The Hero of Canton, the man we call Jayne

I’m really trying to make Friday a day when I talk about superheroes, romance, and/or heroism concepts. This may be stretching, but come on, you know you don’t mind a post about Jayne. Just as a bit of a warning, this is a post for Firefly fans. If you haven’t watched the series, it’s probably not going to make a whole lot of sense. But if you haven’t watched the series, please, do yourself that favor. There’s only one season, and it is brilliant. And it’s on Netflix WI. (The follow-up movie, Serenity, is there too.)

The Jayne Hat, a gift from his mama.

I don’t know why I’m so fond of Firefly character Jayne Cobb, but I know I’m not the only one.

I suppose Jayne’s an anti-hero. Most of the time he’s wavering between reprehensible and merely unlikeable. And then Jayne has his moments. I recently stumbled upon this lovely list of Jayne’s more human moments. It’s these moments, along the character’s bar fight prowess and Adam Baldwin’s shoulder span, that draw me in.

I find myself more intrigued by Jayne than any other character–and they’re all pretty damned intriguing. It’s a crime this show didn’t last long enough to develop them. And I think that’s because I just don’t buy it. Normally, not buying it is a bad thing, right? When Jayne is bad, he is very, very bad. So much so that I just gotta think: that can’t be right. There’s gotta be more to it. And those little moments that he has on screen totally support that.

What do they support? Um, the alternate view of Jayne that lives on in my head in my private, subsequent seasons of Firefly? Yeah, I don’t write fan fic–on paper–but that doesn’t mean I don’t make shit up. Who can help it?

For me, the turning point for Jayne comes in the episode “Ariel,” in which the crew does the hospital job in order for Simon to get access to scans of River’s brain to help him understand what was done to her and how to treat her.

You know how…You get scared. Or worried, or
nervous. And you don’t want to be scared or worried or nervous, so you push it to the back of your mind.
You try not to think about it. The limbic system is what lets you do that — it’s like a filter in your brain that keeps your feelings in check. They took that filter out of River. She feels everything. She can’t not.

And, you know, putting aside how evil that is and sucks for River, isn’t it kind of lovely how that works with who Jayne is: a man whose actions are so often ruled by fear? Yet because of those little moments, he’s also a man whom we want to believe has it in him to be more than what he now appears. The realization of the evil that was done to this girl is probably too much for Jayne to deal with right this second, but I want to believe that he

This Jayne Hat and matching sweater, one of the first things I made for Blythe. She's a fan.

identifies, has second thoughts about his plans to betray the siblings, and that it’s the catalyst for a change in his character–and his relationship with River.

Yes, there you have it. I’m a Rayne (River + Jayne as couple) fan. In my latest episode, when River is being held for ransom, Jayne sells Vera for the money to get her back.

Some characters seem to just be born to be heroes. They have within them such a shining core of goodness and bravery that no amount of adversity can turn them or keep them down. They’re wonderful heroes and I love them. But for me there’s also a place for these flawed would-be heroes, and I’m easily addicted to the idea of what they can become and to watching to see if they embrace their heroic potential.

How do you feel about Jayne? Love him? Hate him? Did you fix him up in your head a bit? What happens in your Firefly?


Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

15 responses to “The Hero of Canton, the man we call Jayne

  1. Someone told me about Firefly once, and I watched a few episodes on Hulu. But I had to watch them at work during lunch because my internet speed at home isn’t that great. But I really enjoyed what little I saw, and I hope I get to watch the whole season eventually. Sadly, I don’t remember much about Jayne. But I’ll be looking for that “hero” the next time I start watching.

  2. The best part about Jayne is his relationship with Shepard, the priest like character. It was always hinted that Shepard was more than that, with a possible darker past. I think in some way Jayne gets that and because he may have his own regrets, he befriends Shepard as a way to seek redemption. At least that’s what I think. The show didn’t last long enough to explore that.

