Who is Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV? Throughout the whole series, we’ve seen Edward as a kooky but happy young girl. The fact that she was living on her own when the crew first encountered her was strange, but she seemed to be doing well enough on her own that it went unquestioned. So when we finally see why she was on her own, her story immediately changes from funny to tragic. My distate for Ed has not gone unsaid in these reviews, but “Hard Luck Woman” makes it all worth it.
Much of the series has been about how to address the past and whether or not it is worth obsessing over. Much like in “Jupiter Jazz,” “Hard Luck Woman” examines how far some would go to recapture the past. Spike and Jet spend most of the episode off to the side as Faye and Ed search for their own pasts. Faye has been spending her nights watching the Beta tape from “Speak Like a Child,” desperately trying to remember her past and looking for clues in the tape about where it was shot. When Ed tells her that she knows where a certain lion-shaped fountain featured in the video is located, Faye changes the Bebop’s course and heads to Earth. They take off in the Redtail, with Ed strapped to the hull, and begin their hunt.
Before long, Ed reveals that she has taken them on a detour so they can visit an orphanage she spent time in. While there, the nun in charge states that Ed just came in one day and acted like she’d always been there, then, some time later, disappeared. She likened Ed to a cat, reinforcing the fact that despite her naivety and innocence, she can certainly handle herself. The nun also gives Ed a small hologram of her father, and said that he was looking for her, thus setting in motion Ed’s desire to fully reconnect with her past. To her, the orphanage was a nice place to stop off and get food, but she had no ties to it. But the chance to reconnect with her father triggers something in her. She holds up her end of the bargain with Faye and takes her to the fountain, then returns to the ship to begin searching for her dad.
Faye, meanwhile, encounters an elderly woman who claims to remember her from when she was in school. She comments on how Faye looks exactly the same as she did before the accident, and initially thought Faye was a ghost, stating that ghosts are known to appear in places where they have regrets. Later, in the shower, Faye’s memories come flooding back and utterly destroy her as the person we knew her as. All of the cynicism and anger melt away, and all that remains is a scared woman trying to get back to where she was before she lost everything. For once, she doesn’t have a snarky comment when Jet or Spike yell at her, and she even manages to eke out a soft “I’m sorry” to Spike, which really throws him for a loop. She decides that it’s time for her to stop running away from life and finally go where she “belongs.” As she leaves, she encourages Ed to do the same, saying that belonging somewhere is the best feeling one can experience.
Unfortunately, for both women, it’s not to be. Throughout the episode, we see Ed’s father, Appledelhi, traveling across the planet in an amphibious off-road vehicle to sites of meteor impacts. He and a partner conduct landscape surveys to redraw maps of Earth after every major meteor hit, and it is the only thing he can focus on. He can’t remember his assistant’s name, and never considers looking for his child until Ed appears before him during the climax. Spike and Jet track him down after seeing a 50 million wulong bounty on his head, and Ed follows in the Bebop. Appledelhi is initially overjoyed to see his daughter (or his son, he can’t quite recall), but his true love calls when a meteor strikes the planet miles away. As he leaves the Bebop crew in the dust, Jet and Spike can barely believe what they just saw, while Ed looks absolutely heartbroken.
Both Faye an Ed learn through tragedy that you can’t go home again (Faye learns this in pretty much the most literal way imaginable). For the most fleeting of instants, they each thought they could finally recapture the past and be with people who wanted them around, instead of living amongst people who could barely stand each other and spent most of their time struggling to eat. But while Ed realized that her only way forward was to forge a new path and seek out a new life wherever it may come, Faye gave up and spent the night in the ruins of her family’s home. Meanwhile, Jet and Spike sat in silence in the Bebop’s common room, with the status quo restored to what it was in “Asteroid Blues,” something they each claimed at some point to want. With Faye, Ed, and Ein (who left with Ed) gone, they could get back to the dynamic they had when the series began. The last thing we see is a pinwheel, given by Ed to Spike, taped to the bow of the ship. Spike and Jet do what they can to hold on to what they’ve lost, even if all they can do is make a shrine to their memories.
Up next: We see violent images, with Jet getting shot and syndicate members coming after both Spike and Vicious. Jet narrates that everything that begins must end, and that all we can do is accept that. He discusses the nature of humanity, ending as a scene of Spike and Julia meeting in a cemetery is played.