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November 04 2005

Tonight's Firefly episode on SciFi - 'Objects in Space'. Well here it is. The series finale and Joss' finest episode.

Out of the three shows, this is the best episode that Joss wrote and directed (and that's a tough call). It's is a superb piece of television. Too many highlights to choose from but at a pinch I'd go for River bending over and picking up the branch. An achingly beautiful shot.

And for the last time, the Cinefantastique commentary from Whedon and Minear.

About as big a labor of love that I’ve ever done and definitely one of the two or three episodes that I’m proudest of that I’ve made of any show. But not unstrange. It’s an odd little episode in some ways. It was very much an existential statement on the meaning of objects in space and how they contain meanings within themselves; how we approach that and about two people that see them in a way that every day people don’t, and what the essential difference is, which is that one of them, the bounty hunter, is innately bringing evil with him and one of them, River, is innately bringing love. That was sort of what I wanted to say with it; what I wanted to get into. It comes with probably the most pretentious, repetitive, and probably incoherent commentary that I have ever done. I really tried to explain exactly what it was I was trying to do and some of it defies explanation, because the ecstasy of meaninglessness is something that you can’t really convey very well in a boring commentary. But I think the episode itself does it beautifully. I love the way it plays with space and the way it plays with her as a sort of a formal device. She just flaws me in this episode; you see so much of the dancer in her in this episode. The way she moves around the ship, the way that touching every wall affects her, is truly beautiful. And the whole sequence in the beginning where she’s seeing into people’s thoughts was just such a delight to shoot; so ethereal. That’s where my wife looked at me and said, “You son of a bitch, you shot your ballet.”

And then we had Richard Brooks, who just flawed me. He so embraced what I was trying to do and was hilarious and menacing. He was everything he needed to be. I loved writing that character. The episode was very hard to write. I had written “Our Mrs. Reynolds” and was, like, “Oh, I just type and they talk,” but then halfway through I was, like, “I have no structure, what am I doing? I was a fool.” But eventually it came together. Part of that process was me going on the ship, climbing up in the rafters, standing on a railing - doing all the things they were going to do physically. That’s the great thing about TV, being able to be there physically be there, I could just walk through the ship, experience it the way I thought they would and then go back and write it down. His voice, his bizarre sort of existential questioning of everything, was just so much fun to write. Every moment of it he nailed. I also think the exchange between Mal and River on top of the ship is the heart of the show incarnate. I love that.

Joss wrote and directed. I remember he had a lot of trouble writing that episode. He called me and said, “I’m not sure what this is about, I can’t figure this out.” He knew he wanted to do something with River. I said, “Well, can’t it just be Bobba Fett?” He made fun of me for a long time because of the way I pronounced the name, but he did say, “Okay, now I know what it is,” and he went off and wrote it. And there’s such beautiful filmmaking in this episode.

It was a gorgeous episode.

Simon, I agree with your choice of favourite shot, although I love the heightened one of Wash and Zoe kissing as well with the sound of the ocean behind them

And so comes an end to 'Firefly' for the second time.

I assumed that really Joss is saying that Summer and Richard Brooks just "floored" him? I hadn't known before he had such trouble writing the episode, nor that he would wander the ship. Nice. Thanks Simon.
Richard Brooks and Summer "flawed" Joss...I think maybe they "floored" him. But that's just me! ;)

Anyhow, this is my nominee for "the single best thing Joss has done", above even "Hush" and definitely (much as I love it) "Once More with Feelng"...if he ever makes a movie three quarters as good as "Objects", he'll be up in world class territory.
OIS is about as high a note as anyone could hope to achieve for a finale. It's such a shame Firefly couldn't live on as a series. There has to be an alternate universe like in "The Wish" where the better existence is simply having a new episode of Firefly every week.

That means some bastard wished this on us. You think he/she still works at Fox?
Joss' finest episode of Firefly, certainly. But his best episode of television ever? I dunno if I agree on that point. Too many great episodes of Buffy from him to make that call so easily. If I owned Buffy DVDs, this would be a great excuse to watch back-to-back-to-back episodes of Joss writing. And I can never remember all the episodes of Angel that Joss wrote, but I'm pretty sure most of them don't outshine what he did on Buffy and Firefly.

