River's Condition *Movie & Show Spoilers*
Thursday, December 8, 2005

If you have not seen the Serenity movie, read no further.

In the movie Serenity on Miranda after watching the recording by the rescue team scientist, River vomits then states she is 'better'. I don't think this means she was cured of her condition, but the part of her that was affected by the nightmares from the images from the minds of the parliament leaders was resolved. Everything else that was done to her still affects her.

River was the subject of a series of experiments where she had her brain pathways modified and special condition training programmed in her mind. They cut off her ability to suppress emotions. Her psychic abilities were enhanced. River was still traumatized by all the experiments performed on her. The Miranda images were accidental.

River psychic abilities are still wild, she does not have complete control over them. She has demonstrated three different type of psychic skills. First and most important, there is reading the current thoughts and emotions of a person. This is demonstrated several times in the series and in the movie. There is the ability to read the psyche or memories of someone. This is shown quite well with her reading Badger in 'Shindig' and with the mute girl Ruby and the town Patron in 'Safe'. Also she can sense events happening near her. In 'Out of Gas' she said Fire just before the explosion and fire in the engine room. This may have been just heightened senses not a psychic precognition, where she felt the engine start to fail.

In 'Objects in Space' her abilities are a part of the story. She senses the bounty hunter Jubal Early close to Serenity and reacts by searching the ship and reading all the crew. She reads a secret or emotion from each person on board except for Kaylee. Then she ends up on the floor of the cargo bay picking up an object, a stick in her mind, but in reality a loaded large caliber pistol.

There is much speculation on how she got the gun in the first place, Mal blames Jayne for leaving a loaded unsecured weapon where River can get it. Jayne is blameless in this instance.

In 'War Stories', Book is handing out weapons to Simon and Kaylee from a locker in the back corner of the cargo bay. I think this is where River got the weapon. At first I thought she may have kept the gun she used in 'War Stories' but the gun was different and she would have been spotted sooner carrying it through the ship.

I agree with the thought River sensed a threat in Early and went into defensive combat mode, searching out the threat and arming herself. Just before she picks up the stick/gun an overhead shot shows the deck littered with leaves and branches, I think this symbolizes the weapons and ammunition in the locker in the cargo bay. The crack of the stick may represent her loading the gun which got Mal's attention who was on the catwalk above talking with Inara.

River's combat mode is like a possession, where the normal River psyche (if you can call her normal) is suppressed into a dream state. The interaction with the crew and her friends allowed her normal psyche to push back and turn off the combat mode programming even though she was not aware of it being active.

At the end of the movie River is more cogent but even with out being haunted by the Miranda images anymore, she is still a complex, scarred and traumatized person. So is she cured? I don't think so.


Thursday, December 8, 2005 2:51 PM


I agree. Future installments of the show wouldn't work if River was completely "cured." She'd be so powerful, there would be no problem she couldn't solve with complete ease. What fun would that be?

Since we can assume that Whedon was still hoping for sequels when he created the movie, I don't think he would actually cure River.


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2005 December