Season 1 Episode 6


Aired Friday 8:00 PM Nov 01, 2002 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
862 votes

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Episode Summary

On the planet Persephone the crew are contacted by their old "friend" Badger the ruthless crimelord to transport some goods on behalf of a local lord. While at a ball to arrange a transport job with the lord, Mal defends Inara's honor when her current customer insults her. By local custom he unintentionally challenges her date, Atherton Wing, to a duel.moreless

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  • Shindig

    The good;

    Kaylee is the belle of the ball and isn't she WONDERFUL! Mal swordfighting and lots of good stuff with Badger, especially his conversation with River. Adore Mal's looks of amazement as Jayne knows what 'pretentious' means.

    The bad;

    The cows in the final scene are amazingly quiet whilst Mal and Inara are talking.

    Best line;

    Kaylee; "Great party, huh?"

    Debutante; "Not as good as last year"

    Kaylee; "Why, what did they have last year?"

    Debutante; (looking Kaylee up and down) "Standards"

    To quote Cameron on The Sarah Connor Chronicles 'Bitchwhore much?"

    Also like;

    Kaylee; "Maybe that's him over there?"

    Mal; "That's the buffet table"

    Kaylee; (hungrily) "How will we know if we don't ask?"

    Packing heat;

    Swords this time. Badger's men use an MP40 Schmeisser, an Uzi and an AK-47, the guest at the party seems to have a Colt .32 pocket pistol. Jayne packs what looks like a Mossberg shotgun on the Serenity.

    Kinky dinky;

    Naked Wash and Zoe get it on again, Zoe complimenting Wash that he 'knows all the steps'. Inarra's outfit at the party is also quite something. Kaylee comments that Mal's outfit shows off his backside and Inara subsequently spanks it with her sword.

    Notches on the Serenity bedpost; Inara is hired for the evening but we've no idea if they have sex or not so I'll put him down as a possible.

    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;

    Wash jokingly refers to 'jealous men like me' regarding Zoe but is he really joking or sending Mal a not so subtle message? When Kaylee says 'Look at the pretties' Mal asks if she means the girls or the clothes? Mal and Jayne s*** as Badger implies he has his hands on some diamond testicles. Mal observes Atherton is such a catch 'I'm liable to sleep with him myself'.

    How'd they get away with that?

    Mal gratuitously stabbing Atherton after he's defeated him in the duel. Mal's remark comparing Kaylee to a sheep dancing on it's hind legs is INCREDIBLY insensitive, Jayne's gynacologist joke in the ep Serenity is less offensive.

    Subverting the Hollywood cliche;

    After sex it's Zoe who wants to sleep and Wash to stay awake. When Mal claims he cannot run Inara correctly points out that he runs away all the time. Mal is far from stoic when complaining about his wounds later.

    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.

    Women good/men bad;

    It's not enough for Atherton to simply hire Inara for her charms he wants to own her completely and deny her to other men, like she's some form of possession.

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

    Inara greets several other companions at the party. They are used by rich men as status symbols, who has the best one get's the most kudos. At the end she freezes him out, no other companion will now work for him after how he's treated her. Mal refers to the companion training school as a whore academy (jeez the man has NO CLUE!)

    Know the face?

    Larry Drake is familar to 80s TV viewers as Benny in LA Law, the nicest man in the world and to horror fans from Darkman and Dr Giggles where he plays the nastiest men in the world. He also stars with Whedon alumnis Alyssin Hannigan in American Pie 2 and Amber Benson in the dreadful B-movie Gryphon.

    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?;

    Would the Alliance allow slavery (or dueling?) on their worlds? Or are they like the Union forces in the American Civil War/British Empire in the 18/19th century, abolishing it wherever they go?


    Mal and Inara getting together after this ep is common but a sizeable minority like to pair her up with Atherton, presumably the same folks who think Kate Winslet should have stuck with Billy Zane in Titanic (Mae West's quote of wanting a man who's "handsome, rich and cruel" springs to mind") If you like things a LOT more adult there's also one where Kaylee's admirers invite her to an after hours party and then indulge in group sex with her, more or less consensually (ie she starts off as less but ends up as more).

    Missing scenes;.

    Reputedly there was a scene where we see Mal unload the walking arsenal he carries in his pockets before entering the ballroom plus a derringer he has Kaylee carrying for him in her stockings tops. Also a scene where we Larry Drake's character and Badger fall out and Inara gossiping with her fellow companions at the dance.

    Western cliches;

    Nice in a western series to finally have the Serenity with a hold full of cattle, once again food is one of the most precious commodities in the Fireflyverse, especially some good steak as Jayne observes earlier in the episode.

    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


    Shot; .

