Serenity is the series pilot for the American science fiction television series Firefly created by Joss Whedon. However, Fox executives were not satisfied with this as a pilot, and so instead, "The Train Job" was created as a second pilot and was the first episode of the series aired. "Serenity" was not aired until the end of the series' run. This episode shares its name with the feature film Serenity, which continues the series after the final episode.
Plot Summary: Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) are survivors of their rebel unit in the Battle of Serenity Valley during the Unification War, in which their side lost. They are now eking out an existence on the edges of space in their Firefly-class spaceship Serenity, taking odd jobs even if they involve petty crime. They take on passengers to supplement their income, but one has a secret that makes their lives more difficult.
Episode: Season 1 Episode 1
Original air date: December 20, 2002
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Joss Whedon
Guest actors :
Carlos Jacott as Lawrence Dobson
Mark Sheppard as Badger
Andy Umberger as the captain of the Dortmunder
Philip Sternberg as Inara's client
Eddie Adams as Bendis
Colin Patrick Lynchas as Radio Operator
Bonnie Bartlett as Patience
In 2511, Sgt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds and Corporal Zoe Alleyne fight in the Battle of Serenity Valley during the Unification War. Without air support, the Browncoats are eventually defeated (and massacred) by the Alliance.
Six years later, Mal is the captain of his own transport ship, an older-model Firefly-class vessel he named Serenity, and Zoe is his second-in-command. The rest of the ship's crew consists of Wash (Alan Tudyk), who is the pilot and is also Zoe's husband, Kaylee (Jewel Staite) the engineer, and Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) the gun-for-hire. Inara (Morena Baccarin), a "Companion" (i.e. Courtesan) who rents one of Serenity's two shuttles, normally travels with them, but she is currently away from the ship on business. While the crew are illegally salvaging some crates off a junky abandoned spaceship, they are discovered by an Alliance cruiser. To escape capture, they deploy a decoy distress beacon. The Alliance cruiser falls for the diversion, but broadcasts a bulletin that a Firefly-class ship is carrying stolen Alliance goods.
The crew of Serenity travel to Persephone, where they intend to deliver the stolen goods to Badger (Mark Sheppard), the small-time gang leader who hired them for the heist. When they meet with Badger, he reneges on their deal, partly because he is worried about the Alliance broadcast on the rogue Firefly, and partly because he doesn't like the way Mal looks down on him. Mal decides to try selling the cargo to Patience, an old business associate who lives on Whitefall. Zoe has misgivings about the plan, since Patience once shot Mal, but Mal is desperate to get rid of the hot cargo, and bears no grudge since he was shot in a "perfectly legitimate conflict of interest." The crew joins up with Inara and picks up passengers to provide some supplemental income. The new passengers are a preacher named Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), a bumbling man named Dobson (Carlos Jacott), and a wealthy doctor named Simon Tam (Sean Maher) who brings on board a mysterious large crate.
En route to Whitefall, Wash discovers that someone on board sent a message hailing the nearest Alliance cruiser. Suspecting that Simon is the mole, Mal confronts him only to discover that Dobson is the "Fed". Dobson surprises Mal by telling them it is Simon he wants to arrest, not Mal. Later, while Dobson attempts to arrest Simon, he shoots Kaylee in the stomach before being overpowered by Book, who is surprisingly good at hand-to-hand combat for a Shepherd. When the Alliance cruiser orders them to dock for prisoner transfer, Simon threatens not to treat Kaylee if Serenity does not flee. Torn between the threat of capture and Kaylee's safety, Mal reluctantly agrees (after being prodded by Inara to do so) and flees from the Alliance ship. Mal goes to the cargo bay, opens Simon's mysterious crate, and is surprised to find a young woman inside in a cryonic sleep.
The woman in the crate is revealed to be River Tam (Summer Glau), Simon's sister. Simon explains that his sister was a brilliant child who was sent away to an elite Alliance academy when she was fourteen. After River sent him an encoded letter for help, he discovered that the Alliance was torturing and experimenting on the students at the academy. Simon left his job as a successful trauma surgeon to rescue her from the Alliance and is on the run trying to protect her from them. Mal decides to proceed to Whitefall as planned, dropping off both the goods and the Tam siblings.
Dobson has been tied up, out of the way. Mal tells Jayne to interrogate Dobson to find out what he told the Alliance about them. Once Jayne finds out that the Alliance knows nothing, Dobson tries to bribe him.
Soon after, they discover that a Reaver ship is approaching. Zoe explains to Simon that "If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we're very very lucky, they'll do it in that order." Luckily, the Reaver ship passes by without incident.
Serenity lands on Whitefall and Mal prepares to make the deal. Mistrustful of Patience, he sends Jayne to take a sniper position in the hills while he and Zoe walk out to meet Patience and her henchmen in a deserted valley. Mal gives Patience a sample of the cargo, which turns out to be nutritional/immunization bars, each one of which can feed an entire family for a month. Patience tries to kill them, so she can take the cargo without paying, but Mal and Zoe, with the help of Jayne, dispatch Patience and her gang, taking the money they were promised. Jayne then joins the others, having been contacted by Wash with bad news: the Reavers followed them to Whitefall.
Meanwhile back on the ship Dobson escapes, knocking out Book and grabbing River. Simon inexpertly attacks Dobson, but after they scuffle, Dobson ends up with River grabbed by an arm and pointing a gun at her head. Mal arrives and shoots Dobson, dumping his body off the ship as they start to take off, the Reavers hot on their tail.
Mal orders Inara, Simon, and River to Inara's shuttle, preparing them to escape in the shuttle if the ship is boarded by the Reavers. Jayne carries the still-convalescing Kaylee to the engine room, and Book offers to help them. With Jayne and Book carrying out Kaylee's instructions, Wash is able to pull off a Crazy Ivan (or VIFF), and Serenity escapes.
Jayne tells Mal that they should dump the siblings, since Dobson had told him during the interrogation that the Alliance will keep coming after River. Mal, suspecting that Dobson tried to make a deal with Jayne, asks why he didn't turn. Jayne responds that the money wasn't enough, but it'll be an interesting day when it is. Jayne leaves as Simon enters. Mal suggests to Simon that he and River might be safer on the move than hiding in one place, and points out that Serenity is always moving, and in need of a medic, to which Simon accepts.
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River Tam quotes:
[River touches Simon's face]
River: I didn't think you'd come for me.
Simon: Well, you're a dummy.