Long ago…in a distant past…there was a show that dared to be something different. It aired in the day, and yet had dark themes and powerful stories. It was about an ancient samurai, but was set in the future. It was a cartoon, yet was one that all could watch and enjoy. And though the story was deep, it could be summed up in one sentence, “Got to get back, back to the past, Samurai Jack.” Now almost 16 years after it started, and a LONG 13 hiatus between seasons, the Samurai Jack Series Finale has come.
If you recall, last episode featured Jack and his sword being captured by Aku after Ashi was transformed into his minion, and he couldn’t strike her down. The question on everyone’s mind was, how was it going to end? Well, it ended like only the team behind the show could do, full of life, full of epicness, and a result you may not have expected. For the record, this was not a masterpiece of an episode, and there are some frustrating elements, but if you can look past that, the Samurai Jack Series Finale will help you complete the journey you started all those years ago.
I found it oddly poetic that the whole thing started with not only the whole world finding out about Jack being captured (or at the very least, the world that we know from Samurai Jack via the characters we’ve met along the way), but that they replayed THE ORIGINAL OPENING to the show. Or at least, the part before the song bit came in. All of which let Aku gloat to the world as his enemy had been beaten.
Many had complained that Aku had totally screwed himself by not killing Jack right then and there. But remember, Aku is a showman, and he wanted to show, definitively, his victory, live on screen. But what I didn’t expect, but thoroughly enjoyed, was that once the world saw their hero in trouble…they rose up to take him back.
I can’t express how awesome it was that just before Ashi (under Aku’s control still) killed Jack, the roof exploded, and just about every major group of characters we’ve met both this season and the past four came back to save the day for Jack. From the Scotsman and his 40 DAUGHTERS!!! ALL OF WHOM HAD NAMES!!! From the dogs, to the “jump good” monkeys, to the monk archers, to the rave group, TO THE FREAKING SPARTANS!!!! “The 300 shall defend the one!” All came to save their hero and friend.
Now, naturally, and justifiable so, they stood no chance against Aku, and they proved that many times over, but that wasn’t the point. They didn’t need to kill Aku, they needed to distract him so that Jack could finish the job. That wasn’t easy as Ashi was still under Aku’s control, and it didn’t seem like she could break the spell. And Aku was able to show off his impressive power throughout the battle which was truly glorious.
This is where things get…complicated. You see, we knew Ashi would break the spell, but how? Turns out, “I Love You” is all that’s needed…yeah… Then, Ashi had complete control of Aku’s powers that he gave her new form…so much so that she was able to open her own portal in time, send Jack back to the past…to relive the original time travel scene…just so they could reappear…and Jack could finish what he started oh so long ago (remember, it’s been 50+ years for him).
I have to be honest, as I am a true Samurai Jack fan, but…that a little to Deus Ex Machina for me. If you don’t get that reference, it means that someone pulled out a “convenient” power to save the day. And Ashi totally did that. Was it epic? Sure. And seeing Jack FINALLY kill Aku was totally worth it. But…it was…convenient…too convenient. Which of course leads us to that ending scene.
Jack was getting married! Yep, him and Ashi were to tie the knot. And, in again epic fashion, the entire group of people we met in the opening movie (the first three episodes of the series) who trained Jack, as well as his mother and father of course, were there to celebrate his victory and marriage. But…it wasn’t to last. For as I’m sure everyone thought…”if Aku is dead, and the future never happened like Jack saw it…how is Ashi alive?” Well, she wasn’t. And on the way to the alter, she faded from existence.
I’m of two minds on this. On one hand, it’s powerful storytelling, a true showing that true joy can come at a price. In this case, he finally beat Aku, but in the process, it took the woman he loved. Which kind of meant that in a way, Aku still won. Which is a theme that Samurai Jack has played throughout the series. And that’s good storytelling! BUT…as a fan, you had to want Jack to have a happy ending. A true happy ending. Not just him getting back to the past and finally beating ago, but knowing true peace and contentment. You could argue that the death of Ashi ruins that. Not to mention, it took THAT LONG (you know that marriage wasn’t 5 minutes later, it had to be at least a day or two) for her to fade from existence when in theory it should’ve happened in seconds (think Back to the Future).
Now, you could also argue that the ending with the ladybug, which if you recall was the moment that Ashi realized that Jack wasn’t the monster she was told he was, and the light that shined from the heavens was a sign that though she was gone, her sacrifice and love gave Jack hope for the future. But it’s really up to you to interpret it. For me, I just didn’t like this relationship. And so this ending kind of became hollow when I saw Jack go from the happiest man alive to the saddest because of a girl who I don’t believe he should’ve ever loved in that way.
FOR THE RECORD! I’m not bashing the episode that much score wise. It’s still a phenomenal episode that will have Samurai Jack fans screaming for joy and surprise from start to finish. Heck, just seeing Jack and the Scotsman talk for the first time in 50 years (and the Scotsman try and give one of his daughters away to him) was worth the price of admission, as was his line about Ashi, “She doesn’t seem like your type.” That’s not in question. The question is, does this finale deliver the true ending that Samurai Jack, and Samurai Jack fans, deserve after a 13 year hiatus? For me, it’s a mostly yes, but not a complete one. For you? Well, I guess you’ll just have to decide for yourself.
After so long, and such a wait, seeing the Samurai Jack series finale brought a warmth and joy to my heart. I truly love this series, and I’m so happy it FINALLY got to end in a complete and true way. I thank everyone who made this series what it was, and I hope this goes down definitively as one of the greatest cartoons ever made.
You made it back to the past Samurai Jack…now go and live in peace.
Samurai Jack Series Finale Review
After over a decade of waiting, the Samurai Jack Series Finale finally came. And with it came triumph, and bittersweet moments. Many may not like how it ended, but for true Samurai Jack fans, this was a pretty darn good ending.