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Summer-Glau.com Forum » Filmography » Firefly/Serenity » River Tam, a mind-reader or more?
River Tam, a mind-reader or more?
Blazius Post # 1 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 01:44
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In this thread I want to discuss Rivers abilities.

It’s been already established that River is able to read the minds of others. Its a well known fact, however during both the series and the movie I noticed a few hints or even possible manifestations of other powers she might possess. I will post my favorite but I’m sure there are others. I want to make a discussion thread so you should post your own findings and we can discuss it. I would also like to hear your explanations how the found power would work. I would like to keep it solely in-universe because I think thats more interesting so please reserve the "because it looks cool" like statements until there is no other possible explanation!

So here is my favorite : When River was on Miranda in Serenity she was strangely nervous since she arrived. She acted as if there were Reavers close to her however the above planet shots clearly showed that the Reaver fleet is far from the planet. Important thing is that she and the crew saw corpses on the road but she wasn’t frightened by them, she totally ignored them. After a few moments the crew accidentally activated an advertisement. Suddenly River felt a frightening presence which came closer to her and we can hear a Reaver-like voice. She turns and there is nothing behind her. After the crew is unable to determine what killed the people, Rivers nervousness changed into outright panic and she started crying. She acted exactly as when she was surrounded by Reavers and she said the following things(this one is from the online script of Serenity, between the [] marks are words spoken in Chinese in the film I suppose) :

[Merciful God please take me away], make them stop, they're everywhere, every city every house every room, they're all inside me, I can hear them all and they're saying nothing! GET UP! PLEASE, GET THEM UP! [I will close my ears and my hearth and I will be a stone], please God make me a stone...

A simple mind reader could not feel anything because obviously the corpses no longer possess a mind. So what was that? River can feel the dead somehow, but how exactly? She said that she can hear them which means that the dead have a "sound" but they are saying nothing like a living people would, but they definitely have a presence which River can sense and this presence seems so intense and unpleasant that it causes pain to River. So are there ghosts in the Firefly universe and River is able to detect them or what? In the show she could also find the dead people on the Reaver attacked ship so there is definitely something with them. So explanations?


Summer Glau is so awesome, it isn't even funny!
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!
 
Granite Post # 2 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 04:47
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Telepathic abilities River deep and varied. This is not a simple mind-reading "in current time" - the beginning of Firefly 1.14 - in this episode you can watch River use her abilities in full force, probably. Her ability to be divided into several independent sections -

1 - She does not only read what the person thinks at the moment, she can scans the memory ( This ability to act, IMHO, against her will, independently searching for the most important \ terrible secrets of those that keeps a man )

2 - She not only read minds themselves - as text, as it perceives human emotions - as in the current time, and from the depths of memory

3 - Ability River appear suddenly, she can not fully control their use

With regard to Serenity -

The first option - River can scan - part \ the most important events - the memory of dead person (similar to how the pathologist can discover a dead body and find out the cause of death, for example)

The second option - River is very sensitive, perhaps a lot of emotion, highlighted in the process of death or transformation of the population Miranda, remained until the arrival of Serenity (in buildings or the bodies themselves)


" It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think... "

" Pain ... It is the healing, purifying scalpel of our souls " - Warhammer 40000 universe.
 
Devo Post # 3 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 08:23
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Quote (Granite)
Telepathic abilities River deep and varied. This is not a simple mind-reading "in current time" - the beginning of Firefly 1.14 - in this episode you can watch River use her abilities in full force, probably. Her ability to be divided into several independent sections - 1 - She does not only read what the person thinks at the moment, she can scans the memory ( This ability to act, IMHO, against her will, independently searching for the most important \ terrible secrets of those that keeps a man ) 2 - She not only read minds themselves - as text, as it perceives human emotions - as in the current time, and from the depths of memory 3 - Ability River appear suddenly, she can not fully control their use With regard to Serenity - The first option - River can scan - part \ the most important events - the memory of dead person (similar to how the pathologist can discover a dead body and find out the cause of death, for example) The second option - River is very sensitive, perhaps a lot of emotion, highlighted in the process of death or transformation of the population Miranda, remained until the arrival of Serenity (in buildings or the bodies themselves)


Yes, she did this with Badger too in Train Job. It could have been a parlor trick, skillful observation like a palm reader who picks up on body language and other physical and verbal clues from her target.

But she seems to read Jubal Early's mind into his dark and violent past. She also seems to get inside his head and make him re-live some of those moments.

She also knows about Jayne's betrayal, and perhaps saw it coming... which could give some explanation for why she attacked him with the knife.
 
