The Earth: used up. The Alliance: in charge. The crew: living on the edge. The intro: tiresome.
Two horses slog through a shallow bog, pulling a pontoon boat. Tense music and a woman's vaguely Indian wailings fill the background. Suddenly, a dirty half-dozen bandits on horseback storm out from behind some trees and surround it. The head bandit, who is just a little bit too pretty a man to be a credible thug, demands that the couple driving the boat hand over the goods. The couple appears to be a cowboy and his wife, but they're hunched over so we can't see their faces, telegraphic to us that Things Aren't What They Seem.
Sure enough, Pretty Thug sinisterly mentions wanting to take a turn with Wifey, prompting the cowboy to look up at him and warn him that he married a "powerful ugly creature." The cowboy turns out to be Jayne. And let's just assume that whenever I quote Jayne, there's a [sic] in there somewhere. Probably several. When the wife looks up to Jayne to whine, "How can you say that? How can you shame me in front of all these people?" we see that the woman is actually Mal in prairie-wife drag. Pretty Thug looks confused. I'm thinking perhaps he might still want a turn. Jayne and Mal bicker briefly, then suddenly pull out guns on the men. Mal pulls down his bonnet, just to make it clear that he's no lady. Mal exposits that these bandits have been harassing a nearby settlement for a while, and they're to back off and not even think about drawing their weapons or, as Mal puts it, "I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you."
But no thug, pretty or not, is going to let himself be faced by a drag queen. He orders his bandit companions to take down the pair. Before a single bandit can even fire, however, one is taken down by a gun blast. Zoe, it seems, was hiding out back with the cargo. Gunplay ensues. Even though Mal and Jayne have absolutely no cover and are about ten yards away from the bandits, nobody manages to shoot them. The three anti-heroes take the whole crew down. So when there's no law, the anti-heroes rent themselves out as peacekeepers. When there is law, they rent themselves out as criminals. Finding work should actually be rather easy for them.
We cut to nighttime, at a hootenanny of celebration at the settlement of Triumph. If nothing else, I can look forward to using words like "hootenanny" in connection with this show. People square dance. There's a bonfire. Mal explains to Inara as they wander through that they'll head out to Beaumonde in the morning so that she can find some "work" of her own, because these unwashed rabble aren't good enough for the ladylike space hooker. Inara asks Mal why Zoe didn't wear the dress. You know, it didn't even occur to me that Zoe would wear the dress. I don't think it occurred to them either. Mal explains that they needed her in the back. That doesn't explain anything. Maybe she's a better sniper. She did take down half the bandits herself. Mal goes on to joke about how he enjoys the feel of cotton dresses. There's "witty" "banter" to indicate sexual tension.