AOQ Firefly Review 7: "Jaynestown"

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Arbitrar Of Quality

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Apr 19, 2007, 1:48:01 AM4/19/07
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FIREFLY
Season One, Episode 7: "Jaynestown"
(or "I'm sorry, but on my world I had a nice home, and a good job with
prospects, and I get angry at the thought that my life suddenly
consists of standing in front of sewage-smelling models of my most
hated crewmate being patronized by a lot of demented Mudders.")
Writer: Ben Edlund
Director: Marita Grabiak

I feel tempted to strongly recommend that anyone who wants to sink
huge portions of their lives into watching television should try
writing about it. Not because the effort will produce anything of
great value to the world (it won't), but it will get your head working
the right way to appreciate it a little more. That's been my
experience, at least.

Rather than starting at the beginning of the episode this time, I'd
like to begin by sharing my personal big moment. Okay, so at the
point in time to which I'm momentarily applying the narrative present
tense, I've seen this episode a couple times already. I've always
liked it but it didn't resonate, although ever since my brother's
comment that it's his favorite of the series, it's grown in my mind to
one of the highlights. Now the early going is enjoyable but isn't
quite matching my recollections of its quality, and I'm not quite
feeling where it's going. I'm in the habit of starting to think about
the review as I watch, so I'm making mental observations on the tone
and on the series having so many "comedic but not all-out comedy"
episodes so early. We've just gone through some sequences with River
and Book, and now we're planetside with the post-coital exchange
between Inara and her client. She talks about loss of virginity as "a
symbol," echoing one of the words also heavily used in the previous
sequence. Taken on its own, this dialogue is a little bit clunky.
But that's in part because, for me, it did its job this time - the job
of being a big flashing red sign saying "IT'S ALL ABOUT SYMBOLS! (you
moron)."

Going back to think about the story in that light, "Jaynestown" is one
of the most single-minded episodes of the series - it has a theme in
mind and it obsesses over it. There are several minor stories going
on at once with the various cast members, and they're all about the
topic of symbols and the meaning ascribed to them. Our opening scene,
for instance, shows Simon and Kaylee discussing how to get the maximum
value out of profanity, how the same words represent different
concepts to them. That kind of thing. I'm not going to list every
example, but, yeah, that kind of thing. That scene also has the
classic delivery of the line "bye, now! Have good sex!" which is
making me smile as we (figuratively) speak.

Jayne himself is first seen from the outside, tearing apart the
infirmary and generally making the people around him miserable.
Beneath the brutish exterior is a pretty brutish interior, although
he's genuinely worried about his own safety... but, uh, how was he
planning to ever draw his weapon given all that tape? Baldwin gives a
great performance all episode, the first sign of which is in the
subdued accusatory look he gives when he starts painfully ripping off
the tape he just applied. I don't want to talk much more about the
rest of the teaser, which I didn't find very entertaining. But if I
wanted to blather about how it fits into our theme, I'm sure I
could.

So it turns out that Jayne, funny hat and all, is a folk hero, having
dropped money that he couldn't carry onto the Mudders. Much of the
fun to be had (and this is fun, if not laugh-out-loud hilarious) from
this episode is simply the incongruousness of the concept, and the
other characters soaking up the absurdity (Inara's assumption about
who the hero is is smile-worthy and revealing, but my favorite it
Simon's dazed deadpan on "this must be what going mad feels like").
Yet they're still finding ways to use it to their business advantage.
As everyone gets drunker, we get scenes like Mal leaving his engineer
to explore her developing relationship, and "Jaynestown" itself
settles into a sort of amiably buzzed haze of enjoyability, which
propels the episode until the next morning when the hangover, so to
speak, hits.
While the Mudders' lifestyle and unexpectedly catchy tunes are nice
(notice Guy Who Dies getting a quick close-up right away, listening
reverently to the song), they're mostly a faceless mob who're
susceptible to symbols. The effect on Mr. Cobb seems most worth
watching. There's a good moment when he suddenly starts to realize
that being a hero could be fun, and indulges in the whiskey and women
- so far, so Jayne as we know him. But eventually he starts to
believe in his own cult, and that's new. "You think we should be
using my fame to hoodwink folks?... No really, Mal, I mean, maybe
there's something to this. The Mudders? I think I really made a
difference in their lives." People have been helped because of him,
and that's hard to brush off. Some stories would end there, with him
finding the inspiration to become a hero, to try to make himself
worthy of what's already being ascribed to him. Not so simple here;
it's easy to be gracious when times are good, but that's not real
change. The fact that he gets cheered for his speech despite not
actually having anything to say keeps us aware of the superficiality;
he's just barely smart enough to portray himself as a simple man, and
quickly turn things around to make it all about his fans. Then the
people wanting to believe can do the rest. That's where his former
ally who's being kept by the Magistrate steps in. On first viewing I
thought this guy's whole role in the story was pretty contrived, and I
guess I still do, but now I feel like it's important that he be
there. For the episode's purposes, Jayne can't just be an ordinary
guy who ended up a hero, he has to have ditched his partner. The jolt
has to come from the way that on this heroic occasion, he was a worse
bastard than any of the people who're drinking to him.
The sub-plot that intersects with the main plot, though it gets much
less screen time, involves our favorite whore spending some quality
time with the son of the planet's Magistrate. Dad leans toward the
mwahaha-evil side, but I can accept it given that he's convincingly
casual about his exploitation of lesser folk, like it doesn't even
register as a problem. And Fess turns out to just be seeking someone
to symbolically condone a little defiance, be it Jayne or Inara. The
episode commentaries have noted that Inara's Companioning technique
invariably involves finding a way to work in a variation of "I could
be with anyone who pays me, but I chose you because you're special."
Otherwise this doesn't tell us much, except for being a bit more glib
and blunt than the other stories are - symbols mean something entirely
because we think they do. I'm rather confused about the mechanisms of
how a ship gets "locked down," although I can't say I'd want to dwell
on it any more than we do.

