In Part One, I talked about the characters of Mal, Zoe and Wash. Here, I'll discuss the remaining main characters.
Kaylee is almost preternaturally cheerful, and thinks the best of people. All the time.
MAL: I don't believe there is a power in the 'verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful. [beat] Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.
KAYLEE (grinning): I love my captain.
She's a lover, not a fighter, and on the rare occasions when she gets a gun put in her hand, she looks at it as if it might bite her.
By way of a complete contrast, Jayne (never try to tell him it's a girl's name) thinks the worst of everyone. All the time. He joined the crew by selling out some former partners in crime, and seems to be perpetually on the point of doing the same again. He has more muscles than brain cells, and can be unintentionally hilarious when he tries to make a smart remark. His continual verbal sniping is hilarious, and as a character, he's a perfect foil for the more virtuous people on the crew.
Jayne loves guns, explosions and a good scrap more than almost anything else, and even has a gun called Vera, which is treats like a girlfriend. Actually, he probably treats Vera better than a girlfriend. Despite all this, deep down (very deep down) he's actually hiding a nice guy with a conscience.
JAYNE (trying to learn 'Doctor speak' and failing): If I had wanted schooling, I'd'a gone to school.
Inara is a bit of an enigma. She can be very witty, sensitive and caring (she has a very touching relationship with Kaylee, who she treats like a little sister), but because she's generally so controlled it's difficult to know what's going on under the surface.
INARA: What did I say to you about barging into my shuttle?
MAL: That it was manly and impulsive?
INARA: Except that the exact word I used was "don't".
Book is a 'Shepherd' or Preacher, and initially came on board as a passenger. However, he quickly gets involved in the life of the ship and becomes part of the crew. He's also a little bit of an enigma. While he's outwardly fairly open, you get the feeling that there's a lot in his past that he's not talking about. He claimed to have been cloistered away in a monastery for several years, but he seems to know a lot about space ships, and is comfortably at home around guns:
ZOE: Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?
BOOK: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.
Is he really a preacher? Did he have anything to do with the Alliance in the past? He certainly got treated like royalty by the Alliance the minute they scanned his ID when he was badly injured and needed advanced medical treatment. There's plenty of food for conspiracy theories where Shepherd Book is concerned.
He also has hilariously Big Hair when he unties it (so big that it terrified River into a screaming fit), and he tells filthy-sounding jokes that we annoyingly only get to hear the punchlines of.
Simon and River Tam
RIVER (snipping passages out of Book's bible): Noah's ark is a problem. We'll have to call it "early quantum state phenomenon." Only way to fit five thousand species of mammal on the same boat.