Hm. Interesting. SEVEN SAMURAI’s ended with the rather pointed note of the peasants casting the samurai out as soon as the bandits had been defeated. I don’t recall there being even much of a celebration following the victory. The moment these men of violence finished serving this village’s needs was the moment they needed to get the hell out.
SAMURAI 7, in contrast, only lightly broached this theme a few episodes back, and has only really addressed it here with the dialog here about whether our cute young priestess should renounce her vocation to be with our cute young rookie samurai. There’s no discussion of such a relationship being abhorrent to the social structure. It seems more of a “career vs. romance” question that her friends and mentors are merely suggesting she re-consider.
Of course, we’ve still got plenty of time left in this series. The seeming peace between these people may simply come down to the fact that these samurai can still help rebuild the town and these peasants’ wives still need to be rescued. Once either of those tasks are fulfilled, we may yet see a repeat of the ending we’re so familiar with.
While we’re talking about unexpected - - or semi-unexpected - - developments, I’ve got to say I’m a bit surprised that the merchant prince is sizing up to be the “big bad” of this story. Sure, I figured he’d be a recurring antagonist, but more likely in the service (and to the annoyance) of a villain who was higher up on the totem pole. Well, we’ve just met this world’s very Spacing Guild-like emperor and, since it’s hard to get any higher than him, it looks like this pampered prince is going to keep usurping power in his mad quest to possess the one girl who’s ever said no to him.
And I suppose that’s actually the best sort of villain for this sort of story. Not some powerful and honorable warlord, but some spoiled rich boy who’s getting all this authority handed to him that he doesn’t deserve. And all because he can't get over somebody finally telling him that, no, he can’t have what he wants this time.
Watch this episode, "The Emperor” here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.