FIREFLY EPISODE DISCUSSIONS

Ariel - and Mal's forgiveness

POSTED BY: TAUSETIPRIME
UPDATED: Sunday, August 1, 2004 16:19
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Saturday, July 24, 2004 7:34 PM

DEWSHINE


LOL...
methinks you have the first series then...
there is a second series of elfguest that the Pini started but had guest help on...I bought that too...

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Saturday, July 24, 2004 8:14 PM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by dewshine:
I know this doesn't belong here, but didn't Crow die?


I haven't got the reference, but my understanding of Crow's demise is that it is Whedon's note to myself not to write an episode over a weekend ever again.
This is the last time. The last time ...

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Monday, July 26, 2004 11:50 AM

DEWSHINE


Aside from Crow... I think Mal and Jayne have an interesting dynamic. Jayne must fear Mal on a certain level. And Mal is somewhat of a broken man. Mal lost his faith in God and put his faith in Serenity and her crew...His crew, his ship. Mal is able to do very very dark things to protect that faith...its all he has left. It will take more than Jayne saying "sorry, kill me but don't tell the others why" for Mal to forgive what he has done. So Jayne is someone that Mal watches...and perhaps expects to betray him, after all, that's how Jayne became a member of Mal's crew. Mal has not forgiven Jayne, but shown him mercy as long as Jayne behaves himself.

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Monday, July 26, 2004 2:18 PM

DANFAN


Soupcatcher's reprint of the article analyzing the show based on the "code of honor" vice the "code of law" really resonated with me... perhaps because I was raised and lived my whole life in the South. It's not an abstract thing to me. In the smaller towns here in Texas (and elsewhere in the South), the code of honor is still very real, and hard as chrome steel. Yet that analysis went almost unremarked in all the following posts. Most of the posts seem to be trying to decode some obscure algorithm of "utility"... he spared so-and-so because Mal thought he might be an asset later. Or deception... Mal thought he could fool Jayne into repentance. This is needlessly complex.

I think that "code of honor" analysis explains much of why Mal responds the way he does. Why did he tell Simon he would kill him honorably? Because Mal determined that at his core, Simon is an honorable man who has sacrificed his own life to do right by innocent family. Yes, Simon's actions put Mal's crew at risk... but that risk could not be avoided by Simon if he was to follow his honor, because it was the crew's action that was going to force a dishonorable result upon River. Why did Mal kill Crow so ruthlessly? Because Crow took great glee in revealing to Mal that he was a man without honor... Crow never realized he was signing his own death warrant. Why does Mal, just barely, spare Jayne? Because by his contrition, Jayne shows that MAYBE he has what it takes to become an honorable man.

I'm not saying that honor is the sole criteria that Mal uses to determine the outcome of an encounter. For example, on the battlefield, you kill not because your opponent is dishonorable. You kill because your opponent will kill you if you don't kill him first. If your opponent surrenders, THEN the code of honor comes into to play: the honorable man spares the surrendered enemy. I think Mal see's Jubal's invasion of the ship as an attack by an enemy combatant. Jubal Early's honor (or lack of) is never the question (that's why its never explored). He is a combatant on a battlefield and he puts Mal's people at risk. The rules of the battlefield say that Mal kills Jubal, Jubal kills Mal, or one of them surrenders. Jubal may not have seen it that way... that was his mistake.

Also, real people are sometimes motivated by more than one thing. Threatening Mal's crew is a big influence on the "kill him" side of the equation. Doing so for a valid reason might buy you a few moments to make your case before Mal kills you.

As for the others, this post is already too long to extend with further analysis. Does anyone else want to see if the code of honor applies to the other characters that he kills or spares?

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Monday, July 26, 2004 3:41 PM

VEARSTWIN


I just think that Mal didn't space Jayne because Mal has a heart and even though Jayne betrayed his crew and himself. He couldn't live with himself killing Jayne.

"Jayne is a girl's name"-River

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Monday, July 26, 2004 3:52 PM

VEARSTWIN


I was thinking the same thing when I was watching it last night.

'Jayne is a girl's name'-River

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Monday, July 26, 2004 6:40 PM

THEREALME


Bravo, Danfan!

* The Real Me claps for perhaps a bit too long *

You put in a nice little bundle something that I thought I had sensed, but could never articulate.

Then again, I guess I count as a Yankee boy. But my mom was from Tennessee!

I think you are correct. I think that Mal was quite ready to space Jayne. I think he did offer Jayne a chance with the radio, but I don't believe that it was a show at all on Mal's part.

Later, in "Objects in Space" (ignoring the debates on episode order), when Jayne does not want to take things in a "Jayne's fault" direction, Mal is almost savage with his reply, which almost sent Jayne scampering. No, I don't think Mal has compeletely forgiven Jayne yet.


