This, of course, is Mal's cue to enter screaming and shooting off into the darkness from stage right, acting like he's the lead in his own private summer action blockbuster. He hoots, hollers, and shoots, before finally collapsing to the ground near the others. Zoe dryly observes, "Of course, there are other theories." Mal says to Zoe and Yossariain't, "They don't like it when you shoot at them. I worked that out myself." So apparently war is hell, but also zany. I have this feeling that Mal developed his combat strategies after stumbling across some old Bugs Bunny cartoons from World War II. It would explain a lot. We find out that Yossariain't's name is actually Tracey. Mal says he was hoping Tracey would be dead so he could have Tracey's beans. Hell, but zany. There's some unnecessary mili-babble about the Alliance outnumbering them. Mal asks about the lieutenant. Tracey explains, as we see a shot of some man staring blankly off into the darkness, that the lieutenant has been shrieking about losing his arms. Except he's totally uninjured. Oh, the hellish zaniness of it all.
Tracey worries about what they're going to do, and whines that he doesn't want to die. Mal's "charismatic" response: "Everybody dies, Tracey. Somebody's carrying a bullet for you right now and doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." Bleaugh. Spare me the stupid Hollywood romanticizing of the wisdom of military leaders. A real sergeant would have said something like, "Son, when we make it back home, I'll get you a dozen hookers. Now if you don't get off your goddamned ass I'm going to shoot you myself." Maybe Mal should have spent more time working on legitimate combat strategies and less time trying to think up clever homilies. Anyway, they all decide to pretend that the shell-shocked lieutenant gave them orders to join up with some other unit. They also decide to protect the lieutenant for now. Mal think that if the guy recovers, this situation shouldn't go on his record. Yes, the fact that the guy completely folded under pressure in an incredibly dangerous situation, which probably cost a few soldiers their lives, isn't something that should cost him his leadership position or anything. God. I'm beginning to take the Alliance's side in all this. Clearly these people really are too stupid to run things themselves.
Suddenly, Zoe hears the whine of an incoming seeker missile. Mal throws a flare straight up, then grabs Tracey and pulls him down to the ground. The missile hits the flare instead of them, but the shrapnel rains down and wounds Tracey. Tracey whines that he can't move or whatever, so Mal picks him up and drags him out of the way of a tank that is bursting through a nearby wall, ending the flashback with what is intended to be a prophetic comment: "You know the old saying..." I don't want to give it away, but I believe the old saying he's referring to is, "It's perfectly okay to have your characters behave like complete idiots if it creates dramatic tension for a little while."