Time has lost its effect on me. Spoilers have not.
We kinda saw this one coming. It can’t just be Jack alone forever, and we foresaw there was some reason to give one of the assassins of the Cult of Aku a name. Ashi survives the fall and is still intent on killing Jack. When he manages to tie her up in her own chain, then she resorts to… shouting threats at him. And so, the darkness and grit of the past episodes finally get a healthy mix of subtle humour. The thing about humour in this world is that it isn’t forced upon you. That being said, the moment that Jack and Ashi are swallowed whole by a humongous beast the size of small world, the old style lava-lamp weirdness of past seasons comes out to play.
Inside the belly of this beast, there’s creatures that crawl, slice, fly and hunt. Jack temporarily makes a weapon out of a sharp limb. Unfortunately, Ashi is still trying to kill him, or at least sabotage his escape. Jack tries to explain how Aku is the evil one, but how can you reverse a lifetime of indoctrination? Here’s where this episode makes some better choices than a lot of other stories about turning one’s enemy into one’s ally. It’s not Jack’s statements about Aku that start the process to wearing down Ashi’s convictions. It’s not even him saving her life from other creatures that hunt inside the beast’s ecosystem.
It’s an event in Ashi’s past, a ladybug that she spared and that the High Priestess killed to teach her a lesson. And that lesson becomes undone the moment that a ladybug, by fortune or by fate, flies around her as she tries to get the jump on Jack. Jack is unaware, tired and somehow calm after fleeing the beast. Ashi has found her weapon. She has the advantage. But as the ladybug lands on Jack finger and he just blissfully lets it fly away, we realize that the Samurai still has a weapon he has not quite lost: his humanity.
I must confess that I didn’t quite want the outcome of Ashi becoming an ally to Jack just on the principle that she shouldn’t just turn over a new leaf because Jack is “the good guy”. I certainly would not approve of Ashi turning away from the dark side just because Jack explains everything. Instead, it’s one minuscule kindness of Ashi’s past that is used as the seed for her to recognize that the path of Samurai may not be far from her own.
- Yes, the weird creatures inside the beast really made this episode more enjoyable than I expected. There’s still danger, most of the things want to eat Jack and Ashi and it certainly didn’t look like fun, but it was fun for us.
- Jack wearing a worm’s shed shells as armour pieces was cool. And yeah, the furred back was nice. Too bad it doesn’t quite last.
- That being said, I squirmed at the rain of needles. Ouch. Glad he didn’t got one in his eyes when looking up. Yikes.
- Jack is not spared the sight of at least another of the assassins dead before his eyes. The crows muttering “murder” and “killer” were Jack just hearing things, right…?
- The hallucinations are quite versatile, from the innocent to the idealistic. And some are apparently able to see things he doesn’t, like noticing that Ashi was taken away.
- The humour in a dark situation was subtle but noticeable. I love how awkwardly funny Jack can be trying to reason with pure hatred. He’s fully aware he’s not cracking that shell anytime soon, but he tries.
- Like I explain in the main post, it would have been cheap and even a little presumptuous to have Jack’s attempts get through Ashi’s indoctrination. It had to be something that she discovered herself that would produce the first crack in the armour.
- That being said, I want Ashi to start a path of doubt and skepticism as she undoubtedly will follow the Samurai from now on.
That will do for now.