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Fridge Brilliance

  • The Firefly episode "Jaynestown," was already the funniest one in my opinion. Then I was thinking about the parallels between the townspeople needing Jayne to be a hero and Book's explanation of religious faith, and I realised that's not just the episode's theme, it's also the final joke - comparing dumb, thuggish Jayne to God. --Whatever
    • And it's probably unintentional, but take a look at Jayne Cobb's initials...considering that it's an episode of a Joss Whedon series, it took this troper quite a while to realize that this episode has a subtle feminist subtext. While it's macho badass Jayne that gets the big hero's welcome and fanfare as the Mudder's hero, it's Inara who lands with him completely unnoticed and unheralded and spends her time there instilling a new confidence in the corrupt Magistrate's considerably more intelligent, sensitive son, to the point that at episode's end he's standing up to his father and freeing Serenity from its land lock, saving the whole crew. Life will be also considerably better for the Mudders & working people under a man like that, and that's how you really change the world(s). -- Unknown Troper
      • Wait, the unheralded prostitute who hangs out with J.C. does something that is probably going to go unwritten in their religious text?
        • That comment on it going 'unwritten' made me realize how feminist that episode was. The manly-man, Jayne, does something that makes a few people happy for a little while but does nothing to really change how bad things will continue to be. However, he gets folk songs and a Robin Hood-like following because of it. Inara, meanwhile, teaches the future boss of the entire planet how to stand up for what he believes in, even going against his cruel and selfish father's desires to do so. The kid is much more sensitive and caring than his father, and when he takes over, he'll know how to stand up and lead his community with pride, and odds are he won't even remember the name of the person who taught him how to do just that. The man is the hyped-up but ultimately worthless hero and the woman is the unsung yet incredibly important hero.
          • Worthless? Are you sure? Hope is a good thing, Red .... - Custos
  • River's breakdown in "War Stories" didn't truly resonate with me for a while, until I realized that her comment on how much she hates being able to think clearly because she knows it'll go away meant that she's fully aware of what was done to her and she knows, deep down, that she cannot ever be fully healed. It made an already heartwrenching scene a hundred times more agonizing to watch. -- Unknown Troper
  • I just caught something very subtle in "Objects In Space." When River is threatening Early, she casually comments about "all these buttons" while inside his ship. Except she's not only referring to the buttons in Early's ship - she's also referring to the "buttons" in Early's head she's been pushing during the entire conversation. Brilliant. -- Unknown Troper
  • Something immensely subtle in "Ariel" that I missed for years before only just now noticing: when Simon, River, and Jayne have been captured by the Feds and the Feds are starting to move them, check River's wrists. She's trying to slip out of the handcuffs. Even before Simon begins treating her and well before the Big Damn Movie, River is already showing signs of her impending ninjaosity. -- Unknown Troper
  • We all know that Firefly is a short-lived Space Western, but one would not all the planets in the 'Verse are all of a desert/prairie biome. Except that most, if not all of them are, because the terraforming procedure was such a long and probably expensive process, that the Alliance didn't want to spend money that they didn't need to. Thus, they stopped at the bare minimum of habitability, which is why all the planets seem to be hot or cold deserts. (This doesn't apply as much to the Core Planets; but consider the fact that that's where both the government and the rich people live). -- Unknown Troper
    • I had the idea that the semi-terraformed planets were the cause of political waffling. One administration wants to fully terraform the planets, but an opposing party comes into power, declares the whole thing a waste, and shuts down the project when its only half-way done. Thus the've spend billions of dollars credits whatever-they-use in the 'verse, yet wind up with barely habitable rocks. -- Unknown Troper
    • I always thought the reason for all the desert planets was that they spent all the big bucks on getting the Core Worlds comfortable (even if all those arboreal gardens were each indoors or All Just a Dream), then did what they could to make the Border worlds merely livable. What with the Border Worlds being Hoovervilles InSpace!, that is. -JET 73 L
    • The terraforming process isn't completely foolproof: in the movie, Miranda is referred to as a 'black rock'; i.e., an uninhabitable planet where terraforming failed. Of course, that's not the case. So apparently terraforming fails often enough that a slang term to describe the result is in use. The Border Worlds being only marginally habitable may be a result of a limitation in technology, funding, or both. --Snarf
  • I just noticed something about the teaching of Xiang Yu that are dismissed as an excuse to be evil. We were given a practical demonstration of them applying to the main characters in the previous episode when Mal was about to space Jayne but stopped short because he met the real Jayne. -- Unknown Troper
  • The name Firefly itself. This meaning was never intentional by anyone, but think about it. The light of a firefly shines brightly for a moment and then flickers out of existence but that light, that memory of the firefly is fondly remembered. -- Gallows
    • Catching fireflies on a warm summer night... that is the feeling you get when watching Firefly, especially in the more heartwarming scenes. -- Gallows
    • A Firefly can also symbolize the soul, or that it ferries souls from the land of the living. On a more upbeat note, a firefly encircling people symbolizes affections and attachments that bring them together.
