At an AA meeting tonight, I realized the brilliance of the name of Mal's ship: Serenity. As in, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." After the Browncoats lost the war, they had to come to terms with the fact that the Alliance wasn't going anywhere and they couldn't change that. Mal, meanwhile, is bitter about losing the war, even though he has built a new life for himself with his crew on Serenity. Mal doesn't notice that he is living on a metaphorical silver lining and continues to harbor resentment about the war, even though he has been given all the serenity he needs, if he would just accept that he can't change the power of the Alliance and focus on the bright side.
In a meta-example, this applies to fans of the show as well. Our Serenity Valley came in the form of the Big Damn Movie when we lost the war against the evil, authoritarian powers that be who ruined everything, and it's time that we accept that we cannot change the fact that Firefly was cancelled (although calling it unfair is the understatement of the gorram year).
Our Serenity Valley was the fight to finish Season 1 and greenlight Season 2: An unlikely fight that ended up a complete rout for the browncoats, which some continued fighting for years after it was obviously over (for some, the war will never be over). Serenitywas ourSerenity: We pretty much had to admit that the fight we were still trying to win had been long over, but but we still got something years later from keeping on, and that something was pretty dang awesome. Firefly isn't coming back, but Firefly is never over. -JET73L
In the opening sequence of "Objects in Space," River walks around the ship listening to the thoughts of everyone in the crew. However, Kaylee is the one person on the crew whose mind she doesn't read. She walks past Kaylee but doesn't hear any thoughts. Then, a few minutes later, River picks up a gun, and the entire crew surrounds her and tries to calm her down. While this is happening, River calls out "Kaylee." It's almost as if she's saying "Kaylee, what's going on? Why didn't you let me listen to your thoughts a few minutes ago?"
In addition to that, this is soon after the episode where Kaylee saw River shoot without looking, telekinetically precisely hitting all those soldiers. So River is also saying "Kaylee, defend me. Tell them what you saw. Tell them that I can handle a gun."
The Firefly episode "Jaynestown," was already the funniest one in my opinion. Then I was thinking about the parallels between the townspeople needing Jayne to be a hero and Book's explanation of religious faith, and I realised that's not just the episode's theme, it's also the final joke - comparing dumb, thuggish Jayne to God. —Whatever
And it's probably unintentional, but take a look at Jayne Cobb's initials...considering that it's an episode of a Joss Whedon series, it took this troper quite a while to realize that this episode has a subtle feminist subtext. While it's macho badass Jayne that gets the big hero's welcome and fanfare as the Mudder's hero, it's Inara who lands with him completely unnoticed and unheralded and spends her time there instilling a new confidence in the corrupt Magistrate's considerably more intelligent, sensitive son, to the point that at episode's end he's standing up to his father and freeing Serenity from its land lock, saving the whole crew. Life will be also considerably better for the Mudders & working people under a man like that, and that's how you really change the world(s). — Unknown Troper
Wait, the unheralded prostitute who hangs out with J.C. does something that is probably going to go unwritten in their religious text?
That comment on it going 'unwritten' made me realize how feminist that episode was. The manly-man, Jayne, does something that makes a few people happy for a little while but does nothing to really change how bad things will continue to be. However, he gets folk songs and a Robin Hood-like following because of it. Inara, meanwhile, teaches the future boss of the entire planet how to stand up for what he believes in, even going against his cruel and selfish father's desires to do so. The kid is much more sensitive and caring than his father, and when he takes over, he'll know how to stand up and lead his community with pride, and odds are he won't even remember the name of the person who taught him how to do just that. The man is the hyped-up but ultimately worthless hero and the woman is the unsung yet incredibly important hero.
That said, there is a bit of a downer note in the ending (unrelated to any religious and/or feminist subtext that might be present). The foreman said the low pay (or no pay) and rough conditions the mudders work in are used to keep the price of the product down. If the Magistrate's son wants to fix that he'll have to raise prices. And unless Canton Mud has some unstated extra quality to it, by raising prices he may have just sacrificed the main selling point of his product. Profits will fall, workers will have to be laid off, and the entire business may collapse. If that happens everyone involved will be looking for someone to blame. The foreman and his men will blame the mudders for costing them a cushy gig, the mudders will want revenge for all the slights they suffered under Magistrate Higgins, and the situation will get ugly fast.
The episode had the boisterous Russian foreman state that properly treated, the stuff is stronger and lighter than steel.
River's breakdown in "War Stories" didn't truly resonate with me for a while, until I realized that her comment on how much she hates being able to think clearly because she knows it'll go away meant that she's fully aware of what was done to her and she knows, deep down, that she cannot ever be fully healed. It made an already heartwrenching scene a hundred times more agonizing to watch. — Unknown Troper
Truth in Television- Schizophrenics sometimes become suicidal during their lucid periods, simply because they can't bear the thought of returning to their "other" mental state and can feel it when they start losing control again. Summer Glau provided a remarkable portrayal of this.
