Firefly - "Safe"
Written by: Drew Z. Greenberg
Episode #: 1AGE04
SHOOTING SCRIPT - August 27, 2002
Rich expensive BRANDY as it pours into a rich expensive snifter. Pull back to see:
INT. TAM ESTATE - DAY
The room, tasteful, lit by candlelight, feels warm. SIMON holds the snifter. He swirls the brandy around a bit to warm it, inhales the aroma, looks up and smiles.
This is a joke, right?
We see Simon's father, GABRIEL, 50, refined, used to having control, standing in front of him. At the moment, he seems warm and jovial.
Yes. That's exactly right. Because
brandy is funny.
Gabriel pours brandy for himself and for Simon's mother, REGAN, late 40s, elegant.
Aged New Canaan brandy. How much did
you pay for this? I thought business
Simon tries to read his father's grin. Then:
Fine, spoil my fun.
I had a talk today with Jerome
Stuart. Seems he's about to take
over as Head of Surgery at AMI. Said
when you're done with your
internship, there'll be an attending
position waiting for you.
This is a huge moment for Simon. He's thrilled.
Simon stares into his glass, embarrassed.
It's not a big deal.
Playing along, Gabriel reaches for Simon's glass. Simon pulls it away, grinning.
Okay, okay. It's an enormous deal.
AMI, that's, I can really do good
Gabriel and Regan stare at Simon.
For the ceremony. Did she say she'd
be able to get away?
Gabriel chuckles to himself.
I just... I haven't heard from her in
a while. I thought she'd come home
sometimes, or at least send a wave,
but there's only been the occasional
letter, and half the time she doesn't
sound like herself.
Simon forces a smile.
The three of them rise and lift their glasses...
May your future always be as bright
as it is this very moment --
The three glasses meet... CLINK.
EXT. JIANGYIN / CARGO BAY - DAY
Squish. Simon has stepped in cow poop on the ship's ramp. Future not lookin' so bright right this second.
< cow poop >
JAYNE passes him, amused.
'Bout time you broke in them pretty
Jayne takes us further, showing us that the crew is off- loading the cows (from ep 3) into an open prairie at the edge of the woods. We're on Jiangyin, a planet heavy on the nature -- woods and scrubby grazing ground.
Simon continues down the ramp, moving around cows, trying to keep out of the way of all the activity:
MAL leads a cow as Jayne SMACKS another steer on its rump, urging it to move.
Ha! Git along!
Simon looks down to see WASH AND ZOE, at the base of the ramp, where they are sending the cows off to the side, where BOOK directs them into a makeshift pen.
Hope this corral's strong enough to
hold them. "Shepherd" is a purely
figurative title, you know.
ANGLE ON: Simon again. He's made his way off to one side. He scrapes at his shoe with a stick. Mal approaches him.
What're you doing out here, Doc?
Besides the scraping.
The CAMERA STARTS TO MOVE off them...
Captain, my sister and I have been on
your ship for more than two months
now. You haven't collected a fare
from us in weeks. I don't much feel
like a guest... I want to be of use.
The last off screen because by now WE'RE UP INTO THE TREES, where...
... a figure, STARK, scurries away across the branches with an almost inhuman skill.
EXT. TREETOPS - MOMENTS LATER
Stark lands on a branch. Two other shabby men crouch there.
Got a good look. They waitin' fer a
payment- Somethin' there worth
takin', too. They got precious cargo.
On Stark's crafty look, we --
EXT. JIANGYIN / CORRAL - DAY
CLOSE ON RIVER and a cow. She's looking into one of its eyes and murmuring:
Little soul big world. Eat and sleep
Jayne appears, bringing another cow, sees her communing with the bovine. She's reaching back toward the animals.
Many souls. Very straight, very
Mal appears, On his approach, trying to get to her:
Cattle on the ship three weeks, she
don't go near 'em. Suddenly, we're
on Jiangyin and she's got a driving
need to commune with the beasts?
River looks at Mal very seriously.
They weren't cows inside. They were
waiting to be, but they forgot. Now
they see sky and they remember what
River recoils from him. He's not Simon. Now Simon appears, approaching. Sees River backing away from Mal. Some cows might get agitated by this.
What's going on?
What are you doing?
River is looking at the ends of her hair now, completely tranquil. Jayne, still nearby, snorts. Simon bristles.
She understands more than you think.
Anyway -- she didn't mean any harm.
Simon looks startled, worried.
