|Number of episodes||10 (Episodes 53 – 63)|
Man oh man oh man oh man OH MAN OH MAN OH MAAAAAAN!
Samurai Jack, Season 5. Holy shit. When I first saw the trailer, my inner child shat bricks.
Samurai Jack began airing in late 2001 on Cartoon Network, after creator Genndy Tartakovsky had himself well established with Dexter’s Laboratory. It ran for four seasons up until late 2004, where the series ended on an anti-climactic note. And mysteriously, we got no more new episodes.
In 2002, we were promised a whole Samurai Jack movie after Cartoon Network tried to give its most popular series at the time their own feature-length movies. But because The Powerpuff Girls Movie barely got its money back from the box office during the same year (despite the TV show’s popularity), the movie didn’t get the greenlight. But eventually, the greenlight did happen in 2006. So we waited and waited and waited and waited…
Sadly, the movie never came. We got comics as a continuation (which are now considered non-canon) and Tartakovsky finally confirmed that the movie didn’t make it. But then… that trailer happened with the tagline:
Jack is Back.
I… AGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! MYYYY HEEAAAAAAAARRRRRTTT!!!!!!
Season 5. Not just a return of a great series back on Cartoon Network, but a transition to an older audience. That’s right, the kid’s gloves are off now. We’re viewing Samurai Jack on [adult swim]. Bloodier, darker, badass… er… This was one of my favorite cartoons of my childhood, so I am really happy to see it’s finally getting a true conclusion.
Okay, I am writing this portion while Genndy and his wife Dawn were performing their live Q&A. I could have sworn the first caller just said, “GTFO,” with a crappy microphone as a salty response. And I heard another girl say, “Aku spinoff when?” Do people English anymore?
And so comes 9:30 PM of 3/11/17, where [adult swim] livestreams a marathon of the season premiere. And so, I shall do my duty as an “unprofessional” to review Season 5. And my reviewing style: FULL of spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the episodes yet, get the hell out of here and WATCH THEM. Or if you don’t care or have already watched them, keep reading.
For those who have already seen the teaser footage of Season 5, you will be seeing some familiar stuff. A family of emoji aliens was attacked by Aku’s beetle drones until a masked badass with a motorcycle comes charging in and wrecks their shit. This segment is well animated and the masked warrior demonstrates some really impressive choreography, until the final reveal that he is a much older Samurai Jack. But not exactly the Jack we knew, but a much more tech savvy and jaded Jack who can now use modern weaponry. For fifty years, he had been stuck in Aku’s futuristic world.
So Jack saves the alien family and goes on his merry way. Then we get a series of sub-plots: Jack losing his sanity due to his strong guilt in failing his destiny (possibly caused by a third party), a cultist band of seven women assassins being raised specifically to kill Jack, Jack having lost his trusty Infinity -1 sword, and a battle between Jack and “Aku’s most favorite assassin, babe.”
There is certainly a lot going on. But strangely enough, the minimal exposition and brilliant visual storytelling make it pretty easy to gain context from what is going on, even if you haven’t watched the previous episodes of the series.
The imagery in this episode is noticeably darker than we’ve seen in typical past Samurai Jack episodes. There’s a sequence where a woman gives birth to SEVEN babies while she screams bloody murder. Multiple sequences where Jack is haunted by the ghosts of his parents, children and villagers from his homeland. A series of child abuse scenes where young girls are being beaten by this gigantic masked woman. Even scenes where women were impaled in the head by arrows.
Okay, my final thoughts: HOLY FUCKING SHIT THAT WAS SO HARDCORE!
Jack’s emotional turmoil is real here. Those hallucinations are some top notch grim dark stuff.
Furthermore, the action sequences and fighting choreography are noticeably more creative this time around. There was the beginning fight sequence with the beetle drones and the battle between Jack and that Swedish/Danish/some-sort-of-Scandinavian robot assassin named Scaramouche the Merciless. Though it’s unfortunate he doesn’t last long, Scaramouche is quite an entertaining villain and a welcome throwback to past hammy villains in the series.
And of course, we got the subplot of the women cult worshiping Aku as a god, simply known as the Cult of Aku. And the cult raised seven nearly identical women to become assassins specifically trained to kill Samurai Jack, given the name of the Daughters of Aku. It’s definitely some creepy stuff and it builds up interest for the following episodes to come.
However, I am rather confused by one thing. If the lives of those women assassins occurred for the entirety of the episode, that would mean some super-aging process is going on. They literally began as babies at the beginning of the episode and ended as fully grown adults at the end. I am rather curious to what this all means.
Overall, Season 5 is off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what happens next. So sing this with me…
JACK IS BACK! JACK IS BACK! JACK IS BACK!
The episode begins with the big bad Aku waking up from his sleep. Literally, he had an alarm clock set up. He even had to take out his GREAT, FLAMING EYEBROWS and put them on like a pair of glasses. I guess even the Shogun of Sorrow would get back problems eventually from years of resting in a pit.
It’s definitely one of the most mundane and surreal scenes we’ve seen from Aku yet. Through talking (to himself), we learned that Aku had personally destroyed all of the time portals in the world to seal off Jack’s fate. Despite that, Aku knew the Samurai was still wandering the earth, which still bothers him. Through some temporal anomaly, Jack doesn’t age normally, which is why he still remained in peak fighting condition after fifty years.
Meanwhile, Jack is out having a drive and ends up getting ambushed by the largest beetle drone yet. Which he kills in seconds. Really comes to show how incompetent those things are.
But Jack has bigger fish to fry. He walks into another ambush, this time set by the seven Daughters of Aku. Clearly, their training had paid off as they managed to destroy Jack’s armor and weapons with superhuman precision.
While Jack goes into hiding, he has a debate with his past self, who is fed up with staying in the future timeline. Yes, even Jack is talking to himself like Aku did earlier—though we were already convinced that Jack is “not all there” from the last episode. The older Jack tries to convince himself that his opponents are “just nuts and bolts,” so he moves out of his hiding place to confront his assassins.
So through an extended chase sequence, Jack flees to a temple during a stormy day. The Daughters of Aku spread out to try and find him. This is easily one of the most intense sequences in the show yet. His assassins were so close in nabbing him, yet barely missing him.
And holy shit! He actually killed one of them, by slicing her throat! Up until this point, Jack killed off robots and supernatural beings with extreme prejudice, and only managed to injure organic beings.
Jack, using Scaramouche’s explosive dagger from the last episode, manages to cover his own escape. But the Daughter he killed managed to stick a dagger into his stomach, and Jack floats away on a river while his blood spreads out.
There was also a subplot of a white wolf (who most likely represents Jack himself) fighting off a pack of large alien beasts (possibly the Daughters of Aku). By the end of the episode, the wolf and the beasts are lying on the ground, drenched in a puddle of blood.
Man. Talk about a shift in tone. It’s really weird seeing Aku not being in the antagonistic spotlight, being reduced a downtrodden spectator who hadn’t met his arch-nemesis for a long time. At this point in the series, the Cult of Aku seems to be the more antagonistic force out there. A group of female worshipers who probably don’t receive any direct acknowledgement from Aku himself. And they weren’t alien or machine either. They’re human.
And just for the fact that they were human and never took orders from Aku himself, as well as brainwashing several women that Jack is pure evil since their childhood, the twisted nature speaks for itself.
That whole chase sequence was beautifully animated and well paced. It’s actually quite rare to see Jack being on the run rather than being on the battlefield. If his allies were in trouble, he would stay behind and help them. If his enemies were giving him trouble, he would usually stand his ground and pull off a miracle to win his battles. He rarely enters a full retreat.
But this time, Jack’s life was in serious danger and he did whatever he could to survive. Even though he’s ageless, he is still mortal. It’s to the point where he ended up killing another human, which he never did in the past seasons. After all, he was specifically raised to be the hope for mankind and to be the one to purge the ultimate evil. In any other circumstance, he would never take a life of another human being.
So yes, this episode is phenomenal. It’s one of the few times where Jack meets his match to the point where he doesn’t really “win,” but just leave within an inch of his life. And again, that whole temple sequence was just fun to watch.
There are only eight episodes left of this? Damn it. I have a feeling that I’m going to be wanting more after we’re through with this season.
Jack floats down a river while he leaves behind a trail of blood. We get a lot of ambiance and we don’t see any type of action until a random frog pops up onto the log he’s latched on and shouts, “They’re coming!” I have to admit, I didn’t expect that tiny bit of strangeness to happen.
Jack eventually comes to a stop somewhere in a forest, but his dagger wound is wearing him down. He sees a vision of a horseman clad in samurai armor and deer antlers while carrying a flag. For quite some time, we’ve been seeing this strange character in Season 5. We still don’t know if Jack is hallucinating this creature or if it was real. It seems to pop up whenever Jack shows guilt, which is possibly connected to him losing his sword.
After Jack finds shelter in a cave, he slowly and painfully pulls the dagger out of his body. Seriously, it’s hard to watch…
But he doesn’t stop beating himself up right there. No, he begins to hallucinate his past self (now distorted into a more twisted being) talking him down for killing a human being in the previous episode. The past Jack brings up a legit point: either the old Jack will have to kill the remaining six Daughters of Aku or he can just give himself up and be done with his life.
Throughout the season, it was implied that Jack was suicidal. All this hopelessness to defeat his arch-nemesis and return home were pushing him into the brink of despair. The idea of Jack performing seppuku on himself would most definitely cause our childhoods to cry in the corner.
The next morning, Jack hears something entering his cave. It turns out to be the white wolf that we’ve seen from the last episode, also covered in blood just as Jack is. Then we get a short flashback of Jack’s childhood, of his father slaughtering a band of assassins who were once out to get him. Even a big ol’ blood splatter across little Jack’s eyes. You know, for good measure.
Old Jack finds materials for a makeshift stitch and he ends up sharing his shelter with the white wolf. This is a strangely interesting part of the episode. The two share food, the wolf licks Jack’s blood off, and they share body warmth for a night. I mean, it’s not like Jack is taming the wolf but it’s refreshing to see him with an ally for once in this season. Considering Jack had remained in the future for fifty years, it’s quite likely that his old allies and friends from the previous seasons of the series are either too old to fight or already dead.
Jack gets another flashback with his father, who tells him some important advice.
The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you are. You cannot hide from yourself.
The next morning, Jack and the wolf part ways, both sharing a mutual look of exhaustion and resignation. Jack realizes what he must do and prepares himself for the upcoming battle.
We see the Daughters of Aku back on the hunt, after giving their dead sister a resting place. They use Jack’s trail of blood to track him down, until they hear a strange noise in the woods. We get to see an interesting side to these ladies: after witnessing a male and female deer showing affection for one another, it both disturbs and confuses the Daughters. It’s pretty sad when you think about it. They never experienced real love from the Cult of Aku, especially their own mother.
Eventually, the Daughters hear Jack’s voice, who warns them to leave or face their deaths. The Daughters refuse to leave, and MAN they should wish they did. Jack manages to ambush them, killing off two of them with throwing spears.
After all this suspense, we get to see some glorious action. Jack takes the life of three more assassins, leaving only one with the kusarigama weapon. Jack kicks off her mask, revealing her to be Ashi (the only known named assassin). What we get next is this amusing little scene where Ashi pretty much tells Jack to KYS in this hate-filled, tantrum-like fit. And well, Jack is too tired of her shit to even care at this point so he lets her fall to her doom. But Jack also falls from a high place, leading to a cliffhanger ending.
Alright, so this is the most quiet episode so far in Season 5. If anything, much of this episode is about Jack’s self-reflection and how he should conduct himself as a warrior from now on.
I remember some fans saying that the wolf scenes in Episode XCIII were a bit heavy-handed to work in some symbolism of Jack and the assassins, though we actually get to see Jack and the wolf meet in this episode. While they’re not quite “friends,” they are both determined to continue living and are willing to help each other. It’s possible that they may meet again.
This also ties well with the flashbacks, where young Jack witnessed his father killing a band of assassins. His father took the lives of other humans in order to protect his family and himself. So Jack realizes that no matter how difficult the task may be, he must survive for himself. This gives him the willpower to pretty much turn the tables on the Daughters of Aku.
As predicted by fans, Ashi is the only one in the group to survive and she may share some interactions with Jack in the near future. I feel like Tartakovsky is expecting our exact reactions, as this episode made a nudge to the fact that Jack would never willingly take the life of a human being. I am truly interested on how the chemistry between Jack and Ashi would turn out, seeing as how Ashi was raised to despise Jack’s very existence.
Not the most exciting episode. But overall, it’s nice to see Jack regaining his composure and coming into terms with his current situation. Only time will tell at this point. Where will Jack go next? Now that he’s got the assassins off his back, his world of possibilities was open once again.
Okay, so I haven’t updated this page in a while. I got a little busy with life (plus a game review to work on), so I hadn’t been paying attention to Samurai Jack in a while. By the time I’m writing this, Episode XCVI aired already. So I’m a couple of episodes behind.
And of course, I wasn’t happy with the April Fool’s “prank” by [adult swim], where they just aired a mini-marathon of the Rick and Morty season 3 premiere. As much as I liked Rick and Morty, there’s nothing funny about messing with regular programming just for a lame “joke.” I know [adult swim] had been doing this sort of thing for years and they loved rubbing it in your face, so I rolled my eyes when I found out that they still hadn’t grown out of that. I didn’t have cable for a few years, so…
Alright, enough about myself and [adult swim]. Let’s shut up and watch Samurai Jack.
Jack manages to survive his fall from his battle with the Daughters of Aku. He discovers a trail of blood leading to Ashi’s body, believing her to be ded. He begins to hallucinate the local crows calling him, “Murderer!”, as if we suddenly transitioned to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. NEVERMORE! NEVERMORE!
However, the bloody corpse thing turns out to be a trap and Ashi attempts to take Jack’s life again. Of course, she doesn’t stand a chance and Jack uses her own weapon to keep her in the ropes. Or in this case, chains.
Ashi once again throws a tantrum, with all the name-calling and how her opponent is evil and blah blah blah. It’s like reading YouTube comments. And Jack gives her a fitting description:
You are very troubled and very confused.
And also hilariously childish.
But an enormous worm-like beast suddenly rises from the ground—and I do mean suddenly—and swallows them both. It’s around this point where Jack tries to change Ashi’s behavior for the better, though she keeps trying to throw him under the bus. Despite that, Jack refuses to let her die and manages to carry her unconscious body away from danger.
Ashi has a dream of her mother scolding her and wakes up to Jack talking to thin air. Oddly enough, her reaction is one of indifference. In Jack’s reality, he’s talking to a ball of dust with a face and his past self. After saving Ashi from danger yet again, Jack has to put up with her incessant bitching and rabid preaching of her Aku fetish. It’s like a fundamentalist Christian trying to convince an atheist that God is real and forgiving, while screaming at the top of their lungs that God will damn them to Hell for all eternity.
Then a “storm” of needles and we’re treated to an awkward scene of Jack picking out needles from the both of them. He tries to make conversation with Ashi, but she only repays him with pouting silence.
They finally locate an exit and attempt to use one of the flying creatures to escape, but a six-eyed fish demon attacks them. This is probably the closest thing we’ll see Jack fighting off mutant deep-sea creatures.
After a struggle, Jack and Ashi escape the beast and end up being out at the vast sea. While resting, Ashi takes the opportunity to try to kill Jack yet again, but decides to spare him after seeing a ladybug pass by. She has a flashback of her mother once taking a ladybug and squashing it, seeing it as nothing more than distraction to her mission and “not part of Aku’s order.”
Ashi watches the ladybug land on Jack and he lets it go. And that concludes the episode.
This is by far my least favorite episode of the season, though that is not to say it’s a bad episode. To quote Jack:
Even in the bowels of the darkest of creatures, there is beautiful light.
This is a visually beautiful episode with lots of color contrasts, simulating different environments in the belly of the beast. It’s also by far the most quiet episode of the season, showing little in the ways of action and more silent wonder.
The relationship between Jack and Ashi is pretty much exactly what I expected. Jack tries to correct Ashi’s behavior and she replies with, “KYS!” And this remained consistent throughout the whole episode. Ashi appears to be beyond salvation, even after Jack saved her life. But by the end of the episode, we could at least infer that Ashi was slowly accepting that everything she knew was a lie.
At first, I thought Ashi stopping her assassination attempt was contrived, especially when it’s a LADYBUG of all things that stopped her. But I remembered that Ashi (during her childhood) once peered at nature and that her mother told her that it was the beautiful world that Aku built. But in this episode, we see Ashi’s mother take a ladybug (an apparent product of Aku’s world) and kill it. This contradicts what Ashi believes in regarding the Cult of Aku. The cult claims that Aku is the wise and benevolent creator who built a beautiful world and Jack is the ultimate evil out to destroy it, which Ashi and her sisters were force-fed throughout their lives. Ashi never truly got love from the cult and had few fleeting moments of happiness and curiosity of the world around her.
This is why foreshadowing is an important technique in narrative, so that there are already answers to why some things happen. So, this is an okay episode. It just takes some examination to gain a better appreciation for it.
Also… people want to see a Jack x Ashi pairing? Ehhh… really now. Jack could very much be her grandpa at his age. I just don’t see it working out at all.
The story shifts back to Aku as an army of tanks and muscular Scottish warrior women approach his lair. And then…
HOLY SHIT! IT’S THE SCOTSMAN!
That’s right, we get to see an elderly Scotsman, Jack’s greatest rival and ally during his travels in the future. And he is the father of all of those warrior women. Good lord. I know the Scotman’s wife is a beast, but all these brawny women look like they’re about the same age. I thought the Cult of Aku priestess giving birth to seven kids at the same time was pretty insane. Just how many kids did the Scotman’s wife birth!?
So the army launches an attack against Aku’s lair. Funnily enough, Aku’s reaction is less than impressed and he launches his own counterattack. The Scotsman realizes his error and has the whole army on retreat. As Aku is preparing to pursue the army, the Scotsman stops him and gives Aku one of the most proud roasts in his life… before getting roasted by Aku himself.
WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK! IT’S ONLY BEEN FIVE MINUTES!
Yeah. Five minutes of screentime for the season and Aku killed off the Scotsman. All that’s left is his broken claymore. And Aku just peaces out, not feeling it today. Buuuuut…
He came back as a ghost! Yaaaaa—huh-whuh?
The claymore’s Celtic magical runes. Same reason why Jack couldn’t break the weapon before. You clever bastards.
So the Scotsman’s ghost mentions that the army needs to regroup and that they must enlist the help of Samurai Jack.
Meanwhile, the episode shifts focus to Ashi, who is having a moment of self-reflection until an image of her mother’s mask talks her down. I’m not sure if Ashi is hallucinating this scene or if the priestess is really there as an apparition. Regardless, Ashi is no longer a part of the Cult of Aku and ends up becoming a hesitant companion to Jack.
Jack and Ashi escape the island by enlisting the help of a sea serpent and the two part ways. But Ashi returns to Jack, demanding the truth about Aku. At first, Jack doesn’t want to try to convince her, but concedes after how much she wants to know about Aku and the world. Interestingly enough, the two share a nice moment where Jack tells a childhood fable from his mother about how the world came to be.
The next morning, Jack keeps his promise and shows Ashi the world and how Aku made it the way it is today. He brings her to an urban city that crawled straight out of Blade Runner, where he shows Aku’s minions housing criminals. Eventually, Ashi believes Jack’s story, but Jack concedes that there is no hope to defeat Aku now. The two come across a razed village, where they learn that some of Aku’s minions kidnapped the village’s children for slave labor.
Jack and Ashi locate the children, but a device somewhere is driving them into a berserk, combative state. Jack distracts the horde while Ashi searches for the person controlling the children. Ashi finds the culprit (a man in a robot suit), but falls into a trap. Jack has trouble fending off the village children but still can’t bring himself to kill them. However, Ashi’s captor brings up that children are easily manipulated, pissing her off enough to allow her escape and deal with him quickly.
Jack falls into despair, thinking the children are dead. The mysterious horseman who had been haunting Jack finally reappeared after so much buildup, telling him “it is time.” For an unknown reason, Jack goes with the horseman, disappearing into the city. Ashi comes back into the area to find out that the children are alive, but Jack had disappeared.
Alright. So the pacing of this episode is pretty fast compared to the earlier ones and a whole lot of stuff is going on. At first, I thought the Scotsman is going to be the focus of the episode. Ironically, this is the B-plot of the episode. It’s great to see him again and he’s still the lovable, rough-around-the-edges badass we knew from before, though it still sucks that he lost his life to Aku. But considering his resurrection as a ghost warrior, we’ll most definitely see him again.
Seemingly, Jack and Ashi finally form a partnership where the two will attempt to undo Aku’s evil misdeeds around the world. Unfortunately, Jack’s mental state comes back to haunt him, paving the way for the next episode.
So far, we know that the horseman appears to Jack whenever he’s in a state of great distress or guilt. By the looks of it, the horseman is a representation of death and even suicide. It is engraved in Jack’s nature to not take an innocent life, to the point where he feels bad about taking the lives of the Daughters of Aku. But in this case, he thought he took the lives of innocent children that he was supposed to save, pushing him to the edge. Because he believed to have failed his purpose, he felt he had no reason to live. The horseman was just a product of Jack’s decaying mind, and Jack may try to take his own life during the next episode.
At least, that’s how I interpret it.
Though Ashi’s character arc feels rushed in the middle (in the previous episode, she was still trying to kill Jack), it’s nice to see that her character arc places her in a more heroic role. And considering she was an abused child brainwashed by a cult, she was more than willing to help Jack rescue the village children. And her Berserk Button is just that: people abusing brainwashed children.
Despite the rushed pacing, I enjoyed this episode over the previous one. But I feel like that from this point on, the pacing will continue picking up. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, though. Seeing as how the earlier season 5 episodes take their time with the setup, this episode feels like a contrast.
