Brain Scratch is the 23rd episode or "session" of Cowboy Bebop.
- Dai Soto
- Spike Spiegel
- Jet Black
- Faye Valentine
- TV Host A
- TV Host B
- House Wife
- Hiroshi Takeuchi (Studio Live)
Mechanical Animation Director:
- Masami Goto
SCRATCH, the migrate to electronics movement, has gained minor popularity with its teachings on the destiny of humanity, which the group believes will be to leave their bodies and join the "infinite sea of electrons". Spike is watching a CBC Action News profile on the group in a piece which tells of their radical views and their leader, Dr. Londes and efforts by the ISSP and the Solar System Police to investigate the group. On another channel, Samantha Copeland introduces a piece called "Insane Order!: SCRATCH" which attempts to evaluate the rapid growth of the group, and on even another channel, News Close Up, a news anchor explains that SCRATCH use brain wave control devices from the video game, Brain Dream, to analyze their own brain waves and copy their consciousness into a digital form, which Dr. Londes believes allows his followers to exist outside their own bodies. Dr. David Levinsonn, a professor from Mars University School of Medicine as part of the Department of Neurosurgery doubts Dr. Londes' methods, dismissing it as pure science fiction. Before shutting off the TV, Spike sees Faye on a talk show discussing SCRATCH and saying that she has joined the group as a last-ditch effort to escape her debt, since without a body she will have no need for money.
After informing Jet that Faye has joined a cult, the two investigate and discover that the leader of SCRATCH, Dr. Londes, has a bounty of 38 million woolongs due to a charge of murder. They also discover that of the 20,000 followers of SCRATCH, about 100 members have committed suicide.
Meanwhile, on Mars, Faye has not actually joined the cult but is actually attempting to claim the bounty on Dr. Londes for herself. She reaches a seemingly abandoned room, but then discovers dead bodies and a lot of TV screens which suddenly turn on. She senses danger and runs, but her vision somehow becomes blurry.
As Edward tries to hack Londes' whereabouts, Jet tracks down Londes' old research colleagues and Spike talks to the SCRATCH recruiters. However, they each come up dry as the SCRATCH members all claim that Londes has left his physical form and the colleague is too old to focus on Jet's questions. Even Big Shot can't report any new information, and, in fact, the show is being cancelled for low ratings. They regroup on the Bebop when Faye contacts them. She oddly appears disoriented, babbling about getting rid of her debts before the communication cuts out.
Jet orders Spike to track down Faye while he goes to buy a Brain Dream device as a last ditch effort to locate Londes. Jet accesses the SCRATCH website through the Brain Dream device, but it won't allow him to delve any further unless he joins the group. Edward fabricates an identity of "Marshall Banana" for Jet, and he enters the inner workings of the website. As the website plays a video of Dr. Londes elaborating on the beliefs of SCRATCH, Ein oddly becomes restless, barking at the video. Suddenly, Jet begins to fall unconscious and Ein bites him, hard. Jet jumps up and removes the Brain Dream device, stopping the upload of his consciousness.
Jet discovers that the SCRATCH program uses a high-frequency pulse to paralyze the sympathetic nervous system for some unknown purpose. Still intent on using the SCRATCH website to locate Londes, Ed and Jet try to access the system again, this time using Ein as the test subject. Ein completely takes control as the program restarts, using the false name "Gina Szanboti" and even bypassing the normal screens. Jet compliments Ed, but she is shocked as she's not doing anything. Soon, they find out that Dr. Londes is not actually a real person. All of his background information and history were entirely fabricated. The origin of the false identity points to Alles Valley Hospice on Mars. Jet forms a plan and drags Ed along with him. They go to the hospice disguised as father and daughter and bluff their way into the building.
