The last episode of Samurai Jack was controversial, including among our writing team, with Michał being highly cranky about it (but then, when isn’t he cranky?) and Cameron having more mixed feelings. Luckily, this one brings some balance to the chaos this season’s themes seem to have become.
We begin where we left off last time… with Jack and Ashi kissing. Yeah, that did happen…. Then we get a refreshingly realistic result of kissing while covered in viscera of a leech monster. Eww. The two lovebirds go straight back to being awkward. (Cameron found it adorable on some level.) Jack persuades Ashi not to give him back his robe (or Gi, as he insists she calls it). She goes looking for some other clothes, while Jack finds water dripping from the spaceship and takes a bath. He also has another conversation with himself… this time, it’s his bearded self looking at him from a pane of glass. His reflection warns him to be careful. He says it’s never happened before. Good to see his mental struggles aren’t entirely gone.
Ashi eventually finds a futuristic-looking shirt and the two make camp. They find some desert-dwelling worms to eat… which taste about as well as you’d expect, (kinda gamy and chewy). Ashi then asks Jack about his homeland… What follows is Jack remembering his life and family, and then suddenly being reminded of Aku’s invasion. Ashi then asks if there was a girl there. But, of course, Jack was only eight when Aku attacked. Which Ashi just reminded him of. As if things couldn’t get more awkward…
When Ashi wakes up, Jack is gone. Yep, he left while she was still sleeping. The scene shifts to Scaramouche, who finally reaches Aku’s lair. The overlord refuses to see anyone, and put up a loudspeaker announcing as much. But the assassin still enters the tower… and tells Aku that Jack had lost his sword. This is finally enough to break Aku’s malaise. He even mimics Scaramouche’s ridiculous victory dance. Old Jack is back… and so is old Aku.
Meanwhile, we see Jack traverse the desert… and encounter a familiar sight. It’s here that he met the Guardian once. He goes looking for the portal… but finds only the Guardian’s smashed glasses. Did Aku find him and destroy him? Regardless, the sight of the glasses is a subtle moment, but still very impactful. It’s just another stark and ugly reminder of its destruction.
It’s here that Ashi catches up with him, and demands an explanation. Predictably enough, Jack doesn’t want to endanger her by his proximity. He doesn’t want to lose her like he lost everyone else he (a forced admission here) loved. To be fair, we really can’t blame him for that. Ashi will have none of it, though, saying that destiny brought them together so they can defeat Aku… speak of the devil.
The Shape-Shifting Master of Darkness appears, in style. He greets Jack jovially, and proclaims his intent to destroy him… but then, Jack draws his sword. Scaramouche doesn’t have the time to make an excuse before he suffers the consequence of displeasing Aku. Bye, Scaramouche.
Aku is about to depart again, like he had so many times before… but then he smells something. Smells himself. In Ashi. Yes, turns out the girl is his literal daughter. Her mother drank part of Aku’s essence… and it impregnated her. Yikes. Well, it could be worse. It could be literal. As it is, Aku seems surprised the priestess actually drank…well, him…
This revelation turns the tables immediately, as Aku takes control of Ashi’s body and has her attack Jack. She fight against the disturbed Samurai. Despite everything, Ashi loses her autonomy, and sickly defend her “father” against the man. The battle wanes as Ashi begs Jack to kill her and Aku before its too late.
Jack breaks down as he can’t bring himself to kill Ashi. Despite his entire journey, despite the blood, sweat, and tears, he can’t bring himself to lose yet another person. Jack grows dejected, and lays down his sword, with Aku finally being in possession of it. Hope is lost.
What looked like a very unfortunate diluting of tension in the previous two episodes seems to have been averted in this one. Jack has recovered from the depths of despair, but the loss of his family and home still hang over him. More importantly, Aku finally got the better of him, despite the recovery of his sword – and he used Ashi to do so. We’re heading towards the big finale, and the stage has been set for it.