Firefly Rewatch — “Safe”

Simon and River at the stake

I’m rewatching Firefly along with I got a bit behind, mostly because the next episode “Safe,” is one that makes me uncomfortable. It’s probably my least favorite, if I have to pick a least favorite.

Whether it’s the religious fundamentalist themes or the kidnapping (and apparent abandonment) or Book getting shot, or whether it’s because the friends with whom I watched the show the first few times never watched it, I just don’t feel as much like it’s part of canon as the others.

But there’s very good stuff too, like more insight into the Tams, their family and history, as well as the interaction between them and the rest of the crew, especially Kaylee. The scene where River dances with the locals is as fun and beautiful as the scene with Simon and Kaylee in the store is painful.

And we get a whole new mystery regarding Shepard Book.

Simon and River (and Kaylee)

Simon and River as kids

We see just how close Simon and River have been, from the childhood flashbacks to his justified concerns over her letters to his willingness to die with her. Not sure what to make of the parents. On the one hand, it’s rather awful how much they dismiss River’s letters and Simon’s concerns. But on the other, if Simon’s under a lot of stress at work and the parents trust the government (or are scared not to trust them), then I see where they’re coming from. It could have been some other kind of coded game that Simon was misinterpreting.

I love the part where River dances. For all her craziness, for all her pain, despite everything that she’s been through, she’s still capable of experiencing pure joy. She’s broken, but she’s not destroyed. The scene is juxtaposed against a gunfight, just another part of this crazy life she wasn’t meant to lead, and it’s still beautiful.

One of the most painful points in the episode is the scene just before that with Simon, Kaylee, River and Inara in the store. It highlights the difference between the Tams and the rest of the crew. Simon sneers at something which Kaylee thought beautiful and “rich.” Sure, Inara’s been mocking things like a carved duck/swan, but in a humorous way, and not something Kaylee had been thinking of giving her (Simon didn’t know that part, fortunately, because then he’d actually be a prick).

He then compounds it by talking about how awful life is on the “ass end” of the galaxy and how much he hates it. Kaylee points out that he can’t think much of them that choose it.

One of the things I like so much about Kaylee is her willingness to find happiness anywhere. A pretty dress, a buffet table with real strawberries (or a Shepard with real strawberries), a little painted plate on a border planet—she’s thrilled. It hurts to see her get put down, whether by strangers at a fancy party or (worse) by the man she’s got a hopeless crush on.

The difference between them doesn’t quite get resolved in the series, but this was the first time I caught the sweet moment at the end of “Safe” where he held the chair for Kaylee at dinner.

The Mystery of Book

Shepard Book shot

We don’t learn much about Shepard Book in this episode except that whatever’s in his ident card means that he can get onto an Alliance ship, get patched up, and get released without any trouble.

Favorite Quotes

My favorite quote from the episode is River on cows:

They weren’t cows inside, they were waiting to be but they forgot. Now they see sky, and they remember what they are.

That expresses exactly why I don’t like feedlots and the like. I eat meat, but I prefer when it’s from animals which got a chance to be animals.

Funniest quote:

Zoe: Next time we smuggle stock, let’s make it something smaller.
Wash: Yeah, we should start dealing in those black-market beagles.


  1. Amy says:

    I vaguely remember that when this episode aired on television, it was out of order and suddenly Serenity had a shuttle full of cows, but you had no idea why.

    Though I watch the entire series over and over, this is one of the ones I watch the least. It’s just… hard. And now I want to watch some Firefly. :)
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Free Comic Giveaway! =-.

  2. Damaduende says:

    I am watching Firefly these days again, and yes, this is an episode that makes me feel awkward.
    I liked to watch River and Simon as kids – man, Zak Efron is everywhere this days – but the whole “burn the witch” thing really gets me down. Simon climbing the pyree to burn with River breaks my heart.

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