Ashi‘s (Tara Strong) search for Samurai Jack (Phil LaMarr) leads her through the show’s past as characters from several episodes are referenced, including the Three Blind Archers, the Woolies, and the Ravers – each with their own tale of Jack’s heroics, and even a bar full of Aku’s former minions. It’s a fun walk down memory lane for fans of the show, while also serving the purpose of confirming Ashi’s change of heart concerning the samurai leading the young woman to literally washing away the last vestiges of connection to Aku (Greg Baldwin). Her journey eventually leads her to a hopeless samurai prepared to commit seppuku, spurred on by the words of the mysterious Horseman.
Spending more time with Jack (Phil LaMarr), Ashi (Tara Strong) is slowly convinced that everything she has learned about the world is wrong. But is her conversion too late? Believing he has failed in saving children abducted by Aku‘s (Greg Baldwin)minions and turned into bloodthirsty weapons, Jack’s already fragile mind is shattered. Ashi actually is able to prevent the tragedy, and for the first time use her considerable skills to save lives rather than take them, but Jack walks off into the fog with the strange rider apparently willing to accept whatever fate has in store for him. Can Ashi find him and convince Jack to pick up the fight once more?
“Episode XCIV” offers a return to form for our hero, a flashback to his childhood, a deadly battle with the Daughters of Aku in the middle of a snowstorm, and the return of the wolf from the previous episodes who gives Jack (Phil LaMarr) the help and time he needs to heal before his enemies come knocking at his door. Highlighted by the battle between Jack and the Daughters, the preceding respite gives the shattered samurai the strength to stand against his enemies (and allows the show to further show off the new enemies). The flashback to his father’s heroism and lessons about destiny turns out to be the cherry on top reminding Jack who he as a critical juncture where giving up could have been an easy choice. Taking out each Daughter with deadly efficiency, my only complaint is the episode’s cliffhanger ending leaving the fate of both the final Daughter and Jack in doubt, forcing us to wait an entire week for more Samurai Jack.
After defeating the latest version of the Beetle Drone, Jack (Phil LaMarr) is attacked on all sides by the the quick-moving Daughters of Aku who soon destroy the samurai’s arsenal, motorcycle, and weapons leaving Jack to hide from the group inside an abandoned temple. As we saw in the first episode of this season, this version of Jack has been worn down mentally by the constant battle with Aku’s robots of destruction. Initially taking the Daughters to be machines, Jack uses the shadows of the temple to hide until he can make his escape. However, before doing so he will make a discovery while whittling down the daughters’ number by one. Jack survives the encounter, barely, but will he survive the season?
For 50 years Samurai Jack (Phil LaMarr) has traveled the wastelands of the future that is Aku (now voiced by Greg Baldwin). Along the way the samurai has lost his hope, his ability to age, the magical sword, and perhaps his sanity. The first new episode of Samurai Jack in more than a dozen years gives us a sobering look at our hero haunted by his failure to make his way home and destroy Aku. Opening with some trademark action, “Episode XCII” gives us the motorcycle-riding, gun-totting new version of Jack taking out a host of Beetle Drones to save a mother and her child. Despite the fact that his skills haven’t lessened, it soon becomes obvious this is not the same samurai whose quest is legend. Haunted by visions of the past and all those he cannot save, Jack seems lost. Has Aku finally won?
Although it has far less of our title character than any other issue of the series, Samurai Jack #20 is a fitting end to IDW’s comic adventures of the time-displaced samurai. Set years in the future, the issue centers not on Jack but a scribe named Mako (in deference to the actor who so brilliantly voiced the Jack’s nemesis in the cartoon) who has spent his life gathering stories of Samurai Jack.
In another single-issue adventure, and one of the goofier adventures of Jack in his current IDW comic series, Samurai Jack is hired by the Canine Archaeologists who need the samurai’s help with the haunted tomb of the world’s first talking dog.