Samurai Jack is over. A fifth season and ten episodes later, Jack’s adventures are over. The series gave the ending I was expecting, but not quite the ending I hoped for. The finale was epic in scope and gave fans the send off the series admittedly deserved. Season 5 and the finale isn’t without it flaws, but for it is, I thought it was fine. All that out the way: SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT PROCEED UNLESS YOU WANT THE FINALE “RUINED” FOR YOU!!!
In a nutshell, episodes 6 through 9 are dedicated to character development and wrapping up loose ends. Jack overcomes his mental issues, defeats the Mysterious Rider with Ashi’s help, and regains his sword; Ashi learns about the good Jack has done for the denizens of Aku’s world, symbolically cleanses herself of her mother’s evil (and gets a new dress and hairdo in the process), and kills her mother to complete her redemption arc; and Aku gets out of his funk to become the unspeakable evil fans grew to love, captures Jack, and takes control of Ashi because he literally is Aku’s daughter (Ashi’s mom drank some of the stuff that composes Aku’s body. It was weird.).
Then, episode 10 happens. The denizens of the word, specifically all of the people Jack helped and the Scotsman and his daughters, gather around their TVs and the original Samurai Jack intro plays with Aku’s monologue and he says he’s going to kill Jack. This spurs pretty much everyone into action to come to Jack’s rescue while Aku is trying to figure out how to kill Jack. I won’t give out many spoilers because the scope of this battle is so large it is epic, but we get to see the Scotsman and Jack interact one last time together. (Ow…I just hurt my own feelings…it stings. Ok. Ok. I’m good.) Be warned though: the ending is going to hurt.
MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD!!! FINAL WARNING!!!
Alright, the last five minutes go something like this. Ashi—because he figures out she has Aku’s powers—sends herself and Jack back to the moment where Jack was sent to the future by Aku, and Jack defeats and destroys Aku at his weakest. Jack is reunited with his parents, the people from around the world who trained him are there, and he and Ashi are going to get married. Right as Ashi is walking down the aisle, she collapses. Jack runs to her, holds her in his arms, and she says that without Aku, she wouldn’t have existed. She touches his face and then she disappears, leaving Jack holding empty clothes. I can’t in good conscious give away the absolute final scene of the series because it’s emotionally gripping, powerful, and ends the series on a bittersweet note.
My feelings about the ending are complicated. It had some things I expected, but it wasn’t quite the ending I was hoping for. However, I’m satisfied with it. I was expecting Ashi to die. I was prepared to see her go, in spite of the fact that I really liked her. The audience got to see her change from a drone into her own person, and it was nice seeing that unfold. The season felt like Ashi’s story just as much as it did Jack’s. The way she died is what got me. It was handled quietly and maturely. Jack returning to the past was unexpected because all of the time portals were destroyed, so I wasn’t expecting Ashi to return Jack to his time. It was a dues ex machine moment, but I’m willing to overlook that because of just how good the rest of the finale was.
Another flaw the finale has is one that the entire season had throughout its run. My biggest complaint about the season is that it moved a little too fast because of how short it is. I wanted to spend a little time with it, and I’m sure the staff would have loved working on at least two or three more episodes, but this season was meant to be a one time thing to give fans an ending to a series that they love. I can’t fault the creators for the decisions they made because I’m sure they had plenty of ideas that could have been held back for some reason or another. However, they got a chance to make an ending to a beloved cartoon, and that’s something a lot of series don’t get. What they did with their chance and how well they did it deserves plenty of applause.
The fifth and final season of Samurai Jack accomplishes its mission of giving one of the coolest cartoon series from this century (so far) a good and proper ending with more than a few surprises along the way. It was fun to watch, and I’ll sorely miss looking forward to Saturdays again.