GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Broancoat War Atrocities?

POSTED BY: SARDONICA
UPDATED: Thursday, July 29, 2004 13:01
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:13 PM

SARDONICA


I just rewatched Bushwacked and was struck by something that the Alliance Commander said while interrogating Mal.

Referring to the "survivor" of the Reever-hit derelict ship, the Alliance CO said something to the effect of, "I haven't seen such mutilation since... well, since the war." From the tone of his voice it's obvious (at least to me) that he we referring to atrocities committed by The Browncoats against the Alliance, not the other way around...

This adds much depth to the history of the Firefly universe. When you come to think of it, aside from the experimentation on River (which may not be an "Alliance" project at all, but simply a privately funded science group or even Blue Sun) the Alliance really hasn't done ANYTHING to show that they are any sort of "evil dictatorship." Sure they're uptight and and beaurocratic and by-the-book, but evil power-mongers? Upon rewatching the series for the fourth time, I don't see any evidence for it. Sure we only really get the viewpoints of the main characters, but they are most certainly jaded--after all, they (Mal and Zoe, at least) fought on the other side of the war. And for that matter, Book doesn't seem overly opposed to the Alliance and their rule...

Could it be that the Browncoats weren't exactly the good guys that we think they are? We're never really even were told what it was that they were fighting for, ony who they were fighting against... the Alliance.

I'm sure that, as with everything, each side has it's own beliefs and motives. But it seems that there might be less to dislike the Alliance for (other than that they seem to uphold the law and crack down on criminals, which is what the Serenity crew are!) and a credible shade of doubt for the actions of the Browncoats (Mal certainly didn't even try to deny the Browncoat atrocites--in fact, his expression was one of admittance).

Something to think about...

Chief Editor, AFM
www.apocalypsefiction.com
Writer/Producer, The NUKE Brothers
www.nukebrothers.com

Edit: Excuse the typo in the title of this post--the edit feature doesn't seem to apply to titles...! "Browncoat" NOT "Broancoat." D'oh!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:17 PM

PURPLEBELLY


Welcome, fellow Purplebelly

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:25 PM

SUPERFLY


Browncoat war atrocities?

War in and of itself is an atrocity. Can anyone here think of a war that didn't involve torture, mahem, the loss of innocent lives? I'm sure both the Browncoats and the Alliance did their fair share of murdering, tourture, civilian killing, and other dark deeds.

I don't think that reflects on Mal and Zoe though. I think they believed in something and fought for it. I just don't see Mal cutting up little girls for fun.

Also, I can kill you with my brain.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:26 PM

APEX


It was a war. Lotsa' people do lotsa' stupid things in wartime. I dont doubt some Alliance-type did stuff on par with it and worse, and vice-versa. Doesnt mean it was authorised by command-types.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:36 PM

PBI


It could also have been a simple general reference to what modern weapons do to a human body.

If you can survive death, you can probably survive almost anything.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:54 PM

DARKSTAR351


Don't forget that in trash the the guy that the crew robs the laser from, wiped out neighborhoods with chem/bio weapons (I froget witch) to get what he wants.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 7:56 PM

APEX


Saffrin/Yolander was arguably lying about that, tho... who knows.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 8:39 PM

WHISPERING


Independents wanted to be independent. It was in Serenity that Mal sayd, "they just throw people in to the boarder planets with nothing but blankets, some do ok and some, well... not."

Basicly the independents wanted people to be free, alliance is more like a "big brother" government that wants to control people and doesnt really care about the poor. But it was the alliance that attacked independents, not the other way around. Browncoats were defending, alliance attacking. Well anyway thats how i saw it.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 8:46 PM

SOUPCATCHER


Granted there is not much detail about the Independents to go on from the 14 episodes. But I've always held the belief that the Browncoats were probably as diverse a group as you could find. More of a coalition, so to speak. The only thing they had in common was their desire to not be controlled by an outside agency. I've pictured the higher ups in the Independents as containing people like Patience and Niska. People who ruled their own little world, or controlled some aspect of organized crime. For every small time rancher from Shadow, like Mal, there was probably a slave who had been "volunteered" by their owner, or a smuggler who didn't want increased oversight in the sector they operated in, etc.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the people who ended up becoming Reavers started out as Independents and just fled as far as they could from the Alliance after defeat because their actions during the war would lead to automatic execution.

