Safe
Notes Episode information
Credits Details & Cast
Intro "We need to resort to cannibalism."
Act 1 "Little soul, big world."
Act 2 "I think there's a code."
Act 3 "You will know them by their crafts."
Act 4 "Big damn heroes."
 
 
Notes
They were using dinosaurs
Travels:

The episode begins with them landing on Jiangyin. They take Book to a nearby Alliance cruiser for medical help, then return to Jiangyin.

Time:

It is stated that the cows have been on board for three weeks, or as the Older Grange brother says "for near a month". Everything else occurs in one day.

Locations:

Everything occurs on Jiangyin other than the side trip to the Alliance cruiser. When looking for medical help, Greenleaf is considered but rejected as too far away at 10 hours travel time.

In flashbacks we see Osiris home of Simon and River.

River, when talking to Badger, remarks that he is from Dyton colony to which he says its nice to meet someone from home. [Note: the subtitles have this as "Titan" colony, incorrect].

Chinese:
 
 
Credits
Transcribed by: Shrift (modifications by me)
Original Air Date: November 8, 2002
Written by: Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by: Michael Grossman
Skylar Roberge
Young River
Zac Efron
Young Simon
William Converse-Roberts
Gabriel Tam
John Thaddeus
Stark
Andrew A. Rolfes
Marcus Grange
Matthew C. Ferreira
Younger Grange
Joel Steingold
Head Cop
Isabella Hofmann
Regan Tam
Erica N. Tazel
Doralee
Morina Pierce
Ruby
Ron Ostrow
Commander (Magellan)
Gary Werntz
Patron
 
 
Intro
We need to resort to cannibalism

EXT. LARGE MANSION - NIGHT
Establishing shot. High-tech security fence surrounds the mansion.

INT. LARGE MANSION - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
We're in a study or living room. Spacious, lushly appointed, a fire crackling in the fireplace.

Chyron reads:
TAM ESTATE, 11 YEARS AGO

Young Simon Tam sits on the couch doing his homework. Young River Tam is playing behind the couch.

Young River (peeping up from behind couch) We're in trouble.

(beat)

We got cut off! Young Simon Cut off from what? Young River Our platoon, Simon. We got outflanked by the independent squad, and we're never gonna make it back to our platoon.

(beat)

We need to resort to cannibalism. Young Simon That was fast. Don't we have rations or anything? Young River They got lost. We're gonna have to eat the men. Young Simon Aren't you supposed to be practicing for your dance recital? Young River I learned it all.

(re: his homework)

That's wrong. Young Simon It's from the book, River. Young River No, the book is wrong. This whole conclusion is fallacious.

Simon smiles, puts his homework away. Turns to River.

Young Simon So... how'd the independents cut us off? Young River They were using dinosaurs. Young Simon (incredulous) Jien tah-duh guay 见他的鬼
Like hell
!

GABRIEL TAM enters the study.

Gabriel Language, young man. Young Simon Sorry, dad. The independents attacked us with dinosaurs. Young River Simon lost his head in the heat of battle. Gabriel (chuckling) Nah mei guan-shee没关系
That has nothing to do with it
. Because there were dinosaurs involved, I think we'll let it slide.
Young Simon Did you get my wave? Gabriel I got it. Your text shorted. I got the whole thing during a board meeting. Thank you. Young Simon If I had a dedicated source box, it wouldn't short out. I lost half my essay. Gabriel Yes, and you'd have access to any tyen-shiao duh 天晓得
heaven knows what
that filtered in from the cortex. I absolutely forbid it!.
Young Simon (pleading) Dad... Young River Dad... Gabriel I will not have it in my house.

(beat)

But since your mother's already ordered you one, I guess I should give up the fantasy that this is my house! Young Simon Are you kidding? Gabriel You will repay me by becoming a brilliant doctor. That's the deal. Dedicated source box -- brilliant doctor. Young River When do I...? Gabriel (dismissive) Many years. Young Simon Dad, this is so da bianhua大变化
big change
! It's really gonna --
Gabriel I know. You think I'd let you work with something second-rate? Young Simon Thank you. Gabriel You're worth it.

(beat)

Now do you think it's possible for you two geniuses to give your tired old dad a couple minutes' quiet?

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA - CONTINUOUS
Back to the present. River is struggling and shouting, Simon is attempting to calm her.

River (collapses onto couch) No! No, I don't wanna go back to the... Simon It's okay. It -- River It's not okay!

(beat)

You can't just dig into me, shove twenty needles in my eyes and ask me what I see! Simon I... we won't go in. Look.

(shuts infirmary doors)

No test today. River No rutting tests? Stupid son of a bitch, dress me up like a gorramn doll! Simon No tests, no shots...

(beat)

I'm, uh, I'm just gonna give you a smoother that'll...

River stands, takes Simon's case of medical supplies, and tosses it.

Simon River!

Mal is walking down the steps to the infirmary as this happens. None too pleased.

River (to Mal) You're not him?

(beat)

Liou coe shway duh bia-tze huh hoe-tze doo bun ur-tze流口水的婊子和猴子的笨儿子
Stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey
.

