Mark Watches ‘Cowboy Bebop’: Session 11 – Toys in the Attic

In the eleventh session of Cowboy Bebop, the crew of the Bebop unknowingly pay tribute to Alien. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Cowboy Bebop.

No, seriously, isn’t this a lot like the plot of Alien? I’m not complaining. I love that movie to pieces, so I’m perfectly fine with every science fiction show ever ripping it off. Hell, one of my favorite episodes of The X-Files (“Ice”) is basically Alien meets The Thing. Doesn’t that sound like a beautiful match made in heaven???

Here’s the thing about this episode: “Toys in the Attic” doesn’t spend one second pushing these characters forward. The greater mythology of the show does nothing. It doesn’t budge. This self-contained nightmare is simply an experiment in how fucking terrifying Cowboy Bebop can be. (Did it remind anyone else of “Out of Gas” at certain points?) Guess what? THIS SHIT IS FUCKED UP.

I realize that for some of you, the non-serialized nature of this show is probably throwing you. I don’t blame you for not getting into this show. It’s not something that I normally cover for this site, but personally, I think that’s a big reason why I’m enjoying it so much. This show sort of does whatever it pleases.

I mean, honestly, “Toys in the Attic” works so well because it liberally borrows archetypes and tropes from some of the best horror films. The scenes are designed to bring out the worst suspense and dread in us, and by gods, it worked. The crew are taken out one-by-one as a mysterious thing crawls around the Bebop. At first, when it’s just Jet, no one believes him, despite that we, as the audience, know the truth. And that’s a huge throwback to a lot of traditional horror films. We’re a step ahead of the characters, so watching them stumble about without knowing what’s waiting around the next corner is agonizing. We want to scream and shout to warn them, but nothing we do can help them. That’s why it’s so horrifying when Faye dangles her leg over the edge of the bathtub. GODDAMN IT, NO, DON’T DO THAT.

It’s a specific technique that you see in slasher films, and “Toys in the Attic” shares that motif. These characters are taken down one after the other. Ed is later knocked out, and then Ein is attacked. It’s at this point that we switch perspective. Now, we know exactly what Spike knows. We are no longer a step ahead. This sudden change is TERRIFYING. My god, it’s here that I started feeling really bad about this situation. Spike was all by himself with some thing squishing its way around the ship. That view through the heat-sensing goggles? ONE BIG NO THANK YOU.

It only got worse. The cat-and-mouse game was ridiculous enough, but it was the sleight of hand in making it seem like Spike burned it that fucked me up the most. Jet’s comment about a mysterious fridge in the beginning of the episode is finally given relevance as Spike remembers that he left a Ganymede rock lobster inside of it FOR A YEAR. My god, when Spike opened up that fridge… wow, I was fucked up. It was so uncomfortable to watch! What if something slithered out of it??? DON’T OPEN IT, DUDE.

“Toys in the Attic” doesn’t have much of an ending, and I kind of like that. It reminded me of how “Ballad of Fallen Angels” ended. The resolution was purposely obtuse there, and it’s even more egregious in this episode. While Spike is able to send the fridge out into space, he’s still bit. Edward decides to eat the strange black blob, which makes a whole lot of sense IN NO UNIVERSE EVER. There’s no rescue sequence; it’s not explained how any member of the crew got better. If anything, this told me that this episode was self-contained, that it was never meant to be connected to anything else. I’m perfectly fine with that. This was a damn fine experience that was totally worth it because of the preview after the credits. Y’all, Edward is the the best damn thing to happen to this show, and I would watch Cowgirl Ed in a heartbeat.

Bravo, Cowboy Bebop. This was a pleasure to watch.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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