"Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran on the losing side of a galactic civil war, now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family - squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal. When Mal takes on two new passengers - a young doctor and his unstable, telepathic sister - he gets much more than he bargained for."

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NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Alex007A who says... "A truly great movie. So exciting, so enthralling…. You get lost in it. The characters are great, the plotting, the wit and humor, and especially towards the end the adventure and excitement is non-stop, there's no time to catch your breath. I really hope there's a sequel."

As the camera pushes through the universal logo and around the earth, we see (and learn through narration) how once the original earth was used up and the world became overpopulated, man moved out and terra-formed and colonized new galaxies and planets. The central planets formed the alliance, a new government to rule the galaxy. Apparently some people were against it, and a galactic war broke out between the alliance and the independents. The alliance won after a long battle. We see the story being told by a teacher to some young students. The class goes into discussion about why the independents would bother fighting the alliance. In the back of the class, a young girl says it's because they meddle. “People don't like to be meddled with.” She says. The teacher goes over to the girl, named River, and explains that the alliance doesn't tell people what to think, they just so them how. And then she sticks river's pencil into her own forehead.

We then see simultaneously lab technicians putting a needle into the older River's (Summer Glau) head. He says she's dreaming. River writhes around in the chair, screaming. Dr. Mathias, the head of the project, explains it's easier to implant things into her brain when she's dreaming. We see a military officer getting information about the project. He tells Mathias he understands why they would want the use of a psychic girl. Mathias explains that all of the top parliament members have seen and approved of the project, and that everything is going to plan. They could have her as their own assassin very soon. Then, the “military officer” ducks down and releases a pulse bomb that knocks everyone unconscious. He runs over and starts to untie River. “River… River, its Simon. It's your brother.” He says. River's brother Simon (Sean Maher) manages to get them to an elevator shaft, and a ship lowers a ramp down that they hop on and are hoisted up, the whole time guards trying to get to them. Then time stops.

We see the whole escape is a hologram being watched by a man only known as “The Operative” (Chiwetel Ejiofor). He is in the records room, when Dr. Mathias marches in, demanding to know who he is and what he is doing. When he scans his fingerprints, Mathias apologizes. The Operative has no name or rank, just total clearance from parliament. He is investigating the escape of River. She and Simon are both fugitives. Mathias claims it's a shame, as Simon used all of his money to get her out and had a promising career in medicine. But when the conversation leans towards him, Mathias claims the escape was unpredictable and it wasn't his fault. The Operative notes the look on Simon's face. Love, he says. He says it's what makes Simon dangerous. The Op asks Mathias what his sin is, and then tells him it's pride. He replays the clip in the hologram of Mathias telling Simon that key members of parliament have seen River. He put those members in a room with a psychic. Mathias claims that River's so traumatized she couldn't remember any of their secrets. The Op begins talking about how in old times, to die with honor, the Greeks would throw themselves on their swords. He kills Mathias's guards without missing a beat, and then does a nerve pinch on Mathias. He holds out his sword and lets Mathias fall on it. “This is an honorable death.” He says, completely calm. The Op turns to a horrified young clerk and asks the “young miss” to pull more records on the behavioral modification done to River. He looks back at the hologram of River. “Where are you hiding, little girl?”

We see a ship, named Serenity, flying through the atmosphere of a planet, as a piece of metal flies off the hull. The captain, Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) talks to the jokester pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk) wondering what that was, and he tells him it won't be the most comfortable landing. As Mal makes his way through the ship, we meet the rest of the crew: the not-so-bright muscle, Jayne (Adam Baldwin), Zoe (Gina Torres), Mal's second in command and Wash's wife, and Kaylee (Jewel Staite) the cheery mechanic. Mal tells Kaylee he thought she said that part would hold for two weeks. “That was six months ago, Captain.” She says. Mal turns the corner to find Simon telling him there's no way that River can go on their next job. Mal tells Simon not to give him orders, or he can leave, as he has taken him and his sister under protection, and it's made things harder for him, having to avoid the alliance at every turn. Simon says he's earned his passage treating gunshots and stab wounds. Mal says they can use River, a psychic might see something they can't. Kaylee readies their little hovercraft (AKA “The Mule”), and Mal, Zoe, Jayne, and River hop aboard. Simon tells River to be safe as they speed off. Kaylee reassures Simon as she looks at him longingly, but he appears to not even notice, as the crew goes to do their work…

