In the eighteenth session of Cowboy Bebop, Jet accepts a package for Faye, who takes off in a fury, leaving the Bebop crew to unravel the mystery of what’s inside. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Cowboy Bebop.
What do I say, y’all? In a single episode, this show just punched me so hard in the feelings that I don’t even know how I’m supposed to deal with this. How can I ever look at Faye the same again? I can’t, and it’s not like “Speak Like a Child” revealed anything damning about her character. Instead, the writers chose to show us what she was once like, forcing us to re-think our perception of Faye.
Truthfully, the ending of this episode is so shocking and emotional because we’re led to believe that whatever is on the beta tape is going to give us a definitive answer about where Faye came from. You know, as often as I point out how unsatisfying and bleak plots are on Cowboy Bebop, I still fall for these misdirects every single time. As soon as I got that glimpse of a teenage Faye on the beta tape, I thought that this would finally reveal what got her put into a cryogenic freeze. In a sense, the depths to which Jet and Spike go in order to watch the tape seemed to imply that what was on it was this life-changing reveal. I’d still say that this episode is extremely important to help understand why Faye is the way she is regardless of what I expected from “Speak Like a Child.” But I also admit that the power in the final scene comes from the fact that it takes the character of Faye in such an intriguing direction.
Faye often runs from her problems, and we’ve seen that motif play out again and again. I think that she’s just as cynical as Spike is, perhaps more so, and she lives life with herself in mind at all times. Her selfishness is certainly entertaining. I do wonder why the Bebop crew keeps her around when she’s so prone to screwing them over, but that’s not really the point of this episode. The writers intercut scenes of Faye gambling away what little money she has with the rather intense attempts of Jet and Spike to find something to play Faye’s tape on.
And look, I don’t want to ignore how entertaining these scenes with Jet and Spike are. They take up most of the episode, really. It’s nice to see even more of this fictional world, too. LIKE EARTH. OH SHIT, LOOK AT EARTH! Plus, it gives “Speak Like a Child” a healthy dose of tension as well. I guess it’s hard to come up with thoughtful or insightful things to say about these scenes when the ending completely upstages everything else. There’s not much character development from Jet, Spike, or Edward. And that’s okay! Again, I think this is to give the ending more power. Until then, this is largely a plot-heavy episode. The Bebop crew tries to play the video, Spike ruins everything like ten times (FUCKING SPIKE LOL, STOP IT), Edward saves the day because she’s the best, and thenâ€¦
It’s hard to even think about that video. Of course, we get absolutely no information about what happened to Faye all those years ago. Instead, it’s a video letter, composed by a young Faye, to be watched ten years after it was made. The true heartbreak is in the contrast. Here, we see a young woman so full of life, surrounded by friends, certain that her future is full of joy, adventure, and happiness. Faye once had hope. This is even more crushing when you think about what’s transpired over the course of this episode. Faye has been on the run for years, always trying to escape her impossible debts; she steals regularly from the crew who is kind enough to let her stick around; she gambles what little money she has in the hopes of someday striking it big; she is so poor that she often goes without food for days.
And that glimpse of her past shows her that she once had everything she currently needs in the present. I’m happy that this episode ends without anyone saying anything. What could you say to Faye after this? It’s such a painfully intimate moment, one that no one on that ship expected, and now it’s been thrust into the open. My god, it hurts. I don’t expect that this will be dealt with or referred to again in the show, but I’m curious if the crew will treat Faye differently because of it.
Goddamn, y’all. What an incredible episode.
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