I just caught something very subtle in "Objects In Space." When River is threatening Early, she casually comments about "all these buttons" while inside his ship. Except she's not only referring to the buttons in Early's ship - she's also referring to the "buttons" in Early's head she's been pushing during the entire conversation. Brilliant. — Unknown Troper
Something immensely subtle in "Ariel" that I missed for years before only just now noticing: when Simon, River, and Jayne have been captured by the Feds and the Feds are starting to move them, check River's wrists. She's trying to slip out of the handcuffs. Even before Simon begins treating her and well before the Big Damn Movie, River is already showing signs of her impending ninjaosity. — Unknown Troper
It's also worth noting that this occurs right when Simon starts squaring off with the officer transporting them. River's reaction at this point is essentially, "Simon's in danger. Have to help." — Red Shadow 120
We all know that Firefly is a short-livedSpace Western, but one would not all the planets in the 'Verse are all of a desert/prairie biome. Except that most, if not all of them are, because the terraforming procedure was such a long and probably expensive process, that the Alliance didn't want to spend money that they didn't need to. Thus, they stopped at the bare minimum of habitability, which is why all the planets seem to be hot or cold deserts. (This doesn't apply as much to the Core Planets; but consider the fact that that's where both the government and the rich people live). — Unknown Troper
I had the idea that the semi-terraformed planets were the cause of political waffling. One administration wants to fully terraform the planets, but an opposing party comes into power, declares the whole thing a waste, and shuts down the project when its only half-way done. Thus the've spend billions of dollars credits whatever-they-use in the 'verse, yet wind up with barely habitable rocks. — Unknown Troper
I always thought the reason for all the desert planets was that they spent all the big bucks on getting the Core Worlds comfortable (even if all those arboreal gardens were each indoors or All Just a Dream), then did what they could to make the Border worlds merely livable. What with the Border Worlds being HoovervillesInSpace!, that is. -JET73L
The terraforming process isn't completely foolproof: in the movie, Miranda is referred to as a 'black rock'; i.e., an uninhabitable planet where terraforming failed. Of course, that's not the case. So apparently terraforming fails often enough that a slang term to describe the result is in use. The Border Worlds being only marginally habitable may be a result of a limitation in technology, funding, or both. —Snarf
I just noticed something about the teaching of Xiang Yu that are dismissed as an excuse to be evil. We were given a practical demonstration of them applying to the main characters in the previous episode when Mal was about to space Jayne but stopped short because he met the real Jayne. — Unknown Troper
One occurred to me after a rewatch of War Stories. When Mal (temporarily) incapacitates Niska's Torture Technician and attacks Niska directly, the man is crawling away. For half the series, Niska is built up as a ruthless and powerful crime lord with great reach and resources. He's cold, sadistic, and seemingly untouchable. Yet we see his true self when he's alone and unarmed, faced with a very wrathful Mal: Niska is a coward, an old man with nothing but his precious "reputation" for a shield. Idle Prose
In other words, Mal met the real Niska when he held him over the edge of a volcano.
The name Firefly itself. This meaning was never intentional by anyone, but think about it. The light of a firefly shines brightly for a moment and then flickers out of existence but that light, that memory of the firefly is fondly remembered. — Gallows
Catching fireflies on a warm summer night... that is the feeling you get when watching Firefly, especially in the more heartwarming scenes. — Gallows
A Firefly can also symbolize the soul, or that it ferries souls from the land of the living. On a more upbeat note, a firefly encircling people symbolizes affections and attachments that bring them together.
Reading the Just Bugs Me: Firefly page gave this troper the following startling insight: in Ariel, River wasn't just randomly attacking Jayne, she was defacing his Blue Sun shirt. River even says right after, "He looks better in red." You think she's being 'morbid and creepifying,' going on about blood being 'pretty' or sumesuch, but what she means is she doesn't want to see him in Blue! Ruttin' brilliant. ~Dragonfire8181
Not only that, but she's psychic! She already knew of his betrayal! Not only would that cause a homicidal bloodlust in most, but combine that with training that most likely said to kill traitors, and you have an easy way to get her trying to kill you. —HG131
She is definitely on to him. Remember, when she wakes up. Her words are: "Copper for a kiss?" And later, with the Holo-Imager: "Your feet are in the sand." Could either mean, Jayne saw himself on the beach or that sand makes for some unstable footing. Jayne himself gives us another clue of whats coming up: "Nothing buys bygones quicker than cash." bardofshadow
Not to mention, the moment Jayne first lies to them (about the plan 'changing'), River's brain lights up (still in the scanner) and she gets very agitated...
