“Too Old” Review

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Original Airdate: August 12, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

After the preview came out for Too Old following the release of Frost & Fire, the entire fandom was in somewhat of a tizzy. People were really, really pissed at Finn (the comments on this particular YouTube video are a trip down memory lane) and it didn’t help that his behavior in this one was considerably more offensive than the last episode. While Finn’s manipulative behavior was generally based off of ignorance and hormonal urges, this episode features him being purposely lying and deceitful, downright creepy, and virtually pathetic and useless in his environment. That being said, I initially hated this one. I couldn’t believe the way Finn’s character was bastardized, and it doesn’t help that the episode is a bit of an ear sore as well. The Lemongrabs are constantly shrieking throughout the entirety of this one, and while it’s helped the characters really make a unique identity in the past, it’s just downright unpleasant in this one. Yet, time has been good to Too Old. What I initially thought was an irritating expedition through Castle Lemongrab with some really unlikable moments with Finn, I now believe is a really intriguing cautionary tale of trying to relive the past. And with tons of little details sprinkled throughout the episode’s run, I actually think it’s a pretty brilliant allegory.

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Too Old mimics Too Young to a tee. Aside from its title, the episode uses the basic structure of Too Young’s individual moments to carry the plot and its motif along smoothly. Even the title card music is the exact same jingle that was heard during Too Young’s title sequence. Yet, this isn’t a sequel episode. A sequel, by definition is “a published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one.” Too Young, in contrast, was a mostly bright and colorful tale with silly jokes that revolved around the bittersweet relationship between Finn and PB. Too Old, however, focuses not on a bright and colorful story, or the sweeter elements between Finn and PB, but a dark and twisted tale of a creation gone corrupt and Finn at his absolute lowest. Let’s start with Lemongrab.

Lemongrab has certainly come a long way since his first appearance. Initially an ineffectual and goofy tyrant, Lemongrab has gone from having absolutely nothing to having practically everything that the Candy Kingdom possesses. Lemongrab has a proper kingdom with citizens, the company of a brother, and enough food to make for an absurdly overweight lemon. The one thing that Lemongrab didn’t consider when building his kingdom, however, was building a kingdom based out of love and care for his people. Lemongrab simply decided to create for the sake of creation. Fascinated with his own ability to make citizens, he continued to do so and caused his kingdom to become overpopulated. Now he simply has a plethora of candy citizens who he doesn’t even love or care about; he simply was interested in their creation, and by the time the next lemon person came along, he was already disinterested in the last. On top of that, his brother, who was once built to be his equal, was quickly distorted into his oppressor. The fatal flaw in the creation of Lemongrab 2 was believing that a second Lemongrab would help to round out the first. Yet, what PB didn’t realize, was that Lemongrab only believes in himself. If someone’s methods don’t line up exactly with his, they’re automatically deemed as oppressors of his beliefs and tactics. And, though the two Lemongrabs were built exactly the same, the first Lemongrab has much more life experience than the first. The first Lemongrab has been hardened by society and has grown to be bigoted against anything that goes beyond his own way, as he was virtually born into this world alone. Lemongrab 2 was never built to be alone; Lemongrab 2 always had his brother since the moment he was conceived, and doesn’t possess the selfishness and ego that his brother has developed.

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What this all boils down to, basically, is that Lemongrab believes he is finally greater (or at least up-to-par) with his creator. Having an array of servants, citizens, and entertainers, he finally feels like royalty. And this really shows during Lemongrab’s royal dinner. As PB and Finn arrive, a Lemon Person announces the arrival of the two, followed by a Lemon Person abruptly falling from a trapeze, alluding to Cinnamon Bun doing the same thing in Too Young. What seems like a brief, cute reference to the past episode is actually a pretty in depth look into Lemongrab’s psyche. This introduction of PB and Finn, as well as the trapeze act, is how Lemongrab believes people are supposed to be greeted in a sophisticated, upstanding kingdom. Cinnamon Bun’s entrance, was of course, based on his own bumbling stupidity, rather than an actual elaborate performance. This view of ignorance on how a kingdom is supposed to be run is ultimately what leads Lemongrab into absolute fascism.

Say what you want about PB’s own policies and treatment of her people, yet she puts her heart, blood, sweat, and tears into caring and loving for her people and giving them a serviceable living experience. Lemongrab, on the other hand, only cares about himself and his own way of living. He could care less about the other Lemon People and their own quality of life; he simply wants to create a luxurious living community for himself as a status of his importance. The only person he has an ounce of care for, aside from himself, is Princess Bubblegum, though this care is often combatted with hostility. I don’t believe for a second that Lemongrab invited PB over for her to see how much the kingdom has improved, but rather to one-up her and to show that he is now more dominant than his creator.

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Yet, Lemongrab’s kingdom is based on a single ruler’s mindset, rather than the success and individuality of others. Whether the Candy Kingdom contains truly unique and inspired Candy People or not, they do have their own sense of individualism and their own distinct mindsets. This is why, when we’re introduced to Badlemonnohope (nicknamed Lemonhope), his identity and mindset offer a much higher sense of individuality and character than anyone else in the Earldom. He chooses his own path and interests, which is why Lemongrab has deemed him as obsolete among the crowd of lemon people that surround him. The reason I’m explaining all of this in great detail is particularly because I think Lemongrab’s descent into pure tyranny is actually quite well-rounded. It derives from systematic inadequacy and a sense of inferiority toward his creator. Lemongrab simply believes that emulating a fictitious utopian society based on what he has seen can create a bustling and admirable community, though all of what he thinks makes up a thriving kingdom is a mere facsimile of the Candy Kingdom. And his insistence that PB was behind all of this, that she is at fault for his shortcomings, is simply an excuse at this point. While some of PB’s errors and flaws could be attributed to Lemongrab’s suffering in You Made Me, at this point, Lemongrab uses his creator as a mere scapegoat for his own flaws, marking a full transformation into villainy as opposed to a sympathetic anti-hero. Once again, his selfishness comes out when addressing PB by his balcony, “You try to steal my Lemonhope away?!” His possessiveness towards Lemonhope shows that Lemongrab merely thinks of him as property; a token to add to the completeness of his kingdom. And, despite all of Lemongrab’s monstrous actions, an almost completely devoured Lemongrab 2 professes his life experiences and what he’s learned through his encounters with his devious brother: that lemons should not squeeze other lemons to get by, but allow lemons to grow and flourish. A silly analogy, but one that shows that Castle Lemongrab isn’t completely devoid of empathy and hope. The lemon people, through their suffering, have learned to empathize as well, and continue to look on towards hope for the day they will be rescued. Though, one must also remember: the desires of the Lemon People still remain deeply selfish. They look for freedom of their own, yet depend on one very little boy to save an entire society of people. This comes in handy when taking a look at Lemonhope’s selfishness in his own star episode, which has gotten a lot of flack, but is considerably more understandable when looking at the sour nature of the Lemon People in general.

