Elsewhere, Simon wanders into his quarters to see River sitting there, looking a little peaked. He rushes over to her and covers her with a blanket, asking her what's wrong. She says she threw up. Simon explains that it's a side effect of the drugs. He asks how she's doing. River rambles on about "going back" and apple bits and chaos, indicating, I think, that she's regressing back to her earlier mental state. Simon points out that she was feeling better earlier. She tells him about playing with Kaylee and says things like "the sun came out" and "[she] heard with [her] own ears" to indicate that she was feeling normal. Well, normal-ish. She starts crying and insists to Simon that she hates it when she "function[s] like [she's] a girl," because she knows it's only temporary and she'll go back to being batshit loopy. She demands, "What am I?" Simon hugs her and responds, "You are my beautiful sister." River says, "I threw up on your bed." Simon repeats, "Yep. Definitely my sister." Awwww. Wait till you see what she did on your vests.
Book reads his -- God, I'm not going to say it. He looks up somewhere off-camera and points out that Inara had requested privacy. We cut to see that he's sitting in a common area, and nearby, Kaylee and Jayne are peeking out into the cargo bay from a catwalk. Kaylee wants to see Inara's client and wonders if he will bring her gifts or flowers. I can imagine Kaylee watching The Bachelor and being all, "I can't believe Aaron didn't pick Gwen! They were perfect for each other!" Jayne is eating an apple, which is still impaled on his knife. Jayne is essentially the walking definition of "lascivious." Ooh, he's human Greebo! Okay, a lot of you aren't going to get that, but those of you who read Terry Pratchett will agree -- Jayne is human Greebo.
A snotty-looking muscleman boards the ship. Kaylee makes note of it, and of course, morally superior Book immediately stops his reading to come spy. Inara and Mal are down in the cargo bay. Mal tries to introduce himself, but the guy totally ignores him and peers about the ship. He's the worst bodyguard ever. He doesn't notice the people on the catwalk or anything. He looks like he's making sure there isn't an entire human skin nailed to the walls, and that's about it. After he decides things are "clear," he speaks into an unseen communicator to tell the councilor to come aboard. Inara turns to the hatch and watches as an elegant middle-aged woman walks aboard. OH MY GOD! The councilor is a girl! GIRL-ON-GIRL ACTION! Oh my god! Duuuuuude! Yeah, baby! Oh, I'm sorry. Am I acting like a lurid frat boy? Well, so is this show. Mal looks shocked. Kaylee looks shocked, even though she says she knows Inara has female clients. Book looks shocked. Jayne looks shocked. I look at the ceiling, because my eyes are rolling. I would have had no problem with this subplot at all, even though it's mostly irrelevant, were it not for these ridiculous reactions. It's the fucking future. Inara is a space hooker. This should not be shocking to any of these people. Jesus. Stupid pandering. And why doesn't anybody pander to me? Why can't Jayne and Simon make out for a while and then play Rollercoaster Tycoon? As Inara escorts Councilor Sappho to her shuttle, Jayne mutters, "I'll be in my bunk," and walks off to, uh, clean his gun.
We cut to the other shuttle, where Mal and Zoe are prepping to deliver the last of the medicine. Zoe fiddles with some switches, then asks Mal if River's been playing around in the shuttle. It seems that things have been fiddled with, and the ignition sequence has been changed. Wash enters the shuttle and reveals that he was the one who changed it. Mal, oblivious to the fight, asks Wash to fix it so they can get moving. Wash refuses. He didn't want them taking off in the shuttle without him. In fact, he insists on taking Zoe's place on the mission with Mal. Mal says that's not going to happen. Wash says that it's a dangerous mission, and he "can't stand the thought of something happening that might cause [them] to come back with another thrilling tale of bonding and adventure." Zoe looks at Wash like he's an idiot. Which he is. Mal responds, "Okay, um, I'm lost. I'm angry. And I'm armed." But Zoe's okay with letting Wash go this time. Well, she's not "okay" with it as much as she's all, "Fine, go get your ass shot clean off. See if I care." Mal says something lengthy and angry in Chinese ("Earn $5,000 a week from home!"), but allows the switch. He orders Wash to get the shuttle prepped, and sends Zoe back to run things on the ship. After Zoe leaves, Wash asks Mal, "So, are we going to sing Army songs or something?" Mal looks at Wash like he's more than willing to just let Wash eat the exploding apples.