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"Firefly: The Message (#1.14)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Firefly" The Message (2003)

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Heartfelt and poignant

Author: toobisbee from United States
26 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I couldn't disagree with the previous disappointed critic more. Continuity errors aside, I felt the story was perfectly balanced between humor, suspense and pathos, especially in its final moments. Yes, Jayne is funny throughout, but he perfectly counterbalances the more serious moments - particularly the betrayal by Mal and Zoe's friend - in the latter half. And for once, it's nice to see someone other than River and Simon bear the brunt of Jayne and Mal's hostility.

Plus, for those blessed enough to catch this one on DVD, Alan Tudyk and Jewel Staite provide a humorous running commentary on the story and all the behind-the-scenes happenings during while this episode was shot. The final sequence is made more touching considering this is everyone's "goodbye" to the series.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

One of my favorite episodes, and possibly the best one.

Author: PFCGrady from United States
27 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching this episode actually got me choked up. Seriously, there could have been tears. (Ah, Serenity joke).

This episode was a beautiful goodbye to the series, and I loved the plot line. "When you can't run, you crawl, and when you can't do that..." is one of my favorite quotes. Being in the military, I fully understand a saying like that.

It really was a great episode, and I thought the acting as well as the directing was purely amazing.

I will continue to watch this episode over and over, and hope they make another movie/TV series.

Jayne is just gorram funny.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Corpse and the Message

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2 November 2016

Mal and his crew are having entertainment in a space station and Mal goes to the post office to check and he receives a big trunk addressed to Zoe and him. When he opens the box, he finds the corpse of their army pal Private Tracey. They also find a message from Tracey asking Mal and Zoe to deliver his boy to his parents in a planet. The Serenity heads to the planet and out of the blue, she is attacked by another spaceship. Ml asks Simon to make an autopsy in Tracey and they discover that the man is alive. What has happened to Tracey?

"The Message" is a strange episode with a weird story. The idea of smuggling human organs using the body is creepy and is not reasonable. But the episode works. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "The Message"

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Desperation of an exbrowncoat

Author: piratecat-2 from Albuquerque New Mexico USA
31 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode was the last show made in the Firefly series. I don't think it ever aired but it is the third to the last episode in the DVD Box set. A young man who is an ex browncoat war vetran from the unification war served under Mal and Zoe in the volunteers comes back into their lives. A boy named Tracey who is desperate, immature, and being hunted by crooked federal marshals. He has involved himself with stone cold killers who sell body parts called wet wear. A new bio tech where a human incubates growing internal organs it is also illegal. Tracy who double crosses these men is on the run. He figures he could make triple with other buyers. This would help his family get off of St Albans an ice planet. Not thinking of the consequences he is in deep trouble. Brings this trouble onto the crew of Serenity by duping them into believing he his dead and a voice mail to send him home. Serenity gives chase to get away from marshals who may kill everyone who gets in their way to get their wet wear back. An exciting but a solemn sad episode which is a final ending to the series.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Underrated- Chekhov's Gun x4

Author: Dexter099 from United States
17 September 2013

This episode has the perfect ending.

During a certain scene there are 4 Chekov's guns, aka 4 lines that pay off at the end literally and thematically via foreshadowing.

It takes at least two viewings and some skill at analyzing art to spot all four of these "guns." Once you recognize how every single line and even movement was selected as foreshadowing for the end, then you will appreciate this as one of if not the very best Firefly episode. There is a real reason this episode almost won a Hugo.

Unfortunately, most people today will not catch the well-hidden subtleties that Whedon and Minear injected into the script, and so this episode shall forever endure the tragedy of under-appreciation.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Unholy Trinity

Author: moldwarrior from US
19 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As I sit here binge watching this terrific series I came upon this episode. The Message is nothing short of filler and a disappointment of the highest caliber.

Story: Simon and Kaylee have relationship problems and the group end up having to spend quality time with a dead body. Only to find out said body is alive and smuggling organs. Tracey is said body and needs Mal and co's help running away. Only problem Mal and Zoe figure out he's a bad man. The perceived threat is dealt with and now they must return his dead body to the place of birth.

Pros: War flashback scene, Jayne, and Wash.

Cons: One of the biggest problems is Kaylee's immediate adoration and love for the corpse. She knows next to nothing and now she's into him. They share about 2-3 minutes on screen and nothing comes of it. It was clear at first Whedon wanted a love triangle but dear lord did that concept die in the hull. Simon clearly was written out of character and now he's a background character to a plot that should've been about he and Kaylee's relationship. Instead it's about Mal and Zoe learning their old ally is an asshole. We get arc words which play out in story which isn't bad but again Whedon clearly wanted a love triangle because the last scene is Kaylee handing over the recording of Tracey and she's all upset...ugh. Kaylee sweetheart he held a gorran GUN to your HEAD. He clearly isn't in to you.

