Controversial Mal characterization

UPDATED: Friday, January 2, 2009 20:12
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Sunday, September 2, 2007 8:27 AM


Re: mal4prez

I think you're doing a great job with you fic, no need to feel insecure.

Joss created Mal's arc by leaving Mal no choice, but to take on the leadership role that he was born to (no more running). He takes decisive action and the outcomes are positive (with consequences) unlike what happened in Serenity Valley, where he got no back up...out of his control.

Is his path easily recreated in another scenario?...
Probably, using similar elememts that go beyond him only saving the crew and his ship. Good luck, though, that could get tricky.


Sunday, September 2, 2007 8:32 AM



Originally posted by Platonist:
Re: mal4prez

I think you're doing a great job with you fic, no need to feel insecure.



Sunday, September 2, 2007 11:29 AM


One other thing about filtering, while we probably are supposed to believe at face value what Zoe says about Mal, there are others who do make statements which we are probably not supposed to.

Like the alliance commander in Bushwacked. Or the Operative. Or (maybe even) Badger (who may have been a browncoat himself in a past life - does explain some of the resentment. My only "evidence" is that he cuts his apple. But that could be because he is trying to be above others).

One thing I have noticed is that Mal has moved on far more than others allow him to.

I like the thought that Zoe's utterances are also filtered. Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. ('Course I just like being different too)

On the other hand I do not like the thought that there are a few things that Mal has to deal with and after that he will be all fine and dandy.

I do not see him as something that needs to be "fixed". Just too simple. Mal is who he is.

(and if he got a chance to be heroical all over again - if it did not involve looking out for his crew - I am a firm believer he would walk the other way. can imagine him being pitched a fine and noble task, being given details, most of the crew up for it too, and he just says "no".)


Tuesday, September 4, 2007 10:54 AM



Originally posted by Platonist:
I think you're doing a great job with you fic, no need to feel insecure.

Thank you! I didn't mean to dig for a compliment, but I'll sure as hell take it LOL!

As for funny, I've written things that I thought were super funny, then gotten the feedback that the tension was too high for a laugh to carry. Oh well.

Oh, and I'm really not so much out to repeat exactly what the movie does. There are plenty of ways to push Mal's buttons LOL! I guess I just like having that darkness to play with, and I see it in him before the movie much more than after.

hmm-burble-blah, blah-blah-blah, take a left


Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:48 AM



Originally posted by mal4prez:

Originally posted by Katesfriend:
If you, Mal4Prez, write too broody of a Mal, and you, Jetflair, write too sunny of a Mal...

I don't think that's the difference here. Jetflair has plenty of shadows and brooding in her Mal, and... well... I've tried to give him banter and humor whenever I can, although events in my fic have not allowed a ton of that. But even in my latest, my take on the first U-Day, I have him dark and violent, but still cracking jokes. May not be so funny, but I tried!

I think the real difference between jetflair and I is Mal's state of healing. She's been doing an exploration of the time after the war in which he faces his demons then, and so he's pretty much got himself together by the time he buys Serenity. (Correct me if I'm over-simplifying jetflair! I'm going by what you've posted here, though I know your fic isn't done...)

Now, I'm more in nosadseven's school of thought, that Mal is not healed at the time of the series. He's getting by on a strong foundation from a steady childhood, and he's got his leadership and humor and cleverness intact. But all that is sitting over some pretty serious hurt that he's doing his best to avoid. "it is a denial of himself, a lie, that seems to make him find his own behaviors a bit confounding at times" Yay - exactly! (Dang - why don't you write fic NSS?)

Have to say, if my fanfic version of Mal doesn't fit every bit of what NSS said, then it's because I haven't expressed myself clearly LOL! I can't agree more with her take.

Anyway, to really heal so that he can live life fully, Mal needs something to knock him out of his comfort zone and force him to face up to his issues. Which won't be fun for him, but it's the only way he can truly recover. The movie did this for him. I think that's River's role, to force him out into the big world again. Which maybe is why I'm writing a version of the `verse without the movie, so I can explore that arc my own way.

Oh - and no one would want to collaborate with me! I'm too slow and opinionated, I think I'd drive the other writer nuts LOL!

hmm-burble-blah, blah-blah-blah, take a left

I'm with you on the collaboration thing! Slow? Yep. Opinionated? Yep. It's only rarely that I can even tolerate a beta reader, let alone collaborate with another writer. I am hugely interested in opinions about my writing, but in an after the fact sort of way....not during the creative process.

I think you have nailed the difference in our perceptions of Mal....and it may simply boil down even further to what period of his life we find it compelling to write about.

See....I came into Firefly as a bitter, depressed, and traumatized person. I was not coping well with my own past or with my attitude towards life or people. Mal jumped out at me as this incredible example of someone who handled his traumas and stresses so well, that his example turned my whole life around at that point.

