Season 1, Episode 5: Ballad of Fallen Angels

March 3, 2010

So, I’ve proved to myself that I don’t know how to make good use of my time by ensuring that I have four episodes to do today, being that my deadline for the first third of this show is tomorrow. What’s worse is that while I could’ve started today at 11am, but I decided to listen to Los Campesinos! “Hold On Now Youngster”, and “Romance is Boring” albums all the way through before beginning. So now its 3:01pm and I’ve got four episodes remaining.

We begin this episode at some sort of meeting, a man has just poked his own finger with a knife so he could sign a contract in blood and an alliance has been made between two people, one of which happens to be from the Red Dragon clan.

As one of the two groups is leaving on their helicopter, it explodes. The leader from the Red Dragon clan looks in shock as suddenly someone grabs him from behind and puts up a sword to his throat, the scene quickly changes to the hallway coming towards his room and a silver haired man is walking down the hallway which is littered with corpses, with a bird on his shoulder and as he walks into the room the leader of the Red Dragon points out that “You would have never done this is Spike were here” at which point he is killed. Is this our Spike he’s talking about? Maybe Spike really is what I said earlier in my first review, the spike in the train tracks that keeps the entire universe in line.

The scene has changed and we’re in the Bebop now, where Spike is talking to Jet about going after the guys who killed that Red Dragon clan leader or the Red Dragon clan leader himself, it isn’t really clarified. They’ve got a lead on the case and there’s a huge bounty, however Jet keeps repeating that he doesn’t want to do it because he knows Spike’s hiding something from him, Spike refuses to answer and replies instead with a question “How did you mess up your arm Jet?” Up to this point in the show, I didn’t even realize that Jet didn’t have a normal arm. Apparently he’s got a robotic one and it’s yet to be explained how he got it, to us and to Spike. Jet refuses to answer and Spike tells him he isn’t answering Jet’s question until Jet answers his. This is the first time there has ever been tension between Jet and Spike thus far in the show.

Faye walks in on the two of them arguing and Jet begins to get angry at her as well. So now the entire Bebop crew has tension due to this case. As he’s arguing with Faye, Spike begins to leave to his ship and begins to take off for, what I’m guessing is, the area the case is going to be in. Jet leaves Faye alone in the room who gets a tip from an incoming transmission regarding Mao, it doesn’t tell us what the tip is though.

Well, we have a name on the Red Dragon leader and it’s Mao Yenrai, who is, I think- dead. The scene has changed to a concert hall where an unnamed female is trying to find Mao’s balcony, and upon finding it, she’s forced inside at gunpoint. I’m sure this will have some importance later on, but it still hasn’t been explained yet. This episode sure is becoming one big mystery, and I’m enjoying it.

We’re back with Spike now, who’s helped a shopkeeper named Annie catch two shoplifters. Annie seems completely shocked to see Spike, who according to her has been dead for three years. Finally, some back-story on Spike, I’ve been waiting to hear this since episode 3 when Spike became my unofficial hero. However the show decides to work against me and doesn’t explain more than that. Although, relating to the story at hand, Annie seems to know information about Mao Yenrai’s death and that’s why Spike came there.

Back at the concert hall, the female is given a name (kind-of). We find out she is Ms. Valentine, she has the same last name as Faye Valentine of the Bebop crew, I wonder if they are from the same Valentine family. Ms. Valentine sees the corpse of Mao sitting in a chair, probably to fool the public- and she turns to the opposite side and sees our silver-haired murderer sitting beside her. We find out his name, and it’s Vicious. That’s a terrible name. I hope his parents didn’t give him that name, because it’s a terrible name. I can’t stress how bad of a name that is.

In the Bebop again, and Spike is gearing up to go after Vicious. Jet tries to talk him out of it, telling him Mao is already dead and that it’s all a trap, but Spike shows that he already knows all of that. Jet somewhat explains what happened to his arm, telling us that it’s the price he paid for rushing into something. He doesn’t explain what that something is, but it’s a start.

Oh wow, I didn’t even notice this but the Ms. Valentine that was caught earlier WAS Faye Valentine. Apparently changing up your hairstyle and putting on a nice dress really makes it harder to notice that it’s the same person, although obviously Vicious noticed. She’s got herself caught, and calls the Bebop crew to go rescue her, which apparently Spike is going to do but only because he knows its related to Mao, and in the previous scene Spike mentioned that Mao is part of his past and that he has a debt to pay off. So maybe this episode will tell us about Spike’s past, I’m really hoping so.

