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Inara doesn’t exactly qualify as an action hero, but that doesn’t mean she can’t handle herself, as we see when she has to teach Captain Mal to fence. Like everything that we mourn about the premature passing of Firefly, Inara is smart, funny and beautiful (except Jayne – he wasn’t beautiful, or smart really, but he was funny). Inara’s beautiful character full of empathy could have been an annoying one, but instead she is also tough and smart with a hidden history we never got to learn enough about. Stunning enough to seduce anyone, she backed up her beauty with much more important qualities like intelligence and poise and the ability to read others – all talents learnt through her studies to be a companion. An independent woman of stature who doesn’t take crap from the Captain, Inara breaks the whore/madonna duality because, despite the fact that, as a companion, she is, in the basest terms, a “whore” she does not fill the traditional requirements of that role. And who could have resisted being one of her clients?
Inara: “What did I say to you about barging into my shuttle?”
Mal: “That it was manly and impulsive?”
Inara: “Yes, precisely. Only the exact phrase I used was ‘don’t’.”