The Operative holds it out handle-first, asking if Mathias would rather "be killed in [his] sleep, like an ailing pet" -- he has no way of understanding that the answer is "Um, totally?" Guys advance and he kills them abruptly and beautifully, and into the hallway he pursues Dr. Mathias, giving him a nerve-pinch that causes him to stand stock-still, wavering slightly on his feet. Down the hall, a scientist lady squeaks due to the giant sword. "Young miss? Young miss, I'll need all the logs on behavioral modification triggers. We'll have to reach out to River Tam and help her to come back to us. No matter how far out..." He kneels in front of Mathias, his back to him, sword blade up. Mathias drops onto it, sliding down slowly, disgustingly. The Operative comforts him without looking: "This is a good death. There's no shame in this in a man's death. A man who has done fine works. We're making a better world. All of them better worlds." There's a cruelty that pertains to this, because Mathias can't be expected to understand or approach this situation from the Operative's highly-developed code of bushido or whatever, because of the sword slowly sliding through his guts and stuff, but it's essential to the Operative that he maintain his point of view regardless of what happens next. Compare the Mayor on Buffy, his often-hilarious obsession with etiquette and germophobia -- everybody builds these walls so they can live, but only heroes can see over them. He looks at him without feeling anything, pulls it out, cleans the sword as he walks down the hallway, tossing orders over his shoulder without looking back at the terrified woman. "Young miss, I need you to go to work now. I think I may have a long way to travel." To the image: "Where are you hiding, little girl?"
Here's where: title card, golden smoke behind it becoming the Serenity logo, becoming the logo on the side of a Firefly-class starship, as the violins play, and things probably get emotional if you're a big fan of the show. She fires her thrusters and the banjo starts in, a long CGI-porn view sliding down the skin of the whole ship, gliding along it, coming around in front, atmo burning gorgeously all along the front. It's majestic, a triumphant swelling in the music, you can almost see Mal and Wash inside, and then...something flies off the nose of the ship, bangs into the windscreen, and flies off into space. Ha! I guess the movie started.
Inside, Captain Malcolm Reynolds freaks. I wonder if he was thinking all that majestic crap when it happened. "Ah, my beautiful ship, standing strong in her, getting all Captain-y, leading a crew of rag-tag freaks with good hearts and healthy sex drives, my spine straight as an arrow as I lead us once again into the fray, as once again I risk life in order to bring a better -- what the fuck was that?" Wash, the ship's pilot, admits that the thing that just flew off the ship resembled the "primary buffer panel." "Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorramn ship for no apparent reason?" He complains that Kaylee "checked the entry couplings," and Wash responds that if she doesn't get some "extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn-through," things will get interesting, here defined in classic Wash-speak as "Oh, God, we're all gonna die?" Mal pulls down the PA mic from a ceiling panel, and speaks out over the ship. "This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then...explode." With that, he hangs up and asks Wash to "shave the vector." As Wash explains that he's doing the best he can, Mal demands that he just get them on the ground. "That part will happen pretty definitely."