Speculation about Shephard Book (Possible Firefly spoilers)

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Speculation about Shephard Book (Possible Firefly spoilers)

Postby Herman » Thu May 10, 2007 1:35 pm UTC

One of the many, many reasons why the cancelation of Firefly was so tragic was that we never learned what the hell the deal is with Shepherd Book. Clearly, he's more than meets the eye -- he has combat experience, he has extensive knowlege of criminal practices, and he left his order for reasons he won't elaborate on. Other characters wonder about his past, but he gives no hints.

So let your imagination soar like a leaf on the wind. What's up with him?

Also feel free to express general sorrow over the untimely passing of the greatest sci-fi show ever.

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Postby Belial » Thu May 10, 2007 1:50 pm UTC

One theory that my friends and I kicked around for a while was that he's a former Operative, basically a retired version of the villain from Serenity.

That said, I think the bit in Serenity when Mal told him "One day, you'll have to tell me how you know all this," and he responded something like "No. I won't." was basically Whedon saying "No, fuck you guys, sometimes you *never find out*. Sometimes it's just a mystery *forever*."
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Postby Hawknc » Thu May 10, 2007 2:05 pm UTC

Belial wrote:One theory that my friends and I kicked around for a while was that he's a former Operative, basically a retired version of the villain from Serenity.

That said, I think the bit in Serenity when Mal told him "One day, you'll have to tell me how you know all this," and he responded something like "No. I won't." was basically Whedon saying "No, fuck you guys, sometimes you *never find out*. Sometimes it's just a mystery *forever*."

Pretty much agree 100%. Given his knowledge of Operatives and his high-level standing with the Alliance, I'd say it's a fair bet he was an Operative or something similar. Also, Joss Whedon can be a bitch when he wants to be.

Also also, :( Wash! Why did you have to remind me of Wash's final moment?
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Postby Hammer » Thu May 10, 2007 2:12 pm UTC

Darn! I read the title of this thread and thought there was a book. Disappointed now...

Yeah, I wanted to know what was up with Book too, but I also like that everything doesn't necessarily get explained. Mysteries can be fun. Without them, what would we sit around here and talk about?
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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Thu May 10, 2007 5:24 pm UTC

Hammer wrote:what would we sit around here and talk about?


Besides peoples moms/faces/mom's faces?


Probably what'd happen next, rather than what'd already happened (in the future).
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Postby Hammer » Thu May 10, 2007 5:53 pm UTC

LE4dGOLEM wrote:Besides peoples moms/faces/mom's faces?


God. Please. Yes. Besides that.
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Postby Saffuric » Thu May 10, 2007 9:20 pm UTC

Darn! I read the title of this thread and thought there was a book. Disappointed now...


Gah! i totally thought the same thing! *sigh* i wanna know what Book was also, but if the series did continue, i feel like Whedon wouldn't have told us for a really really really really long time...
and they were building things up about River that most average watchers wouldn't catch and gah i just wish there was more...
and why did they have to kill off Wash and Book in Serenity!?!? now they can't make more =( MORE!...

anyway, I was totally thinking about starting a Firefly thread, but i didn't really.. get.. around.. to it... heh
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Postby Belial » Thu May 10, 2007 9:22 pm UTC

Darn! I read the title of this thread and thought there was a book. Disappointed now...


Fixed. Sorry.
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Postby Melissa63l » Thu May 10, 2007 10:58 pm UTC

ARRHRHRHRRGGHHH

I miss Firefly. :(

*heart breaks, again...still...more*

--------

Hey...my coat's kind of a brownish color...

One day I was watching a movie, and there was a 30 second trailer for Serenity...and I said "I must see that... Must." So I looked it up online and put it on my calandar.

Months later, I went to see the movie. I loved it. Outside the theater, I heard some guys talking, and one said to the other "No, no, it takes place a few months after the series..."

I immediately went home and ordered the DVD of Firefly. This started my love affair with my very favorite TV show. I still remember the sound my heart made breaking when I realized that there wouldn't be anymore.

It was like...finding love letters addressed to you...falling in love...and then finding out that the writer died two weeks ago.

Such a bittersweet love affair...

*snif*

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Postby Hammer » Thu May 10, 2007 11:05 pm UTC

I love Firefly. I love the premise. I love the theme song. I love the show itself. I bought the bootlegs. I bought the released DVDs when they came out. Sat down and watched the whole season in one shot.

I do, however, have real trouble referring to myself as a "Browncoat". Just sounds a little too close to "Brownshirt". Trying to get past it...
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Postby Vaniver » Thu May 10, 2007 11:08 pm UTC

I like how two of the posters here have the same Wash quote in their avatar.

