[Be warned: ‘Firefly’ spoilers below for those who haven’t watched the show before.]
So, I Fireflied my older kids over their last vacation. You know the drill. Hose them down with a binge of shiny 14-episode, Mal Reynolds goodness and then tie the knot with the Reaver hellscape of Serenity.
It’s not for pacifists. The gang mess a lot of people up. Mal puts Niska’s man through his engine. Jayne is…unpleasant. Reavers are disturbing. It’s not a soft watch.
But the most difficult dance for me was explaining what a Companion is.
In many ways, it’s a lovely new chapter in a future where slut-shaming is replaced with a galaxy-wide veneration for the seductive arts.
In other ways, it’s a schoolboy fantasy where the always-available perfect hooker can both quote philosophy and suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
In all things with my children I strive to be more European in topics that involve sex. I make sure to let them know that, with the obvious exception of Halle Berry, physical beauty is fleeting. I try not to demonize their natural curiosity. And most importantly, I fast forward past shit I’m not ready to explain.
As to the age-old question about whether a companion is the ultimate symbol of female self-determination or merely a space geisha, we’ll let everyone else decide.
But my kids love Inara.
And they love Mal, which proves I done raised them proper-like. They love the dynamic between the two of them.
They love that Mal is too stupid to know that Inara kissed him and passed out because of the narcotic on his lips from Saffron. They love that Inara tries to teach big tough dummy Mal how to sword fight.
They hated seeing Mal with Inara’s friend Nandi. They hated watching Inara cry. They hated that we never got to see Mal and Inara be where they were destined to be: together.
My daughter, especially, gets connected to hot properties. And she has a birthday next month, so: in addition to l’ordinaire Star Wars and Harry Potter objects d’art that I usually shower her with, why not mix in some Firefly loot as well?
Great idea. I know. Time to buy cool shit!
Let’s start with an action figure or two. The default toy line for Firefly seems to be Funko Legacy Action figures. Let’s see…there’s Mal, of course. And proto-human troglodyte Jayne Cobb. A Zoe figure! Yay for women being represented! And Wash next to her eternally, as it should be. A leaf on the wind. And then Kaylee. Utterly delightful. Pretty good likenesses of them, too!
Can’t wait to see the Inara figure!
Oh. There is no Inara figure. Huh.
I’ll bet I can figure out what happened. This is the flagship collection, and they just sort of restricted it to the “main” crew. Like the actual crew. Not people who rented a shuttle like Inara or people who saved lives like Simon and River. Okay so It’s just the “main” crew. Too bad.
But in addition to the Funko Legacy Action line there appears to be a Funko ReAction line! Okay, now we’re getting somewhere! This line must be a ReAction to consumers like me wondering where the mofo Inara and River figurines are!
Let’s check out the Funko ReAction line:
Mal, Jayne, Zoe, Wash and Kaylee.
Those are flat out terrible likenesses in the low-end line, by the way. That looks like capless young Michael Nesmith, Benedict Cumberbatch, CCH Pounder, Blonde Eugene Levy and young Janet Reno.
Maybe they rolled some of what I guess is the “ancillary” cast on the Funko POP TV! Line. You know, the one with the cute big-headed figures?
Well, shoot. I’m not searching this right. Let’s just go directly to the source, as it were. Search the whole Funko site for “Inara.”
That’s so weird. And this clearly isn’t a gender thing. You’ve got great representation here with two kick ass female characters. And I have zero beef with Funko. But what gives? Am I the only one looking for Inara merch? Far be it from me to nitpick the shopping habits of others but how many Jayne Cobbs does any one Ayn Rand reader need?
Maybe Funko didn’t pay for the license to anyone outside of the “main” cast. So maybe someone else did. Let’s check ThinkGeek. They’re usually able to scratch a super nerdy itch for me. I’ve spent an absurd amount of money there since the kids started geeking out on Star Wars and Harry Potter and LOTR And Portal and Fallout and Skyrim and Mass Effect with me. Let’s see what the Robot Monkeys come up with when I search for Inara!
Hermione’s Time Turner - I mean I want it, but not for $49.99.
Slash & Serve Shredded Meat Claws - When you want to be Albert Brooks’ faux-butcher friend in Defending Your Life who “has the tools and likes to cut meat.”
Alien Xenomorph Journal - Not my bag, but cool looking.
Alien ¼ Scale Translucent Prototype Suit Concept Figure - To attract mates, I assume.
Doctor Who Hidden TARDIS mug - a steal at $4.99.
Wonder Woman Heat Change 20 oz mug - Cool, but Gal Godot WW colors or GTFO.
Scientifically Accurate (or thereabouts) Motorized Solar System - because nothing feels more sciency than the word “thereabouts.”
Star Wars Darth Vader Metal Can Cooler - So you can stare down some kid at your local barbecue who thinks his Kylo Ren Can Cooler is bauce. Fucking punk.
Star Wars Schematics Illuminated Millennium Falcon Display - For when the NSEA-Protector is comin’ in hot and you have to talk the crew through the chompers.