River wilts and sits back on the couch. Mal continues down the stairs.

Mal So, she's added cussing and hurling about of things to her repertoire. She really is a prodigy. Simon It's just a bad day. Mal No, a bad day is when someone's yellin' spooks the cattle. Understand?

(beat)

You ever see cattle stampede when they got no place to run? It's kind of like a... a meat grinder. And it'll lose us half the herd. Simon She hasn't gone anywhere near the cattle. Mal No, but in case you hadn't noticed, her voice kinda carries. We're two miles above ground and they can probably hear her down there. Soon as we unload, she can holler until our ears bleed.

(to River)

Although I would take it as a kindness if she didn't. River The human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems. Mal (to Simon) See, morbid and creepifying, I got no problem with, long as she does it quiet-like. Simon This is paranoid schizophrenia, Captain. Hand-crafted by government scientists who thought my sister's brain was a rutting playground. I have no idea what'll set her off. If you have some expertise -- Mal (firmly) I'm not a doctor. And I'm not your gorramn baby-sitter, either. Gag her, if you have to. We got trade to be done.

Mal exits via the stairs. Simon sighs heavily.

EXT. PLANET - DAY
Establishing shot of Serenity landing on the planet's surface.

REVERSE camera to reveal three hill folk sitting in a copse of trees, all men. One of the men is skinning a rabbit hung from a tree.

Stark You see that? Fancy vessel such as that don't land here 'less they got something to sell. And if it's something we need...

He RIPS the skin off the rabbit in one move.

Stark (CONT'D) We take it.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 1
Little soul, big world

EXT. JIANGYIN PLANET/SERENITY'S CARGO BAY DOORS - DAY
Simon is walking down the cargo bay ramp. The ramp's covered in cow pies. Simon's carefully picking his way around them, but Jayne herds some cattle past him, and Simon stumbles into some cow poo.

Simon Niao-fff牛粪
Cow poop
-
Jayne (amused) 'Bout time you broke in them pretty shoes.

(to cattle)

Yah! Get along!

Simon ignores Jayne, walks off the ramp.

Mal You know, they walk just as easy if you lead 'em. Jayne I like smackin' 'em.

REVERSE camera to see the cattle trotting along a hastily-erected corral consisting of metal gates fastened together.

CUT TO:

Book tying off part of the corral, watching the cattle walk past.

Book Hope this corral's strong enough to hold them. "Shepherd's" a purely figurative title, you know.

Follow Book with camera to reveal Wash and Zoe seated on top of the corral to the right, also watching the cattle.

Zoe (chuckling) Next time we smuggle stock, let's make it something smaller. Wash Yeah, we should start dealing in those black-market beagles.

CUT TO:

River sitting on the ground outside the corral, staring at a calf.

River Little soul, big world. Eat, sleep, and eat... Many souls. Mal (to Jayne) Cattle on the ship three weeks, she don't go near 'em. Suddenly we're on Jiangyin and she's got a driving need to commune with the beast? River They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky and they remember what they are. Mal (to Jayne) Is it bad that what she said made perfect sense to me?

(beat)

C'mon, now. Let's get you clear of the work. Simon (O.S.) What's going on?

REVERSE camera to show Simon approaching the corral where Mal, Jayne and River are standing.

Simon (cont'd) What are you doing? Mal I'm fixing to do some business. Can't be herding these steers and your sister, too. Simon She didn't mean any harm. Mal I never figured she did. But when a man engages in clandestine dealings, he has his preference for things being smooth.

Quick cut to the bushes shaking -- but there's no wind. Could it be hill folk baiting the schmuck?

Mal She makes things not be smooth. Simon (snippy) Right. I'm very sorry if she tipped off anyone about your cunningly concealed herd of cows. Mal (guides Simon away from the corral) I'm starting to think you got a little too much time on your hands, doctor. I think now I got a notion regarding that. Why don't you take your sister for a little walk. Simon A walk? Mal Yeah. Someplace... away. Simon Uh, probably best we stay close. Alliance has us marked as fugitives. Mal Closest Alliance is the Cruiser Magellan. Hours out from here. And I promise you, they ain't coming to a backwater like Jiangyin. Simon Still, I'm not sure it's such a wise suggestion. Mal Might not wanna mistake it for a suggestion.

(beat)

Don't worry, we won't leave without ya.

EXT. JIANGYIN - GENERAL STORE - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Establishing shot of dusty street, dilapidated but very much inhabited buildings.

INT. GENERAL STORE - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Inara and Kaylee are browsing. The store's light is dim and yellow, shelves are cluttered with cheap knick knacks.

Inara Does it seem every supply store on every border planet has the same five rag dolls and the same wood carvings of... what is this? A duck? Kaylee That's a swan.

(beat)

I like it. Inara You do? Kaylee (stroking swan) Looks like it was made with, you know, longing. Made by a person really longed to see a swan. Inara Perhaps they'd only heard of them by rough description. Kaylee (holding up a painted plate) You think this would make a nice gift? Inara A gift? For whom? Kaylee I just kinda like it.

