In 2511 AD, humans have long since left Earth to terraform and colonize other worlds. A group of central planets have formed an Alliance and demanded that all other planets join up. Some Independent worlds on the frontier choose to fight instead. At the Battle of Serenity Valley, the Alliance delivers a crushing blow to the Independents; soon after, the Alliance consolidates its control.
Six years later, former Independent Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds captains a transport ship he named Serenity. His fellow Independent vet Zoe is his first mate; her husband Wash pilots the Firefly-class vessel. An almost-but-not-quite-obnoxiously optimistic young engineer named Kaylee keeps Serenity running, while the self-interested mercenary Jayne provides some extra muscle. Inara, a licensed Companion, rents one of the ship’s shuttles; the presence of a highly-respected Companion opens doors for the crew that would otherwise be closed.
Mal and his crew perform an illegal salvage job on a wrecked Alliance ship and travel to Perspehone, expecting to drop off the goods and pick up some passengers to bring in extra cash. Shepherd Book, a clergyman who aims to see life outside his abbey for a while, comes aboard, as does Simon Tam, a young doctor with some very large cargo, and one more passenger named Dobson. The salvage dropoff goes sour, because the would-be buyer has learned that the Alliance has imprinted the goods and thus made them very traceable. Mal is forced to divert course and find an alternate buyer for the goods. When the third passenger turns out to be an Alliance agent who broadcasts their location, that’s bad news. When Simon turns out to be fugitive on the run with some very important cargo, it gets worse. And when Simon’s cargo turns out to be his sister River, the situation threatens to reach entirely new levels of badness. Kaylee is shot, and the doctor will only save her if Mal agrees to help him run. Savage humans called Reavers get Serenity in their sights. And Patience, the only possible buyer of the salvage, has had prior dealings with Mal. She shot him then, and he’s pretty sure she aims to repeat the favor this time around – if everyone else trying to kill or capture the Serenity crew gives her the chance.
Regular Cast: Nathon Fillion (Mal Reynolds), Gina Torres (Zoe), Alan Tudyk (Wash), Jewel Staite (Kaylee), Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb), Morena Baccarin (Inara), Sean Maher (Simon Tam), Summer Glau (River Tam), Ron Glass (Shepherd Book)
Guest Cast: Carlos Jacott (Lawrence Dobson), Mark Sheppard (Badger), Andy Umberger (Dortmunder Captain), Philip Sternberg (unnamed), Eddie Adams (unnamed), Colin Patrick Lynch (Radio Operator), Bonnie Bartlett (Patience)
Notes: This two-hour episode was the original pilot for Firefly. When Fox expressed reservations about it, executive producers Joss Whedon and Tim Minear wrote The Train Job as a replacement introduction to the series. Serenity wound up being the last episode Fox aired. When broadcast on Fox and Sci Fi, episodes end with a diagram of Serenity; on the DVD, they end with an executive producer credit for Joss Whedon and Tim Minear.
LogBook entry by Dave Thomer