I’m not quite sure how to describe Firefly. As a SciFi/Fantasy fan, I’ve been hearing about this series for quite a few years now. Everyone from Sheldon (TBBT) to my cousin has recommended this show to me, and it wasn’t until this month, when I’d finally gotten back into my love of reading, that I decided to give this a try. Even then, I gotta tell you, it was a close call between watching Firefly and doing a rewatch of Lost.
The pilot begins with a battle. The cold open is completely confusing and made me think for a minute that I’d started off on the wrong episode. First impressions were not great. The filmography is very 1980s and the dialog seemed to be even worse (“gorram” instead of “goddamn” — seriously?). In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that I was determined to watch this episode and then review it, I probably would’ve tuned out halfway through the cold open. Having not really looked into the background of the show much before watching it, two things surprised me in this sequence:
- Gina Torres!!!
- And this ridiculous dialog: “We’re just too pretty for God to let us die” said the hero of our tale, Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds. (eyeroll)
Anyway, the Captain is very optimistic even in the face of impending demise, and after the aforementioned cheesy dialog and an equally cheesy scene of him kissing of a cross, he seems to be shell shocked to learn that their foot soldiers have been defeated by a large army ships.
And then we cut to 6 years later.
The captain is hanging out in space, with Gina Torres’ Zoe right there beside him, helping him steal something from a big ship we know nothing about. But, uh-oh! An alliance ship is out to get them! They run back to their mothership with the stolen cargo and take off into space!
Wait, wait, wait… You’re probably saying by now. Confused? Let me back up.
Firefly takes place in the year 2517 in a Galaxy that does not seem to include Earth. Humans have emigrated from Earth — referred in the show as “the Earth that was” — and have settled on other planets and moons after terraforming them. The battle shown in the cold open is a civil war in 2511 between the Browncoats and Alliance (a union between the two superpowers of the old Earth: America and China). Seargent Mal and his Corporal Zoe Alleyne are fighting for the Browncoats, who lose the war, leaving them all to fend for themselves.
So 6 years down the road, in 2517, we find out that Mal is now Captaining his own ship and Zoe is his second in command. After being defeated by the Alliance, the two have been running an illegal smuggling business (their way of getting back the Alliance? Or perhaps this is their only way of survival after being defeated? The show doesn’t clarify). They travel through the universe on Serenity, a firefly-class ship (hence the name of the show). Their companions are: Walsh, the pilot and Zoe’s husband; Kaylee, the ship engineer, and Jayne Cobb, the gun-for-hire (or sell-sword, if we’re using GoT terminology. Yes, I am into that).
When we see them, they are in the midst of a heist job and are spotted by a government (aka Alliance) vessel, which IDs them as a “firefly-class” vessel and sends out word to Interpol about their stolen goods.
Of course, this comes back to bite them in the ass when they go to Persephone (a core planet) to deliver the stolen goods to gang-leader Badger, who backs out of the deal due to the Interpol broadcast about their vessel. Determined not to let a day’s worth of work go to waste, Mal sets off to one of the outer ring planets, Whitefall, to sell his illegal cargo and get some money for fuel. They are joined by Sheppard Book, a preacher; a random guy named Dobson; a seemingly wealthy and stuck up doctor named Simon Tam; and Inara, a “companion” (escort), who rents a shuttle of the ship and usually travels with them (unless she has business elsewhere). Everyone, with the exception of Inara, are travellers taken on to generate extra income for the ship.
There are a few of things I noticed at this point in the show: