Tue
Jul 13 2010 4:44pm

Firefly Re-watch: Serenity: Those Left Behind Part 1

On this glorious day, my friends, I have come here to talk to you about Those Left Behind, be they friends or foes. Of course, a strong recollection of where we have already been is important. But know also that a thorough, and a spoiled, understanding of the present and even the future is important as well.

Issue Summary:

On a bright day on the moon Constance, Book is finally plying his trade and giving a sermon to the whole town. And as he speaks to his flock of giving, not taking, and the worth of not valuing material things, Mal is in the nearby bank, robbing them all blind.

Of course, things are not always easy for Mal. Another would-be thieving band, which includes the mandatory little girl with a big damn minigun, arrives shortly after Mal, Zoe, and Jayne and has them outnumbered and outgunned. Ott, the leader, is willing to let Mal and crew off easy in exchange for them just handing over the coin, but Jayne urges Mal to give the word for them to start the fight. Zoe says she’ll back Mal either way, and Mal decides to not fight. As Mal hands over the coin, Ott then ups the ante and says he wants Mal’s gun too. Mal takes exception to this.

MAL: You know, this here got me through the war . . . It’s one of the only two things I can recall that did, and stuck with me afterwards.

As he reminisces, Ott reminds him that the war is over, and Mal drops the gun, which he then kicks right into Ott’s face. Ott falls and screams for his crew to kill them all. Mal and crew take cover, and Jayne decides he’ll fix the problem with a grenade. Zoe screams for him to stop, as they are in a vault and the concussion would hit them too. Before he can even throw it, one of Ott’s crew, a strange little man with only knives, throws one and hits Jayne in the arm. The grenade drops, and the little man says “Boom.”

Mal starts to reach for the grenade, but Zoe gets there first and tosses it back towards Ott’s crew. The girl with the minigun dodges out of the way, but the grenade hits its true target, a locker in the vault that Zoe then closes with a well placed shotgun blast.

Back in the church, Book continues on his “material things are worthless” line when an alarm suddenly sounds from outside. A man in the crowd says it is coming from the bank, and the entire congregation empties out, leaving Book alone to swear in Chinese rather extensively. Back in the vault, Ott and his crew manage to escape despite Mal’s heroic roll and grab of his gun. The crew doesn’t waste any time, and they escape through a sewer access.

Out in the street, Jayne starts to complain about how the job went south, and Mal tells him that it isn’t the time. Mal then starts to think over how they are going to get off the planet, which will involve acquiring a vehicle to get back to Serenity. Just at that moment, Book rolls up in a dune-buggy-on-crack that had been parked in front of the church. The crew piles in.

MAL: Shiny ride, can we keep it?
BOOK: No, we certainly cannot.

Book informs Mal that the town is arming itself and planning on causing trouble. Mal contacts Wash, who is sleeping at the helm, and tells them that they will need a creative extraction.

MAL: Change of plans. Looks like we’ll be leaving this world a bit sooner than anticipated. I’d like that last statement to prove specific and mundane, not spiritual-like.

In engineering, Kaylee is forcing Simon to pose for a simple picture, which he cannot understand the why of, when she is interrupted by Wash telling her that she should “make like a kite.” She says it will be no problem and enlists Simon to help. He wonders aloud about exactly what he can do, but she says all he has to do is strap her in.

Back on the planet, the crew is desperately trying to escape from the enraged mob hot on their tails. Mal makes a snipe about Book not getting the point of “not killing” across to his flock, and Book retorts with his already obvious failure on the “not stealing” thing. Mal then contacts Wash and finds out the plan is to tip over a water tower, which Kaylee is affixing Serenity to at that very moment, and wash away the pursuit. Soon as Kaylee is back in the ship, with her arms firmly around Simon so she can “hold on tight,” Wash guns the engines and tips the reservoir just as the dune buggy gets under it. In the confusion, the crew gets on Serenity and off the world, although Book hesitates a moment.

Aboard Serenity, Jayne resumes his complaints, and Kaylee tries to cheer him up, saying that “Ain’t easy getting paid.” Mal gives her a solemn, quite look, and she then thinks to ask if they even did get paid, to which Jayne asks “Is now when, Mal?”

