Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is primed to take the anime to a place it’s never been: season 2. While the original anime eschewed any chance of continuing the story, the end of the live-action series’ first season takes a different approach.
Technically, Netflix has yet to greenlight a Cowboy Bebop season 2. But with the Bebop crew left in a fascinating place, and a few teasers for what could come next, the show is poised to blast forward into unknown space. So let’s dive into where season 1 leaves everyone, what that means for a potential second season, and what the cast has to say about it all.
[Ed note: This post spoils the end of season 1 of the live-action Cowboy Bebop.]
Cowboy Bebop’s big twist ending
While Vicious has long been seen by Bebop fans as Spike’s true nemesis, the Netflix adaptation ends its first season with both of them effectively neutered by Julia, who has angled herself to take over the Syndicate and wounding both men in the process. It’s a twist the series cleverly sets up in its penultimate episode, providing flashbacks to Spike’s “Fearless” days that the anime never did.
Elena Satine tells Polygon she was “really happy” to see her character Julia step up into the position of power. And it’s a change Cowboy Bebop showrunner André Nemec knew the season would lead up to from early on.
“[Spike] has to own his own dilemma of having made a poor choice, that will now cost him dearly,” Nemec said of the brutal final confrontation between Spike and Elena. “She has earned her ability to cock the hammer on that gun and believe that she will pull the trigger.”
Julia shoots Spike, but she doesn’t kill him — nor does she kill her husband, Vicious. Not that he escapes with much: He ends season 1 as Julia’s captive, kept alive at her discretion while she “speaks on [his] behalf” publicly for Syndicate business.
“Potentially we’re seeing Vicious more broken than he is in the anime or, sort of, certainly backed into a corner and in a different way,” says Alex Hassell, who plays Vicious in Cowboy Bebop. “There’s potential to step further away from the story of the anime in terms of that character now.”
What season 2 holds for the Bebop crew
Meanwhile, Vicious and Julia’s machinations do manage to undo all of the found family dynamics formed aboard the Bebop. Faye finally gets a chance to find out who she is beneath the cryosleep-induced amnesia; Spike confronts his past when Vicious comes to kill him; Jet also reckons with Spike’s past, after Vicious kidnaps his daughter to use as bait. While the trio (plus Jet’s daughter) make it out of the final confrontation relatively unscathed, their fragile ecosystem is rocked. And so the three all decide to go their separate ways — a particularly dour note to leave a world so filled with pep.
“It’s tremendously sad to me,” John Cho says of his character’s final scenes. “I’m really bummed for Spike, and that scene that we shot when Jet walks away ... that was devastating in the moment.”
It’s something he, along with Daniella Pineda (Faye) and Mustafa Shakir (Jet), are eager to see quickly resolved in a theoretical season 2. “Wherever we go, the leap will be so big, because the crescendo was so big,” Shakir says.
They are certainly met with a big leap in the appearance of Radical Ed, who brings Ein back and tells Spike he needs to help her with tracking down the “butterfly man” before he does “spooky, bad things.” Ed’s appearance is just one taste of what showrunner André Nemec hopes to give in season 2 — namely more of the original anime reworked in this new, live-action space.
“In the early days of sitting in a writers room it was ‘what’s your favorite episode and why.’ And putting those on the board and looking at them and being like, we can’t craft stories from all of these,” Nemec says. “So there are definitely moments, characters, scenes, bits, worlds, that I am desperate and dying to explore in the — fingers crossed — season 2.”
While Pineda, Cho, and Shakir agree, one main hope for season 2 is for Jet to slip into something a little less constricting.
“I want to see Jet take a bath. That onesie never comes off, man.”