    • It drives me nuts how much didn’t get done because it was prematurely canceled and how what was intended was probably massively tweaked to fit into Serenity. I hate that we never learned Shepard’s past. Isn’t that in a comic, though? I think it’s on my list…

  3. Whitney

    Jayne is forever my favorite. Mal was too perfect for my liking. Plus I finally got over that fear of bare chested men- and Jayne’s shape was much more attractive. I just bought the whole season on Blu-ray- for extra Jayne. I think I’d also always paired up Jayne and River too.

    • Mal had his qualities. Any freedom fighter who’s still picking fights years after the war is lost is ok by me. But if we’re voting for most likely to have a bad-boy standard issue leather jacket in the closet…

  4. I so miss Firefly. Jayne…I wanted to hate him, and mostly I could, because he was so disagreeable and mean, and yet he would have one of those moments you’re talking about and you could just see the barest glimpse of who he wanted to be, and it would send that “aha!” zing through me.

  5. Claire

    FIREFLY YES OMG <333 squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!1!1;alksjd

    Okay, so now that the fangirlsplosion is out of the way…

    I totally agree with you about Jayne. In fact, the first time I watched Firefly all the way through, I liked Jayne more than Mal. Mal, with all his cocky captaininess, really irritated me. Whenever he talked about “his sky,” I was like, “Um, it’s not YOUR sky, asshole.”

    But Jayne, as blatant an asshole as he can sometimes be, always struck me as being more than meets the eye. Joss is too good a writer to have caricatures walking around his shows. I knew Jayne was more from the very first episode, when…um…that bad thing happens to that one person, and Jayne’s crouched outside after, making sure that person is okay. I was like, “Ah-ha! Somewhere inside that appealingly muscled body, he’s got some soft spots.”

    Anyway, I could ramble incoherently about Firefly for days upon days, but the really important thing here is that you’re absolutely right about the flawed heroes–those saintly, noble types are good and wonderful, and without them, everything would go to hell, but the messed-up heroes, the anti-heroes, the Jaynes, make life–and stories–much more interesting. And then you end up rooting for them even more than the really good guys because you, like you said, want to see if they manage to embrace their own goodness and come out on top. We can relate to them because, like them, we’re flawed and messed up and anti- quite a bit. And if they can conquer their anti- and do something good, then maybe we can, too.

    Great post. And not a stretch at all. šŸ™‚

  6. Dee Radic

    I own the series and cannot believe it was only one season long. I loved Firefly, even had the hubby hooked on it, and he is not a scifi fan. He laughed at me when I told him it was a futuristic western. It really does frustrate me that we will never the truth about Shepherd, or Jayne. River was my favorite character, I would have liked to see her develop as the pilot. There was just so much to like about the show.

    • (Oh no, don’t talk about River as the pilot. If Kait comes back she’ll start shrieking about Wash.)

      I very much want to know about Shepherd, and the story is supposed to be in this book. On my to-do list, which seems to have a lot of reading on it.

      • Claire

        I got that for Christmas! Can’t wait to read. Although I’ve heard that, by the end, there are still some unanswered questions…

        • oh of course there are.
          Hey, Claire, sorry I didn’t respond to your comment. After almost making you cry in IM, I was wary… Although if I find some time to spew later, I may continue to scribble down my summary of the adventures of Rayne and dump them on you later, tears be damned.

  7. Xylene TwoThreeOhOne

    Firefly was great series. The comics on the web are cool also.
    Jayne was a very interesting character and provided some great comic relief but with any reality to it, Mal would have either kicked Jayne off the crew or killed him early on. He was just too unpredictable and mutinous.

  8. Wyz

    “Iā€™m sure this is partly my bad-boy thing showing.”

    the “boy” part is important – Jayne is a big kid -with a LOT of weapons – you KNOW he’s going to “get better”, but things got cut off too early

Leave a Reply to Cricket Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s