In honor of Independence Day, I am watching the Firefly marathon on the Science Channel. I love Firefly. I never knew it when it was on, but my son’s friend loaned him the complete series, and I was hooked. Not only is it an almost hedonistic entertainment to satisfy my obsession with fantasy/sci-fi, but it is also interesting on so many levels.
The captain and his first mate represent rebels whose rebellion failed, which is different from what happened in America, but thought-provoking for the possibilities. As an Anglophile, I have never, ever considered Britain an “evil” empire; nonetheless I do wonder what our lives (and theirs) might have been like if we had lost. River Tam, whose mind was messed with by the Alliance to turn her into a human weapon, says the Independents rebelled because the government “meddled” in their lives. Certainly that is a characteristic of Americans in general; we are still an independent breed, and we don’t like people messing in our business. I like us.
Firefly also proposes that China became the primary world power before humans had to leave Earth in search of other inhabitable planets. As a result everyone speaks a combination of English and Mandarin. Their colloquialisms have the additional power of being foreign sounding, and they are given meaning in no small part by the cast’s deliveries. They are really good at it, and for those who care it is an excellent study in reading body language and facial expressions.
The crew is an odd assortment of characters, but they fit together well (for us, not for them; in their world theirs is an uneasy alliance). There is much to say on their individual stories, but what interests me is how each contributes according to his or her talents. In my book, The People of the Green Hills, I create a world with that as one of its guiding principles; that is, every person has a gift to give, and every gift is of equal importance. I also love how they become a family, thanks to the leadership of the captain, Malcolm Reynolds. He can be demanding and unyielding, but he is also unfailingly devoted to his crew. Their affection for each other is a quality I admire greatly.
In a lateral move in discussion, their space ship, a Firefly class transport named Serenity, is more than a mode of transportation for them, it is a home. This is particularly important to this group, who seem to be in short supply of safe harbors. I like the scenes where they sit around a farmhouse-style table for dinner. Everyone has a place. As someone who has not always had a “place at the table” in social situations, I appreciate that home is a place where I always belong.
I guess that will do for now. The episode I hear on in the family room is one of my favorites, “Shindig,” so I think I’ll go watch the end. Happy Independence Day to everyone. May your picnics be delicious and your fireworks be bright.