Mal walks off alone to the galley, where he finds River hiding under a table talking about a knotted up ball of yarn. Inara then walks in and proclaims “there you are” to River, seeing as she had been looking after River, who had in turn been helping Inara pack. Mal tries to dodge the obvious lead-in to Inara pestering him about getting her to Sihnon, but she ignores his plea, and his only response is that her “destination” is a long ways away, and he’s heading there as fast as he can but will be taking work along the way. He storms off, and Inara starts to follow, but River stops her, telling her to let the ball of yarn go.

Meanwhile on Whitefall, two well-dressed men with blue hands approach a bunker guarded by a burley frontiersman. The blue-hands ask to see the guard’s boss on the grounds that both the blue-hands and the boss are looking for Mal. As they speak, one of them pulls out a thin, metal tube. The guard tells them to bug off, but he starts bleeding out of his eye then falls screaming as blood starts leaking out of every orifice. As the man turns into a nearly liquid puddle of flesh at their feet, the blue-hands say they will just inform the boss themselves.

Commentary:

First off, don’t get all “WHAT!?” on me. Yes, this is where the first “comic” ended. Oh, the joy of the periodic graphic novel, right? Regardless, there was a good bit going on here, especially in terms of setting up the changes in the characters between Firefly and Serenity. And yes, I’m “re-watching” a comic that I’m reading for only the second time in as many months. Shh you.

The first, starting with the opening page, is Book. Honestly, I’m surprised at Book agreeing to be a distraction, even if it means he gets to actually preach. From both his sermon and his reaction when the alarm goes off and the crowd runs out, I highly doubt he was in the dark as to what Mal, Jayne, and Zoe were doing. And then his upgrade from “only hurting bad people who threaten friends” to “borrowing” a vehicle, well yeah. Book’s holy veneer has always been thin, but here it is starting to get spotty.

Next is Mal, who is fully and honestly bested by Ott. Thus far, the only time Mal has kowtowed and given up loot has been to the Alliance, and then when he very clearly had no choice, speaking of course about “Bushwhacked.” Here, he has the option to fight to keep his coin and he just gives it up. While I understand, with my foresight, the narrative reason for this, I find it kind of hard to mesh with the Mal I know from Firefly. Yes, he doesn’t screw over people he doesn’t need to, and heck, he doesn’t even take revenge where it is deserved, such as the scavvers he didn’t kill in “Out of Gas” and makes a point of rubbing it in their faces. But, to just give up the coin? And then end up in the firefight anyway? Ugh. Forward spoiler, but I can totally see what the twins were talking about in the movie just before River freaked out.

Moving on, Kaylee and Simon seem to be in a “warm” spot in their sinusoidal romance, what with Simon hanging out in engineering (and dumping River on Inara, I might add). Kaylee is at least learning to be a little more direct, and even makes a point of it in narrating aloud “Maybe if I bat my eyes obvious-like, Simon’ll be a prince and help.” What can we say, Simon needs hit over the head with a clue-by-four. At least Kaylee got to cop a hug after her aerobatic wire-work.

The narrative giving a small nod to Mal actually more-or-less stalling every chance he can get in his inexorable journey of taking Inara to Sihnon is nice, although it still touches on the relationship of which I’m not a fan. At least I can acknowledge that he is acting in line with what I think of him, though, right? Avoiding talking about it and moping. Moving on.

Or not, because now I’m going to talk about River’s ball-of-yarn line, and quote it in a bit more detail.

RIVER: Ball of yarn, all knotted and tangled with different weights and colors. But pull one string, you pull them all. (Then after Mal storms off, to Inara) Let the ball of yarn go.

OK, so Mal is all sorts of broken and conflicted, and everything in his life is tugging on everything else, if I interpret crazy-psychic right. But of course, Mal isn’t the one that annoys me as much. He did, I’ll note, at least try and talk to Inara about it, and she’s the one that is all “Gotta run!” I will at least say that I’d like to know what is in her past exactly that makes her act this way (aside from her “immortality” thing).

