FIREFLY EPISODE DISCUSSIONS

Companions 'Gilded Cage'

POSTED BY: BYTEMITE
UPDATED: Monday, December 20, 2010 22:47
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Thursday, February 25, 2010 3:00 PM

BYTEMITE


Or maybe "Guilded Cage." http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IncrediblyLamePun

With a nod to Chrisisall for his excellent discussion recently, there have been emails flying back and forth over sub topics of the issue he brought up, and he said I could split off a new thread.

Specifically, we've discussed how WE feel about the profession, that that seems incomplete without discussing how the most prominent example we have of that profession HERSELF feels about it. Does she REALLY like it? Are there parts that trouble her? Does she have other options? Does she wish she did?

AnotherSky said this about Inara:

"The character just feels so trapped--if not by the "bird in a gilded cage" cliche, then by her pulling-teeth relationship with Mal, her relationship with her "secret", her relationship with the past contacts we see, her relationship with herself. Being amazing and being happy aren't fairy-tale-style mutually exclusive, but they are not mutually inclusive either. Something, possibly many things about her are played "not happy" (I can't say I'm privy to which), and she is also doing her darndest to deny it. And that hurts to see."

Some of us have already been discussing this (emails!) but thoughts?

See the original thread here:

http://www.fireflyfans.net/mthread.asp?b=2&t=41888



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Friday, February 26, 2010 8:02 AM

MINCINGBEAST


A really interesting question, or set of questions, frustrated by the paucity of the evidence. An initial caveat: we know so little about the canon Inara, and are so unlikely to learn more, that the best we can do is come up with an answer that satisfies our biases about the character, and is consistent with what little we know about the her. I recognize that this is stating the obvious.

It's hard to say if she really likes her work. She obviously takes pride in it, or at least the status that accompanies it--or maybe all of the effort that it took to become a companion.

I find it difficult to believe, however, that someone who was truly 100% invested in being a companion would board Serenity in the first place. That, and the occasional off-hand comment (for example, Are these my people? in Shindig) suggset some measure of dissatisfaction with her life--and does she have a life outside of her work? For whatever reason, companion training strikes me as incompatible with a relection and an interior life--its about control, not navel gazing.

We know that she was formerly extremely ambitious, and set on becoming the next high priestess, so it seems there's been a shift in her attitude towards her job at some point. I prefer to think of her current attitude as ambivalent.


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Friday, February 26, 2010 9:13 AM

BYTEMITE


She does tend to philosophize, doesn't she? Gillian Rose had a few things to say about that, I think I'll let her elaborate when she gets here.

If we assume that Inara's current interest in the profession (what she gets any degree of enjoyment out of) is mostly as a kind of mystic healer, then there's a lot within the profession that could be considered superfluous. There's also the suggestion that perhaps the rich people she services don't have the same troubles as people fighting for their lives day-to-day. Maybe.

It could be that while helping people gives her some fulfillment, it's the how that's the problem. It could be that the only source of pride she has in the profession is as a source of Independence (and I capitalized that for a reason). And if she feels like she doesn't have many other options, that plus not liking other aspects of the profession could be why she gets defensive.

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Friday, February 26, 2010 9:57 AM

MINCINGBEAST


perhaps independence, and accomplishment? becoming a companion is no mean feat--consider how nandi washed out--let alone being a companion talented enough to be considered a serious candidate for high priestess at some point. few make it that far, and it would only be fitting to look back at all of your sacrifices and training and feel a sense of pride.

being a companion must grant inara a lot of independence, financially at least, but ultimately, she is dependent on the guild. or at least the infrastructure of the guild, and all of its rituals and conventions, licensing requirements, etc... i could imagine that becoming stiffling after a certain point.

also, i may as well address the hulking elephant in the room: sex. thinking that inara enjoys the trappings of profession, and the mystic/healer elements is one thing--and kind of my take on it--but it also evades the fact that she, not to put it delicately, humps for a living. would anybody advance a claim that she really enjoys the sexual elements of the profession? i'm not sure that would be inconsistent with her character, but would it be troubling? is that something a companion is supposed to do?

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Friday, February 26, 2010 11:08 AM

BYTEMITE


I'm not sure Nandi washed out, she seems to be older than Inara, and I doubt she was a kid when she replaced the bastard who used to run the Heart of Gold.

Part of the reason I posted this thread is to ask if Inara DOESN'T like the sex-for-money thing. Look at the few times we see her. Very modest in the pilot, if at all, and one time in the comic books when she's actively fantasizing about something else while with a client.

The thing she seems to get most defensive about her profession is being called a whore.

I've said it before, but I think Inara is meant to be something of a mirror for Mal. I think Mal has a lot of rogue in him, and in a way he's still rebelling against the government, but ultimately I think the stealing and killing people bothers him, makes him think he's a bad man. So if I'm right, that means that Inara must in some ways find her own profession a little demeaning and that it lessens her self worth. Maybe both characters try to deny this on the surface, which is why the "petty thief" and the "whore" insults hit them so much harder than any of the others.

Is that something a companion is supposed to do? No, I don't think so. it would distract from the job.

