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Birth, copulation & death: the Joss shtick
     The T.S. Eliot line "Birth, copulation & death, that's all the facts When you come to the brass tacks" sort of intruded in my thoughts about Joss' plot devices -- and tonight, watching the Firefly ep "Heart of Gold", I was amazed to find all three, plus a fourth -- the conscienscious departure for the good of the person you really love (Inara leaving so Mal can keep the family of Serenity together) -- all in a 44-minute stretch. 

    Not that they aren't always heartfelt in Whedonverse, but when you've seen them trotted out under such different conditions and circumstances, one wishes for something different, especially from someone who took such unexpected turns at various points --

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Perhaps because of your articulate description surpasses Eliot's, the only thing out of the four I was able to recognize was the conscientious departure for the good of the person you really love - and it is a trope Joss relies upon too heavily. It's far too much to ask that he avoids the trope when Spike and Angel exit Season 8, but Spike is now no longer allowed to be on Buffy independent of Angel, so the fact that he probably wouldn't leave her "for her own good" will be completely ignored and he'll pull the ignominious asshole card just like Angel and go back to the IDW-verse.

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the conscienscious departure for the good of the person you really love

It's one of the most popular soap operas cliches, and every Whedon show is a soap opera at heart. No matter what circumstances the characters have to overcome, the focus is on their relationships.

I'm afraid there won't be anything new in the last arc of s8.

"Heart of Gold" is probably the most generic (as in both dedicated to its genre of Western last stands and as in ordinary) episode of Firefly, so it's not surprising it hits the classics; of the Four you mention only the end of Inara/Mal really, really resonates, though the Nandi/Mal flirting is strong.

I don't know that it's a failing that Joss loves his classic to-the-heart plot devices, but it does seem to have diminishing returns. But what do I know? I was devastated, shocked, and surprised by the end of Dr. Horrible....

Who was it that said 'there is nothing new under the sun' or something like that?

It's true, in the broad sense anyway. Makes me think of Joseph Campbell and all his archetypes and the common stories in all cultures/ages/etc. Those kinds of stories or story lines are so widely known and used because they resonate at some level with something in the human spirit. Or so the theory goes anyway.

On a much less philosophical note, "Heart of Gold" brings out a great range of emotion in me. I love the silliness and the humor in it. I love Nandy and the whole stand-up-for-yourself vibe. I can not STAND Inara, her ridiculous decision and subsequent self pity. For the good of the crew my ass. It all seemed like Diva drama queen manipulation to me. Good riddance, sister. That was my reaction.

I've always felt Campbell's notions explain too much and too little: I don't believe in archetypes (I accidentally wrote "archetRypes").

I liked the ep, as I still like, even love, most of Whedonverse, but the tics & tricks stand out too much at the moment at the expense of the emotion . . .

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