Firefly: Out of Gas
May 14, 2015 3:05 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

After Serenity suffers a catastrophe that leaves her crew with only hours of oxygen, flashbacks show how Mal and Zoe acquired Serenity and assembled their motley crew. (wiki)

"I was over the moon for “Out Of Gas,” which manages to reinvent the whole “how the gang got together” episode by weaving it into an ode to the ship itself, the gang’s unlikely, adopted home. Throughout the hour we get beautiful juxtapositions between various pasts and the present, such as the pan down from Mal and Zoe walking through the hatch when Zoe is being shown the ship for the first time, their voices fading as Mal mentions he has the perfect name all picked out, to Mal in the present moment lying bleeding and alone on a grate. We see the basic plan of the episode all at once: While multiple flashbacks will take us through the origin story of our heroes, we’ll also discover what led to Mal’s and the ship’s present predicament."

"This means that the flashbacks have to be multilayered. We won’t just be going back to the more distant past when the crew was assembled, but also to the immediate past when something went terribly awry. And at the same time, we’ll be moving forward to find out what happens to the stricken captain and his ship. Ambitious, to say the least. Yet “Out Of Gas” soars through the complexities of its structure without ever forgetting to deliver evocative moments, humor, and deeply affecting emotion. It’s a grand slam." (Donna Bowman at avclub)

[Flashback to Mal trying to sell Zoe on the worthiness of his new ship.]
Zoe: You paid money for this, sir? On purpose?
Mal: Woah! Come on, seriously, Zoe. What d' you think?
Zoe: Honestly, sir, I think you got robbed
Mal: Robbed? What? What d' you mean?
Zoe: It's a piece of fay-yoo.
Mal: Fay-yoo? Ah... ah... OK, she won't be winning any beauty contests anytime soon, but she is solid. Ship like this, be with you till the day you die.
Zoe: Because it's a death trap.
Mal: That's not- You are very much lacking in imagination!
Zoe: I imagine that's so, sir.
. . .
Mal: Try to see past what she is, and on to what she can be.
Zoe: What's that, sir?
Mal: Freedom, is what.
Zoe: [pointing] I meant, what's that?
Mal: Oh. Yeah, just step around that. I think somethin' must've been livin' in here.
. . .
Mal: Tell you, Zoe, we get a mechanic, get her up and runnin' again, hire a good pilot, maybe a cook. Live like real people. Small crew, them as feel the need to be free, take jobs as they come. Ain't never have to be under the heel of nobody ever again. No matter how long the arm of the Alliance might get, we'll just get ourselves a little further.
Zoe: Get her running again?
Mal: Yeah.
Zoe: So not running now?
Mal: Not so much. (wikiquote)

• In this episode, the ship is crippled by the failure of the catalyzer on the port compression coil. Kaylee mentioned that this part needed fixing twice before: in "Serenity", when she asked Mal to buy a new compression coil for the engine, and in "The Train Job", when she complained that "somebody won't replace that crappy compression coil". In the former case, Kaylee warned that it would leave them dead in space if it failed.

• River's ability to sense the approaching fireball before anyone else alludes to her psychic abilities, most notably seen in "Objects in Space". As frequently happens, her utterance has two interpretations; Simon assumes her "fire" is a reminder to blow out his birthday candles.

• At the end of the episode, Jayne questions the genuineness of the incense in Inara's shuttle. In the feature film Serenity, Inara tricks The Operative with a Flashbang disguised as incense.

• According to the DVD commentary, Alan Tudyk took the big red "recall" button from the Serenity set and presented it to Joss Whedon, telling him that if Whedon managed to get the series renewed, he could press it to call the cast back.

• Also according to the commentary, Gina Torres (Zoë) was written out of the bulk of the episode because the filming took place just after her marriage to Laurence Fishburne and they were away on their honeymoon. (firefly wikia)

Out of Gas on youtube
posted by valkane (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Really great episode, loved the multi-layered flashbacks and the topper was the reveal at the end that the salesman had been talking about a different ship entirely.

The only inconsistency is Kaylee. In the past they've made a big deal about her not being the pretty one or always covered in engine grease (the ballroom episode in particular where it's a big deal that Mal got her ballgown). However, in a flashback she's wearing bright lipstick and a very pretty dress. She looks great. Small inconsistency.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 3:51 AM on May 14, 2015

I really like Kaylee's flashback, because TV tends to depict female characters as Virgins or Sluts. I like that Kaylee is having a great ol' time under that engine and it remains entirely consistent with her being wholesome, sweet, and "completely genuine in that sweetness".
Also, pretty dress it may be, but it's a very simple dress. And the lipstick is presumably because she was all dressed up in her very very finest clothes to seduce Bester.

Also also, it's a lovely pull-back and reveal on the "Genius Mechanic" line.

I like how Kaylee is completely distraught over Serenity being dead in the water.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

This is by far my favorite episode.
posted by stoneegg21 at 6:00 PM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

So many things here to love! Getting to see "how the gang got together." Adorable Kaylee. Wash's mustache! Mal's determination to go down with his ship. The Miracle button. (After which this song was named.) That final shot of Mal seeing Serenity for the first time. (Makes me choke up a little every time.) Without a doubt, my favorite episode of my favorite show!
posted by platinum at 8:55 PM on May 14, 2015

It's my favorite episode, too.
posted by valkane at 9:44 PM on May 14, 2015

Amazing how Whedon made Serenity into more of a fully-realized character in 12 episodes than any Trek series ever did with Enterprise.

I like how they found out Simon's birthday from his arrest warrant.
posted by dry white toast at 12:45 AM on May 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Way back when Firefly was first on the air, some friends were raving about it. My wife and I decided to watch, and this was the episode. Unfortunately, since we hadn't seen any of the previous episodes, we had no idea what was going on, and combined with the unusual space-western speaking style, we didn't enjoy it.

A couple of years later, when Serenity was in theaters, Comcast had the entire series On Demand. We started from the beginning and fell in love.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:09 AM on May 15, 2015

I'm a sucker for a good origin story, in general. (In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, I'm looking at you.) This episode absolutely one of my favorites.
posted by ApathyGirl at 7:54 PM on May 15, 2015

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