|Number of episodes||10 (Episodes 53 – 63)|
* Note: This review is actively being updated as more episodes premiere. A final verdict won’t happen until the final episode comes.
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 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 discouraged 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.