Firefly: The Train Job Ep. 2 October 26, 2007Posted by Chris in Firefly.
Tags: Firefly, Serenity
Every time I watch this one, I think about what it would have been like to see it as the pilot in the order used by the network’s broadcast. I think this is one of the weakest episodes of the 14. First, the basic premise seems so cliched. A train robbery!?! I know the western motif of the ‘verse is in play here, but a train job on a science-fiction space show? Flying/space travel is how they got there! It seems like you’d use the long-distance travel mode that got you there. Now, I’m in transportation and have some high hopes for the future of public transit, but it just struck me as unrealistic to think that a train would be an effective long-haul mode in this situation. The bulk of the old west’s population (by the 1880s) almost certainly got there by train — they, I expect, would use a train for their long-haul journeys assuming it went where they needed to go. If it didn’t, they would fall back on the most speedy and efficient mode available to them. This is exactly why I protest. Flying is so much more flexible (particularly since all their ships seem to have VTOL so they can take off and land almost anywhere) that land use patterns would be widely dispersed and difficult to serve with a track-dependent train. Almost no-one would put the huge capital costs up front to build track — particularly not to a transitory land use like a mining town. How many frontier, resource extraction areas do we see with trains running through them today? Much of Alaska falls in to this category, even today. Aren’t roads more widespread there than trains? I’d guess that the train system that does exist in Alaska was built during the pre-auto era (I’m talking when autos first came into wide use…say 1920s or post-war 40’s). Even those impoverished, starving Oakies and Arkies escaped the Dust Bowl in cars, not trains! Anyhow, I know I digress heavily, so I’ll drop this. All I know is that the idea of a train job in this ‘verse stretched my willingness to suspend disbelief.
Nevertheless, there are quite a few bright flashes of dialog and plot twists — even in this lowest of the Firefly episodes. I loved the humor/cruelty/balls of Mal pushing Niska’s muscle into the ship’s engine intake when it became clear that he wasn’t going to stop hunting them and, “…the last thing you will see is my blade.”
Jayne’s whole, “You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’till you understand who’s in ruttin’ command here….and you can’t change that by gettin’ all…bendy…” scene and his drugged manners later are satisfying comedic moments.
All I can say is, if I’d seen this episode first (before the pilot), I’m not sure I would have stuck with the series.