I hate picking favorite sometimes. It's just like how I don't have an all-time, undoubtably superior pick for favorite TV series or movie of all time--I get something different out of so many of them. Often it's apples and oranges, so there's no point in comparing and competing them anyway.
I agree, definitely one of the strongest episodes of Firefly. I have only seen it maybe two or three times, because as I got nearer the end of the Firefly boxset, I was trying to make it last as long as possible, so I haven't seen it that much (kind of like Not Fade Away, which I will be watching for the first time tonight- my last episode of any of the 3 Joss shows :( ).

But I thought it was astounding even visually, the kind of episode you could watch with the sound off, maybe with just the music, and would understand it perfectly (although of course the actors do bring a lot with their voices). The scene where River is on the leaf strewn floor of the cargo bay, and picks up the branch, which turns out to be a gun, is truly one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen, which is a real insight into River's psyche and I think in retrospect really sets up Serenity.

This episode just makes me feel sad, the actual episode itself is quite haunting and poignant, but the fact that it is the last episode is very sad, because it has so much potential (although I understand it wasn't the last episode actually shot?)
people don't forget "Restless" that was awesome!!!!!!!! I'm a bigger Restless fan than Hush. Hush is awesome, but Restless is twisted and creepy and poetic and revealing and cheesy, lol.
Kris, Joss's work on Angel were just as good as Buffy or Firefly, if in a different way.

I think Buffy and Firefly are 100% character-driven while Angel was more story-driven, which is why the impact is so much harder with the latter two shows.

"Waiting in the Wings" is especially brilliant. And "A Hole in the World" is the most bitterly sad piece Joss has ever done (The Body is the saddest, period).
Best. Episode. Ever! :)
This was my favorive episode. Their home was Serenity, yet only River could touch upon that and I believe that was the answer. As River walked through the ship, she sensed the true feelings of the the others, yet only the ship gave her the honest life within. Has anyone connected Serenity and River as being two broken souls trying to connect?
Personally, I'd have to give the tip of the hat to Minear and Out of Gas for best Firefly episode, and to OMWF, Restless, um, and a few others, for my favorite Joss-penned and directed episode. But it may be the episode where he most successfully translated his thoughts and ideas onto the screen. Just not the most compelling/intriguing subject matter for me.

OTOH, I think it's by far his best commentary.
I do love this ep. So powerful and beautiful. Imagine how good season 2 would have been.
Finally, my favorite Firefly episode! River's powers up to this point were so mysterious that when I watched this episode the first time, I actually thought it was possible that River had indeed become the ship. I was totally floored. That is great storytelling, right there.

I love this episode for that, and for the beautiful imagery. You get into River's head and see her point of view. I especially love what she hears Mal and Inara saying to each other in the beginning, and of course, the cargo bay floor covered in leaves and her picking up the stick. That's my favorite River scene from the series. I even have a button with that picture on it.
My favorite hour of television. I can watch this episode over and over again. Richard Brooks was absolutely perfect for the role. He is Jubel Early. Joss can really write some of the greatest villains. Early was definitely near the top of that list.

The dialouge was also top notch. I still crack up every time I hear the following conversation:

SIMON: "Are you Alliance?"

EARLY: "Am I a lion?"

SIMON: "What?"

EARLY: "I don't think of myself as a lion. You may as well, though. I have a mighty roar."

SIMON: "I said "Alliance".

EARLY: "Oh. I thought --"

SIMON: "No, I was..."

EARLY: "That's weird."

There's just so many great moments in this episode.
LOL - Just pictured Joss re-enacting the scene where River stands on the railings! I wonder if he looked as graceful?!

Anyway, this is my favorite Joss Whedon episode of all time - I loved every second of this episode and every performance was wonderful. Maybe knowing it was the last one of Firefly I'd ever see made it mean that much more to me but I don't think that was the only reason why. And yes, my favorite moment is Mal and River smiling at each other on the top of Serenity. That shared moment between the two of them was one of the sweetest moments in the whole series that clearly let you know that they were two people who really cared about each other and really understood each other. To me, I felt that was the moment that Mal became like a father figure to River and she was the playful daughter who just did something so mischievous that her father could only grin at her in admiration. I always felt that Mal was fascinated by River inspite of himself and I loved how this went on to play out in the movie. This episode and Out of Gas were two of the finest hours on tv I had ever seen. And I truly love every episode of both BtVS and Angel but for two great episodes like this so early in the history of a series blew me away. There was just something so magical about Firefly that made you fall so hard in love with the show that it was so devastating to know it wasn't going to come back.

