With this episode, we are now halfway through our look at Cowboy Bebop. Halfway. Weird. Sure, I’ll do the movie in there where it fits chronologically, but as far as the original anime goes, with its usual 26 episodes, we’ve got exactly as many episodes to go as we’ve already done. Did it fly by or crawl? I think for the second part of this article, I’m going to do a bit of a recap of what we’ve learned in the show thus far. Is it because “Jupiter Jazz part 2” doesn’t have much to add besides a flashback or two? Should I have just done both “Jupiter Jazz” episodes in a single article? Am I now made entirely of tin? The answer to one or more of these questions could be yours if the Price is Right.
When we last left things, Spike had been shot by his former protege Lin who is protecting Vicious on behalf of the Red Dragons; Faye has learned that her jazz-playing new friend is more than meets the eye, and is in league with Vicious somehow; and they both maybe know where Julia is. Spike, while asleep from being shot with a tranquilizer by Lin (and not a bullet like we thought), flashbacks about his time working alongside Vicious, along with images of Julia, of roses, of Red Eye vials, and of him getting his own eye transplant. Julia tells him he has two different eyes, and he says one looks to the past, one looks to the future. He wakes up, realizes he’s only been tranqued, and that’s kind of insulting, and then lights a cigarette.
Gren, meanwhile, tells Faye about being in the army on Titan alongside Vicious several years ago, in a kind of trench warfare, not unlike WWI, and how he heard Vicious with a tiny music box playing the song “Julia.” Gren asked if he could play the song on his sax when he got home and Vicious tossed him the music box without saying a word. Then, it looks like Vicious is going to stab him in the head, but instead just kills a scorpion that’s about to sting Gren. Gren tells Faye that he wants to know if Vicious is the one who framed him for the crime that sent him into hiding. Faye doesn’t trust Gren and tries to shoot him, but he disarms her, sedates her, and handcuffs her in his apartment before leaving.
Jet, meanwhile, is still looking for Faye and finds answers in the Blue Crow, where Gren plays and met Ms. Valentine the night before. The bartender says he of course remembers her, and says that she reminded him of a woman named Julia who used to come in, them both being women and all. The bartender then tells Jet that Faye left with Gren, then Jet goes looking for the both of them, eventually finding Faye tied up. Jet’s upset at Faye for leaving and taking their money, but she says it was only about 20,000 woolongs, which isn’t all that much I guess. Jet calls Spike, who’s flying around in his Swordfish II, and says he’ll let Spike back on the crew if he helps them catch Gren. Spike agrees, but for his own reasons.
Gren goes to meet Vicious for the drug deal dressed as a woman in a burka and makes the deal, but reveals himself thereafter and kicks the money back and shoots off the case’s hinges, revealing the bomb Vicious had planted. It explodes, but only injures Lin, however it does alert Spike to their location and he speeds off after the noise. Gren tells Vicious that Julia had told him there was a solar transmitter (bomb) in the music box and he disabled it; Gren wonders why Vicious was so intent to kill him, they’d been comrades in arms during the war. Vicious doesn’t explain, so Gren opens fire, but hits Lin instead who jumps to save Vicious, dying in the process.
Vicious takes the Red Eye and makes for his ship, with Gren and Spike each firing at him from their own ships. Vicious then hears the song “Julia” and realizes Gren has placed the music box in the back with the Red Eye and the solar transmitter then explodes, disabling Vicious’ ship, but not before he narrowly makes it back to the Red Dragon ship. Spike finds Gren dying and pleads with him to tell where Julia is, but Gren can only asked to be taken back to Titan so he can see it again before he dies. But it’s too late of course.
This is an episode that really should be viewed in tandem with part 1, simply because there are threads they don’t re-set-up from part 1 into part 2 that you might miss. When viewed as a whole, “Jupiter Jazz” is a very nice and fitting topper to the first half of the series; we get more information (bit by little bit) about Spike’s past with Vicious, and though nobody really knows anything about Julia yet, the pieces are starting to fall into place. The flashbacks offer really great flashes of info that help us going forward. While the first part had the characters all breaking up in a believable way, the second part is so much about Vicious and his relationship to both Gren and Spike that Faye and Jet sort of get cast aside, though they do talk a bit to each other and that’s nice. Ed even comments at the end of the episode that she got left out of this adventure, which is very true.
For 13 weeks, Cowboy Bebop has really established itself as a show that can’t be pinned down and that is much deeper and richer than perhaps it appeared at first. It’s a fun show, a weird, show, a sad show, an exciting show, a scary show, and a thoughtful show all housed in a universe where technology of the future and moralities of the past collide. During this watch, I’ve been noticing how much I enjoy the interplay of Spike, Jet, and Faye, in various combinations, and also how separate Ed seems, not fully integrated yet. Granted, she’s only been in five episodes, but after her debut episode, she’s been largely either used for exposition dumping or just forgotten entirely. This won’t be the way it is forever, though. This is a show that takes its time, and will keep doing so even when it starts heading toward the end.
Next time, we have an episode that I, for the life of me, have no recollection of. I surely watched it, because I watched all of them some years ago (duh), but seeing the images of virtual chess and Spike’s cryptic “next-time” narration has done nothing to jog my memory. So! It looks like I’ll be rediscovering it right along with you guys. It’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” next time; good song, hopefully a good ep.