Meanwhile on Serenity, some of the earlier parts of the episode
feature River and Book developing their rapport when she decides to
fix his Bible. He seems to have (in multiple copies, fortunately) the
version of the good book we all know and some love, rather than one of
the offshoots seen in "Safe" and "Our Mrs. Reynolds." The show makes
him actually come out and admit to the contradictions in his bedrock
of wisdom and morality, and that his faith requires him to set aside
sense. Unlike in a lesser show, I like how that continues to mostly
work for him, but it doesn't sway her into not trying to find her own
way. Not so much of a fan of the protracted hair gag, although it's
okay. I'm more interested in the mannerisms here, since I found River
surprisingly charming during her repair work this time compared to
past viewings - she's smarter than you, and has found an intellectual
puzzle she thinks can help others. I should also mention one of
River's best lines of the series, the first part of which speaks to
the way her mind works and the second to her capacity for learning and
kindness. "I tore these out of your symbol, and they turned into
paper - but I want to put them back, so -" Her final line, on the
other hand, seems... a little bit badass, for the first time that hasn't
been in a cockney accent.

As a wannabe-fellow doctor, I keep wanting to see Simon bust out some
of that steel we saw in the first two episodes - he's been pretty
passive since then. Here he understandably can't handle a physical
fight with a guy twice his size, but he doesn't seem to be panicking
either, alert for any way out of trouble that might present itself.
So I guess that's somethin'. While we're talking about him, there're
a few closing scenes back on the ship. I like making it explicit the
way Simon intentionally hangs on to some of his highfalutin' ways, as
a way to keep in touch with who he is (almost like the episode's *all
about symbols* or something... I seriously didn't always pick up on
this, so you'll have to forgive the belated exuberance). And he
manages to turn it into a way of showing affection for Kaylee,
although she (and possibly he) would never have registered it if he
hadn't said it out loud.

The break after act three comes when Guy Who Dies gets shot, an odd
place for a suspense moment. But it's the climax of the story for
Jayne, hitting him in a way that simply being exposed as a jerk
hadn't. Once someone's done a damn fool thing like dying for him, I'm
riveted by the way he snaps, seeming to lash out and crumple at the
same time as he goes to town on Stitch, and then on his own likeness.
I wouldn't put it above Joss to have known from day one that the
character was capable of such intense emotion, but it would've been
hard for the naïve viewer to guess. Tied in with that heavy stuff,
one can't help but laugh at the vindictiveness with which the episode
takes iconic images from westerns like the wide-eyed little boy
presenting a weapon to the town's hero and grinds them into the
dirt.

This review has been difficult to write because I can't stop thinking
about this episode, in chaotic ways, and I'm trying to put together a
summary in my mind of what it all means. Any lesson one might learn
seems muddled. The closest we get is hearing from both Jayne and Mal
that there ain't no heroes here. But then, the episode also shows us
that the truth doesn't always negate what lies can inspire people to
do. A cynic might argue that it's just an unfocused telling. I
prefer to think that it's not supposed to impart a moral so much as
simply to be a captivating demonstration of people elevating something
- a person, an object, religions, actions, phrases - until it has
meaning and power beyond itself, facts and logic be damned. Even if,
or perhaps because, it "don't make no sense."

This is Ben Edlund's debut writing for Mutant Enemy; he seems to have
a cultish following of his own thanks to _The Tick_. He'll go on to
work on "Trash" and several episodes of _Angel_ of widely varying
quality.


So...

One-sentence summary: Represents great TV.

AOQ rating: Excellent

[Ratings so far:
1) "Serenity" - Excellent
2) "The Train Job" - Good
3) "Bushwhacked" - Decent
4) "Shindig" - Good
5) "Safe" - Decent
6) "Our Mrs. Reynolds" - Good
7) "Jaynestown" - Excellent]

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Apr 19, 2007, 3:10:05 AM4/19/07
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In article <1176961681.2...@b75g2000hsg.googlegroups.com>,

Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> FIREFLY
> Season One, Episode 7: "Jaynestown"
> (or "I'm sorry, but on my world I had a nice home, and a good job with
> prospects, and I get angry at the thought that my life suddenly
> consists of standing in front of sewage-smelling models of my most
> hated crewmate being patronized by a lot of demented Mudders.")

actually
i dont care what you believe in
just believe in something

> between Inara and her client. She talks about loss of virginity as "a
> symbol," echoing one of the words also heavily used in the previous
> sequence. Taken on its own, this dialogue is a little bit clunky.
> But that's in part because, for me, it did its job this time - the job
> of being a big flashing red sign saying "IT'S ALL ABOUT SYMBOLS! (you
> moron)."

