Firefly 1.09 (Ariel)
Betrayal is a bitch, yes, betrayal is in fact a female dog!
Written By: Jose Molina
Directed By: Allan Kroeker
–Watching Simon lay out the plan is pretty neat, not just because of how cool of an idea it is either. The way the episode is filmed we get to see the crew in action in many small ways, all this time we’ve seen the start or tail end of jobs, but Ariel shows us how cohesive and well oiled the crew can be in the preparation for a job, it reminds us why they work so well together.
–Jayne saying his “cortical” line anyways, remains one of the loudest belly laughs Firefly ever gleaned from me.
–Jayne’s betrayal isn’t surprising, but it’s still hurts to watch.
Ariel is two tales in one, but as is often the case with tremendous storytelling the two tales work off of one another. Ariel is the story of two broken people, one who is broken mentally and one who is broken emotionally. These two broken people must mend themselves, they need to find a way to be somewhat whole again or they will lose the very thing that keeps them alive, Serenity and her crew.
On the one hand you have River, a character who is mentally broken. Through no fault of her own she is on a path that will lead to the ruination of the very friendships she needs to survive. She needs to be made whole again, or at least come close to it, and to come to this end and avoid a path of isolation she trusts her brother implicitly. In her eyes we see tears form, we know that what Simon is asking of her scares her greatly and hurts her, but we also know that she wants to get better because she goes along and she trusts.
On the other hand you have Jayne, a character who is emotionally broken. He tries not to show it, he tries to hide behind a tough guy facade, but in reality Jayne is a man who has been tossed around his whole life and thus lacks the ability to trust. He doesn’t trust that the crew of Serenity will ever truly be there for him so he turns on them the first chance he gets, a move that should move him further down the path of losing the only friendships that will help him.
An interesting thing happens in Ariel, two characters are broken, they approach their situation from different places, yet they come to the same conclusion. River has already given her trust and because of that she finds the tools to help her become closer to the mentally whole person she once was. By turning his back on his friends Jaye learns that he does have people that he can trust, that he wants someone in the world to hold a good opinion of Jayne Cobb as a man. They start out differently, they veer towards the edge of the path that leads to total isolation, but in the end they are drawn back in by the family dynamic of the crew, by the love they share for one another that ever need be spoken of aloud.
It’s obvious where I am going with this, the issue of Jayne and River parallels that of Firefly as a TV show. Time and time again Firefly comes back to the theme of family, of the ties that bind us together and allow us to continue on with our lives through the harshest of times. Firefly is always looking for ways to drive this theme home, but the key to the shows success is that it always finds different methods of delivery for its main theme. Ariel uses two divergent characters to once again touch on the idea of family, and when you add in all the usual fixings of comedy, characterization, great writing and so forth found in an episode of Firefly you are left with yet another amazing episode of television.