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Old January 6 2009, 05:35 PM   #1
Magisterfrodo
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Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

This may have been discussed here before, but I just watched the Firely series and Serenity movie for the first time over the holidays, and I noticed a couple of apparent contradictions, so I wanted to see what others had to say.

I absolutely loved the series, but I have mixed feelings about the movie. For one thing, it just didn't seem as fun as the TV show.
I thought, particularly, that the captain as a lot more harsh and less noble figure than in the show, especially regarding his crew.

As far as contradictions go, I noticed two:

1. In the show the captain, after rescuing Simon & River from being burned at the stake, tells Simon that he's part of his crew, and he'd have done the same for any of them. In the movie, the captain says that River and Simon are not a part of his crew.

2. In the TV show, the doctor says that he paid some guys to get River out of the treatment facility via cryo. In the movie, he rescues her himself (which I found completely unbelieveable).

Thoughts?
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Old January 6 2009, 05:36 PM   #2
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Oops - mods, could someone move this to the SCI-FI & Fantasy forum?
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Old January 6 2009, 06:05 PM   #3
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

For the first contradiction, it could just be a thing that Simon was getting on Mal's nerves, and he was just making a point that he can make them go away at any time. For the second one, we could just easily interpret Simons in-series statements as, "I paid someone to get me into the compound and provide me with an escape plan."
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Old January 6 2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

There's something implied in the comic Better Days as to why Mal might be a bit extra pissed off with Simon too
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Old January 6 2009, 07:38 PM   #5
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

I just prefer to take the point of view that, in order for Mal to have a character arc in the movie, they had to quietly ignore all the character development he had over the series. It's jarring, but what are you going to do? Though his short-temperedness is explained in the movie by suggesting they're going through a very rough patch, and having a lot of trouble finding enough work to keep the ship gassed up and the crew fed.

And don't talk to me about Better Days. It was fun, but it had no shortage of problems.
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Old January 6 2009, 07:48 PM   #6
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

I did think about their situaiton as being a good explanation for his poor demeanor in the movie. The problem, of course, is that a) Serenity was meant to stand alone, so you didn't really get to know the "real" Mal, and b) since it pervades nearly the entire movie, it betrays one of the strengths of the TV show.
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Old January 6 2009, 08:48 PM   #7
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

One theory put forth when the movie first came out was Mal's character and demeanor in the film was closer to Joss's original vision of Mal. Fox wanted him "cuddlier" on the series, therefore, more humor.
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Old January 6 2009, 08:53 PM   #8
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Interesting. If true, that might be a rare example where Fox made a good decision regarding the series, though I would hardly call Mal "cuddly".
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Old January 6 2009, 09:05 PM   #9
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Magisterfrodo wrote: View Post
1. In the show the captain, after rescuing Simon & River from being burned at the stake, tells Simon that he's part of his crew, and he'd have done the same for any of them. In the movie, the captain says that River and Simon are not a part of his crew.
No, I think what Mal said was that they are part of his crew, but only so long as Mal says they are. Which does seem to contradict the sentiment, but people's sentiments and attitudes can change. As others said above, Mal's in a darker place in the movie. Personally, I don't see that as a contradiction, because he'd lost Inara, whom he secretly loved, and Book, who kept him morally grounded. Without their mollifying, civilizing influences, Mal lost his way.

2. In the TV show, the doctor says that he paid some guys to get River out of the treatment facility via cryo. In the movie, he rescues her himself (which I found completely unbelieveable).
True, what Simon says in the show contradicts what we saw in the movie, but people don't always tell the whole truth. Maybe Simon didn't want to admit that he'd broken her out himself. Maybe he thought that Mal would be less likely to keep Simon onboard if he knew that Simon was capable and devious enough to stage a successful commando raid on an Alliance intelligence facility. So he downplayed his role in River's liberation to make himself seem less threatening. (Though if he'd known Mal better, he might've done the opposite, since Mal would've admired anyone who could pull off such a feat against the Alliance.)


As for Better Days, it's clearly set sometime before Those Left Behind, since Inara and Book are still aboard -- maybe it's even before "Heart of Gold," since there's no mention of Inara wanting to leave. Although since it features the hover-Mule, it would have to be after "War Stories," since I think that was where the original wheeled Mule got wrecked.

My problem with it is the source of their newfound wealth. What I think they should've done was to tie it into "Trash" -- have them get rich by selling the Lassiter pistol they stole. That would've tied up that dangling loose end from the series.
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Old January 6 2009, 09:20 PM   #10
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Christopher wrote: View Post
2. In the TV show, the doctor says that he paid some guys to get River out of the treatment facility via cryo. In the movie, he rescues her himself (which I found completely unbelieveable).
True, what Simon says in the show contradicts what we saw in the movie, but people don't always tell the whole truth. Maybe Simon didn't want to admit that he'd broken her out himself. Maybe he thought that Mal would be less likely to keep Simon onboard if he knew that Simon was capable and devious enough to stage a successful commando raid on an Alliance intelligence facility. So he downplayed his role in River's liberation to make himself seem less threatening. (Though if he'd known Mal better, he might've done the opposite, since Mal would've admired anyone who could pull off such a feat against the Alliance.)
I don't buy this justification. Simon's characterization throughout the series was never one of an action hero like he's portrayed in Serenity. I don't see why he would lie about this detail, either. It just strikes me as inconsistent.

Which isn't as bad as the safe-word plot device, which would have come in infinitely handy during the series at a half-dozen instances, but of course never comes up because Whedon didn't conceive of this convenience until he needed it to advance the plot in Serenity.