    Mal; 1-



    Crew injured;

    Mal pretty badly sliced up in the duel at the end.

    Reminds me off;

    Deranged River talking in her faux cockney accent is VERY Drusilla indeed. Inara the high class lady of the night is very Darla and her love/hate relationship with brooding hero Mal somewhat akin to Darla and Angel. Mal's hatred of slavery is reminiscent of Han Solo. The bitchy girls at the party are awfully like the Cordettes on Buffy. Kaylee's hilarious expression as Mal tells her that he has a job for her is very like Willow's when Riley's wife Sam makes suggestions for Xander's wedding in the s6 Buffy ep 'As you were'. Wash is a bad poet, much like Spike and not really an action man as with Xander. Jane comments that the Serenity crew are the misfits who don't fit in much like the Scoobs at Sunnydale High.

    Kaylee's rescuer at the party does indeed remind me of an older Clark Gable as the commentary observes but also of Dr Huer from the old Buck Rogers TV series.

    Questions and observations;

    They still have the peerage system in the future. Unfortunately they've also got slavery too, even on a fairly civilized world like Persephone . 'Magic' Jane Espenson, hooray! Inara seems to have a thing about slumming, she really is out of place in the Firefly crew and certainly in the bar Mal and Jayne take her to. More social climbing by Badger but he's useless at it, crustless sandwiches (cucumber?) mixed with wood alcohol hooch, no wonder he needed Mal to be the middleman for him in the deal, at least he can fake class convincingly. Kaylee's surname is Lee Fry. She once again shows her love of fruit, both mangoes and strawberries as does Badger who's at the apples again. Zoe's remark about Jayne slitting her throat and taking over the ship again suggests he's the unofficial 3rd in command. However he wants to rescue Mal when Badger comes to the ship.

    Mal is in many ways too honest and honourable for the criminal world, he's probably more like the Alliance than he cares to admit but can't stand submitting to their authority.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10 pretty good .

  • I thought this was more of a hootnanny...

    Written by Jane Espenson, one of my favourite TV writers, 'Shindig,' rather unsurprisingly, is an exceptionally witty piece of Sci-fi, with some fantastic set-pieces and brilliant performances.

    As much as it is Mal and Inara's episode, I think Kaylee stole the hour for me. When Mal shot her down, saying that she'd look like a sheep waling on its hind legs, I wanted to jump in and clock Mal in the face just like he did Atherton. As for her dress, it just made Kaylee as a character more endearing. And that scene where she has an entourage of men around her was simply icing on her frilly cake dress.

    The rapport between Nathan and Morena is exceptionally genuine. Their dialogue is certainly prodigious, and if in the hands of lesser actors, could have come off sounding rather pretentious. I generally don't enjoy the kind of relationships that fall into the realm of 'will they/won't they?' but the comedy is underlined with some serious drama – Mal's warped sense of morality being a big one – and it's tackled with a sincerity that compliments the almost sit-com-like situation.

    Overall, it may not be a personal favourite, but this is a seriously good offering from the series. It is a different Firefly than the norm, one that definitely stands out. Mal also gets one of his best moments in the show's small history:

    Mal: "Mercy is the mark of a great man."

    (stabs Atherton)

    "Guess I'm just a good man."

    (stabs Atherton again)

    "Well, I'm all right."moreless
  • Summer glau and her very bad Cockney accent try to kill the episode.they almost succeed

    Inara goes to meet her client on persephone and mal goes to meet badger for a job.Due to an extreme and rather lazy contivance they end up at the same party(small planet).Mal soon ends up annoying the local gentry and finds himself in a duel to the death with inara's client.

    Badger holds the serenity crew hostage so they dont try to rescue the captain and annoy the locals on his place of business.Mal must fight the master swordsman on his terms but he is yet again outclassed.

    An ok episode .the usual tension between mal and inara and the usual trouble for mal and his belief structure.Unfortunately one moment screams out as awful.As this is joss whedon this moment stands out quite a bit.The uniformly brilliant summer glau makes her entrance into the episode as a "step in time ,gawd bless ya marry poppins, loveble chimney sweep, cockney flower".She has attended the dick van dyke school of british accents and it really shows.Embarrasing oh dear oh dear.Not greatmoreless
  • A great party until the bunching..

    They get off the ship for some time, Inara has a job and she is going to fancy ball. But it does not go without problems as captain is getting a new job too and goes to the same ball, with Kaylee who gets lovely layer dress.. It's great to see her in different envelopment and I most say she really was somehow the center of her episode with that lovely attitude on the ball.

    And ofcourse captain on that kind fancy ball - it ends up with problem as he tries to protect Inara's honor and manages to get himself a duel - a swordfight..

