Stephen Byrne’s animated Firefly short: A galaxy of emotions in a scintilla of time

Zoe gasps in surprise as her long dead husband seems to magically appear before her (image via YouTube (c) Stephen Byrne)
Zoe gasps in surprise as her long dead husband seems to magically appear before her (image via YouTube (c) Stephen Byrne)


In our modern blockbuster age, we have been led to believe that for anything to truly affect us, it must be bigger, better, epic!

So epic in fact that cities, nay continents must fall, all but but a fraction of the characters we care for must die, and the entire order of things must be brought to its monumentally-sized knees for us to truly feel something.

But as Stephen Byrne demonstrates with his usual poetic elegance and artistic flair – I have previously featured his trailer for a wouldn’t-it-be-nice animated series of Doctor Who – it is possible to deliver what Kendall Ashley at Cinemablend most aptly describes as the “Greatest Amount of Feels in the Shortest Period of Time” in just 2.5 seconds of heartbreakingly intense animation.

In the exquisitely-rendered scene – *SPOILERS AHEAD* – you see Zoe Alleyne Washburne (Gina Torres), the second-in-command onboard Mal Reynolds’s (Nathan Fillion) spaceship Serenity, reach out for Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), her mischievous, quip-happy, daredevil-ish husband who very sadly died in the movie Serenity, the sequel to much-missed one-season space opera western Firefly.

The bond between these two pivotal characters, much-loved in their own right, was a strong thing of beauty and wonder, proof positive that even in an oppressed galaxy ruled by the nefarious Alliance, that love, true heartwarming love, could flourish, and its physical end – death, of course, cannot end love as we all know – was a moment of heartbreaking sadness.

Stephen Byrne, who frankly should be given all the money in the world to animate everything so deft is his mix of art and emotion, so gifted his ability to capture what we all love about a show and its characters, has managed to distill all this into 2.5 seconds of the most affecting animation I have ever seen.

It is a truly poignant piece of work, a reminder why every Browncoat (the name given to Firefly devotees) loves the show so much and why long after the show shuffled off its mortal TV coil, they continue to watch the 13 episodes and one movie over and over, read the graphic novels, and play the reasonably newly-released massive multiplayer online game.

It is that kind of show and Stephen Byrne captures its heart and soul perfectly.


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