Cowboy Bebop (1998): Cowboy Bebop: Brain Scratch   Rewatch 
December 28, 2014 3:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 23 - Subscribe

There's a new popular religious cult, calling itself SCRATCH, which is based on the belief that an individual can achieve eternal life by digitizing the soul and uploading it into the Internet. Spike, Jet and Ed notice Faye in some news coverage of the cult, which has been tied to a number of missing people and suicides. When Spike and Jet see that the cult's leader, Dr. Londes, has a sizable bounty on his head, they get involved.
posted by filthy light thief (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Fun fact: the website for SCRATCH,, is a real domain (Maumr is a ccTDL for Mauritania), which oddly bounces you to a forum page that appears to be for the Zoids video games.

And I'm a fan of the SCRATCH music, an ambient piece apparently called Hansai, though now it reminds me the result of songs run through Paulstretch. It's not a bad thing, just a weird mental connection that was not possible (or at least probable) at the time that the original soundtrack piece was written.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 PM on December 29, 2014

That's weird, just gives me a "this webpage is not available" on Chrome. I'll have to check it out when I get home.

This is another episode that I'm basically of two minds about. I have a certain affection for the fresh-from-the-headlines Heaven's Gate parody in the episode (FWIW, the original Heaven's Gate website is still up more than 17 years later), as well as the idea of a 100% digital cult leader -- an idea later explored to greater effect with "The Laughing Man" in the Ghost in the Shell TV series. I also appreciate the ambiguity of Faye's role in the episode: By all appearances, she went to SCRATCH to get Londes' bounty, but at the same time it's easy to see how she would get swept up in a quasi-suicide cult.

But there's a couple of elements that don't quite work for me. For one, we never do find out if the Brain Dream video game is actually capable of copying someone's brain to computer code; maybe all those suicides were still "alive" on the internet somewhere, but the Bebop gang doesn't investigate any further after finding Londes. I totally get that they're bounty hunters, not detectives, but that hasn't stopped them (Jet in particular) from going the extra mile to get the whole story on a bounty head.

For another, I find their whole "apprehension" of Londes as problematic from a humane standpoint: If the only thing keeping his brain active was his internet connection, then disconnecting him completely seems unnecessarily cruel. Surely, a hacker with Ed's skills could have built him a new place to play where he couldn't hurt anyone. And why did Jet bother with the handcuffs? Not to mention how it all seems to come down to the bitter disabled-person trope, when screen-Londes' dying words are "everybody should have to live with the same body as me..."
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:22 PM on December 31, 2014

If you're following the series now and you want to fit the Cowboy Bebop movie (Knocking on Heaven's Door) into your viewing order, it officially comes before this episode.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:53 AM on February 4, 2015

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