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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Out of Gas"
TV episode

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by David Solomon


After an explosion leaves Serenity crippled, Mal orders the crew to abandon ship.


Read the full episode summary at the Firefly and Serenity Database


Didja Notice?


Considering the opening scene of this episode is shown to correspond to Mal's confrontation with the pirate crew of the Walden near the end of the episode, shouldn't we see Serenity in the grip of the Walden here at the beginning as we do at the end?


At 2:18 on the DVD, the cables lying on the floor of the cargo bay in the background have changed position from what they were just moments before.


Notice at 4:37 on the DVD that even the usually disturbed River is enjoying whatever funny story has just been told around the kitchen table.


At 7:35 on the DVD, notice that Mal smacks Jayne on the arm to stop him from stealing a taste of the frosting on Simon's birthday cake.


Kaylee tells Mal that damage to the engine was caused by the catalyzer on the port compression coil blowing out. In "Serenity", Kaylee warned Mal that the port compression coil might need to be replaced soon, but he denied her permission to purchase a replacement while they are on Persephone at the time.


   In the audio commentary by Tim Minear and David Solomon on the DVD, Minear says there is a clue in one scene to the Inara back-story which has not been brought to resolution thus far. Minear does not specify what about this scene is a clue. I wonder if it's Inara's response to Simon's lament that he doesn't want to die on Serenity, where she says, "I don't want to die at all." Minear also states there is a clue in the flashback scene of Inara considering the rental of one of the Serenity shuttles from Mal. In that scene, Mal takes a guess that she is running from something, otherwise she'd be making an arrangement to provide her services on a luxury liner. These secrets were 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 this episode and "Ariel" that something may be wrong with her medically.


Inara states that she loved Serenity the first moment she saw it. This is something she has in common with Mal, as we see at the end of the episode.


This episode reveals that Serenity's alarm system has a female voice to warn passengers (in both English and Chinese) of life-support failure.


This episode reveals that Mal's first mechanic on Serenity was a young man named Bester. Possibly the name was derived by Joss Whedon from the science-fiction author Alfred Bester (1913-1987) and/or the Babylon 5 character named Alfred Bester (which creator, J. Michael Straczynski, has admitted was inspired by said author).


When Kaylee is trying to point out to Bester the bad reg couple in the engine, she gets a little irritated at his cluelessness and says, "I'm pointing right at it." She said almost the same thing to Jayne, trying to guide him to the port jet control in "Government Goods".


In the flashback where Inara is considering renting one of the Serenity shuttles for her business, she tells Mal that no one else on the ship, including him, will be allowed on board the shuttle without her express invitation. As we know, Mal has consistently barged into her private sanctum unannounced since then! After he uses the word "whore" to describe her work, she also insists that will be the last time he gets to call her that and he responds, "Absolutely. Never again." We know this is also untrue.


This episode reveals that the four vertical metal boxes on the starboard side of Serenity's bridge are actually lockers. Mal grabs a blanket from one of them as the temperature falls on the ship.


At 38:15 on the DVD, notice that the pirate captain of the Walden is wearing a red, pirate-like sash around his waist. Fitting, since he is essentially acting as a pirate. 


It seems that Wash and Mal must have the same blood type. Wash is seen donating blood for Mal after his gunshot injury.


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Time on DVD Chinese English
1:19 Zoe says, "It's a piece of fei-oo." fei-oo=junk
1:21 Mal says, "Fei-oo?" "Junk?"
9:38 The Chinese character yi is seen on the infirmary door Medical Treatment
11:01 Wash says, "Chur ni-duh." "Screw you."
18:14 Jayne says, "What the guay you two think you're doin'?" guay=hell
18:30 Serenity's alarm system announces, "Jeo-shung yong-jur goo-jang. Jien-cha yong-chi gong yin."  "Life support failure. Check oxygen levels at once."
18:57 Mal says, "suo-yo duh doh shr-dang" "all that's proper"
22:19 Mal says, "Dong-ma?" "Understand?"
31:38 Chinese character on the door of the bridge. lang=corridor
37:49 The captain of the Walden refers to Serenity as "this pile of gosa." gosa=crap


Notes from Firefly Role-Playing Game Core Book


The pirate ship in this episode is stated to be Old Nellie, a Kintsugi-class salvage ship. But in the episode itself, it is called the Walden. The class name of the ship, Kintsugi, is the term for a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery.


Memorable Dialog


ship like this.wav 

got a name all picked out.wav

monastic humor.wav

funny whorin' stories.wav

a companion doesn't kiss and tell.wav

vaguely funereal sound.wav

I love this ship.wav

you're afraid.wav

a little snippy.wav

maybe I should do that.wav

life support failure.wav

you don't have to go down with your ship.wav

I'll post a sign.wav

I supported unification.wav

that's the last time you get to call me "whore".wav

the ugly one.wav

well said.wav

everybody dies alone.wav

it smells funny.wav 


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