When I saw Mal, I saw someone who was affected by his past, but wasn't letting it rule his life. Who was affected by the traumas and betrayals and such of his current life, but dealt with them in a steady and optimistic manner.

If you compare Mal to a normal human being, he's dark and bitter and unstable and all that. But compare him with the way most people cope with similar stresses....he's a paragon of strength and stability and love. He copes so well that I'm in awe - and he gave me a realistically relatable example of how to cope. Not by being unaffected, but by dealing with being affected.

So it's all where you relate to him from - maybe. I know what it is to have no trust at all, to hate, and to not want to open yourself up to one single avenue where you might get hurt. Trust me, Mal is one hell of a trusting, caring, and brave guy given the circumstances.

Anyways - back on topic. You are dead-on about the healing taking place earlier than in your story. The Mal I see in Firefly has healed to a great extent while having learned to deal with incredible stress and still stay sane. Does he still have a long ways to go? Sure. But I feel like at the point where we see him on Serenity, he's found a path and a life that makes him happy....from a certain perspective.

But at the same time I agree totally with "Mal is not healed at the time of the series. He's getting by on a strong foundation from a steady childhood, and he's got his leadership and humor and cleverness intact. But all that is sitting over some pretty serious hurt that he's doing his best to avoid."

To that I would add that he may well sit on that his whole entire life. There are some things you learn to cope with, not get over. I guess when I talk about Mal and healing, I talk about him healing to the point of being able to cope very well, to the point where he can experience joy and trust and love *in his own way.*

If you equate healing with completely getting over something - say, being okay with the fact that he lost the war and the Alliance won, and all the emotional ramifications of having been a leader in that conflict - that's a looooong way off, if it ever comes.

"Love keeps her in the air...." - My fanfics - Firefly Jewelry


Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:53 AM


and the great posts just keep on comin'! jeez you guys... i need an awe icon here :@:

You All Rule


Wednesday, September 5, 2007 4:15 PM


Beautifully stated, Jetflair. I was always drawn to your fic because of the underlying passion in them, and now I understand where that passion comes from.

Everyone heals in their own way and with their own resources, nobody can do it for you. That is why Firefly is so outstanding as a series and as a statement about humanity, that horrible things can happen, but life is too precious to waste on never healing from it. And revenge is never a solution to a problem because it destroys your humanity even further. We all find our own ways of coping, and if Mal could cope and even be looking for the rest of his humanity, then there's hope for the rest of us.

I agree wholeheartedly with the healing vs. coping thing. He may never get over all that happened, but he was trying. And that was one thing so beautifully stated in your last few fics.

I think Firefly is a perfect therapy for people looking for a role model who is a true survivor. Isn't that one of the best roles for scifi, as a source of hope for our future?


Thursday, September 6, 2007 12:07 PM


this thread demonstrates everything good about this site and this forum.
is there anyway you shiny people can get it uploaded to whedonesque?
because... - dear god, i'm going to break my cardinal rule and use the J word -
i think it would make joss and co verrry happy.
i realise there are many other beautiful threads but this is a stunner for taking a single topic and fully exploring it.

you SO rule.


Thursday, September 6, 2007 12:22 PM


Another question about Mal.

He knew that River was a reader. How? Why? The options seem to be:

1. He has met a (probably natural, and not as developed) reader before, so knows about it. (think of the pain the reader would feel in a war setting - I doubt any "reader" would be of much use here.).
2. He has not met a reader, but has heard stories.
3. It came to him of his own notion.

I would probably go for number 2, but 1 also seems a possibility (but then you can get into the game of Mal having been witness to almost everything that has ever happened...)

EDIT - seems this is now moved to here:


Sunday, September 30, 2007 10:23 AM


bump for jewelstaitefan


Sunday, September 30, 2007 2:53 PM


Hmmm....yeah. I'm with you there. Gun-eating or BABIEZ!!! fic gets tedious after a while. I hope this request stirs up some fic of a happier variety.


Sunday, January 27, 2008 10:45 PM


Apparently I missed this thread.
Regarding the opening post, methinks that after BDM the Alliance will be too busy with all the uprisings and riots from the Miranda revelation that Mal and Serenity will have greater freedom, liberty, range for smuggling and thievery. More profit, less hassle.

River may still be susceptible to subliminal triggers, but most of these won't be used once th Operative is done.

Inara's guild seems to not allow her to date or marry, so if her and Mal get together she will no longer be a Companion, unless she does it without telling the Guild.

I see improvement, not destitution. Of course, Yosaffbridg is also HOT!


Monday, January 28, 2008 2:19 AM


Has anyone considered the opposite - the broadwave made hardly any difference at all?

THe Alliance may not be dealing with Mal and crew as they are not painful enough yet... So more of the status quo, but with pointless death in there too.


