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Cowboy Bebop Newbie Recap: “Hard Luck Woman”

"Belonging is the very best thing there is."

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“In this world, people must cherish whatever ties they have.”

Whoa.

There was an inescapable concern going into this episode that I was going to be let down by the end. This is largely due to the fact that my expectations were so high, more than any other episode of the show’s run, and all because of how you all talked the episode up.

You were all so, so right.

The first highlight of the episode was when I realized that it was going to be one geared on Faye and Ed and in ways that we haven’t seen yet from the series, the show unafraid of introducing new facets and subtleties to the characters even with so little time left with them. The unfiltered affection that Ed has for “Faye Faye” has always been one of her more charming attributes, and low-key ones, and it works wonders in an episode where both characters are out searching for something they may have lost.

The storyline itself is rather bare bones, mainly being an episode focused on where characters go and what they do once they get there. The wealth of storyline comes through in the emotional stories the characters are telling, and how they go on to likely change the course of their narratives. Faye starts the installment beginning to remember more of her past while watching her time capsule video and goes seeking it out (which leads her to Earth). She takes Ed along for the ride believing she can help. Instead, Faye learns that Ed had always been a bit of a wanderer, having lived with a makeshift orphanage for a number of years before leaving again, and then, soon after, strolling into the lives of the Bebop crew. The biggest shocker, however, comes with the knowledge that Ed’s father has been looking for her.

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Faye, meanwhile, in a chill-inducing moment, runs into an elderly woman who recognizes her from their high school years. It’s a moment that makes Faye’s situation, her sense of displacement, all the more powerful. Despite her reasonable shock, I was happy that Faye chose to opt out of the path of sentimentality, choosing instead to flee from from her home and her past, back to the bizarre, relative safety of the Bebop ship.

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That’s when it all begins to fall further into place. We realize that Ed’s father is the bounty that Jet and Spike have been after, and Faye finally fully remembers her past, as well as her childhood home. While Spike, Jet and even Ed go off to find the latter’s father (for completely different reasons), Faye takes off once again, looking for some semblance of peace.

I have an enormous amount of love for the series for the time they have dedicated to Faye, her storyline, and her character development. She has arguably been the most fleshed out character of the series, and it’s well deserved, especially as she spent the most of it also being the most compelling. To see her grab hold of something that’s been evading her for her entire arc is thrilling, and it’s the type of hero (anti-hero?) journey we so often want to see on television. It’s also worth mentioning (again) just how much the relationship between Ed and Faye is worth cherishing (similar to that of Ed and Jet’s). It’s been a slow burn, corner-of-the-frame-style relationship, but it helps make theirs a richer world.

And then there are those last five minutes of the episode, which are simply knockouts. Ed’s reuniting with her dad only for him to take off shortly after was crushing, especially after introducing him as “father person.”

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Faye running breathlessly to her old home, intertwined with scenes of her past, younger self doing the same—the former desperate, the latter gleeful—is one of the most magical scenes the show has ever produced. It’s so simply constructed, but the emotional impact is poignant, touched with our own feelings and affection for Faye’s character.

And let me just gush a bit more about the visuals (I only have so many words left to do so!)

The screen bleeds colors in the last few shots; oranges and reds bombard our senses as the sun sets on earth and the crew finds themselves physically splintered. Faye is gone, mourning the loss of the life she barely remembers and the unwanted grief she feels in the rubble of her forgotten home. Ed, too, has left, leaving one more offering of her sense of kinship with Jet and Spike, followed by Ein, who also seems to be making a tough decision in leaving the ship for the outdoors. Her silhouette against the sunset paints the perfect picture of who she is—a lone, wandering soul—but this time, with Ein’s help, she seems to be looking for a place to call home.

And here we are, back with the two characters we began with, and so much has taken place since that it’s difficult to think of it as even being the same show. Even Jet and Spike, both of whom spent so much time complaining about the others, can’t seem to take much enjoyment in the extra actions their absence have left them with.

Cowboy Bebop, in its own way, has been a show about five misfits and castoffs who have become their own little unit, even if it’s something that none of them would ever readily admit.

There are two episodes left (dammit) and this episode came with the sudden realization of how surely these characters have stuck with me, and I’m not feeling ready for the show to be truly over. “Hard Luck Woman” is a cinematic venture—one that feels longer than its run time—but in a positive way, because ever second mattered.

Now, do I split the last two episodes up, or review them all in one go?

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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