This isn't a Joss Whedon love blog. But I do so love Joss Whedon, so he will come up a few times on this blog. If you aren't in love with his work, then this is where we part ways. I want my Led Zeppelin albums and collection of blackest night rings drinking glasses and I will be on my way. I said, "good day sir!"
Seriously, he is great.
I was wondering (to myself as I am want to do) why it is that his shortest lived television series made such an impression on so many people. I mean, I know that I love "Firefly". I'm a browncoat through and through, we will rise again! And not in a southerner racist kind of way, but in a "I'm not going to let the 'Verse play pongo with my nethers just because it has a majority vote to do so", kind of way. But why do I love Firefly? Pescifically...
I came up with the answer thanks to my best friend, Joe. Predictably, he hit right upon my wanderings without even meaning to. He is ever the Solo to my Luke. We were discussing a show running now, "Once Upon a Time." He was very much into it and I had only seen one episode. I was resistant to discussing this show because I just didn't feel it was that great. He said that I wasn't invested in the characters yet, that I needed to watch a few more episodes and I would be hooked. He was right, I watched a few more and then I was a fish on a line, watching each episode like a kid with a new toy, mixing similes and idioms with wild abandon!
Point is, I was invested in the characters, the story went where it wanted, but I was invested in the people. Firefly caught me with the very first moment, the very first scene and I cared about what happened to these people. I was invested in the crew of Serenity, the ship being no less a part of the crew. Mal pats one of the pipes of Serenity in "Out of Gas" with love and affection. You feel this through the cold light of television.
Joss Whedon can pull emotion from you, he can make you feel. But even he couldn't forsee how Firefly would evolve into the icon it has become. The show is a beacon for the underdog, that no matter how bad things get, we can keep moving. We don't have to go gently into any ones good night. We have the same rights as any one else to live and to kill people.
That the show only had one season, canceled before it's time by Fox, only served to spark the underdogs inside each of us to action. We were the browncoats, Fox unwittingly became our Alliance and we aimed to misbehave. With righteous indignation we wrote and protested the early demise of our emotional investment. Joss gave us "Serenity", a movie that, for the most part was a salve for our wounds. For like the browncoats, we fought bravely but we didn't win. We got a movie and that was a small piece of mercy. So we moved on, still browncoats, still hurt, but with head held high.
In the end we came to accept there would be only one season, one movie. But then, it spawned books, fan fiction and debate. Sometimes you have to make your own happy ending.
So, there you go. The secret to Firefly is the same secret mothers have had from time immemorial, it's love. I will leave you with this line from the movie Serenity, one that I tear up each time upon recalling...
"Love. Can know all the math in the 'verse but take a boat in the air that you
don't love? She'll shake you off just as sure as a turn in the worlds. Love
keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down...tell you she's hurtin' 'fore
she keens...makes her a home." - Mal Reynolds