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Recap / Samurai Jack - S5 E7: "XCVIII"

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In a flashback to the earlier days of his time stuck in the future, Jack climbs up a mountain. He is soon joined by a tiny, adorable mountain sheep. Whimsically, he asks if it would happen to know if a time portal exists atop the mountain. When it is expectedly silent, Jack continues upward. Before long two other tiny sheep join the first and follow Jack up the mountain, eventually taking him to his goal.

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Jack leaps into the time portal without hesitation, and as he falls toward the past, a long evil arm reaches in from above and plucks Jack out, returning him to the mountain. Aku remarks at what a close call for him that was, destroys the portal, and casually mentions that was the very last one in all of existence. Jack reacts with Unstoppable Rage to this revelation. Aku takes his leave, but not before distorting the tiny sheep into evil monsters, which Jack fails to see in his blinding anger. Jack, still enraged, brutally kills them, but is jarred out of his berserker fury by seeing them revert back to the tiny, cute sheep who helped him. Remorse and grief cause him to drop his sword and gaze in horror at having killed innocent creatures. By the time he comes back to himself, his sword teeters on the edge of the pit created when Aku destroyed the portal. Jack lunges for it, but it falls into darkness and is lost.

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Now, though, astride a giant cockatiel, Jack, with Ashi at his side, have returned to this location to seek the sword. The pit is unfathomably deep and dark. They have to stop so the bird can rest before finally completing their descent. At the bottom, they search but the sword is simply not there. Instead, Jack stumbles upon his past crime of murder, spying the lifeless bones of the sheep that fell down the chasm Aku created when he destroyed the final time portal. Looking on at the brutal evidence he stole away life, Jack realizes that he didn't lose the sword so much as become unworthy of it. Ashi glances at him with equal parts empathy and fright when Jack surmises that the sword left him.

Jack and Ashi leave what is now the grave one of the fallen sheep. They return to the surface and thank the bird for helping them, and when Jack makes further plans to find his sword, Ashi offers to help him look for it. But Jack, though certainly appreciative of Ashi's offer, explains that this is something has to do on his own—the journey to get his sword is a spiritual journey (through meditation) rather than a physical journey that Ashi could travel with Jack on. Jack goes to meditate, leaving Ashi to wait however long it will take. She doesn't wait long as an army arrives to kill Jack. After they laugh off her calm declaration she will stop them, Ashi does just that. She turns back to the mountain to see one more figure racing up the mountain to kill Jack.

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Meanwhile, in the realm of the mind and spirit, Jack discovers a raft and uses it to navigate his way forward. However, he a storm appears and blocks his way, causing him to be led to a small pagoda where someone asks if he is lost, and is pleased to hear Jack admit he is. Jack has been met by an elder who bids him make tea. Jack performs the tea ceremony with appropriate respect and formality.

Ashi whistles for the help of the bird once more. Confronting the archer firing at Jack, it turns out to be none other than Ashi's mother, the High Priestess of the Cult of Aku—she's here to finish the job her daughters could/would not. She offers Ashi redemption if she will kill Jack. Ashi refuses and fights her mother to protect Jack.

Jack presents the tea to the elder, who sips and pronounces it to be terrible. He explains that although all ingredients are presented in the proper amount, the most important one is absent: balance within the spirit of the tea maker himself. This is why Jack's path to the sword was clouded earlier.

Ashi continues fighting her mother and is ultimately forced to kill her in order to save Jack—Ashi does by sending of the Priestess's arrows straight through her spine, which leads to her plummeting down the side of the mountain. Ashi's adrenaline rush finally wears off now that the fighting is all over. She falls in exhaustion the instant no new threats appear.

Mad Jack, a version conjured internally by Jack's inner turmoil and frustration of his increasingly futile mission, demands Jack force the Elder to reveal the location of the sword. Jack realizes his inner Mad Jack has been the reason for his failures, and why he lost the sword in the first place. Once Jack tells this part of himself "I don't need you," he is balanced once again, and once more worthy of his enchanted blade. The godly figures who appeared to his father appear to him and reaffirm him as charged to defeat a great evil.

Jack comes back to himself with his sword in hand and magically restored to his original noble appearance. He kneels beside Ashi as she revives and thanks her for protecting him. She marvels a moment at the "new" Jack, then the two of them turn together toward their goal: the final battle with Aku.


Tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: Jack let his rage dictate that those three monsters in front of him needed to be slain. Had he been of sound mind, he would have realized Aku did not conjure these beasts out of thin air...he turned harmless little animals into his pawns.
  • Adorkable: Ashi when she compliments Jack on how he got his sword back and his haircut.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Some of the unluckiest soldiers get their limbs torn off by Ashi for their troubles.
  • Arrow Catch: Ashi catches an arrow fired at Jack. When a whole barrage is fired, she blocks them with a broken stone slab.
  • Aside Glance: Aku gives two when goading Jack into getting angrier after he destroyed the time portal.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Aku turned the goats into monsters, infecting them with his evil to trick Jack into slaying them.
  • Batman Gambit: It's very strongly implied that the army was just the diversion for the High Priestess, keeping Ashi occupied while the High Priestess sneaks up the mountain.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted heavily this time. Ashi is bathed in the orc army's blood by the end of all the carnage, though she's instantly clean for the fight against the High Priestess.
  • Blood Is the New Black: After crushing the army, Ashi is breathing heavily, with their blood all over her clothes and hair—but she's clean again a few seconds later when her mother first appears, probably stopping to wipe the blood off herself before confronting the would-be assassin.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: By the end of her brutal orc beatdown, Ashi is covered in the blood of everyone she's pummeled into oblivion.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Ashi takes a bunch of spears from the soldiers, breaks them, and flings them right back into their skulls.
  • Bottomless Pit: Jack and Ashi descend the hole where Jack lost his sword on the back of giant bird, but it still takes them several hours, if not days to reach the bottom. They actually camp out on the way down so the bird can rest.
  • Breaking Speech: The High Priestess berates Ashi for being the most unfocused of her sisters, always questioning everything, and betraying her family. She also gets very angry at Ashi for choosing to side with the man who took her sisters' lives.
  • Bring It: Ashi's Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
    Orc Leader: We're going to rip you apart into a bunch a' pieces, and then we're going to take those pieces and rip them apart into even more pieces!
    Ashi: I'm waiting.
  • Call-Back:
    • This isn't the first time Jack was blinded by rage, let alone Aku taking advantage of that. One could say that Mad Jack came back in the form of his hallucinations. Just because someone overcomes their anger once in their lifetime, it doesn't mean they won't be compelled by it again when something else deeply upsets them.
    • Aku mentioned earlier how his plan was to destroy all the time portals let old age kill Jack for him, this episode shows him destroying the final one. This also seems to be the last time Jack and Aku met face to face, and when Aku stopped checking in on Jack, which the latter had mentioned, given that Aku never realized Jack had lost the sword.
    • The reason why Jack Gave Up Too Soon two episodes ago when he thought he somehow killed the brainwashed children stems from him killing the lamb fifty years ago without realizing he could've found a way to save them from Aku's corruption, believing that he had committed the same mistake again.
    • Odin, Ra, and Rama appear again in his vision. Jack undergoes the same ceremony and gets more or less the same spiel his father did in "Birth of Evil".
    • One of the forms Aku took in his first fight with Jack was that of a mountain goat with his demonic antlers. The sheep take on forms similar to his with the very same demonic antlers after he transmogrifies them.
  • The Chosen One: The three gods appear to Jack and tell him he was chosen, just like his father before him. If anyone remembers, it was foretold that in 50 years, he would be the Chosen One, and his time has come.
  • Clothing Damage: During her fight with the orcs, Ashi's clothes take a beating as a result of wear and tear. Ashi loses the flower on her shoulder, as well as her grassy armband, some of the foliage covering her bosom and skirt gets torn up, and her grass-woven shoes start to rip and unravel at the sides and the tips, leaving her barefoot.
  • The Coats Are Off: The High Priestess removes her robe in preparation for the Duel to the Death with Ashi.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: After Ashi takes out an army easily, she has to fight the High Priestess, and struggles. Of course, the whole "fighting an army" bit means she was likely exhausted.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Those poor mountain sheep...
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ashi manages to defeat the entire orc army that had come after Jack without them even managing to injure her.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: The orc leader's threat to Ashi, noted above in Bring It. She isn't impressed.
  • Darkest Hour: The last time portal destroyed, forced to kill innocents, losing his sword immediately after, no wonder Jack became so jaded and haunted at the start of the season.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The episode begins with Jack jumping into the last time portal on Earth, only for Aku to snatch him away from within the portal at literally the last possible second. Apparently Aku had taken to destroying the portals right before Jack got there for Evil Is Petty reasons and Jack just got there faster than expected.