in perfect knowledge there is no need for belief
because simply you know

humans never have complete knowledge
so they must fill the gaps with beliefs
you can call them whatever you want but everyone has their belief system

to encode knowledge we have learned to use symbols
however symbols are at best an aleph null covering
of a possible continuous reality
so symbols are possible inherently imprecise

(this is equivalent to whether a digital computer
can completely model the universe
the strongest form of the church-turing hypothesis)

and so there gaps in our knowledge
and gaps in our expression of what knowledge we have

book admits that his knowledge is incomplete
and that he depending on faith instead

river think she manipulate symbols to reach knowledge (deductive reasoning)
but that fails because the symbols are inadequate to the task

the townspeople didnt know why jayne dumped money on them
so they created a belief why
unfortunately they forgot it was a belief
they decided they knew what was true and false
and they were willing to die for that

did they put up the statue again?
probably becuase they need something to belief in

as for jayne (or maybe the magistrates son)
what makes a man
is it the power in his hnads
is his quest for glory
give it all you got to fight to the top
so we can know your story
now youre a man

what makes a man
is it the women in his arms
just cause she has big titties
is it the way he fights everyday
no its probably the titties
now youre a man

> him actually come out and admit to the contradictions in his bedrock
> of wisdom and morality, and that his faith requires him to set aside

sorry to point this out but inconsistency or incompleteness
infects every formal system
you can be like book and accept this

> sense. Unlike in a lesser show, I like how that continues to mostly
> work for him, but it doesn't sway her into not trying to find her own
> way. Not so much of a fan of the protracted hair gag, although it's

or you can be like river and use your intellect to build a better world
and still fail

(and if strong ct is true it means the universe is a formal system)

meow arf meow - they are performing horrible experiments in space
major grubert is watching you - beware the bakalite
impeach the bastard - the airtight garage has you neo

One Bit Shy

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Apr 19, 2007, 3:23:30 AM4/19/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1176961681.2...@b75g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...


> This review has been difficult to write because I can't stop thinking
> about this episode, in chaotic ways, and I'm trying to put together a
> summary in my mind of what it all means. Any lesson one might learn
> seems muddled.

I'm sitting here thinking that this would be a great moment for Scythe, but
who knows where he is.

Anyway, just a brief 3 A.M. interjection. There's a commonality to the
symbols. The lesson was sort of given by Mal to Jayne, but he only helped
explain what was going on in the town. (Jayne's own speech was pretty close
itself.) The idea applies to a bunch of people in the episode, but it's not
really news to them. Not in the way it is to Jayne anyway.

Ultimately I believe the episode really is about Jayne. There was some
foreshadowing last episode, but here kicks off a crisis of conscience within
him that will come to a head a little ways ahead. Not that Jayne had ever
entertained the notion before that a conscience even matters - let alone
that he might have one. Thoughts like that scare him.

Maybe that'll help put something together - or maybe just muddle it more. I
expect I'll say something more when I'm actually awake.

OBS


George W Harris

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Apr 19, 2007, 8:19:41 AM4/19/07
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On Thu, 19 Apr 2007 03:23:30 -0400, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry>
wrote:

:
:Ultimately I believe the episode really is about Jayne. There was some

:foreshadowing last episode, but here kicks off a crisis of conscience within
:him that will come to a head a little ways ahead. Not that Jayne had ever
:entertained the notion before that a conscience even matters - let alone
:that he might have one. Thoughts like that scare him.

Something Joss Whedon is fond of saying is that in
every story, everybody - the hero, the villain, henchman #3 -
thinks of himself as the main character. It's more than just
an interesting exercise to view the entire TV series as being
about Jayne.

This is really the first episode where we start to see
Jayne's story. Up to "Our Mrs Reynolds" we were mostly
just establishing character. He's rude, crude, violent and
amoral, given to merciless teasing but nonetheless capable
of affection (Kaylee as usual serves as the center of the
crew, and reveals positive qualities in Jayne). He has some
degree of loyalty to the Cap'n - it'd take a lot of money to
get him to betray him. He's not willing to go out of his way
to help people without some expectation of reward.

There's some foreshadowing of real depth in "Our
Mrs Reynolds", with his participation in the good deed
(although it involves doing violence, which he seems to
enjoy), and his drunken interaction with Elder Gommen, but
Jayne's story really launches, appropriately enough, in
"Jaynestown". Here we see what he used to be like, and
what he might become. We learn that four years ago, before
he met Mal, Jayne was a good deal less prone to loyalty to
his partners. He threw Stitch Hessian out of an aircar without
a second thought (probably without a first thought), even
though they'd been running together for six months. Clearly
he's changed somewhat (it's worth noting that when he tells
the story of the heist, he completely omits Stitch. Could this
be shame that our boy feels? He obviously cares what the
crew think of him, which will become important later).

And he changes some more. His reaction to being
viewed a hero is at first puzzlement, but once he figures it
out it changes to opportunity. Booze and broads! But that
doesn't last. I think four years ago, Jayne wouldn't have
ever gotten past that stage, but his exposure to the crew of
"Serenity" has sensitized (snort!) him to others' moods. He
recognizes the misery of the Mudders' existance, and he
can't help but see how their belief in his myth has changed
their lives - he's made a real difference. That moves him,
and, I think, frightens him. He doesn't understand how they
feel about him, in large part because he's never felt that way
about anybody - he's never *had* a hero. For most of his life,
he's probably never had anybody he admired for anything
other than skill with a firearm.

