The Real Folk Blues (Part 1) is the 25th episode or "Session" or Cowboy Bebop.
From the credits:
Elsewhere, Vicious leads a team into the Van's chamber, only it was a trap. The lights come on and the Red Dragon elders, with reinforcements having high ground, confront Vicious, revealing their foreknowledge of Vicious' betrayal due to consultation with a fortune teller. Now, instead of simply denying him the opportunity to succeed them as leaders of the Red Dragon, Vicious is taken prisoner, and despite his requests that they just kill him, they decide that they wish to break his spirit before they dispose of him.
Meanwhile, having lost Edward and Faye, Spike and Jet Black drown their sorrows at Loser Bar. Soon, however, they notice a group of men rapidly approaching the establishment and they just avoid an assassination attempt as gunfire tears the bar apart. Spike and Jet work together to ward off the attackers, which Spike recognizes as members of Red Dragon. They are joined by Shin, Lin's brother, who was working with Vicious to overthrow the elders. He tells Spike that Vicious has been captured and the elders are now attempting to purge anyone who had ever been associated with Vicious, including Spike and Julia. He tells Spike that Julia is in Tharsis, and that he will cover him as they escape. Spike drags an injured Jet out of the bar and to a local clinic where the doctor removes bullets from Jet's leg. Spike has a flashback to his last job with Red Dragon, when he told Julia that he's going to leave the syndicate. She warned him that Red Dragon will kill him if he tries to leave, but he has a plan to fake his death. He gave her a note and tells her to meet him at the graveyard after the job is done. She told him that she can't leave, but he reassured her, saying that they can start a new life together.
Julia, driving on the highway, has a flashback of her own. Vicious is holding a gun to her head, having discovered that she was going to try to leave the syndicate. She asks if Vicious intends to kill Spike. He confirms, but using her to kill Spike. If she does not, he will have them both killed. Julia tears up the note from Spike and throws it out her apartment window.
Back in the present, Faye is waiting at the Mars airport when she witnesses an old woman reunite with her son, Alfredo (He is the former co-host of Big Shot, but Faye doesn't immediately recognize him). She gets in her ship, the Red Tail, and receives a call from Spike. He tells her to meet him at Tharsis since Jet is in no condition to help him with his leg shot up. Faye ignores Spike's demands, telling him that he is taking too much for granted and that she is under no obligation to help, ending the call. She justifies her refusal by rationalizing that Ed and Ein can help take care of Jet, not realizing that they have also left the Bebop. Just at that moment, Julia drives by, pursued by Red Dragon members who are firing on her car. Faye recognizes her and shoots out the tires of the pursuing vehicle. Julia stops briefly in front of Faye. Unsure of what is happening, Faye jumps into the back of Julia's car and covers her as they try to escape the Red Dragon thugs. Faye shoots out the tires of another Red Dragon car, and the two are able to escape.
A short time later, Julia thanks Faye for her assistance and learns that she is a bounty hunter. Eager to find Spike, she asks Faye if she can help her find a fellow bounty hunter. Faye suspects that Julia is the same Julia that Spike knows, but doesn't mention it. After dropping Faye back at the airport, Julia reveals her identity, telling Faye to tell Spike that she will be at "the place", which Spike will understand. Faye is confused as to how Julia knows that she knows Spike, but Julia drives off before she can get an answer.
Meanwhile, Jet wakes up back on The Bebop, his leg bandaged. Spike has set the ship on a course of Tharsis, and Jet joins him in the cockpit. He tells Spike a story about how men only look to the past when they are about to die, and he urges him to turn around and stay away from Tharsis and Julia. However, Spike says that he cannot abandon Julia, as she was the first woman that made him feel whole. He tells Jet that she is a part of him that was missing and that he has always been searching for. Just at that moment, Faye returns to the Bebop in the Red Tail.