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Friday, February 26, 2010 11:30 AM

MINCINGBEAST


very nice point, byte--perhaps inara wouldn't be bothered so much by the captain's insistence on calling her a whore if she didn't occasionally feel like a whore? perhaps she gets frustrated with the reductivist view of her profession--no matter what she has to offer, her 'verse is probably full of jerks like me who point out that inara has sex for money. so do whores.

however we frame it, that isa t the core of her profession. but if it truly bothered her, i imagine there are other careers that would give her ample opportunity to practice her hot-looking-mystical-healer routine. But really, we don't know what kinds of options inara, or any companion, has--if its the kind of life that you can leave.

agreed that mal and inara are mirrors, and that there is something almost...debased..about them. mal makes his living with violence, and doesn't take pride in it. inara makes her living with sex, and is in my read at least, ambivalent about it. perhaps they both feel trapped by circumstances--mal's cage isn't gilded, though.

side note: nandi washed out in the sense that either she couldn't handle companion training (that damned dulcimer) or the companion lifestyle. being a dear friend of inara, that may suggest she shares some of her friend's dissatisfaction?

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Friday, February 26, 2010 11:53 AM

BYTEMITE


Nandi: I think it might.

Quote:

but if it truly bothered her, i imagine there are other careers that would give her ample opportunity to practice her hot-looking-mystical-healer routine.


Hmm. Are there? Teacher, maybe. Or maybe her taking up vows as a buddhist monk. Neither of which I think would allow her to support herself. Which seems to be important, that whole idea of Independence. Perhaps she's still a little dependent on the guild, at least for respectability, but ultimately this allows her to earn her own living.

And in regards to options... I'm not sure she has any. Defending her profession could be less pride, and more trying to protect the last thing she has. Very similar to Mal protecting the symbol of his own Independence.

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Friday, February 26, 2010 3:48 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
Nandi: I think it might.

Quote:

but if it truly bothered her, i imagine there are other careers that would give her ample opportunity to practice her hot-looking-mystical-healer routine.


Hmm. Are there? Teacher, maybe. Or maybe her taking up vows as a buddhist monk. Neither of which I think would allow her to support herself. Which seems to be important, that whole idea of Independence. Perhaps she's still a little dependent on the guild, at least for respectability, but ultimately this allows her to earn her own living.

And in regards to options... I'm not sure she has any. Defending her profession could be less pride, and more trying to protect the last thing she has. Very similar to Mal protecting the symbol of his own Independence.



I like your last point. It maybe the only thing Inara has left.

Something (we're not sure what according to canon)made her leave the " security" of Shinon and a "respectable" life as Companion and she's ended up on a tramp spaceship roaming the Rim without the protection of the Guild.

Just like Mal.

http://fireflyfaninnc.livejournal.com/








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Friday, February 26, 2010 3:51 PM

GILLIANROSE


I don't see Inara hating her job, or shying away/prohibiting herself from enjoying sex with clients (at times, obviously some are going to be more to her liking than others). When Kaylee asks about the "romance" as Inara's preparing to meet Fess Higgins, Inara smiles, cheerfully it seems to me, and replies that she hopes so.

It's maybe a tricky thing to face squarely, that Inara is a sex worker. She's so cultured, sophisticated, highly intelligent and educated, so strongly moral - presented, all around, as an admirable character, despite being beheld by an audience that largely does not esteem sex workers. But if the show had continued I think Joss would have pushed the audience a bit, had us go through stories where Inara surprised us, where the reality of Companion work was not so comfortable, where it wouldn't be so easy to identify with Inara.

I also don't see Inara loving her job, relishing going on with her profession. Maybe at one point she did - maybe early in her training she fell deeply in love with the arts, the history, the ritual, the culture around Companions. Maybe the world of study and pursuit of excellence in these areas was very fulfilling to her, and she imagined that she would feel that way for her entire career. Perhaps that is why she was in some consideration for eventual House Mother. We know from Joss' writing that Companions can and do retire and go on to significant careers in other areas. Maybe Inara, in those early years, never imagined wanting anything more than a life inside the Guild, surrounded by its rich heritage and by her Sisters as well. But things change, people change - and nobody has to be at fault - and she has a different set of feelings and priorities now. The example I gave when I emailed Bytemite was, imagine Inara was a graduate or postgraduate student/researcher at a very prestigious university. She loves the place, has worked very hard to get there, finds it beautiful and stimulating, and at that point she dreams of becoming a full professor, department chair, dean, spending her entire career within the university. After say, 10 years, she might still love and respect her university and all it has to offer - but might not feel it offers enough for her, for the rest of her life.

I was also wondering about what we see Inara taking complete and unabashed joy in. I don't see it often - she has this core of reserve and even solemnity.

Disclaimer: this little reply window bedevils me. I find it very hard to go back and reread to see if I am being cogent. So if I am not, please forgive me.

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Friday, February 26, 2010 4:20 PM

BYTEMITE


No, it's good. No problems.

I actually am perfectly fine with the sex worker thing, and so long as she's not getting herself hit and she's not being forced, I figure that's her business. I don't imagine she used to get many snide comments back in the core, and any case, she doesn't take any disrespect. I can admire the kind of strength that entails.

I went back and checked the Jaynestown script, no real hint of sadness underneath "hopes for glamourous (paid) romance." It could be more of a general thing, or maybe regrets come after the engagements. Not saying she should be ashamed, but if she is, it probably hits her when she doesn't have to be composed for anyone. She has remarkable control over her emotions and expressions.



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Saturday, February 27, 2010 3:47 AM

GILLIANROSE


I don't think Inara was regretful at all about Fess Higgins. I felt like he was a nice opposite to the young man we saw in the pilot. They even look similar, but while presumably the other man wasn't a virgin, it's Fess who has the emotional/psychological centeredness not to get hostile about whatever intimacy he revealed.

