Production 8
Direction 8
Characterisation 9
Storyline 9
Acting 8
Fun/Sexy/Cool 7

A review of the Jaynestown episode of Firefly. Also a brief introduction to the writer, Ben Edlund

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Firefly: S01E04: Jaynestown

This was another parochial episode and was written by the critically acclaimed Ben Edlund. 

A Bit about Ben

This show was written by Ben Edlund who also co-wrote Titan AE, he is a well respected writer in film and television.  His fans however, recognize his genius as the creator of The Tick, a much loved parody of modern super-heros. From it’s modest beginnings as a comic book to the critically acclaimed animated series and even the (brief) live action shows, The Tick has become a cult TV classic and it’s fanbase grows ever larger.

Ben Edlund

Ben’s success is due primarily to his ability to add subtext and sophistication to his characters and of course, the way he makes us almost wet ourselves with his unique style of comedy.  He is an accomplished artist, but his literary talents are almost legendary.

Fansites of The Tick series have sprung up all over the world, not full of image scans and video captures, but quotes of dialogue from the series.  Classics such as, “On Justice and friendship there is no price, but there are established credit limits.” (The Tick versus Arthur’s Bank account) or “So foul gelatin, you would do battle with the nose of your birth?” – confronting a clone made from his nasal mucus in The Tick versus the Uncommon cold, or my wife’s personal favourite, “You know Arthur, when you spend two months riding around on a really big man, you start to learn a few things about yourself. You learn that it is a really great thing to stay on Earth and live in a place that has no arms or legs of its own. And most importantly, Arthur, you learn how to close your eyes and tell yourself that this just isn’t happening to me.

Such Tickisms are timeless. 

Millions of people all over the world have laughed until their belly hurt at Ben Edlunds work.  He is not only well respected but warmly regarded by his fans because frankly, Ben is one of the few people who make the English language fun to read and listen to. 

The show opened with a discussion involving Simon and Kaylee about cussin’.  Kaylee is of the opinion that Simon should swear more often and Simon, though slightly interested (in talking to Kaylee that is), makes it clear that he is not the sort of person that engages in base language except when appropriate.

Inara enters the room on her way to her shuttle.  She is about to fly off to see a client. “Have good sex.” Says Kaylee sincerely.

Meanwhile, Jayne has single-handedly dismantled the infirmary while looking for some tape so that he can better conceal a handgun.  Simon is distraught (but he doesn’t swear).  When Mal enters he orders Jayne to loose the gun – the planet they are visiting has a rule, no guns.

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Serenity lands at the Canton Mudworks.  The main industry of the area (and indeed the whole planetoid) is the production of a mud product used in the manufacture of clay and ceramics etc. Jayne was at the place a few years ago and is concerned that he will be remembered.

Boss man Simon

The objective of the mission is to locate a package or contraband that should be taken onto the ship and later, to a client waiting off-world.  Unfortunately, if they are found out, they will be in serious trouble.  Simon is asked to pretend he is a mud buyer and that the rest of the crew are his assistants.

As they head to the main worker township, they all notice a statue of Jayne. Apparently, his last trip to Canton was a lot more memorable than he had figured.JAynes statueJayne’s last visit involved the foiled theft of a local magistrates possessions.  He had to dump his ill-gotten gains in the centre of the local township and the inhabitants were mighty appreciative.

On the other side of the Township, Inara makes contact with her client.  The Magistrate is called Higgins.

Mr Higins

He’s a real slimy git and our hearts go out to Inara until we realised that she has been commissioned to make the Magistrates son into a man.  The outspoken Magistrate is under the misguided opinion that loosing ones virginity makes you into an adult. She arranges their ‘session’ to begin at 7.30pm.

On the ship, River is defacing Book’s … book.  She is trying to assimilate the bible into a book which actually makes sense.

Book argues that the book isn’t about making sense, it’s about faith.  “You don’t fix the book, it fixes you!

Jayne, the Hero of Canton

He robbed from the rich
And he gave to the poor
He stood up to The Man
And he gave him what for
Our love for him now
Ain’t hard to explain
The hero of Canton
The man they call Jayne.

Our Jayne saw the mudder’s backs breaking
he saw the mudders’ laments
and he saw the President taking
every dollar an’ leavin’ five cents
so he said, ‘can’t do this to my people’
‘can’t crush them under your heel’
Jayne strapped on his hat,
and in ten seconds flat,
(missed the last line because of dialogue)

Now hear is what separates heroes
From the common folk like you an’ I
The man they call Jayne,
he turned ’round his plane
And let that money hit sky
he dropped it onto our houses
he dropped it into our yards
he dropped it onto our neighbours
(missed the last line because of dialogue)

When Mal, Kaylee, Jayne, Wash and Simon get to the local bar, they hear a ballad dedicated to Jayne Cobb – Jayne the hero of Canton.