I loved Firefly (got the DVD after I saw Serenity). It's probably the best TV show I've seen.

But... it's also been gone for what, three years now? One gets over that sort of thing, even though it is sad.
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Postby Hammer » Thu May 10, 2007 11:09 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Fixed. Sorry.


That's OK. You will be forgiven almost anything. Good raptor. *pat pat pat*
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Postby SpitValve » Thu May 10, 2007 11:34 pm UTC

I hadn't heard of Firefly, and I saw the trailer for Serenity and wasn't that impressed. My flatmates told I should watch this cool series by the creator of buffy but in space with cowboys but I wasn't convinced.

Anyway, I watched the series and it was awesome! Every character was great, every episode was cool. The movie was a good cap to it, but was a little bit disappointing because it wasn't as incredibly great as the series was.

Actually one little thing did bug me about the move: The series is all about them just living day to day, trying to escape with their lives and make a buck while they're at it. They're not the saviours of the universe, they're just a few thieves and criminals trying to make a dishonest living. The movie they were all the big heroes trying to save the galaxy, which is a little bit too much like every other sci fi flick out there... (but cooler, because it's Firefly)

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Postby Vaniver » Thu May 10, 2007 11:46 pm UTC

Actually one little thing did bug me about the move: The series is all about them just living day to day, trying to escape with their lives and make a buck while they're at it. They're not the saviours of the universe, they're just a few thieves and criminals trying to make a dishonest living. The movie they were all the big heroes trying to save the galaxy, which is a little bit too much like every other sci fi flick out there... (but cooler, because it's Firefly)
It was really bothersome to see Serenity first and Firefly later. River goes from being a martial arts master / berserker to being just some mysterious crazy person, and you keep on wondering "ok, when is she going to become useful?"
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Postby Peshmerga » Thu May 10, 2007 11:52 pm UTC

... I speculate he's a pedophile.
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Postby Hammer » Thu May 10, 2007 11:53 pm UTC

But this is supposed to be about Book, not how much we love Firefly...

So, here goes:

Book may be an ex-Operative, but I don't think so. The way that jerk officer jumped when he looked at Book's ID doesn't say "retired" to me.

Joss is not the most subtle guy when it comes to naming people. Calling him Shepherd indicates to me that he meant to watch over someone. Who needs watching over on that ship as much as River? If I recall correctly, Book was in a position to see Simon and River's case placed on Serenity. He also made an effort to start forming a bond with River.

He clearly does not have the same objectives as the guy who tries to arrest the Tams in the first place or the "blue-gloves" guys chasing them. Several comments are also made indicating that Book is not actually a Shepherd.

So what is he?

He knows a lot about firearms, combat, military workings and criminal workings. That may say Operative, but I don't think an ordinary Operative would have remained in place when Mal clearly knows something is up. Book has a huge amount or nerve and/or he is powerfully motivated to stay with Serenity.

I suspect he is an anti-Operative. A member of an organization that keeps an eye on the organization that "built" River. I think his job is to find out what she is for, if possible, but certainly to be there when she triggers and possibly prevent her from doing what she's been conditioned to do by killing her.

As to who he works for, either his ID is real and the government does not trust the part of itself that made River, or his ID is fake. If it is fake, then Book may work for an underground and the ID represents him as a relative of powerful people. Or perhaps he is a rogue Operative working his own agenda.

How's THAT for speculation?!
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Postby Vaniver » Fri May 11, 2007 12:06 am UTC

I suspected he was a senator (I think they used that title) who just happened to have an interest in firearms; just because it was a small detail about the world that people wouldn't really expect.
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 12:29 am UTC

Hammer wrote:How's THAT for speculation?!


All very good, but the idea that he's there to do a job....doesn't fit, what with how he *left* Serenity just because Mal said some unkind things to him (in the interlude comic). If he were there to do a job, he would've stayed. I always assumed he *was* actually a shepherd, but as a religious retreat after leaving some *other* life behind him.

Vaniver wrote:I suspected he was a senator (I think they used that title) who just happened to have an interest in firearms; just because it was a small detail about the world that people wouldn't really expect.


Wouldn't they have senators' pictures on file, though?

Also, does anybody have any idea about that scene in the last episode, where River's going around presumbly reading peoples' thoughts, and the thought she gets off Book is something like...

"I don't give half a hump if you're innocent or not! So where does that put you?"

Also, this little bit off the wiki, about that same episode:

"He also comments that Early's methods for dealing with each crew member are custom-tailored to their personalities. Early disposes of Mal in a straight-forward manner; Joss then notes that Early's method for taking out Book is equally straight-forward, alluding to a similarity between the two otherwise different characters."

