“You know the first rule of combat? Shoot them before they shoot you.” Faye’s got the secret to surviving life figured out and it involves lying, cheating and stealing as much as you can from the other guy before he does it to you. She’s adept with her Glock 30 pistol, her Redtail ship and in hand-to-hand combat but Faye’s real weapon is attitude. If she’s not two-timing you she’s probably cutting you with her biting sarcasm. Or even more dangerously, using her sex appeal to get what she wants.
Of course this is only half of the equation. What I really love about Faye is that she’s a contradiction. Strong but emotionally vulnerably, greedy but only because she’s in so much debt, and unable to trust people but needs companionship more than she’d ever admit. Faye can’t remember a thing about her past and this is one of the rare occasions where giving a character amnesia actually greatly adds to the story instead of being a dumb, overused plot device. After all, it brought us one of the best episodes of Cowboy Bebop: Hard Luck Woman.
ghostlightning: The above paragraph and all sorts of goodness is brought to us today by the avatar of Faye, East Anyhow’s Lbrevis. Together we take on Faye, who’s got enough moves for two writers to take on.
What is your favorite Faye Valentine ‘moment’?
Lbrevis: Episode 5 “Ballad of Fallen Angels” when lured by a large bounty she gets involved with the Red Dragon Syndicate. She waltzes straight into an opera house to find their boss without realizing just how much danger she’s in. Naturally it all goes terribly wrong but her bravery, or stupidity as it may be, is still impressive. She does the whole thing with style too, from haughtily flipping her keys to the valet and telling him to park her ship (bad move, he tips off the syndicate) to getting all dressed up for the occasion.
ghostlightning: Episode 26 “The Real Folk Blues 2” when she was trapped, finally. She never took the time to think about what her friends on the Bebop, and Spike meant to her. Now she knows that Spike is leaving for good. She shoots at him repeatedly, but never really at him, within the confines of the Bebop’s hull. The moment really shows how limited her range is when it comes to being with people. Her weakness adds so much to her charm for me. And without feeling, Spike tells her what he’s really setting out to do. And that’s what we’re left of her.
What do you think is her crowning moment of awesome?
Lbrevis: Faye’s dogfight against Spike after she steals Spike and Jet’s bounty who just happens to be her former boyfriend Whitney. Although she loses pretty fast we get to see that what’s really important to her, more than any money in the world, is finding out about her past. It’s a desperate, selfish move but I can’t help loving her recklessness and the softer side that shines through right before she grabs Whitney by the collar and starts demanding answers.
ghostlightning: I find it difficult to pick out a singular moment of awesome for Faye, because part of what makes her awesome for me is how vulnerable she comes across. Even when she talks smack or acts tough, you can sense that something’s off, that she’s not all there.
In Episode 25 “The Real Folk Blues Part 1” Faye comes to the aid of a striking blonde lady, someone who gave her the impression of being ordinary but made her contradict herself: “a kind of dangerous beautiful ordinary that you just can’t leave alone… Like an angel from the underworld or a devil from paradise.”
And in that moment she met her match in a battle that she didn’t even know she was in. Julia carried herself with a beauty that makes Faye’s diminished. Faye looks skanky and cheap right next to her; even Julia’s story just seems more tragic than hers.
And she can’t help herself but stop and help her, as if trying to get her approval – which she did, because she is awesome. But then Faye is confronted with thoughts that she was too lazy to entertain: Spike loves this woman, and Faye never really thought about how she felt about Spike.
Why is she so damn hot?
Lbrevis: Is it the hot pants? It’s the hot pants isn’t it. That and the fact that she’s a real woman who has a gun and is not afraid to use it. She’s sexy but dangerous.
ghostlightning: Beyond her voluptuousness, Faye is so screwed up and yet guttily tries to fix herself up inside. I don’t think it ever really works, but is this… moe?
Lbrevis: I don’t even want to know what can of worms you’ve just opened but if people suddenly start referring to Bebop as a moe show I’ll know who to blame.
Is Spike so stupid not to have done it with her at least once?
Lbrevis: No because it would’ve seriously messed up the crew’s dynamics and since his heart was stuck on Julia he couldn’t have given her his full attention anyway. That said, if Charlie Parker had come to him in a dream and urged him to do it…
ghostlightning: Yes, he’s stupid. Faye is so damn hot. If he did however, it won’t mean he isn’t stupid for the reason Lbrevis pointed out; but he’s definitely stupid for passing on Faye. BUT, for this unresolved sexual tension their particular story takes on a romantic tragic hue – no matter how faint it appears in the narrative. I think I like it very much.
What track from the OSTs do you think suits her best?
Lbrevis: “Call Me Call Me” is forever associated in my mind with Faye’s most tragic moment but I think I have to go with “Cosmic Dare (Pretty With a Pistol)“. It’s the track playing over the radio when she’s flying her Redtail in the beginning of the movie. Considering the title and the singer’s voice I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was written with Faye in mind.
ghostlightning: Argh, I can’t agree more. Hmm, apart from this I’d go with “Want it All Back .” It evokes an image of Faye with a loser boyfriend. Which makes me think about Faye (and the rest of the crew) as losers, but the kind you just love.
Both of us have this attraction for Faye; she’s the designated fanservice character in the show but there’s more to her than that. That said, Cowboy Bebop just doesn’t club you with how serious or dramatic, or deep her character is. It’s a snapshot of sadness, and her image stays with us still.