|"What was the point of satin and lace if it didn't make a man struggle to speak?" ~ Alexandra Ivy|
"A mysterious female warrior joins Jack in his quest, but is she really an ally?"
We find Samurai Jack wandering the streets of some Arab community out in the desert looking for a particular shop. Upon finding it, the owner shows him to a back room where she performs a light reading. Jack then learns the way to find a mystical jewel out in the desert that has the power to take him home. Only someone pure of heart can gain its power. They are interrupted by some sword wielding robots. Just as Jack seems to be in the throws of defeat, a mysterious green woman dressed in black comes to his rescue. They venture out through the desert and eventually come across the jewel. Upon being tested for purity, the jewel becomes part of a giant djinn looking beast, who is quickly defeated by Jack's female companion. She then destroys the jewel as it is revealed that it was really Aku the entire time.
Let us first talk about this city Jack finds himself in. There are some really cool things going on here - some street performers, dudes smoking from some incredible pipe (I want to make this pipe some day), and blue men with scorpions under their eyes. I cannot think of a better way to intimidate people than to have scorpions using your face as a playground.
It is interesting how every turbaned man is an alien of some sort. This is rather clear picture of how Americans view everyone else in the world except for themselves. We are a pretty ignorant country, and this shows it. Not that they are bad - because they do some pretty cool things here - but we just do not understand their culture. It is alien to us.
I hate this about America. But I digress...
Jack is trying to blend in by wearing his own hood and cape, but the fact that he isn't dressed like a mummy makes him clearly a traveler. Once he finds the place, we are greeted with the picture above. Also terrifying. He starts speaking with the owner, who seems to know why he is there. Running around opening windows, this small dot of an alien seems to be putting Jack in the spotlight - talking up what sounds like a solution to Jack's quest. She really wants to sell him some rug.
|Belonged to some BS king or something...|
Once Jack shows her the scrap of paper that simply has her store name on it, she immediately understands who Jack is. He was sent here by the Woolies back from Episode IV. However, we know Woolies can't possibly write, and there cannot be enough information in her sign to know that Jack is the pinnacle of all good. However she finds out, she takes Jack into the back room to the Light of Eternity.
Suddenly, they have no time and must hurry to read Jack's "light line." Too bad they wasted so much time talking about rugs. Once Jack puts his hands in the light, the reader is able to tell him of a mystical jewel somewhere in the desert. Only the purest of heart may use its power. To find it, he simply must follow the sun and moon. Then some weird squiggle shit appears...
|Ah! Oh! Hey... What you serious? This didn't come outta me...|
As soon as Jack hears everything he needs to, there is a bay-splosion and three wild sand-robot-machine men appear! The explosion separated Jack from his sword, a cardinal sin on his part, and soon, he finds himself fighting with whatever he can find in the room. Which is not a whole lot.
|Women do not know how to fight...?!|
Upon certain defeat, he is suddenly saved by a mysterious witch like lady dressed in black with high boots and a beauty mark. Jack is speechless, but manages his sword and shows that he doesn't need a lady's touch. The store keeper yells at him as they jump through the window that she is evil, but Jack just doesn't understand and they run through the city away from these sand-robo-death-sabers.
As they escape on Ooklas - blue camel looking things with snail eyes - the sand machines seem to grin at each other, again pointing to some sort of shenanigans that Jack does not yet fully understand.
Jack is put off that some stranger helped him - let alone a woman. Being a weary traveler, Jack apologizes and they nestle down for the night. Here, Jack gets her full story as well as her name - Ekra. Her father was encircled with a ring of fire to which Aku holds him as punishment for his crimes against his great empire. Jack thinks this is a sign that they were meant to find the jewel together so they can serve justice to Aku.
As they bat butterfly eyes at each other, I am pretty sure that they are seduced by each other's power and skill. It is under this crescent moon that my friends and I joke that they get down. And why not? The rest of the episode plays out like a honeymoon - with adventures kept in a photo album through montage: Fighting a giant sand worm, running through the desert (why did they lose their blue camels?), saving Jack from quicksand, meeting a Sheik, and some sensual dancing.
|Oh, How I adore me...|
|There can seriously only be one lord of dance: And he's a large Arab man with maracas.|
The dancing and the food make this green woman uncomfortable. Perhaps it is just the adventure of being with Jack, or the long starry nights, or the hue of green that the Arab dancing man is, but sooner or later she has to ask if it is worth it.
Finally finding this desert oasis, Ekra immediately cries out that they have found water. Jack does not even go for a drink, but she is chugging it down. They have found the jewel and Jack addresses it as an honorable time warrior would. It then begins to judge them - something that Ekra did not anticipate.
And what is this?! The Djinn of Jewel Death is here to smite them. Jack does not understand why. His heart is pure and their cause is noble. It has not occurred to him what the truth is about Ekra. Although... this sorta gives him a big hint...
|Oh! You're Aku. I get it now.|
Ekra flies around, becomes huge, knocks out the giant, takes the jewel, and smashes it to the ground. She then reveals herself as Aku. Jack is now real mad. He made sweet sweet love to this woman, who had more than a few chances to just let Jack die, and it turns out to be his sworn enemy. Forget the Oedipus complex, try being with the most evil thing in the cosmos, building rapport, and then having it all smashed to pieces out in the desert of love.
|I'd say he took the break up pretty well...?|
Aku flies off, berating Jack for what a fool he was and how he could never possibly succeed against evil. Jack is fighting a power that seems to guard every door and hold every key. Aku is playing a much more diabolical game now - by crushing Samurai Jack's spirit. This is certainly the closest Jack has gotten to going home. He did it with team work. Now, he knows there is no help for him anywhere.
"All the world is made of faith, trust, and pixie dust." ~ J.M. Barrie : Peter Pan
In this episode, Jack tries trusting a stranger for the first time - and it did not pan out. It is not that it is wrong to trust people, but it is important to weigh them carefully. What makes this episode horrifying is that they trusted each other with their lives (although it seems nothing can really kill Aku except Jack) and built a friendship with each other. It is sad when friendships/relationships break, especially when everything seemed to be going so smoothly. What's more, Jack handles it well as he continues his battle for the next 3.5 seasons.
Jack learned that it is important to never make yourself 100% vulnerable at any given time and be weary of his own character. If he can handle himself in any situation with our without someone then there is nothing that anyone can do to break him. He willingly risks himself for others because he knows what is within his capabilities. There is never a sense of danger - just duty and justice. Having others around makes life enjoyable, but not always meaningful. That is something you have to synthesize on your own.