Samurai Jack, a children’s show about a taciturn samurai living by a strict honor code, has produced a strong contender for the horniest episode of television of 2017. God bless Genndy Tartakovsky.
I honestly wasn’t sure where Jack and Ashi’s relationship was going after the last episode—was it going to be a platonic connection over their shared work? something more paternal? or were they actually going to bone? “XCIX” answers this question almost immediately, when Jack’s “sword” pokes Ashi on a crowded camel-slash-subway car. Once the lewd sex joke barrier is broken, it’s only a matter of time until they consummate their burgeoning attraction, and even though this episode has a foregone conclusion, the intervening 20 minutes are delightful.
Basically everything that happens between Jack and Ashi during this episode is very sweet, especially on Jack’s end—it’s been so long since Jack even had the semblance of a romantic interest that it’s not surprising he doesn’t know what to do. (I think it is safe to say canonically that Jack has never boned.) Their hands meet awkwardly on the pole, and sweat beads form on Jack’s forehead. When the camera zooms in for an action shot as they both punch out one of the tiger assassins sent to kill them (oh, yeah, there are also tiger assassins with cool lettered shirts that spell out all sorts of fun things), it focuses on their fists touching as the most epic part of the fight. And their eyes widen with some combination of discomfort and fear and excitement not when the tigers try to kill them, but when they realize they’re finally alone.
It’s very sweet that Jack can still be nervous about developing feelings for a girl after 50 years, especially as the rest of the episode makes clear that she’s more than a match for him. They can walk together in silence, which is a rare quality in any relationship, let alone one between two deadly warriors in a dystopian wasteland. (Also, I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most important things to Jack, since he spends most of his time walking in silence.) Jack draws out Ashi’s sense of awe and wonder at the world, and she gets him to have fun. He’s the one who will unquestioningly eat the weird fish at the bazaar stall run by a Walrus with a broken tusk wearing a fez who sounds disconcertingly like Dr. John Zoidberg. (He’s literally voiced by Billy West.) She begs off from eating it, disconcerted by Jack’s head turning into a fish and too enamored with the rest of the market. They even make red versions of Jack’s classic hat!
Eventually, they come upon the wreckage of a crashed spaceship that looks like a DVD player, and we get an extended Alien-style sequence of Jack and Ashi first running from, then fighting off a mass of living leeches named Lazarus 92 (which coincidentally was also my AIM screen name). This is a very good, tense part of the episode, but it’s also basically an excuse for extended foreplay gags, as Jack literally sucks the venom from the leech out of her leg—which isn’t quite Samurai Jack going all out with a foot scene but, uh, it’s not not that either. The show has always had this vaguely juvenile sense of humor, and I am super into how it plays out on Adult Swim, culminating in Jack “not knowing” how to use his weapon, which has a mysterious “initiating sequence.”
By the time Ashi is literally rendered naked in front of a deeply embarrassed and uncomfortable Jack, the whole thing is just farcical. I’m sure there are problems people could have with this episode, but I love how much Genndy Tartakovsky and the rest of the team committed to this bit, and how much fun they obviously had with it. One of the cool things about the first run of Samurai Jack was the way the show never really felt like it needed to give Jack a love interest, but that just means that it feels more satisfying and well-earned when he finally gets a partner who’s every bit his equal. So yeah, I’m pretty into it when the end of the episode cuts to them making out, with Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Someone,” an uncharacteristic and temporally-bound music choice, playing in the background and continuing over the end credits. It turns out the only weapon anyone needed to defeat Aku was love!
- I briefly thought they’d back to the original opening titles, now that Jack is back to his classic look. No such luck!
- The globe looks the same when the ship crashes, basically? I kinda thought it would be wreathed in flame or something.
- “Actually, it’s a gi.” Okay, Jack. Way to “actually” your partner.
- There are some nice visual references to Dexter’s Lab.
- The screenshot I used for the image looks like it is already becoming a meme. Thank God for the internet.