October 18, 2002
"Jaynestown" is seventh episode of the Firefly TV series and was first aired on Fox on October 18, 2002.
Returning to a planet where he ran into some serious trouble years ago, Jayne discovers that he's become a local folk legend. Mal decides to use this entertaining distraction to complete a job, but some unfinished business may derail his plans.
The show opens with Kaylee expressing disbelief that the always-proper Simon ever uses swear words, despite his protestations that he does whenever they're "appropriate". Inara departs for an overnight meeting with a client. A noise in the infirmary brings Kaylee and Simon to find Jayne trashing the room in a search for bandages to tape concealed weapons to his body, which Mal quickly vetoes. It seems that Jayne is concerned about enemies he made in Canton years ago.
As they arrive at the Canton factory settlement, the population of which are known as mudders, Kaylee suggests to Mal that Simon join them on their expedition to recover some hidden loot. Mal considers that having the well-dressed Simon pose as an upper-class buyer of Canton's special ceramic-making mud is a useful strategy. Shepherd Book reassures the dismayed doctor that he will watch over his sister, claiming to have struck up a good rapport with her. Simon ineptly plays his role before the unconcerned foreman, then the crew wanders off to locate their contact. Mal comments on Jayne's absurd attire—a heavy coat with a hood and goggles during an apparently hot day. When Wash remarks that he doubts anyone will remember Jayne, Mal suddenly begs to differ, as they come upon a life-sized mud statue of Jayne. Simon utters an "appropriate" expletive like "Son of a bitch."
While an alarmed Jayne fails to break his compatriots away from their admiration of the statue, Inara is meeting with the local magistrate, Higgins—the man Jayne crossed years ago. The officious slaveowner has hired Inara to bed his timid son Fess, who is 26 and is not yet "a man". Higgins reveals a penchant for dominating his son's life by attempting to rush the ceremony, but Inara intends to give Fess a proper Companion union and politely but forcefully shoos the father out of her shuttle. She reassures the naïve Fess that he need not be like his father, only to be himself, which will make him stronger.
Book enters Serenity's common area to find River "fixing" his Bible by cutting, pasting, and marking up the pages. Her erratic patter alternates between logical analysis of its contradictions with oddly connected streams of thought. Book tries to explain that "you don't fix the Bible", but she complains that "it's broken." Then Book explains to her that even if the Bible didn't make sense to her, everything was a matter of having Faith. River is surprised, apparently never considering this before, then refuses to let go of the pages of the Bible she had torn out previously. Book lets her have them.
In a bar, the crew "enjoys" the local beer, "Mudder's Milk". Simon explains that it's similar to the beer that ancient Egyptian rulers fed their slaves to keep them healthy enough to work and sleepy enough at night to prevent unrest. A well-dressed gentleman arrives to tell the smugglers of complications to their job—namely, the brutal death of their middleman. The contact suggests lying low until they come up with a way to move the loot past the foreman, but a troubadour suddenly strikes a chord and sings "Jayne / The man they called Jayne". Their jaws dropping, Serenitys crew listens to the entire bar singing "The Ballad of Jayne Cobb". When the song mentions money falling from the sky, a stunned Jayne realizes what happened to the missing cash he and a partner had stolen from the magistrate, and had been forced to jettison in order to escape from anti-aircraft fire.
Back on Serenity, River brings the wrecked Bible back to Book, but when he rises from his sink with his white hair untied and sprouting from his head in a wild mop, she shrieks and runs off. Zoë chuckles as Book vainly tries to coax the frightened girl to come out of hiding. To quickly resolve the matter, Zoë promises River that Book will put "the hair away now."
