Vicious is center stage throughout Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Episode 8, even while physically elsewhere.
He keeps the Bebop team on the defensive with a monstrous assassin while he makes his move to overthrow the Elders of The Syndicate.
In his double-cross of his fellow capos, he proves that everyone underestimated his planning skills. A mistake that will never be repeated by some.
Considering the many tropes employed throughout the series, it shouldn't be a surprise that a crazy clown makes an appearance.
Enlisting the services of Pierrot LeFou to kill Spike is a no-brainer for Vicious.
Technician: He's a violent, homicidal loose cannon.
Vicious: Well then, he sounds like my kind of guy.
They do seem to operate on the same wavelength, which is terrifying in and of itself.
Similar to how Jet's great betrayal on Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Episode 5 follows his announcement about choosing Kimmie's name, LeFou's attack follows Faye's improvised birthday bowling celebration.
Faye: I don't even know when my birthday is.
Spike: Yeah, that's why we decided to make today your new birthday.
Faye: Wow. You two are the sweetest dickheads a girl could ever want.
It seems a shame that Ein's abilities are only tapped now, nearly at the end of the series. Also, having him rescue the Bebop crew from an unstoppable killer deserves a better reward than being abandoned dockside, don't you think?
I firmly believe that every single adventure this season could have been enhanced exponentially if they'd known they had a datadog (and how to use it). But then, we wouldn't have had the pleasure of Faye's shock at the projector shooting out of Ein's eyes.
LeFou may be insane and sadistic, but he isn't efficient, is he? He has considerable tech and incredible strength. He should have been able to zip onto the scene, snap Spike's neck, and still leave with a flourish.
Mind you, Vicious was probably looking for someone to make Spike suffer.
However, if he had made it a short and sweet mission, we would've missed out on the whole creepy carnival setting at Earthworld. And that would've been a shame.
There were a lot of moving parts to Jet's plan for Earthworld. And rhymes. But Spike's mic drop on that was utterly on-brand for both Spike and the team.
Fighting a killer clown has to be on the top ten of every hero's bucket list.
Using their own technology against them is probably in the handbook.
I haven't gotten into the fight scenes in this series because there's only so many time you can use the phrase "mind-blowing." Spike's throwdown with LeFou continues that tradition.
Although LeFou is out of the picture, what are the chances there are other super-soldiers out there capable of setting up a neural uplink with Ein?
It's a troubling thought, especially since LeFou was able to give Ein commands.
Over at The Syndicate, things aren't going too well for anyone who isn't Vicious.
Once again, living up to his name (and, once again, seriously, who names a kid "Vicious"?), he single-handedly massacred them ALL.
You are nothing but a scared little boy. You will never be anything else.Caliban
Including his father, the Elder, Caliban, who still didn't have a nice thing to say to him. The nerve.
The use of dual face-changers to trick Mao into executing Santiago was pretty brilliant and an elegant throwback to Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Episode 3, which was also when Ein joined the team.
I always appreciate it when an anthology-like series unifies the season through intelligent writing.
Faye: You know what I've come to realize flipping through all of the fine literature?
Spike: Don't care.
Faye: I've been spending way too much time limiting myself. Life's a buffet.
Spike: I thought it was a dinner party.
Faye: Yeah, whatever it is, I'm ready to eat.
If might means right, Vicious is entitled to rule the Syndicate for as long as he's able.
He showed them all, after all. Mao didn't believe he could defeat the swords guarding the Elders. Julia didn't think he'd see through the plan. His father didn't believe in him, full stop.
And Julia's all who remains now.
Well, and Spike.
How will the final fight between Spike and Vicious go down? We've seen that Spike is very good at staying alive, and Vicious is very good at killing people. Is this one of those immovable object versus irresistible force situations?
What is the tie-breaking factor?
I'd like to think it's Ein, but they left him behind, and I'm not sure he'd be helpful against Vicious.
The optimistic prediction is that Spike will get by with a little help from his friends. However, that'll involve revealing his entire history with The Syndicate and how he's endangered their lives.
So, if the team hangs together, weathering that storm, they have a good chance of success.
They've defeated killer clowns, brain-melting AIs, eco-terrorists, and teddy bear bombers. What's a run-of-the-mill madman with a sword compared to all that?
Where do they go from here? Do you fear for Julia's life? Will Ana be able to save her?
How will the Syndicate operate with only one Elder?
Which reminds me: Where is Vicious's mother? I assume he's Caliban's biological son, which means there would've been a mother in the picture at some point.
And while we're considering families, is everyone else alone in the world? Jet has his daughter but, without custody, that is a technicality. Spike and Julia are orphans. Faye's life was on ice for how many decades? Could she still have family living?
Do cowboys get to have families? Or do they stick with the "found family" format? Who among the core cast is good parenting material? Who would you be willing to leave your children with? Throw your answers in the comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.