Samurai Jack Season 5 Review: Episode 10 (CI) (SPOILER ALERT)

ModernSpongeBobSucks
"50 years have passed, but I do not age. Time has lost its effect on me. Yet the suffering continues. Aku's grasp chokes the past, present, and future. Hope is lost. Gotta get back. Back to the past. Samurai Jack."

It's been 3 months since I've first heard that intro. And what's hard to believe is that as of the time I write this post, Samurai Jack is now finally over. Not just Season 5 in general, but the entire series as a whole. For what I have to say about the show's revival, I must say it has been a pleasure getting to experience all 10 episodes of pure action, emotion, adult themes, humor, and basically art in the form of an animated masterpiece. Welcome, fellow TopTenners and visitors. As you may now know, Samurai Jack had just aired its series finale on the Saturday of May 20th, 2017. In fact, the show's fifth season will be getting a five-hour marathon on Toonami on May 27th, 2017 as it airs all 10 episodes back-to-back in one night. That said, now that Samurai Jack has reached its conclusion, it is now time for me to reach the conclusion of my Samurai Jack Season 5 episode review blog post series. I may or may not make one last post after this by reviewing the fifth season as a whole, but either way, before I can decide on that, I have to finish up this final review before doing so. As my usual tradition goes with making posts like these, I highly advise being caught up with the previous nine episodes prior to the series finale and I heavily warn you that this review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. With that said and done, now it's time to finally review the series finale to Genndy Tartakovsky's magnum opus.

The tenth and final episode of the fifth season of Samurai Jack opens up with the Scotsman's eldest daughter Flora hurriedly riding back home on her deer. When she reaches her home, she tries to warn her father and daughters about Aku, but is quickly interrupted as they're now anticipating a worldwide televised broadcast from Aku. The episode then shows nearly all of Jack's allies and acquaintances that he had met in the past gathering to their television screens to see the broadcast, all consisting of the Ravers, the Triseraquins, the Woolies, the "Jump Good" Monkey Man and his ape tribe, the Blind Archers, Rothchild and his grandchildren, and the robot inhabitants of Andromeda. Basically, judging by that, you can pretty much tell it was fanservice for the old fans of the show like how many of Jack's allies and acquaintances appeared in the sixth episode of this season. Anyways, when everyone is finally gathered around their television screens, more nostalgia appeal is thrown in as the show's original opening monologue, complete with Mako Iwamatsu's dialogue, is broadcasted! Man, I really loved how they incorporated that into the series finale! When the monologue finishes, Aku then abruptly rises up and trolls the audience by saying "NOT!" after the part where he says now Jack seeks to return to the past and undo the future that is Aku. With that, he then proceeds to announce that after all these years, he has finally captured Jack and his sword, causing each and every last group of allies and acquaintances of Jack to express concern for Jack at this discovery. After Aku then talks down to all that oppose him, he then proceeds to kill Jack.

However, when Aku finds himself unsure of how he wants to finish off Jack, this gives time for Jack to try and beg Ashi, who had previously been corrupted by Aku in the previous episode after he had found out that she was his biological daughter, to fight against Aku's control of her. While on the outside, it appears Ashi is ignoring Jack and standing idly like a statue, on the inside, Ashi is helplessly trying to break out of her corruption and is unable to fight her way through Aku's essence that is now consuming her. After a few more attempts at trying to choose a way to kill Jack, Aku finally gives up and then commands Ashi to kill Jack, as he feels that the simplest solution is usually the best one. With Ashi having no control over her corrupted body, she then walks over to Jack and proceeds to stab him with her arm in the form of a sharp needle. When all seems lost as Jack's journey is about to come to an end at the hands of his own love, Aku's lair is then suddenly ambushed, sparing Jack's life and breaking him from his imprisonment. Much to Jack's delight (and me and the rest of the audience's delight), he then sees that many of his allies and acquaintances have come to rescue him, with even the Spartans (yes, THE SPARTANS!) adding themselves to the already large crowd of allies and acquaintances seen at the beginning of this episode. With Aku now distracted by Jack's allied forces, Jack takes the opportunity to use the time allotted by this ambush to go and retrieve his sword. Unfortunately, before he could regain his sword, Ashi blocks Jack as her limbs stretch over the sword's entrance and emits a wall of fire around it before subsequently attacking Jack in a barrage of assaults.