Saturday, February 9, 2008 3:02 AM


Yeah, possible. In fact, you have the majority of folk just passing by, and a small number of very dangerous folk sitting up and taking notice.

I don't think we saw enough of the tech to get a good handle on things, but I'm a big Gibson/Dick fan, so I don't think slipping under Alliance radar is quite as easy as it seems. If Mr Universe (yay D K!!) can scoop up all those waves, what can an official scan do? If retinal scans are used for ID, and everywhere has a Cortex, soon as you log in some place, you're under the scope.


Sunday, February 24, 2008 8:00 PM



If retinal scans are used for ID, and everywhere has a Cortex, soon as you log in some place, you're under the scope.

Maybe put some kind of optical obstacle between the scanner and the retina? A contact lens that would scatter the beam a bit and foul the scan?

Das Internet is nicht fuer gefingerclicken und giffengrabben. Ist easy droppenpacket der routers und overloaden der backbone mit der spammen und der me-tooen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das mausklicken sichtseeren keepen das bandwit-spewin hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das cursorblinken.


Monday, February 25, 2008 12:15 AM


Wow! Many beautiful thoughts expressed in this thread! :) Here's how I see Mal.

I'd like to look upon Mal's mental traumata as a 'Big Bang' event that tear a man apart in all directions, like an expanding Universe that, when stretched out to the max, will slowly begin to gather in on itself again, gently allowing the various alienated parts of his person to regroup. With Serenity's crew, after the popular theory, all representing different aspects of Mal's personality, they can truly be said, and seen, to heal as a whole. Whether Mal and Inara will ever enter the love boat is the subject of much musing between us all. But as Smaug pointed out so astutely in another thread, their story is about them coming together... not them BEING together. And so goes for all. 'Twere never about what the crew will do after having crossed a sea of troubles, but 'bout their journey. As Book would say: how they get there is the worthier part.

So, when did Mal make the decision that doing crime is okay and justifyable? Dostoevsky has Ivan Karamazov say: "If God is dead, all is permitted." Wouldn't say Mal was ever quite that synical, but after Mal's own 'Big Bang' thingy, I'd say he and God drifted a fair span apart, too. It ain't that Mal began to resort to petty thieving in crazed abandon after his God died: it's more that, from that day on, he saw less reason not to. His "We're all just folk now," I believe reveals a much deeper sense of desillusion than just having lost his cause to fight for: he lost his Cause BEHIND things. And then, with bits falling off his ship, a crew ain't been paid, and, oh, yeah, a powerful need to eat sometime this month, well, then a man has a choice. Besides, add an admixture of denial and nobility to the mix ("My work's illegal, but at least it's honest,") and you have a great.., well, I guess just a good man.

Book's words 'on his way out' were what Mal most needed to hear: "I don't care what you believe. Just believe it." Ever since Serenity, the pilot, Mal's soul has been aching to reconnect to the 'backend' Cause of the 'Verse. At day's end you need to be able to believe in tomorrow. Being a rebel without a cause will do you for a spell, but in the end you need an end.

As for Mal protecting Nandi and her girls, they too give Mal cause again to support a cause again (next to his longterm 'path' of helping River). Also, I think Mal simply sees Nandi and hers as the kindred folk history stepped on. Someone -- girl folk, no less -- waving "Never to be under the heel of nobody ever again," in his face, and you can bet your muscular buttocks Mal will step up to the plate. Noble as a grape.

Ah, Mal. :)

"Mei-mei, everything I have is right here." -- Simon Tam


Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:54 AM


I'm home from work today and I stumbled upon this thread and had to reread it. It was a pleasure reading it after 6 months or so.

It reminded me why I love Firefly/Serenity and all of you here.We can talk, disagree and debate with open minds and with no disrespect to one another.

So unlike the real world.


Friday, January 2, 2009 6:39 PM




Friday, January 2, 2009 8:12 PM


Playful Mal... Suddenly I really want to write a fic where he has to compete in like a horse race or something. Serious stakes, but a chance for the devil-may-care risktaker to shine through.

Anyhoo. Reading Nosadseven's post, I can definitely imagine a Mal post-movie who can't fall back on his "doesn't mean a thing" coping mechanism. Not having lost Wash and Book, not after what Book asks of Mal with his dying words. Even if everyone in the verse ignored the Miranda wave, he can't believe Wash and Book died for nothing...Could he?

But if Mal wants to believe their deaths meant something, then I imagine him trying to apply that new perspective retroactively to Serenity Valley and my own mind breaks. What could it mean, then? Only conclusion I can see Mal coming up with is his usual one: nothing, and so Wash and Book's deaths...

Yikes. And here Mal seemed to get bad when members of his crew merely left the ship. Don't think post-movie can have anything fluffy in store for Mal, even if Inara stays. But I'm also sure he'll keep struggling on, too, eventually find a somehow/somewhere he can live with it.






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