Best TV Show, Worst Episode: Firefly

September 3, 2011 — 5 Comments

Inspired by this great A.V. Club piece, I have decided to try my hand at picking one of my favourite TV shows and describing its worst episode. And heck, why not making it a semi-ongoing series!

Firefly, Episode 13: Heart of Gold

The show only had 14 episodes (and a movie), but there is no doubt in my mind that the only one that is not very good is Heart of Gold. There are definitely a couple other “lesser” Firefly episodes, but Heart of Gold is the one I often skip when I’m re-watching the series. It’s not that the episode is outright bad. It’s really not. The episode even has a couple classic moments, mainly involving Jayne.

Unfortunately the rest of the episode is just forgettable. It feels like the episode was a bit of an afterthought. Had the show gotten a full 22-episode order this episode would have been considered pure filler. There is some important development regarding the Mal-Inara situation, but even that feels forced, and it was never a driving element of the show to begin with.

The worst thing about the episode is that it actually feels out of place with the rest of the show tonally. This is a little unexpected considering the Western cliché of it all, but it’s the truth. The sentimentalism of the episode. The reasons for the crew getting involved. None of it feels like regular Firefly. It all seems out of touch with what makes Firefly so good. Sure, the show has a sentimental streak, but it reaches that through a combination of sly sarcasm and general cynicism. It also doesn’t help that the idea of the Firefly crew protecting a brothel seems silly even in concept.

Though I wouldn’t say that Firefly has any outright bad episodes, Heart of Gold definitely comes the closest, and for that it is the show’s worst episode.


5 responses to Best TV Show, Worst Episode: Firefly


    I love the show though I do agree that it’s my least favorite episode kind of because it was a bit all over the place.

    I posted at the A/V Club on a show that I loved and its worst episode. I cited “Gilmore Girls” as a show I loved for its first five seasons. The sixth season started off well but went downhill by its second half leading to an awful season finale. Then came the final season where it was pretty damn terrible until parts of the second half as it reached towards the end.

    The episode that myself and many fans of the show believe is the worst is “French Twist”. It’s essentially Lorelai Gilmore and her longtime beau Asshat aka Christopher going to Paris to accompany his daughter to see her mother. They stay in a hotel for about a large portion and just lots of awful conversation and they go to a restaurant where he proposes to her and it ends with her becoming Mrs. Asshat.

    Then you had other subplots of Rory Gilmore unsure of what to do next with her life as she’s in her final year at Yale while meeting an old friend who pretends not to know her. Then there’s this other plot where Rory’s friend Lane learns she is having twins as her mother decides to make plans to prepare for the arrival of those twins. Those were decent but was awfully overshadowed by what was going on with Lorelai and Asshat’s story which was probably the most overly-sentimental episode filled with the worst dialogue ever spoken by those actors.


    Don’t manyTV shows have one or a couple noticably bad episodes every season? Take Star Trek for instance. I love them all, particularly TNG, but even a fan like me must admit that every season offered a couple of shows that only made you feel embarrassed. I always thought: “ouch, they’re running tight on their budget and need to hold back a bit”. But a couple of episodes later you’d get one of those two-part episodes that were awesome like a movie and you’d forget all about the bad one. Same with Buffy. They also had at least one or two terribad shows every season.


      I think the premise of the AV Club column was exactly that. And it’s especially true for American shows. When you produce so many hours of TV in a year, there are bound to be one or two that miss the mark.

      The only show for which I don’t think I could come up with a bad episode is The Wire, and that is more to do with the fact that I find the episodes indistinguishable from one another in the grand scheme of each season and the series as a whole. There are a couple of plot lines and developments that are probably “lesser” Wire, but I would not be able to tell you one episode from another well enough to say that it had any that were not up to the show’s high standard of quality.


    It is a shame FOX marketed this show so badly. I avoided when it was on air because is looked silly based on the ads. However, when I caught up with the show on DVD, I completely fell in love with it. I agree Heart of Gold is one of the weaker episodes but I think it would have probably fit better had the show run a full 22 episode season.


      You’re exactly right. That’s why I said it would feel more like just a filler episode in a full season. Not quite bad. It wouldn’t be considered shameful or anything. It’s just not a particularly good episode in a series that had a very short run and mostly great episodes.

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