Bushwhacked (Firefly)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Firefly episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 3
Directed by Tim Minear
Written by Tim Minear
Production code 1AGE02
Original air date September 27, 2002 (2002-09-27)
Guest appearance(s)
  • Doug Savant as Commander Harken
  • Branden R. Morgan as the survivor
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Train Job"
Next →
List of Firefly episodes

"Bushwhacked" is the third episode of the science fiction television series Firefly created by Joss Whedon.

The crew of Serenity comes across a transport ship drifting in space. After recovering a terrified survivor and a valuable cargo, they are pulled in by an Alliance cruiser. While the Alliance commander grills each member of the crew, it appears that Reaver-spawned violence has not yet run its course.


Serenity encounters a drifting space craft which turns out to be a short-range scow converted to a settler transport to the "Outer Planets". Mal decides to check out the derelict in order to either help survivors or loot the dead. He sends his crew off in teams to explore the ship, while he and Zoe head to a section that he suspects holds the more valuable supplies.

They arrive in a room, followed shortly by River who points out mutilated passengers hanging from the ceiling. Mal knows what did this and orders everyone to regroup in the engine room, but en route Jayne is hit from behind by an unseen attacker, whom Jayne shoots blindly 4 times. Mal finds the wounded man hiding behind an air grate and they bring him back to the ship.

As Simon treats the wounded man, Mal announces that he must be the lone survivor of a Reaver attack. He explains how the Reavers were driven insane after seeing the nothing at the "edge of the galaxy" and now commit unspeakable acts of evil. He allows Shepherd Book and Simon to cut down the victims and give them a modest ceremony, keeping them out of the way while Kaylee removes a Reaver booby trap that attached itself to Serenity when they docked earlier.

Once the derelict's cargo is aboard, Serenity moves to leave, only to be stopped by an Alliance cruiser. The Feds board the ship and find Mal and everyone but River and Simon innocently awaiting them, the retrieved cargo plainly in sight to avoid accusations of theft. Alliance Commander Harken accuses them of harboring two fugitives and detains them for questioning.

Commander Harken interviews each member of the crew whilst the Alliance tends to the survivor and search Serenity for River and Simon. While the interviews proceed, they are shown ransacking Serenity where just outside its window, the space-suited Tams cling to the ship's hull.

Interviewing Mal, Commander Harken accuses him of attacking the settler ship, revealing that the survivor's tongue has been split and implying that Mal had tortured him. Mal, however, realises that the survivor is becoming a Reaver having been so traumatized by his confrontation with them. Harken treats Mal's idea as poetic nonsense designed to help Mal elude prison. During this interview Harken comments that it was unusual that Mal's ship should be named after the rebel loss at the Battle of Serenity Valley.

As Harken prepares to confine Mal for future prosecution, his lieutenant informs him that the survivor has killed the medical personnel attending to him and is loose on the ship. Mal convinces Harken that he knows where the madman will go. Harken allows Mal to lead him and soldiers back onto Serenity. The survivor attacks the soldiers but Mal is able to kill the Reaver, saving Harken.

In return for this action, Harken allows the crew of Serenity to proceed on their way unharmed, though he still confiscates their cargo. After Serenity undocks, the cruiser is seen destroying the derelict.


  • This is the first significant look at the handiwork of the "Reavers", a population of humans that have become cannibalistic and apparently feral raiders, first encountered in the pilot episode "Serenity".
  • The Alliance commander observes that the unnamed fugitive siblings were last seen leaving Persephone aboard an unidentified Firefly-class transport around the same time Serenity left the same planet, events which were depicted in "Serenity".
  • River continues to utter mysterious statements that turn out to have meaning in subsequent events.
  • During the "basketball" game in the opening scene, Jayne has a bandage on his leg from injuries sustained in the previous episode, "The Train Job."

Guest cast[edit]

  • Doug Savant as Commander Harken
  • Brandon Morgan as Reaver attack survivor


  • Espenson, Jane; Glenn Yeffeth (eds.). Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's "Firefly". Dallas, Texas: Benbella Books. ISBN 1-932100-43-1. 
  • Rhonda V. Wilcox; Tanya Cochran (20 May 2008). Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Joss Whedon's Worlds Beyond: Science Fiction on the Frontier (Investigating Cult TV Series). I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84511-654-5. 
  • Joss Whedon (1 Sep 2005). Serenity: The Official Visual Companion. Titan Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84576-082-3. 
  • Joss Whedon; et al. (25 August 2006). Firefly: The Official Companion: Volume One. Titan Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84576-314-5. 
  • Joss Whedon; et al. (25 August 2006). Firefly: The Official Companion: Volume Two. Titan Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84576-372-5. 
  • Joss Whedon (December 9, 2003). The Complete Series: Commentary for "Serenity" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 

External links[edit]