GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Inara: what gives?

POSTED BY: STINKINGROSE
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 9, 2006 04:46
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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:30 PM

STINKINGROSE


Pardon me if I'm rehashing an old discussion or restarting an old fight but I've been wondering for a while now:
If Inara is such a master of body language and psychology, and gifted at making people respond to her in the ways she wishes them to...
then why would she want Mal to become enamored of her?
She has to be aware of the effect she has on men or she never would have graduated from training as a companion. She has studied for years in the art of manipulation.
Is it for some kind of control over where the ship goes when she wants it to? Is it security so that he'll fight for her if she needs him to?
Is is just because she can?
Can she just not help herself?
If she wanted to she could make someone either love her or hate her, or be completely indifferent to her existence.
So what is her motivation if she did not want to become involved with Mal?
Any definitive answers or strong hints from those who should know to date?



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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:33 PM

KANEMAN


I believe actions are stronger than words. When she thought he was dead, What did she do? I think if the story was to play out she is in love with Mal.

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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:41 PM

AGENTROUKA


I think you're overestimating her abilities a little. In particular since people (and Mal) know that she is capable of social manipulation. She's not capable of mindcontrol, just of suggestion and subtle clues.

Or maybe, you're not considering that behind the skill, there is still a normal woman who harbors affection and a need for community and a sense of humor and all these things. She's not a sociopath, just an expert in communication and physical pleasure.

Being a Companion is a job, just like being a psychologist is a job, and just like a psychologist will not spend every human interaction attempting to therapy their fellow human beings, Inara won't want to manipulate everyone in her vicinity until none of her interactions are natural anymore.

Not to mention, being able to manipulate others (to a degree) doesn't mean she is an unemotional robot in full control of herself.

Her friendship with Kaylee is real, her friendship with Nandi is real... She has completely normal interactions with people when she's not on the job. And even if her relationship with Mal is a difficult one, her geniune affection for him probably means that she wants it to be real, as well, and free of manipulation.

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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:46 PM

FUTUREMRSFILLION


You can't "make" anyone love you. And I don't think she wanted him to love her, anymore than she wanted to love him. He is inconvenient.



one of the Forsaken TM

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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:49 PM

KANEMAN


I'm not disagreeing on what her job description is. But it is just a job. When you asked.. why does she want Mal to be enamored with her? I think he either doesn't give her the time of day or he puts down her line of work. This, I think drives her crazy. You may have it backwards...Why is Inara enamored with Mal? and why does he play that game?

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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:56 PM

NVGHOSTRIDER


Thats what is grand about the confusion. Mal fulfills the rage and disgust and attention and emotional connection Inara denies herself to have with her clients. Just so happens Mal is the MOST convinient person to fulfill those things on the ship. He's witty and attractive enough to interact with, but the shadow of his being and insensitivity makes it easy not to completely connect with him.

Seems I know alot about these things due to experience. Kinda sad, ain't it.

"...And them chains them chains
Their 'bout to drag me down"


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Monday, July 31, 2006 1:59 PM

STINKINGROSE


I'm not saying she's a stone cold bitch with no emotions of her own. Professional detachment is possible and necessary in almost any field of work, and if she had wanted things to stay on a strictly business level she could have arranged for it or broken away when she saw things getting complicated.
After all, *neither* of them likes complications.
I was pondering the whole 'why is she even on that boat' thing, and was trying to come up with some underlying motivation(s).
If she were truly uncomfortable with the idea of having a relationship with Mal she would be able to keep things on a more distant footing, even living in close quarters for a year.
I'm not saying the friendships are not genuine or that she does not have feelings for Mal. I'm asking why did she allow it to progress to the level it did if it was problematic?
Playful banter and baiting are classic flirting techniques. You can refuse to play the game if you really want to.
I agree, you can't make anyone fall in love with you, but you can present yourself in a way that lays the groundwork for attraction.
You can show them what they want to see. You can find their buttons and push away. What makes them tick, what do they find attractive in a potential mate? Inara's a gifted actress, it's part of her profession.
Or did the writers just need some painfully unresolved sexual tension (other than Kaylee's) and a comic foil?

