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During the Reaver scene in the pilot episode, Inara pulls a syringe full of something, that she seems to be willing to use on herself. What was in that syringe?

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My thought was it was some kind of "Super Trooper Juice" that would turn her into a living weapon like River, on a temporary basis. A Companion would be ideal for such a role in many ways, it could also explain her understanding and empathy to river, and also her exile. The illness that was killing her might be form previous use of the drug. – Covertwalrus May 16 '15 at 12:44

Exactly what was in the syringe was never fully revealed. There are lots of theories, but Joss Whedon apparently shot down the suicide theory (which I, like many others, had initially assumed).

Morena Baccarin confirmed that Inara was dying of a terminal illness during a panel at the 2008 DragonCon. The syringe could have been a plant to lead in to that later story line.

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Following that link (at the time of writing) there appears to be only two, of which one has been shot down. But +1 for being self referential. – Richard Feb 20 '11 at 19:45
@Richard: Thanks, I fixed the link to point to the page with theories that I was originally referring to. I have no idea how I managed to link back to this page. You'd think I've never used one of these sites before. :) – Bill the Lizard Feb 21 '11 at 3:58
up vote 25 down vote accepted

This question was answered by Joss and Morena Baccarin (Inara) together once and for all in the broadcast "Browncoats Unite" on the Science Channel on Nov 11, 2012.

"This is what I loved about the show is it wasn't just all exposition, explaining everything about what was going on. She had this sort of magic syringe. She would take this drug. And if she were, for instance, raped, the rapist would die a horrible death."

Basically, the drug would kill anyone who had sex with her. Essentially, all of the reavers would have died as a result as they "Rape you to death, eat your flesh, and sew your skin into their clothing. And if you are very lucky, they do it in that order". So it means that Inara would have most likely survived, and the reavers would not have.

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That can't be it, Joss promised it was "more interesting" than the ideas fans had thus far proposed and stupid rape revenge is some of the most boringly over-trod ground in genre fiction. – user1030 Nov 14 '12 at 0:01
Who answered the question on the broadcast? Was it Joss Whedon, or someone else? – John C Nov 14 '12 at 11:04

In the DVD commentary Joss Whedon explicitly says that the syringe is not a suicide device.

Everyone assumes a suicide kit, and actually I had something a little more interesting in mind for it, but I can't really speak about it here. It would take too long ... It's one of those things I was laying in for later.

The two leading theories are:

  • Inara was terminally ill (c.f. Morena Baccarin's comment at DragonCon) and it was going to lead into that storyline in some way.
  • It was a drug that when taken would kill anyone that had sex with her (suggested by Tim Minear at a writers conference) and there was going to be a later episode where Inara was attacked and raped by Reavers.
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I assume it was some kind of poison she'd use in case the Reavers boarded.

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