A Browncoats Defense: Or, why we love it the way we do.
Browncoats have been getting a raw deal lately, at least on some websites. We’ve been told that we have no business pushing our love for this show so hard onto others. I myself don’t see that we push (okay, some might be a little overboard, but no more so than some of the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Trek Fans out there) that hard.
I go out of my way to share with people I know will enjoy this wonderful gem the fact that it exists and they should see it and Serenity. They need to discover the characters that Joss Whedon brought to life and infused with such an amazing history, even if there was just over half a season of it.
We’ve been getting a bad rap, and I feel the need to defend my love for this show that was on so briefly.
Firefly, in the short time it was on, and in the episodes we’ve got, covered so many issues and emotions it staggers me to try and think on them. The relevance of the storylines are universal and very poignant now in the climate of the world at large.
Huge, overly powerful governments, that hiding behind a mask of wanting to create a utopian society of “happy” people, who are really out for their own best interest, are not lost on we the viewers. Those ideals are sadly very real and very now.
But it’s not only the political themes that make this show powerful. The religious aspects are also threaded into the mix with an artist’s hand.
Book brings with him a grace and calm that Mal and his crew need while being lost in the black. The play of Book and Mal against each other is a game of tolerance.
Book senses the hole in Mal’s soul from his lost faith. He seems to know this is a man that once truly loved his God and believed deeply. He knows his pain and wants to lead him back from it. One of the most beautiful things in Firefly is this wonderful meshing of religions and the way the bright spots and what is cleansing and holy can be found in the simplest things and in places one might not think to look.
Book dances around the unease Inara brings to him at first. But soon, the two of them come to an understanding, and at one point seem to transpose roles when Book suffers a blow to his faith and wonders if he is where he is supposed to be. This juxtaposition is so very reminiscent of the Old West, and feeds the western vibe that runs through Firefly.
Back in those days women in Inara’s profession brought a kind of salvation to men in the frontier. In Firefly’s case this would be “The Black”. Companions bring a peace to those they service, a connection with someone. This was the case back in the time of gold miners and the vast unknown west of Earth That Was.
Kaylee’s smile and the way she can find joy in something as mundane as a strawberry or a pretty dress. She brings a happiness to everyone she meets. Even when she’s got oil and grime on her, from head to foot, she shows that pureness of spirit that seems to have been lost to so many. The crew of Serenity is brightened by her presence, like an angel in space.
These characters are written with such depth, such a realness of spirit that we are touched by them. We see ourselves in them and know what they feel. Whedon’s gift for writing and creating makes you care, and in those few episodes we are lucky enough to have, we connect with them.
Even in the first episodes beginning minutes, how many of us cannot relate to Mal’s need to win the fight. Trying to keep up spirits and defeat a force far more powerful than ourselves. The look on his face as those Alliance transports fill the sky, as he loses faith in everything that he’s ever held dear or believed. It’s so very real, even after seeing it numerous times. The effect is still the same, still as heart wrenching. You are watching a man die inside; he dies as surly as the solider next to him who is shot down.
Characters like Mal, who are fighting still for what they think is right, and fighting a war within themselves, make this show what it is. They make it the reason it is so special to us. The love that fills all these characters makes us love them. And love is one of the strongest threads that weaves this show together.
The love that Simon has for River is a big part of that. A brother’s love for his sister, a need to protect her from those who have harmed and violated her. It touches anyone who watches it and reminds them of family, even if you’ve never had a sibling. Summer and Sean bring these two to life on screen and it is a sight to behold. You believe in them and that’s what matters. That he would sacrifice so much for her speaks to the heart of anyone who watches.
Then there is Zoe and Wash. A sort of switch on the roles in a marriage as set forth by society. They show us the strengths of their relationship through how they interact with one another when no one else is around.
They work, even if they seem an odd couple. And Wash’s concern and warmth for his wife, even though she’s been through far more risky situations than he has, shows through.
Zoe loves her husband, and shows him a side not even Mal has probably seen. Her tenderness when they are alone and her ability to be more feminine and lose her hard exterior. These points, along with her desire for a baby, when her husband doesn’t want to risk it, shows how these two can switch back to the more conventional roles of a marriage. Their dynamic is one of the greatest parts of the show, and makes the film Serenity that much more of an experience once you’ve seen the history behind the characters. The love between these two is unexpected, but very strong.
Even Jayne, with all of his bad ways and gun for hire attitude shows us humanity can pull through those levels of hardened heart. With the episode The Message, I think this shows through the most. When he is talking to Book about how he wants to do something when faced with some form of death, how he wants to feel alive when made to think on the subject. We see that Jayne isn’t quite as stone as you’d think. You can also see this when he’s watching Kaylee from the wings, anxious to know if she’s going to be alright.
These points are all good reasons to want to share this show with others. But along with these you have believable acting, great writing, beautiful sets and special effects. All this comes together in perfection and with only 14 episodes you are entranced by this world that has been created. The work and thought that went into it, the little things that made up the whole, came together to make a powerful story of people doing what they must to be free and to live their lives as they wish.
I don’t think we are out of line for wanting to share this. I think we are in the right. Shows like Firefly are few and far between nowadays. I haven’t had a show grab me like this one in a long, long time. It means a lot to me and has introduced me to some very neat people. Series like this, that grab your imagination and make you care about the characters, that make you think, seem to be a dying breed, much like Malcolm Reynolds.