All sorts of people don't want to have someone tell them how to do things. Just because the cause is just does not mean that those who fight for the cause are just.

I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 11:38 PM

PERSON


One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist.
You live where I live, you figure that out real quick.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 5:00 AM

CORWYN


Quote:

he we referring to atrocities committed by The Browncoats against the Alliance
.

I am sure atrocities were committed. Show me a war where they weren't. By both sides. War is atrocities on a wholesale level.

Quote:

the Alliance really hasn't done ANYTHING to show that they are any sort of "evil dictatorship."


Well if you want a example, the one I always use is from Mr. Tam (who is definitely pro-alliance). He says that bailing out his son, (who was in a 'forbidden zone'), and needing to pass through the police station door, goes on his permanent record!

Thanks but no thanks. Our (US) current moves towards a police state are frightening enough for me.

Thank You Kindly,

Corwyn

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 5:43 AM

PURPLEBELLY


Quote:

Originally posted by corwyn:
bailing out his son, (who was in a 'forbidden zone'), and needing to pass through the police station door, goes on his permanent record!


It's blackout zone, which suggests somewhere it's dangerous to be rather than illegal;if you want to say to stay healthy, just keep moving right on through.
We don't know why Simon Tam is being held. It could be that he has been picked up while in criminal company; imagine a senior politician's son being picked up in the company of, say, cocaine dealers. If we assume that the people that can help River are a cell of the True Alliance, then political activists have been known to keep strange company; The Outfit can make things happen.

The reference to the Police Station door is to emphasise that this had to be done officially, and not by exercise of the Tam family's social influence, which again suggests criminal rather than political apprehension.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 8:11 AM

BROWNCOAT1

May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.


Quote:

Originally posted by Sardonica:
I just rewatched Bushwacked and was struck by something that the Alliance Commander said while interrogating Mal.

Referring to the "survivor" of the Reever-hit derelict ship, the Alliance CO said something to the effect of, "I haven't seen such mutilation since... well, since the war." From the tone of his voice it's obvious (at least to me) that he we referring to atrocities committed by The Browncoats against the Alliance, not the other way around...

This adds much depth to the history of the Firefly universe. When you come to think of it, aside from the experimentation on River (which may not be an "Alliance" project at all, but simply a privately funded science group or even Blue Sun) the Alliance really hasn't done ANYTHING to show that they are any sort of "evil dictatorship." Sure they're uptight and and beaurocratic and by-the-book, but evil power-mongers? Upon rewatching the series for the fourth time, I don't see any evidence for it. Sure we only really get the viewpoints of the main characters, but they are most certainly jaded--after all, they (Mal and Zoe, at least) fought on the other side of the war. And for that matter, Book doesn't seem overly opposed to the Alliance and their rule...

Could it be that the Browncoats weren't exactly the good guys that we think they are? We're never really even were told what it was that they were fighting for, ony who they were fighting against... the Alliance.

I'm sure that, as with everything, each side has it's own beliefs and motives. But it seems that there might be less to dislike the Alliance for (other than that they seem to uphold the law and crack down on criminals, which is what the Serenity crew are!) and a credible shade of doubt for the actions of the Browncoats (Mal certainly didn't even try to deny the Browncoat atrocites--in fact, his expression was one of admittance).

Something to think about...

Chief Editor, AFM
www.apocalypsefiction.com
Writer/Producer, The NUKE Brothers
www.nukebrothers.com

Edit: Excuse the typo in the title of this post--the edit feature doesn't seem to apply to titles...! "Browncoat" NOT "Broancoat." D'oh!



Welcome to the board Sardonica!

You know I had wondered about the Alliance Captain's line too. It was vague as to who exactly had committed what atrocities and how they were committed. It could have been something done by one or both sides, either deliberately or as a result of modern warfare.

Unfortunately, until Joss decides to give us more of the back story, all we can do is speculate.


"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."


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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 8:28 AM

SHAMBLEAU


Soupcatcher's take on the composition of the Independants is mine. Another reason to love the show - it's not white hats/black hats.

shambleau

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 9:29 AM

SHINYSEVEN


I can easily understand how a guerilla force, with fewer troops and less conventional fire power than the established army, would succumb to the temptation to use whatever means were at hand, including terrorist tactics.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 9:54 AM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


I think the Commander was merely setting the stage for his prosecution of Mal by 'making up' a case as he went along. Clearly he had no evidence that Mal or Serenity had been involved w/ the attack on the ship carrying 16 families. But it sure would bump him up the line of command if he could capture pirates 'in the act'. His word against their's, right?

