REVIEW: ‘Cowboy Bebop’ 1×08 “Sad Clown A-Go-Go”

cowboy bebop episode 8

It’s fun finding out that one of the first looks we got from the series was for the eighth episode in the series, “Sad Clown A-Go-Go.” As the title points out, we get the live-action introduction of Pierrot LeFou. It’s a bit sudden that Vicious goes out of his way to send out the madman to take on Spike, but it does open the question of whether the show can tackle one of the series’ most memorable villains or lack the subtlety to bring it full circle?

Cowboy Bebop' Season 1, Episode 8 Recap: Sad Clown a-Go-Go

So, the strangest change here is connecting Ein directly to LeFou. It technically has no true effect on the story outside of our team heartlessly leaving the upper behind. There’s a reason for the set-up later down the line but it seems a bit heartless from our usual ragtag team. Here’s hoping they make up for this action next season, but it seems like an easy way to explain how Spike finds the assassin rather than it being through actual sleuthing.

Still, Josh Randall does play the character quite well and he has his quirks from the anime, even if not as “animated” as you would think. It’s funny how Western adaptations go out of their way to explain things, as we get a showcase for why he can float. Though the shot of his shadow hanging over the team until his reveal was well done even if he lacked the absurdity of the original. Once he gets his clown-inspired costume, the look is completed even if it feels a bit too short-lived on screen.

Netflix's "Cowboy Bebop" Trailer Breakdown

Spike is his main target, but he feels a bit less in danger than he did in the episode that inspired it, “Requiem for a Clown.” The opening does push him to his limits, which was great to see but the actual one-on-one confrontation loses that appeal when Spike seemingly knows exactly how to solve the impenetrable shield of LeFou. So, it kind of explains away a plot point that was more of discovery during the original for us as the viewers and Spike.

Even the “mommy” scene feels less impactful as we see the character act a bit more controlled earlier on in the same episode. He’s manic but still in control which doesn’t quite work with the message of the original. It does highlight the aspect of the series that it lacks the same kind of subtlety that the original had when it came to its message and characters. Strong moments like “Galileo Hustle” are there but they seem sometimes far and too few throughout the first season.

Watch Cowboy Bebop | Netflix Official Site

Speaking of lack of subtlety, Vicious’ story arc throughout the series comes to the moment he’s been waiting for. His plan by switching places with Santiago was surprisingly smart for the character we meet, and even if it was pretty obvious he wasn’t going to die, it still was well executed. Especially as it seems like this twist was why the character of Abdul Hakim was wearing the tech that changed his entire look. So, they technically set it up indirectly.

The reveal that his father was an Elder here was a pleasant surprise, as it explained why Vicious seems like the cliché of a “rich boy with daddy issues.” I’ll still argue that the character works in the context of this series even if it’s far removed from the original. He gets “his moment” in this episode but it is undercut by Mao just selling out Julia randomly. That scene was a bit of a headscratcher for me personally at that moment, but I guess it’s to set up her role as well.

COWBOY BEBOP Recap: (S01E08) Sad Clown A-Go-Go

Overall, it’s a bit of an underwhelming episode in comparison to the last three. It lost a bit of its momentum and tried too much to lean into LeFou without truly utilizing the character’s full potential. It feels more like they wanted to include him and forced a connection that takes away from the mystery. It’s kind of a general issue with this adaptation as it focuses too hard on serializing a series that didn’t necessarily require it. We’ll see how it ties it all together in the final two episodes. Though I wonder if the clown referenced in the title is about LeFou or Vicious.

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