Wednesday, February 10, 2016

29 Day Cowboy Bebop Challenge, Day 10: Favorite Secondary or One-Shot Character

I know that I said my favorite episode was "Stray Dog Strut," but "Heavy Metal Queen" is a close second. It has one of my absolute favorite opening sequences, and I really like Spike in the episode. One of the funniest scenes in the entire series is when Spike joins a bar brawl because another bounty hunter bumps into him and makes him drop an egg in his lap (it doesn't sound like it would be that humorous, but OMG, it is - I've been that hungover before).

All of that aside, "Heavy Metal Queen" also features the best one-shot character in the entire show: VT.
Via Reddit
First of all, she's badass. When the server is being sexually harassed by a group of bounty hunters, she takes things into her own hands and manages to handle the majority of them, even before Spike enters the fray. She's also well-liked by her fellow space truckers and is among the very best, running cargo the fastest anyone has ever seen (in Bebop lore, that is). She's loyal and take-charge, perfectly happy with who she is and what her capabilities are.

Second, her relationship with Spike is the driving force behind this episode. The bounty the Bebop crew is hunting dies about midway through the episode, but it doesn't even really matter. You find yourself rooting for VT and Spike to become friends, or at the very least, you're extra curious as to what VT stands for. I mean, you know you're going to find out eventually, seeing as there is a bet going on among the space truckers, but this is Bebop, so really, anything is game. (And no, I'm not going to tell you what it is; go watch the episode yourself.) When it's finally revealed, they've made peace with each other, or VT has somewhat dealt with her issues and I can imagine that they might have gone and had a beer sometime off screen.

My third point is a bit more subjective, seeing as it sort of veers into head canon. Back when I first watched the series, I was part of a now-defunct online fan group that discussed it, and a lot of talk was focused on VT's gender identity and sexuality. Throughout the episode, you get the idea that she's just a very masculine woman, but at the end, the picture she keeps in her pocket watch shows her - younger and thinner - dressed like a combination of two Katey Sagal characters: Gemma from Sons of Anarchy and Peg from Married ... with Children. Now, my initial take on it was that, once her husband had been killed, she just didn't care about impressing anyone any longer. VT reminded me a bit of my paternal grandmother who told me several years ago that, after my Papaw died, she literally had no interest in being with another man ever again*. Plus, she's older, at least in her forties, and dammit, I'm in my early thirties and all I really care about right now is, "Is this comfortable?" And I'm not even a space trucker. So when the topic of VT maybe being a transgender woman came up, I was a little skeptical. It was possible, but I just didn't see it. Looking back on it, though, I'm a lot more open to this interpretation, especially considering how open about sexuality** and gender identity*** Cowboy Bebop is. While I still don't agree this is the angle the creators were going for here, I love that her character causes these kinds of discussions and promotes a sense of inclusiveness that a lot of American TV shows could learn from.

Then of course, fourth, her cat, Zeroes, is plenty enough a reason for her to be the best damn one-shot character in Bebop history.
Via Pinterest


* Mamaw is very religious, and she views getting involved romantically with another man as adultery, which .. well, I disagree with her, but hey, it's her life. 
** I love the scene where Faye bursts in on a gay couple having sex and is not fazed at all. She just goes up to the guy, shoves a gun in his mouth, and then proceeds to threaten him. 
*** Gren is a very interesting case, seeing as I feel like he was not handled as well as he could have been. In the Japanese version, his gender fluidity is more positively portrayed, but in the English dub, it seems like he views his dual genders as a punishment. 
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