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Season 1 Episode 7


Aired Friday 8:00 PM Nov 08, 2002 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
833 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

On a planet, Simon is kidnapped by locals who need a doctor, while River is threatened with burning as a witch.

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  • Nothing too startling


    The good;

    River dancing is just wonderful as is Simon's happiness at it. The scene where the rest of the crew rescue them is terrific as is Jayne looting their stuff.

    The bad;

    Can someone please explain to me exactly when the hillbillies work out that Simon is a doctor? Also what sort of supplies do they have for him to work with?

    Best line;

    Jayne; (pretending to read Simon's diary) "Dear diary, today I was pompus and my sister acted crazy"

    Packing heat;

    Everyone's guns sound very different in this ep, more zingy and less like conventional firearms. The villains/cops 6-shooters also seem to hold an inordinate number of rounds. The lead cop packs a 44. Magnum. Mal and Jayne use Mossberg shotguns and Zoe utilises a full size Winchester rifle rather than her normal cutdown version.

    Kinky dinky;

    Kaylee wants to bite Simon all over? Jayne seems to derive pleasure from having watched the cows being fed by beautiful women (presumably Kaylee and Zoe rather than Inara and River?)

    Notches on the Serenity bedpost;

    Inarra;1-a paying customer who wishes to make her his kept woman, 1 possible, Atherton.

    Wash; 1-the missus

    Zoe; 1-the hubby

    Capt subtext;

    Is Kaylee the duck and Inara the swan?

    How'd they get away with that?

    Skinning the hare is nasty but makes it's point. Burning witches at the stake.

    Total Serenity crew; 9 Simon and River's status onboard confirmed

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

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    Clever mislead, we think the hillbillies are savages but actually they're just desperate people who need a doctor.

    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. Fake cockneys. Misguided religious zealots. Numbered t-shirts.

    Bondage; River tied to a stake

    Mal; 1

    River; 1

    Knocked out; Book goes unconscious after being shot

    Book; 2

    Simon; 1

    Kaylee; 1


    Women good/men bad;


    Mal; 9-

    Zoe; 4-

    Jayne; 2-

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

    Know the face?

    High School Musical star Zac Efron as young Simon, he'll later star in '17 Again' with Whedon alumni Michelle Tractenberg.

    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 runs to the Alliance in order to save Book, how that must choke him! They seem reluctant to provide but don't say no outright. Then our Shepherd slips them an ID card? Hmmmmm.


    Missing scenes;

    Reputedly scenes where the Alliance question the Tam's parents after Simon rescues River, River reading Ruby's mind and seeing her tragic story plus paying Badger his share, his hoodlums unable to believe that Mal doesn't try to rip them off, much to Badger's chagrin at Mal's moral superiority again.

    Western cliches;

    Hillbillies kidnapping folk. Zoe actually shoots the gun out of one of the bad guy's hand.

    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!

    Won-gwa-pee= to urinate or defecate





    Wah=what the hell?

    Mah song=quickly


    Shot; .Book shot during a the gunfight with the cattle

    Mal; 1-




    Crew injured;

    Simon knocked around yet again, he seems to be everyone's punching bag.

    Reminds me off;

    River on the pyre reminds of Buffy, Willow and Amy tied to the stake and almost burnt as witches by M.O.O

    Questions and observations;

    So, what is Book's past and why do the Alliance treat him like a VIP once he identifies himself? Is he a former Alliance General guilt-ridden by his role during the war? A former spy who sold out the Independents? A scientist who carried out experiments like those conducted on River?

    Mal finally makes a deal and actually earns some more or less honest money from it. Presumably this pays for the slap up meal the crew enjoy at the end of the ep. Mal asks why things never go smooth for them, once again we see that he's not really suited to a life of crime. As we suspected River and Simon were pro-Alliance before River's ordeal, casting the Browncoats as the enemy in their games. The locals describe the Serenity as a fancy vessel, would do Kaylee's heart good to hear that but it really underlines how remote and backward they are if they think that. This ep is set 3 weeks after the last so a planet 3 weeks travel from Persephone must be remote indeed. Jayne enjoys smacking the cows around? Once again father's get a hard time in the Whedonverse although the Tam's parents seem nice enough folks.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10, nothing very startling here, nice to have River and Simon confirmed as part of the crew and I like the dance scene

  • "You gave up everything you had and you found me broken" We meet Simon's & River's parents & we see the stark contrast between the world they grew up in & the life they must lead now. Wonderfully written we see exactly how much Simon loves his sistmoreless

    The plot... the plot is like any other episode really. Mal gets a deal, deal feels hinky, deal goes bad, guns & wits come out, they win over in the end, but just because it's the same-ole thing, does NOT mean in watching it is. A terrific episode, one I'm looking forward to seeing again.

    It is a Simon & River episode, we see some back story, we see how Simon is still frustrated with his "lot in life" but how he tries to cope with it all again. He again puts his foot in it with Kaylee, but that's nothing new, so, we see that he's a truly gifted doctor & brother, but a little slow when it comes to women.

