Kaylee: Oh, well, let’s see. We killed Simon and River, stole a bunch of medicine, and now the Captain and Zoë are off springing the others got snatched by the feds. Oh, ‘n here they are now!
Now we’re into the meat of the season. We finally get to start seeing who our heroes really are. We’ve seen that River is smart, talented, pretty much psychic, and crazy. Is she also dangerous. We’ve seen Jayne as an opportunist with questionable loyalties to his partners in crime before, is he changing? We’ve seen Simon’s devotion to his sister and to helping her recover. How far will he go? We’ve seen Mal’s loyalty to his crew, all of his crew. How will he handle dissension in the ranks. All these will be explored in this excellent episode, and after the jump.
Wash: So… two days in a hospital. That’s awful. Don’t you just hate doctors?
Wash: I mean, present company excluded.
Jayne: Let’s not be excluding people. That’d be rude.
It seems our intrepid crew, much as they seek to avoid the Alliance, is headed to the very heart of that civilization. Out on the fringes, their territory, where conditions are what they are and the alliance presence may be thin they can live their lives mostly untroubled by the government that many of them despise and all of them seem to want to avoid. But bureaucracy will have its day. It seems they are headed to “The Core”. The center of the Alliance territory, where all the benefits, the technology, the wealth, and all the problems, the surveillance, the control, are at their greatest. Inara needs to have her license renewed, and that means forms and a round of checkups at a Core hospital. To Zoe and Mal that means sitting on the ship for a few days. To most of the others it means a missed opportunity to sample the wonders of the civilization they’ve lived without. For some reason to Shepherd Book it means stopping off before they even get to the planet. Interesting.
Of course things get interesting en route. River, for some reason, decides Jayne looks good in red, and having no crayons decides a chest wound would do the trick. Chaos of course ensues. But Jayne, much as we hate to admit it, lays out some truth. The crew isn’t safe. Mal’s crew isn’t safe, and it’s because of River, and by extension Simon. Jayne isn’t wrong and Mal knows it. But it’s Mal’s ship and he’ll handle it his way. Jayne’s solution is a bit excessive and premature, but his reality check is dead on. Our good doctor Simon Tam has some decisions to make.
Luckily Simon appears to have been studying both the crew and their methods in his journey to becoming a criminal mastermind. Simon has a plan, and his plan shows just how far he will go to save his sister. Simon will put his and his sister’s lives in Jayne’s hands. Oh yeah, and he’ll die.
Being a federal fugitive complicates things a bit. You can’t for instance walk into a Core Alliance hospital and ask to use the state of the art 3D imaging scanners to diagnose what the alliance did to your also fugitive sister so you can come up with a cure before the captain of the smugglers who has taken you in decides to heed the advice of the mercenary and turn you both in for a reward. No, for that you need a plan and some help. Simon enlists the help of the crew with the offer of a massive payday. Medicine, needed on the frontier, will bring a hefty price, and won’t be missed in the core. Simon knows what to get and where to get it, and for that information wants some brother sister quality time in the 3D Neuro-imager in the diagnostic ward.
Watching the plan come together is rather entertaining, if only to see a window into the actor’s world, memorizing lines that mean nothing (like Chinese curses) to them and trying to make them convincing. Jayne is, as usual particularly amusing. So having obtained the means of entry to the hospital, uniforms, ID’s and a rebuilt transport all they need now are some corpses. Apparently nobody checks their condition or ID upon entry to a hospital. With Simon and River “dead” thanks to the ever-present coma-inducing near death drug, they are snuck into the hospital as DOA’s by Mal, Zoe and Jayne (he applied the cortical electrodes).
The plan, with a few minor hitches, seems to be going along swimmingly. But of course all is not well. Simon gets his quality time in the diagnostic ward and Zoe and Mal clean out the pharmacy, but Jayne is angling for a bigger payday. It seems to me things get dangerous when Jayne strays from his strengths, shooting and hitting things, and gets to thinkin’ too much. Of course he gets double crossed by the feds. As Mal says, that’s what always happens when you deal with the alliance. To Jayne’s credit he figures out pretty quickly that Simon considers him trustworthy, regardless of their differences and their capture, and Jayne realizes his mistake immediately. Jayne has people who count on him now, and he let them down, just like the mudders.
Of course Zoe and Mal come to the rescue, with some help from Jayne and Simon and River’s excellent sense of direction. Incidentally I loved the sight gag of Jayne trying to shoot open a door with a goram piece of alliance crap only to have Mal come from the other side.
So as Kaylee summarized at the beginning, all’s well that ends well. Well, not entirely.
Jayne: What are you taking this so personal for? It ain’t like I ratted you out to the feds!
Mal: Oh, but you did. You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But since that’s a concept you can’t seem to wrap your head around then you got no place here! You did it to me, Jayne, and that’s a fact.
Jayne is saved by one thing, shame. He is ashamed that he let down people who counted on him, and more than dying he’s afraid they’ll find out. Maybe there’s hope for the big lug after all. At least Mal seems to think so.