'Firefly': "Our Mrs. Reynolds"

I wish that I liked this episode more because without "Our Mrs. Reynolds" there couldn't be "Trash," which is one of my favorite episodes of the series. And while this episode is definitely one of the better ones, I just can't get behind the conceit of the plot. I struggle to believe that goons who run a chop shop would go through the trouble of hiring a thief to go undercover in a colony, wait for a passing spaceship to come through, and arrange to marry someone on said ship just to get on board. It's too convoluted. Why not go to a port like Persephone and pay for passage on a ship like Simon and Book did? They wouldn't even have to stow away because the ships invite people to come aboard. Seems much easier. I would like this episode 35% more if Joss had not implied that Saffron was working for the seedy guys. Instead she could have sent Serenity toward them because she happened to know about the chop shop, which could have been accomplished by the deletion of two lines. In fact, you don't even need to have any scenes with the chop shop guys because Book explains what the sparkly Ring O' Death is, and removing their scenes would avoid this really stupid exchange:

"It's a wreck."
"No, no. This is good."
"It's parts. A lot of cheap parts we'll never unload."
"This is why you'll never be in charge, Breed. You don't see the whole. The parts are crap –"
"I said exactly that –"
"– but you put 'em together, you got a firefly."

...Yes. The parts of a firefly do make a firefly. But it's already assembled, see? You shouldn't take apart the ship and put it back together again. That's just creating a lot of extra work for yourself.

I'm also bothered by this episode because Mal is charged with giving lectures about feminism to Saffron and Jayne. Mal who regularly degrades Inara by calling her a "whore," who doesn't respect the boundaries Inara sets regarding her personal space, and whose female crew members, and just the female members, call him "sir" deferentially. I also dislike that one of his feminist tirades goes from, "She's not to be bought. Nor bartered, nor borrowed or lent," which is fine although overly didactic, to, "She's a human woman, doesn't know a damn thing about the world and needs our protection." I know it's not Joss' intention, but it reads like because Saffron is a woman she is clueless and defenseless. I'm not saying that Mal is an out-and-out chauvinist, but as I have previously noted he enforces patriarchy, so schooling Saffron on feminist thought should not be left to him. The situation also reads like women can only achieve empowerment through men or by men's permission.

The argument between Wash and Zoe is stupid. I hate that Zoe, one of the most level-headed people on the ship, suddenly becomes jealous about something petty, and that her jealousy is assuaged when Wash doesn't kiss Saffron like Mal does. ...Because faithfulness is something to be rewarded rather than expected from our partners.

Also, shut it, Book. Where's Simon and River?

Because Joss Whedon wrote this episode, some of the dialogue may be snappy, but the plotline is pretty weak. The rising action doesn't happen until 20 minutes into the episode when the chop shop is revealed (Jayne "threatening" Mal doesn't count because who actually bought that misdirection?), and the main piece of the plot doesn't start until 25 minutes in when Saffron drugs Mal. Then the end feels completely rushed when it cuts from Kaylee fixing the ship's navigation controls to finding Saffron on some planet where it's winter.

Finally, stuff I do like. I like Christina Hendricks, though I don't think she gets to be as awesome here as she does in "Trash." That welding strip she uses to seal the doors to the bridge is also neat. It's nice to see Zoe get to display more colors of emotion, and Gina Torres shows that she can do line deliveries besides deadpan. Morena Baccarin cracks me up with her "You stupid son-of-a" fall and trying (poorly) to deflect suspicion that she kissed Mal. I wish she had had more opportunities to be this silly-funny instead of her usual dry-funny because she is very entertaining.

"I'm fine. I don't need to be examined. I'm comfy."