BLUE SUN ROOM

Controversial Mal characterization

POSTED BY: SPACEANJL
UPDATED: Friday, January 2, 2009 20:12
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 12:07 PM

NBZ


There are plenty of nuggets in there. :)

(Found out it was an actual bible prayer elsewhere. Can't remember where. Yes it is still poetic. Along with the rest of the convo.. "sidle up and smile. hit you where you're weak." and "The type of man they are like to send believes hard, doesn't think to ask why." all have rythm)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 1:53 PM

SAFEAT2ND


I've been trying to figure out the word for poetic style of speaking, and it's been bugging me for days. Right on the tip of my tongue....

Cadence. Mal's style of speech has cadence. Not necessarily full on iambic pentameter, but there is a flow to it. A flavour perhaps. Fun to listen to none the less.

_______________________________________________________________
"Got a headful of lightning
And a heart full of rain
And I know that I said
I'd never do it again
Oh and I love you sweet baby but I always take the long way home."


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 2:43 PM

NBZ


ok, another question. Kaylee.

Would Mal ever (try to) kick her off the ship?

Post BDM will he try to push everyone away or keep them close?

@SAFEAT2ND: true.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 5:07 PM

EMPIREX


Quote:

Originally posted by manwithpez:
I'd prefer to see an old Mal as the Uncle Jesse of space!





OMG! I can't even tell you how hard that made me laugh! Thanks! I needed that.

Patsy: When you were two years old, we tied you to the central reservation of a motorway.

Edina: But you were like a homing pidgeon, sweetie....back within a week!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 5:50 PM

CAUSAL


I saw an interview on the BBC with Britain's last surviving War War I vet. He told a story about some of the horrendous things he saw during the war. His last line said it all: "I'll never leave there. I'll always be there." (Or some such close to that.)

Mal might be able to become somewhat functional. But he'll be in Serenity Valley for the rest of his days.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 2:32 AM

THEHEROOFWILLIAMTOWN


You don't really 'get over it' you just 'get on with it'. A little something i've always noticed is it's mainly others that bring up the war not Mal. He hasn't forgotten it but he's getting on with things everyone else just seems to remind him of it.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 3:23 AM

CAUSAL



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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 3:37 AM

THEHEROOFWILLIAMTOWN


Yeah when i say 'get on with it'. That means exactly what you mean. I don't understand what war does as i've never served. What i said was that Mal still is affected by the war but he's just trying to carry one with life or 'get on with it'.

I didn't really put it clearly in my other post.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 3:40 AM

CAUSAL


Damn. I reread your original post and realized that I was reacting to something that you weren't saying (hence the null post). Plus I've been trying to cut back on the snark. Sorry!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 3:42 AM

THEHEROOFWILLIAMTOWN


Nah mate it's alright i have to admit i was a little confused but that's how i spend alot of my time these days.

All in All 'no harm no foul'.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 3:45 AM

CAUSAL


Quote:

Originally posted by TheHeroOfWilliamtown:
i have to admit i was a little confused but that's how i spend alot of my time these days.



Me, too, obviously!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:01 AM

JONGSSTRAW


The catalyst for Mal's change in the BDM I believe stems from when he shot the guy who was trying to get on the mule, then taken by the Reavers. Mal came up with all the reasons he could use to defend his actions when Zoe brought it up later, and his final answer about leaving wounded behind as a reason why they lost the war was his lowest point.

When Jayne asks him why he rescued River and brought her back, Mal glances over at Zoe...it is that moment that tells me Mal has changed...his humanity has kicked back in...he could not abandon another person.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:36 AM

PLATONIST


Quote:

Originally posted by Jongsstraw:
The catalyst for Mal's change in the BDM I believe stems from when he shot the guy who was trying to get on the mule, then taken by the Reavers. Mal came up with all the reasons he could use to defend his actions when Zoe brought it up later, and his final answer about leaving wounded behind as a reason why they lost the war was his lowest point.

When Jayne asks him why he rescued River and brought her back, Mal glances over at Zoe...it is that moment that tells me Mal has changed...his humanity has kicked back in...he could not abandon another person.





Good observation, I missed that...ummm more to think on... Thanks

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:21 AM

SPACEANJL


Another point to add: Mal's leadership qualities during the war. This man always inspired people to follow him. He still takes care of those under his 'command'.

He's flailing and a little lost, until he finds something new to believe in. You watch one small damaged little girl carve her way through a bar of folks like the Angel of Death come down, and then fall like a broken angel. You think that he could leave her lying there?

Of course, I don't think Mal has a very clear idea of the why himself. But...both he and River had a clear shot in the bar, before Simon horned in. Neither of them took it. You might want to wonder on that a while.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:29 AM

MAL4PREZ


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
Of course, I don't think Mal has a very clear idea of the why himself.

