"Episode XCVIII" is the fifty-ninth episode of Samurai Jack and the seventh episode of Season 5. While the fifth-season episodes are untitled, this episode can be unofficially titled The Search for Jack's Sword or Jack's Sword.
The episode begins with a flashback to 50 years ago, as Jack explains to Ashi how he lost his sword. After climbing to the top of a mountain, accompanied by three small rams, he found and jumped into a time portal, only to be pulled back by Aku. After destroying the portal when Jack attempted to use it again, Aku gloatingly revealed that it was the last time portal in existence; now, Jack was trapped in the future forever. An angry Jack proceeded to lash out at Aku, who simply mutated the three rams into monstrous forms to "play with" the Samurai before escaping. Jack fought and killed the corrupted rams, only to lose his sword in the process, perched precariously over the pit where the portal once stood. When the rams reverted to their normal forms, Jack realized he had spilled innocent blood and tried to fetch his sword, but lost it due to a collapsing pillar that resulted from the struggle.
Back in the present, Jack and Ashi arrive at the mountain on the back of a giant bird, using it to explore the depths of the pit. When they can't find the sword, Jack comes to the realization the sword left him instead of vice versa. After emerging from the pit, he decides to look for it spiritually by meditating. Ashi wants to come along, but Jack refuses, leaving her in charge of protecting him. As Jack meditates, Ashi spots an army in the distance, marching towards the mountain.
Jack searches the spiritual realm for his sword, eventually reaching a house in the middle of a vast body of water. A monk outside asks Jack if he's lost. When Jack says that he is, the monk invites him inside to make tea.
While Jack prepares tea for the monk, a massive army of orc-like warriors begins ascending the mountain, only to be confronted by Ashi. Learning that they seek to kill Jack, she threatens to stop them herself; their amusement is short-lived, as she manages to singlehandedly fight and decimate them all. Shortly after, however, Ashi spots another hostile near the top of the mountain and calls for the large bird to help her get back to higher ground. The assassin fires an arrow at Jack, but Ashi catches it just in time, using a stone slab to block even more shots in the process. The attacker reveals herself as the High Priestess. She berates Ashi for her failure and lack of focus, but offers her one last chance to kill Jack. Ashi refuses, explaining that Jack showed her the truth about Aku. Using one of the ram's horns as a makeshift dagger, Ashi protects Jack while holding her own against her mother. The High Priestess scolds Ashi for betraying their family and sparing Jack, despite the fact he killed her sisters. Ashi asserts that she and her sisters' fates were already chosen, being raised as nothing more than living weapons. Before the High Priestess can finish Jack, Ashi recovers from the rubble she had been buried under and throws one of her mother's arrows back at her, hitting her in the back and sending her falling to her death. Ashi then collapses, feeling exhausted from the fight.
Back in the spiritual realm, the monk remarks that Jack's tea is terrible, as it's missing a key ingredient: Balance. As a consequence, his path to the sword remains hidden. Confused by the revelation, Jack begs the monk to show him the real path to the sword, but the monk simply tells him it's not in his power to do so. Jack's hallucination appears one more time, angrily claiming the monk knows where the sword is and demanding its whereabouts. Instead, Jack affirms the opposite: That his own frustration has kept them from finding the sword. Seeing the truth, Jack dispels his own hallucination once and for all. His balance restored, Jack soon finds himself facing the supreme deities Odin, Ra and Rama. Like his father before him, all three gods deem him worthy, restore his original appearance and return his signature weapon, now more powerful than before after being infused with the purity and strength of his own spirit.
Once back on the physical plane, Jack finds Ashi and wakes her up. She compliments him for his new appearance and for getting the sword back, while he remarks on her recent battle. With his sword back at his side and confidence restored, Jack informs Ashi it's time to confront Aku for the last time!
- Written by
- Storyboard by
- Directed by
- Casting by
- Karie Gima Pham
- Jack regains his katana and his original appearance in this episode.
- At the start of the episode, it's revealed that Jack lost his katana after dropping it near a pit when a pillar collapsed on him, causing it to fall into the pit. Later in the episode, Jack implies that the katana vanished from reality entirely after his rage made him unworthy of wielding it; his spiritual journey allowed him to re-balance his soul, once again making him worthy of his sword.
- Mad Jack reappears.
- The High Priestess is (presumably) killed by Ashi. While her corpse is never shown, it can be assumed that if she wasn't killed by the arrow that Ashi threw, she either died from massive blood loss or the impact of the fall was what ultimately killed her.
- Also, the High Priestess's face is never seen in this episode.
- As confirmed by the High Priestess, the other six Daughters of Aku are confirmed to be dead at this point.
- This episode features the most on screen confirmed kills, with several thousand of the green-humanoid army brutally slaughtered by Ashi.
- This episode marks the return of Odin, Ra, and Rama.
- In this same episode when the Gods restore Jack and his sword, it mirrors the same scene where in Episode XXXVIII: The Birth of Evil, Part 2 when they restore the Emperor and give him the sword.
- It's revealed that they kept the katana for the period of five decades after Jack lost it.
- This is also the first time Jack met Rama, the only one of these gods he had never known.
- Jack says Ashi's name out loud for the first time in this episode.
- The ending scene where Ashi wakes up and sees Jack and compliments his new haircut and shave mirrors the previous episode where Jack compliments Ashi's new hair and dress. This seems to be since the previous episode represents Ashi's change while this episode represents Jack's change.
- When the Orc Army's leader says, "We're going to rip you apart into little pieces, and then take those pieces, and rip them apart into even more pieces" is very similar to how Gordo says, "I'm going to tear you into little shreds! And then I'm going to take those shreds and tear 'em them into little shreds!" in 'Jack and the Smackback'.
- This is the last episode in the fifth season to feature red blood; episode XCIX involves green alien blood, and the final two episodes are bloodless.
- In a brief scene, during Ashi's fight, a silhouette of herself resembling her previous outfit and hairstyle can be seen, possibly representing her warped upbringing and residual brutality and training she grew up with.
- It's possible that the monk is Rama. This can be seen in these factors:
- Both Rama and the monk have a tilaka on their forehead.
- The monk is a Buddhist. Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha, one of Vishnu's avatars.
- Jack's spiritual test involved a tea ceremony. Both Japanese and Indian cultures have their own tea ceremony.
- As mentioned above, Rama is the only one of the three gods that Jack has not yet met or interacted with.
- This isn't the first time Jack was blinded by rage, let alone Aku taking advantage of that. One could say that Mad Jack came back in the form of his hallucinations.
- The reason why Jack gave up too soon two episodes ago when he thought he somehow killed the brainwashed children stems from him killing the lamb fifty years ago without realizing he could've found a way to save them from Aku's corruption, believing that he had committed the same mistake again.
- Ashi's fight with the Orc Army is almost a perfect mirroring to the battle Mace Windu had in Genndy's Clone Wars animated mini-series, right down to decimating the army with her fists.
- After Ashi defeats the army, she's shown drenched in blood. However, after she sees someone on the mountain trying to reach Jack to kill him, she's shown with no blood on her.
- During the fight between Ashi and her mother, the mouth of the High Priestess's mask moves like a real mouth would during some scenes.
- Main article: Episode XCVIII/Gallery