Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cowboy Bebop Session #24: Hard Luck Woman

The final three.

Hey all. I wanted to get this puppy up a little sooner. It's been a few days I know. A. I've been caught up in the old Christmas Spirit. B. I was caught off guard with warnings late Friday and Saturday of an impending New England snow storm. The more I watched the more I realized I had very important things to tend to like cleaning my yard up off dog poop and dog toys so my Scottie, Maisie, wasn't toyless. C. Snow storm arrives and it's a DOOZIE! There was so much snow I spent all day shovelling, shovelling, shovelling and shovelling. It was massive and I'm not about to have a heart attack before finishing about 8,000 science fiction series we need to investigate here for y'all. Hope everyone is staying warm out there.

We're straight off the heady challenges of Cowboy Bebop, Session#23, Brain Scratch. Our fearless, big three heroes are about to climax with their final three entries. That really didn't sound right. One thing is certain, my interest in writing about the series has certainly accelerated throughout much of the second portion of the series. I feel I'm paying closer attention to the details whether I'm crazy about the series or not. It does have a tendency to keep my attention.

Faye is reviewing the Beta tape recovered in Cowboy Bebop, Session #18, Speak Like A Child. Sad to say, I couldn't manage to finish the entirety of that installment thanks to a manufacturer's defect that dogged my viewing experience throughout with technical difficulties. So, if I'm missing anything here feel free to fill me in. Ed butts into Faye's viewing session. Faye asks Ed if he knows this place pointing to an image on the TV screen. The place on her screen sports a lion statue spitting water. Ed indicates he might know of the place before passing out. I've said it before, but it's really a very odd little show. Japanese anime is always rife with strange antics and character quirk moments. The BeBop sits idle in still waters on the planet Earth as Spike brushes his teeth and Jet wonders how on Earth they missed Mars. This is kooky Cowboy Bebop, Session #24, Hard Luck Woman. Now who could that be about?

Spike informs Jet "the girls are gone." Faye is searching for the Lion statue complete with waterfall. Ed has joined her on the mission. Ed is strapped to the outside of her personal vessel, the Red Tail. Okay. See, things like this are just bizarre. Is that really how you would treat Ed? Elsewhere, we see a meteor of some type explode and a super cool submarine/ land roving vehicle emerge from the water to arrive at the site of impact. Two men exit the vehicle.

And why exactly are they dumping on a city, clearly one of the few left it would appear?
Meanwhile, Faye and Ed are inside a crater filled with refuse from dump trucks. Suddenly a myriad of children appear as their head's begin popping out of the garbage. The kids playing in the garbage reminds me of a funny story. A friend of mine grew up on a military base in Cuba years ago. A truck would drive around spraying a smoke-filled, insecticide mist spray to minimize the bug population. Only, my friend and his childhood friends used to run mindlessly through the spray hopping around the back of the truck because it was fun. Yeah, that's a healthy choice. Scary stuff. But here the kids are playing in the garbage like it was happy, fun time as well. Ignorance is bliss as they say. The kids know Edward. A nun arrives on scene and she can't believe it's Edward. The nun tells Faye, Ed wandered into her facility five years ago. Two years later she wandered off "like a cat." Ed is also, apparently, taking "Faye-Faye" on a little detour. He knows where her statue is, but he wanted some "good food" first.

Edward has been promised "something good" by Faye if he leads her to the place she seeks. The nun also had "something good" set aside for the very child-like, juvenile behavior of one Edward. The special something is essentially a 3D video holographic box and when opened sports an image of Ed's father. He stopped at this mission looking for her [I still get confused by Ed's gender- I always have to pause a moment]. Ed's father is one of the two men in the land rover/ submersible. We will learn his name is Applederry. Ed's father, too, is in search of something. He and his partner are excavating.