" They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself. "

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 10:07 AM

SARDONICA


Quote:

Originally posted by BrownCoat1:
It was vague as to who exactly had committed what atrocities and how they were committed. It could have been something done by one or both sides, either deliberately or as a result of modern warfare.



Yes, it's certainly vague! But, IMHO, the line also seemed to be written/delivered as a barb to take some of the wind out've Malcom's sails. I don't think that the CO was referring to an atrocity committed by Mal, per se, but rather, I did get the impression that there might've been one particularly awful atrocity committed by the Browncoats, something which has made the news and entered into popular understanding of history.

Certainly, as a Browncaot (even though he wasn't personally involved in the atrocity) Mal may have felt a certain degree of responsibility and regret for the incident--that's the impression I got from Mal's sullen expression and lack of retort (when is Mal EVER short on witty comebacks?!).

That's my 2 cents!

Chief Editor, AFM
www.apocalypsefiction.com
Writer/Producer, The NUKE Brothers
www.nukebrothers.com

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 10:56 AM

PURPLEBELLY


This is a very small textual point, but as it's my tag quote I feel I must
Harken is speaking of his own witness of the result of torture, though we know no more than that.
We don't know a lot about Harken. Commander is a strange rank to find on a cruiser. If he is the commanding officer, he takes an unusually flamboyant role in leading a small patrol; perhaps he is officer of the watch.

Candidly, my choice of Board ID was inspired by Doug Savant's fortitude on the gag-reel as well as my inclination to be contrary

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 1:03 PM

RIVERGIRL


[
I'm sure that, as with everything, each side has it's own beliefs and motives. But it seems that there might be less to dislike the Alliance for (other than that they seem to uphold the law and crack down on criminals, which is what the Serenity crew are!) and a credible shade of doubt for the actions of the Browncoats (Mal certainly didn't even try to deny the Browncoat atrocites--in fact, his expression was one of admittance).

Something to think about...


could not he have meant ALLIANCE hadn't tortured anyone like that since the war??


Also, I can kill you with my brain.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 1:37 PM

SARDONICA


Quote:

Originally posted by rivergirl:

could not he have meant ALLIANCE hadn't tortured anyone like that since the war??



Possibly, but that wouldn't really make sense. He was trying to make Maln and the Broancoats look bad, not to incriminate himself or make the Alliance look bad...?

Chief Editor, AFM
www.apocalypsefiction.com
Writer/Producer, The NUKE Brothers
www.nukebrothers.com

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 2:22 PM

KELLAINA


Y'know I had never really noticed this before - but you're right. There seems to be little to justify the Alliance as being inherently evil. It's sort of assumed that we should be siding with the Independents. But as has already been pointed out it's all shades of grey. Both sides likely committed atrocities, intentionally and unintentionally (as Zoe explained to Simon in the deleted scene, soldiers from both sides were left in Serenity Valley to die).

What I've always assumed (and this is just my opinion) is that the Alliance was a typical big government - only interested in its own interests. Getting people to settle on border planets gets them out of the core (preventing overpopulation) and allows the Alliance to exploit any potential resource the settlers may find or develop (hence the need for unification). But if nothing of any value to the Alliance is on the planet, well they're pretty much on their own. Which means the border worlds may need to defend themselves against Reavers, disease, natural disaster.

The border planets were likely being forced to unify, with little to no benefit to them and any potential benefits going to the core planets (tech, science developments etc). As we've seen from our own history it doesn't take much to start a war, and once started wars have a tendency to grow.

One border planet may have refused to join and the Alliance (was it called the Alliance before U-day?) took that planet by force. And then all the other border planets and whoever else disagreed with the use of force fought back and well... a war happened.

My theory (and its only a theory) is that the Alliance wasn't too thrilled with planets trying to defend themselves (against the Reavers in particular, but any defense could potentially be used against the Alliance). And when border planets requested aid in defending against the Reavers the Alliance looked the other way (Hence Mal's comment on 'interfering and ignoring equally' - I'm not sure of the exact quote).

