Spoiler warning for people who have not seen Samurai Jack season 5 episode 2.
The stakes in Samurai Jack have never been higher. A broken man at the end of his rope, Jack struggles with his inner demons to the point of self-destruction.
This episode struck a chord with me as the opening ass whooping Jack took at the hands of the Daughters of Aku was only reprieved by Jack’s contemplation of suicide. I was certain it was at this moment that we would see Jack at his darkest. And then they drop a bomb by the end of the episode.
Jack has destroyed countless machines in his quest to rid the world of Aku. “They are just nuts and bolts” he tells himself as the Daughters of Aku prove to be one of his toughest fights yet. But the moment he slices one of the daughters in the neck we see how far Jack has fallen. While not intentional, Jack has taken a life and in very brutal fashion. It is punctuated by the horror in Jack’s face and the breaking of the daughter’s mask to show the human underneath the heartless exterior.
There generally is a running joke in pop culture when childhoods are ruined by pointing out some adult joke in a kids show or showing how truly awful cartoons are when we remember them fondly. Samurai Jack does so in the most brutal and violent way possible. Within 2 episodes we as the viewer now have a true grip of the stakes. This confrontation will only end one way, with blood.
And as we watch Jack draw blood for the first time, we also watch him at his most vulnerable physically. Also bleeding, it is a moment of uneasiness as we watch the image of an invulnerable Jack fade away and be replaced with that of a man who can and may potential die by the end of this series. And maybe that is for the best.
He has blood on his hands. Both physically and metaphorically with the past being his responsibility. He can never cleanse himself of that sin ever again. The only way forward for him now is through a pile of bodies. If he cannot regain his honor then there should be no harm in driving that honor deeper into the ground.
Perhaps Jack had lost the sword long ago in a distant land, but at this point I’m not sure he is worthy of it anymore.
But it remains to be seen at how far Jack will fall. Despair can be a very dark place people find themselves in, but so long as there is a small ray of hope anything can happen. For Jack that is what the sword represents. Without that sword Jack is lost and living for the sake of living. But if he could somehow recover the sword he may still have a chance.