Season 1 Episode 2


Aired Friday 8:00 PM Sep 27, 2002 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
901 votes

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Episode Summary

On a salvage mission aboard a drifting colony ship, the Serenity crew find signs that the crew were killed by the cannibalistic Reavers. They find one survivor, but things take a turn for the worse when an Alliance ship looking for an unspecified Firefly-class ship with brother-and-sister stowaways shows up and takes them in.moreless

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  • Bushwhacked


    The good;

    Clever of Mal when he's asked about the brother and sister he replies 'There are no children on this boat', exactly what you'd immediately think if someone referred to siblings. Good interrogation scenes, especially Jayne's and some tense stuff with the bomb defusal, very Juggernaut. Love River's delighted reaction to seeing the stars.

    The bad;

    Zoe comments that there were no signs of a struggle but surely the crew would have fought to the death against the Reavers? Why didn't the Reavers eat the bodies if they're cannibals?

    Best line;

    Commander; "You fought with the Captain during the war?"

    Zoe; "I fought with a lot of people

    Commander; "What about your husband?"

    Zoe; "I fight with him too"

    Packing heat;

    Would conventional guns work in a vaccum? Maybe if they had futuristic ammo? The Alliance Commander packs a Barretta pistol when boarding Serenity. His troopers seem very impressed with Jayne's private arsenal, presumably the NRA sided with the Alliance as there seem to be no gun laws in the future.

    Kinky dinky;

    Sweaty cast playing a variation of basketball, Zoe's top especially revealing. Wash goes enthusiastically into detail about Zoe's amazing legs and 'what's above them'.

    Notches on the Serenity bedpost;

    Inarra;1-a paying customer who wishes to make her his kept woman

    Wash; 1-the missus

    Zoe; 1-the hubby

    Capt subtext;

    Inarra comments 'We're all running away from something'. She calls River 'sweetie' much as Kaylee does. Kaylee is very defensive of the Serenity, perhaps she identifies with the ship as herself.

    How'd they get away with that?

    Corpses bouncing off the windshield. The suit scene once again demonstrates the crew's rather cruel sense of humour. Self mutilating psychotic survivors.

    Total Serenity crew; 7(8?)

    Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Wash, Kayleigh, Inarra, Book, Simon, River(?).

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    Mal punches the survivor. When the Alliance show up the crew bravely give up without a fight.

    Whedon cliches; (see I spelt it right!);

    Devoted siblings, haunted charismatic leading man. Teenage girls with superpowers. Hookers. Babbling insane girls with truth in their madness.

    Bondage; Mal placed in handcuffs by Alliance

    Mal; 1

    Knocked out;

    Book; 1

    Simon; 1

    Kaylee; 1


    Women good/men bad;

    Zoe tells Jayne to shut up or he'll scare the women.


    Mal; 9-Mal kills the survivor

    Zoe; 4-

    Jayne; 2-

    Happy high-class hookers in Space (the title the porn industry wished they'd thought of!);

    Once again Inarra is the one with the respectable job, the Alliance commander not able to believe she's associating with this of bunch of lowlives.

    Know the face?

    Doug Savant of course is Tom Scavo in Desperate Housewives, a show Nathon Fillon, Julie Benz and many other Whedon alumni guest star on. I keep expecting Lynette to show up and remind him to pick up the kids. He's also one of the soldiers in Godzilla.

    Whedon alumni- Joss likes to reuse the same actors in his series, let's count up their appearances (let me know if I miss any)

    Nathan Fillon-3; Firefly, Caleb in S7 of Buffy and Dr Horrible

    Gina Torres-2; Firefly and Jasmine in S4 of Angel

    Alan Tudyk-2; Firefly and the villainous/heroic(?) Alpha in Dollhouse (haven't seen season 2 so don't spoil it for me)

    Adam Baldwin-2; Firefly and Marcus Hamilton in S5 of Angel

    Summer Glau-3; Firefly, Dollhouse and the prima ballerina in the LEGENDARY S4 Angel ep 'Waiting in the wings'.

    Carlos Jacott-3; The Fed in Firefly, Ken in the 'Anne' ep of Buffy and Richard Straley in 'The Bachelor Party' ep of Angel.

