BIG DAMN HEROES: Zoe
Zoe Alleyne (later Washburne) is the second of command on the Firefly class ship, Serenity. Zoe is a powerful warrior woman who is as deadly as she is beautiful but also hides a sweetness, compassion and genuine love for her shipmates. Zoe served with Mal in the Unification War, where she was often calm and concise career soldier unlike, Mal's devil may care, wild shooting style. As such, she takes Mal's orders at face value, although she is not above questioning some of his crazier ideas and is definitely the only one who calls Mal "Sir".
Zoe is often overlooked for the extremes in her personality because of the placid, calm demeanor that she often wears. There is something to be feared about Zoe. In one novelization, River says that she fears Zoe much more than Jayne because she would willingly kill for Mal or Wash. When Wash is killed in the movie, she completely retreats into the solider role, but not a competent one. She literally crosses the line and puts herself in danger, in many ways becoming little more than the gun she is holding. The Reaver's slash to her back brings her out of it somewhat but by the end, you still see a very serious Zoe, which is understandable but will ultimately be a shame because Zoe has (or had) a subtle but wickedly funny sense of humor. Whether it is Mal, Wash or even occasionally Jayne, Zoe could banter with the best of them. In one standout scene, Mal gives Zoe command of the ship when he is going off to rescue Inara, but instructs her to come and get him within the hour. Zoe's response is "And risk my ship?" When Mal made one of his many questionable decisions, Zoe said "Sir, I think you have a problem with your brain being missing." Even back when they first got Serenity and Mal said that a ship like this will be with you until the day you die, Zoe replies, "Because it's a deathtrap".
Zoe also hides a very vulnerable loving side from everyone but her husband. She doesn't really hang out with the other female crewmembers often finding herself in the company of the men and displaying an outward strength all the time. But with Wash, despite the fact that she is in many ways his superior, she can drop the demeanor and just allow herself to be vulnerable. When she, Mal Jayne and River just barely escaped a Reaver attack, she was outwardly staid but when they were alone, she only said "That was so close" and allowed herself to break down in Wash's arms. More than once, she has pulled him away from the flight console to make love to him after some close call or narrow escape. She is a woman of deep passions and deep feelings and Wash was lucky enough to be there when she needed someone. Now, without Wash, without an outlet for her passions and someone to be herself with, those passions will potentially burn her alive.
Zoe is strong, maybe even the strongest person on the person on Serenity, and in many ways, is also the most passionate, the most vulnerable and the saddest of the Serenity characters because, ultimately, she can only do what she was trained to do...carry on.
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