Jet yells at Faye as she gets out of her ship, believing that she only returned so she could get repairs on her ship, but she interrupts him, saying that she has a message for Spike from Julia. As she goes to find him, Jet takes a call from Bob who informs him about the strife inside the Red Dragon and how it appears that the Red Dragon elders have staved off a coup attempt by Vicious and his faction. He reveals that the reason they were attacked at the bar was because the elders are hunting down anyone who was ever associated with Vicious and his traitorous element within the syndicate. He tells Jet to get off Mars, as the police are not equipped to deal with Red Dragon. Jet responds that it is too late to run away but thanks him for his information.
As Faye is about to give Spike the message, playing like he needs to pay her first, the Bebop is attacked. Spike goes to get in the Swordfish II and Faye follows. Compelled, she gives him the message as he gets ready to leave. Without a response, he heads out and attacks the ships. Faye eventually joins him in the Red Tail and they successfully eliminate the threat. They Bebop, however, is damaged in the fight. Jet tells Spike to not worry about the ship and go find Julia.
Meanwhile, at the Red Dragon headquarters, the elders prepare to execute Vicious after leaving him chained to a wall for several days. As the executors prepare to fire, Vicious' bird arrives. An explosive inside the animal detonates, raining smoke bombs from its carcass onto the elders and their soldiers. Several of the surrounding Red Dragon soldiers reveal their loyalty to Vicious and turn on the elders, killing those loyal to the old guard and freeing Vicious. Freed from his chains, Vicious personally kills the last of the three elders with his sword, declaring that he is now the only power that matters in the Red Dragon syndicate.
Spike arrives at the graveyard to find Julia waiting for him, but before he can say anything, she draws a gun and aims it at him.
- “Have you heard this story? A man injures his leg during a hunt. He's in the middle of the savannah, no means to treat the wound. The leg rots, and death approaches. Last minute, he's picked up by an airplane. He looks down and sees a land of pure white below him, glistening in the light. It's the summit of a snow-capped mountain. The mountain is Kilimanjaro. As he gazes down, he feels the life flowing out of him, and he thinks, 'that's where I was headed.' I hate stories like that. Men only think about the past right before their death, as if they were searching frantically for proof that they were alive.”
- — Jet Black
- “When you and I first met, you told me something. You said that you had died once, that you had seen death. Why can't you just let it go? Forget the past”
- — Jet Black
- “There was a woman, first time I found someone that was truly alive, at least that's what I thought. She was the part of me I'd lost somewhere along the way, the part that was missing that I'd been longing for..”
- — Spike Spiegel
- Tank! (TV edit) - opener
- Adieu - played at the beginning of the episode; sung by Emily Bindiger
- Space Time [unreleased] - Vicious and the Elders.
- Waltz for Zizi - nostalgic Jet tells Spike a story about a man who hurts his leg.
- Road to the West - Spike leaves the Bebop/Vicious makes his move.
- Memory - musicbox-like background music to the graveyard scene.
- The Real Folk Blues - end credits, sung by Mai Yamane
- Farewell Blues - appropriately named piece which plays during the preview for the next episode, as Spike, Jet and Faye make their farewells.
Homages and ReferencesEdit
- The Real Folk Blues is a series of blues compilation albums released between 1965 and 1967 by Chess Records and distributed by MCA Records. Each album in the series highlighted the music of one major Chess artist, including John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Sonny Boy Williamson II.
- The story Jet tells is a rough summary of Ernest Hemingway's 1936 short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
- Julia's car is a 1948 Tucker Torpedo. This rare and short lived automobile was extremely advanced for its time, possessing such things as a directional center headlight, and a Franklin Air Cooled engine, originally meant for the Bell 47 Helicopter. Julia's version is a convertible, which was rumored to have been planned but no documents are known to exist to prove this.
- A poster of Bruce Lee can be seen in front of the doctor's office. Spike practices Jeet Kun Do, the same martial arts style Bruce Lee pioneered.
- This is the final session of Cowboy Bebop to open with Tank! as the main theme song and to end with the Real Folk Blues and the closing song for the end credits.