Mal and the guard kid are negotiating where best to put his gunshot injury for the heist. "The leg is good. It'll bleed plenty, and we avoid any necessary organs." The kid's iffy on that: "I was thinking more of a graze..." Mal smiles into the kid's face, loving his collaboration on this. "No! You don't want it to look like you gave up," he says. "No, I get that," agrees the kid, and they smile at each other. Jayne comes running down the steps. "Mal!" Mal rolls his eyes. "Every heist, he's got to start yelling my name." Jayne comes to a stop on the steps, yelling, "Reavers! The girl's pitching a fit. They're here, or they're coming soon." Jayne and Zoe grab the cash and start loading the Mule upstairs, and Mal counsels the kid to get everyone he can into the vault, and lock it until they run out of air. The kid's scared, but Mal gets intense in his face about it.
Everybody loads up on the Mule, and Zoe's driving. One man comes running out of nowhere and latches onto the Mule. "Take me with you!" Mal tells him to get back in the vault, and the man begs, scared out of his wits. Mal can't get the guy to let go and go inside, and the Reavers are advancing. He finally pushes him down, and the Reavers grab him immediately, tackling him into the dust. Mal shoots him in the chest, and Zoe floors it. They take off through the town, back toward Serenity, as Reavers grab lots of people and kill them horribly. One growls directly at the camera, again pointing to a connection between them and the only other habitual fourth-wall violator, River Tam herself. A Reaver ship pulls in behind the Mule, and Mal and Jayne fire revolvers at it. Reaver ships are really scary -- they spew black smoke and have creepy shit all over them. It's the black smoke that gets me, though, it's so out of control and self-destructive and crazy -- it's always been a key image for me with this show.
Mal and Zoe explain to Jayne -- who's kind of a Colonel Tigh a lot of the time, always grumpily begging for exposition -- that the Reavers haven't just shot the Mule down because they prefer an up-close kill. Or, as River murmurs, "They want us alive when they eat us." I still prefer Zoe's first description of them, both for its simplicity and imagery, but I guess we got a variation on that at the beginning from that weird little boy. As they run and shoot and try to leave, Jayne whines petulantly, "Boy, sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?" Because he's the Mel Gibson in this movie, we lose a lot of the moral ambiguity that made this character bearable in the show. I would have to say that my chief disappointment with this film has to do with the focus on him, and stripping down of him, as some kind of gonzo Hollywood meathead, because it's just one joke over and over: "Hey, he'll eat the last chocolate out of the box and he won't even apologize! Seriously! And then he might masturbate! He likes guns! And also your chocolates, of which he will eat the last without apologizing! He has some questions, if you'd like to explain a bunch of basic shit to the audience, via him! He also has guns!" His bastardy is pointless in this context, because he's usually the dark half of Mal, the "what would you do, where is your line," and in this movie, that role is played by...Mal.
Zoe and Wash discuss how there are Reavers, and Wash mobilizes the crew still on board. Over Zoe's increasing anxiety over how they might soon die -- again, in like an hour -- Serenity takes off and heads for them. Jayne reaches for the reload clips in a hatch on the Mule, and something resembling a rotary blade from the Shop class in Hell embeds itself quite near his hand. He screams, and everybody else stays focused. The Reavers then harpoon Jayne through the leg, and he ends up stretched out parallel to the ground, holding on to the edge of the Mule and freaking out. "I won't get ate! You shoot me if they take me!" Mal pulls out a gun and he whines, "Well, don't shoot me first!" Mal fires over him at the ship several times, everybody stays in the chase, and he shoots at the harpoon instead, breaking the wire. Jayne abruptly falls, hanging from the end of the Mule, dragging behind, and Mal grabs and pulls him up.