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Season 1, Episode 8
Airdate November 15, 2002
Production Number 1AGE08
Written by Jose Molina
Directed by Allan Kroeker
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War Stories
FireflySeason One

Ariel is the eighth episode of the first season of Firefly.

Starring: Nathan Fillion (Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds), Gina Torres (Zoe Washburne), Alan Tudyk (Hoban "Wash" Washburne), Morena Baccarin (Inara Serra), Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb), Jewel Staite (Kaylee Frye), Sean Maher (Dr. Simon Tam), Summer Glau (River Tam), Ron Glass (Shepherd Book) (credit only)

Guest Starring: Blake Robbins (Agent McGinnis), Jeff Ricketts (Blue-Hand Man #1), Dennis Cockrum (Blue-Hand Man #2), Tom Virtue (Doctor)

Co-Starring: Roma Chugani (Receiving Doctor), Ira Steck (Young Intern), Michael Nagy (Particularly Dressed Man), Alex Connie (Patient), Cate Cohen (Crash Team Nurse)


Plot Overview

The crew visit the planet Ariel because Inara needs to receive an annual Companion physical. The crew is offered a surprising job by Simon: in return for stolen medicine he wants them to get him into a hospital to use a high-end scanner to diagnose River. Simon devises a plan—Kaylee and Wash browse through the local dump and find parts to make an imitation emergency vehicle so the crew can get into the hospital posing as EMTs. Simon and River pose as corpses with the aid of a drug Simon has. While Mal and Zoe round up some medicine, Jayne stays with River and Simon, who are unaware he has ratted them out to the Alliance in return for money.

Jayne rushes Simon through the examination and on the way out Jayne, Simon, and River are caught by the Alliance. Jayne is betrayed by the Alliance agent and becomes a prisoner himself. They manage to escape as the Men with Blue Hands arrive and ruthlessly execute anyone who had contact with the Tams. Mal and Zoe end up saving their friends and Simon makes a big deal about Jayne fighting, thinking he was trying to save River and himself. Mal realizes that Jayne leaked the information about Simon and River to the Alliance and tosses Jayne in the airlock. Jayne admits to doing so and Mal decides to let Jayne off the hook. In the end, Inara returns, and Simon begins "healing" River.


Arc Advancement


  • Companion Law: Companions need to undergo a physical evaluation every three years.
  • Blue Sun: The men with the "hands of blue" return in this episode. They have a special interest in Simon and River. This seems to implicate Blue Sun in bankrolling the Academy, but that is at best speculatory. The blue hands' sonic weapon is used for the first time as well.


  • River: River's brain was operated on several times at the Academy. In these operations, her amygdala was stripped making it so that she feels everything that she experiences. In one instance, her brain hologram showed a great deal of activity when she psychically sensed something was wrong. In this episode, Simon gives her an injection that will presumably relieve some of her ails.


  • 1x04 - Shindig: When River slashes at Jayne with the knife, she appears to be attacking the Blue Sun logo instead of Jayne himself. She did the same kind of thing in a previous episode when she tore the labels off of several cans.
  • 1x05 - Safe: Jayne repeats a phrase that Mal used when Simon asked him why the crew came back for him and River in a previous episode.
Jayne: You're part of my crew.


The Show

  • M.I.A.: Shepherd Book doesn't appear in this episode. It is mentioned that he got off at the Bathgate Abbey to meditate.

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments


  • Wash: Don't you just hate doctors?
Simon: Hey!
Wash: I mean, present company excluded.
Jayne: Let's not be excludin' people. That'd be rude.
  • Wash: Could you please tell my wife the fun she's missing out on?
Inara: Ariel's a pretty nice place, actually. There are some beautiful museums not to mention some of the finest restaurants in the Core.
Wash: But, not boring, like she made it sound.
  • Mal: You've got a job for us?
Simon: One that'll pay for itself ten times over.
Jayne: Awww, forget it. I ain't that desperate.
  • Wash: It's all very sweet—stealing from the rich, selling to the poor...
  • Simon: We'll need to procure a few items off-ship. I've made a list. Given my status as a fugitive someone else will have to... (Jayne, Kaylee, and Wash eagerly raise their hands) ...we have some volunteers. Good.