Samurai Jack season 5 on Adult Swim’s Toonami Block

It’s been nearly 13 years since Samurai Jack ended its fourth season on Cartoon Network in 2004. This month, Adult Swim is premiering a 10-episode fifth season. The return of Samurai Jack isn’t like Fuller House, The X-Files, or even Arrested Development where the original cast and creators returned to satisfy the fans’ nostalgia. Samurai Jack actually never ended. This is the ending for which fans have been waiting over a decade.

Jack (voice Phil Lamarr) was a samurai in ancient Japan. Just as he was about to defeat the evil Aku (voice of Mako), Aku sent Jack into the future. Jack spent four seasons trying to get back to his time and defeat Aku. Now 50 more years have passed. Jack is weary and sports long hair and beard.

Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky (seen above demonstrating art from the show) and LaMarr spoke with Rotten Tomatoes recently about the series’ return and finale. Here are the 10 ways they planned to finally conclude the Samurai Jack saga.


1. TARTAKOVSKY WAS WAITING FOR THE RIGHT TIME

When Cartoon Network canceled Samurai Jack, Tartakovsky had the option of wrapping up the fourth season. He chose to leave it open ended so that one day he could come back to it.

“I had three or four episodes left,” Tartakovsky said. “There was no mandate. I realized I really don’t want to rush a conclusion all of a sudden without thinking it through. Back then I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for the end, so I decided I’m just going to trust it. Let’s just end it. Maybe we’ll take a break and then finish it. We just sort of quietly went into the night.”


2. IT’S ONE 10-PART STORY

For the first four seasons of Samurai Jack, the format was a standalone story every week. The television landscape of 2017 allows Samurai Jack to tell a single continuing story, so the fifth season is one big final story.

“The approach is different,” LaMarr (pictured above) said. “The old episodes, each episode was exploring a different aspect of Aku’s world. These episodes are all telling one big story. We go a little deeper emotionally and into Jack as a person.”


3. 10 EPISODES GIVES SAMURAI JACK AN ENDING A MOVIE NEVER COULD

Over the years there had been several attempts to make a Samurai Jack movie. Every time, development stalled because the idea wouldn’t fit in 90 minutes. Ten episodes gives Tartakovsky enough room to do everything he wanted to do.

“Luckily it never got going, because there was never a perfect movie that I’m like Oh, I wish we would’ve made that version,” Tartakovsky said.


4. BY EPISODE FIVE, YOU’LL SEE WHERE JACK IS HEADED

The first few episodes reintroduce Jack and establish the new world in which he finds himself. Tartakovsky says the fifth episode fully reveals the direction of this finale.

“You get a little bit more in three, a lot more in four and then five it starts to kick in a little bit more,” Tartakovsky said. “It all feels like it’s one thing, but the third act of this journey is definitely the last three to four episodes.”


5. 50 YEARS LEADS JACK TO THE END OF HIS JOURNEY

Tartakovsky set the new season 50 years later so he could explore the consequences of Jack’s long journey after 52 previous episodes.

“Rather than just episode 53 and you get going, I wanted there to be more weight,” Tartakovsky said.

This worked for LaMarr, who was able to infuse Jack with the extra decade plus of maturity he’s experienced.

“We’ve all grown,” LaMarr said. “We’ve all matured. How do we do this work from where we are now? We’re all the same people but we’re different. These 10 episodes are the same way. It’s the same series but different.”

Jack never says much, but when he talks, fans might notice he sounds like he’s been through more.

“Obviously my voice has changed a little bit over time, and also my interpretation of Jack has shifted a tiny bit,” LaMarr said. “Some of it, you don’t even realize until you listen back to the old stuff. The way Genddy structured these 10 new episodes, it totally fit. I don’t have to try and go back and do it the same way I did in 2001. He’s different. I’m different.”


6. JACK GETS EMOTIONAL

For four seasons, Jack was fairly unflappable and able to overcome any weekly obstacle. Season 5 picks up when Jack is more vulnerable and hit harder by the events he encounters .

“Jack is in a different place,” LaMarr said. “The original series was about his ability to withstand so much and accomplish so much. He was always so zen. He’s not in the same headspace anymore. Things affect him in a different way than they did before.”


7. TARTAKOVSKY HAS BEEN PLANNING THIS FOR EIGHT YEARS

This wasn’t just something Tartakovsky threw together. He began thinking of the conclusion five years after the fourth season. When the network and the viewers were ready for it, he fleshed out the story.

