September 24th, 2018

Space Smoke

Life in Old Ships Yet

After five episodes focusing on other crew members, Cowboy Bebop gets back to an episode built more around Spike that also the reveals more about his ship, the Swordfish. Some exciting and amusing space battles take place and once again an artefact from Earth's past plays a major role.

Session Nineteen: Wild Horses

Sadly, this is an artefact that dates the show; the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed five years after Cowboy Bebop originally aired. Those of us who watched the show before the disaster can remember just being amused that the ship Doohan (Takeshi Aono) has been retrofitting as a hobby is so old it's real.

Now it's bittersweet, of course, but this still a fine episode. Doohan, whose name is presumably an ode to James Doohan, the actor who played Scottie on Star Trek, is the one who gave Spike (Koichi Yamadera) his signature spacecraft, the Swordfish, and it's to Doohan Spike takes the ship to be overhauled in this episode. This is after he's stranded in the desert with the thing, out of fuel, a sequence that features some nice images of Spike smoking in the shadow of the fuselage.

We get some lovely details when Doohan's assistant, Miles (Yoku Shioya), presumably named for Miles Davis, takes Spike back to Doohan's hanger.

Meanwhile, Jet (Unsho Ishizuka) and Faye (Megumi Hayashibara) are trying to capture a group of starship pirates who use a computer virus to hijack ships. Much to the chagrin of the Bebop crew, they also fall prey to the virus; even the combined computer talents of Ed (Aoi Tada) and Ein are no match for it. This is where Spike comes in.

It's not unlike Luke turning off the targeting computer in Star Wars, really. There's a lot more to what happens in the climax of the episode but Spike essentially survives thanks to his manual manoeuvring and the assistance of Doohan's ancient craft. Now the past isn't just making itself more apparent, it's coming to the rescue. This episode also marks sort of a reappearance of Spike's martial arts philosophy. His technique, modelled on Bruce Lee's advice to flow like water, seems reflected in a line Spike memorably says in moments of crisis here; "Whatever happens, happens."


This entry is part of a series of entries I’m writing on Cowboy Bebop for its 20th anniversary. I’m reviewing each episode individually. My previous episode reviews can be found here:

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven

Session Eight

Session Nine

Session Ten

Session Eleven

Sessions Twelve and Thirteen

Session Fourteen

Session Fifteen

Session Sixteen

Session Seventeen

Session Eighteen