"Black Dog Serenade" is the sixteenth session, or episode, of Cowboy Bebop.
- Michiko Yokote
- Hiroshi Takeuchi (Studio Live)
Mechanical Animation Director:
- Masami Goto
Through a dark hallway full of bodies, a prisoner, Tucan, is complimenting another, Udai Taxim, for escaping their bonds on a prison transport ship and killing all the guards. He strolls through a doorway with a bottle of Don Perignon and offers him a hit of the champagne. Taxim, however, doesn't share his rhetoric and pours into the mouth of a dead guard and smiles, giving the other a bit of the creeps.
On the Bebop, Spike Spiegel is trying to take a nap, but is interrupted by Faye's nagging about the shower being broken again. Faye then yells at Jet, who is busy pruning his bonsai trees. The COM link rings while Jet explains he is busy; Faye snatches the phone and rudely tells the caller that Jet is busy before hanging up.
When the caller tries again, Jet apologizes to Faye and says he will fix the shower. Faye finds out the caller is a man named Fad, which makes Jet stare into space long enough that the cigarette in his prosthetic hand burns down to his fingers; Faye asks if he can feel that. She says he needs to get “it” repaired, which Jet takes to mean the shower, but Faye is talking about his prosthetic arm.
The inmates are gathered in the transport ship's cockpit, where they are holding the pilot hostage. The pilot tries to reason with them to give up, and one of the inmates, Dig, shoots him in the back for trying. The others encourage him not to be hasty, and Dig then turns on Tucan, who remarks that the pilot was their last hostage. Udai decides to defuse the situation by slashing Dig's throat with a knife, shocking the others. Tucan then realizes who he is – an assassin from the Red Dragon crime syndicate.
At a parking garage overlooking a harbor, Jet meets up with Fad and they exchange in some friendly mocking about their colorful history as partners in the ISSP. Jet offers Fad a cigarette but Fad says he quit, saying it isn't a world for smokers anymore. Fad then tells Jet about the prisoner transport ship and points out that Udai is on the ship. They only know they got through the Ganymede gate. Jet suspects a plan that he doesn't want a part of, and, indeed, Fad offers, alluding to when Jet lost his arm. Jet instead walks away saying the job doesn't interest him.
In a flashback to an alley at night, a younger Fad and Jet in plain-clothes break into a warehouse and start chasing a suspect. They split up and Jet corners a young Udai, telling him that he is under arrest. Udai turns and smiles as a spotlight comes on from a rooftop and blinds Jet, who realizes he's been set up. A gunshot is heard as the flashback fades to white.
The remaining inmates talk about their plan. Udai is confident they can escape by breaking the ISSP blockade but the others are skeptical. A former police captain says he'll pilot the ship and they should find the weakest point of the blockade and ram through it.
On the Bebop, Edward stops Jet as he is leaving. She asks for souvenirs and Jet instructs her to water the bonsai trees if he doesn't return. He meets Fad and, with an offer of a cigarette, accepts the job.
As ISSP cruisers fly to the prisoner transport ship, and Udai gets on the radio. Pretending to be a prison guard, says that they are releasing one emergency shuttle with the hostages. When the shuttle reaches the ISSP cruisers it explodes, and gun turrets on the transport shoot down the remaining police ships.
Fad and Jet are flying towards the spot where the transport ship was last seen inside Fad's MONO Transport, which is holding both Jet's Hammer Head and a standard ISSP Cruiser. The police radio informs them that the prisoners have gone missing. Jet thinks Udai would go to Europa because he's an old-fashioned guy and would try to go back to the European Syndicate even if he hadn't worked for them in a long while. Fad decides to follow Jet's advice, remarking about how he's still the Black Dog "who bites once and never lets go."
Udai tries to contact the European Syndicate, but they refuse to work with him.
Jet and Fad agree to get ready. Jet takes off, and, just as the inmates spot a heat source coming from Jet's and Fad's ships, the firefight starts. Jet draws Tucan's turret fire and uses the grappling hook to guide his pod to a door. Another inmate gets in a spacesuit and fires a rocket launcher from an open airlock to Fad's ship, only to be hit by it crashing into the prison ship.
Tucan decides he needs to escape, however, his route is cut off by Fad's ship. Meanwhile, Jet and Udai finally meet in a darkened hallway, exchanging fire. Fad managed to reach the ship's cockpit and killed the ex-police captain. He loads his revolver with one bullet. Jet and Udai fight hand-to-hand, with Udai's speed and skill giving him the upper hand. He shoots Jet, who stops the bullet with his prosthetic arm and disarms Udai. Udai throws a knife into Jet's leg and realizes Jet wasn't aware of the true nature of the betrayal seven years ago. He starts to talk about that night, explaining he wasn't the shooter. Udai explains that the sting was a setup to get rid of Jet, because he was a threat to the Syndicate and Fad was on the payroll. Fad was the one who shone the floodlight and fired the shot.
Just then, Udai is shot and kiled instantly by Fad, who managed to arrive just then. Jet, furious, demands to know if Udai was telling the truth. Fad explains that people who go against the Syndicate lose. He then points his gun at Jet and cocks it, but as he pulls the trigger Jet dives for his own gun and fires.
After a moment frozen in time, Fad falls to the ground. Jet checks Fad's gun, finding it to be empty except for one spent round, the one used to shoot Udai. As Fad dies he asks Jet for a cigarette, saying he couldn't quit after all. ISSP reinforcements surround the ship as Jet places Fad's gun in his hand and limps away.
[Spike is taking a nap on the couch while Faye yells off-camera.]
- “What the hell’s going on with the showers in this place? This is the fourth time. The FOURTH time! Even Buddha gets upset after three times.”
- — Faye Valentine
- “So you still think you’re a shooter with an old gun like that. ISSP can sure waste tax money.”
- — Jet Black
- “On the gun?”
- — Fad
- “No, on your salary.”
- — Jet Black
- Tank! (TV Edit) – Opening titles
- "Space Time" – [Unreleased] Udai and Tucan ruin a perfectly good bottle of Dom Perignon, and later when Dig upsets Udai
- Farewell Blues – Jet's flashback to his attempted arrest of Udai
- The Real Man – Jet files Hammer Head
- Farewell Blues – Udai spoils Jet's day, and later when Fad has a cigarette
- The Real Folk Blues – Closing titles
- Mushroom Hunting – Preview for Mushroom Samba
- The wine that Tucan holds in the beginning of the episode is Dom Perignon
- This episode, with a group of prisoners hijacking a prison transport ship, pays homage to Con Air, a 1997 action/thriller film starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and John Malkovich. The film is about a group of prisoners being transported to a prison via airplane that they are able to take over.
- "Black Dog" is a song by the band Led Zeppelin off their 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV.
- While the series as a whole takes heavy influence from Film noir, Jet's flashbacks are the most direct tribute to the genre.
- The death of Fad is similar to a death in the 1967 Neo-noir film Le Samourai.