Recap of season 1, episode 3 of “Cowboy Bebop”: Dog Star Swing

Cowboy Bebop

Star swing for dog

Season 1

Episode 3

Editor’s Note

3 stars


Of Cowboy BebopIn his very first episode, Jet chases a particularly awkward MacGuffin: a Walking Sally doll, which he wants to give his 8-year-old daughter for her birthday. As he crosses the Milky Way, shoots gangsters, and transports criminals to ISSP stations, this futuristic Cabbage Patch kid has never been far from his mind.

So when Jet and Spike hear of a particularly lucrative bounty on Mars – one that could, theoretically, buy the equivalent of a Walking Sally doll toy store – they jump into the business. (I’m not entirely clear on how the Cowboy Bebop the economy is supposed to work, but the premiums in the first two episodes were 1,500,000, 2,500,000 and 2,000,000, so the 15,000,000 offered here seems to be a huge OK.)

The target is a mysterious murderer killing rich people – which is a big part of the ultra-high bounty, I guess – and disappearing with their dogs. Finding him will be a particular challenge as he uses intriguing technology from the future to project another face above his own.

In their efforts to find the man, Jet reluctantly calls in an old contact named Woodcock, who shows up dripping with desire for him. I’m not entirely sure what the show expects of us from this deal, but I found it rude and not fun. In exchange for information, Jet tolerates being called “a tall glass of creamy chocolate milk” by someone he clearly doesn’t want to date. Woodcock, in turn, is treated as inherently ridiculous and unattractive for being an older woman openly interested in sex.

Either way, Woodcock’s information is enough to direct Spike and Jet to Martian brothels, where escorts use face changers to give their clients what they really want. (This is theoretically an interesting idea – what does that look like on both sides? – but it’s pretty much just a front here.)

As well as allowing Spike to smoke a cigarette while swinging between a giant pair of tits on a brothel billboard, the trail eventually leads to a leather-clad domme, who spanks a bound man and screams in German before identifying the killer. It’s a man named Hakim, and the boy is he is ready to eat the rich.

Cowboy Bebop flirts with class commentary since Tanaka’s anti-capitalist rhetoric kicked off the show, but this is the first time I feel like the show really gets off the ground. When Spike and Jet catch up with Hakim, he reveals that his motive wasn’t money – it was his hatred for it. Hakim wants revenge on the rich who chose to evacuate their dogs while abandoning the poor like his parents, who were part of the working class when the Earth Gate blew up. (I’m sure this will be explained in more detail later, but if you don’t mind spoilers, this is a pretty good summary of what happened in the original anime.)

If we’re not exactly supposed to agree with Hakim’s decision to kill the rich and steal their dogs, we’re at least supposed to sympathize with the horrific incident that got him to this point and with his revelation that ‘he can’t kill the dogs for something they haven’t done. Hakim hates what he has become, and he is ready to go quietly.

But if the last lesson, as Hakim says, is that you can’t get mad at the water for getting wet, I guess Spike and Jet can’t blame the space cops too much for being corrupted in the water. ‘space. In a particularly dark twist, it turns out that this job was rigged from the start. Chalmers and his ISSP buddies show up and kill Hakim themselves, negating any shots Spike and Jet have at the bounty. Instead, the Cowboys walk away with a consolation prize: an adorable corgi named Ein, which Jet gives to his daughter instead of that elusive Walking Sally doll.

It seems like a great solution to Kimmie’s birthday arc – for about 30 seconds until Jet’s ex-wife insists he bring the dog back with him. Looks like the Bebop has a new crew member.

• The hunt for Hakim is briefly interrupted by a scene that, unusually for this series so far, doesn’t feature Spike, Jet, or Vicious at all. Instead, Julia shows up at Ana’s bar and asks for advice. When Ana notices Julia’s injuries, Julia tries to minimize Vicious’s physical abuse, and Ana insists that she claim her own power. In theory, this live-action adaptation gives way to a dramatic reworking of the original series’ fairly biased gender politics. It’s a potentially rich vein for this new series to dig into, and I hope what they’re alluding to here turns out to be more than a sham.

• Other than that, not much movement on Syndicate’s overall plot in this episode – except for a scene in which Vicious and his team kill a group of naked people they employed to make Red Eye, and a capper in which Spike calls Vicious and delivers a warning shot through a car window.

• The city of Tharsis owes its name to an actual area on Mars, which is mainly known for the largest volcanoes on the planet.

• Spike and Jet make a brief reference to work they did on Alba City, a location that figures heavily in the spinoff of the original series’ animated film.

• Spike’s rooftop clash with Hakim clearly references the late Sergio Leone The good the bad and the ugly, with a tight close-up of each man’s eyes just before they start shooting.

• There is a lit sign on the roof of the brothel that simply reads “PORN”. Precision in marketing, I guess.

• As of this writing, doesn’t have a dictionary entry for an “Alabama Anaconda” – but I bet there will be one as you read this.

• Still not Faye! Come back, Faye!