Picture this. Women sitting on a hardwood dance floor between
mad swirling dance sets. Their hoop skirts pooled around them
in multi colored hues of silk and brocade.
And as they gently fan themselves with fragile bits of cloth and wood,
the conversation turns as it always does to Joss. My
housemate and I, in our incarnation as the Danger Twins, have long
sought that mythic and fabled device, The Minionator,
patent pending. Capable of turning all and sundry into our helpless
minions. Mwa ha, ha, ha. Te he he. AhemÖ
And as I sat there in our little tableau, I realized that Joss has already
invented it. Itís embedded somewhere in Buffy and Angel
and Firefly. I have been minionated, which explains why in this busy
holiday season, my incessant desire to talk about the
Master Joss and his works. Itís what drove me to write Fox. To write
UPN Ė please buy the Masterís orphan child a home.
To fill in the demographic survey at fireflysupport.com To fill in
just plain petitions and write my UPN affiliate and and andÖat
this point it was important to pause, my corsetís busk was twisted
and torturing. I learned a valuable lesson Saturday. Donít
drive while wearing a corset. They just arenít made for it. Actually,
it was a lesson that I already knew, but speaking of lessons
that you have to learn and relearn in the course of a lifetime.
Fox, Fox, FoxÖwhat can I say that others have not said in more succinct
Anglo Saxon that I can achieve. That I didnít say
myself on Friday as a few of us gathered to watch the first. The last.
The elegant. Why did Fox choose not to air Serenity as the
pilot? Heck why did CBS decide to pass on that little show called Star
Trek? I know they had Lost in Space, but come on.
Why did NBC decide not to show the Cage or Where No Man Has Gone Before
and instead aired The Man Trap as Star
Trekís pilot episode? Why do networks do the things they do?
When I was a child my mother and I had a joke. Well, not so much a joke
as a knowledge. If we liked a show, it was sure to
be canceled. While the terrible shows ruled the earth like great and
annoying dinosaurs. In bland places called this Land.
Inevitable in their plodding betrayal.
Alas, poor Firefly, IÖhavenít given up on you yet. What kind of minion
would I be if I did? However, itís a sad thing when
you realize that your Master is himself at the whim of blind gods and
And yet after such a premiere. Such a finale. Such a mid point.
I mourn that I couldnít come to this episode unspoiled. Not by spoilers.
I read one scene that didnít make it into the final cut
and the t.v. guide description. No big.
No, I mean unspoiled by the series itself. Simon was genuinely creepy
in that first seen moment. Actually, in context, Malís
accusations to Simon are very interesting. That Simon killed his parents
for their money. By this point, we know the reverse
being virtually true. That Simon is planning on selling this naked
frozen girl into prostitution. UmmmÖno. Or perhaps itís love.
Well, yeah, but not the way you think. But why would Mal think it?
He doesnít believe in people. He is a mean old man.
Old. An odd description. Mal isnít old. Except where it counts. He is
crazy and psychotic and old. Withered. His spiritual
garden has shrunk and only fierce plants grow there. Book on the other
hand is aiming for some spiritual youngness. He denies
the title grandpa, he never married. Never had children. A Shepherd,
but not a father. Thought his clothes should give his nature
away. Contrast his first and second reactions to being called grandpa.
And at the opposite end of the spectrum we have (little)
Lord Fauntleroy. Simon as a boy. Inara calls him a boy. Mal calls him
a boy. Kaylee thinks heís very young to be a surgeon.
Which doesnít mean that Simon doesnít have his scary. The moment when
he decided not to help Kaylee. The boy made his
choice. Itís one thing to know that he would fight to protect River
from bounty hunters and officers of the law. But Kaylee.
Dear sweet, fuzzy bears sewn onto her overalls crushing Kaylee. Thatís
the bitter point of resolve seen in Simonís eyes. Having
turned from family, friends, home, he makes a simple choice not to
help. Against everything that being a doctor must mean for
him. And to have, even for an un-real moment, such consequences. Kaylee
dead. Joss is a cruel Master. Capricious. For a
moment, even though I knew better, he sucked me in. Perhaps, I worship
the god of Rat Bastards. Ours is a special level of
hell, with hot tubs.
