Stood up to the man, and he gave him what for.
Our love for him now, ain’t hard to explain:
The hero of Canton, the man they call Jaaaayne.”
Our intrepid heroes land in Canton, hoping to make a deal with one of the mudders. Canton is like a mining town where, instead of ore, the people collect mud for ceramics. It doesn’t seem like a very pleasant place. Not only does it have poorly treated, underpaid indentured servants and slaves, but it also smells bad.
There are a couple of times in “Jaynestown” where Simon says, “No, wait, this is what going mad feels like,” and the sentiment describes this episode fairly well. Jayne is afraid that he will be lynched when he gets to town; instead there is a statue of him and people sing songs about his generosity. They think he’s Canton’s version of Robin Hood. The crew tries to lay low and make a quiet deal, instead Jayne is recognized and the town throws a big ole’ party till dawn. Simon gets drunk and tries to flirt with Kaylee. And then there’s Book’s hair. It’s craziness all around.
The next morning, reality starts to reassert itself. The job is back on, Simon is accidentally offending Kaylee, and there’s trouble for our heroes. The town magistrate has heard about Jayne being back in town and lets his old partner out of jail with a big grudge and a loaded gun.
Inara finds out about the craziness from her client, the magistrate’s son. The magistrate is a great big bully. He hired Inara to “make a man” out of his son, and then walks onto her shuttle belittling him and trying to tell Inara how to do her job until she kicks him out. The next morning, they start discussing what exactly makes a man, because he doesn’t feel that different. She gives him a pep talk about maturity, and the fact that sex is fun, but not necessarily life-changing. While talking about his father, he lets slip that Jayne is back and his dad has land-locked Serenity, so they are trapped. He is disappointed because he admires Jayne as the only man who has ever stood up to the magistrate’s bullying.
Back in town, Jayne’s old partner has found a very hung-over Simon and uses him to initiate a stand-off with Jayne. We find out what exactly happened the day Jayne became the hero of Canton. He and his partner stole the magistrate’s money and a hovercar. Unfortunately, the hovercar is too weighted down for an effective getaway. The thieves throw off everything that’s not bolted down, and then Jayne throws off his partner in an attempt to lighten the load. Sadly, after that, he drops the money box by accident – right near a group of mudders. It’s actually a little reassuring that Jayne became a hero by accident, that he really is still a bastard at heart. Then he goes and ruins his bastard image, for us at least. One of the young men who looks up to Jayne takes a bullet for him when his old partner shoots at him. Jayne kills the crap out of him in front of the whole town and yells at everybody. He tells them that there aren’t any heroes, just men like him. Later, on the ship, he asks Mal why it happened. Why would that young kid take a shotgun blast meant for him? He is heartbroken and angry that someone died for him, thinking he was worth it. Mal tells Jayne that it isn’t really about him, it’s about what the mudders need, and they need someone to look up to – even if he doesn’t really deserve it. Then the ship takes off, courtesy of the magistrate’s son who has decided that he is ready to be a man after all.