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Season 1, Episode 11 & 12
Airdate December 20, 2002
Production Number 1AGE79
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
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FireflySeason One

This page is about the episode Serenity. For the feature film, see Serenity (movie). For the ship, see Serenity (ship).

Serenity is the eleventh and twelfth 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)

Guest Starring: Carlos Jacott (Lawrence Dobson), Mark A. Sheppard (Badger), Andy Umberger (Dortmunder Captain), Philip Sternberg (Inara's Client), Eddie Adams (Bendis), Colin Patrick Lynch (Radio Operator)

and Bonnie Bartlett (Patience)

Co-Starring: Domingo Vara (Ensign), Stephen O'Mahoney (Man (Dortmunder)), Jamie McShane (Man), John F. Kearney (Old Man), Gabrielle Wagner (Slave #1)


Plot Overview

Part One

After a flashback to Zoe's and Mal's days in the wars six years previously, we cut to the modern day where the Serenity crew is running a salvage operation on a deserted ship and are forced to flee with the cargo when an Alliance cruiser shows up. Their buddy Badger refuses to buy the cargo so they head off to the rim worlds after picking up three passengers: Book, Simon, and Dobson. En route someone sends a signal to the Alliance and it turns out to be Dobson, an undercover Federal agent, who arrests Simon but is glad to take the whole crew in. He shoots Kaylee before being captured, and Simon forces Mal to flee in return for his doctoring services. When Mal investigates Simon's cargo he finds a naked woman...

Part Two

The naked woman is Simon's sister River, a government test subject he helped to escape. After ducking a dreaded reaver ship, Mal tries and cuts a deal with Patience, an old "friend" but suspects a trap. Patience tries an ambush but the team escapes just as the Reavers return and the Federal agent breaks loose. Mal shoots the agent dead and Wash manages to duck the Reavers. At the end Mal decides to allow Book, Simon and River to stay on Serenity.


Arc Advancement


  • Blue Sun: Although they don't play a role in this episode, the Blue Sun logo appears in several scenes of the pilot. At this point the writers didn't know what they wanted to do with Blue Sun, but they did want them to appear to be "a mix between Coca-Cola and Microsoft."




The Show

  • Ambassador: This is the only episode in which the crew calls Inara the nickname "Ambassador".
  • Preview: The scene where Kaylee is shot by Dobson was shown at San Diego ComiCon before the series began airing.
  • Outtakes: In the scene where Mal was supposed to shoot Dobson, the prop gun wouldn't go off, so Nathan Fillion improvised, "Can't we all just talk this out?" and everyone hugged. That dramatic licensing with the scene didn't make it into the show.
  • What's He Holding?: After Serenity escapes from the Reavers, there is a shot in the cockpit after Jayne cheered in the engine room where Wash clearly isn't holding anything. His chair was pushed back in order to keep him in the same shot with Mal and Zoe.

Behind the Scenes

  • Network Follies: According to Joss Whedon, the network wanted to get another series out of him and jumped at whatever he threw at them. They hated the two hour introduction to the series because they wanted to throw the audience into the middle of everything rather than having a slow-paced introduction to the characters.
  • Cut Scene: Originally, the episode opened with the "existential hell of a miserable person and why he wanted everyone to die," but it turns out that the scene was kind of a downer so they replaced it with explosions.
  • Cameo Casting: Joss Whedon first wrote the part of Badger for himself, but later found a "much better looking" actor in Mark A. Sheppard. When Mark learned this, he became so nervous about playing the part that he forgot one of his lines.
  • Shooting: The scene where Inara returned to Serenity and was introduced to Book by Mal was first shot with another actress. But, because Joss already knew that the energy was all wrong and would have to recast, he shot everyone in singles so that they wouldn't need to reshoot the entire scene.
  • First Shot: The first scene shot in the series was where Mal confronts Simon on the catwalk and tells him Kaylee is dead. This was done for two reasons: to force FOX into allowing them to broadcast the show in widescreen by filming a crucial scene that can only be seen in wide screen and to show off how nice the set looks and what the network is getting for their investment in the show.

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments


  • Zoe: I know somethin' ain't right.
Wash: Sweetie, we're crooks. If everything were right we'd be in jail.
  • Wash: I'm just the pilot. If we got boarded, I could always say I was flying the ship by accident.
  • Wash: Didn't she shoot you once?
Mal: Why does everyone keep fixating on that?
  • Mal: If anyone gets nosy, you know, just…shoot 'em.
Zoe: Shoot 'em?
Mal: Politely.
  • Jayne: I don't understand why we didn't leave that sumbich in a pool of his own blood.
Mal: We'd be dead. Can't get paid if you're dead.
Jayne: Can't get paid if you crawl away like a bitty little bug neither.
  • Mal: (to Simon) If Kaylee pulls through, you and your sister get off at Whitefall.
Simon: And if she doesn't pull through?
Mal: Then you'll be getting off a mite sooner.
  • Simon: What happens if they board us?
Zoe: If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order.
  • Inara: (to Simon) You're lost in the woods—we all are, even the captain. The difference is he likes it that way.
Mal: No, the difference is the woods are the only place I can see a clear path.
  • Lawrence Dobson: All right, I can see you're not an idiot.
Jayne: Well, I wish I could say the same, Lawrence.
  • Mal: Kaylee's dead.
Simon: (runs from the cargo bay to sickbay only to find that Kaylee is fine) That man is psychotic.
(cuts to the flight deck, everyone laughing)
Wash: You are psychotic.
Mal: No, you should’ve seen his face. Oh, I'm a bad man.
  • Kaylee: You're nice, too.
Mal: No, I'm not. I'm a mean old man.