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Late to the Party Recap: Firefly Episode 9, “Ariel”

This wasn't the Little Mermaid crossover episode I was hoping for.

Firefly Cover

This episode starts with the usual summation of the story, but also a “Previously…” intro showing clips from past episodes. We see shots from “The Train Job” and a few others. The central theme of the flashbacks seems to be to reiterate that the Serenity crew are criminals and that River is real weird.

When we get into the episode proper, it seems like the crew has some downtime. Jayne is cleaning a gun. Inara and Kaylee are playing some game, and Simon and River are having gross food.

They’re going to the planet Ariel, which is an alliance planet. Mal doesn’t want anyone getting off the ship when they get there. The mission is simply to drop off Inara. She has to renew her Companion license which includes a physical exam.

It’s a pretty boring scene that’s just setting up some exposition for the episode and OH RIVER JUST SLASHED JAYNE WITH A KNIFE!

Jayne Stabbed

Obviously, Jayne’s not happy about it. He wants Mal to kick them off Serenity, but Mal isn’t having it. This, like every other decision Mal makes, seems like the wrong one.

As far as the job-of-the-week goes, it turns out that Simon is hiring the crew for a job, but I have to listen to the theme song again before finding out what it is.

Since I have a minute, I’d like to say, this song isn’t growing on me nearly as much as everyone told me it would going into these recaps. The show is enjoyable, and the characters — if not relatable — are at least interesting, except for Simon who is the worst. But the song does nothing for me. It’s over now, so we’re back to the episode.

Simon wants the crew to get him and River into the Ariel hospital’s diagnostic ward. In exchange he’ll tell them what drugs are worth stealing while they’re there. Wait. In “The Train Job” they stole a bunch of medicine and then felt super bad about it, and returned them — almost getting shot in the process. Why would they steal more medicine?

Kaylee calls Simon out on this, but no one else seems too worried. It’s an Alliance hospital, so they’re well stocked and funded. Mal even points out that they could sell the drugs to folks out on the more distant rim planets.

Simon lays out the specifics of the plan, and all the things they’ll need to pull it off. Everyone but Mal seems ready to get off the ship and out to Ariel. Kaylee and Wash are in charge of salvaging a vehicle. Jayne is off illegally buying uniforms and cover IDs, while Simon is teaching Zoe, Jayne, and Mal to talk like doctors so they can get into the hospital. Jayne’s having a tough time.

They’re still in the planning stages, but this already seems like the most elaborate plan. The capper to which is that Simon and River will have to appear dead for it to work.

Jayne loves this part.

Jayne likes it

River doesn’t love it, and it takes some convincing to get her on board.

The team is in the makeshift ambulance on the way to hospital. Jayne’s still rehearsing his line, so that’s probably not going to go smoothly.

In the morgue, Mal revives Simon and River and, like an idiot, leaves Jayne in charge of watching them when he and Zoe go off to steal some drugs. While they’re gone, Jayne CALLS THE POLICE TO TURN SIMON AND RIVER IN! I was expecting him to like, kill them, or at least draw dicks on them while they’re asleep, but this was unexpected.

So what’s the lesson here, kids? Don’t stab the maniac.

Simon, Jayne, and River are making their way to the diagnostic ward when a patient flatlines. Simon jumps in to save him, and yell at another doctor like a jerk, no doubt calling unwanted attention to the mission at hand.

Mal and Zoe run into some trouble of their own, but it’s nothing a little electrocuting can’t solve.


They load up the caskets with stolen drugs and turn around.

Simon is looking at his sister’s brain, and learns that the Alliance repeatedly cut into her brain, but doesn’t know why. River begins freaking out, and suddenly Jayne says they have to run. Maybe he had a change of heart and wants to get them back to Serenity before the cops show up?

Nope. He takes them to get arrested, and then he gets arrested too.

Mal and Zoe get back to the ambulance and realize the others still aren’t there. He suspects something’s up, and he’s right for once. Jayne, Simon, and River are being held by marshals. They’re not telling them anything, so Simon puts his big boy pants on and stands up to one of the guards, saying he’ll either have to tell him what’s happening or shoot him. Since whoever wants Simon and River wants them alive, the guard relents and tells them they’re waiting for transport.

That sounds like enough time for Mal to roll in and save everybody, but Jayne’s not a very patient guy and he makes his move on the guards. Simon also gets a little loose with the “Do no harm” thing and takes out one of the guards himself.

Those two creeps from an earlier episode show up, and when they learn that the marshalls spoke to River they pull out a weird a stick and use it to kill everyone. River senses them and runs off. Simon and Jayne follow her even though they have no idea where she’s going, and River is basically a crazy person.

River somehow leads them to Mal and Zoe and everyone gets back to Serenity more or less in one peace. Happy times for everyone, right?

NOPE. Mal cracks Jayne in the face with a wrench.


I guess he’s figured out what Jayne did. It seems Mal’s taking it a bit personally, considering he has Jayne outside the airlock during takeoff and all. Mal doesn’t kill Jayne, but probably should. He seals the airlock, but won’t open the door to let Jayne back into the rest of the ship. He’s essentially in timeout now.

At the end of the episode Simon gives River an injection. What is it? She asks if it’s time to sleep, and he tells her “No. It’s time to wake up.” What does that mean? Did he fix her? Is she going to stop being a weirdo?

This is the first episode of the show that ends in a way that makes me want to immediately watch the next episode to find out what’s going to happen, but I won’t. I’ll wait until next week, and in the meantime just watch a whole bunch of Chuck and pretend that Jayne and Casey are the same person.

(Images via Firefly)

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Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.