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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Firefly - Episode 1 Serenity (Mike's Review)

James and I decided to watch Firefly together and each write a review of the episodes.  I am one of those Firefly fans, you know the type that seemingly search out any and all Internet lists or discussions of what were the best Science Fiction TV shows or even just the best TV show and has to mention Firefly.

James only knows the show from his encounters with others of my ilk.

It is an interesting thing to rewatch a show you like so much with someone else who is at fairly skeptical about the show, particularly if you respect that person's opinion on these things.

And strangely the opening of the first episode reflected my feelings.  I wasn't sure how it would go, a little confused and on the screen confusion rained in the ranks of Brown Coats trying to hold a position in a valley.  And as Sgt Reynolds worked at getting his men in order and continuing the fight I felt sure James would become as captivated as I had been when I first watched.  And like Mal by the end of the scene I was still in uncertain territory and perhaps a bit betrayed.  Like his superiors who decided to surrender I had no influence over James reaction which seemed unmoved.

The rest of the episode introduces us to the crew and the ship and a typical job.  They need to unload some smuggled goods.  There are lots of funny moments that I laugh out loud at, only one is shared with James - Wash playing with his dinosaurs.

The character of Book, the wandering preacher, ends up on Serenity because he's looking for a ship not a destination claiming that he's not interested in destinations only the journey.  I think when I first watched this I may have thought that just a cute McGuffinaa to get the character aboard, this time it felt important.  I like he does at one point wonder if I'm on the "wrong ship", not just in this project but often in life.

We're also introduced to Simon and River, a brother and sister, doctor and genius, refugees from the Core or Civilized planets.  Book was looking for a journey and only after embarking does he wonder if he's on the right ship.  Simon didn't want to be on a journey and yet like Book he too has no clear idea of a destination beyond keeping River safe.  River of course only knows she wanted to get away and had no choices at all in where she ended up.

We met Kaylee the engineer, although intelligent and capable which is clearly shown in how she takes care of her ship both the engines and recruiting passengers she's the relative innocent to the rest of the crew.  No horrors of war, no long mysterious past, no one chasing her.  And she's aware of this and still lives her life fully unafraid of the missteps she knows she'll make out in the verse.

I already mentioned Wash the pilot.  And then we have Zoe his wife and war veteran like Mal.  Stable and confident as a rock, yet something trembles insider her I feel like Wash gives her refuge.

Then there's Jayne.  I'm reminded of the Cucumber Monk from my Zen reading.  Wise in his simplicity.  Wise in the way that he knows what he is, and goes full tilt into life with that.

I've talked about Mal and I wont try to summarize him here.

It is fun noticing things I didn't notice or realize before, like the camera shots made possible by the full scale set of the ship they built and the odd cuts trying to create a documentary feel.

The episode ends with Mal having managed to get paid for a job after many missteps, bad choices and good choices, not the moral good or bad just things that go well and don't.  From a superficial view it was a bad few days and things are still tough, but Mal says it's ok because they're still flying.  This doesn't strike me as trite as it might sound reading this.  It is offered again with a full heart, it is truly all he wants at that moment.  And this what I remember loving about the show, the characters so fully living their lives and making those good and bad choices and finding love of life in where ever they are no matter how painful.

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