River seems to be getting psychic flashes of the crew’s thoughts, thoughts that make her feel isolated from the crew. She has a vision of a branch in the cargo bay – but the branch she’s holding turns out to be one of Jayne’s guns. The crew’s concern about River’s erratic behavior only grows when Kaylee informs them of River’s skill with a gun during the rescue from Niska. Mal tries to figure out what to do about River, not realizing that the ship is being tracked by Jubal Early, a bounty hunter who intends to take the decision out of his hands. Jubal inflitrates the ship, incapacitates Mal and Book, and locks most of the crew in their quarters after threatening Kaylee. He forces Simon to help him look for River, holding the threat of violence against Kaylee over his head. The doctor reluctantly complies, but they have no luck. Eventually, River’s disembodied voice begins to speak to them. She claims to have disappeared, to become one with the ship. In truth, she’s inside Early’s ship, offering to go with Early in exchange for the crew’s safety. Simon refuses to go along with this – but is he staging a rescue, or simply ruining a cunning plan?
Guest Cast: Richard Brooks (Jubal Early)
Notes: Kaylee observed River’s shooting skills in War Stories. This is the last one-hour episode that Fox broadcast. A brief scene was reshot to explain Inara’s decision to leave Serenity, since Heart of Gold – where she made that choice – was never aired. Whedon restored the original intended version to the DVD version of the episode.
LogBook entry by Dave Thomer