Firefly: Jaynestown
May 7, 2015 2:51 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Returning to a moon where he ran into some serious trouble years ago, Jayne discovers that he's become a local folk legend. Mal decides to use this entertaining distraction to complete a job, but some unfinished business may derail his plans. (wiki)

"This week’s Firefly episode isn’t too coy about what it’s getting at. Book puts it into plain words, when he’s talking with River about the particulars of his faith and his Bible: “It’s not about making sense,” he says. “It’s about believing in something.” Dingdingding! Theme alert! “Jaynestown” is all about the power of symbols. And in keeping with that theme, the episode is thick-lined and plain. But you know what? It also has a little song. And that makes it A-OK, as far as I’m concerned."

"It’s not especially meaningful to say that “Jaynestown” is a Firefly fan favorite, because there are so few Fireflys, and they’re all pretty much good-to-great, so I’d say maybe two-thirds of the Firefly episodes are fan-favorites. But “Jaynestown” is especially beloved, for two reasons: The premise is hilarious, and the big musical number is catchy as hell."

"The idea behind “Jaynestown” is that years ago, our Jayne Cobb pulled a heist in a foul-smelling, largely impoverished community knows as the Canton Factory Settlement, and that while hightailing it off the planet, his craft faltered and needed to be lightened. First, Jayne tossed over his partner, Stitch Hessian, who’s been rotting in prison ever since. And then he tossed over the loot, which landed in a mud pit among Canton’s oppressed working class. So while Jayne returns to Canton expecting to be in hot water with the authorities (and maybe even Stitch), instead he finds that the locals have built a statue to the man they believe robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. They’ve even composed a beloved ballad about “the hero of Canton… the man they call Jayne.”" (Noel Murray at avclub)

[Jayne is in the infirmary, which is in total disarray, taping a gun to his midriff]
Simon: What... happened in here?
Jayne: Needed to find some tape.
Simon: So you had to tear my infirmary apart?
Jayne: [Looks around himself] Apparently.
Simon: My God. You're like a trained ape... without the training!

Mal: You wanna tell me how come there's a statue here, lookin' at me like I owe him something?
Jayne: Wishin' I could, cap'n.
Mal: No, seriously, Jayne, you want to tell me...?
Jayne: Look, Mal, I got no ruttin' idea. I was here a few years back, like I said. Pulled a second-story, stole a lot of scratch from the magistrate up on the hill. But things went way south. I had to hightail it. They don't... put you on a pedestal in town square for that.
Mal: Yeah, 'cept I'm looking at some fair compelling evidence says they do.
[Simon is just staring at the statue]
Simon: This must be what going mad feels like.

Wash: I think they captured him, though. Captured his essence.
Kaylee: He looks sorta angry, don't he?
Wash: That's kinda what I meant.

Wash: We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm a hero!

[River is hiding from Book, freaked out by his enormous unbundled mane of white hair.]
River: They say the snow on the roof is too heavy. They say the ceiling will cave in. His brains are in terrible danger.
Book: River? Please, why don't you come on out?
River: No! Can't. Too much hair.
Book: Is— is that it?
Zoe: Hell, yes, preacher. If I didn't have stuff to get done, I'd be in there with her.
. . .
Zoe: River, honey, he's putting the hair away now.
[Book starts to tie his hair back.]
River: Doesn't matter. It'll still be there. Waiting. (more at wikiquote)

• "Yesu, ta ma de... [Jesus, his mother...]" – Jayne's response to the ballad in honor of him.

• "Hero of Canton won't be drinking that xiongmao niao [panda urine]. He drinks the best whiskey in the house!" – The bartender becomes aware of Jayne's presence.

• "Gaoyang zhong de guyang! [Motherless goats of all motherless goats!]" – Wash, when he learns the ship is land-locked. (Firefly wiki)

Spoiler-free foreshadowing of episodes to come in the lyrics to “The Ballad Of Jayne Cobb,” which includes the line, “Jayne strapped on his hat.”