Joss said in the commentary that someone (his wife?) brought this issue up late in the movie-making process: he never explicitely addressed Mal's decision to bring River back to the ship. So Joss says - of course Mal brought her back! Wasn't any need for him to waffle about it, he probably didn't even question himself until he was out of atmo. It was just the thing to do. (I'm totally paraphrasing, I can't remember what Joss actually said, but you get the point.)

Kind of goes with him (Mal) being a man of action before anything else...

-----------------------------------------------
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:41 AM

SPACEANJL


The 'why are we still talking about this?' approach.

I think Mal reacts to things very quickly, which includes yelling at folk who punch him in the mouth. (Simon) And then he doesn't ever back down. Doesn't know how. Like a lot of the Inara situations. A lot of smart mouth, and then no way back. In a command situation, he can't be seen to back down, and I think he gets command and real life a mite twisted together. So he throws the Tams off (which he almost instantly regrets, probably, but doesn't know how to retrieve.) And he's horribly defensive about it to Kaylee.

But Mal wouldn't be Mal if he'd left her there. After all, that was the sensible option, and does he ever take the sensible option...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 11:26 AM

NBZ


I am jumping back a little to an issue which I think is important (to me) and then catch up with everyone.

"When you've been in Serenity you never leave" and "The war is all I lost". What do they have in common?

It is not that they are about Mal, but that they are said by Zoe. I think she truly believes that and the other quotes, but they are more about her than Mal.

Why does Zoe have to always always know and understand everything about Mal? IMO she is trying to understand Mal through her own demons. That does not mean she is accurate in any way at all. (Yes - Joss was trying to get a message across through Zoe, but that don't mean what Zoe thinks is fact.)

That is the worst thing that had happened to her, and her coping mechanism is "Mal went through worse. He survived. I hold on and I will too."

If you watch the scene in OoG, Mal does not pick the name for Serenity out of spite or bitterness. You hear hope in his voice. (I am of course assuming that "Serenity" IS the name he had picked out, not some other name he got talked out of or something. That does not show to me that Mal is as bitter about the war as we all assume. Then there is his banter in The Train Job. "Superior numbers. That is why we lost." Once again, not showing much bitterness.

I have this theory that Serenity valley was the worst thing that happened to Zoe. It still gives her bad nights. (maybe after the demise of Wash this will change) But for Mal, his worst came much later. Maybe something Zoe is not aware about.

I had this theory of him being tried for treason by the independents, War crimes by the Alliance, but the former of that got scuppered by the fact that Mal got a commendation over Serenity Valley. Maybe something else then. Still ways around that, but there is a lot to explore here.

The significant glance in Serenity IMO is also about asking "You too?" Is Zoe also demanding an explanation? If she is, he would have to provide something. Since she does not, he just ignores the issue, moves on to the next point of if she goes woolly again.

About his actual decision to allow Simon to leave (not kick them off, as it was Simon who suggested it), I don't think Mal would have immediately regretted it if the stuff that happened did not happen. It is just like the Tracy situation. "I'll go to Hell before I watch you turn and bite us for the favor". Maybe later on he would have, but he probably would not admit that to even himself.

With the Kaylee bit he is once again fed up of being challenged on everything he does. Mentally he has already moved on from the Tam's.

While Mal is loath to change his mind, he can and will if needed. Once he has had a breather and room to think. Look at the Pilot. Simon is a dead man even when Mal knows the score, all the way up to when Mal has a quiet moment where he can look to change his mind. Indecisiveness costs lives. He will not do that in a moment of action. (In the case of the Tam's, the journey to beaumonde took 10 hours, so he had a chance to reconsider. But would there be any point since Simon wanted to leave? can't hold the man against his will - no matter how stupid he is being.)

EDIT - I actually put the point I was making in (choosing the name for Serenity bit). Forgot about it the first time.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 12:27 PM

PLATONIST






Of course, I don't think Mal has a very clear idea of the why himself. But...both he and River had a clear shot in the bar, before Simon horned in. Neither of them took it. You might want to wonder on that a while.






Oh, I think we've all wondered about that...

My interpretation is that Mal already knows River to be more than just a fighting demon, he's already established a relationship with her beyond this new behavior. (Do you know that girl?) Like Tracey, he gives her time to stand down.

and I think River is smart enough to know that Mal is Simon's and River's ticket to safety and freedom. He holds the Captain reins and makes the calls on where their going, (he has to see) Miranda. She is like Joss says "watching him carefully".

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 12:39 PM

NBZ


Quote:

Originally posted by SPACEANJL:
Of course, I don't think Mal has a very clear idea of the why himself. But...both he and River had a clear shot in the bar, before Simon horned in. Neither of them took it. You might want to wonder on that a while.