And from Serenity:

"The novelization of Serenity details the Operative's assault on Haven. During this time, Book shoots down an Alliance cruiser and the Operative disables him and orders Alliance soldiers to shoot him. There is a brief monologue which hints that the Operative knows something about Book that Mal and his crew do not. The Operative states that Haven is the last place he would've expected to find Book, and that his Shepherd's clothing is the last thing he would've expected Book to be wearing, based on what he's read."

.....

I just formed a theory....

What if, as a counterpoint to Mal, Shepherd Book is some "Big Damn Hero" from the *Alliance* side of the war for independence?
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Postby Vaniver » Fri May 11, 2007 12:34 am UTC

Wouldn't they have senators' pictures on file, though?
First, they might not be public individuals. I don't remember there being much mention of the Alliance being a democracy- but I was never big on the backstory.

Second, it's got to be easy enough to change one's appearance, especially if they're that high up.

I just formed a theory....

What if, as a counterpoint to Mal, Shepherd Book is some "Big Damn Hero" from the *Alliance* side of the war for independence?
That strikes me as rather plausible.
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 12:36 am UTC

First, they might not be public individuals. I don't remember there being much mention of the Alliance being a democracy- but I was never big on the backstory.

Second, it's got to be easy enough to change one's appearance, especially if they're that high up.


Good points
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Postby Hammer » Fri May 11, 2007 12:38 am UTC

Belial wrote:What if, as a counterpoint to Mal, Shepherd Book is some "Big Damn Hero" from the *Alliance* side of the war for independence?


Interesting. Although, I do feel like I have to go sit down and watch the whole damn thing again before continuing this. My memory for small details just isn't holding. I don't recall an interlude comic...

All very good, but the idea that he's there to do a job....doesn't fit, what with how he *left* Serenity just because Mal said some unkind things to him (in the interlude comic). If he were there to do a job, he would've stayed. I always assumed he *was* actually a shepherd, but as a religious retreat after leaving some *other* life behind him.


Which supports him more as an independent with an agenda - either rogue or retired. Still nebulous as to where he got his training and knowledge. If his "mission" is self-imposed, he'd be more subject to the temptation to say "To hell with it" and go home. I do still get the impression that he has a strong reason for being there, even if the reason is his own.

Also, are we counting things in the movie as valid clues?
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Postby Vaniver » Fri May 11, 2007 12:45 am UTC

I don't recall an interlude comic...
Before they did the movie Serenity, they were experimenting with other ways to continue the story of Firefly. They had a few issues of a comic book that explain what happens in between Firefly and Serenity.
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Postby Hammer » Fri May 11, 2007 12:56 am UTC

Also:

Joss Whedon likes classic themes with a twist.

Book is clearly capable of very competent execution of violence. He also seems to be making a great effort not to do so. The story of the natural soldier/killer who has had enough and tries to become a simple person (often a priest), then is drawn back into the fight because of a great need for his abilities is certainly a classic.

The difference is that the story is usually told through the warrior's eyes.

Book does seem to fit that mold. If he has left his order and reentered the world, then what is the great need? Why did he come out of hiding?
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 12:58 am UTC

Before they did the movie Serenity, they were experimenting with other ways to continue the story of Firefly. They had a few issues of a comic book that explain what happens in between Firefly and Serenity.


Yeah. It deals with the blue hands guys, the introduction of the operative, and the reintroduction of a villian from earlier in the series. Is much fun.
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Postby Hammer » Fri May 11, 2007 1:00 am UTC

Belial wrote:
Before they did the movie Serenity, they were experimenting with other ways to continue the story of Firefly. They had a few issues of a comic book that explain what happens in between Firefly and Serenity.


Yeah. It deals with the blue hands guys, the introduction of the operative, and the reintroduction of a villian from earlier in the series. Is much fun.


No wonder I "don't remember" some of this stuff. Where can get?
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 1:08 am UTC

It's collected in a little booklet called "Serenity: Those Left Behind", you can probably find it in most comic-shops, and the majority of bookstores. I read it at Barnes and Noble.
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Postby Herman » Fri May 11, 2007 1:22 am UTC

... I speculate he's a pedophile.


Even worse. He's a guy who talked in the theater.

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Postby fjafjan » Fri May 11, 2007 1:37 am UTC

Special hell!
This is a bit funny, since i just before browing the fora looked at serenity(movie) and the first 4-5 episodes.

It's really good, I like how they are eolving the characters, my only dislike is their reaction to death seems very nonshallant, even the priest and doctor.
But I guess nothing is perfect
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 1:44 am UTC

my only dislike is their reaction to death seems very nonshallant, even the priest and doctor.


