Brian wraps up his Cowboy Bebop countdown with the series’ top 10 episodes.
Here’s Part I.
#10) Session 11- Toys in the Attic
Jet: It sounds good to call bounty hunting “freelance work.” But all that really means is that we’re self employed. So when there’s no one to hunt, we have nothing.
Here’s an episode that, for some reason, is very polarizing. Set entirely within the confines of the Bebop, “Toys in the Attic” is this show’s version of a bottle episode, one meant to save production costs by keeping all the characters in one location. Of course, animation doesn’t really suffer from that (though maybe not creating a new location saved a little bit), but the bottle episode is often more useful not as a way to save money, but as a way to put your best characters together and let them bounce off one another in unpredictable ways. To borrow a quote from the show that I think has the best bottle episode ever created, it’s just a matter of chemistry.
It should be obvious if you’ve seen it, but there’s a big Alien vibe to this episode, as each member of the crew is silently and methodically hunted down by a mysterious blob creature. The scanning devices and general dark, claustrophobic air echoes that classic film to the point of mockery. What saves it is the lack of self-seriousness the rest of the episode exhibits, with each character getting a short monologue, or “lesson,” as the episode frames it, that starts out seeming important (Jet and Faye’s help reveal their inner-most thoughts and character), but ends up just being a joke.
Spike, in particular, spends this episode seemingly consciously trying to deconstruct his cool guy image. After everyone else is downed (including poor Ein), he outfits himself with every weapon on the ship, including a sword for some reason. He looks like a doofus, and then proceeds to get his ass handed to him. Later, he tries to cooly light his cigarette with a flame thrower and ends up nearly burning his own face off. Then, he runs into a room filled with poison gas to rescue the rest of his pack and almost dies again. Finally, and in one of the most thrilling and visually exciting setpieces in the show, he ejects the offending refrigerator in an incredibly obvious 2001 reference.
I’ve called this episode “obvious,” and I don’t mean that to be a slight. It’s the right sort of farce to work, and it’s unlike anything else this show ever really did again: less po-faced and more self-deprecating. I also have always loved how, aside from episode order, we don’t really know when it takes place. Spike sets the Bebop into auto-pilot mode, but everyone seems like they’ve died at the end, a joke the English version of the next episode’s preview picks up on. In the end, this is kind of a difficult episode to talk about, because it’s very atmospheric and in the moment, but it’s a great one.
#9) Session 18- Speak Like a Child
Spike: Even if we turn back now, we won’t be any younger.
One of the cleverest and most endearing quirks in this show is the constant battle between digital and analog technology. Being as it was made in the late 90s, pretty much the exact point the world started to turn away from analog tech, Cowboy Bebop’s vision of the future is one almost entirely split between the technology of the Earth and the technology of the Solar System. No episode illustrates this better than “Speak Like a Child,” which follows Jet and Spike’s journey to a ruined Tokyo to find a Betamax player that will allow them to view the mysterious tape they received on Mars.
Their journey through the bowels of an abandoned Tokyo mall is one of the most visually arresting in the show, even if it turns out they got the wrong one. Then, in one of the show’s cleverer extended jokes, a second package arrives, this one with the exact right Beta player they needed (the joke is that the first package was delivered by a company whose logo is a Hare and the second by a company whose logo is a Tortoise).
Anyways, the best part of this episode is when they finally watch the video. Faye gets kicked out of the viewing for refusing to cover the delivery costs (the packages were addressed to her), but she sneaks back in. What she sees is something nobody on the Bebop could have foreseen. What could be more illustrative of the divide between analog and digital tech than the time capsule? And what could be more Cowboy Bebop than that time capsule being sent to someone who has no memory? Faye’s “I don’t remember” to end the episode is a strikingly sad stinger to what had been a kind of silly episode, and it’s a reminder that as technology marches on, so does time. We never really can capture the things we think we remember in them.
#8) Session 1- Asteroid Blues
Spike: I’m just an old-fashioned cowboy.
So who is Spike Spiegel? While that’s not the only question Cowboy Bebop wants to answer, it is the first. What’s most interesting about this question is how the premiere episode “Asteroid Blues” goes about answering it, both through how Spike presents himself here, and how he responds to how the series shifts around him as it goes on.
