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Serenity dropped Mal off on a frontier world to make arrangements to pick up smuggled goods from one of Mal's old friends. Turns out this old friend just got married - to Saffron, Mal's "wife" from "Our Mrs. Reynolds". The woman gets around! Mal and Saffron immediately pull guns on each other; Mal tries to explain to his friend about Saffron, but it's Saffron's own actions that tell her latest husband that she's lying. Mal's friend drops Mal off with the goods at the arranged pick-up point, and he also abandons Saffron there. Saffron tries to beg for a ride from Mal, even trying to tell him about a sure-thing job she has figured out, but Mal won't hear of it.
Serenity picks up Mal. He almost immediately has words with Inara - she's annoyed that Mal has been avoiding somewhat more civilized worlds lately, which has cut into her business. Fresh off of dealing with Saffron, Mal doesn't react too well to Inara's complaints. Since Inara called him a "petty thief", he's determined to do a major job; to that end, he lets Saffron out of the crate he caged her in.
Mal and Saffron present the job to the crew: one of the two (I think) remaining original laser guns by their famous inventor is in the hands of a rich guy named Durran Haymer. Saffron has the plants for his house and security on Bellerophon, but the arrangements are complex enough that she wouldn't be able to steal the gun by herself. She even has a fence lined up to buy the gun afterward. The crew is skeptical of the plan, mostly because of Saffron's involvement, but Mal pushes it hard, and they work out the details. Kaylee comes up with the clever idea of sneaking the gun out of the building by putting it into the garbage chute: the gun will go into a robotic handler that would normally take it to be incinerated, but Kaylee will reprogram the robot to dump the garbage at a destination of their choosing.
While en route to the world where Haymer lives, Saffron is clearly up to her usual devious ways. She spies on various conversations, despite Mal's attempts to keep a close eye on her. Wisely, Mal had told Simon and River to stay in their quarters so Saffron wouldn't recognize them as fugitives and try to turn them in for the reward. Inara in particular is open in her disapproval of Mal working with Saffron, and she plans to take her shuttle away from Serenity as soon as they get to the world.
What we see of Bellerophon is impressive: small cities are floating in the air over an ocean. The floating city where Haymer lives is picture-perfect with gardens and modern architecture. Someone there is planning a big party, so Mal and Saffron sneak in as some of the workers getting things ready. They break into Haymer's house with no problems, but as they are working on getting through the security on the laser gun, Haymer comes home.
Now we get the next big joke in the episode: Haymer knows Saffron, because they were lovers in a long-term affair (but for once she's not actually married to him!). According to Haymer, Saffron was abducted about a year ago, and now Haymer is overjoyed that Mal has brought her home. Of course, we and Mal know that Saffron wasn't "abducted" at all, and that she's playing Haymer, too. While Haymer goes to get a reward payment for Mal, Mal and Saffron finish freeing the laser gun. Haymer returns, and Saffron turns a gun on him. She laughs at his feelings for her, calling him naive - and then he reveals that he called Alliance security as soon as he saw her.
Security is nearly there, so they have to flee. But they manage to complete their plan of dumping the gun into the garbage. In the meantime, Kaylee and Jayne have been maneuvering on top of Serenity in order to reach the garbage robot to reprogram it. Jayne is injured in a fall, but Kaylee manages to complete the reprogramming. The robot takes the garbage to a desert area and dumps it.
Mal and Saffron fly in Serenity's other shuttle to the garbage. Saffron gets all weepy about how she really did care for Haymer and she wanted to change her ways and have a normal life, but she just couldn't do it. Mal doesn't seem to be completely taken in by this performance, but he gets distracted enough that Saffron swipes his gun. She makes him strip and then drops him off in the desert while she heads on to get the laser gun.
This brings us to the biggest joke in the episode: Saffron searches desperately through the garbage, but can't find the gun. This is because Inara got there ahead of her, according to Mal's plan. Inara was the back-up to ensure that Mal and crew really got the gun, and did not get double-crossed by Saffron. Mal and Inara obviously kept this aspect of the plan to themselves, since Saffron is so perceptive. Inara locks Saffron in the garbage dumpster to await Alliance security and returns to Serenity in her shuttle. Serenity picks up Mal, who is awfully pleased with himself, despite having lost all his clothes.
One sub-plot that threaded through the episode concerned Simon, River, and Jayne. River's telepathy has picked up that Jayne has been nervous around them ever since the trip to the hospital on Ariel (in "Ariel"); at that point, either River reads the true course of events on Ariel in Jayne's mind, or Simon deduces that Jayne betrayed them. Later, when Jayne gets injured helping Kaylee reprogram the garbage robot, Simon lets Jayne know that he knows what Jayne did. Jayne denies it, but we can tell he's lying. Simon then goes on about how Jayne doesn't have to worry about Simon taking revenge when Simon is treating him, because doctors' ethics don't allow for that. This is a pretty funny speech, since it is given while Jayne is paralyzed from the neck down, which was induced by Simon to keep Jayne from wrenching his back and hurting it anymore. Clearly if Jayne made Simon angry enough to ignore doctors' ethics, Jayne would be in deep trouble. And then to top it off, River pokes her head in and tells Jayne she can kill him with her mind. Does she have some more new abilities, or is she just playing on Jayne's fear?
This episode was light and fun, without too many far-reaching effects. It was a pleasure to see Mal win out over Saffron when he had the luxury of some prior planning; Saffron obviously thought Mal was too much of a straight-shooter to be so devious. What happened to Saffron? Did the Alliance really get her? If so, how long could they keep ahold of her? I can imagine some Alliance captain having a whirlwind romance and marriage!
Mal and the crew have now accomplished another major theft. They lost their profits from the medicine they stole in "Ariel" buying back Wash from Niska in "War Stories", so I'm sure they could use the money from selling the laser gun. This heist should also enhance their reputation in the circle of high-risk thieves, so will they get some better jobs? I also wonder if the Alliance will be on to them - it's hard to imagine that the floating cities on Bellerophon were not extensively monitored, which should record Serenity's shuttle delivering Mal and Saffron, along with them.