Cowboy Bebop Newbie Recap: “Gateway Shuffle”
Things are getting a bit wild in "Gateway Shuffle".
Easily my favorite episode so far, and these are the reasons why! (You can see what I thought of the rest right here!)
- There is an immediacy to the episode that was sorely lacking in the first two.
We’ve barely caught up with our heroes as they zero in on a potential target before hell breaks loose with environmental fanatics taking the target out first. The build in momentum from the opening minutes to the action packed climax are well timed, with just enough down time in between to catch our breath and understand our characters a bit more.
- The villains of episode four—the Space Warriors—are the most interesting yet.
… In part due to how they tie in with the futuristic setting and also in part due to how catastrophically bizarre their master plan is. They hope to turn the larger human population into monkeys, via a bottled, airborne disease. They believe that animals are superior to mankind, more pure than the consumer obsessed people they’ve become, and the only true way to recapture their true, earth borne essence is to become what they once were. It’s insanity but it’s something for the villain to truly latch onto, rather than being a run of the mill thief, drug addict or gambler. Also, it integrally gives the episode stakes. We’re not so familiar with the world or tone of the show yet to know if it’s willing to go so dark as to let the villains win early on in the series. They don’t in the end, but it is dark enough to subject it’s baddies to the very thing they’d been threatening the world with, and confident enough to allow it to happen offscreen.
- Faye Valentine is back and a part of the bounty hunter gang!
It was smart to ease her back into the storyline. She’s an outlier character for most of the episode and they intelligently bring her back by the stories end. Spike and Jet are a fun duo, but adding Faye into the mix just makes the dynamic even greater. Her intentions are ambiguous and she needs to be bribed to help save the day, but her and Spikes mad dash through space at the end of the episode is the most thrilling action piece the show has done so far.
- Despite being a darker fare, there is plenty of humor is this episode.
My personal favorite has to be the visual gag of watching Spike in the background of a scene trying to get the vial containing the virus open while Jet talks to law enforcement about why the bounty is no longer a go for Twinkle (that name) Murdock. His attempts become wilder and more desperate and the best moment comes when finally, he pulls out his gun to try and shoot it open.
- Let’s talk some more about the design of the series because it truly is beautiful.
I’m not always in awe of how the characters themselves are drawn (Faye is incredibly eye roll worthy due to how she’s designed…) but the scenery, the action and especially the way the world is built is noteworthy for how intricate it is. There is so much detail in the different space stations that Jet and Spike stop at. This week while they’re at the swanky restaurant, we also learn about life in this universe and how endangered species are preserved. All of this happens in a lit up stations, where the lights twinkle and glow attracting their customers. It’s recognizable but otherworldly.
- That last action sequence!
It’s a literal race against time and more than the roughish bounty hunters who toe the line of morally gray, they get to be heroes. The animation is stunning! The sequence as they rush through hyperspace before the gateway closes is some of the best kinetic animation I’ve ever seen, a blur of colors and stars. It’s a breathtaking action scene. By the time they make their escape, with Twinkle Murdock stuck on the other side, with the virus in their pod, we feel the same about of exuberant exhilaration as Faye, Jet and Spike.
- The ending is a wonderful way to end an episode that showcased an accidental team-up.
Faye is officially apart of the gang and is already ready to go after the next bounty where they’ll get the credit they deserve. It’s the first time the show has had a sense of urgency to it as well as finally finding it’s footing. The first three episodes of the series were certainly stylish and interesting to watch, but “Gateway Shuffle” is the first time I’ve cared about the characters and the story the show was telling.
Shhh tell me to stop gushing. Or don’t. It’s fun either way! Is this the type of episode I have to look forward to for the remainder of the series? Consider me excited!
Allyson Johnson is a twenty something writer and a lover of film and all things pop culture. She’s a film and television enthusiast and critic over at TheYoungFolks.com who spends too much of her free time on Netflix. Her idols are Jo March, Illana Glazer, and Amy Poehler. Check her out at her twitter @AllysonAJ or at The Young Folks.
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