Mark Watches ‘Cowboy Bebop’: Session 4 – Gateway Shuffle

In the fourth session of Cowboy Bebop, wow, this is DISTURBING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Cowboy Bebop.

Oh. Hey! It’s Faye! Now I know your name, and you’re back. Well, not “back” as much as you’re “hopelessly floating in space with no fuel.” SUX TO BE YOU.

I just love how this particular episode finds a way so that Faye not only crosses path with Spike and Jet, but gets her onto the Bebop as a more permanent character. YES, I FULLY SUPPORT FAYE BEING AROUND ALL THE TIME, especially if the episodes are this good. “Gateway Shuffle” elaborates on the moral ambiguity that the Bebop crew is often forced into because of the structure of the law in space. (I think it’s clear now that this is our solar system, and I’m curious if travel outside of it is possible. Is that what “hyperspace” denotes?) What is supposed to be a routine bounty turns into chaos and terror when Spike and Jet are inadvertently involved in the ongoing eco-terrorism of the Space Warriors, an animal rights group who is so certain that what they’re doing is moral that they’ll GUN DOWN SPIKE AND JET’S BOUNTY FOR ORDERING SEA RAT SAUTÉ. Like, within five minutes of the start of this episode, I could not believe how violent things were. Well, shit, I guess the Space Warriors are pretty certain that saving Sea Rats is worth MURDER.

Unsurprisingly, Spike and Jet don’t get the bounty. SERIOUSLY. Are they ever going to get a bounty? That’s four in a row, y’all. Now I just feel bad for them. However, I entertained the very notion of hope when Spike was able to capture Twinkle Maria Murdock, the Space Warrior’s leader, at gunpoint. 25 million Woolongs for her bounty? Well, that’s a handsome purse, right? But the notion lasts about five seconds. I’m pretty sure Twinkle Maria’s smirk alone informed me that the team had gotten in over their head. HAHAHA I HAD NO FUCKING CLUE, Y’ALL.

The story that unfolds is complex and thrilling, made all the more fascinating when it was obvious that the virus Faye picked up before getting spotted by the Bebop was something awful. How great is that whole sequence where Spike is trying to destroy the casing around the virus, Twinkle Maria is trying to hide her terror, and we’re learning about what the virus actually is from Jet’s conversation? Ugh, that whole sequence is cut together brilliantly. And really, there are so many tiny details in “Gateway Shuffle” that satisfied me. Jet threatened Bob with blackmail over “illegal eye drops.” THAT’S TOTALLY RED EYE. Is it just going to become a thing that Faye will be handcuffed and will always find a way out of it? Can this show constantly use amazing jazz passages during chase scenes, too?

But this episode is memorable to me because it highlights just how precarious the moral situation is for the Bebop crew. Here, the team sort of exists in this weird middle ground between the law and terrorism. Even when they are following the law by trying to collect the bounty on Twinkle Maria, they have no idea that the Space Warriors are holding Ganymede hostage, which is why the bounty on Twinkle Maria suddenly disappears. In an instant, Spike and Jet are not professional bounty hunters anymore. They’re kidnappers. And you can see how frustrating this is to them! They’ve actually done something incredible for the ISSP, but it’s backfired on them unfairly. They know that Twinkle Maria and her group are terrorists, but the very law they were obeying has now turned against them.

Of course, when it’s revealed that the Virus, called Monkey Business, quite literally turns any humans who come into contact with it into monkeys, the stakes are higher than ever. Cue one intense scene after another once Twinkle Maria demonstrates the true power of Monkey Business ON ONE OF HER PREVIOUS SPACE WARRIOR FOLLOWERS. Oh god, does that mean all the monkeys we saw in their lab were at one time people??? THIS IS SO DISTURBING TO ME. At this point, the whole situation erupts into a disaster. The ship the Ganymede ISSP are following is a decoy that ends up killing them all, and the Monkey Business virus is headed straight for Ganymede. It’s out of desperation that Spike must agree to not only let Faye help out, but get a 60% cut of the bounty. Oh, Faye is overjoyed. Honestly, I don’t think it’s just the promise of money that excites her. I get the feeling she’s just amused to get Spike to compromise. WHO WOULDN’T BE?

That joy lasted like TEN SECONDS. Holy shit, when that last missile breaks into COUNTLESS WARHEADS, I for sure thought they were all fucked. The gate out of hyperspace was about to close, and that tense race to escape made my heart hurt. I honestly thought that Faye might not make it, but then the real trick is revealed: Spike dropped the vial of Monkey Business into Twinkle Maria’s pocket, leaving her and her crew stranded in hyperspace with the live virus. Fuck.

So: no bounty. Again. Forever. I’m just going to expect it from here on out! But I am pleased that this episode gives Faye a very beautiful entrance onto the Bebop AND a way for her to stay. By the way, she invited herself to be a part of the bounty hunter team. I’m predicting that they’ll succeed on their first bounty with her just so that I can laugh at Spike. Oh, I know his last name now! It’s Spiegel! Ah, that’s awesome. I LIKE LEARNING NAMES.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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