The main question is that was that a stand off, or artistic licence?

In the script is as soon as they point the guns she will be made to fall asleep. But saying the words does take time.

I am not too sure where I stand on this.

The problem with Mal is that sometimes he does the right think without thinking about it. like on autopilot. That gets him into trouble sometimes.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 12:43 PM

NBZ


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:
Of course, I don't think Mal has a very clear idea of the why himself.

Joss said in the commentary that someone (his wife?) brought this issue up late in the movie-making process: he never explicitely addressed Mal's decision to bring River back to the ship. So Joss says - of course Mal brought her back! Wasn't any need for him to waffle about it, he probably didn't even question himself until he was out of atmo. It was just the thing to do. (I'm totally paraphrasing, I can't remember what Joss actually said, but you get the point.)



Yeah heard that in the original commentary. (No CE in the uk = me waiting longer to listen to the new nuggets that are teasing me on this very site.)

I don't think many people thought he would do any different to be honest. WHen I heard the commentary, I thought "huh, that IS a good question". But because of who we see Mal as, I doubt anyone really questioned why he did that. And so, he didn't, and joss did not have to get himself out of a situation. :P

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 2:01 PM

NBZ


[DELETED - added to earlier post (3 up from here).]

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:34 PM

PLATONIST


I don't want to give any spoilers away, but I think you'll like the new CE commentary, NBZ.

Ron and Nathan try to pry some info out of Joss(for our benefit, I'm sure) and Joss is like NO, NO, WRONG, WRONG and NO and WRONG again!

He definitely has things planned out, like you said, and he's not giving it to us until he's ready. He does slip at times, but he catches himself quickly. I had to hit the back button a few times.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 5:25 AM

MAL4PREZ


Woo! Nbz - doing some posting last night LOL! Which means it'll be a good hour before I get on with work today, because I've just got to reply to this and the other thread...

You make a very good point that the things Zoe says are Mal through her filter, and not necessarily Mal. That's not something I think of a lot.

I agree that Mal's cheer about his ship's name was odd. But I gotta disagree that Serenity Valley was worse for Zoe than Mal - I mean, look at Mal's face in the pilot! I do think his heartbreak continued during the next few years, but it all started when he saw his army (and his God?) desert him.

I don't see Zoe as so emotionally involved in the war as Mal. She was career military, doing her job. Mal was a volunteer, protecting his home and his way of life. I'm sure losing sucked for her, but I don't think it crushed her spirit the way it did Mal.

So why is Mal so cheerful? Well, the man can make humor out of anything. He doesn't wear his bitterness on the outside, which is how he's managed to survive and not turned into some lonely drunk.

About the ship's name, I've got my own theory...

I think it would be perfectly like Joss to have another flashback episode a season later where we learn that Serenity's name initially was Happy Sunshine or something cheery and stupid. But then there was some dark angsty string of events and afterward Mal changed the name to Serenity.

Huh. Yeah. I wish I'd written that out LOL! It would at least fit my take on things - Mal sees this ship as a new life after a few very hard years, but then has some reminder of how much the war changed him, and how he won't be just leaving it behind. So he changes the name of the ship.

Dang. I wish I had written that! I even know what the events would be... a later standalone, maybe!


-----------------------------------------------
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Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:06 AM

SCHOONER


I sort of figured Mal's deision to name the ship Serenity was in a similar vein to Robert DeNiro's qoute in Raging Bull, "You never knocked me down." Naming his ship after Serenity Valley is a big poke to the Alliance that they may have won the battle and the war, but Malcolm Reynolds is still standing. He and his people did do the impossible, held the Valley to the point where the Alliance practically had to nuke it to dig them out. In Mal's mind, that't a point that the Alliance needs to be reminded of.

Similar in a smaller scale to Thermopylae. What people remember is how well and bravely the outnumbered Greeks fought, not the fact that they lost.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:51 AM

SAFEAT2ND


Quote:

Originally posted by schooner:
I sort of figured Mal's deision to name the ship Serenity was in a similar vein to Robert DeNiro's qoute in Raging Bull, "You never knocked me down." Naming his ship after Serenity Valley is a big poke to the Alliance that they may have won the battle and the war, but Malcolm Reynolds is still standing. He and his people did do the impossible, held the Valley to the point where the Alliance practically had to nuke it to dig them out. In Mal's mind, that't a point that the Alliance needs to be reminded of.

Similar in a smaller scale to Thermopylae. What people remember is how well and bravely the outnumbered Greeks fought, not the fact that they lost.



That rings true to me. I can't see him re-naming it. Jayne... ya, but not Mal. I think Wash woulda named it Ivan.

