Serenity (film)

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Serenity is a 2005 space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It follows on from the canceled Fox science fiction television series Firefly, taking place about two months after the events of the final episode.


[First lines]
Teacher: Earth-That-Was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terraformed, a process taking decades, to support human life, to be new Earths. The Central Planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating, but the Alliance's victory over the Independents ensured a safer universe. And now everyone can enjoy the comfort and enlightenment of our civilization.

Young River: People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome.

[Simon has infiltrated the facility where River is being held, and questions a doctor on her condition]
Simon: [impersonating an Alliance official] How is she physically?
Dr. Mathias: Like nothing we've seen. All our subjects are conditioned for combat, but River…she's a creature of extraordinary grace.
Simon: Yes…she always did love to dance.
[Simon activates a device, the pulse of which renders all present scientists unconscious]

Dr. Mathias: [on recording] Key members of Parliament have personally observed this subject. I thought--
[recording pauses]
The Operative: Key…members…of Parliament. Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic, and covert operation in the galaxy…and you put them in a room with a psychic?

The Operative: Secrets are not my concern. Keeping them is.

The Operative: You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.
Dr. Mathias: Well, unfortunately, I forgot to bring a sword.
[The Operative unsheathes his sword]
Dr. Mathias: I would put that down right now if I were you—
The Operative: Would you be killed in your sleep, like an ailing pet?

[After Dr. Mathias falls onto the Operative's sword]
The Operative: This is a good death. There's no shame in this, in a man's death. A man who has done fine works. We're making a better world. All of them better worlds.

[As Serenity begins a fiery dive into atmo, a panel on the bow breaks off, flying over the cockpit's viewport]
Mal: What was that?
Wash: Did you see that?
Mal: Was that the primary buffer panel?
Wash: It did seem to resemble—
Mal: Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorram ship for no apparent reason?
[Serenity shudders.]
Wash: Looks like.
Mal: I thought Kaylee just checked the entry couplings. I have a very clear memory of it!
Wash: Yeah well, if she doesn't give us some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn-through, this landing is going to get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define interesting!
Wash: [deadpan] "Oh god, oh god, we're all gonna die"?
Mal: [on the ship intercom] This is the captain, we have a lil' problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight…turbulence, and then…explode. [to Wash] Can you shave the vector?
Wash: I'm doing it! It's not enough.
Mal: Just get us on the ground!
Wash: That part will happen pretty definitely.

Jayne: We're gonna explode? I don't wanna explode!
Mal: Jayne, how many weapons you plan on taking? You only got the two arms.
Jayne: Well, I just get excitable as to choice. Like to have my options open.
Mal: I don't plan on any shooting taking place during this job.
Jayne: Yeah, well what you plan and what takes place ain't ever exactly been similar.
Mal: …No grenades.
Jayne: Huh? Aw…
Mal: No grenades!

Zoe: We crashing again?
Mal: Talk to your husband. Mule prepped?
Zoe: Good to go, sir. Just loading her up. [She turns to Jayne as Mal walks off.] Those grenades?
Jayne: Yeah, Captain doesn't want them.
Zoe: Jayne, we're robbing the place. We're not occupying it.

Mal: Kaylee! Kaylee, what in the sphincter of hell are you playing at? We got the primary buffer panel coming right—
Kaylee: Everything's shiny, Cap'n. Not to fret.
Mal: You told me those entry couplings would hold for another week!
Kaylee: That was six months ago Cap'n.
Mal: My ship don't crash. [If] she crashes, you crashed her.

Mal: Bit of a rockety ride? Nothing to be worried about.
Simon: I'm not worried.
Mal: Fear is nothing to be ashamed of, Doctor.
Simon: This isn't fear. This is anger.
Mal: Well, kind of hard to tell one from the other, face like yours.
Simon: Well, I imagine if it were fear, my eyes would be wider.

Mal: Hey little one. You understand your part in all this?
River: Do you?
Mal: This is what I do, darlin'. This is what I do.

[Over Simon's objections, Mal has "recruited" River to join the crew on a job due to her psychic abilities]
Simon: Now River, stay behind the others. If there's fighting, drop to the floor or run away. It's okay to leave them to die.
Mal: Doctor. I'm taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you—I will get very choked up. Honestly. There could be tears.

[The crew prepares for a payroll robbery.]
Jayne: Shiny! Let's be bad guys.

Mal: How about you, darling, ready to go?
River: There's no pattern to the pebbles here…it's all completely random. I tried to count them but you drove too fast. Hummingbird.
[brief silence]
Mal: Right, let's go.

Zoe: Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.

Trade Agent: You all are Browncoats, eh? Fought for independence? Petty thieving ain't exactly soldiers' work.
Mal: War's long done. We're all just folk now.