Other favorite moments: River laughing and Jubal Early looking freaked out and saying, "Now that was unsettling.", River feeling the emotions that Wash and Zoe were experiencing, River bending over to pick up the "stick" and then zooming into reality as she is standing there holding a gun and everyone screaming at her, the balancing on railing as she "hears" everyone's thoughts and Early's comment that "that ain't no Shepard". And the music was just fantastic from this whole episode - really built up all the suspence.
Due to the episode being mysterious deleted from the Tivo, I actually saw this after Serenity aired. (We borrowed someone's tape). And I totally loved it. For a long time I've thought OiS is my favorite episode.

Now it's really a toss up between this one and OoG. Both are some of the finest hours of television ever.
I waffle back and forth on whether OiS or OoG is my favorite Firefly episode. For today, OiS is. And I hate that this is the last episode. (I'm assuming SciFi is not going to repeat the run.) No more Joss on TV -- again. Sad now.
One of the things about this episode that really stands out for me, is that this is the first time Mal actually talks to River. Before this, we've seen him talking about her, around her, and earlier in the episode, at her - "no touching guns". But on the top of Serenity, for the first time, he really talks :to her:

That and "We live on a spaceship dear".

Oh, and OK - shirtless Sean, because he's sooo pretty.
It's really disappointing that this was the end... they had finally bonded as a family, River has become a part of the crew, I really sensed that had the series continued it would have really picked up from there (plus, the season arc would have begun... I really am curious how Joss would have played out the rest of season 1.)

Why is it John Doe and Fastlane, which were both cancelled that year, got to have an entire season at least?
2nd best after OoG for me. Some truly great character interaction and the Mal/River spacesuits shot is just beautiful. The ep also contains one of the worst lines in all of Firefly IMO - the arsonist midget line - which I seem to remember Joss saying he loves in the commentary! Weird.

Why is it John Doe and Fastlane, which were both cancelled that year, got to have an entire season at least?

They were cheaper to produce maybe?
I hear Fastlane was like filming a movie every week. I did like it(guilty pleasure, I swear!), but can you imagine how much money they spent on cars alone? Too much for Fox obv. Still, it was fun to watch.
(May contain SERENITY movie spoilers)

I just love Buffy, Angel and Firefly all so much, like Joss said, he loves them all differently but not any more than the others. The thing about Angel is that Joss wrote so few episodes compared to Buffy or Firefly (based on its first season versus the first half of Angel's first season).

When Buffy started, Joss was pretty much focused just on that so he wrote or contributed heavily to a lot of the episodes, whereas with Angel I know he was constantly involved with it but he just didn't officially write as many episodes, whereas with Buffy he usually wrote the season openers and finales, and usually at least two or three episodes in between.

