'Firefly (Flashback)' recap: Absence of Conscience

Since the beginning of these Firefly Flashback recaps, I’ve harshed on the show for its depiction of religious faith as embodied by Book, the preacher with the mysterious Alliance past. In Firefly’s ninth episode, "Ariel," which Science aired on Easter evening, Team Whedon* found an entirely new way to marginalize its Shepherd by  cutting him out of the narrative altogether. With a brief bit of cough-and-you-might-miss-it dialogue, Mal explained that Book was on a spiritual retreat elsewhere in the galaxy.

And yet, strangely enough, the episode generated an interesting effect by giving Book some shore-leave, to the point that I wonder if the writers* deliberately put him on the sideline for the purpose of making us think about... something. Many things, maybe. Why we do what we do. How we manage our thoughts and feelings and desires. What we use for a moral compass, if we use one at all. How well we know our mind. The story had Mal and his crew putting on their black hats and playing the role of criminals by robbing meds from an Alliance hospital on the highly civilized inner Core planet of Ariel. Their intention: To sell the drugs at a discount to outer rim colonists who needed them but couldn’t otherwise afford it. If Book had been there, he would have opposed the plan, for sure. Ditto Inara, Serenity’s other high-minded principality; the haughty hottie was off screen for most of the affair getting her Companion’s license renewed. Read More...



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