Firefly: Browncoats & the Beatitudes PART THREE-A: “Blessed are the meek.”

* Part THREE-A of EIGHT * From a breakout session/presentation at Doxacon 2013 (for Part THREE-B click here )

firefly-browncoats-uniteSo I finally watched the Firefly 10th Anniversary “Browncoats Unite” special filmed at SDCC 2012; I didn’t want to admit ten years had gone by without this beloved show on the air, or watch my “tv friends” talk about the death of the show as a reality. Denial is a great place to enjoy your favorite stories! Woot! I’m really glad I saw it, though, and grateful that EW and The Science Channel made this, because it helped me accept the show’s demise. Hearing backstory can be great fun, and the story’s story? Just as interesting and inspiring as the show. It helped me to know that the show-makers worked under the threat of cancellation at all times, and that they admitted that threat might’ve helped them to make a better show, driving them to prove this story was worth their efforts. It was vindicating to hear the exec producer say to the others: “You know what it means? It means we weren’t wrong.” This show IS special: to me and to countless others. Cast, crew and fans all worked against odds to help make it possible for Joss to declare ten years later that “the story is ALIVE.” The A-Team guys told sidekick Amy that she had to accept the reality of death before she would be able to deal with any predicament they would face. So the moral to embrace: accept death, and watch a new life begin.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

Serenity’s crew has several characters who do their jobs well, and love what they do. Their “being meek” is glue for the others, and makes their spaceship a home. This beatitude’s promise, that “the meek…shall inherit the earth” makes me think that those who are “meek” in Firefly are providing the earth, or grounding and family, for the rest of the crew.

Zoe (and Wash)

Soldiers3Zoe is career military. She is dependable. I feel like the following is true of Zoe throughout the entire show, if not in words then through her actions (from the Serenity Pilot):

Mal: “Ready?”

Zoe: “Always.”

As Gina Torres points out behind-the-scenes, Zoe “rarely disagrees w/Mal”; otherwise, she is his right hand man. This character also has no false pride, meaning that she doesn’t gloat or glory in herself or her AWESOME BADASS “warrior woman” skills; she simply does what she’s good at, quietly and dependably.

zoe-firefly-300x199I believe Zoe represents a biblical example of “meekness”, not a more widely accepted (and to my mind, misunderstood) concept of meekness, as in “meek & mild”, “puny”, wimpy” or “weak”. First and foremost, she is an extension of Mal’s will, an infantry subordinate. But we learn within an argument between Mal & Wash in “War Stories” that marrying Wash is the only thing Zoe has ever done that was against Mal’s orders (I’m ignoring Zoe’s command for the shuttles to return to the ship in “Out of Gas”, because technically, she was unconscious when Mal ordered them all to leave). On that note, when Wash is threatened, you will see Zoe behave outside of orders from Mal. For example, when Tracey shoots at Wash in “The Message”, Zoe doesn’t hesitate to shoot Tracey, causing Mal’s bomb-squad-cool demeanor to ratchet up a bit in tension: “That’s enough shootin’. Ev’rybody calm down,” he says. Zoe looks pretty damn scary, pointing that gun at foolish Tracey with a “Damn straight” response. No matter what Mal says, I’m pretty certain Zoe would shoot Tracey again if she felt it necessary. Side note: I’m not really speaking to a ‘right to bear arms’ argument, just pointing out that Zoe fulfills her role in her world. And that role includes guns.

ff106019Wash is another essential character to the running of Serenity, a pretty humble guy, for all intents and purposes, and certainly exceptionally good at what he does; but I feel like he’s an extension of Zoe, providing something essential to her needs, and showing us more of who she is. In this context, his importance as Zoe’s husband and his significance to her overshadows his role as ship’s pilot, even though he’s amazing and skilled at what he does and gets them out of many scrapes (Crazy Ivan, anyone?).

As the quietly dependable right hand of Mal, Zoe’s importance to him can be most apparent when she is out of commission. She is also a human metaphor for another character, Serenity, also threatened in a favorite scene of mine from the episode “Out of Gas” (written by Tim Minear). The clip is included at the end of the second “…meek” post, fyi, so you can see it there.

The scene opens as Zoe is first carried to the infirmary.

Listen for Wash imploring  Zoe to “look at me” as Mal walks out of the room to Kaylee, staring stunned through the window at immobile Zoe; the next spoken line? Mal, speaking strongly: “Look at me.” I love that transition from infirmary to common area with the repeated “look at me” to “she ain’t movin'”, Kaylee speaking simultaneously to Zoe and Serenity’s dire conditions. How well Nathan & Jewel play this scene, one frozen with shock and the other hardly subduing his anger as he attempts to rally others to focus. When both Zoe and the ship are in trouble, we understand there’s a serious threat facing Mal’s security and freedom. We remember what was just learned from a flashback, that this ship means a great deal to this man, Malcolm Reynolds, and threatening the ship threatens his sense of identity. I also feel like the connection suggested between Zoe and Serenity was so beautifully and subtly done in Tim’s dialog, that Joss used that device again in the Big Damn Movie (at 1:15 in this clip) where Mal speaks to Zoe:

“Think she’ll hold together?” (hello, Han Solo’s “Hear me, Baby? Hold together…”)

Zoe, hesitating, drawing breath: “She’s tore up plenty. But she’ll fly true.”

It’s very efficient, the double-entendre. Zoe and Serenity are so closely linked to Mal’s survival that dialog can be written about either one, and mean the same for each. Now that’s just pretty.

Episode clips at the close of  entry “THREE-B”

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