This is a Joss-episode: simply hilarious with fantastic dialogue, but a nightmare to recap. I won’t do it justice: do yourselves a favor and watch it again. Giggling is good for you.
A covered wagon crosses a river; someone lurks in the underbrush. Suddenly, the wagon is surrounded and robbers attempt to take the goods onboard. Their dastardly plan is foiled, however, because it’s Jayne and Mal driving the wagon – the latter disguised in a pretty floral bonnet – and Zoë hiding in the back. The crew has been hired by a local settlement to safeguard their goods during transport; they get to be on the up and up for a change. Of course, there’s a gun battle, but the crew wins out. We know they win out because the next scene is a big ol’ party with bonfires and dancing – yeehaw! Jayne is getting hammered; a pretty redheaded girl puts flowers on Mal’s head and dances with him; Wash and Zoë snuggle up together and smile; Book performs a ritual over the dead robbers. The next morning, Serenity takes off and Mal is tidying up the cargo hold when he is surprised by the pretty redhead who is hiding in a corner. He demands to know why she has stowed away on his boat. She looks confused and asks if the elders didn’t talk to him. Mal is having difficulty controlling his temper: “Who are you?” The reply: “I’m your wife.” Now he’s having trouble breathing.
Apparently she was the settlement’s thank-you gift for saving the goods from the robbers. At Zoë and Jayne’s arrival in the hold, Mal asks Zoë how he ended up with a wife. Jayne snorts, “All I got is that dumbass stick sounds like it’s rainin’ – how come you got a wife?” Wickedly, Zoë calls the entire crew into the cargo bay to meet “Mrs. Reynolds.” Everyone’s response is perfectly in line with their characters: Kaylee gasps and giggles, Simon is befuddled with a touch of outrage, Inara is silently appalled, and Wash just makes me laugh. Mal is not pleased and states that this woman is not his wife, she’s no one. Kaylee shoots Mal a nasty look and comforts the redhead, telling her that he makes everyone cry. Mal wants to go back to her planet to return her but because of some plot contrivance they are unable to do so. Book refers to Simon’s online encyclopedia and, to everyone’s consternation, announces that Mal may in fact be married. Mal whispers to Jayne, “How drunk was I last night?” “I dunno,” replies Jayne, “I passed out.” Mal is thunderstruck and asks Book about getting divorced; the redhead gasps and runs away. Mal goes after her, finding her crying in the engine room. She asks if, since he’s displeased with her, he’s going to kill her. Mal wants to know what kind of crappy planet she came from and instructs her, “If anyone tries to kill you, you kill them right back.” They talk some more, and he is gentle with her, promising to drop her off on Beaumont when they get there in a week’s time. She tries to convince him that she’d be a good wife and goes to cook him some dinner. Her name, by the way, is Saffron. As she heads to the kitchen [should I call it the galley?], Book pops up to say that divorce is possible but not as easy as the marriage was. He goes on to promise Mal that if he takes sexual advantage of Saffron, he will go to “that special level of hell that is reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.” Ron Glass is fantastic in this scene.
Wash follows his nose to the kitchen; Zoë wants to know if Mal is enjoying his own nubile little slave girl. Saffron is very attentive to her husband and she has enormous breasts. Mal runs away to the bridge as soon as he can. Except that he goes to Inara’s shuttle to, as he says, hide. Inara is not in the mood. He asks her if she is “tetchy because I got myself a bride or because I don’t plan to keep her?” Inara snarls that she finds the whole thing disgusting and throws him out of the shuttle. As Mal stumbles down the steps, he calls back over his shoulder that he wasn’t looking for a fight … and turns to face Jayne, loading a really big gun. Jayne advances on him, demanding to be taken seriously. He explains that a whole bunch of men came to kill him once and he took this big gun off the best of them. Jayne stops in front of Mal, hefts the gun, and offers it to him, stating, “This is my very favorite gun.” Mal, again, is gob smacked: “You’re expecting me to trade?” Jayne snorts that Mal would be getting the better deal seeing how this is the best gun ever made and all. Plus, it’s got extreme sentimental value to him: he named it “Vera.” “Well, my days of not takin you seriously are definitely comin to a middle,” mutters Mal. A little later Saffron finds Mal and says that she would rather not be wed to “the large one” and she’ll take his offer to be dropped on Beaumont. She continues to draw him out, which Mal notes as unusual, but smiles as he says it. Elsewhere in space, some unsavory characters seem to be planning to hijack Serenity. Back on Serenity, Zoë and Wash argue about Saffron: Wash feels badly for her but Zoë thinks she’s trouble. Mal is shortly to discover the same as he goes to his bunk – he finds Saffron there, naked and having “made [herself] ready for him.” She quotes some pretty racy Scripture about plows and furrows; Mal: “Whoa - some Bible.” He tries to be strong, admitting that “it’s been a long while since anyone but me took a-hold of my plow, so don’t think I ain’t interested,” but Saffron is not taking no for an answer. “I’m going to go to the special hell,” Mal moans as she kisses him. They mack in earnest until Mal staggers back, stares at her and passes out. She looks down at him with no trace of innocence left on her face: “G’night, sweetie.”
