1.15 My Funny Valentine
Faye is one of those characters that I warm up to more and more as the show develops. Layer by layer, the show pulls back another bit of who she is as a character. Now the show dives deep into her backstory and it’s tragic. I love that the sci-fi bits are somewhat incidental, the episode is basically a fairy tale gone bad, or maybe what happens after the fairy tale.
The episode packs in a lot of story. This could easily be a film, but the show cuts just the right corners. It hits all the emotional beats. You could fault it for not developing the plot enough to justify those points, but I think the previous episodes have set up enough about Valentine that we can fill in the gaps. It’s also interesting to see how this past Faye isn’t so far removed from the current one, it’s just the current one has a tough exterior she puts out there.
1.16 Black Dog Serenade
It’s more backstory time! Jet gets caught up in more of his past life as a cop. This is basically a noir episode, which is kinda strange in a space Western, but it works. For a villain, Udai is the right level of creepy without being over the top. The last few minutes might be a bit too twisty, but I think it’s all in the name of getting the character to the right place emotionally, so I buy it even if the storytelling feels a bit sloppier than it should be.
1.17 Mushroom Samba
Ed is one of those characters so far that I’ve found best in small bursts, so I was trepidations about the show building an episode around her, but if she’s going to stick around, the show needed to do something with her. And what it does is make the funniest episode of the show so far.
It’s a delight to watch Ed goof around. She’s the right blend of inquisitive and insane. The fact that she’s a kid means that she can get away with it and part of me think she’s just smart enough to know this. Watching Ed experiment on the rest of the crew is a lot of fun.
The episode is filled with great moments. The montage of food early on is another magnificent piece of editing and later in the episode we get a wonderful montage of Ed searching for food, which is also a delightful piece of animation. The way Ed moves is enthralling to watch. It’s another reminder of how superb the animation is in the show. And speaking of animation, the conceit of the episode allows for some crazy, dream state animated sequences.
Also, the coffin gag is easily the biggest laugh I’ve had watching the show. Perfectly set up, perfectly executed, great payoff.
1.18 Speak Like a Child
Another Faye backstory episode already? Actually, much like the Spike backstory episodes, this one builds nicely around the past one. I love the headspace Faye is in throughout the episode. She’s always been aloof, and prone to run, but this episode shows that it’s getting to her on an even deeper lever as she starts to fear her past.
Oddly, this episode feels almost more about Spike and Jet. Their mercenary attempts to discover the contents a Betamax tape that arrives for Faye is a great expression of how these characters do care for each other, but go on the journey of expressing it in unspoken ways. The whole montage of Spike and Jet going through the museum is a great little sequence, but also shows the absurd lengths these characters will go through for each other.
And the ending of this episode is astounding. It’s an emotional sucker-punch. The show has always had this cool demeanor, but here it displays an uncharacteristic amount of sentimentality and sincerity. It strikes just the right balance and the result is beautiful. It might be one of my favorite sequences of the show so far.
© 2013 James Blake Ewing