Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

TagMalcolm Reynolds (character in Firefly)

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Exploration of new worlds, space and universe, new galaxies. Planets in backlight. Exoplanets. Solar systems. 3d rendering

Serenity: My Defense of the Film’s Initial Choices (Part 1)

Some viewers have complained that director Joss Whedon changed the characters’s behavior in the film vs. the TV series. I believe they are mistaken

I watched the movie Serenity (2005) long before I ever watched the series, and I fell in love it. Some people have complained that, because Joss Whedon couldn’t decide between writing the film for the fans of the preceding TV series Firefly or for a new audience, the movie was hard to follow. This was not my experience, although I didn’t know the backstory and thus didn’t understand the significance of some of the events of the film. But these events help explain why the movie Serenity never got its long-desired sequel. The movie opens with Simon rescuing his sister River from the lab where she was held captive. This event had actually been recorded by the security archives and…

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Abstract scientific background - planets in space, nebula and stars. Elements of this image furnished by NASA nasa.gov

Firefly Episode 14: Ending on a High Note

River proves to be a telepath but highly unstable, as she mistakes a gun for a stick and Mal must get it away from her

It’s been a wild ride as we’ve reviewed the first and only season of Firefly. During the last half of the season, we had three incredible episodes back to back, then two that were awful. But thankfully, the last episode is said to be one of the greatest. In fact, whenever the series comes up in discussion, this episode seems to be the one people point to as a favorite. It opens from River’s perspective. We see that she can indeed read people’s minds. The way this is done is very interesting. As she is watching the crew talk about various issues, their words and thoughts are spoken side by side as if they are all a part of one…

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View on desert

Sci Fi Saturday: The Vixen! She’s Back! Firefly TV Heats Up

So why is Captain Mal sitting naked in a desert? We get to hear the story leading up to that

The opening scene features Captain Mal sitting naked in a desert. A caption advises us that we must go back to seventy-two hours earlier to understand how that happened. Mal, you see, meets an old buddy and shares hugs and swapS banter until the buddy informs him that he is married. Mal is excited to hear this wonderful news until he sees a familiar face — Saffron, the vixen who’d tricked him into believing she was his bride in a previous episode. She is now hitched to Mal’s pal; so imagine the poor sap’s shock when the Saffron and Mal draw guns on one another. After a brief squabble, the swindled husband leaves Saffron in Mal’s angry hands. To save…

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炎に包まれた壊れかけのハート

Firefly Episode 10: Jealousy Divides the Firefly Crew in Space

And yet jealousy plays a key role in saving Mal and Wash from a villain’s sadistic torture

Episode 9 marks a turning point for the series. The previous episodes have been somewhat hit and miss but so far, there’s only been one outright bad episode (Episode 5, which broke all the “rules” of consistent character). However, at best thus far, the series has been very… episodic. That is, a handful of the characters recurs but the events from the preceding episodes seem to have no effect on the upcoming ones. But with Episode 9, that changes. The transition from Episode 9 to 10 starts off on a promising note. We see the events of Episode 9 actually affecting the events of Episode 10. This is a trend that continues as the story builds to a crescendo. That…

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dramatic lit image of a bloody crime scene with a knife on the floor

Firefly Episode 9: A Medical Heist — the Best So Far

Simon, with access to medical equipment, diagnoses his erratic sister’s neurological issues — after she has unaccountably stabbed Jayne

This is my favorite episode so far. It’s a classic heist with all the traditional beats! The crew is sitting around the table talking and eating while Jayne cleans his gun. He keeps spitting on the various parts for some reason, and Simon asks him to stop. He doesn’t. Jayne keeps spitting on the parts, glaring at Simon all the while River, Simon’s sister, gets up, grabs a butcher knife, and slashes Jayne across the chest. Jayne hits her, but she looks up, stares at the big man, and says, “He looks better in red.” With the stakes suddenly raised, the mystery of what happened to River surges to the forefront again. It’s time to get some answers. It so…

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Blaze fire flame background and textured

Firefly Episode 8: The Ship Breaks Down in Space. What Next?

Mal, expecting to suffocate alone on the ship while the other crew members escape, relives the life that brought him there

This episode starts out strong, but gradually breaks down. We open with Mal collapsing onto the metal grating of the ship’s hull. He’s bleeding and the lights are off. We don’t know what happened but we witness a series of flashblacks consisting of three separate timelines: events in the present, how Mal found himself in his current predicament, and the deep past where Mal is first gathering his crew. The episode is essentially an abbreviated version of how the crew got together, sandwiched between a doomsday scenario for Mal. The trouble starts when the crew is celebrating Simon’s birthday. Suddenly, something blows up inside the ship. A couple of hallways are engulfed in flame and Mal and the others just…

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Sculptor artist creating a bust sculpture with clay

Firefly Episode 7: Jayne Can’t Live With Himself As a Hero

Jayne Cobb, otherwise dumb muscle, once helped many people — inadvertently — and is stuck with deadly consequences when the truth emerges

After the strong “Stagecoach” rebound of Episode 6, Episode 7 focuses on Jayne Cobb. Up to now, the dumb muscle has mainly been comic relief. But when Mal and his crew stop by a planet to retrieve some smuggled cargo — under the pretense of ordering a shipment of mud used to make ceramic parts — we learn a little more about the big man’s past. As the crew exits the Serenity to pick up the goods, they come across a giant mud statue… of Jayne. He has no idea why the statue is there but, come to think of it, he’s been acting nervous throughout the mission. Years ago, we learn, things went south at a job he was…

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Stagecoach - Shepherd Boy. Date: circa 1840

Firefly Episode 6: We Meet a Stagecoach — and a Vixen!

