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September 23 2005

Tonight's Firefly episode on SciFi - 'Ariel'. Betrayal, revelations and the hands of blue.

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.

Of course, must have the ambulance...
“Make somethin' up. Don't tell 'em what I did.”
I think the hands of blue are awesome and i want to seee more of them. The imagery of them killing the police was horrifingly creepy!. LOVED IT
That final scene is probably my favorite from the whole series. Spoiler for the film right now, don't read if you haven't seen it. I love it when the captain gets tough. I love that he is loyal to his crew and ship and expects the same from them. Just terrific acting and writing all around in 'Ariel'.

I was reading the Serenity magazine today and got to the Adam Baldwin interview. He says that Jayne and Mal have a brother relationship and I really like that.

[ edited by eddy on 2005-09-23 23:49 ]
One of my favorite eps and the scene between Mal and Jayne is a big reason why. SpookyRiverFan points out the line that saved Jayne's life above and its such a telling character moment, imo. Beautifully played by all involved. A wonderful episode.
And to pick out a few different scenes - Simon dealing with an emergency. It may not be smart but it's the right thing to do (a theme we see over and over again, of course) and it shows Simon being a hero in his way, the same way that set him on the course to Serenity in the first place.

And Jayne's look as Simon speaks so highly of him, which sets up The Argument as we see that, yes, he feels bad about it.

And our Big Damn Heroes struggling with their lines, and the payoff. Comedy gold.
Yeah, of course, the final scene is by far the most striking and best scene of the whole series...

This scene is so strong that I always wondered if it was Molina's writing or if Joss take the pen there (we know he did write entire dialogues of episodes on which he's not credited as a writer).

More than anything else, to me, this dialogue really defines both characters Mal and Jayne; I can't remember any other show or movie where, in a few lines, we go deeper in some characters' psychologies.
Can I come in?

The look of relief, anxiety and wonder on Adam's face when delivering that line is priceless!
One of the best endings ever. We got a glimpse into River's terror and Jayne's humanity. I think Jayne never saw Simon and River as people and he went along with his plan to betray them. But along that route his brain started to grasp what he was doing but he wasn't at a point where he could undo it, nor knew if he wanted to. The first glimpse is when he's asking Simon what they did to River and Simon starts to explain how they cut into her brain over and over again and Jayne abruptly cuts him off and says it's time to go. Was it really time to go or was Jayne starting to feel some sympathy for this girl who he just wrote off as a nutcase and didn't want to know anymore in case it changed his mind. Next is the running from the hands of blue guys and he can see the real terror in River's face and he can hear the screams of the men killed left behind. Then Simon praises the hell out of him for being so wonderful. Jayne, someone not used to this, is touched and guilty at the same time. Mal figures out what he did and when Jayne is confronted by it, facing his death, his humanity really shines through and he just wants to be remembered as that guy who was a hero and not a bad guy. He doesn't beg for his life but only asks that Mal "don't tell the others" and "make something up". It was a great scene that showed us just how ruthless yet just Mal could be and it showed us that somewhere inside Jayne is a decent soul.
I know this is a side line, but does anybody know how Firefly has been doing on Sci-Fi US ratings wise?
I love this episode. It (along with Jaynestown and The Message) help remind you that Jayne's more than just a thug. Hooray for Joss Whedon.
I always wondered if Jayne started to have second thoughts when Simon deviated from the script and went to save the man's life. It was clear that Simon was every bit as good a doctor as he said he was and that he really had just saved a life although it threatened his safety. Jayne may not have understood why Simon did it but I think it made an impact. At that point he wasn't anywhere near ready to change his plan and I don't know if they left abruptly later because he was trying to get them out safely or if it was to betray them. Judging from Joss' comments, I reluctantly think that Jayne didn't change his mind until it was clear he wasn't getting the reward.

[ edited by Lioness on 2005-09-24 21:11 ]
The Gateworld website usually says what the ratings are each week for Firefly as well as the regular Sci-fi channel line-up but they didn't the last couple of weeks. The first six episodes they did mention averaged about 1.1 to 1.2 so it's been pretty steady.
I always thought it was interesting that when Jayne says they need to leave the lab that the scan of River's brain goes all red. Up to that point I had always thought she was just super-perceptive, but after that it seemed she could literally read minds.

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2005-09-24 02:21 ]
Ronald_SF, I only just noticed that tonight, that River's whole brain scan lights up suddenly when Jayne says they have to leave. That's really significant that she's actually psychic, I think.

Also, the fact that the Bluehands knew exactly which way she went, without any evidence, is significant of something, but who knows what.
I loved the gushing blood. Any good tv show or movie has got to have somebody gushing blood in it.
Probably my favorite episode alongside "Out of Gas" and "Objects in Space" -- so many beautiful scenes, so many layers of character laid bare by a phenomenal economy of dialogue and acting. Agree with everyone above that the Mal/Jayne scene was a pivotal, series-defining moment: Never was it clearer how far Mal was willing to go to protect the innocent in his care, or how strict his personal code of honor was, even if it meant sacrificing one of his ship's crew. It also showed how brutal both men could be, with one mastered by a higher moral conscience and the other a slave to his greed.