With Firefly he was definitely putting in a lot more than with Angel, perhaps maybe because it was a more difficult concept to pull off, and it wasn't branching out from an existing universe with existing characters, and Firefly being on FOX was more pressure than with The WB. But anyway, if you were to choose the best episodes from his shows where Joss is officially credited as a writer, then you simply have much less choice with Angel.
palehorse -- According to SciFi's schedule (and my TiVo), Serenity Pt. 1 is airing next Friday at 7, so it looks like they ARE repeating the series. Objects in Space is also my favorite (or second favorite, depending on the mood, with Out of Gas) Firefly episode and my all time favorite Joss commentary.
Ooo finally i get to write this! I've been talking about it forever, but never had any reason to post it here. I'm writing a novel, and seriously, watching episodes like this one makes me want to be a better writer. Even though Joss writes scripts, and it's a visual medium, to me he brings so much to it that totally inspires me in a literary way. He really inspires me as a writer.
Great great episode that casts a fantastic spell. That being said, I like Out of Gas and Ariel more. As to Joss w/d eps, this is definitely his best Firefly episode, but I would put Hush, The Body, Once More With Feeling, Restless, Becoming, and Innocence ahead of Objects overall. Maybe my ranking reflects the fact that Buffy is still my favorite of Joss' series by far, but whatever.
That's so funny you say that, Kate, cause when I last rewatched OiS I felt majorly inspired as a writer.
Thanks, JudyKay7!! I didn't know this (obviously). Happy now.
I quite liked Objects in Space. I thought the tone, cinematography and acting were all well-done. However, it's not my favorite ep of the series. I prefer OoG, Ariel, War Stories and Serenity. If I had to say which ep was the BEST though, it'd probably be a toss up between this and OoG.
"Objects in Space" is inarguably one of the best episodes of the series. It's probably my second favorite after "War Stories." The opening sequence is just so beautiful and perfect; I can't imagine anyone not loving this episode.
anotherfireflyfan- cool. My ex-roommate who is also a creative writing major, is working on a novel too- and we both site Joss as a big influence on us as writer's! He just as so much depth to his writing and characterization. I can't help but be inspired to be an even better writer.
Best. Commentary. Ever.
Kate- Joss really got me thinking about creating characters, really fully defining them in a way that they can play off each other and be people. I realized how Joss can make people sitting around a dinner table and talking be some of the most interesting scenes. Having well built characters will also make the writing flow much easier. I'm very slowly building a world, characters, etc for a story I plan to write sometime. And I truly feel greatly inspired and influenced by Joss Whedon - my work will be so much better as a result. :)
Taking Buffy out of the equation, because it for me was and remains... well, just IT.

OIS is the single most artistically complete, poetic, harsh yet lovely entry of episodic television that I've ever had the fortune to come across. By turns intelligent, cold...yet suffused with the gold light and warmth of Kaylee. Made all the more obvious later with her in danger... I just...

I almost don't really know how to talk about this. To form the words necessary to elucidate how brilliant... no second is wasted. No scene a filler. Everyone is just there.

Do you wonder if they knew? From the commentary, Joss reeeaalllly believed in this one. He knew every frame before they shot it. But what about the actors? Did they show up hungover one day, not really caring? Or did they perceive what we later would?

I read that during one of my absolute favorite moments of BtVS: Anya's "fruit punch" speech in The Body, that all she could think of at the time she gave that performance, was how badly she had to pee.


That scene devastated me! But that situation makes me wonder if actors realize how impactful their performances really are.

I watch Out of Gas, and think that THAT one is perfect. And then OIS comes on, and really. Can I convey to you how MUCH my heart aches that there is no more?

No TV shows make me talk like this. Make me feel this way. Only Joss's. And I feel somewhat silly, a grown woman, doing it sometimes. But I can't help it. I do feel 'safer' talking about it amongst you all. Friends, like-minded folk. But it really does trip me out how much that one person's creativity can evoke in me.

And I've never even MET the guy!

[ edited by Willowy on 2005-11-05 05:41 ]
The scene where Jubal asks Kaylee if she's ever been raped, is seriously chilling!
I mean literally in a it's hard to watch, shuddering kind of chilling.
God, such a beautiful episode. So...much...subtext... It's a pleasure sitting down to watch "Objects in Space" because you just know that you'll learn something that you didn't know the last time you watched it. The episode is all about explaining characters by their natures, and not by dialogue or actions...just movement, both internally and externally. Such a brilliant, brilliant work of art.

That I the only one who thinks "Serenity" is the best episode? But this is definitely the second best episode of Firefly.

As for all Joss eps? I prefer "The Body" and "Serenity" to "Objects in Space," but only those two (immediately after would come "Once More, With Feeling," "Not Fade Away," and "Restless").
I have a hard time watching this episode because it always means there are no more eps to look forward to. That still hurts.
First of all, I like OiS, let there be no question about that.

But I've never understood why people love it so much. Yes, it's all spelled out here, but I just can't relate. I've never been able to connect to this episode emotionally. I think part of it is that my favorite characters (Mal, Kaylee, Wash) are mostly sidelined and there's not a lot of crew interaction, while a lot of the episode follows Simon (not-so-much my favorite character, sorry).

