SPOILERS AHEAD. I’m warning you.
Joss Whedon is an awesome human being. He gave us Toy Story, The Avengers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and… FIREFLY – probably my favorite of all of his projects so far. I know, I’m late to the party, but I just watched the show this week and I cannot tell you how in love with it I became.
It’s not a conventional show AT ALL, that I know. It’s a basically a western sci-fi set in space 5oo years in the future centered around smugglers who find themselves together in like the coolest ship ever: ‘Serenity’. And when I say western, I really mean WESTERN: cowboys, deserts, horses, etc…which makes it so RIDICULOUS and yet so unbelievably awe-striking! Plus, they speak a bit of Mandarin. And Inara’s (the companion) shuttle has a Morrocan vibe. So all sorts of cultures and all sorts of styles dissolved to make one amazing show. There’s no bigger picture behind the series, no plot the show revolves around, no solution to a problem the show centers around – just the journey(s) of those individuals on that ship.
I’m one of those people who watch “case-of-the-week” type of shows because of the bigger plot behind all the procedures. I don’t watch Scandal to watch Liv save the reputations of her clients or Grey’s Anatomy to see whose lives they saved this week. But with Firefly – just like The Good Wife – I was as excited to watch them get jobs and ruin them as I was excited to see Mal & Inara flirt (more on that later) or River do something that freaks the others out. The show’s just pure fun – not trashy fan, well-written fun that captivates you one scene after the other.
I finally understood this infatuation with Nathan Fillion. Don’t get me wrong, I love him in Castle, but he’s ten times more amazing in Firefly. He’s seriously ruggedly handsome. (I wanna marry him, you guys.) And just like the fact that his character leads the ship, as an actor, he leads the show. He totally has the power to make it or break it! The same applies to Gina Torres, Morena Baccarin, and the rest of the cast. Almost all of them have had other successful jobs after the show (Homeland! Castle! Chuck! Suburgatory! Suits! The LA Complex!) , but I bet none of them got to play characters half as incredible as those in this show.
Serenity (The Pilot)
FOX aired the pilot as the tenth episode which, in my opinion, is like their stupidest move ever (besides cancelling the show, of course). The episode is probably one of the best pilots I’d ever watched because it doesn’t just introduce the characters and their lives. We get to meet this eccentric group and love them at first sight.
There are 9 of them, 9 insanely compelling characters (even if some are a bit underused in a few episodes): Malcolm Reynolds, the captain of the ship. He fought in the war against the Alliance (the scary government) 6 years before and lost. His army buddy, Zoe, is still there with him. She’s VERY loyal to him which pisses her husband off, Wash, the pilot of Serenity. Then there’s Kaylee, the genius of a mechanic. She’s probably the most endearing character on this show because how naive and yet bluntly honest she is. You’d never expect a mechanic to be this adorable, but she totally is. Inara is a registered companion (prostitute) that rents a shuttle from Mal who likes her privacy and doesn’t get involved in the crew’s misbehavings (most of the time). And let’s not forget Jayne, the one character who manages piss me off every single episode. I don’t know about the fandom, but he’s not one of the characters I’m necessarily in love with. Sure, he has his moments when he’s SO stupid that it’s a laugh-out-loud situation, but at the other times he’s either doing something mean or saying something mean. The passengers are a Shepherd (who we learn in the finale is NOT a shepherd. WHO IS HE?), a doctor, Simon, and his sister, River, fugitives running away from the Alliance. Apparently, the Alliance messed up with River’s mind (she was/is pure genius) and her brother freed her from her them. See what an extraordinary group they are?
It doesn’t just offer a backstory that makes the show extremely legit, but it’s completely action packed and humorous — just like the rest of the show — making it way more than just satisfactory. I can watch it forever and still enjoy it because it is EPIC.
Inara: [talking about Mal] “Why are you so fascinated by him?”
Book: “Because he’s something of a mystery. Why are you?”