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Monday, July 31, 2006 2:53 PM

AGENTROUKA


I think Inara, for the longest time, was kidding herself about the amount of control she had over both herself and the situation.

She and Mal have a grudging friendship underneath the banter that, I think, she truly treasures because she respects Mal as a person, admires him, even.

The flirting is probably an amusing side effect that she tells herself is unimportant and allows herself to enjoy. She's attracted to him, and his returned attraction obviously is flattering. Basically, she lies to herself in order to enjoy the best of both worlds.

And by the time she's trying to step back and enforce a distance it's already far too late and she ends up hurting Mal, who unintentionally hurts her when he sleeps with Nandi.
Inara obviously didn't expect that to affect her so much, and she pulls the emergency breaks and declares her need to leave (incidentally, being truly honest with Mal and herself for the first time, oy.)

A very human thing to do.

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Monday, July 31, 2006 2:55 PM

ORMAYBEMIDGETS


Quote:

I'm asking why did she allow it to progress to the level it did if it was problematic?


This is how love is almost always presented on TV, and I think that's because it's representative of real life. (Think also, Rory/Jess from Gilmore Girls; Veronica/Logan from Veronica Mars) It's all about the attraction between two people being so strong that you're willing to believe or pretend that they aren't bad for you. It's the good girl falling for the bad boy. Why does it happen? Because the reward just seems so much greater than the risk.

-
DB: Doesn't exactly fit the thug in the profile alley. Wait, what?

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Monday, July 31, 2006 3:59 PM

MIMA


Remember there's a mystery of why someone of inara's caliber is on serenity in the first place. morena promised us at dragoncon last year the secret was HUGE, and joss promised to reveal it if there is ever a sequel. she said it was in the back of her head in every scene she did with mal. so she's been driven here- and found people she admired, cared for, and was attracted to... but when it did get too problematic.... umm SHE DID LEAVE!


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Tuesday, August 1, 2006 11:46 AM

GOLDY


Quote:

If she were truly uncomfortable with the idea of having a relationship with Mal she would be able to keep things on a more distant footing, even living in close quarters for a year.


I suppose it is possible that Inara could have refused any sort of relationship with Mal that went beyond professional distance. But then, I think Inara's feeling for Mal (and the sometimes uncertain way she handles them) is one of the most humanizing things about her character. She is a Companion, true. But she's also a real live human being, subject to all the emotions that we are.

We can't say for certain that Mal is the only man Inara's ever loved, but I think it's been hinted. That in itself is enough to make Inara act in ways that might seem irrational. She knows she can't be with him, but that doesn't stop her from having feelings for him, or for wanting to be around him. To say that, because she is a Companion she should have prevented their relationship from progressing, is unfair. It discounts the part of Inara that is human. I think Inara's confusion in regards to Mal, and her way of dealing with them is something we can all sympathize with - much more than we can sympathize with her Companion status.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006 2:04 PM

STINKINGROSE


Okay, let me try again.
Has there ever been a definitive answer?
Probably not, I was hoping for a link or old discussion or something.
It has been fun seeing other people's theories though!
My personal thought as to what she's doing on the ship is that she's some form of agent for a political movement (or possibly the Alliance).
She stated to Mal that for the record she supported unification (then came a joke from Mal), past tense. The Companion Guild would be ideally situated to get messages from one well placed person to another. They are modelled after Geishas, who I believe legend has it had a pretty tight spy network going. Pillow talk is a great source of information even today.
She could be an assassin, but we haven't heard of any trail of dead clients.
I guess we'll just have to wait for that sequel!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006 5:01 PM

NOSADSEVEN


Quote:

Originally posted by stinkingrose:
I'm asking why did she allow it to progress to the level it did if it was problematic?


Well, considering that she had already decided to leave half way into the first season of what was expected to be a seven season show... I wouldn't say she allowed it to progress very far. As was mentioned in an earlier post, once she realized what a problem it was, she ended it.