Mal's behavior has already been mentioned. Doesn't strike me as consistent with the series (even if you throw in Those Left Behind--I haven't read Better Days and it looks like I'll be steering clear of it).

And its a minor detail, but the fact that Jewel Staite lost so much weight before the movie deflates some of the charm the character of Kaylee had in the series for me.
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Old January 6 2009, 09:42 PM   #11
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

^ To be fair she didn't lose the weight, she put on the weight for the role originally. And I can't say I notice a difference from TV-film anyway
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Old January 6 2009, 09:53 PM   #12
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

I don't think there's any direct contradiction between how Simon said he got River out in the series and what we saw in the movie. He simply omitted the fact that he was the one that went in after her while those "others" he paid to help him are the ones that got him out. In fact we see in the movie a ship come and hoist them out of that shaft and there's no way he could have just walked in there on his own, it's clear that he had a considerable amount of help.

As for Mal's character, he's clearly slid back into a similar rut he was in during the pilot, thanks mostly the the departure of Inara and the increasing pressure of keeping his ship in the air. As the movie goes on things just get worse (specifically the wholesale slaughter of just about every friend and ally he had left), so he's hardly going to cheer up along the way. Nevertheless there are a few moments of levity, so it's still the same Mal.
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Old January 6 2009, 10:02 PM   #13
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Moved to Sci Fi & Fantasy!
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Old January 6 2009, 10:45 PM   #14
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post
I don't buy this justification. Simon's characterization throughout the series was never one of an action hero like he's portrayed in Serenity.
No one has an absolutely consistent "characterization" in every situation. There's a huge difference between being an "action hero" and being willing to do whatever it takes to save the person you love most in all the 'verse. How many stories have been told about unlikely heroes stepping up and exceeding their normal limits to save their loved ones?

I don't see why he would lie about this detail, either.
He didn't lie, he just spoke ambiguously. He said "I paid people to break River out." That's an entirely true statement; as we saw, he did have help from others in the breakout. It's just not the complete truth.

It just strikes me as inconsistent.
Of course it is. The point is that it's an acceptable inconsistency. Fiction isn't about documenting an alternate reality in absolutely perfect detail. It's about telling stories. Continuity is a tool for storytelling, but like any tool, you need to know where and how to apply it -- or hold back on its use -- to get the optimal result. Yes, it is a slight reinterpretation of the character and his backstory, but the necessity for some reinterpretation should be self-evident. Serenity couldn't be just a continuation of the TV series; it had to be able to stand on its own as a self-contained story for new viewers. Storytelling in a feature film has to be concise and efficient. Simon was a central character in the story to be told; the people he hired to break River out were not. Therefore, it was dramatically necessary to retcon things so that Simon was the focus of the breakout scene. It would've been overly complicated, confusing, and unsatisfying to present it in a way that was slavishly faithful to the implications of a single line in the series pilot. Reimagining the event was a logical storytelling choice, and it was the correct storytelling choice. Storytellers have the right to change their minds when it makes for a better story.

Which isn't as bad as the safe-word plot device, which would have come in infinitely handy during the series at a half-dozen instances, but of course never comes up because Whedon didn't conceive of this convenience until he needed it to advance the plot in Serenity.
Maybe, but there's nothing bad about that. Writers always come up with new ideas as they go. Any work in progress is subject to change. After all, if a writer never came up with anything new after the initial creation of a series, then where would the creativity be?

Besides, when in Firefly would the safeword have been useful? When in Firefly did River go berserk and pose a danger to the people around her? The only time she was "triggered" was in "War Stories," and there her actions helped the crew (and the only witness was Kaylee).

And surely you can't believe that Simon would be at all casual about using a safeword that would shut his beloved sister down like a robot. Do you have any idea how much that would humiliate and dehumanize her, and how much it would remind Simon of the horrible things that were done to her? There is no way he would ever, ever use it -- let alone tell anyone else about it -- unless there were absolutely no other choice. He loves River far too much.

Mal's behavior has already been mentioned. Doesn't strike me as consistent with the series (even if you throw in Those Left Behind--I haven't read Better Days and it looks like I'll be steering clear of it).
Like I said -- no human being is absolutely consistent in his or her behavior. We all change in different circumstances. Sometimes we behave in seemingly contradictory ways. I know I do.
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Old January 6 2009, 11:08 PM   #15
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Re: Contradictions between Firefly series & Serenity

Magisterfrodo wrote: View Post
This may have been discussed here before, but I just watched the Firely series and Serenity movie for the first time over the holidays, and I noticed a couple of apparent contradictions, so I wanted to see what others had to say.

I absolutely loved the series, but I have mixed feelings about the movie. For one thing, it just didn't seem as fun as the TV show.
I thought, particularly, that the captain as a lot more harsh and less noble figure than in the show, especially regarding his crew.

As far as contradictions go, I noticed two:

1. In the show the captain, after rescuing Simon & River from being burned at the stake, tells Simon that he's part of his crew, and he'd have done the same for any of them. In the movie, the captain says that River and Simon are not a part of his crew.
Mal's a volatile and sometimes irrational character. I think something happened between "Objects in Space" and Serenity that caused a major rift between them. But he obviously doesn't really feel like they're not his crew, since his first reaction to River going crazy was to take her back aboard.

2. In the TV show, the doctor says that he paid some guys to get River out of the treatment facility via cryo. In the movie, he rescues her himself (which I found completely unbelieveable).
Obviously Simon was holding back so that they'd underestimate him if he ever needed to get out.

The contradiction that bothered me was how incredibly different the cargo bay in the film looked compared to the series, and the fact that the dining room in the film was elevated above the deck of the hallways whereas it had been lowered beneath it in the series.
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