Thirty Days of Feelings: Day Four

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Four: Firefly 1 x 08 – Out of Gas

To be perfectly honest, I could have put just Firefly in general as one of the thirty things that makes me feel strong emotions. This is a series of only fourteen beautiful episodes, many of which were never even aired. Those that did were largely out of order. But in those perfect fourteen little episodes, I connected with the characters more deeply than in several full seasons of other shows.

For those of you that don’t know, Firefly is a space western, which you’d think is a weird combination but is really pretty realistic. You’ve got settlers exploring a new frontier, trying to eke out any living they can on challenging new territory. Medicine and supplies are few and far between, as are lawmen, and bounty hunters run rampant. Perfect fit.

Firefly is a show about brokenness, I think, more than anything else. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and Zoe (Gina Torres) are former soldiers who fought for independence from the oppressive Alliance – and lost. The two of them, and most especially Mal, are broken and beaten and lost. So they seek refuge in the one place the Alliance can’t take from them – the sky. They buy a ship, find a crew, and take whatever jobs come their way – whether it’s stealing, smuggling, or occasionally even doing honest work.

There are so many beautiful moments in Firefly – moments between siblings and between lovers, religious conversations, marital spats and innocent flirtation, people fighting for each other and challenging one another. But “Out of Gas” contains so many, I just had to go with this one episode.

The plot is simple enough: a part of the engine has blown, and the ship is stranded, without power, losing oxygen and heat with each passing minute. But what follows are a series of hypoxia-induced flashbacks to the assembling of the crew. It’s beautiful really. We see the old gang Jayne was running with, and what brought him to work for Mal – a man he barely respects. We see Wash’s disgusting mustache and how he failed to impress his future wife. We see how Kaylee – against all odds – managed to impress Mal enough to win a job. We see an even haughtier version of Inara and her initial dislike of Mal. We get to see glimpses – however brief – of these people’s lives before life on Serenity, how they had virtually nothing to lose and the stars to gain. But best of all, we get this:

Mal’s first glimpse of his ship. “You buy this ship, treat her proper, she’ll be with you for the rest of your life.” In many ways, Serenity is every bit as much Mal’s wife as the T.A.R.D.I.S. is The Doctor’s, and for much the same reasons. They offer adventure, and a chance to escape. For Mal, Serenity kept him alive in more ways than one. It gave him somewhere to go outside of the reach of the Alliance. It gave him the sky.

This is really just a beautiful episode. It’s tense. It has great character moments. It shows us our characters before, and shows how much of a family they’ve really become. And I challenge you not to cry at the end, as Mal, falling asleep surrounded by his crew, forces himself back awake to ask them with a shocking earnestness, “You all gonna be here when I wake up?” It’s wonderfully genuine and sweet, and just totally disarming and heartbreaking. “Out of Gas” may not be my favorite Firefly episode, but it definitely makes me feel the most feels.

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One Response to Thirty Days of Feelings: Day Four

  1. javaj240 says:

    I love tis show, too. And this is a great episode. You really captured its essence!

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