Psycho Sunday: Badass Women in Combat Gear #5


It shouldn’t surprise anyone that roughly half of my BWCGs come from shows helmed by Joss Whedon, since he practically invented the trope. The women of Firefly and Serenity represent a wide variety of badassery from the smart kind—Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is a mechanical genius and Inara (Morena Baccarin) is a woman who knows her way around blasters, swordplay and archery, not to mention the tea ceremony and light massage—to the more usual fighter kind. And once again the fighter kind include both the broken and the unbreakable.


River Tam (Summer Glau) is a bit like what Natasha Romanov would have been like if, in her teen years, the Black Widow Program had removed her amygdala, the part of the brain that allows you to ignore painful or worrying feelings. This is an operation that apparently makes for a good sleeper assassin, but man, can it just ruin the rest of your life.


In contrast is Captain Reynold’s second in command, Zoe Washburn. In boots and a duster, the tall Gina Torres radiates confidence and capability and a, hah yes, serenity that is in short supply on the spaceship on the outer rim of the galaxy. She shoots what I originally thought was a shotgun, but apparently is a “Mare’s Leg,” a customized shortened rifle. And she wears a string necklace that Torres speculated might have come from the combat boots that Zoe wore during the war against the Alliance. Which is pretty darn badass, if you ask me.

During a ComicCon panel a while back, Torres said that she has often been told by fans that Firefly saved their lives, that people with cancer or dealing with domestic abuse returned to the show and to her character in particular to gain strength. Which is also pretty darn badass.


“Mare’s Leg.” Wikipedia. 16 Sept. 2015. Web 20 Sept. 2015

Psycho Sunday: Badass Women in Combat Gear #10


So I have been noticing a pattern in my TV/Netflix watching lately: in addition to hot male leading actors and characters who love each other (Firefly, Bones, Agents of SHIELD, Castle), apparently one of my prime choice factors is Badass Women in Combat Gear. So I decided to do a countdown, or rather, a count-up, of my ten favorite BWCGs.

So Number Ten is Erica Cerra, Deputy Jo Lupo from Eureka (2006-2012). The show had an interesting premise: imagine that MIT was actually a secret town in Oregon, and much, much funnier. Then add a handsome and perplexed sheriff to keep people in order. And because of course a handsome white man with police experience who rides into town automatically gets the job of sheriff over the hot Latina deputy who is probably more experienced and right for the job, we also get Colin Ferguson, Sheriff Jack Carter. Now I have to admit that Ferguson is easy on the eyes, but for some reason nothing makes a SWAT uniform look better than Erica Cerra. And despite Lupo’s affections for Absurdly Large SciFi Weapons, the character was interesting and likeable, although because television is what it is, when she finally ends up with a romance, it ends up being with the third least attractive man on the show, go figure.


Getting To Know Characters

firefly cast 364700

So I have been rewatching Joss Whedon’s brief, lamented TV show Firefly and I started to notice how, especially in the pilot, one of the primary ways we get introduced to the characters and find out who they are is by watching their interactions/relationships with the other characters. This may seem obvious, especially for folks who are more used to reading/watching/writing for stage and small and big screens, but my background is primarily in poetry, stories and novels. In poetry what you primarily have to show your characters is their language. Do they talk like Tennyson’s King Arthur or like Popeye? In prose fiction, you get narrative description and internal monologue in addition to dialogue. But in more cinematic stories, all you get is what you can see and hear: costumes, dialect, and interactions that show, for example, affection or power or the like.

So we see the disillusioned Captain Mal Reynolds keeping a lid on the man he relies on for muscle and automatic weapons, Jayne, who is not a bad guy, just pragmatic and occasionally a little mean, when he teases the innocent mechanic Kayley for her obvious crush on the upper class doctor, Simon Tam. Mal has a love/hate relationship for the stylish Companion (read: courtesan) Inara, as in, he loves the woman and hates her job. Kayley and Inara, although seemingly opposites, clearly share an affectionate friendship, in part because they are two out of three women on a ship full of Manly Men, and in part precisely because they are opposites: each woman sees in each other relief from the day-to-day reality of their lives. Inara provides vicarious excitement for Kayley and Kayley has the innocence that Inara lost long ago.

And, sure the costumes help, but even if this were a radio play, I think we would very quickly see who these characters are—in themselves and to each other—and why we should care about them.

Just the Annoying Sidekick? Hardly!

jaynes hat

Here at San Diego Comic Con, the creator of Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse, and the director of two Avengers movies, just told us the nature and purpose of existence. He also revealed one of his next projects: a “Victorian female Batman” called Twist.

So during Joss Whedon’s big one-man show panel here at Comic Con, a fan dressed in a Jayne hat and a Sunnydale T-shirt asked what was the meaning of life, what was the nature of reality, and how we could be sane and happy in the world. And Whedon responded:

“You think I’m not going to, but I’m going to answer that. The world is a random and meaningless terrifying place and then we all—spoiler alert—die. Most critters are designed not to know that. We are designed, uniquely, to transcend that, and to understand that—I can quote myself—a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.”

Whedon added that “the main function of the human brain, the primary instinct, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and to distort, but we [also] learn to tell a story about ourselves.”

And Whedon said, “I keep hoping to be the hero of my story, [but] I’m the annoying sidekick. I’m kind of like Rosie O’Donnell in that Tarzan movie.” He keeps hoping to be Tarzan, but finding that he’s that weird monkey that nobody can tell if it’s a girl or a boy.

“My idea is that stories that we then hear and see and internalize—and wear hats from and come to conventions about… We all come here to celebrate only exactly that: storytelling, and the shared experience of what that gives us.” The shared experience of storytelling gives us strength and peace, Whedon added. You understand your story and everyone else’s story, and that “it can be controlled by us.” This is something we can survive, “because unlike me, you all are the hero of your story.”

Anders, Charlie Jane. “Joss Whedon Just Explained the Meaning of LIfe to Us.” 11 July 2015. Web. 12 July 2015.