“It was always this lost-soul idea,” Tartakovsky said.

LaMarr was on board: “Genndy and I had talked about it beforehand, so I knew where he was placing it and doing with it, although he did not tell me the ending. I didn’t get the ending until I got the last script. We were pretty on the same page about the fact that Jack is Jack, but he’s Jack with some miles on him now.”


8. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WATCH THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS, BUT IT HELPS

If you’ve never seen Samurai Jack, you can just jump in. Each episode opens with a recap of Jack’s story and how the story has jumped 50 years. Still, Tartakovsky recommends watching a few old episodes.

“I think it’s always good to know what he’s from,” Tartakovsky said. “It’d be great if you watched a few episodes to get the feel of it but you could jump in and pick up the details.”


9. THE WORLD HAS CAUGHT UP TO SPLIT SCREENS

When Jack springs into action, the screen often splits to show different actions at at the same time. Some of the images are vertical, some horizontal. Samurai Jack did this long before cell phones included video. Now that viewers are used to vertical video, Samurai Jack could be more accessible.

“Split-screen stuff has been around since the ’70s, so it’s not like I invented anything,” Tartakovsky said. “It is definitely easier. In a weird funny way, I’m doing it a lot less in these 10 than I did in the past. Sometimes it became, not a cliche, but it almost becomes a caricature of yourself. Here’s an action scene, here comes the split screen. So we tried to do it a little bit more meaningful and definitely less than I think we’ve done before.”


10. THE NEW VILLAINS TELL THE FINAL STORY

Aku is still the main threat, but Jack encounters some new ones along the way, including some of Aku’s new forces. Every new villain Jack faces was created to illustrate his final journey.

“They were all story driven,” Tartakovsky said. “We needed things to get to Jack. Usually I’ll just do a doodle. Scaramouche just came out from a drawing and then we started to develop what he is as a bad guy.”

One enemy through the final season is The Daughters of Aku, an army of human female warriors.

“They’re a big part of the story,” Tartakovsky said. “They’re not going to go away, not to give anything away. I wanted to show the human side that’s been treated like a machine. Aku builds robots and all these robots are singularly programmed to kill Jack. What if it’s humans? What if the one purpose in your whole life is to kill this one person and you’re raised from birth that way?”

