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premiere air date: September 23, 2001
summary: This is the first "meat and potatoes" episode - we've finally reached actual plot. Some people find the manner of storytelling in Cowboy Bebop to be irritating or pointless, but personally I like the disjunct style. You're never given the full picture, just bits and pieces. You have to watch the series more than once to see all that there is to see. We begin "Ballad" in an unfamiliar setting, surrounded by people we haven't been introduced to. The head of "The Red Dragons", and a scary chap with a sword; but they do say the name of one who is familiar: "Spike." On the Bebop's end, Spike and Jet are having the first serious argument we've been witness to since the series started. Spike wants to go after a bounty, Jet feels that there's something wrong with the setup. So Spike goes it alone. Faye (now a member of the Bebop crew) makes herself troublesome by going after the same bounty. This episode culminates in a fantastic Cathedral scene, with revelations both about Spike's past, and the people in Spike's present. This is one of the best episodes in the series, the first one that shows you that there is more beneath the surface of the characters. Beautiful, violent, sad and dramatic.
rating: A+

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