Mal continues with his back to Simon. Off Simon --
INT. "GENERAL SUPPLY" - DAY - LATER
A dusty local store. Mostly ranching supplies: feed and branding irons and horseshoes. Along one wall there are some local crafts. A bored-looking proprietor reads a Chinese- language newspaper at the counter.
KAYLEE and INARA browse among the crudely made items.
Kaylee holds up a little painted souvenir dish with painted chinese characters on it.
You think this'd make a nice gift?
Kaylee just studies the dish.
I just think it's nice. Kinda rich,
Just then, Simon and River enter. Simon is nervous about being out and visible, a little frazzled at having to watch River constantly.
Kaylee's over-bright greeting just makes Simon more jumpy. He forces a smile, nods.
We don't usually see you two out and
River immediately goes to the farming equipment, starts touching things.
River, careful with that, that's...
(helplessly to Kaylee)
What is that?
He steers her over to the crafts section with the women. He picks up the little dish Kaylee was admiring.
(reads the Chinese)
"Jiangyin, Prairie Paradise."
Good God. They ask money for this
< crap >?
Kaylee flinches, but recovers.
Hard to believe, ain't it?
I'm glad you're out.
He smiles absently, politely. His focus on River.
Give you a chance to loosen up a bit.
Tiny delayed reaction to Kaylee's perfectly innocent comment.
What's that supposed to mean? Loosen
His attention's split. He moves to take something breakable out of River's hand-
Fun. Right. I consider this "fun."
It's "fun" being forced to the ass-
end of the galaxy, get to live on a
piece of < garbage > wreck and eat
molded protein while playing
nursemaid to my < not entirely sane >
Simon may not have noticed how that all stung. Kaylee just stares at him. He glances at her Sees her looking at him. A beat.
< Garbage >?
He's got nothing to say. She turns and heads for the exit. Inara falls in with her, walks out side by side. As they go:
(softly, to Kaylee)
You're getting better at hiding it.
Simon, already regretting the altercation, takes a beat, sighs a "god am I an asshole today" sigh. Then he turns to collect River.
But River is gone.
EXT. JIANGYIN / CORRAL - DAY
The ship's ramp is empty of cows now. But littered with that which cows leave behind. Mal stands at the base of the ramp, surveying the damage.
This is the last time. Last time
Zoe approaches Mal.
I heard there was some idea regarding
beagles. They got smallish droppings?
Mal turns to see the GRANGE BROTHERS standing near the makeshift corral, looking at the animals. Jayne stands nearby. Book is not far off, seeing to the fencing.
I better go take their money.
Mal heads toward the brothers. Zoe turns and heads into the ship.
ANGLE ON: THE GRANGE BROTHERS
There are two of them, shabby low-life types. They're looking over the cows critically now, examining their hooves, eyes, teeth. Mal approaches.
Good morning, Gents. You must be the
Grange brothers. Hope you're hungry
They say nothing. Continue to examine the cattle.
Attractive animals, ain't they?
The Granges continue to look sour.
Twenty a head.
The Grange boys step back to talk -- they look nervous, casting looks toward MAL and Jayne, toward the surrounding woods...
Mal and Jayne eyeball them. A RUSTLING in the trees. Seems it could be the wind. Before Mal can take much note, Book approaches.
(off the brothers)
A NOISE. The Granges spin, hands go near their guns (they don't draw.) WASH is on the loading ramp, dumping a bucket of water. The Granges relax. Wash re-enters the ship.
They seem a mite jumpy to you?
Off Mal, watching the men, considering that...
EXT. "GENERAL SUPPLY" JIANGYIN - DAY
Simon, more than jumpy, standing in front of the store, just catches a glimpse of River's dress as she disappears around a corner. He dashes after her. He rounds the corner to see...
LOCAL COPS, a group of five, heading toward him with some purpose. He freezes.
But River is there, a block ahead of him. He bravely heads toward her. As he passes the cops:
(comes out way too
The cops pass him harmlessly. We stay with him as he winces. He continues on, spots River going around a corner. Follows.
EXT. JIANGYIN / CARGO BAY - DAY
Mal and Jayne are talking with the Grange Brothers again. Book is visible in the b.g., tending to the corral fencing.
See, the problem we got with twenty-
three is that it ain't thirty.
Kaylee and Inara, returning to the ship, walk right past the group. The Granges's eyes follow the women. This isn't lost on Mal who steps into their purview with:
(without a break)
... serious trouble. Of the you-owe-
Mal and Jayne exchange a look. The transaction is coming to a close.