Overall: Seriously terrible.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Allowing plot holes for a forced sad story

Author: Brammm4444 from Netherlands
16 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is my least favorite episode in the series, due to the major plot holes at the end.

I like most of the start, the premise of the episode is good, and there is some side story with Simon and Kaley, which seems like it would be the start of the real romance between them. Unfortunately we did not get to see this evolve :(

Then, I wasn't really surprised that Tracey wasn't really dead, but for the sake of the story it would make sense that the crew did NOT expect this, so no problem there.

The problems begin when nobody seems to try to explain to Tracey that they are not going to turn him over. There is plenty of talking, so they could have mentioned it many times and avoid all the drama. But for some reason they decide not to? They want to teach him a lesson in trusting his old army buddies, and if he fails, he gets to die for it?

Second: Tracey did not seem bothered at all from the first wound to his chest, but the second one is instantly lethal? Well not instantly, there is enough time for him to have a nice talk with Zoe and the captain, but one of the best doctors in the 'verse is not going to rush him to the infirmary to try to save his life? yeah right... I'm normally not really 'looking' for plot holes, because it spoils the fun in watching, but this was just way too obvious and I could not get around it.

To me it seems like the writers REALLY wanted to force this sad ending, and allowed some obvious plot holes just so they could have their sentimental ending.... and I'm not even 100% sure what the moral or message of the story is. Is it about the guy failing to trust his old buddies and dies for that? Or they just wanted to show the sadness of an ex army-guy who couldn't get his live together, who keeps making mistakes and ended up dead for it (which probably is something that happens in RL)? I'm not sure, but it does not justify leaving these plot holes.

It might have worked when, for example, the crew DID try to explain they were not going to screw him over, and the guy just goes into paranoid mode and refuses to listen to them, and they HAVE to shoot him... that would make more sense, but then again, I still don't see any reason why the doc wouldn't try to save him, unless he's dead instantly. But if he'd die instantly they couldn't put in this emotional talk at the end. So it seems like the sensitive emotional end-talk is just not a realistic option in the scenario of this episode, they should have come up with something different, away from the doc... and they should have given a much more pressing reason why the captain HAS to shoot him.... then they sad ending would actually feel sad, instead of the viewer just asking himself during that scene: why they hell didn't they tell him?!?! and why the hell is the doc not trying to save him!?!?!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A horrible blemish on the magnificent series

Author: Jon from United States
21 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


This episode is a horrible blemish on the wonderful series that is Firefly. The action revolves around a panicky passenger (Tracey) misunderstanding a plan that Mal and Book agree on. Tracey believes that Mal intends to turn him over to the Alliance police, and grabs a gun and a hostage, and soon ends up dead from shots by Zoe and Mal.

For mysterious reasons, neither Mal, Book, Wash, or Zoe, ever make the SLIGHTEST effort to explain things to Tracey. It would not have been hard, a simple "Stop, it's a trap for the cops." would've been enough to save his life, and save Wash from getting wounded.

To me, it is simply unbelievable that not one character ever, even as Tracey lay dying explained they had no intention of turning him over. This is the worst writing ever on Firefly. It is also, far and away, the grimmest episode. That is not a fault; but when the darkness could've been averted by one of any four characters shouting, "Stop! That's not it!" it's nigh unforgivable.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An unusual package

Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
25 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mal and Zoe have a surprise when they open an unexpected package that was waiting for them on a space station... it contains the body of Tracey, one of their comrades from the war. They have an even bigger surprise when Tracey comes back to life as Simon is about to start a post mortem! It turns out that he is smuggling illegal body parts... and somebody wants them back! The people wanting him are led by Lieutenant Womack, an Alliance officer who is willing to kill anybody who stands between him and his valuable contraband.

This was another fine episode with the usual mix of comedy and drama; the main story contained some nice surprises which are likely to make a first time viewer jump and some nice action scenes as Serenity is flown through a canyon in an attempt to lose their pursuers. Once again Simon manages to put his foot in it with Kaylee just as he was saying the things she wanted to hear and Jayne provides some laughs as he proudly wears the knitted hat his mother has sent him. Of the guest starts Jonathan M. Woodward does a decent job as Tracey but Richard Burgi is better as Lieutenant Womack. I won't give spoiling details but will say the ending was emotionally poignant.

