Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Ending, Explained

Like the classic namesake TV anime (1998-1999) and the 2001 anime film ‘Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ it is based on, Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’ is a sci-fi neo-noir web series bursting with style, romp, and action. The story predominantly revolves around the fledgling crew of the spaceship Bebop: bounty hunters or Cowboys Spike Spiegel (John Cho), his partner Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), con artist Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), and the genetically-engineered Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ein as they pursue some of the worst criminals in the solar system. Meanwhile, Vicious (Alex Hassell) and Julia (Elena Satine), two people from Spike’s mysterious past, come to know that he is still alive. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Cowboy Bebop’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Recap

The story is set in 2171. Humanity has expanded across the solar system, setting up colonies in various terrestrial planets, natural satellites, and asteroids. However, due to a disaster involving the hyperspace gateway, Earth has been left desolate. The law enforcement agency in charge of maintaining peace in the entire system is the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP). Unable to deal with exploding crime rates, the ISSP establishes a legalized contract system, with which registered cowboys can go after certain criminals and get paid if they bring back their targets alive.

Arguably, the most powerful criminal organization in the solar system is the Syndicate. A few years ago, Spike was one of its rising members along with his best friend Vicious. They both fell in love with Julia, and that inevitably led to conflict. Spike, who was known as Fearless at the time, was forced to fake his death and start a new life under a new identity. While pursuing the Syndicate defector Asimov and his girlfriend Katherine, Spike and Jet meet Faye, a woman who has been suffering from amnesia since waking up from cryogenic sleep.

In the course of the season, Vicious kills all his competitors and superiors, including his father Caliban, to become the undisputed leader of the Syndicate. After learning that Spike is still alive, he tries to kill him several times, without much success. In the season 1 finale, titled ‘Supernova Symphony,’ Vicious confronts his wife Julia for conspiring with one of his competitors to kill him. He abducts Jet’s daughter Kimmie to force Spike to surrender. Jet feels betrayed after learning the truth about his partner’s past but recognizes that they must work together to ensure Kimmie’s safety. Meanwhile, Faye discovers clues that can potentially lead her to her biological family.

Cowboy Bebop Season 1 Ending: Do Spike and Julia End Up Together? Is Spike Dead?

After Spike, Jet, and Faye rescue Kimmie from the Syndicate’s clutches, Spike decides to end his feud with Vicious permanently. They fight inside a cathedral — Spike with his gun and Vicious with his katana. Just when it seems that Vicious has the upper hand, Julia arrives and shoots him. However, if Spike thought that this would be an emotional reunion between the two of them, he gravely mistook. Julia accuses him of abandoning her and leaving her with an abusive man such as Vicious.

Julia’s life with Vicious has completely changed her. The naïve romantic that Spike used to know is long gone. In her place stands a hardened pragmatic who refuses to go back to living with the constant fear of others. When Spike tells her that they should leave the world of crime behind, she contemptuously rejects the idea. With the Elders already dead and Vicious soon dying, she tells Spike that the Syndicate throne is now theirs to take.

However, Spike has never aspired to that. He sought peace and ordinary life, preferably with Julia. So, he ends up rejecting her as well. Julia claims that their relationship was a dream, echoing what Spike said earlier in the season before shooting him. A stunned Spike falls backward, breaking the cathedral window, and dropping several stories below.

Spike and Julia don’t end up together at the end of season 1. However, Spike doesn’t die either, somehow surviving the fall. He makes it back to the Bebop. By then, Faye has already left to search for her biological mother. Still struggling to come to terms with Spike’s betrayal, Jet tells him that the next time he sees him, he will kill him before leaving with the Bebop. At the end of season 1, Spike might not be dead, but he has virtually lost everything.

Who Is the Leader of the Syndicate at the End? Is Vicious Dead?

No, Vicious isn’t dead. In one of the final scenes of the season, he wakes up to find himself restrained. Julia is there. Brimming with useless anger, he screams that he will kill her. However, Julia reminds him that he is an Elder now, and no one is supposed to see him. So, his people will never know what has happened to him. In the meantime, she will control the Syndicate, pretending to speak on his behalf.

Julia then puts a bullet in her revolver, spins the cylinder, and pulls the trigger at Vicious. Fortunately for him, it’s an empty chamber. But she promises him that she will return the next day and try it again. This seems like just the beginning of Julia’s revenge against her abusive husband. She has taken his criminal empire from him and left him trapped in a basement. He now must wake up every day knowing that it can be his last.

Who Is the Young Girl at the End?

In the closing scene of Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’ season 1, Spike walks out of a bar, despondent and drunk, and falls flat on his face. Suddenly a red-haired girl shows up, claiming that she has a bounty-hunting job for him. This is Ed or Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, also known as Radical Ed. In the anime, she is a member of the Bebop crew. A hacker extraordinaire, Ed is somewhat androgenous and has a quirky personality.

The live-action series makes a reference to her in episode 6, titled ‘Binary Two-Step.’ Jet tells Spike that Ed has informed him about an old bounty resurfacing. Known as Cy-Baba, the criminal apparently caused the deaths of 3,000 people and now goes by the cover name Dr. Londes. Spike is skeptical about this but still goes to capture the phantom bounty. It is later revealed that Spike was right. Cy-Baba or Dr. Londes is actually a psychotic AI that captures his victims’ consciousness by trapping them in a VR loop.

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