Ed brings Faye to the site of the lion statue. It's massive. Faye is greeted by Sally Young. She was in Faye's high school graduating class. Of course, as a result of the cryogenic freezing experimentation on Faye, Faye is much younger. This is covered to some extent in Cowboy Bebop, Session #15, My Funny Valentine. Sally is now in a wheel chair and much, much older. The greeting shocks Faye into a series of flashback images. Sally recalls Faye was placed into a cryogenic stasis following an accident. Faye tries hard to remember. Faye calls hersef a "ghost from beyond." There are some delightful, little Japanese pop ditties in this particular episode.

When Faye and Ed return Jet gives them a piece of his mind. It was Faye who altered course to get some answers. Faye gives Jet THE look. Jet is a little surprised and knows when to quit when it comes to taking on Faye and backs off his needling of her.

Faye is such a pretty young lady, but as she lays down in her bed she looks so alone. Down on Earth another meteorite strikes the planet surface and off goes Ed's father and his sidekick, McIntyre. On the BeBop Faye showers. The water reminds her of past events. Her childhood? Faye runs out of the shower. She bumps into Spike and tells him "I'm sorry." Spike is perplexed, but Faye tells him she has to go. As her vehicle activates, Ed wonders where she is going. She informs Ed she finally remembers where she belongs. She tells Edward he belongs somewhere too. "Belonging is the very best thing there is." That's an interesting subject- belonging. I think Cowboy Bebop does a nice job of presenting that concept here for us to mull over. It makes you think about your own life and whether we belong where we are. Where we are in life, is that where we belong? Do we belong right now or do we somehow feel out of sorts? Are we going through the motions like some of our beloved cast of characters seem to do here? The characters in Cowboy BeBop certainly yearn to belong, yearn for something more and the feeling is strong in Faye and Edward. Edward is young though. Jet and Spike feel like they belong together on the BeBop, but they are certainly looking for something else it would seem. Their marriage is one of friendship, but also need. Belonging is a key component of this odd, little show. Where do all these vagrants belong?

Later, on Earth, Applederry is held at gunpoint by Spike and Jet as he excavates the crater site. McIntyre and Applederry are making maps. It did seem as though there was some kind of engineering going on here. The newly altered Earth needs mapping. Jet says the need is a result of meteor surface pounding. Spike and Jet want their man. Applederry tosses some eggs at the boys. SPLAT! A fist fight ensues. It would seem Applederry, a very large man, is no slouch and without exerting much energy is an equal to Spike's kung-fu ways. The battle is interrupted by Edward who arrives in the BeBop to save the day. Only, Ed leaps into Applederry's arms like a child to his father, because it is his father. "This is the father person" proclaims Ed. Spike and Jet look on with mouths agape. Ed introduces the boys to his father as "Jet person" and "Spike person." Ed's father refers to Ed as Francois. Ed-Ed is weird weird and so is his father. It's all weird in weirdo-ville.

Oddly [what else is new?], a meteorite crashes and like a dog to a shiny penny Ed's father runs to their next target leaving the festive moment behind in the dust literally. "Father person gone." So much for family reunions. Bizarre.
Somewhere else, Faye is making every effort to remember her youth, recapture it, make sense it, rediscover where it all went. She is desperate to reclaim it. Faye finds the remnants of a broken lion's head and a fountain. It's what remains of what was once her home. Another decent little pop ditty kicks in, this one in English. It's an appropriate number with a refrain that goes "peace of mind." Ein exits the BeBop. Even Ein is searching for something. Aren't we all searching for something even dogs? When we think we have it we're still searching for more. As Spike smokes, Jet calls for dinner, but both men look on to see a message painted on the BeBop deck "Bye Bye" with a smile from Ed. Ed has checked out and left the building. I suspect Ein knows it and since Ein is closest to Ed he leaves in pursuit of his master.

