Firefly Episode 13: If You Are Stuck at Home in a Rainstorm…
Otherwise, you may just want to skip this one. But let me explain why
You may remember the classic Western, Unforgiven (1992) directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. It’s the sad tale of a lonely farmer who had recently lost his wife. He was, at one point, a cold-hearted gunman. He decides to take one final job, adopting his dark earlier persona for the last time so he can provide a better life for his kids. His job is to kill a local sheriff who has been harassing prostitutes in a small Western town. It’s a story with no real good guys that leaves us with the infamous line, “We all have it coming.” I think this episode of Firefly tried to emulate the Western. But it does a terrible job.
Before discussing the plot, I just want to say the main problem with this episode is a complete clash in tones. It goes from trying to say something profound to cheap jokes in the blink of an eye. It tries to deal with heavy subject matter, but this is a good example of what happens when a bad writer tries to shoehorn a poorly thought-out message into a swashbucklers-in-space type series. The genres are going to clash.
I’m going to try and say this as delicately as I can: It would’ve have served the writers well to show a little tact. I don’t know if they were uncomfortable with the subject matter or what. I can’t say for sure what they were thinking, but I will say this was the closest I’ve been to being outright offended by an episode of really anything. In fact, I’ll be honest here, and admit that I almost didn’t write a review for this one because I couldn’t decide how to approach the episode. In short, this one could’ve been handled much better.
So, here’s the gist: Local prostitutes hire the crew to kill a man who impregnated one of them and wants to raise the child without her. Now, we are not told a lot about this situation. But there is an implication that the woman was forced into being a surrogate mother. Now, if you’re going to tackle a subject like this, it’s best to adopt a somber tone.
But that’s not what we get. We get cheap jokes and blue humor. I’m not normally bothered by such humor personally, but given the nature of the situation described, I thought it was in poor taste. At the very least, we could’ve had the different characters reacting to the situation in different ways. Perhaps, some of the characters could’ve been using the jokes as a way to cope with what was happening. But nothing so subtle occurs because the writers appear to be using humor as a means to distract the audience from the subject matter.
In the end, the man is killed. The woman who hired the crew is also killed, and the mother gets to keep her child. I’m not going to say more because my honest recommendation is to skip this episode altogether.