Maybe it's an aggregate effect. Surely Companions have to know that when they leave the worlds on which the Guild is most established, they are going to encounter a lack of respect and understanding. Maybe Inara, as she was determining to travel for her career, did imagine herself as an ambassador of sorts - interacting with others, showing, by her example, the entirety of what it means to be a Companion. Maybe the (sometimes) bad interactions are more wearisome and hurtful than she had anticipated (and in that way, she works as a mirror for Mal?)

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Saturday, February 27, 2010 6:47 AM

BYTEMITE


She might not have been regretful because she was in the right place at the right time to stop the magistrate from arresting all the members of Serenity and hanging them. But emotionally, I wonder if beyond the healer effect and being momentarily useful if Inara really got anything for herself from Fess Higgins. Did she do another fake/modest orgasm thing? We'll never know, but both clients had probably about the same level of experience and insecurity, just expressed in different ways.

In the pilot episode, Inara was denied even the healer satisfaction, leaving her to wrestle with the insults she got from the kid and Mal, both of which lampshaded the sex for money.

Quote:

Maybe the (sometimes) bad interactions are more wearisome and hurtful than she had anticipated (and in that way, she works as a mirror for Mal?)


Could be.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010 7:32 AM

ANOTHERSKY


Fess is like the exact opposite of the young man in the pilot, whose parting words are to the effect of "I bet your clocks are rigged to cheat us out of our time."
If I remember, he implied the plural--all clients, all companions.

Clearly much resentment at the time-is-money level there.

And then you have Fess, who didn't even hire her--with him, she does get to go through (presumably) her accustomed level of ritual, and also the counseling aspects (that big speech about standing up to his dad). Who knows if she was fufilled as a companion--it's possible she was somewhat gratified by Fess saying no to Boss Higgins the "pig".

But yeah, the not-hanged crew is a huge plus. The tradeoff for that seems to outweigh most other things. That's ALSO what she does, as a Companion, and it seems to be a particular specialty of Inara's personally--talking people into or out of things (mirror aspect again--?)

I'll be back with questions later on tonight. For now, just sayin' nihowdy.
__


Going for a ride.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010 8:31 AM

BYTEMITE


And the kid in the pilot was probably annoyed that Inara had declined his invitation to stay with him permanently. I'm pretty sure his comments about the clock follow right after that.

"Talking people into or out of," also interesting. With Mal, that can be kind of hit and miss with people who aren't under his command, but ultimately I don't think there's a person here who doesn't think Mal isn't charismatic.

The question becomes, are Inara's skills with suggestion and convincing people bound up in her companion status? I think there's a basis of skill there that she would be effective without her status, much like Mal and his captaincy, but her status lends her some authority as well.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010 11:05 AM

GILLIANROSE


The kid in the pilot - I got the definite impression that once he'd gotten his clothes on, he started to reflect on how he'd been with Inara before - how open in his admiration of her, and in his offer to use his father's influence to get her to stay. And I think the memory of his untempered adoration was maybe a source of chagrin to him. That curt "very good," says volumes about what he's thinking about her, maybe about how orchestrated the scenario was.

As far as Fess Higgins, are we to assume that his father contacted Inara and did all of the initial communication? He's so baldly unpleasant! There are a couple of possibilities here: Magistrate Higgins used his money and influence to get his son a place in the Guild registry, and then Fess contacted Inara; Magistrate Higgins made the opening wave, and then Inara and Fess exchanged messages or something; or a lot in between. When Inara first meets the Magistrate, she asks who he is - "Magistrate Higgins, I presume?"; that makes me think she didn't have a wave conversation with him.

I thought the conversation between Fess and Inara was lovely, the difference between a boy and a man. He was reflective, but also listening to her; she was comfortable enough to kid him gently about their time together not being "entirely forgettable."

So, for her part, I would think Inara would have found this engagement to be professionally fulfilling. She's participating in a ritual with Fess, almost like a baptism - but also giving him an opportunity to reflect on what being an adult, a man, means.


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Sunday, February 28, 2010 3:16 PM

BYTEMITE


So if we assume that Fess and the first kid are the flip sides of the same engagement, and Inara came away from that one satisfied, what would it have taken for Inara to feel bad about the engagement? Were elements of that already present?

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Monday, March 1, 2010 6:17 PM

ANOTHERSKY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
So if we assume that Fess and the first kid are the flip sides of the same engagement, and Inara came away from that one satisfied, what would it have taken for Inara to feel bad about the engagement? Were elements of that already present?



I'll get back to this, but I'm going to get really concrete here.

What things CAN we say that Inara dislikes about her job?

(always start with the cons, not just the petty ones...)

__

Going for a ride.

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Monday, March 1, 2010 6:43 PM

BYTEMITE


I see what you did there! But it's actually more like "bound five times but never convicted." Mal doesn't even have any war crimes in his record, despite pretty much being field promoted to commanding officer of the most brutal battle of the entire war.

Um, she doesn't seem to like it when she's considered the "possession" of whoever paid money at the time. Like Atherton, whose offer for her to stay kind of was similar to the first kid. I think she must get that a lot.

And she doesn't like it said or implied that she's a whore, or that the experience she offers is spiritually cheap, or that anything about it is money driven.

She doesn't like to be personally insulted.

