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

A chime interrupts Kelso's desperate begging, so Inara closes his face and taps on another image. It opens up to introduce us to Chris Sarandon's heir to the "smarmy twerp" throne. This guy's name is Atherton Wing. What, no "III"? He even looks a little like Sarandon, except younger and prettier. In his snottiest voice, he says, "Now there's the smile made of sunlight." Ew. How could Inara have not known what a twit this guy is with lines like that? She responds that she's happy to see Atherton again. Okay, so this is an actual video call now, not a message. I was a bit confused for a second. They slip into exposition mode in their chatting. Atherton sent Inara an invitation to the biggest social event of the season. He asks if she'll accompany him. He also mentions some sort of offer he made to Inara that he's waiting for a response about. Just then, there's a knock on the shuttle door. Inara says that she will accompany him to the event, then ends the call to go answer the door.

It's Mal, of course, in order to remind us all that despite the fact that she's a space hooker, Inara has feelings for a non-client. Mal greets her and tells her they'll be landing soon, and the local time will be 10:00 AM. Her luggage will be on Carousel 3, and she should follow the signs to the taxi stand. Mal notes the image of Atherton still on Inara's monitor, and asks her if she's making plans. Duh. He recognizes Atherton's name as somebody Inara has worked with before. Inara covers the monitor with a frilly curtain for privacy as Mal says that Atherton's younger than he expected. He assumes that Atherton's rich in order to afford Inara's rates. Inara responds, "I suppose," and adds that he has engaged her for several days. Mal says that Atherton must have a lot of stamina. Inara's wearing a hideous, shiny copper and aquamarine tunic-style dress. She mentions that they'll be attending a ball this evening. Mal wonders if all the women there will be paid for. Not in the hooker sense, no. Inara will be in the minority in that respect. Inara snarks, "Perhaps the other men couldn't attract one?" Yeah, those poor men. They're going to have to find women who are willing to go out with them for free. It's a cruel, cruel universe. Mal says that it sounds like the finest party he could ever get "paid to go to." Inara says that she doesn't think the party would be up to Mal's usual standards -- too much dancing and schmoozing, not enough petty theft and getting hit with pool cues. So I guess Winona Ryder and Jack Nicholson won't be there? Inara suggests that Mal go somewhere else and prepare for the whole "ten in the morning issue," whatever the hell that may mean. I think it's just a nonsensical setup for Mal's next line. He pulls on his suspenders and says that Inara's right -- what he's wearing is more like an "evening" look.

We cut to the mean, dusty, crowded, dusty, hectic, and really dusty streets of Persephone. Mal, Kaylee, Zoe, Wash, and Jayne are wandering around to some unknown destination. Kaylee notes a store nearby where women are modeling giant, frilly dresses. She says, "Ooh! Look at the pretties!" Wash asks if he should be looking at the dresses or the girls. Zoe suggests that he confine himself to admiring the dresses. Seriously, if I were into women and had Zoe, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even notice the existence of other females. Jayne, lagging behind, asks, "There's girls?" Kaylee admires a puffy pink dress, but Zoe says that it has too much "fooferaw." She says that if she were to wear a dress, it would be something with some "slink." This certainly gets Wash's imagination going, so he offers to buy Zoe a slinky dress. He asks Mal if he can have some money to buy Zoe a slinky dress. Jayne offers to chip in, prompting Zoe to observe, "I can hurt you." He'd probably like that. Kaylee says she only sees dresses that nice in Inara's wardrobe. Zoe points out that Inara needs dresses like that with the "life she leads." The discussion of Inara annoys Mal, and he prompts them that they should get moving. Kaylee ignores him and comments that sometimes Inara's clients buy her stuff. Essentially, Kaylee is envious of Inara's life and it's starting to bug Mal. Eventually he spits out, "What are you going to do in that rig? Flounce around the engine room? Be like a sheep walking on its hind legs." Ow. Kaylee looks at Mal like he just ran over her dog. Zoe gives Mal a "you're a damned idiot, sir" look and takes the supplies he's carrying from him. She tells him, "See you on the ship, Captain," as she, Kaylee, and Wash load the supplies up on the ATV and drive away, leaving him there with Jayne. Jayne asks, "Is [Kaylee] mad or something?"

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