  • Reading the Just Bugs Me: Firefly page gave this troper the following startling insight: in Ariel, River wasn't just randomly attacking Jayne, she was defacing his Blue Sun shirt. River even says right after, "He looks better in red." You think she's being 'morbid and creepifying,' going on about blood being 'pretty' or sumesuch, but what she means is she doesn't want to see him in Blue! Ruttin' brilliant. ~Dragonfire8181
    • Not only that, but she's psychic! She already knew of his betrayal! Not only would that cause a homicidal bloodlust in most, but combine that with training that most likely said to kill traitors, and you have an easy way to get her trying to kill you. --HG 131
    • She is definitely on to him. Remember, when she wakes up. Her words are: "Copper for a kiss?" And later, with the Holo-Imager: "Your feet are in the sand." Could either mean, Jayne saw himself on the beach or that sand makes for some unstable footing. Jayne himself gives us another clue of whats coming up: "Nothing buys bygones quicker than cash." bardofshadow
    • Not to mention, the moment Jayne first lies to them (about the plan 'changing'), River's brain lights up (still in the scanner) and she gets very agitated...
  • It's subtle, but in "Trash", when Saffron is presenting her plan, Wash asks the question - "What is she doing on the ship?!". This is a very relevant question - hilarious, but relevant. Sitting next to him, Kaylee cracks up. This irritated me for a bit, until ages later when I realised that the crew already knew Saffron was on board, and it was all a big con. Kaylee's not as shocked or scared as she should have been because of that, and so she found Wash's comment funny. That's part of what Inara was talking about when "Some of the crew's performances weren't as nuanced" as she'd've liked! – Delta One
  • In "Safe", River always seemed awfully calm while she was about to be burned at the stake. Heck, she didn't even really fight back against the settlers as they were tying her to the stake. Then I realized that in order for the events to have happened as they did during the Big Damn Heroes moment, Mal and Zoe had to have arrived at the village several minutes before Serenity swooped in overhead - and River knew they were there, because she's psychic! No wonder she was so calm! – Unknown Troper
    • It's also why she said, "Time to go" around the time the Big Damn Heroes moment happened. She knew the exact time that Mal and Zoe would come.-- Echo Ballard 13
    • When she said: "Daddy will come get us", I made the same mistake as Simon, thinking she was talking about Gabriel Tam. Then I re-watched "Safe" and had a "FB"-Moment. Not sure if there is another moment where she says something about "Captain Daddy" and I'm just missing it. bardofshadow
      • Which just adds another layer to an already heartwarming scene
  • In Out Of Gas, during the first flashback, Zoe and Mal avoid a thing on the floor. Dying, present Mal is exactly at that spot. - Randomfanboy though it was my sister who pointed it out.
  • It took me a few watches of Out of Gas to get that the title didn't refer to the crew being becalmed in space, but to Oxygen, which they were quickly running out of.
  • In "Ariel" River is terrified of being put into a coma, talking about how she doesn't want to "go to that place." Sounds like standard metaphorical talk about how she doesn't want to die, right? Except that going to sleep due to chemical treatment is exactly what happened to everyone on Miranda. She remembers how everyone fell asleep there and died, and in her not-all-there state of mind, she's terrified that the same thing will happen to her. The "I don't want to go to that place" line is River saying she doesn't want to go to Miranda!
    • Eh, maybe... It's probably more that she knew Jayne had sold her out and that the Hands of Blue were coming to take her back to the Academy.
