“Everybody plays each other, that’s all we ever do. We play parts.”
After helping a small town on a frontier planet with their bandit problem, Mal finds a young stowaway named Saffron (Christina Hendricks), who claims to be his wife. According to Shepherd, Mal unknowingly took part in a native wedding ceremony the night before. The captain wants no part of the married life and plans to drop her off at the next stop, but she makes use of her time. At first it’s not so bad. She cooks, cleans, takes interest in Mal’s life, and is willing to please him in more ways than one. But after a while her meek facade is stripped away to reveal a crafty con artist who plans to throw them under the bus (or ship, rather) and sell Serenity to an intergalactic chop shop.
There are three things that make “Our Mrs. Reynolds” one of my favorite episodes. The first is Christina Hendricks. Yep, five years before she was showing Don Draper how it was done, she was selling Castle down the river to a bunch of space grifters. Of course Saffron’s line of work requires some good acting skills, and Hendricks is able to switch back and forth between demure and submissive to cunning and fallacious with the snap of a finger. She practically steals the show both in and out of character. As Saffron the newlywed from a backwater planet, she’s sheepish, meek, and a little scared of her new surroundings, but eager to please and quite attached to her new husband. Mal isn’t so quick to warm up to her and quickly gets sick of her doormat routine. (“Anyone tries to kill you, you try and kill em right back,” he advises.) When she ditches the charade, she’s able to play the Serenity crew like fools. She successfully seduces Mal and comes close to doing the same with both Wash and Inara, and successfully makes a mess of the place before leaving them to be pulled apart.
The third best thing is the dialogue. This is one of the most quotable hours of television I’ve seen (this is a Joss Whedon production after all), and rest assured the highlights will be chock full of them. It’s abundantly clear that the whole cast had a lot of fun with this one (except for maybe Summer Glau, since she’s barely around and has zero lines, save for a deleted scene where she tries to talk Shepherd into marrying her and Simon), and the script helps heavily.
We get priceless reactions from almost everyone on the crew and everyone seems to have a few choice words about the way their captain is treating his new blushing bride. Wash, while still loyal to Zoe, is quite charmed by her much to his wife’s dismay (“Remember that sex we were planning on having, ever again?”), and probably would’ve fallen for Saffron’s seduction if he weren’t already married and madly in love with a woman who could kill him with her pinky. Jayne is obviously jealous that the captain got himself a hot little number when all he got was a “dumb-ass stick that sound like it’s rainin’” (even though he loved that stick when it was first given to him) and even tries to trade his favorite gun for her. Even though Inara doesn’t approve of the captain’s new engagement, Morena Baccarin seems to be having a lot of fun with this one too. No matter how many times I watch this episode, I always get a huge dumb grin on my face whenever Saffron tries to ask Inara to “teach” her how to please her new husband. Later she finds Mal knocked out and passes out herself after giving him mouth to mouth, and it’s really funny seeing the normally graceful and elegant Inara act all groggy while dodging the assumptions of what really happened.
All laughs and implied lesbianism aside, the big theme of this episode is trust, and how far being honorable in a den of thieves can take you. In a lot of ways, Saffron is the diametric opposite of Mal. Mal is a man of honor and principle, which is a very dangerous thing to be in his field of work. Same goes for his crew. They may not be making the most honest living, but they’re never inauthentic about who or what they are, and they know they all have someone to fall back on. Whereas Saffron is fiercely independent and believes that no one can be trusted. She may be willing to collaborate with others, but doesn’t care when her colleagues are jettisoned into the vacuum of space because, in her eyes, only those who look out for number one make it in the ‘verse. She plays a part, just as Mal plays a part in his work, and Inara plays a part in hers. She may have gotten away, but it was because of that trust that the Serenity crew was able to get out alive.
Overall I give “Our Mrs. Reynolds” a 5/5. This is one of my favorite episodes in the whole series. The dialogue is superb, even by this show’s standards, and Saffron is a fascinating character that will thankfully be given more time in the spotlight later on.
Next episode: “Jaynestown”
– The opening scene where the crew ambush a group of bandits whiled disguised as travelers to me is pretty amazing. Nathan Fillion is one of the few men I can think of who can hold a man at gunpoint while wearing a dress and make the line “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you” sound threatening.
– Shepherd: “If you take sexual advantage of her, you’re going to burn in a very special level of Hell. A level reserved for child molesters, and people who talk at the theater.”
– Mal: “I would appreciate it if someone on this boat would not assume that I’m an evil lecherous hwin dan.
Zoe: “Nobody’s saying that, sir.”
Wash: “Yeah, we’re pretty much just giving each other significant glances and laughing incessantly.”
– Wash: “Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principle form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God! Baby geese, goslings. They were juggled!”
– Jayne: “That’s why I never kiss them on the mouth.”