Samurai Jack Review: S5E3 – XCIV (Wolf Saves Jack)


This show is so fucking good! The quality continues into the 3rd episode
of the revival, and although overall I enjoyed episode “XCIII” more than this one, episode
“XCIV” was still a tour de force. Jack must have oodles and oodles of blood
– seriously, the guy lost so much blood before locating a temporary shelter. I am so happy with how the revival is continuing
to treat blood and violence. It’s not merely fluff; it serves a purpose. It’s often hard to look at, it contributes
toward establishing the tone, and it further intensifies the themes the show is tackling. Killing is gruesome. Killing is not something to take lightly. And I’m so jubilant that a cartoon is exploring
this theme with nuance and mastery while making the associated blood and violence intensify
just how horrific situations where one is forced to kill are. The combat of Samurai Jack remains riveting
and awesome, but when it comes to injuries or killing blows, it’s unpleasant – my
stomach has churned multiple times already and we’re only 3 episodes in. The gut-churning scene of note of this episode
has to be when Jack pulls the knife out of his side. It’s not so much as the visuals this time
around as the sound. Just listen. The sound of a blade being pulled out of flesh
mixed with Jack’s superbly performed groans – god, I’m getting the sweats just recalling
it. What a painful scene – it was amazing! The entire survival portion of this episode
was magnificent beyond words. Fuck The Revenant film, this is where it’s
at. Ohmygod, the scenery, the music, the sheer
struggle of Jack’s will – it is phenomenal. Then, not only is Jack physically on the verge
of death, his mind is continuing to wreak havoc on him. The vision of his past self is now deranged
and maniacal, gleefully reminiscing on the feeling of slicing through human flesh. [“Real flesh and blood.”] I enjoyed this internal struggle more than
the internal struggle in the last episode, and I didn’t think that was going to be
possible. This debased and warped Jack is so menacing
because it is Jack. These are feelings Jack is actually having. Samurai Jack’s 5th season is quickly on
the way to becoming one of the best examinations of a character’s psyche I’ve stumbled
across in fiction. Seriously, it’s that good. After everything seemed at lowest possible
point, the wolf from the previous episode showed up at Jack’s door. Wolfy had clung to life just as Jack has,
and the respite the two shared was so heartwarming. The wolf decided to look after Jack, and I
think I can assuredly say it saved Jack’s life. The two were adorable together, and when it
comes time for them to split, it was heart-tugging, despite the minimal screentime they shared. A part of me really hopes this isn’t the
last we see of them together, but if it is, au revoir wolf, and no that doesn’t mean
“you’re dead, babe.” Jack manages to find stability by reminiscing
about his father, who is surely his role model. Jack even uses his father’s exact dialogue
later in the episode. The manner in which Jack’s dream is framed,
where Jack wakes up afraid, signifies that this childhood experience was traumatic for
Jack. My interpretation is that this moment from his childhood is something Jack never fully comprehended. He understood that sometimes killing was necessary
for a warrior, but the concept remained scary and foreign. Thinking back to this moment and the words
of wisdom Jack’s father gave him in this present moment, Jack has now reached a new
understanding of his own identity and purpose. Jack is reinvigorated, and understands what
he must do. And yet, the show understands things are not
necessarily that simple, and continues to pour on that sweet nuance. Jack tells the Daughters of Aku “Your choices
have clearly led you here” and yet, what choices? We as an audience know that the Daughters
of Aku were viciously indoctrinated their entire lives and were never even given the
chance to develop an identity. Now that the left for their mission they are
technically making a choice to pursue Jack, yeah, but, c’mon, their entire lives were
funneled into a single purpose to the point that they understand barely anything about
the world outside, as demonstrated by the scene with the deer. This is not a real choice for them in the
way that it is for Jack. Jack also states that their actions are a
reflection of who they are, but again, Jack isn’t aware of their history. Their actions are a reflection of them being
naïve, tortured, indoctrinated victims. This doesn’t mean Jack shouldn’t kill
in self-defense; it just highlights the sheer tragedy of it all. It’s handled so damn well. I love it. The fight was awesome as usual. Jack is channeling past techniques [Jack:
“But I have been trained to use the light.”] this time, in the cover of snow. I don’t have much else to say, like always,
the fight was incredible, though I have just a few small nitpicks. My only-non combat related nitpick is that
it’s implied a decent amount of time passed when Jack is trying to heal his injury. At minimum, a few days. And yet, the entire time, the Daughters of
Aku are tracking fresh blood that hasn’t even dried the entire time. The amount time passed between the two parties
doesn’t sink up well. Simply having dried blood or other signs of
Jack stumbling through the forest could have solved this so easily – I’m not sure why
that wasn’t done. As for combat nitpicks – I’ve got 3. When Jack blocks the club with his forearm,
I think he should have been given a giant purple bruise on his arm to show he took damage,
especially when we know this club can easily smash weapons apart. Yeah, Jack is a monster, I mean his knife
throw sends one of the Daughters flying, but still, this could have been another nice case
of showing that combat has consequences. Next nitpick, Jack defies physics here. I’ve watched this shot over and over and
over and over – it doesn’t make sense. Jack is falling downward, and then he shoots
off to the side. Ugh, that doesn’t fly. Jack shouldn’t fly. Final nitpick is simply that a lot of Jack’s
cuts weren’t shown toward the end of the fight. I get that it’s for simplicity, but still,
I would’ve liked to see them remain on his body and perhaps even continue to seep blood. For all the praise I gave the blood in the
first half of the episode, it is a little awkward how I’m having blood-related nitpicks
now. These nitpicks don’t ruin anything major. The episode is still amazing, and I loved
it. Samurai Jack’s 5th season is looking like
it might end up being one of my favorite pieces of animation. It’s been such a wonderful ride so far,
and I hope it continues. I hope you’re all enjoying the Samurai Jack
revival as much as I am. With all the introspective psychological stuff
going on, I’m so happy I decided to review this series. It deserves all the attention it can get. Big thanks to all the people who support me
on Patreon, and I hope all of you keep tuning in as I continue to cover Samurai Jack.

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