Forty minutes isn’t a very long time, really. For so long, as a kid, I was fooled into thinking that I was getting an hour of television when I sat down to watch television for an hour. Thanks to the helpful displays on VCRs and DVD players, I now know the truth. Not that it’s so much of an issue for some television shows. But for action-dramas, it somewhat limits the scope of potential stories. It’s even worse for genre shows that can’t rely as heavily on the shorthand of everyday life to fill the viewers in.

‘Bushwhacked’ has its faults, but I am impressed at how much is packed into it. It’s the one with the ghost ship. It’s the one with the newly-created Reaver. It’s the one where they get taken on board an Alliance ship and questioned. It just keeps on moving, and jumping, in just the way that most shows don’t.

The episode is also the first to really showcase the strong bond that the crew has. Even Simon is starting to integrate himself, though Book already feels like he’s been there forever. Inara, I suppose, will always be a little on the outer due to her overwhelming classiness. I can’t imagine her playing that crazy basketball-ish game. But it’s a nice touch to show them all relaxed and enjoying themselves. I’ve seen quite a few TV shows where none of the main characters like what they’re doing, or the people they’re with — it’s amusing for a while, but there’s something so much more inviting about a show with this warmth at its centre.

We got a lot of scares out of the very idea of Reavers in Serenity.1 Having decided to show us a bit more of them, Firefly really has to deliver. When they’re out in space just being menacing, they’ll work to an extent because of the ‘unknown’ factor. If you’re giving them close-ups, there’s a lot more pressure. Cleverly, in this episode we’re really only one step up from not seeing them at all. Seeing the effect they have on one person ratchets up the tension, but provides a nifty escape clause for the series should they find a way to make reavers even more horrible later. A kind of “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” factor.2

Once the crew are captured by the law, Mal gets to do a nice Doctor Who-ish turn as the man who knows what’s going on but gets ignored by the annoying authority figure. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew take part in a brilliantly funny little interrogation montage that sums up their characters very neatly — a nice device for an early-season episode, given that viewers are presumably still getting acquainted with the large cast. ‘Bushwhacked’ does a nice job of reinforcing the crew’s shaky relationship with the Alliance, has fun with Simon’s attempts to become a useful part of the crew, and at times manages to be quite scary. If it were a hamburger, it would be one with the lot.3

  1. The episode, not the film.
  2. They did of course end up appearing in Serenity, and they didn’t really look that much more horrible than this feller. And now I’m talking about the film, not the episode. I wish Joss had called the film Attack of the Reavers or The Signal of Doom or something.
  3. Mmmmm. TV Hamburgers.
We're all doomed! Who's FLYING this thing?! Oh right, that would be me. — Wash

5 Responses to “Bushwhacked”

  1. Dear God, will no one point out a typo to a poor unfortunate Grapefruit writer? How embarrassing. “Bushwacked” indeed. My humblest apologies.

  2. I figured it was meant to be spelt that way.

    Also, Hayko, there’s a big party a Tom’s house Friday night. Should be about 400 people there for his birthday.

  3. Since it’s not spelt Bushwacked I think you’ll find you need to correct some typos in the article itself. Who’s your editor?

    I know Jackson told you that last night but I wanted to post but have nothing to say about the episode.

  4. What!? And I didn’t check this comment section until now?

    Well, I had better things to do. I visited Astrid and partied with her for her birthday… Ha!

  5. There’s no question that that would have been more exciting than visiting this comment page. How come I wasn’t invited?