• Thank you for visiting Buffy-Boards. You obviously have exceptional taste. We just want you to know that:
    1. You really should register so you can chat with us!
    2. Twelve thousand people can't be wrong.
    3. Buffy-Boards loves you.
    4. See 1 through 3.
    Come on, register already!

Firefly (Re)watch & Discuss: 1.04 Shindig

Athena

The original one-eyed chicklet
Staff member
Joined
Feb 2, 2016
Messages
6,479
Location
UK
Black Thorn
This week, we'll be watching the fourth episode of the first (and only!) season of Firefly - Shindig - written by Jane Espenson and directed by Vern Gillum. This (re)watch is open to new Firefly viewers and existing fans. Everyone is welcome to join in!

This episode 4 (re)watch takes place between 1st July 2017 - 7th July 2017. You can watch this episode at your leisure during that time and discuss the episode below.

Although Firefly has aired for some time, this and all future episode threads are a dedicated no spoiler zone! Please ensure any spoilers are spoiler tagged. :)

Shindig - S1E4
Synopsis​
Inara Serra is hired to accompany someone to a formal dance. Badger hires the crew to meet a contact at the same dance and set up a smuggling job. Mal hits Inara's conceited date for implying that her date owns her and inadvertently accepts a duel fought with swords. Because Inara's date is a skilled swordsman, Inara attempts to teach Mal to sword fight overnight. Despite expectation, Mal ultimately wins the duel. The contact, who personally disliked Inara's date, agrees to hire the crew to smuggle cattle to the Rim.​
 

thrasherpix

Scooby
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Messages
3,164
Age
37
This one had a lot of overlapping stories that was fun to watch, and it's an interesting comparison/contrast to the "low life" bar vs "high society" party, both of which are scenes of crime, violence, and talk of slaves.

Hints of River's past and current condition to be revealed later are in this episode as well, but subtle enough that it's easy to overlook as just part of the story.

This is one of the eps that get me curious about the larger society. Not just with slaves and the laws governing commerce (which leads to Mal's job at the end), but like how Badger, who obviously doesn't have a lot of pull with the powers that be, can still threaten people with what looks like machine guns in the hands of his thugs in broad daylight on a busy shopping street, something that appears the locals take no notice of (which implies it's a very dangerous area). I've lived in some violent and criminal places myself (one of which included kidnapping attempts in broad daylight as well as such ominous views like a bus stop with bullet holes in the glass around it) and I doubt criminals would get away with that even there (not on a busy street with shops open for business). I'm also curious about the social forces that make it considered low class to buy clothes from a store rather than have slaves make them, which strongly suggests these rich families don't own any fashion companies or clothing stores.
 

Athena

The original one-eyed chicklet
Staff member
Joined
Feb 2, 2016
Messages
6,479
Location
UK
Black Thorn
I'm a little bit torn about this episode. I love so much of it, everything Kaylee (except those bitca's putting her down!), Wash & Zoe's hook up, the resulting sword fight between Mal & Engelbert (can't remember the guy's name!), and yeah Engelbert was a real douchebag to Inara, but so is Mal! I get he wants to fight for her honour, it's admirable, I get that he likes her -a lot- but then he comments things to her about "Did you learn that at whore school" and I'm like WOAH! Mal is disrespecting her just as much as Engelbert is.

Engelbert definitely deserved his comeuppance though.

I'm really curious about the world of companions. They're obviously held in a very high regard socially, as Inara says that the fact Mal has a companion on board can help him out in certain social circles, but Engelbert seemed to have no respect for Inara, or any companion for that matter. Does that mean that in this world, some people just regard them as common whores? Like they pay for their sex and then cast them out? Engelbert was willing to keep Inara as his permanent companion, does she then get "promoted" to 'mistress', or 'wife'?
 

