Dog Star Swing
Episode 3 of Cowboy Bebop starts with Spike on Mars, visiting an old friend. “I hear the sake is only good here when it rains,” He says. This is code, and the vendor is well aware of what this means. He hands over some chopsticks, with a message attached reading “Vicious Knows.” In order to get more info on this though, Spike needs to hang about on the planet. Jet though, has other ideas.
With Kimmie’s birthday coming up, and all the toy stores in Tharsis City sold out of her favourite doll, Jet is angsty and wants to leave. Spike though, does his best to keep him grounded. Thinking fast, Spike checks the feed and finds a mark worth 15 million. That’s a lot of money and it’s enough to keep Jet intrigued – and on the planet.
The pair call on the talents of Woodcock for this one, but she has a big ask. In exchange for helping, she wants to have dinner with Jet. After agreeing to the terms, they receive the surveillance footage of our fiend.
Spike happens to be a master lipreader, interpreting the man’s words as: “I’m gunna make your little girl pay for what you rich asshole has done to me and my family.” What seems to be a simple homicide has now turned into something closer to a kidnapping. But it goes deeper than that. A scar on the back of this man’s hand seems to hint that it’s the work of face-changers, and he wanted to be caught on camera under this fake alias.
Jet and Spike decide to use their scrambler to glitch the bounty, Hakim. In doing so, Hakim would be forced into the nearest brothel to get it fixed. There are two in Tharsis, one being the Betty’s Boop and the other, Betty’s Bottom. So the pair split up and wait for their mark to show.
In the middle of this mission, Jet deals on the black market with a tattooed fella for the doll Kimmie wants. After handing over a cool 35k, he makes the trade. Thankfully, the target in question shows up before Spike and the pair wind up duking it out on the rooftop.
As Jet heads up to help, he winds up losing the doll in the ensuing skirmish, knocking it down into the water below. However, he does save Spike who, after being punched into a neon-lit sign, finds himself hanging on the edge. He nonchalantly lights a cigarette as Jet holds his ankle, waiting for him to be pulled back up.
Meanwhile, Ana speaks to Julia in private at the club. She’s not particularly happy with Vicious mistreating Julia, with a fresh scar across her neck to show from their latest run-in. Unfortunately like many abuse victims, she blames herself.
While Jet and Spike wander through the streets, trying to find a new doll for Kimmie, Spike notices the food truck from before – his contact. His “fresh supply” of sushi has come in and it’s confirmed that Vicious is nearby. In order to finish this, he’s given instruction to head across to a group of silos whereby a “package” will be left for him on number 13.
With this still bouncing around in his head, Spike and Jet find information on Hakim and just where he may be. Given Hakim is actually quite rich, he’s recently made several purchases for new dogs. Or has he? With a bit more digging, the gang deduce that Hakim was actually robbing all these houses to steal their hounds.
After following up a lead involving a mistress in the area, Spike and Jet head up to the atmo farm where Hakim works. When they finally find him, they reassure the guy and call him out as the largest mark they’ve found.
Just before turning him in though, the police show up and shoot Hakim dead. They steal the mark, angering Spike but there’s a plus side to this. Jet scoops up one of the dogs, bringing it to Kimmie back home as a birthday gift. Unfortunately the taxes for holding onto a dog is way too high and he’s forced to take the gift away.
Spike meanwhile, rings Vicious while he’s up on the silo watching him. He thinks twice about killing the man though, tellingly calling him “brother.” Vicious calls himself untouchable until Spike tests that theory. Spike shoots him from the silo but the bullet grazes Vicious’s cheek. He lives to fight another day.
The Episode Review
The third episode of Cowboy Bebop starts to change the dynamic slightly, focusing more on the relationship between Spike and Jet while fleshing out Vicious and the Syndicate. Now, this is the first of a few episodes that directly rip a plot from the anime and change it to fit a different purpose. It’ll be interesting to see how people interpret this but as a standalone chapter, it’s not bad. Next to the anime though? It’s definitely not as effective.
Of course, this approach is always problematic as it could well alienate those who are massive fans of the anime. Still, the relationship between Spike and Jet is what keeps this episode intriguing and I’d imagine with Faye added to the roster too, that could well flesh things out further.