‘Samurai Jack’ 5.08 ‘XCIX’ Review: Jack & Ashi On The Run

Samurai Jack & Ashi
Samurai Jack ramps things up for the endgame of the series. In the latest episode, Jack and Ashi take refuge in an abandoned prison during a sandstorm, only to learn that what the prison was meant to hold is far more dangerous.

This episode starts off with a brief sequence involving a prison colony crash-landing on Earth at night. We later meet up with Jack and Ashi in a bazaar in a sequence that wouldn’t be too out-of-place an episode from an earlier season (though, having said that, it feels a bit weird seeing it now after the show has taken a darker direction). The duo take a ride on a brontosaurus-like creature and quickly discover that a significant number of their fellow passengers are out to kill them. They make an escape after getting too close for comfort to one another a handful of times and continue travel on foot, leading to a long sequence without dialogue as the two traverse the dunes of the desert, make hats, and subsequently lose them during a sandstorm.

The good news, however, is that they’re able to take refuge inside the giant prison colony we saw earlier in the episode… But unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends, because there’s a killer alien prisoner on the loose. Even worse news is that the labyrinthine design of the prison leaves them disoriented and without a place to hide as they are forced to confront the prisoner – a giant worm made up of thousands of individual maggots that act in unison. Luckily for them, they get away long enough to find a weapon that can kill the thing, and just when it seems like they’re doomed, the weapon activates and the day is saved.

…And then they kiss while Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody” plays in the background. A Hollywood ending for a show that usually stays away from those kind of conventions, but perhaps it’s not unwelcome here. Both of these characters have been through a lot, so the least the show can do is set them up to be happy together.

I’ll be blunt – this episode is my least favorite of the revival. That’s not to say that it’s bad at all, because it isn’t. It just not *quite* up to the standards established by previous episodes, and the reason why is that seemed like it was relatively uneven in terms of plot progression and overall quality. It’s still good fun, as the action continues to be both clever and thrilling (with the entire concept of alphabet-based opponents being cleverer in execution than in concept, and the worm-monsters being both creepy and a believable threat to both characters, not to mention very well-animated). The romantic subtext throughout the entire thing was both amusing and sweet, and in many respects is the actual highlight of the episode – I liked the actual pay-off of Jack and Ashi’s first kiss, even if I felt like it came at an odd point in the episode’s narrative (I would have preferred that the talked a bit more about their situation before they locked lips, since Ashi’s development from Jack’s would-be-killer to his biggest supporter has been handled so well).

While I felt like this wasn’t exactly the strongest story that’s ever been told on this show, next week’s episode is teasing the return of a major plot point that was set up in a previous season, and one that longtime fans of the original show have wanted to see a resolution to since the revival was first announced. And since this particular story undoubtedly builds up to the next part, I feel as though a relative low point in the revival still succeeded in its purpose of tying the knot between two beloved characters.

Samurai Jack airs on Saturday evenings at 10:00 PM CT on Cartoon Network.

Grant Davis

Grant Davis

A Texan freelance writer with interests in Star Wars, superhero movies, and entertainment in general.