Awesome. Just awesome. This next scene is absolutely awesome. Spike is walking in an overcoat towards what looks like an abandoned church as some song plays, once again showing off the amazing soundtrack. The song sounds like some Pink Floyd song, probably around The Wall era, more Gilmour than Waters though. Either way, it’s not a Pink Floyd song, just one that sounds like it’s from that time. Spike walks into the church, where he finds Vicious stepping out of the shadows in front of him. They have a short chat, when suddenly Faye is brought out to the left of Spike, but at a distance. Spike quickly reaches for his pistol and aims. He’s told by Vicious that he should drop the gun and comply to be taken in. Spike doesn’t agree to this, probably because he doesn’t care about the life of Faye, so he shoots the guy holding Faye right in the head and as soon as he does, gunfire sprays from all over the church. Spike begins firing back at them, killing them one by one. However, he gets hit in the chest.

Faye has already ran out of the church and calls up Jet to tell him to help them. It’s kind of funny, Jet really does seem like the “dopey dad” in the entire group who ends up doing that weird embarrassing dance at his daughter’s wedding, but isn’t embarrassed at all doing it. Right before she calls, he’s cutting a Bonsai tree and he cuts off a branch by accident and dopily states “Oh god, I’m butchering it.” He picks up the phone, and you hear Faye frantically say “Jet! Its Spike, he’s…” as Jet yells into the phone screaming “TOUGH!” and hangs up. He looks at the bonsai tree and in pure discontent just says “Damn it” and leaves to help Spike.

Spike however is still fighting in the church, and is now pinned down by Vicious who has him on the ground with a sword to him while Spike has a gun to the chest of Vicious.

Spike and Vicious begin talking, for a bit, and Vicious tells Spike that they both have the blood of a ravenous beast within them that wants to spill the blood of others. Spike replies that he’s already bled all that blood away, then Vicious angrily yells out “then why are you still alive” and Spike shoots Vicious in the shoulder, while getting himself stabbed in the shoulder as well by Vicious.

Vicious then grabs Spike by the face and throws him out through the glass window at the top of the church. While Spike is falling we get to see more of the flashbacks that occurred at the start of the first episode, but this time with a little more detail (God yes!). We see Spike shooting a bunch of people again, and a flashback involving some blonde woman. We even see one where Spike and Vicious are together shooting people back to back as a team. Spike said something about how Vicious wouldn’t even spare the person who trained him, perhaps that person was Mao. In fact, with Spike so invested in this, it seems more or less that he also use to work for Mao especially since he was shooting people with Vicious by his side. As Spike is falling, he pulls out a trigger, clicks it and the church explodes. This probably has killed Vicious but I guess I won’t know until I finish the episode. Spike hits the ground and the screen is all black.

Spike has another flashback where he’s lying in bed and the blonde woman is near him, he’s wrapped in bandages and asks for her to sing to him. Then he actually wakes up and he is entirely covered in bandages and Faye’s humming has awoken him. She tells him he’s been asleep for three days and he motions for her to come closer. As she comes close, he says lightly, “You sing off key.” Spike is one amazing character. Even though he’s covered in bandages he still acts like a smug jackass, and Faye slaps him for the remark and storms off.

This episode is a 5/5. Everything was perfect. Perfect soundtrack, my thoughts on Jet’s character were reinforced, Spike’s back story had become slightly revealed, and even Faye proved to have some use to the Bebop crew, even if it was just getting caught and having Spike rescue her (which gave Spike the chance to kill Vicious.) If I had to pick an episode for someone who’s never watched the show before to watch that would make them want to watch it, this would’ve been that one. It had the story, the action, the soundtrack, and stayed entirely true to what the characters have shown themselves to be since the first episode.

I thought i’d also add at the end of this post the song that i woke up to when i turned my Zune onto shuffle and then forced me to listen to the two albums which would end up making me start late.

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One Response to “Season 1, Episode 5: Ballad of Fallen Angels”

  1. Belle Nouvelle said

    Ok so this post was quite well written, but there is too much summary.
    Get some more analysis and opinion in there! You can retain the summarizing, but make sure to comment on your thought regarding the episode while you do so!

    You can make comments on your reactions as they happen.
    Scribble them on paper…even if it is one or two words, and then make sense of them later- go back and think about the reactions and learn to question your feelings about them.

    Try to dig deeper than a simple summary.
    Why do some characters seem more likable?
    What is the episode saying about life, human nature, society?
    Are there any themes present in the episode?
    How does the story make the characters act?
    Can you see this happening in real life? Is the story realistic? Unbelievable? Larger than life? How so?
    Where in the story do you start identifying with the characters, if ever?
    What are your predictions? Are there any red herrings, and leads you think are correct?
    How does the time of day/where you watch the episode affect your opinions of it?

    ETC!

    Keep it up, and feel free to go back and add some of the stuff that I just said, and anything else you can think of.

    -S

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