Whew, so that was Lemongrab’s portion, now let’s look at the horny teen at the center of it: Finn. After the events of Frost & Fire, Finn most likely was heartbroken and ashamed over the loss of his girlfriend. Having no one but himself to blame, Finn was left alone with nothing but his own guilt to bear. This is also a time where, as we’ve discussed, Finn has yet to even border emotional maturity. That’s why, instead of addressing the thing that he has done wrong and allowing time for himself to grieve, he turns to a comfortable source of endearment of whom he spent much simpler times with: Princess Bubblegum. Probably the most rewarding time that Finn has experienced in his youth did take place when Lemongrab usurped Prubs; spending the entire day pulling pranks and being childish with someone he cares for deeply was something that Finn truly cherished and enjoyed more than anything else. Finn longs for the simple days of being a child, when he didn’t have to deal with the tough trials of relationships, and when he could spend time with someone he remembers having terrific times with. What Finn hasn’t acknowledged is that times have changed since he last pulled a series of pranks on the cranky lemon man. Finn does not realize that he cannot simply escape from his issues using glamorized memories, and that the memories he has left behind cannot simply be recreated.

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This is where most of his jerkiness comes from; first, from his childish lie to Jake in order to spend time alone with Princess Bubblegum. People have targeted this one especially, though honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Finn held some hostility for Jake after contributing to the third occurrence of Flame Princess and Ice King’s fight in the past episode. Though it’s never addressed upfront, and his guilt most likely puts most of the blame on himself, I get the feeling that Finn is looking for a scapegoat to put blame on, much like Lemongrab, which leads him to targeting Jake. It’s mean on it’s own, but Finn’s insistent urge to manipulating PB proves that he hasn’t completely learned from his actions in the past episode, if at all. Finn simply wants to find a quick and easy way to feel good again, and selfishly does not consider the wellbeing of others in the process.

It’s interesting to note that Finn barely even reacts in relation to the Lemon-centric plot. It makes it somewhat ingeniously tied together in my eyes that these two character’s failure to recreate the past have virtually nothing to do with the other: Lemongrab could give less of a shit about Finn’s boner issues, and Finn doesn’t realize the severity of Lemongrab’s corrupt government. He’s still too young to look beyond situations as a fun and enticing adventure, which is why he weighs Lemongrab’s abusive, dictating nature as equal to the day when Lemongrab took over the kingdom. Finn doesn’t yet grasp political issues like this, and the first time he encountered such an issue, he attempted to solve it with pranks and gags. Naturally, he believes the same solution is in place, yet only through PB’s solemn words is he able to realize that exploding pudding isn’t going to save Castle Lemongrab. Finn wasn’t looking to save an entire kingdom; instead, he was looking to have a fun time with an old friend (or in this case, an old flame). Yet, growing up is realizing that life isn’t always a little boy game, and that sometimes there are dire consequences to deal with. Trying to pretend that the past can simply be emulated every time something bad happens is completely ineffectual, and Finn cannot ignore his shame and guilt forever.

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When looking at Finn that way, I think it is a lot more forgivable that, by the end of this one, he does at least learn something from his actions. We aren’t just treated to a barrage of insufferable Finn moments that have no real payoff for his character (as The Red Throne would later be guilty of), as these moments are all vital for giving Finn a reality check that is much needed. Aside from Jesse Moynihan, Steve Wolfhard and Tom Herpich seem to be the most ballsy in exploring the darker and more uncomfortable portions of Finn’s personality, and I really enjoy these expeditions. Even if Finn is somewhat of an uncharismatic dick, you really have to look at it from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. That doesn’t automatically correlate to decent writing, yet I think Finn’s issue at hand is presented with meaning and purpose. Finn is a sweet kid who wants the best for everyone, but as life has taken a turn for him, he has put his emotional sensitivity behind him and simply wants to be numbed to his own errors. And the sad truth of the matter is that a lot of nice people in the world have been negatively altered by the circumstances of life, to the point where their behavior is completely unrecognizable from their past self. 

Of course, at the center of this is PB; the level-headed guardian who just can’t catch a break. I sympathize with her a lot in this one, though there isn’t a ton of focus on her perspective. Her own creation has become a legitimate monster, and tons of people are suffering because of it, while the one person she thought could lessen the burden of a stressful trip actually made things more complicated and difficult. The poor gal just wanted to get through an already expectedly painful dinner.

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The humor in this one is paper thin, though this is a part of the series where I care much less about how funny an episode is and rather how captivating it can tell a story in the course of 11 minutes. Though this episode does have its funny moments, especially within the little details. BMO continuously trying to get into the bath with Jake while he’s on the phone with Finn is adorable and hilarious, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that the lemon toilet is a fucking juicer. There’s no way that isn’t excruciating.

I think some of my initial criticisms still stand, as the constant screaming of every single line performed by the Lemongrabs can grate on me a bit, but I think there’s some really brilliant undertones to this one that help it skyrocket beyond my first impressions. Capturing the motif of change between two distinctly different characters is interesting enough, yet there’s so many layers to Lemongrab and Finn’s individual identities that I feel like there’s so much you can read into and enjoy upon multiple viewings. Is Finn a dick? Yes. But this is an episode where he needs to be a dick. I can’t imagine the episode and allegories within this one working as well if Finn was just depressed or ignoring his issues the entire time. These choices, while potentially detrimental to Finn’s character, really work to emphasize a dangerous lesson in life, and to show its viewers the consequences that come with it. Whether it be Lemongrab’s inability to comprehend what it means to be a true leader, or Finn’s neverending issues with ladies, this episode combines two of the series recurring themes and blends them together for one completely uncomfortable, yet fascinating journey. It’s one of my favorites of the second half of season five, and one of the most interesting depictions of Finn during the fallout of his relationship.

Favorite line: “… and you’ll never get yelled at. Unless you drink my soda from out of the fridge.”

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“Frost & Fire” Review

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Original Airdate: August 5, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Luke Pearson & Somvilay Xayaphone

Frost & Fire, in my opinion, is the episode that forever changed Adventure Time. The show, from this point on, has almost an entirely different feel from the first four and a half seasons. As most people know, at some point during the second half of the fifth season, Pendleton Ward stepped down from his showrunner position. An announcement that was met with fear and sorrow for most of the fanbase, including myself, as many wondered if the show would be able to keep up its quality and continue to be as innovative and successful as before. However, Adam Muto, who was selected to take over Ward’s role as showrunner, cleverly chose not to try and emulate what made the show so successful in the past, but instead chose to take the show in a completely new direction that is unarguably pretty ballsy. Whether you like the direction the series takes from this point on completely comes down to personal preference; I personally was always on board for these darker and more uncomfortable stories, though it totally makes sense to me why a lot of people turned their back on the series. It does become somewhat of a completely different show, but whether or not you like it, it is really admirable to see the risks that the staff decided to take. Some of them worked, while others failed, but still, you can’t argue that they weren’t trying to keep the series as fresh as possible. And it all starts with Frost & Fire.

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We’ve (partially) spent the last two seasons exploring the relationship between Flame Princess and Finn. In that time, we’ve seen what types of hardships could befall the two, mainly on Flame Princess’s side. FP, while developing some form of emotional maturity overtime, has a long string of anger issues that hark back to her days in captivity in the Fire Kingdom. Her anger and inability to control her powers has caused innocents to get hurt in the process, something that highly contrasts from Finn’s motivations to help everyone. In addition to her inability to control her powers comes her instability in regards to her powers. FP is physically unstable by natural circumstances, and feelings of extreme passion, such as romance, are quite hard for her to handle. Given that she’s unable to engage in extremely romantic situations, she isn’t even able to kiss or touch Finn without potentially hurting him. And with all of that said, there’s even the fact that she’s been constantly referred to as straight-up “evil.” Though this theory was somewhat debunked over time in-universe, it’s still left with uncertainty given the past history of FP’s family tree, and how she would come to claim her own identity in the process. With all this working against her, you’d think that Finn and Flame Princess’s break-up would relate back to a number of these problems. However, Frost & Fire works as a cautionary as well as heartbreaking tale that, even with FP’s problems at hand, nothing compares to hardship of Finn simply not being honest with her.

Despite the fact that Finn’s actions in this episode are incredibly nasty to the point where it causes others to get hurt, it’s still an incredibly well written learning lesson for him, and I’d much rather watch him go through instances like this than to see him be a perfect hero throughout the run of the series. Finn is only 15 at this point. He has years of life experience before he could consider himself emotionally or sexually mature. And, as any male who once experienced hormonal urgencies during puberty would acknowledge, keeping a lid on sexual desires is an incredibly challenging and confusing process, that many still struggle with even late into adulthood. I mention this because this episode provides one of the most sexually explicit visuals that the show has ever put out: Finn blatantly receiving a “blowjob” from Flame Princess. How this concept got past the Standards and Practices department of Cartoon Network, I’ll never know, though I still think that young children are able to make the connection even without the sexual implications. They know that Finn enjoys the dream, even though they might not know why, and he wants it to continue to happen again. That’s really all there is to it for any inexperienced viewer, and I’m glad that the presentation allows from pretty much anyone to watch and enjoy, rather than being aimed specifically at adults.

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Yet, I think the implications that are included in terms of Finn’s wet dream are quite brilliant. They really show how twisted and misleading sexual desires can become if you aren’t careful, and show how a nice, considerate guy can turn into a needy, selfish man-child. Finn’s faint imagination where he’s transformed into a hairy baby helps strengthen the former comparison, and is complete with the “wah wah wah” speak utilized in All the Little People. Besides mostly being used to emphasize that nothing Finn says can fix the issue at hand, it also hints back at Finn’s manipulative side in All the Little People that led up to these circumstances. Despite Finn finding an easy solution to help the little people reach a happy conclusion back in that episode, he doesn’t quite realize that he isn’t playing with toys here. He’s playing with the emotional fragility of people, and there isn’t really a quick fix for psychological pain. His last words really emphasize that he doesn’t realize exactly what he has done wrong. “I said I was sorry,” he remarks, as if a five letter word can completely solve a completely complicated issue. This is Finn’s first really big life lesson that, despite the fact that he may feel bad for what he’s done, it doesn’t mean his actions don’t have consequences. And as he stands there defeated, all he knows is that he fucking blew it, man.

Finn is completely at fault in this one, though some would argue otherwise. The inclusion of Jake has really driven people to blame him for the way the episode escalates, and while I’m sure it wouldn’t have ended up exactly how it did without Jake’s involvement, I’m willing to believe Finn would have caused them to fight even without Jake yelling at him. Jake never knew the extent of Finn’s dream, nor did he know that Finn even had them fight in the first place. The only thing Jake knew was that the Cosmic Owl was involved, something that Jake is constantly passionate about regardless of the topic. Jake never knew the weight of the situation; for all he knew, Finn could’ve been in grave danger, or was driven to follow some sort of epic life destiny. What Jake didn’t know was that the Cosmic Owl was trying to warn him the entire time, but before Finn can realize the Cosmic Owl’s purpose, it’s too late. So while Jake does instigate the conflict a bit further, Finn had already caused them to fight once, completely at his own decision. My guess is that Finn, distraught with the second outcome of his dream, would’ve simply gone back to try and manipulate the fantasy into being pleasurable again.

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A lot of this sounds uncomfortable for Finn’s character, and it really is. A good portion of the next two seasons features some really uneasy depictions of our main heroine, and while he isn’t always entirely sympathetic, his character arc is always compelling. Again, I’d rather see him struggle with his morality and own identity than to watch him simply become a stronger and more successful hero as the show goes along. Not that the latter aspect is bad, as we do get that to a degree later on, but it’s most important to show that our hero has flaws and goes through ruts than just to watch him be a specimen of perfection throughout the show’s run.

Through all of the pain Flame Princess experiences in this one, she’s mostly somewhat of a blank slate. Not to say that’s a bad thing; the main focus of the episode is mostly through Finn’s perspective. She reacts just how we would expect her to, and while it’s not entirely strong characterization in my eyes, we do get a ton of that in Earth & Water that I think really strengthens FP’s character from that point on. Ice King, however, does get some terrific sympathetic moments in this one. Besides his initial jab at FP, IK is thoroughly portrayed as an innocent bystander that gets wrapped up in the mess of it all. We feel bad for him, and it’s nice to fully show how Finn can be cruel to IK even when he isn’t doing anything wrong. That last line where Ice King utters, “ya blew it, man!” really hits home when you realize who it’s coming from.

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But despite all the dark elements in this one, Frost & Fire also has a pretty great sense of humor. There’s actually some pretty nice Somvilayisms in this one, such as when Finn smashes his body into the oven and knocks over a bunch of pots and pans, or when Finn has like, 20 glasses of milked poured and only drinks two. Somvilay’s drawings in general actually work pretty well. There’s a couple of nice expressions Finn has throughout the episode, namely in the dream sequence where he’s experiencing pure euphoria. Finn wiggling his tongue around and taking in the moment really adds to the stimulation he’s experiencing. And Luke Pearson, as always, has some really swell drawings. Pearson disappears from storyboarding for two whole seasons after this one, and it’s sad, because I really enjoy his work. Aside from the fight sequence looking pretty sweet in general, there’s some really terrific jokes laced into his bits. Flame Princess’s “inferno…. Shot!” follows by IK’s “Ice…. King!” really cracks me up. IK in general is pretty damn hilarious in this one. The scene where he painfully requests for Finn to save Gunther and then insists, “…. I meant after you save me,” is priceless. Ice King is never written as entirely sympathetic; there’s always some added aspect to his sympathy that just makes him seem like a jerk, which I love about his character.

