Samurai Jack Season 5 Review: Episode 3 (XCIV) (SPOILER ALERT)

ModernSpongeBobSucks
"You have chosen this path. Life works in strange ways. Your choices have clearly led you here, as have mine. I will give you a new choice. Leave here now and live or stay and face your destiny."

Welcome again, fellow TopTenners and visitors! This is MSBS here and I'm going to be reviewing the third episode of the fifth season of Samurai Jack. Now if you have been keeping up with my reviews, you should know by now what the rules are for each of them. Basically, for each episode of the fifth season of Samurai Jack, I will be analyzing the events of what happens in each episode and giving my thoughts on them, where I will then conclude each review with my last thoughts on the episode. Also, I will be connecting this to the previous episode that came before this, so if you haven't seen that episode yet, I highly recommend watching the first episode and that episode before watching this episode and reading this review. And as always, this review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS as indicated by my previous sentence. So without further ado, let's get dig into the flesh and blood of this episode review.

The third episode of the fifth season of Samurai Jack begins by showing us a flowing river. It is then that we see Jack still unconscious as he floats across the stream with a dagger still in the right side of his lower torso still bleeding as a result of the previous events of the second episode. Let me explain how this came to be. Now in the previous episode of the fifth season of Samurai Jack before this one, Jack was mercilessly ambushed by the seven Daughters of Aku, a group of female assassins that were raised since birth by the Cult of Aku (which just so happens to be an all-female cult, to add on) to be brutal killers dedicated to killing Jack. Now in that episode, Jack had a PRETTY hard time dealing with them. He was barely able to survive the encounter, but not before killing one of the Daughters of Aku and having a dagger jabbed right in his torso by said Daughter of Aku, where he then self-destructed the temple with the sonic dagger that he had gained from Scaramouche in his fight with him in the first episode and fell into a river. Oh, and to add the icing on the cake, there was also a white wolf that was shown mirroring Jack as it took on a trio of green tigers about twice its size similar to how Jack had to take on the seven Daughters of Aku. Also, along with that, by the end of the second episode, the white wolf was last shown to have been unconscious and seemingly dead as a result of succumbing to its wounds in spite of defeating all three tigers. Now I'll be bringing up the white wolf at a later point in this review since it's an important plot element in this episode, so be on the lookout for it. And... that's basically how Jack ended up as he is in the beginning of the third episode.

Moving on, after a series of flowing down the river through streams, rapids, and even a waterfall, Jack eventually regains consciousness, having miraculously gained no new wounds since his last encounter with the Daughters of Aku. However, in spite of this, he is still shown to be physically weak as he struggles to gain a grip on a log that he comes across to prevent himself from drowning. Suddenly, a frog then leaps onto the log, where it then warns Jack that "they're coming!" Jack does not immediately respond to the frog's appearance until he hears this warning, prompting him to panic and then pass out again. Now I would like to say one thing about this. When I was watching the YouTuber Chibi Reviews review this episode, he made a point saying that this scene truly demonstrates how physically weak Jack is considering how Jack didn't respond to the frog immediately unlike how he usually responds to things quickly when he senses something. I gotta say, Chibi Reviews sure has a point about this!

Anyways, Jack then reawakens in the middle of the night, where he reaches a shore and proceeds to find a cave to rest in. During this time, he is not only stalked by the same mysterious samurai warrior we've seen from his visions in previous episodes, but he is also FOLLOWED by it as well, which is a pretty big change and momentous shift since it seems to symbolize Jack's constant and growing danger of dying. But in spite of this, as Jack stumbles through the forest with a pitch black silhouette with only his eyes and bleeding wounds visible, he is finally able to find a cave.

Having reached a good stopping point, Jack then decides to finally pull out the dagger stuck in his torso. Now what really stands out about this scene is how Jack doesn't just simply pull out the dagger. You see, he actually moans IN PAIN and is visually seen IN PAIN as he struggles to pull the dagger out. With the addition of bloodshed as well, this episode truly begins to mark itself as the most mature and bloodiest episode in the fifth season and the entire show as a whole. Moving on, Jack is successfully able to remove the dagger from his torso, followed by him passing out again. However, while Jack's external struggle may be over for now, his internal struggle starts to take over again. And boy, did it take over again in quite a vicious fashion! Why do I say this? Because as Jack coldly sweats as he regains consciousness and tries to go back to sleep, his consciousness comes back to haunt him again, only this time, his consciousness has a much more jagged and distorted appearance. Compared to how it was just an identical illusion of Jack from the original series that was desperate and angry at Jack for having stayed so long in the future and never getting back to the past from the second episode, now it appears much more corrupt and malevolent, as it literally boasts sharp teeth and acts as an even more antagonistic internal struggle for Jack. Getting back to the plot discussion, Jack's consciousness maliciously mocks Jack for killing his first human, given that he's only killed robots up until that point, leading it to ask if Jack could kill the remaining Daughters of Aku if they find him again, to which it follows up by saying that Jack probably wanted the Daughters of Aku to kill him rather than him killing them, with Jack finally ending this internal struggle by denying such claims as the scene blacks out.