My favorite episodes of Firefly are:
1. Out of Gas
2. Serenity
3. Our Mrs. Reynolds
As you can see, OiS is not my favorite Firefly ep nor my favorite Joss ep, not even my favorite Joss/Firefly ep. I rank it about 7 out of the 14 episodes.

Again, I do like it (there are only 2 Firefly episodes I might say I don't like). I would say my favorite moment is River's "I'll be your bounty, Jubal Early." Summer breaks my heart with that line.

And since we're talking favorite Joss episodes ever, I think I'd have to go with "The Body" (OMWF and "Becoming" are up there too).
Mrs. Joker and myself both think Jubal is the most chilling villian penned on any of the Whedon shows.

[ edited by The_Joker on 2005-11-05 08:28 ]
Yeah, nixygirl, I wince and almost have to turn my head when Jubal asks Kaylee the rape question. That chiller, coming as it does early in the ep, really helps harden the tone and makes Early's task that much scarier. Then at the end comes the little "father-daughter" exchange between Mal and River and it takes most of the chill out of the episode caused by rape threat.

TV doesn't get much better than this.

[ edited by Drifter on 2005-11-05 09:02 ]
It certainly does Drifter, mercifully. Plus, "Here I am" love that line!

[ edited by nixygirl on 2005-11-05 11:00 ]
Joss needs to get back to making TV shows. I can't take this waiting for years for another Joss story.
Willowy - thanks for expressing how I feel! You did it so much better than I could!
Nebula400 - right there with you. I remember when I could buy a whole new unwatched season of Jossy goodness on video...
As I said before, *sigh*.
Jubal Early, bad guy in Crow: City of Angels, goes on to a Joss episode. David Boreanaz goes the other direction. I wonder if there are as many Crow/Joss connections as there are with Kindred: The Embraced. There's at least eight crossovers with those.
Ocular, I loved that show. Wasn't aware of any crossovers, that's neat!

Didn't the lead actor die? I vaguely remember reading something about him passing away.
Willowy, truly great post attempting to explain the unexplainable. OIS devastates me too with its poetic beauty, its gripping turns, its razor sharpness, and its suckerpunch moments. Truly one of the all time great examples of what the medium is capable of. Also 'Didn't the lead actor die?' Crow or Kindred? Also, gonna take the opportunity here to re-recommend that anyone who liked the first Crow flick and anyone who hated the first Crow flick go out and find the collection of the original comics. It is brutal and beautiful and bleeding. Its a different animal from the film, but it is one of the great achievements of its own medium, IMO.
OT: (other than OIS is tied with OoG for my favourite "Firefly")Holy slow news day, huh? I need my Whedonesque fix!
zeitgeist and lfw, appreciate the accord, thanks! :)

And I was asking about the Kindred actor. I also vaguely remember that there was some unsavory slant to his death? I could be getting this all wrong...
Brandon Lee, the first Crow, died during filming from a gunshot that was supposed to have been harmless...but ended up being, not.
My favorite episode of the show, though I too would hesitate to label it Joss' best. Buffy remains the show that's lodged in my heart -- the most meaningful piece of art I've every come in contact with, but had Firefly continued, I truly think it could've taken its place. And one reason why is this episode: it's beautiful, surreal, full of beautifully expressed character moments, lines and feelings. It's haunting and gorgeous, but not empty of meaning. What's amazing about this episode is that it does it all: moves forward the relationships and character development perfectly, convey a deeper meaning and theme and the visual beauty enhances the thematic elements of the story. This episode does it all, baby.

I liked "Out of Gas" best when the show first aired, but that changed maybe the third time I saw "Objects in Space". I still get chills and see new things, new layers and meanings when I watch it. And I still almost tear up when River says the "I'll be your bounty, Jubal Early" line. How can I not adore a piece of entertainment that works for me on so many levels?

I hate to say it, but nothing approaches Joss-level perfection for me. I really like Veronica Mars, and find it really absorbing and cool, but it doesn't move me with beauty like Joss can. I love Arrested Development, but satire isn't precisely cuddly or ever beautiful, is it? Nothing happening on the big screen is cutting it for me either. Joss! Come back to TV! I will do (almost) anything to get you to make your home at HBO.
I love this episode to pieces, but not from the first viewing. A lot of it confused me and some things still do. It is so completely different from all the other episodes (ie the messages, the meanings, the way it was filmed). Also, Joss's commentary made me feel bad because I had trouble following his train of thought :) Again, I love this episode, but I can't grasp the idea that it is Joss' finest episodes.

