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!
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.