War. The air is filled with bullets, explosions; men on the ground are taking fire from aircraft and firing back. Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds runs towards us and back to his base. Gathering his soldiers around he gives the orders for their next attack, they’re gonna take out the aircraft that is causing them so much damage.
He heads out, Zoe, his second in command, covering him, quickly takes out an enemy post and, taking control of the large weapon, fires on the Alliance aircraft, bringing it down. Elated by their success, Mal and Zoe return to their base only to find they have been hit again. The sound of oncoming aircraft gives them new hope, until they learn it is not their own air support come to save the day, but that they are being abandoned and told to lay down arms.
SIX YEARS LATER
Mal, now captain of a Firefly class spaceship, Jayne, his muscle and Zoe, still his second and now married to the pilot, are scavenging from an old wrecked ship, blowing the vault door open they find what they were looking for, three large crates. Meanwhile, onboard their own ship, Serenity, the pilot, Wash, has his afternoon gaming with plastic dinosaurs disturbed by an annoying blip on his radar which tells him there is a pesky Alliance Ship heading right for them.
Alerting Mal, Wash, with a little help from mechanic, Kaylee, shuts down everything on the ship, making it go dark.
On board the Alliance Cruiser the Captain speaks to his ensign, they are checking out the abandoned wreck, just as they are about to sail on by they pick up the heat from Mal and co’s bodies. On board Serenity, alarm bells flash and Wash alerts Mal to the new danger. Grabbing their cargo, Mal, Jayne, and Zoe head for home, while Wash switches on his nifty little device knows as a ‘cry baby’. As Serenity prepares to make good her get away, out in space the cry baby beeps and the Alliance cruiser picks up a distress signal. Fearing there may be people in distress, the captain tells his ensign to follow up on the distress signal and leave the Firefly alone, but not without first putting out a bulletin on Serenity.
Back on Serenity, the crew are gathered in the cargo hold checking out their ill-gotten gains, Mal and Jayne open one of the crates to reveal it is stacked full of what looks like gold bars. While the others talk, Mal picks up one and flips it, seeing it has a seal on it, he quickly flips it back and replaces it. Mal, Jayne, and Kaylee stash the gear while Wash and Zoe head up to the bridge to let their agent, Badger, know they have the goods.
In her shuttle, Inara, is coming to the end of her time with a client. They end their alliance with tea and a chat. As the client leaves, Inara returns to the cockpit and contacts Serenity, arranging to meet at the Eavesdown docks on Persephone.
Serenity lands on the dusty, dirty, bustling town of Persephone, while Wash and Kaylee look for passengers, Mal, Jayne and Zoe head off to their meet with Badger. Unfortunately, the bulletin sent by the Alliance has got to Badger before they have and he no longer wants to deal with them. Especially as the goods just happen to have the Alliance seal on them, something Mal has yet to mention.
Not happy, but outnumbered, Mal saves this fight for another day and leaves.
As they head back to the ship they discuss options, despite Zoe’s sound advice not to go anywhere near Patience on Whitefall due to the fact that last time they were there she shot Mal, Mal is determined that this is their only option.
Reaching the ship they find that Wash and Kaylee have been busy taking on passengers, one Shepherd Book, a Mr Dobson and Simon, a rather elegant man travelling with a large container.
Inara returns in her shuttle, the crew is complete, and they are ready to sail.
As Serenity heads out into space, Mal, the crew, and the passengers gather in the kitchen where Mal is laying down the law and informing them that the Alliance has ordered them to make a small stop on Whitefall to drop off some medical supplies. As the passengers gather their possessions from the cargo bay, Inara appears and Mal introduces her to Book first, by his nickname for her, The Ambassador, and, when he misunderstands, clarifies by saying she is a whore. Clearly peaked, Inara leaves with Kaylee.
Later, Kaylee arrives in the kitchen with the goods that Book has given her as a part payment. She takes the small box he showed her before, opens it and takes out a strawberry. Taking a moment to inhale its goodness before taking a bite, she savours it, closing her eyes in pure enjoyment.
Some little time later the crew and passengers, minus Wash and Inara, are sitting around the table enjoying the good food that the Shepherd has provided, clearly not what they are used to. As general conversation turns to the doctor, Simon, it becomes clear that young Kaylee is quite smitten, but when Jayne makes a lewd comment, Mal orders him to leave the table.
