Back on Paradiso (oh, the irony), folks are gathered around in a dank hall, sputtering and coughing and being all sick. Mal and Zoe sit on a bench and watch everybody being sick. Mal calls it a nightmare. Zoe points out that there's no evidence that they were involved, but that's not what he means. Because he's a soft-hearted, hard-bitten cynic with a heart of gold. He tells Zoe, "No matter what happens, remember that I love you?" Zoe looks at him in confusion and asks, "Sir?" See, this was Mal's clever way of telling Zoe to pretend that they're a married couple. Zoe responds, "Right. Sir. Honey."
Eventually, the man who was overseeing things at the train station comes over to greet them. Zoe and Mal pretend they don't know what's going on. He brings them over to his desk for an interview. They pretend that they're newlyweds, and that Mal's uncle paid for the tickets for them to come to Paradiso to look for work. This guy, by the way, is the local sheriff. Mal overplays his hand and mentions that his "uncle" told him that he knew one Joey Bloggs, who may have an opening. They chat some more. Mal asks him about all the sick people. The sheriff explains that there's been an outbreak of Contrivance. The symptoms include weak characterizations, spotty plotting, and sucking holes of predictability. Actually, there's a degenerative disease called Bowden's Malady, which affects the townsfolk of Paradiso because of some technobabble involving the local mines. The medicine that our anti-heroes stole is the treatment for the sickness. Mal points out that there were Alliance soldiers on the train as well. The sheriff bitterly tells them that the soldiers left without helping them recover the drugs. Mal takes the opportunity to badmouth the Alliance. Sheriff agrees that the Alliance isn't much use out here in the hinterplanets, but points out that they're not the ones who stole the medicine, and when he gets his hands on the ones who did, he's going to seal them in the mines. The sheriff asks Mal when he last talked to Mr. Bloggs. Recognizing the trap, Mal explains his uncle did all the talking. The sheriff reveals that Bloggs committed suicide eight months ago. Without missing a beat, Mal asks if Bloggs's position is open.