Quote:

Originally posted by stinkingrose:
Okay, let me try again.
Has there ever been a definitive answer?
Probably not, I was hoping for a link or old discussion or something.
It has been fun seeing other people's theories though!
My personal thought as to what she's doing on the ship is that she's some form of agent for a political movement (or possibly the Alliance).
She stated to Mal that for the record she supported unification (then came a joke from Mal), past tense. The Companion Guild would be ideally situated to get messages from one well placed person to another. They are modelled after Geishas, who I believe legend has it had a pretty tight spy network going. Pillow talk is a great source of information even today.
She could be an assassin, but we haven't heard of any trail of dead clients.
I guess we'll just have to wait for that sequel!


So, what you're asking about is what "Inara's Secret" is. Yes, there is a definitive answer, but no, we do not know it. Joss has guarded that very closely, with hopes to address it in the future.

Yes, it has been widely discussed, pondered, and speculated on in discussion threads and fanfics, but again, there is no known definitive answer, so no definitive link. You can search the archives here using google and some key words (like "Inara's secret"), just limit your search to this domain (i.e., fireflyfans.net). But no previous discussion is any more valid than a current one, though old threads may contain forgotten tidbits of 'soft' information sourced from interviews and such.

Personally, I take my cues from the movie, series and commentaries. Inara has admitted to being "lost in the woods"; that doesn't strike me as terribly assassin-y. Whatever the secret is, it appears to be something she wants to avoid, and shipping out with Serenity was a good way of avoiding it (as was teaching at a remote Companion training house). I just don't think she expected such complications cropping up (i.e., Mal and his ability to spin her about).

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

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006 6:55 PM

ANONYMOUS1


Kaylee at one point asks about a Companion dating and Inara (I believe) says it is complicated.

Maybe if Inara wanted to date Mal, she would
have had to fill out a whole ton of complicated
forms. And she just couldn't go through that
again.


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Tuesday, August 1, 2006 7:09 PM

ARCADIA


Quote:

Originally posted by Anonymous1:

Maybe if Inara wanted to date Mal, she would
have had to fill out a whole ton of complicated
forms. And she just couldn't go through that
again.



I can understand why. Forms are scary! *runs for cover before the paperwork can find her* "Two by two, confidentiality agreements of blue..."

Now, taking the issue a bit more seriously...

I think everyone has hit on the very important point -- that point, of course, being that Inara never meant to fall for Mal. She never meant to enjoy herself on Serenity. Circumstance either forced her from the core or made her decide to leave, and she didn't expect to like it. But she did. And it complicated things. And when things got complicated, Inara ran. Like Mal, she doesn't much like complications, and yet almost every aspect of her life is complicated.

I don't think Inara was trying to make Mal fall for her, nor trying to make him NOT fall for her. When she is with Mal, she is almost always herself. The facade she wears around her clients... there is no room for it on Serenity. Inara is, in fact, a person. She has needs and wants like everyone else. And she has flaws. And sometimes things take her by surprise despite the fact that she was trained to be perseptive. And sometimes what is best in the long run isn't what feels right in the moment and it beomes easier to allow and flirtatious remark, a stray touch, especially when one is lonely.

And I do think Inara is lonely. Companions live, emotionally at least, an isolated life. They are trained to ease others emotional burdens while at the same time remaining detatched, and in control. It's a powerful position, but not the healthiest. In that way, she and Mal are kindred spirits -- each, for their own reasons, forced to deal with loneliness, and the fact that they live on the fringes of their respective worlds, so of course they attract...

[center]
Arcadia
aka Greyfable and/or Katie


like the avatar? there are more. grab one here: http://snipurl.com/syt0. Happy Summer of Serenity!
www.stillflying.net -- picking up Firefly were Joss left off. We will hold 'til he gets back.
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Tuesday, August 1, 2006 11:24 PM

SPACEANJL


'Kay, ST, I'm going to jump in. I'm so glad some one else sees the political ramifications of the Guild - I'm playing with that myself, at present. (I started a thread about the Guild and the Bene Gesserit before) Can I ask that you look at my fic 'Zen', and see what you think of that idea?