It's subtle, but in "Trash", when Saffron is presenting her plan, Wash asks the question - "What is she doing on the ship?!". This is a very relevant question - hilarious, but relevant. Sitting next to him, Kaylee cracks up. This irritated me for a bit, until ages later when I realised that the crew already knew Saffron was on board, and it was all a big con. Kaylee's not as shocked or scared as she should have been because of that, and so she found Wash's comment funny. That's part of what Inara was talking about when "Some of the crew's performances weren't as nuanced" as she'd've liked! – Delta One
In "Safe", River always seemed awfully calm while she was about to be burned at the stake. Heck, she didn't even really fight back against the settlers as they were tying her to the stake. Then I realized that in order for the events to have happened as they did during the Big Damn Heroes moment, Mal and Zoe had to have arrived at the village several minutes before Serenity swooped in overhead - and River knew they were there, because she's psychic! No wonder she was so calm! – Unknown Troper
For that matter the timing of the Big Damn Heroes moment makes more sense when you realize Mal and Zoe were probably prowling around the outskirts of the village for quite awhile, maybe half an hour or more, trying to figure out where Simon and River were and how to get them out of there quietly. Then the commotion in the village square, which would be when they called in Serenity, realizing that "quietly" was now off the table.
It's also why she said, "Time to go" around the time the Big Damn Heroes moment happened. She knew the exact time that Mal and Zoe would come.— Echo Ballard 13
When she said: "Daddy will come get us", I made the same mistake as Simon, thinking she was talking about Gabriel Tam. Then I re-watched "Safe" and had a "FB"-Moment. Not sure if there is another moment where she says something about "Captain Daddy" and I'm just missing it. bardofshadow
Which just adds another layer to an already heartwarming scene
In Out Of Gas, during the first flashback, Zoe and Mal avoid a thing on the floor. Dying, present Mal is exactly at that spot. - Randomfanboy though it was my sister who pointed it out.
It took me a few watches of Out of Gas to get that the title didn't refer to the crew being becalmed in space, but to Oxygen, which they were quickly running out of.
In "Ariel" River is terrified of being put into a coma, talking about how she doesn't want to "go to that place." Sounds like standard metaphorical talk about how she doesn't want to die, right? Except that going to sleep due to chemical treatment is exactly what happened to everyone on Miranda. She remembers how everyone fell asleep there and died, and in her not-all-there state of mind, she's terrified that the same thing will happen to her. The "I don't want to go to that place" line is River saying she doesn't want to go to Miranda!
Eh, maybe... It's probably more that she knew Jayne had sold her out and that the Hands of Blue were coming to take her back to the Academy.
In the movie Serenity, the scientist said that "Most of our best work is done when they are asleep." I think she didn't want to sleep because that's when they used to torture her.
What happens to the mudders at Jaynestown? Do they revolt against their oppressive masters or something, or are they stuck in their virtual slavery long after the crew of Serenity leave?
On the other hand, it is all but outright said that Fess Higgins will, eventually, take over and move the ceramics production operation in a gentler direction, considering how he stood up to his father. This is pretty much confirmed by the Serenity RPG sourcebook.
The concept of Companions being high-class actually makes an insanely large amount of sense when you consider an entire generation of humanity lived and died on route the new Solar System after leaving Earth. Social taboos would probably have been put aside to prevent people from going stir-crazy and getting cabin fever.
The weapons that the Blue Hands use in "Ariel" didn't make sense to me at first. Why use something that causes so much pain and kills so slowly? Would fast-dissipating nerve gas work better? Then, I start to think: the weapon causes bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose and mouth, suggesting extreme hemorrhaging in the brain. What if technology exists that can restore memories from dead brains? Or, hell, few methods of execution have a 100% success rate, even shooting someone in the head. What if someone survives? And they seem concerned that no one hears what River says, in case she spills the beans on anything she picked up from the brass's heads. I think those sonic weapons disintegrate brain matter rather than just cause blood vessels to burst, to ensure that there is no way whatsoever for anyone to tell what she's said to them. They're not just killing witnesses, they're destroying evidence.
The weapon does more than that, as demonstrated in Those Left Behind. At full power it can liquefy a human body's internal organs in seconds, leaving them as nothing but a tattered husk of skin in a pool of blood.
Either Lieutenant Baker was Genre Savvy, or the Independents as a whole were by the Battle of Serenity. Witness that Baker's Authorization Code was evidently printed on the inside of one of his patches, and Mal knew where to look for it without hesitation.
That's got nothing to do with Genre Savvy. Apparently that's just where the Independents keep copies of their authorization codes.
Except that that would almost by definition be Genre Savvy, since they're keenly aware that superior officers may get killed in firefights and lower ranking officers may have to replace them—and thus, the authorization codes are imprinted on the inside of a certain patch, so that lower officers can get access to them fast.
