Serenity As Serenity

Take my love, take my land

Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me...

At root, Firefly's theme song is a double meaning. Interpreted one way, it reflects Mal’s mindset prior to the Battle of Serenity Valley. But the meaning of the lyrics transforms in time with Mal’s worldview after Unification.

The double meaning revolves around the word “Serenity”. In the opening sequence of the Pilot episode, Mal tells soldier Bendis that they are too pretty for God to let them die. Clearly a man of faith, he is seen kissing a cross hung around his neck for luck. Though he fights for independence from an imperial power, he knows that whatever ails him in this world, heaven in the sky will be his in the next. No matter what injustices the Alliance metes out, serenity will be his final destination.

Yet in a single moment, Mal’s entire world is shattered when reinforcements abandon his unit and Alliance ships rain bombs down onto Serenity Valley. The noise of the battle fades, and Mal silently stares in utter disbelief at the sky even as the man next to him is shot dead. Mal’s life is turned upside-down in that instant as he loses the battle, his freedom, and his faith. The next scene takes place six years later with him upside-down in a spacesuit.

When Shepherd Book asks Mal if he minds if he says grace before the crew’s first meal together, Mal replies, “Only if you say it out loud,” and proceeds to begin eating. Later he tells Book, "You're welcome on my ship, but God ain't." Serenity is no longer the afterlife, but rather a rusted old ship that allows Mal to eke out a living at the edge of space in the only manner he knows how. No matter how long the arm of the Alliance might get, he can fly out just a little further. The sky provides a new frontier, however harsh, to which to escape. When his sky grows crowded, Serenity is his savior.

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