As the crew leaves the bar, they find a huge crowd cheering for the "hero of Canton" outside, having been gathered by a blond-haired boy whom Jayne tried to scare off. Trying to escape the crowd, Jayne runs back inside, only to find himself offered the best whiskey and accolades from all. The smuggling contact is horrified by Mal's supposed idea of "lying low", but Mal soon develops a plan around this considerable distraction. While Jayne carouses with the admiring locals, Mal goes to fetch an inebriated Kaylee, but when she pointedly observes how well she and a drunk Simon are getting along, he leaves her to her own mission. Mal heads back to Serenity with Wash and tells Zoë how this unexpected celebration of Jayne is exactly the cover they need to sneak the stolen merchandise past the foreman and his "prods". Unfortunately, the foreman has learned of Jayne's return, and reports this to the magistrate. The official then releases a man from a cramped prison box and gives him a loaded weapon. The freed prisoner's surprise is increased when he learns about Jayne's return, because he happens to be Stitch Hessian, the partner Jayne abandoned four years ago during his flight from Canton.
When Mal returns to fetch Kaylee and Simon, the befuddled doctor, who finds the engineer draped over him on a couch, tries to explain how "nothing happened" and once again manages to insult the frustrated woman. Collecting a tipsy Jayne, they head off, but Kaylee stops Simon in his tracks with her scorn. As the doctor eats breakfast alone, Stitch arrives, beats him around a bit, and drags him off as a hostage to confront Jayne.
Back in Inara's shuttle, Fess expresses disappointment in not feeling different after losing his virginity. Fess's self-discovery, however, is interrupted when he finds himself summoned to a criminal hearing for a villain whom the magistrate plans to capture. As Fess describes the folk hero who stole from his father and gave to the poor, Inara mistakenly thinks Fess is describing Mal, and waxes warmly about this noble man. She receives her own shock when Fess expresses surprise that she knows the amazing Jayne Cobb.
Mal, Zoë, and Wash haul the cargo on their buggy and load it onto Serenity, while Jayne, warming to the idea of being heroic, gives a moving if not particularly literate speech before the adoring crowd. Suddenly a shot rings out and Stitch appears, dragging the doctor along. After tossing Simon aside, Stitch addresses the crowd, telling them what really happened, how Jayne dumped him before he dumped the money and the whole Robin Hood-like act was just a mistake. When Stitch moves to shoot Jayne, however, a young mudder leaps in front of the "hero", blocking the shot. After Jayne kills his former partner, he runs to the mudder boy and yells at the lifeless body, unable to accept his sacrifice. He shouts to the crowd how he is no hero, that there aren't any heroes, just "people like me". When an even younger lad offers him his knife, apparently ignoring his tirade, Jayne snatches it back and finally knocks down the statue in disgust.
When the crew reboards Serenity, Wash attempts to take off, but he finds the ship "land-locked" per the magistrate's order. It is quickly released, however, because Fess has decided to prove himself a man by defying his father's attempt to capture the "hero of Canton". Shepherd Book comes near a very calm River, who is now drawing, to get a book that's near her, but she still clearly remembers Book's hair, with her telling him, "Just keep walking, preacher man." Kaylee has a heart-to-heart talk with Simon and briefly makes him worry about his propriety after the previous night's party.
Mal finds Jayne brooding about recent events, as he can't comprehend why the mudder died for him despite knowing the truth, nor the fact the town are likely putting the statue back up and still think of him as a hero. Mal tells Jayne that every person who ever got a statue was bound to be flawed one way or the other, and in this case it "ain't about you, Jayne; it's about what they need". Jayne doesn't feel any better, and states that it still makes no sense.
Behind the scenes
(Special Thanks to BrownCoats.com.)
- "Zhe shi shenme lan dongxi!? [What is this garbage!?]" – Wash, after his first taste of Mudder's milk.
- "Yesu, ta ma de... [Jesus, his mother...]" – Jayne's response to the ballad in honor of him.
- "Hero of Canton won't be drinking that xiongmao niao [panda urine]. He drinks the best whiskey in the house!" – The bartender becomes aware of Jayne's presence.
- "Gaoyang zhong de guyang! [Motherless goats of all motherless goats!]" – Wash, when he learns the ship is land-locked.
- "Jaynestown" transcript
- J.L. Hillhouse Reviews "Jaynestown"
- "Jaynestown" shooting script from Firefly Browncoats at Internet Archive