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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Firefly: The Magnificent Nine Firefly
The Magnificent Nine
Written by James Lovegrove

(The page numbers come from the first printing, trade paperback edition, August 2020)


The crew of Serenity meet Jayne's long lost love, Temperance, and his previously unknown daughter, Jane.


Notes from the Firefly/Serenity chronology


The events of this novel take place sometime after those of "Objects in Space" and before "Triggered".


Didja Know?


The title of this book is a play on the title of the 1960 western film The Magnificent Seven, about a group of seven gunfighters hired to protect a small town in Mexico from ruthless bandits. 


Characters appearing or mentioned in this novel 






Shepherd Book





Temperance McCloud (nèe Jones)

Mayor Huckleberry Ulysses Gillis

Elias Vandal (nèe Randall)


Billy Kurosawa

Jake Buchholz

Sally Buchholz

Reavers (mentioned only)

Shem Bancroft

Cecil Hanratty (dies in this novel)


Matty Cobb (mentioned only)

Radiant Cobb (mentioned only)

Badger (mentioned only)

Jane Mary McCloud


Horace's mother

Murray Featherstone (mentioned only)

Dr. January (mentioned only)

Cain Stephenson (mentioned only)

Stanislaw L'Amour

Mr. and Mrs. Frye (Kaylee's parents, mentioned only)

Ellie Mae Hazzard (dies in this novel)

Rufus Hazzard (dies in this novel)

Isaac Hazzard (dies in this novel)

Frank Hazzard (dies in this novel)

Ellie Mae's mother and father (mentioned only)

Ellie Mae's ex-boyfriend (mentioned only)

Stitch Hessian (mentioned only, deceased)


Amos' cousin (mentioned only)

Sheriff Tooley (in flashback only, deceased)

Tooley's deputy (in flashback only, deceased)

Earl Carter (mentioned only, deceased)

Emery Carter (mentioned only, deceased)

Abner Marshfield


Commander Rodriguez 




Didja Notice?


On page 12, Jayne remembers the time River stabbed him with a carving knife for no good reason. This occurred in "Ariel". Page 144 reveals that Jayne still has the scar on his chest.


Also on page 12, Book, Kaylee, and Simon have just finished playing tall card. This is a card game previously seen in "Shindig". An actual card deck and rules is available for purchase from various online vendors.


Page 14 states that Inara is nicknamed "the Ambassador" by the Serenity crew. Mal introduced her as "Ambassador" to Shepherd Book when they first met in "Serenity".


The planet Thetis makes its first appearance in the 'Verse in this novel. Coogan's Bluff is a tiny town on the planet. 


The description of Elias Vandal's disfigured face is similar to that of the DC Comics western character Jonah Hex (seen at right): "Something had chewed, or burned, or clawed, or in some other manner ravaged the left side of Vandal's face extensively. Now it was covered from temple to jawline in a mass of waxy tissue, like a flow of molten lava that had solidified. A twisted hammock of skin half hid his left eye...the left corner of Vandal's mouth was drawn up in a perpetual sneer. The nostril above was broader than its counterpart on the right..." Jonah Hex


On page 31, Jayne thinks of times he earned money to send home to his mother who cared for his sick brother, Matty. Matty was said to suffer from damplung in "The Message".


On page 33, Jayne reflects on a bank hold-up he and Temperance pulled on Beylix and a bounty on a people-trafficker they brought in from Parth to a crime organization on Santo. This is the first mention of Parth in the 'Verse. Beylix was previously mentioned in "Trash" and Santo was seen in "Shindig".


On page 33, Jayne reflects on time spent with Temperance on Verbena, Pelorum, and Silverhold. This is the first mention of Verbena in the 'Verse. Pelorum is seen again in "Better Days" Part 2 and Silverhold was mentioned in "The Message".


On page 35, Jayne pulls out his Callahan full-bore auto-lock from its place of concealment in a recess above his bed. The Callahan is the powerful rifle he calls Vera, first seen in "Our Mrs. Reynolds".


Page 37 mentions Jayne being idolized as a hero in Canton on Higgins' Moon. This refers to the events of "Jaynestown".


On page 38, Kaylee remarks that they might consider buying a brand new compression coil to replace the reconditioned piece of junk they have now. Kaylee has been complaining about the ship's compression coil since the first episode ("Serenity") and it actually blew in "Out of Gas". Kaylee's comment here suggests that Mal then purchased a reconditioned one to replace it.


