This weekend I rented Serenity. I wasn't a fan of the ill-fated Firefly series on which the movie was based until after Fox cancelled the television show because it wasn't until then that I discovered Buffy and the genius that is Joss Whedon. Once I realized I might have missed a great thing, I put the Firefly series DVD on my Amazon wish list, and a dear friend got it for me for my birthday. (Dear Friend, if you are reading this, you know who you are and I HEART you!) The hubby and I watched the pilot, which I loved, but I never got around to watching the other 13 episodes.
Mal Reynolds is not perfect as a man. Far from it. He's morally ambiguous far too often, he's too stubborn by far, and sometimes he just needs a good smack upside the head because he can't see a good thing standing right under his nose. He believes in nothing other than his own ability to survive and won't hesistate to dispatch of anyone or anything that endangers that one goal.
But he's loyal. He loves his crew and will do anything for them, despite the bluster he puts out when asked to do so. He's fearless but not stupid. He gets his butt kicked by those who are bigger and stronger, but mostly he wins the battle with quick thinking, a confidence that borders on cocky, and the simple refusal to go down without a fight. Push him too far and he becomes your worst enemy, earn his respect and love and he'll fight for you 'til death.
Sexy and nice looking yet not too pretty, his face reveals a dangerous life lived hard. His sense of humor is dry and irreverant; he doesn't take himself or the universe too seriously because he's a hair's breadth away from the edge at all times.
His backstory is noble and tragic. A rebel soldier who fought against a totalitarian government, his side lost the war, leaving him unable to fit into the society created by those who conquered him and forced to make his own place any way necesary. He'll step pretty far over the line to make a living, but he's no petty criminal or mean-spirited villain-wannabe. He simply does what he has to do to get by.
He's a cross between the old western gunslinger and the Hans Solo mold of space pirate. He'll let loose a string of Chinese expletives in one breath and banish from the dinner table a crewmember who offends a female with off-humour commentary with the very next. His shell is granite-hard, but you just know that if you can manage to crack it, inside is a tender center very few have ever encountered. His biggest fault by far is his inability to let himself be vulnerable. A challenge no girl could resist.
Nathan Fillion, the actor to whom all the credit goes for creating my shiny new perfect hero mold (along with Joss for creating Mal Reynolds in the first place) has only one flaw - his choice in other roles. As I watched Serenity, I kept trying to place where it was I'd seen him before. An IMDB search answered the question. After Firefly was cancelled, Fillion appeared in the final handful of Buffy episodes as a vile, evil murdering preacher named Caleb. The character was beyond creepy. For the role, Fillion dyed his hair darker and adopted a southern accent, but the face is the same. And I just can't get that out of my head.
But I figure with a few dozen viewings of my Firefly DVDs, all I will see will be Mal.
Meanwhile, I need to get busy campaigning with the rest of the Browncoats. Serenity needs a sequel.