(beat)

It's rich, you know? Inara Ooh. For Simon. Kaylee I didn't say that. Inara (chuckling) You don't do a very good job of hiding your interest. Kaylee He's just so swai
cute
. You just wanna take a bite out of him all over, you know?
Inara (softly) Careful.

Inara indicates something behind Kaylee. Getting it, Kaylee turns to greet Simon and River, who have just entered the store.

Kaylee Morning, you two. Inara Don't usually see you two out and about planet-side. Simon Yeah, we're... we're trying something different today.

(to River)

River, be careful with that... that's, um...

(to Kaylee)

What is that? Kaylee It's a post-holer. You dig holes. For posts. Simon (separating River from the post-holer) It's, uh, it's dirty. And sharp.

(to River)

Let's come over here.

(picks up plate Kaylee was looking at earlier)

"Jiangyin: Prairie Paradise". Good god. They're asking money for this crap? Kaylee (somewhat crestfallen) Hard to believe ain't it? Glad you're out. Simon Mm. Kaylee Give you a chance to have a little fun. Simon Fun. Right, yeah.

(runs to rescue knick knacks from River)

I, uh, I consider this fun. It's fun, being forced to the ass-end of the galaxy. To get to live on a piece of luh-suh垃圾
garbage
wreck. And to eat molded protein. And to be bullied around by our pyen juh duh jiou chao rie偏执的纠察员
stubborn martinet
of a captain. It's fun.
Kaylee (hurt) Luh-suh垃圾
garbage
?
Simon Sorry? Kaylee Serenity ain't luh-suh垃圾
garbage
.
Simon No, I... I didn't mean -- Kaylee Yeah you did. You meant everything you just said. Simon Well, no. Uh, actually I was being ironic, so in-in-in the strictest sense -- Kaylee You were being mean, is what.

(beat)

And if that's what you think of this life, then you can't think much of them that choose it, can you.

Kaylee exits the store. Inara follows, giving Simon a significant, "You screwed up," look as she exits. Simon sighs heavily, then turns around. River's nowhere to be seen.

Simon River?

EXT. JIANGYIN/SERENITY'S CARGO BAY DOOR - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Mal and Jayne are walking down the cow-pie-riddled cargo bay ramp.

Mal This is the last time. Last time with cows. Hear there was an idea regarding beagles? They have smallish droppings?

REVERSE camera to reveal Zoe approaching Serenity from the corral.

Zoe I believe so, sir. Also, your disreputable men are here. Mal Better go take their money.

EXT. JIANGYIN - CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Mal approaches the corral, where Jayne is keeping watch on the cattle. Two men are standing outside the corral.

Mal Morning, gentlemen. You must be the Grange brothers. Hope you're in the mood for beefsteak. Jayne Attractive animals, ain't they? Older Grange T'ain't well fed. Scrawny. Mal Fei hua废话
Nonsense (crap talk)
. Milk and hay, three times a day. Fed to 'em by beautiful women.
Jayne (gleefully) That was somethin' to see. Younger Grange They's branded. Mal Oh, you boys are hittin' all the sellin' points. A fresh brand's a dead giveaway. Claim 'em as your own. Older Grange Twenty a head. Mal That's an amusing figure, in light of we already agreed on thirty with Badger. Older Grange That's afore we seen 'em. They're atrophied, standin' around on a ship for near a month. Mal My comprehension is less muscle, more tender the meat. Thirty. Book (aside, to Mal) Problem? Mal (to Book) No. 'Bout a minute from now, we'll agree on twenty-five.

The Grange brothers startle at a rattling noise, their hands going to their guns.

Book (to Mal) Seem a mite jumpy to you?

EXT. JIANGYIN STREET - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River walks into an alley in the distance. REVERSE camera to show Simon, agitated, running out of the General Store looking for River. REVERSE camera to reveal a posse of lawmen walking down the steps of a building across the street, then crossing the street to walk into the building right past Simon, who looks down on the ground nervously.

Simon Morning, officers.

The last officer tips his hat brim at Simon's greeting. Once they're all inside, he bolts across the street after River.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Grange brothers are still negotiating with Mal.

Older Grange I'm thinking... maybe we walk away entirely. Mal I'm thinking, you do that, and we got ourselves trouble.

(re: Inara and Kaylee returning to ship)

Mornin', ladies.

(to Grange brothers)

Serious trouble. Of the you-owe-us variety. Older Grange We can go to twenty-five. Mal Well... we'd be takin' a loss, but you seem like clean and virtuous boys. Done.

Older Grange brother is taking out his bag of cash, when suddenly, the lawmen we just saw in town burst out of the brush with their guns drawn.

Head Cop Marcus and Nathaniel Grange! You are wanted in connection to the illegal killing of Rance Durbin. You are bound by law to stand down! Mal (to Jayne) You know, I'm starting to find this whole planet very uninviting. Jayne Yeah.

Off that,

EXT. JIANGYIN ALLEY - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Simon is walking down a dim, uninviting alley. At the end of alley is a green field with a platform set up surrounded by a crowd.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Musicians are playing lively music, and people are dancing on the stage. River wanders up onto the stage, at first confused. Then she watches the steps, smiles, and joins in on the dance. Simon watches, awed.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Close on gunbelts being dropped to the dirt.