This ties in to another theory that this may have been what prompted Mal to join the Independents. Something happened on Shadow that was caused either by some action or inaction on the part of the Alliance (and Mal does know an awful lot about Reavers...).

But that's just my long-winded, rambling 2 cents .



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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 5:14 PM

CCT


My two cents-
"The Killer Angels", by Michael Shaara, is supposedly something that Joss read and somewhat modeled the Firefly universe after... specifically the battle of Gettysburg was the model for the battle of Serenity Valley...it's a good read.

As I was reading the discussion I kept thinking about things I read in that book, about the economical and political climate that brought the conflict about.

The simple truth is that the war wasn't about slavery; though that was a factor the real issues were of "states rights", i.e. what was to be controlled federally and what was handled at the local level, and a whole host of complex financial issues in how we were trading with the rest of the world.

The north had money and technology but initially didn't really have its heart in the fight; the south had a real deficit in those areas but a brilliant general and an overabundance of heart. I remember one passage where northern troupes were talking with captured southern troupes, asking them why they were fighting for independence. The northerners couldn't understand at first- it sounded like they were fighting for "rats"! What the southerners were saying was that they were fighting for their rights but their accent confused their captors! The real point of this is most of the northern troupes were fighting to maintain the union without really knowing or understanding why their southern brothers wanted to leave... much was not understood by both sides.

The pain and suffering were immense, on a scale that none of us today have any comprehension of. I think that's what Joss is trying to model, as the background for the show.

Anyway, I've clearly rambled here, and most likely said some stuff that may get me pounced on :) If you're the kind of person that enjoys a good historical novel then The Killer Angels is a good read and will provide you with a lot of insight into our favorite show!



Chris in KC

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Thursday, July 29, 2004 9:55 AM

GRACEOM


Quote:

Originally posted by cct:
My two cents-
"The Killer Angels", by Michael Shaara, is supposedly something that Joss read and somewhat modeled the Firefly universe after... specifically the battle of Gettysburg was the model for the battle of Serenity Valley...it's a good read.

As I was reading the discussion I kept thinking about things I read in that book, about the economical and political climate that brought the conflict about.

[snipped]

Chris in KC



I don't want to debate the issues behind the Civil War--and I can certainly buy that what you say was likely to have been part of what went into Joss's brain only to be mixed and mutated and pop back out again as Firefly. But I've been thinking that a better analogy for the situation of the independents might be the American Revolution--a revolution that the colonists lost.

While the Revolution may have been driven by local landowners who were tired of seeing all the political power going to royal favorites who had no real stake in the new land beyond enriching themselves, the average Joe was tired of being expected to be loyal to a government which took their tax money and did nothing help with their local issues. Like the colonists of Firefly, these were people who had carved their livings out of nothing, and with reason felt beholden to no one. Doesn't make the Brits evil, more...irrelevant to the daily lives of the colonists. Therefore, attempts of the crown to assert authority were an irritation that eventually bred insurrection.

So essentially I'm agreeing that we don't know that the Alliance is BAD per se, more that they were poking their noses where they weren't wanted.

Makes sense to me, anyway

Grace

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Thursday, July 29, 2004 10:19 AM

TANJAK


There’s a line in the shooting script for Serenity (the pilot, not the movie) where the Captain of the I.A.V Dortmunder says, as they are passing the derelict ship Mal and crew are looting:

Quote:

CAPTAIN:
“Crew, a moment of respect, if you please. Passing a graveyard.”

The other men in the ship respond by pulling off their hats and slightly bowing their heads, a couple looking out at the approaching ghostship.



I wished they’d left that in the episode. It makes the Alliance even more ambiguous.

We really only get Mal and Zoe’s view of the Alliance in the show. We don’t see why Inara supported, and presumably still supports, the Alliance. Book seems to. Simon did. Jayne didn’t care much, and neither, it appears, did Wash.

Mal and Zoe still obviously don’t like the Alliance. And they have trouble getting honest work after the war.

I look at the Union after the Civil War as an example. They weren’t evil and horrible. But horrible and just plain unjust things happened in the South after the war, and to the Confederates.

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Thursday, July 29, 2004 10:29 AM

LEXIBLOCK


Quote:

Originally posted by Apex:
Saffrin/Yolander was arguably lying about that, tho... who knows.