Best example: this first episode is bookended by Spike complaining about Jet’s cooking, namely that they’re too poor to afford the beef part of Jet’s famous bell peppers and beef. Spike’s affinity for meat is well established in the rest of the series, but really he’s just having fun with Jet here. He enjoys their nomadic, bachelor lifestyle, and doesn’t want it to change. He’s the coolest man around. Nothing can phase him. Contrast that with the end of “Hard Luck Woman,” where Jet and Spike wordlessly devour dozens of the hard boiled eggs Ed’s father gave them after she, Ein and Faye all leave the ship. It’s as close to crying as these two manly men ever come in the show, and it illustrates just how much they’ve grown accustomed to their makeshift family unit.
Anyway, the plot of this episode is fairly straightforward. Spike hunts a couple, Asimov and Katerina Solensan, who have escaped from a crime syndicate with a small fortune in the illicit drug Red Eye. Little do we know at this point that escaping a Syndicate with a beautiful woman touches a very specific chord within Spike, and little does he let on, but it’s a nice thematic connection if nothing else.
After Spike chases his bounty all over Space Tijuana (the multiculturalism of each specific colony is something I haven’t talked about much with this show), Katerina and Asimov are both gunned down, the former by police after the executes the latter to end his suffering, and Spike is left with nothing, which doesn’t seem to matter very much to him. While an initial viewing of this episode makes Spike Spiegel look like the coolest and toughest man in the galaxy, looking back on it makes it seem more obvious just how depressed and lonely he truly is, stuck in a dream he can never escape from. But at least the music is good.
#7) Session 3- Honky Tonk Women
Faye: You know the first rule of combat? Shoot them before they shoot you.
If “Asteroid Blues” works mainly as an examination of Spike Spiegel, then “Honky Tonk Women” works as one of Bebop‘s second-most important character, Faye Valentine. If the events of “Blues” seemed to conform to Spike’s taoist “anything goes” philosophy, “Women” seems to revolve around Faye’s assertion that friendliness, helpfulness and charity are a sucker’s game, and the only way to survive in the universe is to avoid them.
Much how Spike’s aloofness is a cover for a heart that tried to care once and got destroyed, Faye’s venality is a cover for the heart of a true idealist, betrayed and destroyed the first time she tried to believe in someone else. It’s these contours and contradictions that make Cowboy Bebop‘s characters stand out from the pack.
This episode also has maybe my favorite weird aside in the entire show. As Jet and Spike, who get roped into Faye’s orbit simply though dumb luck, make their way into the casino where she works, they have a strange conversation about a dream Jet had. In his dream, the jazz musician Charlie Parker tells him that “only hands can wash hands” and that “If you want to receive, first you must give.” Spike misinterprets the dream, wondering if someone like Charlie Parker would ever quote Goethe. Jet shrugs it off and they continue making their way towards the casino, which is for some reason called “Spaiders From Mars.” It’s such a gratuitous, needless amount of name dropping that I almost respect it. Talking about Jazz music and Goethe in an elevator on the way to a space casino named after a David Bowie album is so precisely Bebop that I can’t even be mad at it.
Anyway, after a series of mishaps and slapdash fights (including one of the best action scenes the show ever did, set on the hull of the casino) Faye escapes with the money, the bad guys get blown up, and Jet and Spike are left with nothing yet again. There’s some incoherent noir business about a Macguffin casino chip, but what this episode does so well is push past stereotype with stereotype. Faye blows up the plan at the episode’s end because she’s the femme fatale. Unlike most femme fatales, she doesn’t get away the next episode. She’s cool, smart and sexy, but she never actually has any sex (in fact, the three main character’s sexlessness is a big part of their arrested development and emotional fragility). If she’s only shown up here, she’s still be one of the coolest side characters in the show. Instead they had to go and make her interesting. Well, you know what they say, cowboy: easy come, easy go.
#6) Session 23- Brain Scratch
Dr. Londes: Television has created a people who believe instantly in dramatic fantasies who can be controlled by tiny dots of light.
The most explicitly philosophical episode finds the crew of the Bebop on trail of their last bounty as a full group as they confront the mysterious cult leader, Londes, whose belief in the existence of the soul as an electronic entity has caused thousands of people to commit suicide in an attempt to upload themselves into the net.
