It’s no secret that I am a Browncoat. Firefly captured my heart for so many reasons. I liked the ragtag crew and equally beat up ship. I liked that a sense of hope always shined through the grunge. Even if it was just hope for money or a fight. One thing that especially drew me into the show was the presence of some fantastic, strong women. They didn’t just hang around the fringes; they took charge. In fact, Kaywinnit Lee Frye (a.k.a. Kaylee) was in charge of keeping Serenity in the air.Kaylee got the gig on the Firefly class ship after she showed the Captain her natural ability to figure machines out in a somewhat awkward moment. That backstory is in the episode “Out of Gas.” She’s spunky and doesn’t mind walking around with grease on her nose. She also appreciates a pink, fluffy, layer-cake dress. It’s a good contrast. She’s also a little (or a lot) cheerful:
“I don’t believe there’s a power in the ‘verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful. Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.” – Captain Reynolds
She shies from violence, particularly guns, but that works for her character. I’ve heard people complain about that aspect, but she’s not a trained soldier like Zoe. Even Inara has training in swordplay. Kaylee’s not been exposed to that, so there’s no reason for her to feel okay with shooting someone whether the someone deserves it or not.
For me, what really makes Kaylee shine is that she just figures things out. She rigs the engine without the necessary parts; resources aren’t exactly vast on board Serenity. She might be uncertain and need a nudge from the Captain to focus, but she dives in and gets the job done. She usually has to do so under the pressure of the ship blowing up or crashing too. I couldn’t handle that kind of stress, could you?