On that notes, I'm going to watch OiS the first free minute I get today :)

[ edited by MySerenity on 2005-11-05 19:45 ]
For those hurrying to point out non-Firefly eps that they thought were better Joss, I think Simon was speaking only of Joss' Firefly eps.

ETA -- nm, my bad, I misread.
Out of the three shows, this is the best episode that Joss wrote and directed (and that's a tough call).

No, I'm not thinkin' so, zeitgeist.
Hate to disagree, zg, but Simon said in his intro: "Out of the three shows, this is the best episode that Joss wrote and directed".

Ooh, look, we're scrutinizing Simon's words now . . .

[ETA: And UnpluggedCrazy said it first]
LOL :) You should take joy in disagreeing. I somehow missed the follow up line in the MORE > text, my bad :) However, it is possibly my fave as well. I think its best we scrutinize Simon's words as he's a tricky little so-and-so ;) KIDDING...
Yes what everyone above said.
Willowy, nice words. Thank you. OiS is close to the top on my personal list of "best written/directed Joss episodes ever". The Body and OMWF only out shine it.
Last night I had written a bunch of words about OiS, my co-favorite episode along with OoG, but the internet ate it. There was all this stuff about layers and juxtupositions, and how Jubal and River were mirrors of one other -- how the crazy girl and the crazy guy were connected by their hunger to belong, and the abyss-wide differences in how they struggled (or didn't) to live lives making that belonging possible.

It all made some kind of sense and got close to explaining what I love about it, but I can't recreate the words now. I'll just say I won't ever forget watching it the first time, and how it made me gasp when River's foot snapped the twig, and my concentration on her complete union with the ship and everyone aboard it. Then her face, coming down into the frame from above, was so perfect. Something about seeing a purely poetic moment like that (also freighted with so much meaning) on broadcast TV just blew my mind. No pyrotechnics, no swelling music. Only silence, in which she's surrounded by fallen leaves like gold coins, like treasure, invisible to everyone else, before all hell breaks loose. Her aloneness among the people who couldn't understand her, yet for whom she felt such love and yearning to join, was heartbreaking.

The whole thing is a narrative visual poem from beginning to end. When I rewatch it, I get such a visceral sense of Joss's creative mentality -- what feels like his essence -- that it gives me chills. There's so much truth in it, so much sadness and hope and love for humanity, that even without considering its purely technical merits (also extraordinary) I can hardly remember experiencing a more perfectly realized, emotionally satifying and spiritually challenging hour of TV in my life. It raised the bar so high, I only wish we'd been given the chance to see Joss and his team stretch themselves (and the medium) to surpass it.
Wiseblood, I'm very sorry the internet ate your original words (as it has done to me on many occasions), but what you said today is brilliant. It's probably the best summation of what makes Objects in Space such ingenious television.

Thanks for writing it. It gave me a lot to chew on.
Wiseblood: woah, good critique.

I know it's too late now to save your genius essay on OiS, but in the future I have a tip that would have saved you. When I write long posts in a web form (which isn't very often because I usually don't have much to say that hasn't already been said) I use an external text editor like Notepad.exe to do my writing and I save periodically.
Wiseblood, Willowy and all others . . . outstanding commentary.

If this board had stickies, this thread would be a topper for its erudition.
Excellent comments, all. It's truly a privilege to hear your thoughts. Very enlightening.
Willowy - Mark Frankel died 25 September 1996 in a motorcycle accident in London. He will be remembered by the Vampire community for his excellent portrayal of Julian Luna in the cancelled FOX show Kindred: The Embraced.
A police accident investigator said there was no apparent reason for the accident. Mr. Frankel's widow, Caroline, 32, who was pregnant when he died, said her husband had always been fascinated by motorcycles and the one he had been riding was one of only six in the world. She said he was an extremely careful rider. An open verdict was recorded.

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