Then, by next morning, Jack wakes up as his body is seen slathered in blood from wounds all over himself as each drop drips to create quite an artistic display of red abstract shading over a pitch black silhouette in a dark cave. Detecting an unknown presence approaching the entrance of the cave where sunlight is shining from, Jack grips his dagger as the wound where the dagger was pulled from drips blood as he prepares to defend himself. Fortunately, this presence is revealed to not be the Daughters of Aku, but rather, the same white wolf that appeared in the second episode, confirming that it was not dead and survived its encounter with the three tigers! All while being just as artistically blood-soaked as Jack is as it shines in the sunlight in front of Jack showing that it does not intend to harm him as he passes out again! Man, you do not know how joyful I was when I learned that the white wolf was alive! I actually thought it was dead for good from the last episode! Genndy Tartakovsky, your talent at telling a good story and creating unpredictable and nail-biting plot twists is incredible!

Anyways, as Jack remains unconscious, he then has a dream from his childhood where he is seen inside a carriage playing with two dolls resembling a bandit and his father as his parents are seen smiling in peace at their young son. However, trouble strikes when a group of bandits suddenly kill the guards guarding Jack's carriage, prompting Jack's father to confront the bandits to defend his family. Jack then looks out the door of the carriage as he sees his father telling the bandits that he will give them a choice: leave now and live, or stay and face their destiny. The bandits refuse to leave, prompting Jack's father to swiftly kill the bandits without a moment of hesitation, with Jack's eyes in shock as some of the blood from the killing splats right onto Jack's face. Now I really liked how they presented Jack's reaction to this event as something major and essential to the plot and how it affects him as a character. Plus, seeing how this bloodshed was presented was well-executed as it was something that was meant to be symbolic and representative of how much the series has matured and had grown in its ability to expand the lore and themes of Samurai Jack rather than just being an edgy show focused only around gore and violence.

So after Jack wakes up, the white wolf comes back with food for them to eat, to which they mutually share the food over a roasting fire in the cave. Now referring to Chibi Reviews again, another point about this episode is that it further expands on how weak Jack has gotten as he is unable to fend for himself, let alone finding food like the white wolf just did. In addition, it's quite nice to see how these two lone white warriors bond with each other seeing that they practically mirror each other in terms of nature and where they're coming from. From helping each other to heal their wounds to sleeping together for the night since Jack was too cold and needed warmth, it was sweet and heartwarming to see these two heal together in the episode.

By the next morning, both Jack and the white wolf's wounds have completely healed as the two part and go their separate ways, with the latter leaving for parts unknown (I'm not sure if it won't be seen again or not, but I'm guessing it's likely that that's the last time we'll be seeing the white wolf). Following their partings, Jack then flashes back to when his father was wiping his face after the bloody encounter with the group of bandits he had just killed to defend his family, where his father then tells Jack that the decisions he makes and the actions that follow are a reflection of who he is. Remembering this important lesson from his childhood, Jack then begins to prepare for the next confrontation with the Daughters of Aku, using the lesson he remembered to have the means justify the ends as he knows that he must kill the Daughters of Aku in order to survive, even if they are humans themselves.

Right after this, the episode then transitions right back to the Daughters of Aku, who have just broke their way out of the ruined temple as they pull the same sister that Jack had killed in the previous episode out of the temple, simply leaving her dead body there to rot as according to the Daughters of Aku, "Death is failure." While it doesn't seem to surprising that they didn't care for their sister's death, I was honestly quite surprised by their lack of emotion and humanity. I mean, I'm pretty sure we've all seen shows where a member of a group dies and the rest of the group reacts emotionally to such an event. Whether it be mourning their deaths and burying their dead bodies or swearing to avenge them, absolutely NONE of that happens with the Daughters of Aku. Wow, it truly goes to show you how much the Cult of Aku has taught the Daughters of Aku to be nothing more than brutal killers without choice since birth. That said, the Daughters of Aku then proceed to track down Jack as they follow traces of his blood down the same river he had once flown through before and eventually reach the same forest he is currently in. But while they begin to search for Jack in the forest, something very strange happens...

