Firefly (Flashback) recap: Suffering Saffron!

A pre-'Mad Men' Christina Hendricks guest-stars as Mal's adoring new wife
Ep. 06 | Aired Apr 3, 2011

MAD WOMAN Before she patrolled the halls of Sterling Cooper, Christina Hendricks stole the hearts of the Serenity crew

Last week, it was Zac Efron. This week, it was a before-she-was-famous Christina Hendricks – Joan from Mad Men – popping up on Firefly in the memorable role of Saffron, the intergalactic femme fatale who stowed away on Serenity and then took Mal and company for a ride, in more ways than one. Mad Men fans – buzzing from the news this past week that AMC and Matthew Weiner had reached an agreement to produce three more seasons of the Emmy-winning cable hit – might have enjoyed the Science Channel’s re-broadcast of “Our Mrs. Reynolds” more than anyone, as Joss Whedon used his Hendricks-enhanced, Mad Men-ish tale to remind us that it wasn’t so long ago that women could dream of no better role in life than that of a pleasing, pleasurable housewife, and to wonder if even the most modern of men are still wedded to this “ideal” of womanhood, whether they realize it or not.

[Before we dig in: Apologies for the delay in posting today. I was at WonderCon in San Francisco yesterday, moderating a panel about the forthcoming Fox sci-fi series Terra Nova – the footage looked very promising – and when I got home last night, I kinda played hooky on this assignment to watch another AMC show: The Killing. Two words about that one: Instantly Obsessed.]

SUFFERING SAFFRON!

MAL: “But what I got even less use for is
a woman won't stand up for herself.
 Five days hence we're puttin' you in
the world, and you won't last a day
by bowing and sniffing for handouts.
You want something, you take it, or
 ask for it. You don't wait to be
told when to breathe, you don't take 
orders from anyone. Except me - and
 that's just 'cause I'm the captain,
and people take orders from captains 
even in the world. But for the rest,
 damnit, be like a woman is. Not no 
petrified child. There's more'n 
seventy little earth's spinning about
the galaxy, and the meek have 
inherited not a one. Do you 
understand what I'm saying to you?”

SAFFRON: “I do.”

(From a deleted scene; the full script of “Our Mrs. Reynolds” can be found here.)

After successfully playing hired-gun vigilantes for a group of outer rim colonists terrorized by rapacious bandits (Mal in a dress, posing as a wife to Amish-ish Jayne on the stagecoach – classic), the quasi-heroic Serenity crew was feted with a party, complete with feasting and folk dancing and … a funeral? (I thought the beat where Book held himself just a little bit apart to give last rites to the slain foes was awkwardly forced and one more example of Firefly’s don’t-know-what-to-do-with-him tone deafness for the man of faith character.)

During the festivities, a seemingly sweet waif crowned Mal with a wreath of garland and served him a cup of wine and then enticed him to dance. Mal thought they were just partyin’. But after sneaking aboard Serenity, said waif, Saffron, revealed that their tango was actually a wedding ceremony, and she was bound and determined to be bound to him and be his better half in the most limiting way possible -- a subservient, adoring housewife/slave, incapable of looking Mal in the eye, yet when she did flashed nothing but reverence and yearning for his sacred, superior manliness. Saffron demanded to dote on him – cook for him, clean for him, wash his feet if it so pleased him – and she insisted on doing him, too, because hey: That’s what a wife is for, right? In Mad Men parlance, Hendricks’ Saffron was part Betty, part Joan, but minus the glam dresses.

NEXT: “Whoa. Good bible.”

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