So, fancied we’d have a little second issue, eh? Maybe a spot of tea along with it? Well, isn’t that just bloomin’ dandy. Guess you’ve forgotten what happened last time we did this, eh? We’ll, I’ll be sure to spoil any and everything while I’m at it.
On Whitefall, the blue hands smile down at the guard they have just murdered when a bullet impacts near their feet. They look up and express their gratitude for the warning shot, and a man with a cybernetic eye tells them don’t; his depth perception just isn’t what it used to be. He asks what they want.
Blue-Hand 1: The same thing you do . . .
Blue-Hand 2: Agent Dobson.
Dobson says he hasn’t been a fed since his eye was shot out, and expresses doubt at them having a common goal. The blue-hands prove him wrong when they say Serenity.
Meanwhile, Serenity sets down on Persephone. Mal gives Wash a nearly empty bag of money and tells him to fuel the ship, then tells everyone else they can do whatever they want, but to be back to the ship by sunset as Inara has a schedule to keep: a reminder she hardly appreciates. The bay door opens to a large man holding a metal rod, and Jayne instantly beans the man into unconsciousness. Kaylee calls Jayne out for attacking so quickly, but a familiar voice says that it’s quite alright.
Badger and a group of thugs have pulled up, and Badger explains he didn’t like the man anyway, which was why he went first. He then asks Mal if he’d fancy to chitchat. Mal says he’s listening, but Badger sends his goons up, just to make sure. As they start to board, Mal calls to Zoe, who releases a steam-cloud on the approaching goons via a control panel, and then she and Jayne open fire. The goons fall, and Mal asks Badger what he wanted to talk about.
Back on Whitefall, Dobson tells the blue-hands he isn’t after Serenity. No, he is just after Mal, and has a mad-man’s office full of “Die Reynolds” etchings, a voodoo doll, and a target dummy dressed up as Mal with an ax in its chest. He elaborates: “You could say I’m…preoccupied with the idea.” The blue-hands point out that finding Serenity finds Mal, and then the blue-hands get the Tams. After that, Dobson and the blue-hands go their separate ways. Dobson agrees and informs them he already has a plan.
Serenity flies out to the middle of a desert, and the crew surround Badger in a very unfriendly way. Book doubts that they should even be talking to Badger, but Mal tells him to calm down, and that if there is any profit in it, the preacher will get his cut, too. Badger starts by denying anything to do with Ott, instead incriminating two other middle-men named Fanty and Mingo. Mal expresses that he’d rather work with them anyway, then tells Badger to get on with it.
Badger then talks to them about the Battle of Sturgis, a bloody conflict in the Unification War, second only to the Battle of Serenity Valley. The difference was that Sturgis was super-short. Mal and Zoe start to get hostile, and Zoe reminds Badger of the color both her and Mal are partial to wearing. Badger finally gets to the point, which is that the battle was fought over a boatload of cash, and neither side ended up with it. Thus, the coin is just sitting there to be taken. Mal takes the coordinates, but then says he’ll think on it and kicks Badger off this ship and leaves him alone in the middle of the desert.
On Whitefall, the blue-hands are impressed with the resources Dobson has pulled together and wonder why he even needs their help to go after Mal. Dobson says all he needs is clearance of the Alliance, and it will speed him up quite a bit, so the blue-hands guarantee that he’ll have it.
Serenity parks outside of town, and Mal has a roundtable with the crew, where he tells them they are taking Badger’s job and that any complaints better have a paying job attached to them. Inara complains that it had better be after she is dropped off, but Mal says it won’t be as they need the money, and it’s on the way anyway. She storms off, and he asks after any other complaints.
RIVER: I hate that color on you. I always have.
Mal ignores her and starts to dismiss them, but Book speaks up. Mal isn’t surprised, and Book calls Mal out on having given Inara his word on getting her to Sihnon. Mal asks exactly what worth a word is, pointing out how even Book, a preacher, would just as quickly steal a vehicle and live to repent another day than stick to being strictly pious. This earns Mal a solid right-hook from Book. Mal only rubs his jaw and says that is what he thought, then tells Wash to get them moving.
Elsewhere, Dobson watches Serenity fly by, then his shuttle, without him in it, blasts off in pursuit. He turns to his crew and tells them to pack it up, but to remember that he’s the one that gets to kill Reynolds.
On Serenity, Mal is about to go talk to Inara, who is crying, but is interrupted by Wash. Mal says Wash had his chance to whine, but Wash ignores him and talks about how he could have had any job he wanted, even a cushy job piloting a cruiser. Mal makes a vague threat, but Wash keeps talking, going on about how he has a woman nearby that makes him do all sorts of crazy things instead. He then talks about how they are doing an “unhealthsome” gig, but that doing such a thing to keep the woman you love nearby, that is the kind of crazy he can stand by. Mal walks away, telling him to just pilot the ship. Wash returns to the bridge and inputs the course, after which Zoe walks in and they get all sort of intimate in the pilot chair.
