Damn am I’m glad Samurai Jack is back. The episodes this season have gotten better and better. Not to mention the transition from a kids show to an adult one. But I digress ‘XCIV’ is the third episode of the fifth season and it exceeded all expectations and took Jack through uncharted moral territory. Not only that but this episode delivered one of the most intense fight sequences in not only animated television but on TV as a whole.
Last episode became a game-changer when Jack took his first human life. Throughout this episode it goes into a journey of Jack’s mental well being and shows a heavy burden to bear for jack. Warped versions of his consciousness comes to chastise him. His consciousness turns into a talking nightmare and bares all of his doubts onto him tempting him to end his life. (Yeah definitely not the same show I watched when I was a kid). Though the dialogue sort of dragged, it hardly mattered when the show demonstrated the idea to bring fourth this kind of trauma on a cartoon with mature themes.
At one point you see Jack covered from head to toe in blood and it comes off very terrifying yet artistic. Around this time a wolf appears from a previous episode and stays with Jack in a cave. What follows is a bond forged between them and a spectacular display of characterization with no words of dialogue. It gets even better with the symbolism as it becomes noticeable that the wolf and Jack are basically two ancient figures in a new world filled with machines and aliens. It has a very kindred spirit atmosphere and when these two interact it comes off naturally and beautiful.
Eventually Jack finally overcomes his doubts with a rare flashback of his childhood that showed his father fighting and killing men and possibly showing Jack’s first encounter with fighting and death. Jack’s father eventually gives him advice that echoed throughout the episode, “The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you are”. With these words the Jack we know from the previous series returns in full form and gives the viewer an incredible shot of Jack coming to terms with himself.
The later segments of the episode revolved around the female assassins aka “daughters of Aku” who are hunting Jack down in order to gain some recognition from Aku. In this episode we finally get to see how warped and naive the assassins are. They come across a deer couple that show their affection by brushing their noses. When the daughters see this they freak out and don’t know how to react. Then it clicks to the viewer. They’ve never seen wildlife, affection or any positive trait in life. All they know is pain and death. So when Jack comes to offer them a chance to walk away echoing his fathers words. They yell at him to die and shut up. It’s tragic in a way, because even though their merciless killers their still children who don’t know any better.
What follow suit is one of the greatest fight scenes in TV. Jack shows no mercy from then on, and the viewer witness’s probably the most artistic killings. Then a chase through a snowstorm that creates a very minimal and stunning canvas on the screen while Jack dispatches the assassins one by one luring them into a false sense of security. I’ve spoiled enough already and I feel that I can’t spoil this. Because what happens from the climax to the ending is beyond awesome.
Everything about this episode is perfect. The episode is intense, fascinating, and made a great continuation on what we’ve seen so far. The visuals were astonishing – every scene was essentially a artistic masterpiece. With the contrasts, shadows and camera angles flowing smoothly across the scene along with incredible fight scenes this episode made be one of, if not the best Samurai Jack episode.
You truly get pulled into this episode and lose track of time. This episode shows what Samurai Jack is about and why it has a cult following!