While on the border, Serenity encounters a transport ship adrift in deep space. As she approaches, Serenity is struck by the dead body of a passenger from the other ship. The Captain decides to dock with the derelict, and check for surviviors. The ship seems deserted, so the decision is made to loot the ship of its supplies and valuables. In the cargo hold, they find enough goods to support a colony of more than fourteen families, but the hold contains a darker cargo: strung from the ceiling are the bodies of the settlers. The derelict vessel was the victim of an attack by Reavers. While scavenging the galley, Jayne is attacked by the ship's sole surviving passenger, who, though in perfect health, has gone mad from the horros he's witnessed. Mal knocks the man unconscious, and he is restrained in Serenitys sickbay.

At Book's insistence, Mal allows the Shepherd to hold funeral rites for the slaughtered crew of the other ship. This gives Serenity's crew time to deal with another problem: their ship has been snared by a Reaver booby trap, set to trigger when detaching from the other vessel and destroy both. Kaylee manages to disable the explosive, and Jayne finishes transferring the derelict's cargo to Serenity by the time Book finishes his sermon.

Serenity undocks just in time to be intercepted by an Alliance cruiser on routine patrol. The crew is brought into custody while Alliance troops scour the ship. After finding the derelict survivor aboard, brutally tortured, the cruiser's Commander charges Mal with commiting the travesties inflicted on the settlers' ship. When Mal hears what's happened to the survivor, he realizes that the torture was self-inflicted. Unable to deal with the memories of what happened aboard his ship, the man deals with it the only way he can, by emulating his tormentors. He slaughters the medical staff assigned to him, then makes his way through the cruiser back to Serenity, seeking familiar ground. Mal convinces the Commander to allow him to guide the Alliance troops through the freighter in search of the man. There, aboard Serenity, the emerging Reaver attacks the search team. He assaults the Commander, but Mal gets behind him, and manages to snap the savage's neck.

For saving his life, the Commander allows Mal and his crew to go free without presing charges. However, the salvaged cargo is confiscated. As Serenity sets a new course, the Alliance cruiser fires upon the derelict, destroying it and ending the Reaver threat in this area for now.


Behind the Scenes

Mandarin Translation

(Special Thanks to

  • "Wo de ma! [Mother of God!]" - Jayne exclaims, seeing the derelict.
  • "Zhen daomei! [Just our luck!]" - Mal when seeing the ravaged bodies of the settlers.
  • "What the tian xiaode [God know's what] is going on in there?" - Wash hears a commotion over the com.
  • "That ship was hit by Reavers?" "Reavers?" "Zaogao! [Damn!]" - Wash utters the Mandarin curse.
  • "Wo de tian, a! [My God!]" - Mal hears of the survivor's self-mutilation.
  • "You saved his gorram life, he still takes the cargo. Hundan! [Bastard!]" - Jayne.

Database Entries

Alliance cruiser; Battle of Serenity Valley, The; Bernadette; Browncoats; Companion; Escobar; Firefly-class; Good Samaritan; Harken; Hera; Newhall; Persephone; Reavers; Sihnon

Episode navigation
Previous episode Next episode
"The Train Job" "Bushwhacked" "Shindig"
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.