Ashi is aboard a blimp in search of Samurai Jack, until two large hooded figures attempt to apprehend her. Ashi tells them she’s not out to hurt Jack and the hooded figures reveal themselves to be Woolies, the same race of people that Jack saved in Episode IV: Jack, the Woolies, and the Chritchellites. It’s a nice callback to one of the earliest episodes of the series. A blimp employee notifies Ashi that Jack had last landed somewhere in the area… so she goes skydiving, then resumes her search. Gotta love Ashi’s fearlessness.
And what’s this? Can it be? Why yes, babe! Scaramouche the Merciless lives! Now he’s a bunny-hopping robot head. Hippity-hop-boop-boop! So he seeks out the nearest phone to rat out Jack’s missing sword to Aku.
Ashi finds a small army of Beetle Drones fleeing in the woods and encounters the Three Archers that Jack saved in Episode VII: Jack and the Three Blind Archers. I guess they’re not human (despite appearances), seeing as how they haven’t seemed to age after fifty years. Just as with the Woolies from earlier, one of the Archers tells Ashi of their past encounter with Jack and now reveres him as a hero. But seeing as how Jack isn’t in the area, Ashi resumes her search.
Meanwhile, Scaramouche comes across a shipyard—apparently, the same one that Jack and the Scotsman once boarded in Episode XLV: Scotsman Saves Jack, Part 1—and attempts to board a ship. A bouncer there refuses to let him board since he does not have a body, so Scaramouche attempts to use his fame as Aku’s top assassin to board—but finds out he trails behinds two assassins called Deathblow and Da-Bomb! What, assassins in this world have their own leaderboards?
So through multiple attempts, Scaramouche eventually boards the ship using the help of some… phallic-looking alien. And after this alien leaves, you know what Scaramouche says?
Wow, what a freak. Looked like a talking penis.
I am not fucking with you! I don’t think ANYONE was expecting him to just outright say it! A dickhead joke. What a great thing.
Ashi finds a dance party in the middle of nowhere, hosted by an older DJ Olivia. As in the innkeeper’s daughter in Episode XXVIII: Jack and the Rave. And just like the Woolies and the Archers, Olivia gives the tale of her liberation during her teenage years. Interestingly, Ashi joins in their dance but later returns to her search.
She has a flashback of her mother throwing her into a pit of hot coals while naked, which coated her in Aku’s darkness. Back in the present, Ashi finds a small pool and uses a rock like a pumice stone to scrub off her black suit.
SERIOUSLY. She and her sisters were running in the NUDE the whole time, wearing nothing but skintight jumpsuits fashioned from Aku’s dark essence. I had no idea where the Cult of Aku got this dark essence, but they got seven little girls to bathe in what is literally Aku himself. That is… pretty messed up.
So Ashi fashions herself a new look (a cute island girl look), which is probably a sign that she denounces her origins forever.
We cut back to Scaramouche, who finds a phone booth aboard the ship and contacts Aku. But background noise drowns out their conversation and Scaramouche tries to get a group of anthropomorphic dogs to keep quiet—I wonder if these dog-people are a reference to Sir Rothchild and the Canine Archaeologists in Episode II: The Samurai Called Jack? The anthropomorphic dogs take offense to being called “dogs,” so they throw Scaramouche overboard. I guess that makes him a racist then.
Ashi comes across a tavern, the same one featured in Episode XLII: Samurai versus Samurai. There, she is scolded by an older version of Da Samurai, who became the bartender shortly after his past encounter with Jack. Ashi tells him that she is looking for Samurai Jack, which catches the attention of everyone in the tavern. Apparently, nearly everyone was a bounty hunter that once tried to capture Jack long ago before getting defeated by him. And they seem proud of it too.
And surprise visit from Demongo from Episode XXIII: Jack versus Demongo, The Soul Collector. Huh. So after all this time, Demongo lived. But the visit doesn’t last long, as Demongo leaves after finding that the tavern doesn’t house any powerful warriors.
Ashi receives a tip from a mysterious shady figure—I wonder if it’s an older Kuni from Episode XXXV: Jack and the Haunted House—and comes across a cemetery. She finally finds Jack, but the horseman in samurai armor (officially credited as the Omen) is there as well. Several samurai spirits appear and Jack is ready to perform seppuku on himself. Ashi tries to talk Jack out of it by convincing that there is hope for the future after all, but the Omen steps in and attempts to silence her. She also reveals that the children that Jack thought he killed are alive. This snaps Jack out of his misery and he promptly defeats the Omen. The other samurai spirits, seemingly displeased, vanish into their graves. Jack compliments Ashi’s appearance and mentions his next quest: recovering his lost sword.
If you haven’t noticed already, this episode is clearly one for the fans and my episode summary is pretty much a screenshot gallery. It made several callbacks to past episodes without turning this episode into a recap episode, which is pretty impressive. It also helps move the story forward, by having Ashi learn more about the exploits of Samurai Jack and ending with her stopping him from committing suicide.
Ashi leaves her past behind and removes all of her connections to the Cult of Aku. At this point, I feel like she’s a symbol of the new fans of the show. Just like the new fans, she was just learning about Jack’s good deeds and felt the need to see him to the end of his journey. If this was Tartakovsky’s intention, then it’s a pretty clever analogy to make.
The cameos are a lot of fun. And I think Tartakovsky knew about Scaramouche’s popularity after his debut episode, so of course the Scaramouche B-plot was a lot of fun as well. Bonus points for the adult jokes.
However, I was expecting a more dramatic payoff by the end of Jack’s internal struggle. I mean, yeah, he was really going to kill himself in shame of failing his duties as a samurai. But that graveyard scene happens so fast and I was expecting the Omen to be a greater threat, but Jack cuts him down with a single swipe of a blade. So that was disappointing.
But I do think there is a redeeming factor pointed out by the whole episode. Jack doesn’t realize how much good he did throughout the world, because he walks his path alone. His character is that of a humble one and he is willing to put the needs of others before his, which is why he is still stuck in the future. Because his journey is a lonely one and he hasn’t had contact with his acquaintances in so long, it wore down his mind throughout the years. But his good deeds ultimately pay off, as the kindness he showed to Ashi caused her to reform. And Ashi stopped Jack’s suicide just in time. So with someone out there telling him that his deeds weren’t in vain, Jack finally regains his senses and ends up on the road to recovery.
So with minor complaints about the Omen subplot of the season, I think this is a good episode that goes beyond just cameos and recaps. This is the episode that reconnects Season 5 to its roots and brings up closer to the climax.
We see a flashback of Jack finding a time portal with the help of three little mountain goats. And just as Jack was about to win, Aku shows up out of nowhere and literally drags him out of the portal. Then Aku destroys it (apparently, it’s the last portal on the planet) and transforms the mountain goats into monsters. Jack, having up to here with Aku’s shit and blinded by his own fury, kills them outright (with head-stabs and blood included). But after seeing them transform back into their original state, Jack is horrified by what he’s done to the point of accidentally dropping his sword. Presumably, this is possibly the first time Jack killed innocents and what led to his downward spiral at the beginning of season 5.
My question is: did Aku really leave that battle while Jack was killing the goats? Had Aku stayed longer, he would’ve relentlessly pursue Jack without any repercussions. Funny how Aku missed that one important event and could have rid himself of his arch-nemesis forever.
We cut back to the present, where older Jack was telling Ashi his story. The two return to the same area where Jack lost his sword, via giant bird, descending into a dark chasm. While exploring, Jack finds a skull of one of the mountain goats he killed, feeling remorse for its death. After seeing no signs of the sword, he comes to the realization that he didn’t lose the sword, but that the sword left him.
