5. General sappy lovey-dovey type things.
We didn’t get treated to too much lovey-dovey, because Zoe (Gina Torres) and Wash (Alan Tudyk) weren’t necessarily that sort of people. But during their moments alone, we got all sorts of cute but not too cute love banter, all sorts of sexy banter, all sorts of ways of them saying that they loved each other more than anything in this ‘verse. Theirs was a love to aspire to, man.
4. Repping the interracial couple thing without making a big deal of it.
Actually, without making a deal of it at all. There were plenty of discussions of Zoe and Wash being strangely matched. Plenty of reasons why (Zoe was too tough; Zoe was cold; Zoe didn’t like his mustache when they first met; Wash was too goofy; Wash was too soft; shipboard romances complicate things). Never once was the fact that Zoe is a woman of color (Torres is Puerto Rican and Cuban in real life) and Wash is very caucasian made an issue. Now, this may not seem like that big of a deal. It’s a wacky and open-minded world! Except for the fact that even nowadays almost every interracial couple that’s seen on television or films or theater or anything (and there aren’t that many of them) has to, at least once, have the “we’re interracial” discussion. A friend once linked me to a Firefly fan film online, and while it was… decently done, I guess, there was a point where Wash was having to discuss with Jayne where Zoe was. (Presumably, the group of kids making the movie didn’t have any friends who could have played Zoe.) Wash said she was off visiting her family, and Jayne asked why Wash hadn’t gone with. “Oh, I know, she hasn’t told ’em you’re white,” he cracked. It probably says something that that’s about the only detail I remember of the movie, mostly because it struck me as so out of character. Not for Jayne, necessarily, he makes stupid jokes like that. But for the ‘verse. For Zoe and Wash as a couple. It isn’t and shouldn’t be a big deal, one way or another. It was never made a deal of, and I admire that so much.
3. When they did fight, it was usually about reasonable things, and not over lickety-split easy, but it always got resolved.
(I think I’ll take this moment to acknowledge how sad it makes me to have to put this discussion in past tense now. It makes me very sad.) They bickered about things like gender roles and safety and how loyal Zoe is to Mal (Nathan Fillion) or babies. They didn’t bicker about “oh, you should tuck your shirt in” or stupid things like that. It wasn’t not always Zoe starting the argument out of being a nagging shrew (stereotype A) or Wash starting the argument out of being an idiot (stereotype B). The arguments evolved naturally out of sincere concerns one or the other had. They didn’t hold onto fights when it’s stupid to; they could be mature enough to put it behind them and deal with more pressing concerns. And they were mature enough to forgive each other, too. They didn’t hold grudges, and the fights were never petty. That is a genuine rarity nowadays in fictional couples, especially married ones; the assumption is that when you get married, stupid petty arguments are just par for the course. But their arguments were always legitimate, and usually decently thought out, and always resolved like adults.
2. Gender roles!
Well, all of the Firefly women are feminist icons in a way, but Zoe is one because she is woman, hear her roar. She is a soldier and a badass one at that. She is strong, she is capable. But even being strong and capable and badass, she wants to eventually have that family with the man she loves. (It seems like there’s a clear either-or in a lot of fictional women: either you’re independent and badass or you’re a breeder. You can’t want both, and if you do want babies, all your street cred flies out the window. Now, that’s simply not true. Babies for babies’ sake is silly. But wanting a family with the person you love is a perfectly legitimate choice, and you can still be a badass and have a baby at the same time.) Wash was gentler. Not exactly feminine, but, well, he was the one staying back with the ship, sighing and worrying while Zoe was off shooting folk. This is not to say he wasn’t a badass in his own right, because he was. A brilliant pilot, perfectly capable in battle when he needed to be. But he was happier creating than destroying, usually. It’s easy to say that Zoe’s the one that “wore the pants,” but I think that honestly, they were on a pretty equal ground with each other.
1. Did I mention how much they rutting loved each other?
How they used pet names (“honey,” “lamby-toes,” “my autumn flower”). How they admired each other in every possible way, from Zoe loving Wash’s sense of humor to Wash’s tangent about Zoe’s legs to their mutual need to go off and be alone sometimes. Not too much, but enough for happily married folk. How they’d have done anything for each other and just about did. Wash’s reactions to Zoe’s injury during “Out of Gas.” Zoe’s lightning-quick choosing Wash during “War Stories.” Their sweet bedroom banter during “Shindig.” The easy way they had of cracking wise at each other always. Zoe’s reactions to Wash’s death in Serenity. The heartbreakingly perfect fact of Zoe’s being (as per comic canon) preggers at Serenity‘s end, so she’ll still have a piece of him. Beautiful.
–your fangirl heroine.