I am a huge fan of Samurai Jack and so I felt compelled to complete the episode synopsis which Sal_Lebowski began.
The following episodes stretch the potential of Samurai Jack and contain many of my favourites. It is another example of a show that was cancelled when it was getting good.
Genndy Tartakovsky experiments with the animation, using black and white, charcoal and pen and ink techniques often to show a psychic battle ( Haunted House, and Ninja versus Ninja). He also experiments with the stereotypes of the show, Aku has weaknesses other than Jacks sword and both Aku and Jack are beaten in fights. (Jack and the Travelling Creatures, The Birth of Evil, The Aku infection)
21. XXI: Jack And The Farting Dragon
The title says it all really.
22. XXII: Jack And The Hunters
This is one of the best episodes because the hunters are as talented as Jack. The Imerkandi are a noble lion-like alien race who combine their weapons and strengths to become the ultimate hunters.
23. XXIII: Jack Versus Demongo, The Soul Collector
Brilliant concept; Jack fights a seemingly invincible foe who has the ability to use the ‘essence’ of slain warriors. Demongo can continually bring thousands of renowned fighters back from the dead and to make matters worse, he has an exceptionally annoying voice.
24. XXIV: Jack Is Naked
Jack follows a white rabbit, who has stolen his sword and gi into the most surrealistic adventure he has ever had. The people of this land are appalled at the idea of someone being naked, but when Jack tries to cover up, they treat him like the character he is dressed as until its so unbearable he has to change again.
25. XXV: Jack And The Spartans
There is no way in hell that Genndy Tartakovsky can mess up a story this good! The story of Thermopylae is retold with Jack as the warrior who swings the balance in favour of the Spartans. Awesome.
26. XXVI: Jack's Sandals
Too many stories are told about a warrior breaking his sword. What would happen if Jack broke his sandals?
Start of Season Three
27. XXVII: Chicken Jack
A wizard turns Jack into the best ovarian martial artist ever! This is very similar to the ‘Dome of Doom’ episode. (XVI)
28. XXVIII: Jack And The Rave
This is so cool. Jack has to save teenagers from an evil rave. The music is awesome, it really takes me back…
There is a anti-drugs theme in this episode. When the music kicks in the evil kids all get redeye!
29. XXIX: The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful
A Husband and wife bounty-hunter team come close to capturing Jack.
30. XXX: Jack And The Zombies
Jack takes a wrong turn and ends up in a graveyard filled with zombies. Jack must stop them and Aku without his sword. Aku shows off some of his rarer skills.
31. XXXI: Jack In Egypt
Didn’t you know? Jack hung out with the ancient Egyptians when he was young. He uses the knowledge he learnt back then to destroy a new evil.
32. XXXII: Jack And The Travelling Creatures
This is as close as Jack gets to going back. Jack passes the tests of three wise monsters so he can get to a time portal. However the time portal is guarded by the ultimate bouncer. If you have ever worked with doormen this is hilarious. Jack is beaten because, although he is destined to travel through to the other side, he is not ready yet. We see an image of Jack in the portal with a long grey beard and a crown.
33. XXXIII: Jack And The Creature
This kind of grows on you, basically Jack can’t get rid of a useless blue monster.
34. XXXIV: Jack And Swamp Monster
This shows that Jack has become less naive about Aku’s duplicity. Jack has to pass some tests to get the armour of Kronos.
35. XXXV: Jack And The Haunted House
One of the episodes you show people who haven’t seen Samurai Jack before. Inspiring animation done in black and white depicts a mental battle between Jack and a daemon who is haunting a Japanese house. This episode is actually quite scary.
36. XXXVI: Jack, The Monks, And The Ancient Master's Son
Jack fights off two shaolin temple monks until they realise that he is the pupil of an ancient martial arts master. A struggle to reach a shaolin time portal ensues.
37. XXXVII: The Birth Of Evil (Part 1 of 2)
Something the show had to address, what happened when Aku first arrived in Japan? The Emperor, Jack’s Dad, leads a disastrous first attack on Aku.
38. XXXVIII: The Birth Of Evil (Part 2 of 2)
Jack’s dad is divinely granted a sword capable of wounding Aku made from the goodness of humanity. The final battle against Aku makes up for the absence of an episode showing Jack’s ultimate victory.
39. XXXIX: Jack And The Labyrinth
Jack and a cat-burglar compete to steal a time travelling diamond from a booby-trapped pyramid.
Start of Season Four
40. XL: Samurai versus Ninja
A ninja robot deliberately designed to beat Jack at his own game is sent to defeat him. However the ninja does not know that Jack has been taught the secrets of the white ninja, to disappear into light not darkness. The fight scene is beautifully rendered in black and white which creates a fantastic atmosphere of suspense. ( A tribute to the comic book ninja vs. ninja?)
41. XLI: Robo-Samurai versus Mondo Bot
Homage to super robot manga. Small robots have built a giant robot to defeat Aku that they can no longer control. Jack merges with a huge Japanese golem to destroy it.
42. XLII: Samurai versus Samurai
If you do martial arts and think you are good this is one to watch. A wannabe martial artist is taking on all comers calling himself DA SAMURAI. The character embodies everything a martial artist doesn’t want to be. Jack agrees to fight him but an astute viewer knows a lesson in humility is on its way when Jack says ‘not here, outside; beneath the shadow of the leaves.’ Plenty of references to Kurosawa's "Shichinin Samurai"
43. XLIII: The Aku Infection
Another fantastic idea. A sickly Aku accidentally infects Jack with a virus which takes over his body and causes him to become evil.
44. XLIV: The Princess And The Bounty Hunters
We see a proposed ambush from different points of view (and styles of animation) before a leader unites all the bounty hunters and combines the plans. By seeing the preparation we become convinced that the ambush will be successful. The final attack is so rapid it demands repeat viewing. Lots of Samurai movie references.
45. XLV: Scotsman Saves Jack (Part 1 of 2)
The Scotsman finds Samurai Jack who is calling himself ‘Brett Worthington', and sets off on a quest to return his memory.
46. XLVI: Scotsman Saves Jack (Part 2 of 2)
The Scotsman finds out that The Sirens (one of many odyssey references) are responsible for Jack’s amnesia, the Scotsman has such bad taste in music he is immune to their charms. The operatic style singing is brilliant.
47. XLVII: Jack And The Flying Prince And Princess
Just so many references to Star Wars. Jack helps two aliens and a camp robot save their world.
48. XLVIII: Jack versus Aku
This is a good excuse for Jack and Aku to fight hand to hand rather than with magic. I wonder if Aku will cheat?
49. XLIX: The 4 Seasons Of Death
Four stories based on the seasons. In Summer, Jack is travelling through the desert and is attacked by living sandstorms. In Autumn, an over exited scientist poisons a well to kill Jack. In Winter, a warrior race forge a mighty sword with which to slay Jack. In Spring, Jack is lured into a mysterious garden paradise.
50. L: Tale Of X9
A robot with human emotions tells us the story of his life. He used to work for Aku, but stopped because of his emotions. But Aku kidnaps a dog he had fallen in love with and forces him to fight against Jack to save its life. This throws out one of the central premises of the show, that it’s ok to kill robots because they don’t have feelings
51. LI: Young Jack In Africa
Young Jack is learning to use a bo staff from African villagers when they are attacked and kidnapped. Jack evades capture and frees the villagers after mastering their enemies’ weapon techniques.
52. LII: Jack And The Baby
Jack becomes a father! Well he adopts. This has plenty of lone wolf and cub references. Jack rescues a baby from a bunch of cannibalistic monsters. Jack cares for the baby; even telling him the classic Japanese tale of Momotaro a brave boy who defeats ogres by using trickery. Eventually the babies’ mother is found and she is horrified to see that her baby has changed. Jack tells her that the baby has achieved sakai, the spirit of the samurai.
Rumours of a feature length concluding episode were quashed when Genndy Tartakovski agreed to do the Star Wars cartoons. It seems like the legend of Samurai Jack will remain incomplete.
Additional info, the rap introduction was performed by will.i.am, a member of the black eyed peas.