After a fruitless search, Jack dismisses the giant bird (as well as Ashi). He meditates alone on top of the mountain. However, Ashi spots some force in the distance headed their way.
Jack, crossing another dimension in his mind as if he were Avatar Aang, encounters a Buddhist monk spirit. Meanwhile in reality, Ashi stops the band of mercenaries heading for the mountain. And this segment is strangely hilarious. Ashi knocks them off the mountain as if they were the orcs from The Lord of the Rings. And even though she’s in that island girl outfit, she is still one scary lady assassin who would turn her enemies into a pile of bodies and gore. She’s a one-man force compared to this humongous army of mercenaries.
While in his mind, Jack is making tea with the mysterious spirit he came across. While in reality, Ashi was on her rampage for a little too long and barely managed to protect Jack from an assassination attempt.
The assassin is revealed to be the Cult of Aku priestess, Ashi’s mother. She gives Ashi the chance to kill Jack on her own, but Ashi refuses. In this climactic scene, the priestess demonstrates superhuman capabilities, just as with her daughters. Eventually, Ashi manages to injure the priestess with an arrow, leaving the priestess to fall off a cliff.
While in Jack’s mind, the monk spirit tells Jack that the tea tastes terrible, lacking “balance.” This is somehow synonymous why Jack couldn’t find his sword. Jack’s past self erupts from him, corrupting into a darker figure and attempting to attack the monk spirit. But Jack destroys him and the monk says that he is now “balanced.”
Then three figures appear before Jack, who are actually the gods Ra, Odin and Vishnu. It should be noted that these gods once appeared before Jack’s father (the Emperor) back in Episode XXXVIII: The Birth of Evil, Part 2, where they granted him the sword to defeat Aku. And they’ve done the same for Jack, restoring the right to his sword as well as his youthful appearance and gi. Huh. I’ve been wondering where they’ve been all this time. I guess the sword really did leave Jack.
Jack returns to reality, waking up an unconscious Ashi. And thus we inch closer to the series’ climax: Jack defeating Aku once and for all.
This is a pretty good episode that explores more of Jack’s backstory, gives more closure to Ashi’s story arc, and answers other questions. But at the same time, opens up more questions.
The beginning segment is done really well. It seems to begin like a typical Samurai Jack episode of past seasons, where some residents decide to help Jack look for a portal in time. But it also ends in tragedy, which explains how Jack lost his prized sword and how he developed his fear of killing innocents. Not only did he lose his last method of returning back to the past, his sanity broke that day. Ever since, Jack questioned whether he was worthy to remain a samurai or not.
However, this presents another question: whatever happened to the blue Guardian from Episode XXXII: Jack and the Travelling Creatures? The Guardian was one of the few opponents that Jack lost to, in an attempt to earn the right to use the time portal. The Guardian was simply more powerful and skilled than Jack, and he only allows one person to use the portal: an older version of Jack, clad with a long beard and what appears to be Spartan armor. This foreshadows that Jack’s quest will end when he returns to defeat the Guardian in one-to-one combat. My theory is that Aku somehow doesn’t know that this portal exists, for some odd reason. It’s possible that the Guardian and his allies either used some sort of magic to prevent Aku’s spies from finding it or that none of Aku’s minions could reach the portal. Considering the Jack vs. Guardian battle was one of the most iconic moments of the series, I’m hoping this plot point isn’t forgotten.
As for Ashi’s story arc, there’s not really much else to say here. She is now loyal to Jack. And despite her change of appearance, she’s still a bloodthirsty assassin when tempted to. She had also proven to be a more skillful warrior than her mother, which is saying something. Speaking of which, we don’t really see the mother actually dying, so there’s a possibility that she might return in a later episode for revenge. I mean, if Jack could survive a dagger lodged into his stomach, I’m sure the Cult of Aku priestess could survive an arrow to her stomach.
So one of the questions I had for this season for a while was what happened to the gods that once assisted Jack’s father in his battle against Aku? Well, now we know. However, we must consider why they haven’t shown up sooner when Jack needs it.
My theory is that the gods deemed Jack to be too dangerous to wield his sword, after he lost his temper and killed the mountain goats. Even though Aku did use his magic to turn them into monsters, Jack didn’t just fight them in self-defense. He just straight up murdered them, which he did feel extremely guilty for. Because of this travesty, Ra, Odin and Vishnu decide to take Jack’s sword away until he regains his sanity. We know that from that one day, Jack’s violent past self first emerged. Because Jack himself is a powerful warrior, the gods were afraid that he would use the sword to cause even more damage. Hence, why Jack wandered about for so long until the day he was finally able to let go of his hatred and bring himself back onto the path of justice. So now, our old Samurai Jack is back for real.
This hadn’t occurred to me before, but there were speculations that this blue phantom of past Jack was actually Mad Jack, Jack’s evil doppelgänger created from Jack’s hatred and Aku’s magic. This would actually make a LOT of sense, because Mad Jack is truly a part of Jack himself. And despite Jack defeating him in Episode VIII: Jack versus Mad Jack, Mad Jack had never truly faded away. He was just waiting for the right moment to seize Jack’s mind and body, and to convince him that the world is out to get him. While Mad Jack is no longer Aku’s minion whose sole purpose is to kill Jack, he seems to hold some resentment to Aku and tries to convince Jack that he must kill others for himself.
This is actually some pretty deep stuff when you have knowledge of the older seasons, which makes it easier to make these kinds of connections. So now Jack has his sword back. Hoo, boy. Scaramouche is not going to be happy about this. I have a prediction: Scaramouche will appear in a future episode and succeed in telling Aku that Jack lost his sword. But when Aku came to confront Jack, he would meet a nasty surprise. And then Aku would retreat and possibly kill off Scaramouche. Our favorite robotic assassin with the sass is not going to have a happy ending, that’s for sure.
So, great episode. It answers some questions, and brings up some new ones that will hopefully receive answers soon.
The episode opens up with a rectangular ship in space crash-landing in a desert, upon being struck by an asteroid. The next scene cuts to Jack and Ashi in a Middle Eastern setting. Seems like Jack developed his taste buds for fifty years, to the point where he doesn’t mind eating seafood that turns his head into the shape of an angelfish.
The two enter a transport (via giant alien camel, ironically being driven by a anthropomorphic camel, ha ha ha) where they end up getting surrounded by green tiger people. And then…
Jack: It’s a little crowded.
Ashi: Yes. Oh! Something’s poking me.
Jack: *notices the hilt of his sword poking her* Oh, I’m so sorry!
Boner joke. *facepalms* Oh god…
And later on, one of the most awkward ship teases I’ve seen yet. Seriously, there was romantic music, the nervousness regarding physical contact, sweating and everything. It’s… actually kinda painful to watch, to be honest.
However, the moment ends (thank god) after Jack notices that the green tiger people have letters on their shirt, spelling, “DIE SAMURAI JACK.” Were they really waiting this long until Jack notices? Yeah… real clever there, green tiger people.
Sadly, the awkwardness just keeps on going. Jack and Ashi accidentally made physical contact through fists, and the tone of the episode suddenly shifts back into bad romantic comedy. And then back to random action.
Eventually, they escape the green tiger people and wander into a desert. This part of the episode is somewhat reminiscent of Episode VI: Jack and the Warrior Woman, where Jack was journeying through a desert with a green woman named Ikra. Even the romantic teases.
During a sandstorm, Jack and Ashi wander into a mysterious structure (the same spaceship that crash-landed at the beginning of the episode). Jack surmises that this place might have been a prison ship, but the prisoners seem to have escaped. A poisonous leech latches onto Ashi’s leg. Jack kills it and sucks the poison out.
