Back to the accident. Mal fiddles around with the controls on Inara's shuttle to help prepare it for take off. I thought Jayne was supposed to be doing that? Oh, we need that "final" scene with Inara and Mal. Whatever. Inara takes over from Mal, insisting that he was never any good at figuring out how the shuttle works. They give each other ten-second looks of unresolved sexual tension. Mal tells her not to talk if at all possible; it uses up air. He starts to leave, but Inara stops him to beg him to come with. Mal repeats the "four to a shuttle" argument. Inara says it wouldn't make a difference at this point. Mal insists that he's staying with Serenity. Inara says, "Mal, you don't have to die alone." Mal responds, "Everybody dies alone." Oh, what meaningful cynical wisdom. Everybody poops alone, too, but you don't see me getting all heavy about it.
Back up on the bridge, Wash shows Mal a big red button. If, by some miracle, a ship comes by and saves Mal, pressing the button will cause the two shuttles to turn around and return to Serenity. The Symphony Of Sorrows plays as Mal orders Wash to go tend to Zoe.
Jayne and Mal head through the storage bay together. Jayne tells Mal that he's diverted all the air vents up to the bridge, and advises him to seal off everything on the lower decks to conserve the air he's got. On the catwalks above them, the others load into the shuttles. Jayne adds that he prepared a suit for Mal for when he runs out of air. Mal insists that he won't be needing it. Jayne says, "Okay." Then Jayne gives Mal a ten-second look of unresolved sexual tension. Jayne concludes, "Well…" and then he just turns and walks away.
Everybody finishes boarding the shuttles. Inara stares down from the catwalk at Mal, in order to one-up Jayne with another long look of unresolved sexual tension. Then she heads into her shuttle. Mal starts leaving the cargo bay, shutting all the doors behind him, as the two shuttles take off. Melancholy music plays as Mal wanders from room to room, sealing everything off. It's all very effectively shot and edited, and has a real sense of finality to it. Of course, you know it isn't, but that's okay. It's still very sad and desperate. Mal makes his way up to the bridge, then wraps himself up in a blanket and sits in the pilot's chair and tries to stay awake.
Time passes. Serenity sits silently in space. Inside, Mal has fallen asleep. The monitors behind him show nothing but static. Suddenly, the static disappears and a blurry face appears. I feel I must mention that I first watched this episode nearly exactly seven days after I saw The Ring, so this scene had a certain extra level of tension. We hear a man's voice hailing the ship and explaining that he received their distress beacon. Mal, unfortunately, is still asleep. As Mal slowly wakes up, the message is lost and the monitor goes back to static. Was Mal just dreaming? He seems to think that he was, but suddenly a huge ship floats up into view through the "windshield."
Mal and the captain of the other ship discuss the situation through their monitors. The other captain, who looks like one of those vaguely scruffy/dashing guys from The Hollywood Vaguely Scruffy/Dashing Actors For Syndicated Adventure Shows Factory, explains to Mal that he understands Mal's predicament, but he can't invite Mal onto the ship. Apparently, this must be a common space-hijacking tactic, like those folks who pretend to need roadside assistance. Unless that's just an urban legend. Anyway, the other captain is worried that Mal is faking the whole thing. Mal explains the part that busted. The captain says they might actually have the part he needs. They're returning from a salvage mission from some moon. However, the captain is still worried about the whole possibility of a space ambush. Mal points out that they can tell that his shuttles have been launched. And if they've scanned the ship, they know he's got no life support. The captain nods. He says that he doesn't expect to see any weapons when they board. Mal adds that he does expect to see the widget before he lets them on. The man says that he thinks that he can do business. The monitor goes back to static. He's saved! Everything is wonderful!