Looking back to "Our Mrs Reynolds" again, recall
her speech in the closing, where she says all people do is
play each other, and Mal says he's got the gun to her head
because he's got people he can count on. One of those
people is Jayne. Clearly the Jayne that threw Stitch Hessian
out of the aircar has a lot more in common in his approach to
people with Mrs Reynolds than does the Jayne that tore down
his own statue. He doesn't recognize it, but he has people he
relies on, and he has people that rely on him (think of the trust
Mal showed in letting Jayne take out the snipers in "Serenity"
the episode).

At the end of this episode, Jayne is clearly shaken by
the death of The Guy Who Gets Killed. Why'd he go and do
that for? Jayne certainly is aware of that kind of behavior, and
in the past he's almost certainly dismissed it as stupid, but now
he's *inspired* that behavior. This leads to something else
completely alien to Jayne - introspection. Could he possibly
have the qualities that inspire that behavior?
--
Firefly Fan Since September 20th, 2002 - Browncoat Since Birth

George W. Harris For actual email address, replace each 'u' with an 'i'

One Bit Shy

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Apr 19, 2007, 6:55:51 PM4/19/07
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"George W Harris" <gha...@mundsprung.com> wrote in message
news:3vle23h72bjembrkl...@4ax.com...

> On Thu, 19 Apr 2007 03:23:30 -0400, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry>
> wrote:

Now here's what happens when one is actually awake when one writes. <g>
What you said...

Jayne doesn't know any of that in OMR. (The contrast in attitudes between
drunk and sober is probably intended to show something working underneath
his awareness.) I'd say it's unclear how much impact it really had to that
point - even subconsciously. But a kind of pattern for living right has
been constructed for him to slip into when he's ready. I really like Mal's
unquestioning dependence on Jayne to shoot true with Vera at the end. A
little different than the trust you refer to in Serenity, but still handled
as a simple expectation. Expectation is a powerful motivater. People
really do tend to live up to expectations. (Or down to expectations if
that's where they're aimed.) I think Mal's deft handling of that may be his
greatest leadership attribute. Anyway, Jayne's been primed for a change in
perspective. But he needs a few kicks in the behind to open his mind to it.


> At the end of this episode, Jayne is clearly shaken by
> the death of The Guy Who Gets Killed. Why'd he go and do
> that for? Jayne certainly is aware of that kind of behavior, and
> in the past he's almost certainly dismissed it as stupid, but now
> he's *inspired* that behavior. This leads to something else
> completely alien to Jayne - introspection. Could he possibly
> have the qualities that inspire that behavior?

That's pretty good. There's probably a few other things his introspection
could lead him to. But another aspect is the object lesson itself. The Guy
Who Gets Killed saved Jayne's life. You can get all worked up about needing
to believe in something even if not's really true, but there's a
practicality involved too. There's a reward to be had from depending on
people. And it works best when they're ready to depend on you.

OBS

One Bit Shy

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Apr 19, 2007, 8:03:54 PM4/19/07
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"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1176961681.2...@b75g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> FIREFLY


> Season One, Episode 7: "Jaynestown"

> But that's in part because, for me, it did its job this time - the job


> of being a big flashing red sign saying "IT'S ALL ABOUT SYMBOLS! (you
> moron)."

That brings to mind something from BtVS. Pardon the digression for a
moment.

Xander: Why blood? Why Dawn's blood? I mean, why couldn't it be like a, a
lymph ritual?
Spike: 'Cause it's always got to be blood.
Xander: We're not actually discussing dinner right now.
Spike: Blood is life, lackbrain. Why do you think we eat it? It's what keeps
you going. Makes you warm. Makes you hard. Makes you other than dead. Course
it's her blood.

This is a Whedon series. It's always about symbols.


> Going back to think about the story in that light, "Jaynestown" is one
> of the most single-minded episodes of the series - it has a theme in
> mind and it obsesses over it. There are several minor stories going
> on at once with the various cast members, and they're all about the
> topic of symbols and the meaning ascribed to them.

I agree with that, but there's one more step. The meaning ascribed to them
this episode are pretty consistently about belief. That might be faith in
god, or what makes a man. And the meaning is the point of them. The
literal accuracy of the symbols is barely relevant. Simon cursing at the
proper time doesn't make him civilized. But it does keep him connected -
anchored - to his notion of being civilized that is so much part of his self
image and his ideal. So everybody runs around embracing their beliefs
through the mechanism of various symbols representing them.

Except for Jayne. He doesn't believe in anything. He doesn't have that
anchor in his life. Doesn't even believe that other people really do -
until confronting himself as the symbol.

So, how about that for the summary of meaning you were looking for?
Everybody believes in something except Jayne. And now he's scared that
maybe he was wrong.

> So it turns out that Jayne, funny hat and all, is a folk hero, having
> dropped money that he couldn't carry onto the Mudders. Much of the
> fun to be had (and this is fun, if not laugh-out-loud hilarious) from
> this episode is simply the incongruousness of the concept, and the
> other characters soaking up the absurdity (Inara's assumption about
> who the hero is is smile-worthy and revealing, but my favorite it
> Simon's dazed deadpan on "this must be what going mad feels like").

