Ok, people, for those of you who have NOT seen Serenity, be aware that this post contains MAJOR SPOILERS. Probably more than most. I give away about half the damn movie. So, once again, MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS POST. If you don't want to know what's going to happen, please don't read.
Thank you, kindly.
Mal: "Define interesting."
Wash: "Oh god, oh god, we're all gonna die?"
Mal: "Nah. Just you and Book."
This post is basically a rant in response to those fans out there that believe whatever Joss Whedon does is genius and infallible. I like the guy well enough and I think that he is a fantastic writer and character creator, but even he can slip up. I'm also not saying that my views are the right ones, only how I feel about my experience at Serenity and where Joss took the crew in this story.
First off, I'm incredibly sad, as many fans are, at the passing of Wash (Book, too, but we'll just focus on Wash, for now). His death was truly a punch in the gut, and it happened at that "holy crap YES!" point of the movie where we're all supposed to stand up and cheer and feel like our Big Damn Heroes are going to win the day. Instead. we're all left sitting there feeling like we just had our hearts ripped out. And for me, instead of being able to sit on the edge of my seat and cheer on our heroes in the face of certain death, I was just numb. At one point, Zoe leaps out and jumps into the fray with suicidal rage, and my thoughts at that moment were "just do it and get it over with." Simon gets shot and I literally said, out loud, "Christ, why doesn't he just kill everybody?" In short, at the end of the film, I was left stunned and depressed, rather than jubilant and celebratory as I always have at the end of just about every episode. I went to see a Big Damn Movie and I left feeling as though I had attended a Big Damn Wake.
I've heard the arguments that Wash's death was there to heighten the realism and direness of the situation. I've heard people say that his death elevated his actions to truly legendary heroic status. And all I have to say to that is bullshit. Throughout the whole movie, Wash was just about the most heroic of everyone. Out of every single character in the movie, he was the one that least deserved to die. I understand the need for death in a dramatic story, at times. Hey, death is part of life. But, y'know what? I waited two and a half years for this damn movie. I've supported this show since it first came on, I wrote countless letters to Fox when they threatened to cancel it, I've put up fliers, I've contributed money to ads thanking the cast and crew after it was cancelled, I've contributed money to send DVDs of the series to troops in Iraq, I've campaigned, I've ranted, I've raved, I've added blood, sweat and tears to get this damn movie made, so I feel as though this movie is as much MINE as it is HIS. And I wanted to go in, have some fun with some old friends, cheer, hoot, holler, laugh, worry, and, in the end, feel satisfied.
I'm sorry, but in the end, I ain't getting no satisfaction.
Many fans have asked the question: "Would you rather have gone into the movie, and everyone lives and there's a big, happy ending?" To which I say, "Sure, why not?" I'm not saying that I want a big, shiny, happy movie, but even in the series the crew got in scrapes, bickered, escaped certain death, and basically behaved like real people, and we all loved it. We didn't watch it to pick the episodes apart and dwell on the realism behind it all. We tuned in because we loved these characters - characters that Joss and the cast lovingly crafted - and because it gave us an escape for an hour of our lives. We loved our Big Damn Heroes because they were real. But we also loved the show because it knew when to thrill us and when to kill us with laughter.
The movie did the same thing, for the most part, just on a grander scale. I don't have a problem with that. I suppose my main concern, other than the death itself, was the resolution and tone afterward. I get that the crew is in trouble. They're in deep crap. They just crashed the damn ship, and Reavers are right on their tails. Wash saves the day - "I'm a leaf in the wind." ZOW! *thud* and then, three seconds later, they're in the hall throwing boxes up for cover. Even after all hell has broken loose, Zoe's been cut from shoulder to hip, Simon's been shot, Mal has been beaten senseless, shocked, impaled with a sword in the gut, and River has beaten the ever-loving crap out of some Reavers no one even says a word about Wash. The movie starts wrapping things up. Everyone heals their wounds, a couple of jokes are cracked and then we're standing on the edge of a cliff looking at three graves. No one even sheds a tear! And, to top it all off, Book and Wash have to share their gravesite with a guy named Mr. Universe. Frankly, that's just an embarassment and an insult.
Perhaps that's the sticking point. If Wash's death (and Book's, for that matter) had been handled with at least some modicum of solemnity, I might have been ok with it. There have been more than a few people on the message boards stating that they brought friends that were new to the Firefly scene, and that they enjoyed the movie. I asked a few of them how their friends reacted to Wash's death. Most of them said that it was sad, but that it didn't really impact them that much. There were some comments like "that's just because Wash's death would really only impact a fan" or "well, they just didn't get to spend as much time with Wash in the movie for non-fans to get to know him." Well, if either of those are the case, then what's the point? What's the point in killing off a character to create tension and edge when the majority of those who may end up seeing this are just going to shrug and go "oh well?" If Joss Whedon really wanted to shake things up for everyone, not just the fans, he should've killed off Mal or River. I could've lived with that. Mal dies being the Big Damn Hero at the very end, or River dies saving the crew from the Reavers, in battle, and she finally has some peace in her troubled mind. But, apparently, everyone says that Wash's death was supposed to be kinda pointless because that's how death is. I'm sorry, but that's just a ridiculous argument.
Ok, before I rant for too long, I'm just going to discuss some points and add my opinions about the movie for all those out there that keep arguing that Wash died to add "realism."
- A lot of questions were brought up about this character and certain plot points. First off, who the hell is this guy? What does he do? I'm guessing he's some sort of hacker, but what's his connection to the group? All it would've taken is a line or two of dialogue to sum it all up. They did that with every other secondary character introduced in the series, like Prudence. This just didn't sit right with me... no history, no connection, and then he gets buried next to Wash and Book? Ridiculous.
- Mr. Universe lives on this planet surrounded by an ion cloud which can futz up ship navigation systems and comms. Well, that's useful for a planetary hacker to hide behind, but not so useful for him to actually send or receive signals through. Again, this is a small point, but I bring it up because all those fans that are screaming about the movie and Wash's death adding "realism" don't have a problem with the non-real elements that are there just to add dramatic tension. I don't have a problem with the whole ion cloud thing, but if you're going to scream for realism on one side, then have it all the way through. This is rockets and six-guns, people. We're not talking about "real" here.
- What the hell kind of name is "Mr. Universe" anyway? Geez, even Badger has a better name.
- Ok, here's where I get blasted. I like River. I like her storyline. I like what was done with her in the movie. I can accept that she was trained to be some sort of psychic assassin by some secret corporation under the influence of the Alliance. But you mean to tell me that a "96-pound girl" can dive into a huge pack of berzerk Reavers and come out without a scratch? I mean, I loved it, but c'mon. And let's just talk a bit about her likeness to a certain other butt-kicker. She's a girl. She's "chosen." She doesn't quite know where her fighting prowess comes from. She ends up kicking some creatures' asses who resemble demons and vampires. Anyone see where I'm going with this? Joss, we don't need Space Buffy. Kindly give me a break. Oh, and give up the ghost, man.
- I knew what was going down when the crew fired on the Reavers and then took off running. I knew it was going to be cool when they all came out of that ion cloud and all hell broke loose. What I couldn't quite wrap my mind around was the travel time. Hell, it took the crew the better part of a week to go from one planet to another in "Out of Gas." You mean to tell me that they went from one of the most remote locations in the mapped galaxy - Miranda - which has a huge expanse of Reaver territory, to this other remote planet that Mr. Universe lives on in a matter of what was probably hours? First off, they're being chased by Reavers who operate their ships without core containment. That means they can go fast. Really fast. Serenity is a quick and nimble little ship, but they barely escaped ONE Reaver ship in the Pilot. Anyway, I didn't start dwelling on this until, again, everyone started harping about the "realism" of all the death and destruction. I'm sorry, but I just don't feel like you can have it both ways - realism only when it's convenient.
And that's about all I have to say about that. I could go on for hours, but I'm tired of writing about it, tired of getting worked up about it, and tired of caring so much about something that I considered a very special thing. I would just like to add, though, that the reactions from those fans out there who don't like what those of us who don't agree with the "vision" are saying has made me start to believe that they aren't the real Browncoats, after all. Many of them have just been repeating this brainwashed mantra of "Trust Joss" and "Joss doesn't always give the fans what they want, but he gives them what they need." Well, first I don't think Joss really knows what I need, and second, I don't need to be told what to think. As we all learned in the first five minutes of the movie, that's how the Alliance works. River fought against that, Mal and Zoe fought against that, and I believe that the popular brainwashing is worth fighting against.
If I'm on the minority side, then that's fine by me. If we lose this fight, or our voices get drowned out by the ravening hordes of Whedonites, then so be it. But I'll still fight. After all, as Mal put it: "May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."