Samurai Jack returns March 11 at 11 p.m. on Adult Swim


Tag Cloud

witnail romantic comedy Pop TV live action Video Games cops debate Tomatazos sopranos TruTV adaptation romance true crime GoT IMDb TV dark halloween tv spider-verse remakes art house police drama canceled TV shows rotten 45 cats Fall TV Television Critics Association Rocky 2018 BAFTA Horror pirates of the caribbean versus franchise crime drama unscripted name the review Trivia DC streaming service historical drama Binge Guide monster movies teaser Britbox superhero MTV X-Men Tokyo Olympics Columbia Pictures Hulu Lionsgate hispanic heritage month book adaptation richard e. Grant Disney streaming service AMC Plus The Arrangement Logo Comedy APB venice laika game of thrones Reality Competition Alien mutant zombie Holiday Stephen King BBC Women's History Month The Academy asian-american psycho saw dc Heroines ViacomCBS Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2020 festivals Marathons hist dceu heist movie Trophy Talk french Disney Reality Spectrum Originals Musicals Apple genre Freeform free movies based on movie cinemax football docuseries criterion marvel cinematic universe CBS sag awards Endgame DGA First Reviews festival new york Emmy Nominations Sony Pictures Mary Tyler Moore movie BET History international PBS series Election Showtime australia spain NBC target stoner talk show crime Sundance die hard renewed TV shows OneApp crossover Cosplay dragons Podcast Tumblr Extras Photos Winter TV Quiz 007 Comedy Central Rom-Com japan 73rd Emmy Awards ABC The Purge adventure Spike Lifetime Christmas movies christmas movies Rocketman The Walt Disney Company Toys Polls and Games aliens golden globes Instagram Live Character Guide spanish Shudder know your critic dogs hollywood San Diego Comic-Con TV Lifetime Discovery Channel nbcuniversal OWN 93rd Oscars TCA fast and furious obituary Watching Series vampires wonder woman dreamworks new star wars movies The CW stand-up comedy book social media worst movies Biopics Martial Arts Legendary gangster sequels television scene in color documentary reviews Bravo VICE indiana jones Walt Disney Pictures Thanksgiving Epix Disney Channel james bond space 2019 spanish language critic resources halloween FX Marvel movies parents adenture PlayStation Fox Searchlight video on demand olympics Adult Swim ratings Fox News IFC Films cults miniseries Spring TV Pride Month Star Trek Ovation indie President twilight basketball GLAAD Emmys Netflix Christmas movies LGBT critics Song of Ice and Fire satire disaster Turner prank Lucasfilm rt labs 21st Century Fox Superheroes Fantasy TCA Awards Film rom-coms Pet Sematary A24 HBO emmy awards FX on Hulu new zealand justice league Mary poppins foreign toy story Fargo revenge Marvel Studios cancelled television elevated horror American Society of Cinematographers godzilla Arrowverse Warner Bros. Writers Guild of America Awards Nominations sports reboot Pixar PaleyFest rotten movies we love 20th Century Fox royal family E3 posters SDCC 72 Emmy Awards composers high school Grammys Pirates Crackle game show classics Action CBS All Access 24 frames Crunchyroll documentaries Chernobyl casting NYCC Acorn TV Country Cannes TV One Musical Christmas zero dark thirty deadpool spinoff animated black comedy VOD comic book movies sequel Superheroe chucky YA spy thriller Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Nat Geo NBA Amazon Prime Video Animation Food Network Valentine's Day action-comedy Certified Fresh Rock strong female leads Esquire Winners Mudbound biopic 2021 Turner Classic Movies cancelled TV series mockumentary comedies Baby Yoda serial killer 4/20 rt labs critics edition 2017 Kids & Family GIFs child's play Neflix concert Comic-Con@Home 2021 films Pop Awards Tour superman Tarantino quibi The Witch 90s all-time Year in Review Starz rt archives 99% tv talk Black History Month suspense ITV Black Mirror Trailer Amazon Prime theme song Premiere Dates latino Peacock dramedy cartoon comic book movie joker mob blockbuster 2016 SundanceTV Comic Book breaking bad USA Network hidden camera Disney Plus kong women facebook Wes Anderson blockbusters Syfy harry potter Best and Worst razzies BBC One canceled IFC DC Comics technology hispanic robots nature Western comiccon National Geographic marvel comics italian Comics on TV Travel Channel docudrama aapi toronto Mystery Paramount Plus BET Awards legend HBO Go Summer TCA Winter 2020 japanese ID Funimation Vudu Mindy Kaling Avengers CW Seed screenings Teen Schedule Netflix stop motion DC Universe Ellie Kemper TV Land cancelled king arthur cooking RT21 Brie Larson boxing leaderboard Universal telelvision RT History golden globe awards sitcom Universal Pictures mcc werewolf anthology USA feel good video comic 1990s Film Festival Broadway Super Bowl Apple TV+ AMC Television Academy Apple TV Plus Set visit supernatural streaming politics comic books Hallmark Christmas movies blaxploitation Sundance TV Captain marvel Tubi scary Image Comics Calendar CNN period drama vs. Paramount natural history TBS political drama Sundance Now Mary Poppins Returns science fiction SXSW Hallmark travel TCA 2017 Holidays Classic Film Family cancelled TV shows young adult thriller The Walking Dead award winner MSNBC TIFF Academy Awards dexter boxoffice slasher ghosts black Disney+ Disney Plus south america Music doctor who fresh children's TV YouTube Hear Us Out FOX independent singing competition New York Comic Con ABC Family YouTube Red Shondaland a nightmare on elm street TV movies streaming movies Sci-Fi comics popular Creative Arts Emmys scary movies Marvel Television binge finale trailers BBC America jamie lee curtis jurassic park kids zombies psychological thriller Opinion Interview archives discovery trophy WarnerMedia DirecTV 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards VH1 Amazon cars Paramount Network FXX TCM king kong TLC Sneak Peek 71st Emmy Awards E! biography TNT lord of the rings best Exclusive Video HBO Max mission: impossible directors what to watch Box Office Masterpiece nfl slashers CMT diversity batman MCU Cartoon Network Elton John Countdown Nickelodeon kaiju 2015 LGBTQ ABC Signature anime A&E worst Red Carpet El Rey spider-man Dark Horse Comics green book Pacific Islander ESPN universal monsters First Look transformers medical drama Infographic Ghostbusters See It Skip It Amazon Studios Anna Paquin war screen actors guild news crime thriller YouTube Premium WGN scorecard Oscars Star Wars live event Drama TV renewals