And we come to the final installment at last. Given the sheer kick-ass nature of the show’s writing, it took me three whole posts to get all the best lines from the single season that the show produced. And it was not even a full season! But of course, honoring Whedon’s criminally under-appreciated sci-fi creation wouldn’t be complete with including the movie Serenity. Much like the show, it had all the elements of classic sci-fi, space westerns, and the touching themes of loss and the ties that bind. So here she is, the fourth and final installment! Shiny!
Quick recap: The crew of the Firefly are still flying, albiet by the seat of their pants. The Alliance continues to expand into the outer reaches of the system, making it that much harder to get freelance work, honest or otherwise. At the same time, the Reavers seem to be pushing inward, raiding systems closer and closer to the core. Meanwhile, an “Operative” is looking for River and will stop at nothing to find her. His appearance coincides with the crew’s realization that her condition goes far beyond anything they’ve seen before. In addition to being a “reader”, she is also programmed to kill and knows things about secret Alliance projects. Following a lead, the name “Miranda”, the crew uncovers a massive planet-wide conspiracy which could threaten to destroy the Alliance itself.
River: People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.
Teacher: River, we’re not trying to tell people what to think… only how [cut to lab where River is being experimented on]
[My favorite line of the movie, so chilling!]
Operative: “Key members of Parliament”. Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.
Dr. Mathias: Look… even if River Tam did by any chance read the minds of any of the visiting Parliment members here, whatever government secrets she may have read she may not even remember any them for they are all probaly buried under layers of psychosis.
Operative: Secrets are not my concern. Keeping them is.
Mal: What was that?
Wash: Did you see that?
Mal: Was that the primary buffer panel?
Wash: Did seem to resem-
Mal: Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorram ship for no apparent reason?!
Wash: Yeah well, if she doesn’t give us some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn through, this landing is gonna get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define interesting.
Wash: ‘Oh god oh god we’re all gonna die?’
Mal: [through the intercom] This is the captain. We have a…little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then…explode.
Mal: Come a day there won’t be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don’t push me, and I won’t push you. Dong le ma?
Mal: Doctor, I’m taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you, I will get very choked up. Honestly, there could be tears.
Jayne: Shiny! Let’s be bad guys.
Mal: You all wanna be looking very intently at your own belly buttons. I see a head start to rise, violence is going to ensue. Probably guessed we mean to be thieving here but what we’re after is not yours. So, let’s have no undue fussing.
Zoe: [to a security guard] You know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.
Mal: Listen up! We’re comin’ down to empty that vault.
Guard: You have to give me your authorization password. [Jayne fires into the vault] Okay.
Mal: [negotiating with guard where to shoot him] The leg is good. It’ll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs.
Guard: I was thinking more of a graze?
Mal: Well you don’t want to look like you just gave up.
Jayne: Gee, it sure would’ve been nice to have some GRENADES don’tcha think?!
Jayne: You shoot me if they take me! [sees Mal’s gun pointed at him] Well don’t shoot me first!
Simon: Oh ‘one simple job, she’ll be fine’!
Mal: She is fine! ‘Cept for still bein’ crazy she’s the picture of health!
Zoe: Sir, I don’t disagree on any particular point. It’s just…in a time of war, we would’ve never left a man stranded.
Mal: Maybe that’s why we lost.
Jayne: I’ll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there’s a woman. Or if I’m gettin’ paid. Mostly when I’m gettin’ paid.
Mal: Kaylee, this is a place of business. We can talk about Simon-
Kaylee: When he’s four worlds away? Or the Alliance gets ahold of him and River?
Mal: That ain’t my worry. I gotta finish this job, get us another one. Can’t do that carryin’ those two.
Kaylee: How can you be so cold?
Zoe: Cap’n didn’t make them fugitives.
Kaylee: But he coulda made ’em family. ‘stead of keepin’ Simon from seein’ I was there. And I carried such a torch! And we coulda…goin’ on a year now and I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!
Mal: Oh God! I can’t know that!
Jayne: I could stand to hear more.
Mal: Fanti. Mingo.
