"For some the war will never be over. I notice your ship's called 'Serenity'. You were stationed on Hera at the end of the war; Battle of Serenity Valley took place there if I recall... Seems odd that you would name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of."
"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."
        - Commander Karken and Captain Mal Reynolds

"The star that shines briefly. the shows that have a very short run but everybody kinda goes 'that was something special'... that was Firefly."
        - Jane Espenson, series writer, from an interview on series DVD

"The source of more joy and pain that anything I've ever done... when I look back on it it shines."
        - Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly, on the series DVD

"It's about nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things."
        - Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly, on the series DVD

Take my love. Take my land.
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care, I'm still free.
You can't take the sky from me.
Take me out to the black.
Tell 'em I ain't comin' back.
Burn the land And boil the sea.
You can't take the sky from me
Have no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me.
        - Theme song to Firefly

# SERENITY (Parts 1 & 2)

"I know something ain't right."
"Sweetie, we're crooks. If everything were right, we'd be in jail."
        - Zoe and Wash

"Wheel never stops turning, Badger."
"That only matters to the people on the rim."
        - Mal and Badger

"How's business?"
"None of yours."
        - Mal and Inara

"So, does it happen a lot? Government commandeering your ship, telling you where to go?"
"That's what governments are for — get in a man's way."
        - Simon and Mal

"What happens if they board us?"
"If they take the ship they will r*pe us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins in to their clothing, and if we're very, very lucky, they’ll do it in that order."
        - Simon and Zoe, worried about the Reavers

"Would you like to lecture me the wickedness of my ways?"
"I brought you some supper, but if you'd prefer a lecture, I've a few very catchy ones prepped. Sin and
hellfire... one has lepers."
        - Shepherd Book and Inara

"The Captain said you might like it. I was surprised at his concern."
"For a lowly whore?"
"It was unjust of him to say that."
"Believe me, I've called him worse. Anyway, I suspect he has more  interest in making you uncomfortable than me."
        - Shepherd Book and Inara

"Can you move your feet? Kaylee. Stay with me. Can you move your feet?"
"Are you asking me to dance?"
        - Simon, trying to save Kaylee

"We may not have parted on the best of terms. I realize certain words were exchanged.
Also, certain... bullets. But that's air through the engine."
        - Mal, to Patience

"I'm trying to put this as delicately as I can... How do I know you won't kill me in my sleep?"
"You don't know me, son. So let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake, you'll be
facing me, and you'll be armed."
"Are you always this sentimental?"
"Had a good day."
"You had the Alliance on you, criminals and savages... half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded including yourself, and you're harboring known fugitives."
"We're still flying."
        - Simon and Mal


"Say that to my face."
"I said, you're a coward, and a pisspot. Now what are you gonna do about it?"
"Nothin'. I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind ya."
        - Mal, taking out a bar goon with Zoe's help

"This is why we lost, you know. Superior numbers."
"Thanks for the re-enactment, sir."
        - Mal and Zoe, losing their barfight

"I didn't start it! Just wanted a quiet drink."
"Funny, sir, how you always seem to find yourself in an Alliance-friendly bar come U-day, looking
for a 'quiet drink'."
        - Mal and Zoe

"Kaylee, what the hell's goin' on in the engine room? Were there monkeys? Some terrifying space monkeys maybe got loose?"
        - Mal

"We work before we play."
        - Mal

"You know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with until you understand who's in ruttin' command here."
        - Jayne

"You were thinking of taking Mr. Niska's money and his property, maybe?"
"Ah, interestingly, neither."
        - Crow and Mal

"Now this is all the money Niska gave us in advance. You bring it back to him, tell him the job didn't
work out. We're not thieves... we are thieves. Point is we're not takin' what's his. Now we'll stay out of
his way the best we can from here on in. You explain that that's best for everyone, okay?"
"Keep the money. Use it to buy a funeral. It doesn't matter where you go, or how far you fly. I will
hunt you down, and the last thing you see will be my blade!"
"Darn." <kills him>
        - Mal disposes of Crow

"Now this is all the money Niska gave us in advance—"
"Oh, I'm good. I speak for everyone. I'm right there with you."
        - Mal, finding a more flexible henchman of Niska's