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Monday, March 1, 2010 6:48 PM

BYTEMITE


EDIT: No, nevermind, Inara came back pretty smug about convincing Fess to lift the landlock. But we didn't see her after that and I have no doubt the magistrate would have waved and happy feelings gone. So long as the subscriber in question (and I get the feeling that the Magistrate is the one who paid for the engagement) doesn't have a black mark with the guild, and being that Inara is so far from any Houses, she probably has to do her own customer service and handle complaints.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 12:15 PM

ANOTHERSKY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
EDIT: No, nevermind, Inara came back pretty smug about convincing Fess to lift the landlock. But we didn't see her after that and I have no doubt the magistrate would have waved and happy feelings gone. So long as the subscriber in question (and I get the feeling that the Magistrate is the one who paid for the engagement) doesn't have a black mark with the guild, and being that Inara is so far from any Houses, she probably has to do her own customer service and handle complaints.



What I'd like to know about Fess is if they spoke before the engagement(ie via wave). I don't think so, because unless her "Magistrate Higgins, I presume" is just to show that he is not a repeat, remembered client, she may not actually have seen either of them. Just followed the cue of the fancy clothes and big-man swagger?
But if Inara can hand out a black mark to Atherton Wing as a member of the Guild,(yes I know he didbreak a big rule), surely she can do it to a guy on a backwater moon, even it's owner.

I think she's probably backed up at distance, too. But the immediate complaints about her performance would go to her.
__


Going for a ride.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 4:32 PM

BYTEMITE


She might have talked to Fess. I can't imagine it's safe to go to an engagement with just a potentially forged psychological profile and no visual confirmation. Dad paid for the subscription, with Fess as the benefactor/client.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 6:01 PM

BYTEMITE


So I guess the determining factor in how someone imagines Inara might feel about her profession is based on how often Inara encounters the irritants/frustrations/depressing stuff I mentioned, and whether it's common enough that the behaviour is a regrettable but inherent part of the profession.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 10:12 AM

MINCINGBEAST


I think the determinative factor in how I imagine Inara relates to her profession is how Inara feels about herself.

If you're right, and Inara is a female mirror of Mal, then there has got to be a little self-loathing in her soul. Whether or not its related to her job, or a larger part of her personality, I don't know enough to say.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 10:44 AM

BYTEMITE


Mal's self loathing is all bound up in Serenity - the war and the people he lost, and now the ship he named after it as self-laceration and the crime he does with it.

I don't see Mal pre-and-during-Serenity Valley as particularly self-loathing. Though who knows? Maybe he's a cheerfully sinful self-loather. Maybe he had some kind of childhood trauma that really screwed him the hell up that his current PTSD built on. Maybe Ma Reynolds didn't hug him enough.

But anyway, from what we can see, those are the two main sources of his self-loathing. The Battle, and his Job.

So Inara might have the job side, but what could be the battle side? Maybe in her past, she's also had some deeply personal battle that she lost. Or maybe she's fighting that battle now, and hating herself for it. Hmm...

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 11:00 AM

MINCINGBEAST


mal's got a real deep martyr streak, which to me suggests a measure of self-loathing. and i think we can relate his martyrdom his life before the war: dude is a volunteer, after all. but i agree that his self-loathing comes down to Serenity Valley and his job. or, more broadly, we could frame it as guilt. he's guilty to be alive, and his work makes him feel like a bad guy.

perhaps inara has a similar dynamic? not necessarily guilt over her job, though perhaps bound up to it? does she feel guilty to be alive, guilty to be in comfort, etc...

just curious: if she were fighting her battle now, what would it be?

also, i like the idea of mal and inara as mirrors, but i think it might ultimately be unfair to only frame "the her" through "the him."


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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 11:45 AM

BYTEMITE


We already kinda have to view Inara through Mal's POV anyway, why not go all the way? And there ARE little things that support the idea that Inara might not be completely happy, and from what I see, it's not the crew, it's not the ship, and it's not necessarily Mal.

And Mal and Inara have enough parallels that I think it justifies analyzing them this way.

Of course, it's also extremely speculative, but I like to think it's intriguing and that as a model for Inara, it could explain some of her behaviour and maybe that whole attraction thing we see.

Guilt to be alive or in comfort, it's an interesting idea. We know Inara supported unification, it could be she's having to come to terms with the suffering of the people on the Rim and blaming herself for supporting that.

And there's her secret, which could be construed as a battle, which she would hate herself for dragging the crew into it.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 1:29 PM

GILLIANROSE


One might think of her as a mirror but not as a perfect mirror - just as Simon and the Operative both function at times as mirrors for Mal, but not in every aspect. Simon, having to leave behind, and/or losing faith in the way of life he grew up with; and the Operative, going through that moment of being hollowed out. So maybe Inara's character reflects back some facets of Mal's character, his experiences and struggles, but not all of them. Because objectively, Inara might be seen to have so many advantages. She's educated, cultured, smart; she's poised and effective socially; she's beautiful and seems to be well-connected. Joss has said that Companions retire and go on to other prestigious professions, so I don't see her being made to stay in the Guild against her wishes. And really, in comparison with the problems of so many of the people in the 'verse, the idea that Inara's "problem" is that her job sometimes bums her out but she doesn't get herself exercised enough to look for another - it doesn't have the same weight. She's a clear-thinking and decisive character. I think whatever the cause is of her solemnity, it's much stickier and more personal than professional. Maybe part of her steadfastness in the face of hostility and provocation is that she's been through something much worse than, say, a threat by Atherton Wing and there is very little that can really scare or hurt her now.

