Captain Malcolm Reynolds - ‘Mal’
‘…a dark, world-weary man, with an unshakeable love and loyalty for his adopted family.’ Firefly: The Official Companion Volume One, (London: Titan Books, 2006), p.26.
I didn’t like Mal at first. Neither did River; in the second episode, Train Job, she commented that his name ‘Mal’ means ‘bad’ in Latin. His character has a complex mixture of good and bad features. A very strong leader, he does not like to be questioned – but he is fiercely protective of his crew.
Nathan Fillion (the actor who plays Mal) said: ‘Someone asked me why he so zealously guards over the safety of his crew and I look at it that Mal gathers to him that which he no longer has within himself. In Wash, he has a lust for life and a sense of humour he’s lost. In Jayne, he has selfishness. In Book, he has spirituality. In Kaylee, he has innocence. Everybody represents a facet of himself that he has lost and that’s why he keeps them close and safe, and yet at arm’s length.’ Quoted in Firefly: Volume One, p.26. I’m interested in exploring his relationships with the others, particularly Book.
The opening scenes of the series begin with his faith – and the way in which it was betrayed. They detail events which occurred six years earlier when he was a Sergeant fighting as for the Independents in order to stop the Alliance from unifying the inhabited worlds under a single rule. He really believed that he could do the impossible. Even in the trenches of the battlefield in Serenity Valley, with bodies falling around him, he could not contemplate defeat. He declared: ‘Our angels are going to soar overhead.’ He kissed the cross around his neck and said: ‘We’re just too pretty for God to let us die.’
Then Zoe relayed the message that no one was coming to save them and that their orders were to surrender. The sky filled with enemy ships and Mal just stared in disbelief.