The Hustler Seductionist

Some episodes of Firefly engender wonder and awe. Others tug at heartstrings. Still others are a straight ahead full throttle romp into hilarity. Our Mrs. Reynolds falls into this latter category. After making corpses of a few highwaymen, the crew enjoys a night of wine and dance among grateful locals. As they depart the planet the following morning, Mal discovers a stowaway on board Serenity in the form of an innocent lamb betrothed to him without his understanding. Or is she? Young Saffron turns out to be one of the most interesting characters in the 'verse.

It's a cliche to say that Joss Whedon writes witty dialogue, but this episode once again showcases his talent. The lines are delivered skillfully, and the timing is impeccable, resulting in so many great moments - Inara's drug-induced stupor, Jayne's showdown with Mal over his love Vera, Saffron's "articulate" seduction of Mal using farming metaphors, the rainstick, Book's warnings about a special Hell...

We also get a little more insight into Mal's relationships with women. While resisting Saffron's wiles longer than the ten minutes she usually encounters, he tries heroically to convince her to empower herself by tossing aside the culture she was seemingly raised in, reminiscent of his appeals to Inara about what men like Atherton Wing really think of her in Shindig.

SAFFRON: Are you going to kill me?

MAL: What? What kind of crappy planet is that? Kill you?

SAFFRON: In the maiden's home, I heard talk of men who weren't pleased with their brides, who...

MAL: Well I ain't them. And don't you ever stand for that sort of thing. Someone tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back. Wife or no, you're no one's property to be tossed aside. You got the right same as anyone to live and to try to kill people. I mean, you know. People that are... That's a dumb planet.

Later, we get a glimpse of another quality - besides her furrow and puffed up cheeks - that makes Saffron so skilled at seduction. Mal finds himself revealing things about his past he doesn't even share with his crew.

SAFFRON: She raised you herself?

MAL: Well, her and about 40 hands. I had more family for a kid who ... Well, that is odd.

SAFFRON: What?

MAL: I just don't - I'm not one talks about his past. And here you got me...

SAFFRON: Does your crew never show interest in your life?

MAL: No, they're, they're... They just know me well enough to... What about you? What's your history?

After dispatching of Mal, she also gets Wash to discuss his marriage to Zoe to the point where she has to deliver a sidekick to the occiput just to shut him up. She is one of those people who has a knack for making others open up about their personal lives and establish an easy rapport.

A better ending for this episode would be difficult to write. As Mal questions Inara about her supposedly hitting her head upon finding him unconscious in his cabin, she believes he has stumbled upon the truth of the events. Both grow quiet as it appears that Mal is going to reveal his true feelings for Inara only to deliver the perfect finale with the potent combination of unshakeable machismo and male romantic cluenessness.

Saffron makes a return appearance in Trash as Bridget, now the wife of Mal's old war buddy Monty whose beard fell victim to her scheming ways. That marriage, like most of Saffron's, doesn't last too long after Mal exposes her as his own "wife". She joins up with the Serenity crew for a job - stealing the Lasiter, one of the first laser guns every created, off the floating island of an Alliance officer on Bellerophon. Knowing Saffron's style, Mal has to do some pretty hefty convincing to persuade an untrusting crew to participate. Inara wants no part of it and leaves to do some business instead.

As usual, the heist has complications when the owner of the island and the Lasiter turns out to be another of Saffron's prior husbands, Durran Haymer. He walks in on the job and feigns joy as his long lost wife "Yolanda" has finally returned. She and Mal eventually escape from the tightly secured island. In an moment of apparent sincerity, YoSafBridge seemingly confides to Mal true feelings for Durran as the only man she ever truly loved. Once again, a comforting Mal falls prey to her guile as she disarms him of his weapon, the inevitable double-cross everyone was expecting but had no chance to thwart. Luckily, Inara and the crew had an ace up their sleeve, and as a naked Mal concludes at the end of the heist, "Yep... that went well."


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...but he doesn't appear to

...but he doesn't appear to be too terribly upset about it, either... :sweat:

I think that's left

I think that's left deliberately ambiguous, depending on how much sarcasm you read in when he says that everything went "just great"...

Question about Trash: Does

Question about Trash: Does Mal really fall for Saffron's crying bit and just get lucky that the Inara failsafe works, or does he intentionally set her up to think she's got the drop on him?

Well, I think he planned for

Well, I think he planned for that eventuality but hoped it wouldn't come to that. So I think he got played but played her in advance, so roughly speaking "that went well". I don't think he planned to lose his clothes...

"male romantic

"male romantic cluenessness"?
I'm not so sure Mal's clueless, it would fit his character to deliver that "clueless" line on purpose...