When I first started watching Waltz For Venus, I had a feeling I was going to hate this episode. It starts off with a simple bounty where Spike shows off why he's a bad ass by beating the crap out of some targets. That's all fine and dandy until we meet Roco Bonnaro. He's a plucky guy with a plant that can cure his sister's blindness. He also comes off like an annoying Jar Jar Binks type side kick. I mean just look at this guy.
But then we're introduced to Stella, Roco's sister who has been blinded thanks to the effects of living on Venus. Stella has a genuine kindness about her that shows with her interactions with Spike. However, it's not her kindness that shines in the episode, it's actually Spikes. Up until this point, five episodes in, you never really get a sense if Spike is a "good guy." You get the sense that he's charismatic and a bad ass, likable, sure, but you don't get the sense if he has any morals. All of that is taken up by Jet up until this point.
It's in this episode that you see a sympathetic Spike, a Spike that does the right thing. He's given seedlings that could be sold for ten times the bounties that he normally takes in, but in the end he throws it away in order to help Stella cure her blindness. It's these rare moments that you see Spike's humanity when you think it's been taken away by Vicious.
Roco is also another key point in the episode. Although he starts off on a bad foot, eventually you start to sympathize with him. I'm normally not a fan of feeling bad for people who cause their own rotten situations, but with Roco, you get the sense that he is a good guy who just has some bad luck. He wants to help his sister. He's a grey character who wants to do the right thing, and he could have easily fit in with Bebop's band of misfits.
Alas, it's not meant to be. I'm not going to say what happens, but this episode ties up nicely with some really lasting shots accompanied by a great score behind it.
I think in the end this episode sums up Spike as a character well. His conversation with Stella and ambivalence afterwards is a good characterization of what he's about, a flawed hero who understands his lot in life but is willing to do what he can to stay away from the dark past that follows him.