I have read SO many people who think that once he killed Vicious, Spike had nothing left to do. His life was over, so he was going to die. This kind of contradicts what Spike told Faye as he was leaving “I’m not going there to die. I’m going to see if I’m really alive.” And of course, we all know he found out he was very much alive – what he thought he killed when he “died” three years earlier was very much living and breathing.
For months, I’ve been wondering where that belief came from that Spike’s life was over when he killed Vicious. The only thing I can think of was the story of the “Tiger Striped Cat” that he told Jet in Real Folk Blues part 2. He had come back to the bebop after Jet’s conversation with Bull asking for something to eat. Jet feeds him, and as he finishes the meal, he tells Jet the story of the tiger striped cat, who kept dying and coming back to life. The cat had had a number of lives and had been owned by people he didn’t care for. Then he met a white cat, they fell in love, had many years together in happiness until the white cat died. The tiger striped cat cried a million times then died. Never to be reborn. Jet likes the story, Spike hates it “I hate cats.”
Watching that and listening to what he’s saying (more like reading the subtitles ), It sounded more to me like Spike was leaving the Bebop and was telling Jet he wasn’t coming back. To say that Spike was going there to die because he had nothing left – nothing left to live for – is reading a lot into the story, perhaps more than should be read into it. I think this is true keeping mind what he told Faye. Jet seemed to understand what Spike was saying, for as Spike stood up to leave he asked him if it was “for the woman,” thinking Spike found Julia and wanted to run off with her instead of hunting bounties with him. Of course, Julia was dead and he told Jet.
It was not a happy parting of ways (assuming Spike didn’t return to the Bebop at some point after his work with Vicious was done). “Real Folk Blues,” the song that ended most of the sessions is a sad song that talks about ‘real sadness’ so one would get the idea that Cowboy Bebop wasn’t necessarily going to end happily. Heck, just the end of Cowboy Bebop alone was sad enough! It’s always sad when friends part ways, especially on shows where we get attached to the people and their friendship. For those who think they saw Spike die at the end, it was sadder still!
Spike didn’t go to die, and he didn’t. The story was over and done. Complete. I like to speculate, and so much was left unsaid, we can speculate all we want on what happens next. THAT story is over, but I have to say it pleases me to think Spike went back to the Bebop afterwards. It works for me, but your mileage may vary.