The crew gets put on Londes’ trail through one of the cleverest opens on the show, as Spike is flipping through channels on the television before he comes across a clearly brainwashed Faye being interviewed about the Scratch cult on a daytime talk show. With characteristic bemusement, Spike and Jet investigate, only to find (on the last ever episode of Big Shot, further illustrating how close to the end we are) that Londes has a gigantic bounty on his head. So they give chase. Everyone gets a signature moment, from Spike slinking his way through the shadowiest hideout this side of the DCAU to confront and ultimately call bullshit on Londes, to Faye revealing that she was faking her brainwashing in order to get close to the target, but the best moments by far belong to the unlikely group of Jet, Ed and Ein.
Doing the bulk of the investigatory work leads these three to buy the newfangled video game system (this show’s vision of a future based around late 90s tech is never not charming), hack it into Scratch’s database and locate the real Londes, who as it turns out is actually a teenager whose mind is running free on the web as his body lies in an irreversible coma. The old man the crew had been chasing is a fabrication, a carefully manufactured and cultivated personality, the star of TV’s ultimate reality show. Ein gets his chance to shine when he’s who first notices Jet has become brainwashed by the game, then proves his mettle as a data dog by putting on the headset and doing all the hacking himself. Jet and Ed get their moment as they, posing as father and daughter, investigate the real Londes’ hospice, and disconnect them from the web.
One of the biggest thematic underpinnings of this show is one of a very specific sort of existential humanism. As Londes cries out that he doesn’t want to disappear, his link with the world itself is slowly cut, and one by one, the thousands of televisions he commandeered start to blink out. It’s this desperation and desire to continue existing that saves the clumsy television = religion metaphor the episode is working with, because it reminds you that Londes is really a 14 year old boy, and so says all the things a 14 year old boy would think is cool and philosophical. Like the intrepid crew of the Bebop, he too is stuck in his past, this time literally. Unlike our crew, he moves on, albeit into an existence more terrifying than death, unable to communicate with anyone outside his own mind. Will our heroes ever confront their pasts and move on from their own individual purgatories? Time will tell.
#5) Session 12/13- Jupiter Jazz, Parts I and II
Vicious: There’s nothing to believe in. Nor is there a reason to believe.
I’ve mentioned the idea that certain Cowboy Bebop episodes are, for lack of a better term, taken over by guest characters, and these two episodes are the best example of that. Marking the de facto midpoint in Bebop’s first and only season, “Jupiter Jazz, Parts I and II” act as something of an act break for the show, a midseason finale that recaps the still mysterious backstory of Spike and encompasses the entire show arc for Gren, a former comrade of Vicious’ in what was called “The War on Titan.”
A World War I-style trench war is the just about the last place you would expect this show to go to, but it’s remarkable just how well it works within the show’s fiction, another example of mixing the old and the new. Gren himself is probably the best single-episode character in the entire show, seeming to have sprung fully formed from the mind of Watanabe and company like Athena from the head of Zeus. His history, motivation and character arc are more fully fleshed out than some show’s main characters. After being betrayed and framed by Vicious, it’s his using the codename “Julia” for a drug deal with the Syndicate that he plans to use to entrap Vicious that sets the events of the episode in motion.
What follows is difficult to recap in this format but mainly involves Spike and Faye both careening off one another, Gren, a group of thugs, and Vicious himself on the icy moon of Callisto, another of this show’s iconic locations. Eventually Gren, in an attempt to get revenge on Vicious for betraying him and leaving him to rot in a government prison, attacks the Syndicate, killing Spike’s old acquaintance Lin and nearly destroying the fleeing Vicious’ ship before being shot down himself. He and Spike talk about their mutual knowledge of Julia before Gren starts bleeding out from his injuries and Spike tows his ship out into orbit, so he can see Titan one last time before he dies. In indisputably the second-best credits scene of the show, Gren’s star fades out as “Space Lion” plays, weaving Gren’s own sax theme with that of Julia and the show as a whole.
Gren’s story doesn’t just end with his death, however. For a lot of people, myself included, Gren is the first transgendered character of any kind ever seen on television. During his time in military prison, Gren was host to some sort of experiment that gave him fully developed breasts and made him, in his own words “a little bit of both.” While there’s some akwardness is how the camera leers over his body, I have to say that even in 2017, Gren’s portrayal is remarkably sympathetic. There’s a little bit where Faye is freaked out and unsure how to react to it, but that makes sense given what we come to learn about her, how she’s actually in her early 20s, sheltered and from the past. It’s unlikely she has any practical experience with anyone quite like Gren. Then there’s the matter of Gren’s sexuality, as he explicitly tells Faye that “she’s not his type,” continuing the trope of our protagonist’s sexless existences, but also sort of slyly asking if maybe Vicious is his type. The forlorn, almost defeated tone Gren takes whenever talking about his comrade could surely be interpreted as an unrequited love without much difficulty.
