How Did Mal Miss....Twice?

UPDATED: Monday, January 8, 2007 00:48
VIEWED: 2009
PAGE 1 of 1

Sunday, January 7, 2007 3:06 AM


In Serenity, the pilot, Malcolm drew his pistol and shot the Fed right in the head.

In Serenity, the movie, he had two opportunities to kill the Operative, but both times he shot him in the chest which was protected by body armor.

He could have even shot him in the legs, or keecaps to wound and disable, or the head to kill, but he didn't. Why not?


Sunday, January 7, 2007 5:10 AM


Well number 1, the first time Mal shot the Operative in the training house he didn't know he was wearing armor so he didn't go for a head shot. The second time he shot, in Mr. Universe's generator room, it was an old fashioned wild west duel. Mal didn't have time to aim properly, plus the fact that the Operative deflected his successive shots with the armor on his arms. The only shot that he had on the Fed in the Pilot was to the head so that is what he had to take.


Sunday, January 7, 2007 5:42 AM


There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Originally posted by Redlava:
The only shot that he had on the Fed in the Pilot was to the head so that is what he had to take.

That's correct. Any other shot in that situation would have endangered River.

I think it is the natural inclination to go for a heart shot first, then Mal's follow-up shots the second time he faced the Operative were deflected by the armor on his forearms.

wo men ren ran zai fei xing.


Sunday, January 7, 2007 5:46 AM


I agree with ecgordon. Mal was a trained soldier, and soldiers are trained to aim for the center of body mass. That gives the highest probablility of a hit.

In the case of the generator room scene, that would go double since it was a quick-draw, shoot from the hip situation. Even so, I can almost hear Mal thinking, "Gorramn it, I forgot about that damn body armor!"

I'm pointin' right at it!


Sunday, January 7, 2007 6:53 AM


that always bothered me too. i think you guys are making good points, but it still seems like by the end the operative was pretty much just cowering there, and mal could have walked up, put the gun to his head, and dropped him. maybe not, but that still feels to me like hte one (1) time in the movie where someone did something unrealistic/dumb to advance plot (or rather, advance awesome fight scene).

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Sunday, January 7, 2007 8:39 AM


America loves a winner!


maybe not, but that still feels to me like hte one (1) time in the movie where someone did something unrealistic/dumb to advance plot (or rather, advance awesome fight scene).

Far more unrealistic, I thought, was when they were on the transmitting platform, and the Operative ran his sword through Mal's midsection. You catch a glimps of it in the final version, but in the preview version, it was more graphic, with Mal taking the sword out, and then continuing to fight.

A nerve cluster being re-located was a nice twist , but having Mal run clean through w/ a sword, then pulling it out, then carrying on w/ the fight , not to mention making it back up to the rest of the crew...... that was a bit much. I'm glad Joss at least edited it down some.

People love a happy ending. So every episode, I will explain once again that I don't like people. And then Mal will shoot someone. Someone we like. And their puppy. - Joss

" They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself. "


Sunday, January 7, 2007 10:57 AM


DonCoat's right--Mal was an Independence soldier, and soldiers are trained to aim for center-mass. Why? If you hit center mass, many (militarily) good things happen: the sternum shatters, spraying bone fragments (in addition to the lead of the bullet) into the target's chest cavity, increasing the chance of killing the target; the guy falls down, so if by some miracle he lives you can aim more carefully on your second shot; you might drill him right through the heart (which is not, contrary to popular opinion, on the left side of the chest, but closer to dead center; if you're really lucky, you might even sever the spinal column. But let's say you aim for center-mass, and for some reason, your aim is thrown off by three inches. No problem here: instead of an of the aforementioned affects you might still hit the heart; you might hit a lung; you could sever an artery; you could make a rib explode into a lung; you'll definitely still knock him down, and you still have a reasonable shot at killing him. Let's say you miss by a full foot--you still have a better-than-even chance of hitting the target, and you might even scramble his intestines while you're at it. So even if he tries moving his torso out of the way, or if your aim is thrown off, you're still going to at least wound him.

The head, on the other hand, is a whole other deal. Miss three inches from the center of the head, and your bullet whizzes through empty air. Plus the head moves a lot faster than the torso, so if it's moving, hitting it is going to be pretty difficult. Aiming at the head is a bad way to fight, CounterStrike and all those special operations movies notwithstanding. Hell, even the best of our military still trains their operators to put two in the chest before they aim for the head--and those are the guys who shoot thousands of rounds a week in training. Is Mal accurate enough to shoot someone in the head? Obviously: he hit Dobson. But would he have done that if it weren't the only option available to him? Hell no--you take the sure thing.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007 5:19 PM



Originally posted by AURaptor:
the Operative ran his sword through Mal's midsection.

