Firefly Discussion

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Firefly Discussion

Post  Admin on Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:55 pm

So I had something I wanted to share regarding Firefly so I thought I'd fire up a Firefly OOC sort of thread.

But I recently purchased (on the cheap because Borders is going out of business) "Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale" written by Joss and Zack Whedon, with illustrations by Chris Samnee. I read it in one sitting (it's a very short read, even by graphic-novel standards - probably because this is more of a graphic short-story), and I must say it has finally let Hen-.....I mean, Shepherd Book rest in peace in my mind.

It makes me rather sad though that the story didn't get told in the TV show, it was rather beautiful and I tried my hardest to imagine Ron Glass playing the character, and his voice throughout the dialogue, but the book explores his entire past: how he came to be a Shepherd, who he was before that, and how he ended up where he was.

If anyone would like to know what Shepherd's real backstory was, I have put to rest the rumors about what Shepherd was that made his character so mysterious, i.e. the rumors that he was an operative that had a crisis of faith, etc., in the section below but WARNING! It contains spoilers. If you intend on buying the book, you might prefer to wait and read it instead of reading my narrative of the facts. If you don't plan to buy the book and still want to know, then herein lies the desired information.

All the same I would HIGHLY recommend buying the book (I got mine for $10.49 + Tax) if only for the illustrations (which were quite amazing) and to support Joss and the 'Verse. Not to mention my narrative of the events that transpired are very much the facts (with my interpretations) and don't do justice to the story of Shepherd Book (in the sense that a documentary doesn't do justice to actually living the events), not to mention I left out scenes non-crucial to the story; specifically: events that transpired upon Serenity that undoubtedly would have formed the opening scene of a Firefly episode (had the show continued), as well as Shepherd's final moments before death - which was a beautiful scene that, to Zack Whedon's credit, did complete justice to the character of Shepherd Book. These two passages are well worth reading and alone are worth the value of the book (IMO), let alone the illustrations or the great debt of thanks we all owe Joss for sharing this with us.

Okay, you've been warned, you've been advised, so here goes...
(click the box below that says SPOILER to view my narrative of the story)
Spoiler:
Despite the common belief that Shepherd Book was an Operative which would explain his ability to fight, the secrecy behind where he comes from, or why he has an Ident Card that gets him clearance aboard an Alliance Ship, this Theory is wrong as you shall see...

As a young boy, Henry Evans (not Derrial Book) lived in an abusive home with a father who suffered from alcoholism. Living in a poor neighborhood where crime was high and the Alliance was the heavy hand oppressing the masses (and they don't say which was the cause of which, something that I appreciated), Henry took on a life of petty crime and evading the police. The early stages of the Independence Movement recruited Henry when he was seen narrowly avoiding arrest by being quicker to the draw than an Alliance Officer. When he returned home to find the Alliance bashing in his front door, he decided the Independence was the only place he could go.

Henry began working for the Independence as muscle on the streets, beating up Alliance Officers even while outnumbered. (I imagine this is where he mastered his talent for fighting) He was more of a fighter than a revolutionary, or a politician, so when he actually showed up to an Independence meeting, the few in charge were surprised but not half as surprised when Henry volunteered for a job that was discussed in the meeting and dismissed as something nobody would throw their lives away for: to be a mole in the Alliance.

Henry had his left eye replaced with a biorobotic implant that not only continued to allow him to see, but also contained a transmitter that allowed the Independence to see what he saw as well. To acquire his new identity, Henry caught and killed Derrial Book, an upstanding citizen of the Alliance. He was ready to infiltrate the Alliance ranks.

Book became an interrogator for the Alliance, renowned for his cruel and violent methods of extracting information. The effectiveness of his methods attracted the attention of the Alliance higher-ups who promoted him to a Command Officer position which he held during the war. Book became responsible for the single greatest disaster in Alliance history. He was stripped of his rank and ejected from the ship via an escape vessel (it is not revealed that Alliance escape vessels were death traps - something that might have been a handy peace of info during the final scenes of Serenity) onto a dusty planet, with open wounds and bruises (and possibly even a few broken bones), courtesy of the escape vessel.

Book took to alcohol and (presumably more than a few times, although you only see it happen once) got himself thrown out of bars intoxicated. On one such occasion, an Alliance Officer recognized him as he crawled drunken in the mud outside a watering hole and beat Book to unconsciousness for sending his brother to his death aboard the I.A.V. Alexander. By the time Book came to, he was sobered up and in a shelter. It was there he had a revelation that he needed to do something with his life, and soon thereafter found God.

The rest, as we know, involved the final decision that he had been "out of the world for a spell" and was seeking to carry The Word where it was most desperately needed. And then there was Kaylee in her lawn chair with her spiral-colored umbrella, saying "you're gonna come with us." And the rest is Firefly history.

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Re: Firefly Discussion

Post  Mischa Brendel on Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:16 am

I have the graphic novel as well and really liked reading it. It does explain a lot, although there is one thing that keeps bothering me:

Spoiler:
If Book got thrown out of the Alliance for messing up so badly, then why is it that when the Alliance read his ident card in the episode 'Safe' they immediately give Book the needed medical care, no questions asked? Shouldn't they hold a grudge or something?
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Re: Firefly Discussion

Post  Admin on Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:50 pm

Yes, I had given this quite a bit of thought myself, but here's what I've come up with:

Spoiler:
I think it is first and foremost proper to note that there is information we, the viewers, do not have. We don't know the details of what information appeared when they checked the IdentCard, and we also don't know what friends Shepherd Book might have made and retained from his time in the Alliance.

Firstly, recall that the Alliance discharged him without trial, which could mean that his IdentCard might simply show Name, Rank, and Retirement Status - which would be enough to still pull weight around a major Alliance Facility, so long as nobody actually knew who you were which I'm guessing the footsoldiers in the episode didn't fight in the war or joined sometime after Book's discharge. But consider the rage the CO had for the fact that they just swept him under the rug and the fact that he wanted a good chance at killing Book by sending him down in an escape pod. Perhaps that is a hint as to how much the Alliance genuinely covered up?

Next, it is possible, although unlikely that the reason he was taken aboard so quickly was because he had friends in high places. I say unlikely because there were absolutely zero signs of that during that episode. Not to say Book couldn't make friends, but the officer that checked the IdentCard and gave the order might have very well served under him during the war and had great respect for him, even in the face of Book's plan that cost the Alliance dearly.



What I really appreciate though, is Book's completely different angle on life as a browncoat - a trait that he secretly had in common with the Captain and Zoe. Makes me wonder how the rest of the group would have found out his secret. Maybe his false eye gets damaged and he is forced to come clean? Or maybe the group was never meant to find out his secret and only the viewers were to be privileged to find out? So many questions...

~Robert

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Re: Firefly Discussion

Post  Mischa Brendel on Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:19 am

Your first explanation does sound plausible.

Spoiler:
It is not unlikely that they wanted to keep the 'incident' Book caused low profile and therefore retired him without any further details on his ident card.

I also like that in the graphic novel you learn that the Browncoats weren't all fuzzy and good: they too resorted to rather harsh methods to win the war.
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Re: Firefly Discussion

Post  Admin on Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:00 pm

I absolutely agree on both points! Very Happy

~Robert

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Re: Firefly Discussion

Post  Ash on Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:01 am

I'm copying this across to the Firefly Discussions forum on the main site. Well worth having over there!

Robert, can we close this thread and keep it here as an archive?

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Re: Firefly Discussion

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