Serenity is pulled in by an Alliance cruiser while investigating a spaceship that was attacked by Reavers. Simon and River must hide to prevent capture, while something is wrong with the lone survivor of the attacked spaceship.
Mal and the crew of Serenity land to pick up some contraband In Canton, a township on Higgins' Moon, where labor is provided under servitude run by the local magistrate. Jayne had once robbed the boss with a partner but barely escaped by jettisoning from their getaway vehicle his partner (now waiting for revenge) and the money boxes (who have made him a legendary hero). Jayne is recognized by all and "welcomed" accordingly. Sub-plots show Simon and Kaylee face their growing romantic feelings, River first tries to "fix" the Bible and is later traumatized by seeing ...
After scuffling with one of Inara's clients during a royal ball where the Serenity crew is hired by a diplomat to smuggle some unusual cargo, Mal is challenged to a duel of swords by the snobbish and arrogant royal Atherton Wing.
Mal must choose which crew members to save when one is gravely wounded and two others are kidnapped. Simon finds an uneasy haven in a remote village, but River's uncanny perceptions jeopardize the Tams' temporary safety.
Serenity encounters a ruthlessly professional bounty hunter, Jubal Early, who will stop at nothing to retrieve River. But River, feeling unwelcome on the ship, takes a novel approach to escaping from the Alliance.
Malcolm Reynolds is a veteran and the captain of Serenity. He and his crew are smuggling goods, but they need to pick up some passengers for extra money. However, not all the passengers are what they seem.