It may well have been something related to the War.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 1:48 PM

BYTEMITE


That's fair to say, and of course considering we don't know much I could definitely take my metaphor too far.

Technically, it seems to me like Mal had a lot of advantages - living on a ranch isn't easy, but it sounds like they had a BIG ranch, which suggests to me they were pretty well off. Plus the dancing and poetry. He downplays it though because it doesn't help him fit in to the life he has now, and the life he has now... pretty much lacks advantages.

I agree, I like the guild, and I don't like Inara being their little slave. I think making them evil from the get-go is a little unfair. Maybe there's a basis in reality, because in modern times sex trade rings aren't at all nice, fluffy, or respectable, but it kind of nice to see a version that tried to eliminate all the bad. If it's going to happen, I think the guild is how I'd like to see it happen.

Interesting you mention the war, Platonist told me once that Joss said that there were terrorist attacks on Sihnon early in the war.

Imagine Inara in a bombshelter, with a building partially collapsed on top of it. Oh! With injured little kids! Poor Inara. :(

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 2:30 PM

MINCINGBEAST


beyond supporting unification (which also supplied Mal with one of his greatest lines "Don't suppose you're the only whore that did"), how personally invested was inara in the war? i have a hard time imagining it having any impact on her life. how much did it touch her? or is it only after her own personal crisis sends her off into the rim on board a seedy Firefly, that she understands what she was supporting? I wonder what it would be like to go from a glittering life on Sihnon to Mal's element, which is essentially, crap.

also, big neato...I really think the idea of indepdendent terrorist attacks has a lot of narrative promise. granted, i've always half-hoped that mal would just go off the deep end and start killing innocents. i sort of dislike inara, in that i see her as one of the few things preventing him from being blowing up innocents. well, that, and his well hidden decency.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 4:39 PM

BYTEMITE


You're not the only one.

(tvtropes warning)

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NobleDemon

Quote:

However, every so often a situation presents itself and he's just not willing to go the extra mile necessary to be completely evil. He'll topple your castle, but he'll do it right after everyone has cleared out first. He'll also be obsessed with explaining this behavior so people don't think he's gone soft.


Mal blurs between a jerk with a heart of gold (though further on the nice side than Jayne) and a noble demon (due to his tendency to make excuses for the good he does). He's also probably a Knight in Sour Armor and a Byronic Hero.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MoralityChain

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The Morality Chain is a character who is the reason another character is Good. Almost always a female love interest or a mother. As long as this person is alive; her target of affection will at the very least be a Noble Demon.

If a Morality Chain were to fall, commit betrayal or get seriously hurt or die, there is nothing to prevent a Face Heel Turn happening so fast and so hard that the unchained character is chopping up his former teammates with gusto before you can say "Neutral Evil". This is more than the Roaring Rampage Of Revenge; everyone has to suffer.



Anyone else here think that if Inara were to die, that Mal would have a pretty good chance of going completely axe-crazy out of grief? Hell, she just leaves for two months and he's about ready to shoot Simon and River and dump the bodies.

Maybe Mal isn't quite so extreme as this, but honestly it's hard to tell sometimes.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 4:41 PM

BYTEMITE


I think the war may have had some effect on her, but seeing the help that the Rim is BLATANTLY not getting that her precious Alliance promised probably is teaching her about her naivity. I think she may be regreting her support now, but she probably sees it more grey, that both sides really weren't good.


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Wednesday, March 3, 2010 11:02 PM

ANOTHERSKY


So I went back and watched the two scenes(the pilot w/the young man, and Jaynestown with Fess) to contrast them...voila:

Pilot

The most notable communication to the audience I think takes place with Joss' ever-important camerawork--he's obsessed with it in the pilot, and mentions it constantly in the commentary.

The number of jump cuts and fuzzes in this is crazy. Even the things young-Alliance-man (can we call him Greycoat? needs a handle!) says are all incomplete. He interrupts himself constantly and trails off. Inara gets to say complete, but generic sentences. Suggestion of a scene, rather than continuous dialogue.

Implications of dialogue we do hear:
1. Inara found Sihnon constricting (for whatever reason)
2. The client seems to have an "everyone's thinking it, I'm just saying it" attitude about the nature of a Companion's work. This is clearly shown to be a no-no.

Summary: This visit was a downer, for both of them. Quite awkward, because he apparently assumed he knew the rules and yet didn't play by them verbally. Meta-companioning. Oops. I would say her body language after he leaves is disappointed/cringing and trying to shake it off.


Jaynestown

1. Inara shows distaste(?) to Magistrate's "I only make the people I own use my title."

The idea of pompously owning people is kinda yucky to her?
She makes clear to Fess that she would come for him (because he's a good man and everything blah blah) but not for his father--we assume because Fess is not crude, domineering, meddlesome and arrogant.

2. the "Ritual"--"Our time together, it symbolizes something for your father". She also says it's important to her, but she emphasizes tea/ritual aspect to counteract his father's physical act emphasis?

I guess they "meet" in Fess, allowing for the plot device of not hanging the crew.


Summary: Stuff goes pretty well.
I'm thinking Inara is feeling like a pretty good mentorish person to Fess, and Fess is feeling very manly (I don't know whether to laugh or gag).

THEN Inara starts gushing to Fess about Mal. Whoa? Can anyone explain what happened there? Protocol? anybody? Lol.

