I've felt like I've had to stick up for Kaylee a lot since folks got ahold of "The Message"--because I really do think that for folks whose sympathies lie more with Simon, all of the blame gets thrust upon Kaylee, whereas my sympathies are with both of them, and I do see them both screwing up, rather than only her.
I'm not saying that her response was logical. I'm saying it was totally consistent with her character, and says a lot about how she feels about him. I think that, like in "Safe" and "Jaynestown", Kaylee's problem is that she is ultra-sensitive to what Simon thinks of her. So when he puts his foot in his mouth--she takes it personally. Every single time. And the closer they get, the more it hurts her.
I admit, one of the things I love about all three couples on the show is the fact that when they argue, both halves of the couple are culpable in some part. Wash and Zoe in "War Stories", and Mal and Inara in just about every argument they've ever had (because they won't be honest with each other) but especially "Shindig", and am to this day frustrated that there is no Simon/Kaylee closure in "Safe." But "Jaynestown" kinda makes up for that...
The thing is, Simon does put his foot in his mouth. He's flustered, and trying to be romantic, and he manages to insinuate that he doesn't like Kaylee for who she is--that he likes her because she's his only option. I know he didn't mean that when he said it--but try telling a girl in love not to take anything the guy she's sweet on personally, and see how far you get. Nobody, when they've got a mad crush on someone and is falling for them, wants to believe that they are only important to the other person out of convenience.
You want to be loved for who you are, not being in the right place at the right time. I think that's the heart of it right there.
I can completely understand Kaylee's anger--even if I don't think she correct to be angry (because, like most of you, I think Simon just tends to fuck up when he's nervous--just like in "Safe" and "Jaynestown"), I can see why she is. Because having been in a similar situation (being a very sort of joi de vivre gal wooing a sweet and very very conservative guy and falling hard for him along the way) I know how logic can go out the window when the object of your affections is concerned. Every little thing has the potential destructive power of a thermonuclear bomb...
What I have always liked about the Simon/Kaylee is the fact that you can see their relationship change over the eps. You can see their friendship, the easy way they have around one another in the tease of "OiS" or "Out of Gas." The fact that, maybe Kaylee started out with "Gosh, he's cute" she seems to have developed genuine feelings for Simon--which may well be new territory for her. And in "The Message" we see Simon reciprocating. I love him having to chase her for a change, which I think of as a major major shift in their relationship. Because it requires him to be an active participant in the relationship, as opposed to a passive one.
However, what I like about both "Jaynestown" and "The Message" is the fact that, no matter how much Kaylee may fly off the handle--she can't hold onto a hurt for long. The second Simon is hurt in "Jaynestown," she's immediately at his side, concerned. They're still feeling their way around one another at that point. Kaylee has never met anybody like Simon before, and I daresay he's in the same boat. Misunderstandings are par for the course. And I took the tag of "The Message" that they've put the dumbshit behind them--at at the very least, they're starting to. Because the superficial stuff? Kinda pales in comparison to life-and-death reality. And I would love to know where the show might have gone after "The Message" (which I still place in my personal Firefly timeline, as the last ep.)
I think there's a tendency, because we sympathise so much with Simon, to get angry with Kaylee because why can't she see how dorky and unsure of himself he is? Well, fact is--we the audience see much more of that side of Simon. And we see it without being blinded by a big ole crush, either.
Kaylee tends to be very awed by Inara and Simon--just by the different worlds they inhabited. I really do think that Kaylee doesn't see the cute-but-nerdy guy that a lot of us do. She sees Simon as smart, and handsome, and incredibly dedicated to his sister, and plus he's most likely a few years older than she is--which tends to make him seem a lot more together than he probably really is.
Also, I personally think that Simon is, if you'll pardon the pun, "virgin territory" for her. Because I get the feeling (from "Out of Gas", and some other comments here and there) that Kaylee has had lots of boyfriends in her life--but she's never fallen in love. She's probably never had to chase a guy for six to eight months--and most likely, she's probably never developed the kind of friendship with the object of her affections that you get with this kind of courtship. And being a die-hard romantic that she is, she's having a hard time with how reality shapes up, compared to fiction. Or even compared to her previous relationships...
What these two kids need to do is sit down, and talk stuff out. The problem is, they're *kids*. Logic? Out the window half the time, where emotions are concerned. Heck, if Mal and Inara can't manage it, how can we expect Kaylee and Simon to?
But then, if it were a smooth path, it wouldn't be so much fun as a viewer (or writer of fanfiction *grin*)
Am I whitewashing Kaylee and bashing Simon?
Hell no. At least, I'm trying not to.
But I won't whitewash one to bash the other, either. What I like about the relationship is the messiness of it. Because of the potential for characterisation. If it were perfect and black and white, it would be boring.