"Out of Gas"
Writer: Tim Minear
Director: David Solomon
Present Time: Serenity floats by. Inside the ship, it's empty. No signs of crew or passengers. Suddenly, Mal appears and drops to the floor, looking ill.
Flashback: The first time Mal showed Zoe his new ship, Serenity. She has serious doubts about this purchase.
Recent flashback: The crew is laughing over dinner. They're all relaxed and having a good time. Kaylee brings out a birthday cake and sets it in front of Simon. Then the ship makes an odd grinding sound as the lights dim.
Kaylee goes to investigate and, as she opens the door, Zoe sees a giant ball of fire heading their way. Zoe shoves Kaylee but is knocked across the room herself by the fire blast. The others rush around and put out the fire. Zoe is rushed to the infirmary and Mal instructs Kaylee to figure out why the ship has stopped moving..
Wash doesn't want to leave Zoe but Mal insists. When Wash continues to refuse, Mal grabs him and orders him to get to the bridge and fix things.
Flashback: Mal and Zoe are interviewing Wash for the pilot position on Serenity. Mal wants to hire him but Zoe's not so sure. Mal presses her on a reason why and she simply says, "He bothers me."
Recent flashback: Zoe's heart stops. Simon pulls out a wicked long needle and injects her with adrenaline.
Present Time: Mal is still alone. He bandages himself in the infirmary and then pulls out another wicked long need and shoots himself with adrenaline.
Recent flashback: Kaylee explains the odd chain of events to Mal that has led to the ship being disabled. She has no good news. In fact, she gives him more bad news. They have no life support. Only a few hours of oxygen left if they're lucky. The others all try to come to term with their possibly impending deaths.
Wash and Mal argue over what to do. Wash says that a beacon is useless since they were flying under the radar per Mal's instructions. Mal has a suggestion that makes no sense to Wash. What he's suggesting won't do anything but screw up the nav system of any ship passing by and force them to stop. Then Wash realizes what he just said and gets right to work on making it happen.
Present Time: Mal is staggering about the ship. He's still alone.
Flashback: Mal finds his mechanic inflagrante deilicto with a young woman instead of fixing his ship. The mechanic explains why he hasn't been able to repair Serenity. The young woman, who turns out to be Kaylee, corrects the mechanic and quickly demonstrates what needs to be done. The ship's engine fires up immediately and Mal immediately offers her a job. She races home to tell her parents and the current mechanic asks why Mal needs two mechanics. Mal responds, "I really don't."
Recent flashback: Kaylee can't find a way to fix the ship. Mal tells her she needs to find one.
Present Time: Serenity's life support alarms have gone off. Mal is trying to fix the engine. He has a part in his hands and then, suddenly, it falls down into the engine.
Recent flashback: Mal gathers everyone together and tells them of his plan. They're going to split up. Four people in each shuttle. The shuttles will fly in opposite directions and see if they can get help. Mal will stay on Serenity in case anyone comes across their beacon. Inara tries to talk him out of his plan but he refuses to leave.
Flashback: Mal shows Inara around one of his empty shuttles that she's looking to rent. She and Mal throws barbs at each other and then Inara announces that she's going to take the shuttle and Mal is going to give her a discount because he needs someone like her on board. Mal wonders why someone as "respectable" as Inara isn't on some fancy ship. He asks her what she's running from. Inara tells him she's not running at all but he doesn't believe her.
Recent flashback: The shuttles depart, leaving Mal alone on Serenity. He goes up to the cockpit and wraps himself in a blanket. The lack of life support is making him cold and drowsy. He falls asleep and misses the call from another ship who has picked up their distress signal.
When Mal wakes up, there is a ship hovering just outside Serenity's windshield. The captain of the ship is suspicious of Mal. He has a part but he's worried that he'll be walking into an ambush. Finally, he agrees to trade the part to Mal.
Turns out, there is an ambush. But the other way around, as the captain and his people storm Mal's ship, guns blazing.
Flashback: Mal and Zoe are facing three men with guns, one of whom is Jayne. Mal decides that Jayne is the smartest of the three and offers him a job, for more money and a private room of his own, if he'll turn the odds in Mal and Zoe's favor. Jayne shoots his boss and then trains his gun on the other man.
Recent flashback: The men from the other ship check Serenity and find it empty. The captain shoots Mal and announces he's taking the ship. Mal pulls his own gun and points it at the captain. Mal instructs them to leave the part and get off his ship.
After the doors close, Mal drops to the floor and we're back at the beginning.
The other ship takes off. Serenity's alarms continue to blare.
Mal manages to fish the needed part out and get the engine working again. He struggles to get to the bridge and let the others know they can return to Serenity. He passes out before he can call anyone.
When he comes to later, he's disoriented and lying in the infirmary surrounded by his crew. Turns out that when Zoe regained consciousness she ordered the shuttles back. They got to Mal in time and Simon was able to replace his lost blood. Wash is lying next to him, the obvious blood donor. Simon orders them all out. Mal needs to rest. Mal agrees drowsily and drifts off again.
Flashback: Mal is shopping for a ship. The dealer is showing him off one in particular. But Mal isn't looking at that one. He's staring across the lot. At Serenity.