How do you mean? The death of bad people?
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Postby fjafjan » Fri May 11, 2007 1:47 am UTC

Just in general shooting someone, most recently would be the Mudder who took a bullet for Jane .. or whatever his name is. Now he was a bit upset by it, but everyon just took it in stride. Infact the whole thing of using the poor as a distraction.
I'll have to watch more to get more solid critiques though
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Postby Saffuric » Fri May 11, 2007 5:54 am UTC

heeey!! someone does have the same quote as my avatar! yay!!

and i HAVE to say that it is very dissapointing to see how River doesn't kick ass the way she does in Serenity. i mean, she was TOTALLY awesome in Serenity, but i still like her in Firefly too.

anyway, i actually didn't have anything productive to say cept that.

can we have a separate thread for just Firefly fan-ness in general?? 0=)
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Postby ArchangelShrike » Fri May 11, 2007 6:48 am UTC

Seconded!

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Postby Hammer » Fri May 11, 2007 11:30 am UTC

Belial wrote:It's collected in a little booklet called "Serenity: Those Left Behind", you can probably find it in most comic-shops, and the majority of bookstores. I read it at Barnes and Noble.


Cool. Will hunt down.

I was thinking of an Operative as the goof who tried to arrest the Tams. Didn't realize there was another character introduced.

On another note, judging from the comments, many seem to have seen Serenity first, then caught some or all of Firefly itself. I watched the series several times, completely missed the stuff in between, and saw the movie on Pay Per View in a hotel with a plate of food in my lap after a long day onsite doing programming tricks like a trained monkey. My opinions are based much more on the series itself than the surrounding "material".
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 12:37 pm UTC

I was thinking of an Operative as the goof who tried to arrest the Tams.


No no. He was the guy from "Serenity". The super-elite zealot who was after River.
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Postby Hammer » Fri May 11, 2007 1:43 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
I was thinking of an Operative as the goof who tried to arrest the Tams.


No no. He was the guy from "Serenity". The super-elite zealot who was after River.


Oh, him! OK. I really have to sit down and watch the movie again then. Possibly eight more times to keep up with this crowd. Although, I'm not really sure the movie "counts". I can really be a bit of a purist (read "snob") about these things... :wink: Wanted the nice long story arc of a multi-season series.

I found the comic on Amazon. Browsed through a few pages. I really miss the verbal delivery though. Especially Adam Baldwin. I would be very unlikely to read it under normal circumstances, but I'm very much enjoying talking to you and I don't get to play RPG (can't get anybody around here to even play Munchkin). So perhaps I'll see if I can get caught up enough to perform a more informed analysis on this whole "Book" situation. :)
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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 1:55 pm UTC

Oh, him! OK. I really have to sit down and watch the movie again then. Possibly eight more times to keep up with this crowd. Although, I'm not really sure the movie "counts". I can really be a bit of a purist (read "snob") about these things... Wanted the nice long story arc of a multi-season series.


Yeah.....I really, really wish I could've seen how the series would've developed if it were allowed to play out over a Buffy- or Angel-style progression. I hate Fox so much....so, so much.
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Postby crazyjimbo » Fri May 11, 2007 1:59 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Yeah.....I really, really wish I could've seen how the series would've developed if it were allowed to play out over a Buffy- or Angel-style progression. I hate Fox so much....so, so much.


It would have been nice if they had finished the first series at least, and wrapped it up nicely, but part of me likes the fact that there were only a few episodes made. Had too many been made, it would have taken some of the magic away from it. Too many serieses have been ruined by churning them out long after their best before date is up, just to make a bit more cash. This way, Firefly was only ever amazing, and will always be remembered that way.

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Postby Belial » Fri May 11, 2007 2:06 pm UTC

I dunno. I liked Angel all the way through to the end, and I wasn't terribly mad at Buffy, either.

I think Whedon generally knows what he's doing with long-ish series.
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Postby Hammer » Fri May 11, 2007 2:09 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Yeah.....I really, really wish I could've seen how the series would've developed if it were allowed to play out over a Buffy- or Angel-style progression. I hate Fox so much....so, so much.


Me too! What an creative idea to just dump without allowing it to develop. It's not like Whedon hasn't proved he can draw viewers if you give him some room.

I mentioned earlier that he has a real thing for classic plots with a twist. After years and years of Star Trek like shows where humans go into space and meet the aliens, he makes one where humans go into space...and there's nobody there. Cool!
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Postby Hammer » Sat May 12, 2007 10:46 pm UTC

OK. Ordered a copy of Serenity and the comic so I can get caught up. However, the more I think about it, the more I like Belial's Alliance hero theory.

It fits the evidence better than the retired Operative theory, in my opinion. It also fits the character. I like it.
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