"Proximity alert. Must be coming up on something."
"Oh my god. What can it be? We're all doomed! Who's flying this thing!? Oh right, that would be me. Back to work."
        - Zoe and Wash

"I guess that makes us one man short."
"Little Kaylee's always one man short."
        - Kaylee and Jayne

"I suppose it's just the thought of a little Mylar and glass separating a person from... nothing."
"It's impressive what 'nothing' can do to a man."
        - Jayne and Simon, suiting up

"I believe there is a power greater than men, a power that heals."
"Reavers might take issue with that philosophy. If they had a philosophy. If they weren't
too busy gnawing on your insides. Jayne's right, Reavers ain't men. Or they forgot how to be. Now they're just nothing."
        - Book and Mal

"How we treat our dead is part of what makes us different than those that did the slaughtering."
        - Book

"For some the war will never be over. I notice your ship's called 'Serenity'. You were stationed on Hera at the end of the war; Battle of Serenity Valley took place there if I recall... Seems odd that you would name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of."
"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."
        - Commander Karken and Mal


"Oh, look at the pretties!"
"What am I looking at, the girls or the clothes?"
        - Kaylee and Wash, watching dresses being modelled

"I'm very sorry. Did I give you the impression I was asking?"
        - Badger, requesting a meeting with Mal

"You think you're better than other people."
"Just the ones I'm better than. And that very quality is the one I think you're placing value on today."
        - Badger and Mal

"I'm trying to offer you something you know. A life."
        - Atherton to Inara

"How about that floating chandelier? Almost outshines our girl here."
        - Mal, to Atherton

"You were staring at me."
"I saw you is all. You stand out."
"In this company, Captain, I believe you're the one who stands out."
        - Inara and Mal

"I thought I was defending your honor. And I never back down from a fight."
"Yes, you do! You do all the time!"
"Well, yeah... but, I'm not backing down from this one."
        - Mal and Inara

"Sad, little king of a sad, little hill."
        - River to Badger

"That there: exactly the kind of diversion we could have used."
        - Jayne, after River makes a scene

"Mighty fine shindig."
        - Mal

"I probably should have stayed out of your world."
        - Mal, to Inara


"So, she's added cussing and hurling about of things to her repertoire?"
        - Mal, to Simon, as River makes another scene

"The human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems."
"See, morbid and creepifying, I got no problem with, long as she does it quiet-like."
        - River and Mal

"They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky and they remember what they are."
"Is it bad that what she said made perfect sense to me?"
        - River and Mal

"Never goes smooth. How come it never goes smooth?"
        - Mal, beset by problems

"They let us come, and they let us go. What kind of ident card gets us that kind of reception and send off?"
"I am a Shepherd. Folks like a man of God."
"No, they don't. Men of God make everyone feel guilty and judged. That's not what I saw. You like to tell me what really happened?"
"I surely would. And maybe someday I will."
        - Mal and Book

"This is a holy cleansing. You cannot think to thwart God's will."
"Y'all see the man hanging out of the spaceship with the really big gun? Now I'm not saying you weren't easy to find. It was kinda out of our way, and he didn't want to come in the first place. Man's lookin' to kill some folk. So really it's his will y'all should worry about thwarting."
        - The Patron and Mal


"How drunk was I last night?"
"Well I dunno. I passed out."
        - Mal and Jayne

"You got a wife? All I got is that dumbass stick sounds like it's raining. How come you got a wife?"
        - Jayne to Mal, in the morning after

"Hey, sweetie. Don't feel bad. He makes everybody cry. He's like a monster."
        - Kaylee to Saffron

"What's it say in there about divorce?"
        - Mal, after Book finishes the section on Triumph marriage ceremonies

"Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back!"
        - Mal, to Saffron

"So, are you enjoying your own nubile little slave girl?"
        - Zoe to Mal

"Do I wish I was somebody else right now. Somebody not... married, not madly in love with a
beautiful woman who can kill me with her pinkie!"
"I've been too forward."
"No! Well, yes, but I actually like that in a woman. That's part of why Zoe and I are, as recently mentioned, married."
        - Wash and Saffron

