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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138
-at-popapostle-dot-com
"Crystal"
Short story
Firefly: Still Flying
Written by Brett Matthews

(Page numbers come from the first edition, May 2010)

 

River has visions of the fates of Serenity's crewmembers.

 

Story Summary

 

After her latest injection of drugs from Simon to treat her damaged psyche, River has precognitive visions of the fates of Serenity's crewmembers. She goes around the ship and gives each an indication of what is forthcoming, the news being good for some and sad for others. At the end of the day, she falls asleep exhausted, but her sleep is free of dreams for a change.

 

THE END

 

Notes from the Firefly/Serenity Chronology

 

I've chosen to place this story shortly before "Heart of Gold" because at one point here Wash notices that River looks upset and asks her, "Has Jayne been telling you where babies come from again..?" Since she would have to know where babies come from at least since the events of "Heart of Gold" (where she witnessed and assisted with a birth), it may indicate this story takes place before then.

 

Didja Notice?

 

Page 3 of the story reveals that Jayne has carved his name (and some impolite expressions) into the wooden table in Serenity's dining area at the place he's accustomed to sitting.

 

Page 3 also indicates that Jayne chews tobacco.

 

In this story, River has apparently precognitive visions of events that will befall each of the crewmembers during their lives. We don't always learn exactly what she saw in each case, but in those cases her dialog gives some indications. 

  • River sees Simon looking happy.
  • Jayne will never captain his own ship as he'd like, but he will be happy in his own way and even, occasionally, heroic.
  • Shepherd Book will die before any of the rest of them. Painfully. We see this death occur later in "A Better World".
  • Zoe's ordeal will almost break her when no one's around to see it, but she will be okay. This must be a reference to her husband Wash's death in "Living Weapon".
  • Kaylee will do something for which River is thankful.
  • River looks about to cry and hugs Wash fiercely, saying nothing before leaving him behind in the cockpit. This is an indication that she's seen his upcoming death in "Living Weapon".
  • River answers two unspoken questions for Inara, "Yes and no." We only know the questions have to do with herself and with Mal, but neither we nor Inara know what order the questions should be asked to get that answer. They both involve something happening, and one way of asking means relief and joy and the other regret and despair.
  • The final vision is of River piloting Serenity, with an older-looking Mal in the co-pilot's seat. At the end of "Living Weapon", we see her pilot the ship like a natural for the first time, with Mal beside her. The vision seems to indicate she will remain there for some time and become the ship's primary pilot.

 

On page 4 of the story, Book plays with the bound locks of his hair, making River afraid his hair will pop loose. This is a reference to "Jaynestown" in which Book's unbound, lengthy, kinky hair frightened her.

 

On page 5 of the story, River seems to be remarking that the ship's engine looks like a pig. Which I guess it vaguely does.

 

Also on page 5, Kaylee, lying in her hammock in the engine room, motions for the visiting River to join her. The narrative remarks that it would be an image Jayne would have deemed bunk-worthy. This is a reference to Jayne's repeated comment "I'll be in my bunk," when twice seeing Inara and her latest client, a beautiful female political councilor, together in "War Stories".

 

On page 6 of the story, Wash muses on how, if you put dinosaurs on the cockpit dashboard one time, it's all anyone wants to talk about; the same with flowered shirts. Of course, viewers know that Wash has dinosaurs on the dash almost all the time and he regularly wears Hawaiian shirts.

 

Page 7 of the story indicates that the pile of blankets and bedspreads on Inara's bed were acquired on a dozen different worlds.

 

Page 8 of the story indicates the ship has just come from a planet on a job for which they did not get paid. This could possibly be a reference to "The Message", at the end of which the crew delivered the dead body of Tracey to his family on St. Albans, despite all the trouble he'd caused them; presumably, they did not receive any monetary compensation for this act. However, Mal also skips his morning shower here because they'd not been able to refill the ship's water reserves on their last stop; if that stop was with Tracey's family on St. Albans, you'd think they could have at least gotten some water from them.

 

Page 9 of the story reveals that the sunken area below the cockpit of Serenity is the most forward area of the ship and offers the best view out. Mal often takes his coffee there.

 

Page 10 of the story describes River descending a ladder with a dancer's grace. This is a reference to the fact that actress Summer Glau, who portrayed River in the TV series and movie, is also a ballet dancer.

 

The "crystal" of the title of the story seems to be a reference to the crystal-clarity of River's visions here. But it may also be a reference to the proverbial crystal ball that reveals the future to a fortune teller.

 

Unanswered Questions

 

Will fans ever get the stories that tell of the outcomes of the as yet untold visions seen by River? 

 

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