Then we get this odd sequence that feels reminiscent of the Alien movies, where Jack and Ashi run from an unknown creature. What in the world?
The two end up getting lost and some strange amoeba-like creature, made from leeches, corners them. We get a decent fighting sequence where Jack and Ashi have to dodge and kill the horde of leeches. After discovering the creature regenerates, they escape and later find a hidden weapons room.
Through some very convenient exposition from a computer, they learn that the creature was a prisoner called Lazarus 92, who can regenerate infinitely. The computer gives Jack a disc weapon that looks like a Simon game designed to kill the creature, but Jack has no idea how to use it.
So he lets Ashi take a crack at it, but Lazarus 92 strikes again. Ashi, in her haste to get some leeches off of her, rips off her clothing. Because she wasn’t raised with the concept of modesty, she ends up fighting in the nude. But a flustered Jack lets her wear his gi and we get more awkward romantic banter. Lazarus 92 splits its body apart into multiple figures and Jack makes an attempt to work the disc weapon again. By some miracle, Jack gets the disc working at the last second as the two were being engulfed by leeches. The disc activates and sends a discharge of electricity through everyone, killing off Lazarus 92 and leaving Jack and Ashi in pain. And then…
WHAAAAAT DAAAAAAA FAAAAAAACK!?
And this makeout session is accompanied by Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Good lord…
YEEEEEEAAAAAA—I don’t really like this one.
Alright, people, I’ll bite. There was a point where I used to write fan fiction (and look back and tell myself, “What the hell was I thinking?”). And shipping is by far my least favorite aspect, because writing a good romance plot is difficult. Like, it’s so easy to make the worst of enemies suddenly into lovers in a short time. It can happen right out of nowhere. Just pull it out the ass.
I know the Jack x Ashi shippers must be hollering in jubilee right now and they’re going to starkly disagree with me. But I think this is the worst episode of Season 5 by far.
The romantic/sexual tension is in your face and it plays out the romantic comedy clichés like a checklist. Sudden interest in each other? Check. Nervousness about physical contact? Check. Awkward sexual jokes? Check. Random romantic banter during what is supposed to be an intense sequence? Can’t make simple conversation without being nervous around each other? Check!
Alright, I know some of you might be thinking, “There were romantic cues earlier, so your first point is wrong!” Well, let me break it down for a bit. Ashi spent most of her life being told that Samurai Jack was an evil person, and she didn’t actually get to meet him until her adulthood. But after discovering the truth, she does warm up to him and even eventually becomes one of Jack’s greatest allies.
But here’s the thing. Neither Jack nor Ashi were THIS nervous around each other. Hell, Jack CARRIED Ashi in an earlier episode and he wasn’t freaking out about it. It’s not like he was so desperate for pussy that he took a romantic interest in some girl that didn’t want his help in the first place. He was still a broken and grief-stricken warrior. It would weigh in on his guilty conscience if he were to let her die, after he had killed her sisters in self-defense. Because at that point, she was of little threat to him and he realized that the assassins were all brainwashed to believe he was evil.
There was also a point where Ashi didn’t understand the concept of love, because she never got it from the Cult of Aku. Not from her mother, especially. And regarding her sisters, it’s heavily implied that they view each other as expendable assassins raised for a common purpose. It was subtle and I liked that aspect about her.
But in THIS episode, Jack and Ashi are suddenly nervous around each other. And then they kiss, both practically naked. I’m sorry, but it just feels like some shipping fans took over the writing of this episode and decided to force in some Alien B-plot that makes no sense in context. But this episode wasn’t by the fans. It was Tartakovsky himself.
I don’t fault the man for trying something different with his creation, but I don’t think it works here. It’s cheesy and forced, and a huge contrast to the rest of the season. It’s weird seeing Jack so head over heels for a girl he knew for a short time that tried to kill him before. And MUCH younger than him. Jack had to be in his 60s or 70s by now, but the gods from the previous episode gave him his youthful appearance back. I guess that makes him romanceable now.
In his earlier interactions with Ashi, he seemed to come across more of a father figure. And Ashi was like a child in wonder, learning about the new and interesting things about the world. So seeing them as a couple right now is… awkward. It’s not that I don’t think a romantic connection could happen, but how it’s been played so far would indicate otherwise. It just felt forced and I was hoping it would come up to something like a teacher-student relationship.
I know that Episode VI: Jack and the Warrior Woman happened and that was one of the times where a possible romance seemed to surface from Jack. But that episode was more subtle. It didn’t play cheesy romantic music when possible romantic scenes happened. But what REALLY paid off in that episode was that Ikra was really Aku in disguise, toying with Jack’s emotions as well as breaking yet another method for Jack to return to the past. That was some pretty twisted stuff, but also well played. I still remember how messed up that ending was and how pissed and depressed Jack was.
This episode, though? Aside from a few funny moments and not-too-special fight scenes, this episode was more for shipping fans. There seems to be no point to the random green tiger people, so we might assume they’re bounty hunters or something. The episode never made that clear. And the whole thing with Lazarus 92, apparently a very dangerous criminal, felt like it was brushed aside just so we get more awkward Jack-Ashi moments. This is the point in season 5 where I felt it jumped the shark, and seems to forget how dark and foreboding the earlier episodes were. Hell, it still plays that dark and foreboding season 5 intro sequence. This episode is… cheesy fan service. And that’s what really disappointed me about this episode. Not only it feels out of place for the season, but it feels out of place for the show as well. I know Samurai Jack can have its cliché moments, but it managed to make those clichés enjoyable for the most part. This… I honestly felt embarrassed for watching it. It’s not as bad as the romance subplot in the Star Wars prequels, but the episode felt like a tinge of bad writing from George Lucas.
Feel free to disagree me, but this is the first episode of the season that I legitimately don’t like. I hope the rest of season 5 has some good material left. I just can’t take this one episode seriously.
So for whatever reason, we pick up right from the previous episode and back into the awkward lover’s quarrel. I guess we need to clarify one more time that Jack and Ashi are lovers. Anyways, they split up for a bit of R & R and we even get a scene of Ashi accidentally walking in on Jack showering. Classic.
But we find out that Jack still has a tendency of talking to himself, speaking to his bearded self in a reflection. The reflection warns to “be careful,” while Jack comments that something (most likely his romance with Ashi) had never happened before. Oh finally, some semblance of tension! I thought we ditched that since Jack got his sword back.
But there is actually a touching moment between Jack and Ashi, where Jack reminisces of his past life as a young emperor’s son. Jack also acknowledges that things wouldn’t be the same, even if he returned back to the past. He doesn’t even know if there will even be anything left.
The next morning, Ashi discovers that Jack has mysteriously vanished. But…
AGH! WHAT THE HELL!
Scaramouche…! Odd seeing you in the plot again, right after that one grim moment. And on a body of an octopus too.
So Scaramouche has finally reached Aku’s lair (a tree in the middle of nowhere). For his sake, he better hope he won’t reach Aku. But in this hilarious scene, Scaramouche comes across a statue of Aku that contains a pre-recorded message. Aku had pretty much up to here with his boring life that he tries to seclude himself from the rest of the world.
This is just golden. Aku is going hermit on us!
But Scaramouche refuses to give up and goes directly into Aku’s lair, where he meets the big bad himself. Upon hearing the news of the loss of Jack’s sword, Aku rewards Scaramouche with a new robotic body. And I’m not gonna lie. This ensuing scene is hilarious.
