"Out of Gas"
Series Firefly
Season 1, Episode 8
Air date October 25th, 2002
Writers Tim Minear
Director David Solomon
Producers Gareth Davies; Ben Edlund; Lisa Lassek; Tim Minear; Brian Wankum; Joss Whedon
Starring Nathan Fillion; Gina Torres; Alan Tudyk; Morena Baccarin; Adam Baldwin; Jewel Staite; Sean Maher; Summer Glau; Ron Glass
Episode guide

"Out of Gas" is the title to the eighth episode of the science fiction/action series Firefly. It is the fifth aired episode of the series. It was directed by David Solomon with a script written by Tim Minear. It first aired on the FOX Network on October 25th, 2002.

In this episode, Serenity suffers a major engine failure, leaving a wounded Mal Reynolds struggling to make repairs. In his weakened state, he reflects upon the time that he first purchased the Firefly-class ship and formed his current crew.

Synopsis Edit

The episode opens in the present time with a mournful tune, showing Serenity apparently dead in space. The camera moves from darkened room to darkened room, showing no sign of any inhabitants. Mal falls into frame, collapsing onto the cargo bay grate floor. He hears voices coming from outside the cargo bay doors. A salesman is saying: "You buy this ship, treat her proper, she'll be with you the rest of your life"... Light falls across Mal's face as the bay doors open and we realize we're being taken to that moment in Mal's memory when he first enters the ship with Zoë.

Mal takes Zoë aboard his recently-bought ship, but she is taken aback at how run down it is and can't believe he paid for the "death trap". Mal is insistent that it's a good, solid ship and waxes eloquent about freedom from the Alliance and the ship's possibilities once they find a small crew. As they leave to tour, he tells Zoë he's even got a name picked out.

The flashback pans back to Mal in the present time, bleeding. Clutching his stomach, he laboriously drags a machine part along the catwalk. The camera pans up into the dining room a deck above, to a near-present flashback of the crew enjoying a meal and telling amusing anecdotes from their pasts. This important scene shows what a family the crew have become: sitting around a large dining table, eating, talking and laughing. It sets up the rest of the episode for the revelations of how they all met.

Ship's mechanic Kaylee arrives with a birthday cake for Simon. Before the doctor can blow out the candles, a power failure, accompanied by an odd sound, causes Kaylee to start toward the engine room. Just as River quietly announces "fire", a fireball shoots through the passageway. Zoë leaps up to push Kaylee out of the way and gets hit by the leading pressure wave, which also throws everyone to the ground. Mal quickly shuts the rear entrance of the common area. The engine room is engulfed in flames. Simon can't get to his medical supplies because the ship is sealed up. Mal remotely opens the cargo bay doors to blow the atmosphere, sucking the fire out with it.

Back in the present time, Mal continues his journey with the machine part. A door opening leads to another near-present flashback to Simon treating a gravely injured Zoë, while Wash desperately tries to rouse her. A stunned Kaylee tells Mal that Serenity "ain't moving", but Mal prods her to check out the damage. When Wash refuses to leave Zoë's side and man the bridge, Mal drags him away from her and forces him grudgingly to his post. Mal and Zoë speak to a younger, mustachioed Wash who evaluates the condition of the new ship and considers taking the job the new captain is offering him. As Mal and Zoë head off into the depths of the ship, the first mate expresses her general misgivings of the potential pilot, although she doesn't know why she tells Mal that "he bothers me". Mal tells Zoë that Wash has come with glowing recommendations and is already being courted by other captains. Zoë tells Mal that it's all true, but nevertheless "he bothers me". Mal mentions they've also got a new "genius mechanic", causing an unfamiliar, unkempt man who overhears their discussion to be entertained by Mal's praise.

Back in the near-present, Simon jabs a flatlined Zoë with a shot of "pure adrenaline", and another jump cut takes us to the present, where a lone Mal does the same thing to himself in order to continue his struggle. Jumping back to the near-present, Kaylee despondently tells Mal that their life support is completely disabled, giving them only a few hours of oxygen left.

While Simon muses about suffocation, Inara reflects on her love of the ship. In his quarters, Shepherd Book is anxiously reading his Bible. River stops by to reassure him that they won't suffocate — they'll die from the cold first. On the bridge, an angry Wash snarks about Mal's refusal to accept their doom, pointing out that he deliberately chose a travel path that kept them away from any possible contacts. As they argue, Mal slips in a suggestion to get the attention of passersby that turns out to have a remote possibility of working. When Jayne enters to complain about their wasting air, another cut takes us back to the present, where Mal hauls the machine part toward the engine room as the P.A. system needlessly sounds an alarm about the failed life support and low oxygen levels. Mal arrives in the engine room hollering at Bester, the ship's mechanic, for failing to get the ship underway when he promised especially as they've got a job waiting for them. When Mal arrives, he catches Bester being intimate (and noisy) with an engineering groupie. When Bester finally notices, he explains that the girl gets hot around engines. Mal isn't interested, and orders him to get the girl off the ship and get the engine going. Bester starts to spout excuses for why it can't be done when the groupie, who is getting dressed, interrupts Bester's spiel to correct his inaccurate diagnosis. As she emerges from behind the engine, we see that it is Kaylee. When Bester sputters incomprehension, Kaylee explains she diagnosed the problem while on the floor and quickly fixes it. Mal is very impressed, and asked how she learned to do it. Kaylee tells him she's always had a natural talent around engines, as she works with her dad whenever he has work (which is infrequent). Mal offers her a job there and then, and Kaylee happily runs off to wind up her affairs at home. Bester questions why Serenity would need two mechanics, and Mal ominously says "I really don't".

