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I'm trying to phrase this without introducing any spoilers so please forgive the vague description of events.

After seeing the video that reveals "The secret that burned up River Tam's brain", she reacts and says "I'm all-right" in a tone of soft wonder. We see little dialogue with her after this, but she certainly appears much more normal.

Did exposing the secret in some way actually heal her in whole or in part?

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It's left up in the air as to how alright she can be given that part of her amygdala has been removed. So much of her capacity was lost under the Alliance programming, her normal may never truly be as normal as a person who had not undergone the conditioning she was given. Considering her more autistic-like state, her appearance at the end of Serenity is a vast improvement.

While in the hands of the Alliance doctors and scientists, River was secretly and extensively experimented on, including surgery that in some way damaged her amygdala. S1, E9, Ariel.

  • Given her mental genius and overall superhuman capabilities, it may be possible for her, to over time, normalize somewhat, as much as she can given her medical condition.

  • When we last see her, she is calculating the escape velocity and path for Serenity in her head, so her mental abilities seem to be normalizing enough to act as a co-pilot, something far more complex than she had ever been capable of before.

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    Note that her mathematical/analytical abilities have always been above average -- e.g. the scene where she calculates 3 bullet trajectories from a brief glance at her targets well enough to hit all 3 without looking. – KutuluMike Jul 3 '13 at 1:45
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    I think the best indicator of her increased socialisation is her comment to Mal, "yes, but I like it when you say it". – Greenstone Walker Jul 3 '13 at 4:43
  • How about the fact that she was now trusted to be at the helm? – E.T. Jul 3 '13 at 7:37
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    Overall, a good answer, but one nitpick - her amygdala wasn't damaged, it was removed outright. – Omegacron Feb 18 '14 at 18:30

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