Jet’s past rears up once again while more things on the Bebop continue to break down. Will he be able to fix anything at all, or will everyone find themselves drifting off into space? This is the “Black Dog Serenade.”
1. The Black Dog Bites Once and Never Lets Go
“Black Dog Serenade” is another Jet-centric session, and it does a lot better at balancing the trauma of Jet’s past with the drama of the present storyline. Jet teams up with an old partner to infiltrate a prison ship. The inmates have taken advantage of an electrical malfunction, commandeered the transport, and made it through the Ganymede Gate. On board is Udai Taxim, which though the noir-tinged flashbacks, we learn was responsible for Jet losing his arm. Jet’s motivations here are much clearer, the devotion to his former partner better structured to give him some problems (though we all probably saw the twist coming), and the balance between the two more confident and drawn out.
2. Old Fashioned, the Kind of Guy Who Doesn’t Belong in This Day and Age
I dig how Watanabe and crew handle Udai Taxim’s introduction in “Black Dog Serenade.” The session opens with the crew of a prison ship all lying dead, and, after a beat, Udai Taxim, a Syndicate assassin, rises slowly like a demon from their carcasses. His only other action in this scene is to pour a bottole of champagne in a dead guard’s mouth. This gives us enough sense of him so that later, when the crazy inmate guns down the pilot, and Udai Taxim goes to confront him, we’re at the edge of our seat.
3. Don’t Say That, I Came All the Way Just to Say Hello
I’m interested in how this session handles murder and destruction, especially when it comes to Udai Taxim and the ways it builds his character. Take a look at the scene in the beginning, when the crazy inmate is threatening the pilot. Interestingly enough, Watanabe and crew cut away from the pilot’s actual murder. Some bullet holes appear in his seat and we see his shocked reaction as he falls over dead. But that’s it. On the other hand, when Udai Taxim murders the crazy inmate, there are geysers of blood blasting out of him. The crew even stares at him in awe as droplets of blood float through space.
Then there’s the attack on the ISSP barricade. Yes, the Sunrise crew cuts outside for the explosions, but much of the carnage, of ships running and on fire and blowing up, are seen from Udai Taxim’s perspective. That orange glow reflected in his glasses.
There’s far more deaths in here, though again, Watanabe and crew cut away just before Jet’s ship crushes one inmate. And we only see a reaction with a floating body as another suffocates.
4. What a Clueless Chump You Are
Though a scene intercut between Jet and Udai Taxim’s fight was probably the true reveal, we learn it was Jet’s former partner, Fad, was the one who set him up. Fad worked for the Syndicate and they wanted to get rid of Jet because reasons. Let’s not forget, Jet is essentially a noir character, so this is par for the course.
What makes this interesting is how far Jet’s come already with trusting people. In an earlier scene, he trusts Ed with his bonsai trees, a tidbit leaving Spike scratching his head. Jet’s past is full of betrayals and backstabbing, all because he was apparently the best cop or something, and you would think all that history would give him a harder shell.
Watching Cowboy Bebop again, I start thinking more and more the Bebop crew are just a bunch of teddy bears.
5. Even Buddah Gets Upset After Three Times
With all this character work, it’s easy to forget this session is filled with some great moments. Jet’s arrival on the prison transport is one of the best Jet-centric surges in the entire series, as he weaves in and out of bullets and bazooka rockets. I also like the flashback chase, with the flickering lights zipping by as Jet pursues Udai Taxim. My favorite gag though is Ed taking on her new chore, flooding Jet’s bonsai tree room with enormous glee.Continued below
Anyway, that’s it for this week. Why do you think Jet’s so ready to welcome other people into his life despite a string of constant betrayals in his past? How does the noir genre conventions hinder or boost the space western? Let me know what you think in the comments and we’ll see you next time, space cowboys, for the “Mushroom Samba.”