Firefly was a (very) short- lived TV show created by Joss Whedon, the same creator of Buffy and Angel. Only 14 episodes were ever produced and out of those, only 11 were actually aired in 2002. With a quick-ass male protagonist, strong female characters, witty, funny dialogue and plenty of adventurous plotlines, it was basic Joss Whedon goodness.
Plus, it had one of the coolest premises ever: a Western set in Space. But unlike other sci-fi shows set in Space there are no aliens in this universe, only humans who in the year 2517 are colonizing a new star system. There are a whole bunch of colonies out there, full of people starting a new life , Pioneers and bandits: hence the Western feel of it and even though the show is set many centuries in the future, the human race is still basically the same.
It follows a group of 9 misfits on board of spaceship Serenity who live in the outskirts of civilization , smuggling goods to the planets in the fringes of the known universe. Fighting the bad guys, the criminals that try to explore the poorest colonies while at the same time, trying to avoid the Reavers, a group of humans that have turned to cannibalistic ways. And at every turn doing their best to outsmart and thwart The Alliance , the forceful central government that controls all colonies after winning the Civil War. ( It is hinted that the Alliance is probably the union of the two last superpowers : USA and China. )
The show is named after the spaceship, Serenity, which is a Firefly -class transport ship. Serenity is integral part of the show and I would actually go as far to consider it a character in itself – beautiful and sturdy. Almost like the USS Enterprise. They actually built the spaceship as a complete set and it was one of the most used elements of the show – it was their mean of survival but most of all, it was home.
“You buy this ship, treat her proper, she’ll be with ya for the rest of your life.”
But what really makes this a fantastic show are the characters and how they shine on screen. There is a level of chemistry between the actors that leap from the screen and makes you want to be a part of that (dysfunctional) family.
So without further ado, a brief introduction to the crew of Serenity:
Malcolm Reynolds, or simply Mal , fought and lost with the Independents in the Civil War against The Alliance. He has seen many of his friends die in battle and is a bitter man for that. He is an outlaw who has built himself a new life on board of the ship. His crew is his family, Serenity is his home. He is no wishy-washy hero – he is a smart-ass, sometimes ruthless, a lot of times rude, with a dry , sarcastic sense of humor who has his own code of honour and who will protect his ship and his crew at all costs. Think Han Solo when you think of Mal Reynolds and you wouldn’t be far from the mark.
Right in the first episode when one of the new crew members ask if Mal would kill him while he sleeps, he says:
“You don’t know me very well, son, so let me put this to you plainly: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.”
And that about sums it up. It also helps that Mal is played by Nathan Fillion who is said to make anything, movie or show he is on, 27% better by just showing up. I agree. The man is Teh cool.
Zoe is the second in command – we don’t know much about her except that her story with Mal goes back a long way – they fought and lost together in the Unification War. She is a feirce, cold warrior, extremely loyal to Mal. She is married to the Pilot, Wash and in a loving and hot relationship.
“Zoë: You sanguine about the kind of reception we’re apt to receive on an Alliance ship, Cap’n?
Mal: Absolutely. [pauses] What’s “sanguine” mean?
Zoë: “Sanguine”. Hopeful. Plus, point of interest: it also means “bloody”.
Mal: Well, that pretty much covers all the options, don’t it? “
Wash is the pilot of the ship. He is proud of his flying abilities but has no military background unlike Mal and Zoe which brings some tension in his relationship with his wife. His laid back atittude and sense of humour are responsible for some of the funniest moments in the show.
“Zoe: I know something ain’t right.
Wash: Sweetie, we’re crooks. If everything were right, we’d be in jail. “
Inara Serra is a registered Companion – or in other words, a high-class prostitute who rents off one of the ship’s shuttles. To have a resgistered companion onboard brings respectability to the ship, hence her title as Ambassador. She doesn’t sleep with any of the crew members but there is a high amount of sexual tension and unresolved feelings between her and Malcolm – for any shippers out there – this is shipping heaven. Trust me.
“Inara: You don’t need strength as much as speed. We’re fragile creatures. It takes less than a pound of pressure to cut skin.