Jayne (re: gunbelt) Aww, careful with that! Mal It appears we have ourselves a situation. Head Cop Who are you? Mal Just a bystander. Head Cop This your beef? Mal No, sir.

(re: Grange brothers)

You're lookin' at the proper owners right there. Head Cop Mm-hmm.

(to Grange brothers)

I'd like to see some papers on that cattle.

The Younger Grange brother punches one of the lawmen and steals his pistol. Before he can shoot, it's shot out of his hand by Zoe, positioned high up on the hill overlooking the corral. Shots are firing off pretty regularly now, chaos ensues.

Older Grange (yelling) Come on, hurry up!

Older Grange has a pistol by now and shooting off covering fire so he and his brother can get away. As a bullet zings by, Mal and Jayne drop to the ground, crawling forward toward their gunbelts and the sack of money.

Jayne Here we go. Mal Never goes smooth. How come it never goes smooth?

INTERCUT WITH:

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River dances, Simon watches.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
The midst of a firefight. Mal reaches forward for the money, nearly gets his hand shot off for his trouble. He reaches again, grabs it, rolls back toward Jayne, narrowly avoiding a shot to the head.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River dances, the crowd recognizing her talent; Simon watches.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Firefight. Shooting over the corral. Cattle moo and stir restlessly.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River begins dancing a solo.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Firefight. Close on a lawman. Grange brothers still alive and kicking.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River's solo.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Mal and Jayne crawling along the edge of the corral.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River's dancing becomes more acrobatic.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS>br /> Mal tackles a Grange brother, taking him down. The lawmen close in.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River dances.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Lawmen are arresting the Grange brothers. Mal and Jayne walk past them, Mal looking stunned. REVERSE camera to reveal Shepherd Book is lying on the ground, blood spreading over his shirt.

He's been hit.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
River startles suddenly, losing the rhythm of the dance. Simon looks concerned.

EXT. CORRAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Close on Book's face. He's barely conscious.

EXT. JIANGYIN FESTIVAL - DAY - CONTINUOUS
As Simon watches River, men come up behind him and put a bag over his head, dragging him away from the festival. River, scared and startled, is shoved about by the dancers, the music ominous.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 2
I think there's a code

EXT. CORRAL - DAY
Shepherd Book is wounded on the ground, Mal leaning next to him. It's a bullet wound, just above his heart.

Mal Hey. Stay with me, Shepherd. Book That's... that's quite a lot of blood, isn't it? Mal (nodding) Just means you ain't dead. Book Afraid I might be needing a preacher. Mal That's good. You lie there and be ironical.

(to Jayne)

Stretcher.

Jayne doesn't move, watching the lawmen escort the Grange brothers away.

Mal Jayne. Jayne They goin'? Mal Of course. They got what they came here for. Jayne You get the cash?

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY - CONTINUOUS
Jayne and Mal are carrying Book in on a stretcher.

Kaylee (O.S.) What's going on?

WIDEN shot to include Kaylee.

Kaylee (CONT'D) Oh my god. Shepherd? Shepherd, can you hear me?

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY - CONTINUOUS
Jayne and Mal put the stretcher on an examination table and remove the side supports.

Jayne (to Mal) Don't look good.

Mal crosses to the intercom.

Mal Wash, get down to the infirmary ma-shong马上
now
(literally 'on horseback')
!

(to others)

We gotta try and stop this bleeding.

Zoe cuts Book's bloody shirt from him. Mal and Zoe do some battle triage.

Kaylee (tearfully) Don't you worry, Shepherd. Cap and Zoe got lots of experience with this kind of thing. Seen a lot worse in the war.

(beat)

Shepherd?

(beat)

Oh, god, he ain't breathin'.

Book's back arches and he goes into convulsions. Zoe pulls the cap off a hypodermic needled with her teeth and hands it to Mal, who injects it into Book's arm. The convulsions stop.

Mal He ain't dead. But he is bad off. Now we gotta see what we can do to help him. Wash (entering) Lao-tyen, boo老天,不
Oh, god, no
.
Mal Wash, I need you to go into town, see if you can find that jing-tsing myung duh经常没用的
consistently useless
doctor.
Kaylee Hurry.

EXT. JIANGYIN FOREST - DAY - CONTINUOUS
The three hill folk we saw in the teaser have kidnapped Simon! They rush him along, still with the bag over his head.

Stark Faster. Got to go faster. Want to get there 'fore dark! Simon Get where? Where are we going? Stark Shut up! Simon If it's ransom you want, I... I can arrange something. Stark No talking! Simon Look, you don't understand. My sister...

One of the kidnappers punches Simon in the face. Simon hits the ground.

INT. TAM ESTATE - FLASHBACK - NIGHT
Forward in time from the last flashback. Simon is an adult now.

Regan Your sister is fine, Simon. Simon She's not fine. Didn't you look at the letters? Look at the letters. Gabriel Uh, I'm looking at letters. Simon These phrases -- they don't sound anything like her. Some of these words -- they're misspelled.

