I’d rather see the storyline continued, but I’ll take what I can get.
What storyline? Glad you asked. Every fan of Firefly must have at one time or another contemplated where the show would have gone, had FOX not screwed the proverbial pooch. Imagine if you will an alternate reality in which the FOX network and Joss Whedon did have their ‘creative differences’ but for some reason FOX always falls just shy of cancelling the series outright. This is not how it actually is, and you no doubt would disagree with me if you’ve already contemplated, but I’m in the mood to share. Here’s how I woulda done it.
First there’s what we know. The series itself (currently sitting in DVD format on the shelf behind me) is essentially half of a first season, and the movie Serenity would have been a good two parter, cut in half as a season one finale with the other half opening season two. There’s also been comic books published that were either written or supervised by Joss Whedon. I’d say the story “Those Left Behind” which explains why Shepherd Book left Serenity prior to the motion picture would comprise at least one episode of the season one we never saw. You can see a summary of that story and others over at Wikipedia. I would say those stories fill out the rest of season one and some of season two, but in the alternate reality of my mind where all this actually got produced and broadcast as a tv series, the stories were told out of order either on purpose or as continuing political struggles between Joss Whedon and the Fox Network.
Now, anyone who has read any of these comics would note that some of them are essentially detailed back stories of Book and Wash, and might not make interesting tv episodes, and to those ppl I’d say “oh ye of little faith.” One of my favorite episodes of the series was Out Of Gas, where a storyline involving a desperate Mal trying to save his ship was interspersed expertly with flashbacks of the crew’s early days as well as exposition explaining how the ship was abandoned by everyone but Mal himself. These comics would comprise some episodes but not all. There’s also a need to explain why Inara left. That would be dealt with in season one, and I’d also hint at that syringe in Inara’s private quarters again (revealed cryptically once and never mentioned again), but I would not yet explain what it really is.
I know that Whedon knows what it really was going to be. I have heard rumors that others may or may not know. I’ve read speculation. I know what I want it to be, and that’s what I’m going with. Not telling you yet tho.
What has actually been published would probably get us to a couple episodes into season two. That’s where the production company of my mind’s eye takes over. We pick up immediately after the end of the film. Wash and Book are dead. River is feeling a little better now and has even taken over piloting duties. Kaylee and Simon are practically inseparable in that mushy gooey sappy early stage of a romantic relationship which never lasts very long and usually simultaneously annoys and endears friends around them. Zoe and Jayne have begun to butt heads more often as Jayne’s challenges to Mal’s authority continue to worsen. However, at the same time they continue a mutual respect that comes from having had one another’s backs in the climactic scene at the final resting place of Mr. Universe. Zoe continues to behave recklessly at curious intervals and Jayne saves her life from her own bullheadedness at least once.
Oh, and one more thing. Zoe is pregnant. River noticed it first. She claims she noticed before Wash died. Zoe presumes it’s because of her psychic abilities, but River is cryptic about it. Later it’s revealed she simply noticed Zoe “smelled different” but doesn’t go into more detail than that. To keep Firefly more grounded in reality, I’d be careful to establish that River’s abilities, while sensational, are not mystical in any way. Her brain has been rewired and conditioned to operate much faster than the usual human brain. She can observe and deduce from a much wider collection of variables, some of which she’s not even consciously aware. Her brain accumulates and stores data at an unprecedented rate, then utilizes multiple variations of deductive and inductive reasoning to calculate probabilities until it can come to reasonable conclusions, much the same way Sherlock Holmes would deduce where a person has been based on mere observation of their clothing, how they stand, what they say and how they say it, et cetera. River simply does this to the power of ten. It appears to be psychic power, but she’s not telepathic. She can determine what you are thinking based on who you are and what you’re doing. She can even play in her mind entire events occurring outside her observation, by being aware of the variables in the space she’s not occupying. This gives the impression that she has remote sensing.
