Mal Reynolds

Mal Reynolds

Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew up… on the rural planet “Shadow,” a world dominated by sweeping plains and massive grain harvests. Mal was raised on a ranch by his mother and “about 40 hands.” Shadow was one of the first planets to take a stand against the Alliance during the War of Unification – as a result it was bombed to the point where it is no longer habitable.

Living… onboard his personal star craft, the Serenity. Mal resents the controls and regulations imposed by the Alliance, and chooses to live his life drifting from planet to planet, taking whatever jobs he can to survive.

Profession… captain of the transport ship Serenity. Mal will do almost anything if the price is right, but it’s easiest to call him a smuggler. He began his life as a soldier serving with the Independents during the War of Unification. He would eventually rise to the rank of Captain, but the Independents lost the war and Mal was forced to abandon the cause. Unwilling to accept the dominion of the Alliance, Mal now lives his life as a drifting starship captain – willing to take almost any job if it agrees with his principles and will help pay the bills.

Interests…“getting by.” Earlier in his life Mal was dedicated to the Independents' cause, but the constant tragedy of the war served to strip away Mal’s faith, innocence, and lust for life. He now drifts through space, surviving without clear purpose. But despite this avowed cynicism he is constantly struggling to protect the innocent. He may even pause for a little fun, especially if there are beautiful women around.

Relationship status… single, but not without prospects. There is clear sexual tension between Malcolm Reynolds and Inara Serra – a courtesan who leases a shuttle onboard the Serenity as living space. Due to their unwillingness to act on their feelings, they bicker constantly, channeling their energy into creative insults. Despite their constant fighting, they are very protective of each other, and won’t tolerate anyone else dishing out the kind of abuse they routinely pile on each other.

Challenge... surviving on the edge of the law at the edge of the galaxy. Mal is one of the best at what he does, and his eclectic crew is surprisingly effective. Still, in Mal’s line of work almost every job is life or death. On a less immediate level, Mal struggles with what could be most succinctly diagnosed as a broken spirit. The Alliance destroyed his home world and slaughtered his friends in front of him, leading him to abandon his faith in God and lose direction in life. To say that Mal Reynolds is “living” would be an overstatement; he’s merely “surviving” - and trying not to lose any more friends in the process.

Personality… wry, straightforward, loyal, and noble. Mal’s sense that the universe betrayed him has robbed him of his faith in God, but not of his basic decency. A man of conviction, Mal survives as a scoundrel, but has a surprisingly developed sense of honor. He still wears the brown coat that marks him as a former soldier of the crushed Independents, stating that it “may have been the losing side. I’m still not convinced it was the wrong one.” Underneath an exterior that appears to be wholly pragmatic is an idealist who can almost always be counted to do the right thing.


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