With Jack (Phil LaMarr) having lost his magic sword years ago, forcing him to rely on more “modern” weapons, he has been deprived of the one instrument that can cause harm to his immortal foe, Aku (Greg Baldwin). This begs the question, why has Aku not simply killed Jack? Aku is in fact unaware of Jack having lost his magic sword, as, in the words of the latter, “Aku doesn’t know. And he hasn’t shown himself in years”. So what has Aku been doing for these past 50 years?
We learn from the beginning that Aku has now taken a non-reactionary attitude towards the samurai. Sometime between Season 4 and 5, the 50-year gap explained in the intro, Aku, “had eradicated all the time portals”, leaving Jack stranded to “spend eternity in this forsaken time”. Aku had not realized that a side effect to his sending Jack into the future would be to halt Jack’s aging process, similar to Wolverine’s healing factor from Marvel Comics. The difference is that while Wolverine ages very slowly, but does in fact age, Jack’s age is frozen in time. Jack can be hurt, and can be killed, but he is nigh immortal. Jack will not die from age, as Aku had hoped. “I wish there was someone, who can dispose of my problem”.
Little does Aku know someone has already stepped forward to eliminate Jack. The Daughters of Aku finally come face-to-face with Jack, catching him in a surprise attack. Jack is forced to retreat temporarily, having been caught off guard, and we see Jack is hallucinating visions of himself. Jack is grappling with his drive to end Aku, and the desire to just end it all. “There’s no way home! There’s nothing to fight for! Aren’t you tired? Wouldn’t it be great to be free of all of this?”
Having grown accustomed to fighting robots over the years, Jack believes he will be able to defeat the Daughters. “They are just nuts and bolts. Just nuts and bolts.” After a brutal fight, Jack barely surviving, he finally manages to kill one of the Daughters. Shocked to find blood instead of oil coming out, and even more so to find a human face behind the mask, Jack barely escapes.
So ends another excellent episode of the exceptional cartoon series that is Samurai Jack. The change to Adult Swim and it’s TV-14 rating, allowing portrayal of more brutality and mature themes than would otherwise have been allowed on Cartoon Network’s standard Y-7 rating, has been a boon to the series. In the hands of a lesser storyteller/writer, the show could easily have just abused its newfound freedom and turned into a mess of blood and guts that serve no purpose to developing characters or progressing the plot. Thankfully, the show is in the hands of Genndy Tartakovsky, an animator and writer who knows not to abuse the trust his audience has placed in him, and deliver satisfying stories to them in exchange for that trust. I can only grow more excited to see what Tartakovsky has created for time!