Meanwhile, in spite of the armies' best efforts, Aku is unharmed by their attacks and mocks them before subsequently squashing a group of Blind Archers mounted on Woolies and turning them into mini clones of himself. With some of their brethren now corrupted, the armies do their best to fight them off, with the Blind Archers and Woolies trying to hold back their former comrades and the Triseraquins, Ravers, and Canine Archaeologists being overwhelmed in the air while the Spartans try to stand their ground. Thankfully, the Scotsman and his daughters are able to arrive at this most needed time as the Scotsman uses his phantom bagpipes to form a trail for his daughters' deer to ride on as they get in on the action. In addition, the Scotsman then blows harder into his phantom bagpipes, causing Aku to flinch and Ashi to be swooned away from Jack as she was chasing him. While the Scotsman's daughters proceed to go and fight off Ashi, the Scotsman has a friendly reunion with Jack. Learning that the Scotsman is now dead and alive as a ghost, Jack is introduced to many of the Scotsman's daughters. All of which have quite a lot of different designs and names!

Scotsman: There's Flora, Maeve, Isla, Bradana, Murdina, Alana, Oban, Ardbey, Fionna, Assie, Bonnie, Lorna, Mawina, Shona, Nora, Piesil, Shanath, Euspeth, Edme, Freya, Gilbartha, Gesha, Grizela, Innes, Dawntha, Cora, Davina, Kina-
Jack: So many.

I can only imagine how much time and effort Tartakovsky's team put into coming up with those names. Anyways, the Scotsman then offers Jack the chance to choose one of his daughters to be his bride. Jack politely declines, much to the Scotsman's surprise, to which Jack explains that he had met someone. The Scotsman asks Jack who is this someone and Jack then points to Ashi in her corrupted form, causing the Scotsman to question Jack's taste in women. Suddenly, the robot inhabitants of Andromeda arrive and are piloting the Robo-Samurai as they breach Aku's lair. The Robo-Samurai then goes full-on TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN on Aku when it then gives him the beating of his life as it punches him in the face in rapid succession! During this, as the Scotsman comments on the Robo-Samurai, Jack is then swallowed by Ashi as he now tries to navigate his way through Aku's essence in order to find her. The Robo-Samurai then even tears off Aku's antlers and kicks him to the wall before unsheathing its sword for the final blow! However, Aku then declares that he has had enough and gathers all of his corrupted minions to combine with him as he ascends into the sky and forms a black raincloud that releases a hail of black needles, killing most of the combatants ranging from the Robo-Samurai's pilots to most of the armies fighting in the air. When the Scotsman then sees his daughters in danger from the needle storm, he then flies up into the air to repel it using his phantom bagpipes. Meanwhile, Jack is still trying to find Ashi and eventually reaches her, with the latter feeling powerless to break free of her control as the essence slowly covers her face again. Jack pleads with her that she must fight it, but to no avail. But before Ashi's face is completely consumed, Jack then confesses his love for Ashi. With Ashi's face now consumed, Jack is kicked out of her body as she now attempts to choke Jack to death. All seems lost as Jack is about to die at the hands of his own love, but to his luck, Ashi then lets go of Jack and breaks free from her corruption. So basically... the power of love saved the day here. But I think I'll talk about that later after I detail the plot. Anyways, Aku then comes and asks if Jack is dead, to which Ashi denies and says that he will never be as she declares that Aku is not her father. Displeased with her daughter's defiance, Aku then proceeds to kill Ashi with a single bladed hand, only for Ashi to then deflect Aku's attack in the same fashion as him. This surprises Aku as he then tries to use two bladed hands and then his eye lasers to kill Ashi, only for her to deflect those attacks in the same fashion respectively as well. With Jack and Ashi now realizing that Ashi has Aku's powers, Ashi uses them to stretch her arm out to retrieve Jack's sword and... somehow create a time portal to take her and Jack back to the past even though she just now learned how to use Aku's powers and wasn't aware of Aku being able to create time portals in the first place. Again, I'll save the criticism for later.

With Aku now realizing in horror that he'll cease to exist if his past self is killed, the episode then transitions to Jack and Ashi embracing each other as they now arrive at the very final scene of the first episode of the series where Jack was flung into the future by Aku, with it being re-mastered in terms of animation and even Phil LaMarr and Greg Baldwin reenacting the entire scene! After sending Jack into the future, Aku is then surprised as he sees Jack and Ashi come back from the future. And thus, Jack proceeds to kill Aku with no holds barred. That's right. No mercy. No speeches. No posing stances. Jack was about ready to kill Aku without hesitation. With Aku weak from his previous battle with Jack, Jack is able to hold the advantage as he slices him in half and takes out one half of his body. When the other half then tries to escape in horror, Jack jumps into the air and plunges his sword right into Aku as Jack's sword then absorbs Aku's essence again as Aku can now only blink with his two eyes. Declaring that Aku is no more, Jack then stabs his sword into the ground as Aku's lair begins to black out and explode with Jack and Ashi escaping just in time to avoid being caught in the lair's self-destruction. Now knowing for a fact that Aku will no longer hurt a living thing ever again as he wasn't sealed but rather destroyed for good, Jack declares that his quest is done, but then sees Ashi fall to the ground but still conscious as she says that she felt part of Aku leave her.