I'm fond of Kaylee's observation that the statue's eyes follow her wherever
she moves.


> While the Mudders' lifestyle and unexpectedly catchy tunes are nice

I really wish that Jayne "heard" rather than "saw" the Mudder's lament. It
always grates when I hear that in the song.

> The fact that he gets cheered for his speech despite not
> actually having anything to say keeps us aware of the superficiality;

Jayne: Far as I see it, you people been given the shortest end of the stick
ever been offered a human soul in this crap-hill 'verse....But you took that
end... well, you took it. And that's... well, I guess that's something.

Superficial... Well, the Mudders got some easy cash - which doesn't appear
to have substantively altered their lives. In a way it's terribly
superficial. The whole fetish over Jayne doesn't help them at all -
materially.

But in another sense it makes all the difference. It got them to stand up
for themselves - albeit in a small way - and show they did have some power
together. And it offers them a model for living that gives them hope amidst
their otherwise terrible lives. They're a lot happier now.

I think Jayne's summary is pretty right on. It's not much, but it's
something. And that makes all the difference to them.


> Not so much of a fan of the protracted hair gag, although it's
> okay.

Really? I think that may have generated the biggest belly laugh out of me
all series.


> So...

> One-sentence summary: Represents great TV.

> AOQ rating: Excellent

It's a pretty funny espisode. And Kaylee's pretty sexy when she's coming
on. And I like the way they're diving into Jayne's character. All in all a
good time. But I couldn't raise the rating above Good. Not enough bite to
it.

OBS


Scythe Matters

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Apr 20, 2007, 12:06:26 AM4/20/07
to
One Bit Shy wrote:

> I'm sitting here thinking that this would be a great moment for Scythe, but
> who knows where he is.

No time to do more than lurk, unfortunately.

But no matter. I trust you. ;-)

Michael Ikeda

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Apr 20, 2007, 5:44:06 AM4/20/07
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Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in
news:1176961681.2...@b75g2000hsg.googlegroups.com:

> FIREFLY
> Season One, Episode 7: "Jaynestown"
> (or "I'm sorry, but on my world I had a nice home, and a good
> job with prospects, and I get angry at the thought that my life
> suddenly consists of standing in front of sewage-smelling models
> of my most hated crewmate being patronized by a lot of demented
> Mudders.") Writer: Ben Edlund
> Director: Marita Grabiak
>

Just thought I'd mention. There is a clip of Adam Baldwin singing
"The Ballad of Jayne" on Disc 4.

It's an "Easter Egg" so here are directions (adapted from
www.dvdtalk.com):

1) Select Special Features from the main menu (on Disc 4).
2) Select More.
3) Highlight but do not select "Joss Sings the Firefly Theme".
4) Press Left Arrow, highlighting the ornament above.
5) Press Select.

--
Michael Ikeda mmi...@erols.com
"Telling a statistician not to use sampling is like telling an
astronomer they can't say there is a moon and stars"
Lynne Billard, past president American Statistical Association

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Apr 20, 2007, 8:10:15 AM4/20/07
to
On Apr 19, 7:03 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in messagenews:1176961681.2...@b75g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> > Going back to think about the story in that light, "Jaynestown" is one


> > of the most single-minded episodes of the series - it has a theme in
> > mind and it obsesses over it. There are several minor stories going
> > on at once with the various cast members, and they're all about the
> > topic of symbols and the meaning ascribed to them.
>
> I agree with that, but there's one more step. The meaning ascribed to them
> this episode are pretty consistently about belief. That might be faith in
> god, or what makes a man. And the meaning is the point of them. The
> literal accuracy of the symbols is barely relevant. Simon cursing at the
> proper time doesn't make him civilized. But it does keep him connected -
> anchored - to his notion of being civilized that is so much part of his self
> image and his ideal. So everybody runs around embracing their beliefs
> through the mechanism of various symbols representing them.
>
> Except for Jayne. He doesn't believe in anything. He doesn't have that
> anchor in his life. Doesn't even believe that other people really do -
> until confronting himself as the symbol.
>
> So, how about that for the summary of meaning you were looking for?
> Everybody believes in something except Jayne. And now he's scared that
> maybe he was wrong.

I like that. And it explains why this topic had to be handled in
Jayne's episode in particular.

-AOQ

Apteryx

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Apr 20, 2007, 8:43:18 AM4/20/07
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1176961681.2...@b75g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...
>FIREFLY
>Season One, Episode 7: "Jaynestown"
>But that's in part because, for me, it did its job this time - the job
>of being a big flashing red sign

Or a clash of cymbals?


>Jayne himself is first seen from the outside, tearing apart the
>infirmary and generally making the people around him miserable.
>Beneath the brutish exterior is a pretty brutish interior, although
>he's genuinely worried about his own safety... but, uh, how was he
>planning to ever draw his weapon given all that tape?

I don't think such merely practical considerations would worry the hero of
Jaynestown. In any case, even though it's been suggested that Jayne is the
only one who believes in nothing, he does believe in guns, and just knowing
it's with him would offer the same sort of comfort that Book would get from
knowing the same about his bible.


>paper - but I want to put them back, so -" Her final line, on the
>other hand, seems... a little bit badass, for the first time that hasn't
>been in a cockney accent.