Well, that was strange. But great nonetheless.
We cut to Jack traveling through a desert and coming across a familiar junkyard. A junkyard full of robotic corpses, of those who failed to seize this place’s treasure. So familiar that fans of Samurai Jack have anticipated this moment for the longest time!
I’m… speechless. What else do I have to say?
Ashi randomly appears in the scene, confronting Jack on why he left her. Jack reasons that he doesn’t want to involve her in his fight, because every one of his friends and allies will eventually fall victim to Aku. But Ashi reminds him that their meeting was fate and that they will defeat Aku. Speaking of which…!
So Aku and Scaramouche enter the scene, sharing an evil laugh. Then Jack whips out his sword and an annoyed Aku blows up Scaramouche’s head. Well, that was not as funny as I was hoping. Poor Scaramouche. Returning from the dead, only to get his head blown up by his boss.
Aku tries to leave on an anti-climactic note, until he turns his attention to Ashi and notices that his scent is on Ashi. Aku refers to the one point in his life where he visited the Cult of Aku and gifted them with his essence for their loyalty. Then the Cult of Aku priestess literally DRINKS the essence, which caused her to give birth to seven identical daughters.
So those women, including Ashi, are LITERALLY the DAUGHTERS of Aku! Wow, that’s pretty fucked up.
And things take a turn for the worse as Aku uses his essence in Ashi to cause her to attack Jack. Jack tries to get Ashi to break Aku’s control, but to no avail. Eventually, Aku’s darkness takes over Ashi and turns her into another one of Aku’s twisted creations.
After a cool fight scene, Jack manages to injure Ashi, allowing her a moment to plead to Jack to kill her. But Jack can’t get himself to kill her, surrendering his sword. Before the corrupted Ashi can kill Jack, Aku forces her to stop and stands victorious as he holds Jack’s sword up in the sky.
Heh. Wow. I’m not sure exactly how to summarize my thoughts about the episode. But I’ll try anyway.
In regard to the romance between Jack and Ashi, I’m glad the cheesiness petered out. It’s subtle but you can detect their affection for one another, which I feel does feel right at home. Because that Dean Martin song in the previous episode… ugh.
Of course, the Scaramouche moments are hilarious but the episode trolls us by killing him off in an anti-climactic fashion. I guess that’s meant to be the punchline to the whole Scaramouche subplot of the season, but it’s pretty sad to see him go without having another big moment. Oh well.
As for the Guardian from Episode XXXII: Jack and the Travelling Creatures…
Yeah, I’m pretty disappointed that he doesn’t get a proper appearance here. As one of Jack’s most dangerous opponents in battle of all time, we’ve been expecting a rematch between him and Jack. After all, the time portal in the junkyard prophesized that an older Jack would eventually defeat the Guardian.Unfortunately, it was merely a prophecy and Aku destroyed the portal just like with the others. And possibly because the Guardian had no holy weapons that can harm Aku, he probably fell victim as well.
At the same time, a part of me knew this would happen. The Guardian may be one of the most skilled warriors in the world, but he was still not invincible. The Guardian’s demise was foreshadowed by the season itself, where we heard that Aku destroyed every time portal. As much as we don’t want to believe it, that one time portal with the mountain goats was truly the last one in existence. This knowledge kinda softens the blow a bit. It’s unfortunate, but expected.
And of course, the ending twist that Ashi was really a daughter of Aku. I actually saw this one coming, as it was foreshadowed in earlier episodes. She literally bathed in Aku’s essence (giving her that black jumpsuit, just like with her sisters). But the part where her mother drank Aku’s essence which impregnated her… hehe, I’ll admit that’s pretty messed up.
I find this to be a common ending twist. The evil villain uses your friend/villain and turns her into his own disposable tool, and you don’t want to kill her. Yeah, we’ve seen this A LOT. But regardless of how predictable it is, the ending sequence was pretty cool. I like how the corrupted Ashi’s moveset combined her speed and power with Aku’s shapeshifting ability. Not to mention that image of Aku holding up Jack’s sword and laughing at his defeated opponent at the end was pretty epic. You might say Aku is just asking for it (and seeing as how the final episode is coming up, of course), but it does fit well into his character. Aku takes pleasure in just outright tormenting Jack. So if it means sparing Jack, just so he can watch Jack despair over the loss of his lover, we know that Aku’s arrogance will be his undoing.
There’s a literary tool known as Chekhov’s gun. To summarize everything that has happened so far and make predictions on the series finale, we must ask ourselves: Why does everything happen in season 5?
- Why does Ashi exist? To save Jack from himself, become his love interest and become one of the final bosses in a dramatic twist ending.
- Why does the Omen exist? To guide Jack onto the path of seppuku, should Jack fail his duties as a samurai.
- Why does Aku do mostly nothing in this season? Because very few beings in the world entertain him, and his omnipotence and immortality guarantee a boring existence. Tormenting his greatest enemies seems to be life’s only pleasures for him.
- Why do we have the sequences of the white wolf? To remind Jack that some things in the world don’t change, and that he must survive no matter what.
- Why did Jack save Ashi? To fuel development for both characters. Jack needed to find his path in life again and Ashi must carve a new path for herself as an independent person (and not just as some tool for killing).
- Why did the Scotsman return as a ghost warrior? Possibly to help Jack in the series finale.
- Why did we see cameos of the Woolies, the Archers, Olivia and Da Samurai? Same reason as the Scotsman.
- Why did we see the Guardian’s broken glasses but no corpse? He might be alive somewhere. Even if the Guardian wasn’t prepared to fight Aku, I doubt he would die that easily. And it’s possible that the Guardian predicted that Aku would eventually fight him, so the Guardian would shut down the portal (to pretend it’s “broken”). The portal would still fulfill its prophecy for Jack, just not in the way as we originally expected it to.
As for the whole Scaramouche subplot…I think that was just a red herring all along, just for the sake of comedy. And by how the rest of the season is progressing so far, I don’t think the Cult of Aku priestess is showing up either. She might be dead for good.
Overall, this is a decent episode with some mild disappointments and it does provoke a lot of discussion. I hope the series finale will pay off well. Then I’ll give my final thoughts on the season and the series. Until then, let’s hope for the best.
Well, this is it, everyone. The true series finale to Samurai Jack. No scowling babies this time. Let’s ROCK!
The episode begins with a worldwide broadcast by Aku, where people that Jack came across at some point were watching.
- The Scotsman’s ghost and his daughters
- Olivia and her group of raving teenager
- The Triseraquins from Episodes IX: Jack Under the Sea
- The Woolies
- An older version of the Monkey Man from Episode XIV: Jack Learns to Jump Good
- The archers and their tribesmen
- Sir Rothchild (the anthropomorphic lead archaeologist dog from Episode II: The Samurai Called Jack) and his grandchildren
- Max and the robotic residents of Andromeda from Episode XLI: Robo-Samurai versus Mondo Bot
We get a surreal scene where we watch the original OPENING CREDITS that was used in past Samurai Jack seasons, with Aku’s little twist to it. The world watches in horror as Aku shows off his new prisoner to the world and slowly decides on how to publicly execute Jack. Jack pleads to the corrupted Ashi to fight off Aku’s influence, seemingly to no avail. After some time, Aku decides to give the corrupted Ashi the honor of killing Jack. As Ashi is ready to land the killing blow to Jack, Aku’s lair falls under attack.
I scream for EYE SCREAM!