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 1:36 AM

ASARIAN


Quote:

Originally posted by stinkingrose:

... then why would she want Mal to become enamored of her? (...) Is it for some kind of control over where the ship goes when she wants it to? Is it security so that he'll fight for her if she needs him to? Is it just because she can? (...) So what is her motivation if she did not want to become involved with Mal?




First off, I enjoyed reading the myriad of opinions voiced in this thread. Good FireFly-y stuff; so much better than all the imponderables. :) Ahem.

Okay, now for your post. Inara genuinely likes Mal; she certainly admires him; probably loves him, even (see Shindig and Heart of Gold).

Inara is an expert in social manipulation. She wields her wiles with great verve. Conversely, she also spots and any all game-playing on the other end ("You don't play a player."). I think therein lies the key to understanding her admiration/love for Mal: in a 'Verse filled with ulterior (and not-so-ulterior) motives for being nice to her, Captain ain't playing her for anything. That's 'cause Mal got people with him, people who trust each other, who do for each other and ain't always looking for the advantage. And in Inara's line of work -- and her world altogether -- that's a rare trait. She's fascinated by it (pilot):

Inara: "Why are you so fascinated by him?"
Book: "Because he's a mystery. Why are you?"
Inara: "Because so few men are."

On the surface she's confuzzled by Mal's lack of an apparent "angle". But, instinctively, I think she realizes Mal is the genuine article, and cares for her more than most men in her life ever will. What's not attractive 'bout that?


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

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 2:00 AM

ASARIAN


Quote:

Originally posted by stinkingrose:

I'm not saying the friendships are not genuine or that she does not have feelings for Mal. I'm asking why did she allow it to progress to the level it did if it was problematic?



Things are rarely this simple. :) Both Mal and Inara are in a somewhat awkward social position: Inara is too high up society to easily admit to herself that she's got real feelings for Mal; and Mal, in turn, is too "rogue" to admit that he kinda likes this fancy lady. So they flirt around the edges; Mal constantly putting down her profession is his clumsy way of tellin' her she deserves better (which is just an indirect way of saying he has feelings for her).

Also, don't discount the "the-viewer-always-sees-more" factor. It's ostentatiously obvious to the audience that Mal and Inara have feelings for each other; but for our crew themselves, not so much (Hearts of Gold). Like in crime fiction: you already know whodunnit, long before the Inspector exposes the butler. :)


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

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 2:12 AM

SIRIUS


In my opinion, I believe that Inara left Cenon because she thought that following the Guild was too strict for her. We can see in Serentiy-The pilot that Inara was tired of Cenon after describing it to her first 'client' that we see. So where could she go? How about on board a ship where her activities can't be monitored. The Guild doesn't allow dating and when Kaylee asks her what's the Guild policy on it, Inara says "It's complicated." referring to her relationship with Mal.

Also, how come Inara constantly mentions Mal's job as petty theft and only once does he get mad? However, Mal calls Inara a w**re once and she gets furious and he stops?

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 2:32 AM

SPACEANJL


Sihnon, not Cenon.

Inara is running from something, but she is still a Companion, uses the might of the Guild to back her up. ('Train Job', 'Shindig')

Actually falling for an irritating, rude, common rogue must be extremely weird.

The rogue, who was minidng his own business quite happily, thank you kindly, probably finds himself conflicted. Mla ain't a man to take kindly to sharing.

He's a thief. And she's a whore. And there is no place for them both to stand.

The people are attracted to each other, but they can't get past the other facts of existence, what the other one actually does to get along.

Inara sleeps with people for money, however you dress it up. Core might be fine with it; Mal isn't from the Core.

Mal does whatever he has to, and he doesn't think a deal of the Alliance ( no go se.)

Politically, ideologically, they are at odds. Inara is not going to give up up her career and way of life - what else would she do? And ditto Mal.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 4:09 AM

ARCADIA


Quote:

Originally posted by SpaceAnJL:

Inara sleeps with people for money, however you dress it up. Core might be fine with it; Mal isn't from the Core.



