REVIEW: ‘Cowboy Bebop’ 1×05 “Darkside Tango”

cowboy bebop episode 5

The show does love keeping us from actually spending time with all three of our main cast members. Luckily, we get some fun interactions between Faye and Spike while Jet is off taking care of some business. It’s strange the show still refuses to stick to what makes the core concept work, but we do get a great film noir-inspired episode involving why Jet got his metal arm. Will it fumble with the separation, or push forward?

COWBOY BEBOP Recap: (S01E05) Darkside Tango

Mustafa Shakir‘s Jet is our main character this time around and we get to explore his time as a cop alongside an old friend. The episode mainly takes from “Black Dog Serenade” but continues an interesting trend this Netflix show seems obsessed with. It avoids keeping stories ins pace or on space ships outside of the Bebop. Instead of keeping Udai Taxim in the visually interesting environment of a floating prison ship, but at a cliché noir dock.

Ignoring that, the noir-tinted lens adds an extra layer to the story even if it doesn’t come close to what the original managed to accomplish. While it’s mainly the same and as a viewer of the anime lacks a true surprise, it does feel like the first time Jet having a daughter played into the story. Chalmers is their main suspect throughout and it adds a personal reason for his suspicions. The twist in the story is given more weight as Jet becomes his undoing and there’s a kindness by the one he originally blamed.

Cowboy Bebop' season 1, episode 5 recap: Darkside Tango

I will say, this episode seems a bit too early in the story. There’s no real connective tissue that leads into a reason for this story taking place, as outside of a short discussion surrounding his arm, we already know he’s a cop. For a show that tries to build up many story threads, this one seems. a bit random given it is a much later addition in the original. Still, what they do with the episode is enjoyable and I like his dynamic.

It does seem to exist primarily for Spike and Faye to build a report with each other. Here’s a play on the original entry that works, as instead of all the convicts still being on the same ship as Udai, they become a catalyst for some fun banter. While I do wish they went out to hunt one of them down, we get some fun interactions between the duo. Yet, I do wish we saw more than one flashback for a bounty to get a feeling for how they got their scars rather than just words. It’s a running gag they are terrible at capturing actual bounties, and it was a fun way to also have Faye get swept up by Spike’s laid-back tempo.

COWBOY BEBOP Recap: (S01E05) Darkside Tango

Overall, Jet steals the show and we get some fun noir-style storytelling even if it feels a bit early for this particular flashback. Faye and Spike’s exchange is a fun element for the episode to add a distraction. Sadly, it does highlight that the show’s 40+ minute runtime makes it difficult to tell specific stories without adding some fluff. It’s probably the biggest challenge of this adaptation due to its unique format from the original. It’s just still a tough decision to constantly keep this cast apart throughout the series 10-episode runtime. We’ll see if they get a better feeling for it with future episodes.

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