  • Disney Villain Death: Downplayed, the High Priestess is impaled mid-jump by Ashi, and her body falls from the mountaintop—if the arrow didn't kill her, then she either died of blood loss or the impact of her fall killed her.
  • Enemy Within: It turns out the reason Jack's sword is missing is because of his fractured mental state, and when he destroys the hallucination of himself that has been tormenting him for years, he gets it back.
  • Evil Brits: The army Ashi fought was made up of orcs with British accents.
  • Evil Is Petty: It's implied that Aku has been destroying time portals right before Jack gets to them solely for kicks, and when Jack shows up earlier than expected to the last one, destroys that one right in front of him, mocks him for his failure, and transforms three sheep into monsters to trick the enraged Jack into attacking them.
  • Evil Laugh: The whole army does this in response to Ashi, even though most of them can't even see what they're laughing about, doing so only because the ones in the front start it.
  • Fatal Flaw: Wrath.
    • Jack gives into blind, ravenous anger after being told there are no more time portals, and launches into a violent attack against three innocent sheep that Aku corrupted into giant demons. Because the sword can harm evil, it inflicts fatal wounds on the spot, but then the sheep revert back to normal...as corpses. Not only does this cause Jack to realize he's killed innocents for the first time, but the sword rejects him as its master and leaves the mortal realm because nobody of good character would do what he just did. Jack has to overcome his inner anger to get the sword back, excising him of his fatal flaw.
    • The High Priestess is so obsessed with killing Jack that she ends up ignoring tactical factors like Ashi when the chance to kill the samurai appears. Had she focused on killing Ashi before killing Samurai Jack, she would've won.
  • Faux Affably Evil: As Jack freaks out, Aku tells him to calm down or he'll have a heart attack. Then Aku realizes that would be good from his perspective and tells him to have at it.
  • Femme Fatalons: The High Priestess breaks out some extremely sharp claws after throwing her dagger at Jack.
  • The Final Temptation: Given to Ashi by her mother, who offers her a chance to rejoin her by killing Jack. She rejects it quickly. To a lesser extent, Jack rejects his hallucination's suggestion to simply force information from the old man on his quest, doing much the same thing.
  • Flashback: The episode opens with Jack recalling the events leading up to how he lost his sword.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Ashi's opening move against the orc army is to punch out their leader then use his body as a shield while charging through his soldiers, completely clearing them from the mountain path before diving into the main army at ground level.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In the flashback, Jack finally finds a time portal and jumps through, only for Aku to literally drag him back at the last second. Also, Jack will become the Chosen One.
  • Freak Out: Jack after Aku announces he's destroyed the last time portal.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During her (rather bloody) rampage through the Ogre/Orc army, Ashi's very briefly seen with her old pre-Heel–Face Turn hairstyle.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: Played With. On the one hand, if Aku had just stuck around for a few minutes after destroying the time portal, he would have seen Jack lose his sword. On the other hand, had he stuck around, Jack likely would have ignored the mutated sheep in favor of attacking Aku (and would lead to Aku either fleeing or Jack finishing him off there). There's also the fact that Aku apparently never checked in on Jack after that.
  • Geo Effects: Ashi starts fighting the orcs on a narrow, winding mountain path, where they can only face her from one direction. After that, she jumps to the ground where they can surround her and...continues beating them like a cheap drum.
  • Giant Flyer: A very large and friendly bird helps Ashi and Jack get to the mountain where Jack lost his sword, and later helps Ashi prevent the Priestess from killing Jack by carrying her up the mountain in the nick of time.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Ashi was trained from birth to be a brutal, merciless killer, and while her Heel–Face Turn has changed her motives, her methods remain mostly intact. This is proven when she obliterates an entire army with no hesitation or remorse to protect Jack, leaving only a few survivors.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: Jack is hit with multiple Clothes Beams, which instantly restore him to his former glory.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Ashi grabs one of the soldiers and uses him as a ram to push dozens more down the mountain.
  • Gut Punch: Jack murdering the sheep by accident was horrifying, since the kills he makes are all merciless brutal and gory in nature, unlike those of a calm and composed swordsman. He pierced all three in the head- namely slit the top of one sheep's head clean open, knocked another down the chasm Aku made when he destroyed the final time portal, and stood atop the third sheep as it changed back to normal.
