Before you start writing me an angry e-mail based on the main page teaser that begins, "This isn't the last episode! They filmed a couple more episodes before they shut down production! FOX said they're going to air them!" let me tell you about my last experience recapping a Friday show on FOX. FOX ordered thirteen episodes of Pasadena, but aired only four. They insisted that they would show them all eventually. They continued filming new episodes long after FOX yanked the series from the air. All thirteen episodes were filmed. They never aired in the United States. So, yes, I'm treating this episode as if it's the last. Does that make me a cynic? No. A lot of other things that have happened to me for the past fifteen years have made me a cynic. But I doubt that FOX is going to make much of an effort to find someplace to stuff two unaired episodes of a series they've already cancelled. Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised. And if they do air, I'll recap them. But I'm not holding my breath.
We open at night in the middle of the ground war scenes that have been used as clips in the old introductory narration. The Saving Private Rygel battle goes on for a few seconds, showing a bunch of men getting strafed into the great hereafter by futuristic attack aircraft. Mal runs through, avoiding the gunfire, and hurls himself into a cave-like bunker where his Band of Browncoats are huddling. Zoe's there as well. Mal wants to call in an air strike. A soldier tells him they can't without a lieutenant's authorization code. Mal rips the patch off the sleeve of a nearby corpse and "promotes" the soldier. Mal tells Zoe to get her squad to high ground. Yes, that seems like the perfect thing to do after ordering an air strike. Zoe warns them that they'd be sitting ducks, but Mal insists that he and Zoe will take care of the attacking ship. A bomb rocks the cave and rattles the men, so Mal gives the requisite St. Crispin's Day military blah blah blah "we've achieved the impossible" blah blah blah "we're mighty" blah blah blah "when the world runs out of lovers, we'll still have each other. Nothing's gonna stop us now," et cetera, et cetera.
Mal asks Zoe if she's ready for their assault as he pulls out a crucifix necklace and gives it a brief kiss. Zoe is. They rush out, but run into an immediate problem; the guy Mal ordered to provide cover fire is just sitting there, shell-shocked, imagining that he's frolicking with puppies in a field full of wildflowers. Frustrated, Zoe ends up providing the cover fire for Mal, who rushes down the hillside, taking out some men along the way. Then Zoe runs after him, getting no cover at all. She is, however, wearing chain mail. They find cover behind some rocks, then manage to take down a soldier at an Alliance artillery cannon. Mal commandeers the cannon and manages to take down the Alliance ship harassing them. He cheers at his success, until he realizes that the ship is going to try to get the last word in by crashing directly into him. He runs over to Zoe and hurls them both out of harm's way.
They head back up to the bunker, flush with success, only to discover that their new lieutenant has been killed. The only other person who still seems to be alive is the shell-shocked soldier, named Bendis. As Zoe takes over communications, Mal tries to get Bendis going again. Bendis says they're going to die. Mal responds, "We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so. Very. Pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die." So that's why he let Simon stay. If prettiness is some sort of good-luck charm, then Simon is a horseshoe made out of four-leaf clovers. They hear the sounds of aircraft approaching. Mal assumes that this means their air strike has arrived to blow away their foes. Zoe, listening to the communication system, tells Mal that it's not them. She tells them that command is pulling out, and they're to lay down their arms. Mal looks confused and wonders what the sound is, then. He slowly comes to a realization and stands up behind the bunker. The Sad Fiddle Of Belief In God Fading plays as Mal watches dozens of Alliance ships descend into the valley. Bendis stands next to him, but is suddenly shot down. I guess he just wasn't as pretty as Mal. Mal watches it all in silent horror. And that's how the Battle of Serenity Valley wasn't won.