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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Government Goods"
TV episode
("Serenity" hour 2)
43:17-end on the DVD

Written and directed by Joss Whedon


Mal must make a decision about what to do with his fugitive passengers.


Read the full episode summary at the Firefly and Serenity Database


Didja Know?


This is part 2 of what was originally the two-hour premiere episode of Firefly titled "Serenity". For our studies, I left the first hour titled "Serenity" and have chosen to name this second hour "Government Goods", borrowed from Chapter 16 of the two-hour episode on the DVD. I thought "Government Goods" made a nice overall title for this hour since it involves the trading of the stolen Alliance nutrition/immunization bars to Patience and the revelation of River's predicament as an escapee from the Alliance.


Didja Notice?


At 45:00 on the DVD, Simon tells the others he went to the best medacad on Osiris. "Medacad" must be an abbreviation of "medical academy".


Simon reveals that River was sent to the Alliance academy when she was 14.


Simon says that River's coded message to him said, "They're hurting us. Get me out." This seems to imply there are other students like her at the academy.


When Mal punches Simon at 50:11 on the DVD, a production member's hand can be seen behind Simon to catch him.


The audio commentary by Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion reveals that the Reaver ship that appears here later also appears in the Serenity movie (see "Living Weapon"). According to the Firefly Role-Playing Game Core Book, the Reaver ship is a Polaris-class Cargo Liner.


   Upon hearing that a Reaver ship is nearing, Inara picks up a small, ornate box and opens it, revealing a hypodermic needle and vial of fluid. Many fans assumed this to be some kind of suicide kit, but in the audio commentary of this episode, Joss suggests it was something else which would have eventually been revealed in a later episode; it was not revealed in any episode of the single season of Firefly, nor in any subsequent story to date in other mediums.

   However, in the 10th anniversary reunion special Firefly: Browncoats Unite, which aired on the Science Channel on Sunday, November 11, 2012, it was revealed that there was to have been an episode in which Inara is taken by Reavers, but before they took her, she injected herself from the syringe. After taking her, the Reavers gang-rape her. Later, Mal rescues her, finding the Reaver ship filled with their corpses, none left alive; the injection she took killed each one after they violated her.

   It was also revealed in the special that Inara has a terminal disease that would have been introduced into the storyline if the series had continued. There are hints in a couple of later episodes that something may be wrong with her medically.


Our brief glimpses into Jayne's quarters suggest that his chief hobbies are guns and girls.


After passing the Reaver ship, Mal remarks, "Getting awful crowded in my sky." This may be a reference to the Firefly theme song and its line, "You can't take the sky from me."


In the audio commentary, Joss points out that the Reaver ship (at 1:13:08 on the DVD) is coming in to the planet's atmosphere backwards in order to slow down its entry with its engines.


At 1:15:45 on the DVD, as Serenity is lifting up from the ground, Dobson's body should be laying on the ground where Mal and Jayne dumped it just seconds before, but it's missing. It's possible he staggered away shortly after being dumped, because "Those Left Behind" Part 2 reveals that he survived the shooting.


The Crazy Ivan maneuver Wash pulls with Serenity is named for a similar move used in submarine warfare in the 20th Century. It got its name from the American generic name for a Russian male, "Ivan".


When Wash initiates the Crazy Ivan, the shots of Serenity's port engine flipping over are mistakenly shown in the wrong order; it goes from reverse thrust to forward thrust instead of forward thrust to reverse thrust.


At 1:19:27 on the DVD, notice that actor Alan Tudyk as Wash is only miming holding the steering column of the ship...his hands are clutching empty air! In the audio commentary, Joss says that Tudyk had to sit farther back from the console in this scene in order to stay in the cropped frame in which the Fox network insisted on broadcasting the episodes at the time, even though the show was shot in widescreen in anticipation of the DVD release.


Ironically, at the end of the episode, it's as if the prostitute is giving absolution to the priest in the exchange between Inara and Book.


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Time on DVD Chinese English
49:05 Mal says, "Ta ma de! Nimen de bizui!" "Everybody shut the hell up!"
53:26 Wash says, while commenting on the approaching ship, which is showing high amounts of radiation due to flying without core containment, "That's kwong-juh duh." "nuts"
57:38 Mal says to Kaylee, "Xiao meimei." "little sister"
1:08:08 Chinese symbols on Dobson's comlink Lian jie Bu tong=Unable To Connect
1:12:01 Jayne says, "Hun dan!" "Damn!"
1:16:04 As the Reaver ship approaches, Zoe says, "Ai ya. Women wanle." "We're in big trouble."
1:23:00 Chinese symbol on the door of the cockpit lang=corridor
1:23:08 Chinese symbol above the word "Enjoy" on the left sleeve of Jayne's t-shirt shui=water (Enjoy water? I guess it's in short supply on some of the border worlds!)
1:23:34 Chinese symbols on cockpit bulkhead qian=firefly


Unanswered Questions


How did Dobson get the piece of metal he uses to cut through his bonds? Did Jayne give it to him, despite Jayne's protestations to the contrary? Considering Jayne later tries to turn Simon and River over to the Alliance authorities in "Ariel", it seems a strong possibility.


Notes from the book Firefly: Still Flying, a retrospective of the series


The book reveals that Dobson's cortex access device was made by melding two real world PDAs, a Franklin RF 8110 Rolodex and a Fellowes Type 'N' Go PDA/Organizer.


Memorable Dialog


vote on the murdering people issue.wav

saw that comin'.wav

pain is scary.wav

I can see you're not an idiot.wav

if we're very, very lucky.wav

awful crowded.wav

I'm a mean old man.wav

lost in the woods.wav

a free thrust.wav

certain words were exchanged.wav

I believe that woman's planning to shoot me again.wav

sure you don't just want to piss yourself.wav

that's what makes us special.wav

tear all my clothes off.wav

you're a dummy.wav

that'll be an interesting day.wav

if I ever kill you.wav 


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