On page 39, Inara comments on her ability to use a sabre. This talent was shown in "Shindig".


On page 40, Kaylee comments on how she sometimes calls Mal "Captain Tightpants", but after he refuses to go help the people of Coogan's Bluff, she wants to call him "Captain Tightass". She used the first nickname for him in "Shindig".


On page 44, Inara mentions how the crew saved the Heart of Gold bordello not so long ago. This occurred in "Heart of Gold".


On page 45, Mal reflects on how Inara is planning to leave the ship soon. She made this announcement to Mal at the end of "Heart of Gold".


On page 46, Mal says, "Et tu, Wash?" Et tu is Latin for "and you".


On page 52, Kaylee reflects on her skills as an engineer, including on such things as gravity rings and trans-warp drives. This appears to be the first mention of these particular mechanisms in the 'Verse. Gravity rings may have to do with artificial gravity on some spaceships. "Trans-warp drives" is puzzling because it sounds like the trans-warp drives occasionally seen in the Star Trek franchise, engines capable of going beyond "warp speed", which itself is already faster-than-light. The engine technology of spaceships in the 'Verse is entirely sub-light.


Page 57 reveals that Wash's Zen Buddhist flight instructor is the one who taught him the mantra "You are a leaf on the wind." In "Living Weapon", Wash will say "I am a leaf on the wind" as he attempts to "fly" Serenity as it falls through the atmosphere of Mr. Universe's planet after having lost power.


Page 61 states that Mal bought a new Mule bike to replace the one destroyed in the assault on Niska's skyplex (in "War Stories"). It's said to be a bike on this page, but on page 80, the hovermule (called the Flying Mule) is mentioned (previously seen as early as Big Damn Hero). I guess Serenity has had both a mule bike and hovermule the entire time!


On page 64, Mal remarks he's going to leave a five-star review for Billy's Bar on the Cortex. The Cortex is the 'Verse's version of the worldwide web, on an interplanetary scale.


Other towns on Thetis are Yellow Rock, Pandoraville, Yinjing Butte (burned down by the Scourers), Brownvale, and Whiteplains Edge. Whiteplains Edge is the largest town on Thetis and the de facto capital.


On page 70, Mayor Gillis says that Vandal claims to be a former Reaver. Mal is skeptical of that, as Reavers are purported to be twisted, demented, and scarred versions of human beings, never returning to normal. This largely turns out to be the case when the Serenity crew encounters an army of Reavers in the Serenity movie ("Triggered", "A Better World", and "Living Weapon").


The Scourers on Thetis have a camp in a ravine called Brimstone Gulch.


On page 74, Mayor Gillis begins a speech to the town of Coogan's Bluff, trying to channel the spirits of great orators like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Madame Xiang. The first three men are real world historical figures. This is the first mention of Madame Xiang, who is explained here as being the principal architect of the exodus from Earth-That-Was.


On page 83, Jayne mocks Simon as being top 3% in his class. Simon told the crew he graduated from the medacad on Osiris in the top 3% of his class in "Government Goods".


On page 84, Mal remarks that going up against Vandal and the Scourers is no society ball or swords at dawn duel on Persephone. This is a reference to the events of "Shindig".


On page 87, River mentions having cows on Serenity once. This was in the episodes "Shindig" and "Safe".


Page 91 reveals that they were on Bellerophon when Temperance left Jayne without notice 14-and-a-half years ago. The crew of Serenity was on Bellerophon more recently in "Trash".


Page 92 describes that Temperance and Jayne had been on Bellerophon to pull off a scam of selling old Earth-That-Was vinyl records of Kenny G. and selling them as Miles Davis. Kenny G. is a real world jazz saxophonist and Miles Davis (1926-1991) was a jazz trumpeter.


Page 102 reveals that Kaylee was always closer to her mechanic father than to her mother.


Page 104 reveals that, like Inara, Book is considering it might be close to time for him to leave Serenity, perhaps going where he could do some good on the Deadwood moon of Haven. He makes the announcement in "Those Left Behind" Part 3.


Page 111 states that the notorious Shan Yu would have looked with approval on Vandal's Scourer horde. Shan Yu was mentioned by Shepherd Book in "War Stories" as a psychotic dictator of the past. This appears to be a fictional reference, though it may be inspired by the title "Shan Yu" or "Chanyu" given to the rulers of the nomadic tribes of Central Asia from 1045-256 BC. It may also be a reference to the villainous leader of the Huns in the 1998 Disney film Mulan.