Well, we'd be takin' a loss, but you
seem like clean and virtuous boys...
The elder Grange takes out a little cloth bag, starts counting money into Mal's palm. But freezes when he hears:
Marcus and Nathaniel Grange!
They all turn to look -- A COP, one of the ones Simon saw in town, stands nearby, gun drawn.
You are both wanted in connection to
the illegal killing of Rance Durban.
You are bound by law to stand down!
The other four cops emerge variously about the scene. As Mal puts his hands in evidence, surrounded:
(aside to Book)
Yes, Shepherd. Now that you mention
it, they do seem a mite jumpy.
Off that --
INT. CORRIDOR / INT. TENT - DAY
Simon enters a low ceilinged long corridor/hallway. He catches a glimpse of River up ahead, she disappears around a bend in the corridor.
moving down the dark, scary corridor- Moving... River is nowhere to be seen, but Simon speaks to her anyway--
He turns a dark corner which opens into --
An open, beautiful airy space. A decorated tent.
Local women fill the floor, dancing an intricate folk dance.
River stands on the edge of this, not seeing Simon. Never taking her eyes off the dancers.
EXT. JIANGYIN / CARGO BAY - DAY
The cops, guns drawn, are moving in on the scene. They disarm the Granges and also Mal and Jayne. Firearms are dropped into a neat pile on the dirt.
Another cop is rousting Book nearby. No gun.
Appears we have ourselves a
The Younger Grange suddenly lunges at the cop who is frisking him. Wrestles the cop's gun away from him, turns to kill, but suddenly BANG!, the gun is shot out of his hand by --
who is on the ramp at the ship, never far from her captain's back.
And now all hell breaks loose. The Elder Grange pulls a concealed gun that the cops hadn't yet got to. More gunfire.
Mal and Jayne drop to the ground, reach for their guns from the pile...
Here we go.
Now Mal notices -- THE CLOTH MONEY BAG in the dust. Just a little more than arm's length away. Mal reaches for it, fingertips brushing the edge of it. Reaching... reaching... MAL grabs it --
-- just as a BULLET kicks up dust. Mal rolls clear, but has the cash as
INT. TENT - DAY
River watches from the sidelines. She watches intently, studying. Simon tries to make his way to her. But she DARTS INTO THE DANCE.
She works her way into the pattern, mimicking the others' steps perfectly. She dances.
EXT. JIANGYIN / CORRAL - DAY
The fire fight continues. Mal and Jayne are on the ground between the other parties. The Grange boys fire at the five cops.
The cops return fire.
Mal and Jayne keep low, bullets sailing over them.
I < hate it > when this happens.
The Granges make a break for it, disappear into the corral. Still firing --
Mal looks back to Zoe on the ramp, she indicates where the Granges have gone.
Mal nods back. Mal and Jayne use the cows for cover as they do a mini-pincher move around the Grange boys --
INT. TENT - DAY
River continues to dance. As Simon watches, she throws back her head. We see what Simon sees: she wears a huge grin.
Simon notices, a look of amazement, wonder, on his face. He is in awe of her. Even Simon's starting to smile now, loosening up. The music continues, and so does...
EXT. JIANGYIN / CORRAL / INT. TENT - INTERCUT
The gun battle.
We're INTERCUTTING now. Between River as her dance gets more and more frenzied and...
...the gun fight. Chaos and confusion. The cops firing into the herd. The Granges firing back. And Mal and Jayne closing in on the Granges.
IN THE TENT. River dances...
AT THE CORRAL. The Younger Grange is hit! He goes down, but he's only wounded. He reaches for his gun.
The Elder Grange comes to his aid, firing back at the cops. But suddenly --
-- Mal appears, sailing at him, taking him down. The cops swarm in. None of them hit.
Mal sighs as the cops take the Granges into custody. He looks around. Reacts to something, as...
IN THE TENT. River stops dancing suddenly. Reacting to something as well. Sensing something terrible, as...
AT THE CORRAL. Mal and Jayne rush to find...
on the ground. Hit. Blood blooms on his shirt. His eyes roll up. He blinks at Mal, confused. It's bad.
INT. TENT - CONTINUED
Simon grows concerned, seeing River through the undulating crowd. Sees she is caught up in one of her premonitions.
Simon strains to see her...
