Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Firefly Rewatch 2012: "Bushwhacked"

I'm taking part in the nerd initiative to rewatch the brilliant-but-cancelled Firefly, one episode a week, in the order that they aired, to mark the show's ten-year anniversary. This week: "Bushwhacked." Original air date: September 27, 2002.

I've got to be perfectly honest and admit that I have zero memory of this episode. Which isn't so bad when you think about it, because there is so little of this show that eventually, enough rewatches will make you feel like you've seen it a million times. I'll enjoy watching things while they still seem new, because sometimes you get to the point where you wish you could see a certain episode for the first time all over again.

Here's an episode summary from DenOfGeek, which is about as concise as it can get: "The episode centres on the crew's discovery of a seemingly abandoned ship, after literally colliding with one of its occupants. What they discover (apart from the goods they're looking to 'salvage') is a massacre, presumably by the brutal and deadly Reavers. Before being brought in by the Alliance, they rescue the ship's only survivor, and the true extent of his psychological damage puts everyone in danger."
oh also, one of the husbands from Desperate Housewives is in it.
A bit of quick research didn't yield any information about what kind of budget this episode had, but it has pretty great production value. (Except for maybe the scenes in the Alliance ship, because somehow the Alliance always kind of looks like generic sci-fi. The Alliance ought to see to their girl.) I loved the camera work in this episode. The fact that a TV show that's ten years old can still look so impressive after ten years, after a deluge of cable networks put out expensive-looking shows and major networks tried to hard to imitate them, is pretty amazing.

This episode shows us two of the biggest evils in the 'Verse: First, there's the Alliance. In this episode, they seem an awful lot like the governments we know and hate: bureaucratic and intelligent, but also kind of a major annoyance. They're more of a thorn in your side than a knife in your back. Then, there are the Reavers. We don't even see the Reavers in this episode - we just see the results of their actions, and it's enough to scare us. Basically they leave hanging heaps of dead bodies in their trail, and only one survivor who is so mentally scarred by what he witnessed that all he can do is start to become like the monsters that killed everyone on his ship. He's not even actually a Reaver (at least, not yet?) and he's nowhere near human anymore. The violence in this episode is still pretty scary.

There aren't quite as many one-liners in this episode, but the writing is good enough that even though it's only the second episode, we get a good sense of who all these characters are. I guess having a character interview the ship's entire crew kind of makes this easy.
...or the writers can say an awful lot by not even writing any dialogue.
I liked that all of the characters seemed like they had a role in this episode, no matter how big or small. This episode is also really great for River, who in "The Train Job" (and, if memory serves, in the pilot as well) was more of a plot device than a person. Yes, she did cool martial arts stuff, and she said a lot of creepy things, but in "Bushwhacked" she actually seems a lot more human, and I found myself feeling more sympathy for her than I usually do. It's not that I don't like River, I just feel like her mental state can at times make it more difficult for the audience to understand her. (I do actually like River a lot, because there aren't a lot of other characters out there quite like her, except for maybe every other character that's been specifically written for Summer Glau in the last ten years.)

All in all, "Bushwhacked" isn't the episode that the series is best remembered for, but every good first season has an early episode that helps to expose what the show is all about, and that's what we have here. And no, I still do not have a favourite character. And yes, I still wish that in another life I could be brilliant enough to think up a show like this.

Look for Firefly Rewatch every weekend from now until I run out of episodes. If I'm on this continent, I will be watching Firefly. (I say this because I might be out of the continent for two weeks.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you're a spambot, I'm just going to stop you right now. Your message will be deleted, so don't even bother, okay? Okay.