Wash (Alan Tudyk) begins to feel threatened by the bond between Zoe (Gina Torres) and Mal (Jason Fillion). He demands that he, instead of Zoe, go on the next mission with Mal, to see how they work together. This time, the mission is to sell the medical supplies stolen in the last episode. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) playfully steals an apple from River (Summer Glau), declaring “No power in the Verse can stop me!”
Unfortunately, the sadistic and ruthless gangster Niska (Michael Fairman) has discovered Serenity’s location. He captures Mal and Wash and tortures them as revenge for their failure to deliver to him the cargo they stole in The Train Job episode. Wash and Mal bicker about Zoe all through the entire torture session. Stoking Wash’s anger to keep him from collapsing, Mal pretends to want Zoe, and Wash agrees to let him have her.
Meanwhile, Inara (Morena Baccarin) has a client—a wealthy councilperson on the same planet—who turns out to be a woman. Jayne’s reaction: “I’ll be in my bunk.” When Zoe learns about Niska’s abduction of Mal and Wash, she tries to bargain for their release, but Niska steals their money and their cargo. Sadistically, he tells Zoe that she can have only one and she immediately picks Wash, but he throws in a bit more—Mal’s ear.
Realizing that Mal was willing to sacrifice himself for him, Wash persuades Zoe, Jayne, and the others to rescue Mal with a full-scale attack on Niska’s space station. The alarm distracts the torturer and Mal attacks him. The rescuers stop the torture, but Niska escapes. Everyone participates in the assault, Shepherd Book included, who acquits himself suspiciously well for a preacher. River shows new powers—incredible shooting accuracy without even aiming when Kaylee is pinned down. She kills three men with three offhand shots and shouts, “No power in the Verse can stop me.” Kaylee is appalled and does not want to play with her anymore.
Shepherd Book and Niska both make reference to Shan Yu, who says the only way to know a man is to torture him. The good shepherd is almost as mysterious as River. The desert on which Mal and Wash land is the same desert where Buffy met the First Slayer.
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