She is covered by the crowd, then revealed again, getting a bit jostled. Simon starts to move toward her when --
A HOOD is pulled down sharply over Simon's head. Stark and his two MEN are there. They spirit him off. Silent and fast. Off River, alone among the dancers --
EXT. JIANGYIN / CARGO BAY - DAY
Book lies in the dust of the corral, staring up at the milling cows. And also Mal, who is perched over him, trying to stem the blood flow. Jayne is there, too. Looking at something off screen.
Stay with me, Shepherd.
Book tries to focus, bleary-eyed. He looks down his body, tries to take it in...
That's... that's quite a lot of
blood, isn't it?
But Jayne's looking off toward --
-- the COPS taking away what they came here for: the Grange Brothers in rough custody.
Mal flashes him a look.
INT. CARGO BAY - DAY
Mal and Jayne, along with Zoe carry Book onto the ship. Kaylee appears as they move through, toward the infirmary.
What's going on -- ?
She stops asking, sees it.
Oh God, Shepherd! Shepherd can you
They carry the stretcher across the cargo bay toward the infirmary.
INT. SERENITY / INFIRMARY - DAY
They move Book from the stretcher onto the operating table. Zoe rips open Book's shirt, revealing the wound -- gunshot high in the chest.
Don't look good.
Mal shoots him a look that says both "duh" and "shut the fuck up." Mal hits an intercom:
Wash! Get down to the infirmary!
< Now! >
Mal moves with a purpose.
We gotta try and stop this bleeding.
Mal moves for the cabinet. As he does he tosses the cloth money bag onto the infirmary counter -- it leaves a bloody smear. He grabs more blood rags and bandages, like that.
Kaylee has drifted closer and closer to Book, tearing UP.
You don't worry now, shepherd Book.
Cap 'n Zoe got lots of experience
with this kinda thing. Seen lots
worse in the war.
Shepherd? Shepherd Book?
He ain't breathin'!
Book starts to CONVULSE VIOLENTLY.
ON KAYLEE, tears brimming as she backs away from the horror. Zoe rips open the package of a disposable styrette and hands it to Mal, who plunges it into Book's arm.
Finally the convulsions subside. Mal turns away from the scene. Looks to Kaylee.
(calm down, be brave,
I haven't the time)
He ain't dead. But he is bad off.
Now we gotta see what we can do to
Wash appears now. Takes in the sight before him.
< Oh, god, no. >
Wash nods, heads off. Mal rejoins Zoe at Book's side. Kaylee stares at her dying friend...
EXT. WOODS - DAY
Simon is dragged through the woods by Stark and his men. Stark moves ahead, the Shabby Man drags Simon, stumbling, by the arm.
Faster. Gotta go faster. Wanna get
there afore dark.
Stark turns and shoves him hard and he falls. On impact --
INT. TAM ESTATE - NIGHT
Our second flashback. [Note: this scene takes place several weeks after the previous flashback, so wardrobe should change.] Simon stands facing his mother. It's tense.
Your sister is fine, Simon.
Gabriel is at his desk, looking over a sheaf of papers. He stands up, bringing the papers with him.
They seem perfectly normal to me.
Simon points at the pages frantically, pointing things out:
She talks about last summer at the
Regan and Gabriel share a look -- that just sounded nuts.
Simon takes a breath, tries not to sound anything but rational and dispassionate as he says, plainly:
Something is going on at that school.
Something is happening to your
daughter. She's trying to tell us.
Gabriel's look is unreadable.
Yes. Yes, I believe she is.
He looks at his father.
Right here in this letter, Simon.
You see? She talks about making new
friends. Having a wonderful time.
Were you so busy trying to crack the
secret "code" that you missed that
He's starting to feel unsure.
No. I did... I mean, I don't
Now Simon's really confused.
You miss her.
He nods. Gabriel puts a paternal hand on his boy's shoulder.
You will, son. Just be patient.
Simon, his anger dissipated, looks uncertain.
EXT. WOODS - DAY
SUNLIGHT GLARES through the trees. Simon squints against it as he is still being forced along in front of Stark and his men. He's a little dizzy from the earlier fall. He blinks through the glare up ahead... sees...
Feminine, fragile, a nearly angelic vision up ahead.
Blinks again. Slows.
Stark gives him a mighty push that sends him stumbling ahead... but he doesn't take much note of the violence, he's still looking toward the figure that stands among the trees, looking at him now.
No... Oh, no...
Stark and his men are noticing the figure now, too. It's River. And she's smiling.