  • What happens to the mudders at Jaynestown? Do they revolt against their oppressive masters or something, or are they stuck in their virtual slavery long after the crew of Serenity leave?
    • On the other hand, it is all but outright said that Fess Higgins will, eventually, take over and move the ceramics production operation in a gentler direction, considering how he stood up to his father. This is pretty much confirmed by the Serenity RPG sourcebook.
  • The concept of Companions being high-class actually makes an insanely large amount of sense when you consider an entire generation of humanity lived and died on route the new Solar System after leaving Earth. Social taboos would probably have been put aside to prevent people from going stir-crazy and getting cabin fever.
  • The weapons that the Blue Hands use in "Ariel" didn't make sense to me at first. Why use something that causes so much pain and kills so slowly? Would fast-dissipating nerve gas work better? Then, I start to think: the weapon causes bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose and mouth, suggesting extreme hemorrhaging in the brain. What if technology exists that can restore memories from dead brains? Or, hell, few methods of execution have a 100% success rate, even shooting someone in the head. What if someone survives? And they seem concerned that no one hears what River says, in case she spills the beans on anything she picked up from the brass's heads. I think those sonic weapons disintegrate brain matter rather than just cause blood vessels to burst, to ensure that there is no way whatsoever for anyone to tell what she's said to them. They're not just killing witnesses, they're destroying evidence.
    • The weapon does more than that, as demonstrated in Those Left Behind. At full power it can liquefy a human body's internal organs in seconds, leaving them as nothing but a tattered husk of skin in a pool of blood.
  • Either Lieutenant Baker was Genre Savvy, or the Independents as a whole were by the Battle of Serenity. Witness that Baker's Authorization Code was evidently printed on the inside of one of his patches, and Mal knew where to look for it without hesitation.
    • That's got nothing to do with Genre Savvy. Apparently that's just where the Independents keep copies of their authorization codes.
  • "Objects in Space" had a scenery-based one. I decided to watch the series just to look at the ship itself, since it's another character on the show and it was especially important in this episode. As Early and Simon walk through the cargo bay, just before Simon snarks for River to come out of hiding, they walk past the storage unit the spacesuits are kept in. One of them is wide open. I was just thinking that was extremely weird, given the fact everything else was packed up, and then it clicked - the scenery was showing us clues that River had quickly accessed it for a suit to get outside to Early's ship.
    • On another note with this episode, I also liked what Joss did with Kaylee. Rape is about power not sex. Early's casual question was designed solely to give him power over her - he was telling the truth about not caring one way or another about her body. He just wanted her to be imprisoned, not by physical bonds, but by mental ones. But taking power like that away from a person isn't as easy to fix as simply removing physical restraints. It lingers with a person for a long time and often the healing process involves a woman taking back the power that was stolen from her. We know that Joss Whedon understands that because an early episode of Angel addressed it when Kate explains to Angel that his client (who has been stalked by a neurosurgeon for a long time) has to be able to take back the power he's stolen if she's ever to stand a chance of recovery. Enter River - it wasn't simply that Kaylee was the only person free to unlock Mal's room, River - who would understand the mental hold Early had gained over her - was actually giving Kaylee the chance to fight back and take back the power that Early had stolen from her.
  • Fridge Brilliance: In "Bushwacked", while we can see that Simon is struggling with what may have ended up being revealed as a full-blown phobia, River is absolutely elated at being outside the ship, gazing off to the stars in delight and wonder. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps her comfort stemmed from her mental abilities. Out there, in the vastness of space, this girl who we know can no longer switch off her emotions (or anyone else's) is actually finding a kind of respite - there's nothing but her and the black and a chance, for at least a moment, to be free of so many minds. It's probably no wonder she loves Serenity so much - with so few people on board, and their identities unchanging, she would stand a better chance of finding peace than in a crowded room or city or (as Miranda implied) planet... and we see in "Objects in Space" that, having already sensed Early's arrival ("We're all just floating"), there's one extra mind on board, hence her "it's getting very, very crowded" - she was reacting to the intruder even then. In short, the reason River enjoys being in space so much is that it's the only place she can be to take a break from reading minds - because there are so few minds around to read.
    • Some more Fridge Brilliance regarding Simon's possible phobia--Remember from Bushwhacked? "You're...you're wearing this wrong." If he had actually needed that suit, if it hadn't just been a prank to embarrass him, Simon would have died. Is it any wonder he'd develop a phobia of spacewalks?
