September 25th, 2005

Serenity - Misbehave

Firefly to Serenity: Comic Summary, then Overall Summary

Like I keep saying, if you go to see Serenity this coming weekend, or some time this fall, you don't need to know every detail of what has gone before to appreciate it. In fact, you don't need to know any of it at all; you'll figure out fast enough who the characters are and what their relationships to each other are. But for those of you want to know what came before and don't want to put a whole lot of time into it, I knocked out a pair of summaries of the TV series. Now, for those of you who loved the series but didn't track down the Dark Horse 3-issue limited series comic books, here's a summary. There are no spoilers for the movie here. These are not the adaptation of the movie. The comic books are set during the time period between the end of the series and the start of the movie. That's something of an understatement, really; I think the comic books stop at least a couple of months before the movie. After I summarize the comic books, I'll throw in the most concise summary of the backstory to the movie that I can possibly write; look for the header "Executive Summary."

Serenity, the comic books: Collapse )

Executive Summary for the Whole Series So Far:

Unsuccessful rebel sergeant (now captain) Malcolm Reynolds bought himself a small but very durable and maneuverable smuggler's ship, a Firefly class transport, that Mal has christened Serenity. His plan was to find whatever legal, or illegal but minimally moral, work he can find out in the poorer parts of human space, just this side of the territory that's prowled by cannibalistic savages called Reavers. His crew of four are his former senior NCO Zoe Warren (gunslinger), her husband "Wash" Washburne (pilot), mechanical genius farmgirl Kaylee Frye (mechanic, obviously), and a random mercenary who now can't leave because he's a known associate of theirs, Jayne Cobb (spare gunslinger).

They used to have a permanent rent-paying passenger, a touring Companion (geisha) named Inara Serra. She's leaving, and taking the monthly rent she was paying with her, because her feelings towards the captain are compromising her ability to work. They used to have another long-term unpaying passenger they were stuck with, a missionary with a still-mysterious past who calls himself Shepherd Book; he's leaving, too, while he still has some conscience left. That leaves them with two remaining passengers, a pair of fugitives from the Alliance: trauma surgeon Simon Tam, who pays their way by stitching up the crew, and his sister River. River Tam is more than a little crazy after lengthy brain surgery and torture at the hands of the Alliance, a procedure that successfully activated her telepathic powers but that has left her with poor impulse control, frequently unable to shut thoughts out, and sometimes prone to hallucinations. (Speaking of the Tam siblings, Kaylee Frye has a huge, unfulfilled crush on Simon Tam.)

It's been getting harder and harder for them to find work. The frontier is getting smaller; the Alliance is expanding outward, and the Reavers are expanding inward. Worse, the Alliance has put a bounty on the crew of Serenity, one that's getting big enough that there are fewer and fewer criminals willing to deal with Mal who won't sell him out. The Alliance has also put out all-points bulletins for them, then hired mercenaries and bounty hunters to track them down, and has finally handed the job off to someone even better. It's plain that what the Alliance wants is (a) River Tam, back in Alliance hands, and (b) everybody she might have talked to, dead.