Whoa... lotsa good points here. Mal taking the war personnaly while Zoe, like a soldier makes all kinds of sense.

To me, the war is like an old injury to Mal. It hurts and eats at you, but if you live with it long enough, while you don't forget about it, you cope and every once in a while you do something that triggers the pain.

Mal had humour before the war, it only makes sense that he still has the humour, beaten battered and bruised, but it's still there.

While I've never been enlisted, I do know a thing or two about injuries.

_______________________________________________________________
"Got a headful of lightning
And a heart full of rain
And I know that I said
I'd never do it again
Oh and I love you sweet baby but I always take the long way home."


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Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:12 AM

NBZ


Yeah, can see plenty of people disagree slightly with me. Keeps things interesting. I at times deliberately look for a different understanding. As long as it rings true with the facts, I will consider it. And if something is a default by any means, it must be questioned before acceptance. That is my motto. Or it would be if I stuck to one.

(A bit of repetition, but) In the OoG flashback Mal seems to have a name picked out for the ship, with a wistfulness when he mentions it to Zoe. There is no bitterness in that tone. So if it was Serenity, it is not IMO for the reason of "You never knocked me down". It just does not fit with my understanding.

Or as Mal4Prez said, he could have (been forced to) change it later.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:29 AM

MAL4PREZ


I can just see Joss using the misdirection. "I got a name all picked out..." and we all think we know what it is. Then a later episode has a shot of Mal smiling proudly as he paints some really stupid name on the ship and Zoe stands to the side shaking her head...

Or maybe that's just the only way I can make sense of Mal's light-heartedness in OoG.

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

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 10:39 AM

NBZ


Well, they did also have a genius mechanic shortly afterwards...

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 12:19 PM

JETFLAIR


Quote:

Originally posted by nbz:

It is not that they are about Mal, but that they are said by Zoe. I think she truly believes that and the other quotes, but they are more about her than Mal.

Why does Zoe have to always always know and understand everything about Mal? IMO she is trying to understand Mal through her own demons. That does not mean she is accurate in any way at all. (Yes - Joss was trying to get a message across through Zoe, but that don't mean what Zoe thinks is fact.)

That is the worst thing that had happened to her, and her coping mechanism is "Mal went through worse. He survived. I hold on and I will too."

If you watch the scene in OoG, Mal does not pick the name for Serenity out of spite or bitterness. You hear hope in his voice. (I am of course assuming that "Serenity" IS the name he had picked out, not some other name he got talked out of or something. That does not show to me that Mal is as bitter about the war as we all assume. Then there is his banter in The Train Job. "Superior numbers. That is why we lost." Once again, not showing much bitterness.



I agree with you to an extent about Zoe, and it goes back to nine people seeing nine different things. There is a deleted scene with Zoe talking to Simon, telling him how Mal lost his humanity and mercy in Serenity Valley. It really nagged at me for a while, because everything in me screamed "No, that's not true!"

Serenity Valley hurt Mal deeply, I believe that. But not the way she put it. Seems to me she tries, just like everyone on the ship, to understand certain things about Mal. Sometimes they understand him right, sometimes they understand him wrong. But I have to (probably) disagree about it affecting him less......tell me this isn't a pretty devastated Mal:



The not-bitterness....I see that as partly Mal's having moved on, having healed to an admirable extent. The other part....this is the Mal who asks Niska if he's starting a book club. This is the Mal who dodges enemy fire grinning and whooping and cracking jokes about "they don't like it when you shoot 'em." Mal has a playful attitude towards life, and while it sometimes falters, he never loses it completely.

How many people react this way to being stripped naked and being dumped in the desert for their crew to find? Heck, how many of us would think to write this as his reaction? How many comments do you think we'd get calling it unrealistic or out of character?

http://www.serenityverse.com/images/albums/userpics/10001/normal_PDVD_
054.JPG


We tend to write Mal's broodier sides or his sweeter sides in fics, I've noticed. His playful side is harder to capture, possibly because it's hard to reconcile with this supposedly hardened man. Truly hard times tend to knock the playful out of most folk. That's one of the reasons I go against the grain of calling Mal "broken." I just can't watch the light, playful part of him and call him a broken man. He is too much of a survivor; he may be traumatized to the core, but nobody has ever been able to break that playful self.

Mal is a broody sort, but also more lighthearted than Zoe. In my mind, Zoe desperately needs both Mal and Wash's humorous attitudes towards life to keep her own demons at bay.

"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you when she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home." .......We love you, captain.

"This is the captain. We may experience some slight turbulence and then.....explode"

www.serenityverse.com - Zoe necklace replicas, Serenity dogtags, jewelry, image gallery w/ custom DVD covers, other goodies!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 12:25 PM

JETFLAIR


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
I can just see Joss using the misdirection. "I got a name all picked out..." and we all think we know what it is. Then a later episode has a shot of Mal smiling proudly as he paints some really stupid name on the ship and Zoe stands to the side shaking her head...