Mingo: He’s Mingo
Mal: He’s Fanti, you’re Mingo.
Mingo: How is it you always know?
Mal: Fanti’s prettier.
Fanty: Do you know that girl?
Mal: I really don’t.
Mal: I’ve staked my crew’s life on the theory that you’re a person, actual and whole, and if I’m wrong, you’d best shoot me now…
[River cocks the gun she is pointing at Mal] Or, we could talk some more.
Mal: What in the hell happened back there?
Wash: Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety-pound girl, ’cause I don’t think that’s ever gettin’ old.
Malcolm: You had a gorram time bomb living with us! Who we gonna find in there when she wakes up? The girl? Or the weapon?
Simon: I thought she was getting better.
Jayne: And I thought they was getting off. Didn’t we have an intricate plan on how they was gonna be not here any more?
Kaylee: We couldn’t leave them now.
Jayne: No, now that she’s a killer woman, we ought to be bringing her tea and dumplings.
Wash: Inara. Nice to see her again.
Zoe: So… trap?
Zoe: Are we going in?
Mal: Oh, it ain’t but a few hours out.
Wash: Yeah, but, remember the part where it’s a trap?
Kaylee: But how can you be sure Inara don’t just wanna see you? Sometimes people have feelings. And I’m referring here to people.
Mal: You all were watching, I take it?
Mal: Did you see us fight?
Mal: Zoe, ship is yours. Remember: if anything happens to me, if you don’t hear from me within the hour, you take the ship — and you come and you rescue me.
Zoe: What? Risk my ship?
Mal: She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort.
Operative: It’s worse than you know.
Mal: It usually is.
Operative: That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.
Mal: The way I remember it, albatross was a ship’s good luck, ’til some idiot killed it. [to Inara] Yes, I’ve read a poem. Try not to faint
Operative: I already know you will not see reason.
Mal: The Alliance wanted to show me reason, they shouldn’t have sent an assassin.
Operative: I have a warship in deep orbit, Captain. We locked onto Serenity’s pulse beacon the moment you hit atmo. I can speak a word and send a missile to that exact location inside of three minutes.
Mal: You do that, you’d best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord.
Operative: [Mal tosses a mechanism, he catches it] Pulse beacon…
Operative: I want to resolve this like civilized men. I’m not threatening you. I’m unarmed.
Mal: Good. [shoots him]
Operative: [grabs Mal from behind] I am, however, wearing full body armor. I am not a moron!
Operative: You are fooling yourself, Captain. Nothing here is what it seems. You are not the plucky hero, the Alliance is not an evil empire, and this is not the grand arena.
Inara: And that’s not incense. [the “incense” explodes and knocks The Operative out]
Mal: Half of writing history is hiding the truth.
Jayne: Oh yeah, hidin’ up the Shepherd’s skirts, that’s a manful scheme.
Mal: You wanna run this ship?!
Mal: Well y-…you can’t!
Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?
Mal: I don’t murder children.
Operative: I do. If I have to.
Mal: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Mal: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?
Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.
Mal: Ah, hell, Shepherd, I ain’t looking for help from on high. That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.
Book: Why when I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?
Book: [last words] I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.
Mal: This is how it is. Anybody doesn’t wanna fly with me any more, this is your port of harbor. There’s a lot of fine ways to die. I ain’t waiting for the Alliance to choose mine. [shoots Alliance soldier crawling from wreckage] I mean to confound these bungers. Take my shot at getting to Miranda. Maybe find something I can use to get clear of this. So I hear a word out of any of you that ain’t helping me out or taking your leave, I will shoot you down. Get to work!
Dr. Caron: These are just a few of the images we’ve recorded. And you can see, it wasn’t what we thought. There’s been no war here and no terraforming event. The environment is stable. It’s the Pax. The G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression. Well, it works. The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else. They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating. There’s 30 million people here, and they all just let themselves die.
Mal: This report is maybe twelve years old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there’s a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They’re gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.
Jayne: Shepherd Book used to tell me, “If you can’t do somethin’ smart… do somethin’ right.”