Which as it turns out, is robbing a bank. Zoe takes out the camera, Jayne dispatches a cop or two, and Mal tells everyone to get on the ground. River comes in handy when a man reaches for his gun. She arches her arm out and points. Zoe catches him. “You know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets people killed.” She says. Mal ends up getting into the vault, and as he does, someone comments that he's a “browncoat”, and that he fought on the side of the independents in the war. Mal tells him the war is over, and he and Zoe go in to get the money. Outside, we see a mother and a son… brutally attacked by something we barely see. River falls to the ground, gasping. “Reavers.” She sputters. Jayne runs downstairs, clearly shaken, and tells him Reavers (who are sort of deformed, bloody, cut up almost monster-like people) are either coming or already there. They get the money, and Mal tells one of the guards to lock everyone inside the vault. They get on the mule and we see horrible looking ships with deformed ravaged looking people descending from ropes and massacring the town. A man grabs onto the side of the mule and begs to go with, but Mal tells him to get into the bank vault and pushes him off. Reavers rush out and grab the man, and Mal shoots the man dead.

The mule cruises through the desert and all of a sudden a small reaver vessel is behind them, and firing. Zoe radios ahead and tells Wash reavers are on their way. Wash tells Zoe they're coming and tells Kaylee to rev the engines. Back on the mule, Zoe drives as Jayne wonders why they don't just blow them away. Mal explains they want the up-close kill. “They want us alive when they eat us.” River calmly notes. They fire a harpoon, which goes straight through Jayne's leg, and he is yanked backwards, barely holding on to the mule. Mal shoots the rope and pulls Jayne back on. Wash tells Zoe to fly at the reaver, so Serenity can scoop up the mule straight into their open cargo doors, causing a big mess, and part of the reaver vessel hits the door, and pieces of shrapnel fly everywhere. After a moment of calm, a reaver pops up, and Mal, Zoe, and Jayne all fire until it goes down. Simon punches Mal in the face, saying he put River in unbelievable danger. They get in a huge fight, and it is decided that Simon and River will get off at the next stop.

Mal goes towards his room in a huff, and Zoe stops him. She asks about the man who tried to go with them. Mal says, and Zoe agrees, that shooting him was an act of mercy, rather that than become a victim of reavers. But Zoe means when he was begging to go with. Mal says that the mule can't carry that much weight. Zoe suggests they could have dumped the loot. Mal goes on about how pieces of the ship are falling off, the crew hasn't been paid (or had a good meal in a while), and that the people who hired them to do the job wouldn't be happy if they skipped out. “In the time or war, we would have never left a man stranded.” Zoe says. “Maybe that's why we lost.” Mal says coldly. As Zoe goes to Wash for comfort, Jayne disposes of the reaver body, as Kaylee looks for parts in the shrapnel. Jayne doesn't understand why anyone would cut on their face, and go raping and murdering and eating people. Kaylee says that she heard a story that they got to the edge of space, saw total nothingness, and went mad. Jayne is excited about Simon and River getting off, But Kaylee isn't. She wonders if the captain is going to drive everyone off, “Just like Simon and River. Just like Inara…” In his room, Mal is watching a video. We see Inara (Morena Baccarin), being filmed packing. Kaylee is holding the camera, saying they need to get this recorded on film, that this was the shuttle of a companion, that she entertained clients in here. And when Kaylee suggests that Mal might want her to stay, Inara says, “That man doesn't know what he wants.”

As Serenity docks at a planet to do business, Simon and River are preparing to find a new ride. Kaylee, visibly upset, offers Simon advice on how to go about it. Zoe and Wash go out for some alone time as the others head to a bar to meet their contacts. Kaylee protests Mal letting Simon and River go, and after a funny exchange about how Kaylee hasn't “been with anyone” in a while, Mal says if she wanted it to happen she could make it happen. “Tell that to Inara.” Kaylee says and leaves. Jayne and Mal meet with Fanty and Mingo, a pair of twins who hired them for the bank heist, and they intend on receiving their cut. River wanders in. She sees on a TV, a commercial for some kind of snack. All of a sudden images flash through River's mind. She gets very still, and whispers, “Miranda.” All of a sudden River goes crazy attack one person after another in the bar, kicking, punching, knocking anyone unconscious she can get her hands on, including Jayne. Mal finds a gun, but River pulls one on him first… when Simon appears and utters a couple words, and River falls asleep. Mal wakes Jayne, picks up River, and leaves… but we see a security camera has filmed everything.