"Objects in Space" had a scenery-based one. I decided to watch the series just to look at the ship itself, since it's another character on the show and it was especially important in this episode. As Early and Simon walk through the cargo bay, just before Simon snarks for River to come out of hiding, they walk past the storage unit the spacesuits are kept in. One of them is wide open. I was just thinking that was extremely weird, given the fact everything else was packed up, and then it clicked - the scenery was showing us clues that River had quickly accessed it for a suit to get outside to Early's ship.
On another note with this episode, I also liked what Joss did with Kaylee. Rape is about power not sex. Early's casual question was designed solely to give him power over her - he was telling the truth about not caring one way or another about her body. He just wanted her to be imprisoned, not by physical bonds, but by mental ones. But taking power like that away from a person isn't as easy to fix as simply removing physical restraints. It lingers with a person for a long time and often the healing process involves a woman taking back the power that was stolen from her. We know that Joss Whedon understands that because an early episode of Angel addressed it when Kate explains to Angel that his client (who has been stalked by a neurosurgeon for a long time) has to be able to take back the power he's stolen if she's ever to stand a chance of recovery. Enter River - it wasn't simply that Kaylee was the only person free to unlock Mal's room, River - who would understand the mental hold Early had gained over her - was actually giving Kaylee the chance to fight back and take back the power that Early had stolen from her.
Fridge Brilliance: In "Bushwacked", while we can see that Simon is struggling with what may have ended up being revealed as a full-blown phobia, River is absolutely elated at being outside the ship, gazing off to the stars in delight and wonder. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps her comfort stemmed from her mental abilities. Out there, in the vastness of space, this girl who we know can no longer switch off her emotions (or anyone else's) is actually finding a kind of respite - there's nothing but her and the black and a chance, for at least a moment, to be free of so many minds. It's probably no wonder she loves Serenity so much - with so few people on board, and their identities unchanging, she would stand a better chance of finding peace than in a crowded room or city or (as Miranda implied) planet... and we see in "Objects in Space" that, having already sensed Early's arrival ("We're all just floating"), there's one extra mind on board, hence her "it's getting very, very crowded" - she was reacting to the intruder even then. In short, the reason River enjoys being in space so much is that it's the only place she can be to take a break from reading minds - because there are so few minds around to read.
Some more Fridge Brilliance regarding Simon's possible phobia—Remember from Bushwhacked? "You're...you're wearing this wrong." If he had actually needed that suit, if it hadn't just been a prank to embarrass him, Simon would have died. Is it any wonder he'd develop a phobia of spacewalks?
I was originally thinking of the scene before that when he's watching everyone suit up and Jayne spots how nervous he is, and he admits the idea of it disturbs him. I agree the incident with Jayne would just make matters worse for him, but he clearly had issues before that incident.
Re: River facing less mental static in space—the moment in the series when River seems most coherent, in control and able to really execute plans is while she is alone on a ship, perhaps without all that mental static to distract her. (To some degree)
I just had several rapid-fire ones while rewatching the first episode:
Pay close attention when Dobson bumps into Simon while getting his bags out of the cargo bay. He keeps glancing to the display on the side of the cryo box River is in, which is the same display Simon keeps checking. He's checking over Simon's head, being just as interested in making sure River is fine.
Jayne being responsible for "public relations" seems like a one-off bit of sarcasm from Mal, but considering how the "public" that the crew interacts with are commonly criminals, thugs, murderers, pirates, and other assorted lowlifes, Jayne's methods of relating to these folks seem highly appropriate.
When Dobson draws his gun on Mal and Simon in the cargo bay, pay close attention to where Book came from when stepping onto the scene. He was already in the cargo bay when Mal confronted Simon, likely shadowing Dobson, giving further, subtle hints as to his dark and shadowy past.
When Simon is getting ready to drop down on Dobson, River is pulling away from him, giving Simon a perfect target. I didn't realize until just now that she likely knew that Simon was up there thanks to her Psychic Powers, and knew what he was planning, so she pulled away from Dobson to give Simon a clear target.
Jayne may be such a money-grubbing bastard because if he gets enough money, he might be able to buy a treatment for Mattie that will completely cure his/her disease.
The best part about this idea is that it makes Jayne and Simon, who are by all outward appearances the too most different characters on the ship, Not So Different.
Note that the only time Jayne ever actually compliments Simon is in the movie when he says "I think it's noble as a grape the way you look to River, but she ain't my sister." Jayne appreciates taking care of your own, he just doesn't consider Simon and River to be part of his crew.
Well, not the only time—he also compliments Simon on coming up with the plan in "Ariel," though the point still stands.
What happens to the guy Mal doesn't kick into the engine and takes the money back to Niska? I don't remember seeing him in War Stories, and Niska isn't a very nice person to be around when disappointed.