The men exchange looks, grow wary --
Her smile fades into confusion.
Simon manages to tear himself away by sheer force of will, the sight of sister giving him sudden strength. He bolts toward her.
But Stark and his men chase him down. Simon is nearly to her, now. In desperation Simon PUSHES RIVER away roughly.
River looks at him, tears in her eyes. She doesn't know why he pushed her.
And then one of Stark's men has her by the arms- She's caught too.
And now they're both being forced forward, Simon utterly defeated now as --
INT. CARGO BAY - DAY
Kaylee paces in the cargo bay. Inara and Jayne are nearby. They both react to the SOUND of the MULE. Kaylee perks up.
They're back! Doctor's back!
Mal appears from the infirmary area as Wash drives up in the mule. Alone. The others register this. Wash parks the Mule, climbs off.
Where's the doctor? Why isn't he
They all look at him.
Looks like maybe they got snatched.
Mal moves to the controls that work the doors. Kaylee reacts as the ramp starts to rise, closing up.
What are you doing? What about
Simon and River?
THUNK! The ramp door closes.
Wash, get us in the air.
Wash obeys, heads off. Mal moves off, too. We hold on Kaylee, registering what's happening, surprised, devastated --
EXT. WOODS - DAY
As SERENITY RISES UP over some trees in the distance, then takes off heading for space -- CAMERA TILTS DOWN TO...
Pausing in his trek, watching as he and River are left behind. Stark appears.
You just keep movin'.
And with a helpful shove from Stark, he does. He keeps moving. Moving and looking back for a moment, until the SOUNDS of Serenity hitting atmo and getting fainter cause him to turn forward, stumbling toward whatever awaits him --
EXT. SERENITY - EFFECT
The ship moves through space, fast.
INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY
Book is laid out on the examining table, apparently unconscious. Zoe stands over him, cleaning the wound. He opens his eyes, watches her for a moment before she's aware he's awake. She looks grim.
(re: her expression)
She looks at him, a little caught.
Battle wounds are nothing new to me,
preacher. Seen men live with a dozen
holes in 'em that size.
Book's losing it, starting to drift away again.
He could hurry a little...
INT. SERENITY - BRIDGE
Wash is piloting. Mal leans over his shoulder. They're looking at a star chart on a display.
Well, there's Greenleaf. They'd have
med help there.
Inara has just entered, overheard that last line.
You know where to find what you need.
He looks at her. Off that eye contact --
INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY
Kaylee enters the infirmary, joining Zoe, who is watching Book -- genuinely unconscious now. Kaylee makes a move to hold his hand.
(re: holding hand)
After a beat:
We left 'em back there.
EXT. WOODS / BACKWOODS SETTLEMENT - DAY
River and Simon struggle along though the woods. Stark and his men march behind them, keeping the pace up. Simon stares down at his own feet. River is calm, almost cheerful.
They're walking us faster. We must
be almost there.
He looks at her. Was that a premonition or gibberish? The procession comes to a halt. Simon looks up to see that they're indeed, here.
It's a small community. Falling down gray wood shacks. A frontier town that lost the battle with the forest, and was overrun. The general look is Appalachian village.
A few beaten looking people sit in front of the shacks: thin men cooking on crude clay ovens, grim-faced tattered women tending to dirty children in sack-dresses.
Stark pulls Simon roughly by the arm, out into the center of the cluster.
Look at what we got! It's a doctor!
Got ourselves a doctor!
A doctor. A real doctor.
Simon looks to Stark who suddenly seems less threatening -- because he's smiling and not malevolently, but with a kind of relief.
Simon looks back to the village as more and more. TOWNSFOLK begin to emerge...
(nudging him, sotto)
Stand up straight.
Simon does, as many of the townsfolk draw nearer, tentative, curious.... some in awe...
Wash is looking with some awe himself at a thing just outside the cockpit window.
Mal looks less awestruck and more or less just grim.
You sure this is where you wanna be?
EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS
SERENITY moving (slowly now) through space. CAMERA PANS with Serenity, revealing just what it is she's moving toward...
AN ENORMOUS ALLIANCE CRUISER. A GRAPHIC comes up over this image: Alliance Cruiser, Magellan, Outer Rim.
INT. BACKWOODS SICKHCUSE - DAY
A DOOR is pushed open. Dusty SUNLIGHT pours into this dark place. Simon and Stark are silhouetted against it.
He ushers Simon inside.
Don't figure it's near as fancy as
you're used to, but it's what we got.