There’s plenty more to write about with this episode, particularly the wondrous framing and cinematography of it, and Spike’s very curious reaction when he gets confused for Vicious, just more evidence of his mask dropping away and the real Spike shining through, but this episode belongs to Gre, to the extent that the post-episode subtitle is changed from it’s usual “SEE YOU SPACE COWBOY” to a more episode appropriate “DO YOU HAVE A COMRADE?” Nothing left to do than to say goodbye to a fallen warrior; a “pitiful spirit cannot not find his way to the lofty realm where the great spirit awaits us all.”
#4) Session 20- Pierrot le Fou
Spike: Maybe this is the one, the one I won’t come back from. The end.
There are few things cooler, more subversive and more interesting than the opening sequence to Cowboy Bebop‘s strangest episode, “Pierrot le Fou” (named after a Godard film because Watanabe is a man of culture above all else). Two scenes are intercut with each other. One is all harsh, angular shadows and deep black as a fat, strange little man who seems to have wandered in from another universe entirely stalks and murders nearly a dozen armed men in an empty street. The other, painted in more familiar noir brushstrokes, follows Spike, as he enjoy a night off in a seedy bar, casually beating random dudes at pool and continuing being the coolest motherfucker alive.
So how will these two seemingly incongruous threads meet? Why, Spike simply walks down the wrong alley at the wrong time and witnesses Mad Pierrot finishing up his dark deeds. With a simple “hello, boy,” Pierrot attacks, and for the first time in the series, Spike gets his ass beat. It’s not even like he lost a fair fight. He gets absolutely trounced. It’s a bizarre, almost entirely wordless, avant-garde sequence, and it alone deserves a top 5 spot on this list.
Thankfully, that’s not the entire episode. As you may have noticed, there’s a significant amount of Batman: The Animated Series in this episode, and that’s not a coincidence. Sunrise, the animation company behind Cowboy Bebop, was hired out to do a lot of key animations for that seminal superhero series, and most of this episode exists as something of a tribute to that great show, which the animators were allegedly very fond of working on. Pierrot’s appearance, part Joker, part Penguin, is the most notable influence, but let’s not forget that the bulk of this episode takes place at an abandoned amusement park. The deep, dark visual tone, the rich, evocative lighting and the harsh, angular shadows are all straight out of the DCAU, but they’re not the only references abound.
Probably the best reference here (and in the running for the best reference of all time), comes when Ed and Jet, trying to dig into Pierrot’s past after Spike realizes he’s being hunted, stumble across what at first appears to be security footage of the facility where he was experimented on. What it very quickly turns into is a hallucinatory, almost second-person recounting of the horrors the man once known as Tongpu underwent, scored by an unmistakable cover of Pink Floyd’s “On the Run.” It is, fittingly for something from Dark Side of the Moon, completely insane, and stands as one of my personal favorite sequences from any show, ever.
So Pink Floyd. Jean-Luc Godard. Batman. Even a bit of Disneyland in the theme park’s design. These references are nothing if not eclectic, but this episode’s greatness helps it transcend mere reference, and become something more. The episode’s climax, coming after Spike has been pushed to the brink and even Faye’s ship proves no match for Pierrot, is almost farcically dark and brutal. Even without context, it paints the world of Cowboy Bebop as a strange, hostile, and uncaring place.
#3) Session 24- Hard Luck Woman
Faye: Belonging is the very best thing there is.
If the last episode was shrouded in fatalism, this one shines with the light of self-actualization. The very last adventure the full Bebop crew finds them once again on Earth, hunting a suspiciously expensive bounty named Appledelhi. This giant man, as it turns out, is Ed’s absent-minded father, and she placed a fake bounty on him so the Bebop would head to Earth one last time. As Spike and Jet track and very unsuccessfully hunt Appledelhi, whose job is mapping meteorite impacts on the Earth’s surface, Faye and Ed have an adventure of their own. First finding Ed’s old daycare, they eventually travel to Singapore, where Faye finally starts remembering who she is.