Or maybe that's just the only way I can make sense of Mal's light-heartedness in OoG.

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



I'm pretty sure you are exactly right. In the script published in the Firefly Visual Companion, Zoe starts laughing off screen. That didn't make it into the episode, but it shows the intent.




"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you when she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home." .......We love you, captain.

"This is the captain. We may experience some slight turbulence and then.....explode"

www.serenityverse.com - Zoe necklace replicas, Serenity dogtags, jewelry, image gallery w/ custom DVD covers, other goodies!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 12:39 PM

JETFLAIR


Quote:

Originally posted by schooner:
He and his people did do the impossible, held the Valley to the point where the Alliance practically had to nuke it to dig them out. In Mal's mind, that't a point that the Alliance needs to be reminded of.



Bingo. You just expressed it perfectly. There are many reasons Mal might have named his ship Serenity, and as an act of defiance makes the most sense to me, I think. Still not totally sure, but...."This job I would do for free."

"Neener neener, we held the valley," seems very Mal ;)



"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you when she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home." .......We love you, captain.

"This is the captain. We may experience some slight turbulence and then.....explode"

www.serenityverse.com - Zoe necklace replicas, Serenity dogtags, jewelry, image gallery w/ custom DVD covers, other goodies!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 12:56 PM

NBZ


Plenty of good thoughts and discussion points.

Quote:

Originally posted by jetflair:
I agree with you to an extent about Zoe, and it goes back to nine people seeing nine different things. There is a deleted scene with Zoe talking to Simon, telling him how Mal lost his humanity and mercy in Serenity Valley. It really nagged at me for a while, because everything in me screamed "No, that's not true!"

Serenity Valley hurt Mal deeply, I believe that. But not the way she put it. Seems to me she tries, just like everyone on the ship, to understand certain things about Mal. Sometimes they understand him right, sometimes they understand him wrong.



I am 114.7% in agreement. (that means totally)

Quote:

But I have to (probably) disagree about it affecting him less......tell me this isn't a pretty devastated Mal:


Not saying he wasn't devastated. What I was suggesting is that the devastation did not end there. The time after that was also harder on him than on Zoe.

The actual loss of Serenity probably did hit Mal harder. he was the commanding sergeant. He ordered people to their death. Now pointlessly it seems. Being in command in such a situation will hit a person hard. It was his decisions. If he gave up earlier, would more people have lived? That is something Zoe - being under his command - cannot ever feel.

What I am suggesting is that he kept on getting hit after being knocked down. Far worse than Zoe did or even knows about.

There is the possibility that Mal may look back at Serenity Valley with nostalgia. It was a time when he had purpose. Before he lost everything. Where he was actually happy doing his duty. A time before the rest of the cr*p hit him.

Quote:

The not-bitterness....I see that as partly Mal's having moved on, having healed to an admirable extent. The other part....this is the Mal who asks Niska if he's starting a book club. This is the Mal who dodges enemy fire grinning and whooping and cracking jokes about "they don't like it when you shoot 'em." Mal has a playful attitude towards life, and while it sometimes falters, he never loses it completely.


yeah, his playfulness is really hard to write. I always thought of it that they have been through such hardship, they see normal life-risking as nothing. But then again he had that cockiness in the flashback, so I am wrong.

Quote:

How many people react this way to being stripped naked and being dumped in the desert for their crew to find?


But you forget the initial rage against Saffron. This was later when he had cooled down, found out the job had gone well.

Quote:

Heck, how many of us would think to write this as his reaction? How many comments do you think we'd get calling it unrealistic or out of character?


Plenty. I am guilty as charged.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:03 PM

HOPERULES


I'm not sure it was rage. It seemed more like very justified name calling. Mal know about the con so I doubt he was surprised it went well.

May have been on the losing side, still not convinced it was the wrong one.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:33 PM

SHINYSEVEN2


Mal is smiling in that shot because, for one gorram time, the plan is actually working out the way it's supposed to. "Trash" plays on the audience sharing Saffron's POV: that, just like always, Mal & Co are going to commit some dangerous crime and then end up without the swag.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:36 PM

NBZ


Quote:

Originally posted by Platonist:
I don't want to give any spoilers away, but I think you'll like the new CE commentary, NBZ.

Ron and Nathan try to pry some info out of Joss(for our benefit, I'm sure) and Joss is like NO, NO, WRONG, WRONG and NO and WRONG again!

He definitely has things planned out, like you said, and he's not giving it to us until he's ready. He does slip at times, but he catches himself quickly. I had to hit the back button a few times.



