Raena’s Foremothers: Zoe Washburne

Zoe04I didn’t watch Firefly when it was initially broadcast.  I sat down and watched maybe half of “The Train Job,” but the corny accents and all the talking turned me off.  Besides, it had come highly recommended by a friend whose suggestions included showing me Pushing Tin, the Angelina Jolie movie about the air traffic controllers.

About the time that I recognized no, really, something special is happening, the show was cancelled.

Yes, my stubbornness is why we can’t have nice things.

Needless to say, I saw the error of my ways and bought the DVDs. I liked the story a whole lot more when it started with the episode Whedon intended to begin the series.  Even “The Train Job” wasn’t so bad, in context.  I actually fell in love with the series when Mal kicks the debt collector into Serenity‘s engine and turns to his assistant to make a deal.

It might seem that the Firefly character who who influenced Raena the most would be River, the tiny ex-dancer killing machine.  And I do acknowledge some similarities, although Raena was tiny, a dancer, and a killing machine long before River Tam was a gleam in Joss Whedon’s eye. No, the Serenity crewmember who influenced Raena’s development was Zoe Alleyne Washburne.

In most episodes, Zoe is a minor character, a foil for Mal, there to drop the wry one-liners and watch everyone’s backs.  She gets less screen-time than Kaylee or Inara.  But thanks to Gina Torres’s portrayal of her, it was always Zoe who drew my eye.  She’s amazing, completely competent, fierce, deadly — and loyal, disciplined, lovely, and really funny.  What more could anyone want in a character?

Zoe comes into her own in “War Stories,” the episode where Mal and Wash are captured by Niska, whose henchman Mal kicked into the engine.  She brings the ransom money to retrieve her husband, but you can see her clocking the station’s personnel and defenses as she comes in.

When she leads the rescue party to get Mal, she is absolutely relentless.  Terrifying.  Zoe may be the most moral character in the crew, but you really don’t want to mess with what’s hers.  Big Damn Heroes! Who could fail to be inspired by that?

As for Zoe’s influence on Raena Zacari in my Templars books, I’m not so much interested in her military service as the aftermath and how it affected her life beyond the warzone.  Zoe never stops being a warrior.  I don’t think Raena can ever stop either.

In case you’re as stubborn as I am, you can see what I mean about Zoe on Netflix, or get your own copy of Firefly from Amazon.

My other Raena’s Foremothers essays so far are:
Aeon Flux
Jeri Cale
Pvt. Vasquez
Sarah Connor
Molly Millions
Doctor Cyn Sharpe

What strong female characters have inspired your characters?

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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6 Responses to Raena’s Foremothers: Zoe Washburne

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