Didn't the sword go through his leg though? 'Cause then he is kinda limping after that too. I would also think that he wouldn't be able to fight very well if he had just been stabbed there...

Love keeps her in the air when she outta fall down, tells you she's hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.


Sunday, January 7, 2007 5:35 PM


You think you know--what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun.

No, he was certainly stabbed through the side of his midsection; you can see him holding the wound closed with his hand as he limps out of the elevator. I have no idea what to think about the realism of him continuing to fight with a wound like that, but I've heard of people fighting with broken arms or fingers, etc. Maybe adrenalin? I don't know.



Sunday, January 7, 2007 7:56 PM


Or simply the fact that he took it through the flesh and it happened to miss vital organs/arteries, etc. As long as someone has a semi-decent clotting factor, surviving such and still being able to carry on in limited fashion, is not completely out of the range of possibility. Though, I'm certain it wouldn't tickle.

I think there are always going to be situations and circumstances in stories where a certain suspension of disbelief is required. Or at least consideration of the fact that such situations and circumstances can have a multitude of possible outcomes based on millions of minuscule factors, that really have nothing at all to do with the way in which a writer is advancing the storyline.

The reason Mal missed his head is because it was written that way so that the threat would continue to drive the story. There are million ways in which one can suggest it makes no sense and a million ways one can reconcile "why" it worked out that way if one cares to.

If one really wants to ponder impossible situations, discuss how in 1972, Vesna Vulovic became the only survivor of the terrorist bombing of the plane she was a stewardess on (Yugoslav flight 364) when the seat she was strapped to tumbled 33,000 feet to a mountainside. (Guiness World Record holder - Longest fall survived without a parachute)

If this is possible, I guess it isn't hard to imagine how one might muddle through a little sword-in-the-gut.

Sometimes, life stretches credulity even farther than make-believe.


Sunday, January 7, 2007 10:41 PM


In movies you always shoot the bad guy in the chest & then find out the bad guy has body armour,every movie.

Things are about to get interesting...Define interesting...Oh GOD oh GOD we're all going to die.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007 11:27 PM


The issue with the sword is not that hard to believe, people can do amazing feats when they have too, and a certain amount of luck is needed. There was a local story when I was young in the newspapers of this kid who fell out of a tree onto a fence and impaled himself on a fence spike which broke of the fence, he walked three miles with this spike running right through him (missing most of his major organs) to the nearest road where he could flag down help(close on an hour after the original fall.) now maybe he wouldn't have survived a sword fight with the wound but then he was only 12, when they interviewed him he said that when it first happened he wanted to collapse and cry but realised if he did he would never get up therefore he knew if he wanted to survive he had to keep moving, by the time an ambulance was called he was simply moving on pure survival instinct.

all that said you have to balance this out with the fact that there are others who have been hospitalised by tripping over their laces, there is no such thing as a dead cert. in biology.
Together we will triumph.


Monday, January 8, 2007 12:30 AM


When he drew down on the fed he was at a greater distance to aim and shoot. The situation called for quick and deadly shot due to the Reavers are in hot pursuit. Now when he drawed on the operative in the training house it had to be quick in the chest and gone. Body armor who knew. In Mr Universe's pad the operative was ready and Mal had to get going. Mal also was shot on that side so elevating his arm up for a head shot must have extremely painfull and more inaccurate so a quick burst to the mid section.

"Battle of Serenity, Mal. Besides Zoe here, how many-" "I'm talkin at you! How many men in your platoon came out of their alive".


Monday, January 8, 2007 12:48 AM


I agree w/ all the above posts. Center-mass is generally considered a kill shot (or at least disabling) and drilled into soldiers. Also, as mentioned before, both the operative shots were quick-draw from the hip, torso shot is the only way to go unless one is a marksman who spends hours a day practicing the shot. While the shot on Dobson was fairly quick, Mal had time to get his pistol out, arm fully extended, and aim to avoid hitting River.

P.s. Read the comic to see how that accuracy thing turned out w/ Dobson.

I once hit a guy in the neck from 500 yards with a bent scope. Don't that count upstairs?






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