Cowboy Bebop Newbie Recap: “My Funny Valentine”
Faye finally gets her backstory episode, and it's the best one yet. More Faye all the time please.
I think it’s easy to say that Faye has easily won out so far in terms of most interesting backstory. Sure, we don’t know all of Spike’s yet, and Jet’s so far has focused solely on a love story that never panned out, but up until this point, and with what we know about the characters (which is still very little), Faye is winning out. More than anything, the intrigue for her flashbacks is enormous with the most strictly science fiction elements involved. The episode begins in a flashback of her where she’s being put to cryogenic sleep.
Before her full backstory is revealed, we make a small detour to Jet and Ed, whose only food options are potentially toxic frozen fish. Jet makes the decision to go after a small bounty in order to make enough money for food, something he knows would irk Spike, who never likes to go after the small time bounties.
Faye gets sucked into her story when she’s with Ein, seeing something recognizable in his eyes as with a previous friend, Whitney Hagis Matsumoto, who she met when she awoke from her cryogenic sleep when she was told she owed the hospital millions after being put in that state for over five decades. Whitney tells her that he’ll defend her, and we’re given a montage of the two getting to know one another while she gets reacquainted with life, having lost all memory of who she used to be. Faye is a much softer version that the no-nonsense character we’ve gotten to know, and it’s her backstory with Whitney that clues us into why she is who she is, when he one day disappears, leaving her with all of her debt plus his as well. She’s learned not to trust, because trusting in people, as she mentioned a few episodes ago, has gotten her nowhere.
While the flashback scenes edged on the side of the dramatic, they were visually deeply effective—in particular, a scene where Faye runs through an empty highway, streetlights being the only thing to illuminate the character, is stunning. I love how with each character and each individual backstory, there’s a different tone set. For Spike, there was this gothic showdown between him and Vicious. For Jet, it was a seaside romance, and now for Faye, an old timey romance. We don’t know much about our characters and their lives, but each set a distinct tone for themselves.
For a while, as Faye spoke to a largely disinterested Ein, I thought that Spike was, for the first time in the series, not to make an appearance in an episode, only to turn up a moment later having listened to all that Faye had been saying. While I would have been okay for Spike to miss an episode, with the focus largely being on Faye, I do enjoy their banter, and Spike knowing about her past sets up a fantastic exchange at the end of the episode.
Before we get there, however, there’s the unexpected crash reunion between Faye and Whitney, who was the bounty that Jet had been after. Whitney is no longer the suave character we first met, but instead one who is desperate to save his own skin. Before Faye allows Jet to turn him in to the police, she takes him away on her ship in order to force some information out of him, wanting to know who she is and where she came from and expecting that for all of Whitney’s secrets, that he would know hers as well. He doesn’t appear to know anything, though, and Spike is already on her tail, refusing to let her give up a bounty due to any old feelings, and I have to hope that Jet’s comments about her being hopeless are because all women are is supposed to point the negative finger at him, because that’s the type of comments that make my eyes roll into the back of my head.
Faye, in the end, comes to her own decision to turn Whitney in, severing any remaining links to her past—something that she doesn’t take lightly. Spike tries to dismiss it, saying it doesn’t matter, and Faye makes sure to point out that it’s easy for him to say that since he has a past. Spike responds that she might not have a past, but she has a future, and that’s the part that really matters. The Bebop crew are all about moving forward and refusing to allow their pasts to sink them, and Faye is a part of that. They all have moments they’d rather forget, or in terms of Faye, remember, but if they have a bounty to chase, they have something to distract them for the time being.
Even if that bounty ends up being shockingly small like it does for Whitney.
“My Funny Valentine” is a wonderful little episode, one that knows when to bring the group back together and how long Faye should get to spend in her memories. It has small character moments, such as Ed (who still gets frustratingly little to do) holding onto Jet as they walk through zero gravity hallways, as well as moments like the ending scene between Spike and Faye that further bond the group.
And it ends with Ein having eyebrows drawn on to match his curiously human eyes, so that’s a plus.
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