After reading The Nerds of Color’s Character Study: Zoe Washburne, I could only think of doing my own version of it. Theirs is better, so make sure to check it out. Mine will not be solely on Zoe’s character, but about the married couple, because they balance each other so perfectly, that having one without the other feels odd to me.
This post will have some spoilers for Firefly TV show. And come on, it’s been over ten years, you should have seen the series by now, there is only one season. I am still salty about only there being one season.
Zoë Alleyne Washburne is a Browncoat that fought alongside Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds, and was one of few to survive the Battle of Serenity Valley. Due to her training as a soldier, and her experience in a war camp, she is a tough person and extremely skilled fighter, and never lets anyone get the upper hand. She followed Mal into his life as a thief by becoming his ship’s first mate, where she met her husband, Hoban Washburne. Wash is the pilot for the ship, an astute guy and brilliant pilot, who chose to become one after his planet was so polluted he could not see the star. He is often, one of the main two moral guides for the crew, particularly to Zoe, who has no problem on killing or dying for those she loves and cares for.
Harken: You fought with Captain Reynolds in the war?
Zoë: Fought with a lot of people in the war.
Harken: And your husband?
Zoë: Fight with him sometimes, too.
Harken: Is there any particular reason you don’t wish to discuss your marriage?
Zoë: Don’t see that it’s any of your business, is all. We’re very private people.
— cut to:
Wash:The legs. Oh yeah, definitely have to say it was her legs. You can put that down. Her legs, and where her legs meet her back. Actually, that whole area. That, and above it. […] Have you seen what she wears? Forget about it. Have you ever been with a warrior woman?
This above shows their personalities quite well. Zoe is a reserved woman, who does not want anyone knowing about her private life, because she feels and knows people will use it against her. Her weakness she wishes not to reveal. Wash is different, he sees the best in people, even government officials, but at the same time, he does not provide much useful information, because he is Wash. This also shows how different they are in personality, but still manage to fit perfectly together.
There is an episode in which Mal and Wash get taken in and tortured. The crew gets money together to pay for their release, but the man who is keeping them only wants the money for one of them. In this episode, Zoe had been fighting with Wash because he felt that she served Mal and disregarded him, and he even allured to Mal that Zoe might have unresolved sexual tensions (please Wash, she only got eyes for you, so insecure, so sad you semi-muscular man). Zoe, without hesitation, chooses Wash over Mal, and when it happens we can see his surprised face, because he always knew she was a soldier first, until it came to him. No matter how much she might fight with him, he is her rock, and losing him might just drive her back to her stoic days as a soldier.
In another episode, they encounter a ship that had contact with Reavers, Jayne, who is considered a “tough guy” starts freaking out, not even wanting to come near it. Zoe looks at him as if she’s in the office and says:“Jayne, you’ll scare the women.” Zoe has no time for his weak antics, while Wash just sport of chills there, because he trusts his wife to know what they are doing, even if they are near the most dangerous creatures in the ‘verse. Wash is the vanilla to Zoe’s electrocuting torture machine, basically.
Another big representations of their characters come in an episode where a woman is giving birth. Zoe wants to start a family with him, while Wash is unsure due to their line of work and the fear of losing the child to it. Zoe tells him that if she is not afraid of seeing that child, then it makes no sense in having it, because if you love someone you must be afraid of losing them. Which to me speaks volumes about her getting married to him, since a character that knew her during the war points out it is a suprisse she even got married. (“next thing you’ll be telling me that she smiles”)And then points out at the beautiful, brilliant, and kick butt baby they would have, and I agree to that.
Their relationship is also blessed with no stereotypes about their interracial marriage. Yes, they are an interracial couple, and thankful to the writers, there are no cliches about their relationship that cause trouble.
What do we get from this badly written post? Zoe is a kick-butt that will kill you “with her pinky,” and Wash is a soft marshmallow that will feed you soup when you are sick. Together they create a sleeping dragon you definitely do not want to wake under fear of death.