The Continuing Debate About Nature in Firefly

A thought I had, just now, was Mal’s “I aim to misbehave” speech.

Y’all got on this boat for different reasons, but y’all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that.

Lends me to some interesting thinking, mainly the idea that there’s a conflict here about two sides: the Alliance, who wants to make people better by molding them to the image of the “perfect citizen”, and the Browncoats, who believe that you can’t make man any better, that you have to deal with him where he’s at, for the bad and the good. I don’t have a straight solution from that, but I figure it might help lend some clarity.

Bear in mind it’s the peripheral worlds that often have a semi-feudal aristocracy based on indentured labour. The argument that ‘people should be free to do as they please’ kinda breaks down when what pleases them is enslaving others. Mal certainly has relatively liberal sensibilities, but he may not be typical of the Browncoats as a whole.

Zoe is far more representative of the average Browncoat, I do believe.

Mal was the idealist whose strength pulled her through… keeping her going… and Wash was motivating her away from that.

I think Mal’s a high nature browncoat, whilst most would be lower rated 'cause they don’t hold all the ideals.

Not sure if I already posted this in the past – it feels like I’m repeating myself! – but I’m not feeling the “browncoat vs fed” Nature angle.

To me, a simple “human” nature would do it. That’s where you make an editorial comment about what you feel baseline human nature is in the Serenity universe: folks want to stay out of trouble, defer to authority, and so on.

I feel like that works well in MG terms because being a Big Damn Hero is in direct odds with what normal folk want in their lives. It requires you seek out trouble and defy authority.

I keep toying with the idea of making some kind of Hunter/Lovecraft hack of Mouse Guard, to make it more palatable to the folks I game with. The idea I had for nature in that was Keep Your Head Down, Do As You’re Told, and Run Away. I’d do something similar for Firefly. It would line up a little with the Alliance/Rebel thing, but not too much.

The agent who chases Mal et al in Serenity is a clear example of the Core Worlder nature: Loyal to Authority, blind faith in the leadership, sacrifice it all for the cause, the common good is the only good, the state knows better than the individual.

Mal is clearly at odds with that: A man is no better than his word, It’s better to lose and live than win and die, freedom means being able to go where you want when you want with whomever wants to go with you.

And both of them clearly use their respective high natures throughout the movie. Mal burns a few, but the agent burns through all of his… and at Nature 0, has a crisis of faith.

And while we’re repeating ourselves, and rehashing all of our old junk, I don’t think “Nature” is a good drive for Firefly type stories. The struggle for money, and the struggle about having just enough money to keep on going without havin’ enough to tie you down, is the real interesting way to do it; having bought just the necessary gear to get you through this sitch comes up more than once, and not having the dough to keep the ship together are both big struggles. Resources as Nature. I think it can be done. I just need the attention span to drop the season cycle and kitbash something else for it.

Everything else is just artha mines.