That just completed a half-baked theory of mine, thanks. The guy who did recieve the money realized that Niska wouldn't be happy if he came back and told him that Crow was dead and Mal had turned against him. The guy decided that he was as good as dead if he went back to Niska, and the other people shown earlier to be in his group agreed. So they went on the run. They had Niska's money, Crow was the only one who showed genuine loyalty to Niska, and furthermore, the mob boss would assume that Mal's crew had just killed everyone instead of just Crow as would be known should they have gone back. They had the perfect oppurtunity to get away from Niska and start a new life.
Not on that amount of money, but it is likely that the guy just ran with the money and never reported back to Niska. Getting the money back wouldn't necessarily have stopped Niska from wanting to torture Mal for his failure, though.
Now think about it: They did have both halves of the money Niska was going to pay the crew, and it was hinted to be a substantial amount, so it's entirely possible that the amount was enough for a good start; factor in that they could trade or sell the ship they got there in, and you're lookin' at a tidy sum to live on. - Ze Mogan
Another Objects in Space one: When River reads Shepherd Book's mind (or whatever it is she did there), he says/thinks, "I don't care whether you're innocent or not. So where does that leave you?" in a rather menacing, cold way. At first I thought it made him sound like an uncaring psychopath. It seemed like a very out-of-character thing for Book to say and it seems like it was an allusion to his shadowy past. And while it certainly was that, it hit also me: It's not just not out-of-character for Book, it's Book's defining character trait. He really doesn't care whether others are innocent or not and he never has. But by the time of the series, that's because he will treat you with decency and compassion, whether you're innocent or not.
I thought he was acting uncharacteristically psychopathic too, until I realized that his thoughts were directed towards Jayne, not River. Jayne's mind drifted towards River as soon as she entered the room because of his lingering guilt, but Book had no reason to focus on anything other than the conversation he was having with Jayne. Book had a feeling that Jayne might have tried to sell the Tams out, but his more ruthless instincts meant that it didn't matter much to him, presumably because of how dangerous it was to keep them on board. As well, Book did concur with Mal during the dining hall meeting ten minutes later about how River could read minds, and since he had a pretty dark secret stashed away in his brain that he was keen to keep buried...
One of the apparent inconsistencies in the series is how the Reavers were able to take the derelict ship in "Bushwhacked" without leaving any signs of a struggle despite being brutal berserkers. Then along comes "Our Mrs. Reynolds", where a group of Salvage Pirates are getting ready to capture the ship, and Book notes that once they're caught the pirates will just cut off oxygen or gas the occupants. That's exactly what the Reavers did. They jumped the ship, gassed or cut off oxygen until the crew fell unconscious, and boarded without a fight. They're a hell of a lot smarter than everyone gives them credit for.
In "War Stories," when Niska offers Zoe a choice between taking back Mal or Wash. She chooses Wash before he even finishes speaking, thus resolving the Love TriangleRed Herring they'd been playing up the whole episode and establishing that she loves Wash, no question. The Fridge Brilliance comes in when you realize it was also the correct tactical choice. Mal, being the stubborn bastard he is, could take a lot more torture than Wash before breaking. In fact, that was the whole point of their Casual Danger Dialogue - Mal's reserves of Heroic Willpower were so great that he was keeping Wash from breaking by deliberately antagonizing him.
Not only that, but having Wash to pilot was the only reason they were able to mount a successful rescue of Mal; if she'd taken Mal and left Wash they would have had to come up with a different plan.
You know how Mal doesn't look nearly as old as he should? He spends all his time traveling in a relativistic ship!
In the episode "Objects in Space", River's mind-reading of various characters refers to key moments in their lives and changes or hidden elements in their characters.
Simon's comment refers to his hidden bitterness about having to give up everything for River. Despite his overpowering love for her, he is a human being and however he may push those emotions back, they are still there.
Simon: I would be there right now.
Shepherd Book's quote probably refers to something he said in his shady and dangerous past, which he has tried to leave behind, but which still haunts him and hides behind his kind and gentle face. Another analysis of this can be found above.
Book: I don't give half a hump if you're innocent or not. So where does that put you?
Jayne's quote is the only one we've actually seen, from an earlier episode where he betrayed Simon and River (and by extension, Mal) for money. This is one of his biggest weaknesses - his lack of loyalty in favor of self-interest - which he realized in this episode.
Jayne: I got stupid. The money was too good.
As Joss Whedon has admitted, Inara is suffering from a terminal disease. Her comment is likely a quote from the moment when she spoke to a doctor about her condition and demanded that he tell her the truth. The fear of her illness is an important element of her, though one that we only see shades of throughout the series.
Inara: I'm a big girl. Just tell me.
Finally, there's Mal. His words are clearly an echo of his reaction to the crushing loss at Serenity Valley that cost the Browncoats the war and his subsequent crossing of the Despair Event Horizon.
Mal: None of it means a damn thing. *** It may also be referring to his time with Inara and how they've gotten closer- none of it means a thing, she's going to leave and they'll never get together (or so he thinks).