(off their looks)

She started correcting my spelling when she was three. She's trying to tell us something. I think there's a code. Regan A code? Simon Yes. Gabriel (chuckling) I always thought it was River who was lost without her big brother. Now I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't the other way around. Simon Did you have a good time at the D'arbanville's ball this year? Gabriel What are you...? Simon River thought it was duller than last year. But since we don't know anybody named D'arbanville, I'm having trouble judging.

(angrily)

Did you even read these? Gabriel Well, of course I did. Regan It's one of her silly games. You two are always playing. Simon She is trying to tell us something that somebody doesn't want her to say. Regan Simon, this is paranoid. It's stress. If they heard you talking like this at the hospital, it could affect your entire future. Simon Who cares about my future? Gabriel You should. Regan You're a surgeon in one of the best hospitals in Capital City. On your way to a major position, possibly even the Medical Elect. You're going to throw all of that away? Everything you've worked for your whole life? Gabriel Being a doctor means more to you than just a position, I know that. Regan A few months time, you'll turn around and there she'll be. Now, nothing is going to keep you two apart for long.

EXT. JIANGYIN FOREST - DAY - CONTINUOUS
The hill folk are herding Simon along.

Simon No. Oh, no. River (appearing, triumphant) Found you.

Simon breaks from the hill folk, running toward River.

Stark Get him! Simon River! No! Run! River Found you! Simon Go!

The hill folk quickly nab River and Simon both.

Stark Bring her.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY - CONTINUOUS
Wash pulls into the cargo bay on his four-wheel.

Kaylee Where's the doctor? Why isn't he with you? Wash He wasn't in town. Wasn't anywhere. Kaylee He was in town. We saw him there. Him and River. I can show you -- Wash Town's not that big, Kaylee. Believe me when I say he wasn't there. Jayne Knew it. Probably saw them cops, turned tail. Mal (entering) Doctor could be called a lot of things. Coward wouldn't be one of 'em, though. Inara You don't think they were arrested, do you? Wash Worse than that, probably. Looks like maybe they got snatched. Inara Kidnapped? Wash I went by the sheriff's office. Seems if we had checked the posted alerts for this rock, we might've known it. Settlers in the hills take people sometimes. Usually tradesmen and the like. Mal And now they got themselves a doctor. And we don't.

(beat)

We're goin'.

Mal moves to the cargo bay controls, begins shutting the bay door.

Kaylee Wh-what are you doing? What about Simon and River? Mal Forget them. We already lost two people today. If I can help it, we won't lose a third.

(to Wash)

Wash, get us in the air.

EXT. JIANGYIN FOREST - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Simon and River are being herded by the hill folk.

River We're lost... lost in the woods. Simon It's going to be okay. They'll find us. Once the Captain realizes what happened, they'll come.

REVERSE camera to reveal the Serenity rising above the tree line and taking off into atmo. Simon looks stunned.

Stark See there? No one's coming for you. You just keep moving.

BLACK OUT

 
Act 3
You will know them by their crafts

EXT. SPACE - SERENITY
Establishing shot of Serenity cruising through space.

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY - CONTINUOUS
Zoe is removing latex gloves. Book is lying on the examination table, bandaged and awake.

Book That bad? Zoe Battle wounds are nothing new to me, preacher. I've seen men live with a dozen holes in 'em this size. Book That right? Zoe Surely is. Knew a man whole had a hole clean through his whole shoulder, once. Used to keep a spare hankie in there. Book Where's the doctor? Not back yet? Zoe (beat) We don't make him hurry for the little stuff. He'll be along. Book He could hurry... a little.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUOUS
Mal and Wash are hunched over a terminal.

Wash Well, there's Greenleaf. They'd have med help there. Mal Too far -- more than ten hours. Man's worse off than that. Inara (entering) You know where you can find what you need. Mal Don't recall inviting you onto the bridge. Inara You didn't. Mal, you know where you can find a doctor. You know exactly. Mal Inara, he was dumb enough to get himself grabbed in broad daylight. Don't have time to be beatin' the trees looking for him now. No assurance we'd find him, or he wouldn't need a doctor himself. Inara I'm not talking about Simon. I'm talking about medical facilities. Mal That's not an option, nor is it a discussion I much want to have at the moment. Inara It doesn't matter what you want. He's dying, and we need a doctor now.

EXT. JIANGYIN FOREST - DAY - CONTINUOUS
Simon and River are still being herded through the forest by the hill folk -- they're crossing a makeshift bridge into,

EXT. HILL FOLK VILLAGE - DAY - CONTINUOUS

Stark Look what we got! Got ourselves a doctor. A real doctor.

(to Simon)

Stand up straight. Woman (O.S.) They brought home a doctor. Thank the Lord.

Hill folk gather around, staring at Simon curiously.

INT. SERENITY - SIMON'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Jayne is tossing Simon's room, stealing all the valuables he can find. He comes across a journal of Simon's, opens it up, reads to himself out loud:

Jayne (mock reading) "Dear Diary, Today I was pompous and my sister was crazy."