The backgrounds and the music in this one really add to the tone of the overall episode. When the Ice Kingdom is on fire, everything turns very gray and orange, which really makes the rest of the episode feel more somber and weighty. While the music cues are mostly recycled from past episodes, they still attribute greatly to the overall mood. One cue in particular that was introduced in this one, in the scene where Jake frantically urges Finn to force IK and FP to fight, is one of my favorites. It’s been used several times following this episode, which only shows how effectively it can be utilized in scenes of frenzy and stress.

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So yeah, I don’t know if I’d call this one a personal favorite of mine, but I think it’s a pretty fantastic transition episode regardless. It’s one of the most challenging episodes of the show up to this point, and it has evoked tons of different feelings down the line. There’s some people who love it, and some people who hate it. But that fact alone contributes to its importance; an episode that has such contradictory opinions is arguably more significant than one everybody universally likes, say, Fionna & Cake. Frost & Fire successfully captures the not-so-heroic side of Finn the Human, and opens up for some tremendous explorations of his character in the long run. My opinions of Finn’s portrayal following this episode fluctuate greatly, but the good news is I’ll have tons to talk about in the upcoming bunch. So stay tuned y’all, we’re in for one hell of a ride from this point on.

Also, these title card concepts for Frost & Fire were released in the past week on Tumblr. I think they’re pretty dope, and especially like the third one. Though my assumption was that many people thought it was “too dark” and went with a more ambiguous choice.

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Favorite line: “Why does anyone do anything?” “… Why do they?”

“Sky Witch” Review

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Original Airdate: July 29, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

If there’s one thing I always like to make clear in regards to Bubbline is that it is not, nor was it ever, the most important or crucial story that Adventure Time has ever tried to tell. That idea alone seems like common sense, but there seems to be a handful of people that hold the belief that Bubbline is the sole arc of importance in the entire series. For me personally, I enjoy the relationship between the two, for the most part. I think they have a nice, charismatic dynamic, and a decent history that’s both believable and quite poignant. Though, like any other character, story arc, or plot point in the series, I’m not going to act like it’s sheer and utter perfection. And I think this episode, while not bad by any means, shows that the two working off of each other isn’t always especially raw or endearing, and in fact, I think it’s a little clunky in execution. I bring this up simply because, as these reviews go on, I’m not really going to aimlessly praise every scene featuring Bubbline as an undeniable masterpiece. At best, I think they can provide for a likable connection between two opposites. At worst, I think their chemistry with each other can somewhat fluctuate and/or feel slightly forced.

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I think the main issue with the way the two are portrayed in this one is that I’m never completely emotionally invested in the two. I think the writing is a bit schizophrenic and never really lets the moments that are supposed to be a bit more powerful and effective come across that way. PB talking down Hambo to Marceline should’ve been a pretty harsh and heart-wrenching speech, though it’s glanced over pretty quickly and isn’t really given enough time to explore. Whereas the ending, where PB suddenly decides that she isn’t leaving without Hambo and heroically rescues Marceline’s stuffed animal comes across as a bit rushed to me. I mean, it’s obvious that PB does care about Marceline and doesn’t want to hurt her at the end of the day, but I thought her transition from “Hambo’s fucking stupid, let’s leave” to “AW, HELL NAW, AM I LEAVING WITHOUT HAMBO” feels slightly bipolar. This is one of those instances where PB’s detachment feels kind of detrimental to some of the more challenging aspects of the episode; we want to see PB be charismatic and care for Marceline, though she’s written so apathetically that I never feel like I know what I’m supposed to feel. The parts that are supposed to be more emotional and build on the connection between the two just feel… lacking.

But, what this one lacks in emotion, it makes up for with some pretty humorous interactions between the two gals. PB’s bitchiness is amped-up in this one, and boy, is it tons of fun to watch. I love her passiveness towards something that means so much to Marceline, considering PB probably doesn’t have much of an emotional connection to her material possessions as others would. I also love her brutal roast of Raggedy Princess, it comes so out of left field. This is really when PB’s “cold-hearted” behavior starts to come out in full force, and I think it’s a pretty gradual transition at that.

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Marceline, on the other hand, is characterized just alright. Jesse Moynihan once said that he struggles to write for Marceline the most, and I think it kind of shows. Not to say she’s written poorly, but I don’t she’s portrayed as very interesting either. I do enjoy the way she seems to struggle when first asking PB to spend some quality time with her, as it’s pretty clear that she hasn’t completely warmed up to the idea of being close to PB again, and that it’s somewhat of a pain to try and connect with her. Again, these are moments that I wish were emphasized a tad more. I think some of those moments are brought down by some pretty awkwardly written moments for Marcy. Her emphasis of how important it is to rescue Hambo goes on a bit too long for my liking, and her insistence of bopping PB on the head seems a bit too… goofy for her. I mean, Marceline does have her silly moments, though not to the degree that the other characters are able to. She’s more deadpan and snarky than straightforward zany.

I think this is one where the settings are pretty dope; where the typical AT forest is usually bright and colorful, this one features a darker, more desolate forest that I think is actually a nice touch for a change. In addition to that, Maja’s mansion is pretty dope. Aside from the cool anti-gravitational landscape, I like all the small details, like the fact that Maja is a clear collector/hoarder. There’s also a portrait of the ghost lady from The Creeps that I’m not sure how it ended up in Maja’s possession, but I’m assuming she just wandered across it while casually traveling around in Ooo one day.

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Maja herself is good fun; she’s voiced by Jill Talley, who is actually Tom Kenny’s wife and the voice of Karen on SpongeBob SquarePants. Talley, per usual, offers great talent to the character of Maja, that’s only added to by the demonic double voice she delivers under her regular voice. Reminds me of HIM from The Powerpuff Girls. Maja’s Crabbit is an interesting concept as well, though again, I think his presence in the episode could’ve been a little more interesting. I kinda wish he did return with Maja later on in the series, as I would’ve liked to continue to see him as her buttmonkey companion.

What this one boils down to is a mildly fun adventure focused episode. I think it could’ve been stronger, considering we only get so many Marcy and Bubblegum interaction episodes until season 7, but otherwise, I think it’s fine. In terms of what Bubbline shippers like to see, I don’t even think there’s a ton you can analyze or look deeper into. There’s the completely odd moment at the beginning where PB inhales the shit out of Marceline’s shirt, but I think that just kind of comes off as awkward and ill-fitting than charming or likable. It’s a light and fun quest that serves as some tasty fluff to prepare for when things go completely off the walls in the next episode.

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Favorite line: “My googoomamameter is going babies!”

“Be More” Review

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One of my favorite title cards in the series. So beautifully atmospheric as BMO begins his search for meaning.

Original Airdate: July 22, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

Any episodes focusing on BMO up to this point have revolved around his wildly vivid imagination, while also emphasizing the tragedy of his character. While cute and filled with creativity, BMO is also notorious for his desire to feel human emotions like anyone else, and “be more” than just a robot. It’s fitting then that Be More doesn’t focus on the tragic or darker elements of the character, but rather ties BMO to a heartwarmingly sweet origin story.

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It starts out, however, with a brief bit of innuendo that comes across as a somewhat somber portrayal of BMO’s character. He’s deleting files, or in this case, “deleting brain cells” which is a pretty obvious euphemism for drug use. Not sure why BMO would want to do something detrimental like this, but my guess is that it’s likely for experimentation and a possible surge of entertainment. Afterall, we never see him doing something like this following the episode, so it seems pretty obvious that BMO did learn his lesson.

But the rest of the episode is exceedingly less dark. It’s mainly a fun and light Finn, Jake, and BMO adventure, but a pretty good one at that. It’s one of those episodes that is just really likable in how nice the characters act around each other. The dynamic of Finn and Jake being BMO’s caretakers has been existent for a while, but I think this is perhaps one of the sweetest examples. I love how they willingly would rather put themselves into a potentially dangerous situation than to have BMO’s memory wiped completely, as expected. Most heartwarming is their intricate (albeit hilariously poor) ideas to disguise themselves as MOs, even if they have no idea what an actual MO aside from BMO looks like. I also love the brief glimpse of Finn’s chubbiness. Love how they give him some curvy edges; it makes sense that he wouldn’t be especially physically fit, because I’m sure he doesn’t really exercise outside of the typical adventure.

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Love the MO factory! First, I enjoy how it is apart of the Bad Lands; I like it whenever AT acknowledges some form of consistency with its geographical settings, so continuously adding new locations within designated landmarks (as Xergiok’s house was in The Great Bird Man) is pretty nifty to me. The MO Factory itself gives off some rad dystopian vibes. There’s broken glass, rustic growths, and just some generally off-putting shades of gray and blue that help add to its somber surroundings. The actual MOs themselves are a lot of fun. DMO (voiced by Aziz Ansari) is an enjoyably sassy and stuck up adversary for the boys, as are the quite bumbling SMOs. I originally viewed them as carbon copies of the Banana Guards, but I actually think they’re funnier than the average Banana Guard appearance. I enjoy their mundane work oriented conversations and their frequent use of the term “goof.” Also, the concept of robots trying to eat and drink on this show will never not be funny to me.

This one also has some moments of genuine excitement. The cart ride through the MO factory is just as funny as it is riveting; Finn memorizing the map right down to its corkscrew, is both wildly funny and absurd. A lot of it is boarded by Steve Wolfhard, who typically has nice drawings, though they don’t always translate terrifically when it comes to the animation process, but this sequence actually looks quite nice. There’s also a few cool Easter eggs, like the addition of AMO’s room, who would eventually play a bigger part two seasons later. Wolfhard is a stickler for including tiny bits of lore and information that could or could not come back in the future depending on what he or the other story editors wanted to do with it.

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The cream of the crop of this one is the ending, where we’re introduced to Moe, another semi-human who created BMO. Moe is a character I’ve always wished that we got to see a little more of, but I do enjoy the mystery surrounding him and his connections to creating modernized, as well as futuristic, technology after the apocalypse. The idea behind BMO’s creation is as sad as it is cute; sad because BMO was never used for what he was intended for, as Moe was never able to have children, but cute because BMO was essentially able to fulfill his purpose by meeting Finn. I don’t think we’re ever going to get a flashback story on how BMO, Finn and Jake met, nor do I think it’s necessary, but I assume that Finn did come across the little console when he was somewhere between 9-12, allowing BMO to make the connection he was intended to, and to “be more” than that. It really is the most adorable way to give BMO an identity beyond him just being a video game console. Though BMO was most likely never told his purpose, he likely knows his purpose regardless. He is there to be more than just a robot, and he constantly acknowledges it by not “feeling” like a robot. Despite his constant struggle with his identity and morality, BMO is simply going through the phases of what it means to be a living being, whether he knows it or not.

So yeah, I like it! It isn’t as dark or as analytical as some of the other BMO episodes we’ve gotten in the past, which I tend to get into more, but this one is just a fun, heartfelt journey that gives BMO an appropriately fitting origin. Tom Herpich’s promo art was almost as good as the title card itself, so I’ll share with you here.

There was also an original ending in the storyboard where Moe asked Finn, Jake, and BMO to leave so he could use the bathroom, and I’m really glad they took it out. Would’ve totally killed any warm feelings Be More left me with.

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Favorite line: “How’s your goofy wife?” “Pretty goofy!”

“Jake Suit” Review

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Original Airdate: July 15, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Jake Suit received a lot of criticism for similar reasons to why people were angry at Jake in Jake the Dog; Finn is kind of a dick, and it’s understandable why people would dislike his portrayal in this episode. Yet, I’m actually not against it, and think it helps to strengthen this episode’s comedic prowess.

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First off, it’s just nice to see the Jake Suit back in general. Existing as an idea that began as early as the series itself, (in fact, Pendleton Ward himself would recruit artists who could draw the Jake Suit exactly how he envisioned it in his head; this is how Jesse Moynihan was hired) the Jake Suit is a concept that is used sparingly in the shown itself, yet has become somewhat of an icon within the series otherwise. It’s been featured in a handful of comics, as well as numerous shirts and even some of the video games, and even a 6-inch action figure was made. However, it’s an aspect of the series I’m glad that is used sparingly; it’s a pretty awesome feature, both design and battle wise, and I don’t think it’d be nearly as effective if they used it more frequently than they already have. Though, here it’s used mostly for story purposes, rather than battle purposes.

And here it shows why it isn’t necessarily used for battle that often: it fucking hurts Jake. And despite this, Finn somewhat ignorantly disregards Jake well-being while wearing him as armor. The reason I don’t think Finn is that unlikable is because it’s made pretty obvious at the beginning that Finn doesn’t understand how Jake experiences pain. Hell, it’s made pretty obvious that after that first scene, Finn had no idea that Jake was in pain at all. I think it’s clear that Finn’s failure to feel pain the same way Jake does is evident in his actions, and I do think the rest of the episode redeems any form of distastefulness he may have shown. Finn constantly tries to help Jake in his plans to put him through pain, and though Jake typically fails, it’s somewhat endearing that Finn wants him to succeed regardless, as he acknowledges the pain that he put Jake through. And c’mon guys, you mean to tell me that we’re supposed to think Finn is mean-spirited in this one when Jake tried to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend’s family and nearly tossed Finn in a volcano (even if he probably wouldn’t actually do it)? I get that Finn was kind of the one who put Jake in that position in the first place, but I think both boys have their moments of asshole-ishness, though these are moments that don’t affect the quality of the actual episode for me.

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In fact, I think this is a really funny one! Cole Sanchez and Kent Osborne teamed up on this one, and they would continue to write for some of the funniest episodes of this entire season. The entire beginning of the episode is great in terms of absurdity; I love how extreme Finn and BMO are, and the lengths they’ll go to in accidentally being brutal towards Jake. There’s also tons of great bits of dialogue in this one, including the frequent use of the expression “what the Bjork?!”, the way Finn describes pain as being “hickeys of the universe,” and the way Flame Princess describes her aunt and uncle as her “judgmental aunt and uncle.” And hey, whatta ya know, Flame Princess in a supporting role! How often does that actually happen? There’s also the incredible “blink and you’ll miss it” sequence at the beginning when the Jake Suit nearly rips apart a good portion of the Treehouse, as Ice King is just randomly chilling there. What the fuck is up with that? I always thought that this episode was supposed to be aired after Frost & Fire because of that brief scene, but then I remembered that Flame Princess is in this one. So that’s strange!

This episode is also filled with some terrific callbacks. The Squirrel from Up a Tree makes a return during the book reading sequence, Jake once again mentions his list of “tiers”, and The Buff Baby song returns, despite how much I’m so wildly passive towards it. I am glad that this is the last time they featured this song in the series; it had already been way overblown by this point, and I don’t even think John DiMaggio’s delivery was funny enough to save it. Also, we get to see a grown T.V. in this one, voiced by Dan Mintz. I never really got into T.V., as he’s probably my least favorite of the pups, though I do like his suggestion that Jake should have Finn jump in a volcano. My favorite part is that it kind of reads as “dad, go kill yourself,” in the most harmless way possible. That got a big laugh out of me. The clown nurses return at the very end to give Finn some much needed comeuppance, further showing that one man’s pain is another’s pleasure. It was really the perfect ending to cap that motif.

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There’s a few things I wasn’t crazy about in this one, however. One isn’t really a problem with the episode itself, but I feel like there’s never much consistency throughout the series with Finn’s reaction to physical pain. Like, he bitches in Blood Under the Skin when he gets a splinter, but in this episode he’s fully prepared to take on lava? Granted, he was a few years younger in Blood Under the Skin, but it kind of seems like his endurance depends mostly on the plot rather than being a consistent character trait. Also, I think some bits in this one are a little pointless. Jake’s attempts to bore Finn with the Dream Journal of a Boring Man is humorous, especially when Finn starts to actually enjoy it (a nice freeze frame bonus is to actually read the page in the book, it’s so nonsensical), but Jake’s attempt to piss Finn off by eating his meatloaf, while I enjoy that it references Finn’s consistently mentioned “favorite food”, doesn’t really go anywhere and neither does the Flame Princess bit either. I felt like the journal was a means of showing Jake’s frustrations with his inability to hurt Finn, though the others, while partially funny, didn’t really feel like humorous methods of driving that point further.

All in all though, I like it! It isn’t quite my favorite “funny episode” this season, as there’s other Sanchez and Osborne episodes down the line that take the cake, but I still enjoy it. There’s plenty of funny gags, lines, and character moments. And also, ya know what, this is just a good brotherly episode between Jake and Finn. They can’t kiss and hug every single episode they’re in, and I’m glad this episode took the time to build up a bit of a dynamic between them in terms of actual differences they do have. I’ve mentioned that the two brothers arguing can bring down the strength of the episode, though this argument is kept fun, light, and slightly snarky. Overall, it just makes the brothers feel more realistic.

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Favorite line: “You just have to imagine that every bruise is a hickey from the Universe. And everyone wants to get with the Universe.”

Season 5.1 Review

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Before we kick off this review, a brief announcement. I’ve been posting somewhat frantically the past month because I’ve had a lot more freetime, though any upcoming reviews will return to the Friday release date. Thanks to all of y’all who have been patient with the lack of a consistent schedule lately, and take some time to breathe as things return to normal within the new few weeks.

Now, without further ado, season 5.1! This one is an oddity on it’s own, because though it technically isn’t an entire season, I’ll be treating it like an entire season. And, as far as seasons of AT go, I actually found this one somewhat lackluster.

Season 5.1 definitely makes more of an effort to focus on lighter, sillier stories, after coming off of the often heavy and intense season four. And I’m not opposed to this at all; I know there’s plenty of people out there who solely enjoy Adventure Time for its story over its “filler” episodes, though I’m certainly not one of them. I’m perfectly content with the “fluff” that AT churns out, as long as it’s, of course, enjoyable. And while this half-season had its fair share of good one-shots, I don’t really think there were many great one-shots.

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Among some of these standalone episodes are Up a Tree, Davey, the Graybles entries, Mystery Dungeon, Little Dude, Shh!, Princess Potluck, James Baxter the Horse, The Party’s Over, Isla de Senorita, and Candy Streets, and out of all of these, I think Mystery Dungeon is the only one that really shines among terrific territory (though, I don’t even know if I could call this one standalone; I’m sure it does include some understanding of the tertiary characters that are featured). Shh! and James Baxter the Horse were both pretty solid in their own right, while Candy Streets, The Party’s Over, and Davey are ones I find just good enough to divert from “meh” territory. The others, however, I find pretty disposable. Upon first watching a handful of these episodes, I was wondering if I was just simply growing tired of AT’s lighter material and wanted the show to be full-on serialized, but I now realize that it was a somewhat of a silly consideration. AT still has plenty of terrific comedic episodes to come, and season two and season three still hold up tremendously as mostly silly masterpieces. The issue with a good chunk of these episodes, I find, is the stories are either a bit too paper thin, or that they don’t really take full advantage of their subject matter. Little Dude is about Finn’s hat coming to life, which is a really bizarre concept that could have all kinds of comedic possibilities, but it’s just kind of a simple story where nothing particularly interesting or memorable takes place. Elsewhere, Princess Potluck is story where Ice King is upset because he didn’t get invited to a party. I get that going simple often offers the most inventive ideas, though it’s quite the opposite for AT. The more simple they go, it often ends up with generic and unremarkable results.

