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The Ending Of Netflix's Cowboy Bebop Explained

The last episode of Netflix's "Cowboy Bebop" went out with several bangs, crashes, and a lot of shooting. It may not have been the most satisfying ending for those who are fans of the 1998 anime. However, this may not be surprising as Hollywood has a bad history of adapting anime. "Cowboy Bebop" diverged dramatically from the source material, which made some endings unpredictable and frustrating as well. Since this is a Netflix show, it stands to reason that the live-action counterpart will span longer than the 26-episode arc in the original anime. Surely deviations are required, and that was proved in Season 1 of the streamer's version. The finale serves as a surprise to anime viewers and even to those who haven't seen it.

At the end of the season, Spike (John Cho) finally has his inevitable confrontation with Vicious (Alex Hassell). Wild with jealousy, Vicious cannot enjoy his coup d'etat against the Syndicate without his old friend's head on a platter. He kidnaps Jet's (Mustafa Shakir) daughter to trap Spike in a confrontation. From there, the episode goes off the rails, and there is a lot to unpack.

Julia's big twist

The most shocking revelation of the finale was Julia (Elena Satine) and her involvement in the final showdown. It was shocking in the way that there was little or no foundation to make this twist satisfying. The entire season was a collision course for a confrontation between Spike and Vicious, but in the battle in the church, Spike does not pull the trigger. Although the audience experiences events through Spike's eyes, and he is the one that viewers identify with, it is Julia that shoots Vicious. In a surprising reversal, Julia insists that she and Spike take over the Syndicate instead of running away together like they always planned.

Julia's swift turn from love interest to absolute villain leaves little room for Spike to have his vindication. For ten episodes, Spike has been at odds with his past. He cannot move on from his sins without confronting Vicious, who embodies everything Spike has done wrong. Julia robs him of satisfaction when justice should have been his to serve. She blames Spike for leaving her with her husband. She takes no responsibility for herself and accuses the man she loves of making her the way she is. When Spike refuses to join her, Julia shoots him through a window. Her decision to imprison Vicious and take over his operation does not feel earned. Vicious is alive, so there is always an opportunity for him and Spike to meet again — any satisfying ending would have to include Spike pulling the trigger.

The fate of Bebop

The season concludes with the crew of Bebop in shambles. At the beginning of the episode, Jet is the one holding the team together. His optimism about saving Spike made it clear that the season would not end with anyone together. After finding out that Spike used to be part of the Syndicate, Jet turns on him, causing a ripple effect that tears the crew apart.

All of these events should have brought everyone together as a team. Instead, Jet let his prejudices about Spike's past influence the fate of the Bebop. Faye's (Daniella Pineda) own past has come back to haunt her, but she does not receive the same treatment as Spike. She has lied to the crew about who her mother was in an attempt to resolve her personal issues. "Cowboy Bebop" is in many ways about redeeming yourself from your past. Jet does not understand Spike wants to leave that behind him and does not forgive him for his misdeeds. At the end of the episode, everyone is alone. Jet is by himself on the Bebop, Faye is off to parts unknown, and Spike is drunk in an alley. Judging from the last scene, it looks like a bounty will bring the crew back together in some fashion — but this monumental divide has shaken the foundation of the Bebop crew to its core.

Cowboy Bebop introduces new friends

Although Spike may feel alone at the end of the final episode, it does not look like it will stay that way. The newest crew member for the Bebop is Radical Ed, who finds Spike in the alleyway. This may be a surprise to "Cowboy Bebop" fans who were so divided when Ed did not appear in the opening credits. It's actually not the first mention of Ed on the live-action show, though. When Spike is trapped in a false memory by the AI, there is mention of Radical Ed, the hacker. In the finale, Ed is looking to Spike to fulfill a bounty, and his emergence in the last scene is essential to the DNA of the show.

Saving Ed for the last scene creates a cliffhanger but also gives hope for the future. The eccentric child will be another shake-up for the show, but one that is needed after the events of the finale. Ed has the potential to bring heart back to a crew that has been devastated — and most importantly, protect Ein from the crew's negligence. Viewers last saw the pup after the crew of the Bebop heartlessly abandoned him on the street. It is a relief to see the fan-favorite Corgi again, who is also part of the crew of the Bebop as much as anyone else.

Netflix's show is not the anime

When Netflix first picked up the live-action version of "Cowboy Bebop," there were some reservations. If anime fans go into this show hoping to see what they came to know and appreciate from the original, they will be disappointed. By the end of Season 1, it is obvious this is not a one-to-one translation. Storylines familiar to anime fans are more homages than they are faithful to the original.

Gren (Mason Alexander Park) is certainly different in the live-action series. There has been a lot of attention brought to how Faye looks drastically different, to a point where the costume designer defended her look in an interview with Insider. But her personality is also different as well as Daniella Pineda's Faye is brash and loud-mouthed. Faye, in the original, is a con artist — she brings intellect rather than brute force to the team, which is missing in the show. "I never wanted 'Cowboy Bebop' to be a picture of a dystopian future. I wanted it to be nostalgic, but also hopeful," showrunner Andre Nemec said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. For anime fans, this may be a hard pill to swallow. "Cowboy Bebop" is, at its core, a film noir. Going forward, audiences will have to come to terms with Netflix's "Bebop" being a new show entirely.