Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Episode 2 Review: Venus PopDiana Keng at .
It's interesting to note that, of the ten episodes in the series, Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Episode 2 has the shortest run time at 37 minutes.
It also leaves Spike standing on a bomb trigger on a ship full of explosives.
So, in terms of narrative resolution, it leaves a lot to be desired. It's a bit like the Empire Strikes Back of the series. (Go ahead, fight me, Han Solo is still in carbonite. That movie is not a complete story.)
However, "Venus Pop" provides a shipload of details on Spike's backstory and introduces Ana, another fantastic female butt-kicker.
It seems appropriate that she greets Spike with a smack to the face. Spike doesn't seem to inspire warm, fuzzy receptions in people despite his mostly calm demeanor.
So what do we learn? Ana's club is neutral ground, so cops and criminals can hang out together as long as they leave their conflicts at the door.
That being said, The Syndicate isn't exactly welcome, more like tolerated.
Spike respects and cares for Ana.
Their relationship feels like it has a lot of history, affection, and honesty.
Ana's wise and isn't shy about sharing what she knows and making observations on what she sees.
Dying didn't teach you that lying is no way to be?Ana
We also learn that the blonde from Spike's past was part of Ana's establishment. Furthermore, Spike didn't keep tabs on her after they parted ways.
Of course, if he was supposed to be dead, that's not too surprising, especially if she married Vicious, who sends assassins named Gunther after ghosts.
The other insight provided here is the world of The Syndicate.
Despite the power Vicious wields, he answers to The Elders, masked oligarchs of the criminal enterprise.
Although you wouldn't know it unless you turn on the subtitles, The Elders all have names drawn from Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.
Vicious: I misunderstood. It won't happen again. Forgive me.
Prospero: Words are insufficient.
Miranda: Actions must be taken.
Caliban: Loyalty must be proven.
I wonder whether that denotes The Syndicate's belief that they are an island in a storm or whether it foreshadows a "brave, new world" to come.
Also, the names The Elders use are Miranda, Prospero, and Caliban.
Miranda and Prospero make sense, being the protagonists of the play.
However, the Elder seated on the center throne in their audience chamber is named Caliban, the deformed monster and villain of Shakespeare's play.
Adding to the intimidation of the role, emanating from Caliban's mask is the unmistakable voice of John Noble. (He can also currently be heard scaring the bejesus out of the heroes of Star Trek: Prodigy as The Diviner.)
The Elders' demand that Vicious execute his wife as punishment for his unsanctioned Red Eye endeavor is horrific.
Vicious pulling that trigger is even worse.
Keep in mind; Ana tells Spike that Julia is happy being married to Vicious.
If she was, I suspect she isn't anymore.
We could spend a LOT of time discussing the dysfunction embedded in Vicious's behavior.
He's powerful and psychotic, never a good combination. At the same time, he's enthralled by the will of The Elders and desperate to appear impressive to Julia.
Ana's presence and her club's neutrality is the most apparent connection between The Syndicate, Julia, and Vicious, and Spike Spiegel, once known as Fearless.
I predict that she'll be instrumental in bridging Spike past and present.
Ana: Why come to me?
Spike: So you can do what you do best. You can listen.
As a club owner that caters to such a cross-section of society, she's built her power base on what people reveal when they're at play.
My only apprehension is that information dealers are only as untouchable as people believe they are. Information doesn't directly provide shields or muscle or any tangible protection.
As her front-of-house representative, Gren is smooth and savvy, but can he defend as well as he networks?
Foreman: What the hell? I've seen the good-cop, bad-cop routine, but never the dick-cop, asshole-cop.
Spike: We're not cops.
Foreman: Then what are you? Just assholes?
We should probably address the conclusion of the bomber bounty storyline.
For a narrative filled with extortion, interrogation, betrayal, resurrection, and lost loves, a bomber with a teddy bear obsession and a liking for pretty explosions is almost absurdly simplistic.
The investigation offers us many scenes where Jet and Spike's personal issues seem to overtake their professionalism. First, with the foreman, then with Bomber Teddy, Jet's Spidey-senses are tingling over Spike's odd behavior, and that's clouding his ability to focus on the business at hand.
Even in the final moments before he boards the escape pod (now forever known as Ichabod), the look on his face implies that Spike's false flag play is noted if not called out.
Secrets have a way of getting out. Spike's existence despite Fearless's demise is already a thing. If Vicious continues to send assassins after him, it won't be long before Jet catches on that Spike's past isn't what he thinks it is.
There's always the possibility that Jet has his own secrets, but from all the sharing he's done, he seems like a pretty straightforward kind of guy. Vicious, Julia, and Ana? They all probably have mountains of skeletons in their respective closets, scrambling to get out.
Did you find this detail-jammed, narrative-light offering to your liking? Did you miss having Faye on the scene?
Will Julia look for escape? Will Vicious ever be able to stand up to The Elders?
Exactly how has Vicious managed to climb so high in The Syndicate, considering his impulse and violent tendencies?
Throw your best theories into our comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.