From the “Here’s where society is at in the early 2500s” department: The mudders drink a version of the protein-packed, intoxicating “liquid bread” that the aforementioned Egyptian slaves were fed. (avclub)

The lyrics to The Hero Of Canton-The Ballad of Jayne Cobb
posted by valkane (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This was the first episode I ever saw; I sought it out because I knew I was about to see Serenity in the theater. It took me awhile to make head or tail of the lingo :) and, in retrospect, there's something awfully...Saturday-morning-cartoon-ish about this plot. All the same, the cast and characterization won me over basically immediately.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:29 AM on May 7, 2015

I love the cheery salesman, "How do we make it so cheap? We use slave labor and pass the savings on to you!"
posted by Mogur at 5:58 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love the whole Book/River scene about his hair. As a wild-haired person, I can relate. It can be pretty frightening.
posted by blurker at 6:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

This was the first episode I ever saw [...] there's something awfully...Saturday-morning-cartoon-ish about this plot

But if you watch up to this point, and you know the characters, I found this episode to be hysterically, hysterically funny the first time around.
posted by zeek321 at 7:57 AM on May 7, 2015

BONUS BONUS: "Jaynestown" is one of Adam Baldwin's favorite Firefly episodes. And his favorite part of the show was the musical tribute to Jayne, "Hero of Canton". Here is Adam's enthusiastic tribute to the tribute, complete with his Jayne hat.

"The hero of Canton, the man they call meeeeeeee"
posted by filthy light thief at 7:57 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Our version, The True Story of the Hero of Canton, tells both sides of the story!
posted by platinum at 8:12 AM on May 7, 2015

"I tore these out of your symbol and they turned into paper."

That may be one of my favorite lines in any show, ever.

"Just keep walkin', preacher man."
posted by 2ht at 8:20 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Book: What are we up to, sweetheart?
River: Fixing your Bible.
Book: I, um... What?
[Pan over to River, who works on a book with pens, brushes, and loose pages.]
River: Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics... doesn't make sense.
Book: No, no. You—you can't...
River: So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there. Eleven. Important number. Prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times, but always comes out one. Noah's ark is a problem.
Book: Really?
River: We'll have to call it "early quantum state phenomenon". Only way to fit 5,000 species of mammals on the same boat.
. . .
Book: River, you don't... fix the Bible.

posted by nubs at 1:53 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Much as I'm not into Second Life, I did appreciate that they created a "Washtown" over there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

> in retrospect, there's something awfully...Saturday-morning-cartoon-ish about this plot.

With Ben Edlund (The Tick) writing this episode, that's no accident.
posted by m@f at 3:57 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

The moment when "The Hero of Canton" starts playing is just perfect. I love that they don't say very much. They just sit there and try to comprehend what's happening. Their faces make you laugh harder than any joke ever could.
posted by dry white toast at 9:52 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

And just from reading this thread I've got an earworm.
posted by tilde at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

> in retrospect, there's something awfully...Saturday-morning-cartoon-ish about this plot.

With Ben Edlund (The Tick) writing this episode, that's no accident.

I'm trying to remember if this or Ghostfacers (on Supernatural) was the episode where Ben Edlund pitched the episode by singing the episode's associated song.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:23 AM on May 8, 2015

Full quote:
Book: River, you don't... fix the Bible. It fixes you.
posted by zarq at 9:40 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Huh, good catch zarq. The source I was looking at ended the line where I quoted. Weird.
posted by nubs at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2015

Funny, the things we remember. I have no idea why that stood out in my mind, but it did. :)
posted by zarq at 1:12 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Actually the original quote is right zarq. You're thinking of, "you don't fix fixes you." Which book says thirty seconds later in the same scene.
posted by dry white toast at 9:19 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ah ha! Great catch.Thank you!
posted by zarq at 3:38 AM on May 9, 2015

I love this episode. Especially Wash's comment of "We gotta go to the crappy planet where I'm a hero!"

I picked up this fun shirt at DragonCon a few years ago. Done in a retro National Parks style. (Also a couple of items for my son, who was cookin' in his mama at the time.)
posted by Fleebnork at 7:14 AM on May 10, 2015

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