    • Also, Jack stumbling upon the dead bones of the sheep that fell into the chasm all those years ago is incredibly painful to behold. It shows that Jack was so distraught that day so long ago he didn't even bother to bury the sheep he slew, he just hightailed it off the mountain after failing to find his sword. There's even an eerie bleating noise, as though the restless spirit of the sheep is crying out in bleating lament, like it's asking Jack, "Why?"
  • Heroic BSoD: The incident that led to Jack getting PTSD during these 50 years is seen. He literally jumps into a time portal before being pulled out by Aku. Aku destroys it before revealing to Jack that it was the last time portal. Aku then mutates the sheep accompanying Jack for kicks into giant monsters, but when Jack kills them, they revert to normal...but dead. The fact he technically murdered innocents shocks Jack and causes him to lose the sword. No wonder he lost it.
  • He's Back: Jack gets his sword back, as well as his old look.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: During his spiritual quest, Jack recognizes that it was his own anger that caused him to lose the sword. Accepting this and letting go of his anger allows him to get the sword back.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When you really get down to it, the High Priestess's demise was her own fault—her desire to kill Jack gets the better of her, because Ashi (the daughter that she abused for so many years) ultimately takes the opportunity to finally defeat her mother (with one of her own arrows at that) before she has the chance to kill Jack while he's meditating.
  • Hold the Line: Ashi has to hold off Jack's attackers until he's done...or dead. She has to kill an entire army by herself and have a duel to the death with her mother, but she succeeds.
  • Hope Spot: Jack finally finds an intact time portal and immediately jumps in, only to be pulled out by Aku before he could complete the transit. To make it even worse, Aku destroys the portal and reveals that that was the last one still in existence, leaving Jack permanently stranded in the future.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Ashi kills her mother by throwing an arrow through her back and also kills several orc-like soldiers by tossing them onto spears. Another solder is seen with a sword hanging out of his gut.
  • Improvised Weapon: Ashi uses one of the horns of a sheep skeleton as a makeshift knife.
  • In the Back: How Ashi kills her mother, an arrow through the back.
  • It Was with You All Along: It turns out the sword literally vanished from existence, and Jack had to find balance within himself to gain it back. Given that the sword was made out of the essence of goodness and righteousness, Jack's loss of conviction would cause it to vanish, and for the gods to retrieve it.
  • Kick the Dog: Aku infects a trio of sheep that had tried to help Jack with his evil and turns them into monsters, tricking Jack into killing them.
  • Kirk Summation: Ashi points out to her mother that while Jack may have been the one kill the other Daughters of Aku, it was their mother's treatment of them that ultimately led to their deaths—the High Priestess never gave her daughters any other fate/choice, abusing them for basically their entire lives and then sending them out on what essentially amounted to a Suicide Mission.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Ashi quips that Jack's quest also allowed him to get a shave and a haircut.
  • Mood Whiplash: Scenes of Jack quietly making tea abruptly cut to Ashi in the middle of her ultra-violent rampage and then back.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The simple act of making tea (which is, of course, not so simple for Imperial Japan) becomes Jack's trial of redemption.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jack has it when he sees the monsters slain revert back to their original form as the sheep that followed him, but dead. Needless to say, this chronologically the first time he's killed beings that are of flesh and blood.
  • My Greatest Failure: Peering at the haunting image of the bones of the sheep he knocked down the hole, Jack realizes how his murderous rage lost him his sword and left behind a permanent reminder of what he did. It's gut-wrenching enough to see the skeletal remnants of what was once a Ridiculously Cute Critter, but to know those bones are your work is sickening to the soul.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Not so much the "Next Episode" trailer, but the description text prior to the airing of the episode. Jack was supposedly going to undergo a series of dangerous physical and spiritual tests in order to prove himself worthy to wield the sword. However, the only thing he was required to do was to make some tea, and then confront his inner "Mad Jack" self. The only real danger for Jack came from the physical side as the High Priestess and her army was trying to kill him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Jack lost his sword because he lost control of his anger after Aku destroyed the final time portal and launched into a frenzied attack without thinking things through (though in is defense, he was being attacked).
  • Not Quite Dead: At least one of those fool soldiers lived through Ashi's one-man wrecking crew assault. He's seen and heard groaning in pain.