Perhaps, but the others believed it. Ie, its something that probably has happened, they didn't react with incredulity.

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Thursday, July 29, 2004 10:58 AM

THE7OFSWORDS


It's obvious that there are meant to be historical parallels in the Firefly milieu. (Big Damn Universe?) I think the American Revolution comparison is apt, but that the American Civil War comparison is slightly more so. This is a sci-fi western, after all, and a common theme in traditional westerns is the aftermath of the Civil War.

And unlike what most of our basic history classes tried to teach us, it really wasn't JUST about slavery. Slavery was a central issue, yes, but it fell into the larger context of the rights of people to vis-á-vis their governments, for whatever reason (see the American Revolution again), and economic issues.

When you come right down to it, the sides in most wars cannot be divided into 'good guys' and 'bad guys' (the Manichean outlook of some current U.S. political pundits notwithstanding). OK, the Confederacy was wrong on the issue of slavery, I doubt you'll find very many people who would argue that point to-day. (At least, I certainly HOPE not!) But they may well have been right about many other issues - many of the same issues that sparked the American Revolution.

The average Civil War soldier was not a slave owner, and, much like the soldiers of the American Revolution (who were not landowners, and, therefore, could not even vote after the revolution), were mostly the downtrodden, average people who were whooped into a frenzy by the people who REALLY stood to benefit from the outcome of war.

I think we're seeing the same thing with the Alliance v. Browncoats in Firefly. Both sides had their own valid points, and both sides had their 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. Ultimately, one point being made by the description of the Battle of Serenity Valley was that the common soldiers of both sides probably had a lot more in common with one another than they had in common with their respective leaders - and this has been shown throughout history, since at least the time of the Romans, all the way up to the First World War, and perhaps even in some of to-day's conflicts. (We will probably require some more historical perspective before that can truly be determined.)

This story, like all the greatest stories (into which category Firefly most definitely belongs), is universal... it draws on human history, sure, but it strips away the details and trappings of context, placing the core of itself into another context in order to teach us about some basic human TRUTHS.

Sorry to get all philosophical and historical in my first post, but that's one of the things I love so much about Firefly - it's such wonderful food for thought, debate, discussion, and (hopefully) enlightenment.

7


"When I look down, I miss all the good stuff,
when I look up, I just trip over things."
-Ani DiFranco _As Is_

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Thursday, July 29, 2004 12:52 PM

RIJPE


I don't think that the Alliance is "evil" per se, but I think it is corrupt. It is very clear that the Alliance is only designed to serve the needs of the wealthy and/or influential.

They have proven that they would not help a dying man that ended up on their doorstep if that person wasn't known to be important.

Their guards shown on "The Train Job" refused to get involved in local trouble that may have meant life or death for hundreds of colnists.

If pirates or reavers a colony with important trade goods, they might make an effort to protect it. However, I suspect that if a poor colony of 5,000 people was about to be wiped out, and a nearby Alliance cruiser was investigating a minor theft on a rich yacht, that the cruiser would ignore the colonists in favor of helping the wealthy.




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Thursday, July 29, 2004 1:01 PM

RIJPE


Quote:


Originally posted by BrownCoat1:
It was vague as to who exactly had committed what atrocities and how they were committed. It could have been something done by one or both sides, either deliberately or as a result of modern warfare.



Quote:


Yes, it's certainly vague! But, IMHO, the line also seemed to be written/delivered as a barb to take some of the wind out've Malcom's sails. I don't think that the CO was referring to an atrocity committed by Mal, per se, but rather, I did get the impression that there might've been one particularly awful atrocity committed by the Browncoats, something which has made the news and entered into popular understanding of history.



Actually, I interpreted the interaction between the CO and Mal differently. I didn't see this statement as a barb at all -- I see a certain hesitation and discomfort in the "since the war" statement. I interpreted this statement:
"I haven't seen atrocities like this...since the war"
and the look on the CO's face to mean "I haven't seen atrocities like this since the war...but actually what I saw was carried out by Alliance officers on browncoats, and I suddenly feel weird saying this to a Browncoat"

Wouldn't suprise me a bit if the Alliance tortured some of their own men and blamed it on the Browncoats to turn other people against the Independents.

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