Thursday, May 25, 2017

Let's Talk About Samurai Jack After The Big Finale

Such clever titles I come up.

I'm going to SPOIL things like a crappy fridge. Don't say you weren't warned. I'll still give you a minute to leave if you want.

You know, I gave blood on a whim last month, because they were doing a drive at the office, and now the damn Red Cross won't stop calling, trying to get me to make appointments to do it again. What they don't realize, so I guess I should explain it the next time they call, the harder they try and push, the less likely I am to do it ever again. Because I don't need this hassle. I did it, let's not make it a whole thing. I'm really only doing it to confront my discomfort with needles.

So, Samurai Jack finale was last Saturday. How did we like it?

I was pretty satisfied. Until she actually created the portal, I hadn't realized that if Ashi had Aku's powers, then she could send Jack through time. Jack spent so much time trying to find external ways to get back home, I kind of forgot whose power flung him into the future in the first place. Or, it just didn't seem relevant, because I couldn't see Aku ever doing that. Although at some point during this recent run of episodes, I toyed with the idea of Aku growing so despondent at the persistent existence of the Samurai that he tries sending him back to an earlier time. Let a younger, more invigorated Aku take a crack at him. Jack was his problem originally anyway. Past Aku just foisted him off on Future Aku like dick.

Either that or Aku would fling him even further into the future. I read some illustrated version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine when I was a kid, and the part where he travels millions of years into the future, long after that time with the Morlocks, and the pretty, empty-headed surface dwelling people, and the artist drew it like the surface of the Moon. A bleak rock, set against a jet-black sky. I pictured Jack popping up there. That would have been a bummer of an ending.

Right about the time Jack was going to deliver the coup de grace, a thought flashed through my head about one of the consequences of Jack succeeding in killing Aku in his original time period. And then it appeared the show feinted in that direction, only to opt against it. I figured, chalk it up to the uncertainties of magical time travel. And then they went through with it, and Ashi faded away.

The way all the various people Jack's helped over the years showed up to try and rescue him, even though there was no possibility of it working, went over really well. I've kind of become immune to those "All hands on deck" moments in superhero comics because they come so frequently with the endless barrage of events these days. 500 superheroes show up when they're supposedly going to try and talk Bruce Banner into peacefully giving himself up, it doesn't mean a damn thing any longer.

But Samurai Jack has avoided that, thanks to a relatively few number of episodes and a small number of creative visions being involved. Jack's fought alongside people, or for them, but there's not really been a moment of a mass gathering for some ultimate battle. These episode made a big point about all the people Jack has helped and saved over the years, and now all those people stood up to fight for him. Even knowing it's futile, it's still pretty cool.

And the fact Jack and the Scotsman get together for 30 seconds, and Jack manages to offend him, cracked me up. It's just a good clash of personalities, Jack's calm nature irks the Scotsman, and he's never shy about sharing that, and Jack has just enough of a temper the Scotsman can get a rise from him if he keeps at him, which he will, just because.

So glad that the moment Ashi and Jack arrive in Jack's old time, he wastes no time and goes right after Aku. No speeches, no fucking around, just chops that guy to bits. Extremely satisfying.

The very end was sad but not depressing. Jack is hurting, but he isn't entirely lost. This is the beard-wearing, emotionally distant guy we saw at the start of the run. He's trying to deal with losing some he loved, but he's reminded of what they accomplished, that they saved the damn world from however many years of Aku running it into the ground, and that helps, a little.

And I like the repeated use of the ladybugs, or I guess these would have been the Japanese beetles. It's a small, innocuous creature, but still visually distinct. Tiny, but beautiful. It can be a peaceful creature that will rest on you if you remain calm, but it can also scuttle along walls or fly about in a way that attracts a child's attention, or makes for a nice visual. It's not a bad stand-in for everything Jack's been fighting Aku to protect, as well as all the things on Earth that so interested Ashi and ultimately caused her to switch allegiances.


Kelvin Green said...

I was dreading some sort of "a sliver of Aku survives" ending, but they resisted that urge. I thought it was a good, neat finale, for all the reasons you list. I liked how all the people Jack helped came together at the end; it was sort of predictable but in a way that felt right, rather than cliched.

Yeah, I'm happy with that final episode. It's a fitting end to the series.

CalvinPitt said...

I think everyone showing up worked because we knew this was it, the big finale. There won't be a 5-week "Aku Strikes Back" next summer, this was for all the marbles. So it's the right time for everyone to make a stand against Aku and help Jack.