Firefly Rewatch — “Shindig”

Kaylee and Mal entering the balroom in Shindig

I’m rewatching Firefly along with Tor.com. This week’s episode was “Shindig,” the one in which Kaylee gets to wear a pretty dress & Mal fights a duel.

Short “Shindig” Recap

If we’ve been watching the series in the order it should have been in (DVD), this brings us full circle. This episode takes place on Persephone, where we picked up the passengers. Unlike “Bushwacked” (the last episode) which took place entirely in space, this one happens on the ground.

The plot of the episode isn’t epic itself. It can be summed up this: Mal tries to get a smuggling job.

Before the crew arrives, we find out that Inara’s going to see one of her regulars (Atherton Wing) again while she’s on world. This guy’s even made her an offer to keep her there as his personal companion. The crew may be dropping something off, but what they’re really in the market for is work.

Enter Badger. In the first episode, he got pretty pissed off at them for stealing marked goods from the Alliance. But now he needs their help. There’s a great smuggling job he wants a cut of, only the man who needs goods smuggled is very respectable and won’t even talk to a guy like Badger. (Calls him “a psychotic low-life” later on.) Captain Reynolds, on the other hand, is a bit more respectable.

To meet this Sir Warrick and talk business, Mal will have to go to Persephone’s social event of the season, the titular “Shindig.” Mal takes Kaylee, who gets to wear a foofy pink dress (the strongest memory this left with me the first time I saw it). They don’t fit in well, but Kaylee ends up having a fun time talking to the men about engines. Mal runs into Inara and antagonizes Atherton, who insults Inara and gives Mal the chance to punch him.

On Persephone, this doesn’t mean it’s time to have an ordinary fight–oh no. Here it means a duel to the death. With swords. Long story short, Mal wins (though Atherton was distracted) and Sir Warrick decides that if he’ll fight like that for the cargo, then he’s worth working with. And they all live happily ever after. With cows.

Tor’s done a play-by-play recap.

What the Rich People Are Doing

Kaylee talking about engines in Shindig

We’ve met crime lords, we’ve met poor miners, we’ve met Star Destroyers Borg Cubes the Alliance and whatever kind of ship it is they’re flying. We know there are evil government people who experiment on brilliant psychics. We discovered to our horror that there’s a type of…thing…that rapes, eats, and skins people. We’ve learned a bit about life aboard an unconventional smuggling vessel.

But what we haven’t seen yet is what Mal calls Inara’s world, the world of the rich and powerful. So far the universe has felt kind of miserable, but we’re reminded (as we are again later in “Trash”) that things aren’t bad at all if you have enough money. They can be quite beautiful…even if the people are essentially the same kind of people as you’d meet anywhere.

And What’s Life Like for a Companion?

Inara and Atherton in Shindig

This episode gives us more insight into Inara’s life. We see her screen clients, including a very cute and shy one who starts babbling (and doesn’t get picked). There are a lot of guys who are interested in seeing her.

And what we’ve heard so far about registered companions is true, she’s not out-of-place at all at the ball. Instead of being announced as an escort or guest (Mal is Kaylee’s escort), she’s announced under her own name.

On the other hand, it’s not all sunshine and happiness. Atherton makes a few jabs at her profession even while he’s trying to convince her to stay with him. He calls her a whore (or would if Mal didn’t punch him as he was about to say it) and at the end tells her that he should have cut her up so no one would want her and that he’ll black-ball her.

We discover then that companions have even more power than we knew before. Not only do they get to choose their clients, they’re the ones who will get to ban clients from ever seeing companions again. It’s not exactly consolation for if he had hurt her, but we hope that the guild would have provided her with legal representation to take his every last cent.

What’s Serenity’s Crew Like When They’re Not Working?

Crew playing cards for chores in Shindig

Ok, they are working—sort-of—they’re trying to get a job. But we see Wash & Zoe in bed together, being happy and silly.

Wash: Don’t fall asleep now. Sleepiness is weakness of character, ask anyone.
Zoe: It is not!
Wash: You’re acting Captain. You know what happens, you fall asleep?
Zoe: Jayne slits my throat and takes over?
Wash: That’s right.
Zoe: And we can’t stop it?
Wash: I wash my hands of it. Hopeless case. I’ll read a nice poem at the funeral. Something with imagery.
Zoe: You could lock the door. Keep the power-hungry maniac at bay.
Wash: Don’t know. I’m starting to like this poetry thing. “Here lies my beloved Zoe, my autumn flower… somewhat less attractive now that she’s all corpsified and gross—” [Zoe hits him with a pillow]

Kaylee wants pretty dresses & Zoe slinky ones (and she threatens to hurt Jayne for offering to chip in). They’re more relaxed than we’ve seen them before, except in the short game at the very beginning of “Bushwacked.”

Jayne, Book, & Simon play cards for chores. It’s all light-hearted until River has a breakdown. Same ol’ same ol’.

Great Quotes in this Episode

Kaylee: “Yes sir, Cap’n Tight Pants”

There are a lot of good ones. Wikiquote has a lot, though not the Captain Tight Pants one. I love the idea of questioning a buffet table. Like Kaylee, I love food…not just fancy food, any delicious food.

All in all this is up there with as one of my favorites. It’s not as quickly-thrown-together as “The Train Job” and it’s not as creepy as “Bushwacked.” It’s a cross between a relaxed romp in port and the usual deadly straits our crew gets into.

Some excellent insights over at Tor too.

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