Mal chains River into a locked room and meets with everyone in the dining area. They're going over the events in the bar - Wash wants to know how Jayne got knocked out by a 90-pound girl. Mal asks what happened, and Simon knows the River has had reprogramming by the alliance to make her an assassin, and that there's a trigger. He says the people who helped smuggle River out taught him a safe word that would put her to sleep in case anything happened. Mal becomes very angry and throws Simon into onto the table. He says they've been on the ship for eight months and he never said how much of a danger she was. They try to figure out what caused River to go crazy, and Wash suggests they call an old friend, Mr. Universe. He's wired into everything, a media junkie, so if he would could pull the security tapes. They talk to Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz), who's sitting in front of tons of monitors. He deconstructs the feed from the cartoon and sees a subliminal message inside. He says he's seen that code everywhere lately… someone's looking hard for River… and we see The Operative, viewing the tape. He identifies Mal on the computer, and all sorts of information comes up…

Serenity lands on Haven, a small colony planet that is friends with the crew. Their apparent leader is someone the crew knows very well, Shepherd Book (Ron Glass). The crew gets a chance to relax. Kaylee hugs a little boy; Jayne plays the guitar around a fire. Mal is off with Book. Book knows that the alliance will send an operative, and he will be relentless, because he's a true believer in his mission. He'll come at Mal sideways. He tells Mal he needs belief. Mal scoffs; after all, Book is a preacher. Book says when he talks about belief, he doesn't mean religion. Meanwhile, on another planet, we see Inara, in a very fancy building, watching the horizon. The Operative approaches her… Simon tends to River's wounds. She says that the others are afraid of her, which he unconvincingly denies. He wonders who Miranda is… River says she doesn't know, but that the memory isn't hers. She cries, saying they should just put a bullet to her. Simon hugs her and tells her never to say that.

Serenity has left Haven, and call has a call from Inara for Mal. After some painfully awkward pleasantries, Inara says the locals are causing trouble and they need a hired gun. Zoe, Wash, Kaylee, and Jayne are watching from another room, groaning whenever they skip the topic of their relationship. After hanging up, Mal deduces it's a trap, based on the fact that he and Inara didn't fight at all. Later, Inara is in her room lighting incense, and Mal sidles up next to her. Inara thought it was obvious it was a trap, and wonders why he came. Mal jokingly calls her a tease. The Operative enters, impressed Mal came for Inara himself. The talk, and The Op tries to get Mal to agree to give River up. It becomes clear that neither will back down, Mal fires and grabs Inara, but The Op, wearing body armor, starts beating the crap out of Mal (and Inara, who tries to jump in the fight a good couple times). Just as it seems that hope is gone, Inara's “incense” explodes. It was a flash bomb, giving them the time to escape to Serenity.

River has another school dream, of the whole class lying down and dying. Inara is telling the crew that The Operative is dangerous because he truly believes that killing River is the right thing to do. Jayne wonders why they should put their lives at risk for her, and why Mal is risking their lives. “'Sides Zoe here, how many of your original platoon made it out alive?” He asks. Zoe tells him to leave, which he does. Mal leaves, and Inara follows. They talk some more, but again don't resolve anything. Mal tells her she always fogs things up.

Jayne, drinking, enters River's holding area with a gun, intent on killing her. River quickly knocks him out. Simon finds her, and before he can say anything, she knocks him out too. She makes it to the cockpit, Mal follows and finds her pressing buttons on the navigational device. She holds a gun in his face, not looking at him, and he asks if she really is just a weapon, or a human being. She finds a planet named Miranda. Later, the crew is gathered, wondering how there could be a whole planet none of them knew about. Mal says that he remembers people tried to colonize it some years back, and apparently in was uninhabitable. Mal thinks they should go and investigate, but Wash points out that Miranda is on the other side of reaver territory. There's no way to it without going through. Mal says they'll dock at Haven and think for a while.

Later, Wash pulls Serenity around… to find Haven dead, destroyed, on fire. The crew empties out looking for life. Kaylee finds the boy from earlier dead. Mal finds Book, alive but near death, and sends Jayne to get Simon. Book had shot the alliance ship down that had attacked. “Not very Christian of me.” He sputters. Book grabs Mal's face and says something about believing in anything. Book says he's not one of Mal's crew. And Mal tells him of course he is… and Book dies. Simon arrives too late. As everyone takes it all in, Jayne asks if the alliance knew that they were coming to Haven, why is no one here waiting for them. Zoe in horror realizes that the alliance didn't know this is where they were going… and tells Wash to contact anyone who housed them after a heist, and tell them to run. But we, along with Mal, see on the screens they're all dead. The Operative comes over the screens and tells Mal this is his fault. He says that he is just creating a better world. The Op acknowledges that he is a monster himself, and there's no room for him in this new world. Mal cuts off the call.

