Season 1 Episode 15

The Message

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Unknown on FOX



  • Trivia

    • In the scene in the cow fetus booth where Zoe is talking to Simon, she puts her hand on his right shoulder. When the shot changes to incorporate Wash talking to the cow fetus, her hand is on Simon's left shoulder.

    • In the scene where they've brought the coffin aboard Serenity and everyone is standing around talking about the dead soldier, a closeup on Jayne shows him removing his new hat. Then the shot moves to show Mal and Zoe, and Jayne can be seen in the background still wearing the hat. A few seconds later his hat is off again.

    • When Simon starts cutting Tracey, he makes about an inch cut before Tracey wakes up and jumps him. After he's lying on the floor, the cut goes all the way down his sternum.

    • When Jayne starts digging in the box for the enclosed item the camera cuts to the rest of the crew and Jayne is slightly off camera. However, you can still clearly see him take the hat out and let the box fall on the floor, yet when they switch cameras Jayne is shown doing the same actions as before - taking the hat out and letting the box drop. This leads to a bit of a mismatch when they cut the shots together.

    • Trivia: The dress that Kaylee is wearing on her date with Simon is the same dress is wearing in the flashback on the episode "Out of Gas."

    • Tracey's plan is a bit unclear. He is supposedly smuggling genetically-engineered human organs from one planet to another. He's supposed to go to Ariel, where he said the new organs would be taken out and his original ones put back in. Presumably his organs were taken out on a planet that wasn't Ariel, which means they had to be transported to Ariel. How was this to be accomplished? Isn't trafficking human organs illegal? Is there some sort of legal distinction between real organs and genetically engineered ones? If transporting the originals is easy enough, then why not smuggle the new ones that way? Why bother with a human incubator in a risky and unnessesary plan? Perhaps it could be argued that real organs can survive outside the body in artificial incubators and genetic organs cannot, but if that's the case it means there's something fundamentally wrong with the genetic process of creating the organs, because they should be indistinguishable from real ones. If this is the case, using a genetic organ would probably be very risky and possibly prone to failure. Of course, they could be failure prone and the black market doesn't really care.

  • Quotes

    • (Zoë and Wash enter the exhibit)
      Wash: Oh my god, it's grotesque! Oh, and there's something in a jar.

    • Wash: (talking to the cow foetus in the jar) Do not fear me. Ours is a peaceful race. And we must live in harmony.

    • Simon: This may come as a shock, but I'm not very good at--at talking to girls.
      Zoe: Why, is there someone you are good at talking to?

    • Mal: And I will not have you jeopardizing your career over this.
      Inara: The career you abhor and look down on?

    • River: My food is problematic.

    • Amnon: The little one's for Cobb.
      Jayne: I got post?
      Book: Might we all wanna step a few paces back before he opens that?

    • Jayne: (wearing his mother's horrible homemade hat) How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't cha' think?
      Kaylee: I think it's the sweetest hat ever.
      Jayne: Yeah, yeah.
      Wash: A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything.
      Jayne: Damn straight!

    • Jayne: What'd y'all order a dead guy for?

    • (after Zoe stealthily kills an Alliance officer)
      Tracey: I didn't know you were out there.
      Zoe: Sorta the point. Stealth. You may have heard of it.
      Tracey: (as he cracks open a can of beans) I don't think they covered that in basic.
      Zoe: Well, at least they covered dropping your weapon so you can eat beans and get yourself shot.
      Tracey: Yeah, I got a badge in that.

    • Zoe: First rule of battle, little one--don't ever let them know where you are.
      Mal: (running in) Wheee! I'm right here! I'm right here! You want some of me?!? Yeah, you do! Come on! Come on! Aaah! Whoo-hoo.
      Zoe: 'Course, there are other schools of thought.

    • Mal: Whew! Ha! That was bracing. They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself.

    • Mal: Tracey, ain't you dead yet?
      Tracey: Through no fault of my own.
      Mal: I really wanted your beans.

    • Mal: Everybody dies, Tracey. Somebody's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is, die of old age before it finds you.

    • River: (to Simon) You are such a boob.

    • Tracey: You know, it's funny. We went to the war never looking to come back, but it's--it's the real world I couldn't survive.

    • Mal: Anything?
      Jayne: Not unless this crate's made out of magical wish-granting planks.

    • Mal: Using corpses for smuggling is a time-honored, repulsive tradition.

    • Wash: Arrgh! Mal, your dead army buddy's on the bridge!
      Zoe: He ain't dead.
      Wash: Oh.

    • Tracey: Zoe got married?
      Kaylee: Yeah.
      Tracey: Yeah, next you'll be telling me she smiles and has emotions.

    • Wash: This kind of flying really wakes up a guy.
      Mal: Wake helps.

    • Tracey: Do you think I'm stupid?
      Mal: In every way possible.

    • Tracey: Well, that call--that call means you just murdered me.
      Mal: (shooting him) No, son. You just murdered yourself. I just carried the bullet a while.

    • Tracey: When you can't run you crawl, and when you can't crawl...when you can't do that...
      Zoe: You find someone to carry you.

  • Notes

    • This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation: Short Form.

    • According to Alan Tudyk (Wash) and Jewel Staite (Kaylee) on this episode's DVD commentary, Simon and Kaylee were supposed to have their first kiss in this episode.

    • Actor Richard Burgi, who plays the villanous Lt. Womack, brought his young son to the set during the filming of this episode because he loves spaceships.

    • Jonathan M. Woodward has appeared as an unsavoury character in three Joss Whedon productions. His first appearance was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, playing the vampire Holden, an ex-classmate of Buffy who tries to kill her (while counselling her on her issues). In Angel he played Knox, a Wolfram and Hart science assistant who caused Fred to be infected and killed by Illyria. Here he plays Tracey, who turns on the crew of Serenity.

    • This was originally supposed to be episode number 12. It was moved to be the finale when Joss Whedon was told about the show being cancelled. He thought that the funeral scene was a fitting way for all of the cast and crew to see off the series. This also explains his cameo.

    • In the scenes filmed on the bridge, some feature the shuttle call back button which we first see in "Out of Gas," but some don't. This is because Alan Tudyk (Wash) took the button when he thought the filming was complete and sent it to Joss Whedon with the message "When your miracle gets here, call us back". What Alan didn't realise was that pick-up shots still had to be done on the bridge.

    • Joss Whedon appears in this episode as one of Tracey's family members - Joss himself said that this episode was the funeral for the show hence his appearance at one.

    • International Airdates:
      Latin America: June 26, 2003 on Fox Latin America
      UK: July 28, 2003 on Sci-Fi
      Canada: December 1, 2003 on Space
      Netherlands: August 15, 2009 on Sci-Fi

  • Allusions

    • Inara: Fencing the Lassiter is like fencing the Mona Lisa.
      The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo DaVinci in 1503, is possibly the most famous painting in the world. Even though it is insured for 100 million dollars, some feel it is protected by the notion that no one would buy a stolen object that is so well known they can never show anyone.