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Firefly: Our Mrs. Reynolds Ep. 6 November 6, 2007

Posted by Chris in Firefly.
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Whedon returns to the writing credits in this episode and his fingerprints are visible in the characterizations…particularly Saffron, Mal’s un-intended.  Like other women in the Joss-‘verse, Saffron is strong, capable and quite willing to throw-down when necessary.  What Saffron is lacking is a conscience…she’s a stone-cold sociopath.  Her lack of morality is keenly offset against the world Mal has constructed for himself where his personal morality dominates the ship.  At first, Mal’s morality is clearly an impediment to him — first in terms of his ability to read Saffron and understand her true nature, and then in terms of his ability to to fend off her manipulations — and it makes him an easy mark for her nubile “come-hither/I’m an innocent” con.

With the exception of Kaylee, the crew sees Safron through the lens of their own anatomy:  males see sexy-innocence, and females, trampy-dangerous.  Even Book doesn’t read her as he warns Mal to resist her temptations or go to the “…very special level in hell reserved for child molesters, and people who talk at the theatre.”

jayne_vera.jpg

Jayne Clearly Sees Saffron as an Innocent —  That’s Why He Wants To Buy Her From Mal With His Favorite Gun — He Understands Saffron Through the “Lens” of His Male Anatomy Too

When Saffron makes her move to take the ship and kill the crew, she uses her full-range of abilities — sexual attraction, technical prowess, emotional manipulation and general kick-assery.  She lures Mal into a knock-out kiss, distracts Wash with a come-on followed by a kick to the back of the head, sabotages the ship to send it to the space ship chop shop, and nearly takes out Inara with a face-paced seduction followed by more Kung-Fu whammies. 

Interestingly, Whedon paints Inara to be the most intuitive of the bunch — she sees right through Safron’s game — but in the process, this calls into question the morality of Inara’s character and profession.  As Inara claims, “You can’t play a player,” and in writing this, Whedon points a finger of doubt at the morality of Inara’s work.  She understands Saffron because they are similar.

The dissonance between Inara’s game as “a player” and her status as a member of our favorite crew is only partially resolved at the end of the episode where Mal captures and confronts Saffron after escaping from her trap.  “Everyone plays everyone else…” she asserts while Mal retorts that this is not always the case…that people can choose to trust and take care of each other.  This shows Mal is aware of the difference between Saffron and Inara, but surely he would never admit it outright.

“You have the right, the same as anyone to live and…try to kill people…” says Mal earlier in the episode to Saffron.  I love this line.

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1. Kym - November 6, 2007

I love the juxtaposition of Mal and Saffron that is set up in this episode. The teaser shows Mal pretending to be someone he is not (wearing his pretty floral bonnet). This is presented casually almost like it has nothing to do with the main story line. However, Mal displays his essential decency in dealing with the bandits which accentuates how Saffron (who also pretends in the beginning to be something she is not–an innocent child) is evil. The only thing that saves her from our hatred is her vulnerability and her spunk. Joss forgives her lack of morality and pulls his audience along with him by casting an actress with extreme amounts of charisma and sexuality in the part and then in the penultimate scene allows Mal to pity her and thus we do too.

2. Chris - November 6, 2007

You’re right on target…I really like your insight about the juxtaposition of Mal and Saffron. I wasn’t even clued in to the whole pretending “to be something she is not” theme. It seems like her whole character is a study in the choice between hating or pitying the evil in others (I actually hope these aren’t the only choices we have).


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