Of course all this would play out in more detail throughout season two. Little things like River would sometimes plot a course before Mal requested it, and she would always be right. This means she would know where Mal was going to want to go, sometimes before Mal himself had decided, simply because she knows him well enough to know what choice he was going to make. In some ways this makes her a better pilot than Wash, and in other ways this would prove to make her far more annoying than Wash.
Of course Zoe would not slow down. Being pregnant would not mean she’d lessen her duties in any way at all. And when other crew members showed signs of wanting to treat her more gingerly than normal, she’d chastise them for going soft on her. She’ll have none of that. As season two progresses she starts to show, but she’s still a bad ass and scares some baddies even moreso than usual, cuz a pregnant woman as tough as Zoe would set most bad guys off balance, and cause others to just lay down arms out of respect. This would of course piss her off even more. “Fight, damn you!”
“But you’re pregant.”
“Be a man and pick up that sidearm!”
“No sorry. I can’t fight you.”
and then she just knocks the guy out with her gun’s handle in disgust.
Inside the ship the interactions between characters would continue mostly on the trajectory we saw in Serenity. They butt heads now and then but are at the same time a family of choice, and as events heat up around them, it’d just bring them closer together. At least at first.
The Federation has lost power with the discovery of Miranda as seen in the movie Serenity. Mal’s delivery of The Signal spreads far and wide with a myriad of responses from all points of civilized (and not so civilized) space. The outer planets rapidly become even less trusting of the Federation, and this indirectly causes an increase in demand for the sort of skills and talents possessed by our little band of ruffians. In fact some of Mal’s enemies even suggest he delivered the signal not for altruistic reasons but because he knew he could turn a profit. He admits to not being smart enough to think that far ahead, but had he been able to foresee it, such knowledge would not have caused him to remain mute. Miranda’s tale had to be told regardless of how it might hurt or help Mal and his crew. He makes no apologies.
The possibilities of a second unification war begin brewing as rebels start to band together and challenge Federation authority, at first near outposts along the border planets but then at a couple key locations near the outer edge of the core planets. This causes political and social circles inside the core to circle the wagons and reinforce their proverbial ramparts. Not everyone believes the story of Miranda, and those who do feel the need to defend the Federation’s actions for better or for worse. In for a penny in for a pound and all that.
One of the other side effects is a weird cult celebrity status that Mal begins to experience, which has both benefits and dangers. It’s not widely known just who sent the Miranda Signal, but some people have put the pieces together. Mal learns that this coupled with the few survivors of Serenity Valley (and/or previous exploits during the war) have turned him into a bit of a cult hero. Over time this echoes what Jayne experienced on the mudders planet, and rarely to Mal’s liking. It makes it harder for his more clandestine schemes when random people recognize him out of nowhere and ask for his autograph, or suddenly some complete stranger wants to shoot him dead, or ask if he knows whether or not missing family members who lived on Miranda for a time died there or not. This strangeness happens in many forms and always at inopportune times. “How come it never runs smooth?”
Then Jayne gets hit with a bombshell: his mother is dying. When he gets the wave, they drop everything and immediately fly to his home planet, where he’s met with warrmth by some and ridicule by others. We learn a bit about Jayne’s family, childhood, and we also learn that while he doesn’t go into detail, many things about Jayne’s domestic past echo in the memories of Mal’s own childhood on Shadoe Moon. He admits some things to Jayne in confidence, but keeps most of it to himself. Mal gives just enough to show a brotherly bond develop between these two men. They understand one another a little better. Not much. A little.
Oh, and we learn Jayne’s got more enemies than even he knew he had, as the reputation of his exploits (both real & imagined) have stretched beyond his home planet or mudders Jaynestown. There’s a price on his head even, but it’s too low for him to be properly appreciative.
Kaylee also indicates a little homesickness and a desire to show off Simon to her own family, but that has to wait. River learns of a faction of The Federation that is still gunning for her, and she talks the others into traveling to what should be an abandoned facility where she spent some time before Simon saved her. This is later found to be a trap placed not by the Federation, but by one of her fellow students. It turns out that while River Tam was the star pupil, she was not the only one. There are others like her out there, some coming to grips as she has and working for peace, and others who have gone completely mad, and yet still others who have become servants of an extremist faction inside the Federation itself.
