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original airdate: 11-1-02

Ask any interior decorator, “how can I make my home into party central?" Nine out of ten will agree you have got to get yourself an animated hovering chandelier. Then add a liberal selection of snooty rich people and an elaborate hors d’ouevre table and you’ll have the makings of the finest “invite-only” party this side of alliance outpost 37.

The world of Firefly hasn’t changed much since our last visit. The chemistry between Mal and Inara does seem to be real and developing nicely. At this early stage it is merely leading to unhandled sexual tension and frustration, which in due time gets redirected at the rest of the ship’s crew.

Kaylee, unfortunately, becomes a vent for Mal’s discontent as she admires a frilly evening gown in a store window. While the abuse is mean spirited and you feel bad for Kaylee, it does lead to one of the funnier lines in this episode. As she stares longingly at the dress in the window the captain states she would “look like a sheep prancing around on its hind legs."

This planet’s local head hoodlum is Badger, and he appears to have a history with Mal. They’ve had dealings before and Badger proved too disreputable for the deal to proceed. The hood is trying to enlist help from the Firefly crew for a local who needs to move some property off planet. For whatever reason moving this property this is illegal, so it’s the perfect gig for the Serenity crew.

While on this world Inara’s services are retained by a particularly wealthy local man that desires her company at the coming party. This is the only party to be at; anyone worth their salt will be there. Mal conveniently gets two invites to the same party to make contact with their prospective client.

Inara’s gentleman retainer turns out to be quite the unpleasant jerk. He manages to be rude and cruel to all those around him, including Inara. He even manages to get a dig in on the glorious Serenity calling her a piece of Gassa.

During the elaborate party he gets a little frisky with Inara and Mal, “defending her honor," punches him out. This constitutes a challenge, which Inara’s employer accepts. According to the planets local system laws, Malcolm and he are to fight with swords the next morning.

There are a few good scenes back on the ship with Badger and the rest of the crew. In an attempt to prevent them from interfering with the fight and ruining his chances at continued business on this planet, Badger has taken the crew hostage . During the hostage crisis River comes into the scene completely and utterly coherent.

It is both disturbing and amazing to see this new side to her. She manages to transparently blend with Badger’s cockney accent using an accent of her own. It would be nice to learn more about what’s going on with this girl. She continues to show brief glimpses that she, in fact, has some capabilities, but no further clues are given regarding how, why, or to what extent.

Overall this episode was interesting and fun with the usual blend of trickling main plot information and a muddled moral code. The relationship between Malcolm and Inara is interesting, but hopefully it won’t lead to Firefly being overwhelmed with angst and unrequited love.

Next week the crew comes into mortal danger. Can Mal save them from a death worse than fate? Tune in and find out.

Kevin Goodman

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