Jack’s allies arrive as a massive army, meant to distract Aku (we even get to see the 300 Spartans from Episode XXV: Jack and the Spartans). Jack manages to break free from his bonds and tries to take his sword, but is stopped by the corrupted Ashi. But things take a turn for the worse as Aku manages to kill some people and transform them into likenesses of himself. The tide seemingly turns as the Scotsman makes one of his most epic entrances yet, leading his daughters into battle… on an energy path he erected. While his daughters are riding giant deer as steeds.
No, I am fucking serious! This is the most awesome image of the season ever!
Ya still a wee laddie!
The Scotsman’s bagpipes are so powerful that it hurts Aku’s hearing and even disrupts Ashi’s attack. Jack and the Scotsman finally meet in this brief, amusing scene. And then we get the funniest part of the episode: the Robo-Samurai, piloted by Max, beating the living shit out of Aku. It’s like when the Hulk smacked the shit out of Loki in The Avengers. However, the corrupted Ashi engulfs Jack into herself (giggity…), but Jack manages to hear the real Ashi somewhere in the darkness.
A wrathful Aku summons a storm of giant needles, killing off some of Jack’s allies. The Scotsman uses the soundwaves of his bagpipes to deflect the needles (sadly, that’s the last of what we see of him for the rest of the episode). Jack eventually reaches out to Ashi, having her revert back to her human form. But this time, she now inherits the shapeshifting powers of Aku, allowing her to take Jack’s sword back. Ashi even uses Aku’s time-traveling ability to send them both back to the past.
…….How would she know how to do that?
Jack and Ashi arrive at the exact moment after Aku sent the past Jack into the future. From there on, Jack finishes what he started: killing off the confused Aku for good, while he’s not as powerful and wily in the future. Jack destroys Aku’s lair, and the deed is finally done.
The world of the past celebrates Jack’s victory over Aku, and Jack’s home is restored back to its former glory. Jack and Ashi intend to wed, as Jack’s parents proudly look on (oddly enough, they seem perfectly healthy despite looking haggardly before). On the day of the wedding, Ashi falls ill and explains that she can only exist with Aku around. Ashi fades away from existence and Jack grieves for her death, à la Gurren Lagann.
In the final scene, a crestfallen Jack travels through a misty forest and sits alone. A ladybug gently lands on him, reminding him of Ashi, and flies away. Jack smiles as his home glows a radiant color, standing at the same tree that he once showed Ashi in the future.
Alright. Wow. That’s a bittersweet ending if I’ve seen one, in more ways than one. I mean, that is seriously depressing. Not to mention there are some issues to discuss here. So, let’s review.
The main issue with this episode is its rushed pacing, without a doubt. To further support that, there are some continuity errors to take note of (such as the Emperor and Empress retaining their youthful appearances, despite looking haggardly before). The final episode has the same length as a regular episode of the series, which is part of the problem. There are some past episodes of Samurai Jack that follow a specific episodic plot, leading to two-parters like The Birth of Evil and Scotsman Saves Jack. In fact, the series premiere of Samurai Jack was actually the first three episodes stringed together to make a feature-length movie. My point is that the series finale should have finished in a similar way: being an extended episode that will help tie up loose ends. I know the production staff are only contracted to produce 10 episodes, but I seriously wouldn’t mind waiting another week or two if it means a better episode (not like the shit that [adult swim] pulled on April Fool’s Day). I’m sure a lot of fans would feel the same as well. If I’m feeling ever so bold, I would like to see a director’s cut version of the season so that it could fill the missing gaps. Not as episodes premiering for [adult swim], but for DVD/BluRay releases of Season 5.
It’s nice to see more of Jack’s allies show up for a short time, not to mention the Scotsman made one hell of a final appearance. Though it’s sad to see some of them go, the fate of everyone else is unknown. But due to Jack slaying Aku in the past, it’s highly possible that Jack erased these people out of existence for good. So technically, all those side characters we’ve come to know and love throughout the series have never existed at all. It’s subtle, but honestly depressing. And maybe even heavy-handed. We don’t even get a final scene of these people in the future, perhaps living alternate lives. They got no closure whatsoever. Now they’re just distant memories for Jack.
Ashi’s time portal ability happened so fast that Jack never got to say goodbye to any one of his friends, which would go against his character. It contradicts the ending of Episode XXXVI: Jack, the Monks, and the Ancient Master’s Son, where Jack did not use a time portal within his reach in order to save two allied monks that probably would have met certain doom had he not intervened. It’s nice to see Jack’s allies banding together against a common enemy, but their resolution was left in suspension. We can presume that they’re all gone for good.
I know I’m harping a lot on these other characters despite their minimal roles in the past seasons, but we really got to like these characters. The Scotsman was always awesome. Spartok and his spartan army were noble warriors (even though Spartok should be OLD at this point, so this is probably a continuity error). The Monkey Man was affable. Even just a TINY peek at an alternate future featuring these characters would be enough to do them justice.
Jack managed to snap the corrupted Ashi out of her hypnosis by telling her that he loves her, which is cliché. And she even gained Aku’s powers, controlling them like no problem. Yeah, the power of love saved the day this time. And that’s honestly kinda lame. That is a deus ex machina if I’ve seen one. It all happened way too quickly and perfectly.
A lot of these problems seem to happen because this is a 20-minute episode trying to tie the loose ends of the whole series, albeit sloppily. As soon as Jack defeated Aku, the transition to the wedding day of Jack and Ashi happened so quickly that it was like they were going to get married IMMEDIATELY after Jack’s return. You know, a big event that takes TIME to set up.
I also feel like Ashi’s death scene happened too briefly. And also a bit inconsistent with timing, since it took some time for her to die after Aku was gone. She collapsed, said a line of exposition and faded away. If she said something along the lines of, “I love you, Jack. Please don’t forget about me,” I think it would’ve been a much stronger scene. I think Ashi telling us that her existence being tied to Aku was unnecessary, since we can figure that out just from context alone.
However, the final scene is touching and poignant, as Jack looks on his saved kingdom. He had gone through a long, LONG journey. But he returned, keeping his youthful appearance and his years of fighting experience. He accomplished his original goal, saving the world from Aku’s evil. And by extension, he saved the FUTURE and the universe from Aku’s tyranny as well. Unfortunately, he is the only one in this era to know this. He sacrificed everything in the future to save his own present. No matter how he looks at it, his situation was a catch-22. Whether he remained in the future or returned to the past would make little difference, as it’s almost like he had never been to the future at all. Relatively to him, he may have been gone for over 50 years. But for his time period, he was only gone for 10 seconds. It only shows how fleeting these precious moments easily become.
Anyways, I’m taking a lot of time with this episode review, so let’s wrap this up. The series finale is a decent episode, but filled with untapped potential. I think it did well in concluding Jack’s storyline (as well as Ashi’s), but the lack of resolution for the residents of the future bothered me immensely. The rushed pacing also hurt some key scenes, like Ashi’s death (I seriously think her line needs to be changed into something more meaningful). Despite those problems, I am thankful towards Genndy Tartakovsky (one of the animation giants of my childhood) and the rest of the Samurai Jack production team for making this season happen. Samurai Jack was one of those shows that I felt deserving of a proper conclusion for a LONG time, and I was upset that Cartoon Network cancelled it before such a thing could happen. This was one of the TV shows that highlighted my late childhood, so of course I wanted to see it until the end. Now that it’s happened, I can happily conclude my thoughts with this season and the whole series.
Season 5 Summary
* Currently being updated