Firefly/War Stories

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War Stories
War Stories
Season 1, Episode 9
Airdate December 6, 2002
Production Number 1AGE09
Written by Cheryl Cain
Directed by James Contner
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Objects in Space
FireflySeason One

War Stories is the ninth 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: Michael Fairman (Niska), Katherine Kendall (Councilor), Rolando Molina (Black Market Buyer)

Co-Starring: John Dunn (Torturer), Michael A. Bentt (Viktor), Adam Pilver (Vanilla Husband), Johnny Shakespeare (Torture Victim), Jason Van (Man)


Plot Overview

Jealous of Zoe's relationship with Mal, Wash insists (thanks to a bit of scheming) that he go with Mal to try to sell some of the medical supplies the crew stole from the Alliance. In the middle of the deal Mal and Wash are kidnapped by men working for Niska the crime lord, who wants revenge against Mal for the botched train heist. He tortures Mal and Wash until Zoe shows up offering money in exchange for the prisoners. Niska says that the money is only enough for one person and Zoe chooses Wash. Wash realizes that Mal's antagonizing him while they were being tortured was to help keep him alive and kicking. This inspires him to do everything he can to help Zoe rescue Mal from Niska. The rest of the crew jump on board to save the Captain.

Meanwhile Inara extends her services to a council member. To the crew of Serenity's surprise, it's a woman. And Simon continues to treat River with some of the medicine he stole but she suffers the occasional relapse as well as displays a penchant for blind-shooting.


Arc Advancement



  • Wash: Wash is getting increasingly annoyed with Zoe's war stories in the episode. According to Alan Tudyk on the DVD commentary, his character was in internment camps throughout the war and entertained the fallen troops with shadow puppets.
  • Mal: During the torture scene, Mal's ear is cut off by Niska. Although, his ear is reattached at the end of the episode.
  • Book: This is the only episode in which Book speaks Chinese. Nathan Fillion once commented that the way that he emphasizes the words makes it sound like Klingon. This is another episode that reveals a little more about Book's obvious un-preacherly past.
  • River: Not only is River apparently psychic, but she has a way with weapons that makes her extremely dangerous.


  • 1x09 - Ariel: Simon spearheaded a plan in the previous episode to steal a wealth of meds from a hospital on a core planet as well as find treatment for River. Book is the one saying this line because he did not appear in that episode.
Book: I hear you've been moonlighting as a criminal mastermind.
  • 1x02 - The Train Job: Niska previously appeared in the second episode where he hired the crew of the Serenity to rob a train. His desire to torture Mal stems from this episode.


The Show

Behind the Scenes

  • Alternate Title: This episode was originally titled "Oaths of Loyalty".
  • Opening Narration: The U.S. broadcast loses the opening narration entirely. However, the narration was shown in the U.K. and in New Zealand.
  • Bloody Contacts: In the torture scenes, Alan Tudyk's contact lens was stained by the fake blood in his eyes. This worked for the benefit of the makeup people because it made him look even more worked over.

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments


  • Mal: One of you is gonna fall and die. And I'm not cleaning it up.
  • Zoe: What this marriage needs is one less shouting match.
Wash: No. What this marriage needs is one less husband. Right now it's kind of crowded.
  • Jayne: (on seeing Inara and the Councilor) I'll be in my bunk.
  • Book: From the look of these wounds I'd say a 54R sniper rifle, laser sights.
Jayne: You do a lot of shooting at the abbey there, Shepherd?
Book" Rabbits.
  • Wash: So, I'm Zoe. Now, what do I do?
Mal: Probably not talk quite so much.
Wash: Right. Less talking. She's terse—I can be terse. Once in flight school I was laconic.
  • Zoe: Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?
Book: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.
  • Niska: Mr. Reynolds. You died, Mr. Reynolds.
Mal:: Seemed like the thing to do.
Niska: When you die, I can't hurt you any more.
  • Zoe: Okay, people. If it moves, shoot it.
Kaylee: Unless it's the captain!
Zoe: Unless it's the captain.