Meanwhile, Spike takes the Swordfish II to the area Faye went. He eventually finds the same room Faye is in and discovers her unconscious. The televisions turn on and the disembodied voice of Dr. Londes addresses Spike, claiming that he just put Faye into a deep sleep, his preferred method for warding off bounty hunters. Spike demands that Londes reveal himself, but the voice reveals that he is just a character invented as a way to control people. He declares he's not forcing anything on people, since people want to believe in either him or God.
In the hospice, Ed and Jet discover a young boy on life support who is controlling the "Dr. Londes" voice and is the creator of the program. Ed accesses the program and begins to shut it down while Jet turns on a screen to see Londes' communication.
Londes then argues to Spike that television is a religion, and therefore has an ability to influence and control the population. As he talks, Spike begins to grow tired, pleasing Londes. He tries to stave off the effects of the voice by shooting out the television screens, but he soon falls to his knee. However, suddenly, Spike realizes Londes' nature and accuses the voice of simply being a kid with a toy. This startles Londes, who replies that Spike doesn't know anything about him. Then, Londes gets startled by something else – Ed is shutting his system down. As it does so, "Londes" becomes very fearful, exclaiming that it was unfair and that he just wanted everyone else to experience the same existence as he was experiencing.
Once the "Londes" program has been shut down, Jet discovers the true identity of "Londes", Rosny Spanngen, a young hacker that had fallen into a vegetative state due to a medical accident two years ago at the age of 13. Jet arrests Spanngen, placing handcuffs on his comatose body. Faye wakes up alongside Spike, curious as to where she is. Jet and Ed leave the hospice, having decided not to turn Spanngen in. Jet surmises that since all Spanngen could do was dream, his dreams eventually turned dark. Edward looks back at the building and wishes for Spanngen to only have sweet dreams from now on.
- Main article: Memorable Quotes from Cowboy Bebop#Brain Scratch
If you want to dream, dream alone. —Spike Spiegel
- Tank! (TV Edit) – Opening titles
- 23 Hanashi – Video manifesto for SCRATCH
- "Hip-Hop Bebop" – [Unreleased] Session card
- "CBC Action News Theme" – [Unreleased] Theme for the TV news broadcast
- "Insane Order! SCRATCH" – [Unreleased] Horror music for the SCRATCH video
- Telephone Shopping – TV advert
- "Brain Dream" – [Unreleased] TV advert for the Brain Dream game console
- "Banned Broadcast" – [Unreleased] The TV station with broadcast policies so strict they're breaching their own policy by even broadcasting they have a policy not to broadcast it
- 23 Hanashi – Video manifesto for SCRATCH
- The Egg and You – Jet, Spike and Ed each search for Londis in their own inimitable ways
- American Money – "Big Shot" axed!
- "Funk" – [Unreleased James Brown-esque song, possibly library music] Jet patiently queues up at the toy store for a Brain Dream of his very own
- 23 Hanashi – Jet risks watching the SCRATCH manifesto, luckily Ein has the danger figured out; and later, Spike talks to the "Londis" TV pyramid. The track plays through until the closing titles
- The Real Folk Blues – Closing titles
- Wo Qui Non Coin(Ed's hummed version) – Preview for Hard Luck Woman
Homages and references
- Heaven's Gate was a cult whose members committed mass suicide in 1997 during the appearance of the Comet Hale-Bopp. S.C.R.A.T.C.H draws comparisons to this cult in that both groups sought to prematurely end their lives in order to begin a new life promised to them by their leader.
- "Sea of electrons" is a chemistry term, used to describe the behavior of electrons in metallic bonding. Metallic bonding is the way atoms of the transition metals bond, as opposed to ionic bonding and covalent bonding, the bonding types of ions and molecules, respectively.
- There is an ad for a Tomb Raider-like game in the video game shop with a cut out of series protagonist, Lara Croft.
- The consequences of having your mind live on the internet and use it for damage is similar to the Puppet Master in Ghost in the Shell.
- The controllers in the brain dream commercial are the Famicom, Super Famicom, Sega Mega Drive and PlayStation 1 controllers.