Bushwhacked is the third episode of the science fiction television series Firefly created by Joss Whedon.
Plot Summary: Serenity is pulled in by an Alliance cruiser while investigating a spaceship that was attacked by Reavers. Simon and River must hide to prevent capture, while something is wrong with the lone survivor of the attacked spaceship.
Episode: Season 1 Episode 3
Original air date: September 27, 2002
Director: Tim Minear
Writer: Tim Minear
Serenity encounters a drifting space craft which turns out to be a short-range scow converted to a settler transport to the "Outer Planets". Mal decides to check out the derelict in order to either help survivors or loot the dead. He sends his crew off in teams to explore the ship, while he and Zoe head to a section that he suspects holds the more valuable supplies.
They arrive in a room, followed shortly by River who points out mutilated passengers hanging from the ceiling. Mal orders everyone to regroup in the engine room, but en route Jayne is hit from behind by an unseen attacker, whom Jayne shoots blindly. Mal finds the wounded man hiding behind an air grate and they bring him back to the ship.
As Simon treats the wounded man, Mal announces that he must be the lone survivor of a Reaver attack. He explains how the Reavers were driven insane after seeing the nothing at the "edge of the galaxy" and now commit unspeakable acts of evil. He allows Shepherd Book and Simon to cut down the victims and give them a modest ceremony, keeping them out of the way while Kaylee removes a Reaver booby trap that attached itself to Serenity when they docked earlier.
Once the derelict's cargo is aboard, Serenity moves to leave, only to be stopped by an Alliance cruiser. The Feds board the ship and find Mal and everyone but River and Simon innocently awaiting them, the retrieved cargo plainly in sight to avoid accusations of theft. Alliance Commander Harken accuses them of harboring two fugitives and detains them for questioning.
Commander Harken interviews each member of the crew whilst the Alliance tends to the survivor and search Serenity for River and Simon. While the interviews proceed, they are shown ransacking Serenity where just outside its window, the space-suited Tams cling to the ship's hull.
Interviewing Mal, Commander Harken accuses him of attacking the settler ship, revealing that the survivor's tongue has been split and implying that Mal had tortured him. Mal, however, realises that the survivor is becoming a Reaver having been so traumatized by his confrontation with them. Harken treats Mal's idea as poetic nonsense designed to help Mal elude prison. During this interview Harken comments that it was unusual that Mal's ship should be named after the rebel loss at the Battle of Serenity Valley.
As Harken prepares to confine Mal for future prosecution, his lieutenant informs him that the survivor has killed the medical personnel attending to him and is loose on the ship. Mal convinces Harken that he knows where the madman will go. Harken allows Mal to lead him and soldiers back onto Serenity. The survivor attacks the soldiers but Mal is able to kill the Reaver, saving Harken.
In return for this action, Harken allows the crew of Serenity to proceed on their way unharmed, though he still confiscates their cargo. After Serenity undocks, the cruiser is seen destroying the derelict.
Reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
River Tam Quotes:
Simon: Bad dreams again?
River: I can't sleep. There's too much screaming.
Simon: River, there's... there's no screaming.