By Valerie Wu
November 7, 2023
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for the series finale of “Blue Eye Samurai,” titled “The Great Fire of 1657,” now streaming on Netflix.
Season 1 of Netflix animated series “Blue Eye Samurai,” created by Amber Noizumi and Michael Green, ended on a cliffhanger. The city of Edo burned down, and mixed-race samurai Mizu (Maya Erskine) left white man Abijah Fowler (Kenneth Branagh) alive — despite her craving his death from the very first episode.
Right as Mizu was about to kill him in the burning palace, Fowler revealed that only he knew the identity of the other two “hidden” white men who could be Mizu’s father: Skeffington and Routely. Fowler then dropped another bombshell on Mizu: The woman Mizu saw die wasn’t her mother, but instead a maid paid to keep Mizu hidden. It was someone else who killed Mizu’s mother, an individual Fowler doesn’t name.
“There’s so much you don’t know,” Fowler told Mizu in the last episode. “Skeffington. Routely. You want to find them, you need me. Alive.”
“Why?” Mizu asked.
“Because I know another word you don’t know. A magic word,” Fowler responded. “London.”
The last scene in the final episode was of Mizu sailing away on a ship bound for London, Fowler imprisoned below her. It’s implied that, once in London, Mizu is going to force Fowler to show her where Skeffington and Routely are so that she can continue her quest for revenge.
Also in the finale, after she’d fought her marriage to the shogun’s son, Takayoshi Ito (Harry Shum Jr.), for nearly the entirety of the season, Princess Akemi (Brenda Song) decides that she wants to be “great.” She accepts her new role in power in the wake of Edo’s destruction and the death of her beloved attendant and father figure Seki (George Takei).
Additionally, the samurai Taigen (Darren Barnet) has been abandoned by Akemi, his love who he’d pleaded with to run away with him. Ringo (Masi Oka), Mizu’s loyal apprentice, is left with Mizu’s former caretaker, the SwordMaker (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), thinking that Mizu is dead.
Variety spoke with supervising director and producer of “Blue Eye Samurai,” Jane Wu, about that epic season finale and, though it hasn’t been renewed by Netflix yet, what audiences can expect from a potential second season.
“The idea of going to London was always Michael and Amber’s idea, and I remember when the last script came out and we were reading it. In the end when Fowler says ‘London,’ I think the team collectively just went ‘Wow.’ Because how cool would that be, right, to take a character that’s so Japanese and drop-kick them in London?” Wu said. “And also, half of [Mizu’s] heritage is there. How does she deal with that? Does she accept that she’s not accepted? What do the people in London think?”
“So I think that’s such a wonderful opportunity to talk about Mizu’s struggle more, and just go down that rabbit hole,” she added.
Given that narrative arc, viewers would likely be able to see the story go global, even if Wu doesn’t have the specifics yet.
“Story-wise, I can’t clearly say what we’re expecting in Season 2, because I don’t have the script in hand,” Wu said. “But I do think we will probably explore London — and how much of London is really depending on the budget and the schedule.”
As for the destruction of Edo, Wu says that was always the plan. Despite the budget-related challenges involved with burning the set down, Wu still strived to stay true to the script.
“We really pushed ourselves to give as much epicness as possible to our last episode in the season. It’s a digital set, it’s not real, but I said, ‘Yeah, let’s just burn it down — let’s just burn down that whole set,’” Wu said. “It should feel like fire touched every part of the set and every part and corner of Edo, because that’s what happened to the Great Fire [of Meireki in 1657] in Edo.”
Wu also spoke about the significant disappearance of a key symbol: Mizu’s scarf. Mizu kept a scarf wrapped around her neck during the first season, which, according to Wu, was to hide the fact that Mizu doesn’t have an Adam’s apple because she’s a woman. At the end of the last episode, audiences see that Mizu is no longer wearing that scarf while aboard the ship.
“That end shot, we had to redesign her a little bit to show that her character has morphed and has changed and has grown, and she’s finally taken off that scarf. Does that mean she’s willing to accept her female side? I don’t know,” Wu said. “That’s definitely what I’m looking forward to — is Mizu’s growth.”