And look, blue-hands! Bleedy-out-of-everywhere wand! And some mysterious boss who has an ax to grind with Mal! It is interesting, I’ll note, that the bleedy-wand seems to liquify a person’s entire insides, not just boil the blood, at least from the way the corpse was drawn.

Another thing I’m going to say here is that I am kind of split on the comicification (it’s a word now, quiet!) of the TV show. While it aids in keeping the actors voices in my head to see them drawn in their roles, at the same time it was kind of distracting as the “cartoonification” (another new word) of the actors seems to have been purposely somewhere around 90% accurate. Inara’s face is a little wider, Mal’s nose and brow a little more pronounced, and Simon’s features were actually just in general a little off (to the point that a few scenes I had to squint to remember that was him). Overall though, I still enjoyed the read, both as its own stand alone story and as a continuation of the show.

But there was one thing I’m a little vague on. From the look of it when Mal is calling Wash to come rescue them, Serenity is in space. A field of black and stars are visible outside the cockpit. I wonder why the ship wasn’t parked somewhere instead (aside from it making for the nifty rescue style since they couldn’t just run to the ship and take off).

Factoids:

Pub Date: September 02, 2005
Covers: Mal, Jayne, and Inara
Pages: 32

See ya’ll next week for issue number two, where, classic to Whedon, we meet an old friend.

Pictures compiled from http://www.darkhorse.com.


Richard Fife is a blogger, writer, and fan of the law of female-inverse-gun-size (smaller the woman, larger the gun). You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short stories at http://RichardFife.com.

6 comments
Jennifer B
1. JennB
I don't think Book would have participated in the heist as distraction or getaway driver.

One of the reasons I didn't really care for the comic.
j p
2. sps49
Book was really preaching to real people. If everything had gone okay, he would've done good.

Stealing the buggy, though? I got nothin'.

Ott had the drop on Our Guys, so the odds were likely not high enough for success to try resisting. Mal is not the type to calmly place himself or his people at someone else's mercy, so he improved the odds with an unexpected move.

Comic book art of real people is NEVER accurate, Rickroller. Never!

And I don't remember Agent Whatsisname well enough from his previous appearance. Gotta go re-rewatch....
james loyd
3. gaijin
Book was clearly perturbed about having to ride to the rescue, but I got more of a "Stop forcing me to demonstrate my REAL priorities" vibe from it.

Whether he knew the specifics beforehand or figured it out when the alarm went off, he had to know they had taken a "job" on Constance otherwise why stop there? He probably thought he might counteract some of their mischief by preaching there.
Jason Kuhlmann
4. Browncoat Jayson
R.Fife: "Thus far, the only time Mal has kowtowed and given up loot has been to the Alliance, and then when he very clearly had no choice, speaking of course about “Bushwhacked.” Here, he has the option to fight to keep his coin and he just gives it up."

Actually, he did the same thing with Patience in the Pilot; gave back the money when she drew on him, then took exception and took it back. The only thing here was that he didn't have the opportunity to reacquire the loot.

Loved seeing the crew in comic form tho, even if it was a little distorted. The images were much improved in "Better Days".
Richard Fife
5. R.Fife
@4 Browncoat Jayson

I actually thought about Patience, (afterall, that's her moon the Blue-Hands are on), but I discounted that as him completely giving up. He knew that if Patience betrayed him, she wouldn't let him walk away. And he knew she was going to betray him, thus why Jayne took out the sniper(s). The shoot-out, etc, was all part of his controlled plan.

Although, it does make me remember one odd thing. Why is it Zoe apparently had bullet-proof armor of some sort, yet never in the rest of the series do we see anything similar (that at least gets used).
Neon Sequitur
7. Neon Sequitur
Another episode in which Mal's first instinct was to run away: Heart of Gold. And he wasn't the least bit ashamed to make that call either. But he changed his mind without flinching when Mandy (was that her name?) explained she wasn't leaving.

It seems to me that while Mal is quite willing to steal, he'd rather do it without a fight, and when he does fight, it's due to his principles, rather than greed. Hence the twins' confusion in the movie.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment