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I looked behind the Cyclops eye, I did

Spoilers for Firefly "Ariel" and Pilot 

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off our mortal coil must give us pause.

I donít want to die.

Time to sleep? No Mei, mei. Time to wake up.

I so very resent the loss of the pilot. I want it next week. I want it now. I want it already past. I donít even know what the rules for spoilers on an un-played Pilot should be. Well, from what I know based on webish spelunking after Ariel, Iím going to spoil. Ha. Fox take that.

In the pilot, River is first introduced as a girl in a box. Frozen in cryo sleep. River is frozen. What a great name. Implying the changeability of water for an infinitely changeable character. Ice water steam.

River speaks in the language of metaphor and dreams. She alludes. She glances, but no one understands. 

River slashes Jayne with a knife. He looks better in red. Slashes his shirt with its Blue Sun logo with a knife. He looks better in red, i.e. not blue. Those cans that she shredded in Shindig, I donít have the tape, but Iíd venture that they were Blue Sun products. The recurring Blue Sun drink logo that played again before the scene that revealed Jayneís betrayal. The odd perpendicular between Jayneís stitchable bleeding and the blue sticks that call forth blood pouring from the body.

Iím reminded of a Tanya Huff book, where one of the characters sees himself as weak because he can only command water elementals. No much use when youíre away from the water. It takes him awhile to figure out that the human body is a sack of mostly water.

I also keep thinking of the song, ďBlack Hole Sun, why donít you come and wash away the rain.Ē Rain falling on a blue river. A mind Tempest tossed.

In this setting, I wonder who is Ariel, spirit of the air? I think Caliban is obvious in context. Does that make Simon the Magus into Prospero, who has put aside all his books and magics. Yet, medicine is a part of who he is. Shapes how he sees the world.

Itís all about perspective. Words and meaning. Appearance.

The nurse sees medics in uniform with two DOAs. The costume informs what she sees. She accepts it and sends them on without explanation or script.

When youíre floating in the cold dark of void, the lack of a shipís part is the difference between dying cold and alone or living to the next job. On the lush central planets, Wash can pick up that same part in a dump. Smile and toss it against an abandoned transport. Donít just think post war economy. Think Japan, where functioning appliances are thrown out to make way for newer, better, newer.

A difference in perspective. Ariel through Washís eyes Ė fun and interesting. Zoeís Ariel Ė restrictive and unpleasant. Why arenít the citizens smiling? Perhaps because the floggings will continue until moral improves.

On the Rim, a loss of medicine means life or death. There is no choice, stolen goods are returned. At the Core, it will be replaced in hours. The difference between a train robbery and a planned heist. Neither smooth, but for completely different reasons. The Train Job doesnít show up in the Previously just to show a crime quote. The planning, the personas, the person come to spring the captured characters, the take, the final sequence.

Itís all in perspective. In what you know. Simon doesnít just praise Jayne to the group at the end. When they are first captured, Simon tells Jayne that he appreciates Jayneís efforts on their behalf. His efforts which got them captured.

The subtle shifts that come as the crew practice their cover words. The difference just a single word can bring to a statement. Make it silly. Incompressible. Or comfortable. Mal shifting from his medical lines into Chinese Ė shiny. Riverís warnings that no one quite understands. Simonís shift into confidence. St. Lucyís is a world that he knows. Understands. He knows where he is going. What he needs.

The parallels between the two journeys through the hospital. 

Simon stops to save a manís life. Takes charge. Takes the paddles. Asks the right questions. Knows in seconds what is wrong. Chews out that young doctor with all the nurses standing oh, so visible/invisible. I think itís interesting that according to the Pilot that Simon attended medical school on the planet Osirus. Iíll think about Isis,
Demeter, Persephone, Osiris, River Nile parallels at some other later time. In that scene, Simon is a fugitive. Hunted. Yet he has knowledge. He has the power to bring the dead to life. When those who belong cannot.

Mal and Zoe are also stopped by a Doctor. He is the man with the power. Clear. Paddles work both ways. Whether or not he is dead, he is stopped. Rather than hindering the journey, he enables it with his badge, which allows entry into the hospitalís pharmacological treasury.

It is also fitting that once again we have that back and forth between River and Simon. First him pushing her on the wheelchair to where she needs to go. Mapping her mind for the damage that has been done to her. Then her running. Leading Simon and Jayne through the maze of doors and corridors that lie beneath the hospital. That surreal place of screams that lies beneath what Simon knows. Leading them down so that they may go up again. I love that everyone, Jayne, Simon and River, Zoe and Mal all go down flights of stairs so that they may meet. So that they may climb up again to see once more the stars.

Weíre going back to the ship. Weíre almost home. 

Home. I know these are out of order, but just having seen Safe, itís nice to reinforce that Serenity is Simon and Riverís home. That he trusts Mal, correctly, and trusts Jayne, not such a good idea.

I think Mal suspects Jayne, because heís prepared to suspect Jayne. He warns him. Once after the slashing. Twice in the transport ride over. Thrice as he explains in detail that attacking Simon and River is attacking him. Explains what that means. 

Thereís no place I can be since I found Serenity

We turn back to the Pilot. Serenity and the battle fought therein. Some quotes from the Pilot script, Zoe to Simon. "In the war to unit the planets, the battle of Serenity was among the most deadly and decisive. Located on Herra, the valley was
considered a key position by both sides and was bitterly fought over. The independent faction with sixteen brigades and 20 air tanks held Alliance forces at bay for almost two months until superior forces.....

"He (Mal) was my sergeant. Commander of 30 young grunts. ..... Three days in, there were so many officers dead, he commanded 2000! He kept us together, kept us fighting, kept us sane. By the time the fighting was over, he had maybe 400
still intact. I said the fighting was over, but you see they left us there. Wounded as sick and as near to mad as could still walk and talk - both sides left us there while they negotiated the peace...... for a week. And we kept dying. Mercy, forgiveness,
trust...... those are things he left back there. What he has now is the ship. The ship and us on it."

Well, that pretty much maps Malís universe view right there. His perspective. Mal is Prospero, exiled and abandoned. Uses the spirits of the air to punish Caliban, who in attacking his people, attacked Mal. Foolish Caliban.

And if I may say, ME fooled me. I thought Jayne was a dead man standing. Years of Joss had prepared me for the worst. Principal Flutie Ė eaten. Jenny Calendar Ė broken not to be fixed. Doyle Ė glowing lamb to the sacrifice. The Train Job. After
this last weekís Buffy, I was ready for any sort of death. They fooled me. I expected death, the elder sibling of sleep. With poor betrayed River, Delirium who was once Delight in a more innocent age of the world, saging faint smoke sigils in the background.

His toe is in the sand as Jayne prepares to cross the Rubicon. His Christmas presents are denied. He got a lump of coal, donít look in the closet. His reward denied, perhaps rambling about the take isnít the best idea. 

Consider the speed of the turn of events at the end. Run up the stairs, into the getaway, fly to the ship, a minute of conversation, by which time Mal knows. Watching Simon burble about how Jayne was amazing and look now Simon has hope that he can help his sister. Part of Jayneís crew. Huh. Right. Mal thinks that he might cry. Five minutes till we leave ďatmo.Ē 

So, hereís Mal, the unit as body politic bled into him at Serenity. Itís fun to Slash, but really here in Malís gaze there must be this simple contrast. In danger, serene. Underneath the shy pompousness, Simon will risk all for his sister, will gamble
everything on a code in a letter. Ducks. Pigeons. Rats. Jayne doesnít even understand Malís not so coded messages. 

No wonder Mal pulls Kaylee close before he does what he must. Grounds himself. Heís barely gathered the action. Not even considered the explanation. Chosen a methodology to emphasize Jayneís low earthiness. Unworthy of a bullet. Keel hauling. Seems Mal does know some history. Plans not to use air, but the absence of same to pull the unwanted from the body of the ship. If your eye offends you, pluck it out.

Stops when Jayne buys a clue to perception. Because until that moment, I donít think Jayne rethought his betrayal. Even seeing what was done to River, looking at the pattern of her mind, he doesnít understand what it means. Hustles them out twenty minutes early to the back door where the Feds are waiting. Even after he himself was betrayed, I donít believe that he understood. Any more than the Agent saw arresting Jayne as a betrayal. The hero of Canton still not quite getting the ephemeral it.

Just as an aside, I hadnít realized how short Simon is or perhaps it that everyone else is very tall. I wonder if it was deliberate to have so many characters in this episode tower over him. Beyond, Jayne and Mal, both the young doctor and the Agent were much taller than Simon. This is used quite nicely as in both instances Simon stands well within the taller personís physical space and yet is clearly not the weaker one. Particularly hard to pull off with the Agent where Simon had no cards. The contrast between Jayneís fight and Simonís fight with the guards. With Jayne all bruised and bloodied, while Simon cuts off his opponentís air.

Blood. Air. Water. Swimming in luminous lakes. Landing on watery ports. Flying transports like bees among the honeycomb buildings. They canít take the sky from me. Simon peeling back the Holographic bodily systems until all that is left is the mind. Pierced with needles. Stripped. Naked and vulnerable to the world. Like Inaraís yearly exams, which as any woman understands, are cold. Only not. Colder. Darker. 

What the eye sees. The mind articulates. Perception. River remembers everything, even the things that didnít happen. On waking from sleep, what will River see? Articulate? Perceive?
 

 
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