Tag Archives: anti-heroes

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?

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