At long last we have the episode written by the one and only Jane Espenson. One of the greatest writers alive meets one of the greatest shows ever made, it is like a match made in heaven. The only thing that would make it better was if there was a sword fight. . . oh wait!
The episode starts off with a pool game played with holographic balls. During the game Mal steals from one of the people who is offering them a job once they learn that they are slavers. A bar fight breaks out and we learn just how much of a fighter Jayne is. He kicks some ass, Mal gets in some good hits away.
On the way to the job Inara picks a client, it is one that she has worked for before. Mal walks in and the jealousy washes off him in waves. When they make it planetside he takes it out on Kaylee who just wants a pretty dress. Mal goes to meet with Badger who wants to hire them for a job. Mal points out how that didn't go so good the last time but Badger assures him that this time is different.
He gets Kaylee the dress she liked and took her to the party, the same one that Inara and her date are at. He is meeting his client there, Kaylee quickly ditches him for food. Who can blame her. The rest of the crew is back on Serenity playing poker where the stakes are chores. River starts to freak out and Simon and Book go to check on her while Jayne cheats and looks at their hands. Zoe and Wash partake in some marital fun.
Kaylee wanted so badly to be apart of this world but she just doesn't fit in. Everyone there treats her like an outsider and makes her feel worse and worse. An older gentleman shows up and puts the mean girls in their places. Saving Kaylee. Mal spots his client and makes his way over to talk to him. He is distracted by Inara and her date. Mal's client isn't biting, he doesn't like Badger, no one really does. Inara's date comes and introduces himself to Mal's client. The tension is mounting here. Mal asks Inara for a dance, making things even worse for everyone. You have to love Mal and his boldness.
Mal and Inara argue over who is the more honest of the two. Insulting each other. Inara's client snatches her away, he is now the jealous one. Mal hits him and duel is called out. The two men must now fight to the death with swords. Kaylee is pulled away from all the men who now love her. Mal's client tells Mal that if he survives the battle he will do business with them. Mal is forced to stay there so that he doesn't try to escape.
Badger shows up on Serenity and tells the crew about the Captain and what is going on. They think that Badger came there to help the captain but he really came here to make sure that they don't try to help the captain because it would make him look bad. He didn't come alone, he has a whole mess of men with him and they all have guns pointed at Kaylee. Mal is on his own.
Inara sneaks out to go find Mal. Mal says that her client insulted her and Inara points out that Mal forced his hand, besides he doesn't back down from a fight. She points out that he does all the time. He won't admit it but he is fighting for Inara. He cares about her, even if he doesn't want to admit it.
His crew sit around playing cards while talking about how to beat Badger and his men. They need a distraction and no one likes Jayne's idea of people getting naked. River walks out and the crew worries, Simon walks over to her and tries to get her to leave but it is too late, Badger sees her. She puts on a British accent and puts him in his place. He is intimidated by her. Who can blame him. She walks back to her room and Jayne points out that that was the perfect distraction.
Inara teaches Mal how to sword fight. Mal calls her a hore and Inara asks why he would lay someone out for implying she is one when he calls her one to her face. He says he may not respect her job but her client doesn't respect her as a person and it is different. He then asks her not to stay with the man. It's his way of showing he cares.
The fight starts the next morning. Right off the bat Mal is put on the defensive. He starts to make a come back but he doesn't know that he is being toyed with. Mal gets stabbed in the side. The fight is not going his way. His new wound is making the battle ever hard for Mal. His sword breaks and the sword is at his neck. Inara tells her client she will stay here with him if he lets Mal live. Mal uses this to get the upper hand. A few moments later he has the client at his mercy. Mal doesn't kill him, he just stabs him a few times. He gets the job!
The crew just gets their plan up and ready but Mal shows up. It is all over and they did not a thing about it. Mal kicks Badger and his men off the ship. They tell Mal how they were going to help, cept for Wash, he was just going to watch but he was very excited. Kaylee hangs her dress up in her room, she still loves it.
Oh and the cargo, it was a great deal of cows. Big smelly cows. Inara tells Mal that she is thankful that he defended her honor. She also tells him that she was never planning to stay, he asks why and she gives every reason other than for Mal which we know is the real reason. An amazing episode by an even more amazing writer.
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The Shortest greatest show ever made. Hands down!