The Message

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

Tracey worries about what they're going to do, and whines that he doesn't want to die. Mal's "charismatic" response: "Everybody dies, Tracey. Somebody's carrying a bullet for you right now and doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." Bleaugh. Spare me the stupid Hollywood romanticizing of the wisdom of military leaders. A real sergeant would have said something like, "Son, when we make it back home, I'll get you a dozen hookers. Now if you don't get off your goddamned ass I'm going to shoot you myself." Maybe Mal should have spent more time working on legitimate combat strategies and less time trying to think up clever homilies. Anyway, they all decide to pretend that the shell-shocked lieutenant gave them orders to join up with some other unit. They also decide to protect the lieutenant for now. Mal think that if the guy recovers, this situation shouldn't go on his record. Yes, the fact that the guy completely folded under pressure in an incredibly dangerous situation, which probably cost a few soldiers their lives, isn't something that should cost him his leadership position or anything. God. I'm beginning to take the Alliance's side in all this. Clearly these people really are too stupid to run things themselves.

Suddenly, Zoe hears the whine of an incoming seeker missile. Mal throws a flare straight up, then grabs Tracey and pulls him down to the ground. The missile hits the flare instead of them, but the shrapnel rains down and wounds Tracey. Tracey whines that he can't move or whatever, so Mal picks him up and drags him out of the way of a tank that is bursting through a nearby wall, ending the flashback with what is intended to be a prophetic comment: "You know the old saying..." I don't want to give it away, but I believe the old saying he's referring to is, "It's perfectly okay to have your characters behave like complete idiots if it creates dramatic tension for a little while."

Then we cut back to the present with a shot of Tracey in his coffin, now loaded on Serenity. Whoops, my mistake. They're still at the station. That was just the editor in me fixing the dreadful pacing in the episode. Apparently, even though they just established for the viewers that Zoe and Mal know Tracey, they have to establish it to the other people in the crew, and for some reason we need to bear witness to this. They also need to establish that it's against the law to transport bodies through the post office. For some reason, Joss Whedon and Tim Minear (who wrote the episode) seem to think that this little detail is important for the first stage of the conflict in this episode, but it's really not. Also: duh. Anyway, the Postmaster Generic is having a big hissyfit over Tracey's body and he demands they take it so he doesn't get in trouble. The postmaster tells them there's no return address or anything, so they don't know who sent Tracey to them or why. The body's also been at the post office for a week, but, as Jayne points out, is showing no signs of decomposition. Except he says, "It don't smell." Zoe and Mal decided to carry the box back to the ship, turning down Book's assistance and shrugging off Jayne's comment about the lack of profit in bringing a dead body aboard. Simon finally shows up at the post office as everybody's heading back to the ship and asks Kaylee, "Did we get anything fun?" Well, he is a cute guy, so almost, but he's dead, so no. Kaylee looks horrified of course, because Simon should have developed psychic powers by now just like his sister and should already know what's going on. As Kaylee stomps off yet again, River walks by Simon and declares, "You are such a boob. And just tell her you're gay already!" Or maybe just that first sentence.

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