Mal's next stop on this ship-wide tour of as-yet-unseen supporting characters is a visit with a man with the ridiculous name of Shepherd Book, hanging out in some alcove next to the medical bay that is decorated much like the common area in a college's "student center." Book, played by Ron Glass, is a preacher of some sort and seems to be the show's "mystical Negro," based on just this first episode. I don't know whether "Shepherd" is his title or his first name. If it's not, I'm going to guess that his first name is Anvil. For now, though, Book has snatched the exposition baton handed to him by Simon and proceeds to run with it. He tells Mal that Simon is really brave, because he gave up everything (including a cushy job with the Alliance) in order to free his sister (River -- so they're related) from the Academy's evil clutches. Mal sarcastically calls Simon his hero. I'm sure Mal already knows all this, so this exposition is even more awkward than it usually is and makes Book sound like he's trying to convince Mal to ask Simon out on a date. Book exposits further that not many ship captains would be willing to take on Simon and River as passengers, and asks Mal why he agreed. Mal says he needed the money. Book points out that they make much more money from the "jobs" the crew takes. I'm trying to figure out if there's anything they could do to make this relay race of exposition any more awkward. I know -- let's have Book repeat some exposition that we've already heard. Book reminds Mal that the Alliance is going to want River back and will come looking for her. Yes, we know. That's why Simon and River are on the ship in the first place. We established that ten seconds ago. Book asks Mal why he's risking the attention of the Alliance. Mal responds that it's the right thing to do.
Mal wanders around the ship with Book on his heels, and freaks out when he wanders into an engine room and sees what I presume to be a huge mess. The ship isn't exactly a display case at Tiffany as it stands, so I'm not sure why I'm supposed to think this isn't how it usually looks. Mal shouts out "Kaylee," which is the name of our Pretty Geek Girl, and wanders back down a hallway. Book still isn't done with his leg of the exposition relay, and blathers on about Mal's motives. Mal turns the tables and blathers on about Book's motives. Book suggests that he may want to bring God into the lives of Mal and his merry band of outlaws, but Mal shoots him down. Yes, Mal is the hard-bitten cynic who is secretly a soft-hearted idealist. They always are.