Mal heads back outside and tells the others to gather some bodies. To their horror, he plans to put some bodies on the hull to make it look like a reaver ship. Everyone protests in their own way, but Mal in a rage puts his foot down. It's his way or the highway. The others help make Serenity look like a reaver ship by splotching it with paint, adding a cannon to the top, and more. They end up crossing through reaver space safely, though it's nerve-wracking. They go on Miranda in suits, but it becomes clear there's oxygen. They find one source of power on the planet and follow it. They find a giant city. Totally silent and dead. And all over are dead bodies. No one died in pain, of any wounds. They're sitting in chairs, in vehicles. It's as if everyone just stopped living. River freaks out and starts seeing things. They reach the energy source. It's a recorded hologram message, which they play. It's a scientist for the alliance, who is giving a report. They tried to make the populace calmer and weed out aggression by adding a substance to the air. It worked. Everyone got so passive they just laid down and let themselves die. She goes on to say that it had the opposite effect on 1/10 of the population, and their aggression went out of control. Everyone realizes the alliance created reavers, and the scientist in the hologram is killed by a reaver.

Everyone is horrified. River throws up. Simon asks her if she's okay, and she says yes, surprised. These deaths were on her shoulders, now they're not. Back on the ship, Mal says that this is where they are. They can leave now if they like, but that the alliance is going to try this again. Maybe in one, maybe in ten, but they believe they can make people better. And the world needs to know what happened on Miranda. Someone needs to speak for those people. No one protests, and Mal says they'll use Mr. Universe to send the hologram out to the world. Zoe says that the alliance will see that coming. Mal knows. We see them on the phone, talking to Mr. Universe. He says he'll be waiting for them and will have the equipment ready to go. But the second he stops talking to Mal, we see he's surround by soldiers. The Operative runs Mr. Universe through with a sword, and orders the soldiers to destroy the equipment.

As the reaverized Serenity goes through reaver territory. At the last minute, Mal uses the cannon to shoot at a reaver ship. We see all the alliance ships waiting, and they see Serenity come out from the ion cloud. The Operative thinks he has it easy, when all of a sudden tons of Reaver ships come flying out behind it. “TARGET THE REAVERS!” The Op yells. We see the giant alliance fleet, the insane reavers, and this tiny little ship between them. The ships are all destroying each other, and Wash expertly flies dodging almost everything. “I'm a leaf on the wind… watch how I soar.” He says totally calm. Just as they're heading for Mr. Universe's planet, and EMP bomb goes of, destroying Serenity's power. Everyone straps in in the dining room, except for Zoe and Mal who are in the cockpit with Wash as he guides Serenity through a vicious sliding crash to the earth. Eventually they come to a stop… everyone appears to be okay. “I'm a leaf on the wind… watch how I…” and all of a sudden a harpoon flies through the window, spearing Wash and killing him instantly. We see reaver ships have landed across a ways from Serenity. Zoe runs over to Wash… “Baby! Baby! Come on! Please baby!” Completely in shock and denial. She shakes him. Mal pulls Zoe down as another harpoon shoots through the window. Mal drags Zoe out.

The Operative's ship is coming apart. He hops in an escape pod and rockets toward the planet. Meanwhile, the crew gets into Mr. Universe's stronghold. Everyone is going to defend the area from the reavers while Mal goes to send the signal. They start setting of boxes as a barrier and have a fallback area behind some think metal doors that Kaylee starts rigging to seal on command. Zoe pulls out her shotgun and tells Mal to go. Kaylee realizes Wash isn't there and asks where he is. “He ain't comin'.” Zoe says and she loads her gun. As this realization hits everyone, Mal asks Zoe if she's here. She just tells him to go. Mal rushes off with the chip of the transmission, and Jayne tells Zoe she can't be looking for revenge, they need to keep they're cool if they want to make it out. “Do you really think any of us are going to make it out of here?” “Well I might…” Jayne says.

Mal finds all of Mr. Universe's equipment destroyed, and thinks all hope is lost, when he sees Mr. U's body next to his robot wife, Lenore. Lenore recorded a message from Mr. U, where he tells Mal where he has a backup transmitter, and that's hard to get to. “They can't stop the signal Mal.” He says.