    We are not all born into privilege, but many that are can not deal well when they are forced to leave it. Here we see how much Simon truly loves his sister, how he will go to the ends of the "verse" to protect her. He gave up a life filled with privilege and wants (rather than needs) and for her, he left it all behind to live on board a ship that has nothing but day-to-day needs and criminal activities.

    When trying to convince his parents there was something wrong their replies were that it was him missing her, it was a game, they always loved their games and Simon could not convince them that they were wrong. It was interesting to see even their parents were aware of how strong a bond that they had.

    We also got to see in a flashback the extent of River's natural talent, her story time/game holds great clues as to what else is happening in the "verse", fans will know what it means, it just goes to show what a truly talented young woman she really is.

    One of the scenes that really stuck out for me was when the inevitable shoot-out takes place and simultaneously River finds herself dancing amongst the people. The scene was beautifully written and the contrast of the 2 lifestyles was clearly shown. River we found out earlier was a dance student in her youth, before her problems began, so when we cut to the scene of her dancing, not only are we shown the contrasting lifestyles, but also her frailty, her child-likeness as well. I saw her firstly here as a truly innocent woman who has lost, not only her memory, but her innocence in life as well.

    The most beautiful scene to see his absolute devotion to his sister, regardless of her state of mind is when he joins her on the pyre. Truly touching, we are brought straight into his heart.

    We've always known there was more to Shepherd Book than meets the eye. He's always seemed to be a man of Logical Morals. Meaning that he believes in morals, but also logic must prevail. He is a man of faith & spirit, but is not closed to "what must be done". Again, the episode has a brilliant contrast to it, we see Shepherd's quiet faith and then we are confronted with the towns folks faith. Knowing most of the specific references they were making I was moved initially to pity, to hate, then pity again, yet with Shepherd, I've always had a quiet respect for him and the way his character has been written. I hope that if they do a sequel to Serenity we have some more back story on him.

    An interesting episode that will give you further insight into 3 of our quieter characters.

    Two Thumbs up from me on a terrific episode!

    "You gave up everything you had and you found me broken"

  • Nice episode. Not the best, but still well worth watching.

    One of the things I like about this show is that it's not completely sci-fi and not totally a western. Their problems parallel some of the problems we're having now, or have had in the past.

    Obviously, River's "situation" in the village reminds one about the Salem Witch Trials, in which people used fear to justify acts that look idiotic in our eyes. And yet, Firefly is set in the future, where we would expect people to have more sense. That's what makes it so different from the science fiction shows that attempt to outdo each other in special effects and explosions.

    Safe is not the best episode of the series, but it's enjoyable. I recommend it.moreless
  • A great episode concentrating on River and Simon

    It was really great to see episode on those two and get more to know their past and how the bound between those two was built as Simon was ready, and did, gave up everything for his sister.

    The story itself is nothing too special - dropping of those cows from previous episode, getting into trouble.. the last part sounds very familiar.

    Anyway - the whole thing with River and Simon on that village.. and the way they tried to burn her.. and Simon standing up - he does not look very much the guy to fight but for his sister - the look even - what he is ready to everything to her.. even to die with her.. that was marvelous.. And I most say the scene where there was the firefight and clips of River dancing between.. that was great too.. little ironic.. the music, mainly, but it worked dynamicly so well.moreless
  • One of the best episodes to quote from.

    I loved this episode, every characters personalities we're truly highlighted in this episode. This episode had many excellent quotes but I think my personal favorite had to be close to then end of the episode.

    Patron: [River is about to be burned at the stake] This is a holy cleansing. You cannot think to thwart God's will. Mal: Y'all see the man hangin' out of the spaceship with the really big gun? I'm not saying you weren't easy to find, but it was kind of out of our way and he didn't wanna come in the first place. Man's lookin' to kill some folk. So really it's his will y'all should worry about thwarting. Mal: [to Simon] Gotta say, Doctor, your talent for alienatin' folks is near miraculous. Simon: Yes, I'm very proud. Mal: [about River] Cut her down. Patron: The girl is a witch. Mal: Yeah, but she's our witch. [Cocks shotgun and aims at Town Patron] Mal: So cut her the hell down.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


Scott Terra

Scott Terra

Young Scott Tam

Guest Star

Andrew A. Rolfes

Andrew A. Rolfes

Older Grange/Marcus Grange

Guest Star

Matthew C. Ferreira

Matthew C. Ferreira

Younger Grange

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Anybody working with cows will find the shot of the empty cargo bay, with neat little piles of cow manure despite a herd of the animals milling around in there for days, highly suspect. Also, one of the cows kicks a cow patty as they exit, showing it is a solid form and not at all mushy and a real one would be.

    • Simon's comment about Book's injury being the "first decent wound" doesn't make much sense since Mal was badly injured previously in "Out of Gas" and Simon ended up treating him. However, this episode was actually filmed and produced prior to that one but aired out of sequence by Fox, explaining the apparent continuity error.