    But all ends great. I most say this episode really had that kind of different feeling, atmosphere.. the ball - it was so nice to get change to have them in those gorgeous costumes.. Inara had stunning dress.

    And the one scene with River - when she managed to be so normal, somehow scary..moreless
  • Duelling, fancy parties,bar fights, complex rescue plans, this episode had it all.

    This is a great episode and fun to watch. It starts of with Mal and jayne getting into a bar fight which was really great to watch. Which was a great and funny way to start the episode. But the focus of the episode is the Mal and Inara interact. Mal ends up getting into a duel because he hit Inara's "date". The Scenes with Kaylee trying to mingle with the other guests at the party were very enjoyable as were the rest of the crews plans to make a diversion and come and rescue the captain. Which just before they are about to put in action, the captain and Inara walk in.

    Great episode and i think every firefly fan has to see it at least once.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


Mark Sheppard

Mark Sheppard


Guest Star

Edward Atterton

Edward Atterton

Atherton Wing

Guest Star

Larry Drake

Larry Drake

Sir Warrick Harrow

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Trivia: In this episode it's revealed that Kaylee is short for Kaywinnit Lee, and her last name is Frye.

    • Trivia: According to the DVD commentary for this episode, it is revealed that the necklace Zoe always wears is to symbolize her marriage to Wash (instead of a ring). That is why she never takes it off.

    • Cows will never walk on a grate or a grid-like pattern. According to Jane Espenson, the cows were placed there with bluescreening.

    • Conveniently, the cows in the hold don't start mooing until after Inara and Mal finish their conversation. Or at least, the sound editor thoughtfully cut them off the track so the two could have an understandable conversation.

  • QUOTES (42)

    • Wash: (upon being told they'd be staying awhile on Persephone) Shiny!
      Zoe: Yeah? Thought you get land-crazy that long in port.
      Wash: Probably, but I've been sane a long while now, and change is good.

    • Inara: Are you in pain?
      Mal: Absolutely. I got stabbed, you know, right here.
      Inara: Eh, I saw.
      Mal: Don't care much for fancy parties. Too rough.
      Inara: It wasn't entirely a disaster.
      Mal: I got stabbed! Right here!
      Inara: You also lined up exciting new crime.

    • Gentleman: If you require it, any gentleman here can give you the use of a sword.
      Mal: Use of a s... what?

    • Atherton Wing: Half the men in this room wish you were on their arm.
      Inara: Only half? I must be losing my undefinable allure.

    • Mal: (talking about Atherton Wing) Must be rich to afford your rates.
      Inara: I suppose, he has engaged me for several days.
      Mal: Days, boy must have stamina.
      Inara: He does.

    • Man: Water plants need labor, terraforming crews got a prodigious death rate.
      Mal: Labor? You mean slaves.
      Man: Well, they wasn't volunteers, for damn sure.

    • Atherton: Excuse me, she's not here with you, captain. She's mine.
      Mal: Yours? She don't belong to nobody.
      Athenton: Money changed hands, which makes her mine tonight. And no matter how you dress her up...
      (Mal punches him in the face)
      Mal: Turns out this is my kinda party!

    • Mal: This duel is the result of the rules from your society, not mine
      Inara: You never follow the rules, no matter what society you're in! You don't even get along with ordinary criminals either, which is why you are constantly getting in trouble!
      Mal: And you think following the rules will buy you a nice life even if the rules make you a slave!

    • Kaylee: Don't you just love this party? Everything's so fancy, and there's some kind of hot cheese over there.
      Rich Girl: It's not as good as last year.
      Kaylee: Oh, really? What'd they have last year?
      Rich Girl: Standards.

    • River: Sure, I got a secret. More than one. Don't seem likely I'd tell 'em to you now, do it? Anyone off Dyton Colony knows better than to talk to strangers. You're talking loud enough for the both of us though, ain'tcha? I've known a dozen like you. Skipped off home early, running graft jobs here and there. Spent some time in the lock down, but less than you claim. And you're what? Petty thief with delusions of standing? Sad, little king of a sad, little hill.

    • Wash: Sleepiness is weakness of character. Ask anyone.

    • Inara: (as a bar fight ensues) Love this place, I'll tell my friends.

    • Badger: Of course, you couldn't buy an invite with a diamond the size of a testicle, but I got my hands on a couple... (Mal and Jayne look at each other and smirk) ...of invites!

    • Badger: Captain Reynolds. Heard you was in town. Thought we might have a bit of a sit down.
      Mal: I'd prefer a bit of a piss off.
      Badger: I'm very sorry, did I give you the impression I was asking?

    • Mal: I don't like fellows that kill me. Not in general.

    • Mal: Stay for a while, resupply. Sniff the air, we don't kiss the dirt.
      Zoe: I wasn't planning on the dirt kissing, sir.
      Wash: I wouldn't stand for it anyway, Captain. Jealous man like me.

