“The Witch’s Garden” Review

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Original Airdate: June 7, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Niki Yang & Adam Muto

The episode begins with Finn and Jake following a frog holding a crown. Finn just really wants to see what happens when that frog puts on the crown. It’s so interesting to me that this one little scene that’s less than thirty seconds spawned an entire series of shorts, which, to my knowledge, were originally supposed to be a full length episode. All you need with “Adventure Time” is one non-sequitur or throwaway joke and bam! You have yourself a completely new story arc or plotline for an episode.

They eventually come across a garden with delicious sweets growing out of the bushes. Jake uses his sniffer to detect if the donuts are poisonous, but they check out. However, a Witch arrives and accuses Jake of stealing her donut. Jake denies it, but realizes he has been eating a donut, all because of his subconscious. The Witch is seriously pissed off, and turns Jake into a normal dog, including a baby-like body and a pair of underwear. AT really goes one step beyond for sight gags like this; all the Witch had to do was take Jake’s powers away, but it’s waaaay funnier that Jake now has an overweight man-baby body. It’s little touches like this that really show how odd and quirky the writing for this show can be, in the best possible way. Jake notices immediately that his nipple count is strangely short, and the Witch notifies him that he won’t receive his powers back until he apologizes for stealing her donut. Then she brings a bagel to life and it has little legs and underwear. Cute!

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Finn begins to notice that powerless Jake is even lazier than regular Jake, so the two of them try to find out the source to Jake’s powers. Jake remembers first experiencing his stretchy powers when he was a puppy rolling around in a mud puddle. We don’t learn anything new about Jake’s backstory until five seasons later, but it’s nice that they kept it consistent with the truth behind Jake’s powers. He may not have received his powers exactly that way, but considering he was born with them while being in a puddle, it only seems logical that that’s how he would remember it. In the search for mud puddles around Ooo, Finn continues getting more fed up with Jake. There’s some really great instances of annoyed Finn throughout the episode, and the storyboard artists do a really nice job with his facial expressions. AT’s art style usually prevents from really spectacular facial reactions, but this episode has a lot of funny instances of Jake driving Finn up a wall.

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After trying out a mud puddle, Jake decides to listen to his sentient subconscious and give up the search. In the meantime, some skeleton mermaid named Gary pops out of the River of Junk and wants to get in Finn and Jake’s individual trousers. Finn and Jake are both really grossed out, so Gary says screw it to reproduction and attempts to feed Finn to her hatchlings. Jake begins feeling regret, so he and his subconscious decide to get his powers back from the Witch. The idea of a character’s subconscious leaving their body was introduced in this episode. It seems that anytime this occurs, the character has to go through some type of lesson or life experience, but Jake ain’t about learning lessons. He’s all about keeping cool and kicking back, and his subconscious is on the same page with him about that.

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The Witch decides that it’s too late for Jake to even apologize, so she puts his subconscious and himself through a series of humiliating stunts, which ends up killing Jake’s subconscious. Jake begins to weep because his best friend is in danger and that any remnants of his own self are gone forever, so the Witch decides to give him his powers back. With his powers back and his subconscious revived, Jake bitch slaps the Witch’s cane out of her hand and steals another donut, revealing that he didn’t learn anything at all. Hooray for anti-morals! Jake saves his best pal from the hatchlings, and denies having apologized at all, claiming he just found the right mud puddle.

Keeping in the tradition of what seems to be season one’s approach at branching out Finn and Jake’s characters, this is another episode where Jake goes through a similar situation as Finn, with different results, of course. In “City of Thieves,” Finn experiences the hardship of being deemed a thief and wants nothing tarnishing his status as a hero. Jake, on the other hand, is a bit more morally gray. He doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of him or what his status is in Ooo, he just does what he loves and loves what he does. He’s 28-years-old, and has already learned most basic life lessons necessary to grow as a person. He’ll steal a donut from a Witch if he really wants to. Otherwise, this is a pretty humorous episode. The Witch is a really funny one-off character, I almost wish she came back in future episodes. She’s delightfully insane and demented, bringing bagels to life and talking to her cupcakes. In addition, the dynamic between Finn and Jake is very well-crafted in this episode. I like how Finn really pushes for Jake to get his shit together, and his passionate desire to get his bro to return to his adventuring ways. A lot of elements within this episode return to be branched out later on in the series as well, including Jake’s subconscious, the frog with the crown, and Jake’s mysterious past. For a standard and goofy season one episode, it’s really nice to see that the writers took a lot of the simplistic elements and expanded upon them greatly later on.


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