River enters with them. Simon tries to make his eyes adjust to the dimness. It's dark in here, and there are eight or nine people inside, all ages. There are a few cots around the edges, but mostly people sit on the dirt floor. Everyone is thin, haggard, hopeless. They look at him with dead eyes.
What... what is this place? Am I in
INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUOUS
Mal and Wash looking out at the imposing Alliance Cruiser which fills the entire bridge window.
Be sure to ask nicely.
Wash nods, he's already got his hand mic poised to speak into:
Alliance Cruiser Magellan, this is
Firefly transport Serenity,
requesting permission for docking.
As Wash says this, Mal moves to exit the bridge, passing...
...Inara who stands there. He doesn't even look at her. Off Inara, and before Wash's request can be answered...
T'ain't a prison...
INT. BACKWOODS SICKHOUSE - DAY
The sad, dark place.
...it's the sickhouse.
There is some COUGHING and MOANING. Simon looks to River. who gazes with sadness and compassion on those there. Stark calls out to a young woman, DORALEE.
Got yer doctor.
Stark turns and exits. Simon looks around, moves closer to the patients.
What's your name?
Doralee looks over, sees River.
Well, hello there. Who're you?
River tries to move toward the sick people. Simon holds her back.
Just... sit down over there.
She does. Doralee looks to River; Simon looks to the assembled.
Has there been... is there a sickness
As Simon rolls up his sleeves --
EXT. SERENITY - EFFECT
We dock with the huge ship Magellan.
INT. SERENITY - AIRLOCK
Mal and Jayne carry Book on a stretcher from the infirmary area into the cargo bay where Zoe waits for them.
How we gonna do this?
They carefully lower Book onto a large crate in the cargo bay that's near the sliding airlock doors. Mal takes off his gun, hands it to Jayne.
A beat. Jayne does. Mal moves to the controls, starts rolling back the inner airlock doors.
You sanguine about the kinda
reception we're apt to receive on an
Alliance ship, Captain?
Mal moves to the smaller inner door on the ramp, hits a button -- WHOOSH, it opens, and MAL finds himself facing a PMALANX OF GUNS held on him by Alliance Soldiers.
INT. BACKWOODS SICKEOUSE - DAY
Doralee has brought a hurricane lamp and a wicker box presumably with medical supplies. Simon kneels in front of a child with a bandaged arm. He unwraps the bandage. As he examines the child --
This all seems pretty minor. There's
no epidemic? Nothing more serious?
I was brought here just to tend to
Simon looks up from his work.
You're... are you a prisoner here
Off Simon's incredulous reaction we return to...
INT. SERENITY AIRLOCK - CONTINUED
Mal, Zoe and injured Book face an array of guns. There are three soldiers, a COMMANDER in charge, and an ENSIGN.
Mal and Zoe are not wearing weapons and keep their hands in evidence as the Commander and his team moves into the cargo bay area. Regard the injured Book.
We're requesting aid. No other
She carefully pulls a little folder of papers from her vest, hands 'em over the Ensign. As he looks at them...
What's your business?
Mal indicates with his head -- back toward Book.
We need medical help.
Mal's getting twitchy -- Book might be dying.
Fast'd be better'n slow.
The Ensign looks up from the papers. He hands them to the Commander. He looks at them.
(to the Colonel)
Official seal's out of date,
Book opens his eyes, looks up at the Commander.
We ain't been through a checkpoint in
a while, Sir. You gonna see to my
The Commander looks at Book, startled.
My ident card... pocket...
Book tries to reach into his own pants pocket, winces...
The Commander nods to the Ensign. He helps Book, comes up with an ident card... a square of electronic paper.
Mal and Zoe watch with interest -- weren't expecting this and don't quite know what to make of it.
The Ensign takes the card, slides it into a reading device (size of a credit card imprinter) which overrides its privacy code, and takes in secured information on it. He hands it to the Commander. WE CAN SEE information scrolling across the card. The Commander looks at it. Then, to the Ensign:
Get this man to the infirmary at
The soldiers carry Book off to the infirmary. Zoe and MAL exchange a look.
INT. BACKWOODS SICKHOUSE - NIGHT
Simon has brought in even more light. Some of the people, having been treated, have left. The few remaining ones seem happier, livelier... Simon is making a difference.
Simon is treating a woman's infected hand when another woman approaches him. As Simon finishes treating the first woman, Doralee enters and approaches him. She has River with her.
