Mal stomps out of the shuttle, shooting back, "I wasn't looking for a fight!" Then out in the hallway, he finds Jayne, holding a really big automatic gun. He ratchets it. Or cocks it. Or whatever the hell you do to prepare automatic guns for shooting at people. Mal mutters, "I always seem to find one, though." Jayne stares at him.
Commericals? I check to make sure I wasn't watching last week's episode of Smallville by accident. Are we expected to believe that Jayne is going to threaten Mal over Saffron? Because I never did. At all. Really, really, bad attempt at dramatic tension.
We return to the "stand-off." Mal asks Jayne if he hasn't gone to extremes here. Jayne comments that he thinks Mal doesn't take him seriously. He points out that Mal got something "he didn't deserve." Mal points out that the gift of Saffron has added just a little bit too much spice to his life. Jayne relates some story about the gun he's holding; he was attacked by a bunch of men. One of them shot at him with the gun he's holding. He explains that the gun is a Callahan Blah Blah Blah with a full-bore Blah Blah and a customized Blah Blah Blah. He concludes that it's his "very favorite gun." Then he tries to give the gun to Mal. Mal mutters something in Chinese ("These eggs smell like the desert"), then asks Jayne if he's trying to trade the gun for Saffron. I'm glad I took Strega's advice and disconnected my Comedic Misdirection Alarm when I moved into my new apartment. Jayne mutters that it's theft, really. The gun is worth much more than "what [Mal's] got." Affronted, Mal points out that "what [he's] got" has a name -- Saffron. Unperturbed, Jayne points out that the gun has a name, too -- Vera. Mal sarcastically observes, "My days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." Are we going to get any rising action any time soon? I'm sure I can come up with something to barter in exchange for some forward motion in the plot. Mal refuses, of course, and gives a big speech about how Saffron's not to be bought and that she's an innocent who needs protection. Jayne insists that he'll protect her. Mal tells him to go play with his rain stick. Ah, double-entendres -- the refuge of the unfunny. Next stop, puns.
Mal wanders down the stairs to the cargo bay, and is startled once again by Saffron standing there quietly. I suppose I should have known she was up to no good. Writers always do that trick to telegraph when seemingly innocent women aren't so innocent; people are always startled when they stumble across them in unexpected places. She explains that she doesn't want to be wed to "the big one" (fine, more for me), and if Mal doesn't want her, she's interested in that ranch work he spoke of earlier. This inspires a chunk of Mal's life story. Mal grew up on a ranch with his mother and forty ranch hands. That right there is the first sentence of a gay erotic novel. He had no dad. I guess that's an improvement over the typical Joss Whedon "bad dad" archetype. I'm still fully expecting Simon and River's dad to be a complete creep, whoever he may be. Unless he's dead. Anyway, Mal interrupts his own musings when he realizes that he's not the type of guy who generally talks about his past. Yes, the inviting way that Saffron said, "I could be useful on a ranch," really drew Mal out of his shell. Saffron asks him if the crew ever shows an interest in Mal's life. Mal hems and haws a non-answer, then turns it back to Saffron. What's her history? She insists that her past is dull. Mal is down with the dull stuff. He says that this trip is getting just a little bit too interesting as it is. I beg to differ.
Yay! Some rising action, finally, halfway through the show. We see an external shot of Serenity zooming silently through a small asteroid field. On the surface of one of the asteroids, a turret targets the ship and follows it as it goes by. It's a scanner of some sort. We cut to the interior of…somewhere. Two men are looking at the blueprints of the ship and bickering. Goon Number One thinks Serenity is worthless. He thinks that it's all a bunch of cheap parts that they'll never unload. Goon Number Two disagrees. He explains that the separate parts are indeed worthless, but put them together and you've got a firefly-class ship. Um, yes. You don't actually have to take it apart and put it back together for that, you know. It's already a firefly-class ship right there. Already assembled. These aren't particularly smart goons. Goon Number Two says that with a decent mechanic, firefly ships will run forever. Goon Number One whines that it's "got no flash." Goon Number Two explains that some people don't want flash. He thinks it's a good catch. He orders Goon Number One to prepare the "nets." We pull outside their vessel to see that it's some sort of space station with a huge hole in the center, where various nodes crackle with blue electricity.