Season 1 Episode 1

The Train Job

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Sep 20, 2002 on FOX

Episode Recap

Mal, Zoe and Jayne relaxing over a few drinks at a bar. A man stands and makes a toast to the Alliance to celebrate Unification Day. Mal and Zoe, who fought for the Independents in the War, end up in a brawl. Jayne joins in and, just as their opponents have forced them to the edge of a cliff, Wash flies in to save the day.

Apparently, Mal does this every year on Unification Day.

River is having nightmares about medical experiments that were done to her. Simon tries to her question her but she won't reveal anything. She asks about home and Simon reminds her that they're fugitives now.

There's a potential job on the table for the Serenity crew. Mal, Zoe and Jayne meet with a man named Niska. He wants to hire them to steal some unnamed cargo, belonging to the Alliance, off of a train. Niska introduces them to their predecessor (a dead man hanging by his feet) and warns them of the penalty if they don't complete the job. He gives them half the money and instructs them to meet up with his associate, Crow, after they've stolen the goods. They'll exchange the cargo for the balance of their fee then.

Mal and Zoe board the train and discover an entire car filled with Alliance Feds. Zoe is concerned by this development but Mat is fired up at the idea of stealing Alliance goods right out from underneath their noses. They sneak into the freight car and retrieve the specified cases. Serenity flies overhead and Kaylee lowers Jayne down onto the train in a harness. They're lifting out the cargo just as an Alliance Fed shows up and starts shooting. Jayne is shot but manages to get himself and the cargo onto Serenity.

Mal and Zoe, however, are trapped on the train. It pulls in at the next town and the local sheriff begins to question the passengers about the theft. Mal and Zoe discover that the cargo they lifted were actually medical supplies, destined for the tiny mining town they're standing in. The town is sick with a degenerative bone and muscle disease and they were desperately in need of that medicine.

Meanwhile, on Serenity, Jayne wants to meet up with Crow at the rendezvous point for the exchange. He's afraid that if they don't, Niska will have them killed. Book believes that if Niska discovers Mal and Zoe are being held by the authorities, they'll all end up dead anyway. Jayne continues to argue the point until he suddenly passes out from the strong tranquilizer that Simon slipped him.

The crew brainstorms on how to extricate Mal and Zoe. Book suggests that someone "respectable" could simply walk in and get them released. Inara goes in and declares that Mal is really her indentured servant who ran away and stole her money. The sheriff is suspicious but Inara's record checks out and he lets them leave.

When they arrive back on Serenity, Mal and Zoe announce that they're returning the medicine to the town. Crow and Niska's other henchmen show up to retrieve the stolen goods. Mal tells Crow that they've changed their minds. A fight breaks out but they manage to subdue Niska's men.

Mal and Zoe try to covertly return the supplies but the sheriff is waiting for them. Grateful to have the medicine back, the sheriff allows Mal and Zoe leave without arresting them.

They return to Serenity and attempt to reason with Crow, offering to return Niska's money and forgetting the whole deal. Crow responds with bluserty threats and is "accidentally" sucked into one of the ship's engines. The next of Niska's men is much more receptive to Mal's offer.

After Serenity is back on the move, Simon patches up Mal's injuries in the infirmary. Mal inquires as to how River is doing. Simon confirms that she's the same and he still doesn't know what was done to her.

Somewhere on an Alliance ship, a pair of ominous men in suits and blue gloves have arrived, inquiring about a theft. They have a picture of River.