After dinner Book takes a tray of supper to Inara, who does not appear surprised to see him there. Book is clearly bemused by the mystery that is Mal and Inara admits that is exactly the reason why she likes him.
Meanwhile, Mal himself is washing up in his quarters when Wash calls him to the bridge over the intercom. He races to the bridge to find Wash studying a screen, he has the bad news that somebody has tried to contact the nearest Alliance ship. They got a mole on board.
Mal enters the cargo bay where Simon is checking on his large box, knocking Simon down, Mal aims his gun at him, accusing him of being a Fed. Simon is confused until Book points out that Mal has the wrong man. Mal and Simon look up to see Dobson pointing a gun at them, Mal lowers his weapon as Dobson explains that it’s Simon he is after primarily, but Mal ain’t off the hook, he’s been harboring a known fugitive.
Behind them, Kaylee comes in to see what all the shouting is about, Dobson spins around and shoots her in the stomach. Kaylee slumps to the ground, conscious but bleeding. The noise has brought more people running, Inara runs to Kaylee, while Jayne and Mal reach for their guns, but it’s Book who’s nearest to Dobson, and, with a couple of well aimed blows, he knocks him out.
As Mal, Simon, and Inara tend to Kaylee, Jayne approaches the unconscious Dobson, murder in his eyes; Book and Zoe prevent him from doing anything more than tying him up.
Meanwhile, Wash announces over the intercom that they have been hailed by an Alliance ship and told to prepare for boarding. Simon moves away from Kaylee, threatening to let her die if they don’t run. Mal isn’t happy, but he doesn’t have a choice, they’re running.
In the infirmary, Mal and Inara help Simon perform surgery on Kaylee, while outside, a clearly concerned Janye watches. The operation over, Mal takes action, making his way to the cargo bay, followed by a frantic Simon. Mal approaches the box Simon has been so carefully guarding, opens it, and looks in to find a a naked young girl, curled up in a foetal position.
While Mal is accusing Simon of smuggling humans, the girl awakens with a scream, crawling out of the box. Simon runs to her, reassuring her as she clings to him in a distressed state. Simon introduces her as his sister, River.
Once River has been safely lodged in the infirmary and sedated, Simon faces the crew in the dining room. With halting words he tells them River’s story. She was a talented child, excelling at everything she put her mind to when she was chosen to attend a government-funded school. After a time, Simon stopped hearing from her, and when he did, her letters were writing in a code, letting him know she was in trouble. For two years Simon tried to get her out, eventually finding help from an underground movement who confirmed that the government were hurting the children at the school, playing with their brains. With their help, Simon got her our and wound up on Persephone looking for a ride.
Most of the crew are touched by this tale, but Mal is all business. They will continue to Whitefall, do the job. As for Simon and River, if Kaylee survives, they will get off at Whitefall, if she doesn’t, well they they are getting of a might earlier.
The crew ain’t too happy about this, but Mal’s word is law on his boat and he let’s them know it.
As Serenity flies on toward Whitefall, Mal gives Jayne the job of getting some information out of Dobson. Dobson, however, plays Jayne well and, talking his language, money, offers him a deal.
Meanwhile, on the bridge they have another problem, Wash has spotted an oncoming ship: Reavers.
Over the intercom, Mal tells the crew and passengers of the approaching Reavers, if they run the Reavers will have to give chase so they are holding course and hoping that the Reavers have no interest in them. He ends by asking Zoe to come up to the bridge. On her way she is stopped by Simon who’s confused, believing Reavers to be just campfire stories. Zoe explains, and we’ll do it in her words: “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.” She heads off to join Mal and her husband.
On the bridge, Mal, Wash and Zoe watch as the Reaver ship draws closer, they hold their breath as the ship passes without changing course. A sigh of relief from all concerned.
The danger over, Mal goes to see how Kaylee is doing and finds her awake, if woozy. They chat for a while until her eyes close and her hand drops to the side. Mal leaves the infirmary and finds Simon in Inara’s shuttle. She has been giving him some immunuization packs but tells Mal she’s been doijng a bit of ‘business’ with him. Mal leaves, clearly irked and catches up with Simon outside, telling him with a steely gaze that Kaylee is dead. Mal turns to leave, Simon rushes to the Infirmary where he finds Kaylee safe and well and talking to Book. Simon cannot believe what just happen.