    • Inara: You have a strange sense of nobility, Captain. You'll lay a man out for implying I'm a whore, but you keep calling me one to my face.
      Mal: I might not show respect for your job, but he didn't respect you. That's the difference.

    • Inara: I like Atherton too, by the way.
      Mal: Well, sure. What's not to like? I'm liable to sleep with him myself.

    • Wash: You are acting captain. Know what happens if you fall asleep now?
      Zoe: Jayne slits my throat and takes over.
      Wash: That's right!

    • Kaylee: I like the ruffles. Inara gets to wear whatever she wants.
      Mal: What are you going to do in that rig? Flounce around the engine room? You'd look like a sheep walkin' on its hind legs.

    • Badger: (He) won't deal with me direct. He's taken an irrational dislike.
      Jayne: What happened? Did he see your face?

    • Badger: I had a problem with your attitude is why. Thought you was...what's the word?
      Jayne: "Pretentious"?
      Badger: Exactly. You think you're better than other people.
      Mal: Just the ones I'm better than.

    • Mal: Hmm. It sounds like the finest party I can imagine getting paid to go to.
      Inara: I don't suppose you'd find it up to the standards of your outings. More conversation, and somewhat less petty theft and getting hit with pool cues.

    • Gentleman: What a lovely dress. It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days to get you into it. Of course, your daddy tells me it takes the space of a schoolboy's wink to get you out of it again.

    • Wash: Here lies my beloved Zoe, my autumn flower. Somewhat less attractive now that she's all corpsified and gross.

    • Inara: As with other situations, the key seems to be giving Jayne a heavy stick and standing back.

    • Inara: I am grateful, you know, for the ill-conceived and high-handed attempt to defend my honor although I didn't want you to.
      Mal: Gracious as that is...

    • Jayne: We was just about to spring into action, Captain. Complicated escape and rescue op.
      Wash: Very exciting. I was going to watch.

    • Inara: (to Atherton) That's not how it works. You see, you've earned yourself a black mark in the Client Registry. No Companion is ever going to contract with you ever again.
      Harrow: You'll have to rely on your winning personality to get woman. God help you.

    • Mal: Mercy is the mark of a great man. (stabs Atherton shallowly) I guess I'm just a good man. (stabs him again) Well, I'm alright.

    • Jayne: What we need is a diversion. I say Zoe gets naked.
      Wash: No!
      Jayne: I could get naked...?
      Wash and Zoe: No!

    • Mal: ...I never back down from a fight.
      Inara: Yes you do! You do all the time!
      Mal: Well...yeah, but I'm not backing down from this one.

    • Kaylee: Up until the punching it was a real nice party.

    • Atherton: I accept.
      Mal: That's great! What?!?

    • Mal: My job may be illegal, but at least it's honest.
      Inara: What?!?

    • Harrow: I know (Badger). And I think he's a psychotic lowlife.
      Mal: And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic lowlife community.

    • Kaylee: Is that him?
      Mal: That's the buffet table.
      Kaylee: How will we know... unless we question it?
      Mal: Fine. Don't make yourself sick.

    • Jayne: (drinking tea) This ain't bad.
      Badger: There's a trick to it. Wood alcohol.
      Mal: So now we're favored guests, treated to beverages that make you blind.

    • Zoe: If I'm going to wear a dress, I want one with some slink.
      Wash: You want a slinky dress, I can buy you a slinky dress. Captain, can I have money for a slinky dress?
      Jayne: I'll chip in.
      Zoe: (through her smile, to Jayne) I can hurt you.

    • Wash: What am I looking at - the girls or the clothes?
      Jayne: The girls.
      Zoe: The clothes, please.

    • Zoe: Planet's coming up a mite fast.
      Wash: That's just cause I'm going down too quick. Likely crash and kill us all.
      Mal: Well, that happens, let me know.

    • (sign over holographic pool table)
      Management Not Responsible for Ball Failure

  • NOTES (3)

    • When Kaylee calls Mal "Captain Tightpants" at the party, this was an inside joke referring to an incident that occurred while shooting the original pilot episode "Serenity". During the scene when Kaylee gets shot and Mal bends over to help her the back of his pants split, hence the name.

    • The rules to the game Book, Simon, and Jayne were playing could be found on FOX's Firefly website.

    • With this episode, the narration changes and talks about "a whole new galaxy of Earths."


    • Mal: Girl was crying Cinderella tears. Shoulda seen her, when I said she could have that layer cake she's wearin'.
      This is a reference to the fairy tale character Cinderella, who cried tears of joy when presented with a wonderful ball gown by her fairy godmother.