We watched these a week ago Sunday. Alas for the end of the series; I'm listening to the commentary tracks, which will be a separate post, and browsing for good commentary and fanfic, but it's just not the same. Oh, for September 30 or preview screenings in our area . . .
"Heart of Gold" (112): In which the crew defends a whorehouse against the Evil Patriarchy.
Look, I didn't hate this! I didn't really like it, but I wasn't grinding my teeth the whole way through or anything.
(What, by the way, happened to "prostitutes" as a word? It's more syllables, but it doesn't have that ugly accusing opening noise.)
I didn't dislike it as much as I expected because there was very little Mal/Inara. Which is good, because the Mal/Inara we got wasn't very interesting, especially her running away from emotional involvement. I see she hasn't left by the movie, which may be a concession to TV continuity, since this episode was unaired and "Objects" was adjusted accordingly.
I didn't like it, though, because it was so appallingly unsubtle. Between the general cartoonishness of the threat, and the fact that the Mal/Nandi scenes left me cold, I just couldn't work up that much interest in the episode. (The filmed version dropped a line from the shooting script that might have provided a small amount of nuance, one that indicated that the Evil Patriarch's wife supported his kidnapping plan.) Personally I was rooting for Mal to just shoot the Evil Patriarch already once he'd caught him, and while I can see thematically why he didn't, it still didn't seem very safe. On the other hand, I appreciated the lack of protracted death scenes.
There were a few good bits about Serenity's crew: Jayne is horrific, but he got more dressed up than we've seen before, and did a better job of preparing people for the battle than Book did. Wash and Zoe have a long-standing argument about children. River is fascinated by babies.
Oh, and Inara could have been "House Priestess," huh? Maybe that's what happened to the word "prostitute," its temple sense has become fully synonymous with "Companion."
"Objects in Space" (113): In which a bounty hunter boards Serenity looking for River.
Very good and very creepy. I was extremely sleepy when watching this—to the point that I was firmly convinced that it was Mal jumping Early after Simon had been shot, and then couldn't understand how he got in his suit so quickly, until I read the transcript and realized that no, that was Simon, still (I have no idea how I managed that)—so I may not do it justice, but excellent stuff.
(I also didn't notice the picture of the older woman and the dog in the ship until the transcript pointed it out. River seemed to be extrapolating well beyond just that picture in talking to Early, though.)
Speaking of tired and distracted: Is it silly to wonder just where that gun did come from? Fabulous scene, wouldn't trade it for much higher levels of plausibility—but I believe Jayne when he says he doesn't leave his guns lying around.
I briefly bought that River was actually going to go with Early; when the plan was revealed, I realized that of course she wouldn't, because she wouldn't do that to Simon. I really liked the way she seemed to cohere when she needed to here, as in "War Stories" but more so.
Has anyone done an AU of the episode with Jayne not sleeping through it? It's completely not what the episode was about, but it nags at me a bit, as a too-easy shortcut past a complication.
In visual news, I loved the vertical pans through the ship. And Simon has much better muscles than I would have expected. (I must respectfully disagree with stakebait about Simon/Kaylee; I thought they were noticeably more relaxed with each other here, and are just generally cute.)
Comments on River's perceptions in the teaser:
- Simon: "I would be there right now." He says this later, but not accusingly. Ah, sibling guilt.
I think she looks away from River when Simon speaks, but I'm not sure. If she does, it fits in with her coolness post-"War Stories."Upon re-watching: she doesn't say anything, she just looks at River without expression. I'm inclined to think that this is to keep attention on Simon, without much else significance.
- Jayne: "I got stupid. The money was too good." Straightfoward enough.
- Book: "I don't give half a hump if you're innocent or not." This, unlike the statements River has perceived so far, is not something that Book has or would say. I'm guessing this is a flash of his pre-Shepherd past, because as a fear of River's it doesn't make much sense. ETA: This continues, "So where does that put you?" I hadn't remembered that the statement went on in the same tone, and had taken it, in the transcript, as a statement to Jayne re: whether he was taking orders. Taking the hypothesis suggested by prior episodes, that Book was formerly Alliance, possibly law enforcement—well, it seems to fit.
- Zoe and Wash: no statements, just intimacy with River on the outside. They don't interact with River much from what we've seen, do they?
- Inara: "I'm a big girl. Just tell me." . . . I got nothing, except wanting to dispute Inara's assessment of herself.
- Mal: "None of it means a damn thing." Is this a reaction to Inara, maybe? It's not a general statement, because there certainly are things that matter to Mal.
ETA on rewatching: I noticed the music this time around: the little heroic riff when Jayne rolls over and rips the blanket off his weapons wall—which then immediately drops when he goes back to sleep (damnit, I still want him to have not slept through it) and the brief bit that sounds like the theme song when River's revealed on Early's ship.
And how much do I love this ending exchange?
Permission to come aboard?
You know, you ain't quite right.
It's the popular theory.
Go on. Get in there. Give your brother a thrashing for messing up your plan.
He takes so much looking after.
So very much.
I did roll my eyes at Mal having to snark off to Early face-to-face. Thematic, but not smart since Early had kicked his ass once already, and he could've got that line in after Early was flying away.) /end edit
We also watched the making-of documentary, which, as I've said elsewhere, had little of interest but enough to annoy.
[Edited 5/31/05 after re-watching "Objects in Space."]