__

Going for a ride.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 3:03 AM

ALIASSE


Wasn't she really young though? I mean, I'm not sure how someone at that age, living in the Core, could have been affected by the war. Unless it's something to do with the terrorist attacks.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 5:25 AM

BYTEMITE


According to Inara's DOB, she's 28 by the time of the series, assuming Joss doesn't have shenanigans going on with her age and Nandi and the guild cleverly playing cover-up. So she'd have been 21. I guess it depends on how badly officers from the war might come back messed up. She might have known people who were good friends who died. There was a draft, so it could have been a little like Vietnam here, where most everyone knew someone who went and who either died or came back changed. And who knows what "supporting unification" means for Inara? Maybe she actively found a way to help, like as a nurse or something, seeing that she does have some basic medical training.

Hmm, that could be a good basis of people who she might think she failed.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 5:39 AM

BYTEMITE


Good assessment, I pretty much agree, even about how kind of over-the-top Fess played his "I'm a man now!" thing.

Of course, by the same measure, in Jaynestown we don't have any Inara internal reaction cut-away shots like we do in the pilot. Maybe Fess didn't commit as big a faux-pas as first greycoat did (BTW, I think the greycoat was to suggest he was an Alliance naval cadet?), but it could be a number of things might have been wearisome for Inara that she never expressed.

And for someone she was supposed to care about, she sure was willing to use him for her own ends and get him in trouble. Sure, as far as we know it turned out okay, and she had a good reason for what she did, but considering her actions there I'm not sure she like him THAT much.

And a similar story with Sanda, the Alliance anti-terrorist special op, who she seems to like despite his worrisome mention of dustdevils, enough that she contacts him again. But during the engagement we know that Inara isn't thinking about him, enough that he notices and calls her on it, so she couldn't have liked him that much either.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 7:38 AM

MINCINGBEAST


i suspect that when inara says she supported unification, she means that she's had carnal relations with lots, and lots and lots, of alliance officers.

the more i think about it, the less inclined i am to frame inara in the war, or put her in the context of her own personal war. that's mal's gig.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 10:25 AM

ANOTHERSKY


originally by Bytemite:
Quote:

And a similar story with Sanda, the Alliance anti-terrorist special op, who she seems to like despite his worrisome mention of dustdevils, enough that she contacts him again. But during the engagement we know that Inara isn't thinking about him, enough that he notices and calls her on it, so she couldn't have liked him that much either.


The interesting thing is, he seems amused by it, or at least is fine with it. Professional distance? lol.


Originally by mincingbeast:
Quote:

i suspect that when inara says she supported unification, she means that she's had carnal relations with lots, and lots and lots, of alliance officers.

the more i think about it, the less inclined i am to frame inara in the war, or put her in the context of her own personal war. that's mal's gig.



Um, yes, agreed. I don't particularly see Inara going all Nightingale on the war effort. I think the only wars she's engaged in is one with herself and possibly some sneaky stuff in the Guild.
__

Going for a ride.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 11:46 AM

BYTEMITE


Well, but why would Joss Whedon SAY that there were terrorist attacks on Sihnon if they didn't somehow effect Inara?

The question is whether the impact for Inara was biological, chemical, or emotional, and whether it put any sort of hardship on her.

But not enough hardship that she really blames and hates the Independents. Or she's mature enough that she's let it go, mostly.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 11:59 AM

GILLIANROSE


There's just an awful lot we don't know about Inara. We don't know about the makeup of her family, her relationships with them, where they lived (I remember reading a story that treats her line about Sihnon, "I was born there," as highly symbolic), if they are still alive, what their socioeconomic/cultural status was - although Morena and Joss have referred to Companioning as a "family" business for Inara.

And we have only a bare outline about Training Houses, Companions-in-Training, and the Guild.

I keep thinking about all of these unknowns when I wonder about how the "devastating" War affected any of our characters, and I also think about one of the commonest descriptions of the American Civil War, that it pitted brother against brother.

And I always interpreted Inara having supported Independence as something much more prosaic than her client history - how well paid are military men, anyway? - something like her registered political affiliation and an absence of controversial remarks and behavior in her public life. I can imagine Inara chatting at a salon or other social function, acknowledging that the Independents bring up some valid points, but that a plan for Unification is most likely to bring the most good to the most people over the next several decades.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010 12:23 PM

BYTEMITE


In the context that Inara talks about supporting Unification, that makes sense. The Alliance is authoritarian, after all, I bet you could be "black-listed" or something if you speak out against current policy when it's already been decided.

I think the Serenity Blue Ray might specifically list her birthplace, and I THINK it was Sihnon. I'll double check. Interesting point, though, Sihnon could be where Inara made her debut, and if she took a trade name then you could say she was born there. It's also interesting considering there she can move in seemingly any social circle, and there are inconsistencies in Inara fitting in among the upper class at times, which might suggest she's not from Sihnon or rich. That's one we've talked about before, but not the "off-Sihnon" possibility.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 5:31 AM

TOADSMOOTHY


I dunno what the big deal is. This seems oddly Puritanical, something she states outright that she is not. She is a full grown woman making a choice of livelihood. She provides a service and is well paid for it. Remember, she offers to pay, out of her ready cash, Mal and the crew to help Nandi. I doubt anyone else on the boat has that kind of scratch. Whether or not whoring is degrading seems to depend on who is in control and she is definately in control of her life. She makes good money, she is highly respected wherever she goes and she doesn't like complications...which is why she was leaving Serenity. Is there a bit of her that regrets not giving in to her feelings for Mal? Perhaps. But not enough to keep her there.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 8:08 AM

BYTEMITE


This is always a fun conversation, one I'm always willing to jump back into.

