The Train Job



Music plays and a belly-dance wiggles to it in a small, tavern-like bar. She dances around the tables, pausing slightly at one to skip a piece of paper into someone’s hand. As she passes the table we see that the hand belonged to Mal, who sits at a table with Zoe and Jayne playing Chinese chequers. Mal slips the paper into his pocket and they continue playing.

Their idle banter is interrupted by a drunk at the bar who chooses this moment to propose a toast to the Alliance on this Unification Day. Mal casually goes to the bar and, standing next to toast-guy, orders another drink. Mal takes a sip without toasting, which seems to irk toast-guy somewhat, especially when he notices the brown coat the Mal is wearing. He taunts Mal until he eventually turns and asks him to repeat the insult to his face. Toast-guy takes up the invitation but soon finds that he has been tricked as he turns around to find that Zoe has come up behind him. Zoe slams him in the face with her gun and the fight begins.

It’s not going well for Mal and Zoe (Jayne declines to join as he never fought in any war) and Mal finds himself on the outside of the bar via the window.

Sitting up, Mal calls Wash on the radio, suggesting a speedy appearance. Zoe soon appears, fighting her way out the door and the melee continues. Jayne soon follows and our three find themselves very out numbered and standing at the edge of a cliff.

Toast-guy pushes he was to the front of the crowd and brandishes a gun at our heroes, before he gets the chance to use it, Serenity rises above the cliff behind Mal and co, and they make good their escape.

Back on the ship, Mal and Zoe head to the bridge where Kaylee has been fixing something; Mal announces that they have their selves a job. And they are off on their travels.

In the infirmary, River dreams feverishly, tossing on the infirmary table, nightmares of people experimenting on her brain. She awakens with a scream and Simon does his best to comfort her. He explains to her where they are just as Mal enters to clean up his bloodied fists from the fight.

River watches him as he leaves, commenting that is bad “in the Latin”. Leaving the infirmary Mal runs into Book who asks how River is. As Mal is telling him that she seems calm enough, River can be seen in the background doing her favourite hurling about of things.

Mal sets off upstairs, followed by Book who quizzes him as to why he would take on board fugitives when he so obviously likes to keep a low profile himself, Mal is evasive in his answers as he makes his way to the engine room, which he finds in rather a mess.

He wanders off in search of his mechanic who he finds in Inara’s shuttle having her hair played with. He sends her off to sort our the mess while he remains behind to warn Inara to stay on the ship while they go visiting with their latest client, Niska, who has somewhat of a nasty reputation.

Serenity docks on a large space-station and Male, Zoeand Jayne are led to meet Niska, a small, wiry, European man. The one with the unlovely rep.

Niska invites them into his room and tells then he has a job for them. Before he gives them the details he wants to explain a little about reputation. Malcolm Reynolds has a reputation to get the job done, but this is only gossip until proven. Niska has an unpleasant reputation, his words are punctuation by Crow, the muscle, opening a door to reveal a man, hanging upside down from the ceiling, having obviously been horribly tortured before reaching his untimely death. Now Niska’s reputation is fact, he says, not gossip.

Niska proceeds to give them details of the job, there is a train carrying some Alliance goods that he wants, they should board the train, take the gods and hand them over to Crow at the rendezvous point near to Paradiso. Then their reputation will be fact, too.

We see atrain rushing through the dester. On the train are Mal and Zoe sitting across from each other. Announcing it is time to get to work, Zoe walks with Mal to the next carriage, where they stop. The carriage is filled with Alliance feds. Not as simple as they thought.

They stand a moment, a family enter from the other end of the carriage and Mal and Zoe take the opportunity to make their way through also.

Meanwhile, on the ship, Kaylee is preparing her part in the heist when Simon enters. Kaylee is explaining the heist to Simon when Jayne enters. Simon leaves and Kaylee and Jayne, watched by River make their final preparations.

Down on the train, Mal and Zoe have reached the storage car and, using a key card provided by Niska, they enter, while in the fed-car, one of them gets up, heads the way Mal and Zoe went.

Mal and Zoe cautiously enter the storage car, no guards. Zoe sets a trap by the door and goes looking for the cargo. Meanwhile Mal steps up on some boxes and starts to unscrew a panel in the train’s roof.

Outside, Serenity hovers over the train, almost in position.

All strapped up now, Jayne leans out of the open doors of the ship and jumps, landing on the roof of the train. Inside the carriage, Mal and Zoe ready the cargo and Jayne appears at the hole in the roof.

They attach the cable that was attached to Jayne to the now netted cargo, and Jayne and Zoe jump up on top. They are about to make good their escape when the fed approaches the door of the cargo carriage and activates the booby trap that Zoe left. Smoke fills the room and the fed starts firing, hitting Jayne in the leg. Zoe dives out of the way and tells Jayne to go, Jayne hails Kaylee on the radio, and is winched up out of the carriage.

In the still smokey carriage, Mal knocks out the fed and he and Zoe head back to the passenger carriage, let off a couple more smoke bombs and mingle with the other passengers. On Serenity, Jayne and the cargo are pulled to safety.

The train reaches Paradiso and Mal and Zoe get off with the other passengers. Here they find out what the cargo was they have stolen; the town’s much-needed medicine supplies. They exchange a look.

