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The Message

Although this isn't the last episode chronologically, The Message was the last Firefly episode made on set -- watch that last scene in the snow and you'll see the last scene that the cast was together. That alone makes it worth watching, but of course there's more good stuff going on than just OOC historical info.

An old war comrade of Mal's and ZoŽ's named Tracey smuggles himself onboard Serenity cunningly disguised as a dead man. Turns out he's smuggling valuable enhanced organs inside him. Other folks want those organs back. This leads to a heap of trouble.

Like Ariel and Objects In Space, The Message is a thriller more than anything else. In this case, it has a Das Boot feel. We get to experience being trapped with scary noises all over the place.

Along with Heart of Gold, this episode was nominated for a Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) in 2004.

Original airdate: never aired
Written by: Tim Minear & Joss Whedon
Directed by: Tim Minear
Read the script


  • Simon telling Kaylee everything he likes about her (or trying to).
  • Mal heckling the Feds in the battle scene!
  • The mustache story.
  • Jayne's hat.


Simon: Yep, it's a cow fetus.

Wash: Oh my God, it's grotesque! Oh, and there's something in a jar.

Simon: This may come as a shock, but I'm actually not very good at talking to girls.
Zoe: Why, is there someone you are good at talking to?

Wash: Do not fear me! Ours is a peaceful race, and we must live in harmony.

River: My food is problematic.

Mal: He calls back, you keep him occupied.
Wash: What do I do, shadow puppets?

Chinese Phrases

Nee GAO-soo NA niou, TA yo shwong mei-moo?

"Why don't you tell the cow about its beautiful eyes?" (Kaylee, at Simon's poorly delivered compliment.)

Dong ma?

"Understand?" (Womack, to Amnon about keeping quiet.)

TYEN shiao-duh

"Name of all that's sacred" (Mal, invoked to Tracey about his innards.)

shiong tse sha sho

"brutal assassin" (Kaylee, telling Tracey how he makes wartime Zoe sound.)

Wuo duh MA

"Mother-of-Jesus" (Wash, about close explosions.)


crap {in script without English} (Womack, referring to Tracey.)

For more information and a pronunciation guide, see the Firefly Chinese Pinyinary(approve sites).


Tracey was played by Jonathan M. Woodward(approve sites), a Whedonverse repeat offender(approve sites). In addition to his role as Tracey, he appeared as the amateur psychoanalyst/new vampire Holden Webster(approve sites) in the Hugo-winning Buffy(approve sites) episode Conversations with Dead People(approve sites), and had a recurring role on Angel(approve sites) as the Wolfram and Hart(approve sites) scientist Knox(approve sites). (The WhedonWiki(approve sites) link for Knox is a bit out of date; his character was more pivotal in Angel's final season than the page lets on.)

According to Tudyk and Staite on the DVD commentary, the only other actor to have a Whedon "hat trick" is Carlos Jacott(approve sites), though his roles were more minor. Jacott was Lawrence Dobson in Serenity, Ken in the Buffy(approve sites) episode Anne, and Richard in the Angel(approve sites) episode The Bachelor Party(approve sites).

This isn't actually correct, though, as they overlook Andy Umberger(approve sites), who had a recurring role on Buffy(approve sites) as D'Hoffryn(approve sites). On Firefly, Umberger surfaced as the Alliance Cruiser Captain in the pilot episode; on Angel(approve sites), he was the bad guy in I Fall To Pieces(approve sites).

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Page last modified on June 09, 2010, at 08:53 AM MST