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Ep bushwhacked sc086


Guest star(s)

Tim Minear


Tim Minear


September 27, 2002

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Bushwhacked is the third episode of the Firefly TV series. It was first aired by Fox on September 27, 2002.


While on the border, the crew of Serenity (except Simon, Inara, and River) is playing a very random form of basketball when they encounter a transport ship adrift in deep space. As she approaches, Serenity is struck by the dead body of a passenger from the other ship right in front of Hoban. The Captain decides to dock with the derelict, and check for survivors. The ship seems deserted, so the decision is made to loot the ship of its supplies and valuables. In the cargo hold, they find enough goods to support a colony of more than fourteen families, but the hold contains a darker cargo: strung from the ceiling are the bodies of the settlers. The derelict vessel was the victim of an attack by Reavers. While scavenging the galley, Jayne is attacked by the ship's sole surviving passenger, who, though in perfect physical health, has gone mad from the horrors he's witnessed. Mal knocks the man unconscious, and he is restrained in Serenity's sickbay.

At Book's insistence, Mal allows the Shepherd to hold funeral rites for the slaughtered crew of the other ship. This gives Serenity's crew time to deal with another problem: their ship has been snared by a Reaver booby trap, set to trigger when detaching from the other vessel and destroy both. Kaylee manages to disable the explosive, and Jayne finishes transferring the derelict's cargo to Serenity by the time Book finishes his sermon.

Serenity undocks just in time to be intercepted by an Tohoku-class cruiser on routine patrol. An ensign reports the identity of the derelict as a transport ship out of Bernadette headed for Newhall that was three weeks late in their arrival. When the radio operator brings up a flag that was posted for a Firefly for harboring fugitives, the ship's commander, Harken, decides that deadly force might be necessary. The crew is brought into custody while Alliance troops scour the ship. After finding the derelict survivor aboard, horribly disfigured, Commander Harken charges Mal with torturing the survivor and committing the atrocities inflicted on the settlers' ship. When Mal hears what's happened to the survivor, he realizes that the man has disfigured himself. Unable to deal with the memories of what happened aboard his ship, the man deals with it the only way he can—by emulating his tormentors. He slaughters the medical staff assigned to him, then makes his way through the cruiser back to Serenity, seeking familiar ground. Mal convinces the Commander to allow him to guide the Alliance troops through the freighter in search of the man. There, aboard Serenity, the emerging Reaver attacks the search team. He assaults the Commander, but Mal gets behind him, and manages to snap the savage's neck.

For saving his life, the Commander allows Mal and his crew to go free without pressing charges. However, the salvaged cargo is confiscated. As Serenity sets a new course, the Tohoku-class cruiser fires upon the derelict, destroying it and ending the Reaver threat in this area for now.


  • It is strange that Harken was not given information on the Tams. In the other episodes information on the Tams is posted on the Cortex; made available to bounty hunters, Federal agents, Federal marshals; and shown to others by the Hands of Blue.
    • Considering that this episode takes place in the early stages of the Tams' attempts to evade the law, coupled with the Academy's desire for secrecy, they may have been reluctant to share too much information about River at this time; this is reinforced by the fact that "Out of Gas" explicitly states that a new warrant for Simon's arrest was recently issued at the time of that episode, which provided the crew with his date of birth for the first time.


Behind the scenes[]


Mandarin Translation[]

(Special Thanks to

  • "Wo de ma! [My mother!]" - Jayne exclaims, seeing the derelict.
  • "Zhen daomei! [Just our luck!]" - Mal when seeing the ravaged bodies of the settlers.
  • "What the tian xiaode [heaven knows] is going on in there?" - Wash hears a commotion over the com.
  • "That ship was hit by Reavers?" "Reavers?" "Zaogao! [Damn!]" - Wash utters the Mandarin curse.
  • "Wo de tian, a! [My heavens!]" - Mal hears of the survivor's self-mutilation.
  • "You saved his gorram life, he still takes the cargo. Hundan! [Bastard!]" - Jayne.

Episode scripts[]

Database Entries[]