A little bit badass, but I like it mainly just as the final beat of the hair
gag - she knows its still lurking there, and she's not over it.


>The break after act three comes when Guy Who Dies gets shot, an odd
>place for a suspense moment. But it's the climax of the story for
>Jayne, hitting him in a way that simply being exposed as a jerk
>hadn't. Once someone's done a damn fool thing like dying for him, I'm
>riveted by the way he snaps, seeming to lash out and crumple at the
>same time as he goes to town on Stitch, and then on his own likeness.

Being died for could be a shock for anyone, but for Jayne it's a life
crisis. Everything he hasn't believed in is challenged. And conceivably
there's even an expectation, albeit an impossible one, that he should live
up to the idealised image of him.

>that there ain't no heroes here. But then, the episode also shows us
>that the truth doesn't always negate what lies can inspire people to
>do. A cynic might argue that it's just an unfocused telling. I
>prefer to think that it's not supposed to impart a moral so much as
>simply to be a captivating demonstration of people elevating something
>- a person, an object, religions, actions, phrases - until it has
>meaning and power beyond itself, facts and logic be damned. Even if,
>or perhaps because, it "don't make no sense."

Neutral, passionless logic never was much of a motivator. For that we have
only various kinds of greed, and stuff that "don't make no sense."


>So...

>One-sentence summary: Represents great TV.

>AOQ rating: Excellent

I wouldn't go quite that far. Its funny and thought provoking, but that only
gets it a pretty good Good. It's my 4th favourite FF episode, with a rating
that puts it between AYNOHYEB, my 11th favourite AtS episode, and Amends, my
42nd favourite BtVS episode.

--
Apteryx


Ruth

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Apr 20, 2007, 8:32:15 PM4/20/07
to
In article <132e67u...@news.supernews.com>,

"One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:


>
> Maybe that'll help put something together - or maybe just muddle it more. I
> expect I'll say something more when I'm actually awake.
>
> OBS

All I know after reading all this excellent commentary , is that , for
me, when That Guy in That Hat bursts out with That Song I stopped
thinking this was a "cool little show" and started thinking this is the
Best Thing Ever ( or as we say in these parts "Best Thing Evah") I
gasped. I shot up in my chair, I gave a shriek of demented and delighted
laughter and I fell in love. Deeply. I am not sure I have ever really
ever been in love with a TV show ( and I am a first generation trekkie,
even) before. This is true love. I am sure of it.

Jaynestown was my turning point. My epiphany. There was no going back
now.

That night I became the blithering drooling aged fan girl you see before
you now.

Since then I own two copies of the series, the movies , the soundtracks,
that wonderful little record that some folks put out ( forgive me, I am
old and have no memory) and I say "shiny" every single day.

When I become senile ( any day now) I know I will be living in the
'verse in my head,on Serenity, eating at that beautiful table and
chuckling at Wash's jokes. I will be at peace.

Till then I must say I am enjoying" Heroes" a lot . But we're not in
love. Just dating.

--

Qui custodiet ipsos custodes?

Ruth

unread,
Apr 20, 2007, 8:37:31 PM4/20/07
to
In article <132g0rl...@news.supernews.com>,

"One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:

> > okay.
>
> Really? I think that may have generated the biggest belly laugh out of me
> all series.


We had a reenactment of that scene unexpectedly recently. Our new puppy
saw my daughters boyfriends hair ( usually pulled back in a pony tail )
down for the first time and barked like hell. So we got to say "he's
putting the hair back now..."

Amusement ensued.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Apr 20, 2007, 8:42:38 PM4/20/07
to
> All I know after reading all this excellent commentary , is that , for
> me, when That Guy in That Hat bursts out with That Song I stopped

so that was a hat? i was never sure what it was

looked sort of like a monty python style artificial brain

Ruth

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Apr 20, 2007, 8:53:42 PM4/20/07
to
In article
<mair_fheal-32F9D...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,
mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
<mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> > All I know after reading all this excellent commentary , is that , for
> > me, when That Guy in That Hat bursts out with That Song I stopped
>
> so that was a hat? i was never sure what it was
>
> looked sort of like a monty python style artificial brain


Now that you mention it....

Julian Treadwell

unread,
Apr 22, 2007, 7:28:47 PM4/22/07
to
But did you notice in the pilot episode, when Bukh asks if anyone minds
if he says grace and Mal says "only if you say it out loud", both Jayne
and Kaylee join him in silent grace-saying. And there are a couple of
conversations between Bukh and Jayne in later episodes that suggest
Jayne is some kind of a religious believer.

One Bit Shy

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Apr 24, 2007, 8:13:40 PM4/24/07
to
"Julian Treadwell" <julian.t...@jcu.edu.au> wrote in message
news:f0gr1s$8lt$1...@aioe.org...

I think he's superstitious. I'm skeptical whether that translates to true
religious belief. I'm even more skeptical that it's a belief that defines
his life in a meaningful fashion. Especially as relating to people. The
most emotion he's expressed about anyone before this I think has been for
Vera.

