After Zoe and Wash head off to their duties, Mal helps Kaylee and Jayne load the McGuffins into the secret hold. Mal exposits that he needs them out of sight because they're going to be picking up some passengers in Persephone in order to make some money, and he doesn't want them nosing around the contraband. Kaylee's thrilled that there will be travelers on the ship, because they all have stories. Oh, man, she's the one you dread getting seated next to on airplanes. Whatcha reading? Is it any good? I read her last book when I was taking the train to visit my aunt in Ohio. She lives in Columbus. They have a great symphony in Columbus. The last time I was there I heard them perform Beethoven's OH MY GOD, WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP?! You know. One of those people. Jayne begs Mal to stop Kaylee from being so cheerful. Mal says, "I don't believe there's a power in the 'verse that'll stop Kaylee from being so cheerful. Sometimes you just want to duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month." Kaylee responds by giving Mal a kiss on the cheek.
Down in a corridor, Zoe worries to Wash that something isn't right. They chat as they make their way onto the bridge. Wash hopes that they can get a few days off after this mission. There's lovey-dovey talk to telegraph to us that Zoe and Wash are a couple, which we already know, so get a room, you two. Wash suggests that they tell Mal that they're going to take a couple of days off, but Zoe says Mal's the captain, and it's his decision. Wash aftshadows his discontent that Zoe takes orders from Mal. Mal's her boss. It still bugs me. Boss. BOSS. She promises to ask him. Wash snarks, "Don't forget to call him 'sir.' He likes that." BOSS! Jeez.
Mal wanders in, so Zoe and Wash pretend they weren't talking about him. Mal asks if "the ambassador" has checked in. They're referring to Inara, and I'm just going to cut out "the ambassador" crap right now; obviously these euphemisms no longer actually serve any interesting dialogue purpose, since we know the truth. No, Inara hasn't checked in. Mal tells them to let her know that they may be leaving in a hurry. Wash offers to ask her to come back early, but Mal decides not to. He says, "Somebody on this boat has to make an honest living."
WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! Ironic segue alert! Ironic segue alert! We cut to Inara, making The Beast Who Gasps, "Oh, My God!" with a client. After it's over and he's flushed the condom, she makes small talk, telling him about the planet she grew up on. The client is a young cross between a nerd and a stoner. Apparently, the place Inara is from is very pretty. The client says he can't imagine why Inara would leave. There's a shot of Inara looking contemplatively sad, just to telegraph to us that she's not the happy hooker. There are weird jumpy cuts all over this scene, and the images don't always match up to the dialogue. It's both disconcerting and pointless. Unless somebody in this scene is in an altered state, I don't know what sort of point they were going for. The boy offers to buy Inara off, aftshadowing Atherton's offer in "Shindig." She smiles sadly. She must have declined, because we cut to the boy, dressed in an Alliance bellboy uniform, about to take his leave. He says he had a great time. Inara says, "The time went by too quickly." Then he stammers, "Well, your clock's probably rigged to speed up to cheat us out of our fun." Inara looks at him, a little shocked, as he realizes the awfulness of what he just said. He looks mortified, but doesn't apologize as he leaves. Somebody doesn't handle rejection well.