580: The Race: Part 4

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The Race: Part 4
Things are rarely just crazy enough to work, but they're frequently just crazy enough to fail hilariously.
Title text: Things are rarely just crazy enough to work, but they're frequently just crazy enough to fail hilariously.


Firefly was a television series aired by FOX in 2002 that got cancelled mid-way through, but has a large fan base nowadays (for a more comprehensive explanation, see the Wikipedia page). The star of the show was Captain Malcolm (or Mal) Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion. Other members of his crew were Kaylee (played by Jewel Staite) the ship's mechanic, River Tam (played by Summer Glau) was the seemingly crazy younger sister of Dr. Simon Tam (played by Sean Maher), as well as a few others.

The "Crazy Ivan" maneuver is a reference an evasion technique used by the crew of the Serenity (the name of the main spacecraft in the show) to escape the Reavers (savage men) in the pilot episode of Firefly . The maneuver involves a sharp 180° turn to face the pursuing spacecraft and fly straight at, while barely missing it. This allows the more maneuverable Firefly-class spaceship to escape faster but less agile spacecraft. But as Jewel points out, this is less than useful on a skateboard, since the board spins in place while the rider continues forward unimpeded.

In the show, Summer was known to do strange and unexpected things.

All comics in "The Race" series:

This series was released on 5 consecutive days(Monday-Friday) and not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule.


[Cueball and Nathan Fillion are ready on the start line on their electric skateboards.]
Voice off panel: On your mark...
Voice: Get set...
Nathan: Remember episode 11, when I got all naked in that desert?
Voice: Go!
[Nathan speeds away leaving Cueball standing at the start line.]
Voice: ...I said "Go."
Voice: Someone throw some water on him.
Cueball: Can't...get it...out of my head...
[Nathan on walkie talkie, speeding on his skateboard.]
Nathan: He's right behind me. Kaylee, I'm gonna try a Crazy Ivan.
Jewel [on walkie talkie] (579 shows Nathan's naming confusion): That doesn't make any sense, Nathan.
Nathan: Trust me.
Jewel: No, I mean it's not a skateboard maneuver. The concept doesn't even apply to this situation.
Nathan [via walkie talkie]: That's why it just might work!
Jewel: No, that's the opposite of true!
Nathan: On my mark, override the remote differential and throw her into a spin.
Jewel [via walkie talkie]: okay, but—
Nathan: Mark!
[Nathan lying injured on the ground next to his skateboard, Cueball cruises past.]
[Nathan, trying to stand up.]
Nathan: I'm down. Tell Summer "The chickens are in the hayloft. Plan Gamma is a go."
[Nathan, one foot on skateboard, looking at walkie talkie.]
mumbling from walkie talkie
Jewel: She says, "Plan gamma acknowledged. The meerkats are in the bag.
[Summer Glau is walking off panel.]
Jewel [to walkee talkie]: So we're good?
Nathan: Hard to tell with her. Do you see an actual bag of meerkats?
Jewel: No.
Nathan: Then we're probably good.
[Cueball screeching to a halt as he sees Summer Glau.]
Cueball: Oh! Hi, Miss Glau! I'd love to talk, but Nathan's back on his feet and catching up.
[Summer grabs Cueball's arm.]
Cueball: Wha—
[Summer kicks Cueball in the face whilst pulling his arm towards her, he flies off his skateboard.]
[Summer walking away as Cueball lies crippled on the floor with his sunglasses beside him.]
[Cueball still lying on the floor.]
Cueball [thinking]: I've never been so turned on in my life.


  • The xkcd's own transcript for this episode is radically wrong, and words like maneuver are spelled incorrectly.

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Wasn't "Crazy Ivan" originally a submarine maneuver, from "The Hunt for Red October"? --JakubNarebski (talk) 16:44, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Yes. Unless it has a towed sonar array, a sub has a sonar "blind spot" (the "baffles") where it can't hear anything. Periodically, subs would zigzag to check the blind spot for enemies ("clearing the baffles"). The Russians used a manouver which the Americans called "crazy Ivan," in which they would do a sudden 180-degree turn. It was called "crazy" for the high risk of colliding with the following/hunting sub. 14:58, 2 August 2013 (UTC)Monica