Some People Call’em Space Cowboys

An introduction to Firefly/Serenity

Set in a future where humanity has left behind the “Earth-that-was” and spread out across the galaxy, the short-lived show called Firefly focused on the rag-tag crew of the Firefly-class spaceship called “Serenity”. Preferring to avoid the law, they travel among the numerous desert moons where people live a “wild west” lifestyle of rugged labour, outlaws, saloons and gunfights.

Mal – Captain of “Serenity”, he was a troop commander in the military who fought for the Independents (a.k.a. “Browncoats”, which is also the nickname now adopted by Firefly/Serenity fans) and lost. A Han-Solo-esque rogue, Mal went into business for himself, bought a clunky ship and began a career of shady jobs for shady bosses; and flying under Alliance government radar.

Zoe – She was Mal’s first officer in the war and his first mate on “Serenity”. A beautiful, strong woman capable of taking care of herself (and a few others) in a fight, Zoe acts as Mal’s right hand as well as his level-headed voice of reason. While Mal is a swashbuckling rush of bravado, Zoe makes sure that his plans don’t get them all killed. She’s also married to Wash, the ship’s pilot (which makes for some fun banter on the show).

Jayne – A gruff, tough mercenary with a girl’s name, Jayne is always keeping crewmates on their toes. Being the muscle, Jayne’s not the brightest of the bunch, but somewhere deep deep deep down inside is a glimmer of compassion that proves he cares about his crewmates at least as much as he loves his guns.

Kaylee – The sweet, fresh-faced, country girl is also a genius with engines. Kaylee’s know-how is able to keep “Serenity” running under often meager conditions, but it’s her warm heart and charming smile that keeps the crew going.

Simon & River – He was well on his way to a very successful medical career in the core planets (i.e. the big city) when he found out that his super-genius sister, River, was being experimented upon at her private school. Unable to get help from his family, he set on a personal quest to rescue her, resulting in their fugitive passage aboard “Serenity” and constant dodging of Alliance agents and bounty hunters. While Simon’s straight-laced naïveté has both endeared him to Kaylee and rubbed Jayne the wrong way, River’s dreamy, disconnected, occasionally-psychic mentality often makes things more difficult for the crew.

Inara – In a universe where “ladies of the evening” are treated like dignitaries, Inara lends some respectability to the “Serenity” crew. Renting out one of the shuttles as a private place to entertain clients, Inara’s status as a registered companion often helps the crew get out of tight spots. Though by the end of the series neither had expressed their true feelings, she and Mal have a strong affection for each other.

Book – Known as “Shepherd”, since he is a clergyman, Book is a lot more than your average man of the cloth. Full of mystery, he has shown not only a knowledge of combat, shady dealings, and police procedures, but his ID card gets him top priority medical care in Alliance facilities. Book plays his role as the group’s moral conscience, but much is still unknown about his past and possibly his true intentions.

Wash – An excellent pilot whose trick flying has saved the crew from numerous attempted captures, Wash is also a source of sarcasm and dry wit onboard “Serenity”. Deeply in love with his wife Zoe, there are also sparks of friction when he bristles at her devotion to Captain Mal.

Besides a set of well-developed, likeable characters, what sets Firefly apart is the humourous, clever dialogue. Creator Joss Whedon is already well known for his past successes Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which both followed this top-notch formula. There is lots of playful banter between crewmates and it all adds up to a very fresh, unique, and enjoyable show—too bad it’s no longer on TV. But good thing it’s coming to theatres in the feature film Serenity (opening September 30). Even if you haven’t seen the show, it will be a great introduction to the universe of Firefly, as well as an exciting adventure in its own right, and you will meet the colourful crew that I’ve just introduced to you. Enjoy!

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