That's how I read that scene for both of them: Inara is frustrated that Mal can't simply be honest about how he feels, but Mal is still stuck in the limbo that he's been in for years, feeling like pursuit of anything other than staying alive is pointless. As he said in the movie: "I got no rudder. Wind blows northerly, I go north."
The heat problem in Out of Gas is still a problem, but them being "dead in the water" isn't (quite) such a problem. The blast at the beginning of the episode burst out of the cargo bay door... which is located under the cockpit. The burst of air and explodey-ness necessarily took away some of their motion, and if the gravitic drive was completely nonfunctional after the original blast, it could have taken away all of the remaining motion. A better word would have been "floundering", but if gravitic drives fail closed, they could have been dead in the water. -JET73L
In Objects in Space, when Mal gets the gun away from River at the beginning of the episode, he says "No touching guns!" Later, when River is directing everyone via the intercom, Zoe grabs her shotgun and River says "No touching guns!" in the exact same way. Clearly River did understand.
More than that: Early is a wary, swift, and skilled opponent wearing body armor everywhere except for his face. In a shootout with him in the tight confines of the ship, one or more of the crew will likely get killed or seriously hurt. River knows this.
Adding to that, the episode has another subtle hint to River's psychic abilities: she knows he's wearing armor, when she never once actually sees him in the flesh until the end of the episode. There's no way she'd know he was wearing armor unless she had psychic abilities.
Why does River contact Mal, Zoe, Kaylee, etc. to fight Early, but disregards Jayne and his Wall of Weapons? Because Jayne doesn't trust her and is a hard-to-control element. Mal, Zoe, and Kaylee she knows she can trust to do what she says, particularly because the former two are ex-military.
In "Ariel", Simon reveals that River's amygdala has been stripped. There are a lot of theories you could form around that if you knew a bit about how the amygdala works, but one is in-show: Simon's statement that "She feels everything, she can't not". Assuming that the Alliance were trying to somehow unlock her Psychic Powers, they were trying to remove her ability to filter out other people's emotions.
In "War Stories", River says "Can't look, can't look." before shooting Niska's Mooks, and Kaylee later mentions that it looked like River just thought it was a game. Given her assassin training back at the Academy, situations like this probably were games. As soon as she saw Kaylee, who she associates with play, it became "Oh, Kaylee's here. It must be a game." She didn't look because the object was to use her visual memory and mathematics skills to hit them, and looking would be cheating. Which is why she's smiling and repeating Kaylee's "No power in the 'verse can stop me." She won the game this time around.
Alternatively, she's either picking up and voicing Kaylee's own reaction to the situation, (as in the stock "I can't look" reaction to what's happening around her) or that River is telling Kaylee not to watch what she's about to do.
I got the impression that River was deliberately not looking at Niska's guards to avoid thinking of them as people and freaking herself out. Basically, if she wasn't looking at them, she could think of them as Faceless Goons and kill them without hesitation.
Rewatching both "Ariel" and "Objects In Space" subtly highlights Jayne's Obfuscating Stupidity. In "Ariel" he clearly picks up that River somehow knows about his betrayal (evidenced from his insistence that she shuts up while she's babbling metaphors for him being captured along with the rest of them), and yet in "Objects in Space" he responds to the River-is-psychic theory with pretty much "Huh? Psychic? What's that?".
"Safe" has Jayne, suspended by rope from Serenity, appear at the last minute to save Simon and River. Mal then off-handedly compares the wrath of Jayne to that of God. If you were to look up the original definition of a Deus Ex Machina, you'd find it was originally the deployment of God or an angel suspended by rope above the stage of a Greek play to lend divine intervention at a crucial moment. I hadn't even realised Whedon was using the trope the first time I watched, and there he was playing it totally straight just for the hell of it.
Kaylee's Little Black Dress; Worn in her hiring flashback from "Out of Gas" and when she's flirting with Simon at the beginning of "The Message." This was probably 'clothing reserved for church' that had gotten a little too ratty for church or she stopped going. Historically, the church dress would be appropriate attire for a bride at her wedding.
While the Reavers in Firefly already sound bad, but it takes a moment to realize how bad. The "rape you to death, eat your flesh and sew your skin into their clothing" thing is dismissed as an old wives' tale at one point, but in The Movie, they see a recording which ends with a Reaver attack on the person. Jayne demands for them to turn it off, and the last we see is them taking her to the ground. Which means it's true. It makes them go from "Space Zombies" to "Semi-Intelligent Rapist Space Zombies with Knitting Skills".
Another disturbing fact: The Reavers are still coherent enough to pilot ships, complete repairs and, according to the Serenity Role-Playing Game, build weapons and torture implements. While they seem to go into some sort of rage in battle, they must be at least somewhat methodical and practical otherwise. Imagine what they could do with an Operating Table.