    Andy Umberger;3-the captain of the Dortmunder in Firefly, D'Hoffryn in Buffy, the psychic surgeon in the Angel ep 'I fall to pieces'.

    Mark Shepherd;2-Badger in Firefly and later turns up as one of Ballard's FBI colleagues in Dollhouse. Also a BSG alumni.

    Jeff Rickets;3- one of the blue handed men in Firefly and Weatherby on Buffy/Angel plus the spiderdemon at the end of Angel season 4

    Gregg Henry; 2- he's one of those faces that occur time and again in TV/movies, the Sherrif in The Train Job and he later recurrs in the Dollhouse ep 'Ghost', one of my favourite eps of season 1.

    Alliance good or bad?;

    Mal mocks the idea of the Alliance turning up to rescue their taxpayers whereupon they do exactly that. The Commander has seen torture during the war, by the Alliance to the Browncoats or vice versa? He comments that 'For some the war will never be over', does he mean for him or for Mal? He shows genuine concern for the dead passengers and when the pseudo-Reaver breaks free his first act is for a guard to be placed on the ships nursery. He leads the Alliance team onto the Serenity himself. In the end he lets them all go.


    Missing scenes;.

    Western cliches;.

    The term bushwhacked and bushwhacker comes from the US Civil War where both sides sponsored bands of guerillas to operate behind their opponent's lines. In reality these were little more than state sponsored brigands, the movies 'Ride with the Devil' and 'The Outlaw Josey Wales' giving a good idea of their actions. The most famous of all was Jesse James, a former bushwhacker who became a robber and outlaw because he couldn't accept the war was over, just as the Alliance Commander accuses Mal of doing here.

    Firefly speak;


    Weak tea=not good

    Back birth=idiot

    Companion=high class courtesan



    Rutting=bloody (or perhaps 'fraking'?)


    Purple belly=officious bureaucrat

    Ta-gow=Oh god!

    Shot; .

    Mal; 1-



    Crew injured;

    Reminds me off;

    The ghost ship is very Marie Celeste with hints of Alien and 2010 (especially the way it spins). How they find the survivor is very similar to the marines discovering Newt in Aliens. Jayne's description of his unseen attacker as 'big, strong' recalls the commandos describing Buffy after she rescues Willow in the s4 ep 'The Initiative'. Mal's talk of the darkness is similar to Nietschze's observation that if you stare into the abyss for long enough it stares back into you. The booby trap reminds me of an effect from Babylon 5, something the Drakh would use.

    Questions and observations;

    I somehow feel the red balloon they find on the ship has some significance but I just can't think what? According to the Commander there are 40,000 Firefly type craft in the galaxy. It's been 4 months since The Train Job as Inarra says she's now been with the crew nearly a year. Exactly why does the Commander want to know the details of Zoe and Wash's marriage? Three eps in we have yet to see a real Reaver although here we get a glimpse of a pseudo one. How intelligent are they? They can operate spaceships and leave a boobytrap so they must have some sentience?

    Marks out of 10; 7/10, interesting

  • Better the devil you know...that won't gnaw on your innards...

    'Bushwhacked' begins so light-heartedly, I should have known something was amiss. Even as the crew were salvaging what was left on the abandoned ship, it never crossed my mind that it was the big Rs that may have been the cause of the disappearing passengers. I guess Jayne's hilarious, but cruel joke on Simon lulled my spider-sense.

    The opening sequence was a real treat. I love when shows take the time to just allow everyone to take a breather. It actually said a lot about everyone's situation; it was interesting to see Inara and Simon, both coming from a civilised background, looking down on the rest of the crew having fun, who were all enjoying a game with no set of 'civilised rules' to speak of. Simon still has some way to go before accepting anyone onboard in any kind of friend capacity, even Kaylee.

    The plot takes a few interesting turns too – just as the crew escape one threat (the brutality of the uncivilised Reavers) they're met in even bigger force by an altogether different kind of menace (the no rule breaking, incredibly civilised Alliance). The dialogue was just SO good during those hilarious interrogation scenes. It was perfectly set up to give us more insight into each crew member's personality. Wash and Zoe, Ying and Yang, stole the show, as Zoe met each question stoically, while Wash dished all the gossip on his 'warrior woman'. Very funny.

