Firefly Review – “Ariel”

Those of you who thought that Mal might be getting a bit soft with his “you’re a member of my crew” speech a little while ago can rest assured that he’s still a captain.

Cast

Nathan Fillion
as Malcolm Reynolds
Gina Torres as Zoe
Alan Tudyk as Wash
Morena
Baccarin
as Inara
Jewel Staite as Kaylee
Adam Baldwin as Jayne
Sean Maher as
Dr. Simon Tam
Summer Glau as
River Tam
Ron Glass as Shepherd

Crew

Written by Jose Molina.
Directed by Allen Kroeker.
The complete IMDB listings can be found here.
The official website can be found here.

Original Airdate


Ariel
originally aired on Friday,
November 15, 2003.

Premise

Simon has a plan to get information about his sister’s condition on a
core planet.

High Point

Remember the Malcolm Reynolds that kicked a man into Serenity’s
engine? He’s back this week.

Low Point

Why do the extremely powerful bad guys never run to catch up with
people?

The Review

The basic plot is unoriginal, but the implementation, and
River’s condition both felt fresh. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were impressive, and very new. It’s the first
good look we’ve had at the high-tech planets, and it was a very nice
one. There was a lot of variety required, and not a lot of time to
put it together. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story was tightly plotted, and very interesting. We had
parallel revelations for Simon, River, and Jayne; we didn’t have the
stock “people who don’t get along make up and like each other;” we
learned a lot more about how the captain treats his crew. If the blue
hand people seemed as concerned about catching them as they did about
eliminating witnesses, this would have been perfect. I give it 5 out
of 6.

The acting was, again, a little one-dimensional (but still
convincing) from Sean Maher (due primarily to his script) and great
from the others. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was excellent. This is a Joss Whedon
show, so I was positive we’d be short at least one crew member in the
next episode. The only question was who wouldn’t make it. Joss never
fails to surprise. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production was very different from previous weeks, but
just as high-quality. There were a number of expensive sets they had
to put together that had to be at a completely different technological
level than the previous sets, and yet the crew still had to fit. The
wardrobe, production design, and lighting all came together to pull
this off, and they did it very well. The editing, particularly toward
the end, helped keep the viewer as off-balance as the characters
were. I give it 6 out of 6.

The overall impression of this episode was that it belongs in
Sweeps. So far, I’d say this episode is second only to Out Of
Gas
. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Ariel recieves 38 out of 42.

Additional Notes

The list of upcoming
episodes
has nothing listed for November 22 or November 29. I
don’t know if we’ll have reruns or pre-emptions, but I’m guessing
pre-emptions, since we’re in Sweeps. December has three new episodes,
including one with no production number titled Serenity that
was written and directed by Joss Whedon. I think it’s a safe bet that
this will be the pilot they haven’t aired yet. Set your VCRs for
December 20. (That’s two days after the release of The Two
Towers
.)

10 replies on “Firefly Review – “Ariel””

  1. Daemonik says:

    Edge of the seat
    This episode was perhaps the second best of the series to date. Up untill the minute Mal closed the hatch there was no way to know if Jayne would live or die, especially knowing Whedon’s willingness to kill off main characters to advance the plot.

    I was impressed with the special effects this episode. Goes to show that wagons and horses aren’t a universal and that a great deal of the ‘western revival’ settings are affectations and economic/technologic limitations.

    Interesting to note that on the Core planets, Federal troops are no less threatening and watchful of the populace but they use non-lethal weaponry. Perhaps what we’ve perceived to be a fascist government isn’t totally unaccountable.

    The 3D scanner erased any complaints I had about the level of medicine that was being shown in the series. It looked and behaved exactly how I would picture a highly advanced MRI/CAT/Virtual Reality diagnostic system should be. I especially like the little touch where Simon could grasp the ‘edges’ of the scan and twist it about as if it was an x-ray.

    Here’s a mischievious thought, last episode Shepherd produced an ID card that got him a surprising amount of help from the Alliance, help that they don’t just hand out. Now Serenity makes a trip to the Core so that Inara can get a medical examination and Shepherd decides he has to leave the ship to ‘meditate’, thus avoiding being in the Core. Could just be a coincidence, but then again……

    • rickyjames says:

      Re: Edge of the seat

      last episode Shepherd produced an ID card that got him a surprising amount of help from the Alliance, help that they don’t just hand out. Now Serenity makes a trip to the Core…and Shepherd decides he has to leave the ship to ‘meditate’, thus avoiding being in the Core. Could just be a coincidence, but then again……

      I thought this was odd too. I’m wondering if Shepherd is ultimately going to be revealed / (reviled?) as an Alliance general during the Unification War, one who is regarded by the Alliance as a hero but to himself seems a butcher to the point he has turned to religion for his own personal redemption. Naturally, he led the final battle that wiped out Mal’s unit…you heard it here first…