  • One-Woman Army: Ashi completely slaughters an entire battalion of orc-like warriors that have come to kill Jack with her bare hands, no less.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Downplayed as Jack isn't the only one who can use the sword but the user must have a clear and good heart.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They never actually call the evil army orcs, but given that they're ugly, warty, pale green humanoids with fangs and cockney accents, it's obviosu this is what they were going for.
  • Pet the Dog: A very brief one, to the point of considering her a Worthy Opponent—the High Priestess acknowledges that, out of all seven daughters, Ashi was the strongest and had the best fighting skills.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: After finally defeating her mother, Ashi faints.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Jack learned to control his anger pretty early on in his journey, but when Aku destroys the last time portal on Earth right in front of him, he gets so angry that Aku honestly thinks he's about to have a stress-induced heart attack. He ferociously goes after Aku, then brutally kills the sheep Aku mutated to fight him.
  • Reality Ensues: When Ashi tells the orc-like army she faces that she will stop them, the ones at the front just laugh at her, while the ones in the middle and back are confused why everyone stopped.
    Soldier #1: What did he say?
    Solider #2: Something 'bout a squirrel.
    Solider #1: I love squirrels! Is it lunch already?
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ashi finally gets to call her mother out for all the lies she fed her during her childhood. The High Priestess tries to do the same to Ashi when she asks on how Ashi could join Jack when the latter killed her sisters, only for Ashi to retort that it was their mother's cruelty that ultimately led the Daughters down the path to their deaths.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The three little sheep that follow Jack up the mountain, which of course makes it all the more tragic when Jack kills them after Aku turns them into huge hulking monsters.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After destroying the last time portal and taunting Jack over it, Aku says he knows better than to fight Jack since he has the sword and just leaves after turning the three cute mountain sheep into monsters. This is Aku and Jack's last encounter before Aku locked himself away in his lair to attempt to wait out Jack.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Ashi (presumably) kills her mother in battle to protect Jack, throwing an arrow through her, sending her off a cliff.
  • Shown Their Work: Jack's spiritual journey involves performing a tea ceremony, which is a Japanese custom where the server's spiritual balance is expressed through the quality of the tea. It also doubles as Five-Second Foreshadowing, if you pay attention and notice haste in Jack's preparation. The tea's awful quality highlights that Jack is spiritually unbalanced and what causes Jack to confront the anger within. It's also rather accurately performed.
  • Tempting Fate: The orc army laughs at Ashi when she says she's going to stop them.
    Orc Leader: So a little thing like you is going to stop this whole army then?
    Ashi: Yep.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Ashi impales her mother with an arrow in the back, then she falls off the cliff.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Ashi offers to help Jack recover his sword, but Jack explains that he has to do it alone, because it's not a physical place he can take her. However, Ashi has one important task—to guard him while he's in the spirit world.
  • This Was His True Form: The sheep revert to their normal forms from their Aku-twisted ones after their deaths.
  • Token Good Teammate: Ashi's mother notes that while she was always the strongest and most skilled in combat, she also was also the most unfocused when it came to the rhetoric.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Ashi's assault on the army causes a lot of teeth to fly.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The second half of the episode is split between Jack on an inner journey to get his sword back, and Ashi protecting Jack's physical body from those come to kill him while he's vulnerable. This is then Played for Laughs, as it repeatedly cuts between Ashi brutally slaughtering an entire army, and Jack ceremonially making tea.
  • Villain Ball: It was awfully sporting of Aku to simply toss Jack aside when he was in his grasp. Furthermore, when Jack makes a run for the portal, Aku blasts it rather than incinerate him there and then. Aku being Aku, simply had to forego these easy chances in favor of letting Jack live with the pain that he was finally trapped in the future forever.
  • Vision Quest: Jack has to go on one to regain his sword, leading to a Battle in the Center of the Mind with Inner Jack, where he finally lets go of his rage and despair to win. After this, the three gods return his sword.
  • Wham Shot: When the archer shooting at Jack while he's meditating walks out from behind the pillar, it turns out to be none other than the High Priestess.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In a long chain of hope crushing moments, this is probably the cruelest example of the series. Jack had finally found a portal, and managed to jump in...only for Aku to literally yank him out, destroy the last time portal left and corrupt the young sheep into monsters. To top it off, the slaying of the corrupted sheep causes Jack to lose his sword (with the implications that the sword vanished because of Jack giving into wrath of that moment).

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