Inara: [pauses] “Because so few men are.”
“You are a part of my crew.”
The sense of family on this show is what drives it. They’re probably not the most noble bunch: they’re basically thieves and they even kill if they have to. But when it comes to each other, there’s this code of honor: You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me. They repeatedly put themselves in harm’s way to save each other. When Jayne rats out the Doctor and River to the Feds in ‘Ariel,’ Mal is thisclose to killing Jayne because of what he’s done. They say they don’t want River with them — that she’s a danger to this ship — but they all work together to save her life and get her back into their ship. When Simon and River end up kidnapped one time, they all return back for them even if they’re better without them.
They might not like each other all the time (they bicker like crazy), but they would do anything for each other because they’re all part of Serenity, this ship they almost worship. Wash is always angry with Mal because he feels like his wife, Zoe, is blindly loyal to him, that she puts him before everyone. But in “War Stories,” after he’s beaten and tortured, he still wants to save Mal’s life because that’s just the way they are. In the series finale (I told you there would be spoilers, skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t watched the show yet), when River said she melted with the ship and became Serenity herself, I REALLY wanted it to be real. I wanted them to have an actual relationship with the ship! When she started telling them what to do, I got a huge smile on my face. Yes, it was VERY sci-fi, but it was exactly what I wanted it. Who would have thought my OTP on this show would be the crew and Serenity?
River. I bet she’s the most popular of the group when it comes to the fans because she’s nothing short of outstanding. River’s more than just innately brilliant, she can read people. Like, really read people. She knows Jayne ratted them out even though there were no signs of him doing so. She knows her brother would have stayed in the hospital if she weren’t in this mess. She knows. The crew, in the finale, called her psychic. Some have called her a witch. But whatever name you want to call her, she’s simply brilliant. In “War Stories,” she shoots three men, spread around the room, with her eyes closed as she saves Kaylee’s life. After she’s done, she looks at Kaylee with a smile on her face, “No power in the verse can stop me,” she says. That sentence is one that was uttered by Kaylee in the beginning of the episode when the two were playing together. So you can see how disturbing that was; it was a game to her, that shooting. But the truth is she suffers more than most because the Alliance messed up with her brain and took out the part that can inhibit feelings, that can calm her down.
That said, she’s a teenager, an adorable teenager. She wants to play and run around the ship. She makes fun of Jayne. It’s cute at times, even when she’s telling Jayne she can kill him with her brain. (I LOLed at that scene, by the way)
Mal & Inara
If there’s a plot to this show, it’s probably this one: Simon and River running away from the Blue Gloves and hoping to God they’ll never get caught.
Just like every other show, there’s this will-they-won’t-they couple. In this case, they’re the captain of the ship and the companion (or a whore, like Mal likes to call her) renting a shuttle on it. It’s honestly an unorthodox pairing which makes it just the BEST. You know they have feelings for each other and they know, too. Remember in “Shindig” how he defended her honor when she was called a whore by one her clients? He could have been killed, like really killed. Thank God Mal is awesome at kicking ass or else we would have lost him.
As much as they care about each other, they’re both too attached to what they’ve created on this ship (again, family) that they won’t let their feelings come between that. It would just complicate things. You want to smack them in the face, but you totally understand where they’re coming from. Relationships like that usually ruin the dynamic of a group as close as this one — especially after they break up. I’d rather see them not happen than lose this fantastic group!
In “Heart of Gold,” their relationship reaches a peek. After months of being oblivious about each other’s feelings (or pretending to be oblivious), they finally let each other in…to a certain extent. Mal sleeps with her friend, Nandi (played the AWESOME Melinda Clarke). It breaks Inara apart even if she doesn’t show it. She pretends she doesn’t care, until Nandi dies that is. During the epic final scene of the episode, she tells Mal that she’s glad that he made Nandi glad before she died even if she wasn’t at first. And here comes the PEEK moment I’m talking about. She tells him there’s something she has to say that she owes to both of them, something that is long overdue.