I think I will enjoy it too. I just need it to be released in the UK.

One thing I like about Joss recently is that he seems to have got some desperation back. For the past year or so, he has been pretty nonchalant. He has gone from "I don't care. If they ask me, I will make it" to "I wanna continue this tale. Even if it is on radio" (That is from the Amazon interview).

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:38 PM

JETFLAIR


Quote:

Originally posted by nbz:

The actual loss of Serenity probably did hit Mal harder. he was the commanding sergeant. He ordered people to their death. Now pointlessly it seems. Being in command in such a situation will hit a person hard. It was his decisions. If he gave up earlier, would more people have lived? That is something Zoe - being under his command - cannot ever feel.

What I am suggesting is that he kept on getting hit after being knocked down. Far worse than Zoe did or even knows about.

There is the possibility that Mal may look back at Serenity Valley with nostalgia. It was a time when he had purpose. Before he lost everything. Where he was actually happy doing his duty. A time before the rest of the cr*p hit him.



Okay, I'm agreeing totally with that :D Well, you've read my fanfic, so you kinda know my take on that period ;)

Zoe probably suffered more in the moment - the defeat of losing the war, the physical suffering of being abandoned in the valley, the heartbreak of being among the dead and the dying. The actual events were the traumatic ones for her.

For Mal, I'm thinking it was the ramifications that hurt the worst. The loss of lives under his command, the question of whether the fight was worth it, the fact that the universe including him was going to have to live under Alliance rule, the question of whether he could have fought smarter or better and somehow changed the outcome, the shaken/destroyed faith......



"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you when she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home." .......We love you, captain.

"This is the captain. We may experience some slight turbulence and then.....explode"

www.serenityverse.com - Zoe necklace replicas, Serenity dogtags, jewelry, image gallery w/ custom DVD covers, other goodies!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007 3:43 PM

KATESFRIEND


Another way of looking at it is Mal's sense of humor is one of his greatest survival strategies. Anything less than an incredible sense of humor would lead most people in Mal's state to end it all quickly, or get someone else to end them. You can either laugh or cry or rage at most situations. How we react is the only choice we get to make. And that choice defines us as to our character. Mal's character is just a little quirkier than most.

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Friday, August 31, 2007 4:43 AM

MAL4PREZ


Quote:

Originally posted by Katesfriend:
Another way of looking at it is Mal's sense of humor is one of his greatest survival strategies.

I'm totally with you on this. It's true of most of Joss's characters, that they can always find humor in a very dark place, and that helps them survive the crap that Joss puts them through. The odd mix is what makes his shows so damned entertaining!

And of course, we must keep in mind that this *is* a work of fiction, and Joss had to make it funny to draw in his audience. He remade the pilot to make Mal less dark and more snarky - on Fox's orders! But underneath, Joss has made it clear that Mal's a bitter, messed-up man who's lost touch with his former self. He's hollowed out - Nathan says that himself!

So sorry, jetflair, I have to lovingly disagree! (Don't hate me LOL!) I think Mal did lose his "humanity and mercy" in Serenity Valley (and possibly the events following, though I think that's more fannon.) Not completely - the noble, cheerful young man is still in there. River serves to help him find that inner hero again, and his journey from anti-hero to hero is the arc of his character.

Doesn't mean he can't be playful. His cheer in Trash seems perfectly in character to me - he'd never admit to being humiliated. I mean, he won the overall battle with Saffron, but she snookered him into getting naked. Rather than admit the little defeat, he plays it up with an overblown lack of embarrassment. He's often doing that around Inara. (bobbly headed dolls, bwaaa!, etc)

Schooner: displaying the name as a dig at the Alliance - excellent take on it! Kind of like walking around in his uniform all the time as a way of giving the Alliance the finger. Totally works for me.

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Friday, August 31, 2007 5:55 AM

HOPERULES


Here is my theory about Mal. Losing the War broke him - broke his faith, his heart, his spirit. However, he couldn't change. He is who he is. Therefore, in order to stay sane, he makes his world really small, small enough he can protect it. Maybe he could not win the war, but he could keep Serenity and its crew flying and free. It is the primary motivation for most of his actions. If he considers someone crew, he would do everything he could to protect them. If not he does not, they are semi-expendable. I do think this attitude changes over time and especially in the movie.

I've often thought that a better response to the Zoe question about leaving no man behind is, "Well, he wasn't our man."

May have been on the losing side, still not convinced it was the wrong one.

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Friday, August 31, 2007 7:44 AM

JETFLAIR


Quote:

Originally posted by mal4prez:
So sorry, jetflair, I have to lovingly disagree! (Don't hate me LOL!) I think Mal did lose his "humanity and mercy" in Serenity Valley (and possibly the events following, though I think that's more fannon.) Not completely - the noble, cheerful young man is still in there.