On a more story-oriented note (or continuity based, at least), this season offered up Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, Jake the Dad, Vault of Bones, All Your Fault, Bad Little Boy, The Great Bird Man, Simon & Marcy, and One Last Job. A ton of these are episodes that a lot of people tend to consider amongst some of their all-time favorite episodes, including the two part season premiere and Simon & Marcy, though I view these episodes much differently than most do. Finn the Human is an incredibly boring excursion, Jake the Dog is a somewhat frenzied mix between comedy and depth that doesn’t really blend well at all, and Simon & Marcy is an 11 minute ball of exposition that I feel like I didn’t really need to see. Alternatively, the two episodes that stood out amongst the bunch were All Your Fault and Vault of Bones, for reasons that actually fit into what I look for in the standalone episodes: they were tons of fun! They weren’t entirely heavy or depth-filled stories that broke barriers, but they were simply enjoyable romps that focus on some really entertaining adventures filled with great humor and solid character development.

I think 5.1 hit its highest peak when it focused on the more experimental episodes, as AT typically does. All the Little People remains one of my all-time favorite episodes for its unique character study and interesting themes, while Puhoy was a thoroughly fascinating journey into a dreamlike dimension that focused on Finn’s insecurities and gave a glimpse into one of his many possible futures. BMO Lost is an entertaining entry featuring BMO on a solo-journey that’s filled with fun, heartwarming moments, and drama. Even Mystery Dungeon has elements of being experimental! It’s pretty ballsy to put 5 completely different side characters together and to make them the focus of the episode, but it actually worked out tremendously. Adventure Time works with subversive topics and stories quite well, and this half-season shows just how effective these types of episodes can be.

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The teams for this season fluctuated greatly, which could possibly be attributed to the changing quality from episode to episode. Instead of a solid 5 or 6 teams of artists and writers per season, with the occasional guest writer or two chiming in, this season has had tons of guest boarders and constantly changing teams. Rebecca Sugar and Skyler Page departed halfway through this season to pursue working on Steven Universe and Clarence respectively, while Kent Osborne returned to the writing staff, and many short-term storyboard artists were brought on, such as Thomas Wellmann, Luke Pearson, and Michael DeForge were brought on, along with Graham Falk, who would eventually join the writing staff full time. David O’Reilly also guest-starred to write, direct, animate, and storyboard his own cartoon, which was a first for AT overall. And then there was also the fun game of “which storyboard partner will Somvilay be paired with this week?”

The three somewhat consistent teams were Ako Castuera and Jesse Moynihan, Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard, and Cole Sanchez and Rebecca Sugar. Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard, who began their long career as partners during this season, would later become my favorite team in the entire series, though I think Ako and Jesse once again take the cake this season, with Jesse getting specific praise. Not only did they work on both All the Little People and Mystery Dungeon, but Jmoyns also co-wrote The Suitor and Wizards Only, Fools, which are all pretty splendid episodes. Surprisingly enough, I’d have to say that Sugar and Sanchez were the weakest team this season. I never did think their styles blended particularly well, and I think it shows in episodes like Jake the Dog and Simon & Marcy where the tone can really fluctuate greatly. Overall though, the schizophrenic pairing of different teams somewhat works against this season. I think it’s hard to watch a good handful of these episodes and think, “oh, this writer worked off of this writer particularly well,” because you never really get a chance to see the team dynamic by how little we get to see from each team. Season six was also one that consistently brings on guest artists and writers, though I think that was one that actually benefited from it because of how ever-changing the tone and the stories were. Season eight and nine also change up the teams a good bit, though we know pretty much all of the artists and writers by this point in time that we can kind of understand how they would be able to work together. I think having consistency in writers and storyboard artists has proved to work wonders for AT through the years, and I think it was able to find a happy medium in the second half of this season.

As for character arcs, there wasn’t anything quite noteworthy. Finn continues to travel through adolescence, PB continues to battle with her emotions and her responsibilities, we get to see a bit more into Marceline’s past history, and Ice King begins to show very subtle signs of moving into a slightly emotionally stable future. In all, I think Jake kinda stole the spotlight this time around! And I know what you’re thinking, I still wasn’t a big fan of Jake the Dog, Jake the Dad, or even One Last Job that much, but I think his overall presence was the most enjoyable and I like how they took the steps to evolve his character a bit more. In the grand scheme of things, Jake is just kind of the cool dude that’s watching everything around him go down, so it is nice to get this bit of depth behind his character and to have specific time devoted to watching him.

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Top 5 Best Episodes

Honorable Mention: Mystery Dungeon – don’t typically do this, but I can’t leave this one unnoticed. It’s a hilarious episode that focuses heavily on some of Adventure Time‘s greatest side characters.

5. Puhoy – An imaginative and emotionally compelling episode that takes on a very interesting alternate version of Finn, while including fun interludes between Jake and BMO.

4. Vault of Bones – A terrific dungeon themed episode that focuses on Finn and Flame Princess’s relationship, and is probably the best FP episode to date.

3. BMO Lost – Strictly a personal preference. I’m a sucker for BMO episodes, and this one is done exceptionally well. It’s everything I enjoy about BMO’s character in one sweet package.

2. The Suitor – A really terrific look at PB’s confliction when it comes to relationships, while also focusing on an interesting and likable protagonist. It also has probably the best display of Pepbut’s interest in the dark matters I’ve seen thus far.

1. All the Little People – You all saw this coming! One of my personal favorites, if ya wanna hear me ramble on about it in great detail, read my review, dammit!

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Another Five More Short Graybles – It had a terrific Lemongrab-centric grayble, though its completely frenzied pacing and generally uninteresting stories did not do it justice.

4. The Great Bird Man – One that I find pretty dull, and proof that Xergiok should never be the focus of an episode.

3. A Glitch is a Glitch – One that I’ve grown to appreciate in animation and visuals, though one I particularly loathe in its writing and portrayal of the characters.

2. Finn the Human – A really dull and unimaginative look at Finn’s alternate self, and one that lacks excitement after coming off of The Lich.

1. Princess Potluck – A totally unremarkable episode with an even more unremarkable plot.

Final Consensus

Season 5.1 is a bit polarizing for me. It has some great entries, as to be expected with Adventure Time, but the episodes that are just good aren’t really THAT good. But in the same sense that the episodes that are bad aren’t really that bad. Overall, I think there’s a lot of dull moments in this half-season, but it’s even somewhat hard to say that. I mean, I’m judging this by Adventure Time standards, so obviously I’m going to be harsher on some episodes even though, when comparing them to any other series, could be looked at as gems. So even if it seems like I just flat out didn’t like this one, I just find it weaker than what I’m usually conditioned to expect with any typical AT episode. Though, luckily enough, things really pick up in the next half-season, and I look forward to kicking off 5.2 next week!

“Wizard’s Only, Fools” Review

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Original Airdate: July 1, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Thomas Welmann

Wizard’s Only, Fools cleverly uses wizardry and science to elaborate on the topic of “religion vs. logic,” which is a motif I’m always interested to see touched upon. Though, it is one that can often end up with polarizing results, considering that most shows would either lean in one way or the other. Thankfully, Adventure Time handles this without seeming preachy or having an ultimatum, and feels more like a story that shows off both sides of the argument without really siding with either.