Mal: You know that? They teach you that in whore academy?
Inara: You have a strange sense of nobility, Captain. You’ll lay a man out for implying I’m a whore, but you keep calling me one to my face.
Mal: I might not show respect to your job, but he didn’t respect you. That’s the difference. Inara, he doesn’t even see you.
Inara: Well, I guess death will solve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction. “
Kaylee is the chief engineer of Senerity. She loves machines and has a deep connection with the ship and after Mal is probably the one that loves it the most. She is a cutie-pie: adorable, quirky , always the optimistic. And she has the hots for the doctor who does not notice her. At first.
“Jayne: Captain, can you stop her from bein’ cheerful, please?
Mal: I don’t believe there’s a power in the ‘verse can stop Kaylee from being cheerful. Sometimes you just wanna duct-tape her mouth, and… dump ‘er in the hold for a month.
[A grinning Kaylee gives Mal a peck on the cheek.]
Kaylee: I love my captain. “
Jayne is the muscle of the crew. Loyal to nothing but his own interestes, we never know what he will do in any given situation. He is funny and a bit brainless but a true asset to the crew. In “Jaynestown” , one of the best episodes, we learn he has also a softer side.
“Mal: Girl knows things. Things she shouldn’t. Things she couldn’t.
Jayne: What, are you— are you sayin’ she’s a witch?
Wash: [sardonically] Yes, Jayne. She’s a witch. She has had congress with the beast.
Jayne: She’s in Congress?
Wash: How did your brain even learn human speech? I’m just so curious. “
Most of the time she is not really there and seems to have no exact memory of what has happened to her . She is possibly a telepath. Possibly a killing machine. Probably both. The Alliance is after to get her back which does not bode well for the crew of Serenity.
“River: I get confused. I remember everything. I remember too much. And… some of it’s made up, and… some of it can’t be quantified, and… there’s secrets… and…
Simon: It’s okay.
River: But I understand. You gave up everything you had to find me. You found me broken. It’s hard for you. [breaking] You gave up everything you had.
Simon: Mei-mei. Everything I have… is right here. “
Simon Tam is River’s Brother, a brilliant young man who has left everything behind so that he could save his beloved sister. He is tight-arsed, proper, methodic, almost prim who seems to fight his feelings for Kaylee.
“Kaylee has expressed her belief that Simon doesn’t swear]
Simon: I swear… when it’s appropriate.
Kaylee: Simon, the whole point of swearing is that it ain’t appropriate. “
Shepherd Book is a man of God who has a mysterious past. We don’t really know where he has come from but we know that he can shoot, he can fight and he has connections in high places: not really indicative of a man of God now, is it? And yet, he is deeply devouted to his faith.
“Book: I’ve been out of the abbey two days, I’ve beaten a lawman senseless, I’ve fallen in with criminals. I watched the captain shoot the man I swore to protect. And I’m not even sure if I think he was wrong. I believe I just… I think I’m on the wrong ship.
Inara: Maybe. Or maybe you’re exactly where you ought to be. “
And these are the magnificent nine!
Firefly was extremely well produced, with mighty fine special effects, fantastic actors and imaginative plotlines that were SO MUCH FUN that even though it was cancelled only after a short-run, it gathered a very large, outspoken and faithful online fandom, that spread the word about the show. With that and the successful sales of the DVD the TPTB decided to bring the cast together once more for a follow-up Movie in 2005.
It is a couple of months after the final episode and the Alliance is after River. Mal and the others finally get to the bottom of the “River mysteries” – how she has been conditioned to be an Alliance assassin and in their path to learn the truth they find out that the Alliance has done worse things that they ever thought possible. They face old and new threats and they are almost destroyed by them but in the end they succeed but not without some very sad losses.
The film is a as fun as the series was, with some MAJOR quick-ass by River in one of those fantastic woohoo movie moments when she totally saves everyone’s lives (well, mostly):
and with the anwers to some of the mysteries that had been left open with the abrupt cancellation of the show and the somewhat resolution to the Mal-Inara and Kaylee-Simon relationships, we fans were able to get some closure. Some. Cause I am greedy and still want more.