thrasherpix

Scooby
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Messages
3,164
Age
37
I'm really curious about the world of companions. They're obviously held in a very high regard socially, as Inara says that the fact Mal has a companion on board can help him out in certain social circles, but Engelbert seemed to have no respect for Inara, or any companion for that matter. Does that mean that in this world, some people just regard them as common whores? Like they pay for their sex and then cast them out? Engelbert was willing to keep Inara as his permanent companion, does she then get "promoted" to 'mistress', or 'wife'?
I've thought about that, too. I figured they're based on (but not identical to) geisha. I don't know much about them, and have come across a lot of contradictory info (as one is bound to do when a subject is poisoned in any way by politics, which must warp all facts to fit a political lens even at the expense of the truth, though to be fair Japan has gone through some extreme changes in its history even under the same regimes so that their own views toward geishas no doubt changed radically at times as well adding to the contradictions). But given how Firefly mixes Oriental and Occidental cultures in a strange way, I do think they're based on that.

And this (I know at least some of this is true and they give plenty of sources for the rest), on the role of prostitutes in the west, might be somewhat similar in how the new world orders came to be:


Of course humanity isn't a hive mind so not all would accept an exalted position for any type of prostitute, no matter how glamorized, but if say the "companions" focused on the Alliance (and they'd be valuable in influencing the people given their skills, and experts in manipulative psychology meant they could wrap the new rulers around their fingers while helping the Alliance become popular to enough people to become the rulers) then I can see how they influenced the correct people to get their profession idealized as the geisha, in a new form known as Companions. Of course, it still requires training, license, and probably the right connections and/or money, which is just another way to enforce class and power structures, making sure it remains in the tight grip of a select few. That's my guess anyway.
 

Ethan Reigns

Scooby
Joined
Oct 14, 2012
Messages
6,824
Location
Canada
Sineya
I am not so sure Joss Whedon would have had geisha girls in mind. Although not equivalent, the European courtesans were probably closer, although the formal training of a companion resembles a geisha a bit more. Geisha training was more ritualistic whereas courtesans were skilled at psychological manipulation and had enough knowledge of the cultural niceties to fit in with royal society. It is not that obvious that they had formal training other than finishing schools.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
Good points

Mylie

Scooby
Joined
Dec 1, 2016
Messages
2,098
Age
32
This was my favorite episode yet!

Kaylee was so adorable, I really love her. I felt for her when she got ridiculed at the ball and loved to see her talk mechanic with the guys there and have her moment.

I enjoyed the ball, the rest of the crew plotting to escape and rescue Mal was funny. I'm really intrigued about River too!

It was just very enjoyable all around and had lots of cute moments.
 

Meliza

Scooby
Joined
Jul 1, 2017
Messages
653
Age
29
Location
Canada
This might be the perfect way to begin my entry into Firefly, count me in.
 
I'm a little bit torn about this episode. I love so much of it, everything Kaylee (except those bitca's putting her down!), Wash & Zoe's hook up, the resulting sword fight between Mal & Engelbert (can't remember the guy's name!), and yeah Engelbert was a real douchebag to Inara, but so is Mal! I get he wants to fight for her honour, it's admirable, I get that he likes her -a lot- but then he comments things to her about "Did you learn that at whore school" and I'm like WOAH! Mal is disrespecting her just as much as Engelbert is.

Engelbert definitely deserved his comeuppance though.

I'm really curious about the world of companions. They're obviously held in a very high regard socially, as Inara says that the fact Mal has a companion on board can help him out in certain social circles, but Engelbert seemed to have no respect for Inara, or any companion for that matter. Does that mean that in this world, some people just regard them as common whores? Like they pay for their sex and then cast them out? Engelbert was willing to keep Inara as his permanent companion, does she then get "promoted" to 'mistress', or 'wife'[/SIZE]?
I've never seen a single episode yet and don't want to judge a book by its cover but if my opinion can hold any water at all, I want to say it doesn't make much sense to me how in this society geisha like escort sex workers can somehow hold some high esteemed and lots of influence (similar to aristocratic courtesan, old west settler) but come
in very harsh out in the open ridicule like that. Head canoning here, I suspect Whedon was going for the double standard/split hypocrisy of modern day but I think this was a oversight on his otherwise very astute perception of gender relations, this reads like someone didn't factor how gender would play into this cause it is just not possible for misogyny not to be behind the disrespect it looks like Inara comes in for and well it's possible, I think it's less likely the main character would be intended to be like that.
I have a feeling the Inara stuff won't "work" as well because the main male character/battle ship crew and maybe even wider society is not meant to be portraying a closed society or one with misogynistic elements but it doesn't ring true to me that they would be disrespecting Inara (Respected & Influential) even if only in some parts of the country) and not truly be attacking the other stuff (her influence, power, authority) and what explanation could be or will be, given for that, without gender dynamics coming?