As season two draws to a close, the second unification war looks inevitable, Simon and Kaylee’s mushy phase begins to show signs of ending, the loss of Jayne’s mother starts affecting his heart in ways he finds embarrassing and emotional, Mal finds himself asked by multiple parties to lead them into battle and whichever faction he joins the other ones will hate him for it, River makes it her duty to find these other “slices” as she calls them and try to either save them or destroy them depending on what’s needed to save mankind, and Zoe goes into labor.
Season three opens up not where we left off at the end of season two, but with Browncoats Redemption which if you haven’t seen it you should. I own it on DVD and enjoy it. It’s a fan made film that addresses the murmurings of the second unification war from the angle of another rag tag group of scoundrels. I would take parts of this film’s plot, keep all the characters for one episode, but at the end I’d escalate the threat so that everyone on board the ship is in a fight for their lives against Captain Matthews’ ex husband and his subordinates. In the end only Matthews and PJ Chen survive. Matthews is hospitalized and captured by Federation forces. PJ is ‘rescued’ by Jubal Early, who says he’s putting a posse together that works for Niska and is going after Malcolm Reynolds. Niska told Jubal to get her and Captain Matthews. So then they have to break Matthews out of Federation prison hospital. This proves to be impossible but an effort is made.
Jubal Early and PJ Chen next go to Badger looking for more recruits. Badger suggests Saffron (altho she goes by another name) and Badger also decides to go along for the ride after Niska makes him an offer difficult to refuse. They are joined along the way by the gentleman known in the Serenity film as The Operative, who is also taking orders from Niska now, altho some indicators are that he’s serving more than one master. Not the Federation. But someone.
This newly minted crew starts hunting after Mal and the Serenity. At first they are under the impression this is a mere bounty. Niska wants the crew of the Serenity captured alive and brought back to him, but as Saffron, Badger, Jubal, The Operative and PJ Chen follow clues and close in on their location, it brings them to a point in space where the remnants of the Reavers have retreated. They find an abandoned Firefly vessel, and it appears all hands have been taken by the Reavers. No bodies are found, but the scene of devastation is rather clear. The Reaver remnants close in, forcing this posse to flee, but not before The Operative makes a curious discovery that he keeps to himself. This is not the Firefly vessel he helped put back together at the end of season one. It’s a well made decoy that fools everyone but him.
Our crew are revealed to be hiding out at Kaylee’s ponderosa. Her parents welcomed Mal and the crew with open arms, and they hide out the start of the Unification war there. The group conspire together to create alternate identities for themselves, and as word spreads that Malcolm Reynolds’ and his crew died at the hands of Reavers, our big damn heroes start over under assumed names, undergo makeovers with facial hair and a wardrobe refit, and the same Firefly ship souped up and changed a bit by Kaylee and her father into the newly christened “Leaf On The Wind.”
They now pretend to be a more respectable cargo vessel. Whenever dealing with newcomers, Simon (under a new name remember) pretends to be the captain of the ship. However in private everyone of course still answers to Malcolm, who is now pretending to be the ship’s pilot when people ask. Tho still doing engineering duties, Kaylee now pretends to be the cook and Zoe pretends to be the engineer, And it goes on like that for awhile but only when they have company.
River is curiously absent and I don’t explain why immediately, although it’s explained later where she went and how the decoy Firefly ended up in Reaver territory. I’ll save that for another day, perhaps. It’s getting late, and I’m getting tired. There’s no way I can detail every crumb of where I’d go with Serenity but the point is, if the series was still going today, we’d be around season eleven by now. So there’s a lot of catching up to do.
I’ll take the one hour reunion special planned for this November, but I’d rather they continue telling the story of the Firefly vessel Serenity, and all the people on board.
I’d rather see the storyline continued, but I’ll take what I can get.