“Out of Gas”
Written by Tim Minear
Directed by David Solomon
While Serenity is on an extremely remote route to drop off its cargo, on Simon’s birthday, a crucial engine part blows, knocking out the life support and badly injuring Zoë. Before they completely run out of air, Mal has Wash boost the distress beacon, and then he sends everyone else off in the two shuttles. When he’s just about frozen and suffocated in the airless ship, another ship arrives. They caught the distress beacon. They bring over the engine part Mal needs, but then they try to kill Mal and take the ship. Mal, despite a gunshot wound to the gut, manages to wave them all off Serenity with his own gun. He fixes the ship, but collapses, unconscious, before he can reach the button to call the shuttles back. He wakes up in the infirmary, because the crew decided to come back even without a signal. The story is told very out of sequence, with flashbacks to how each member of the crew joined, and how Mal bought Serenity.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
It’s like Serenity is a part of Mal. He can’t leave it, and if it’s dying, he’ll die too. He could’ve hit the button to call the shuttles back, first thing after those jerks from the other ship left, because he got a whole new shipful of air while the doors were open, but instead, he fixed Serenity first. Also, this episode reminds me of “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been” in a way. Mal’s connection to Serenity is a lot like Angel’s connection to the Hyperion Hotel. They both see the potential, even though Serenity is a ship that can’t get off the ground and is infested with various rodents, and the Hyperion was the lair of a demon for five decades and has fallen into disrepair. I love that so much.
You don’t always see how much Zoë cares about the crew or the ship, but she came sprinting out of nowhere to shove Kaylee out of the way of that explosion. She keeps her emotions reigned in tight, but they are powerful.
What on earth was Wash thinking, to have that mustache? Maybe he shaved it off because he realized Zoë hated it. He’s not very good at thinking on his feet when Zoë is in danger. He’s completely focused on her and whether or not she’ll be okay, and it makes it so he can’t come up with clever solutions like the one Mal yells at him to do.
Kaylee is so defeated by not being able to make this life-saving repair to Serenity. But I love how proud she is of Mal for fixing it just like she showed him. And I’ve read some analysis of this episode where the writer was really annoyed that Kaylee just has “natural talent” as a mechanic, instead of getting trained or something, but I don’t get that. She probably spent her childhood tinkering with machinery and picked it up on her own, that’s all. She would’ve gotten really good at it without any real training, and as her interest developed, she would’ve started reading stuff about various engines.
Simon being particularly sad about the prospect of dying because it’s his birthday and they were all having a really nice time is so poignant. It’s little, stupid moments like that where these characters really feel real. You can tell he feels stupid for being extra bummed about his birthday, because it’s a really arbitrary thing, but he still feels it. *hugs him*
Jayne is hilarious. I love that he ended up on the crew because Mal offered him a fairer wage and, particularly, his very own bunk. As funny as it is, though, it definitely proves that he’s not on the crew out of loyalty nearly as much as he is for the benefits. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about putting him in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor.
One of my favorite things about Inara is how much she loves Serenity. We get another hint of the original “terminally ill” plotline, when Inara tells Simon she doesn’t want to die, at all. And for how cagey she is with Mal about why she wants to fly with a little smuggling ship instead of some luxury liner. She wanted a big adventure before she died. Except she’s not terminally ill, so all of those moments are kind of wasted now.
River sees the fire coming. It’s interesting how a lot of the stuff she sees coming, she doesn’t do anything about. She didn’t scream “FIRE!” and jump out of her chair, she just said it in a normal volume, with a kind of vacant expression.
I may not understand exactly why Book thinks staying on Serenity is the best thing for him to do, nor why the rest of the crew doesn’t seem to find that strange, but he certainly does get along with them well. And there’s this one moment, after Mal announces he’ll be staying on Serenity alone, most likely to die there, when Book looks at him with such an expression of admiration and respect. It was very striking.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.