> -The worst episode? Probably the one with the old war buddy showing up seemingly dead, but alive, and then turning nasty. Most fans (or at least AV Club commenters) seemed to dislike this one too.
When I rewatched it I was shocked to have almost no memory of this episode. I remembered Jayne's hat, the cow fetus, and I recognized the climactic chase when I saw it but did not remember it well enough to anticipate it. I remembered significant stuff from every other episode, but forgot everything from the main plotline of that one, and the story wasn't even familiar when I rewatched it.
I enjoy every episode, but I agree that that one is inferior. I also thought the poorly-structured "Kidnapped By Hill People" episode was pretty weak, and I'm not the biggest fan of Heart of Gold, which I thought was conceptually unappealing and went too over the top with the action climax. Shindig, the one with the dance/duel, is probably the best of the bottom tier.
Your best episodes are good picks and I'd add Jaynestown.
I thought they struck a good balance with their portrayal of the Alliance, keeping it from being a stereotypical "Evil Empire."