Firefly Episode 6: "Our Mrs. Reynolds"
The best part of the episode is Saffron, who would have been a great recurring villain. Her attempts to seduce Mal are convincing, and her comment at the end that the payoff isn't the reason she plays that game opened some interesting character questions. She's clearly her own agent, rather than just a member of a petty crime ring as she seems to be until that point, and one wonders what real status she might eventually enjoy in the series's underworld.
Several of the crew's reactions, however, seem off. Mal's attitude is fine, and exactly what we would expect of him, which makes Book's suspicion that he will take advantage of Saffron seem an off flip-flop from his confidence in previous episodes that Mal will do the right thing. Inara also seems oddly irritated about the whole thing considering Mal is clearly not interested in Saffron and wants to dump her from the ship as soon as possible.
The largest problem with the story as we have it, however, is one that occurs via absence. River clearly could have sensed what was going on, but rather than deal with the issue up from, they omit her from the story altogether, which seems strange. Then, as noted above, other characters seem to move by the demands of the story rather than having the story flow naturally from them. Once the writers need Inara's affection for Mal, she flips on a dime. This could be explained by her discovery that Saffron had Companion training, but then why couldn't she figure that out in the cargo bay earlier?
Near the end, Mal talks about the value of having a crew that trusts each other. Even if that was meant as a throwaway line in response to Saffron, it seems oddly out of place in this episode, which contains no obvious examples of trust, and several of clearly misplaced distrust. Still, there were some good moments, like the crew making fun of Mal when Saffron first appears. On the whole, this episode merits a 4/10.
Saffron: "Everybody plays each other. That's all anybody ever does. We play parts."