You half expect them to kiss, you hope they do. But you know they’re both too stubborn to let their feelings get the best of them. They have something special on this ship and they will never ruin that. And then, BOOM, she tells him she’s leaving.
Inara: “I learned something from Nandi, not just from what happened, but from her. The family she made, the strength of her love for them, it’s what kept them together. When you live with that kind of strength, you get tied to it. You can’t break away, and you never want to. There’s something – there’s something I should’ve done a long while ago. And I’m sorry, for both of us, that it took me this long. [pauses] I’m leaving.”
And your heart breaks.
In the series finale, we don’t know if she actually ends up leaving or not. Now, I haven’t watched Serenity yet, so I’m hoping we get closure in the movie.
If you know me at all (or follow me on Twitter), you probably know how obsessed I am with Christina Hendricks. So you can imagine how splendid it was seeing her on the show (twice!) which brings me to one of my absolute favorite episodes of this show (to be completely honest, there isn’t an episode that I’m not CRAZY about): “Our Mrs. Reynolds.”
I laughed so much at this episode because of Christina Hendricks herself who plays Saffron, a con woman who seduces men and makes them think they married her while drunk. At first, you think she’s so endearing: she cooks food for Mal, asks if he wants her to wash his legs, warm his bed for him — naked. Even Shepherd Book thinks she’s so innocent telling Mal that if he takes advantage of her, he’ll go to special hell: the kind of hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in theaters. But then she turns out to be an evil vixen who wants to kill them all so she could get the ship.
What I loved about the episode, as well, is everyone’s reactions to Saffron’s luring games. Mal succumbs to her as hard as he tries to resist at first. They kiss; he faints. Wash’s undying love for Zoe helps him fight all of Saffron’s seduction and she has to hit him on the head so he would fall instead of kissing him like Mal. Inara, on the other hand, plays along and pretends she’s interested. She knows her tricks. But when the alarm goes off, they both show their cards. They’re both too smart for each others’ games. I would have loved to see what Jayne would have done she decided to trick him, as well. He would probably give in right away, wouldn’t he?
Add to that the fleeting Mal and Inara moment. When she finds him collapsed, she runs to him scared and kisses him on the lips. Little does she know that there’s poison on his lips, so she collapses as well. But all through the episode, she tells everyone that she just fell. And for the first time ever, you see Inara not in control, embarrassed. She’s always so held together and at that moment, she’s not. She’s scared someone would find out, and it’s just so funny. At the end of the episode, Mal confronts her; he knows she didn’t fall. And for just one second, you’re so excited because you think he knows she kissed him. And it turns out, he thinks she kissed Saffron. Haha, he’s so foolish. (I was so angry at that scene, by the way, after I laughed out loud at how blind is because we got very FEW Mal & Inara intimate scenes that it’s just frustrating. I so want them to be together!)
Oh, and how awesome was it seeing Mal as Jayne’s wife? Ha!
And now for the things I didn’t like…
So the show’s set 500 years in the future, but the guns they use are machine guns? Okay, sure, they make noises like those video games. But at no point were they advanced enough to be in space (except for that laser gun in “Heart of Gold”). Same goes for the cars, the clothes, and basically everything else. They all felt too archaic for a show set this far into the future.
Those pissed me off for a while, but I got used to it fast enough.
Oh and Fox, you’re horrible. Actually, horrible is an understatement. One season was not at all enough. When I finished watching the series finale, I wanted to email FOX and tell them what awful human beings they are. They had a hidden gem and they RUINED it. There should be a network just dedicated to cult hits: Firefly, Community, and the likes. It would be a perfect perfect world.
This year, Firefly celebrates its 10th anniversary at COMIC-CON! I wanna attend so bad! I mean anything like this would be just the BEST:
So do yourselves a favor, go watch the show and fall in love with it like I have.