The clever pun of the title “Jaynestown” – the seventh episode in the Firefly canon – winked in the direction of a tragic bit of recent human folly: Jonestown, where gone-crackers cult leader Jim Jones totally lost his nut and tricked 909 followers into mass suicide. That’s a heavy reference for a mostly light-hearted affair that fleshed out Adam Baldwin’s cartoonishly tough Jayne. Then again, Firefly didn’t give a gorram about religion, and regarded most forms of faith as iterations of a bad joke: The need of people crippled by self-consciousness or wounded by damaged self-esteem to believe in something outside themselves for strength and direction, even if that something flies in the face of sound logic and scientific learning, common sense and basic human decency. At best, Firefly seemed willing to allow the individual the freedom to believe in any kind of bulls–t, just as long they didn’t push it on people as God’s Truth or hurt anyone with it… unless they deserved to be hurt. “Jaynestown” – the Firefly version of Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” (which, coincidentally, was repeated this past week) — was an irreverent romp about misplaced faith and misguided hero worship, spiritual and secular. I enjoyed the episode, even if its metaphorical whining had a whiff of preachyness about it. Yet even this was interesting to me. Firefly was a show that had some real fire in its belly — that was animated by a deep anger about The Way The Things Are. Watching it anew on The Cable Network Formerly Known As Science Channel (it’s just “Science” now; awkward), I appreciated again the debate invited by its passionately pouty point of view… even if I didn’t agree with the perspective itself.
AN INCONVENIENT UNTRUTH
The Third Commandment of the ten that God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai while the rest of Israel was partying with a golden calf states: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” This is generally interpreted as “Using God’s name as a cuss word is a no-no, and cursing in general is useless, stinky speech” by Sunday School teachers. Firefly Application: Whenever you heard someone say “gorram!” – Chinese for “goddam! — they were not being reverent to the creator of all things, the eternal power that made man from dust and mud, sculpted him in his image, breathed life into him, etcetera, etcetera. Fitting, then, that in an episode about the relevancy of irreverence, the opening scene featured a debate about cursing between tartly sweet mechanic Kaylee and buttoned-up Simon Tam.
SIMON: I swear — when it’s appropriate.
KAYLEE: Simon! The whole point of swearing is that it ain’t appropriate.
The banter between the would-be lovers was flirty. Kaylee was flashing shiny eyes at the good doctor and signaling: Loosen up and sleep with me already! Bashful, principled Simon didn’t want to take their growing relationship – or sex – so lightly. (Later, when they spent the night together – chastely – Kaylee pranked Simon into thinking they had gotten “inappropriate” during the night; he panicked, inadvertently insulting her in the process.) But the discussion of swearing in the story’s opening moments was also a sly declaration of impishness.The following episode contains content that may be interpreted as sacrilegious. A healthy sense of humor is advised.
NEXT: Life On Planet Marx