Quote:

This seems oddly Puritanical


I agree with everything you have to say; there is nothing wrong with Inara's profession or her purpose in practicing it; she's a well-meaning person, and a girl's gotta stand on her own.

The thing about this conversation and the other one is I'm trying to test out the possibility that Inara's character is nuanced. She's one of the more mysterious characters, we don't know everything about her, we don't always know how she's feeling. It seems like she often says one thing but really means and feels another.

Example: she praises Sihnon as "an ocean of light" but seems to actually not have too fond memories of it. This could suggest she's not into all the glitter and glamour that high society goes wild about.

Example: She tells Mal she's not puritanical, congratulates him on finally getting laid, then cries about it when she's alone.

Conclusion: What she says is often not what she feels, but what she says is often what's necessary to cause the least amount of hurt.

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But not enough to keep her there.


And in the comic books when she's leaving, she secretly wants Mal to come back for her. Her choosing to leave, however, was the right thing to do at the time.

The point is, we all know what she has to say about her profession, and it makes sense for her to defend herself that way. Her profession isn't even BAD - Mal's done lots worse. The question I'm posing here: Is what Inara says about her profession the same as what she really FEELS about it?

As for sex, she doesn't seem all that enthusiastic about it, really, and I seem to recall that her response to Kaylee in Jaynestown about romance and having good sex is a little subdued.

There must be some reason why she stopped taking clients at the training house in the movie, and I don't believe it was about Mal. She made a choice because of some way she felt about something involved with her profession. What it means for Mal is entirely irrelevant.

This in turn suggests she might outright not LIKE the sex for money part of her profession, which is possibly why Mal's insults hurt her much worse than any others he might try, and why she gets so defensive about it.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:08 AM

MINCINGBEAST


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:

There must be some reason why she stopped taking clients at the training house in the movie, and I don't believe it was about Mal. She made a choice because of some way she felt about something involved with her profession. What it means for Mal is entirely irrelevant.



I agree with you inasmuch as I doubt Inara's new found celibacy is out of consideration for Mal's feelings, or brought about by his repeatedly stating the obvious: she is a glorified space whore. But I don't think it is sensible to entirely remove Inara's experience aboard Serenity, and her relationship with Mal, from her evolving relationship with her profession. At the very least, Mal was a catylyst.

Inara often seems abivalent about the sex-for-money aspects of her job, which to her mind must be a reductivist view of what a companion does.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:24 AM

BYTEMITE


Yeah. And it also occurs to me that not being happy with sex-for-money and sometimes jerk clients doesn't necessarily mean she wouldn't like the rest of her job, or be proud of the tradition she's part of.

Similarly, Mal might have his regrets about the people he's hurt, being a hired gun and a thief, and he has his "I'm a bad man" brooding complex. But he also takes pride and joy sometimes in being a mean old bastard and sticking it to the Feds.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:34 AM

TOADSMOOTHY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:

Quote:

Example: She tells Mal she's not puritanical, congratulates him on finally getting laid, then cries about it when she's alone.


I took this to indicate not that she was upset with her profession but that she wanted the intimate relationship Mal had with Nandi (albeit briefly) but couldn't bring herself to give up any control over her own feelings in order to have it. Before she tells Mal she's decided to leave she speaks of being drawn to a strong personality (like Mal) and never wanting to leave...and that's why she had to leave. I think she is simply afraid of losing control, even though it is costing her what her heart wants most. Remember when she confronts Mal about not visiting places where she could ply her trade? She told him: You are not my lover, my father, my school mistress etc?" This is a woman with control issues.

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And in the comic books when she's leaving, she secretly wants Mal to come back for her.


I do need to get ahold of those! But, of course, she's pissed when Mal comes for her in the movie. She is also pissed when he tries to defend her honor in Shindig. In fact, she takes every opportunity to push Mal away.

Quote:

Is what Inara says about her profession the same as what she really FEELS about it?


I don't think her profession has much to do with her problem with Mal. She might be a hair stylist and have the same control issues with men. Granted, Mal doesn't respect her line of work but that didn't stop him from loving Nandi...and I think there was feeling there...which I think is what upset Inara. The difference is Nandi knew what she wanted (Mal) and went after it. She didn't have the same issues.

Quote:

As for sex, she doesn't seem all that enthusiastic about it...


Well, that would probably describe a lot of women! hahaha ...especially if it was their JOB! Who among us is always enthusiastic about our job? haha

Quote:

There must be some reason why she stopped taking clients at the training house...


Well, the sex bit is the dirty part of the job. Nandi said that Inara had had her sights set on high priestess. Inara, like women of any profession, wanted to move up the ladder.

Quote:

This in turn suggests she might outright not LIKE the sex for money part of her profession, which is possibly why Mal's insults hurt her much worse than any others he might try, and why she gets so defensive about it.



Oh, I suspect she likes the money well enough. Perhaps she's just tired of sex? I mean, if it's your job sex must get monotonous, lose the luster it has for Kaylee because she ain't getting enough! hahaha

Inara isn't some crack ho. She has money, respect, connections etc. She has more going for her than anyone else on that boat. If she wanted a different life she could have it, with or without Mal.

