Cowboy Bebop (1998): Cowboy Bebop: The Real Folk Blues (Part 1)   Rewatch 
January 11, 2015 3:50 PM - Season 1, Episode 25 - Subscribe

Left alone by the rest of the crew, Spike and Jet are ambushed by members of the Red Dragon syndicate. They are saved by Lin's brother, Shin, who explains that Vicious has tried to seize control of the organization and was sentenced to death. He also states that all people connected to him are also being hunted down, and Spike rushes to find Julia.
posted by filthy light thief (1 comment total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've stated before in these threads that I was always slightly less invested in the Spike/Vicious/Julia storyline than I was in the giddy pop-culture bricolage of the rest of the series, but this rewatch has me reconsidering that stance.

Even though we don't really get much more to the story of Vicious' coup and the precise circumstances of Spike's departure from the syndicate, it's not necessary. Everything we need to know is already there for us, if only in archetypal form. Two deadly and gifted enforcers for a decaying empire, with a woman between them. One of them wants to rule the world, the other simply wants to live in it. It's classic gangster tropes, but all of it would work just as well as a Shakespearean tragedy.

Faye's scenes in this episode are interesting as well. Although she's clearly still chastened by the sudden realization of her pre-accident life, she's more or less back to "normal" Faye. The scene where Faye randomly sticks her neck out to take down the thugs chasing Julia is a mirror of the scene in "Jupiter Jazz" where Gren does basically the same for her. Faye is no longer living just for herself, and by remembering her connection to the life and self that she once knew, she's now able to take on other peoples' problems as her own. I'm still not entirely clear on how Julia recognizes that Faye is connected to Spike (although it does seem at times that the Bebop crew have a certain level of public notoriety, so maybe that explains it), but you can actually see the wheels turning in Faye's head throughout the entire car ride.

One of my favorite thematic hobbyhorses in talking about this series is Spike's regular confrontations with skewed reflections of his own psyche: Clearly Vicious is the ur-Spike-doppelganger, but it looks like Julia might be one too. After all, Spike does describe her as "a part of myself I thought I'd lost", although it seems that Julia has lost just as much in the process of mourning Spike's false death. There's a sense of genuine detachment to her that feels like a grimmer, less spontaneous version of Spike's "whatever happens, happens" fatalism, as though she's been through enough to no longer feel quite alive.

The intercutting between Spike's dogfight with the syndicate gunships and Vicious' liquidation of the Van is some masterfully storyboarded stuff. The dialogue from both scenes bounces off of the visuals in interesting ways, and I like how it ends with both Spike and Vicious both apparently achieving their goals: Spike catching up to the woman he left behind, and Vicious seizing total control of the syndicate. Of course, Spike gets a bit more than he bargained for, but that's what Part II is for...
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:45 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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