TheSavior Post # 4 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 08:53
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During Firefly and also later on Serenity, they say she is a Telepath and also clairvoyant, who implies sche can get glimpse of the future AND usa the psychometrics and is awesome becouse she dont actually neet to "touch" things or look at crystal balls to do than. even i'm not that good u.u

"This isn't the first time we've done this..."
Cameron

The world is Maya The Illusion. Illusions are the foundation of reality. I am the Lord of Illusions.
Me
 
Granite Post # 5 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 10:20
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Another interesting point - Firefly 1.06, 7:50-7:52 - River winked Saffron (more River in this episode did not appear).

This can be interpreted as follows -

1. Optimistic scenario - Telepathy River at the time was not working at full strength - that is, River did not know the exact thoughts Saffron, but River knew that she was hiding something.

2. Pessimistic variant - River at the time was quite confident, because after experimenting with the Alliance of her brain was not much time. At the meeting she scanned the Saffron minds and learned her true nature, but did not realize the \ did not attach importance events that would have been the result of the execution plans Saffron consequence - Firefly eventual destruction, death his team and her own...


" It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think... "

" Pain ... It is the healing, purifying scalpel of our souls " - Warhammer 40000 universe.
 
Blazius Post # 6 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 15:18
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Very good comments so far!
Quote (Granite)
1 - She does not only read what the person thinks at the moment, she can scans the memory ( This ability to act, IMHO, against her will, independently searching for the most important \ terrible secrets of those that keeps a man )

2 - She not only read minds themselves - as text, as it perceives human emotions - as in the current time, and from the depths of memory

3 - Ability River appear suddenly, she can not fully control their use


Rivers telepathic abilities seem to be very powerful even compared to other telepathic characters in other shows.As you correctly pointed out once she uses her powers she suddenly knows everything about the target not just his/her current thoughts.

I still wonder however how much she can control her ability. Sometimes she seems to use it involuntarily but with Jubal Early she seemed to use it intentionally in order to break him.


Quote (Granite)
The first option - River can scan - part \ the most important events - the memory of dead person (similar to how the pathologist can discover a dead body and find out the cause of death, for example)

The second option - River is very sensitive, perhaps a lot of emotion, highlighted in the process of death or transformation of the population Miranda, remained until the arrival of Serenity (in buildings or the bodies themselves)


Very good points! The first is a more realistic approach. I wonder however if its possible for a long dead person to have a brain still intact enough for a telepath to scan it.This approach would explain why the dead have a "voice" but they "say nothing". The second explanation seems more supernatural.So the terrible events leave some kind of "telepathic echo" or what? I still would't rule it out however. BTW what about the invisible thing that approached River with the Reaver-like voice?


Quote (Devo)
But she seems to read Jubal Early's mind into his dark and violent past. She also seems to get inside his head and make him re-live some of those moments.


A good finding! That scene may imply that she is not only able to scan his mind but she is able to affect it! The "I can kill you with my brain" comment comes into my mind. Do you think that she can actually kill or harm somebody telepathically?


Quote (TheSavior)
During Firefly and also later on Serenity, they say she is a Telepath and also clairvoyant, who implies sche can get glimpse of the future AND usa the psychometrics and is awesome becouse she dont actually neet to "touch" things or look at crystal balls to do than. even i'm not that good u.u


Glimpse of future? Its interesting, we will need an example through so we could analyse it. I agree with the opinion that she has some kind of prescience through.

Quote (Granite)
Another interesting point - Firefly 1.06, 7:50-7:52 - River winked Saffron (more River in this episode did not appear).

This can be interpreted as follows -

1. Optimistic scenario - Telepathy River at the time was not working at full strength - that is, River did not know the exact thoughts Saffron, but River knew that she was hiding something.

2. Pessimistic variant - River at the time was quite confident, because after experimenting with the Alliance of her brain was not much time. At the meeting she scanned the Saffron minds and learned her true nature, but did not realize the \ did not attach importance events that would have been the result of the execution plans Saffron consequence - Firefly eventual destruction, death his team and her own...


River seemed a bit unstable around that time. However in the edited out scene River said to Saffron that "You are a thief!" which would imply that she scanned her fully but didn't tell anyone for some reason maybe because she was unstable?


Summer Glau is so awesome, it isn't even funny!
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!
 
Granite Post # 7 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 15:55
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I think that River still could not kill anyone the power of thought. One of the proofs - when Simon began to struggle with Earley and the shot rang out - River would certainly would have killed Earley telepathically if I could (until this moment of decision to destroy its Earley could contain something)

" It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think... "

" Pain ... It is the healing, purifying scalpel of our souls " - Warhammer 40000 universe.
 
