We cut to the theater, where a man is narrating some sort of shadow puppet show about how the Earth got all "used up" in Chinese. ("It all started when an oil man bought the U.S. presidency ") Mal and Inara (in "fancible" attire) wander up to Rance as he's talking to some other people about how he forced some guy into a shotgun wedding. Mal looks down and notices a strange metal gun on Rance's hip. There's a severe-looking woman sitting next to him, because, of course, god forbid sensual, loving women ever have fertility problems. Mal laughs a little too loudly at Rance's story and then praises his "old-fashioned values." Rance doesn't know who Mal is, of course. Mal introduces himself and compliments Rance's gun. Rance allows Mal to hold it, so that he can explain all the features to us. It's a very high-tech laser gun, which Mal observes is actually illegal for Rance to own. There's some blather from Rance and his wife about how it's okay for him to bend the law in order to protect his "family." The actor playing Rance is kind of hot. I'm just saying. Shut up. Mal makes some more chitchat, compliments Rance's wife, and takes his leave with Inara. After Mal leaves, Rance pulls a silver tampon out of his pocket and starts talking into it. Oh, it's a communicator of some sort.
Outside, Inara asks Mal what the plan is now. Mal says the plan is to pack everything up and "get the hell off this rock as fast as we can."
Inside, Rance discovers that Petaline's baby is indeed his. A tense chord plays, as if there was actually a chance that the baby wouldn't be his and the episode would end thirty minutes early.
When we return from the commercial break that will never be, Mal is back at the whorehouse, explaining his "Run away! Run away!" plan to the crew and the whores. He believes they're outgunned, and also that Rance isn't exactly the type of guy who will give up if he's turned away once, since he thinks whatever loopy thing he's doing is "right by God." Mal doesn't think his crew would be able to permanently keep Rance and his men away. Nandi says she understands -- Mal wants to protect his crew, and this isn't his fight. But Mal didn't mean he and his crew were just going to leave; he wants to take Nandi and her jiggly, giggly friends with them. Because, once again, normal, reasonable behavior would cut the episode short, Nandi has to be stubborn and refuse to leave. One of my (many, many, many) pet peeves about writing, besides conflict that develops because characters don't talk to each other like normal people, is conflict that develops because of pointless stubbornness. Nandi gives some lengthy speech about how she built this den of sin with her own two hands blah blah blah entrepreneur-cakes. Honey, it's a whorehouse, not the Cathedral at Notre Dame. It's nice and all, but the man in charge threatened to gut one of your employees. Take the hint. Go. Oh, and "Heart of Gold" is actually the name of the whorehouse. See, it's not a cliché if we incorporate it into the episode somehow, right?