OBS


Arbitrar Of Quality

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Apr 26, 2007, 12:04:34 PM4/26/07
to
On Apr 24, 7:13 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> "Julian Treadwell" <julian.treadw...@jcu.edu.au> wrote in message

> > But did you notice in the pilot episode, when Bukh asks if anyone minds if
> > he says grace and Mal says "only if you say it out loud", both Jayne and
> > Kaylee join him in silent grace-saying. And there are a couple of
> > conversations between Bukh and Jayne in later episodes that suggest Jayne
> > is some kind of a religious believer.
>
> I think he's superstitious. I'm skeptical whether that translates to true
> religious belief. I'm even more skeptical that it's a belief that defines
> his life in a meaningful fashion. Especially as relating to people. The
> most emotion he's expressed about anyone before this I think has been for
> Vera.

That's a worthwhile distinction. The only way I can see Jayne
expressing any religious sentiments if he's hedging his bets, trying
to do what he can to avoid making an enemy out of any hypothetical big
boogeyman in the skies. Provided it doesn't get in the way of
anything else he has going on.

-AOQ

C.O.Jones

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Apr 26, 2007, 3:46:26 PM4/26/07
to
In article <1177603473.9...@n15g2000prd.googlegroups.com>,

Or, it is just the way he was raised. He DOES love his momma.

--
////////// \\\\\\\\\\\
The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.
-- Harlan Ellison

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Apr 26, 2007, 7:14:11 PM4/26/07
to
In article <1177603473.9...@n15g2000prd.googlegroups.com>,

Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> On Apr 24, 7:13 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> > "Julian Treadwell" <julian.treadw...@jcu.edu.au> wrote in message
>
> > > But did you notice in the pilot episode, when Bukh asks if anyone minds if
> > > he says grace and Mal says "only if you say it out loud", both Jayne and
> > > Kaylee join him in silent grace-saying. And there are a couple of
> > > conversations between Bukh and Jayne in later episodes that suggest Jayne
> > > is some kind of a religious believer.
> >
> > I think he's superstitious. I'm skeptical whether that translates to true
> > religious belief. I'm even more skeptical that it's a belief that defines
> > his life in a meaningful fashion. Especially as relating to people. The
> > most emotion he's expressed about anyone before this I think has been for
> > Vera.

i see jayne like a lot of americans
raised with a church going mother
a vague sense of unease at dying and religion
but its not something that any real impact on his daily life

he doesnt reject god because he really doesnt know
but he doesnt see any god as having anything to do with him

> That's a worthwhile distinction. The only way I can see Jayne
> expressing any religious sentiments if he's hedging his bets, trying
> to do what he can to avoid making an enemy out of any hypothetical big
> boogeyman in the skies. Provided it doesn't get in the way of
> anything else he has going on.

it may be beyond your ability to comprehend
but some of us see a buddy christ
instead of your sky bully

consider the lilies of the field etc

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Apr 27, 2007, 2:25:21 AM4/27/07
to
On Apr 26, 6:14 pm, mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des
anges <mair_fh...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> In article <1177603473.970036.103...@n15g2000prd.googlegroups.com>,

> Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:
>
> > On Apr 24, 7:13 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> > > "Julian Treadwell" <julian.treadw...@jcu.edu.au> wrote in message
>
> > > > But did you notice in the pilot episode, when Bukh asks if anyone minds if
> > > > he says grace and Mal says "only if you say it out loud", both Jayne and
> > > > Kaylee join him in silent grace-saying. And there are a couple of
> > > > conversations between Bukh and Jayne in later episodes that suggest Jayne
> > > > is some kind of a religious believer.
>
> > > I think he's superstitious. I'm skeptical whether that translates to true
> > > religious belief. I'm even more skeptical that it's a belief that defines
> > > his life in a meaningful fashion. Especially as relating to people. The
> > > most emotion he's expressed about anyone before this I think has been for
> > > Vera.
>
> i see jayne like a lot of americans
> raised with a church going mother
> a vague sense of unease at dying and religion
> but its not something that any real impact on his daily life

As C.O. points out, he does love his mama.

> > That's a worthwhile distinction. The only way I can see Jayne
> > expressing any religious sentiments if he's hedging his bets, trying
> > to do what he can to avoid making an enemy out of any hypothetical big
> > boogeyman in the skies. Provided it doesn't get in the way of
> > anything else he has going on.
>
> it may be beyond your ability to comprehend

Well hey, which one of us is failing to comprehend that I'm trying to
talk about how a character thinks, not about any of my opinions on the
topic?

> but some of us see a buddy christ
> instead of your sky bully

-AOQ

Ruth

unread,
Apr 27, 2007, 8:28:25 AM4/27/07
to
In article <1177655121....@r35g2000prh.googlegroups.com>,

Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> > but its not something that any real impact on his daily life
>
> As C.O. points out, he does love his mama.


I would have loved mine even more if she had made me such a cunning hat.


My kid made me one though, so it's all good.

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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May 11, 2007, 3:13:35 PM5/11/07
to
In alt.tv.firefly Arbitrar Of Quality <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> FIREFLY
> Season One, Episode 7: "Jaynestown"
> (or "I'm sorry, but on my world I had a nice home, and a good job with
> prospects, and I get angry at the thought that my life suddenly
> consists of standing in front of sewage-smelling models of my most
> hated crewmate being patronized by a lot of demented Mudders.")
> Writer: Ben Edlund
> Director: Marita Grabiak

Just some random comments about Jaynestown. I don't have much to say
about AOQ's "it's all about symbols" thesis, but it works for me.