Another jump back to the near-present shows Mal encountering Kaylee, who apologizes for being unable to fix the ship. She tells Mal about the broken catalyzer, which cannot be repaired, only replaced. Back in the present time, Mal finally reaches the engine room and tries to install the part — a replacement catalyzer — remembering what Kaylee showed him earlier but only drops it into the bowels of the engine.

In the near-present, Mal assembles the crew to order them to split into two groups and take each shuttle in opposite directions to try to find some help, however unlikely the possibility of success. With four per shuttle, he decides to stay behind in case someone is caught by Wash's beacon. Wash rigs a big red recall switch on the bridge so Mal can call them back. Inara objects to Mal's apparent desire to "go down with your ship", but Mal is simply refusing to accept defeat.

A flashback to the past shows Inara's introduction to her future quarters and "office", one of Serenity's shuttles. In response to Mal's bargaining tactics, Inara confidently announces that he'll rent her the shuttle, at a discount, in order to gain some respectability, helping him in his own, less licit business. The two also have their first fight, when Inara tells Mal that she supported Unification. She gives him two rules; never to walk in on her uninvited and never to call her whore (both of which he would constantly break).

Back in the near-present, when Inara pleads that "you don't have to die alone", Mal responds, "Everybody dies alone." Wash also appears to want to say something about their departing without the captain, but Mal deftly turns his attention back to his injured wife. As Mal seals off the ship compartments, the crew silently departs in opposite directions on their desperate missions.

Sometime later, Mal is awakened by a salvage ship attracted by Wash's beacon. When Mal opens the door to get the catalyzer, the skeptical captain holds a gun on him while his crew makes sure there is no ambush awaiting them.

Mal and Zoë are being held at gunpoint by three bandits, one of whom is Jayne. Mal and Zoë engage in clever banter with the bandits, with Jayne providing an example of his own limited wit. When Mal realizes how effective Jayne was at tracking them, he and Zoë encourage the gunman to switch sides and join their crew by promising a larger cut from jobs and his own bunk. Jayne casually shoots one of his former partners Marco in the leg and holds the other at gunpoint while he negotiates for his new job.

Back in the near-present, after the salvage crew gives the signal that they're alone, the captain likewise casually shoots Mal in the gut so he can steal Serenity itself. While the captain insouciantly chats with his crew, however, Mal finds a hidden gun and pulls it on the captain, ordering him to leave the catalyzer (as originally agreed) and to get off his ship. As soon as his ship is secure again, he collapses onto the cargo bay grate floor, as shown in the opening scene.

Back in the present time, weakened and injured, Mal manages to drag the new catalyzer out of the engine bowels and install it, starting the engine again. He slowly makes his way to the bridge, but collapses again, short of the recall switch.

As he hears the voices from the various flashbacks, he gradually comes to in the infirmary, where the crew is bustling about. A supine but conscious Zoë welcomes him back to awareness, with Wash giving him a blood transfusion. She takes responsibility for ignoring his orders and returning to Serenity — fortunately, since he never sent the recall — but she promises not to do it again. Mal drowsily asks if he went someplace, Book replies wryly "Very nearly." Inara says with understated relief "We thought we'd lost you." Simon who is tending to Mal administering more pain medication reiterates Zoë's statements saying that "The decision saved your life." Shortly after this exchange Simon firmly tells everyone that Mal needs to rest. The rest of crew starts to leave.

When Mal starts to drift off again, he asks them "Y'all gonna be here when I wake up?" He reaches for Book's hand Book takes it and gently assures him so. Reassured Mal drifts off to sleep once again.

In an old shipyard, the salesman tells Mal "Yes sir, right smart purchase this vessel. Tell you what. You buy this ship, treat her proper, she'll be with you the rest of your life"... however he is referring to a yellow, rocket-like ship. However, Mal's attention has drifted elsewhere, as the salesman notices in the middle of his sales pitch. Mal is looking across the yard to an old, broken-down and abandoned Firefly-class ship at the edge of the lot. As the salesman tries to attract his attention, for Mal it's love-at-first-sight... [1]

Cast Edit

Principal Cast Edit

Actor Role
Nathan Fillion Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds
Gina Torres Zoë Washburne
Alan Tudyk Hoban "Wash" Washburne
Morena Baccarin Inara Serra
Adam Baldwin Jayne Cobb
Jewel Staite Kaylee Frye
Sean Maher Doctor Simon Tam
Summer Glau River Tam
Ron Glass Shepherd Book

Guest Stars Edit

Actor Role
Steven Flynn Captain
Ilia Volok Marco
Lyle Kanouse Salesman
Dax Griffin Bester
Roderick McCarthy Lacey #1
Keith Mooney Homeless man

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Production code number: 1AGE07.
  • Actor Roderick McCarthy is credited as Roderick L. McCarthy in this episode.
  • Actor Keith Mooney is uncredited for his participation in this episode.

Quotes Edit


  • Kaylee Frye: It's your turn.
  • Simon Tam: My turn?
  • Kaylee Frye: Well, Shepherd told us a funny story about being a preacher. Now you tell us a funny story about being a doctor.
  • Simon Tam: Oh, a funny story.
  • Jayne Cobb: Yeah, 'cause sick people are hi-larious.


  • River Tam: You're afraid we're going to run out of air. That we'll die gasping. But we won't. That's not going to happen. We'll freeze to death first.


  • Jayne Cobb: What do you two think you're doing? Fightin' at a time like this. You'll use up all the air!

See also Edit

External Links Edit

References Edit

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This article is an episode of Firefly television series.