It’s weird. When Samurai Jack did their Frank Miller tribute episode with the Spartans back in the day, Miller was still revered as the trendsetter of comics. Who aside from some rough spots like Dark Knight Strikes Again, was one of those names every fan of comics knew. But in 2017, Frank Miller’s now a laughingstock and a pariah because of his recent works like The Holy Terror, failed attempts at a directing career with The Spirit movie, and controversial political views that have painted his previously renowned works in a poor light. Admitting to liking him, even his seminal works like Year One, is a rarity to see now. You’re about as likely to see people openly admitting to liking Ken Penders than Frank Miller. No matter how good any of his new comics will be, his name always carries a burden. So seeing the new season allude to Frank Miller works feels like it’s from another time, with the first scene between Jack and the wolf harkening back to Sin City. If anything, it strengthens how flashback-heavy this episode is. That Jack’s recalling a simpler time while the show is also doing just that.
Jack recalling his childhood and reciting his father’s words to the Daughters proves something pivotal to his character: He’s still figuring out how to fill his shoes. Even when he’s mentally in his mid-70s, he has to figure out what wisdom his father had that he needs to attain. The Emperor managed to seal Aku not long after first encountering him, while Jack has had decades to kill him but to no avail. Perhaps in some ways, Jack hasn’t mentally aged, and he’s still somewhat of a child in need of education. Maybe all these decades have scarred him so much, that he’s somehow regressed. Like where’s his flying cloud and glowing silver samurai armor? Why haven’t the gods given him the tools to finally vanquish Aku once and for all? If he’s essentially become a plaything and an understudy for his father, then how can he possibly succeed?
Of course, that applies for the Daughters too. They’ve been so excessively trained and secluded from regular society that the sight of a deer nuzzling another confuses them. They even think one with antlers is meant to be Aku’s servant. It highlights how even though they are all grown women, simple moments that even toddlers can comprehend are out of their reach. Like how the Daughters chasing Jack last episode was as much the mission as it was also them exploring their surroundings and being almost curious about the tomb they infiltrated. So cold, yet so simpleminded, all because their mother never showed them her copy of Bambi. The worst part? There’s indication that their mother isn’t even allied with Aku since a troupe of mud people could easily gain access to him while she could only bow to a statue in his image. So all of this bloodshed and death in the last two episodes isn’t even because of an ancient evil, but some crazed woman indoctrinating her chldren.
PS: I don’t know what to think of the fan theory that not only will Ashi survive, she’ll be the one who goes to the past and kill Aku. Maybe that could work, but I’m not sure. If executed poorly, it would feel like Jack sacrificed decades of his life for nothing while someone else took his place.