Last week’s episode, “Ariel,” was the first time the show ended on a moment that made me want to watch the next episode immediately, but I was patient and waited until today. It’ll be an interesting look at the merits of delayed gratification versus binge watching. Is “War Stories” worth the wait?
The episode starts with another flashback. They cover the events of “Ariel,” which makes sense, but they also go back to “The Train Job,” and there’s more or less a supercut of people saying Niska’s name. I WONDER WHO IS GOING TO SHOW UP IN THIS EPISODE. The foreshadowing seems a bit obtuse, but in its defense, I may not have remembered who Niska was if he just walked into a scene and started being an evil weirdo.
Book starts the episode by being uncharacteristically weird himself and quoting warrior poet Chanyu about holding people over volcanos as a comparison for what the Alliance did to River. Simon isn’t impressed. Speaking of not being impressed, Book calls Simon out on his shift over to a life of crime from last episode.
Hey, look! It’s Niska.
So surprised to see him here! He’s overseeing some torture. There’s no volcano in the torture den, but the obvious comparison being made to Chanyu here isn’t going unnoticed. He even talks about getting to know the real man he’s torturing. When someone comes in to tell Niska that the Serenity has been spotted, he gets as happy as a psycho holding a knife can get. THEN HE MENTIONS CHANYU BY NAME AND UGH WE GET IT.
Then that song. Again.
Fun times on Serenity as Kaylee and River chase each other around over an apple, because they’re apparently five years old. Jayne bought everyone apples, which is definitely something everyone on Serenity needs to be a lot more suspicious of, because Jayne is a psychopath. Alright, he’s probably just trying to be extra nice to everyone after trying to turn Simon and River over to the cops in the last episode, but still. I wouldn’t trust a Jayne apple.
The title of the episode starts to make sense, as Kaylee asks Zoe about her apple-cutting habits. Zoe replies with a war story about grenades. Is this going to turn into a bottle episode? Speaking of bottles, Wash has apparently been keeping his feelings in one for a while now, and it just exploded all over Zoe. He’s feeling feelings about all the time Mal and Zoe spend together.
River is being treated by Simon after their hospital adventure, but there are side effects, and she’s still shouting crazy gibberish. It might be a while before she’s completely better.
Mal insisted on meeting Inara’s latest customer. He’s a decent enough looking guy, but — Oh, it’s a lady.
If anyone needs Jayne, he’ll be in his bunk.
Wash, Zoe, and Mal are working through some personal issues, and Wash insists on replacing his wife on the drop mission with Mal. Maybe he’s not upset that Zoe is spending so much with Mal, and he’s just upset that he doesn’t get to spend enough time with Mal?
Meanwhile, back in Inara’s shuttle… things are happening.
Mal is unsure about bringing Wash on a dangerous mission, but it seems like things are going pretty smoothly. What could go wrong? Oh. A bunch of guys jumping out of the sand with rifles goes wrong. It’s not long before Zoe realizes they’re late, so she grabs Jayne before he can go have some more special bunk time to find them. Book comes along, too, presumably to tell more people about how he loves Chanyu so much, because it’s all anyone in this episode can talk about.
Zoe, Jayne, and Book try to figure out what happened, but considering the complete lack of subtly in re-introducing Niska, I think we all know where Mal and Wash are.
They’re definitely on a ship, and Wash is definitely annoying when kidnapped. Whining aside, Wash suddenly also has a problem with Mal taking his wife on dangerous adventures. Despite being kidnapped, tied up, and blindfolded, Wash seizes this opportunity to start shouting about his feelings and stuff.
The crew of Serenity is pooling their cash to try to buy Wash and Mal back. Zoe’s going to go in unarmed and try to make the offer. Meanwhile, Mal and Wash are getting electrocuted and STILL TALKING ABOUT THEIR STUPID FEELINGS. Are they trying to annoy Niska into setting them free? You’re being electrocuted, gentlemen—FOCUS.
Zoe shows up with a big wad of cash to meet with Niska. I wonder if Niska is going to make her choose between them or not, and yup. That’s exactly what he does. Zoe doesn’t mess around. She takes Wash before Niska finishes asking, but Niska thinks she’s overpaid so he cuts off Mal’s ear to even things out.
Niska starts asking Mal about Chanyu and pulls out his special machine, which we’re assuming is similar to the giant water wheel torture device from The Princess Bride.
Wash and Zoe are gearing up for an assault on Niska to get Mal back. Everyone thinks they’re going on a suicide mission, especially if it’s just the two of them, so they all suit up for action, so they can commit suicide, too. Hopefully, they’ll get to Mal before Niska kills him.
Nope. Mal’s dead. This would be a bigger moment with a commercial break, but watching on Netflix, literally the next thing you see is Mal being alive again.
The Serenity crew starts their assault, and so does Mal, who uses the distraction to take out Niska’s henchman and paraphrase from Chanyu.
Kaylee retreats, but River takes her gun and is all of a sudden a great shot. I remember from the Serenity trailer that she beats up a bunch of people at once, so I’ve kind of been waiting to see her do something badass.
After everyone’s back safe on the ship, it seems like Kaylee’s a little afraid of River. Why, just because she’s an insane person who’s also wicked good at killing people? What’s scary about that?
Mal tries to call Wash on his earlier demand that he sleep with Zoe, and everyone has a good laugh, and then Jayne steals some soup.
Ah! The Netflix preview for the next episode just let me know that it has the return of Christina Hendricks. That’s certainly something to look forward to, because I’ll be honest: this episode isn’t exactly the highlight of the series so far.
(Image via Firefly)
- Last week’s episode “Ariel” was a lot more enjoyable
- “Out of Gas” gave me the explosion I was anxiously waiting for
- And I still can’t believe anyone loves Jayne as much as the people in “Jaynestown”