    LMFAO at the extras searching the kitchen for River and Simon. 'Oh, they're not under that chair, I better check under the napkin. Oh, not under that napkin, let's search under the one next to it. Hmm, still no sign of them, maybe they're under the condiments.'

    The plot twist that we weren't actually going to see any reavers, but witness a human transforming into one, was classic Whedon. I thought the makeup looked a bit silly, but the story is played with such conviction, there's no doubting how dangerous this guy really is. All in all, it's a solid episode. It does well to explore River's psychic ability without giving away the farm and the show continues to flesh out these characters with incredible ease.moreless
  • Horror at the edge..

    So, in the borderlines of the civilations - they found a ship. It is all abandoned, no life signs - empty.. But they just cannot not stop and take a look aboard so they will go - and what they find - it has promising cargo but then they found the bodies and captain realize - reavers.. Running off the ship and trying to get away, they got someone-is-coming alarm. Everyone is afraid of reavers but we got Alliance..

    So from that point it is great came to hide what they really are, hide sister and brother, got that only survivor.. and get out it without too much lose..

    It was great episode, always something happening, full of events..moreless
  • We get our first real introduction to the enemies who you really don't want to mess with: enter, the Reavers!

    Bushwacked is more what I expected when I started watching this series. Although many fans will argue to the death that Firefly is not a primarily sci-fi series, I will always think of it as being just that. While it has its moments where it flirts with other genres, ultimately this is a show set on a space ship, 500 years into the future; it's sci-fi. So after the previous episode, Bushwacked takes us deep into the sci-fi, monsters, aliens, good guys vs bad guys territory and handles it very well.

    This episode again has a very solid opening scene. I personally really value the time spent on the average everyday aspects of our characters lives. While saving the world is the storyline, how these people live, interact and survive is as fascinating to me as the action itself. Watching the crew play a ball game, and joke around shares a nice moment with the audience, before a fairly gruesome plot line takes over.

    This is a creepy episode, and we finally get a clear introduction to the Reavers, who have received a mention in the earlier episodes. They are definitely not the kind of enemy you want on your tail, and the carnage that remains after their attack on the transport ship brings this home.

    This episode had several layers to it, that were revealed separately to maintain atmosphere and tension. I thoroughly enjoyed the latter part of the episode, including the nifty hiding of Simon and River, and the very amusing interview scenes. The characters really do get some sensational lines.

    The rest of the episode basically just works on developing our characters a little more. One weakness which is starting to bother me a little is the less-than-realistic relationship between Zoe and Wash. Something about them together doesn't quite work for me, however, separately I quite enjoy the characters. Wash has some very amusing lines, and Zoe is a handy side-kick for Mal, even though she will never be my favourite character. I will watch a few more episodes before putting forth my final judgment on Zoe, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she may be the only mis-cast character of the group.

    I also quite enjoy the rivalry and tension between Simon and Jayne. I can see why somebody like Jayne would be threatened by someone like Simon - their personalities, backgrounds etc are completely different, and I can see that Jayne would be (in many ways) both threatened, offended and jealous of Simon. It would be confusing and difficult to handle, especially being stuck in such close quarters.

    Overall, this is another solid episode. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the previous episode, but it still works well and brings us further up to speed on who we are watching.moreless
  • The Firefly crew meet a lone survivor of a reaver attack.

    Great episode, slightly remeniscent of Alien.

    When the crew come across an empty vessel they salavage everything they can. They also happen to find a sole survivor.

    Then, in turn, they are found by an Alliance cruiser looking for Simon and River. These two hide outside the ship and the survivor in taken on board the Alliance cruiser. When it is discovered that he slit his tongue, Mal recognises that it must've been a reaver attack.

    Thrilling episode, scary at times, with a fun start. The bit about finding this empty vessel was very similar to the first Alien movie. The guy then started talking about somethig inside, but fortunately, the writers didn't copy the Alien storyline but came up with something else.moreless
Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion

Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds

Sean Maher

Sean Maher

Dr. Simon Tam

Ron Glass

Ron Glass

The Shepherd Book

Gina Torres

Gina Torres


Jewel Staite

Jewel Staite

Kaywinnit Lee 'Kaylee' Frye

Alan Tudyk

Alan Tudyk


Branden Morgan

Branden Morgan

The Survivor

Guest Star

Doug Savant

Doug Savant

Alliance Captain Harken

Guest Star

Doug Wax

Doug Wax


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Before Jayne goes onboard the ship that was attacked by Reavers, his pistol has a reflex scope on it. However, after he is attacked by the man on the ship, it has disappeared.

