I may be the only fan of ‘Firefly’ that views the cancellation of the show as a good thing. That may not make sense without explanation. The producers only recorded fourteen episodes before the show was cancelled. It has been proven – to me at least – that any show that runs sufficiently long will become stupid. I don’t watch very much television for this very reason. The biggest reason that I think it is a good thing is because of the mystery that is left unsolved.
‘Firefly’ left us with a lot of mysteries. Most of them involve the past lives of each of the characters. Shepherd Book is perhaps the most intriguing. How does he know so much about guns and military strategy and equipment? How does he know what an operative is and how the Alliance will react?
My opinion on those mysteries is that those are the things that make Firefly so compelling to people. If all those things were told or revealed then it would no longer be as interesting – the mystery is bigger than the answer. This isn’t always true – sometimes having the mystery revealed is essential to making the story fulfilling, but sometimes the answer will only leave you feeling unsatisfied. This is one of those times.
Because of that I resisted reading the Serenity comics for a long time.
It turns out I was right.
The Shepherd’s Tale was well written with great artwork that made the story flow and from one scene to the next. It’s told in a very interesting style that transitions the Shepherd Book farther and farther back in time with little scene links that are incredibly smooth.
The big reveal however, isn’t. I have imagined a dozen more intriguing (to my mind) reasons for the all of the preacher’s military and political knowledge and the story contained in this book about his past seems (again to my mind) bland by comparison. This is one of those mysteries in a story that should not be revealed – because the minds of the fans will make up something better than the writers ever could. It’s a brilliant piece of story telling that was set up to fail from the beginning.