Mark Watches ‘Cowboy Bebop’: Session 15 – My Funny Valentine

In the fifteenth session of Cowboy Bebop, Faye shares her mysterious past with Ein. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Cowboy Bebop.

Please read the notice at the end about my Mark Watches videos and Vimeo!

This was wholly unexpected, and it was terribly good.

Again, Bebop doesn’t take the easy way out when it comes to its characters, and this is no exception. It’s weird to feel so satisfied while watching this show because its very nature is unsatisfying. “My Funny Valentine” spends half an episode giving us this emotional, meaningful flashback, one that is then immediately re-contextualized by the second half into something far more cynical and dark. I should have guessed as much, though, given that this show isn’t all that saccharine and sweet.

So, Faye’s flashback: I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I WANTED IT. She was dropped into the show with no history whatsoever, but for some reason, I hadn’t craved her backstory as much as I wanted information about Jet and Spike. The show, once again, was very ambiguous about Faye’s past, and now I can see why. The story told here in “My Funny Valentine” wouldn’t be as powerful if we’d gotten more direct hints along the way. Even before I knew the truth about what had happened to Faye, this still explained a lot about why she is the way she is.

The thing is, what we see in the first half of this episode is the truth, at least from the perspective of Faye. She believed that Dr. Whitney Matsumoto truly fell in love with her, wanted to help her escape the insurance agency, and then gave up his life when he saved her from them. Even worse, the millions of Woolongs she was in debt were only made worse when she found out that Whitney willed her his own debts. The true power of this episode, then, is conveying the horrific experience that Faye went through. She wakes up after 54 years in cryogenic sleep and she doesn’t even know why she was asleep. A great deal of the first half of the episode shows us this disorientation. She doesn’t know what the cryo doctor is talking about, she can’t remember what happened to her that got her put into cryogenic sleep in the first place, and then she wakes up to discover she is hundreds of millions of Woolongs in debt.

I think that scene where Faye tells Whitney the names of the objects around her is integral to understanding just how bewildering this all is. It’s bad enough to wake up without any memory of who you once were; it’s even worse when what little you do know about the world has been rendered meaningless. It’s why Faye flips out. If she can’t even recognize the gadgets around her, how much of the world has changed without her in it? God, how great is that scene where she stumbles upon the interactive ads from the vending machine? It’s another perfect example of how she’s been left behind.

That’s one of the reasons I believe Faye runs out on other people. Until she learns the truth of what Whitney did to her, what we see in the first half of “My Funny Valentine” is the reality that Faye has had to cope with for three years. I’d like to think that she’s been on her own, stealing what she can and conning whom she’s able to, because she never wants to depend on another person again. It’s about holding reality close to her so that it doesn’t slip away again (for 54 years!!!), leaving her behind.

Of course, appearances are not what they seem here. This is not a case of an unreliable narrator, though. What Faye experienced is what we see in the opening of “My Funny Valentine.” Faye really did wake up after 54 years, and she really did love Whitney. But we have to accept that she was conned (and badly) into taking one man’s debts from him. And after all this? JET WALKS HIM ONTO THE BEBOP. In that one moment, this episode changes in more way than one. Now, we have to start thinking about this as if it’s a revenge story. I mean, come on. It’s Faye we’re talking about! Of course she’s going to want revenge, though it wasn’t in the way I expected. Unfortunately, Faye is, once more, left without closure. Confronting Whitney and his con doesn’t give her the answers she wants. Like I said, this is technically about being dissatisfied, right? Faye doesn’t learn who she is by chasing the past; Jet doesn’t get the bounty he thought he was getting, either. They’re both left unsatisfied with their present state. And for all that Jet claims that women don’t operate under reason, I think this episode goes to great lengths to disprove this by showing us how no one does. The crew of the Bebop have all done foolish, irrational, and unreasonable things in the hope of something more. (Except Edward and Ein. Bless them.)

It might be heavy-handed and cheesy, but with this revelation, I like that “My Funny Valentine” essentially tells these characters that their only true hope is in moving forward. It fits the show stylistically, too. Has the past ever gave any of these people what they wanted? That’s certainly not the case with Spike, and now I’m curious if Jet’s past (and the reason for his mechanical arm) is just as cynical. Oh god, I can’t wait to watch more.


A note about my Vimeo account and Mark Watches videos!

So, unfortunately, I’m super bummed to tell y’all that my Vimeo account was deleted. (For now, at least.) Warner Bros. reported all my Fringe videos as being copyright infringements (the fringe-y ness of that is not lost on me), and it got my account deleted. It happened about an hour ago, and it’s super upsetting. I’ve already contacted support about re-instating it and whatnot, but for now, it’s gone.

I only lost three videos, though: “My Funny Valentine,” tomorrow’s LOST re-watch, and tomorrow’s Princess Tutu video. I already contacted these people to offer up a different video in case I don’t ever get access back. Thankfully, I hadn’t uploaded any of next week’s videos! They are all still on my computer. So, from here on out, I will be hosting all my video files in a public folder on Dropbox! They’ll still be in a format that’s playable in Windows Media Player and Quicktime so they are Mac/PC compatible. I’ll soon add more folders to separate them by show as well. I know a lot of you download the videos to sync them easily when you re-watch these episodes, so it was important to me that you could still download them. I’ll keep doing this until I have another solution.

In the meantime, in order to host videos more permanently on Dropbox, I need to upgrade to a Pro Account with 100GB of storage. It’s $10 a month or $100 a year, so if you’d like to commission more Mark Watches episodes (there are still unclaimed Cowboy Bebop episodes), you can do so here! You can donate through PayPal in the right hand column if you’re feeling generous. I’m hoping, though, that Vimeo refunds that year subscription I just bought last week, and I can use that money towards a Dropbox Pro account.

I’m sorry that this happened, and I’ll keep y’all updated about it as I find out more. Note that this DOES NOT AFFECT MARK READS VIDEOS, as those are on YouTube. Thanks for understanding!

Mark Links Stuff

 I am going on tour in 2013! There are 27 tour dates spread across the eastern half of North America. Please help suggest venues, offer up a place to crash, and RSVP for dates near you!
- I have begun writing posts in advance to compensate for tour. All commissions are open, and I have listed all upcoming Mark Watches posts that are missing commissions.
- You can also commission me to read bad fic/fiction on ANY Mark Does Stuff Tour date. You can claim a specific date to have a live reading right here.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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