Sometime later, as Zoe and Wash are covered by only a sheet in the chair, the sensors go off. Wash curses technology, but upon seeing what it is, he calls the entire crew to the bridge. They arrive as Zoe is still buttoning up her shirt—and River is complaining that the bridge smells like sex—and all look in awe at the wreckage of the Battle of Sturgis: a massive ship graveyard above a barren-looking planet.
Jayne, Zoe and Mal suit up and go into the specific ship they are targeting, and find it odd that the gravity is out, but the ship still has atmo. Wash says he’ll just let Serenity float and blend in with the garbage, and then comments that some of the half-destroyed derelicts are in better condition than their own. Mal tells him to show some respect, they are among the dead, and the blue-hands watch from their hiding place in the wreckage on Dobson’s shuttle.
And it’s the middle issue. Tension abounds as Mal takes yet another job that is just going to blow up in his face, and another old enemy we thought we’d seen the last of appears. There are some nice character moments, both from Wash (of all people) and Book (which was needed, I think, after the last issue). But, all-in-all, this is the bridge between the entry with a bang and the exit with a bang.
So, Book decked Mal. Go preacher! Mal seemed to be expecting it and didn’t care. Go Mal? I mean, I have to wonder what it says for the dichotomy between Mal and Book started back in “Train Job,” where Book says in not so many words that turning Mal back into a decent, loving person was going to be his project. Now, Mal has infected Book, even if it came at us rather quickly, what with the first pages of the first issue.
Now, I know some of you think “Oh, Book was only vaguely aware of that Mal had work on the planet and he’d be a distraction.” Well, I just can’t swallow that. Book has a shady past, right? He also knows that Mal is competent, if also rather noble under it all. So, while Mal might not have actually brought Book into the job, which I still think Book would have actually been against, Book probably at least lied to himself by not “realizing” he was a diversion. The buggy-theft I can see as more along the lines of the assault on Niska’s skyplex: a necessary evil. And of course, this is where Book would punch me too.
Then, almost immediately after, as Inara is losing control over her emotions more and more, we have the Wash-Mal conversation. This mildly doesn’t sit well with me just for a historical reason: Wash claims he took the job because of Zoe, but remember in “Out of Gas” they didn’t know each other and Zoe hated him at first. ‘Course, he could be saying that he could have and would have ditched the job long since, but now Zoe is what keeps him there. In fact, that is probably it, but gorram it was kind of poorly worded.
Mal’s outright attitude has some development to it too. Both in his outward anger (in his words to Wash) over the Inara thing, and his purposeful goading of Book, who until this point, I’d actually always seen them as uneasy but respecting allies. Then again, Book broke the peace first, so I guess fair-was-fair.
Oh, and Inara. She doesn’t have much going on here except for complaining about Mal taking the job because she wants off the ship and back on Sihnon, but her private waterworks kind of makes me wonder if Mal’s tactic was working. Keeping her around so that she actually would cave and talk about it instead of just bolting. And, I can’t decide if that makes me like or hate the whole romantic mess a hair more. Regardless, it would have just been a hair.
It is fun to see Dobson again, especially cyborg-Dobson, and yay for blue-hands doing their blue-hands thing, ‘cause you can just feel that the resolution of that hanging plot is still there. Speaking of hanging plots….
No Reavers. That, my friends, annoys me. And I’ll go ahead and spoil the next issue and tell you they aren’t in there either. It could have been so easy too. Mention of the battle being interrupted and destroyed by Reavers (which would also explain why the money would still be there). And then, boom, we remember they exist and it sets us up for the movie. Instead, the battle was actually not very well explained (why did it end so bloody and quick?), and there really is no explanation for why the money is still there.
And speaking of money, I find it funny and yet endearing how physical money is still the most preferred method of payment. Yes, I know the alliance uses credits, as was mentioned by Simon’s dad in “Safe,” but even on the middle planet like Persephone, it seems that actual precious metal monies are preferred. Guess an Alliance credit just doesn’t go very far in the rim.
Pub Date: August 03, 2005
Covers: Book, Kaylee, Zoe
See ya’ll next week for issue number three, where we tie up a plot line only to introduce a new one. Luckily, unlike Lost, all of these do eventually get tied up.
Pictures compiled from http://www.darkhorse.com.
Richard Fife is a blogger, writer, and doing all he can to not be punched by ticked off preachers. You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short stories at http://RichardFife.com.