Apparently, Reavers know how to train more Reavers. Except instead of "train" it's more like "horrifically traumatize until the victim is mentally broken and left with only one option to deal with it." If ya can't beat 'em, join 'em. Now, think hard about where all those stories about Reavers came, and the fact they turned out to be true. There might be survivors of Reaver attacks out there. Except they're not survivors. They're ''recruits."
You want some real Fridge Horror? With all that raping, there have to be some Reaver kids out there. Imagine growing up in that lovely household.
Only if there are female Reavers, which was never really confirmed; the ones in the movie looked all male, though admittedly they didn't look much like humans, male or female. The female victims who might have become pregnant from the rape...I'm going to go out on a limb and say that their pregnancies weren't able to be carried to term.
There probably ARE female Reavers, I think I remember in the Commentary of the Serenity companion that they call one out. Really, the bigger obstacle to this is that they fly around with no radiation containment, bad enough that the radiation causes skin sores and burns. Fertility is the first thing to go under conditions like that. Also, it's unlikely their female victims live long enough to go to full term, or that the unborn fetus of any recruits aren't miscarried due to conditions or violence.
Also, in ''Serenity'', it is revealed that the Reavers were created when the Alliance tried using a chemical to control the people of an entire planet. Instead, it made most of the population too apathetic to even move, and the rest were turned into savage, blood-thirsty killers... Think about that for a minute.
Well, the whole point of the last part of the movie is to reveal this truth to everyone, so that The Alliance doesn't dare do this again.
My personal fridge horror: I react "paradoxically" to sedatives and hyptnotics. Which means: I get wide awake, hyperactive, overalert and sometimes quite aggressive panic attacks. Of course: In real life this means, I simply never take them anymore. But in the 'verse...
Another bit from ''Serenity'': When the Serenity crew first discovers the recording of the Reaver attack, Jayne tells Mal to turn it off. In the climax of the movie, Mal plays the recording for the entire Verse, but just walks away after starting it... how long did that recording play for and how much of it did the unsuspecting people viewing the feed see?
Enough to ensure that it never happens again.
In Bushwhacked, the camera lingers lovingly on the multitude of evidence that there were children aboard the abandoned colony ship. At one point you can even see a balloon floating in the background. Horror? The fact that balloons only float for a few hours; they literally just missed the reavers. Unfortunately, Zoe then says that the lifeboat launched a week ago, meaning that it must be a Space Balloon, with some Fridge Logic.
They do mention that the lifeboat only holds a third of the ship's population, so the above theory may still be true - the balloon may have been to distract the children from their 'shipwrecked' status.
There's a scene where Harken is interrogating Mal, who says that the Reavers were the ones who butchered those people. Harken dismisses the claim and says he can't imagine the number of times that men in his position hear the "Reavers did it" excuse. Reavers have been attacking ships for ten years. The Alliance, despite knowing about the Reavers, has been punishing innocent people for the Reavers' actions for the last decade.
Well, in my opinion, it's unlikely that Harken really knows about them or even believes they exist. Aside from the very high-ups in the Alliance, related to Miranda, not many on the core worlds really know about Reavers; Simon didn't know they were real. Mal also asks him if it's his first tour out on the border, and Harken doesn't correct him. Reavers might be insane sadists, but they're not stupid, they probably steer clear of the huge Alliance ships, so it's entirely possible a lot of men in Harken's position don't believe in Reavers. Plus, it's unlikely they get near Miranda and the rest of the edge, where most of the Reavers are from, as the high-ups would probably have them steer clear.
This is The Future. They have classified telepaths and probably-unclassified lie detectors. The innocent people got prosecuted because Reavers "don't exist", and were, on the record, either Consummate Liars or agitated and therefore lying. The guilty people got prosecuted because they were freaking guilty. You don't arrest unrelated people with the same excuse and the same M.O. for ten years without either getting a little suspicious or being in on The Conspiracy; you either start to wonder, or you encounter a few "events" that are just different enough to practically prove that there's at least some copycat killers using the legend as an excuse, and disturbed enough that their "work" looks at all like the "legends"...
There's also the R. Tam Sessions, which end with River stabbing her "counselor" in the throat with a pen. On the one hand, one could argue that this is River being ordered to kill him - horrific and chilling in its own right. But the alternate interpretation is that she killed him because she could, and it was her only way of striking back at what they did to her. This is especially chilling in light of how she was acting at the beginning of the sessions - imagine what kind of horrors it would take to turn such a cheerful, happy and innocent girl into a killer who would stab a man in the throat with a pen because he was part of the institution that was tormenting her.
Jubal Early's dialogue with River becomes a thousand times creepier when you remember he seemed perfectly willing to rape Kaylee if Simon didn't go along with him, and River's unspoken implications of what he did to his neighbors' dog. Especially the extremely satisfied look on his face as he's getting ready to get back into his ship where he thinks River is waiting for him. Also, keep in mind River's rather squicky statement that Early is "crawling inside me uninvited." If you think the Psycho for Hire was bad before, reading between the lines and seeing his Sub Text makes him just plain horrifying.