Without exploding into supernova, Iím not quite sure how to hit all
of the things that interested, the shadings, the textures.
However, I will attempt it. Ivan, River, Mal, the Reevers arenít the
only ones who are crazy. Perhaps, itís a side effect of The
Minionator, patent pending.
River went to school at age fourteen. How Slayer young. Wrote her brother.
Insert the scene where he confronted their
parents. From there, two years by and by. Imagine Simon earning obscene
amounts of money. Focusing on something he could
do. Saving lives. Home is the hospital. The fearless fool venturing
into blacked out areas of the world of Osirus, Lord of the
Dead. Seeking the path to his lost sister. Iím fascinated by the role
reversals inherent in this brother sister pair. Simon as life
bringer, care giver. River as, whatever it is that River is. Weapon.
Goddess. Broken and lost.
Osirus locked in his box, frozen in that sleep of death. Washed by the
lapping river Nile. Waiting for his sister, his wife, to wake
him. To put his jigsawed broken apart life back together again. Waiting
for Isis who searches and searches. As Demeter
searched and searched for her stolen daughter Persephone. Letting the
harvest and the hearth grow cold. Strawberries and fruit
and grain ungrown. The earth dead in long winter.
Two years. Twice the traditional year and a day. River, who wrote her
brother, and waited and waited. Gave up on waiting.
Didnít think heíd come for her. Gave up on the dream of Horus swooping
down in rescue.
As Mal gave up. My God, the simple sweetness of that kiss of the cross.
Mal had faith. He believed. Had hope. Held his
troops together. Shot down that enemy ship. Believed that the sound
that he heard was ďtheirĒ angels coming to send the
Alliance to the hot place. No wonder he wants no part of God or Shepherdís
faith. It is not that Mal does not believe that God
exists. Itís worse than that. God chose Jacob and not Essau. Let the
Alliance scorch the earth and boil the sea. Malís faith is
broken. None of it matters now. How unutterably sad.
Denied heaven, Mal is trying to pull a limping Luciferís trick. Hoping
to be alone in their section of the sky, grown crowded
with ships and sharks. He isnít a sergeant. Heís a feudal king. Ruling
his ship rather than serving. Thatís not us, not ever.
Serenity is not a democracy. Donít ever tell him what to do.
After WS, I wanted to parallel Mal and River, what with the torture
and all, but now the impulse is stronger still. I want more
data. Things that are broken apart are never quite the same. Osirus
rules the dead because he is dead. Persephone eternally
cycles into the earth.
Of course, a key difference is that River is a dummy. After all hope
was lost, the top 3% Fool had a bit of luck. Simon said that
he was lucky. Mal said that luck leaves you stranded. Maybe not. Simon
may not be good with people, well heís never had to
be, heís a trauma surgeon. His patients are unconscious. However, he
is very lucky. And so very pretty. Look at that jaw take
a hit. And another. And another.
And just how much money did he give that underground movement? No wonder
he came up with that plan in Ariel. Reflecting
back on that childhood scene in Safe, I wonder if in the Tam household
everything came with a price. Weíll give you a better
tech device, but you have to be the best doctor ever. As opposed to
River, who was not just gifted, she was a gift.
The sheer complexity of the interactions laid out in Serenity have me
in awe. See Jayne. See Jayne simmer. Jayne seems simple.
Jayne, Jayne, Jayne. He makes me think of a little boy who attempts
to show the little girl that he likes her by throwing dirt
clods at her. Shut up, keep up, follow up. Jayne, who turned on his
former comrades for a bigger cut. 10% of getting by. The
captain slaps him down, the fraught aiming at Malís head during the
goods exchange with Patience, the offer from the law. I
agree that Jayne wouldnít turn on his captain, but I wonder if either
he or Mal know it. He somewhat makes me think of
Bothari from the Vorkosigan books in that strange complexity. Except
you know, not so much with the insane.