This theory could be way off of course, I haven't watched yet
 
I'm thinking sex, sexuality and power are so closely intertwined (hence the very idea of "courtesans") and female sexuality is so under attack and fraught with control for purposes of controlling female power, it doesn't make sense how a female president (high status women in society) would be possible i,f whatever the equivalent of sex workers were, in that society, were highly scorned and relations between the sexes in general were more buttoned up then our own because whatever problems our society still has, can you imagine the hell fire that would rain down on a Captain down talking to a women like that? employee or not? prostitute or not? the misogyny is unmistakable.
 

thrasherpix

Scooby
Joined
Mar 13, 2016
Messages
3,164
Age
37
In the 'verse, there's a difference between a companion and a common streetwalker. Though interesting that there are no male companions shown that I recall, only female, while one whorehouse includes males as prostitutes, and does seem to be aimed to male customers which makes sense since females who hire sex workers typically want a lot more class and style, with much higher standards than men (generally speaking) who hire sex workers. (It's also interesting that companions can take on women as clients as well as men, but that would go along with wanting high quality.) Of course when you have several worlds then it makes sense there will be a wide range of views regarding companions, though companions are apparently protected under favorable laws (unlike common prostitutes) by the Alliance, and they've made it clear they expect their laws to be followed by all worlds, regardless of other worlds may not agree with Alliance values (though those who enforce such laws vary in their zeal and dedication).

I hope this is not spoiling...I don't think it is since I don't think it reveals anything about future episodes other than a difference will be shown later.

And going by this ep, hiring of common prostitutes isn't done on that particular world (because it's said the guy will have to depend on his personality for female companionship, which I guess means only companions can legally sell their services), which makes sense given their extremely elitist views, and no doubt high moral standards--I speak of "morals" in terms of sexual behavior (as opposed to ethical behavior) and in the seeming/hypocritical way, not the actual way (no matter how "moral" such a society is, you'll almost certainly find prostitutes), and I'm sure it happens, but they'd go to great lengths to hide it. That one woman was insulted when she was told a boy's wink could get her out of her dress, so so-called "sexual purity" for women is apparently valued on that world...doesn't mean it's valued on other worlds.
 
Last edited:

Athena

The original one-eyed chicklet
Staff member
Joined
Feb 2, 2016
Messages
6,479
Location
UK
Black Thorn
@Meliza You should definitely join in with the re-watch if you've never seen Firefly. It is a genuine treat. We watch an episode a week and we're only up to 4 so you have plenty of time to catch up. :)

Please don't judge the show by a single comment. Women are generally represented and treated very well by the show, but Inara I find especially interesting. The main issue of course, is that the show only lasted one season, so any further delving into the role of companions, or to Inara herself, we never saw on screen, so there's a lot of head canon out there.

Anyway, I'd love it if you could join us in the re-watch :)
 

Meliza

Scooby
Joined
Jul 1, 2017
Messages
653
Age
29
Location
Canada
Cool, I'm in! cursory glance didn't reveal what I was looking for, still learning how to navigate the board , is there a Buffy watch one can point me to? I'm always watching the show it seems like, when nothing else is on and usually even when there is ha
 

HowiMetdaSlayer

Occasionally, I am callous and strange 🐶
Joined
Dec 10, 2015
Messages
4,925
Location
midwest
This episode really highlights the complicated relationship between Mal & Inara. Miss Kaywinnet Lee Frye - that's Kaylee's real name! :confused: Was neat how, for a moment, she was kind of the 'belle of the ball'. Liked River's verbal take down of Badger. The whole Badger, Jayne & Mal exchange. Cap'n Tightpants - LoL! And then, of course, the precious cargo. :p
 

Blaze

Let it Burn
Joined
Sep 30, 2008
Messages
5,796
Age
28
Location
Canada
Black Thorn
This ep just reaffirms how much I love Kaylee!

