With a show like Firefly, choosing the five most memorable moments out of dozens is like deciding which of your fingers you love most. The short list was certainly over a dozen. Here we narrow down which scenes stick in our mind the most- the moments that throw you out of the journey you’d expected and into “this can’t be happening” territory. A note: Nathan Fillion’s surprise nudity is not on this list- although it was on the shortlist.
5. An entire creepy town devoted to Jayne Cobb
Nobody is more freaked out about the worship of Serenity’s least reputable crew member than Jayne Cobb himself. The dirty hovel of Canton worships him as a hero due to a botched robbery which they have interpreted as a Robin Hood-esque feat of valor. After he is sure nobody is out to kill him, he gladly excepts the moniker in exchange for free Mudder’s Milk and adoring ladies. However, when the mudding town throws a party in his honor and he has to give an impromptu speech he surprisingly connects with them- on purpose.
4. Zoe’s description of the Reavers
“They’re not stories. If they take our ship, they will rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we’re very, very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.” This darkness is so far removed from Wash’s introduction as a grown man playing make-believe with toy dinosaurs that Zoe’s tone is chilling. Later, in Bushwacked, we are awarded a closer look into these freaky cannibal nightmares, but until then, this is the first mention of them. The way Zoe describes their feral, animalistic nature makes the hair stand up on the back of our necks as we realize that there is more to fear than the Alliance in this universe.
3. Crow’s devotion
Episode: The Train Job
Those on their first Firefly viewing are still deciding what kind of man Malcolm Reynolds is during this episode. He and his misfit gang are comfortable enough for Kaylee to casually respond to Simon’s concern about their business with “oh, crime” as if she’s describing the main ingredient in her breakfast smoothie. In any case, the caper is all fun and games until they witness children wasting away from Bowden’s Malady. Our Big Damn Heroes ultimately decide to return the stolen cargo to the townsfolk much to the chagrin of Niska’s loyal henchman, Crow. Crow threatens to follow Mal to the ends of the Verse and vows that his last sight will be Crow’s blade. Mal kicks him into Serenity’s whizzing engine without a beat. Breakfast smoothie anyone?
2. Waiting for Mal to die alone.
Episode: Out of Gas
The episode starts with a lifeless Serenity floating empty in the void. We see Mal oozing from a stomach wound and we wonder how the gang is going to get out of this one. As the episode progresses our doubts turn to real fear as it’s looking like the end for our lovable Captain and Serenity. Part of us knows it can’t be the end- there is one more disc in the box set plus the movie! He can’t die! Right? Why didn’t he replace that catalyzer in the pilot!? While ordering his crew off the ship into the shuttles, Inara insists he does not have to die alone, he can escape with them. He stoically responds, “Everybody dies alone.”
1. The first appearance of River Tam.
If you didn’t see Firefly until after it’s original airing, this was likely the first episode you saw. I went in without a lot of knowledge of the plot- only knowing that it was Joss Whedon and space cowboys. It didn’t surprise me that the characters were charismatic and instantly loveable, as this is one of Whedon’s trademarks. However, it made the trauma of the pilot episode that much more engaging- a main character is shot, the preppy doctor holds a life hostage to flee from the law- what kind of world is this? Then, at the climax of all these events, Mal charges into the cargo bay and unceremoniously cracks open our fugitive’s crate to find: a human body. When I reminisce about my first viewing, this remains to be the moment that sticks in my mind- the moment I fell in love with Firefly.