Zoë: It’s a fair bet the Alliance knows about Mr. Universe. They’re gonna see this coming.
Mal: No. They’re not going to see this coming.
Wash: I’m a leaf on the wind…watch how I soar.
Mal: [smiling at battle around them] Chickens come home to roost!
Wash: [flying debris glances off ship’s hull] It’s okay… I-I’m a leaf on the wind!
Jayne: Cap’n’s right. Can’t be thinkin’ on revenge if we’re gonna get through this.
Zoe: Do you really think any of us are gonna get through this?
Jayne: Well I might!
Mr. Universe: [via his buffybot] Mal. Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword. How weird is that?
Simon: My one regret in all of this is never being with you.
Kaylee: With me? You mean to say, as in… sex?
Simon: I mean to say…
Kaylee: [cocks her gun] Hell with this. I’m gonna live!
Operative: Do you know what your sin is Mal?
Mal: Ah Hell… I’m a fan of all seven. But right now… I’m gonna have to go with wrath.
Operative: Do you really believe that?
Mal: I do.
Operative: You willing to die for that belief?
Mal: I am. [shoots the Operative repeatedly] Course, that ain’t exactly Plan A.
Operative: Serenity… you lost everything in that battle. Everything you had, everything you were. How did you go on?
Mal: If you’re still standing there when that engine starts, you never will figure it out.
Mal: You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do since you already know what I’m about to say.
River: I do. But I like to hear you say it.
Mal: Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love. She’ll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the world. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down. Tells you she’s hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.
Mal: What was that?
Final Thoughts (on an awesome series!):
Well that’s it I guess, show’s over… (Sniff, sniff) Excuse me for a moment! Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let me offer some final thoughts on this series that I didn’t think to mention before. One thing I am impressed with about the movie is how they really got into the mentality of the Alliance in greater detail. All throughout the original series, it was clear that they were motivated by a desire to expand and consolidate, and generally justified themselves with the whole “civilizing mission”, calling to mind the age of Imperialism and the American Frontier, “Manifest Destiny”, “White Man’s Burden” and all that crap!
But here, they got a little more in-depth. Calling to mind more recent phenomena like the goal of “spreading Democracy” and questions like “why would people not want to be like us?” And what was brilliant about the execution was the fact that the people who asked these questions and did these things really weren’t evil. At least, they didn’t think they were. Even The Operative, a self-confessed monster, wasn’t all bad. He truly and honestly believed that he was doing the right thing, that there would be a payoff for other people as a result of his murderous actions. And he accepted the fact that, come the day of a perfect society, he wouldn’t be allowed to live in it. In a way, he was kind of selfless. In a way…
And ultimately, Whedon and the cast captured the other side of the equation perfectly as well. Whereas the powers that be saw their mission as a civilizing one, a drive to create a utopia, they saw the horrors inherent in such a vision. As all fans of dystopian literature know, the whole premise is based on the idea that the drive to create the “perfect society” quickly gives way to a very imperfect one. For in the end, the drive for perfection is an illusion, and dreams can give way to nightmares very quickly!
Wow, deep stuff, and to be found in a space-western of all places. And with so many cheeky and fun lines to boot. Is it any wonder why people who love this show love it as much as they do? It’s a cult classic, man! And now it’s gone… (sniff!) I’m sorry, I thought I was all cried out! But can you blame me? This movie is emotional, and it’s big finish was a fitting sendoff to the show. Climactic, full of resolutions, but still with enough uncertainty to keep the viewers wondering if someday, there might be more to come…
Alas, seems like this show was destined to succumb to its own central theme. Much like the Browncoats, it was stamped out by an unfeeling, remorseless giant known as Fox. But alas, there’s still hope. If I get rich one day, I have said that I would purchase the rights to the show, recruit as much of the old cast as possible, and put it back on the air. Or, maybe just spring for a couple DVD movies, or a some sequels… Or maybe I’ll just buy the damn Fox Network, force them to re-air this show and many others they so foolishly cancelled. It could happen… Yeah, and monkeys could fly out of my ass! Ah well, until next time, keep on flying!