Downstairs, Dobson continues to overact "clumsy" for some unknown reason.
Back up on the catwalk, Mal greets Inara as she heads out of her shuttle. He calls her "ambassador" again. Kaylee and Inara greet each other with warm "hey, yous." Mal introduces Book to Inara. She notes that it's the first time they've had a preacher on board. Book says that he didn't expect to see a "state official" either. I roll my eyes as the unfunny joke that's been telegraphed since the beginning of the episode finally lands when Mal explains that Inara's really a space hooker. He even calls her a whore, even though Inara insisted to him when they first met that he not use that term. Mal says that, actually, Inara is a sort of ambassador. He explains that there are a number of planets that won't let you land if you don't have a quality "companion." Why? This is one of the things that has been said repeatedly on the show but hasn't been explained. Why do some planets insist you have a hooker in order to land? Are they that hard up? And considering that it's been explained that it's very rare for cargo ships to have a companion on board, does that mean that there are planets out there that simply don't do trade? Mal takes great amusement at Book's discomfort at discovering Inara's occupation. Inara insists that it's okay; she normally keeps to herself. She turns to walk away. Mal asks if she doesn't want to meet the other passengers. She responds, "Why don't you make sure they want to meet me first," as she walks off.
Kaylee joins Inara as they walk up the stairs. Kaylee asks how many men wanted to sweep Inara off her feet and get her to leave this life and give them the milk for free. Inara says that there was just the one.
Later, Kaylee carries some goods into the mess area. She opens the little box that Book gave her and pulls out…a strawberry. She bites into it with ecstasy. I understand. I'm that way with raspberries.
Cut to group dinner. Everybody talks over each other. Book asks if Mal has a problem with him saying grace. Mal responds, "Only if you say it out loud." Up in the heavens, God responds, "Oh, waaaaah! I didn't take your side. Did I declare war on the Alliance? Have you seen the stuff in the Bible? Suck it up, Broody McRebel." Book looks annoyed, but then does hold a silent grace. Even Jayne participates. Heh. Mal ignores them and eats.
Simon asks Mal if the Alliance frequently orders him to make trips for them. Mal snarks that that's what governments do. Oh, whatever. Go sit in your underground bunker and eat canned peaches and read Soldier of Fortune. Jayne amusingly responds, "We're just happy to be doing good works." I should be annoyed that Jayne's intelligence and wit is so inconsistent, but it's Adam Baldwin. Dobson mentions that he's heard the hinterplanets are sad places full of famine and plague so that Zoe can explain what the universe is like for our benefit. Bleargggh! Bad exposition! Bad! He lives in this damned universe. Given what we find out about him later, he must know all of this. This is like somebody coming up to me and saying, "I hear there are these things called cars. What exactly do they do?" Zoe and Mal explain how tough it is for the folks settling out on the hinterplanets.