[Mal opens a bank vault to find it virtually empty.]
Zoe: [sardonically] At last, we can retire and give up this life of crime.

[Mal pulls a secret handle in the vault. The floor retracts revealing a staircase.]
Mal: We're coming down to empty this vault.
Vault Guard: You'll have to give me your authorization password.
[Jayne fires an extended burst from his rifle into the floor.]
Vault Guard: OK.

[Mal has his gun drawn while having a discussion with the vault guard of the bank he's robbing.]
Mal: The leg is good; it'll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs.
Guard: I was thinking more of a graze.
Mal: Well, you don't want it to look like you just gave up.
Guard: No, I get that.
Jayne: [yelling from upstairs] Mal!
Mal: Every heist he's gotta start yelling my name.

[The crew's Mule is being pursued by a Reaver ship.]
Jayne: Gee, sure would be nice if we had some grenades right now, don'tcha think?!

[Jayne is being pulled toward the Reaver ship by a harpoon.]
Jayne: I won't get et! You shoot me if they take me!
[Mal aims his gun in Jayne's direction.]
Jayne: Well, don't shoot me first!
[Mal shoots at the harpoon rope.]

[Mal's Mule crashes into Serenity's bay. Simon, who stayed behind, rushes to River asking if she's all right.]
River: I swallowed a bug.
. . .
[Kaylee, who also stayed behind, rushes to Simon]
Kaylee: [to Simon] Are you okay?
Mal: Is he okay?!?

Zoe: In the time of war, we never would've left a man stranded.
Mal: Maybe that's why we lost.

Jayne: I'll kill a man in a fair fight, or if I think he's gonna start a fair fight… If he bothers me, or if there's a woman… Or if I'm gettin' paid. Mostly only when I'm gettin' paid.

Kaylee: Don't ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine, they fall right out of the sky.

Kaylee: We're [going] on a year now, I ain't had nothing 'twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries.
Mal: Oh, God! I can't know that!
Jayne: I could stand to hear a little more.

[Mal greets Fanty and Mingo, identical twins.]
Mal: Fanty, Mingo.
Mingo: He's Mingo.
Mal: He's Fanty, you're Mingo.
Mingo: How is it you always know?
Mal: Fanty's prettier.

Fruity Oaty Bar Jingle: Fruity Oaty Bars! Make a man out of a mouse! Fruity Oaty Bars! Make you bust out of your blouse! Eat them all the time! Let them blow your mind, ohh! Fruity Oaty Bars!

[River has just started a bar fight.]
Jayne: Hey, tussle!
Mal: [somewhat disapprovingly] Jayne…

[After River's swift incapacitation of a barful of patrons, the crew regroups on Serenity.]
Mal: [to Simon] I believe you got some storytelling to do. What in the hell happened back there?
Wash: Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a 90-pound girl, 'cause…I don't think that's ever getting old.

Mr. Universe: You can't stop the signal, Mal. Everything goes somewhere, and I go everywhere.

River: Show me off like a dog. Old men covered in blood; it never touched them but they're drowning in it.

River: Put a bullet to me… Bullet in the brainpan, squish.

Book: You got a plan?
Mal: Hiding ain't a plan?
. . .
[Mal mentions that he could have left River behind.]
Book: It's not your way, Mal.
Mal: I have a way? That better than a plan?

Mal: It's of interest to me how much you seem to know about that world.
Book: I wasn't born a Shepherd, Mal.
Mal: You have to tell me about that sometime.
Book: [Pauses] No, I don't.

[After Inara invites the crew to join her at the companion training house]
Wash: Inara. Nice to see her again.
Zoe: So…trap?
Mal: Trap.
Zoe: Are we going in?
Mal: Oh, it ain't but a few hours out.
Wash: Yeah, but, remember the part where it's a trap?
. . .
Kaylee: But how can you be sure Inara don't just wanna see you? Sometimes people have feelings. And I'm referring here to…people.
Mal: You all were watching, I take it?
Kaylee: Yes.
Mal: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee: No.
Mal: Trap.

Mal: Zoe, the ship is yours. Remember, if anything happens to me; if you don't hear from me within the hour; you take this ship and you come and you rescue me!
Zoe: What? And risk my ship?
Mal: I mean it. It's cold out there, and I don't want to get left.

[Mal, wearing a robe covered in tassels, kneels next to Inara in front of a Buddhist shrine.]
Mal: Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony, and a plastic rocket, and one of those—
Inara: Mal, what are you doing here?

The Operative: I have to say, Captain, I'm impressed that you would come for her yourself. And that you would make it this far…in that outfit.
Mal: I can be very graceful when I need to.
The Operative: I've no doubt.

