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Late to the Party Recap: Firefly Episode 4 “Shindig”

Will Glen remember why he gave up on Firefly in the first place?

Firefly Cover

This week I watch Firefly episode four “Shindig” which is where my Netflix account says I left off the first time I tried to watch the show. Let’s see if I can remember why I stopped watching in the first place.

“Shindig” starts off with Mal and Jayne playing pool in a bar and a fight breaks out. This means that half of the episodes so far start with a bar fight. I’m sensing a trend!



Serenity approaches Persephone, and everyone seems pretty happy to be there, though Mal seems as slightly cautious as always. As the ship makes a rough approach to the planet, Inara is selecting her customers for the stay on Persephone and selects a man named Atherton Wing, who will be taking her to some major social event.

Mal seems jealous when he sees Atherton’s face on the screen. The whole tense will-they-won’t-they thing is really starting to set in with these two, but to keep harping on the won’t-they end of things, the two are pithy and mean to each other.

On the planet, everyone gets off a bus and begins talking about dresses and Inara’s lovely collection of them. This upsets Mal because he’s feeling feelings about Inara but won’t admit it. Everyone leaves Mal to be by his grumpy lonesome. Everyone, that is, except for Badger.

Badger. Seriously. Put a shirt on.

Badger. Seriously. Put a shirt on.

You’ll remember from the first episode that Badger is kind of a jerk who refused to help Mal and the Serenity crew, so Mal’s obviously a little suspicious when Badger begins talking about a job. Although he’s hard to understand, it sounds like Badger said the job is at the ball where Inara will be with Atherton. Suddenly, Mal is interested.

As people enter the ball they are announced and scanned for weapons, and are physically blocked from entry if they have one on their person.

Kaylee’s back on the ship poking around the engine. She’s still angry with Mal for being rude to her during the group discussion on dresses. Though it looks like all is forgiven, because Mal got her that dress she wanted so they can sneak into the ball with Badger’s tickets.

It’s poker night back on Serenity, or rather it’s some kind of weird card game with plums. They’re gambling with chores which is kind of adorable. River has her once-per-episode freakout over canned goods. Wait… where are Wash and Zoe?

Wash and Zoe


Back at the ball, some ladies are being mean to Kaylee and now I hate them. A nice old man comes over to defend her honor. Good job, old guy. You’re my favorite now.

Mal finds the guy in the sash they’re looking for, and as they’re discussing the job, Atherton and Inara show up. Atherton is weirdly possessive of Inara, and has offered her a permanent position as his personal companion. To mess with Atherton, and because he looooooves her, Mal asks Inara to dance.

Kaylee is holding court with a bunch of men while she talks about ships and engines. They all seem really impressed, and they’re much nicer than the women who were mean to her earlier.

Atherton has had enough, and he storms over to pull Inara away. It’s been a while since Mal’s punched anyone this episode, so he takes a swing at Atherton while they discuss ownership of Inara. It turns out the punch is more than a punch, and that Mal has inadvertently challenged Atherton to a duel — with swords. Mal’s really more of a guns and punching man.

The man in the sash agrees to be Mal’s second. He hasn’t agreed to let Mal do the job yet, but it seems promising as long as Mal doesn’t get killed by Atherton at the duel in the morning. There are more episodes of the show left, so I’m not that concerned for Mal’s safety at this point.

Jayne is back on Serenity when Badger shows up to tell them about Mal’s duel. The crew starts hashing a plan before realizing the true purpose of Badger’s visit. He’s there to stop them from interfering, and his men are holding Kaylee at gunpoint to make sure they don’t.

Inara sneaks off to Mal’s room to talk him out of the fight, and instead ends up giving him some last minute sword pointers.

The Serenity crew is playing cards and whispering about a plan to overpower Badger’s men. Jayne really wants someone to get naked when River wanders into the area with all the bad guys. She starts mimicking Badger’s accent, and then breaks his spirit before walking away.


Inara and Mal are dueling with swords and words while they discuss how Mal treats her, how Atherton treats her, and how Mal’s probably-but-not-really-probably going to get killed in the morning.

The morning of the duel comes and Mal is there to face off against Atherton and his stupid smug face. Atherton is toying around with Mal in the duel, and it’s not going particularly well. Atherton is about to kill Mal when Inara steps in and offers to accept the offer to stay with Atherton if he lets Mal live. Not giving Atherton time to think about it, Mal punches him, steals his sword, punches him again, and then refuses to kill him, but does poke him in the belly a few times.

Atherton threatens Inara by saying she’ll never work again, but it turns out the opposite is true. She blacklists him, and now he can never hire another companion. The guy with the sash is impressed by Mal’s moxy and all the punching, and agrees to let him take the job.

Back on Serenity, the crew has a plan they’re about to spring when Mal and Inara get back. Badger and the Badgerettes leave. Kaylee goes back to her room to stare lovingly at her dress, while Mal and Inara are nice to each other and bond over some wine.

Hey, so what’s the cargo they have to deliver for the man in the sash?



Knowing this is the episode I stopped on when I first tried to watch this series, and having made it through these first four episodes, I can say I’m not really sure why I stopped in the first place. It’s perfectly enjoyable, though I’ll admit it’s still not my favorite. Going into this episode I was hoping I would figure out why I gave up on Firefly in the first place, but I just don’t know.

(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.