Commercials. When we return, Crow and his crew and his bad-ass tattoo stride up the loading ramp into the ship. Crow holds a big, oddly shaped knife. He asks them why they aren't at the planned rendezvous point. Mal says they hit some complications. Crow suggests they were planning to hightail it with Niska's merchandise. Mal insists that he wasn't. He does, however, attempt to cancel the deal, telling Crow that they've changed their minds. Crow's not having it. He wants the medicine. Mal tries to offer the money back and wants to call it even. Crow says that there is no "even." Mal asks, "Is that right?" Crow's response is to throw his knife into Mal's shoulder. Ouch. That's the first thing in this incredibly predictable episode that surprised me. The other men draw guns and open fire. Zoe does as well, and immediately takes a man down. Inara pulls Kaylee away from the gun battle as Mal fights with Crow. A man tries to rush Zoe, and she knocks him out with the butt of her gun. Wash sneaks over to an ATV. Mal and Crow fight some more. Wash peels off in the ATV and knocks out another of Crow's crew. Crow and Mal fight some more. Crow knocks Mal down and is prepares to finish him off when a gunshot rings out and hits Crow in the leg. Crow goes down. Mal looks up to the stairway and says, "Nice shot." Half-paralyzed Jayne (he looks like a stroke victim here) holds a gun and drawls, "I was aiming for his head."
Out on a dirt road, Zoe and Mal drive the cargo back toward Paradiso with the help of an ATV. They stop and plan to drag the medicine the rest of the way to a spot near the town, and inform the sheriff once they make it out to space. But out of the darkness, the sheriff's voice says, "Why don't you tell him in person?" See, he figured it all out because well, because. Zoe and Mal are surrounded by armed townsfolk. A woman looks over the medicine and determines that nothing is missing. The sheriff gives a vague speech about the fact that he understands that times are tough, and he realizes that Mal took this job without knowing all the details. Once he found out the details, he made the choice to do the right thing. Then he lets Mal and Zoe go. Because, like them, the sheriff is a soft-hearted, hard-bitten cynic with a heart of gold.
Back at the ship, Crow is foaming at the mouth and giving looks that kill to everybody within eyesight. Mal has him chained down on his knees; he waves the money at Crow and tells him he needs to explain to Niska that they didn't steal anything that was his, and that they're going to stay out of his way from now on and they expect him to do the same. Not that I'm on Niska's side here, but even though they didn't take anything that Niska wanted, they actively prevented him from receiving it, so I can see why Crow and Niska wouldn't see things as being "even." Crow makes his way back onto his feet and starts up a big rant, telling Mal to keep the money to buy a funeral because he and Niska aren't going to let this go and they're going to hunt him down and blah blah blah.