Jayne sure seems to peer in windows a lot. Crouched nearly fetal, watching
Simon operate on Kaylee. Watching Book be
operated on. Pleading with Mal not to tell the others what he did.
On the outside looking in. Not even knowing why.
Wash and Zoe and Mal. The first rumblings of Wash not getting the whole
veterans thing. Wash and Jayne snipping at each
other. Dinosaurís ruling the Land. In hindsight, the T-rexís inevitable
betrayal is quite the forshadowing. Wonder if Iíd even
would have noticed it if I hadnít seen Ariel first. No Iím not bitter.
Where was I?
Oh, Book. Thatís it, Book is Brother Cadfael and thatís all there is
to it. Warrior, who saw and did too much. Withdrew to his
abbey to try the other thing. Gardening. Growing things. Fresh food.
Growing faith. However, serenity in isolation is easy. Now
heís on walkabout. Two days out in the world and heís amid thieves
with a pit stop at iniquity. Hellfire and Lepers. Crazy Ivans
and Reevers. No wonder he feels that heís on the wrong ship. How fragile
he must find his faith. He couldnít even protect one
man. Couldnít make himself really want to do so. No wonder his platitudes
come out like platitudes, heís as lost as everyone
Reevers. Nicely done. Using something that H.P. Lovecraft used to good
affect. The fearful thing as virtually unseen.
Inexplicable. Unknowable. The seeing of which drives the sane mad.
The description coming not from the seeing, but from the
reactions of the characters. Jayne loading a single shotgun shell.
Inara pulling out a suicide needle.
Yes, Iím in the suicide needle camp. Mainly because it adds further
texture to the why the heck is Inara out there. I want to
re-watch and examine those jump cuts within the scene with her young
client as they discussed why anyone would leave home.
A home where she grew up, not necessarily where she was trained. How
she avoids a straight answer. However, other than a
sorrowing Madonna/Magdalene visage, Iím not sure what re-watching could
tell me. I can already see that Inara has some
secret wound that is still bleeding.
Letís review. We have seen her with four clients. Two were sons of wealth.
One an annoying dilettante. One person with a
definite job, the only woman. I wonder if Inara chooses clients based
on people that she wonít connect to with into. Travels on
a ship where the captain constantly reminds her of her status. Ridicules
and strangely differentiates. The job he abhors. The
woman he likes.
Then thereís her reaction to Simon and River. Threatening to leave Serenity
if Mal casts them out. Knowing as we do that Inara
loves Serenity, I wonder what line in Inaraís mental sand covers lost
babes in the woods. There in her temple of lush fabric, so
different from the rest of the ship, we see her act the priestess.
First we have her introduction, sex, her profession. That young
pup who goes from asking her to stay to awkwardly insulting her. Simon,
to whom she offers what medical supplies, healing
that she can give. Book. First he brings her food, fresh fruit in offering.
Cain was a farmer. A wanderer. Marked. In this
instance, Book has better fortune. That lovely snapshot as Inara offers
Book spiritual guidance, absolution.
Underneath Inaraís soft, however, is a fighter. Compare Malís use of
Inaraís profession to discomfit Book with Inaraís use of
Simonís presence, the cutting crudity of her words, to cut Mal. Pay
attention to just how uncomfortable Simon is in that scene.
And her aim is true. No wonder Mal tells Simon that Kaylee is dead.
His kingdom is in turmoil. The goddess of the eastern gate
is thinking of leaving. Mal wants to strike out as deep as he can.
And I thought the characters on Buffy were messed up.
At the top of this board, there is a Joss quote. He wants to invade
my dreams it seems. Invade seems the wrong word. That
implies that I am not complicitous in this invasion. I am wholly complicitous.
I sap my own walls that fall. I want dreams and
stories that ravish the imagination.
When a woman wears a corset the reason that her breasts are referred
to as heaving is because her rib cage is so constrained
that she has to breath up instead of out. I want to breath out. Breath
in. Fly. Not because my lungs lack oxygen, but because
the wind carries me.
Whatever happens, blind bland gods not withstanding, keep flying.
Happy and safe holidays everyone.