In the nineteenth session of Cowboy Bebop, Spike returns his ship to its original owner for repairs and unknowingly gets involved with pirates. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Cowboy Bebop.
I enjoyed this episode a lot, so it’s just a tad unfortunate where it’s placed in the show. After the emotional content of the past four episodes, it pales in comparison to what I’ve seen. Which isn’t a bad thing! This is a fun episode that introduces Doohan and Miles, two characters I wish we could see again. Plus, it’s about SPACE PIRATES! Who use COMPUTERS AS WEAPONS! And Edward has THE BEST LINE EVER here! (“The computer’s kaput and we’re drifting through space towards certain oblivion.”) I just wish it wasn’t set after a particularly exciting batch of episodes that all had to do with character studies and super intense backstories, you know?
For the most part, I felt that “Wild Horses” was an interesting examination of two worlds colliding. The pirates represented how the world Cowboy Bebop was highly modernized; most things depend on computers. (Including Edward!) To an extent, Miles represents this, too. His desire to update the parts on the Swordfish II to more modern pieces enrages Doohan. Doohan is contrasted with both groups by cherishing the past. He wants to repair the Swordfish II with the original parts. No updates, no modernizations. Hell, it’s through this very standard of his that Spike and Doohan find out who was responsible for the virus that the Bebop gets! In that sense, I think “Wild Horses” exposes how dependent we’ve become on technology, so much so that we’re setting ourselves up for failure if that technology can be used against us.
The message isn’t that explicit, granted. For the most part, this is just a fun episode that ends with a super ridiculous (and entertaining!) rescue sequence. I found the second half far more entertaining than the first, but I recognize the importance of setting up the two stories. It’s their convergence that makes this a memorable episode. From a characterization standpoint, I’ve loved how Cowboy Bebop has generally given us some astoundingly fleshed-out side characters. In this case, we meet Miles, an overexcited sports fan, who comes to face his fear of flying while on that aforementioned rescue mission. It’s fascinating to me how his excitement is often in opposition to Doohan’s cynical rejection of the future. Doohan doesn’t just dislike modern technology; you get the sense that he doesn’t much care for anyone. He’s rude to Miles at one point, and Spike remarks that Doohan is going to drive away yet another assistant this way. So this must be Doohan’s default disposition.
That’s why it’s so fun to see him come up with a plan that is both modern, a nod to the past, and wholly absurd. As soon as he took off in THE COLUMBIA SPACE SHUTTLE (!!!!), it was like he was stepping out of his comfort zone. At any other time, with any other person, I don’t think Doohan would have done this. But Spike (and perhaps Miles, too) inspired him to finally use his little side project. And what a side project that is!!!
I can’t say I understood all of the technical talk concerning flight, the atmosphere, and whatnot, but it didn’t distract me from enjoying “Wild Horses.” I love that photo we see at the end. Spike looks miserable, as usual, but Miles and Doohan have clearly had the experience of their lives. I don’t think we’ll see them again, but I’m happy with the story we got.
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