I found her. She wasn't far.
River wanders to a corner of the room, sits among some small children.
She's not quite right, is she?
Simon finishes what he's doing...
(to the patient)
You keep that bandage clean now, you
Simon sits back and looks toward River.
River's been through some trauma.
She's recovering though.
They watch as River looks at a little girl, age around seven, we'll know as RUBY. The little girl looks back at her, apparently unresponsive.
She won't get a good conversation out
of Ruby, I can tell you that much.
That little girl's mute.
ANGLE ON: River and the little girl.
Place like this might be good for
your sister. Quiet, safe. Place
where folks-take care of each other.
We linger on Simon as he considers that, looks at his sister for a long beat.
INT. ALLIANCE CRUISER - INFIRMARY/VIEWING ROOM
Mal, Zoe and Jayne in an observation room just off the big, hi-tech Alliance cruiser infirmary. Within we see ALLIANCE DOCTORS working on Book. This has none of that E.R. urgency -- it's all very staid and antiseptic.
So what do you figure -- Shepherd's
got some sort of Alliance connection?
Jayne starts to kick back, have a seat. Stops as:
We don't sit. This ain't a place to
make yourself comfortable.
Jayne's about to protest, but before he can:
We don't sit.
Jayne stands awkwardly. Off Mal, looking into the infirmary --
INT, BACKWOODS SICKHOUSE - NIGHT
Simon pulls a blanket over a patient who is asleep. He stands. Work done for the day. He turns. River is not there. Nor is little Ruby.
Simon nods. Doralee moves off. Simon moves to the entrance. He pulls open the door --
-- and there's River. Alone. She's using her dress as a pouch for something.
River, don't... what is that?
She reveals a skirt full of BERRIES.
He looks around, finds a bowl, starts helping her to transfer the berries.
This is... thank you.
He looks at her. Smiles. As he puts one of the berries in his mouth:
They're not poison.
He almost chokes as he laughs. Hugs her. Now Doralee appears with Ruby.
(relieved to see
You found her.
Ruby moves off to her makeshift bed, one of the many mats.
Yes, she... there are berries.
Doralee takes a troubled, horrified step backward...
Witch. She's a witch! You brought
a witch to us!
He's been moving steadily toward her; she's been backing up to the doorway. He reaches for her --
No... Doralee, please...
She runs into the night. Simon is, understandably, alarmed.
INT. TAM ESTATE - NIGHT
We're in Simon's third and final flashback. [Note: again, this is on a different night, new wardrobe.] We're in the same room. Regan looks out the window, alone. Face etched with worry, drink in hand. It's POURING RAIN outside. She hears the front door open O.S. Simon enters wearing an overcoat, walking briskly, followed by his father-
Simon! Thank god! I was so worried.
She just stares. Gabriel looks more annoyed than worried.
Can you believe this? This is what
I've had to listen to for the last
Gabriel goes to the phone-screen, starts to make a call.
I'll call Johan. He should be able
to scrub this off his record, with a
small transfer of funds...
Simon slams the shut-off, stopping the call.
Dad! Forget my record! River is in
Simon looks like he's been slapped across the face. Stunned.
We are. And we have to be very
careful what we do. This is a
government school, Simon. People in
our position... it's important that
we show support for this government.
Simon stares at them both for a beat, taking this in. He leaves the room, exits to --
EXT. TAM ESTATE / ENTRYWAY - NIGHT
Simon steps out into the rain. Gabriel follows.
Where are you going?
Simon moves out into the RAIN. Gabriel takes a step after him --
That's < bullcrap >. We gave both of
our children everything they could
Simon turns back, rain beating down on him.
But you never gave us anything we
A beat as Simon sees the pain on his father's face. Wants that to be true. Rain streaming down his face, he softens for one last plea.
Then show me. Show River. Come with
me, dad. We can save her.
A long beat as Gabriel just stares at his son.
Believe me, Simon... if I thought
even for a moment...
Simon stares at his father for a beat, then turns and walks away into the night.
EXT. BACKWOODS SETTLEMENT - NIGHT
Simon and River watch as Doralee rings the town bell. It's at the side of the little street, rigged to a pole. She pulls repeatedly at the cord that swings the clapper. Townspeople, about a dozen, emerge onto the streets. Stark among them. Doralee yells to them as they appear.
Witch! The girl's a witch!
An older man, an official known as the town PATRON, comes to Doralee, puts a hand on her arm, makes her stop ringing the bell. He's got a long coat over pajamas, an air of authority, and he seems completely rational and comforting.