(flips page)

"Today, we were kidnapped by hill folk never to be seen again. It was the best day ever."

Jayne tosses aside the journal and continues searching Simon's belongings. He finds some money, pockets it.

Jayne (CONT'D) Now we're talkin'.

Jayne pulls out a fancy maroon shirt and shakes it out, holding it up as if sizing it.

Jayne (CONT'D) Amazing we kept him this long.

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY - CONTINUOUS
Zoe is sitting with Book in the infirmary. Kaylee enters hesitantly.

Kaylee (re: holding Book's hand) Can I? Zoe Sure. He's out, though. Kaylee He did this for me, once.

(beat)

How's he doin'? Zoe I cleaned it out, wrapped it up. Best I could do.

(off Kaylee's look)

I don't know. Kaylee Well, we're headed for help... right? Zoe Captain will come up with a plan. Kaylee That's good. Right? Zoe Possibly you're not recalling some of his previous plans.

This barely gets a smile out of Kaylee. Beat.

Kaylee We left them back there. Zoe Yeah. Kaylee Don't seem right.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUOUS

Wash You sure this is where we wanna be? Mal Oh, I'm fairly certain it ain't.

EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS
Shot of Serenity approaching a huge ship, presumably the Alliance cruiser Magellan.

INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE - CONTINUOUS

Mal Be sure to ask nicely. Wash Alliance Cruiser Magellan, this is Firefly Transport Serenity, requesting permission for docking. Alliance Officer (V.O.) Firefly Transport Serenity, stand by for docking orders.

INT. HILL FOLK VILLAGE - HOSPITAL - DAY
Stark is showing Simon and River into the makeshift hospital.

Stark In here.

(beat)

I don't figure it's as fancy as you're used to, but it's what we got.

(to Doralee)

I got your doctor.

Doralee, a young, soft-voiced woman, rises from tending a sick child.

Doralee Oh, praise the Lord. Stark Doralee here'll show you what's what.

(exits)

Doralee (to Simon) What's your name? River Simon. Doralee Well, hello there. Who are you? Simon This is... River.

(guides River to a bench)

River... just, uh, just sit down. Over there.

(to Doralee)

Has there been, uh... is there a sickness here? Doralee Not especial. Just people get sick or injured. Mostly people heal on their own, but sometimes... Simon Sometimes, you need a doctor.

(beat)

Bring me light, and any supplies you have.

EXT. ALLIANCE CRUISER MAGELLAN DOCKING STATION - CONTINUOUS
Serenity is moving in to dock.

INT. SERENITY - CARGO BAY - CONTINUOUS
Mal and Jayne and carrying Book on a stretcher. Zoe is in the lead, opening the cargo bay doors.

Zoe You sanguine about the kind of reception we're up to receive on an Alliance ship, Cap? Mal Absolutely.

(beat)

What's "sanguine" mean? Zoe "Sanguine." Hopeful. Plus, point of interest, it also means "bloody." Mal Well, that pretty much covers all the options, don't it?

Zoe opens the cargo bay doors. Alliance soldiers enter, armed and wary. An Alliance Commander steps through last.

Mal We're requesting aid, no other purpose. Zoe We got papers. Commander (taking the papers) What's your business? Mal We're a supply ship, freelance. Had an accident this morning, crewman got hurt. Zoe We need medical help. Mal Fast'd be better than slow. Commander Official seal's out of date Captain... Harbatkin? Mal We ain't been through a checkpoint in a while, sir. You gonna see to my man? Commander How did this happen? Zoe He was -- Mal Bystander in a gunfight. Back on Jiangyin. You can check. Not he nor any of ours were the aggressors. Commander We aren't an emergency facility, Captain. Our services aren't available simply to anyone. Book Com... mander... my... ident card.

An Alliance officer removes Book's ident card from his pocket and runs it through a scanner. The officer passes the scanner to the Commander, who says,

Commander Get this man to the infirmary at once.

INT. HILL FOLK HOSPITAL - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
Simon is doctoring the hill folk.

Simon You keep that bandage clean now, you understand?

Quick shot of River kneeling down next to a little blonde girl sitting on a cot. Back to Simon and Doralee.

Doralee (re: River) She's not quite right, is she? Simon She's been through some trauma. She's recovering, through. Doralee She won't get a good conversation out of Ruby, I can tell you that much. That little girl's mute. Simon Do you know the cause? Was she born deaf? Doralee No, she was fine until two years ago when she stopped talking.

(beat)

A place like this might be good for your sister. Quiet. Safe. A place where folks take care of each other. Simon Mmm, yes, seems like a lovely little community of kidnappers. Doralee The Lord says, "Judge not." Simon They took us off the street! Doralee Sometimes life takes you places you weren't expecting to go. Simon "Life" didn't bring us here. Those men did. Doralee You were on a transport ship, right? Taking a journey? It's the way of life in my findings that journeys end when and where they want to, and that's where you make your home. Simon This isn't our home. Doralee If it isn't here... where is it?

INT. ALLIANCE CRUISER MAGELLAN
Jayne, Zoe and Mal are hovering outside the Alliance medical facility, waiting for news.

