Session Twelve: Jupiter Jazz (Part One)
We start with a camp fire and the natives from the first episode. There are premonitions of death.
Welcome to the series’ first two part-er and a second look at Spike’s background. While I wasn’t at all impressed by the first look, Ballad of Fallen Angels, this story is much, much better.
We start with the Van, or syndicate, sending Vicious to the Jovian moon Callisto to finalize a deal for red eye. The guy who has it is an old army buddy of Vicious. Vicious is accompanied by a guy named Lin. Meanwhile, Faye has left the Bebop. She’s drained the anti-freeze, temporarily disabling the ship, and she’s stolen their money. Looking for her Ed finds something marked ‘Julia’ at the Blue Crow Bar on Callisto. Spike immediately goes off by himself. Jet thinks finding Faye (and their money) is more important. They argue and appear to break up, but there’s not a lot of tension, really. We do learn we’ve been together three years.
Of course, Faye’s at the Blue Crow. Informants point Spike to Gren, a saxophonist at the Blue Crow. Everything’s converging at the Blue Crow. Gren talks to Faye. He warns her there are no women in the town, and she should be careful.
Spike arrives only to be cornered by a group who think he’s Vicious. They want his money. In spite of the fact that they are armed and Spike isn’t, he takes them down handily. He’s insulted to be mistaken for Vicious, but he does learn that Gren is going to sell some red eye to Vicious and that the code name for their little tete-a-tete is Julia.
Turns out there’s a bounty on Gren. He’s an escaped fugitive and the statute of limitations is running out so the bounty has doubled. Faye left him in the bar and went to a back alley looking for a way to work off some tension. No, not that way. She’s about to beat down on the same gang that Spike beat, when Gren comes to her rescue. He takes her back to her apartment. He’s already told her he isn’t interested in women and she accepts that. He gives her a drink and she starts to open up about how it’s better to be on your own, but Gren perceives that she was afraid she’d be abandoned by her new friends, so she abandoned them first. Her response seems to indicate he’s right. He goes to take a shower when Vicious calls about the deal. Surprised, Faye goes after Gren, gun drawn. His connection to Vicious isn’t the only surprise.
Meanwhile Spike goes to the meeting place and finds Vicious and Lin. Spike draws his gun, Vicious his sword. Lin steps between them and shoots Spike. Lin’s a very straight forward kind of guy.
End of part one.
Session Thirteen: Jupiter Jazz (Part Two)
Spike’s lying in the snow, wounded, while Gren is telling Faye his backstory.
He and Vicious were in the same unit. We get no backstory on the war they fought in. Gren admires a little music box vicious has. It plays Julia, by the Beatles. They’re friends. Vicious gives it to him. Later Gren is convicted of treason—a false charge that Vicious played some role in. While in prison Gren was given experimental drugs that were to have a long lasting effect.
Jet tracks down the Blue Crow and has a heart to heart with the bartender. He learns that Faye was there, and Julia too, a couple of years prior. He actually knows very little about Julia, other than the hold she has on Spike. Jet tracks down Faye to Gren’s apartment, but Gren isn’t there. He’s gone to meet Vicious. He wants to know why he was set up.
Spike wakes up. Turns out he was shot with a tranquilizer gun. He feels mocked. Things ratchet up pretty quickly from this point on. The meeting gets violent and eventually escalates into an aerial dogfight between Gren, Spike, and Vicious. Not everyone makes it out.
The story ends with the same scene it started with. There’s a quiet, elegiac feel to it and, perhaps to underscore its importance, it does not end with Real Folk Blues.
As I said, I much prefer this look into Spike’s past to the first one. We’re no further ahead in understanding what happened, but there is a real sense of weight and consequence to this story. Something I think was missing from the more bombastic Ballad of Fallen Angels.