Jayne is noticed by a young boy who he ushers away quickly.  They are then met by a well-dressed gentleman who explains that the contraband is hidden across town and they will need to work out a plan for getting it to the ship without the company finding out.

As they leave the bar, a congregation of Jayne Cobb fans cheer.  The little boy has a big mouth I guess.   From then on, Jayne is not able to get a moments peace.  He is given the best whiskey in the house and edified by the poor folk of Canton until tears come to his eyes.

In Inara’s boudoir, Higgins introduces his son and Inara immediately asks Higgins senior to leave.  The old dude argues (he’s clearly keen to make sure that Inara gives him (or at least his son) the full treatment).  She finally manages to usher the dude out and is left alone with a fairly handsome young 25-year-old virgin.

You lucky bastard!Inara uses all her charms to make him relaxed (not the desired result surely!) and within a short time, she’s industriously bonking his brains out.

Back in the bar, Simon is mildly jealous about Jayne’s notoriety.  Kaylee listens intently and the two seem to be getting on famously.  As Simon confesses that Kaylee is pretty, Mal appears and asks them for some help to work out a plan.  Kaylee is insistent that she remain in the bar with Simon and Mal, understanding Kaylee’s infatuation, decides to leave them to get better acquainted.  Mal and Wash return to the ship.

There they find that Book has been frightening the young ladies with his hair.  Scary SpiceHe briefly took his bobble out so that he could wash and revealed a scary grey afro.  River was so frightened that she went to hide and wouldn’t come out until he put it away again (the hair).

Wash excitedly explains to Zoe that Jayne is a hero and the three of then hatch a plan to get the hidden contraband onto the ship in the morning.

Unfortunately, Magistrate Higgins has learned that Jayne Cobb has returned. Higgins and his foreman The Magistrate immediately releases a prisoner and tells him that Jayne Cobb is back. The prisoner was once Jayne’s partner and was ultimately double-crossed when the robbery failed.  Jayne left his partner (a geezer called Stitch) to the attentions of the Magistrate and he’d been rotting in a makeshift prison for years as a result.

Kaylee is on top!In the morning, Mal goes to recover Jayne, and finds Kaylee lying on top of Simon in the bar.  Simon immediately jumps up and denies to Mal that anything unwholesome happened and states that he would never touch KayleeKaylee is justifiably pissed off by such an insensitive statement.

When they all catch up with Jayne, they find him in good spirits – he’s still drunk.  Kaylee tells Simon to stay and have some breakfast.  She leaves and joins Mal and Wash in getting the stolen goods from their hiding place to the ship.  Jayne meanwhile goes into town to oversee the Jaynesday celebrations.

My peopleAs Jayne addresses the crowd in front of his statue, Stitch arrives clutching a terrified Simon.  Jayne is helpless as the ex-partner rants on about how Jayne stole a lot of money and only by accident did it end up in the hands of the townspeople.  He goes on to tell them how Jayne threw him out of a moving spaceship to save weight enabling him to eventually escape.

The townspeople don’t really seem bothered.  I think they still believe Jayne to be their hero.  Worse still, when Stitch takes a shot at Jayne with his shotgun, one of the townsfolk jumps up and takes the bullet for him!  Jayne lives but the unfortunate hero is killed.

'I'm a fraud!'Jayne immediately draws his knife and kills Stitch.  Distraught at what happened to one of his fans, Jayne tells the townspeople that he wasn’t a hero and that he actually tried to leave with the money.  It didn’t look like they would take any notice so Jayne topples the statue of himself.

The Serenity Crew all head back to the ship and they take off. Later, as the ship heads through space, Mal tries to explain to a sad Jayne, that the hero worship was something that the townsfolk needed and that he should accept that.  And there the show ended.

leaving....Welp!  Considering the edification of Ben Edlund at the beginning of this review, this was an uninspiring episode.  The direction was pretty good and the acting fair, but the story was predictable and the dialogue was poor. It was a tight episode with all the formulea bits in the correct places, but it was not innovative and definately mainstream.  This wasn’t Ben Edlund’s best work – in fact, as a big fan, I felt that he’d sold out!

Firefly is suffering at the moment.  At the time of writing the internet community is convinced that the series will be cut any day now.  The ratings are on a downward spiral and many people (except the most ardent diehards) think that the show is poor.  The Firefly sci fi saga should be much better considering the talented people involved in it.  I sincerely hope it improves soon. At the moment, I’m embarrassed to call it cult TV sci fi and to have dedicated so much time to preparing a Guide.

I’d have to rate this a hopeful 29,211 out of 10.  What did you think?

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Firefly reviews are © 2002 Tony Fawl.
Not for reproduction without the authors permission

Firefly names, characters graphical material and
everything else associated with the series are the property of
Mutant Enemy, Inc. and 20th Century Fox.

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