Mal and Wash's shuttle takes off as we flip back to Inara's shuttle of LIVE GIRL-ON-GIRL ACTION. Councilor Sappho is lying on her stomach, topless, while Inara gives her a back massage. The Strings Of Blatant Ratings Stunts play in the background. Sappho compliments Inara's massage technique. Inara compliments Sappho's beautiful skin. Sappho tells Inara that she doesn't need to do the typical complimentary shtick -- she just wants to hang out with somebody who isn't demanding anything of her. Inara tells her that most of her clients are men, so that the viewers can fantasize about three-ways with her. She explains that when she does choose a woman as a client, she tends to be "extraordinary in some way." She adds that sometimes she feels the same way as Sappho about the demands, and whines that she can't always be herself in the company of men. Whatever. I'm sure she probably could, but whatever. It just feeds the whole lurid fantasy about how women behave when men aren't around. And yes, I know that a woman wrote this episode. It doesn't change a thing. Sappho agrees with Inara. They both agree to relax and not try to put on a show. Except for the one that they're putting on for us. Sappho tells Inara that she's lovely. She leans in, and they kiss. Woooo! GIRL-ON-GIRL ACTION!
Cut to The Shuttle Of Wash Learning A Valuable Lesson. Mal tries to find out what's going on between Wash and Zoe. Wash says he doesn't want to talk about it, but Mal tells him that he only let Wash's stunt slide because this is an easy mission. Mal explains that Zoe is going to be accompanying him on a regular basis, and Wash knows it. What if there's trouble? Wash responds, "I've been in a firefight before? Well, I was in a fire. Actually, I was fired from a fry-cook opportunity." But he insists that he can handle himself. At this point, I'm looking forward to the torture. I hate how stupid Wash is acting right now. He knows what Zoe does. He's been there. He bragged about it to Matt Fielding in "Bushwhacked." His utter obliviousness about the dangers of Zoe's job in order to serve this plot conflict that came out of nowhere annoys the hell out of me. Mal asks Wash if he understands Zoe's job responsibilities. Wash insists that he'll learn as he goes.
Cut to the desert, where Wash is learning about carrying heavy things by toting the medicine around. They stumble around some rocks and sand, but instead of encountering the first Slayer, they meet up with three burly men, there to buy the drugs from them. Wash opens the container so they can see that the drugs are legit. The men toss Mal the money and praise them for having the balls to steal from an Alliance hospital. Mal pretends that it's no big deal before noticing a red dot dancing on the main guy's forehead. He mutters something in Chinese ("Oh, shit! We're in that crappy Saturday Night Live sketch"), then grabs Wash and falls to the ground as the men are taken down by snipers. Several men come out of their hiding spots and run up to Mal and Wash, wearing full desert camouflage. They train their guns on them. Wash says, "Now I'm learning about scary." Because, you know, he hasn't been scared about anything on this show before.