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Jack’s Journey (Episode XCVIII)

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Sunny Fox

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In this episode, questions are answered and unexpected characters make their reappearances. Join me as we rejoin Ashi and Jack on their quest to regain the Sword of Evil’s Bane…

mastersword.jpg.c8428536fd33be8a53fcfac363b6e57f.jpg
No, not that one

So let’s jump on our oversized budgerigars and have a look.

 

What happens

The episode opens in the past, as Jack Classic climbs a mountain pass, escorted by the cutest little mountain goats that ever did goat. At the top he finds some old stone pillars and (wonder-of-wonders!) a working time portal… and it’s not guarded by an African-American Blue Warrior…

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No, not that one

Jack leaps into the portal and it seems like his quest has finally been achieved… until, in the ultimate Dick Move, Aku reaches in and plucks him out of the time portal. Casually blowing the time portal to pieces with his eye beams, Aku gleefully informs his nemesis that that was the last one in existence and taunts him about how he almost made this time. Enraged, Jack leaps at Aku, but the villain, leery of his sword, avoids his attacks and transforms the goats into gigantic evil minions to occupy Jack while he escapes. Still blinded by his anger, Jack doesn’t recognize these as the same goats who accompanied him earlier and he kills all three. Seeing them return to their normal forms, but still quite dead, Jack is horrified, and drops his sword. One of the pillars falls and knocks the sword into the pit where the time portal once was. Jack is left unable to anything except watch it fall into the darkness.

Back in present day, Jack and Ashi ride a gigantic budgerigar (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, a budgerigar is a kind of small parrot – err, except that this one is, ya know, gigantic and all…)

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Were gonna need a bigger Speedo(TM) to smuggle this one…

The Australians out there should get that joke. They descend into the hole to look for the sword but are unable to find it. Ashi wonders if someone took it, but Jack, seeing the bones of one of the goats he killed, is sure that the sword abandoned him when he killed innocent creatures in his anger. He decides he needs to go on a spiritual journey to retrieve it. They return to the top and Jack sits near the edge of the cliff to meditate.

Meanwhile, Ashi is left to guard his back, and it’s a good thing she’s there… an army of orcs has arrived to kill Jack. Ashi makes like Gandalf and blocks the path. Despite being derided for thinking “one little girl” is enough to defeat an entire army, she promptly does just that… However, the army is merely a distraction… an assassin slips past and starts to climb towards Jack.

Ashi reaches the top first, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood giant parakeet, and is confronted by an unexpected enemy… her mother, the High Priestess. The HP tries to get Ashi to turn on Jack, but having seen the truth of things, she refuses, and they fight. The HP proves a strong opponent, but when she gets a chance to leap towards Jack’s unprotected back, Ashi throws an arrow through her and she plunges over the cliff. Exhausted, Ashi collapses.

Meanwhile Jack makes a trip while tripping and reaches a temple with a small old monk who asks him to make tea. He does so, but when the monk tastes it, he declares it bad… Jack is not balanced internally, and therefore cannot make good tea. HalluciJack reappears and he’s once again the crazy version. He screams imprecations at the old monk and tells Jack to force him to give the sword back. Jack finally realizes that HalluciJack is the reason why he is no longer worthy of wielding the sword… or maybe we should call him… Mad Jack! Dun dun DUN! Eeeyarrrk! Gesundheid! Yes, Mad Jack is back! Jack faces off against the manifestation of his own negative emotions, and with Eye Beams of Understanding, destroys Mad Jack. This brings him back into inner harmony and he meets the three gods Ra, Odin and Vishnu. They not only return his sword, but they also use a clothes beam…

clothesbeam.png.05e02ec36f456bb4a43b50e4096fd72a.png
No, not that one

…to restore his previous look.

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Shave and a haircut three gods, 50 years and a secret test of character!... TWO BITS!

Returned to reality, Jack is finally, truly truly truly outrageous back! He finds Ashi and revives her and she compliments his new (for her) look. Where to next? Aku! WATCH OUT!

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Thoughts on the Episode

Well, a lot of interesting parallels with previous episodes are on display here. Of necessity, I’ll need to explain one or two things that happened in the previous seasons for context. First of all, there was an episode that featured Mad Jack… a being Aku manifested from Jack’s own anger; think Dark Link. He had all of Jack’s prowess and was essentially unbeatable in combat. Jack’s solution to this was pretty much the same one as in this episode… he calmed himself down and got rid of his anger, thus causing Mad Jack to fade away. My previous theory re Omen and HJ is therefore wrong, but I’m happier with it this way. It provides us with a great callback. Okay, so maybe it isn’t literally Mad Jack back, but it’s close enough for government work.

Second, there was an episode where Jack was lured into a graveyard and attacked by zombies resurrected by Aku, who actually managed to steal Jack’s sword from him and pin him down. When he tried to stab Jack with the sword, however, it simply bounced off without leaving so much as a scratch. Jack then says that “in the hands of evil, [the sword] could never be used to harm an innocent,” before reclaiming it and forcing Aku to flee. Is there a contradiction here? Perhaps not; Jack is not evil, so he can harm innocents with the sword. It could also be that the transformed goats were given a veneer of evil by Aku, and this by-passed the protection enough that it could kill them, leaving them still dead when they reverted. Thus the heartbreak. Speaking of, this incident could help explain why Jack was so distraught when he thought the children from two episodes previous had died, and why he didn’t bother to check first. It’s still a question mark for me, but less of one now.

The sword continues to display some measure of sentience and mystical power, literally vanishing from the world when its wielder was deemed unworthy to wield it. I mean, heh, what does it think it is, Mjolnir? Come to think of it, Odin WAS instrumental in its creation, so that kind of makes sense. Hmm... Well played, writers… well played.

So here’s a bit of a discussion point – given that the High Priestess displays quite the serious skill of her own in fighting Ashi, who curb-stomped an army of thousands single-handed, why did she not simply join the Daughters when there were still seven of them and assist them in crushing Jack? Did she think she had to stay behind in case they failed and she would have to replicate the feat of having sextuplets? This seems like a serious case of Villainous Stupidity on her part. Poor form, writers… poor form!

Well, at any rate, Jack has his sword back, HJ/MJ and HP (probably) are toast and Ashi is still alive. Aku’s days appear to be numbered… in fact, only three episodes remain! Join me again for the next episode of Samurai Jack Season 5. In the meantime, leave your comments below and remember to stay sunny side up!

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