Cowboy Bebop Newbie Recap: “Toys in the Attic”
“Nothing good ever happened to me when I trusted others."
This is the type of atmospheric and ridiculous vignette of an episode that I can get on board for. It’s just the right amount of silly without it every turning into one big joke, and allows Spike to once again prove his status of coolest anime hero. The stylish flares used throughout are wonderful, from the episode’s opening which seemed more likened to a first person point of view video game, to some zero gravity stunts. In its own way, “Toys In the Attic” is a bottle episode for Cowboy Bebop. First things first before we get started: I was informed while I was watching this episode that there were many homages to Alien. I have never seen Alien, therefore, if my roommates were correct, I would no idea. So, apologies for any missed comparisons.
The crew are bored, with Jet having taken to gambling against Faye for any sort of cash as well as a route out of boredom. They’re their own self employers, he says in the first of four voiceovers, and when there’s no work, there’s nothing to do. It’s a comical, easy look at the weird, dysfunctional camaraderie they’ve grown. What makes this better is that it’s intercut with Spike cooking food with some sort of flamethrower, because, of course. It’s odd to think how greatly that shot of him cooking his gross, leathery food, would tie into the rest of the episode, or specifically, the ending.
Jet’s naked, Spike is messing around, and Ed is being Ed, all before things go bump in the night and the creepy crawlies in the ship start making themselves known.
Jet is lurking about, cold and frustrated, and opens a fridge he had no knowledge of, and soon, in Faye and Spike’s quarters, there are alarms going off. Thinking something is wrong, the two race through the ship only to find Jet seemingly fine, which soon is proven wrong as he collapses with a purple welt on the back of his neck.
The group (with the help of Ed) has begun to narrow the possible afflictions down to intergalactic, mutated aliens right before Faye is also bitten. Two down and two to go (three if we’re counting Ein, and the comments have taught me not to make fun of the space dog). Spike, Ed, and Ein split up, equipped with some nifty heat-sensing goggles, and it’s not long before both Ed and Ein are struck down with whatever is infecting the ship. We do get this nugget of wisdom from Ed before he’s unconscious though:
“If you see a stranger, follow him.”
Words of wisdom from Ed may be the best kind.
Spike is left alone to deal with the faceless troubles and loads up with weaponry from his flame thrower to a few grenades and what looked like a sword, totally clueless about what it is he’ going to be fighting. Again, he’s such a cool character without him ever being written to be without flaws. He’s interesting, and his lighting his cigarette with his flame thrower has to be his best moment on the series so far.
It really is such a great self-contained episode that I wish it could have gone on for another ten minutes. His fight with the creature is pure, silly spectacle as he’s almost consistently hitting air.
He’s put the ship on autopilot, and his fight also allows the chance to see more of the quarters that the crew lives in, all of it seemingly built by junkyard scraps. The hallways pose the perfect setting for the very one-sided showdown, as even when Spike thinks he’s killed whatever was on the ship, he also remembers his rare lobster in the fridge, the fridge he’d hidden it in a year ago so no one would take it from him and the one that Jet had been looking into when he was bitten.
Which takes us to his lesson: Don’t leave things in the fridge.
His dawning, disgusted, realization of what has been growing inside the fridge and his disturbed look at what he sees in it is one of the best visual moments of the episode, while we’re shown everything rather than being told. It’s the show having trust in its viewers to be able to understand what’s happening, why Spike looks so alarmed, and be amused by it. He changes his mission and grabs the fridge to push it out into space, and just as the hatch is ready to open, the mysterious creature comes and bites Spike on the arm.
I feel like it’s becoming a thing for Spike to have to hold to on for dear life as things around him are sucked into the vacuum of space.
As the fridge spins through space, “Waltz of the Flowers” by Tchikovsky plays, as the show pans to all of the other characters who have been rendered unconscious by the mysterious bug. It’s another great use of music on the show, and its unexpected nature makes it even better.
Clearly, the main lesson is that boredom is bad, correct?
“Toys in the Attic” is a delightfully weird little episode.
However, I saw the preview for the next episode, and I’m not going to be able to wait until my typical Sunday viewing time for that one. Expect a review for parts one and two next week!
(image via Bandai)
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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