"Had I to dare to choose, I'd choose you from all the planets the night sky could show me. If I'm wed, I
am a woman, and I'll take your to leave to be bold... Leave me at the nearest port. Never look upon
me again. I'll make my way with the strength that you've taught me. Only let me have my wedding night."
"Oh, I'm gonna go to the special hell."
        - Saffron to Mal (she's very good)

"One day you're gonna tell us all how a preacher knows so damn much about crime."
        - Jayne to Book


"The management here don't take kindly to sight-seers, which is why we're posing as buyers. There ain't a one of us looks the part more than the good Doctor. I mean, the pretty fits, soft hands, definitely
a moneyed individual. All rich and lily-white, pasty all over..."
"All right. Fine. I'll go. Just stop describing me."
        - Mal and Simon

"Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics — doesn't make sense... Noah's ark is a problem. We'll have to call it 'early quantum state phenomenon'. Only way to fit 5000 species of mammal on the same boat."
        - River to Book

"Jayne \ The man we call Jayne \ He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor \
Stood up to the Man and he gave him what for \ Our love for him now ain't hard to explain \
The Hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne \ Our Jayne saw the Mudders' backs breaking \
He saw the Mudders lament \ And he saw the magistrate taking \ Every dollar and leaving five cents \ So he said, 'You can't do that to my people'..."
        - Jayne's Song

"You got any light you'd like to shed on this development?"
        - Mal to Jayne

"We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm the hero!"
        - Wash

"You are pretty funny."
"And you're pretty... pretty."
        - Kaylee and Simon, in the bar

"I'm no good with words. Don't use 'em much, myself."
        - Jayne, speechifying


"Try to see past what she is, and on to what she can be."
"What's that sir?"
"Freedom, is what... Take jobs as they come — and we'll never be under the heel of nobody ever again. No matter how long the arm of the Alliance might get, we'll just get ourselves a little further."
        - Mal introduces Zoe to 'Serenity'

"I always thought the name Serenity had a vaguely funereal sound to it."
        - Simon, expecting the worst


"I'd forgotten you're moonlighting as a criminal mastermind now. Got your next heist planned?"
        - Book to Simon

"Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots."
        - Mal, as Kaylee and River play tag

"Don't worry, I'm not gonna start any sword fights. I'm over that phase."
        - Mal to Inara

"You're losing the high ground here, sweetcakes."
"I'm sure you and Mal will take that hill and fortify it."
        - Zoe and Wash

"I'm the one she swore to love, honor and obey."
"Listen — she swore to obey?"
"Well, no... but that's just my point! You she obeys!"
"There's plenty orders of mine that she didn't obey — she married you!"
        - Wash and Mal, arguing over Zoe

Smellin' a lot of "if" comin' off this plan.
        - Jayne

"I never shot anyone before."
"I was there, son. I'm fair sure you haven't shot anyone yet."
        - Simon and Book


"You and lipstick is a dangerous combination, as I recall."
        - Mal to Saffron

"The war buddy bond is a tough one to crack. I knew if I shot you I'd lose Monty anyway. You just had a better hand of cards this time."
"It ain't a hand of cards. It's called a life! I've got a better life than you."
        - Saffron and Mal

"What's she doing on the ship!? Didn't she try to kill us?"
"Please. Nobody died last time... right? Where's the old guy with the hair?"
        - Wash and Saffron

"Captain says you're to stay put. Doesn't want you runnin' afoul of his blushin' psychotic bride."
        - Jayne to Simon

"You can't take it out the front door, nor the back door, nor any door. Every piece of pretty is
tagged for the scanners."
"Right. So what do we do?"
"You chuck it in the garbage."
        - Kaylee comes up with a genius plan for Saffron

"You don't want him knowing the truth. Unlike all the, I'm gonna go with hundreds, of men you've married, you actually want this one to think well of you after you've gone. My god... Could it be that I've just met your real husband?"
        - Mal to Saffron

"How long have you been with him?"
"He's my husband."
"Well who in the damn galaxy isn't?"
        - Durran, Saffron and Mal get acquainted

"I don't reckon you've killed many. Just put 'em in a position to die easy."
        - Mal to Saffron

"A brilliant, beautiful, evil double crossing snake."
        - Mal, describing Saffron