Doesn't mean he can't be playful. His cheer in Trash seems perfectly in character to me - he'd never admit to being humiliated. I mean, he won the overall battle with Saffron, but she snookered him into getting naked. Rather than admit the little defeat, he plays it up with an overblown lack of embarrassment. He's often doing that around Inara. (bobbly headed dolls, bwaaa!, etc)



Gorram you! :mutters: How can you disagree with me? ;) All people I respect must agree with me to validate my sense of self-worth. :mutters more:

I reckon I do have a rather sunnier outlook on Mal than you do. Maybe it's the fact that I so adore that noble and cheerful young man :)

I agree to an extent that the lack of embarrassment is a cover....almost as yet another act of defiance towards life and circumstances. "You think *this* is going to embarass me? #$%@ you!" So, yes, a mite overblown, but I also see it as more of a conscious choice and not just a cover.

I think he decided not to be embarrassed about jumping out of his skin every time someone comes around a corner, or about facing his crew stark naked. He enjoyed that altogether too much for it to have been entirely a cover.



"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you when she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home." .......We love you, captain.

"This is the captain. We may experience some slight turbulence and then.....explode"

www.serenityverse.com - Zoe necklace replicas, Serenity dogtags, jewelry, image gallery w/ custom DVD covers, other goodies!

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Friday, August 31, 2007 9:11 AM

MAL4PREZ


Hoperules - wow, excellently worded. That is very much what I think - Mal exists in his little world. To give himself control.


Quote:

Originally posted by jetflair:
Gorram you! :mutters: How can you disagree with me?

I'm just a bad baaaad person.

Quote:

I reckon I do have a rather sunnier outlook on Mal than you do. Maybe it's the fact that I so adore that noble and cheerful young man :)
Whereas I like my fictional men dark and broody... as long as there is ample fun-making of the dark broody stereotype LOL! Joss is just the master for making this happen, first with Angel, then with Mal. Although, I never did find Angel all that attractive. Maybe it's the forehead.

Quote:

He enjoyed that altogether too much for it to have been entirely a cover.
Absolutely - I'm with you on that! He did like the exhibitionist part of it quite a lot... now, is that a bit of Nathan sneaking through? LOL!


-----------------------------------------------
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Friday, August 31, 2007 9:35 AM

JETFLAIR


I think it's the dichotomy between the dark and broody and the noble and cheerful that grabs me about Mal...the best of both fictional worlds rolled into one. The fact that he's dark and broody but can still be cheeful and kind....oh yeah!

Now, if it were real life, I'd probably marry Wash. But I'd have one mad crush on Mal.....



"Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you when she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home." .......We love you, captain.

"This is the captain. We may experience some slight turbulence and then.....explode"

www.serenityverse.com - Zoe necklace replicas, Serenity dogtags, jewelry, image gallery w/ custom DVD covers, other goodies!

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Friday, August 31, 2007 10:07 AM

MAL4PREZ


Quote:

Originally posted by jetflair:
Now, if it were real life, I'd probably marry Wash. But I'd have one mad crush on Mal.....

Ain't that the truth. Maybe marry Wash after a stormy and torrid affair with Mal... Mmm, I should write me some Mary Sue fic!

-----------------------------------------------
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Friday, August 31, 2007 4:36 PM

KATESFRIEND


If you, Mal4Prez, write too broody of a Mal, and you, Jetflair, write too sunny of a Mal, could possibly a collaboration of sorts occur, then all of your fans would receive a Mal that to all extents and purposes, would be the "perfect" Mal - at least outside of Joss's mind. That could tide us over until we get the sequels, right? Not that both of you write anything other than wonderful fic - some of the best out there for sure, but collaboration can be very interesting, especially at the level of talent you both have. Can you see I'm desperate for more Firefly?

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Friday, August 31, 2007 9:46 PM

NOSADSEVEN


Quote:

Originally posted by jetflair:
I think it's the dichotomy between the dark and broody and the noble and cheerful that grabs me about Mal...the best of both fictional worlds rolled into one. The fact that he's dark and broody but can still be cheeful and kind....oh yeah!


I'm right with you (as I'm sure you well know ). It is the presence of both aspects of Mal that I find so compelling, and more specifically, which aspect of Mal surfaces under which situations, and why. It is a fascination that both Inara and Book admit to sharing, so I guess we're in good company!

When I think of those contradictions of Mal's character, I find myself looking back at his childhood. That fleeting glimpse of his Mama and the family of ranch hands she created, and the obvious comfort he found in God... these things helped build him a strong, solid foundation, with footings dug in to bedrock. A foundation of who he is, what's right and wrong, and what is important in life. So he grew into the God revering man with his homilies and ideals and tales of glory, aided in life by his inborn determination and leadership skills (and humor!).

