The Message

Episode Report Card
admin: F | 9 USERS: B-
With friends like these...

Zoe and Mal have finally opened the crate, and inside they find what appears to be a coffin. They open the lid of the coffin to find that, indeed, it is a coffin. Complete with a dead young man inside. Everybody peers into the coffin. Jayne asks, "What'd y'all order a dead guy for?"

Credits. Okay, I'll tell them you "ain't coming back." I think they know that already, though.

And now, an unnecessary budget-consuming flashback. Yay! Ships fly over a landscape as CGI weapons fire bursts across the scene. Cameramen flee for their lives through bombed-out buildings, dragging us along with them. Captioning declares that we're at the Battle of Du-Khang, seven years ago. Thanks. That information really puts this all in context. If we knew anything about the battles other than the Battle of Serenity, which we don't. So never mind. Soldiers huddle around pieces of ex-buildings to hide from fire and other war-related hazards. Our pre-corpse is one of these soldiers. He's played by Jonathan M. Woodward, a participant in the Mutant Enemy Featured Actor Reclamation Project. He played the psychologist vampire in "Conversations With Dead People," one of only two episodes of Buffy that didn't suck out loud last season (the other being "Selfless"). He also played a role in the season finale of Angel that leaves him open for future appearances. He was also one of the main characters in the television adaptation of Wit, which makes me wonder how the hell he ended up here. He's one of those guys who looks kind of cute at some angles, yet like an ugly, dumb Chipster in others. He's currently looking kind of dumb in his military attire. Yossariain't's reaction to the bloodshed is to plop down on the ground, drop his weapon, take off his helmet, and open a can of beans. He mutters something about beans to himself (maybe that little rhyme?) as an Alliance soldier slowly sneaks up on him. Yossariain't finally hears the guy and looks around, but he's not in a position to defend himself. Fortunately, Zoe has snuck up behind the Alliance soldier, and she cuts the guy's throat with a big knife. Yossariain't thanks Zoe for saving him, and there's a bunch of blather about Zoe being stealthy and Yossariain't not getting adequate training. Zoe goes on to speak at length about what's going on with the battle. I could only understand every third word, but I believe Zoe explains that the Alliance won both the luxury challenge and the immunity challenge this week, giving them a bunch of nasty weapons and the ability to use them with abandon. Zoe managed to kill a couple of scouts and gives Yossariain't a lecture about how the first rule of combat is to be stealthy and not let people know where you are.

This, of course, is Mal's cue to enter screaming and shooting off into the darkness from stage right, acting like he's the lead in his own private summer action blockbuster. He hoots, hollers, and shoots, before finally collapsing to the ground near the others. Zoe dryly observes, "Of course, there are other theories." Mal says to Zoe and Yossariain't, "They don't like it when you shoot at them. I worked that out myself." So apparently war is hell, but also zany. I have this feeling that Mal developed his combat strategies after stumbling across some old Bugs Bunny cartoons from World War II. It would explain a lot. We find out that Yossariain't's name is actually Tracey. Mal says he was hoping Tracey would be dead so he could have Tracey's beans. Hell, but zany. There's some unnecessary mili-babble about the Alliance outnumbering them. Mal asks about the lieutenant. Tracey explains, as we see a shot of some man staring blankly off into the darkness, that the lieutenant has been shrieking about losing his arms. Except he's totally uninjured. Oh, the hellish zaniness of it all.

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