On page 123, Wash, about to be executed by Scourers aboard the ship, tries to cover for the noise the missing River makes by saying it's the ship's cat, Señor Sneaky Paws. Of course, there is no such cat.


On pages 131-132, Jayne tells Vandal about an old friend of his named Stitch Hessian who looked similar to Vandal. Hessian appeared in "Jaynestown".


When the crew faces off against some mounted Scourers blocking the road out of town, Shepherd Book takes up Zoe's gun, affirming he won't kill anybody, which "...the Sixth Commandment strictly prohibits in the case of people. Horses, on the other hand, are a theoretical gray area." Book took a similar stance to killing in "War Stories" when he took up a gun and said the Bible ", however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."


On page 139, Zoe remarks there are too many saguaros along the road to take the hovermule off-road just yet. She is referring to the tall saguaro cactus which have apparently been imported from Earth-That-Was during the exodus. Saguaros grow in the southern regions of Arizona, California, and the western portion of the Sonora state of Mexico.


On page 142, Zoe remarks that if Wash were there piloting the hovermule being chased by the Scourers, he would do something unexpected and practically suicidal like a Crazy Ivan. Wash pulled a Crazy Ivan maneuver with Serenity in "Government Goods". The maneuver is named for a move used in submarine warfare in the 20th Century, getting its name from the American generic name for a Russian male, "Ivan". Actually, though, Zoe's remark here is a bit off, as a Crazy Ivan would not work on land where there is essentially only two dimensions to maneuver in.


Page 144 reveals that Jayne has type O negative blood.


Vandal carries a curved, scythe-like blade that can be thrown and it will return like a boomerang. Mal refers to it as a boomerblade and implies that they are at least somewhat prevalent among fighters in the 'Verse. Boomerblades appear to be fictitious weapons.


On page 151, Mal allows Temperance and Jane to stay on Serenity for safety, saying, "Mi casa es su casa." This is Spanish for "My house is your house."


On page 157, Inara is seen to carry a small, small-caliber Saturday night special pistol in her clutch bag. "Saturday night specials" are small-caliber handguns made of low-quality materials.


On page 159, Kaylee thinks of Stanislaw L'Amour as an Adonis. Adonis was an extremely handsome mortal man in Greek mythology who became the lover of the goddess Aphrodite.


L'Amour owns a Seraphim Paradise-class pleasure cruiser manufactured by Carshalton Spaceways on Greenleaf. This is the first mention of this ship model and its manufacturer in the 'Verse. Kaylee muses that she prefers Carshalton's Dreamcrest pleasure cruisers.


On page 161, L'Amour offers Inara and Kaylee Xiangbinjiu on his ship. Xiangbinjiu is the Chinese term for Champagne.


L'Amour owns a controlling share of the Whiteplains Salt Company on Thetis.


On page 167, Shem reflects that Vandal's vengeance on the Serenity crew would be hellish, apocalyptic, Book of Revelation stuff. The Book of Revelation is a book of the Bible which tells of times in the future of human civilization on Earth, filled with terrifying images.


On page 185, Mal recalls the ship's run-in with the bounty hunter Jubal Early. Early appeared in "Objects in Space" and later appears in Leaves on the Wind.


On page 191, Simon thinks of the scientists who experimented on River as "Frankenstein doctors". This is a reference to Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a (possibly insane) scientist who created life from death in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein.


    On page 213, Inara has finished meditating, leaving all seven chakras in alignment. The seven chakras of Hindu Tantrism in the human body are Sahasrara (crown), ajna (between eyebrows), vishuddha (throat), anahata (heart), manipura (navel), svadhishthana (root of sex organs), and muladhara (base of spine).

    She has a joss-stick burning in front of her during the meditation. A joss-stick is a bamboo stick coated with incense that burns from the inside out. The use of this particular term here is probably also a wink by the writer to Firefly's creator, Joss Whedon.


Simon tells Jayne that his Hippocratic oath is fine with killing in the name of self-defense. The phrase "to abstain from doing harm" (sometimes presented as "First, do no harm...") is part of the Hippocratic oath taken by western doctors to obey a certain code of ethics. The original version is believed to have been written by Hippocrates in ancient Greece.


In Jayne's quarters, River and Jane find a Carpenter and Liu double-aught gauge shotgun and a 9-millimeter Sherrington semi-automatic. These are fictitious weapons and the first mention of them in the 'Verse.


