"Bohemian Rhapsody" is the fourteenth session, or episode, of Cowboy Bebop.
- Dai Sato
- Spike Spiegel
- Jet Black
- Faye Valentine
- Man 1
- Man 2 (Gate Corporation assistant)
- Takuro Shinbo (Nakamura Production)
Mechanical Animation Director:
- Masami Goto
Spike, Faye and Jet successfully capture the twenty thugs from an Astral Gate hijack but cannot collect the bounty unless they capture the mastermind behind the robberies. The crew return to the Bebop and complain to Ed, who asks if they got any information, and they all reach in to their pockets to discover they all found the same clue: identical king chess pieces.
Meanwhile, the Gate Corporation is being flooded with complaints from people who lost their savings in the gate robberies. The Gate Corporation put out a 12 million Woolong bounty on capturing the mastermind, but no luck so far.
Faye, who originally wanted to work separately and collect all the money for herself, now decides that they should pool their resources and work together to find the mastermind. The other two challenge her quick flip-flop but agree. Jet explains that all twenty hijacks were done the same way. Everyone infiltrated the toll booth and attached a hacking unit that stole a passing ship's balance when it paid a gate toll. The unit immediately sent the cash credits over a secure link to a bank on Europa. There, the money was electronically laundered that can't be traced in any way. All of the hijackers were caught in the act but none of them had anything in common.
Faye explains that one of the hijackers she caught was following the instructions from a manual he found on a website that's no longer around. Spike learned that the hacking units were designed by a Piker who knew precisely how the gate system worked. Spike thought the Gate Corporation knew what was going on but didn't want to talk about it.
Ed, playing with some cables during this conversation, is suddenly electrocuted. Fortunately, she's not dead. She calmly hooks up her E-chess board. She asks for Jet's chess piece and uses it to connect with the cyber opponent whose data was stored on the chip: Chessmaster Hex. She doesn't believe it relates to the conversation, but Jet encourages her to play the opponent.
On the other end, an old man receives the new game and is now interested, smiling.
Jet goes to the Gate Corporation HQ to talk to the CEO. On the way in, he meets Jonathan, an old friend and bounty hunter. Seeing as he is leaving, Jet ribs him for not being successful in his hunt. Jonathan warns him that this bounty is more difficult than it appears. Meeting with the CEO in his office, Jet starts to light a cigarette and is told to put it out. Jet does so, and then announces he knows that the Corporation is hiding something, throwing a chess piece at the CEO and that these attacks were planned in advance. The CEO refuses to respond to his questions, simply saying that he should focus on bounties and to leave. While waiting for his ship to be returned, Jet turns on a listening device that connects to the microphone cigarette he put out at the CEO's office. He learns that the mastermind is named Chessmaster Hex. So does Jonathan, hiding around the corner.
Meanwhile, Hex continues to play Ed.
Spike and Faye analyze the chess pieces and only find chess data. Jet radios in with info on the mastermind. Ed, busy, continues to play with Hex, at one point thinking she has a checkmate, and instead takes Hex's rook, which is much to Hex's delight.
Spike reads off the bio on Chessmaster Hex:
- “Chessmaster Hex. Estimated to be 98 years old. A programmer that had been dubbed a genius from his teens. In the CosmoNet Chess tournaments he held the Champions Seat for decades. He applied his intellect to the Hyperspace Gate Project, joining the program at 30 years of age. He eventually developed the Central Control System that all gates use to this day. But after that he started to have doubts. He said the design had defects and the gates shouldn’t be built yet—he wanted to run more tests. So they fired him and built the gates anyway. He’s been missing for the last 50 years.”
- — Spike Spiegel
Faye tries to get Ed's attention, but she insists on playing the game, even hissing and growling at her, grabbing the board. Spike mentions his name and, surprisingly, Ed says she is playing with Chessmaster Hex in her e-chess game. This allows Jet to track Hex' location through the game, a large junkyard full of wrecked ships and spare parts from Astral Gates. Spike and Faye suit up and take their ships out to explore. Eventually, they pick a spot and enter on foot into an area that, surprisingly, has oxygen.
Meanwhile, Jonathan has been following behind the Bebop discretely. He video-links to Jet and tells him that he's got a score to settle with Hex. Jonathan proceeds to blast the Bebop, disabling it, and flies off towards the Bohemian Junkheap.
In the junkheap, Spike and Faye use locating devices to track the signal of Hex's e-chess connection. They find a surprising environment of cats, dogs, plants and flowers, sleeping bums, a flock of birds, and a community of bohemians living among the wreckage. Spike and Faye finally find Hex, blast their way into Hex's room and confront him only to learn that he is senile. Jonathan bursts in too, points a grenade gun at Hex and demands for the money he lost in the Astral Gate Hijack. Hex greets them by asking them to quiet down so he can finish the game. The Three Old Men, Antonio, Carlos and Jobim, then jump down from the ceiling and greet Hex. Hex excitedly tells them about his new opponent. While they seem to ignore Spike, Faye and Jonathan, they have a conversation indicating Hex' senility. Hex wants to have lunch but the Three Old Men tell them he just had lunch. Jonathan is at first sad over the money he lost, then gets angry and starts blasting away with his grenade gun like a madman. Spike knocks him out.
Faye wonders what to do about Hex, as he obviously isn't dangerous. Spike states Hex is no longer there, only an old man who likes to play games. Back at the Gate Corporation, Jet tells the entire story to the CEO: Hex set up the elaborate plan to kick in that year during the first automatic tech upgrade, however, he became senile and forgot about it. Jet promises not to go public with the events and the gate defects on the condition that they leave Hex alone and call off the bounty hunters. He says Ed would be unhappy if she lost her favorite chess partner.
Jonathan hasn't left the junkheap. After having gone crazy, he starts smoking and accepting the bohemian lifestyle. Now quite friendly, he waves as the Three Old Men, Antonio, Carlos and Jobim float by and greet him as a friend.
Meanwhile, Ed is still playing the same game with Hex after a week. Ed finally loses her chess game to the chess master and Hex closes his eyes-implying that he has died of old age-as his pet bird flies away and drops a feather next to a chess piece.
- “Right. "Hey kids if you’re a fashion-conscious young hood, remember that cute girl won’t even look your way unless you knock over an Astral Gate. Do it today!" You mean like that?”
- — Faye Valentine
- “You suits are using us bounty hunters like pawns, and I don’t appreciate it.”
- — Jet Black
[Jet warning about how the mastermind is seemingly leading them to him]
- “Remember, this could be a trap; a continuation of the game.”
- — Jet Black
- “Whatever happens, happens.”
- — Spike Spiegel
- Tank! (TV Edit) – Opening titles
- Doggy Dog – Session title, plays through until "Big Shot"
- American Money – "Big Shot"
- Pot City – The Bebop crew search for clues
- Piano Black – Chessmaster Hex, and again when the Bebop heads for the space junkyard
- Kabutoga ni kodai no sakana – Spike & Faye search for Hex
- Waltz for Zizi – Chessmaster Hex beats Edward
- The Real Folk Blues – Closing titles
- Piano Bar II – Preview for My Funny Valentine
Themes and Motifs
- Cigarettes: At the Gate Corporation CEO's Office Jet is asked to put out his cigarette. Again at the Gate Corporation's parking garage, Jet is seen smoking in a non-smoking area.
Homages and References
- The Chess matches portrayed in this episode are famous matches from history:
- Bohemian Rhapsody is a song by the English rock band Queen from their 1975 album A Night at the Opera.