- Why did River never scan Book's mind to find out about his past?
- As to that past ... here's my speculation.
It's the Battle of Serenity Valley. The Alliance are given their orders: go in and mop up the Independents. Overwhelming force. Don't stop till you've vapourised every living Browncoat down there. Someone had to give the order. Was it Book?
If that was the case, Book's arrival at Eavesdown Docks, and his selection of Serenity as his home, might not have been as accidental as we thought. He could have been atoning for his wretched deed, a deed which cost a good man his faith; turned him into the crook and space pirate we know as Mal Reynolds to this day.
This'd explain why his ID got the Alliance troops jumping through hoops when Book got shot in "Safe." A high military ID, even that of a former Naval Flag Officer, would get those Navy High Guard types going quicker than the words "extended shore leave."
- I can't help but feel that the Tam parents were forced with a Sophie's Choice: had been for many years. Perhaps, even from the moment Mrs Tam conceived Simon in the first place.
The plan looked disturbingly like this.
- Blue Sun impregnate Mrs Tam through artificial insemination or, well, the more natural means. The DNA is that of the parents, but the pregnancy is planned, as in "eugenic." They were after creating a race of espers. The Tams were simply gifted with the strongest factors. Their whole marriage could have been part of a Blue Sun experiment, with Tam pater as the project's instigator and chief guinea pig.
- They have Simon ... but just in case, they give it another go. The second one, River, turns out to have even more of the desired genetic factors than Simon - though Simon's manifest clearly as genius level brilliance from a young age.
- And then comes the time for the Tams to make their Sophie's Choice. By now, they have come to love Simon so very very much; but they also love River just as much. They agonise over the decision, reluctant to let either go.
And then River, sensing their indecision and realising that Simon might never survive the surgeries and conditioning, makes up everyone's minds for them, saving Simon's life.
The rest is back story. River needs Simon to get her out. She sends him coded letters. Simon makes attempts to locate her. Her Dad tries to intervene. Events unfold as you've seen in the fourteen episodes, the comics and in Serenity.