I think Heart of Gold shows that Mal's problem is less that Inara sleeps with men for money, and more than she sleeps with rich men for money. He had no great moral crisis sleeping with Nandi (well, not 'til after she died) or protecting the honest whores.

Mal just had problems with the lie inherent in Inara's line of work.

And Inara, of course, sees no lies at all. I imagine she views herself more of a comforter than anything else. The people she takes as clients are often social awkward for one reason or another, be it due to their personalities (Pilot-officer, Atherton) or their positions in society (the female Senator, arguably Fess who is surrounded by mudders and no one of his own class). They are isolated and they need someone who makes them feel valued -- so Inara helps the to feel valued during their time together. she sees it as a great service.

Mal, on the other hand, sees it as an act to get more money, and finds the whole thing repulsive.

And they are both wrong, of course. Inara refuses to see some of the hypocrisies inherent in her work, as well as the negative effects it has on her (it isolates her). Mal refuses to see any of the merits of being a companion (not a whore), and really can't see what's so great about all the things Inara has gained from her job (status, respect, etc). Especillay since they are based on a lie.

And then, of course, there is the apart of Mal that is jealous of all Inara's clients, but I think the jealousy is secondary to the honesty issue. It's also seconnadry (thirdary?) to the fact that Mal has been left emotionally weathered by the war and Inara has been trained to isolate herself her entire life -- for these two, it is far safer to keep each other at emotional arm's length and be miserable than to take the risk of getting involved and being happy. If they ever wanted their relationship to work, they would both need to do some serious reprogramming.

And that is why I think it is less about the fact that part of Inara's job involves sleeping with people for a living, and more to do with other issues surround her profession and their lives.

[center]
Arcadia
aka Greyfable and/or Katie


like the avatar? there are more. grab one here: http://snipurl.com/syt0. Happy Summer of Serenity!
www.stillflying.net -- picking up Firefly were Joss left off. We will hold 'til he gets back.
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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 5:06 AM

RUGBUG


Quote:

Originally posted by Arcadia:
He had no great moral crisis sleeping with Nandi (well, not 'til after she died) or protecting the honest whores.



Hrmmm, I think Mal had no crisis in sleeping with Nandi because at that point they were two consenting adults who wanted to get it on. And the moral crisis after she died wasn't because he slept with her, but that he couldn't keep her alive.

Quote:

Originally posted by Arcadia:
And then, of course, there is the apart of Mal that is jealous of all Inara's clients, but I think the jealousy is secondary to the honesty issue.



I think Mal feels less jealousy and more inadequacy when it comes to Inara and her clients. Afterall, who is he in comparison? Captain of an old, beaten up ship, making money with odd jobs...not so much every girl's dream. He knows he can't compete with what they have to offer (as shown by his plaintive "Don't do it" in Shindig). The only thing he has to offer Inara is a personal connection. But that is something lacking in all of Inara's other encounters and she is drawn to it.

Quote:

Originally posted by Arcadia:
I think Heart of Gold shows that Mal's problem is less that Inara sleeps with men for money, and more than she sleeps with rich men for money.



Again, I think Mal only points out the rich men thing because he is so far removed from that. Those comments are how he is working out the "Why can't we be together" question on his own.

Quote:

Originally posted by Arcadia:
It's also seconnadry (thirdary?)



Tertiary




***************
"My feelings are changeable but intense" Anya (season 7 Buffy)

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 5:09 AM

NOTYOLANDA


Hi Stinking Rose,
I agree with you that there is a political aspect to Inara being aboard Serenity but maybe not spying for the Alliance government exactly.

Maybe I have seen Star Wars too many times but what do we know about Mal's father? Absolutely nothing except it was his mother who raised him on Shadow with 40 farm hands. Did dad give her the money for the ranch and hands so his son would be safe? Or did she hire the 40 farm hands to feel safe from dad? Inara could have been hired to see how Mal would feel about a relative who serves in the Alliance. Surely she would know that at the end of the event, Mal would feel like she betrayed him.