The quick sequence where Faye’s old life comes flooding back is one of the absolute most effective sequences in the history of television. The reason it’s so effective is because it’s not just Faye’s memory of the major events of her life. It’s the little things, like the look of an old bookbag, the light reflecting off a family pool. The sound of the rain. These are the little details that make up our lives, and remembering them finally completes Faye’s arc. It makes her feel like she belongs again. So when she tells Ed this episode’s quote, it convinces the hacker to finally take her fate into her own hands, find her father again, and become an adult. She breaks the chain that holds the members of the Bebop in place.
When Faye heads back to Singapore to break her own chain, she finds that there’s nothing left to go back to. Everything is gone. Things can never be the way they were again. If you haven’t watched what comes next, or haven’t seen it in awhile, just watch it.
In the end, Ed and Ein are both gone, Faye is MIA, and Jet and Spike, left alone to their own devices again, eat a five person meal alone, and pretend that everything’s OK. That they prefer things this way. If I had to give this episode a theme, it’s that nothing can really replace your family. Jet and Spike’s arc to this point prove that definitively. Not being a cynical adult, Ed knows this better than any of them, and that’s why she has to leave. The Bebop is a fun place to visit, but it’s really not supposed to last. Soon enough, it’ll all be over for everyone.
#2) Session 5- Ballad of Fallen Angels
Spike: I’m just watching a bad dream I never wake up from.
For awhile, I wasn’t sure which episode to put #1 and which to put #2, but I always knew what the top two would be. In the end, I chose the finale, which certainly ranks among the best finales I’ve ever seen on television, but a part of me thinks that this, the fifth episode of the entire series, might be the best one. It’s certainly the most emblematic of what Cowboy Bebop is. It’s the quintessential episode.
Set just after Faye joins the crew full time, “Ballad of Fallen Angels” is the first real glimpse we get of Spike’s past, with names like Vicious and Julia and Mao Yenrai being uttered for the first time. The plot here is simple, almost deceptively so. A bounty is put out on Mao Yenrai, leader of the Red Dragon Syndicate. Faye thinks it’s an easy job, while Spike refuses to do it. As we find out, Mao was the man who pulled Spike from a life of poverty and made him part of the Syndicate. It’s implied that Spike was one of the leading candidates to succeed Mao. We know what Spike doesn’t, that Mao is already dead, killed by Vicious, Spike’s old rival.
From there, things unfold predictably. Faye tries to capture Mao, only to be captured in turn by Vicious, who uses her to lure Spike into a fight. Spike shows up. They fight. Both are seemingly killed but somehow survive. Spike wakes back up on the Bebop. The brilliance of this episode is in the little details. It’s style more than substance, and I suppose that’s why I went with “The Real Folk Blues” over it.
But what style it is. Where the first four episodes kind of settled into a Wild West/sci-fi sort of look, “Fallen Angels” is almost 100% Gothic Noir, full of off-kilter shots, harsh angles and heavy shadows. The music supports this new aesthetic, one that seems to show up only when the show deal’s with Spike’s past. I’m sorry to keep doing this, but just watch the scene where Spike finally confronts Vicious. It’s unlike anything I think most of us had ever seen on television before, let alone animated television. It’s what made this show more than a weird amalgamation of Lupin III, musical references, Clint Eastwood movies, and John Woo, and into something more. Something important.
Or at least as important as a cartoon show about kung fu and spaceships could ever aspire to be.
#1) Session 25/26- The Real Folk Blues, Parts I and II
Julia: It’s all a dream…
All things have to end sooner or later.
For almost a week, I’ve had this page closed, unsure what to write about this episode. I’ve seen it so many times, during so many late nights in high school and beyond, that I’m really unsure if I can unpack it. One of those things you see so much that you sort of shut off the critical parts of your brain, like how Luke and Leia definitely kissed in The Empire Strikes Back but it doesn’t strike you as weird anymore because you’ve seen it 45 times and have just come to expect it. So, for the first time during this project, I actually re-watched an episode while writing an entry, trying to view this whole hour long finale as one discreet piece, and trying to pick out the bits that work from the bits that don’t.
The first half, appropriately titled “The Real Folk Blues, Part I,” is definitely the weaker of the two episodes here, but would still easily rank in the top 6 or 7 of this list had I judged all the two-part episodes separately. Set to the non-instrumental version of “Memory,” the song we opened the very first episode of the show with, we follow Julia around Tharsis City in the rain. She gets home and hears a message from an unknown source telling her that the Syndicate is making its move, and she needs to hurry. Vicious attempts to kill the Van, leaders of the Syndicate, and is repelled then imprisoned.
