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Countdown to Serenity: Firefly, Episode 2 Summary

By Chris Thilk

Sunday 21 August 2005, by Webmaster

"The Train Job"

Mal, Zoe and Jayne sit in a bar playing Chinese checkers. A gentleman at the bar proposes a toast to the Alliance. See today is Unification Day, the day the Alliance brought all the planets together after the war which Mal and Zoe fought on the side of the Independents during. Wackiness and brawling ensue and our heroes escape only because of the timely (and awkwardly threatening) appearance of Wash, who presents Serenity as a gunship and not a humble transport.

After the credits we see River and Simon in the infirmary where they, and later Book, provide a brief bit of exposition since this was the first episode Fox aired. There’s then a scene where Inara is brushing Kaylee’s hair that, quite frankly, works for me on so many levels it’s almost ridiculous.

Mal goes to a space station that kind of looks like something out of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan to meet a crime boss named Niska. He wants Mal and his crew to steal something from a train. When we see Zoe and Mal on that train looking for the goods they discover a car full of Alliance troopers, a glitch which Mal thinks makes the caper all that much more fun.

Wash flies the ship over the train and Jayne dangles like a worm on a hook over it, eventually getting the goods off but not Mal and Zoe. They take the train all the way to the end of the line where they overhear a local official talk about what exactly it was they helped steal. Turns out it was medicine for the small frontier town.

Jayne is being patched up by Simon as the crew gets together to plot the next move. Jayne wants to ditch Mal and Zoe, drop off the goods as planned and deal with the Captain later. Meanwhile the two stragglers are interviewed by the local sheriff as to what happened on the train. They masquerade as a married couple looking for work. Back on the ship Jayne is trying to take control of the ship but eventually falls down because Simon doped him while patching his leg.

The plan the crew devises to spring Mal and Zoe involves Inara and quite frankly is too funny to describe, not just for Inara’s performance but for Mal’s reactions. You really have to see it to believe it. When they’re back on the ship they get a visit from some of Niska’s..umm..associates. Mal wants to back out of the deal by returning the money they were paid upfront and calling it square but the tough guys have a problem with that. After a brief intellectual discussion Mal winds up shoving the main bad guy (who looks like a reject from Thunderdome) into Serenity’s engine. That’s after returning the medicine to the sheriff.

The final scene aboard the Alliance cruiser sets up one of the main protagonists for the rest of the series: the men in the blue gloves. They’re the ones looking for River.