      • I was originally thinking of the scene before that when he's watching everyone suit up and Jayne spots how nervous he is, and he admits the idea of it disturbs him. I agree the incident with Jayne would just make matters worse for him, but he clearly had issues before that incident.
  • I just had several rapid-fire ones while rewatching the first episode:
    • Pay close attention when Dobson bumps into Simon while getting his bags out of the cargo bay. He keeps glancing to the display on the side of the cryo box River is in, which is the same display Simon keeps checking. He's checking over Simon's head, being just as interested in making sure River is fine.
    • Jayne being responsible for "public relations" seems like a one-off bit of sarcasm from Mal, but considering how the "public" that the crew interacts with are commonly criminals, thugs, murderers, pirates, and other assorted lowlifes, Jayne's methods of relating to these folks seem highly appropriate.
    • When Dobson draws his gun on Mal and Simon in the cargo bay, pay close attention to where Book came from when stepping onto the scene. He was already in the cargo bay when Mal confronted Simon, likely shadowing Dobson, giving further, subtle hints as to his dark and shadowy past.
    • When Simon is getting ready to drop down on Dobson, River is pulling away from him, giving Simon a perfect target. I didn't realize until just now that she likely knew that Simon was up there thanks to her Psychic Powers, and knew what he was planning, so she pulled away from Dobson to give Simon a clear target.
  • Jayne may be such a money-grubbing bastard because if he gets enough money, he might be able to buy a treatment for Mattie that will completely cure his/her disease.
    • The best part about this idea is that it makes Jayne and Simon, who are by all outward appearances the too most different characters on the ship, Not So Different.
  • What happens to the guy Mal doesn't kick into the engine and takes the money back to Niska? I don't remember seeing him in War Stories, and Niska isn't a very nice person to be around when disappointed.
    • That just completed a half-baked theory of mine, thanks. The guy who did recieve the money realized that Niska wouldn't be happy if he came back and told him that Crow was dead and Mal had turned against him. The guy decided that he was as good as dead if he went back to Niska, and the other people shown earlier to be in his group agreed. So they went on the run. They had Niska's money, Crow was the only one who showed genuine loyalty to Niska, and furthermore, the mob boss would assume that Mal's crew had just killed everyone instead of just Crow as would be known should they have gone back. They had the perfect oppurtunity to get away from Niska and start a new life.
    • Not on that amount of money, but it is likely that the guy just ran with the money and never reported back to Niska. Getting the money back wouldn't necessarily have stopped Niska from wanting to torture Mal for his failure, though.
  • Another Objects in Space one: When River reads Shepherd Book's mind (or whatever it is she did there), he says/thinks, "I don't care whether you're innocent or not. So where does that leave you?" in a rather menacing, cold way. At first I thought it made him sound like an uncaring psychopath. It seemed like a very out-of-character thing for Book to say and it seems like it was an allusion to his shadowy past. And while it certainly was that, it hit also me: It's not just not out-of-character for Book, it's Book's defining character trait. He really doesn't care whether others are innocent or not and he never has. But by the time of the series, that's because he will treat you with decency and compassion, whether you're innocent or not.
  • One of the apparent inconsistencies in the series is how the Reavers were able to take the derelict ship in "Bushwhacked" without leaving any signs of a struggle despite being brutal berserkers. Then along comes "Our Mrs. Reynolds", where a group of Salvage Pirates are getting ready to capture the ship, and Book notes that once they're caught the pirates will just cut off oxygen or gas the occupants. That's exactly what the Reavers did. They jumped the ship, gassed or cut off oxygen until the crew fell unconscious, and boarded without a fight. They're a hell of a lot smarter than everyone gives them credit for.
  • In "War Stories," when Niska offers Zoe a choice between taking back Mal or Wash. She chooses Wash before he even finishes speaking, thus resolving the Love Triangle Red Herring they'd been playing up the whole episode and establishing that she loves Wash, no question. The Fridge Brilliance comes in when you realize it was also the correct tactical choice. Mal, being the stubborn bastard he is, could take a lot more torture than Wash before breaking. In fact, that was the whole point of their Casual Danger Dialogue - Mal's reserves of Heroic Willpower were so great that he was keeping Wash from breaking by deliberately antagonizing him.