What I mean by this is that during their search for Jack, they then stumble upon a female deer in the forest, questioning what it is as they have never seen a deer before let alone an actual living creature. This is followed by a male deer coming right onto the scene as well, where the Daughters of Aku then mistake its antlers for Aku, thinking that the male deer is one of Aku's minions and is about to kill the female deer. However, the male deer instead mates with the female deer, leaving the Daughters of Aku in confusion as they have never experienced life outside of the cult they were trained in nor love as well. Eventually, one of the them steps on a twig, frightening the deer and causing them to flee. And soon enough, the Daughters of Aku see a bloody handprint that immediately confirms that Jack is nearby, prompting them to bring out their weapons as they prepare to kill Jack once and for all.

When snow starts falling, Jack finally reveals himself, albeit he is not shown visually, but rather vocally. Repeating the same thing his father had said when he encountered the group of bandits from his childhood, Jack gives them a choice: leave now and live, or stay and face their destiny. Obviously, the Daughters of Aku turn down the former and proclaim that their destiny is Jack's death, to which Jack obliges and truly shows himself, impaling one of the Daughters of Aku with a thrown wooden spear without hesitation. In his last fight against the Daughters of Aku, Jack gains the advantage over them this time as he uses the terrain and weather to overpower them. Now what's really interesting about this is how much this parallels Jack's last encounter with the Daughters of Aku, seeing that his first encounter had him fighting them in the black shadows as they held a huge advantage over him compared to how his second and last encounter with them had him holding the advantage this time thanks to the white snow working to his benefit in the fight. And that's not all! Throughout the fight, both a presentation of artistry and maturity is put on as the combatants chase each other through snow-covered trees that make the fight reminiscent of the episode "Samurai versus Ninja" again like the previous episode with the fight in the dark against the Daughters of Aku and how Jack kills another daughter with a spear and yet another one by stealing her kanobo and impaling her against a tree with a thrown machete that he had also stolen from the daughter he had just killed with a spear, with both acts displaying quite a fair amount of bloodshed that show how much freedom Adult Swim has given Tartakovsky now that he is producing a season of one of his greatest shows for a more mature audience meant for both old fans of the original Samurai Jack and new ones as well. With only three daughters remaining, they then combine their powers in one last attempt to take out Jack. Fortunately, Jack is able to take the fight to a narrow fallen tree leaning off of a cliff, forcing them to have to take Jack one on one to keep themselves from falling off the cliff all at once. And to further gain a bigger advantage over the daughters, Jack then drops his kanobo into the depths of the valley below, dropping the daughters' guard as he takes on each of them with his own bare hands. Jack manages to throw two daughters off the log to their deaths, where he then goes toe to toe with the last Daughter of Aku, who just so happens to be Ashi. While his fight with Ashi was the longest compared to the last two daughters, he is still able to defeat her, but not before the chains she used to fight him wrap around one of his wrists and the fallen tree as she is seen left hanging from one end of the chain, claiming that she will kill Jack and that Aku will be free of the parasite that Jack is. Oh, and just by telling by her voice, Ashi is shown to be voiced by Tara Strong. Uh... Tara? Aren't you a bit TOO overused in voice acting for animation these days? Eh, whatever, it's just a nitpick of mine. The episode isn't really undermined by this. Getting back on topic, Jack ignores Ashi's threats as he just simply unwraps the chain tangled around his wrist and the fallen tree as Ashi finally falls to what seems to be her apparent death. Things look good for Jack as he has finally defeated all the Daughters of Aku and sighs a breath of relief. Unfortunately, the episode ends in a cliffhanger (in a relatively literal sense considering the episode ends from a cliff) as the fallen tree Jack is standing on suddenly breaks due to the chain that had wrapped around it earlier, sending Jack falling down to the depths of the valley.

