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In Firefly episodes 2 (The Train Job) and 10 (War Stories), we see the villian Adelai Niska in his space station (which multiple characters call a "skyplex").

It looks like it rotates around a central column, where some kind of industrial operation is happening.

What does this operation in the central column of the skyplex do?

Is it part of the space station? Or manufacturing something that Niska sells?

  • An external shot showing the overall structure and central column: enter image description here

  • An internal shot showing the operation through a window: enter image description here

  • A shot of a bad guy falling down the central column: enter image description here

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    The central column is obviously there as a convienent place for the quick disposal of bad guys, much like any other absurdly dangerous yet conspicuously placed pit. For reference see Jedi, The Return Of (Lucas, et al, 1983) – Alarion Jun 21 '19 at 5:16
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    @Alarion the movie Galaxy Quest actually makes fun of that exact concept - "why would there be a thing right here, it makes no sense?" – LevenTrek Jun 21 '19 at 5:27
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According to this source, the original script describes the shaft several times as a factory:

INT. SKYPLEX - CORRIDORS

... The corridor has large windows along the side that look out onto the factory.

...

INT. SKYPLEX - FACTORY SHAFT

Mal lands on the torturer, slamming into a steel balcony that overlooks the abyss of the factory shaft.

...

INT. NISKA'S OFFICE

Zoe, Jayne and Wash come in. They rush to the open window, see Mal fighting the torturer on the edge of the factory shaft precipice.

Quite what's being built there, or why it needs to be built in a huge bottomless pit perfect for tossing bodies down, the script doesn't say.


Before looking to see if there was a script available, my initial thought was that the shaft reminded me of this somewhat similar-looking tech shaft from Serenity:

enter image description here

Although a lot more elaborate (which is what happens when you move from series to film...) it has a similar structure of large spinning metal elements stretching down into infinity.

This machinery was explicitly identified by Mr. Universe as his complex's generator:

They destroyed my equipment, but I have a backup unit. Bottom of the complex, right over the generator. Hard to get to. I know they missed it.

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  • Someone downvoted this, but I haven't seen a better answer yet. I'm upvoting for now, and if a better answer doesn't appear, I'll accept it. – LevenTrek Jun 22 '19 at 9:33
  • @LevenTrek If I had to guess I'd say someone doesn't like the speculative half of the answer, but you'd expressed interest in it so I threw it in. And if I'm perfectly honest, I didn't want to waste the effort of getting screenshots just because I happened to stumble across the right answer. <.< – Cadence Jun 22 '19 at 10:58
3

Niska's Skyplex is a space station.

Whatever it's original purpose, Niska's Skyplex is now described in the Train Job script as "a space station", "...docks for at least eight ships" and named as Niska's Skyplex (where -plex means having parts or units).

Loni Pastere (Zoic Studios visual effects supervisor/co-creator) explained that

"For this space station we imagined that an independent contractor had taken it over and it had been retro-fitted many times."

Carey Meyer (preduction designer) continues to say...

"The whole station had a central core of a long, long tube that everything glommed onto. Lomi knocked it out of the park in Niska's office when they throw the guy over the balcony and you look down and it's basically that core. Amazing."

Source: "Ships Of The 'Verse" from Firefly: A Celebration (Titan Books, ISBN 9781781161685)

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