Last week, the Samurai Jack fandom was subject to a very cruel April Fools prank. Instead of the promised episode 4 of the revival series, we were instead treated to the Season 3 premiere of Rick and Morty. Now the latter is a very good show, but I cannot fathom how anyone at Cartoon Network and/or Adult Swim thought it would be a great idea to attract potential new fans by duping a devoted, passionate cult following of another show entirely. That sounds like a guaranteed method to permanently make that show’s fans despise Rick and Morty. I was very disappointed and turned off the TV as soon as I realized what was happening 5 minutes into the episode.
Now that the April Fools mess is addressed, let’s divert to what you really came to read about. I would say Episode 4 was worth the wait, but then I (angrily) recall we have already waited 13 years for this show to come back and conclude Jack’s (Phil LaMarr) story. Episode 4 is a much more humorous affair, while retaining the very serious tone set forth by the previous three episodes. More than the previous episodes, Episode 4 brings back the show’s well-known humor, while managing the task of not having that conflict with the serious tone set forth.
Jack survives his The Revenant-esque fall from the last episode, and his PTSD and visions will not stop. Having killed the Daughters of Aku, crows scream at Jack, calling him “murderer!” Jack vehemently denies this. “No! THEY chose the path! THEY! CHOSE!”
This is not the first time Jack has had haunting visions. It will not be the last as this episode progresses.
Shockingly, one of the Daughters, who name we later find out is Ashi (Tara Strong), has survived, engaging in battle before Jack easily defeats her. We see the show’s humor return here, with Jack having restrained her, hearing her insults, and responding that she is “very troubled. And very confused. I’ve met machines that are programmed with such hate and lies but never a human.”
Ashi: “DECEIVER! WORM! SCUM!”
Jack: “Now you’re just repeating yourself.”
Questioning to himself if it is possible to make Ashi see the truth, and hearing only more vitriol, Jack says, “Mmmm, perhaps not”. Later on, when trapped inside a giant creature, Ashi prays, “My lord and master Aku, may it please you for all eternity: the Samurai is dead!”
Jack: “Um… I’m right here.”
Aski: “FOOL! We’ve been swallowed by a monolithic creature! You’re dead!”
Jack: “I’ve been inside giant creatures before. I’ll find a way out.”
Ashi: “I will never stop-
Jack: Yes, yes, I know, till your dying breath.”
How can you not find any of this funny?! The key is in LaMarr and Strong’s delivery of these lines, both accomplishing effortlessly. LaMarr is a professional comedian as well as prolific voice actor, while Strong is known for her versatile voice skills. Combine those, and a wonderful experience is made.
As the episode progresses, with Jack carrying the restrained Ashi on his back, navigating the giant monster, fighting monsters within the monster, we eventually see them make it out, landing in the ocean. Jack makes it to dry land. Ashi, seeing an opportunity to finally kill Jack, moves in for the kill. Before she can strike, she notices a ladybug and flashes back to previous childhood experience.
When the sisters who would become the Daughters of Aku were training, Ashi notices a ladybug. Ashi pauses her training, letting the ladybug land on her hand, admiring its beauty. Ashi’s mother, The High Priestess (Grey DeLisle) of the Cult of Aku, notices, and the ladybug lands on the High Priestess’ hand. “These frivolous distractions are poisonous for your mission. They are not part of Aku’s order.” The High Priestess then crushes the ladybug.
Back in the present, the ladybug Ashi noticed flies towards Jack. Jack extends his arm for the ladybug to land on the tip of his finger. Jack lets it fly off with the other ladybugs, while Ashi drops her weapon, questioning her knowledge. Questioning if Jack is truly evil and Aku is truly the divine figure she has been raised to believe if the former can sit back and admire the simple beauty, while the latter has no place for it.
This episode is uncharacteristically much more dialogue-heavy than previous episodes. Both in this revival and the original four seasons. Jack speaks more in this episode than he has in any previous. Fear not fans, this episode still has the solitary silence and stunning visuals to allow the story to be told. LaMarr and Strong’s delivery of their lines make it all the more smoother.
The High Priestess has not had much screentime as of late, including this episode. That does not negate the sinister impact this episode has shown. Aku is no doubt evil, but he delights in how evil he is and has fun with it. Aku always has funny moments. The High Priestess cannot stand for such trivialities. She is sinister, dark, filled with absolute hatred. The High Priestess is arguably more evil than Aku! Even at his worst!
With all this and more, there is no doubt the series will maintain this momentum. The wait was not in vain ladies and gentlemen! I can only grow more excited!
*Image Source: Dailymotion.com