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I’ve mentioned before in my review of The Suitor that this season has been pretty lacking on strong PB episodes, which is a shame, because last season was full of ‘em! But the princess returns to the spotlight in this one and sports a more condescending and pretentious attitude, which is really enjoyable to watch. I can see most people viewing PB as uncharismatically cruel, as she talks down to those who have certain beliefs, and ultimately ends up getting herself and her friends arrested as a result of her stubbornness. To me, it makes her so much more admirable. Everything PB has experienced, even down to her own birth, as well as everything she has created and invented has all been a direct result of her scientific prowess. None of her people have been created through what most would consider to be “magic,” so therefore, in her 800 years of existing, she has always relied on science as her guide and the key to life. So it is quite lovely to watch her so passionately stick up for what she believes in, especially when it means putting her life into potential danger.

Though, her arrogance shows that, while it is admirable to stick up for what you believe in and to defend your own standards, it sometimes is less selfish and more selfless to suck up your own pride and give in to society’s standards. It isn’t really the right choice, but it could’ve shown PB and her friends justice if she just simply complied with the Grand Master Wizard’s request. While we’re on the subject, did his voice sound different in this one? It’s still Maurice LaMarche, but his inflections sound radically different from his first appearance and his subsequent appearance. Quite odd, but back on subject, I don’t think PB is necessarily unlikable or cruel in this one. Despite her ego taking over her logic and sense of compassion in some instances, the entire reason she is going on this endeavor at all is for one of her people. Her asking Starchy, “you still think I’m a jerk?” was incredibly cute and really showcased PB’s soft side. Even through her density, the happiness of her people is important to her, and she probably wouldn’t be able to just continue on with her work if Starchy was still mad at her.

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Finn and Jake mostly just serve as sidekicks in this one, though in the best possible way. Finn is actually a pretty great source of comic relief; he’s a little bit of a jokester in this one! I like his constant fake-outs, “Let’s stay home-just kidding,” and when he briefly gives up while trying to get past the Wizard City wall. I also like him questioning if PB was straight-up naked. It was something that was on my mind as well, though is even better that Finn brings this up while they’re under pursuit of the Wizard City Police. Jake, on the other hand, mostly serves as an adversary towards PB, and I always like the somewhat hostile differences Jake and PB have at times! It also makes sense that Jake, an alleged magic user, would combat Bubblegum’s thinking process and see her as someone who is entirely stubborn in her beliefs. It also makes sense that he would resent her for the decision she made against the Grand Master Wizard; Jake has somewhat of a strong belief system too, but he’s a pretty chill and laid back guy and would probably do whatever is easiest for him to get out of trouble. It’s the bickering between the two that I always enjoy to see, even more so than Jake’s relationship with Marceline.

Abracadaniel returns as a supporting character in this one, and I wasn’t really a fan of him in his first appearance, and I’m still not much of a fan of him here. Though, it isn’t an appearance that the episode or the story really depends on. I do actually enjoy how he gets wrapped up in PB, Finn and Jake’s conflict; I was critical of Candy Streets for its mean-spirited punishment of the character Pete Sassafras, though Abracadaniel’s such a dork/buttmonkey as always that I don’t really mind when he gets the bad end of the stick. It’s kind of what his character exists to do. And honestly, if I was for some reason running from the police, fuck yeah, I’d grab the first person I know and ask them for help! Not saying I have been… heh… heh heh.

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The Secret Wizard Society returns in this one, as their plans only get increasingly more ambiguous and rather intriguing. It is noteworthy that their board shows Abracadaniel getting sacrificed in regards to whatever they are planning. I remember by the time Betty arrived, a lot of people were wondering if Abracadaniel had been killed, yet he has made several appearances subsequently. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if they just killed him off. He’s not a character I particularly care for, but besides that, how fucked up would it be if his character was never seen or mentioned again after Betty? That’d be quite the dark scenario, but one I’m not opposed to.

A lot of Wizard’s Only, Fools is just simply enjoying the atmosphere and the culture of Wizard City, which, as usual, looks great. This is also the introduction of Ron James, a very quirky, fun addition to the cast of Wizard characters. I enjoy Ron James’ lingo (I’m just now realizing that there’s three characters in this show with “James” in their name and I’m not sure how to feel about it) and how he’s about as equally passionate about magic as PB is about science. The Wizard City prison is a really nice ominous setting, and in fact, I think the use of color in this one is just great. I like the darker shadows in the wizard cultists’ lair, the bright whites in Grand Master Wizard’s dome, and the reds, browns, and oranges that permeate throughout the prison. There’s a lot of different places and landscapes in this one, so using color to help make them pop is a decision AT typically excels at. And as always, there’s the little things, like the many different wizards you can spot within the backgrounds. You can tell Jesse Moynihan had a lot of fun with this episode, and Thomas Wellman, who previously wrote and storyboarded for The Suitor, provided some splendid drawings for this one. I dunno why Wellmann only wrote two episodes of Adventure Time, because I actually have really enjoyed his work on this episode and The Suitor. Writing aside, he’s got some really nice, expressive drawings, especially on Jake.

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The conclusion of this episode features PB finally giving in, though not the way we quite expected. She tried the best she could to help Starchy, though it failed, and it was either her way or the highway. Again, it seems like somewhat of a cruel ending to give Starchy the antidote against his will, but remember, this is PB we’re talkin’ about. She could literally just say “fuck it” and clone another Starchy if the first one for some reason died off. I mean, that might be drastic because it’s just a cold, but still. PB’s care for her people will not allow her to allow them suffer, and though she tried to make Starchie satisfied, there comes a point where you just have to accept treatment as it is.

So yeah, this one’s a lot of fun! Besides being an interesting allegory towards religion, it’s pretty much just a ball all the way through. Fun characters, some hilarious moments (I still crack up at PB forcing Ice King to give her the password to get into Wizard City), and a terrific setting that really helps it excel, Wizard’s Only Fools is a fun trip to Wizard City that highlights PB’s personality and her character flaws quite seamlessly.

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That’s the first half of season five, folks! I was seriously considering if I should break this season up and review them separately, and ya know what, I think I’m gonna do it. 5.1 and 5.2 are so wildly different in tone and direction that it only makes sense to give input on them separately, so the next review that will come out will be the season 5.1 review! There won’t be any mini-review to go along with it like there has been with the past few seasons, as this review is kind of already a cheat as it is. The season review will be out later in the week, but until then, thank you all for continuing to read this blog! Really enjoy hearing your input every week, and I’m happy to have gotten this far in the series. About half of Adventure Time is left, so hopefully I can tackle it completely throughout the next year or two!

Favorite line: “You know, no one has touched me in months. Could you touch me again?”