The Real Me

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Monday, July 26, 2004 8:29 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Hey Danfan, glad to hear that I wasn't the only one that article resonated with! I was a bit surprised that no one really commented when I re-posted Hank Parnell's article and that it kind of slipped through the cracks. In my mind he hit the bulls-eye in his characterization of Mal. After reading his article it was like a light came on for me.

I agree with you that many responses in this thread seem to be over-analyzing Mal's actions (positing that he was playing a psychological game with Jayne in the airlock scene). It reminds me of an earlier thread where some people had a problem with Kaylee's actions during the Out of Gas flashback and saw her fling with Bester as inconsistent with her innocent character.

The context of the future as envisioned in Firefly is different from the context of today. You have to make up your own rules as you go along and Mal, as a man of honor, has a set of abiding principles that he does not deviate from.

I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 2:28 AM

DANFAN


TheRealMe,

Mom's from Tennessee? You're not a Yankee. You are family on walkabout!

;-)

Whenever you're ready, you're welcome back home.

"The sun is riz, the sun is set...
And here I is in Texas yet."

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 3:54 AM

LIZ


Didn't Patience show herself to be dishonorable? She set up a sniper (or 2?) and insulted Mal repeatedly. Why was she spared?

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 3:54 AM

DANFAN


Soupcatcher

I followed the link you posted and read all of Parnell's article. I'm not ready to accept his thesis that the mishandling and ultimate cancellation of Firefly was a deliberate execution-style killing perpetrated by the suits at Fox to repudiate the underlying theme of Firefly (personal authority, personal accountability, code of honor). That seems a bit extreme.

However, I am perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that Fox mishandled Firefly because they disliked it. And they disliked it for reasons that even they weren't real clear on... the show "just didn't feel right." And the reason that it didn't feel right to them was that those pesky themes didn't fit into their unconcious (and unquestioned) belief structure.

In other words, I think that Parnell MIGHT be right about the root cause of Firefly's demise, but wrong about Fox executives' concious awareness of their motivations. This would be consistent with other programming choices made by Fox that seems to lack any connection to higher brain function...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 4:05 AM

DANFAN


Liz,

[Later edit... In this response, I misread your original question and thought you meant Sapphron. I think I offer my opinion on your real question in the next post. But I think the further definition of Mal's "code" in this post is still pertinent...]

In rereading my original post, I feel that I might have confusingly blended two different things. Just for the sake of clarity, bear with me... In my opinion, Mal doesn't decide to kill/not kill based on the honor of the person he faces. He decides HOW he will deal with that person based upon their honor and his own code. It is their actions that decide (for him) whether he must kill or can spare the individual.

Honor - Because of Simon's honor, if he has to kill him, he will do so honorably. Because of Crow's lack of honor, if he has to kill him, he will feed him to the engine.

Options - Simon gave Mal another option. Crow did not.

Two separate dimensions to the decision tree.

To continue this idea, I think given his personal code, killing is a last resort with Mal. If he can, he solves problems another way. If he must kill, then how he does it is driven by his code of honor and that of his opponent.

So, if I'm right, why did Mal allow Sapphron to live? She clearly had no honor. In the first encounter, she behaved dishonorably AND she put the crew in dire peril. If Mal had had the opportunity to deal with her at the moment of peril, she would likely not have survived. But she escaped before that confrontation could come to pass. When he met up with her later in the brothel, there was no dire peril to be solved by her death, thus no reason to kill her. He did repay her at that time by busting her in the chops... in so doing, he treated her as if she were without honor, but it was no longer necessary or justified at that moment to exercise the last resort.

In the second encounter, she still was not honorable and Mal knew that. But Mal had choices (he CREATED choices!) other than killing her in that case. He could deceive her, do right by his crew, and let her live to pay for her own lack of honor. If she had put him in a position where the last resort was the only one left, he would have killed her. And since she had no honor, he would have treated her as if she had none (meaning she would have been engine lube or vacuum fodder).

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 6:17 AM

DANFAN


Liz,

In your question, you said Patience. My brain read Sapphron. I think my post explains (at least to me) why Mal reacted as he did to Sapphron at various times. And I think it explains the general principal that can be applied to the situation with Patience. But it doesn't directly address your question. My apologies.

Let's see... Patience. Wasn't she the governer of one of the outer planets that tried to ambush Mal and Zoe when they were working a deal?

If I have the setup right, then let's see...

1) Yep, Patience was dishonorable, and Mal knows it. That isn't a death sentence. It just means that Mal deals with her in light of that knowledge. He takes out her snipers and sets up his own (acceptable behavior by his code since she has proven herself dishonorable).

2) It turns into a shootin' match. If she gets shot and killed during the shootout, so be it. She brought it on by her own actions. Mal is dealing with very limited options in the middle of the shootout... it's shoot or get shot.

