"Episode XXXVI: Jack the Monks and the Ancient Master's Son" is the thirty-sixth episode in the third season of Samurai Jack. This episode features Jack discovering a temple of monks that belonged to the same order that Jack had once trained with before his showdown with Aku. He also discovers that the Ancient Master knew Jack in the past. When Jack was still a teenager, he was finished with a day's worth of training and a little boy gave him some water. That little boy was the Ancient Master.
While trekking through a hazardous jungle. Jack is besieged by a constant itch, upon opening his robe he is swarmed by countless biting insects that he quickly brushes away. Wandering his surroundings, he senses a presence. Out of nowhere, he is immediately attacked by two orange wearing Shaolin monks. Dusting off their first attack, they assume a fighting stance, Jack successfully parries the attacks against him and assumes a defensive stance. Both parties are perplexed by the attire of one another. They study the footwork of one another. As the monks switch from one martial arts style to the next, Jack switches in response. Jack manages to dodge and evade an ever increasing series of strikes.They start verbally announcing the techniques they use during the fight and countering the others. The fight ceases in a defensive pause; the monks are astonished and demand to know how Jack knows these techniques; he states he is Shaolin. The monks deem this impossible given their order has maintained centuries of seclusion; With Exhibitionism as evidence, Jack and the Monks demonstrate the various styles including Mantis, Southern Fist, Eagle Claw. The monks asking if he is so knowledgeable then he should know the principal secret sign of the Shaolin (a raised index finger and suppressed thumb) signifying Brotherhood which Jack performs.
Confirming this the monks rejoice and announce the Grand Master must be informed. Upon opening a secret panel, revealing their temple to Jack. He enters and is beleaguered to find many monks practicing and meditating. Jack is impressed the Temple has withstood for centuries thanks in no large part to the Grand Master whose training includes martial arts and manipulation of chi/qi to the point many advanced students perform what can only be seen as telekinesis. Entering the Grand Master's Sanctum. He is awed to discover the Grand Master is a centuries old man who body is interwoven with a tree frozen in a perfect meditative stance. Jack states he was the pupil of master Chu, the Grand Master states he too was Chu's pupil as a child when Jack was training for his battle with Aku. Eventually Aku did attack and destroy the temples. He and the survivors rebuilt the temple in secret. Where the Grand Master has advanced to such a level, he attained the ultimate sense of awareness and is sustained by nature itself for centuries but is impressed Jack has been around for so long, believing him to be immortal or more powerful than even himself. Jack corrects him pointing out he was sent through time. His glimpse of joy is eclipsed by panic, when he fails to recall Aku's near Orwellian surveillance, he attempts to leave believing he has exposed the hidden temple; but is relieved that Aku's surveillance is shielded there.
Seeking a portal to the past, the Grand Master informs them of another temple built far away one that possesses such a portal but only opens at the suns zenith (directly overhead). The two monks volunteer to guide and assist him on his journey with the blessing of his order. Arming themselves with a broadsword and staff, they set out for the better part of a day. They reach their goal, a massive vertical temple complex; incomplete covered with bamboo scaffolding and floor boards. As they ascend, Jack cautions them....he feels a presence. In utter silence in a state of alterness for several minutes they believe a threat is near. Jack dismisses it and continues. Their party is instantly attacked. Stone Guardians built out of the mountain spontaneously come to life and attack the trio. They continue their way to the top as the guardian army continue to attack. They proceed to fight their way up the scaffolding level after level. As the sun's zenith is coming, the monks demand Jack go inside the temple as they will hold the army off for Jack to succeed. He runs towards the entrance to the chamber containing the now active portal. The monks continue their valiant fight. Their weapons broken and increasingly pummeled by the stronger stone army. Jack can only listen to the cries of pain from the ever outnumbered monks by the increasingly numbering guardians; Jack is presented with a Hobson's choice; help the monks and give up the use of the portal or go through the portal knowing full well the monks will be killed.
A flash of light; The energy feeding the portal disappears; the monks believing Jack has completed his task cherish his success. Knowing full well they will not survive the onslaught but submit to fighting to the last and dying with honor. Jack in actuality strikes down several guardians and orders the monks inside. Climbing to the roof they topple a statue crushing the remaining guardians. The temple interior collapses and they escape through the oculus. Though thankful, they are confused as to why Jack aided them giving up his chance of returning to the past. Jack says they were willing to sacrifice everything, he was not. With the portal destroyed Jack must find a new way back, a circumstance he's become all to familiar with.
- Casting by
- Collette Sunderman
Notes and AllusionsEdit
- The monks agree to assist Jack on his quest take up arms before setting out. One of the monks is armed with a Dao, a traditional Chinese fighting sword developed as early as the Chinese Bronze Age. The other is armed with a Nangun, a staff.
- When Jack first encounters the two monks, their fight is very similar to the old computer game International Karate+ . The 2-D sideview, the animation, the fighting-style, and even the music was similar to the original from the Atari ST.
- The Shaolin "secret symbol" of a raised index finger is the same one that was used on the TV series Kung Fu and Kung Fu - The Legend Continues by the late David Carradine.
- Jack's decision to help the monks actually saved them not just from death but from non-existence. It serves as an example of temporal paradox. If Jack had gone back in time, successfully defeating Aku then means he would never have attacked the previous temple. The new temple would never have been founded and the monks that reside their may never have been indoctrinated. In a sense, the monks that were helping Jack were also aiding in their own destruction.
- The army of guardian statues is a subtle homage to the real life Terracotta Army. A huge collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210 BC, they were not re-discovered until 1974.