Wash is up on the bridge and Saffron walks in. My god, her boobs are huge. She tries her wiles on him too but finds it too much work and ends up just kicking him in the head to knock him out. After tapping on some buttons and ripping out some wires, she seals the doors to the bridge. Saffron goes next to the shuttles and finds Inara there. Inara snarkily wonders that Saffron is not off taking care of her new husband; Saffron, back in character, confesses that he’ll have none of her, and that she’d rather learn of love with someone like Inara. Bosoms heave. Inara leans in and invites Saffron to her shuttle, just as an alarm goes off. The spell broken, Saffron steps back: “You’re good.” Inara is even more impressed with her, “You’re amazing! Who are you?” “Malcolm Reynolds’s widow,” is the reply. Saffron takes a swing, which Inara ducks easily, and the redhead scampers off to the other shuttle to make her getaway. Inara rushes to Mal’s quarters and finds him lying there. She falls on her knees beside him and when he groans, she kisses him full on the lips. Regaining her head a bit, she calls for Simon to help Mal and then staggers, touching her lips. “Ugh, you stupid son of a …” she manages before fainting. When Mal comes to, Simon explains that the toxin Saffron had on her lips was called the “goodnight kiss” and he saw it used on a lot of robbery victims back in his ER. “So,” says Zoë, “you were kissin’?” Book raises an eyebrow, “Isn’t that … special.” Hee.
The crew finally gets back into the bridge and Kaylee and Wash are amazed at the damage Saffron has done. When Mal tries to hurry them along, Kaylee points out that it was his big make-out session that put them in this predicament. “I was drugged,” protests Mal. Over in the corner, Jayne offers, “That’s why I never kiss ‘em on the mouth.” Collective eye-roll from everyone. Inara tells the crew that Saffron has had Companion Academy training and Mal feels a little vindicated since he clearly had no chance against a professional. The scruffy guys in the ship-trap notice Serenity approaching and praise Saffron as a marvel for sending them such a ship to salvage. Serenity’s crew sees the trap – which will likely kill them all – and come up with plan B in case Wash and Kaylee can’t fix the steering in time. Jayne fetches Vera and, just before the net snares them, manages to shoot out a technical something-or-other, disrupting the net and killing all the scruffy guys. Kaylee feels badly that she wasn’t able to fix Serenity faster; Mal reassures her and kisses her on the forehead. Wash says, “Captain, don’t you know that kissing girls makes you sleepy?” “Sometimes I can’t help myself,” says Mal, and directs them to find Saffron.
Which they do, hiding out on some snowy planet. She’s dressed in a leather top that only just restrains those bosoms. Mal drops in uninvited and they smack each other around a little – she more than holds her own. It turns out he feels much more comfortable talking to her while holding a gun to her head (can’t say that I blame him much). Mal asks her if she did it just for the money, but she dances around the question a bit, saying sometimes the payoff isn’t the point. Back on Serenity, Mal stops by Inara’s shuttle to let her know that they’ll be back on schedule soon. He notes that Inara is a very graceful woman, and wonders how it was that she just tripped and knocked herself out. Inara is taken aback, but rises to the challenge, admitting that no, she didn’t trip. She steps closer to him, lifting her face to his. “I knew it,” Mal crows, “I knew you let her kiss you!
38 minutes ago