Stargate Sterling Spinner Ring - for $124.99 that better be a super-high end nuvaring. I have no idea.
Corgi Beach Party Two Peach Swimsuit - which I would, admittedly, look amazeballs in.
Harley Quinn Caged-Back Sports Bra - ThinkGeek ordered 1000 and still has 998 left to sell. Like an incurable disease, any store that contracted Suicide Squad Merch will always have it. Forever.
Guardians of the Galaxy Baby Groot Cutting Board - Adorbs. I don’t even remotely need it but take my money.
Star Trek: TNG Kataan Probe Pendant - From the episode where Picard has an entire lifetime as a flautist. Sad stuff.
Discover Electronics Educational Maker Kit - when Lite Brite meets Nikola Tesla.
Once Upon a Time Evil Queen Mirror Pin - About a year ago I tried to binge all of Once Upon A Time to cover it for Pajiba. Couldn’t do it. A+ concept, B+ Characters, C+ Acting, D+ Writing.
Alien 3 Video Game Dog Alien Action Figure - Out of Stock.
Gudetama Print Nylon Backpack - I don’t know what this is.
Iron Man Helmet Cufflinks - Really? Yo, fuck Tony Stark! I’m a Cap Man all the way.
Your InEarPeace Headphones - Wait, they’re mine? Oh, no I have to buy them for $129.99. Pass.
Sailor Moon Sailor Scouts 5-pack Socks - Why does it feel like we’ve veered off course here?
Star Trek Schematic Illuminated Display - And we’re back!
Build-It Brick Easter Eggs Kit - For when you absolutely have to celebrate Easter, but you’ve had it up to here with fucking chickens.
Ahhh! That was fun! What were we doing again? OH YEAH LOOKING FOR INARA SERRA MERCH AND THERE IS NONE.
I’m going right to the Firefly Thinkgeek store. Maybe her stuff is mislabeled.
Twenty-eight total items. Nothing about Inara.
My Alexa wakes up, then “turns off” with a confused bung sound. 41% chance that I have been marked for extermination.
I mean, okay. We love her more than her vehicle. That’s like looking for a Lady Galadriel figurine and coming away with a Golden Oak Tree. I guess it’s kind of cool and all, but is this Christmas tree ornament/mounted replica going to knock my daughter’s Sailor Moon Sailor Scouts socks off? I don’t know. Let’s check the reviews:
So, punctuation after one sentence, but not two? You perplex me, as always, Nathan Richardson. Damn your confounded wems!
Let’s check out the other item, which is — hold on to your hats! AN INARA FIGURINE! Whooooo hoooooo! Finally! Let’s see it!
Hmmm. Is that Inara? Or is that the Disney Princess sterilized version of Inara? Because I feel like this doesn’t quite capture her essence.
I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. This is the only Inara figurine ever made, and it doesn’t really look like her. And it’s on a pedestal base, like all the suckiest action figures in history. THIS JENGO FETT ON A STAND IS SO MUCH FUN TO STAND UP AND NOT MOVE AND JUST LOOK AT I GUESS!!! All kidding aside: this is an Academy-trained Companion, yo! How are you supposed to make her and Funko Mal get busy when she has immobile feet? Bah! Let’s check out the reviews.
So this review was 100% written by Gollum, right? He’s holding it together nicely in the first part of the sentence, but then it all just comes crashing down in the second half. I love reviews where you’re certain that the very next site the reviewer hits is Pornhub.
I’m gonna pass. So I still don’t have a good Inara present.
If you do a broad search on the web, you can find this thing, which is supposed to be Inara in Serenity, but it’s clearly a young Julie Kavner in Serenity.
Why is is so hard to capture Morena Baccarin’s essence? It’s two parts graceful neck, two parts silent judgement and four parts rocket hotness. Everyone knows that. Sheesh. So, we still have nothing.
Dare we Etsy?
Of course, a search for Inara on ETSY gets like 4000 results, and all of them are really about Inara. You can get everything from Inara themed jewelry to Inara fan-made prints, to Inara-inspired shades of nail polish to Inara cosplay dresses to Inara Lip Balm, ‘Tea with Inara’ flavor.
Etsy is like your kooky aunt from the old country who will make anything for you and scoffs at stupid things like copyrights. You can get almost anything on Etsy. What you can’t get —anywhere— is a mass produced action figure of one of the brightest, most interesting, most kick-ass women in the Verse.
And it begs the question: are we really that prude? Inara Serra was just a bridge too far? You can get action figures from Jesus to Heisenberg. You can get Harley Quinn and Magilla Gorilla and The Jetsons and Boba Fett. You can get Roseanne Roseannadanna from SNL and Destroyed Cassandra from Dr. Who and even the meat that Rocky Balboa punches in Rocky. That’s right. The fucking meat.
But what you absolutely cannot get is a Companion with a kung-fu grip, in her good robes, jaunting off to one of the inner planets for a lesbian romance cum tea ceremony. And in the powerful words of my second favorite Mal, Danny Glover’s character in Silverado:
“That ain’t right.”
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