  • You know how Mal doesn't look nearly as old as he should? He spends all his time traveling in a relativistic ship!

Fridge Horror

  • While the Reavers in Firefly already sound bad, but it takes a moment to realize how bad. The "rape you to death, eat your flesh and sew your skin into their clothing" thing is dismissed as an old wives' tale at one point, but in The Movie, they see a recording which ends with a Reaver attack on the person. Jayne demands for them to turn it off, and the last we see is them taking her to the ground. Which means it's true. It makes them go from "Space Zombies" to "Semi-Intelligent Rapist Space Zombies with Knitting Skills".
    • Another disturbing fact: The Reavers are still coherent enough to pilot ships, complete repairs and, according to the Serenity Role Playing Game, build weapons and torture implements. While they seem to go into some sort of rage in battle, they must be at least somewhat methodical and practical otherwise. Imagine what they could do with an Operating Table.
    • Apparently, Reavers know how to train more Reavers. Except instead of "train" it's more like "horrifically traumatize until the victim is mentally broken and left with only one option to deal with it." If ya can't beat 'em, join 'em. Now, think hard about where all those stories about Reavers came, and the fact they turned out to be true. There might be survivors of Reaver attacks out there. Except they're not survivors. They're recruits."
      • You want some real Fridge Horror? With all that raping, there have to be some Reaver kids out there. Imagine growing up in that lovely household.
        • Only if there are female Reavers, which was never really confirmed; the ones in the movie looked all male, though admittedly they didn't look much like humans, male or female. The female victims who might have become pregnant from the rape...I'm going to go out on a limb and say that their pregnancies weren't able to be carried to term.
        • There probably ARE female Reavers, I think I remember in the Commentary of the Serenity companion that they call one out. Really, the bigger obstacle to this is that they fly around with no radiation containment, bad enough that the radiation causes skin sores and burns. Fertility is the first thing to go under conditions like that. Also, it's unlikely their female victims live long enough to go to full term, or that the unborn fetus of any recruits aren't miscarried due to conditions or violence.
      • Also, in Serenity, it is revealed that the Reavers were created when the Alliance tried using a chemical to control the people of an entire planet. Instead, it made most of the population too apathetic to even move, and the rest were turned into savage, blood-thirsty killers... Think about that for a minute.
      • Well, the whole point of the last part of the movie is to reveal this truth to everyone, so that The Alliance doesn't dare do this again.
      • My personal fridge horror: I react "paradoxically" to sedatives and hyptnotics. Which means: I get wide awake, hyperactive, overalert and sometimes quite aggressive panic attacks. Of course: In real life this means, I simply never take them anymore. But in the 'verse...
    • Another bit from Serenity: When the Serenity crew first discovers the recording of the Reaver attack, Jayne tells Mal to turn it off. In the climax of the movie, Mal plays the recording for the entire Verse, but just walks away after starting it... how long did that recording play for and how much of it did the unsuspecting people viewing the feed see?
      • Enough to ensure that it never happens again.
    • In Bushwhacked, the camera lingers lovingly on the multitude of evidence that there were children aboard the abandoned colony ship. At one point you can even see a balloon floating in the background. Horror? The fact that balloons only float for a few hours; they literally just missed the reavers. Unfortunately, Zoe then says that the lifeboat launched a week ago, meaning that it must be a Space Balloon, with some Fridge Logic.
      • They do mention that the lifeboat only holds a third of the ship's population, so the above theory may still be true - the balloon may have been to distract the children from their 'shipwrecked' status.
      • There's a scene where Harken is interrogating Mal, who says that the Reavers were the ones who butchered those people. Harken dismisses the claim and says he can't imagine the number of times that men in his position hear the "Reavers did it" excuse. Reavers have been attacking ships for ten years. The Alliance, despite knowing about the Reavers, has been punishing innocent people for the Reavers' actions for the last decade.
