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"The Train Job"


Guest star(s)

Joss Whedon


September 20, 2002

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The Train Job is the second episode of the Firefly TV series, and it was written and produced as a replacement for the original series pilot. It was first aired on September 20, 2002.



Serenity confronts armed barflies

Unification Day. Six years have passed since the Universal Alliance declared victory over the Independents. On this day, Mal, Zoë and Jayne find themselves in an Alliance friendly bar, where a lout named Lund makes an offensive toast to the Unification of the planets. When Mal refuses to raise his glass and Zoë eventually smacks Lund, a miniature re-enactment of the war breaks out with the three from Serenity assuming the role of the outnumbered Independents. Fortunately, the fight is brought to an end when Wash arrives with Serenity and threatens to fire upon Lund and the offended Alliance sympathizers. The fact that Serenity has no weapons escapes their notice.

Back on Serenity, in the infirmary, River wakes up screaming after having had a very disturbing nightmare about her time in the Academy and she jumps off the infirmary table, immediately going into hysterics. Simon quickly goes to her and tries his best to comfort his terribly frightened sister. Once River has calmed down Simon gently asks her if she was dreaming and if it so were any about the Academy. River divulges nothing about her nightmare saying "It's not relevant." Simon presses the issue saying that he needs to know everything River remembers about the Academy in order to help her. River dismisses her brother's questions completely. She then starts to slowly walk around the infirmary and seems to finally acknowledge the fact that she isn't at home anymore. River asks Simon confused "This isn't home?" Simon sadly answers her question saying that they can't go home because if they do she will just be sent back to the Academy. River is saddened by this news but quickly accepts it. Then to Simon's utter surprise River correctly identifies Serenity just by looking around the infirmary. She says logically "Midbulk transport, standard radion accelerator core. Class code 03-k64… Firefly." Mal then comes in and quips, impressed by River's brilliant recall, "Well ain't that something, I can't even remember all of that." He then goes over to the sink and tends to his bruised and bloodied hand. Simon offers his help and asks him how he got hurt. Mal quickly tells Simon that he is fine and informs him about the bar fight. Simon worries about what type of attention the fight caused, however, Mal reassures the young doctor and says "No feds just an honest brawl between folks."


River has a horrifying nightmare about her time in the Academy

Serenity takes off and heads for a skyplex on a tip received at the bar. The skyplex is run by a man named Adelai Niska, a crime boss notorious for his cruelty. The crew needs work though, and so they risk taking on a job from him. He sends them to Regina, in the Georgia system, where he wants them to rob a train of unspecified cargo.

The train runs from Hancock to Paradiso. The plan is to have Mal and Zoë board the train and get into position in the luggage car. Serenity will hover above the train, lowering Jayne down with the equipment to secure the cargo. The three and their stolen goods will then be hauled back aboard ship, and make off for the rendezvous with Niska's men.

The plan goes south when Mal and Zoë find an entire squad of Alliance troops aboard the train with them. At first this poses no problem, as the troops are there only to travel, not to guard the cargo. However, as the goods are being loaded onto Serenity, one of the men stumbles upon them mid-caper. Jayne makes off with the cargo, but Mal and Zoë are left behind.

Calming river

Simon goes to River and tries his best to comfort her after her nightmare

They arrive in Paradiso under the aliases of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond, come to this world to find work. The Sheriff, Bourne, finds some details of their story a bit suspicious, and holds them while the theft of the cargo is investigated. There, Mal and Zoë find out what it is they've stolen: a shipment of Pescaline D, medicine needed to treat the degenerative disease that afflicts the town. On a cruiser in deep space, an apparently unconcerned Alliance colonel receives a report from his ensign about the incident. He rejects Sheriff Bourne's request for assistance from stationed Alliance marshals, saying the marshals have better things to do than partake in local affairs on an impoverished border planet.

Making use of her respectability as a Companion, Inara takes her shuttle to Paradiso and gets Mal and Zoë out of questioning, telling the Sheriff they belong to her as indentured servants. Her story passes scrutiny, and the three return to the ship. Having seen the conditions the people of Paradiso live under, Mal decides to return the goods, knowing full well what Niska will do when he finds out. They don't have to wait long to tell him: Niska's men have found Serenity, tracking down the ship when the crew became late for the rendezvous. Mal explains his position to Niska's towering lieutenant Crow, offering to return the money paid in advance, but the man refuses to deal. Negotiations devolve into outright combat, but Serenity's crew is able to overcome Niska's men. The medicine is returned to the Paradiso local authorities, where Sheriff Bourne greatly appreciates Mal's change of heart. Back outside the ship, Mal attempts to reason with Crow, but the man continues to spout threats of Niska's vengeance. Mal, at wits end with Crow, kicks him a nearby engine intake valve. Zoë next grabs another henchman, who nervously complies in an instant, and the surviving pair of Niska's men are sent off with the money and the promise that Serenity's crew will do what they can to stay out of Niska's business.

Meanwhile, due to the failure of Federal Agent Dobson, blue-gloved agents of Blue Sun interview the Alliance colonel and become personally involved in the search for River Tam.


Behind the scenes[]

  • Jayne's line after shooting Crow in the leg, "I was aiming for his head", later used by Nathan Fillion in Castle, is lifted from the 1977-81 British sci-fi series Blake's 7, which was on while Whedon was living in the UK. That line itself is a mis-quote from The Magnificent Seven, where the original line was "I was aiming for his horse".
  • Fun fact: This is the first episode in which the "Hands of Blue" appear, the two men who are pursuing River.


Memorable Quotes From the Episode "The Train Job"

Mandarin Translation[]

(Special Thanks to

  • "Qing zailai yi bei Ng Ka Pei? [May I have one more glass of ng-ka-py (吴家培, a medicinal herb wine), please?]" - Mal at the bar
  • "Oh, zhe zhen shi ge kuaile de jinzhan [this is a happy development]..." - Mal is confronted by a bar full of Alliance sympathizers.
  • "Kewu de lao baojun... [Horrible old tyrant...]" - Kaylee, when Mal sends her to the engine room.
  • "The Captain's zhen de shi tiancai [an absolute genius] when it comes to plans." - Kaylee.
  • "Just 'cause Mal says you're medic don't make you part of the crew. You just play at figurin' what's wrong with that moon-brained sister of yours till we call for you, dong ma? [understand?]" - Jayne to Simon.
  • "Why are you parked here? This ain't the gou cao de [dog-humping] rendezvous spot." - Jayne yells at Wash.

Episode scripts[]

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