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On TV Today's Date:

Our Mrs. Reynolds
original airdate: 10-04-02

The Old West used to be a simple place where men were men and women were women. Clearly not so in the New West. In a twisted rendition of Little House On The Prairie, the crew of the Serenity shows up hauling cargo through the swamp on a horse drawn boat.

The crew of the Serenity has taken on a mission of mercy, helping the local town folk out of the clutches of some unpleasant bandits. No one seems to have an adequate answer as to why this requires Mal to play Ma Ingalls. But it works.

Back in town after the bandits have been dealt with, we are treated to a wondrous spectacle of the whole crew having a great old time and getting smashing drunk. Jayne discovers the miraculous wonders of an aboriginal rain stick. He is drunk enough to be mesmerized. And Mal is treated to the kindly presence of a local maiden showing favor for him. If years of watching too much TV have taught us anything, it is this: when a woman comes up to you, places a wreath of flowers on your head and has you drink from a ceremonial bowl, you'd better be prepared for the consequences.

The next morning, the crew accepts supplies, with the townspeople doing as much as they can to say thank you for the help with the bandits. Everyone says quick goodbyes, and the crew of the firefly launches into the air, in a rush to get to their next mission. To Malcolm's surprise, they loaded one unexpected item onboard, a shy woman hiding behind a holding cage. You guessed it; that would be Malcolm's wife. As Kenny Rogers once sang, never, ever drink from the ceremonial bowl. It will sting you every time.

As the drama unfolds, each member of the crew takes a turn making fun of the captain for getting married, telling him to make the most of it. The crew/family dynamics are part of what is making this show great. The rest of the show deals with the effect this "marriage" has on those dynamics, and of course the usual plot twists are there to make this story interesting and suspenseful instead of just an hour-long sitcom.

The writing and character development continues to be impressive. Even Jayne is starting to round out as a character. The motivation for his actions in this episode aren't entirely clear, but they're slowly building in more to him than just a macho bullet head. These developed characters come to life in a way that stereotyped cardboard cutout characters never can.

Some interesting new details come out about our characters this week. First, we learn that Inara may have other reasons for staying on the ship than simple commerce. A few minor actions and one major action fuel the idea that she has feelings she may not even be willing to deal with. Jayne has a gun named 'Vera'. This knowledge may at some point become useful, but right now it's just a little scary. Very apt for Jayne, but scary.

The moral discussions that have been standards in the past episodes are still present. But this week they give the heavy-handed nature of past discussions a rest and deal with less global issues. As opposed to past episodes, "Our Mrs. Reynolds" feels less preachy and more human.

The priest also starts to round out as a character. In a few scenes, he still digs into Malcolm as a warning of future judgment. But we also get to see a different side of his character as he reveals a surprisingly detailed knowledge of crime and its technology. Where this comes from and how he came to learn this information remains a mystery.

Notable quotes from this episode:

  • "It's been a damn while since anyone but me took a hold of my plow". - Captain Mal
  • "That's why I never kiss them on the mouth" - Jayne

    This is a science fiction show. Some suspension of disbelief is expected. But it's always nice when a show can pass a reality test and maintain its science fiction standard. An interesting moment happens when Jayne goes to use a high powered rifle, the aforementioned "Vera," in outer space. He actually makes the point that his gun requires oxygen to shoot, leading to an elaborate solution to the problem, actually making the gun work in a more realistic way. Without overwhelming the show, we got a touch of realism.

    As we come to the end of the third episode, I have got to say that I am loving this show. The characters have started to become real people. The stories have also remained interesting and fun. What will happen next Friday? In space no one can hear you holding your breath.

    Kevin Goodman

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