Episode Report Card
Shack: B- | 4 USERS: F
A River Runs From It

Book, outside with the corral, worries that the fencing won't hold. He explains that his "shepherd" title is merely figurative. Yeah, I figured that out when nobody listened to you. Wash and Zoe are hanging out next to him. Zoe suggests that they smuggle something smaller next time. Wash suggests beagles, in what must be an Enterprise shout-out. At least we have two assurances that cute widdle doggies will still be around in the future.

River has wandered over to a cow to mutter nonsense at it. The cow just stares at her -- considerately, of course -- pretending that it understands what she's talking about. Mal points out to Jayne that River ignored the cattle the whole time they were on the ship, but now she feels the need to commune with them. River responds, "They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see sky and remember what they are." Too bad they didn't forget how to poop while they were on the ship. Mal wonders if it's a bad sign that he understood what River just said. Yes, it is. Mal asks River to step back from the corral, harmlessly enough. Simon, though, seems to take offense at this for reasons unknown. Mal explains to Simon that when he's going to do "clandestine dealings," he wants everything to go smoothly. Having River around tends to screw things up. Oh, sure, blame it on her. She's the one who didn't want to sell the stolen medicine to Niska, and got herself "married" off to a con artist, and punched some guy in the face, inciting a duel. Except not. Mal's perfectly capable of screwing up any number of deals on his own. Anyway, Simon snarkily observes, "I'm very sorry if she tipped anybody off about your cunningly concealed herd of cows." There's some rustling in the bushes, which nobody seems to notice. Mal suggests that perhaps Simon could take his sister off for a walk while he deals with business. Simon worries about the Alliance finding them away from the ship. Mal assures him that closest Alliance ship is hours away and won't be coming by. Simon says that he's still not sure it's a wise suggestion. Mal says that he shouldn't mistake it as a suggestion. Why doesn't he just order them back onto the ship? The whole deal is taking place outside anyway. Clearly, Contrivance is the ship's entertainment director. Mal assures Simon that the ship won't leave without them. Ah, I see Foreshadowing has stopped by to help with the navigation.

Cut to the dusty, grimy backwater (but without the water) town of Jiangyin, which I believe is Chinese for "Canton, but with the cameras on the other side of the street." Inara and Kaylee are in one of those backwater gift shops, looking at the future equivalent of pecan logs and personalized license plate key chains. Inara, who is ridiculously overdressed, whines that the merchandise in all these stores is all the same. What has she got against fudge and handmade dream catchers? They argue about whether a figurine is a duck or a swan. It's obviously a duck, but Kaylee argues that it's a swan, carved by somebody with "who really longed to see a swan." I'm playing "spot the anvil" here, wondering if this is all about Kaylee blossoming from a duckling into a swan or something. Not that she needs to. Or should. Or isn't already a swanlike beauty already.

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