"We got the loot, didn't we? Then I call it a win. What's the problem?"
"Should I start with the part where you're stranded in the middle of nowhere, or the part where you have no clothes?"
"All according to plan."
        - Mal and Inara


"You manage to find the bright side to every single thing."
"Tell me more good stuff about me."
"You always say what you mean, and your eyes... I don't know how to... Plus, every other girl I know is
either married, professional, or closely related to me, so you are more or less literally the only girl
in the world."
"That's a hell of a thing to say."
        - Simon, winning and losing Kaylee

"We're ammoed up pretty good. Got a discount too, on account of my intimidating manner."
        - Jayne

"I've broken no law!"
"Transportation of human cargo — especially dead cargo — through the Allied postal system is punishable by five to ten years on a penal moon. Plus, you don't know this yet, but you resisted arrest."
        - Ammon and Womack

"Anything [in the box]?"
"Not unless this crate's made a'magical wish-granting planks."
        - Zoe and Jayne, facing a mystery box

"Using corpses for smuggling is a time-honored repulsive custom."
        - Mal

"You just murdered me."
"You murdered yourself, son... I just carried the bullet for a while."
        - Tracey and Mal


"You know, it ain't altogether wise, sneaking up on a man when he's handling a weapon."
"I'm sure I've heard that said. But perhaps the dining area isn't the place for this sort of thing?"
"What do you mean? Only place with a table big enough."
        - Mal and Inara

"I won't let any man take what's mine. I doubt you'd do different, in my position."
"Well, lady I must say — You're my kinda stupid."
        - Nandi and Mal

"I'm not so afraid of losing something that I won't try havin' it. You and I would make one beautiful baby. I want to meet that child one day."
        - Zoe to Wash

"I expected a whole lot more of you to be taking payment in our trade."
"Well, we're an odd conglomeration. Got a preacher, a married fellah, and the doctor... well he'd have to relax for thirty seconds to get his play, and that'd be more or less a miracle."
        - Nandi and Mal, discussing 'personal services'

"You are a remarkable woman, you don't mind my saying."
"Long as it's you saying it, and not my fine rice wine."
"It takes more'n a few drinks to render my judgement blurry. What about you? Am I getting any prettier?"
"By the minute."
"If I'm overstepping my bounds, you let me know."
"Malcolm, I've been waiting for you to kiss me since I showed you my guns."
<after kiss>
"You okay with this?"
"I'm just waiting to see if I pass out. Long story."
        - Mal and Nandi


"We're deep in space, corner of No and Where."
        - Mal

"If wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak."
        - Jayne

"She does have an oddness to her. And I ain't just talking about her proficiency with firearms. Girl knows things. Things she shouldn't. Things she couldn't."
        - Jayne, about River

"I don't think my last act in this 'verse is gonna be betraying my sister."
        - Simon to Early

"How come there's a guy on board, and how come you're all of a sudden the ship?"
"I know you have questions."
"That would be why I just asked them."
        - Mal and River


"Earth that was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terra-formed a process taking decades, to support human life, to be new earths. The Central Planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating, but the Alliance's victory over the Independents insured a safer universe. And now everyone can enjoy the comfort, and enlightenment of our civilization."
        - A history lesson from the Alliance

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."
        - Young River, on why the Alliance is disliked

"This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight... turbulence and then explode."
        - Mal, updating the crew

"If there's any fighting, you fall down or run away... It's okay to leave them to die."
        - Simon, with some advice for River

"The leg is good, It'll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs."
"I was thinking more of a graze..."
"Well, you don't want it to look like you just gave up."
        - Mal, working out a deal with a security guard

"I don't care what you believe in, just believe in it."
        - Shepherd Book to Mal

"In the time of war, we would never have left a man behind."
"Maybe that's why we lost."
        - Zoe and Mal

"I'll kill a man in a fair fight... or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight, or if he bothers me, or if there's a woman, or if I'm gettin' paid - mostly only when I'm gettin' paid."
        - Jayne's philosophy

"I cried like a baby — a hungry, angry baby."
        - Mr Universe recalls his wedding day

"You have to open with payment."
"That is a trap. I offer money, you'll play the man of honor and take umbrage; I ask you to do what is right and you'll play the brigand. I have no stomach for games."
        - Mal and The Operative, pretending to negotiate