Ok now for the reality check, I think Joss would not be so obvious with the bad man "Luke I am your father" scenario. Maybe it is a half-sibling testing the waters. That would create tension, but not be a repeat of Star Wars. Elaine

Please! Nobody died last time!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 6:25 AM

RUGBUG


Quote:

Originally posted by NotYolanda:

Ok now for the reality check, I think Joss would not be so obvious with the bad man "Luke I am your father" scenario. Maybe it is a half-sibling testing the waters. That would create tension, but not be a repeat of Star Wars. Elaine




If Joss ever did anything like that, I would stop watching anything of his and would curse him.

***************
"My feelings are changeable but intense" Anya (season 7 Buffy)

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 6:33 AM

AGENTROUKA


I think this scenario is unlikely, simply because IF Mal was a job, she WOULD have played him and kept everything in control.

He's trouble because, as Inara precisely demands when she rents the shuttle, her shuttle will be her home. The place where she is not on the job.

Not to mention, hiring a Companion (a highly secure and respectable profession) to spy on his son would be a bit of overkill. Like hiring a small highly trained army to scare your tenants who owe you money. Just far too expensive and inefficient. Also because it's an obvious fact that Mal would be not-so-pleased meeting his deadbeat dad (more likely than not or he would have mentioned him) and finding out he's Alliance. That doesn't take more effort to find out than it would to find out that Mal is a ship's Captain.

Edited: Even if it's just a half-sibling, all this subterfuge would be... a bit pointlessly overdramatic. Most people would just... meet him and get it over with, not spend a fortune on an indirect "maybe" of an answer.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 10:29 AM

ASARIAN


Quote:

Originally posted by Arcadia:

I think Heart of Gold shows that Mal's problem is less that Inara sleeps with men for money, and more that she sleeps with rich men for money.

(...)

Mal just had problems with the LIE inherent in Inara's line of work.




I think you hit the nail right on the head. Shindig:


MAL
My work's illegal, but it's honest.

INARA
What?!

MAL
While this, the LIE of it, that man
parading you around on his arm as if he
actually won you, as if he loves you.
And everyone here going along with it.


You're right: the jealousy is secondary to the honesty issue (if it exists at all). Mal is more irritated about it than anything else; he just cannot grog why Inara plays along with the lie. It don't make no sense to him.

Mal's not opposed to an honest ho trying to make a living at the rim of space. But what makes him gripe, is when a girl he likes sleeps with rich men, and actually deludes herself in thinking she's having a good life ("These people like me, and I like them." uh-huh).


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

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 12:10 PM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by asarian:

Mal's not opposed to an honest ho trying to make a living at the rim of space. But what makes him gripe, is when a girl he likes sleeps with rich men, and actually deludes herself in thinking she's having a good life ("These people like me, and I like them." uh-huh).




It's, of course, highly convenient that Mal's closest encounter with one of Inara's clients would be Atherton, who's obviously an arrogant bastard to begin with, on a non-Core planet, where opinions about Inara's profession might not be exactly the ones of the society she would be in if she had stayed in the Core.

Hell, even on a place like Higgin's moon, Inara managed to find a client much more in keeping with her skills, but of course that's one Mal doesn't see.

The sample was skewed in favor of Mal's opinion rather than representative of what an average client would look like, so it loses some meaning. It's like a pat on Mal's back, rather than actually forcing him to consider the parts of Inara's job that might be elevating beyond a "delusion".

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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 7:21 PM

TASIA


I've always thought she really wanted to be with him but he's such a brigand that she does/doesn't want to be attracted to him. That's why there is always this tension between them. They both want each other and fight to acknowledge it!

T~

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Wednesday, August 9, 2006 4:46 AM

TAMMYY2J


No way should Joss do like Star Wars and have them as siblings.

Inara and Mal love each other but both are afraid to admit it. He calls her a whore because he doesn't approve of her profession and vice versa when she calls him petty. I love the banter and chemistry between Mal and Inara. I hoped they would hook up in the movie but hopefully maybe in a sequel. Inara does have a secret that was hinted in the series and hopefully can be addressed in a sequel.

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