When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl you find someone to carry you.
Old friends keep popping back into Mal’s corner of the ‘verse. It usually doesn’t bode well for the crew of Serenity. It often doesn’t bode well for the old friends either. This is one of those times. An old friend of Zoe and Mal’s is back in the picture, and through this friend we start to understand Mal and Zoe, and what they really are to each other. This is about coming home from the wars. Or not. After the jump.
This is one of the harder ones to write. There’s a lot going on in this episode. Jayne get’s a letter from home and a hat. Kaylee and Simon go another round on the WT/WT wheel. River manages some pithy comments. Book has some insight. There’s comedy, drama, and even through the dark, there manages to be some fun. But this episode is a tough one for me. Most of it doesn’t matter because of how I saw it, and what I experienced when I first saw this episode. It’s tough for me to look at this episode and not see it as the coda of Firefly. It was the last episode produced, and the sense of melancholy and loss pervades the episode. But in a way, like a good coda, the tempo changes, the ideas are stripped down to basics and we get a new insight on the variations on the theme we’ve been hearing and seeing played out in front of us.
“Once you’ve been in Serenity, you never leave.” – Zoe (deleted scene)
The war ended in Serenity Valley, but Mal and Zoe are still living there. It was part of the show, but not necessarily cannon as shown. Once the battle of Serenity Valley was lost they stayed there while the Alliance and the Browncoats negotiated, and men continued to die. Serenity was where they learned it wasn’t about winning. It was about surviving. Running, crawling, and carrying each other, hoping to stay ahead of that bullet with your name on it. Mal and Zoe never went home. They still live in Serenity, they’ve just learned how to make Serenity home. Tracey, he never found another home. They all came from somewhere, but none of them ever seemed to try to go home, until Jason saw the end. Tracey is the perfect final piece of the puzzle. So much potential, so much that was good. He wanted nothing more than good for those he loved, but the ‘verse wouldn’t let him go home. He wandered, with no home, and nobody who understood where he lived, in that limbo between life and death, Serenity Valley. It’s Whedon at his best, and most depressing, but its wonderful drama.
I almost want to end it here. A part of me sees that this was the end. They’re all lost in the woods. Inara, Casey, Jayne. Even Book. They’re all looking for a way to make it matter. Mal and Zoe especially. They couldn’t save him, but they take their friend home. Is it enough? No. In the end Tracey had mourners, but no friends. He never learned the lesson Mal and Zoe did. Find someone to carry you. If there’s nobody strong enough to carry you alone, well, maybe you can carry each other. It’s all they have. It’ll have to do. The rest is details.