The mislead at the beginning, where we were led to believe Jayne was simply gathering supplies for the ruse (and actually turned out to be planning the betrayal) was well done. We weren't beaten over the head with it, but instead were allowed a slow realization that something was terribly wrong even as events progressed with clockwork precision. Watching the full flowering of Jayne's mercenary nature was horrific because after the relative cuddliness of "Jaynestown", we saw how corrupt he really was. And then his begging Mal at the end not to tell the others showed the humanity buried underneath, making him one of us and thereby unable to be completely despised. Brilliant.

Loved Simon choking the hospital guard with his *knee* (hands bound behind his back, no less!). Also, Summer Glau was amazing through the whole thing. "He looks better in red." Hee!

And those tissue disrupters of the Blue Sun baddies? Just about the squickiest weapons I've ever seen. *shudder* A concept like that (which I dearly hope never gets put into actual practice...) takes real evil genius. So, who gets the blame credit for that, Joss or Tim?

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2005-09-24 09:30 ]
Man, this is a fun episode.
Definetely on my top favorite firefly episode list. And the funny part, is that if I'm not wrong, is not really from writer, that was a ME veteran, like most of the other writers that contributed for Firefly.

Of course that I know, that Tim and Joss must have done some re-writings in the process, but in all it was a Jose Molina episode. Which was surprising for me because he wrote for "Dark Angel". Sorry, for "DA" fans out there, but I don't really give high regards for this James Cameron series, starring Jessica Alba.

Which actually makes me think about the irony of next week's US opening movie weekend, where "Serenity"s main competitor, may actually be Alba's new movie which title i can't quite recall right now. And back then in 2002, it was said, that if there was no "Firefly", "Dark Angel" may have lived for a 3rd season. I wonder if there is some really bitter "Dark Angel" fan out there, campaigning against us, for people to not watch "Serenity", and watch Alba's new flick instead. Shyeash... COnspiracy Theories away.

Back to the episode.
It has a great story, a lot of development in the show storyline, we get to see a central planet, a just some really cool info about our BDH. I love the special effects, and it was nice shift of colors, compared to other episodes. Just compare to dustier episodes like "Heart of Gold", and "Ariel' will just look really bright and - well - shiny.

In past episodes we've been told a lot about what Simon gave up to save River, about how his parents were disappointed, and the choices he made. I keep being reminded about what Sean said in last year's San Diego Comicon panel, about "Simon's love for River", being the favorite thing about his character for him. And "Ariel", just make this even more literal. It's not only a re-telling about his sacrifice, but we get a redux version of moral dilemma that he was faced. It's just refreshing seeing him on action, saving people lives, like he always wanted to do, but his main goal, is still to save and protect his litte sister.

I'm a huge fan of those "training scenes" when Mal, Zoe and Jayne are rehearsing for their roles, while Wash and Kaylee worked on the ambulence. They're a just so funny. I actually have a quote from this episode as a sound for my computer. It's that one where Mal talks about how people from central planets are all supposed to smile.

Jayne's betrayal and how Mal reactions about it are quite amazing complex issues. There are things about how Jayne really is as a person, if he's really reliable, or only reliable to himself and his pocket. There's the meaning of Mal as the Captain of this vessel, and his responsabilities to it and it's crew. Sometimes I think that Mal was more angry at Jayne for going behind his back for contacting the Alliance, rather than the "telling the Alliance" facto itself. The personal rift was more about the backstabbing, and less about what the backstabbing was about. And we're shown once again how far Mal is able to go to protect his beliefs, his convictions.

We had the Blue Hands man in this episode, are they're just very creppy. And they actually got very close to their goal this time around. Someday I'd like a comprehensive outlook about the Alliance structure and even how it links up to Blue Sun. A chart outlook of it would just be so cool. Are Blue Hands Man, like some sort of Man in Black- Black Ops? How they fit into the commande chain? If someday Joss is allowed to do this, I'd love to see some of political side of the 'verse get better fleshed out.
Did they make Jayne's "crotch" line inaudible? I swear he said "Smells like --", there's a pause, and then it cuts to Kaylee's reaction.
I noticed the pause too. I'm betting it was on purpose. Gorram FCC!
Right... cause 'crotch' is such a naughty word. It was on broadcast TV! I thought cable channels were less regulated. Weird.
My favourite episode.
One of my favorite episodes too, for all the members have reasons stated above. I can't understand how anyone could watch this eprisode and not fall in love with the series. The last scene is just so fantastic!
Yep, this episode definitely shows off both the show and the genius of Joss. I actually believed Jayne was going to die, there aren't many shows/writers who are so unpredictable that they can sell having the "hero" kill one of the other main characters, especailly that early on in a shows run but I bought it completely.
"Make somethin' up". Writers with a less subtle touch, and less insight into the character would have had Jayne saying "I'm so ashamed" or some trite cliche. What a great line. And after all the suspense, until Mal closes that door, I always laugh at the way Baldwin says, "Can I come in?" as if he's not quite sure...

Tuesday! marathon! (I so need the dvds)

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