Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day One Hundred and Sixty-three - Firefly: Episode 13, Heart of Gold, "Poor, poor Inara."

There is a reason that Firefly has become the go-to series for the internet and its geeks (of which I am one).

For one thing, it has tremendously simple, yet deviously charismatic and witty dialogue. For another? It's just so damn fun.

I had personally given up on the Space Western in the 80's when Ice Pirates and Battle Beyond the Stars hit, the (only) Star Wars Trilogy having been wrapped up rather neatly and Scifi as a genre banking more on grand, sweeping visions of the future where the trials and tribulations of man are all alien based instead of centered on more human stories.

When I heard Joss Whedon, creator of my favorite camp horror show of the late 90's/early millenium, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was making a new series on FOX, I was on board... and avidly supported the show as best I could, watching it (out of order and with episodes missing) and posting to the forums as often as I could.

The inevitable happened and, like most of my favorite shows, it was cancelled.

But... you're on the internet. Odds are you know this story. Odds are, you're probably a Firefly fan. Even if you're not, I'm still going to assume you are for the rest of this article because, unlike many of the other series I've watched for the blog, I'm going to skip ahead to the penultimate episode of the series.

Not the pilot. Not three or four in. No, I'm going for the gold... the Heart of Gold, as it were: episode 13... where Mal gets laid for the first time we've rightly seen and Inara? Well, poor Inara puts on a brave face, but it's a conundrum of her own design.

On the surface, Heart of Gold is your typical Western tale where the salt of the earth types hire gunman to protect their meager assets, but when you dig a bit deeper, the episode is more about Inara and Mal and the inevitable conclusion of their mating dance.

Having been hinted at passive-aggressively and with stolen, sleepy kisses in the past, Heart of Gold brings things to a head when Inara brokers Mal and the crew of the Serenity to help an old former Companion friend of hers. Seems an easy to hate villain wants to force his patrimony and misogyny on a Bunny Ranch that won't truck his control. In the process, Mal & Co. are hired as bodyguards and Inara all but thrusts Mal into the arms of her lusty friend. Not ever getting a kind word from Inara, Mal allows himself to be reluctantly seduced... and it all ends in tears for Inara.

I love this episode for that simple fact... it forces a confrontation of feelings for both characters, perhaps moreso for Inara, but you can't tell me that Mal isn't constantly reminded of just how much he desires and cares for his passenger, only to be rebuffed by her time and time again.

It's weird to me how much viewing pleasure I get from Inara's breakdown. I'm not happy that she's hurt (other than glad to see her admit, even in private, to her real feelings), it's just that there is such a surge of emotion inspired in me because of it. To see her so distraught when she is normally so prim and composed creates that extra emotional oomph that is a delight to see, no matter how sad I am because of it.

Aside from that juicy bit of drama, there are plenty of other cast interactions to please: Kaylee needles Simon about their own unresolved chemistry, River acts wise and naive in her delightfully quirky way, Jayne gets lucky (keeping him happy), Wash and Zoe argue over babymaking, and the Shepard... oh, his look when several girls relay how the last preacher to visit their whorehouse acted is just priceless.

The actual plot is weak and one-dimensional, which is disappointing when you consider the episode just before it (The Message) was very strong... but the dialogue and crew drama for the episode are just divine. It ranks very highly in my book, in spite of its weaknesses... but the whole series pretty much does that.

If you haven't watched Firefly yet, DO IT. Don't mince, don't dally or dither or some other d-word (like "delay," for instance). It's well worth it... and is one of my acid tests for "mah kind'o'people."

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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