Serenity lands on Ariel, a central world of the Union of Allied Planets, because Inara (Morena Baccarin) is due for her annual Companion exam and license renewal. Doctor Simon (Sean Maher) suggests a job on Ariel: steal valuable medical supplies from the well-endowed hospital, which will automatically be replaced. And he can scan River’s (Summer Glau) brain to find out what the Blue Hands scientists did to her.
Simon drugs himself and River so they appear dead and the team enters in a scrapped medical shuttle. The group splits up, with Jayne (Adam Baldwin) sent to guard Simon as he analyzes River. But Jayne betrays the Tams, calling an Alliance officer for their bounty. When awakened, Simon dresses as a doctor and takes River to the diagnostic ward, with a stop or two to help patients. He discovers that River’s brain has been operated on many times, making her unable to control her emotions.
Trying to exit, they are arrested by Federal marshals, Jayne included. The Alliance officer has decided to keep the bounty for himself. When Mal (Jason Fillion) and Zoe (Gina Torres) get back to the ship with the medical supplies, they find the others are not there and head into the hospital again to find them. The three prisoners are in a holding area. Jayne and Simon overpower their captors, Simon impressing Jayne a bit, and escape. Two blue-gloved men arrive to take custody of the Tams, and once they discover that the marshals have talked to the prisoners, kill all the marshals. “Two by two, hands of blue,” says River, though she hasn’t seen them.
River leads Jayne and Simon to a locked door, which Mal and Zoe just happen to be busting open from the other side. Inara returns to Serenity just as the medical shuttle arrives. Mal knocks Jayne unconscious and places him in an open airlock as the ship takes off. Jayne confesses he betrayed Simon and River, but not Mal. Mal says if he betrayed his crew, he betrayed him too, and turns away to let Jayne be sucked out of the airlock. But Jayne begs him not to tell the rest of the crew what he has done, so Mal decides to close the lock and save Jayne for now.
The medical shuttle is built from a 2/3 scale model of a Soviet Mil Mi-24 Hind D helicopter. Fans have bought it from a scrapyard in Mojave, California and are restoring it for the Firefly Convention circuit. When Wash and Kaylee are rummaging through the junkyard, Wash picks up a catalyzer—the very prop that gave them so much trouble in the last episode—and tosses it away. The caskets used to transport Simon and River, and the medical supplies, were 687XT Atlantis 1800 cargo boxes made by Thule. They are no longer available. On Ariel, the Pan Am/Metlife Building can be scene in the cityscape.
There is a scene in which Mal grabs Kaylee from behind and gives her a big hug. She was always standing in the wrong place during filming, and this was a move Jason Fillion improvised to keep her from wandering. Joss Whedon loved it and kept it. Shepherd Book does not appear in this one episode, as he was supposed to be meditating at an abbey. I have been unable to find out what Ron Glass was doing. When River cuts Jayne, perhaps giving him the idea to turn her in, she is cutting the Blue Sun logo on his shirt. When River wakes up, just before he turns her in with her brother, she says to Jayne, “A copper for a kiss.” This means a penny for your thoughts, perhaps because she knows what he is doing.