- Directors: Joss Whedon
- Producers: Christopher Buchanan, David V Lester, Barry Mendel, Alisa Tager
- Writers: Joss Whedon
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
- Actors: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Krumholtz
Five hundred years in the future, mankind has overpopulated Earth and emigrated to a neighboring star system. In the place of national governments, the interplanetary Alliance wields tight political power over inhabitants of the wealthy “central planets”, while life on the partially colonized “Outer Rim” planets resembles the lawlessness and desolation of the American Old West.
In the depths of an Alliance facility, Simon Tam rescues his sister River Tam from her scientist captors, who experiment on her with hopes of harnessing her psychic abilities as a weapon. In hiding from the Alliance, the siblings eventually find safe harbor on the spacecraft Serenity, filled with a ragtag crew that makes a living by taking jobs of varying legality in the Outer Rim.
After a bank heist on an Outer Rim planet is disrupted by a horde of feral, spacefaring cannibals known as Reavers, the crew narrowly escapes back to Serenity. Simon accosts the ship’s captain, Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, protesting River’s involvement in the raid and her exposure to danger, and declares that he and River will leave Serenity at the next spaceport.
The crew disembarks at a trading post and enters a bar to meet with Fanty and Mingo, the men who hired Serenity for the robbery. River wanders into the bar and observes a television advertisement in which the Alliance has embedded a subliminal message especially for River. It causes her to immediately and brutally attack the other patrons until Simon arrives and utters a code phrase, which renders River unconscious.
The crew buries their deceased friends (Wash, Book, and Mr. Universe) and repairs Serenity. As the ship prepares to leave, the Operative approaches Mal and warns him of possible retaliation by the Alliance. Mal returns to Serenity’s cockpit and with his new co-pilot River, blasts into space.