        • Well, in my opinion, it's unlikely that Harken really knows about them or even believes they exist. Aside from the very high-ups in the Alliance, related to Miranda, not many on the core worlds really know about Reavers; Simon didn't know they were real. Mal also asks him if it's his first tour out on the border, and Harken doesn't correct him. Reavers might be insane sadists, but they're not stupid, they probably steer clear of the huge Alliance ships, so it's entirely possible a lot of men in Harken's position don't believe in Reavers. Plus, it's unlikely they get near Miranda and the rest of the edge, where most of the Reavers are from, as the high-ups would probably have them steer clear.
    • There's also the R. Tam Sessions, which end with River stabbing her "counselor" in the throat with a pen. On the one hand, one could argue that this is River being ordered to kill him - horrific and chilling in its own right. But the alternate interpretation is that she killed him because she could, and it was her only way of striking back at what they did to her. This is especially chilling in light of how she was acting at the beginning of the sessions - imagine what kind of horrors it would take to turn such a cheerful, happy and innocent girl into a killer who would stab a man in the throat with a pen because he was part of the institution that was tormenting her.
    • Jubal Early's dialogue with River becomes a thousand times creepier when you remember he seemed perfectly willing to rape Kaylee if Simon didn't go along with him, and River's unspoken implications of what he did to his neighbors' dog. Especially the extremely satisfied look on his face as he's getting ready to get back into his ship where he thinks River is waiting for him. Also, keep in mind River's rather squicky statement that Early is "crawling inside me uninvited." If you think the Psycho for Hire was bad before, reading between the lines and seeing his Subtext makes him just plain horrifying.
      • River: "That's why you took the job. Power. Control. Pain." Yee-gads.
    • In Ariel, Simon reveals that the Alliance cut out River's amygdala, meaning she can no longer repress emotions such as fear or sadness. Combined with her psychic powers, that means she could be feeling the emotions of everyone around her at the same time and can't do anything about it'.
      • If they took out the amygdala which corresponds with her negative emotions, her brain simply wouldn't be signaled to feel them at all. It would also remove the adrenalin that would be released in the fight or flight situations. This brings up another point about them taking out the part of the brain related to the ability to be conditioned before they were finishing conditioning her.

They completely screwed up their ability to finish their work on her. If they removed both amygdalae, there are two in each complex animal, they removed her ability to associate happiness, sadness, satysifaction, fear, or much of anything with anything else. They also severely screwed up her ability to relate to others, her willingness to cooperate and impaired her ability to form new long term memories.

    • In the pilot, Serenity, Mal and the crew pulla Crazy Ivan to escape the Reavers, leaving them in the backwash of a full burn. Zoe says that the Reavers won't be able to turn around fast enough to catch them now. In the movie, we see that the Reavers will drop a lost cause (evidenced by the man Mal shoots when he's grabbed) to go after live prey. So Serenity escapes the Reavers on a populated planet...
      • Amend that to "on a populated planet in a crashing ship that's on fire." They weren't just caught in Serenity's backwash, they got caught in the ignition of their engines. The people on that planet are probably a little better off than you think.
    • River in the Academy and exact details of what happen to her are bad enough, but she was rescued by her loving big brother trying his best to help her get better. But there were others in the Academy, others still suffering with no one to save them.
  • Jayne is horrified of reavers. Reavers like weapons and killing and fighting and deceiving and cutting things, they hate thinking really hard or abstracton of any kind. Maybe this just hits a little close to home for the Token Evil Teammate.
    • Well, as Jayne says: "Hell, I'll kill a man in a fair fight... or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight... or if there's a woman... or if I'm getting paid. Mostly only when I'm getting paid. Eatin' people alive? Where's that get fun?"
  • It took a while to set in but this troper actually has a reoccurring stress-nightmare based on the climatic fight with the Reavers at the end of Serenity, when River leaps through the doors, tosses the bag and the last thing you see is her being dragged away by dozens of hands through the closing gap. It doesn’t help that I have a massive crush on Summer Glau or that she reminds me a great deal physically of an ex-girlfriend of mine. We all know what the Reavers do to their captives, rape, eat, skin, rape (“You said rape twice.” “Well, they like rape.”) and we also know River is too much badass for them to handle and tears them apart like a Cuisinart... But the characters don’t actually know that second part. Imagine watching someone you love get torn away by these literal monsters then two foot of steel doors cutting you off and you just pound and pound at them and you can never get through and can only imagine what’s being visited on them on the other side while you’re completely and utterly helpless to stop it or even at least die beside them.
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