"It's a fair bet the Alliance knows about Mr. Universe They're gonna see this coming."
"No. They're not going to see *this* coming."
        - Zoe and Mal

"You should have let me see her captain. We should have done this as men — not with fire."
        - The Operative

"Sure as I know anything, I know this — they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'."
        - Mal, making a stand against the Alliance

"And are you willing to die for that belief?"
"Yes I am... course it's not exactly Plan A."
        - The Operative and Mal

"You know what the first rule of flyin' is? Well I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say."
"I do. But I like to hear you say it."
        - Mal and River

"Firefly was instantly hailed by critics as one of the most cancelled shows of the year. This movie should not exist, failed TV shows do not get made into major motion pictures."
        - Joss Whedon, from the DVD Bonus Materials

"Every piece of history is a piece of human nature."
        - Joss Whedon, from the DVD Bonus Materials

"Why I do this is not to make things that people like. It's always to make things that people love."
        - Joss Whedon, from the DVD Bonus Materials


Joss Whedon has made his name and reputation on programs that take cliches and invert them, stand them on their collective ears. The cute helpless blonde who is first to be screaming victim of the monster? She's the heroine who kicks their butts. The vampiric creature who goes bump in the night? He's the hero, helping the helpless... Firefly doesn't transcend cliches or invert them. It embraces them. It adores them. Oh, there's touches here and there, flashes of the Whedon pull-the-rug-out-from-under-expectations. But the overall world in which they exist does very little to indicate original thought.
        - Peter David

"Serenity" is an old-fashioned space opera, and differs from a horse opera mostly in that it involves space, not horses. It is made of dubious but energetic special effects, breathless velocity, much imagination, some sly verbal wit and a little political satire. I'm not sure the movie would have much appeal for non-sci-fi fans, but it has the rough edges and brawny energy of a good yarn, and it was made by and for people who can't get enough of this stuff. You know who you are.
        - Roger Ebert, from his review of "Serenity"

With Firefly, Whedon has moved away from the notion of any sort of moral authority that exists outside of ourselves. Firefly's universe mirrors our own in that it is fundamentally unfair, which is the lesson that Mal learns when the Independents surrender and his heart breaks into a thousand tiny, jagged pieces. And from that point until the final shots of Serenity and probably after, Mal is furious. He's enraged at the universe for disabusing him of his belief that he lived in a world in which heroism was possible. Any other man would have been defeated, would have succumbed to nihilism and hopelessness (as we saw Angel do more than once) but Mal's anger won't let him do that. He vacillates between heroism and selfishness, never quite facing up to the notion that it is possible, albeit extremely difficult and ultimately unsatisfying, to be a force for morality in an amoral universe (something that Book tries to teach him in their penultimate scene together). Mal's broken heart tells him that heroism doesn't exist, that acting selflessly will have no meaningful consequence, and that he should take care of himself alone, and he listens to that heart quite often. But whatever it was that once made Mal believe in some good greater than himself sank its roots deep, and Mal constantly returns, furious and reluctant, to a fight that he doesn't truly believe in. As Inara so accurately puts it in Serenity, Mal's character is impossible to nail down because he keeps changing his mind about it. It's not just, as my brother put it after seeing the film, that we can't decide whether Mal is a hero or a complete bastard--we can't decide what kind of hero, or what kind of complete bastard, he is...
Possibly the most fascinating and tangled aspect of Serenity is the parallel drawn between Mal and The Operative. Whereas Mal has discarded his idealism--allowed it to be burned up by his rage--thus turning himself into the kind of man who would choose a stolen payroll over a man's life, The Operative has sublimated himself--discarded his humanity--in the service of an ideal, and it's a hallmark of Firefly's twisted take on morality that the former is the hero and the latter the monster. They're both wrong, of course, and yet they both have an insight into the very aspect of humanity that they've chosen to turn away from--love. Serenity begins and ends with these two men musing over the power and danger of love, and the fact is that it is Simon's love for River, and her love for him, that enable the truth about what happened on Miranda to be known--a love that neither The Operative, nor Mal, are capable of expressing.
        - Abigail Nussbaum, reviewing Firefly\Serenity on her "Asking the Wrong Questions" blog