Kaylee says she didn't think she'd die like this. She talks about regrets, and Simon confesses he regrets not being with her. “You mean to say, as in sex?” Kaylee asks. Simon sort of chuckles and says yes, and Kaylee, before frozen with fear says, “To hell with this.” She cocks her gun. “I'm gonna live.” The reaver onslaught starts coming, and the crew is doing their best shooting and holding them at bay. Zoe starts to go berzerker and charges them, shooting and stabbing all she can. Jayne yells at her to get back. A reaver slashes her back with a blade, and Inara shoots it with her futuristic bow and arrow weapon before it can kill her.

The Operative arrives and hears the same message as Mal. Back at the fight, Zoe is dragged back and Simon seals her back with a liquid bandage, but she isn't really mobile. Jayne gets shot in the arm and the side, and Kaylee gets hits with some form of poisoned darts in the neck. Zoe screams to fall back, and they head into the corridor.

Mal arrives and sees a huge set of obstacles to get to the transmitter. Mal comments about that fact sarcastically, and is hit with a laser blast from behind by The Op. He asks Mal if he believes in what he's doing. Mal says yes. He asks if he's willing to die for it. Mal says yes. Mal quickly pulls out a gun and fires enough times at the Op to get him a head start. “Of course that's not plan A.” He starts to make the trip… he the Op both reach it eventually, and have a brutal fight, and the Op stabs Mal in the side with his sword.

The crew gets back into the hallway, and they start to close the blast doors, but they jam partway through. They can only be fully closed from the other side, and no one is going back in. Jayne throws his last grenade in. Jayne wonders if he got through. Zoe says she knows he did. Simon needs something to help Kaylee, but he left his bag in the other room. He stands- and is immediately shot in the side of the stomach. Inara starts to apply pressure as River, who had basically been cowering until now, runs to him. All other noise fades away as Simon apologizes to River. “You always take care of me Simon.” She says… she looks out through the opening in the door. “My turn.” She runs and jumps through, tosses the medical bag in, hits the button, but before she can get through she's dragged away by reavers.

Mal pulls the sword from his side and hits The Op in the face with the butt of the sword. We see River slashing at the reavers. But the Op does the nerve thing to Mal, and as Mal is going to fall onto the sword, he gets the upper hand on the Op. Seems that nerve happens to have been stabbed already and he couldn't feel it. River struggles, taking on three at once. He doesn't kill the Op, but uses the sword to tie him to the railing, and makes him watch as he plays the message to the world. River keeps fighting, but the army seems endless. The Op looks genuinely horrified at the contents.

Mal comes back down and joins the wounded group in the hallway. He tells them he got the signal out. All of a sudden the blast doors open… to reveal River, holding two large bloody blades, alone, alive, surrounded by dead reavers. The wall behind her explodes and alliance soldiers charge in, ready to shoot River. The call the Op for the kill order, and he doesn't respond. They call again, and he tells them to let her go.

We see a funeral, for Mr. Universe, Shepherd Book, and Wash. Zoe, in a dress, lights the candle. We see the crew rebuilding Serenity. Zoe fixes the window the harpoon came through. Inara repaints the emblem on the side of the ship. Kaylee and Simon are working in the engine room, he's shirtless, and they start kissing and sink down beneath the frame. The Op comes and visits Mal. He explains he let them go because the signal got out, and stopping them would be pointless. He says the alliance is weakened, but not gone. And there's no guarantee they won't still come after them for this. Mal genuinely appreciates the sentiment, and then tells the Op he hopes he never sees him again, because if he did, he'd have to kill him. “Don't worry.” The Op says. “You won't.”

Zoe tells Mal they're ready to launch. He asks how the ship will hold. “She's torn up… but she'll fly true.” (They're clearly talking about Zoe.) Mal walks down a corridor and sees Inara, and she says they can drop her off back at her place in a day or two… but Inara says, “Wait, maybe I don't have to leave so soon.” Mal asks if she wants to stay, and she smiles at him and says honestly, “I don't know.” “Good answer.” He says, smiling back. Mal gets to the cockpit, sits in Wash's seat, and asks his new co-pilot if she's gonna help him out. It's River. He says he'd tell her the first rule of flying, but she must have read his mind. But River says she wants to heat him say it. He says its love, because you can know all the math in the world, but if you don't love your ship, it won't take care of you. If you love her, she'll always take you where you need to go. And Serenity flies of into space… not before a panel flies off the back, and Mal goes, “What was that?”

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