What's going on, woman? Why are you
knocking us out of our beds this hour?
River is clinging to Simon, confused and scared.
River's not a witch. She's just a
The Patron smiles at the brother and sister.
I'm sure that's true-
You're not a witch, are you, < young
one >? I'm the Patron here -- do you
know what that means? It means I'm
in charge. You can tell me.
River stays silent. The Patron continues to look at her intently. Simon gets uncomfortable.
(to the Patron,
The old Patron died. He was sick and
you were alone in the room with him.
The Patron slaps her across the face.
Simon makes a rush for him and is restrained.
This girl reads minds and spins
falsehoods! She has had congress
with The Beast!
The Patron motions to two men who step forward, take River.
We will purge the devil from her.
She KICKS... struggling to break free. This isn't delicate squirming, but an all-out fight.
She lets out a horrible long SCREAM -- as if she's being killed. It's shocking. It doesn't help.
No! She didn't mean anything!
INT. SERENITY / INFIRMARY - NIGHT
We're back on Serenity. Book is on the recovery table. Comes around. Sees Mal hovering over him.
Well. That's not a face I expect to
see in heaven. Guess I survived.
Thank you, Captain. It was very
resourceful of you.
Mal moves to join her just outside the door.
Wave come up on the cortex -- Badger
heard we left Jiangyin. Wants to
know why we're not on our way back to
Persephone with his share of the
EXT. BACKWOODS SETTLEMENT - NIGHT
The villagers are constructing a witch-burning set-up... vertical pole, kindling... you know how it goes.
Men SCURRY UP TREES, like Stark before. They go into the high branches, drop down dry, dead kindling.
River, being held, is calm again. But Simon is losing it. Stark is there now, too, looking regretful.
Don't do this. There has to be
The Patron says something to the men holding River. They spirit her over to the stake. The men start to tie River to the stake. She doesn't struggle. They're piling kindling there. One of the men fires up a small TORCH.
Simon manages to rip free, rush over, shoves that guy aside.
Get away from her!
He gets hit. Hits back. More of the men come at him. He stands between them and River. Sees that he's woefully outnumbered.
If you must have a sacrifice, will
you not take me instead?
Simon sees the odds. Nothing to do now. He looks to River, gently brushes the hair from her eyes.
Post holer. For digging holes. For
She smiles at him. Doesn't seem frightened. He smiles back, tries not to explode with the emotion. He puts his arms around her. Then, all defiance, he turns to the mob.
The Patron nods to the man with the torch. He brings it up. Is about to touch it to the pile...
(clear and still)
Time to go.
Then the wind picks up and it gets darker, as
SERENITY RISES UP
huge and gray. THUNK. The BOMBAY DOORS open on the belly of Serenity and there's Jayne, hanging out of them, big ass rifle with a flashlight strapped to it aimed down on those assembled. He could pick off any of them at any time. THE VILLAGERS back away, stunned.
Say there, doc --
MAL AND ZOE, fully armed, emerge from the trees behind the crowd. Guess who's surrounded now?
Now don't you think you're takin'
this persecution complex of yours a
mite far? Why don'tcha just... step
down off the pyre.
A few of the men make a move. CHA-CHUNK. BLAMM! A burst of buckshot at their feet from Zoe's gun convinces them that might not be a such a great idea.
Cut her down.
Off Mal's won't-take-no-for-an-answer look...
INT. SERENITY - INFIRMARY / COMMON AREA
Mal comes into the common area, glances into the infirmary, notes that it's empty. He turns and there's Simon.
I've moved him to his room.
Mal starts to go. Simon hesitates, then:
Captain -- ?
Mal turns, looks at him.
You... you came for us.
As we, hold on Simon:
INT. SERENITY / DINING ROOM - NIGHT
The crew gathered for supper. Everyone's there except for Book. Simon appears, ushers in River. He pulls a chair for her, but she goes across the table, takes a seat in between Jayne and Wash.
Kaylee appears carrying a bread basket, sets it on the table.
She glances at Simon. He smiles at her. She smiles back. He holds a chair for her. She sits.
There's lots of chatting and laughing and arguing.
WE FOLLOW the serving dish as it's passed around. Jayne takes a big hunk of bread, puts it on his plate, passes the dish. He looks back -- the bread is gone. River's got it, is eating it.
Simon takes in the communal experience happening around him. And as we pull back on this milieu --