Mal and Jayne are playing pool with thugs aiming to get a little income from the encounter, and of course a fight breaks out, as Inara watches entertained. When they’ve returned to Serenity, the crew heads for the planet Persephone (where they had been to pick up passengers and did business in “Serenity”) to get some work and supplies. Inara also has work lined up on the planet, and old acquaintance named Atherton Wing, who will be employing her for a ball.
The crew, minus Simon, River and Book, are out and about on the planet including a grumpy Mal, who seems sensitive on the topic of Inara. So Zoë, Wash and Kaylee go their own way before returning to Serenity, leaving Jayne and Mal to meet up and deal with Badger (who they did business with in “Serenity”). Badger hooks them up with the name of a local, Warrick Harrow, who is looking for someone to smuggle goods off the planet so he can sell them.
Atherton and Inara are at the fabulously elegant ball, dancing and socializing. Atherton is asking Inara to stay with him permanently as his companion. Just then Mal enters the ball with Kaylee, who is in a dress she had admired in a shop earlier and Mal mad fun of her for. Kaylee is unsuccessful trying in fitting in with the other girls while Mal looks for Inara and Sir Harrow.
Kaylee is fitting in now, with the men, as they are discussing mechanical issues. Mal and Atherton are not getting along smoothly and Atherton watches as Mal and Inara share a dance while discussing matters. Atherton interrupts their dance, explaining that he has paid for her for the time so he is hers for the moment. Mal then punches Atherton which results in the declaration of a duel, to take place the following day using swords, a weapon foreign to Mal.
Badger and some thugs bored Serenity, explaining to the crew the trouble Mal has gotten himself into and that he is there to prevent them from trying to help Mal because he doesn’t want his dealings to become public knowledge.
That night, Inara goes to the room provided for Mal to offer him an escape but he won’t take it, he wants to fight. Inara tries to at least show Mal how to fight with a sword, though it doesn’t go too well. Back on Serenity, the crew is seemingly killing time as they try to plan a way to overcome the thugs.
The morning arrives for the duel. Atherton is confident and read to go. Mal has gotten a little advice from Sir Harrow and he is rather aware of his short comings yet ready to go. Mal cut’s Atherton’s shirt but then Atherton actually cuts Mal. Atherton gets Mal on his back on the ground and steps on his sword, breaking it. As Atherton prepares to kill Mal, Inara begs him to spare Mal’s life in exchange for her staying there with him. Atherton looks over to Inara and that is when Mal gets up on his feet and punches Atherton. Mal picks up the blade from his broken sword and throws it into Atherton’s chest, followed by another punch. Atherton falls on the ground and Mal is now over him and in the position to kill Atherton. But he lets him live, which is dishonorable, to begin with, for Atherton and Mal also gets a few more stabs in on Atherton before leaving with Inara.
Sir Warrick Harrow is impressed with Mal and agrees to work with him as the smuggler for his merchandise, which is heard of cattle. And when Mal returns to Serenity the crew was just about to set their escape plan in motion. Badger leaves and the crew continues on their job.