Original Airdate: November 14, 2011
Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera
I always tend to forget how relatively humorless No One Can Hear You is. It’s practically a psychological thriller, and one that’s very creepy, atmospheric, and genuinely unsettling. That being said, it’s one of my all-time favorites. It takes the series and its characters in an incredibly dark and unpleasant direction, yet is still able to be completely enjoyable and engaging.
It begins in a very fast-moving and brief fashion, not wasting any time setting up the plot as quickly as it can. It always amazes me just how much Adventure Time can pack into an 11 minute time-slot, and still leave a lot of room for the characters to breathe and relax. A lot of the great moments from this episode are just Finn lurking around the empty Candy Kingdom and drawing conclusions about his whereabouts. It’s not very exposition heavy, in the sense that we don’t get to know exactly what Finn is feeling or what’s going through his head throughout the episode. He’s pretty much there as an observer, and his thoughts are practically ours as we’re able to empathize with him in the way that any psychological thriller or horror movie allows us to put ourselves in the main character’s shoes.
There’s a real underlying tragedy to Jake’s character in this episode as well. Clearly he’s completely insane, but his motivations aren’t so out of control or psychotic that it makes him genuinely unlikable. All he wants is to be surprised for his birthday party, and will go to great lengths just to fulfill this desire. It’s the perfect balance of terror and sympathy, as we’re both rooting against Jake and hoping he’s able to regain his health. There’s just something straight painful about watching him so far gone too; the moment when Finn ponders, “face it, Finn. Your best friend is gone,” is a very, very sad moment. To watch a character we all know and care for so much be completely deviated into a complete lunatic is somewhat heartbreaking, and to see even his best friend and brother give up on him is even more tragic. It’s a pretty crucial moment for Finn’s character, as he acknowledges that he may have to leave his brother behind for the greater good of society, and doesn’t hesitate to look back once.
While that’s an understandably solicitous moment for Finn, even worse is Jake realizing that his best friend and brother lied and betrayed him twice. As I mentioned, Jake’s really lost his marbles, but he’s relatively harmless on the other hand, and to watch his aching moment of hardship as Finn runs away from his birthday party is just really heartwrenching. It’s an episode that pits the two best friends against each other in the very best way possible, making each side empathetic and the entire situation really tough to watch.
As I mentioned there’s very few laughs in this episode, which really works to it’s advantage. Besides a few goofy lines from Finn as he’s roaming around and some funny gags towards the end, it spends most of it’s time focusing on the creepy and uncomfortable elements. There’s moments that really raise the question of, “was that funny or unsettling?” such as the bugs crawling on Jake and Jake’s general demeanor throughout the episode. There’s not a single moment in the entire show where I’m more conflicted to laugh or sit there uncomfortably than when Jake has a birthday party composed of sock puppets and milk cartons. It really excuses the fact that the episode is unfunny when it sticks to a specific mood and atmosphere and goes above and beyond with it. I think I actually would’ve actually liked this episode less if there were more jokes phoned in, as it would take away from the general tension of the overall plot.
And then there’s the reveal of the true villain in this episode. I’m not shitting you, you guys, that deer is in my fucking nightmares. Nothing creeps me out more in this episode than when he takes off his hooves and wiggles his fingers around. And the way he licks people and sticks them to the wall is out of a full-fledged motherfucking horror movie. Goddamn, that stag scares me! I think it’s a pretty brilliant out-of-nowhere reveal that the deer was the true antagonist the entire time, and his frequent appearances throughout the episode build up to a very satisfying and well-planned payoff that I think is pretty unpredictable for any first time viewers. Also, the idea that he wanted PB’s sugar and that she wouldn’t give it to him triggers more unsettling visuals in that regard. Yeesh. So Finn, Jake, and all ten of the rescued Candy People that make up the entire kingdom (yeah, something I’m noticing while rewatching these episodes is that the artists really hate to draw a good handful of characters. I mean, obviously they couldn’t draw the entire kingdom, but c’mon! Lady isn’t even there) float off into the night sky.
This is one I really adore. From the intense and creepy atmosphere to the relationship between Finn and Jake, it’s an especially tough one to get through, and I mean that in the best way possible. Another one of my favorite parts of the episode is the subtle way they leave it up for debate as to how long Finn was actually asleep for. Was the six months conclusion a product of Jake’s damaged brain? Did he mean six months in magical dog years? Or was Finn legitimately in a coma for six whole months? I always tend to gto with the middle option, but I think it’s really arguable and I’d be willing to settle with any conclusion in that regard. It’s also worth noting that it’s the first time Glob is mentioned as a legitimate religious figure: something that would become a staple with Moynihan’s episodes later on. As is, I have little to no issues or complaints about this one. It’s a trip through psychological terror that I truly never get sick of watching, and one that I hold with very high regards in a season of already high ranked episodes.