On Serenity, Wash lands the ship in a nice, hidden canyon and joins the others in the infirmary where Simon is treating Jayne’s wound. Jayne is impatient and wants to make the drop with the goods, but Wash is adamant he is not leaving without Zoe. As the argument continues, Jayne asks for painkillers, which Simon duly supplies via a shot in the arm. On Book’s advice, they finally agree to wait, seeing as Niska can be quite particular as to whom he deals with.

Back on Paradiso, Mal and Zoe are in the Sheriff’s office surrounded by sick folk. Finally, the Sheriff gets to them, ushers them to his desk and explains to them why the people are sick, while Mal and Zoe give him a cock and bull story about being newly weds looking for a job. The Sheriff explains that the whole town is afflicted by Bowden’s Malady, a sickness caused by working in the mines, and their only relief from it is the medicine that was stolen on that train.

On Serenity, Jayne hobbles to the bridge closely followed by Simon. and tells Wash it’s time they took off. Wash is still having none of it and the argument is about to get nasty when Jayne goes all crazy and falls down. The sedative Simon gave him finally working. Without Jayne to mess things up, the others get to work on a plan to rescue Mal and Zoe.

On Paradiso, there is still bustle in the Sheriffs office when a glamorous Inara swishes her way in and heads to ward Mal and Zoe, who rise to greet her. She marches straight to Mal and slaps him hard across the face to which he’s more than a little non-plussed. Inara explains to the Sheriff that Malcolm is her indentured man who has run off with Zoe and, after causing a little stir, the Sheriff allows all three to leave.

Back on Serenity, Mal’s crew (including Jayne who is now slumped on the stairwell, which is as far as they have been able to carry him) are waiting to greet them. Mal and Zoe busy themselves getting the cargo onto the Mule while explaining to a confused crew that they are taking it back. Which is when Crow and three heavies arrive.

Crow and his heavies doesn’t really well to the news that Mal has changed his mind about the job, not even when Mal offers to return the money. Lightning quick, Crow takes his knife and throws it, burying it in Mal’s shoulder. Mal staggers back and the fighting starts. Zoe takes out one of the heavies, while Wash manages to cliumb on the Mule and distract Crow who is getting the better of Mal. Taking advantage of the moment, Mal gets in a couple of good hits, but is soon n the floor again about to receive a fatal wound from Crow’s evil looking knife.

A shot rings out and Crow goes down, Mal and the others look to see a still semi-conscious Jayne now wielding his gun.

Mal and Zoe take the Mule to the outskirts of Paradiso and are about to unload the crates when they find themselves surrounded by the sheriff and his men. Respecting Mal’s decision to return the supplies when h learned of the situation, the Sheriff tells his men to take the crates and leaves Mal and Zoe to go their way.

On Serenity, the crew are getting ready to take off. Crow is on the ramp, hands tied behind his back while Mal tries to give him back the money that Niska gave him. Crow refused the money with any nice threats. Disappointed, Mal gives Crow a shove back with his foot and he is sucked into one of the negies.

Zoe, shoves one of Crow’s men in front of Mal. He takes the money readily.

As Serenity leaves the planet behind, Mal is getting stritched p by Simon, while in her room, River sits crouched in a corner muttering to herself. “Two by two, hands of blue, two by two, hands of blue”.

On an Alliance cruiser, officer walks into a room in which are two official looking men, waiting for him. They tell him that they are looking for a girl and push forward a picture of River. As they do, we see both men are wearing blue latex gloves.

Recap written by Cider


  • The Train Job was written by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear in just one week after Fox decided they wanted a more “action-packed” pilot that the original, Serenity. The episode is shown in the correct order on the DVD and in re-runs of the show.
  • The armour worn by the Alliance Feds was repurposed from the film Starship Troopers.
  • Mal was originally going to keep the cargo from the train to show that he puts the needs of the crew first, however, Fox wanted Mal to return the cargo to make him a more likable character.
  • Gregg Henry, who plays Sherrif Bourne would later star alongside Nathan Fillion in the horror movie Slither. He also makes a guest appearance on Nathan Fillion’s ABC series, Castle.
  • Jeff Rickets, who plays one of the Hands of Blue, has also appeared on Buffy and Angel as Watcher’s Council Henchman, Weatherby, and also on Angel as “Spider Monster” in the episode “Sacrifice”.


  • When Serenity leaves the planet, its running lights are switched: the port lights are green when they should be red and the starboard lights are red when they should be green.
  • The position of the rolling tray, the objects knocked off it, and the sheet on the medical bed changes between shots after River awakes from her dream.


  • Zoe: Sir, I think you have a problem with your brain being missing
  • Jayne: Time for some thrilling heroics
  • Jayne: You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’til ya understand who is in ruttin’ command here.


Mal: Ching zie lie ee bay Ng Ka Pei – Can I have one more glass of Ng-Ka-Pei please? (to bartender)
Mal: Oh, juh hen sh gu kwai luh duh jean-jan – Oh this is a happy development (when he realises the rest of the bar are ready for a fight as well.

Act One:
Kaylee: Kuh-ooh duh lao bao-jrn – Horrible old tyrant (re: Mal when he sends her off to work in the engine room)

Act Two
Kaylee: Jen duh sh tyen tsai – An absolute genius (to Simon re: Mal’s plan for the train heist)
Jayne: Dong ma – Understand (to Simon re: getting the hell out of his way)

Act Three
Jayne: Go tsao de – Dog humping (on finding out they haven’t landed at the meeting point with Niska)


Author: Cider

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