“Sometimes we have to be willing to die in order to begin living again.”
It’s one thing for a show to be better than you remembered it being…it’s another thing entirely for it to be actually true. This episode to me was about someone facing his past in order to overcome his present, to help him cope with his future. Is a person defined by what motivates him, by what actions he takes, by what choices he makes? For the first five minutes we see Jack losing a lot of blood. This was borderline hard to watch, especially when he pulled the knife (finally) from his abdomen once he found shelter in a cave. To have a situation not only challenge you but take everything out of you…The feeling of being physically exhausted, the feeling of being mentally spent, the feeling of your spirit being drained. While most of us (hopefully) haven’t been left covered in red, I feel that all of us have experienced a moment of weakness where we simply could not recover instantaneously. For Jack, he did something he never has done before but there is so much more to it than that.
I really want to talk about Jack’s interaction with a more “twisted” version of his former self. This was a great follow-up to the exchange he had before. The last semblance of Jack was one of desperation, of fear even. This one however had a much more insidious nature to him. This was evident by his facial expressions (maniacal as they were), and even his movements. Despite being very brief, we learn that Jack has never killed a human being up till this point. Also, something that wasn’t lost on me was the fact that Jack was in a bad way obviously, but like “Ghost Jack” said, he’s survived worse. So once again this situation is happening due to the attack not on Jack’s body but his psyche. Personally, this relates to me because it’s easy to just let you body forge ahead and go. The mind is so important that conversely trying to put too much on it will have you doubting and questioning yourself. Oh, and the delight in “Ghost Jack’s” face when realizing that a being of flesh and blood fell at the hands of the Samurai. Have you ever done something that may or may not have some moral ramifications but yet took some delight in it? People in our lives talk about us, put us down, demean us, get in our way, wrong us and not once has the thought of retribution or revenge entered in our heads for some degree of satisfaction? My grandma used to tell me to be careful what roads you choose to travel down because some of them you have to stay on until the next intersection. It’s important that regardless of what decisions we make, regardless of what alignment they happen to fall under, we as people are willing to accept the results and fallout of whatever they may bring us. To bring the two hallucination moments full circle, the thought of suicide is redirected into a question of whether or not Jack can continue down this path or is he purposely trying to create his own destruction…to which Jack shutters, “No.”
Last episode’s allegory with the wolf who was basically going through a similar conundrum with these lion-like beast as Jack was with the Seven Daughters actually had some follow up because the same wolf who too was bloody found Jack in the cave. This leads to one of the cutest and funniest moments as Jack and the Wolf basically had a “boy and his dog” moment. The wolf finding food, sharing with Jack and he in turn sharing it back. Jack stitching up his wound and the wolf cleaning the blood off himself and doing the same for Jack. Jack trying to do the same for the wolf with water and the wolf getting mad. Jack freezing watching the wolf sleep…then waking up realizing the wolf wrapped around him like a blanket keeping him warm so he could sleep. All of this made me want a dog in my life!
The more important moment was before this sequence happened, Jack has a flashback of basically witnessing his father kill, but not before giving a warning to his aggressors and resolving to his beliefs of Bushido (now the Samurai in Jack has a bit more substance). We actually see the blood stain young Jack’s face from the battle his father had to finish. His father explains to the boy that we can not hide from ourselves and that our choices and actions are reflections of who we are. I can admit that I’ve done things in my life that I’m not particularly proud of. I’ve been willing to do things that are uncharacteristic and to show sides of my personality that aren’t exactly flattering. But I own and accept everything that I do and everything I am, good and bad. To do otherwise makes us incomplete, unfinished. Once upon a time, I let my line of work completely dictate what kind of person I was, to the point that I could no longer recognize myself. To the point where I was broken and didn’t know if I’d ever be able to reassemble. Leaving everything behind was not going to provide a solution to my problem, I had to go back and rewrite how my story was going to end. I was willing to do whatever necessarily and committed myself to what it was going to take to do so regardless of what choices I had to make. Jack in his own way realized this and watching Jack go up against the remaining Daughters meant so much beyond how visually it was portrayed.
Much like his father, Jack gives a warning to the persistent six as they have been tracking him down the entire episode. I mentioned earlier about the ‘Bushido’ that Jack’s father was acting upon. A warrior archtype like the samurai needs some balance and the honor that the Bushido code provides does just that. It gives greater subtext to things that are about to take place that on their own would just paint Jack as a mindless killer. Two moves, both with the spear, takes out two of the six Daughters (and when I say take out, I mean killed). What proceeds is basically Jack systematically dismantling the Daughters of Aku in brutal fashion I might add. The last of which being truly symbolic when Jack has one of them dangling over the cliff by way of the chain that was being used to attack him. The look on Jack’s face before he simply let go of the chain as this woman was berating him and telling him he would die; we’ve all been at the place where we just look at life and shake our head, no. There are moments where nothing else matters, where you can look into the blazing fire and not only be able to walk towards it but know that you are going to come out the other side. This was Jack being Jack. He will not be afraid to take your existence in order to keep his if that is the choice that you make.
Why are you not watching this show? Whether for long-time fans, fans of visually stimulating art or thematically, Samurai Jack is hitting all the right notes. However, Jack also fell down, down down…but we’ll have to wait to find out what’s next.