray!

Mal and Inara have a nice exchange about how neither would have wanted her to leave Serenity, thus solidifying my theory that they totally love each other and would be really sad if they were separated.

Oh, what’s that precious cargo, you ask? Well, it’s a herd of cattle. So there’s that.

What do you think of Mal’s efforts to defend Inara’s honor? Do you think they really have feelings for each other? And do we foresee any bad juju happening with Badger after this deal? I don’t trust that guy as far as I could throw him.

Oh, and by the way:

  • Mal calls Inara a whore to her face, but that’s because he doesn’t respect her occupation. Atherton calls her a whore to her face, but Mal insists he was insulting her whole character, not just her occupation. There is a difference, and while I’m on Mal’s side here, I do still hate that he is so vocally disrespectful of her choice of profession.
  • Not much happened on Serenity with the other crew members, except that River went bananas and ripped a bunch of labels off some canned food because … I’m not sure? I think it has to do with the Blue Sun logo on them, but we’ll see.
  • Really though, Zoë and Wash are the CUTEST.

Firefly is available for rental or purchase on NetflixHulu PlusXbox VideoAmazon Instant VideoiTunes 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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