"Have you ever been with a warrior woman?"

A while back I came across an article saying that Gina Torres will be guest starring on an upcoming episode of CASTLE, thus re-uniting her with Nathan Fillion and all the browncoats rejoiced.  Huzzah.  Well, except for one guy who did not much care for her role on FIREFLY.

I really appreciate Gina Torres as an actor... but I couldn't stand Zoe. She had no definition of her own; she was defined by Mal and Wash (and mostly Mal at that). Yes, if the series hadn't been cut off so soon she probably would have grown, but a bit more thinking about her beforehand could have made her a much better character.
Which baffled me to no end.  He continued.

 She had almost no personality beyond following Mal around and doing anything he told her to do. There were rare flashes in her relationship with Wash, but they were far too few, buried under her trailing Mal around like a lost dog. Again, I realize that if she'd had time to grow she would have most likely become a much more interesting character, but I would have prefered a bit more care taken with her from the get-go. Everyone else on the ship stood out in some way. Zoe stood out by not standing out at all.
I then asked him exactly which show he was referring to.  It was as if I had slipped into a parallel dimension where there was a show much like FIREFLY, and yet different in that Zoe was boring.  There was a brief exchange about opinions and can't we all just get along.

No.  No we can't.

Let's get one thing clear: that whole notion of 'everyone's opinion matters' is garbage.  Some things are not subjective.  Now, if he had stuck with he couldn't stand Zoe, then that's fine.  But saying she had no difinition of her own was just completely untrue.

Now, if you have no idea what I'm talking about because you haven't seen the show, FIREFLY was a TV show that ran for 14 episodes and then for reasons beyond anyone's understanding was cancelled, only to have a movie made of it years later.  All the episodes and the movie, SERENITY, are available for instant viewing on Netflix.  Have at it.  Its really a brilliant show.

Now, onto the matter of Zoe.  Saying she has no definition is false, but how could someone come to the conclusion that she doesn't?  This brings us to a lot of interesting points to consider.  Zoe does not have any character development on the show.  She's a constant.  She's the rock.  The Zoe we meet in the beginning of the series is the same one we have the entire time.  And its easy to miss her character at times.  She doesn't have funny lines like Wash and Jayne.  There's no budding romance for her like with Simon and Kaylee.  There's no sexual tension with her as with Mal and Inara.  There's no mystery to her as with Book.  She's the opposite of River in that River is completely unpredictable as we can barely fathom what's going on in her head , but Zoe is always rock solid.

So you have to look to see what she's all about.  That can be hard with a rather large and diverse cast.  So let's look.

1. SERENITY: We meet the cast and get our first look at Zoe.  We know she's a vetern soldier.  We see she's very loyal to Mal.  She's deeply in love with her husband, Wash.  We also see her act as the counterpoint to Mal.  She does not follow blindly, but offers valuable insight into plans.  If there's something that could possibly go wrong, she's the one who brings it up.  We also see that she has a sense of humor as she sahres a good hard laugh due to the prank on Simon.

2. THE TRAIN JOB: Here we get Zoe and Mal on a job and she gives him a bit of grief, teasing him that if he gets caught she wants his share of the loot.  You see this with people who have worked together for a long time.  She places along quite well during their little escpare from the local authorities.  We also see her morality in that there's no question that the loot needs to be returned once its discovered what it is.

3. BUSHWACKED: The interrogation scene stands out here.  She doesn't want to say squat to the Alliance officer.  The war may be over, but she's not happy with the outcome.

4. SHINDIG: When Mal gets out of line, Zoe lets him know.  "See you back on the ship, Captain."  Seems a bland enough line, but not the way she said it.

5. SAFE: We see Zoe in the sick bay tending to an injured Book.  Another glance at her protective nature.

6. OUR MRS. REYNOLDS: When someone trails behind another person 'like a lost dog', they don't go giving that person the grief she gives Mal here.  Mal's the butt of the joke, and she's quite eager to let the entire crew in on it.  We also see a slight jealous streak possibly, as she not a fan of Saffron after the scene in the kitchen.

7. JAYNESTOWN: Zoe's pretty much part of the gag about Book's hair here, but she's great.  Not to mention having a laugh at Jayne's fame.

8. OUT OF GAS: Now here's the neat thing in regards to this topic.  We know pretty much everything we need to in regards to Zoe.  This is about all the other characters and how they came onboard.  We do see her questioning Mal's dicision to buy the ship.  We also see they she doesn't like moustaches.

9. ARIEL: There's actually nothing here that doesn't just show us more of what we already know.  The story is pretty tight around Simon, River, and Jayne.

10. WAR STORIES: Here we go.  Zoe's allegiance to Mal and her love for Wash are dead center here.  The thing is, the story is more about Wash coming to grips with his wife's loyalty to the captain and him understanding her better.  Zoe is, as always, decisive.  What would seem to be a difficult choice as to who to save is made before she even walks through the door.

11. TRASH: Ah, playing the part.  No insights here as what seems like a big moment is likely part of a cunning plot.

12. THE MESSAGE: This was a really heavy episode.  There was a lot for the characters to deal with emotionally.  How does Zoe deal with the death of a former compatriot?  She she's what she has to as to what to do the the body and honoring his final wishes.  Then she has a good hard drink and laughs about the great memories she had with him.  We also see which way her loyalties lay if between old war buddies and her current crew.  She sticks by her crew without question.

13. HEART OF GOLD: A seemingly losing battle with horrible odds?  When the cause is right she doesn't hesitate to jump right in with defending the Heart of Gold.  We also get the revelation that she wants to have a child with Wash.  With her protective nature he'd make one hell of a mother.

14. OBJECTS IN SPACE: The finale of the series centers much on River Tam.  We do see Zoe and Wash making out on the bridge and River's reaction to their passion shakes her a bit.

Then we have the movie.  We do see her reaction to what happens to Wash and it seemed that so much joy went right out of her.  There's a part of me that hopes that her and Wash had a passionate night somewhere in there and product of that night brings her the joy that she'd been hoping to meet.

So what do we have in Zoe as a character?  A fierce soldier with a very protective nature.  She loves her husband with passion.  She very loyal, not just to her captain, but the whole crew.  Her intelligence has pulled the team out of stuff spots, and she's a firm counter to Mal's occasional recklessness with her calm rationality.  She's also funny as hell.

Yes.  I'd say she's a pretty defined character.

No comments: