Episode Order & Airdates
I've heard the episodes were originally supposed to air in a different order. Is that true?
Yes. "Serenity", which is the last episode to air on FOX to date, was the original two-hour pilot shot by Joss Whedon. FOX executives felt "Serenity" moved too slow and Joss Whedon and Tim Minear ended up writing a replacement one-hour episode, "The Train Job," to serve as the series opener.
In an article which appeared on Sci-Fi Wire on June 11, 2002, Joss Whedon explained what FOX was looking for:
"We did [write a new premiere episode], because they wanted to make sure we could deliver the ... show with a little more action and humor than what I had originally pitched," Whedon said.
Later on in the season, "Shindig" and "Safe," originally scheduled as the third and fourth episodes, were pushed further back in the episode order, allowing "Our Mrs. Reynolds," "Jaynestown," and "Out of Gas" to air earlier. The western elements that are prominent in "Shindig" and "Safe" were felt to be too much for the new audience to handle right away. Many thought this decision was meddling of the network, but it turned out not to be the case.
Tim Minear explained the decision in a post to the Buffista board on Dec. 6, 2002:
"Further truth, however, is that pulling up "Our Mrs. Reynolds" was my idea. Killer Joss script, had the funny, had the sexy, had the space ship. I wanted to put a best-foot-forward, and I didn't think it mucked much with continuity since we always aimed for early eps to be stand-alone-ish. I wanted to push "Shindig" because I felt that we needed to really understand the "water" before we took the fish out of it. And "Safe" was originally a bit of a mess, but with many rewrites and reshoots, it sorta kinda worked."
In an earlier post to the Buffista board on Oct. 15, 2002, Minear also explained that "Out of Gas" tested well:
"In fact, the network was so in love with "Out Of Gas," the ep up after "Jaynestown," they've asked if they could send it out to critics even without the f/x being done."
An advertising gimick, a distress call that Mal records for "Out of Gas," unseen by the audience in the episode itself, strangely foreshadows Firefly's fate as he pleads for assistance in saving his ship, and his very existence.
Which brings us to the final episodes.
Knowing that the end was in sight, and unable to air all the episodes produced, Joss felt that the episode "Objects in Space" was a more fitting way to end the shows run, rather than what should have come next: "Heart of Gold." This episode, dealing with the romantic relationships amongst the crew, most notably between Mal and Inara, would have ended the series on a very unsettling note. So it was that "Trash", "The Message," and "Heart of Gold" were never aired in the U.S.
And as stated above, as a final insult, the original two-hour pilot episode "Serenity" was aired last.
So, what was the intended episode order?
"Serenity " (aired last)
"The Train Job" (aired 1st)
"Bushwhacked" (aired 2nd)
"Shindig" (aired 6th)
"Safe" (aired 7th)
"Our Mrs. Reynolds" (aired 3rd)
"Jaynestown" (aired 4th)
"Out of Gas" (aired 5th)
"Ariel" (aired 8th)
"War Stories" (aired 9th)
"Trash" (unaired in the U.S.)
"The Message" (unaired in the U.S.)
"Heart of Gold" (unaired in the U.S.)
"Objects in Space" (aired 10th)
Original Airdates in the U.S.
9/20/02 The Train Job
10/4/02 Our Mrs. Reynolds
10/25/02 Out of Gas
12/6/02 War Stories
12/13/02 Objects in Space
(never aired in the U.S.) Trash
(never aired in the U.S.) The Message
(never aired in the U.S.) Heart of Gold
The Train Job
Our Mrs. Reynolds
Out of Gas
Heart of Gold
Objects in Space
thanks to Tzegha for her assistance on the page
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