BIG DAMN HEROES: Wash
Of all the crew of the Firefly class starship, Serenity, Hoban Washburne is the easiest to analyze because he is what he seems to be. There is no subterfuge or hidden greys to him...He is simply Wash.
Wash (as he prefers to be called, because how would want to be called Hoban?) was born on a world so polluted that he could not see the stars at night, so naturally he went into flight training to pilot a spaceship (also spurred on by the fact that he lost his fry cook job). Wash excelled to the point that he had a number of recommendations from people whose opinion Malcolm Reynolds respects when the pilot was hired on to Serenity. Second in command, Zoe, took an immediate dislike to the man. It could have been his cheesy moustache, his incredibly loud shirts or his happy demeanor, but Zoe thought that there was something...off about the man. Obviously that changed fairly quickly.
Wash brings much needed skills to Serenity. One is humor, especially in tense situations. When questioned what he meant when he said an upcoming landing was going to be "interesting", he said "Oh god, oh god, we're all going to die." After River kicks Jayne's butt in a bar fight after she is "triggered" by the Oaty Bar commercial, Wash later said "I want to hear how Jayne got beat by a 95 lb. girl, cause that is never going to get old." He keeps plastic dinosaurs on the flight console and puts them through plays of the inevitable struggle between the herbivore and the meat eaters. "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal" indeed.
Wash is dependable. While Mal, Zoe and Jayne are out "on the job", Wash waits by the com for the call to fly in and pick them up and in many cases, save them from something as mundane as angry pro-Alliance drunks in a bar when the trio is backed to the edge of a cliff or something as dangerous as doing a barn swallow of the skimmer seconds ahead of a Reaver's' ship and a Crazy Ivan to burn those same Reavers in the atmosphere with Serenity's VTOL engines. While you will rarely hear a "Yes, Sir" out of Wash, when you really need him, he is always there.
Wash is the voice of reason. While Mal, Jayne and Zoe are very quick with a gun and with jumping into the middle of a conflict, Wash is one for living to fight another day. He is practical and would like to see situations dealt with that don't involve multiple bullets. He is not weak or a coward. He is well aware that Zoe could kill him with a strand of her hair but he is confident enough in his maleness to swat her behind as they chase each other to their bunk, or to be the strong shoulder for her when she needs to be vulnerable. And he is the first to fly into a tense situation, especially if it allows him to show off his flying skills. He just believes that it never hurts to take a minute to think before they rush in, guns blazing.
If Wash has one fault, it is jealousy. He knows that Mal and Zoe are old Army buddies, they went through Hell together and Zoe calling Mal "Sir" all the time is merely a sign of respect for his authority, but it does bristle against Wash sometimes and make him feel like there is a third person in their marriage but Wash is ultimately a realist and knows that Mal does what he does for a reason, so Wash is willing, if not always happily or silently, to let it slide.
Sadly, Wash did not survive the Miranda affair, but it is best to remember him as a leaf on the wind, going with the flow of the air, flexible, calm and gentle and it was our honor to watch him soar.
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