We’ll be covering every episode of Joss Whedon’s Firefly series over the next 6 weeks every Friday. One new episode per week. If you have Netflix, the entire show is available for Instant Queue. Our three authors today are Alex, found at @alexwhale on Twitter, Nicholas, found at @hotdogcanon, and Corissa found at @corissapoley. Enjoy!



While every episode deals with the subject to some extent, the concept of loyalty amongst the crew members of Serenity is particularly key in Ariel.  It’s not much of a surprise that Jayne would betray anyone.  It’s less surprising that he would betray Simon and his sister, especially after she casually slices Jayne’s chest open during a communal dinner.  Did River sense the imminent betrayal, or did her actions inspire Jayne to contact the authorities in hopes of collecting a sizable bounty in return for the wanted siblings?  While we can never know for sure, the Feds ambush the Tams after Jayne leads them into the trap he conspired to lay.

After it becomes apparent that Jayne has been used by the Federal marshals to apprehend River and Simon, and that he himself will be prosecuted while simultaneously being deprived of any reward, he is inspired to battle his way out of custody.  The trio, led by a frantic River, manage to find a path out of the facility and away from the inscrutable blue-handed men leaving a trail of corpses in their wake.  While Simon naively considers Jayne to be a hero, Mal pegs him as a traitor due to the diversion that led them to the Feds.  Jayne’s lack of loyalty to the crew as a whole earned him a wrench to the head and confinement to the ship’s airlock during takeoff.  When he initially regains consciousness and realizes the direness of the situation he’s in, Jayne plays dumb and assures Mal that he would never be disloyal.  But Mal knows the truth and is prepared to release the crew’s muscle permanently, if necessary.  By giving up River and Simon, Jayne had effectively surrendered the entirety of the group to the Alliance.  After Jayne comes to terms with his fate, his final request is that Mal not reveal the true reason for his death to the others.  As the ship’s last seconds in Ariel’s atmosphere tick away, Mal mercifully closes the airlock door and spares Jayne’s life.  Mal sums up the lesson he hopes Jayne has learned (but knows he probably hasn’t) rather succinctly by saying, “The next time you decide to stab me in my back, have the guts to do it to my face.”


We have yet to really focus on River, and in Ariel she is certainly a central character. Up to this point, we have seen her as a crazy girl who doesn’t know what to do with herself, a person can read minds, a brilliant mind, and a vulnerable child. River is not certain who she is, and thus the audience is not either. I, personally, feel pity for her- but some may not feel the same way about a girl who impetuously decides she wants to knife a crew member in the chest. It’s devastating when Simon does get a look at her brain and discovers that someone in the Academy has not only cut into it, but cut some essential elements out. River senses that the “hands of blue” are nearby not long after Simon has discovered her injury. She fights to get away and leads Jayne and Simon to the exit. Now that we know how River is able to feel everything, it may be safe to assume that she sensed where Zoe and Mal were trying to get through. On the other hand, maybe she’s just crazy. Either way, River is as brilliant as she is impulsive. Perhaps the theory that the most ingenious human beings are also the nuttiest isn’t so far off.


I thoroughly dislike Simon Tam. He is a smug fancyboy whose politeness is institutional and insincere. I hate that he talks down to his younger sister, who is clearly his intellectual superior, I hate that he talks under his breath whenever upset, and he can be heard whining, actually whining, in every episode. Perhaps if they cast a much younger actor to play the Tams I could stomach his whelpish demeanor, but as it is, I have a hard time not siding with Jayne in his desire to sell them off and get back to being honest outlaws.

“Oh, but look how he helps out at the hospital! You can see he is truly in his element!”

Bollocks! What Simon’s ability to pass himself off as a physician in a Core hospital proves is that he belongs in the Core with all of the other Alliance jerks. The only thing Jayne did wrong was not clear his plan with Mal, who as previously mentioned I have as much respect for as anyone can have for a fictional character, and being short-sighted about how he would be treated by the aforementioned Alliance jerks. This is a very frustrating episode for me, and apart from introducing the phrase,”two by two, hands of blue” into River’s raving, does little for the show. I motion to have it stricken from the record. All in favor?

Wait! The rebuilt medical ship is really cool looking. I don’t suppose there was any other way to get that into the series, I guess we have to keep it.