Spike and Jet are drowning their sorrows at the very appropriately named “LOSER BAR,” pretending that they don’t actually care about Ed, Ein and Faye, when a small army of Syndicate thugs attack them. Jet is hurt, and they are rescued by Shin, the brother of Lin (from Jupiter Jazz), who betrays the Syndicate and tells Spike about Vicious and Julia. They escape, and Spike takes Jet to his old doctor friend from earlier in the series. There’s a look here, on Spike’s face, that I think I at first mistook for grim determination, but with the benefit of hindsight know to be something else entirely, and I’ll talk about that a little later.
We cut from Spike’s flashback about the day he left the Syndicate (and Julia left him) to Julia’s flashback showing that the reason she abandoned Spike was Vicious commanding her to kill him. Before we see where Julia is driving to, our perspective shifts again to Faye in an airport on Mars. After a sweet little aside in which Punch, one of the former hosts of Big Shot, picks up his mother (a great bit of world-building, showing that these people have inner lives of their own), Faye takes a call from Spike for help. She rejects him, and then is immediately caught up in a firefight between a fleeing Julia and some Syndicate thugs. Julia picks up her up, wordlessly, and they head off on a little road trip. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the show, these two women who are both very similar and very different, just shooting the shit about bounty hunters and cool cars, before Julia tells Faye to let Spike know where she is. The very best detail here is when Julia reveals her name and Faye reacts with surprise, before Julia responds that it’s “a very common name,” which is the same line Faye herself used way back when she first met Spike.
Back on the Bebop, Jet is convalescing and trying to convince Spike not to throw his life away for Julia, for the past. He tries to tell Spike his version of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and Spike more or less ignores him. Faye comes back, and the Syndicate attacks. As Spike jumps into the Swordfish II to engage their fighters, Faye tells him about Julia, and that strange look comes back on his face. As the plaintive “Road to the West” plays, Spike utterly destroys the Syndicate. Meanwhile, Vicious escapes and utterly destroys the Van, finally taking control of the Red Dragons. The episode ends, once again, with “Memory” playing, as Spike and Julia finally meet at the cemetery. She points a gun at him.
If you’re reading this, you don’t need a play by play of “The Real Folk Blues, Part II,” because it’s ingrained into your consciousness like it is mine. Julia just wants to escape. They try. They fail. Julia is killed. It’s all very John Woo. Spike comes back to the Bebop. The bulk of this final episode is spent here, on the ship, and that’s how it should be. Jet and Faye, waiting for some news about their friend, talk about Julia. It’s implied that Faye might be smitten with her, which I think only really works as an implication. Faye’s sexuality is certainly implied to be fluid, but she’s so emotionally detached that I don’t think her character could survive an open relationship with anyone.
This last section on the Bebop, where Spike and Jet share one last story and one last laugh, is quite possibly the single best scene in the series, topped only by Faye trying to stop Spike from leaving at gunpoint. This is where that look comes back on his face, and we finally see Spike for who he really is. He tells Faye to look at his eyes. One of them is fake, and one of them is real, and since then, he’s been stuck in a dream. He’s not going there to die. He’s going to see if he’s really alive. Cue theme song.
Spike breaking into the Red Dragon HQ and eventually confronting Vicious is such sustained greatness that I can’t really recap it. Just watch that video. It’s five of the most evocative, exciting and enthralling minutes in the history of pop culture, and it ends with Spike and Vicious finally about to end everything. They have their final duel, and of course Spike wins. He’s nearly cut to pieces, but he wins.
As Spike slumps his way down the stairs towards the rest of the Syndicate gangs, the sun comes out. He remembers what Julia said before she died, that everything was just a dream. He agrees with her. That strange, displaced look comes across his face again, and we finally understand. Spike finally understands. He didn’t go there to settle a duel, or to avenge Julia. He went to protect Jet and Faye (and maybe even Ed and Ein). He finally got over his past and tried to protect his future. He stopped living in both worlds and chose, and in doing so, was ready to move on. He finally understood what Wen did in episode six. Being alive doesn’t have meaning if you don’t have anyone to be alive with. He thought that person was Julia. Maybe he was right. It doesn’t matter now, because he finally understands. He aims his finger at the rest of the Syndicate like a gun, just as he did to Wen’s harmonica.