Some time later, Jack and Ashi are preparing for their wedding as the two are dressed up and accompanied by Jack's parents. In addition, just about all of Jack's teachers from all around the world that had trained Jack in his quest to defeat Aku come to Jack's wedding as well. With everything now set in motion for the wedding, everything looks all happy as Ashi walks to the altar where Jack is so that they may officially be married. Unfortunately, before she could even make it to the altar, Ashi collapses, prompting Jack to run to her aid. Jack asks what's wrong, to which Ashi explains that without Aku's existence, she can no longer exist. Ashi is only able to so much as lay her hand on Jack one last time as she then fades into existence right in the arms of Jack. No kiss. No hug. No goodbye. Just her hand. Having tragically lost his true love, Jack cries in anguish as his parents and mentors look on in sorrow for the tragedy. You know, I can't honestly be the only one who thought that this scene has quite a lot of similarities to the ending of Gurren Lagann, aside from the fact that this scene was much more tragic and bittersweet than the latter. Wow, I see so many parallels between Samurai Jack and Gurren Lagann...

Later, Jack then rides into a foggy forest with his horse and stops and sits by a tree as he mourns Ashi's death in loneliness. However, a ladybug reminiscent of the one he had encountered in the fourth episode of the fifth season flies right into Jack's hand. Reminding him of Ashi since it was the first thing that allowed her to finally see Jack for who he is, Jack then smiles and stands up, letting the ladybug fly away like how he did with the ladybug at the end of the fourth episode of the fifth season. Grateful for the times and memories he has had with Ashi even though she may no longer exist, the fog then begins to clear up as the sun shines down on the beautiful forest and the blooming sakura tree Jack is standing under, similar to the one he and Ashi had saw when showing her the truth about Aku in the fifth episode of the fifth season. And so, the future looks bright for Jack as he not only finds hope for love (and that maybe someday he and Ashi will meet again), but also finds that thanks to his and Ashi's efforts, the future will no longer be plagued by the evil of Aku.

Okay, so before I get to praising the high points and pros of the official series finale to Samurai Jack, I unfortunately have to discuss some cons with this episode as well. Now I'm going to be totally honest here. While I personally enjoyed the series finale as a whole and thought that it ended Samurai Jack on a good note, the episode itself wasn't entirely flawless. Now did I think the series finale was awful and disappointing? Heck no for an answer. But did I find some flaws with the series finale? As much as I don't want to admit it, I did. First off, the series finale kind of felt a bit rushed. Now I understand that the fifth season was only going to be 10 episodes formatted as a serialized story, but I'm pretty sure that while a traditional 13-episode long season wasn't possible, the least Tartakovsky could have done was stretch out the duration of the series finale further to better develop the conclusion to the show unless he could only fit the series finale into a 22-minute long episode. Otherwise, this would probably be the only viable reason that I would have for forgiving the series finale's fast pace.

Next, I did feel that this episode did have too much convenience and maybe a bit of some deus ex machina elements to it as well. For example, what it really took for Jack to finally break Ashi out of her corruption was by simply shouting in desperation that he loved her. While I initially found the moment endearing, when I looked back at it from a critical standpoint, I realized that they could have done something better than that even though I was a pretty huge fan of Jack and Ashi's relationship. Why not do something like have Ashi fight against the essence by telling herself that she is not her mother, not her father, and that she is good and can purify herself of Aku's evil with her good heart and nature? You know, like how Jack said the same exact thing to her in the previous episode to try to snap her out of Aku's control? Why not that instead of the power of love?

Also, there's also the fact that Ashi somehow was able to master her powers that she inherited from Aku even though she just now learned how to use them in her human form. Not to mention she knew right on the spot how to open a time portal without showing any development towards learning how to use it! Then again, I kind of forgive this after I recently just read some tropes about Samurai Jack on TV Tropes, where one trope said that Ashi used the time portal right away instead of telling Jack that she knew how to use it because she knew that if she told Jack about it, Jack would hesitate to choose between going back to the past or staying in the future since he couldn't have both as one would have to be chosen over the other. But when you think about it, I think it would have been a better choice for Jack to hesitate and make this choice, because it would have fitted better with the dark and mature tone of the fifth season and the themes of how one should move forward in the decisions they make. Then again, there wouldn't be no point in Jack saying "Gotta get back. Back to the past. Samurai Jack." if he never got back to the past. Plus, a bittersweet ending is probably better than a Hollywood ending, anyway.