River: "That's why you took the job. Power. Control. Pain." Yee-gads.
In Ariel, Simon reveals that the Alliance cut out River's amygdala, meaning she can no longer repress emotions such as fear or sadness. Combined with her psychic powers, that means she could be feeling the emotions of everyone around her at the same time and ''can't do anything about it'.
If they took out the amygdala which corresponds with her negative emotions, her brain simply wouldn't be signaled to feel them at all. It would also remove the adrenalin that would be released in the fight or flight situations. This brings up another point about them taking out the part of the brain related to the ability to be conditioned before they were finishing conditioning her.
They completely screwed up their ability to finish their work on her. If they removed both amygdalae - there are two in each complex animal - they removed her ability to associate happiness, sadness, satysifaction, fear, or much of anything with anything else. They also severely screwed up her ability to relate to others, her willingness to cooperate and impaired her ability to form new long term memories.
When he examines her in the hospital scanner, Simon says they "stripped" her amygdala, not that they removed it. If they just removed part of it in some way, that would explain why it no longer functions correctly.
River in the Academy and the exact details of what happen to her are bad enough, but she was rescued by her loving big brother trying his best to help her get better. But there were others in the Academy, others still suffering with no one to save them.
I always thought that was odd too; I've always assumed they'll bring it up in a later comic, with either the team staging a Big Damn Heroes on an Alliance facility, or the kids being released due to the Alliance coming under greater scrutiny. - Ze Mogan
Or else just being sicked on them as brainwashed psychic assassins, a sort of Shadow Archetype to River.
In the pilot, Serenity, Mal and the crew pulla Crazy Ivan to escape the Reavers, leaving them in the backwash of a full burn. Zoe says that the Reavers won't be able to turn around fast enough to catch them now. In the movie, we see that the Reavers will drop a lost cause (evidenced by the man Mal shoots when he's grabbed) to go after live prey. So Serenity escapes the Reavers on a populated planet...
Amend that to "on a populated planet in a crashing ship that's on fire." They weren't just caught in Serenity's backwash, they got caught in the ignition of their engines. The people on that planet are probably a little better off than you think.
Jayne is horrified of reavers. Reavers like weapons and killing and fighting and deceiving and cutting things, they hate thinking really hard or abstracton of any kind. Maybe this just hits a little close to home for the Token Evil Teammate.
Well, as Jayne says: "Hell, I'll kill a man in a fair fight... or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight... or if there's a woman... or if I'm getting paid. Mostly only when I'm getting paid. Eatin' people alive? Where's that get fun?"
I think there's another part to it. Jayne is very pragmatic, very physical, and has a healthy, active sex drive, to the point where he basically sees social interaction as a chance to get paid, kill something, or fuck something. The Reavers are known for killing and raping. As someone who are themselves very physical and sexual, I know how unsettling the idea of rape is, because I basically fear the possibility of losing control of my desires. I wouldn't be surprised if the reason Jayne finds Reavers so unsettling is because he sees in them what he never wants to become, an mindless murderer and rapist.
It took a while to set in but this troper actually has a reoccurring stress-nightmare based on the climatic fight with the Reavers at the end of Serenity, when River leaps through the doors, tosses the bag and the last thing you see is her being dragged away by dozens of hands through the closing gap. It doesn’t help that I have a massive crush on Summer Glau or that she reminds me a great deal physically of an ex-girlfriend of mine. We all know what the Reavers do to their captives, rape, eat, skin, rape (“You said rape twice.” “Well, they like rape.”) and we also know River is too much badass for them to handle and tears them apart like a Cuisinart... But the characters don’t actually know that second part. Imagine watching someone you love get torn away by these literal monsters then two foot of steel doors cutting you off and you just pound and pound at them and you can never get through and can only imagine what’s being visited on them on the other side while you’re completely and utterly helpless to stop it or even at least die beside them.
In the Pilot, Inara's client says that her clock is rigged up to cheat them out of their fun. Morena Baccarin revealed that Inara is dying of a terminal illness. Warp your mind around that.
This bit from "Trash:"
Simon: "This bounty on us just keeps getting more exciting." Jayne: "Well, I wouldn't know..." River: She's a liar." Jayne: "That don't exactly set her apart from the rest of us." River: "She's a liar and no good will come of her." Jayne: "Well, as a rule, I say girl folk ain't to be trusted." River: "'Jayne' is a girls' name." It's One Dialogue, Two Conversations. River is referring to Jayne with feminine pronouns, because Jayne is a girl's name, but Jayne thinks River is talking about Saffron, the initial subject whom Jayne brought up to the Tams.