Meanwhile, on the bridge, Mal, Jayne, Wash, and Zoe are all having a good laugh at Simon’s expense. Their fun is stopped by Patience hailing them from Whitefall, she agrees to their price a might too easily and Mal concludes she’s planning on shooting him again. Nevertheless, they are running out of options so they are gonna have to deal with Patience and come up with a plan.
Meanwhile, in his room, Dobson is working away at his bonds with a sharp object.
It’s not long before Serenity lands on Whitefall and Mal, Zoe, and Jayne head off to their meeting place, but not until Jayne has buried the goods. They check out likely spots for snipers and Jayne heads off to take them out while Mal and Zoe take one last look at the valley where they’ll be meeting Patience.
Back on Serenity, Book goes to Dobson’s room to try and warm him that his life in danger, he gets a blow or three to the head for his troubles and Dobson drags the unconscious Shepherd away.
On Whitefall, Mal and Zoe meet up with Patience and six heavies, while up on the ridge, Jayne takes out a sniper and settles down in his place.
Back on Serenity, Dobson tries to contact the Alliance but his computer’s signa has been blocked, instead he grabs two guns from his back.
On Whitefall, the deal is taking place, watched over by Jayne through the sniper’s sight, Mal tosses the sample bar to Patience who takes a bite, confirms its legitimacy, and tosses Mal a bag of money.
Meanwhile, on Serenity, River wakes up and moves to the door, where Dobson appears and grabs her, dragging her away.
Back on Whitefall, Mal, Zoe and the others appear to have come to a standoff, nobody moving. Mal tries to talk his way out of it, handing Patience back the money, but when he realises there’s no other way he gives the signal to Jayne who takes out Patience’s right hand man and the shoot out begins.
On Serenity, Wash and Simon are talking when Kaylee hits the intercom and tells them that Dobson got River. Simon rushes out, sees Dobson trying to escape and, with a flying leap, lands on top of him. Wash is about to follow him when a beeping alter sends him back to the bridge with a concerned look on his face.
On Whitefall, the shoot out continues, Zoe and Mal have both taken hits but not life threatening ones. Of the other side, only Patience is left. She stands behind her horse. Without hestitation, Mal shoots the horse, which falls on to Patience. He walks over, sticks his gun right in her face and takes back his money. They are about to head off when Jayne rushes up with news from Wash. The Reavers have followed them.
As Mal, Zoe and Jayne makes their way back to Serenity on horseback, Dobson wakes up and goes for his gun, Simon gets to him first and, after a tussle, he stands, gun in hand, facing Dobson. He is distracted by the airlock doors opening, giving Dobson the opportunity to grab the other gun and River. They are left at a stand off as Mal marches in and shoots Dobson dead without breaking stride. Simon tries to comfort a shocked River, as Mal and Jayne dispose of Dobson’s body and they are ready for take off.
As they take off, the Reavers are hot on their heels, Wash, calm and collected as he flies, asks for Kaylee in the engine room and, as Jayne goes to get her, Mal tells Inara to take the others into her shuttle and leave if they get boarded. She goes reluctantly as Jayne and Book help Kaylee in the engine room (is there anything this Shepherd can’t do?).
As the Reavers close in and get ready to attach their grapplers to Serenity, Wash pulls a “Crazy Ivon”, pulling at a lever he spins Serenity in a one eighty, they fly right past the Reaver ship and burn off into space, leaving the Reavers in their wake.
In their places, the crew and passengers are all very relieved, Zoe takes her husband off to do his dury in their quarters, Mal tales the pilot’s seat, heaving a sigh of relief and takes the controls. Book looks to Inara for comfort, Simon comforts his sister while Mal let’s Jayne know that he is aware that Dobson offered him a deal and wonders why he didn’t take it. Jayne tells him that the money wasn’t good enough.
Wanting to know what lies in store for him and his sister, Simon goes to see the captain and is pleasantly surprised, if not a little confused, when he is offered a job as ship’s medic. The captain’s had a good day. Well, at least he’s still flyin’.