In the Firefly tv show, we first meet River when she comes out of "cryo". Simon explains that he funded a "group of men" who had offered to sneak her out of captivity by putting her in that cryo state.

But in the movie Serenity, the first scene is a surveillance feed of River's rescue, and it doesn't match the show at all. Instead of some third-party, Simon infiltrates the facility himself, and helps River escape. He has help from someone in a ship, but as he and River are lifted into the ship, she's fully conscious and obviously not in cryo.

Why did the details of her rescue change? Was Simon's story a lie? Or did the movie producers just not care about the continuity?

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    I don't see the two as being mutually incompatible. She was simply put into cryo after being rescued.
    – Valorum
    Feb 7, 2018 at 8:16
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    could be a lie. I think Simon didn't want to crew to think about him being more than rich ordinary doctor. If he did do everything to rescue his sister, then he must've been some other skills somebody get other than being just a doctor
    – Vishwa
    Feb 7, 2018 at 9:08
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    I would swear Whedon had said something about this to the effect of "it just worked better", but not finding it now.
    – Radhil
    Feb 7, 2018 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


Here's the relevant excerpt from the script of the TV show pilot, for reference:

ZOE: How did you do it?

SIMON: Money. And, and luck. For two years, I couldn't get near her. Then I was contacted by some men, some underground movement. They-they said she was in danger, that-that the government was... playing with her brain. If I funded them they could sneak her out in cryo. Get her to Persephone, and from there, I could take her... wherever.

Technically, this doesn't contradict what we see in the movie.

Simon didn't explicitly say he wasn't a part of the rescue mission himself, only that he was contacted by men who could help him get her out, if he funded their operation. Presumably, based on what the movie shows us, Simon agreed on the condition that he go in with them, the sooner to be reunited with his sister.

As for the cryo, River could just as easily have been put in cryo after they got on the ship. To me it seems obvious that hiding her in a cryo chamber disguised as a crate was mainly to hide her presence in case they were stopped in the longer term, getting off the planet or en route to wherever they were originally going to hide, rather than getting her out of the facility itself (as we might have assumed before the movie showed us otherwise.) Once news of the escape was disseminated, Alliance personnel would be looking for a young girl matching River's description, after all.

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    your answer seems popular, and it's probably the best I could hope for, so I'm going to accept it. but I'm still a little bothered by the phrase "they could sneak her out in cryo, get her to Persephone" - in my mind, that seems to imply that Simon picked up the "frozen" River at Persephone. maybe I'm reading too much into it...
    – LevenTrek
    Feb 8, 2018 at 9:12
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    @LevenTrek He is recounting their original proposal. Perhaps he altered the deal. Feb 8, 2018 at 9:52
  • @LevenTrek I understand what you mean, and I agree that, prior to the movie's release, I always took it to mean that this "group of men" put her in cryo to get her out of the facility and then met Simon later. All I'm saying here is that the additional information in the movie doesn't "change" what happened in canon - it only changes our understanding of what really happened. This sort of "evolution of the facts" is actually pretty common in any show that runs long enough.
    – Steve-O
    Feb 8, 2018 at 14:44
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    @Harper Pray he doesn't alter it further?
    – T.J.L.
    Aug 7, 2018 at 13:36

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