Shepherd Meria Book

ray gower

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Characters- Book

What makes the characters in Firefly tick?

The series finished before it got going, leaving a huge hole in what we know and understand about them. So there must be some good theories about them, so let's have some thoughts?
 

ray gower

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One way or another I think Book is the easiest character of the lot to put a theory to his background.

We have a chap, who has taken vows, yet he is quite capable with weapons.

I think we have a man who fought in the war and ended not liking it to the point of revulsion, hence the discovery of religion.

It doesn't explain why he got favoured treatment from the Alliance when injured though. Unless he is an agent?
 

Hal Jordan

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Hey Ray,

Book
Yeah I pretty much thought the same for Book. As with the special treatment from the Alliance, I wouldn't think he's some kind of agent, instead, I would have to guess that he's just a war veteran from the Battle of Serenity that fought on the side of the Alliance. Maybe as a General or someone of high status perhaps? I think generally in real life, war veterans do get some special type of treatment, so that might make sense. By all means, correct me if I'm wrong.

Anyway, here's my predication (which is basically the same as yours): Book is a self-proclaimed shepherd. He's a war veteran who feels guilty of his past, hoping to gain God's redemption. And I'm guessing Joss' plan is to have the character play a big role in helping Mal gain back his faith in God and also, to help influence Jayne into becoming a man of peace instead of a man of war.


Hal
 

Tabitha

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I think Book has the potential to be the most interesting Firefly character, we know so little about him, and yet every time we get a new nugget it just confuses us further!

I don't know if I believe that he is ex-military, in his first few episodes he seemed a little bewildered by the outside world, even a reformed military man, of sufficient importance to get such special treatment from the feds, would probably be much more comfortable in the outside world, and around companions etc.

Mind you, I don't have a good suggestion as to what the deal with him might actually be, if your speculation is not correct.
 

libelula

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I think I saw him on an episode of Voyager. It was the one where Harry gets to captin a vessel and I thought the guy was playing book was one of the passangers on the vessel. The guy looked exactly alike on firefly he even had the grey hair pulled back and everything.
 

Dave

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I think there was meant to be much more depth to Shepherd Book that was only hinted at so far. I think he was much more than just an ordinary soldier. Maybe he was an agent, but there is quite certain to be some hidden secrets. My guess would be that he somehow would come to join the arc with the experiments that the Alliance did on River. I'm sure that it wasn't an accident that he came aboard the Serenity when he did.

Apparently, one of the three unaired episodes 'The Message' gives a few more hints to his past. I've not seen those though. Maybe I should ask for the DVD for Christmas. I assume that those episodes are on it?
 

Tabitha

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Oh yes! The US-unaired episodes are on the DVD - currently only available on region 1, but according to r2-dvd.org we should be getting a region 2 (UK) release in March or April.

Having watched the episodes a few more times in the last while, I think Book is even more interesting than I had suspected at first. I originally remembered the hints at his mysterious background (Early saying 'That's no shepherd', his proficiency with armed and unarmed violence), and I wondered if he was some kind of deep cover operative for the Alliance. But, on watching the first few episodes again, the depth of his religious convictions is very clear - I don't believe he is intentionally misleading the crew as to his background, and the first idea that this brings to mind is that perhaps he could be a Total Recall-type undercover agent, who doesn't know his end purpose.
 

ray gower

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Wonder if we are getting too deep into the idea of special agent?

Special agents, or spies, are not famous enough to warrant special treatment. They tend to be inconspicuous or they can't do their jobs.

Which would make it more likely that Book was a very senior General and possibly war hero. Perhaps the one that led the Battle of Serenity and a few others, which might lead to conflict with Mal at some later point.

It also explains his favoured treatment by the Feds, his ID still show him as Major-General X

It also means that Book is an assumed name. Perhaps for religious reasons, or just as logically to prevent others from recognising him?
 

Status

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I get the feeling that he may be from some rich, influential family that the Alliance has some kind of connection to (just another theory mind you.)

Btw, I have the r1 DVD and have watched the unaired episodes and I'm not going to tell you if any clues are there or not! :evil:
 

Rik_the_Riff

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Me and my wild theories.......

From the guy who predicts that River was 'developed' by the alliance as a weapon against the encroaching Reavers, who are actually being driven insane then used by evil aliens to destroy humanity:

Book is not alliance at all. In fact, from Early's response, I'm guessing he was a kind of Bounty Hunter. He certainly wasn't anything to do with the Alliance at the Battle of Serenity (at least not high up) - does Mal strike you as the kind of person not to know who's commanding the baddies? I'm sure he would recognise Book if he was any kind of commander, even with his 'too much hair'. Likewise, a secret agent is unlikely, because of the recognition thing. I think he was a bounty hunter or mercenary who managed a particularly difficult job for the alliance some time *before* the war. I can't think what, though - maybe he brought in some mega-criminal or something. Alternatively, the suggestion that he might be from a really rich family with ties to the alliance could stand - obviously, when Mal rallies the Outer Planets against the Reavers, Book's family will be pressured by the alliance to exert control over Mal, and Book will be put through a test of loyalty ;)

Just a (wild) thought,

Rik
 

Dave

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Somewhere here Tabitha suggested watching the interrogations in 'Bushwacked' again to see how the Alliance Captain dealt with Book for more clues.