3) Once the shootin' was done and Patience was still alive but no longer able to bring the fight to him, Mal's options opened back up. He could be merciful if it didn't put him or his crew at risk. No more need to take the "last resort." So he closes the deal and moves on. Notice that even though she is helpless, he takes no more than he bargained for... as his honor requires of him.

Does this make more sense than my previous ramble?

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 6:29 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Zoe would be upset if anyone else greased Jayne, she's been savouring it so long.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 11:26 AM

LIZ


yes, thank you DanFan. that "last resort" bit is what brought the whole theory together. thanks

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 5:43 PM

THEREALME


The Real Me, with all the authority at his disposal (which is to say NONE) hereby bestows upon Danfan the title "Arbiter of Honor".


The Real Me

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 6:22 PM

SUPERFLY


I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty late and I just couldn’t read through all the posts, so I might besaying something someone’s already said. For me, the whole incident with Jayne was a wonderful and productive plan on Mal’s part. We already know from the pilot that there’s an understanding between Mal and Jayne.

Mal: Why didn’t you turn on me?
Jayne: Money wasn’t good enough.
Mal: What happens when it is good enough?
Jayne: Well... that’ll be an interesting day.
Mal: I imagine it will be, at that.

(Taken from memory)

Mal needs Jayne. He needs him on the ship, and he needs him on the crew. Look at it. The crew has the perfect combination of people and skills. They have everyone they need to keep thingsgoing, including a thug like Jayne. Who else could have done the job with the Alliance mole inep. 1? Who could have taken out the snipers and killed TwoFry in part 2 of the same ep? Who could have shot out the breaker in one shot in OMR? Who could have... well.. You get the idea. Someone has to do the dirty work, and that falls to Jayne. He’s proven himself invaluable over and over (well, except for that embarrassing OIS ep.)

Mal knows he can’t trust Jayne (though Jayne is turning, ever so slowly). What they needed between them was a better understanding. So, I think Mal told him with that encounter: “You ever turn on me, I will know. You turn on me, you’ll get caught, and I’m gonna kill you.” Now, that’s the understanding they have between them.

I think it was just icing on the cake that Jayne felt shame. Kinda gives me just a little bit of hope for the big lug.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:33 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Danfan,

You've pretty much outlined the problems I have with that part of Hank's article (his reasoning on why Firefly was canceled). I just don't think the Fox executives consciously thought things through to that level of detail. Subconsciously, who knows. So, while I think his theory is interesting, I don't think it's something that could ever be verified.

I just have a hard time giving the executives who canceled our beloved show any credit for analysis.



I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

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Sunday, August 1, 2004 4:19 PM

JAYNEZTOWN


Quote:

Originally posted by liz:
i think it's the remorse. the fact that he says "make something up. don't tell 'em what i done." Jayne feels guilty about turning on them. i think the way that Simon looked at him like he was a hero just made him re-think turning on him. or maybe hearing the screams of the people killed by the blue hand people made him think about what they must have done to River. For whatever reason Jayne didn't want to be thought of as a traitor and that remorse was enough for Mal to allow him to stay. (not enough to let him inside for a while though. )



Exactly for maybe the first time ever Jayne in his actions shows that he is something else other than a self centered, treacherous, money loving merc.

From the first time that Mal and Zoe saw Jayne they knew he was piece o work

Select to view spoiler:


...jayne and his previous filth friends holding firelfy at gun point but Mal is still in control and jayne gets persuaded to shoot his old friends for some loot



From day one Mal knows that Jayne can't be trusted, he's a mercenary for cripes sake but jobs are hard to come by in space and they need all the extra hands they can get. I think Mal was ready to kill Jayne many a time Mal might think he's silly, has a foul tongue, and is ready to betray those close to him for the right price, you'll notice at certain times Mal is ready to stare down Jayne or draw his gun if push comes to shove. The show is well scripted the reality is there is nothing worse than having a traitor willing to sell out for a couple of bucks..going back to the real world anyone recall that guy who got caught by the FBI and former KGB for shipping terror equipments explosives, detonators into the US for the right price ? The fact is it doesn't matter what group, nation or organisation you are if you have a turncoat/traitor on the inside it can cause real trouble and I think Whedon's Firefly did a great job of describing this in Ariel.


The character Jayne is well played, he has a funny way about him and seems almost primitive but he does have some good people around him. Jayne often comes across as a dumb buffon only in it for the cash, but he is a highly skilled Merc and handy in a fight so I guess this must be why Captain Mal allows him to stay. However Mal is no spanky clean hero like Superman or some Startrek Captain..if the going gets tuff and the bullets start coming Mal will fire at whatever gets in his way, in the pilot episode he drops the alliance cop in the blink of an eye, and the horse that gets in his way gets a bullet also. If push came to shove Mal would put a bullet in Jayne, the reason why Mal doesn't kill Jayne in the end of Ariel is because he finally stars to show remorse and Jayne starts to care about what the crew think of him.

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