By this point, we’ve been given backstories on almost every one of the Bebop crew. Everyone, that is, except for Faye Valentine. Truth outs and phonies pout in “My Funny Valentine.”
Warning, spoilers for both this session and previous sessions.
1. That One Girl
It feels to me like Watanabe and crew got the idea for “My Funny Valentine” and Faye’s amnesia fairly late into the game. Think about how much we knew about Jet and Spike and even Ed and Ein already. Faye has always been a closed figure drifting through space, another bounty hunter and swindler whose path just so happened to cross with the Bebop crew.
So the amnesia element feels too convenient and easy to me. Very soap opera-y, a far cry from our typical space opera.
2. So What’s Up with Faye?
From the moment she emerges out of cryogenesis, Faye is being taken advantage of. This, more than the amnesia, goes a long way in helping us understand her character and her actions and her interactions with the rest of the crew. Matsumoto is literally the first person who shows any willingness to help her and turns out his whole motivation is to somehow transfer all his debts on to her. Which explains why Faye always seems to be trying to run away from people.
3. Fish Out of Water
The strongest moments in “My Funny Valentine” definitely involve Faye’s stranger-in-a-strange-land reactions to everything in the new world. There’s the book with the little holographic images. The bar codes tattooed on people’s necks. This session gives us a chance to see a vulnerable and naive Faye Valentine . . . and that meekness makes you kind of wish the session would get around to the spaceship chases quicker.
4. Lies Lies Lies
Part of the trigger for these flashbacks comes from Jet discovering Matsumoto, now with a different demeanor and shape, is their current bounty target. We learn he’s had all these targeted marks throughout the solar system, and even now, when she kidnaps him and races away from the police to get answers, he still cannot keep his story straight. Does Faye realize where the constant contradictions in her life are going to get her? Can she empathize any more? Or does she just see herself as being even more wronged.
5. Drifting Through Space
Look, this is obviously another session I wasn’t too fond of. It took me twice as long to watch because I kept pausing the DVD and finding something different to do. And I started wondering why that was happening? What was keeping me from being engaged with this? I’ve already mentioned the amnesiac plot strikes me as lazy and conventional. The action never really takes off. But structurally, “My Funny Valentine” is also sort of a mess. In the first half, we get this flashback with betrayal and running and blah blah blah, but by the second half, we learn it doesn’t really mean anything? It was simply another lie concocted by Matsumoto. And we’re still trying to wrap our heads around what that means when Matsumoto shows up again and the session races to its conclusion. I guess at the very least it ends on a punchline. The biggest joy was that the session finally ended.
In any event, stick around next week for “Black Dog Serenade.” The world catches up to us and it’s time to pay for the crime. See you, space cowboys.