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Samurai Jack finally comes to an end, but underwhelms

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This wasn’t the ending many people were hoping for

Samurai Jack Cartoon Network

Samurai Jack’s final season has been an emotional roller coaster and one of the show’s most mature and emotional yet, setting the stage for the final battle between the hero and his enemy.

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Samurai Jack’s finale.]

Let’s get the most pressing question out of the way: Yes, Jack does manage to kill Aku and return to the past, saving thousands of people from Aku’s monstrosity. In a fitting turn of events — considering how much time Jack has spent learning about himself, his needs and falling in love with Ashi, one of Aku’s daughters — the samurai realizes he doesn’t need to be the one doing the attacking. Instead, after he confesses his true love for Ashi, she realizes she can essentially control Aku and manages to defeat him, opening a time portal for Jack to jump through.

Jack managed to complete the one task he set out to do more than a decade ago, when the show premiered in 2001. In a final hurrah, all of the friends and allies he made over the past 15 years came out of the woodwork to help him take down his nemesis. Most importantly, he grew as a human being, and learned to open his heart to those who come his way.

It was a heartwarming moment, but set against the backdrop of a more kooky, offbeat episode, it felt like a departure from the direction the season was headed in, many fans said in reaction posts online. Jack may have emerged triumphant, but fans complained that the finale felt incredibly rushed and didn’t match the overall tone the season had set for itself over the previous nine episodes.

“They really should have extended this to an hour episode, everything was just so anticlimactic and rushed, like ashi just disappeared in a second, the final battle was over in a second everything just felt done too quickly,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “Overall a disappointing ending in my opinion.”

One of the suggestions fans had to make the finale better was to turn it into an hourlong episode instead of the usual 30 minutes. This is a pretty standard tradition for shows to follow, allowing showrunners the chance to allow all of the supporting characters to say their goodbyes and wrap up the story without things feeling rushed.

“It felt rushed, poorly paced, and entirely too predictable. This really would have benefited from a longer finale or a longer season to flesh out the characters,” another fan wrote. “Like, why have that minute long joke with the Scotsman's daughters if you know you'll be rushed for the ending? The entire world and characters we came to love over the years really didn't get much of a send-off at all.”

In his review of the finale, The AV Club’s Eric Thurm said the main problem with the finale was that it didn’t feel fully fleshed out, and that was noticeable the entire time.

“It’s all satisfying enough—and it’s a little unreasonable to demand anything like full-on surprises at the end of this kind of story—but there’s still something wanting, something more that feels like it’s missing from the finale,” Thurm wrote.

Finales, like pilots, are hard to do. Every showrunner and writer has struggled with nailing them. One of TV’s most celebrated finales, often regarded as the gold standard in how to write a final episode, is the one for Six Feet Under, which was both emotional and thought-provoking, wrapping up a story with empathy for its characters.

The important thing to remember is that this was the ending that creator Genndy Tartakovsky wanted for Samurai Jack’s finale. Before the show even premiered, Tartakovsky told Entertainment Weekly that this was what he envisioned and, although he hadn’t seen the episode, he knew what was about to come and was more than pleased with the result.

“This is it. This is the definitive end, and it’s a great end,” Tartakovsky said. “I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve storyboarded it, and I think it’s super satisfying, and it should close the door for me for Samurai Jack.”

While many were let down by the finale — an episode they were waiting more than 15 years for — a number of fans felt pleased and emotional about Jack’s journey coming to an end.

However you may feel, Samurai Jack has finally come to an end after 16 years.