On page 218, Temperance loads .308 rimfire cartridges into a bolt-action rifle. .308s are real world rifle cartridges, but are center-fire designs, not rimfire.


On page 228, Mal takes out an RPG launcher being prepped by the Scourers. "RPG" stands for Rocket-Propelled Grenade.


Page 231 suggests that the viewports on Serenity are diamond-coated quartz glass.


On page 236, Zoe finds an EVA hatch on Serenity left open. It turns out to be an egress used by River and Jane to pull their own stunt against the Scourers attacking the ship. EVA stands for "extravehicular activity".


On page 270, Jayne reflects that he and the crew of Serenity seemed to get themselves into scrapes on an almost weekly basis. This may be a nod to the weekly nature of the Firefly TV series.


On page 273, Jayne hums the tune of "Hero of Canton". This is the song written about him by the mudders of Canton on Higgins' Moon in "Jaynestown".


On page 308, Jayne scoops up a Murphy-Elam Model 76 double-action revolver from a fallen Scourer. This is a fictitious weapon and the first mention of it in the 'Verse.


When Wash objects to Zoe's plan to lower herself out of the shuttle on a rope during the firefight in Coogan's Bluff, she tells him to take it up with management at the next AGM. In this context, AGM probably stands for Annual General Meeting.


Fearing that the firefight in Coogan's Bluff is turning into another Battle of Serenity Valley, Mal recalls a fellow Browncoat named Bendis who was gunned down in that battle. This moment was seen in flashback in "Serenity".


L'Amour sends troops from Dragonwing Protection Services, Inc. to assist Inara and her friends in defending Coogan's Bluff. This is the first mention of this company in the 'Verse.


When Horace's widowed mother seems to be sizing up Mal at the victory party, Mal thinks of YoSaffBridge. This is the nickname of the woman usually referred to as Saffron who conned Mal into a marriage in "Our Mrs. Reynolds" and returned a few other times to cause trouble for the crew under various identities.


Chinese translations
Page # Chinese English
11 Mal thinks of Jayne as a "Bèn tiān sheng de yī duì ròu." "stupid inbred sack of meat"
32 Jayne recalls beating the gŏu shĭ out of Kelvin shit
32 Temperance refers to Kelvin as "hún dàn" bastard
92 Jayne refers to Cain Stephenson as "a dumb sack of niú fèn." niú fèn=shit (cow poop)
100 Jayne says "Well, I'll be a qīng wā cāo de liú máng." "frog-humping son of a bitch."
103 Jayne refers to Temperance as a bù huĭ hèn de pō fù remorseless harridan
107 Mayor Gillis calls Mal's scheme to show up Vandal bù tài zhèng cháng de "highly questionable"
115 Mal implies that Vandal is a snivelin', limp-diăo yellowbelly diăo=penis 
118 Wash vows to show "this jiàn huò of a boat (Serenity) who's boss." jiàn huò=bitch
134 sĭ ròu dead meat
138 Zoe says jīng shì hài sú shocking/awesome
149 Mal says mó guĭ devil
161 Xiangbinjiu Champagne
195 Jayne says "Zāo gāo." "Not good." (Literally "spoiled cake")
200 Temperance says, gŏu shĭ shit
222 Mal calls Shem "Tā mā de hún dàn." "Fucking bastard."
232 Jayne thinks if someone comes to your home with ill intent, you take the qiáng bào hóu zi de bastard down. qiáng bào hóu zi de=monkey raping
238 Zoe curses, "Wŏ de mā hé tā de fēng kuáng de wài sheng." "Holy mother of God and all her wacky nephews."
288 Jayne says, "Oh, you have got to be yòng yòu shī yòu ruăn de yáng jībā dă wŏ joking..." The phrase seems to mean something like "limp dick".
289 Jayne refers to Gillis as a lyin', cheatin' hún dàn. hún dàn=bastard
299 Vandal refers to Temperance as a jiàn huò. jiàn huò=bitch
301 Jayne says, "Chang she." blabbermouth
344 Jayne says, "Gū yàng zhōng de gū yàng." "motherless goat of all motherless goats"
Acknowledgements Author Lovegrove thanks Yen Ooi for authenticating his Mandarin so he doesn't look like a liú kŏu shuī de biăo zi hé hóu zi de bèn ér zi. "stupid son of a drooling whore and monkey"


Back to Firefly/Serenity Episode Studies