As far as her defensiveness. I am reminded of Banky, the comic book ink artist in Chasing Amy getting pissed when people referred to him as a "tracer." ;)

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 12:14 PM

BYTEMITE


Quote:

I took this to indicate not that she was upset with her profession


I wasn't using that as an example of how she's upset with her profession, but rather of how she sometimes says things she doesn't mean when she thinks it's for the best.

Quote:

This is a woman with control issues.


Umm... Think I have to disagree there. She's an entirely normal person who wants to live her life without interference and work for a living without being hassled.

The reason she left Serenity is something entirely different either from Mal sleeping with Nandi or feeling out of control. EDIT: looks like you found it. The basic gist is, Nandi's death and Mal's reaction struck a chord with her, and she had to leave after that.

Quote:

But, of course, she's pissed when Mal comes for her in the movie. She is also pissed when he tries to defend her honor in Shindig.


Actually, she's very alarmed in both cases, and worried he's going to be hurt or killed more than she's angry with him.

She clearly doesn't hold either of those times against him shortly afterward, when he survives; by that point she's just glad he's okay.

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In fact, she takes every opportunity to push Mal away.


She does do this, and it's actually related to the above point about not wanting Mal to get hurt.

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I don't think her profession has much to do with her problem with Mal.


Then we agree, because there wasn't much in my above post that has anything to do with Mal.

But aspects of her profession might have something to do with her switching over to teaching instead of actively taking clients.

Quote:

Granted, Mal doesn't respect her line of work but that didn't stop him from loving Nandi...and I think there was feeling there...


Nandi arguably companionized Mal. Gonna have to disagree.

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The difference is Nandi knew what she wanted (Mal) and went after it. She didn't have the same issues.


Disagree. Inara knows what she wants but faces some very big obstacles and doesn't want to put Mal through that.

Quote:

Oh, I suspect she likes the money well enough.


I doubt it. If she did, she'd be perfectly fine being Atherton's trophy companion who he beats up on now and then. She doesn't seem to be very rich or she wouldn't be worried about her work so much (though I'll agree she makes enough money to support herself and her lifestyle), and she also seems perfectly content with her impoverished surroundings, or hanging out in a dingy bar.

She also clearly left Sihnon for a reason. See again my previous point about Inara potentially not being particularly enamored with the glitter and glamor.


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:40 PM

TOADSMOOTHY


Well, I don't want to beat a dead horse here. We may have to agree to disagree, and that's OK. Everyone has different perspectives.

I'm left with the question: If she wants Mal why doesn't she have him? This question is especially pointed if, as you contend, she doesn't really like her profession. Why doesn't she give it up and be with Mal? What are these "big obstacles" she doesn't want to put Mal through?

As Nandi pointed out, Mal and Inara are very much alike. Both want to keep it simple and neither wants to give up any control of their own lives to make a relationship work. That's why it doesn't happen, even though they love each other.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010 4:34 AM

BYTEMITE


Well, since I know you saw it on another thread, the big obstacle is that

Select to view spoiler:


she's dying.



It's true that Inara doesn't want to pursue a relationship with Mal, but I don't think it's because she's afraid she would lose control of her life if she did. That's pretty much already happened IMO and I think she's resigned herself to that.

Everything Nandi says is a mislead for the viewers because she doesn't know this either. Nandi is speculating about Inara's motivations to Mal and is probably, quite simply, wrong.

But fair enough, we can agree to disagree.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:34 AM

TOADSMOOTHY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
Well, since I know you saw it on another thread, the big obstacle is that

Select to view spoiler:


she's dying.




Ahhhhhhh! NOW I get it! I'm really dense sometimes. Now I understand your position and think it's perfectly reasonable. God, I'm such a dummy.

What a freakin' tragedy! Goddamn Joss Whedon! Someone needs to break his fingers so he can't write and destroy more of his characters lives! He gives us these wonderful characters who we care about and then he slaughters them like some Gorram Reaver! ACK!! I am NOT pleased.

Thank you for putting Inara in a totally different light for me. Now I have great empathy for her and her situation. If Joss doesn't pull her through I'm gonna find him and burn his house down. ...no, not really. haha

I guess I come at this with baggage. I think with Inara I was still fighting with my ex-wife after 20-some years. Geesh!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010 10:11 AM

BYTEMITE


No worries, I didn't realize about your ex-wife. And you know, it could still be a fear thing, like you were saying. :)

I just kinda like Inara, she's very nice to Kaylee and most of the crew except Mal, so I like to see her in a positive light. So that's usually the side I take.

But I get that some people see her a selfish or high-maintenance, and the beauty of Joss' writing is that there's lots of interpretations that can be right about all the characters. I mean, it would be pretty boring if Inara were just some perfect Mary Sue-ish poor broken dove, there's nothing wrong with someone thinking Inara has faults or flaws.

And it makes sense if someone is reminded of a relationship they've had by a character in the show, what you experienced is entirely valid insight.

I like to discuss things, I take in ideas, and I use them in my stories, with permission of course. :) This kind of discussion makes me wonder if my account making everyone involved in the sad situation blameless is too flattering to the characters.

As for Joss Whedon, there's maybe some good news. I've noticed he seems to be getting better about letting some of his couples find a little happiness. And I also think because Joss and Morena were so willing to leak the the reveal that there's a lot more to this than what's on the surface.

Select to view spoiler:


Plus, the specific term they used was "dying," not "going to die," and that could be significant. It could mean that she's currently dying, but might not necessarily die by the end of the story, or she might even be saved.


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