*Spoiler* An interesting look into Simon.
Friday, October 14, 2005

I really enjoyed watching Firefly… and unlike most TV shows I used to watch, I really liked all the characters. But we all have our favorites. Wash being my favorite character and Simon being my least favorite. It’s like comparing nine light bulbs. Wash would be 100 watts. Simon would be 98 watts. Everyone else in between. Not much difference. But, even Book (who started below Simon but jumped up with the whole mystery of who he really his. Not to mention the “Special Hell” bit) had less airtime then Simon, and yet Simon remained 98 watts. Maybe, its because I saw him protecting River as being a little too obsessive. I liked that he sacrificed everything he had to save her, don’t get me wrong. And she needed special attention at the time. But, all we mostly saw Simon do, is deal with River, and maybe occasionally do other stuff, and I guess subconsciously I started thinking that Simon is only good for taking care of River, and fixing the occasional wound. The Firefly episode Ariel surprised me a bit. And it wasn’t until after I watched the movie Serenity that I started to take a deeper look into his character. The book highlighted even more things.

If you get the opportunity to, and only after you see the movie, read the movie novelization. It’s based on the first version of the finalized script. As with almost any movie, what’s written and what gets shot is sometimes different. The same holds true for this book. In my opinion, books based on movies are usually weaker then the movie (the opposite being movies based on books usually plain suck.) But if you’ve seen the movie, there is a lot of back-story the book includes. How Simon set up rescuing River was very useful info. In the end, I enjoyed the book far more then any other based-on-movie book I’ve read. Just the different “Point-of-Views” made it way more dynamic. The Firefly back-stories and the movie really blend well in this book. Hats off to Keith R.A. DeCandido. I think he did a fine job on the book. I’ve also enjoyed many of his other books. Either way… back to the point.

On a thread in the Sluggy Freelance fan board, some people felt the movie prologue was different from what Simon said, about River’s rescue in the pilot episode. They said he paid people to rescue River. The movie shows Simon doing most of the rescue. There was also a point made about Simon’s character during River’s rescue and how it was really… out of character for him. Reading the books and watching the show provided some clues as to how both versions are true.

First off, once he rescued River, he can’t just walk down the sidewalk with her. (Zoe mentions that central planets are full of feds and sensors in one episode of Firefly.) The people Simon paid a “huge” amount of money to, already had the contacts in the academy. They’d gotten a hold of an Alliance military uniform and credentials. Very good credentials too, for him to get that deep into the academy. The stun weapon hidden inside the baton I’m sure cost a pretty penny. They’re the ones who rescue him and River from the ventilation shaft with the flying vehicle. And in that vehicle, contains a portable cryo-unit (also expensive) that he puts River in so he can move around safely. I’m sure that cryo unit was disguised to look like something else as well. I imagine most people would get questioned dragging a giant freezer around. The flying vehicle that his contacts rescue him in, drops him and the frozen River off at the Eavesdown (sp?) Docks. This is where the Firefly pilot episode Serenity begins.

Also to note… When Simon was telling the story of River’s rescue to Mal and the crew in the Firefly Pilot episode (Serenity) he didn’t know who he was dealing with. A fed had just shot Kaylee because of him. River was let out of cryo early, and the feds we’re now aware they onboard the ship. Simon probably felt it was safer to under state his part in River’s rescue. After all, the crew knew they we’re after Simon for some reason “probably” dealing with his moon-brained sister. If they knew that Simon ‘himself’ broke into the facility, they might think that the feds would really be after him with passion. Mal may have thought, that Simon was just to much a fugitive to hide. That and it would make Simon seem more of threat to the safety of his people. Mal looks after his crew and his ship. Simon calculated that maybe Mal would judge him by his money, which is why he stuck to his story about paying them lots of lots of money, and leave out the part where he did the actual rescue… like he left the part out about River’s “Safe-Word.”

Secondly: My friends seemed to think that Simon was out of character in the prologue, with how smooth and calm he was while undercover. They seemed to think that he was always insecure and jittery. I agreed with that at first, but then thought over. In Firefly, Simon is insecure because he is unsure of his current environment. Just a few days after boarding Serenity Mal threatens to throw him out of the airlock. He’s gotten punched a few times. Jayne doesn’t seem to like him. He is in ship full of criminals. River isn’t the sister he remembers. I imagine, most of us would be a little (or a lot) culture shocked if we got thrown into 1800s west. But Simon shows an entirely new side of him in the episode Ariel. He is the one who comes with the plans for circumventing Alliance security to break into the hospital, something he probably learned when trying to find contacts for getting River out. Also, the novel states that they used his same contact for rescuing River, to get the paramedic uniforms. Once in the hospital he walks up to a patient who is dying and stabilizes him, while undercover. He even gives the patient’s doctor a verbal thrashing for being an utter moron. Simon was truly in his element. One other note, is when he, River and Simon are captured by security, its Simon, not Jayne who demands to know what will happen to him. Being almost the exact opposite of Mal, Simon truly feels very comfortable in the central planets, because it’s familiar territory. That said, Simon only true comfort is in keeping River safe, and he had to grow a thick spine to do so. As the Operative said, Love is a very powerful/dangerous weapon. It can make people to some powerfully ugly or beautiful things.

