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SciFiFX Podcast #46 – Firefly

We are all back in the recording booth for this one, it has been a while. We had a really good chat about the Firefly orginaly aired in 2002. Joss Whedon takes us on a trip set in the year 2517. We talk, we make fun of it, we defend it, we love and hate it.. We just enjoy hearing ourselves talk about it! Please enjoy!

Cast: (Thanks Wikipedia)
All nine of the main characters appeared in every episode, with the exception of “Ariel”, from which Book is absent—it is explained that he was meditating at an abbey.

Nathan Fillion as Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds—the owner of Serenity and former Independent sergeant in the pivotal Battle of Serenity Valley. Very little is known about the enigmatic Captain; the little he reveals about his past life betrays nothing of his character (a mystery of its own). Malcolm reveals that he grew up on a ranch, and was raised by his mother and the ranch hands. The only other scenes of his past life that are shown are about the Unification War, in which he and Zoe fought for the Independent Army, the “Browncoats”, as a platoon sergeant in the 57th Overlanders. He is an efficient leader and is skilled with guns as well as in hand-to-hand combat. Mal’s character is full of contradictions. He is constantly fighting his demons, and his true self remains something of a mystery.

Gina Torres as Zoe Alleyne Washburne—second-in-command onboard Serenity, a loyal wartime friend of Captain Reynolds, and the wife of Wash. Described by her husband as a “warrior woman”, she has great knowledge of combat. Her past is a mystery; the only thing known is that she was born and raised on a ship[14] and served under Mal during the war as a corporal.[15] She demonstrates an almost unconditional loyalty to Mal, the only exception noted being her marriage to Wash, which the captain claims was against his orders. Her surname during the Unification War was Alleyne.[16]

Alan Tudyk as Hoban “Wash” Washburne—Serenity’s pilot and Zoe’s husband. Wash expresses jealousy over his wife’s “war buddy” relationship and unconditional support of their captain, most particularly in the episode “War Stories”, in which he confronts Mal regarding their relationship. While more of Wash’s past is disclosed than most other characters, his background is still sparse: he joined pilot training just to see the stars, which were invisible from the surface of his polluted homeworld, and he joined Serenity despite being highly sought after by other ships. He is very light-hearted and tends to make amusing comments, despite the severity of any situation.

Morena Baccarin as Inara Serra—a Companion, which is the 26th century equivalent of a courtesan or oiran, who rents one of the Serenity’s two small shuttles. Like her Renaissance counterparts, Inara enjoys high social standing. Her presence confers a degree of legitimacy and social acceptance the crew of Serenity would not have without her on board. She and Mal have a strained relationship, with unspoken romantic tension playing a significant part in several episodes, as well as in the movie. Inara arguably represents Mal’s heart, and Mal is a noticeably darker character when Inara is absent (as during the first half of “Serenity”).

Adam Baldwin as Jayne Cobb—hired muscle. He and Mal met on opposite sides of a rivalry; Mal, while held at gunpoint, offered Jayne his own bunk and a higher cut than his current employer, so he turned coat and shot his then-partners. In the original Pilot “Serenity” he intimates to Mal that he didn’t betray him because “The money wasn’t good enough,” however previously he’d pointedly asked the Alliance agent whether he’d be required to turn on the captain to help him, and in “Ariel” defends his actions alerting the authorities regarding Simon and River by claiming he’d not intended to betray Mal. He is someone who can be depended on in a fight.[17] He tends to act like a “lummox” who thinks he is the smartest person in space, but occasional hints of intelligence peek through this façade, giving the impression that he acts dumber than he is.[10] As Whedon states several times, Jayne is the man who will ask the questions that no one else wants to.[18] Even though he is a macho character, he has shown a particularly intense fear of Reavers, more so than the rest of the crew. Despite his amoral mercenary persona, he sends a significant portion of his income to his mother.

Jewel Staite as Kaywinnit Lee “Kaylee” Frye[19][20]—the ship’s mechanic. In the episode “Out of Gas”, it is established that she has no formal training, but keeps Serenity running with an intuitive gift for the workings of mechanical equipment. Jewel Staite explains Kaylee’s character as being wholesome, sweet, and “completely genuine in that sweetness”, adding “She loves being on that ship. She loves all of those people. And she’s the only one who loves all of them incredibly genuinely.”[21] She has a crush on Dr. Simon Tam. Kaylee is the heart of the ship: according to creator Joss Whedon, if Kaylee believes something, it is true.[10]

Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam—a medical researcher and trauma surgeon of the first caliber (top 3% in his class at a top core-planet institution), who is on the run after breaking his sister River out of a government research facility. In the episode “Safe”, it is revealed that he and River had a privileged upbringing with access to the best education. It is also revealed that Simon sacrificed a highly-successful future in medicine, over his stern father’s severe objections, when he rescued River. His bumbling attempts at a romantic relationship with Kaylee are a recurring subplot throughout the series, and at every turn he seems to find a way to unwittingly foil his own attempts at romance. His life is defined by caring for his sister.[10]

Summer Glau as River Tam—smuggled onto the ship by her brother. River was a child prodigy of unparalleled genius, but she was experimented upon at the hands of Alliance doctors, leaving her delusional, erratic, and at times violent. Her personal journey of self-discovery is a running theme throughout the series and the movie. River is constantly at war with her own demons. She sees and hears things that others do not, and experiences waking dreams of her memories of the Alliance “academy” experiments. Opinions of her vary among the crew: some value her, Jayne fears her, and the rest just want her to stay out of trouble. She is also telepathic, or, as Captain Malcolm Reynolds puts it in the episode “Objects in Space”, a “reader”.

Ron Glass as Derrial Book—a Shepherd (equivalent to a pastor). Although presented as a devout Christian man,[22] Book demonstrates a depth of knowledge about the activities of criminals (in “Our Mrs. Reynolds”) and corrupt police (in “The Message”). He is also proficient in hand-to-hand combat and the use of firearms. When questioned on his non-Biblical intentions during the rescue in “War Stories”, Book replies somewhat ironically that while the Bible is quite specific about killing, it’s “somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps”. In “Safe”, he was shown to have sufficient status in the Alliance to receive medical treatment from the military with no questions asked. Book represents Mal’s guide, conscience, and lost spirituality, while his hidden backstory was to have been gradually revealed, had the series continued.