Episode Report Card
Shack: C+ | 14 USERS: B
The anvil is mightier than the sword

Cut to everybody on the ship's shocked reaction to the whole duel thing. Simon observes that Mal is a good fighter and must therefore know how to handle a sword. Zoe says he knows what end to hold, and that's it. Simon responds that they have to free Mal, then. Book tries to get information about Mal's location out of Badger, but it seems they've misunderstood why Badger's there. Zoe realizes that Badger doesn't want them to free Mal. She's right. Badger explains that Persephone's his home and he has to work there. If somebody he brought in starts making trouble, it will ruin his reputation (such as it is) and he won't get any more business. He tells them all that they're going to settle in until it all blows over.

He's interrupted by the weird whining sound that comes out of one of these future shotguns when they're cocked. It sounds like a camera flash charging. Maybe they have the option to shoot people, or to just take their picture. Just make sure you pull the right trigger. "Say cheese!" BLAM! Anyway, that would be Jayne, up on the catwalk, pointing a gun at Badger's head. Zoe smiles grimly, but tells Jayne that he shouldn't. Why? Because at the other end of the cargo bay, all of Badger's other men are there with guns -- and Kaylee.

Back at some hotel, Inara stealthily heads over to a door and uses some sort of doorknob key to open it. Inside, Mal is practicing with a sword, badly. Inara calls his name, surprising him and causing him to smack the sword into a column, where it becomes stuck. He asks Inara what she's doing there. She says that Atherton's a heavy sleeper when he's got a big day following, and snarks, "He's got that killing in the morning, then a haircut later." They snark at each other about the fancy-schmancy accommodations. Mal asks Inara why she's still attached to Atherton. She responds that it's her decision to make, not his. Mal says Atherton made it pretty clear that he had no regard for Inara. Inara suggests that Mal pushed Atherton into making a nasty comment in order to justify punching him. Mal says it seemed like the thing to do. He asks why it all suddenly got so complicated. He didn't do so well with geometry as a kid, so the whole "love triangle" concept befuddles him. And that's without bringing Simon into the mix.

Inara says that things are about to get simpler, and explains that she arranged it so that Mal can escape. But no, now that Mal's got his testosterone going, he's gotta have his Alpha Male Face-Off. Mal says that he was really trying to protect Inara's honor, and insists that he never backs down from a fight. Inara points out that he runs from fights all the time. Well, yeah. But not this time! Inara asks how Mal's death will help her honor. Mal says that he's not going to die! He's going to win! And Inara's going to help him. Since she's educated and all, Mal tosses her a sword to tutor him on how to fight. Okay, I like the gender reversal here. A little. It's the only non-predictable part of the plot.

Back on the ship, Zoe, Simon, Kaylee, and Jayne are pretending to play poker in the cargo hold while trying to figure out if there's anything they can do. Wash is sitting next to them, but not really participating. Badger's men guard them. Kaylee says that Mal said not to do anything. He insisted that he'd be back after winning the duel. Zoe diplomatically observes that it doesn't hurt to have a contingency plan. Simon suggests that since they're all unarmed, they should try to take them all by surprise. Zoe counter-suggests that they might be better off trying to lure a couple of them away. Like, say, to the infirmary. Take those men out and then take on Badger. Book is standing off to the side, reading the Bible. I don't think he's in position to hear the conversation. I doubt he'd have anything to contribute anyway. Jayne says that the plan would only work if they had something to divert Badger's attention away. He suggests that Zoe get naked. Wash looks up from the floor and says no. Then Jayne suggests that he get naked. Yes, that sounds like a perfect plan! Get naked and do pull-ups. How will this deal with Badger and his men? Who cares? Sadly, both Wash and Zoe vote no on the Jayne nekkidness. He looks disappointed. As do many of us. Kaylee and Simon were conspicuously silent at Jayne's suggestion.

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