Cowboy Bebop season 1, episode 1 recap – the opening chapter explained

November 19, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Recaps


Cowboy Bebop is a space western with a style all its own.

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Cowboy Bebop is a space western with a style all its own.

This recap of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop season 1, episode 1, “Cowboy Gospel,” contains spoilers.

Read the review of season 1.

Cowboy Bebop season 1, episode 1 recap

The year is 2071, and Earth is practically uninhabitable. So, most of humanity has traveled and colonized into the great void — on various moons and desolate planets all over the solar system. Of course, crime is rampant with everyone trying to stake a claim in their very piece of intergalactic land. So, the Solar System Police (ISSP) has contracted legalized deputies from the pool of registered bounty hunters across the galaxy. They chase the criminals. They catch the criminals. And most importantly, they turn in criminals for money. 

This is Cowboy Bebop:

The Opening Sequence

The opener has a group of very diverse thugs shooting staff and patrons in the head one at a time on a casino floor. It’s taking too long, one of them says — clearly the pragmatist of the group. Their leader, showing signs of being coked out of his mind, tells them to wait. They are downloading all what I can imagine in the future would be all the crypto in the place into some sort of space Cayman Islands account. Meanwhile, a man steps off the elevator listening to some jazz on his noise-canceling headphones. He is treated with a dozen or so guns pointing directly at him. No worries because his name is Spike Siegal (John Cho), and he is a paid bounty hunter who is bringing in the leader of the group, Tanaka. 

Spike is quite versed in weaponry and hand-to-hand combat. So, he takes out most of their team to the disapproval of his partner, Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir). Because if they don’t bring in Tanaka or members of his team alive, they don’t get paid. That’s when a Paul Walter Hauser type walks out of the bathroom, the last living member of Tanaka’s team. He then pulls out, to more of Jet Black’s chagrin, a disrupter. He tells them not to fire that in here, but he does, creating a giant hole in the wall behind them and all sorts of stuff begins to levitate, Like, coins, pens, guns, bullet casings, and, you know, them. Everyone then gets sucked towards the hole because, as they look outside, they see the great beyond — space. They are in a floating casino—kind of like if the Death Star went Vegas style.

They eventually patch up the hole and have Tanaka to themselves, but they lose more money than he was worth. Why? Well, parking, maintenance fees on their ship, and, oh yeah, paying for the damage to the floating Bally’s death star casino. It’s tough out there for a bounty hunter.

The Flashbacks

Spike is the hero of the story. And every hero needs a backstory. That shows his motivations. You know, the kind that shows darkness about him can only be caused by the death of the woman he loves. Well, he has about three of those daydreams in this episode. Each time, we see him thinking about a beautiful blonde woman with a tattoo of a long-stem rose on the upper left of her naked back. Of course, only a bedsheet is wrapped around her.

The other flashbacks show Spike kissing her as he hands her a rose. Another shows Spike and a man shooting at each other while they are both dressed like John Wick. The camera then immediately toggles back and forth between shooting and kissing. Until Spike falls over a ledge and the rose falls into a puddle of water on the floor. We can only assume that the mysterious blonde woman was shot and killed.

Shot of Tequila, but Hold that Worm and take a Cupcake

Katerina is pregnant and walks into a bar back on Earth with her boyfriend, who looks like he is starring in the Desperados sequel as El Mariachi. His name is Asimov. They are in Tijuana, which somehow survived Earth’s downfall (go figure). They are looking to unload their stash of a drug called “Red Eye.” A drug that is in small and easy-to-use glass bottles that, if you place close to your eye and tap the release button, aerosol the drugs right into your eyeball. The man who was Asimov’s target audience is so excited. What does it feel like, he asks? Asimov replies, “It feels like I just mainlined God!” Not sure what that means, but it sounds amazing.

But not so fast. Six members of the notorious Syndicate walk into the TJ bar looking for their stash. Yes, of course, they stole it, and we can only assume they did so they can sell it and live happily ever after together. So, Asimov is now loaded up on the stuff, takes out of five members, and escapes with Katerina. They have to hide in TJ until the heat dies and find medical attention for Asimov, who took a couple of bullets to the chest. This guy is made of steel.

Forming the Team

So, after all the expenses and damages have been taken out of the Tanaka score, Jet Black still doesn’t have enough money to buy his daughter a present for his birthday. He convinces Spike, over his objections of taking any job in the city that stabbed him while he was purchasing a churro, to take the contract for a man named Asimov. You see, they don’t know what has transpired so far. So, when they arrive in TJ and track him to a scrappy-looking hospital, Spike finds the beautiful Katrina trying to light a cigarette while pregnant. He is smitten with her. And when he’s about to get his flirt on, he feels a gun barrel being shoved into the back of his head. Her name is Faye (Daniella Pineda), another bounty hunter, and she is being paid to bring Katrina in.

Confused about what is going on, Spike is informed by Faye that Katrina is the daughter of a wealthy corporate cat named Ellis. The rich princess gives Spike some song and dance to mean her father, but Faye only sees a payday. So, Spike being the gentleman begins to grapple with Faye and wrestles her gun away, giving Katrina enough time to get away with Asimov. Spike then forces Faye back to his ship and handcuffs her to the toilet (like I said, a gentleman). Jet doesn’t know what the hell is going on, but Spike wants to quit the case. It’s too dangerous, but Jet needs the money, So, they track Katrina and Asimov down to a space hanger.

So, they leave, but Faye gets out of handcuffs and tracks them. Spike and Jet catch up to the lovebirds who are about to steal a spaceship of their own. Of course, it’s not a party without the Syndicate showing up, still trying to get their Red Eye back. So, there is a shoot-out. A bullet hits Asimov from Faye as he is choking out Jet. A bullet grazes Katrina’s pregnant stomach. She screams, Spike is horrified, but then he sees hundreds of red-eye vials tumbling out of her fake stomach. The couple tries to pick up as many as they can and escape on the ship. When they get to the intergalactic checkpoint, they are told to turn around. She asks Asimov what they should do, and he doesn’t respond. That’s because as she turns her head, she now sees he has bled out and has died. Spike, who hopped on his ship, races for her and tells her it is not worth it. She disagrees and starts towards the armed guarded ship. They open fire, and the last thing Spike sees before he turns around is Katrina’s dead body floating in space.

The ending – The Twist

The last remaining member of the team of syndicates has flown back to meet his boss, Vicious (Alex Hassel). He isn’t the type of guy who takes failure kindly. So, he slices his neck open but not before he tells him that he overheard. One of his coworkers recognized Spike but called him by the name, Fearless. But he was supposed to be dead. Spike wants to keep it that way, so he shoots him in the head, not knowing one member is left.

Gren walks away. He ponders this. That’s until he walks into a room with a beautiful blonde woman with a rose tattooed on her upper left back.  He kisses her, and the credits begin to roll.

What did you think of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop season 1, episode 1, “Cowboy Gospel”? Is Gren’s lover the woman in Spike’s flashbacks? Was Spike a former member of the Syndicate? Let us know in the comments below!

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