> Going back to think about the story in that light, "Jaynestown" is one
> of the most single-minded episodes of the series - it has a theme in
> mind and it obsesses over it. There are several minor stories going
> on at once with the various cast members, and they're all about the
> topic of symbols and the meaning ascribed to them. Our opening scene,
> for instance, shows Simon and Kaylee discussing how to get the maximum
> value out of profanity, how the same words represent different
> concepts to them.

A parallel to how "being a man" represents different concepts to
father and son Higgins.

> Jayne himself is first seen from the outside, tearing apart the
> infirmary and generally making the people around him miserable.
> Beneath the brutish exterior is a pretty brutish interior, although
> he's genuinely worried about his own safety... but, uh, how was he
> planning to ever draw his weapon given all that tape?

A hard-to-get-to gun is better than no gun at all, in Jayne's mind. At
least it would be of use if he saw trouble coming a few minutes ahead of
time. (That's in addition to the safety blanket factor, of course.)

> other characters soaking up the absurdity (Inara's assumption about
> who the hero is is smile-worthy and revealing,

A second time, after OMR, when Inara's omnipresent poise slips for a
moment.

> but my favorite it
> Simon's dazed deadpan on "this must be what going mad feels like").

And later, "No, *this* must be what going mad feels like." When the song
kicks in, I think we see Simon cover his ears and Kaylee cover her mouth;
OFV I expected someone else to cover their eyes and complete the
traditional threesome.

Mudder's Milk is amusing. But I can't resist pointing out that, contrary
to Simon's story about ancient Egypt, scholars believe the pyramids were
built by ordinary peasants during the agricultural off-season, rather than
slaves. (The Egyptian enslavement of the Hebrews, assuming it really
happened as described in the Bible, would have been many centuries after
the classic pharaonic pyramids were built. They might have been used in
building other monuments and temples, though.)

> Yet they're still finding ways to use it to their business advantage.

The cargo they're trying to smuggle is probably the purest example of a
MacGuffin in all of Firefly. They never even *mention* what it is.

> change. The fact that he gets cheered for his speech despite not
> actually having anything to say keeps us aware of the superficiality;

I always chuckle when Jayne says "Far as I see it, you people been given


the shortest end of the stick ever been offered a human soul in this

crap-hill 'verse.... But you took that end ... well, you took it. And
that's ... well, I guess that's something." The crowd puzzles over it
for a second, then starts cheering. They *need* to hear it as something
meaningful, even if it's, well, not.

> That's where his former
> ally who's being kept by the Magistrate steps in.

If Stitch had really been kept in that little box continuously for four
years, he would not be able to walk or even stand when he first got out.
Fanwank: They have him doing hard labor during the day and just put him in
the box at night.

> there. For the episode's purposes, Jayne can't just be an ordinary
> guy who ended up a hero, he has to have ditched his partner. The jolt
> has to come from the way that on this heroic occasion, he was a worse
> bastard than any of the people who're drinking to him.

It's also important that Stitch confronts Jayne right in front of his
worshiping fans. They *still* love him, even after they hear the truth.

> paper - but I want to put them back, so -" Her final line, on the
> other hand, seems... a little bit badass, for the first time that hasn't
> been in a cockney accent.

BTW, I tend to think that when River tells Book "Just keep walkin',
preacher man," she was trying to head off a prosyletizing attempt, rather
than trying to keep the hair at a safe distance. She's still intent on
finding her own meaning in the Bible (that *is* what she was reading,
right?), and not interested in hearing his.

> This review has been difficult to write because I can't stop thinking
> about this episode, in chaotic ways, and I'm trying to put together a
> summary in my mind of what it all means. Any lesson one might learn
> seems muddled. The closest we get is hearing from both Jayne and Mal
> that there ain't no heroes here. But then, the episode also shows us
> that the truth doesn't always negate what lies can inspire people to
> do. A cynic might argue that it's just an unfocused telling. I
> prefer to think that it's not supposed to impart a moral so much as
> simply to be a captivating demonstration of people elevating something
> - a person, an object, religions, actions, phrases - until it has
> meaning and power beyond itself, facts and logic be damned. Even if,
> or perhaps because, it "don't make no sense."

This is a very good point. There's no moral, just a slice of fictional
life in which we can recognize an emotional or psychological truth.
Great art, or mediocre art, or for that matter even TV shows, don't need
to teach us anything to be successful. They just need to reflect
something about human life that we can recognize.

Some of my favorites among the non-Jayne jokes:

-"All right. Fine. I'll go. Just stop describing me."

-"What happened to Simon, and who is this diabolical master of disguise?"

-"We have to go to the crappy town where *I'm" a hero!" (Perhaps the 26th
century version of everyone being famous for 15 minutes?)

-"Can I see a menu?" "A what?"

-Kaylee's little "so when we made love..." joke earns a double smile, both
for itself and because it's cute to see her teasing Simon at that moment.

-and Kaylee's drunken delivery on "Hamsters is nice" was also adorable.

> AOQ rating: Excellent

I'd put this one on the same level as OMR: not one of the greatest
episodes, but certainly one of the most enjoyable. I'll give it another
borderline Good/Excellent.


--Chris

______________________________________________________________________
chrisg [at] gwu.edu On the Internet, nobody knows I'm a dog.

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