In this enjoyable episode, there is only one plot hole and it isn’t really significant

Episode 6 is much better than Episode 5. First of all, the “guns problem” is fixed. We’re back to shooting bullets instead of lasers (?) out of the guns. Some of the rifles do sound a bit different from what we might expect but at least the weaponry is consistent with the ammunition used. The story opens with a stagecoach driving down the riverbank. A group of robbers attempt to take the coach, but the drivers turn out to be Captain Mal and mercenary crew member Jayne Cobb in disguise. After a brief firefight, the bad guys are apprehended, and all is well. The next scene is a congratulatory party for the crew put on by the settlers. The next…

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Still life with old-fashioned lamp, magic witch books, tarot cards and old papers. Mystic background with ritual esoteric objects, occult, fortune telling and halloween concept

Firefly Episode 5: So River Is Now a Witch? Part 2

Simon and River are captured because a town on the planet lacks a doctor. But then things take an occult turn…

As I mentioned in the first part of this review of Episode 5, we stumble through a series of contrivances to get Simon and River kidnapped. Mal and his crew continue to make baffling choices. They decide to leave Simon and River behind. Mal essentially says that they were stupid enough to get themselves caught, so they are on their own. This is baffling because Mal’s driving force is worry about his crew, and he’s long since made it clear that he considers Simon and River to be part of his crew. Because he was the one who had told them to take a hike, one would think that he’d feel some sort of responsibility for their predicament. But he…

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Cattle in pen

Firefly Episode 5: Brawls That Don’t Make Sense, Part 1

In this episode, after the cattle are unloaded, characters act in an uncharacteristic way in order to create a plot crisis

The vast quantities of cow dung left on the ship after a shipment of cows was dropped off is a telling omen for how this episode unfolds. We do get some much-needed exposition in the form of hints and flashbacks regarding the Shepherd and River Tam’s past but, apart from that, Episode 5 is by far the worst. While the first four episodes had some weak moments, they’ve been funny and enjoyable. Episode 5 dives into the incoherent. We open with the cows from the previous episode being unloaded from the ship and herded into a corral. Mal (Captain Malcolm Reynolds) and his crew work the herd like real cowboys which is enjoyable, but as they’re working, Simon Tam begins…

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Fencer  with fencing sword. Fencers duel concept.

Firefly Episode 4: Mal Ends Up in a Swordfight Amid Outer Planets

It all starts when ship’s engineer Kaylee decides she wants to dress like a Southern belle…

In Episode 4 we open with the crew returning to the planet Persephone where the series began. While in the Market, Kaylee, the ship’s engineer, finds a dress that she particularly likes and Mal, who is growing impatient because he’s carrying something heavy, says there’s no way she could use such a dress because she’d look silly working on the ship in such a thing. Of course, this infuriates everyone, and they all leave in a huff. Now, what’s interesting about this scene is the world-building. The show really commits to the whole Western genre because the dresses remind one of the southern belle’s style or even something out of the Victorian Era — vintage garments that high society might…

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Laser Cannon Incapacitates Enemy Satellite In Space

Firefly Episode 3: Should Some People Be Left To Die?

After the space crew rescues the survivor of a pirate attack, Captain Mal faces off against The Shepherd on whether God can save even that man.

Episode 3 begins with a friendly game of basketball… or something like it. Simon, a doctor who has joined the Firefly crew, notes that there appear to be no rules to the game as he watches from the balcony. The game is interrupted by a “proximity alert” and the crew discovers a wrecked ship floating in space. The captain decides to check it out and they quickly discover that the ship has been attacked by the infamous Reavers. We’d seen their ship once in episode one, and we’d heard some ominous descriptions of what they do to their prisoners: “If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And,…

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Concept of asteroid mining in space for rare raw materials

Firefly Episode 2: When Captain Mal Gets a Pang of Conscience…

In the 2002 series, he decides to return stolen goods when he learns of the plight of those from whom they are stolen — with fearsome consequences

Last time, we discussed the first episode of the 2002 Firefly series because Disney is thinking about ruining it with another season. In case you were wondering, this review contains spoilers. In Episode 2, we find Captain Malcolm getting to know his passengers. The doctor’s sister River is suffering flashbacks from her time in the “labs.” Despite being a doctor, her brother Simon has no idea what’s wrong her. She keeps repeating the phrase, “Hands are blue, two by two.” After a bar brawl, the crew lands a job. It’s an old-fashioned train heist. Malcolm and Zoe, his partner in crime, land on the train and steal the goods by latching them to their ship and lifting them into the…

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Terraforming

Firefly: Can Science Fiction Reimagined As The Wild West Work?

I strongly recommend the original 2002–2003 series for its careful development of the culture that grows up around world-building (terraforming)

I recently read an article in Screen Rant which claimed that Disney+ was planning a Firefly series remake. A trailer for the original: Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them. (2002-2003) When I heard this rumor, I felt like Darth Vader screaming No! into the void and wanting to choke something. Since Disney+ has a reputation for producing films which are nothing short of family-friendly abominations, it isn’t surprising that the fandom mobbed Twitter, demanding that the Mouse stay away from their beloved sci-fi franchise. So far, there has…