Firefly 12: The Amazing Mail Order Human Body
The episode, while still interesting, returned to a pattern of puzzling plot developments.
I was disappointed with Episode 12. After a run of three great episodes in a row, we experience yet another drop in quality. This drop is marked by the classic telltale sign of a bad episode: Simon says something stupid, and Kaylee storms off in a huff. The context of this conversation is not important; the bottom line is, Kaylee is mad, so all the other women are mad because nobody loves poor Simon.
Now, this plot development was not irksome at first, because Jayne gets a letter from his mother and a funny hat. This made sense. If the crew is contact with relatives, they would know to which station to send packages.
But then the crew gets another unexpected delivery, a body.
Here is where the plot begins to fall apart. The dead man is apparently an old buddy from the War whom the crew hasn’t seen in years. So how the heck did he know where to tell someone to send his corpse?
It may come as shock to some people, but space is big and UPS has trouble even with Missouri. So how is a package supposed to get delivered when there is no address and half the planets in the galaxy are terraformed? If there was an explanation for this, I did not hear it.
At any rate, the guy leaves a recording in which he asks for his body to be taken to his home planet to be buried. Apparently, he didn’t trust the galactic postal service to get him home, but he trusted it enough to find his former friends without offering an address.
The crew honors his request, or tries to anyway. But sure enough, it turns out some thugs posing as Alliance officers want the body. Not sure how to stall the thugs who are firing warning shots at Serenity Mal and the others open the coffin, and finding nothing, decide to have Simon perform an autopsy. Poor Simon cuts into the corpse, and the “body” wakes up, screaming.
Here is where another time-honored Firefly tradition is upheld. Kaylee has stormed off, so Simon must be attacked. The dead man springs from the operating table and jumps at Simon. Fortunately, Simon is not horribly mangled by the dead comrade because Mal is there to pull him off.
Together, they subdue the breathing corpse, and Simon continues to check the man’s vitals, where he makes another startling discovery. The man’s heart is beating rapidly. In fact, all his organs are acting in an erratic fashion — although, we are given no details regarding this fact — yet the man feels no pain. He smiles and explains.
It turns out Mal and Zoë’s wartime pal has gotten into the shady business of organ harvesting. Only now, the organs are synthetic and must be grown inside a living person. So, a willing subject’s organs are removed, and then, replaced by the new, still growing, organs, which will be returned to him once this fresh set has reached maturity. So . . . I have questions.
What does he mean when he says, “still growing?” Are we talking about baby organs that have to go through a whole life cycle, or are we talking about half-formed organs that must . . . solidify or something? In any case, how is this guy still alive? If he can function while the organs are still in development, then for all intent and purposes, the organs work! Why not just put them in the person they were made for and leave them? What’s with the middleman?
To make the situation even more ridiculous, the guy tells them that, while he was waiting for these organs to finish forming, he had received a better offer from a different client. So, he decided to betray the first buyers — presumably the thugs shooting warning shots at the Firefly (about whom the writers have completely forgotten about for ten minutes of air time) — but these first buyers discovered his betrayal, and he can’t figure out how. Could it have been when the shipping address for his original organs changed!
And on top of all that, Kaylee just randomly falls in love with this guy! And what’s even more hilarious, is that the writers expect me to care! I mean, given how often she flees in outrage at every stupid remark from an awkward doctor and how she swoons at the first corpse sitting on top of an operating table, I’d say Simon’s dodged a bullet.
Then the ship shakes around a little bit because the writers remembered that there are still bad guys shooting at the heroes, and more stupidity follows, which will be covered in the second part of this review.