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'Firefly' flashback recap: Christina Hendricks back for backstabbing seconds

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 11 | “Trash” | Aired June 28, 2003

Whoever said blondes have more fun clearly never met a redhead. Not just any redhead, but Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks, to be more specific.

Hendricks comes back for seconds as Mal’s “wife” in “Trash,” the eleventh episode of Firefly. In case you forgot where we left off with her in “Our Mrs. Reynolds,” here’s a quick recap:

She tricked Mal into marrying her, called herself Saffron, lied about her identity, knocked Mal out with laced lipstick, tried to steal Serenity and basically left the crew for dead. I think that pretty much sums it up. So you can imagine that not one single crew member on Serenity really wanted to see her again.

“Trash” opens with Mal, naked and alone, in the middle of the desert. Already I know this episode is going to be amazing.

The rest of the story picks up 72 hours earlier. Mal is chatting it up with old Independence buddy Monty (Franc Ross), while some of Monty’s crew is busy unloading some of his latest stolen cargo. Monty confidently reveals he’s gotten married (much to the surprise of Mal), but when he beckons for his new bride Bridget (Christina Hendricks) to meet his longtime pal, everyone’s in for a huge surprise when Mal and Bridget instantly pull a gun on each other. DUEL! (Just kidding, but that would have been awesome.)

Mal explains to Monty whom he knows “Bridget” to be: Saffron, a two-timing, backstabbing con artist who tricked him into marrying him and then tried to kill his whole crew and steal his ship. Monty is reluctant to believe, but when Bridget/Saffron slips up and reveals she knows Mal’s identity, Monty must face the truth. He deserts Bridget/Saffron and Mal. Mal is quick to tell Saffron to scram, but since she’s a wily redhead and Mal is Mal, she somehow manages to convince him to go in on a lucrative scheme to steal a priceless weapon with her so that they can split the profits.

Mal returns to Serenity with Saffron hidden in a crate, much to the disgust of his crew members. Once all pleasantries (or lack thereof) are out of the way, she explains her plan: Steal an antique laser pistol called The Lassiter from Durran Haymer (Dwier Brown) and sell it for an unimaginable profit. Intrigued by a high-stakes heist and the lore of the Lassiter, Mal agrees to join in on her hijinks. The Serenity crew, not so much. That is, until they all get their complaints about Saffron off their chest and Zoë plants a whoppingly satisfying punch on Saffron’s precious lying face. After that, it’s all systems go.

The plan is thus:

1) Break into Haymer’s estate

2) Steal the pistol

3) Drop it in a trash chute

4) Have Kaylee program the trash disposal unit to take the trash bin to a remote location of their choosing so they can retrieve the artifact

Breaking into Haymer’s estate is easy, as Saffron has intimate knowledge of cracking that security system. It’s troubling that she has that knowledge, but it seems to bother no one but me. (More on that later.)

Mal and Saffron enter Haymer’s office and lay eyes on the precious Lassiter, only to be interrupted almost immediately by Haymer himself. But instead of being killed on the spot, Saffron is swiftly taken into an embrace by Haymer, who gushes how grateful he is to Mal for returning his wife “Yolanda,” who’s been missing for six years. HOLD THE PHONE. Saffron’s got three husbands? This girl is too good.

Turns out Saffron was once Yolanda, and Haymer was just one of her many marks, like Monty and Mal. Now Saffron/Yolanda’s knowledge of how to break into the estate makes sense. (*Shakes fist at sky in frustration.*)

Though Mal’s only wish is to leave quickly and unharmed, Saffron/Yolanda insists Haymer repay Mal’s kindness with a reward. As Haymer goes to retrieve the reward money, Mal and Saffron attempt to finish what they came for, but are once again interrupted by Haymer, this time while both Saffron/Yolanda and Mal have their guns drawn on each other. You see, Mal accused Saffron/Yolanda of being in *real* love with Haymer, to which she responded with a gun in the face. Saffron/Yolanda tries to cover her tracks but Mal isn’t having it. He tells Haymer the truth, that they came there to steal the pistol. While Haymer and Saffron/Yolanda have words, Mal actually does manage to drop the pistol in the trash chute as planned. Their escape is then rushed, however, when Haymer tells Saffron/Yolanda and Mal that he never believed Saffron/Yolanda to be truthful and that he called the authorities the second she showed up again. After a scuffle that leaves Haymer unconscious, Saffron/Yolanda and Mal escape through a crowd of Feds unharmed on Serenity’s shuttle.

Meanwhile, Kaylee and Wash have been waiting patiently under the trash disposal unit. Kaylee manages to program the unit to deliver the trash to their secret location, just as Jayne is knocked unconscious from the high winds and dragged back to Serenity to be treated.

On the shuttle headed to the rendezvous point, Mal tries to call Saffron/Yolanda out on her lies. He claims Haymer was her true love and her one and only real husband, and for a moment it seems Saffron/Yolanda is truly saddened by the thought that he’s right and she’s essentially lost everything in favor of being a con artist. But in an instant she proves once and for all that she’s a conniving brat and pulls Mal’s own gun on him, forcing him to take off all his clothes. She leaves him in the middle of the desert, naked and alone, like we first saw at the beginning of the episode. “Well, that went well,” is all Mal can say.

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Saffron/Yolanda makes it to the deposited trash bin and goes through it in a fury looking for the pistol. But it’s she who’s knocked off her rocker in surprise as Inara shows up, pistol in hand, and breaks down what really just happened: Mal and the Serenity crew were actually the ones conning her. The plan from the beginning was to double-cross her double-cross and have Inara wait at the trash bin and retrieve the pistol first, knowing full well that Saffron/Yolanda was going to try to take the artifact for herself. HA!

Inara then traps Saffron/Yolanda in the trash bin in what is one of the most satisfying moments EVER.

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After naked Mal is picked up by Serenity and graces his crew with his birthday-suited presence, all is well.

Oh, and by the way:

  • I didn’t get to it above, but there was a minor B plot that involved Simon and Jayne. Due to River’s mind-reading abilities, she informs Simon — albeit in a circuitous way — that Jayne is the one on the ship who can’t be trusted. She says Jayne’s “afraid they’ll know,” and Simon connects the dots to realize it was Jayne who sold them out to the Feds on Ariel. Simon pulls a real Simon and has this to say to the traitorous Jayne: “I want you to understand one thing very clearly. No matter what you do or say or plot … no matter how you come down on us … I will never, ever harm you.” Simon takes the familial crew and ship’s loyalty to heart, so betrayal is not something he’s going to take part in. But the real kicker comes from River, who stoically states, “Also, I can kill you with my brain.” So there’s that.

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!


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