Credits. You can't take Ione Skye from me!
We return back to Mal on the floor. That metal grating is going to leave a nasty imprint on his face. He slowly pulls himself up to his knees. He's holding some sort of widget in his hand that looks like a cross between a stapler and a metal packing-tape dispenser. He makes his way up to his feet and gasps a few times. Slowly, he starts limping across the cargo bay to a corridor. Nathan does a really, really good job selling Mal's pain here without going too far and chewing up the scenery.
The Ironic Flashback Fairy pipes in the sound of people laughing in merriment. The camera pans up through the floor to the next deck, where the crew is gathered around the dining table, yukking it up. The yellow lighting indicates that we're in the past again, and they're not laughing because they've finally gotten rid of stick-in-the-mud Mal. Book has just finished telling some lengthy story about his days in the monastery, which the others just find hysterical. We have no idea what happened, but it sounds like Book made a fool of himself, so Ha Ha Ha! Wash wanders in and realizes that he's missed out on the funny stories and the food. Not to worry, though; Zoe prepared him a plate. Wash declares that he loves his wife, and gives Zoe a kiss. Flashback Mal insists on interrupting dinner with some exposition. He asks Wash if they have their course set. They have. Wash has arranged the navigation for their trip to Greenleaf in such a way that they won't encounter any Alliance ships. Or any ships at all, for that matter. Of course, this means that a trip that normally takes a day will take a week. Mal doesn't seem to mind.
Kaylee starts cleaning up some plates, and Simon offers to help. Kaylee insists that Simon sit back down, because it's his turn to tell a funny story about being a doctor. Jayne observes, "Because sick people are high-larious." And on ER, they're also barometers reflecting the lives of the doctors. Simon gets about halfway through his story about some guy he treated in the emergency room, when our favorite man-ape gone wrong interrupts him to ask Inara if she's got any interesting "whorin' stories." Simon gives Jayne a priceless "Hey! No fair!" look. Oh, Jayne. You're such a naughty tease. If Simon had pigtails, Jayne would be pulling on them. Inara tells Jayne, "Oh, do I ever! Funny and sexy. You have no idea. And you never will." Everybody laughs. Inara explains that she doesn't discuss her clients. I suppose that would be bad for business if everybody knew that the mayor of Backwater liked to wear rubber pants while Inara poured cans of baked beans on his chest. Jayne pushes Inara, but she refuses.
Zoe says to Simon that Kaylee might need some help after all. Simon turns around to see that Kaylee has put together an impromptu cake for Simon with regular-sized candles. Everybody claps and wishes Simon a happy birthday. Simon is shocked, and wants to know how they found out. He turns to River for an explanation. River says, "'Day' is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles. It's not applicable. I didn't get you anything." I knew I should have given that episode where River didn't have any lines a better grade. Mal explains that a new warrant for Simon's arrest showed up on the "Cortex." For some reason, it had Simon's birth date on it. Kaylee explains that she had to kind of improvise with the cake. They didn't have the right ingredients, so it's mostly protein. In fact, it's essentially the same goo that they had for dinner. Mmmm…protein cakes. Simon tells them all that he's "deeply moved." Mal slaps Jayne's arm away as he tries to sneak a fingerful of frosting. Jayne urges Simon to blow out the candles so that Jayne can give him his birthday spanking. Sorry! Actually, if Jayne's behavior is any indication, I think he wants Simon to give him the -- you know what? I'm just going to shut up now.