The moon of Mr. Universe. Zoe repairs part of the ship with a powerful soldering gun. River repairs a complicated mass of wires, communication of voice or electricity. Inara repaints the "Serenity" on ship, consummate artist, consummate bringer of Serenity. Mal and Jayne, together, War and Liberty, remove the gunport from their home. Down below, in the engine room of course, Simon and Kaylee pretend to work as they make out, dropping to the floor, sweaty and oil-smudged, Anglo skin lit as beautifully as anyone could do, browns and oranges. River watches them make love, unnoticed, from the hatch above, and somehow it's funny, not creepy -- she's a fracking psychic. She's gonna know either way. Her investigations continue. Humanity is a whole other ballgame, post-Maidenhead. She's got a lot to catch up on.
In the rain of the Universe moon, his ship and family finally repaired, Mal loads his final crates. I wonder if ion clouds make for different rain? They certainly fuck up the lighting in this scene. But in a good way: the Operative appears, darkness across his face, the brilliant blue rain behind him, in the window of the hangar bay. "It's not over," he says. "I can't guarantee that they won't come after you. The Parliament. Your broadwave about Miranda has weakened their regime..." He pauses. "They are not gone. And they are not forgiving." Mal spares a glance, even though he is ever so busy. "That don't bode especially well for you giving the order to let us go, patching up our hurt." It's not that the Operative is apologetic. He gets it, Mal gets it, there's no need to discuss. He's broken. His system has faltered on a basic level. Redemption, no matter what happens. No matter the cost to the redeemed. "I told them the Tams were no longer a threat. Damage done." I like that line, even though he might be wrong: the idea that in the Alliance bureaucracy, there's no room for the kind of petty attacks that would lead the teller of truth to expect further attacks, exposure. Score one for the Alliance, in the real-world parallel: sometimes, they realize, the weapon of truth -- once discharged -- cannot be un-fired, no matter the ugly desire for revenge. "They might listen but I think they know I'm no longer their man." His face completely in darkness, blue ionic light and rain behind. He's nobody's man now, and has never been his own. Not like the good guys.
"They take you down, I don't expect to grieve over much," says Mal, in a busy-busy, businesslike fashion. "Like to kill you myself, I see you again." And he would, and it's okay. "You won't. There is nothing left to see." There's a resemblance, uncanny, to Mal's face when he discovered Mr. Universe dead: Oh, I didn't get it. It's worthless. It's over. The Operative vanishes. Awesomely, in a deleted scene, as Mal enters the hangar to check on Zoe, he murmurs to himself, "What a whiner."