Wow, three episodes through and there hasn't been a decline in quality as of yet as the revival continues to shine bright like a diamond! Up until the Samurai Jack revival, the only animated series reboot or revival that I ever remembered liking was Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. As for other reboots like Teen Titans Go!, The Powerpuff Girls, and Ben 10... not so much. However, Tartakovsky manages to stand above the rest and basically give a middle finger to Cartoon Network, and still continues to do so as his revival of his most beloved animated series continues to be great. The struggles dealt with at the beginning of the third episode truly give Jack a run for his money and created tension throughout the episode's duration. As for the characters, how Jack was able to find himself after coming face to face with a wolf mirroring his lone wolf persona and reminiscing about an important moral he had learned and inherited from his father as a child really turned out to be some phenomenal and progressive character development, signifying how Jack went from just being a blank slate character to one who is struggling both within his world and within himself as he continues to find redemption for himself and survive. And as always, the animation and action sequences are state-of-the-art fantastic, which is greatly demonstrated in Jack's fight with the remaining Daughters of Aku in the snow. Oh, and how the white wolf was able to be used as a metaphor to Jack's situation in one episode to becoming a benevolent creature that helps Jack recover and get him back on his feet is just one of the many ways this revival is shown to have a cohesive story to tell. Genndy Tartakovsky, keep up the good work. You and your team have done an outstanding job so far. I'll be looking forward to the upcoming episodes as the fifth season begins to near the end of its first half of episodes. So now that I've discussed my final thoughts on the third episode of the fifth season of Samurai Jack, here is my final score for it:

10.0 out of 10.0 stars

Look, I understand it may be tedious that I'm just handing out 9's and 10's to everything I rate in a post, but for all the Samurai Jack episodes I have reviewed so far, how can I not rate them something so high as a 9 or a 10? That said, thanks for reading and be sure to check out episode 4 of the fifth season of Samurai Jack after doing so. Until then, peace!

Comments

Bad news, Samurai Jack fans. Apparently, since it was April Fools this Saturday, Adult Swim had the nerve to pull off perhaps the worst April Fools joke of 2017 by showing a marathon of the season 3 premiere of Rick and Morty back and forth at the cost of the time slots for Samurai Jack and Dragon Ball Super. Don't get me wrong, I think Rick and Morty is a good show, but the way Adult Swim handled this April Fools joke was no joke at all. It was more like a heartless prank, if you ask me. So now we have to wait ANOTHER week until the fourth episode of Samurai Jack comes out. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

I watched all three of the first S5 episodes, and I've never watched any of this show before but I'm loving it. - Mcgillacuddy

Episode XCIV does NOT deserve a 10/10 in my opinion I might have found a plot hole. As we saw multiple times Nobody in Samurai Jack Dies from falling and everyone can jump Meters High. If that's the case than How did two of the Daughters of Aku Die? He punches the first one then throws her off the tree then He punches the Second Daughter of Aku and then she falls Then Ashi Falls then later he falls but in the next Episode We can see that Jack fells on Multiple Tree Branches and Lands Unscathed. But the Two Daughters with the expection of Ashi Fell to their death. How the hell did they die if Jack falls off from there and lands unscathed? If it only applies to the Daughters then How the hell did Ashi Survive. Now Hold your horses. I think the show is Amazing but this episode Doesn't deserve a 10/10 in my opinion. - Aguythatpeopleignores

Those are some pretty good points, @Aguythatpeopleignores. While the first Daughter is hard to explain, I just assumed that the second Daughter died from the impact of Jack's punch. Other than that, I guess the only other logical explanation is that the two Daughters must have fallen somewhere away from Jack and Ashi's location that was more hazardous enough to somehow kill them.

As for Jack, uh... I can't really think of anything other than the branches breaking his fall. And for Ashi, I think... she fell from a safe height since she was just hanging all the way down from her tangled chain sickle around Jack?

These are just some of my theories as to how those events came to be. Other than that, I can see why you could find a flaw in the episode's consistency with death potential. I just mostly gave this episode a 10/10 for Jack's recovery tying in with the metaphors and themes of the episodes along with the action-packed final fight with the Daughters of Aku. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Unless you have Inhuman strength killing someone with one punch is impossible. Now that I think about it Jack must have punched the second one so hard that she got knocked out cold and I guess falling from a great height doesn't apply to unconscious people? But it's still a plot hole anyways because how unlucky do you have to be in order to
A) somehow get impaled by a tree branch while falling
B) Have your Head/Neck land on a Rock
That's the only two speculations that I could come up with. - Aguythatpeopleignores

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