  • QUOTES (27)

    • Zoë: Knew a man who had a hole clean through his whole shoulder, once. Used to keep a spare hankie in there.

    • River: Liou koe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh bun ur-tze.
      (Ignorant son of a drooling harlot and a monkey)

    • Mal: I've gotta say, doctor, your talent for alienating folk is near miraculous.
      Simon: Yes, I'm very proud.

    • River: (to Simon) I remember everything, and some of it's made up and some of it can't be quantified but I understand. You gave up everything you had to find me, you found me broken. It's hard for you.

    • Simon and River's Dad: Language, young man.
      Young Simon: Sorry, Dad. The Independents attacked us with dinosaurs.
      Young River: Simon lost his head in the heat of battle.
      Simon and River's Dad: Since there were dinosaurs involved, I think we'll let it slide.

    • Young River: (playing "Alliance and Independents") We're in trouble. We got cut off.
      Young Simon: Cut off from what?
      Young River: Our platoon, Simon. We got outflanked by the Independent squad, and we're never going to make it back to our platoon. We need to resort to cannibalism.
      Young Simon: That was fast.

    • Simon: I'm sorry, Dad. You know I would never have tried to save River's life if I had known there was a dinner party at risk.

    • Book: I am a shepherd. Folks like a man of God.
      Mal: No they don't. Men of God make everyone feel guilty and judged.

    • Patron: This is a holy cleansing. You cannot think to thwart God's will.
      Mal: Y'all see the man hanging out of the spaceship with the really big gun? I'm not saying y'all weren't easy to find. But it was kinda out of our way, and he didn't want to come in the first place. Man's lookin' to kill some folk. So really, it's his will y'all should worry about thwarting.

    • Mal: (trying to avoid cow deposits) This is the last time. The last time with cows. Hey, there's an idea regarding beagles? They have smallish droppings?
      Zoe: I believe so, sir.

    • Inara: What is this? A duck?
      Kaylee: It's a swan. I like it.
      Inara: You do?
      Kaylee: Looks like it was made with, you know, longing. Made by a person who really longed to see a swan.
      Inara: Perhaps because they'd only heard of them by rough description.

    • Zoe: You sanguine about the kind of reception we're out to receive on an Alliance ship, captain?
      Mal: Absolutely. What's "sanguine" mean?
      Zoe: Sanguine: "Hopeful". Plus, point of interest, it also means "bloody".
      Mal: Well, that pretty much covers all the options, don't it?

    • River: They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see sky and they remember what they are.
      Mal: Is it bad that what she said made perfect sense to me?

    • Zoe: Next time we smuggle stock, let's make it something smaller.
      Wash: Yeah, we should start dealing in those black-market beagles.

    • Doralee: A place like this might be good for your sister. Quiet, safe, a place where folks take care of each other.
      Simon: Mmmm, yes, seems like a lovely little community of kidnappers.

    • Mal: It looks like we arrived just in the nick of time. What does that make us?
      Zoe: Big damn heroes, sir.
      Mal: Ain't we just.

    • Simon: Captain, why did you come back for us?
      Mal: You're on my crew.
      Simon: Yeah, but you don't even like me. Why'd you come back?
      Mal: You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?

    • Simon: So finally a decent wound on this ship and I missed out.
      Mal: Well, you were busy trying to get yourself lit on fire. It happens.

    • Patron: The girl's a witch.
      Mal: Yeah, but she's our witch. So cut her the hell down.

    • Zoe: The captain'll come up with a plan.
      Kaylee: That's good, right?
      Zoe: Apparently you're not recalling some of his previous plans.

    • Jayne: ('reading' from Simon's journal) "Dear Diary. Today I was pompous and my sister was crazy. Today we were kidnapped by hillfolk, never to be seen again. It was the best day ever!"

    • Book: I might be needing a preacher.
      Mal: That's good, you just lay there and be ironic.

    • Jayne: Here we go.
      Mal: It never goes smooth. How come it never goes smooth?

    • Mal: (talking about cows) Milk and hay, three times a day, fed to them by beautiful women.
      Jayne: That was something to see.

    • Simon: I'm very sorry (River) tipped off anyone about your cunningly concealed herd of cows.
      Mal: I'm starting to think you have a little too much time on your hands, doctor.

    • Mal: You know, they move just as fast if you lead 'em.
      Jayne: I like smacking them.

    • Mal: Soon as we unload, she can holler until our ears bleed. But I'd take it as a kindness if she didn't.
      River: The human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems.
      Mal: See - morbid and creepifying, I got no problem with, long as she does it quiet like.

  • NOTES (1)

    • The "Previously on Firefly" clips at the beginning show several scenes, mostly of Book and Simon, that we haven't previously seen on Firefly. They're from episodes that were produced prior to this episode, but the audience hasn't seen yet since Fox is showing them out of order.