Monday, December 4, 2023

Ship Happens on Samurai Jack

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General Overview

Jack and Ashi’s journey towards the grand finale continues and adds a new layer to their relationship. The result is strange, to put it mildly.

Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Yes, this episode introduces romantic tension between Jack and Ashi, and brings it all the way to a kiss. In the span of twenty minutes. It packs the whole thing with awkwardness and fumbling, which thankfully make way to fighting side by side later. And, to address the other elephant in the room… Jack is seventy years old at the bare minimum. Even if he does have the body of someone in his late twenties or early thirties. Despite Jack’s lack of physical aging, it still feels strange, at the very least.

Let’s get to the recap. After escaping rather a rather odd pack of assailants — tigers with letters on their clothes — Jack and Ashi wander the desert on foot. A sandstorm catches them, and they seek shelter in the wreck of a spaceship, which we see fall to Earth in the beginning.

What follows resembles the old episodes of Samurai Jack quite a bit, although of course Jack was alone most of the time back then. The ship is stalked by a creature that had been held there, a mass of leech-like worms. It regenerates constantly, and is thus virtually indestructible.

Just casually sucking poison out of your friends leg. (Which doesn’t actually work.)

As Jack and Ashi try to evade it and destroy it, we’re mercifully spared their romantic tension. At first. Unfortunately, it eventually rears its head again. The leeches just so happen to destroy Ashi’s clothes. Jack is extremely flustered by her nudity, while she sees no problem with it. Yep, it’s the old, tired “hot girl with no nudity taboo” thing again. Michał expected better of Samurai Jack. Cameron’s take was that the joke was actually funny, only because he felt it was at the expense of Jack’s embarrassment (rather than her state of undress) and executed well. Though he sees why Michal was annoyed by it. And to be fair Jack got down into his undies too, so equal opportunity nudity?

Jack eventually manages to activate a weapon that had been designed specifically to destroy the monster, and it does its job. But not before the two are entirely covered in the leeches. After the weapon destroys them, they’re exhausted and covered in goo. Then they make out, as you do. Yes, it’s about as awkward as you’d think.

Romance aside, the return to the old seasons’ style feels out of place. This isn’t old Jack anymore, neither the show nor the character are the same. Turning it back to the old atmosphere, and Jack’s old personality and appearance, feels like it disregards the earlier developments. It’s like all the turmoil and trauma he’s been through hasn’t been resolved so much as it’s vanished entirely. Watching this episode, it’s like Jack’s trauma, depression and introspection had never happened. He’s back to being the heroic, but awkward and stiff guy we saw in the older seasons.

Even if it didn’t erase an otherwise poignant, visceral portrayal of Jack’s inner struggle, do we want to see old Jack here? Earlier, it felt like part of the point was how neither he nor the show are like they used to be. And that was fine, because it was the final stretch of his story. The grand resolution. This episode feels very at odds with that. If it weren’t for Ashi and the romance, it would have fit perfectly in an older season.

So, About That Ship

So, that happened. Jashi is confirmed. We have very mixed feelings on this. Very mixed feelings on this pair. On the one hand, they have similar upbringings, they are both complete dorks with each other, and are now living in world’s alien to them.

On the other hand the relationship feels slightly forced, as if Ashi is now a compulsory love interest. As if this relationship is cliched and bad for her character. In addition there is the age issue. Ashi seems to be anywhere from mid-teens to mid-20s, and Jack is a functional immortal being now. So, it’s problematic…I think???

Cameron’s View

I am mixed. I think this relationship is interesting to think about given their similar backgrounds. Weirdly enough, I liked watching it and the episode, but I really don’t know how I feel about it now. With both of my hands I hate and love it. Like I know I shouldn’t like it, but I feel like I like it. This is the feeling Kylie must have on the James Bond films. This ship is…………..really something………

Michal’s View

This is a second episode of Jack in a row that I didn’t like. Last time, it was because I felt it was too quick, too neat, and too ignorant of Jack’s earlier development. Now, all of it still applies, but there’s also the romance. It’s really awkward, and mildly creepy because of the age difference. Which is actually another way in which it ignores the fact that Jack isn’t who he was. The way he acts around Ashi would be natural for his character in the old seasons. But that’s not who he is anymore. We said it before. He’s at least seventy years old, even if he hasn’t physically aged. After all they showed us earlier, now they hit the reset button on that?

I would really rather have seen them in a mentor/student relationship. Or just friends, kicking ass and fighting Aku together. Why is it that when a female character enters the story, she has to become the male protagonist’s girlfriend?

Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network


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