When I turned off the NCAA tournament to watch the latest episode of Samurai Jack, I honestly thought I might regret it. After watching it however, I can safely say that I made the best decision of that entire day.
While the premiere and therefore first episode of season five was great for introducing us to the world and giving us a glimpse at what Jack has gone through over the last 50 years, nothing could have prepared me for what the follow up was.
It might seem like I am exaggerating this episode a little bit, and to be fair I might be. But in my opinion, this is the single best episode of Samurai Jack to date.
Take into account when I say this however that I have not rewatched the original four season in upwards of two years so I am going off of memory and it is still a close call between this and a few other classics. But I stand by what I said.
If you are not caught up or for some reason have either not been watching the newest season or seen the original, then stop reading now and go do so, because this next portion will delve into spoiler territory. You have been warned.
In the last episode, the writers slowly got us used to the new voice of Aku by making use of the villain of the episode calling him on a cell phone like device.
Many people took this to mean we would not actually see Aku for many more episodes until the buildup was over and there was a grand reveal, probably in some sort of menacing or evil fashion. What we got, in my opinion, was a much truer to style reintroduction.
How do we meet the conqueror of the world and lord of all evil? Well by seeing him wake up, don his iconic flaming eyebrows and go through a morning routine of stretches of course.
This introduction to Aku makes things perfectly clear that despite the much darker and meaningful tone of the final season, things have not changed so drastically as to make our favorite demon lord lose his comedic side.
We see him stretch and talk with a few groups wishing to pay him tribute, which while cool, defeats part of the significance for the back story of the Daughters of Aku from episode one. Part of the reason they are born and trained so thoroughly is due to their mother and apparent matriarch of their cult wanting Aku to come back to the world.
Hopefully we get a little more details about where exactly Aku is located and maybe some information about why he is there.
The second group of people who visit Aku are three scientists who show him a giant version of the beetledrones from the previous episode. They state it will finally rid Aku of the Samurai.
To my surprise, Aku talks about how he does not care for the defeat of Jack anymore and that he actually finds it amusing to see him run around with all of the issues going on in his head. This was a route I was not thinking we would see.
At this point it is still assumed that Aku knows not of Jack’s sword being lost, which I am hoping we see more about soon, so that makes this train of thought come as even more of a surprise. He tells them to keep trying anyways and slinks back down to his domain.
I took him seriously until he started talking in a slightly higher tone, and the next scene when he is talking to himself as a shrink made me laugh. It also gave us some insight into the events that led to the current timeline.
Aku said he destroyed all of the time gates in hopes that by doing so Jack would just die of old age over time. Instead he found out Jack does not age and he is distraught over that fact, but refuses to do anything about it.
Thus, ends our time with the main villain and we enter a scene with a single white wolf. I immediately thought we would see Jack hunting the beast, but soon found it was instead a simultaneous use of imagery for the fate about to befall our hero.
After the wolf runs into the shadowed tiger and its companions we see Jack riding his motorcycle and choosing paths on a fork in the road. He stops suddenly in a clearing and is attacked by the giant drone we saw previously.
We get a brief flash over to the Wolf before Jack uses his trusty spear to one-shot the large mechanical beast. As he is riding off again however his bike is destroyed by what appears to have been a steel trip wire and he is assaulted by unknown assailants.
A brief assault shows how helpless Jack is against these attackers and he is soon left in but a shell of his armor and trying to mow them down with a gun. It doesn’t work and he is forced to hide.
This scene where he confronts what appears to be the Jack of long ago is deep and very well written. It shows how truly at war he is with himself and touches on the idea of Jack walking to his own death with honor.
He manages to ignore his inner musings and makes a break for a temple, which is shown through a sequence that is amazingly done. His assailants are revealed to be the Daughters of Aku and we now truly see how much trouble Jack is in.
We see Jack outwit the sisters before he himself is outwitted and pushed to the brink. With one last ditch effort, he hides in a coffin with only a nearly broken sword as protection.
His position gets compromised and he begins to fight in what appears to be a hopeless battle against seven enemies. He once more manages to escape and faces down one of the sisters alone.
At this point I realized that no words had been said since the conclusion of the inner dialogue and I was speechless. Through nothing but music, sound effects and animation this episode hooked me more than I have been for an episode of anything in years.
The fight concludes with Jack slashing the sister’s throat and realizing that his attackers are actually human. There is blood on the blade when he drops it and looks at what he has done.
He does not have time to dwell on that as he has been stabbed by a dagger in the torso and the others are gaining on him. He grabs the vibrating sword he took from his opponent in the last episode and uses it to escape.
The last two things we see before the credits are a bloodied Jack floating down the river in a pool of his own blood, and an equally bloodied white wolf lying dead in the clearing from earlier around the dead bodies of the tigers.
Once more I am left with a hole in my heart where the next episode is bound to fit and waiting with baited breath for it. This series is shaping up to be one of my all-time favorites.