Firefly: Ariel Ep. 9 November 13, 2007Posted by Chris in Firefly.
Tags: Firefly, Serenity
This episode starts with River suffering a relapse in her mental state. At first glance, her attack on Jayne with a knife swipe across the chest seems random and unprovoked, but as the story progresses, we see that River has good reason to question Jayne’s intentions. Jayne’s intentions towards River and Simon aside, this event disturbs Mal and the crew and the seed is planted in our minds that River needs radical interventions to set her back on the path towards some sort of mental stability.
So when Simon comes up with a plan for the crew to sneak River into a hospital for medical testing and steal valuable medicines at the same time, as so often happens in Firefly, Whedon et al. give us and the characters some moral cover for committing what would otherwise be a self-serving, straight-up crime.
Justification for the Crime: Simon Examines River’s Surgically Scrambled Brain-Parts
What follows are some less-believable plot devices. The idea that one can go to a junkyard and find a serviceable flying ambulance is absurd in any time period — past, present or the future. The materials in any modern vehicle — whether a Ford F350 today or George Jetson’s flying car in tomorrowlandia — would surely end up being recycled or sold in secondary markets. I doubt they would be able to find one this easily. Anyways, geeky transportation-related criticisms aside, our crew finds a way to sneak into the hospital with River and Simon posing as corpses. Jayne, responsible for ferrying their drug-induced comatose bodies to the diagnostic imagery facility, makes a quick videophone call on arrival at the hospital to the Feds, revealing he has sold River and Simon out for a reward.
Once Jayne, River and Simon are nabbed by the Feds, Jayne quickly realizes he will not be rewarded — rather, he faces the same fate as those he betrayed. As Jayne works on a way to break away from his captors, Mal and the rest of the crew come to understand that Jayne et al. have been caught and start to effect a rescue. Here’s another bit of sloppy plot construct as Mal et al. are able to come up with detailed design drawings of the hospital to help them plan their rescue. I’m quite sure that again, in any era and on any world, the designs of a hospital are not made widely available.
When the “two-by-two, hands of blue” guys show up, they are an imposing and creepy pair, indeed. I’m just a bit disappointed in their choice of killing tools. Their little device that slowly and painfully kills the Feds that arrested Simon, River and Jayne through a vicious nose-bleed seems much less effective than say, a simple gun-shot to the head. I guess there are some killing efficiencies gained by getting to bloody everyone’s nose in the room at the same time (except themselves), but all-in-all, it still seems like a ridiculous device to me.
In the end, we’re led to think that all’s well that ends well, and Jayne has managed to skate by without his betrayal being discovered. But Mal sees through his story and pushes Jayne into the open airlock of the ship as it’s starting to leave “Atmo’.” As Jayne begs for his life, he begins by insisting that he would have never betrayed Mal and the crew — his “…hand to God.” Needless to say, Jayne’s invocation of Divine truthfulness is unconvincing to Mal. Interestingly, what gets to Mal’s heart is what we are led to believe are Jayne’s last request that Mal not tell the others that he betrayed them. So, while Mal is not swayed by appeals to his religious beliefs, he is moved by Jayne’s feelings of community (and love?) for his crew-mates. This redeems what would have otherwise been a somewhat lackluster episode.