  2. rickyjames says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow.
    I’m not gonna argue the point, but to me this was the best Firefly yet, even better than Out of Gas. Great character development of half the cast in a fast moving and interesting story. Yeah, maybe the Blues Bros. should have moved a little faster…but I can forgive Joss et al that forever as long as they provide me with such a fun ride. To depict true betrayal by and then believable redemption of a major character as only one of many plot threads shows remarkable dramatic skills by everybody involved in Firefly – writers, actors, production staff. I think the Simon character is doing just fine, I find his potrayal and acting to be quite good particularly given the straight-man role he has to endure for all of the set-ups and expositions. But River is going to have to step up to the plate pretty soon in the storyline, I think; so far events have swirled around her and she has just sort of gone with the flow as an unwilling participant. That’s gonna get old (and is with me already) so now that they’ve got the scoop on her augmentation, whatever it is, I think the storyline needs to take on more of a slant that she is developing some sort of ability under Simopn’s guidence. Mal kicks ass big time; he is BY FAR a better starship captain than ANY of those wanna-bes that have been on that other show…uh…the one that’s been around a long tine… made some movies, you know the one…what WAS it’s name?

  3. vandemar says:

    The Shepherd
    I’d like to point out that Ron Glass’ character is named Book, not Shepherd. Shepherd is just his title. I think no one in Firely uses his name for the same reason that you’d address a Catholic priest as “Father”, rather than by name.

  4. diablo-d3 says:

    Hmm
    Doc’s sister, River, has an impressive array of abilites. I really hope Firefly lasts long enough to explore them. She seems to be able to be both telepathic, and also (I dont know the correct word) be able to see into other surrounding areas, and sense other people. She also can see the future a little bit.

    The part of her brain that they messed with, the one that filters out stuff we dont want to pay attention to, probably also filters out input from the areas of our brains that use/generate psi powers. They (the Allience scientists) enabled her (at a great cost) to use her other senses.

    • mbourgon says:

      Re: Hmm

      Doc’s sister, River, has an impressive array of abilites. I really hope Firefly lasts long enough to explore them.

      Agreed. I found the part interesting where Simon was busy grabbing the data, and so no-one noticed that her entire brain started “glowing” right before her prediction. Nice touch – the viewer knows something else is going on, but the crew doesn’t. Knowing Joss, we’ll see something more about it in several episodes. I hope the ratings are going up – the show seems to be getting damn good. I loved Simon telling everyone how great Jayne was – he didn’t know anything was going on, but obviously Mal pieced it together. I’m glad they didn’t kill Jayne – the crew is a bit small to get rid of a core member, and Jayne is definitely a Humor Element.

    • wayfaring_familiar says:

      Re: Hmm– River vs. the Blues Brothers

      The part of her brain that they messed with, the one that filters out stuff we dont want to pay attention to, probably also filters out input from the areas of our brains that use/generate psi powers. They (the Allience scientists) enabled her (at a great cost) to use her other senses.

      River’s abilities & sensitivity seem to be exactly opposite the sensitivity of the agents that came after Jayne, Simon, & River. The “Blues Brothers” (love that!) were immune to the nosebleed “penlight” weapon but it quickly killed the Alliance soldiers. It struck me that perhaps the blues brothers — who never expressed any emotions — had undergone some brain operation that was effectively opposite of River’s. She is extra sensitive; whereas they are unsensing, unfeeling, almost automatons — and thus immune to their brainwave-pen weapon.

      My suspension of disbelief was almost thrown off by all the new-and-unexplained technology, especially the brainwave pen, but the blues brothers were so compellingly strange that I was pretty much able to ignore their weird weapon. It may not hold much water, but I wanted to know what that super-tech device was supposedly doing to the Alliance soldiers and why it didn’t affect those agents, so I came up with this explanation about the agents’ operation. Thoughts?

      wayf.

  5. diablo-d3 says:

    I agree…
    Out of Gas was one of the best episodes of any scifi series I’ve ever seen. And for Firefly, this has to be the 2nd best. Well, except the one where he kicked the dude into the engines…

  6. GrimSean says:

    Well done
    All I can say is, if Whedon can manage to keep the series at the level exhibited by this episode, he’ll definately have another hit on his hands. This was the first Firefly episode I watched that made me sit up and take notice (I missed “Out of Gas”) and it impressed the hell out of me. I really didn’t expect Jayne to live – pure Whedon.

  7. vanyel says:

    2nd High Point
    Though the ending definitely topped it off, for one liners, I just have to say “Clear.” :-)

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