How the Operative could save Firefly

Spin off shows are normally reserved for comedy characters ( like the much maligned Joey) or are used in science fiction to get more mileage from the same premise but in a different part of that universe. Now that’s all well and good (well not Joey, Joey was god-awful)  but I think spin offs should take a new route and revisit some classic villains. This doesn’t mean the villains should become the protagonists (at least not always) but just that these characters are so great that they are reason enough to revisit some cool shows, allowing us to revisit some pretty immense fictional universes that otherwise may be gone for good.

So I’m going to do a little series looking at some classic villains that are so awesome they demand another look.  In today’s instalment of the little series I’m going to look at why The Operative from Serenity should get a spin-off TV show. Though even as I write that sentence I realise that the real question is why hasn’t The Operative from Serenity already got his own spin-off show.

Like most people who loved Firefly I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that the show  is never coming back. Everyone has moved on and there is pretty much no way on earth you could get the original cast back together. I also know that the only way Chiwetel Ejiofor would do this is if we kidnapped his loved ones, but hear me out as I may be onto something here.


The Operative was essentially a  space agent for the Alliance. Utterly devoted to his course he hunted down the crew of Serenity with brutal efficiency. He believed in the necessity of what he was doing in order to create a perfect world, but at the same time knew he was a monster who would not, and should not, be part of the world he wanted to create.

OK – this really is a spoiler alert

By the end of Serenity he has become disillusioned with his former beliefs and has become a shadow of his former self. He openly admits at the end of Serenity that his entire purpose has been taken from him, leaving his life without meaning. I should also add that he had a sword, and looked pretty damn cool wielding it too.

The Operative has a cool sword
Hint: this does not end well for the guy in the back of that shot.

Why this would be awesome

If, for some bizarre and odd reason, you cannot see how a TV series based around The Operative would be the coolest thing on TV, please let me break it down with one easy list:

  • He is a highly skilled assassin who has left the government.
  • He will be forced to travel amongst the criminal elements of
  • backwater planets in order escape said government.
  • He will be completely on his own and have to discover a new identity for himself now that his illusions have been shattered.
  • He has pretty a damn cool sword
  • Did you read the line about him being a ‘Space Agent’? How is that not amazing?

I ask you, how could that not be a brilliant show? I can even guarantee at least one cool scene where some local bigwig bad guy spends most of the episode pissing off The Operative, only for The Operative to finally snap in the last five minutes and carve him  up with his sword.

The main villain of the series could either just be a faceless government agency or it could be a version of the ‘old’ operative himself, it doesn’t really matter.  Whoever is chasing The Operative, the main drama will come from The Operative coming to terms with himself and what he has done. Oh, and I imagine a little bit of drama will come from him being a space agent on the run cutting people up with his super cool sword.

The Operative would be an interesting counterpoint to Mal, who himself had lost his driving motivation when his side lost the civil war, but whereas Mal was comfortable with his actions The Operative must deal with his acts.  So essentially we could have a darker, edgier Mal with a damn cool sword. Sure there would need to be some lighter characters in there to bring the humour but that isn’t too much to ask.

The scope of the Firefly world is so massive it seems a shame to waste it when we have a readymade character like The Operative to base the series round. I’m sure Joss Whedon could create some other secondary characters to fill up the show and, let’s face it, there is a fair chance Summer Glau and Sean Maher could be talked into coming back.

When I started writing this I thought it was a bit of wish fulfilment, but at this point I’ve convinced myself. Okay, I realise that kidnapping aside there is no way we could get Chiwetel Ejiofor, but I’m sure another talented young actor could be found to take up the role and then the possibilities are endless. Since posting this article it has been pointed out,by pelhamsim on Reddit, that The Operative could be seen as answering Shepherd Book’s origin story without actually showing it on screen. While Shepherd Book’s origins are are explored in other media there are interesting parallels between the characters and I can definitely see how The Operative’s arc could end up with him being somewhat similar to Shepard Book at the start of Firefly.

As a little present for those of you who have read this article to the very end I’ve embedded the YouTube short The Verse below. It’s a great little film and just shows how much life there is in the Firefly universe. And thanks to Markimus White for reminding me of its existence.

Sorry, I forget, did I mention that The Operative was a space agent with an amazing Sword?

Space agent + sword= Winner!
Space agent + sword= Winner

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in other hard hitting bits of journalism such as; Why Littlefinger Deserves his own Spin Off or the Dangers of Reading A song of Ice and Fire. Or you can just browse our Movies and TV sections.

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