Faye is lost in her mind. Ed is going someplace far away. Ein finds Ed and Ed invites the little Corgi along. Ed looks back toward the BeBop uncertain of his decision to depart. Jet and Spike eat their eggs, but seem to be going through the motions because they've both lost a little something with Faye and Ed gone. Ironically, there is a void here. Ironic, because there seemed little interest in opening up their world to anyone outside themselves when we first started this Cowboy BeBop journey. The two men begin shovelling down food as if to drown their concerns away rather than face the reality of what is going on. Spike and Jet are fairly independent spirits and they are pretty used to seeing Faye and Ed return. This time feels different and they aren't so sure. They don't know what to do about it or how to deal with it or articulate it to one another. It's just like men.

I thought we might see the entry conclude with the quintet coming together, finding themselves and concluding they have a need for each other. I thought they might realize they belong together like family. They even have the family dog. Cowboy Bebop deserves credit for defying expectations even if I'm not a fan. Alas, the entry leaves us with a cliffhanger and the parting words of, instead of "See You Space Cowboy," "See You Cowgirl, Someday, Somewhere!" This is about as open ended as I've seen an episode end thus far, with the exception of Session #12, Jupiter Jazz Part 1. With everyone in this group searching for something perhaps the forces greater than us will bring them together by the end. It's a powerful little session and one I thoroughly enjoyed thanks to some genuine emotional currents running through the hearts of these characters. I felt the creators really captured the mood and never missed hitting those notes just right in the last portion of the episode. Funny, I go from disappointment to joy or back more often in this series than in any other. It is an odd show with an odd structure and odd ideas and characters. You can say one thing for it. It does not play by the rules. It may not execute successfully always, but there are no conventions and it makes its own weird path defying all expectations along the way. Could the hard luck woman have been Ed? Maybe, but I still feel the reference entirely extended to Faye in the end.

Hard Luck Woman: B+


Anonymous said...

Curious as to what makes you think Appledairy may be Faye's father. I mean, he obviously can't be, Faye's father would be long dead - and likely died in the same accident that injured her. (If you look closely you can see teenage Faye is sitting with a man and a woman, I'd have to assume those are her folks)

This is a great episode and every time I see Faye sitting all alone in the ruins of what was once her home (and she seems to, with a stick, carve out in the ground where her bed used to be) I get a little choked up.

Ed's definitely a girl by the way, just to hopefully clear up any confusion. She's a strange little character and didn't always seem completely necessary but she was fun, and this was a nice episode for her to go out on.

I agree that a lot about this series is searching for something. Belonging is part of it, but it's also about rectifying one's past and coming to terms with it. The three main characters were all drifters who all had things in their past that haunted them and so they've been living in kind of a limbo together on the good ship Bebop. "Living in a dream" as Spike would say. Over the course of the series, we've seen a lot of these characters deal with their past and move on, to try to find a place to belong in this life. Jet let go of his fiancee Alisa and dealt with the mysteries surrounding his arm and the betrayal of his partner. So it's behind him. Faye finally got her memory back and has fully rectified who she is, as well as putting to bed her issues with that conman she fell for right after her amnesia. She still seems in the throes of finding out the place she thought she belonged is no more, but she's got two more episodes to come to terms.

So, we've got two episodes left and one more crew member with a past to face.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Great input. Thank you.

I'm not exasctly sure why I thought Applederry might be Faye's father. I would strike that from the record. I think I may have had a bit too much to drink during that writing. You've set me straight.

In fact, when I was proofreading the entry I was thinking, "why do I think he is Faye's father too?" I knew I was wrong but something made me think that. I was definitely not on my game there.

I love your thoughts regarding the fact these are characters coming to terms with their pasts. That's exactly right. Much is in play regarding these issues in the episode. Excellent!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Anonymous! The more I thought about it I believe I may have made a typo and drank too much and essentially gaffed myself into thinking Applederry might have been connected to Faye despite the fact I could not come to terms with it myself.

You have forced me to make the correction because it just wasn't sitting right with me.

Perhaps too many interruptions by The Boy Wonder and igloo-building and shovelling and a host of other winter storm chores through me out of whack. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.