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Kaylee and Simon watch the Mule exit and cross the desert: "Don't mind the Captain none, Simon. I know he'll look out for her. They'll be back before you can spit." He ignores her and walks off. Her huge smile follows after: "Well, not that you spit." Her smile turns to yearning, and then to sadness. I forgot how good she was in these scenes with Simon, the way she takes the non-energy of his obliviousness and returns it in a signal without a feedback loop, just loving forever, into space like a microwave. It's painful. You know, I was always impressed with the way the pilot (also called Serenity, linked above) managed to introduce so many characters without seeming blocky or aggressive -- it's nice to watch it play out here as well.
On the prairie, Jayne crudely requests some exposition: "What are we hoping to find here that equals the worth of a turd?" And Mal obliges: "Security payroll. Alliance don't have the manpower to 'enforce the peace' on every outer-rim planet. They hire out to the private firms, who will not work for credit. They get paid in cashy money, which once a month rests here." While Jayne wonders how that doesn't mean they're stealing directly from the Alliance, and thus asking to be blown up, but Zoe's on it: "No private firm would ever report the theft of their own payroll. They'd appear weak, might lose their contract." Mal explains that, thusly, this is a low-pressure job: "We're as ghosts in this. Won't but rattle the floor." Jayne's pleased: "Shiny. Let's be bad guys."
Jayne and Mal enter the building with guns drawn and everybody drops. "You all wanna be looking very intently at your own belly buttons. I see a head start to rise, violence is going to ensue." Zoe opens the door to River, who walks in all creepy like usual. Mal explains to them that resistance is futile because what they're stealing doesn't belong to the settlers themselves, but the Alliance. In other words, not the people but the people that exploit them. River's dancer feet find their way slowly into the middle of the room, and as she listens, the camera goes wonky and drifts down across the people on the floor, finally resting on one young guy. She points to him without looking, very cool and spooky, and Zoe steps forward. She gets a look at the guy, looks at River with a questioning eye, and gets a full on Fucking yes, dude! What's your problem? in return. River gives the best withering looks this side of Martha Stewart. Zoe kneels beside the kid, and gets his gun away. "Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed." She tosses the gun aside and adds a completely unnecessary, "You can look it up later." She notifies Mal that the de-gunning of the people is complete, and Mal makes a tossed-off "big happy family?" before they get the guy to open the safe.