Original Airdate: September 27, 2010
Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Bert Youn
Adventure Time season finales typically leave us off in some sort of cliffhanger. Season two’s finale involved Princess Bubblegum’s biological age changing and the Lich’s entrance into Ooo. Season three’s had Finn finding a brand new love interest, as well as the introduction of a new main character. Season four’s was a high stakes journey to another dimension. Season five’s led to Finn discovering that his human father is alive. Season six’s, while more satisfying than others, also involved PB being dethroned and the King of Ooo stepping into power. Finally, season seven’s was a segue into the Island miniseries. Therefore, season one is really the only season that doesn’t leave the show on some sort of cliffhanger (besides the fate of beloved secondary character, Sharon), but no matter, as long as it’s a well-written episode, you don’t need that sense of unsatisfactory and wanting more. Unfortunately, Gut Grinder is probably season one’s most lackluster episode, regardless of being a season finale or not.
It’s not necessarily an awful episode, per se, but it’s one of the few AT episodes in general that goes in a very predictable and generic direction. We know exactly what type of story this is going to be the first time it’s mentioned that the Gut Grinder looks like Jake, and the rest of the episode throws little surprises to counter our general expectations. Of course Jake isn’t the Gut Grinder! I got exactly what I thought I was going to get, and that’s pretty sad to say for an AT episode. Part of what’s so great about this show is that I literally never have any idea what’s going to happen, and when I believe that I do, the writers throw some sort of curveball or twist that completely catches me off guard. I’m not really sure how you could change this episode to make it less foreseeable. It’d actually be sorta cool if the Gut Grinder was a shapeshifter, which would also tie into Jake’s backstory. But alas, only so many seeds can be planted in one season.
Aside from the main plot, the humor is pretty so-so in this episode as well. Besides Finn’s hilarious “justice never sleeps”, I can’t really think of anything in this episode that got a laugh out of me. I’m usually in tune with the show’s random humor, but the ending with Sharon posing as Jake because she “thinks he’s hot” just didn’t do it for me. Why would she dress up like a grotesque version of Jake to steal gold if she’s attracted to him?? Bitches be trippin’.
It’d be unfair not to judge this as a season finale though, and as a season finale, it’s pretty poor. Yes, I know the season two premiere aired only two weeks later, but in context, this really just is not a satisfying way to cap off the first season of one of the most groundbreaking cartoons in recent history. I don’t really blame this on the staff though; I’m not even really sure if it was meant to be intended as the season finale, what with the unreliable aspect of production codes and all that nonsense, but this was when the show was just getting off on its feet anyway. Besides, like I mentioned, it’s not like anyone had to wait months to see the next episode anyway, as It Came From the Nightosphere aired literally two weeks later. I just would’ve been a bit more satisfied with His Hero as the season finale instead, as we end a pretty impressive first season on a pretty “meh” note.
And that’s the end of season one! Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog the past couple months, and thank you to everyone who has been patient with its unreliable schedule (it’s bound to stay a bit uncoordinated throughout the next two months, but I’ll try my best to remain consistent). Before I get started with season two, I’ll be doing a full review of season one, along with a small bonus review on top of that. In the meantime, stay tuned, and stay mathematical!