Jayne This place gives me an uncomfortableness. Zoe (to Mal) So, what do you figure? Shepherd's got some kind of connection with the Alliance? Mal I know what it looks like. Still, it would surprise me if he did. Jayne See, it's my whole problem with pickin' up tourists. Ain't never what they claim to be. Mal Seems like everyone's got a tale to tell.

INT. HILL FOLK HOSPITAL - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
Simon closes the curtains on a hospital bed. He turns around, looks worried.

Simon River? River? Doralee What's wrong? Simon River's gone. So's the girl. Doralee Ruby. I'll check out back.

Simon moves to the front door, opening it to see,

Simon River, don't... what is that? River (holding a skirtful of berries) For you. Simon Oh. River I picked them. Simon (holding out a bowl) Here. You'll stain your dress. River You have to eat.

They pour the freshly-picked berries into the wooden bowl. River pops a berry into Simon's mouth. He smiles, chews.

Simon Hodgeberries.

(beat)

Do you remember when we found those giant hodgeberry bushes on the Cambersons' estate? And we thought they'd grown wild, but...

(beat)

Long while ago. River I took you away from there. Simon No. River I know I did. You don't think I do, but...

(beat)

I get confused. I remember everything. I remember too much, and... some of it's made up, and... some of it can't be quantified, and... there's secrets. Simon (softly) It's okay. River But I understand. You gave up everything you had to find me. And you found me broken.

(beat)

It's hard for you. You gave up everything you had. Simon Mei mei妹妹
Little sister
... Everything I have is right here.
River You need to eat. Keep up your strength. We won't be here long. Daddy will come and take us home. And I'll get better.

(beat)

I'll get better.

Simon sits down at the table, eating berries. River follows.

Simon These are better than the Cambersons' berries. River They are. Except they're poison.

Simon spits out the berries, looks panicky.

River (laughing) He believed her. Made a face. Simon You are such a brat!

Doralee enters with Ruby.

Doralee (to Ruby) You get to bed, now. Simon We should probably think about doing the same. It's been a big day, what with the abduction, and all. Doralee Well, y'all don't have to sleep here. There's a house set aside for you. We've been looking for a doctor for a good while, so things are ready. Simon Really? River (re: Ruby) Her sister got killed. Mother got crazy, killed the sister. That one lived. Doralee Ruby talked to you, honey?

(to Simon)

I-it's true what she's saying. Poor woman went out of her mind. Tried to kill her two girls. Ruby lived.

(to River)

Sweetheart... you are an angel. No one's been able to get Ruby to speak even a peep.

(laughing)

It's a miracle, that's what it is. River Ruby doesn't talk. Her voice got scared away.

(smiles)

I hear crickets. Doralee I don't understand. If Ruby didn't talk, how do you know...? Simon Um, my sister's... she-she's very good at...

(beat)

What's wrong? Doralee (shocked) "And they shall be among the people. And they shall speak truths and whisper secrets and you will know them by their crafts." Simon What are you talking about? Doralee "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!"

Off Simon's confused face,

BLACK OUT.

 
Act 4
Big damn heroes

INT. CAPITAL CITY PENITENTIARY - FLASHBACK - DAY
Gabriel Tam is waiting in a lobby. Simon is escorted in by a guard.

Gabriel Have you completely lost your mind? Simon Pretty nearly. Gabriel We got the wave at the Friedlich's. I had to leave your mother at the dinner table. Simon (snidely) I'm sorry, dad. You know I would never have tried to save River's life if I had known there was a dinner party at risk. Gabriel Don't you dare be flippant with me. I just spent two thousand credits to get you out of here, and I had to walk through that door which goes on my permanent profile.

(beat)

Are you trying to destroy this family? Simon I didn't realize it would be so easy.

(beat)

Dad, I-I didn't do anything. Gabriel You were in a blackout zone! Simon Talking! To someone who might be able to help River. And I'm going right back there. Gabriel Joo fay woo suh lah除非我死了
Over my dead body
. This is a slippery slope, young man. You have no idea how far down you can go, and you're not taking us with you.
Simon Meaning what? Gabriel I won't come for you again. You end up here, or get mixed-up in something worse, you're on your own. I will not come for you.

(beat)

Now, are you coming home?

EXT. HILL FOLK VILLAGE - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
Doralee is ringing a bell that's drawing all the hill folk out of their homes to gather in the town square.

Simon This is lunacy. You're supposed to be the teacher here. What exactly is it that you teach? Patron What's going on, woman? Why are you knocking us from our beds at this hour? Doralee The new doctor's sister's a witch. She read Ruby's mind. Saw things she couldn't -- Simon No, River is not a witch!

(beat)

She's just a troubled girl. Patron I'm sure that's true.

(to River)

You're not a witch, are you nyen ching-duh年轻的
little one
? I'm the Patron here. Do you know what that means?
River Yes. You're in charge. Ever since the old Patron died. Patron That's right. River He was sick. But he was getting better. You were alone in the room with him.

The Patron lunges forward and hits River.

Patron This girl reads minds and spins falsehoods. She's a witch, and we must purge the devil from her. With fire!

