As usual the Cinefantastique commentary from Whedon and Minear.
I remember actually pulling into the Fox lot behind Tim, getting out of the car and going, "I know what the next one is..." When you have the sword over your head the entire time of production, when you think you might be cancelled at any moment, the one great thing is you’re not allowed to go, "Here’s an interesting idea that we can doodle with. You have to go straight to the primal place. What is the most painful, the most important, the most riveting, the most telling - what will keep them in the seats, what will get them to come back? You have to go to the primal place every time out. To me, after "Out of Gas," what I needed to see was Simon and River and their world and what they had, what they lost and really see Simon sort of taking charge, which he pretty much did. I also wanted to see Jayne betray them, because you can be irascible so long before you’re just lovable. A lot of the thriller stuff in the episodes, which I’m actually quite bad at because heists are confusing, came from the writers, though it turned out to be something that was very crucial to the show. The jobs can be really riveting and exciting if they’re well done. So it turned out to be an extraordinary episode, and of course it ended with what we call the Jesus Corleone speech where Mal says, "You do it to any one of my people, you do it to me," while he’s about to kill Jayne. That, to me, was one of the most powerful things that we did. It was Nathan who thought of using the little hand-held coms so we didn’t have to have two guys standing at a window for an entire scene. That worked out great, because then he could move around.
This is one of my favorite episodes. The scene between Mal and Jayne at the end is maybe the best in the show, where he locks Jayne into the airlock and threatens to blow him out. The acting is so good in that episode; everybody is brilliant. Our crew created all sorts of amazing things that we simply couldn’t believe. The script was written by Jose Molina, who was Howard Gordon’s assistant when he was on Angel, and then Jose went off and became a writer in his own right. He worked on Dark Angel, we brought him over to Firefly and he just kicked ass on "Ariel." He came up with a lot of the fundamental plot for that story. I had a team of people who could really break stories on that show, and that was pretty exciting.