Relatively straightforward plot-wise, but still incredibly powerful and effective in the moods it inspires, "Asteroid Blues" has to be the best pilot of any series I've watched to date. It's a great package that helps introduce us to some of Bebop's recurring motifs, like Spike's cocky recklessness, the Bebop crew never having enough to eat, the melding together of influences from different cultures in the show's mise-en-scène, the excellent, heavy directorial style courtesy of Shinichiro Watanabe, and of course, those old guys popping up everywhere.
Besides that, you get excellent choreography in the action scenes here, be it gunplay or hand-to-hand, with the red-tinted, slow-motion, point-of-view stuff in the first shoot-out standing out as particularly impressive. Finally, "Asteroid Blues" has something personal and meaningful for us with the sense of doom, of inescapable, inevitable tragedy hanging over Asimov/Katerina, and with the way Spike seems to be personally upset by their tragedy at the end, gives this session a strong emotional punch, letting us know that Bebop won't just be some dumb little "cartoon". The dark, intriguing montage at the beginning showing us glimpses of Spike's past is just the cherry on top of a very large, very tasty sundae.
Muzak: We get a nice musicbox version of the "Adieu" melody at the beginning (the first of a number of times we hear this motif in the series), lots of nice, relaxed, dusty harmonica/acoustic guitar work throughout that fits the mood of the ep perfectly, "Rush" during Spike/Asimov's fight scene, which is a lot of fun, and the sad saxophone-driven "Road To The West", which I love. Plus, it's the first episode where we get to hear Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts' kick-ass "Tank!" theme, plus "The Real Folk Blues". Awesome music all around.
Best line: "Adios..."
Best moment: Watching Katerina's corpse floating back down to earth after she's been riddled with bullets, with the Red Eye vials slowly spilling out of her dress. That was the real clincher for me on the night of September 2nd, 2001 (its first U.S. airing), the point when I just knew that this show was something really, really, special. It just fucking sent shivers up and down my 13 year-old spine. Nuff said.
Final score: A+
See you space cowboy...