River screams. The crowd lunges forward to grab her.

EXT. ALLIANCE CRUISER MAGELLAN - DOCKING BAY - CONTINUOUS
The Serenity detaches from the Magellan and speeds away.

INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY - CONTINUOUS
Book is lying on an examination table, all patched up.

Mal You're gonna be fine, Shepherd. Alliance patched you up. Book Alliance? Mal Yeah. They let us come, and they let us go. What kind of ident card gets us that kind of reception and send off? Book I am a Shepherd. Folks like a man of God. Mal No, they don't. Men of God make everyone feel guilty and judged. That's not what I saw. You like to tell me what really happened? Book I surely would. And maybe someday I will.

(beat)

It's good to be home.

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA - CONTINUOUS
Jayne is polishing the coins they took off the Grange brothers. Zoe enters.

Zoe Badger just hailed us. Gettin' impatient for his share. Wants us to drop it to his men on the Kowlan Fed Base. Jayne That'd be a hell of a lot easier to do without the two most wanted on board. Life would look to be simpler us not carrying fugies. Zoe (to Mal) He is right, you know. Mal Yeah. Simpler.

EXT. HILL FOLK VILLAGE - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS
The hill folk have built themselves a post and pyre right quick. The Patron is hauling River toward it, intent on burning her witch-ass. They tie her to the pole, hands behind her back.

Simon Take me instead. Take my life for hers. Patron The witch must die. God commands it.

The Patron nods at some hill folk with torches. They move to light the pyre.

Simon No! Get away from her!

Simon runs forward, pulls the hill folk away from River. Simon punches both hill folk out.

Simon She has done nothing to you! If she dies tonight, it won't be God's will that killed her, it'll be you! Your lunacy! Your ignorance!

Seeing he's made no impact on the unchanging sea of faces, Simon moves back and steps on the platform holding River.

Stark That's not going to stop us, doctor. River (to Simon) Post-holer. Digging holes for posts.

Tender moment with Simon gazing up at River's smiling face. He rises one last step and wraps his arms around River.

Simon Light it. River. Time to go.

Hold on them for a moment. Then we hear a RUSHING sound of engines overhead.

SERENITY appears over the clearing where the trial is taking place. The CARGO BAY DOORS open to reveal Jayne in a harness. Jayne cocks VERA and draws a bead on the hill folk.

Mal and Zoe enter from the back of the crowd, guns drawn. They speak loudly to be heard over the engine noise.

Mal Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us? Zoe Big damn heroes, sir. Mal Ain't we just. Sorry to interrupt, folks. Y'all got something that belongs to us and we'd like it back. Patron This is a holy cleansing. You cannot think to thwart God's will. Mal Y'all see the man hanging out of the spaceship with the really big gun? Now I'm not saying you weren't easy to find. It was kinda out of our way, and he didn't want to come in the first place. Man's lookin' to kill some folk. So really it's his will y'all should worry about thwarting.

(to Simon)

Gotta say, doctor, your talent for alienatin' folk is near miraculous. Simon Yes, I'm very proud. Mal Cut her down. Patron That girl is a witch. Mal Yeah, but she's our witch.

(cocks gun)

So cut her the hell down.

BLACK OUT.

INT. SERENITY - SIMON'S ROOM
Close shot of Simon's bed. Someone's dumping a bagful of loot onto it. It's Jayne, hastily returning his ill-gotten gains. Jayne darts out of Simon's room into,

INT. SERENITY - CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS
Jayne's beating his retreat when he sees Simon walking past.

Jayne (looking guilty) Hey, there, doctor. Glad you're back now on the ship. Simon Thanks.

Simon keeps walking. Jayne bolts up the stairs.

INT. SERENITY - COMMON AREA - CONTINUOUS
Mal is standing outside the infirmary. Simon enters.

Simon I've moved him to his room. Mal How's he faring? Simon He's gonna be fine. Yeah. They took good care of him. Mal Good to know. Simon So finally a decent wound on this ship, and I miss out. I'm sorry. Mal Well, you were busy trying to get yourself lit on fire. It happens. Simon Captain... why did you come back for us? Mal You're on my crew. Simon Yeah, but you don't even like me.

(beat)

Why'd you come back? Mal You're on my crew. Why we still talking about this?

(walks off, over his shoulder)

Chow's in ten. No need to dress.

EXT. SPACE - SERENITY - CONTINUOUS
Serenity traveling through space.

INT. SERENITY - KITCHEN AREA - CONTINUOUS
Simon leads River through the doorway into the kitchen area, where the rest of the crew is already sitting.

Mal So then Shepherd says to a Companion, "Well, a good goat would do that."

The crew laughs.

River seats herself at the table. Simon pulls out Kaylee's chair as she's about to sit down. She smiles at him, hands Mal the basket of rolls.

Mal Oh, good. Thank you.

The rolls get passed around the table. River steals the roll from Jayne's plate.

Jayne Hey! Wait, wait, wait...

River smiles, everyone laughs, Jayne grabs another roll from the basket.

BLACK OUT

End of Show
End of Show