Oh yeah… before I forget to mention. Sluggy Freelance is one of my favorite online comic strips. It’s the story of a few friends and a bunny with a switchblade and the crazy stuff that they run into. Its readers includes quite a few Browncoats, as the boards show. When you get a chance, read up on it. But start from the very beginning. If you do a few comics a day, you should be caught up in two or three weeks, but they’re great and funny. Check it out at

Wow.... I can really rant.


Saturday, October 15, 2005 1:05 PM


This is very similar to what happened on both Buffy and Angel, where even in the run of the series Joss allowed major established elements to change. Technically, on a word for word literal level, it CAN POSSIBLY fit in with continuity. But that doesn't mean it isn't a major change. There is no shame is just accepting that Simon, both his character and his back story, were altered in the name of making the movie more "exciting." I personally think that writers come up with better things when they force themselves to be creative, and (as I said in my review) I think it was a mistake to completely reverse the entire premise of the series within the first ten minutes of the movie. But it doesn't mean I don't still love them. Cuz I do.

Review at

Friday, October 14, 2005 10:05 AM


Oh, and sluggy is hilarious! Thanks for sharing.

Friday, October 14, 2005 7:24 AM


This is why Simon is one of my favourite characters and the one I most relate to. I understand him. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who does.

Friday, October 14, 2005 7:02 AM


With Simon, when River is involved all bets off. He is a different person. I'm sure he feels a great deal of anger towards the Alliance and the scientist doing stuff to her. And as an emotion anger can help you keep your concentration and resolve. He jumped from the upper catwalk of Serenity’s cargo bay down onto Dobson who was talking River away in the pilot episode. He was ready to and actually tried to fight Jubal Early in Objects in Space. Even after he was shot he still made an attempt to stop Jubal.

Point is... Simon will do anything to protect his sister. Even kill if he has to. But Simon also likes to plan. His entrance, rescue and escape were precisely planned. It goes for the hospital heist in Ariel as well. He made the plans for that heist. But that heist was mainly about getting River to the Holographic MRI or whatever it was machine. Wherever River or a medical sitituation is involved, Simon is cool, smart and efficient. Ok… maybe not often ‘cool.’

Simon isn’t a criminal. He doesn’t steal or kill for living. And he wasn’t the one who planned the heist in Jaynestown. That was Mal’s plan and most of Mal's plan involves him BS’ing his way through (which tends to be interesting and hilarious). Mal has military smarts and battlefield experience, and that allows him to think on the fly, and to come up with some quick plans, but he doesn't often make really detailed plans. In the movie, he fired on that Reaver ship to get them to follow him to Mr. Universe's planet. But he didn't really plan on how to escape from the Reavers. Once they got to the planet he'd figure something out. So throwing Simon front and center in Jaynestown was a last minute decision, based on him betting a suit wearing guy like Simon won’t arouse suspicion and because Mal wanted something to laugh about later. Simon can't wing up ideas and conversations on the fly. Nor is he good when put into certain stressful situations, which is why he was a stumbling mess when talking to the foreman, and usually when talking to Kaylee (I know this part well).

Friday, October 14, 2005 6:29 AM


I've got an answer to that, Zoot. On Ariel and in the prologue, Simon is on the Central Planets, Alliance high society. Moreover, he's in medical facilities--and if Simon knows how to deal with anyone, it's doctors. "Am I making you nervous?" He knows how to push doctors' button, keep them on edge.

Out on the Rim, he's a fish out of water. He doesn't know how to deal with the fellow covered in mud who slaps him on the back. It's a total disconnect from the society he knows how to maneuver in. That's why he flounders so pathetically in "Jaynestown"--and they make a point of how he's a "civilized man" on a frontier world. He just doesn't know how to behave there.

But in a hospital, dealing with doctors, he's in his element. That's why I don't think there's even a contradiction there.

Friday, October 14, 2005 6:08 AM


On your second point, I get that Simon master-minds the whole thing in Ariel, but then he doesn’t have a big fake part to play … I found him out of character in the prologue cos I remembered him trying to buy mud in Jaynestown …

(to Kaylee)
What happened to Simon? Who is this
diabolical master of disguise?
He's learning...

If he was just learning then, how come he was so slick way before he joined the crew … but then, I’m willing to accept two mutually exclusive premises at the same time and that they had to do things differently for the movie – hearing how someone else saved a guy’s sister is just no where near as cool as watching the guy himself do it …


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