TheSavior Post # 8 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 16:10
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Quote
Glimpse of future? Its interesting, we will need an example through so we could analyse it. I agree with the opinion that she has some kind of prescience through.


well to be honest in some episodes and in Serenity they said that she was able to predict the future in a small amount of time. Mal go to rob the bank saying that. And Tam "feel" the rivers before they approch, also if she start to cry only when they attack. Also when Jubal enter the serenity, River was alredy-ready to move on a plan she has articolated a lot fo time early XD
That was the aim of the alliance. Empowered war-machin with precognitive senses.
In the fight with that horde of ravens..she anticipated them and didnt even get a scar or a bleeding. Dont know if ya have in mind the function of "Sharingan" of the Ranuto Cartoon series XD she has something like that...can see in the future. sometime for just a second...sometime for more.
That kind of power is just useless in fight if you can predict the enemy but not move faster than him.
On the same time, if you cant predict his moves, but you are faster, you "could" beat many enemy, but in no way without even a single little damage or bruise.

River is what is called a "Latent Psichic". Sometime is a crazy, sometime is a genius [i'm fixing the Bible, is broken] Sometime she is the most powerfoul thing in universe, sometime just a cute girl ^^


"This isn't the first time we've done this..."
Cameron

The world is Maya The Illusion. Illusions are the foundation of reality. I am the Lord of Illusions.
Me
 
TheSavior Post # 9 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 17:44
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Quote (MalOnSerenity)
She's a Medium, she sees the nature of problems before they come


Sorry maybe the words arent exactly the same..i'm watching the italian version XD


"This isn't the first time we've done this..."
Cameron

The world is Maya The Illusion. Illusions are the foundation of reality. I am the Lord of Illusions.
Me
 
Devo Post # 10 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 19:27
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Quote (Blazius)
A good finding! That scene may imply that she is not only able to scan his mind but she is able to affect it! The "I can kill you with my brain" comment comes into my mind. Do you think that she can actually kill or harm somebody telepathically?


I believe she can.

The US Government has researched amplifying human brainwaves and focusing them to take control of animal's heart rates. To be able to give them a heart attack with their minds.

Whether or not there was any success, I don't know, but the fact that they spent a lot of time and resources speaks volumes.

The ultimate weapon is the ability to control minds, I think that is what The Alliance was aiming for.
 
TheSavior Post # 11 | Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 - 20:52
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in the Serenity films the "blue gloves" used something to kill, like a sound emitting "staff". Maybe is something that, if used by one normal person is useless. in the blu gloves hand can kill. But in Riversa hand...maybe is just a major kill-staff. About killing with the mind...i very cant understand why they have cut this wonderful seriet.
I understand that 1.3 million dollar each show was a big budget for that time...but The Sarah Connor Chronicles was costing 2-3 million each show and...ooh gosh...yes...they cancelled also TSCC...ummm
Maybe is that why the Big Plan was created.
Wi will use all togheter our big brain to "control" all the Franchise Owner to have back Firefly and TSCC. This will be done the 12.12.2012 by all the worlds fan....and the world will explode by that...

so yes agreed, she can kill with her mind. we all are doomed XD

But i'm also sure she can kill more fast with her hands....

And definetly the way faster for her to kill is with a wink of eye and cuteness XD


"This isn't the first time we've done this..."
Cameron

The world is Maya The Illusion. Illusions are the foundation of reality. I am the Lord of Illusions.
Me
 
Blazius Post # 12 | Sunday, 12 Jun 2011 - 01:14
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Quote (Devo)
I believe she can.

The US Government has researched amplifying human brainwaves and focusing them to take control of animal's heart rates. To be able to give them a heart attack with their minds.

Whether or not there was any success, I don't know, but the fact that they spent a lot of time and resources speaks volumes.

The ultimate weapon is the ability to control minds, I think that is what The Alliance was aiming for.


I think too that with her extremely powerful telepathy it would be strange if she couldn't at least cause a neural shock or something to somebody else especially if it might be possible even in real life. Granite however pointed out that she didn't use this ability even when her beloved brother was threatened. What if she has the ability but for some reason she refuses to use it?

Quote (TheSavior)
In the fight with that horde of ravens..she anticipated them and didnt even get a scar or a bleeding. Dont know if ya have in mind the function of "Sharingan" of the Ranuto Cartoon series XD she has something like that...can see in the future. sometime for just a second...sometime for more.
That kind of power is just useless in fight if you can predict the enemy but not move faster than him.
On the same time, if you cant predict his moves, but you are faster, you "could" beat many enemy, but in no way without even a single little damage or bruise.


