The women offer a rich cornucopia of different types of anti-heroes, each one forces us to look at the strength and darkness of women through subtle (sometimes not so subtle) plays on traditional female stereotypes. Joss Whedon, producer of Firefly, is a master of this while making each a complete, complex and nuanced individual.
Zoe Washburne is the warrior, the soldier, the rational thinker and the only married woman woman on the ship. In love with her husband yet has a deep and unwavering loyalty to the captain which provides both her dark and her moral edge (think about this and we can see how morality stretched and twisted becomes the heart of–not the shield from– darkness). Zoe follows his orders–no matter what–and she would kill for him. She also never–I mean never–loses her cool.
River Tam–child genius, experimented on and manipulated, she is turned by the powers that be into the ultimate weapon-unpredictable, psychic, antisocial and potentially very violent. Her brother Simon rescues her from the Alliance and they hide out on Serenity. Much of the crew walks on eggs around her, never sure when she’s going to blow and yet most of her surprises are the insights of a woman who lost her childhood in the most brutal ways imaginable.
Inara Serra is our friendly, neighborhood courtesan, a respected profession in the Firefly verse. The irony is that she bestows legitimacy and social standing on this crew of smugglers. If we dig deep into the weeds and whispers of the series, we can find hints of her skill at swordplay, archery and martial arts. Courtesans apparently are also trained fighters. Interesting edges she navigates. She and Mal, the lovely Captain of the Serenity, fight clear feelings for each other, a tension that brings out the nasty in each and Inara is so very capable here.
Kaylee Frye–the instinctual mechanic, innately sweet, she is the moral center of the crew. But as mechanic on a smuggler’s ship, she does learn how to live on those edges, and for Simon, she just might cross them.
For Firefly lovers, how have these woman surprised you? What makes you love them? For those who haven’t seen the show or the movie, take a peek. Its unique. Movie is fun if a little gory, but you get to see River turn weapon which is a sight to behold.