Mal was kind of a dick here. First with Inara, then with Kaylee, and with Inara again. Don't get me wrong I would have wanted to punch that arse too, but it wasn't his place. And I hate how Mal looks down on Inara. And I disagree with him saying he doesn't look down on her, but only on her job. The two kind of go hand in hand. And some of the comments he makes are really unacceptable. I don't like how he is written as her love interest but he's so condescending to her. The show seems to try to pass it off as Mal being caring, but he comes off as controlling instead.

Overall this episode was pretty weak. Not my favourite, I feel like we didn't learn much, not even about companions. I wish they would have gone deeper into the subject.

I do get a bit of Dollhouse feeling with the companions though! I don't think it's a coincidence that some themes seem to overlap, but I think the whole morally grey thing was done better on Dollhouse.
Still really curious about River. Will be fun to hear her backstory!
 

Taake

Keeper of the Continuum Transfunctioner
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2010
Messages
16,918
Age
34
Location
Stockholm, Swe
Black Thorn
Playing catch-up as I've fallen behind, this has always been one of my favorite episodes but this time around I found it rather disappointing. It wasn't as fun as I remembered and I had like no patience for Mal this episode, I get that he's struggling with being interested in Inara and also really despising what she does, but he just comes across as an obnoxious brat in this episode and I kind of felt like she should just move on.

I love Kaylee though, I love her love for the hideous dress (I love when Mal steps in it about the dress in the first place) and just generally, yeah, love Kaylee.
 

Taake

Keeper of the Continuum Transfunctioner
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2010
Messages
16,918
Age
34
Location
Stockholm, Swe
Black Thorn
It's also problematic that Inara seems ashamed to be a companion when Atherton says that all the men I the room wants to go to bed with her. Kind of undermines the whole it's a reputable position and she's proud and strong thing.
 

Fuffy Baith

2017 (and 2016) Cutest BB member
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,118
Age
32
Location
CA
Sineya
I'm trying to get caught up on the rewatch. I found this episode to be really boring actually. I did love Kaylee and how excited she was about the dress and the party. Then talking to all the older men about engines, and the end scene in her room. She's adorable. I also liked the Lord guy that Mal is trying to get a job from. He was quite funny. But I hated Inara's date Atherton and the duel just seems like a forced conflict. It was an accident on Mal's part. Had he accepted the duel in order to prevent Inara from staying in Persephone with Atherton then I'd buy that more. Also, I did like the little post-coital scene with Wash and Zoe, and the scene where River talks in a British accent to Badger.
 

Mr Trick

Scooby
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Messages
14,308
Age
40
Location
London, UK
This episode really highlights the complicated relationship between Mal & Inara. Miss Kaywinnet Lee Frye - that's Kaylee's real name! :confused: Was neat how, for a moment, she was kind of the 'belle of the ball'. Liked River's verbal take down of Badger. The whole Badger, Jayne & Mal exchange. Cap'n Tightpants - LoL! And then, of course, the precious cargo. :p
Yeah loved that scene! BTW Mark Sheppard who plays Badger is a really fine character actor. I know him from the X-Files episode Fire (from S1). He seems to have a knack for playing slimy villains :D

I enjoy the screwball comedy of this one and the exchanges between Mal and Insara. Their relationship is really intriguing. I get the complaints about how he talks to her at times. I take it as that's part of his more traditional and immature side which is sort of part of the character. Much of it is a front too I think. There's some really smooth direction and storytelling in this one. The end with the cows is a great visual gag too:p
 
Top Bottom