Firefly Fridays Finale Countdown

This is the last character profile before our big showdown tonight! Watch out for our last and longest set of reviews on the last four episodes of the show!


Character Profile: River Tam

Serenity’s “Reader,” “Psychic,” “Teenager”

“She understands… She doesn’t comprehend.”

There’s no two ways about it, River is a train wreck handcrafted by the Alliance. Her baggage car has derailed, smashing every last suitcase of emotional and cognitive coping skill onto the side of the tracks. As a character for the show, she offers another wild card to an already joker filled deck. But as a representation of society, specifically adolescence, she is spot on – social isolation and confusion with random acts of kindness and violence thrown in for good measure.

What little we know of her background is simple – a young, inquisitive and very bright girl born into privilege, trusting the adults around her who promise to keep her safe and offer her the opportunity to learn and grow. But as so often happens, the adults use her for their own gains and River becomes nothing more than a lab rat running through their maze. She is symbolic of yet another life chewed up and spit out by a culture of exploitation.

The plot thickens as we learn “they” want her back. River is an asset, a commodity that appears unique, as we all are, yet useful even in her damaged state. Serenity becomes her island of misfit toys, offering relative calm amidst a sea of turmoil. But even here she is isolated and treated as an outsider. Deemed unpredictable, chaotic, and destructive, she struggles to fit in and take her place on the ship; so who can be surprised when in Objects in Space she simply appears to melt away into her surroundings.

It is here, invisible yet in control, she offers us a glimmer of hope that our individual actions, in harmony with others, can result in acceptance and a place in the ‘verse.