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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A little disappointing

Author: Joxerlives from United Kingdom
11 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The good; Love the ice planets, someone should make those for real. We see more of Mal and Zoe during the war pre-Battle of Serenity and nobody pines as well as Kaylee does (except Willow?)

The bad; Kinda a weak story with not that great a denouement.

Best line; Zoe (to Tracey); "The first rule of war is never to let them know where you are" Mal (exposing himself to the enemy and firing wildly) "Here I am! Here I am!" Zoe; "Of course there are other schools of thought" also like; Jayne (non-plussed by Tracey's unexpected resurrection but observes) "Spry for a dead fellow!" and Tracey; "Do you think I'm stupid?" Mal; "In every possible way" not to mention Mal; "There's always someone out there keeping a bullet with your name on it. The secret is to die of old age before they get a chance to use it" which leads to; Tracey; "You killed me" Mal; "You killed yourself, I just carried the bullet for a while"

Kinky dinky; Jayne infers that seeing corpses puts him in the mood for sex but is quick to deny necrophilia. Naked Tracey.

Capt subtext; Womack threatens the postman with homosexual rape in prison. Mal straddling naked Tracey.

How'd they get away with that? Simon cutting Tracey, yeesh!

Whedon clichés; Devoted siblings, haunted charismatic leading man. Teenage girls with superpowers. Hookers. Babbling insane girls with truth in their madness. Fake cockneys. Misguided religious zealots. Numbered t-shirts. Girls with botanical names (Willow, Saffron, Jasmine). Absent fathers. Clever use of extensive flashbacks. Women in boxes.

Bondage; I've been reminded that I didn't include Mal and Wash tied up by Niska in War Stories so... Mal; 2 River; 1 Simon; 1 River; 1 Jayne; 1 Wash; 1

Knocked out; Book; 2 Simon; 2 Kaylee; 1 Jayne;3 Mal; 2 Wash; 1 Inara; 1 Zoe; 1 River; 1

Kills; Zoe kills 2 Alliance soldiers during the war. Mal kills Tracey who seems very resilent, perhaps due to his organ smuggling surgery? Mal; 12- Zoe; 12- Jayne; 11- Wash; 2 River; 3

Alliance good or bad?; Inara seems to be suggesting she return the Lassiter for a reward but Mal won't hear of it, maybe to avoid her getting in trouble or maybe he just couldn't stand dealing with the Alliance? Womack is operating by himself as obviously the Alliance consider organ smuggling illegal although it doesn't seem to bother Mal and co.

Missing scenes; One rumoured storyline for later in the season is that Mal is approached to join a group of ex-Browncoats who want to restart the war and destroy the Alliance. He is then faced with the choice represented by Zoe on one side who wants to go back to the war and Inara on the other who says that would be madness. Also supposedly a scene where Zoe and Wash ask Dr Simon for advice on conceiving a child.

Reminds me off; The spaceport very reminiscent of Blade Runner whilst the post office scenes are reminiscent of season 4 of Babylon 5 (goverments rise and fall but the postal system is forever). The police craft is reminiscent of the former US Navy F14 Tomcat fighter.

Questions and observations; No aliens in the Fireflyverse, much like BSG. Simon just seems to live with his foot in his mouth (even River thinks he's a 'boob'). I guess being such a goodlooking guy and a successful surgeon he never really had to try to get girls before. His observation that every other woman in his extremely limited social circle is married (Zoe), a professional who refuses to 'service the crew' (Inara) and his sister leaving Kaylee as a last resort is about as sensitive as bombing Hiroshima. Jayne has a mother (and possibly a sister?) whom he sends money to. Jayne wears a hat which is unusual, in Firefly it's mostly the bad guys who wear hats. A very different version of pre-Serenity Mal here, funloving and seeming to think of the war as a great big game. Kaylee has rigged a hammock in the engine room, perhaps because of the events of Out of Gas? Or because that way Simon can just walk casually in on her which he couldn't in her room cabin? The mule has survived it's use as a kamikaze in War Stories and is lodged in the Serenity's hold. Interestingly Jayne who we think of as a tactically shaven gorilla shows surprising sensitivity, removing his hat at the sight of the corpse and telling Book that seeing the dead makes him value life all the more. Nice mention of Saffron, Mal&co thinking that the Feds are after the Lassiter because she sold them out. Shepherd once again shows an interesting depth of knowledge of the Alliance police.

Marks out of 10; 6/10 A little disappointing after the quality of the preceding eps, largely rescued by a few good lines.

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