Firefly meets The Magnificent Seven. Or Nine.
In classic space western style (?) we finally get around to our Magnificent Seven episode. The stand is part of the genre and part of our own American mythology of the frontier. The rich and powerful or the marauding bandits seek to rule over the good simple folk trying to scrape out a living on the frontier. Outside the edges of civilization there is nobody the good simple folk can turn to, except our plucky band. But it isn’t a tale only of might overcoming might makes right. In the process the good and simple folk learn to stand up for themselves, and the lawless frontier gets a little less lawless. Join us for Joss Whedon’s take on a classic of the western genre, after the jump.
Every well-bred petty crook knows that the small, concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting. – Inara Serra
This time it’s an old friend of Inara’s, but the effect is the same, a new week, a new good deed to be done by our Big Damn Heroes.
Jayne: Don’t much see the benefit in gettin’ involved in stranger’s troubles without a up-front price negotiated.
Shepherd Book: These people need assistance. The benefit wouldn’t necessarily be for you.
Jayne: That’s what I’m sayin’.
Zoë: No one’s gonna force you to go, Jayne. As has been stated, this job is strickly speculative.
Jayne: Good. Don’t know these folks, don’t much care to.
Mal: They’re whores.
Jayne: I’m in.
Well good deed is a relative term. For Jayne it’s downright altruistic.
I feel a little silly at this point. To go through the plot seems nearly insulting. We know it. We know it by heart. There’s shooting,the plucky good guys overcome the odds, the betrayer isn’t successful.. You get the point. Ok, there are a few minor points that bear mention. Ok, they aren’t minor. They’re well established, not minor. Then there’s the whole whore thing. Yeah, sorry to say, no way around that in this episode.
Nandi, Inara’s friend got fed up with being an oh so civilized “companion”. She lit out to the edges of civilization, learned to say ain’t, and carved out something where the girls were, according to Inara, whores, but were looked after and protected. By Nandi.
By Nandi’s own admission she’d carved out her little corner of paradise with murder and crime. Now she’s the pimp. So what’s Inara? She apparently didn’t want to become the pimp, didn’t appreciate being under the pimp, so she decided to go independent. Yet Nandi’s girls are whores, and Inara isn’t. Sorry, but who is a whore and who isn’t, and what makes a whore is a pretty important part of the mythology.
Funny thing. Nandi can give herself to Mal, with no reservations. Inara never could. It’s a puzzle. Ok, not really. It is the same theme we’ve seen all along. Inara is tied to the guild and rules, and an illusion of legitimacy. Nandi is a whore, and is capable of giving Mal more honesty and more humanity than Inara ever will be, because Nandi owns her life, the way Mal has chosen to do. Inara still has a pimp, the guild. So Nandi got a night with Mal. There were no lies. Inara suffers, and wants to run. She thinks she’s running to escape someone else controlling her. To a point she’s right. Mal and Inara, given their situation have a problematic relationship.
Avoiding complications, that’s the way Nandi puts it. Yeah, that works. Funny thing, Nandi and Mal avoid complications. They talk, why? because they can. Inara, much as she denies it, Mal is right , she’s a whore. The guild runs her life. The guild is her pimp. Mal has known it all along, Inara is waking up.
Should Inara stay and let Mal control where she goes, who she sees, well, Mal becomes a pimp, replacing the guild, but … Well, you get it. Inara breaking down was the first sane thing she’s done.
There is no happy ending for Mal and Inara the way things are. Can’t blame Inara, can’t blame Mal. Sometimes, life just sucks.
But hey, the plucky settlers learned to defend themselves, and the marauding bandit/wealthy bad guy who owns the law was defeated, so all’s well…
Well, that’s the story.