Her fighting abilities are even stranger than her other powers. The movie only implied that she got a rough combat training or something like that but its actually impossible for a normal person to kill so many opponents who have ranged weapons with her bare fist or even a pair of swords. Without superpowers she couldn't even survive the encounter let alone survive it without even minimal injury.She didn't even seem exhausted! I think seeing the future would explain that why she was uninjured because with it she can dodge and avoid everything the Reavers shooting at her because she knows where they would fire. Indeed however she needs to be faster than normal to be able to actually avoid the bullets. Also she seems to be much stronger physically than she looks because if she were weak she couldn't hit her opponents hard enough to harm them. Did the Alliance do something with her muscles and circulatory system too?

Quote (TheSavior)
in the Serenity films the "blue gloves" used something to kill, like a sound emitting "staff". Maybe is something that, if used by one normal person is useless. in the blu gloves hand can kill. But in Riversa hand...maybe is just a major kill-staff.


So the strange staffs which killed the cops by turning them into a bloody mess used by the blue-gloved agents were actually telepathic amplifiers(possibly like in Devos comment) and the agents could use them because they were also telepathic? Maybe they were failed or prototype experiment but they were still useful to recover the final product ,River Tam! Actually I was really disappointed that they didn't appear in the film. They are far more interesting opponents than the Operative IMO.


Summer Glau is so awesome, it isn't even funny!
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!
 
TheSavior Post # 13 | Sunday, 12 Jun 2011 - 01:59
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Quote
What if she has the ability but for some reason she refuses to use it?
So the strange staffs which killed the cops by turning them into a bloody mess used by the blue-gloved agents were actually telepathic amplifiers(possibly like in Devos comment) and the agents could use them because they were also telepathic? Maybe they were failed or prototype experiment but they were still useful to recover the final product ,River Tam!


yes exactly what i thougt^^


"This isn't the first time we've done this..."
Cameron

The world is Maya The Illusion. Illusions are the foundation of reality. I am the Lord of Illusions.
Me
 
Granite Post # 14 | Sunday, 12 Jun 2011 - 05:49
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With regard to physical ability, I think they are the result of experiments with her ​​brain. Oddly, there is a way to demonstrate the outstanding speed and power quality without the long-term training. The essence of this feature in the potential of the brain, activation of which a person can get a fantastic power.I will explain to the not very pleasant, but illustrative example. People with manic-depressive psychosis in the manic phase can have incredible power - they were not always able to handle two orderlies one hundred kilograms weight, although the patients themselves rather anemic-looking. Such methods increase the strength of course useless for development through training, but I think it is such a source of physical abilities River.

Just more of a military version of the River telepathic talent - prediction of strikes and complete picture of what is happening in the room through the minds of opponents.


" It's just an object. It doesn't mean what you think... "

" Pain ... It is the healing, purifying scalpel of our souls " - Warhammer 40000 universe.
 
Blazius Post # 15 | Monday, 13 Jun 2011 - 02:11
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Quote (Granite)
With regard to physical ability, I think they are the result of experiments with her ​​brain. Oddly, there is a way to demonstrate the outstanding speed and power quality without the long-term training. The essence of this feature in the potential of the brain, activation of which a person can get a fantastic power.I will explain to the not very pleasant, but illustrative example. People with manic-depressive psychosis in the manic phase can have incredible power - they were not always able to handle two orderlies one hundred kilograms weight, although the patients themselves rather anemic-looking. Such methods increase the strength of course useless for development through training, but I think it is such a source of physical abilities River.


Do you mean that they altered her brain to be able to enter into some sort of frenzy? Well, they removed her amygdala so it is possible that they altered something else too. I think I will research this manic depression thing a bit to get a clear picture. Good theory trough!

I would dwell on the "why would River refuse to use her brain-killing ability" question a bit more . Is there somebody who have seen River Tam sessions found a reference to an event, maybe a trauma which may have caused it? I still can't watch it myself to be honest sad

Also whats with the scary, Reaver-voiced invisible thing on Miranda? What was it exactly? It was clearly sentient but there were no Reavers in proximity. I just wonder because that was a very noticeable , important scene in the film but it was a bit unexplained a bit.

Quote (TheSavior)
Wi will use all togheter our big brain to "control" all the Franchise Owner to have back Firefly and TSCC. This will be done the 12.12.2012 by all the worlds fan....and the world will explode by that...


That would definitely make my day lol lol


Summer Glau is so awesome, it isn't even funny!
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!
 
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