After Serenity Valley, when the edifice of his character is gutted and destroyed, what survives is that foundation of who he was. When he rebuilds himself following that devastation, it's in a different style than his earlier self: the materials are different, the structure, the design... but underneath, the fundamental shape of his self is determined by that solid foundation. Those core values are still there, because they are the shape of him. The belief in God is still there. What's changed is how he's decided to react to God and those values. He never truly escapes them, because of the solidness with which they were laid.


"None of it means a damn thing."

I think River's insight into Mal's thinking shows us both what allows Mal to be as happy as he is, and what keeps him from greater happiness. I think it is a way of thinking he's applied to all of those things that damn well do mean something - the things that mean so much, the only way to deal with their loss is the denial of their importance.

His adoption of that belief allowed him to survive and keep moving after losing the faith that had carried him through the war itself. But it also blurred the boundaries of who he was, and what he would allow himself to do, letting him take that step from technical criminality to outright thievery. It allows him to be the stone cold killer, the thief, the mean old man, while it holds him back from getting to that healthier, happier place.

While that attitude may be too vital to his ability to handle the darkness for him to release it, it could also just be habit at this point, having served its purpose and usefulness during the crisis of the post-war period and only serving to hold him back now. But either way, it is a denial of himself, a lie, that seems to make him find his own behaviors a bit confounding at times.

I think he has managed to get himself to a relatively happy a place on Serenity, striking a balance between the man he was, and the hard man he had to become. He's not still fighting the war, he's not swallowing a bullet. Instead, he's created a family around him, where he can enjoy the warmth and pleasure of companionship, the strength of leadership, and a purpose for carrying on. He's lost in the woods, but as he's explained, that is because that is where he needs to be for things to be clear to him. Where the choices are easier because they are all a matter of survival.

But I do think Mal can find greater happiness. People grow, things change, stuff happens. Stuff happened in Serenity, and as has been pointed out, he seems to be in a whole new place after that. Someplace where he can see a path without being in the woods, perhaps. Someplace where some of it does mean something. So I think there is room for growth and hope in the more personal and relationship areas of his life. (Discounting, of course, Joss's inevitable need to destroy such peace and happiness once found. I think if Joss had his way, Mal would find happiness, only to lose it so devastatingly...)

Anyway, I've come late to a long freakin' thread, and there's lots I'd like to comment on. But for the sake of marginal coherence, I'll leave it at that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ain't. We. Just.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007 2:50 AM

KATESFRIEND


Nosadseven, that was as brilliant summary of Mal's character as I've ever read. Now I understand the "Lost in the woods" analogy - perfect for a PTSD survivor. And "None of this means a damn thing" now has a deeper, sadder poignancy to it than ever before. Thanks for your wonderful insights!

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Saturday, September 1, 2007 4:28 AM

PLATONIST


Great reading, nosadseven, And I do agree with everything you wrote.

I think it is hard to ignore Mal's character arc in the film.

He does the right thing for the right reason and it makes all the difference. He helps the Tams, balances the scales of justice and shows us who he really is. And at the end...he has his ship in the sky, new family members, and the lady he loves is circling.

Joss keeps saying the movie is about "belief".
IMHO believing in your self is the best place to start. Good advice from the Shepherd.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007 8:08 PM

JONDESU


I agree completely. In fact, I'm working on a very positive view of Mal in a post-BDM version of the 'verse. Basically, if Serenity Valley ripped Mal's faith from him, I think that Miranda forced it back into him. The death of Shepherd Book, the kindness of his former enemy in the Operative... I think those might actually have him looking at faith again, if not entirely in God, at least a little more faith in mankind, which would still yield a less dark person, less "hollowed out inside" as Joss put it. I'm trying to do it very realistically, but I guess ya'll can be the judge of that when I finish the story (though no promises on when that'll be).

jW

"Yep, that went well."

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Sunday, September 2, 2007 6:15 AM

MAL4PREZ


Quote:

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!

-----------------------------------------------
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Sunday, September 2, 2007 6:30 AM

SAFEAT2ND


So essentially, The war amplified some of his traits and blurred others? I get that.

His sense of loyalty and honour, while there before the war, is magnified while his sense of religion and some of it's finer points gets blurred. So this would allow him to justify some of the shadier jobs he takes as long as it involves sticking it to the Alliance. But in the same breath, as in the Train Job, once he finds out how the 'job' affects regular people, he has a change of heart because it contradicts his heighened sense of honour.

That sound about right? Robin Hood Syndrome?

_______________________________________________________________
"Got a headful of lightning
And a heart full of rain
And I know that I said
I'd never do it again
Oh and I love you sweet baby but I always take the long way home."


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