    • So the survivor attacks Jayne, who in return shoots him. When Mal follows the blood drops to the vent, it's closed. So the survivor takes the vent off, climbs in, and then places it back in. He seems too out of the world to be putting the vent back.

    • When Simon comes into the other ship in the spacesuit, he lays down his flashlight to try to take off his helmet, but when the shot changes to Kaylee coming toward the screen to help him you can see the light from the flashlight still moving over the other characters behind Kaylee, at one point blinding Jayne, as if Simon was still holding it.

    • Wouldn't Captain Malcolm and Zoe have noticed a bad odor before River looked up towards the slaughtered, hanging passengers of the derelict ship?

    • So why doesn't Jayne give up Simon and River to the Alliance? He sure talks about them being unwanted and pain-in-the-necks enough times, but he has the chance here to secretly give them up to the Alliance by giving away their hiding place and he doesn't take it. Presumably he's just loyal to Mal or just really likes them and it's all talk, but this isn't really clear.

    • Where is the survivor hiding in the common room? He gets the drop on the Alliance guys and Mal despite the fact they're facing in all directions and there really isn't anywhere to hide.

    • Where do the Alliance soldiers disappear to when the survivor attacks? There are several soldiers, plus Mal and the Alliance captain, who go into the room. Then the survivor attacks, kills one or maybe two soldiers tops, and it's just him, the captain, and Mal - where'd the rest go? And why aren't they helping their commanding officer? Also, you can see the hand of a soldier on the Cruiser commander's shoulder after Mal saves him... obviously there were soldiers around, why didnt they help him out?

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Jayne: Oh, I ain't going over there with them bodies, no ruttin' way! Not if Reavers messed with them!
      Zoe: Jayne, you'll scare the women.

    • Jayne: Reavers ain't men.
      Book: Of course they are! Too long removed from civilization, perhaps, but men. And I believe there's a power greater than men, a power that heals.
      Mal: Reavers might take issue with that philosophy... if they had a philosophy, and they weren't too busy gnawing on your insides!

    • Harken: Seems odd you'd name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of.
      Mal: May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.

    • Harken: Do you love him?
      Zoe: I don't see how that's relevant.
      Harken: Well, he is your husband.
      Zoe: Yes.

    • Book: How we treat our dead is what makes us different than those who did the slaughter.

    • Harken: You fought with Captain Reynolds in the war?
      Zoe: Fought with a lot of people in the war.
      Harken: And your husband?
      Zoe: Fight with him sometimes, too.

    • Kaylee: So I guess that makes us one man short.
      Jayne: Yeah, little Kaylee's always one man short.

    • Mal: You tell me right now, little Kaylee, you really think you can (remove the booby-trap)?
      Kaylee: Sure. Yeah. I think so. Besides, if I mess it up, it's not like you'll be able to yell at me.

    • Jayne: Tell you what I think. I figure that fella we ran into did everyone on board. Killed 'em all. Then he decided to take a swim, see how fast his blood would boil out his ears.
      Wash: You're a very "up" person.

    • Simon: It's a wonder you're still alive.
      Jayne: He looked bigger when I couldn't see him.

    • Jayne: (to Simon) That's what space trash does, you know. Kind of latches onto the first big something that stops long enough. Hey, that'd be a bit like you and your sister, wouldn't it?

    • Wash: Oh my god! What can it be? We're all doomed! Who's flying this thing?... Oh right, that would be me.

    • Inara: Who's winning?
      Simon: I can't really tell. They don't seem to be playing by any civilized rules that I know.
      Inara: Well, we're a long way from civilization.

  • NOTES (0)


    • Book: Shall I remind you of the story of the Good Samaritan?
      The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a famous New Testament parable appearing only in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37). The majority view indicates this parable is told by Jesus in order to illustrate that compassion should be for all people, and that fulfilling the spirit of the Law is just as important as fulfilling the letter of the Law.