581: The Race: Part 5

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The Race: Part 5
It was actually canceled because they just noticed he's been naked under that coat the whole time. There's a petition on Facebook to get Fox to un-cancel it, and one on Livejournal to get him to take off the coat.
Title text: It was actually canceled because they just noticed he's been naked under that coat the whole time. There's a petition on Facebook to get Fox to un-cancel it, and one on Livejournal to get him to take off the coat.


This is a continuation of the previous comic in "The Race" series, 580: The Race: Part 4. In panel 6 (2nd panel in the 2nd row), Nathan Fillion line is reminiscent of a similar quote from the 2nd episode of Firefly, The Train Job: "I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind ya." In the show, Malcolm Reynolds is aided by Zoë Washburne, his second in command, who gets behind the bar thug he is speaking to. In the comic, Nathan Fillion is using the line on a fan, but Gina Torres is not standing behind Cueball this time.

Summer Glau's line about growing but not retracting her hair appears to mean that because Nathan used her to stop Cueball, she has to stop him as well, which she neatly does. Alternatively, the line may be a random non-sequitur of the sort often uttered by her neurologically damaged character in the Firefly 'verse. "Bwah!" is a sound Malcolm makes during one episode in which one of his crewmembers inadvertently sneaks up on him while trying to ask him a question. When he is questioned about it, he says he has invented a new war cry, and promptly practices yelling 'Bwahhhh' in a confident manner while readying his pistol.

Summer's statement in the 10th panel about swallowing a bug is a reference to the movie Serenity, made in 2005 to conclude Firefly's storyline. After a harrowing high-speed chase in an open-topped hovercraft, the only comment from Summer's character is "I swallowed a bug," showing that she was either unconcerned, or stunned, by the narrow escape. The final panel is a reference to Fox Television's treatment of Firefly. Firefly was cancelled after only 11 episodes of the 14 made were aired, leaving three episodes unaired. Internet petitions, contrary to the sarcastic suggestion in the final panel, pretty much never work.[actual citation needed]

Electric skateboards have been the subject of several other comics like 139: I Have Owned Two Electric Skateboards, 409: Electric Skateboard (Double Comic) and a panel in 442: xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel. Notably, Summer appears not to need the electronic controller to ride the board. Either she is being assisted remotely (as Nathan thought he would be, in the previous comic) or her character-linked strange nature is involved. This could possibly involve a purely psychic link, but with the evidence of being able pull Nathan from the board seemingly without effort (or accounting for his inertia) it may suggest she is something more akin to her biomechanical Terminator-series machine character.

In the title text, it is revealed that Fillion is 'actually naked' under his coat. This isn't very surprising in the xkcd universe, as stick figures are always 'naked' by normal definition. However, this is apparently the actual reason why Fox cancelled their final panel. Therefore, there have been two petitions - one to show the final battle, and another to get Fillion to remove the coat.

This series was released on five consecutive days (Monday to Friday) and not over the usual schedule of three comics a week. These are all the comics in The Race series:


[Nathan skates in.]
Nathan: So you took care of him?
Summer: I can extrude hair, but I can't retract it.
Nathan: That a yes?
[Summer grabs Nathan's arm as he skates past her, pulling him off the board.]
Nathan: Bwah!
[An Andy Capp-esque meleè dust cloud.]
[Summer skates away.]
[A beat-up Nathan approaches an similarly battered Cueball.]
Nathan: She may have my board, but I can still beat you to the finish line if I bring you down.
Cueball: Bring it, Captain Tightpants.
Nathan: I've got nothing to bring. I just said that so she could get behind you.
[Cueball turns.]
Cueball: Who—
[Cueball is hit with his board.]
[Nathan stands over a prone Cueball.]
Nathan: I just said that so I could get behind you. The serious fans always fall for the quotes.
[Wide panel of Summer crossing the finishing line on Nathan's board, breaking through the tape.]
Announcer: And the winner is...
Off-screen voice: Summer Glau?
Summer: I swallowed a bug again.
[Close-up of Cueball's beaten face.]
Cueball: All right, Fillion. I've had enough of your treachery and ...rugged good looks. This ends here.
[Equally close-up: Nathan's face, bearing several grazes.]
Nathan: All right, fanboy. Let this be our final battle.
[They rush at each other, fists ready to swing punches.]
Final battle canceled by Fox.
Try an Internet petition drive - those totally work.

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The phrase "captain tightpants" is also a reference to the episode "Shindig" in which Kaylee calls Captain Mal by that name when he is dressed up in fancy garb, and also acting uptight. 23:22, 20 October 2013 (UTC)Ethan Francis

Extrude, but not retract?

Is that a reference to The Sarah Connor Chronicles? Swartzer (talk) 07:35, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

I don't think so. I think she's mainly just referring to the way hair grows, and how you can grow hair but you can't "take hair back". --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 12:13, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

In one episode River is scared by the open and off-standing hair of the priest (a long-term passenger on board the Firefly) who usually has his hair tied back. The text in the first panel might be a reference.