Mal: She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort.
The Operative: It's worse than you know.
Mal: It usually is.
The Operative: That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.
Mal: The way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it.
[He turns to Inara.]
Mal: Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.

Mal: I never credited the Alliance with an overabundance of brains, and if you're the best they've got–
The Operative: Captain Reynolds, I should tell you so you don't waste your time. You cannot make me angry.
Inara: Please, spend an hour with him.

The Operative: I already know you will not see reason.
Mal: The Alliance wanted to show me reason, they shouldn't have sent an assassin.
The Operative: I have a warship in deep orbit, Captain. We locked onto Serenity's pulse beacon the moment you hit atmo. I can speak a word and send a missile to that exact location inside of three minutes.
Mal: You do that, you'd best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord.
[Mal tosses a mechanism at the Operative.]
The Operative: [catching the mechanism, then realizing what it is] Pulse beacon.
Mal: Advice from an old tracker. If you want to find someone, use your eyes.

The Operative: I'm not threatening you. I'm unarmed.
Mal: Good.
[Mal shoots the Operative, who falls but quickly recovers.]
The Operative: I am, of course, wearing full body armor. I am not a moron.

The Operative: Nothing here is what it seems.
[approaches Mal with his sword]
The Operative: He is not the plucky hero. The Alliance is not an evil empire. This is not the grand arena–
Inara: And that's not incense.
[The Operative turns, and a flash bomb throws him across the room]

Mal: [angrily] Do you want to run this ship?
Jayne: Yes!
Mal: Well…you can't!

[After discussing the danger River poses to the crew.]
Simon: We'll get off. River and I will get off at Haven. We'll find some—
Kaylee: Nobody's saying that.
Wash: Nobody besides Jayne is saying that.

Mal: I got no answers for you Inara. I got no rudder. Wind blows Northerly, I go North. That's who I am. Now maybe that ain't a man to lead but they got to follow. So you want to tear me down? Do it inside your own mind.
Inara: I'm not trying to tear you down.
Mal: But you fog things up. You always have. You spin me about. I wish like hell you were elsewhere.
Inara: I was.

[River has a gun trained on Mal as Mal tries to talk her down.]
Mal: The government's man, he says you're a danger to us. Not worth helping. Is he right? Are you anything but a weapon? I staked my crew's life on the theory [that] you're a person, actual and whole. And if I'm wrong, you best shoot me now.
[River cocks the gun.]
Mal: Or we could talk more.

Mal: Half of writing history is hiding the truth.

Book: I shot him down…Killed the ship that killed us. Not very Christian of me.
Mal: You did what's right.
Book: Coming from you, that means almost nothing.
. . .
Book: I'm long gone.
Mal: No, Doc will bring you around. I look to be bored by many more sermons before you slip.
Book: You can't order me around, boy. I'm not one of your crew.
Mal: Yes you are.

Mal: I don't murder children.
The Operative: I do. If I have to.

[After Mal orders the crew to modify Serenity]
Zoe: Sir, do you really mean to turn our home into an abomination so that we can make a suicidal attempt at passing through Reaver space?
Mal: I mean to live. I mean for us to live. The Alliance won't have that, so we go where they don't follow.

[after Serenity gives him the slip]
The Operative: Define "disappeared."

Wash: Can I make a suggestion that doesn't involve killing anybody, or is this the wrong crowd?

River: Run-tse duh shang-dee, ching dai-wuhtzo! Make them stop! They're everywhere! Every city, every… every house, every room—they're all inside me! I can hear them all and they're saying nothing! Get up! Please get up! Wuo-shang mayer, maysheen, byen shr-to… Please, God, make me a stone…
Jayne: [upset] She is starting to damage my calm…
Zoe: Jayne—
Jayne: She's right! Everybody's dead. This whole world's dead for no reason!

[Mal and the crew watch a holographic report on the Mirandas' fate.]
Dr. Caron: There's 30 million people here, and they just let themselves die.
[Everyone jumps at the sound of a brutal attack in the distance.]
Dr. Caron: I have to be quick! About a tenth of a percent of the population had the opposite reaction to the Pax. Their aggressor response increased beyond madness. They have become…
[A crash is heard in the background, now closer]
Dr. Caron: [sobs] Well, they've killed most of us. And not just killed…they've done things…
Wash: Reavers. They made them.
Dr. Caron: I won't live to report this, but people have to know. We meant it for the best…to make people safer.

Mal: This report is maybe twelve years old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there’s a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They’re gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.

Wash: I am a leaf on the wind…watch how I soar.

[A large object smashes into the front of Serenity.]
Mal: Wash!
Wash: [frantically] It's okay! I-I'm a leaf on the wind!
Mal: What does that mean?!

Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.
[While searching for survivors on Haven, Mal finds a dying Book, fatally injured with a bullet wound in the gut.]
Mal: [to Jayne] Get the Doc! [goes to Book's side] Shepherd! Don't move!
Book: Won't go far…
Mal: Shouldn't have been you. [pauses] The Alliance should've hit us…should've hit me.
Book: [coughs] That crossed my mind. [indicates the fallen ship] I shot him down.
Mal: [checks his wound] Yeah? I see.
Book: I killed the ship that killed us. Not…very Christian of me.
Mal: You did what was right.
Book: Coming from you, heh, that means almost nothing.
Book: I'm long gone…
Mal: No, the Doc will bring you around. I look to be bored by many more sermons before you sleep. Just don't move.
Book: I'm not gonna be around boy. I'm not one of your crew.
Mal: Yes you are.
Book: River…
Mal: [calls out] C'mon!
Book: [grips Mal] I don't care what you believe! Just believe! Whatever she… [succumbs to his wounds and dies]

The Operative: [as Serenity approaches a gathered Alliance fleet] Bastard isn't even changing course.
[An enormous Reaver fleet appears in pursuit of Serenity]
Ensign: Uhh…sir?
The Operative: Target the Reavers. Target the Reavers! Target everyone! Somebody fire!

Mal: [leading the Reaver and Alliance fleets into combat, and stuck in the middle] The chicken's come home to roost.

[Serenity comes to a stop after a crash landing on Mr. Universe's planet.]
Wash: [relieved] I am a leaf on the wind. Watch—
[A Reaver harpoon impales Wash, killing him.]

[As the Reavers batter the entrance to the crew's final stand, Simon turns to a shaking Kaylee.]
Simon: In all that time on the ship…I've always regretted…not being with you.
Kaylee: With me? You mean to say, as in…sex?
Simon: I mean to say.
[Kaylee cocks her gun, with determination.]
Kaylee: Hell with this. I'm gonna live!

[River to a wounded Simon]
River: You take care of me Simon. You've always taken care of me. My turn.
[River dives through the opening in the blast door, throws Simon's med kit through and seals the door]

[the Operative manages to stab Mal with his sword.]
The Operative: Do you know what your sin is, Mal?
Mal: Oh hell, I'm a fan of all seven.
[Mal headbutts the Operative and pulls the sword out.]
Mal: But right now, I'm gonna have to go with wrath.

The Operative: You've done remarkable things, but you're fighting a war you've already lost.
Mal: Yeah, well I'm known for that.

[Mal has just elbowed the Operative in the throat and disabled him through the dislocation of both shoulders.]
Mal: Sorry 'bout the throat. Expect you'd wanna say your famous last words now. Just one trouble.
[Mal shoves the Operative's sword through his straps, pinning the Operative to a railing.]
Mal: I ain't gonna kill you.
[Mal pulls out the signal and preps the console.]
Mal: Hell, I'm gonna grant your greatest wish. I'm gonna show you a world without sin.

[Mal is loading up the last of the repair equipment.]
The Operative: It's not over, you know.
[Mal instinctively goes to his holster, but doesn't draw. He turns to face the Operative.]
The Operative: I can't guarantee they won't come after you-the Parliament. Your broadwave about Miranda has weakened their regime, but they are not gone, and they are not…forgiving.
Mal: Well, that don't bode especially well for you—giving the order to let us go, patching up our hurt—
The Operative: I told them the Tams were no longer a threat. Damage done. They might listen, but I think they know I'm no longer their man.
Mal: They take you down, I don't expect to grieve over much. Like to kill you myself, I see you again.
The Operative: You won't…There is nothing left to see.

[In the deleted scenes]

The Operative: [looking at the name on the ship's hull] Serenity. You lost everything in that battle. Everything you believed in, everything you fought for…how did you go on?
Mal: If you're still standing there when those engines start goin', you'll never find out.
[The Operative blinks, looks down and walks away.]
Mal: [muttered] What a whiner.

Zoe: Sir, we have a green light. Inspection's pos, and we're clear for upthrust.
[Mal looks at his recently bereaved first mate.]
Mal: Think she'll hold together?
Zoe: She's tore up plenty, but she'll fly true.

Mal: It ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flyin' is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.
River: I do. But I like to hear you say it.
Mal: Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. And love keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down…tells ya she's hurtin' 'fore she keens…makes her a home.
River: Storm's getting worse.
Mal: We'll pass through it soon enough.
[As Serenity breaks atmo, a panel falls off the ship.]
Mal: What was that?

Chinese translations

RUNtse de SHANG-DEE, ching DAIwuhtzo
Merciful God, please take me away. (hanyupinyin: ren ci de shang di, qing dai wo zou)
WUOshang mayer, maysheen, BYEN shr-to
I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone. (hanyupinyin: wo xiang mei er, mei xin, bian shi tou)

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