After 12 years away, one of the best, most critically acclaimed cartoon series of all time, Samurai Jack, returns to television later this year with original series creator Genndy Tartakovsky at the helm. To help you get ready, Geek.com’s Aubrey Sitterson is rewatching the entire series in order.“Jack and the Three Blind Archers” features a plot that, seven episodes in, is already well familiar to Samurai Jack fans: Our eponymous hero hears of a way to travel back to the past and defeat his nemesis, Aku, struggles to achieve this goal, and ultimately falls short of it, leaving him stranded in the future for at least another episode. But as in most Jack episodes, the draw here isn’t really the plot, but the way in which the show’s creators use tropes and cliches to subvert expectations and teach us something profound about their protagonist.You’d be forgiven if, watching the show in order in 2016, you rolled your eyes at yet another episode of Jack venturing to obtain some means of traveling into the past and then, in the end, failing. Especially coming, as this episode does, immediately after “Jack and the Warrior Woman.” But it’s important to recognize a few things about the nature of the show, so as to grade it on the appropriate curve.First off, and perhaps most importantly, television in 2001 was a very, very different place than it is now, especially in regards to true serialized storytelling. Sure, going back for decades you could find television series that had lightly serialized elements: Will they or won’t they romances, recurring villains, running gags, etc. But truly serialized television shows – like you would expect from an ongoing comic book series – were somewhat rare at the time. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an extremely influential show in this regard, had only been around for a few years. And another, The Sopranos, was only in its third season. The field is even more barren if you restrict yourself to cartoons, as Avatar: The Last Airbender wouldn’t debut for another four years.Though I, as part of this ongoing rewatch, am checking out every episode of Samurai Jack in order, on a weekly basis – and I encourage you to do the same – the simple fact of the matter is that the show wasn’t designed to be watched that way. Not really, at least, and this is why, when watched in order, the show can sometimes begin to seem somewhat repetitive. Another reason behind this is likely the neither fish nor foul status of the show, as it straddled the line between fun, funny, one-off children’s entertainment and more serious, serialized adult fare.A perfect example of this blending of tones is seen in the army of vicious, savage looking vikings that open the episode. They’re a malicious, unruly horde, accompanied by longship-esque tanks, wielding high-tech dragon guns, and led by a berserker cloaked in animal skins. But when they are assailed by clouds of arrows – set loose from the tower they aim to storm – instead of being confronted by blood, guts and gore, we learn that the vikings, like most of the cannon fodder on Samurai Jack, are actually robots. This allows the episodes creative team to sell the threat posed by the three blind archers in the tower, without running afoul of any ratings issues.And let’s take a minute out to talk about that creative team, shall we? “Jack and the Three Blind Archers” is the first episode since the three-part premiere to feature Genndy Tartakovsky as the sole director, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the casual, contemplative pacing of many of the episode’s best scenes – a pace that could only be managed by someone with supreme confidence in their abilities as a storyteller. And the men behind the story itself? They’re no slouches either, as the writing and storyboarding team is comprised of Mark Andrews, the writer and director of Pixar’s Brave, and Bryan Andrews, who co-created Sym-Bionic Titan with Tartakovsky and Paul Rudish as well as worked with Tarkakovsky on the storyboards for Iron Man 2’s climactic action scene.All that’s fine and good of course, and the creative team’s later accomplishments certainly speak to the pedigree of the show, but what about that repetitive plot? What does “Jack and the Three Blind Archers” do differently from “Jack and the Warrior Woman” or even “Jack in Space” for that matter?The answer lies not in what happens in the story – Jack chooses to forgo a potential avenue to achieve his goal – but why he makes that choice and what it signifies about him. After freeing the archers, returning their sight and minds to them, Jack learns that they had been trapped by the tower and its magical well when they wished to become great warriors. Their wish carried a cost, however, which led to their being transformed into a trio of amazingly adept archers, but ones trapped in the bodies of blind dogs in what appears to be an Egyptian style, an aesthetic also nodded at through the beards the archers wear in human form.Instead of risking whatever the well might take from him, or whatever prison it might condemn him to, Jack uses his wish to destroy the well and its dark magics, preventing it from taking anyone else, but also preventing his trip back into the past. At first, this doesn’t seem terribly different from “Jack in Space,” in which Jack chose to protect the astronauts instead of traveling back into time, but there’s something crucial in the moments leading up to Jack’s choice.Significantly, the archers had wished to become great warriors, a path that we have seen Jack walking since the opening moments of the series’ first episode. In fact, Jack’s training was once again mentioned in this very episode courtesy of a flashback to his time fighting blindfolded with a group of monks. In sacrificing his own goals for another cause, in refusing to sacrifice his humanity for victory, knowing that what he wanted would have come at too great a cost, Jack has, somewhat ironically, achieved exactly that which the three archers had desired: He has become a great warrior.Join us next time as we discuss episode eight of Samurai Jack’s first season, “Jack vs. Mad Jack.” Watch along with us on Hulu!Aubrey Sitterson is a Los Angeles-based writer whose most recent work is the Street Fighter x G.I. Joe comic series from IDW, available at your local comic shop or digitally on Comixology. Follow him on Twitter or check out his website for more information.