Cowboy Bebop (1998): Cowboy Bebop: Toys in the Attic   Rewatch 
October 5, 2014 11:06 AM - Season 1, Episode 11 - Subscribe

There's something else on the Bebop, and it's no rat. Jet is the first one to get bitten, and before long, his injury becomes infected. The rest of the crew begins to fear for their safety, as the creature gets everyone except Spike, who must confront the creature or face possible death.
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It occurred to me a while ago that whereas most single-season anime shows that go more than 13 episodes or so typically have a "clip show" around episode 12 or 13 (partially as a recap for new viewers, but mostly to save $$$), Cowboy Bebop never did. Instead, CB reserved those sessions for the pivotal "Jupiter Jazz" two-parter and just kept on truckin' until the end. Since each episode is designed to more or less stand alone, this makes sense.

But in watching "Toys in the Attic" again, it feels to me like this might have been the CB equivalent of the recap show -- a true "bottle episode" in the midst of a string of one-offs. All of the action takes place on board the Bebop, and the whole thing is built on a thin but workable premise with the "monster" stalking the crew one by one. Each character gets their own deliberately-lampshaded focus segment, in which we learn everyone's defining flaw: Jet's is pride, Faye's is vanity, Ed's is carelessness, and Spike's is forgetfulness.

A lot is made of the Alien and 2001 references, but ultimately I think Nobumoto and Watanabe are just having fun tweaking the expectations of anime viewers, by giving them a fresh twist on a standard episode structure.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:03 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW, this episode also spawned at least two AMVs using Weird Al's "Living in the Fridge".
posted by happyroach at 11:38 PM on October 5, 2014

This is a hilarious deconstruction of Alien tropes. The origin of the monster is great. The best bit, however, is Ed's voice over after the episode ends introducing the next episode, gleefully telling the audience that everyone's dead and she's the star now, and the others try to shut her up.
posted by JHarris at 4:29 AM on October 6, 2014

Trivia note: The fridge made a cameo appearance in Watanabe's recent series Space Dandy.
posted by Aznable at 5:11 AM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

That's great, Aznable! I'm still working through Space Dandy on Hulu, I'll have to keep an eye out.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:32 AM on October 7, 2014

Warning: spoilers (obviously), tvtropes, and wanton misuse of colons ahead:

I find this episode more interesting the more I rewatch Bebop... despite dismissing it at first, thinking it simple filler... A light-hearted Aliens parody and fun decent into absurdity, and it is those things, for sure. But there's quite a bit more to it, I think, and I think part of the magic of this episode is how much it tells us, almost directly, about the show and its characters, but does so in a way to make it seem like it's not telling us anything at all.

First of all: how it parallels the ending. It almost directly foreshadows it. Something in Spike's past (that he put on ice, as it were) has come back to haunt him... and as a result, people he cares about die, and so does he. If that weren't enough, the episode is literally labeled: "The End." (The only episode that is.)

To me it presents a sort of alternate ending that shows in part: the inevitability of a tragic ending, but also: a kind of warning of what could happen. As is hinted at with Jet's injury in the finale, and maybe even Faye's capture early on in episode 5, Spike's past poses a threat to those around him (see Julia and Annie for deadly examples). Spike leaving, at the end, maybe was even an attempt to mitigate some of the damage that's shown possible in this episode. Despite its tone, it's a dark episode: everyone dies (sort of).

Ok, so there's a lot of interesting parallels to the end. But let's move on...

It also directly addresses what is, to me, the main theme of the show. And we get it straight from Spike (the horse's mouth, as it were): "And what was the real lesson? Don't leave things in the fridge." The flippant tone and mundane, almost absurd nature of the line belies (like a zen koan) the truth of the message. The morale, if I'd claim there is one, of the whole series: Let go of your past (as Jet, Faye and Ed are all eventually able to do), or it will destroy you, as it did Spike. Here Spike tells it to us himself -- so directly, we almost ignore it.

Some other random thoughts:

Spike suiting up reminds me of a similar lock and load from episode five, also in preparation for confronting his past. (Note the use of the fridge in that past episode too: he pulls an extra gun out of it.)

Ed's lesson explains both his arrival and departure from the Bebop.

The strange and seemingly exaggerated bandaging of the crew here reminds me of Jet's leg in the finale.

Consider what it means how easily Ed dismisses the threat by casually eating it. (Eating is an interesting motif itself.) This little seemingly casual throw-away moment reinforces my despair at Ed's eventual departure (to me, low point of the show, but also my favorite moment), because it seems when Ed leaves, so to does any hope for a positive ending.
posted by Flaffigan at 8:17 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Of course Ed is a random element that deliberately doesn't mesh with the test of the cast. Ed is not doomed by their past, Ed has an entire life to experience- and most importantly is open to experiencing it the way the rest of the cast is not.

IIRC, Ed's leaving illustrates the jazz nature of the show. Ed leaves their past behind, and so gets to have a happy life. The others...not so much.
posted by happyroach at 12:31 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

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