He actually didn't treat him any different to the others, but then it is clear that this is his first outer rim mission as Mal suggested. The way he talks to Mal about the Battle of Serenity, it is clear that he never fought in the War himself, it is hearsay to him.

So, he probably wouldn't even recognise Book even if he was a 'War General'. When Book needed treatment after being shot, it was his ID card that shook the Alliance people up, not his face.
 

Winters_Sorrow

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Thought I'd put my 2c in here as well :)

I think he is a proper Shepherd. In Ariel he is spoken of as being "at the monastry". Of course the potential is that he could have been dropped off and done his own thing, but he seems too 'obviously' devout so I think he has spent "a spell out of the world" as he mentions in the pilot.

As to what rank he held formerly - contrary to opinions aired here, I think he was probably a member of the Alliance council. A high-ranking politican. As such he would have known about the experiments on people like River, he would have known about Operatives and some of the secrets the Alliance were keeping.

What isn't clear is how someone like that can leave.
Thoughts?
 

Carolyn Hill

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A high-ranking politician makes sense in terms of Book knowing about Operatives and so on. But he couldn't be too high-ranking, or his face would be recognizable to many citizens.

If he were a politician or a general who knew important secrets, that knowledge would be one reason he could leave and enter a monastery: he knows all the skeletons in everyone's closet, and if they didn't let him leave, he would tell.

If we knew whether the Operative was aware that Book was on Haven, we might be able to theorize more accurately. Would the Operative attack Haven and kill Book if Book were a member of an important family? If Book were a former general? If Book were a former politician? If the Operative knew Book was there, was killing Book a fortuitous act that buried more secrets?

I favor the theory that he's honestly devout but that he went to the monastery either out of guilt or to lay low and recharge from whatever he did during the war. In that scenario, he could be either a former high-ranking member of the Alliance or a general.

Of course, there's always the possibility that he was the Shepherd for a high-ranking Alliance general--you know, the guy who's in charge of spiritual counseling to repair the souls of men who sometimes do Bad Things. He'd learn secrets that way. But I tend to take Early's comment literally rather than figuratively: that Book "ain't a Shepherd"--at least not by the time he's taken passage on Mal's ship.

I would like it if Book had something to do with Serenity Valley--something that led to all the deaths--so that he might have been looking to redeem his own past in restoring Mal's faith. It would be interesting to see how Mal would react to something like that.
 

Boaz

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I did not view Firefly until about three years ago. So I'm coming at this after also watching Serenity... and I think I've a fuller picture than ray gower and the other posters from 2001.

For me, Derrial Book is the conscience of the crew. He is quick to defend and quick to give grace... while never compromising his faith. I'm not saying Mal does not have a conscience, just that Book is the resource for Mal to turn to when he's undecided. He plays the role of father, mentor, uncle, grandfather, and friend. Not everyone gains wisdom with age and perhaps Book is not the wisest, but he's patient... and the answers come eventually.

After seeing Serenity, I think it's a given that Book was some sort of Fed insider. This is obvious from Bushwacked, but the movie shows us The Operative's life, motives, and crossroads... and it's an easy stretch to apply that Book.

I imagine that Book was some sort of agent. I think he was sent on a long term mission. I think he did something and/or saw something that changed his outlook. I think he never went back and told his superiors of his change of heart. I think Book just joined a monastery... and his superiors assumed he was taking a different tack, but was still on the case. They had to assume this because of his priority status in Bushwacked. But somewhere along the line his superiors realized he was not helping them with either the Tams, his original mission, or by resisting Federal plans for Haven.... and I think his superiors disavowed him or actively made him a target for The Operative.

Book is obviously committed to serving as a Shepherd. His faith is genuine. Inara knew every time people tried to manipulate her and she resisted it... but she takes to Book at the end of the pilot because his concern was genuine.

I think he was determined to serve God as an agent against the Feds... and his breakdown in front of Inara stemmed from two factors... First, he did not find an easy flock to shepherd. Maybe he was thinking to really be a pastor... Second, he fell in with people who also were anti-Alliance and could assist him in his long term ideals... but staying with them would put him on the Alliance's radar very quickly and shorten his life considerably.

And Book had to make his decision... and he stayed with Serenity and shepherded the crew as they defied the Alliance. His conscience ruled him.

At the beginning, Mal was openly hostile to Book. But by the movie, Mal trusted Book as much or more as he trusted Zoe. Conscience. Wisdom. Patience. Helping people. Building a good community. Mal came to respect Book's works because they were the same as Mal's.

I loved the way that Book refused to tell Mal of his past. The past, while interesting to us, no longer interested Book. He lived for the now... and for other people's futures. He lived according to his conscience... he did not live in the past... he did not live with regret anymore. But Mal knew that Book had a past that involved secrecy and violence for the Alliance... and he wanted an answer. By not telling Mal, Book was modeling how to live in the now... to live for the future. Mal had been living in the now with tremendous regret. Book was trying to set Mal free to hope, to love...
 

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