But lastly and most importantly, one major thing of concern is this temporal paradox: If Jack went back to the past with Ashi's powers in order to kill the past Aku, since the past Aku's death meant that everyone else in the future would cease to exist, wouldn't that mean that Ashi ceasing to exist would cause her to have never taken Jack back to the past in the first place? ...Yeah. Don't get me started on how Jack's memories from the future would also probably be erased since he would never experience them as a result of the future no longer existing. Now I'm not really sure how to explain this one. But if I were to defend this, I would say the only claim that debunks this paradox would be that Jack was either still unaffected by time travel like how he no longer aged as a result of time travel or that since he came right after the past Jack was banished into the future, then he acted as past Jack's current self and therefore was spared from the ripple effect and able to not only stay in existence, but also retain his memories from the future as well even though that future now no longer exists.

Alright, now that the cons are out of the way, let's get to the pros, babe! Now in spite of my in-depth criticisms of the flaws of the series finale, I actually did still find the pros to outweigh the cons of this episode! As usual, production value was top-notch and state-of-the-art like Tartakovsky and his team have always done with each episode of Samurai Jack. The animation was gorgeous, the art was beautiful, the music was outstanding (especially the song with the woman vocalizing in Japanese "Your love has been set free" at the end of the episode), the emotions really tugged at your heart and tears, the themes were thought-provoking and philosophical, the voice acting was phenomenal, and pretty much everything is superb if you look past the flaws. As for the story, while it did feel rushed, it nevertheless managed to deliver on what had to be done in the simplest but best solution possible. Even with the abundance of plot convenience and clichés, the episode's execution and presentation of the plot was still done pretty well to the best of the creators' abilities and efforts. As for the other stuff, if you're an old fan, chances are that nostalgia was at its highest for you when you saw the original opening monologue by Mako Iwamatsu, all of Jack's allies and acquaintances, and the very final scene at the end of the first episode of Samurai Jack. Not to mention that while I felt a bit underwhelmed by the power of love cliché, I still found Jack and Ashi's love for each other to be delightful and meaningful. But I must say that I really liked the bittersweet conclusion the most. Tartakovsky did say that the ending to Samurai Jack was going to have people in tears, and so it did. I actually shedded a few tears when Ashi faded away from existence in Jack's arms! To see such a great female lead be erased from existence was heart-wrenching for me as much as it was heartbreaking for Jack to see his own love disappear in front of him! But with the bitter part also comes the sweet part when the series ends on the note that while Jack may have had to sacrifice Ashi to get back to the past and defeat Aku, he and Ashi's sacrifices were not in vain as now Jack can rest assured that the future will forever be safe from Aku's tyranny for good. All in all, while the series finale could have done better on some certain aspects, that doesn't change the fact that it has served its purpose well and has truly brought the series to a satisfying and long-awaited end. As I write this, Samurai Jack has now become one of my favorite cartoons of all time and would probably be my number one favorite if not for Ed, Edd n Eddy. While Cartoon Network hasn't been doing a good job of bringing back some of their old shows in the form of reboots or revivals, Samurai Jack just so manages to break the status quo for that. And for that, I'm thankful for all the hard work Tartakovsky and his team have put into making a final season for perhaps one of the greatest TV shows to ever bless the animation medium. So without further ado, here's my final score for the series finale of Samurai Jack:

9.0 out of 10.0 stars

Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed the fifth season of Samurai Jack! Until then, peace!

Comments

I don't know most things of the time, but that ending is sad one. But look on a bright side, Aku was defeated. - BorisRule

These 10 episodes were just something to behold, all comes together in the end with the epic final confrontation. I get that the paradox flaw is what it is, I got a little laugh when Jack immediately comes right back as if he forgot about his daughters who had powers. Its probably the best thing they could end the series as a whole with a tear jerkier of not only Ashi fades away, but also your childhood of this show goes as well. I'm glad I saw this show, enjoyed every moment of it (even if some episodes were more focused on minor things), and one of my all time favorite cartoons. One of the rare cases of a show getting great treatment of a reboot done right. - htoutlaws2012

You mean a continutation - BorisRule

It felt so relieving to see Aku's defeat. Especially since Samurai Jack didn't have a proper ending until it came onto Adult Swim. - RoseRedFlower

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