So last week we ended with the revelation of a naked girl in a box. Captain Mal jumps to the conclusion that Simon is a nefarious slave-trader type, but as the girl starts to come out of her cryo-coma Simon is so concerned for her welfare that it’s obvious something more is going on.
Simon recites his back-story like a schoolboy giving a report. The girl is his super-genius little sister, River, who was tricked into going to an Alliance testing facility. He has just rescued her from the evil doctors and they are fugitives. Mal decides that they are too dangerous to keep on board so he plans to leave them on Whitefall after selling his contraband to Patience.
He and Jayne go to find out what Dobson, the spy, knows. I haven’t said much about Jayne before this because I don’t think we really get to meet him until now. Before this, all he’s done is make rude noises. I actually like Jayne. He’s a complete and total jack-ass, but he’s funny and lovable in a Louie DePalma kind of way. Anyway, he gets ready to start his torturing and Dobson tells him that the Alliance knows everything. Jayne takes one look at him and starts pouting. “They don’t know a damn thing… I was gonna get me an ear, too… Don’t they teach you how to withstand interrogation?” Dobson tries a different tack and tells Jayne about how much the Alliance might be willing to pay to get River back. He ends the scene with a speculative glint in his eye.
About now, the captain and Wash see another ship in the sky. It’s reavers. They can’t run, because running would incite them to chase. All they can do is keep steady and hope they pass on by. Mal tells everybody what is going on and we get a little more understanding of everybody’s character. Simon asks Zoe what the reavers really are and she tells him this: “If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we’re very, very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.” As they watch and wait, Shepherd Book goes to pray with the still recovering Kaylee, Jayne quietly loads his guns, Inara takes out what is presumably a suicide kit, Simon sits with River and Wash, Mal and Zoe wait on the bridge. The reavers do pass by and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
About now we are reminded of the actual job they are trying to get done. After a video conversation with Patience, who shot Mal the last time they worked together, Mal’s pretty sure that she’s fixin’ to shoot him again. They expect to be double-crossed, so they make preparations. Mal, Zoe and Jayne scope out the area where the exchange is to take place and Jayne gets sent off to neutralize the snipers they figure are waiting to take them out. As Mal and Zoe go through the motions of a legitimate deal, it sure looks like Jayne might take advantage of this opportunity to shoot Mal and get the money Dobson offered him. Patience does double-cross them, there is a lot of shooting, but Jayne comes through and Mal gets his money in the end. As Mal is explaining to Patience that he did a job, and all he wanted was to get paid and move on, Jayne comes running down the hill yelling that the reavers are coming back.
Meanwhile, back at the ship, Dobson has escaped and grabbed River. He and Simon are locked in a stand-off when Mal, Zoe and Wash return. Mal shoots Dobson and throws him off the ship as everyone is getting ready to run from the reavers. There is some fancy flying and they escape thanks to Wash and Kaylee pulling a Crazy Ivan (which my husband informs me is based on an old Russian submarine maneuver.)
Once they are safely back in the sky, it’s time for the wrap-up. Zoe requests that Mal take the helm because she needs her husband to rip her clothes off. Shepherd Book gets some spiritual counsel from Inara and the camera pulls back for a beautiful image of the preacher receiving benediction from the courtesan. Mal asks Jayne why he didn’t take Dobson up on his offer. Jayne says the money wasn’t good enough. And what happens when it is? “Well, that’ll be an interesting day.”
As Jayne leaves, Simon comes on to the bridge. Mal points out that the ship could use a medic and River would probably be safer if she kept on the move, if they wanted to stay. I like their conversation because it sums up Captain Mal pretty nicely:
Simon: I’m trying to put this as delicately as I can…how do I know you won’t kill me in my sleep?
Mal: You don’t know me, son, so let me put this to you plainly: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.
Simon: Are you alway s this sentimental?
Mal: I had a good day.
Simon: You had the Alliance on you, criminals and savages… Half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded, including yourself, and you’re harboring known fugitives.
Mal: We’re still flying.
Simon: That’s not much.
Mal: It’s enough.