My general philosophy is that I tend to believe that Adventure Time gets better with every season, and I still stick to that. That being said, I think Season Four arguably has the biggest set of “bad” or “meh” episodes out of the first four seasons. Dream of Love, Gotcha!, King Worm, and Ignition Point were all pretty poor episodes in my eyes, while episodes like In Your Footsteps and Web Weirdos really border on just “meh” for me. But even in a season of 6 or 7 bad or mediocre episodes, it really benefits from having 19 or 20 really good or fantastic episodes that are some of the best in the series, period. So, would I say that season four is technically better than season three? Well, no, because season three was practically perfect in terms of not having a single bad episode in its track record besides The Monster. However, season four continued to push boundaries and take AT in directions that I couldn’t have even imagined a season ago, so for that reason, I would say that season four answered the question of “what’s the best season of Adventure Time?” with “the next one.”
It’s funny when I think about the humor from this season (no pun intended) because I feel like a good majority of the season just wasn’t really going for funny episodes most of the time. Sure, there were some really hilarious ones like Return to the Nightosphere and Card Wars, but when I think of Season Four, I don’t really think of “good humor,” I moreso think of “good stories.” And there are tons in that regard, especially in terms of character study. Princess Cookie, Sons of Mars, Burning Low, BMO Noire, and You Made Me specifically all had really spectacular stories involving in depth looks at some of our main characters and why they act the way that they do, something that AT delivers a lot of from this season onward.
Even episodes that don’t have great stories end up having really impressive emotional cores. I Remember You sticks out in particular as an episode that, when it comes down to it, is simply Ice King and Marceline hanging out and singing in a room for 11 minutes. But that’s why it’s so perfect. AT really diverts from traditional storytelling in this one for the better, which is something the series would only grow stronger at pulling off over time.
One of the other experimentations that this season introduced was the Graybles themed episodes, which aren’t really my favorite and very few reach really high heights of quality, but are always welcomed regardless. They’re fun little stories which, like most of AT’s fun little stories, eventually grow deeper and darker as they go on.
As always, the teams were pretty solid, with Jesse and Ako actually coming out as my favorite pairing this season in terms of consistency as well as quality. They pulled off both Sons of Mars and Beyond this Earthly Realm, two of my very favorites from this season, which featured both trippy bits of mysticism as well as a lot of fun and excitement. Tom Herpich and Skyler Page were right behind, with mostly terrific laidback episodes, all excluding the epic finale they brilliantly concocted. This was Skyler’s first and only season on the show, and he fit right in with the other writers and artists when it came to grasping the tone and understanding of the actual series. I’ve already voiced my issues with the Rebecca and Cole pairing before, but really, how can I say anything when they dished out such emotionally powerful episodes like Burning Low, Lady & Peebles, and of course, I Remember You. As assumed, I’m gonna point to Somvilay and Bert as the weakest team this season. They did great with Princess Monster Wife and Card Wars, but besides that, nothing really grabbed me especially, and were plagued by some tedious pacing issues.
The characters continued to flourish greatly this season. Finn’s relationship issues took him in really interesting directions; for one, making his first crucial attempts at getting over PB, and somewhat becoming more interested in being “smart” with his love interests. Reign of Gunters took on his more dumb teen boy side by trying to pick up different skills and tactics in handling relationships, only to lead to more issues with him being distant towards his actual emotions and genuinely kind behavior later on. Jake continued to be entertaining in his ability to be the one character without any inner turmoil, but did knock up Lady at some point, so we’ll also be seeing dem babies later on (I’m beginning to notice “later on” as a keyword of this season review.) Marceline took a notable step back besides the great episodes tying back to her father as well as her father figure, while Ice King only continues to get sadder and sadder with each coming season. This season marked the main introduction to Flame Princess, but sadly, she hasn’t really done anything of interest so far. We really haven’t gotten to see anything from her perspective yet, and it isn’t really till season five that we start to trek through the interesting bits of her character. Everything interesting about her character is seen through Finn’s perspective entirely.
And by God, PB stepped the fuck up this season! I’ve complained in the past three season reviews that she really did not do anything that made her as interesting or compelling as the other mains, but dear Lord, she has become the most captivating character very quickly. Easily the MVP of this season, showcasing her rocky connection to Finn, her complex relationship with Lemongrab, her inner strength and brilliant mind, her somewhat confusing actions when it comes to treating her people, and so much more. PB is certainly one of the most interesting and complex characters in the series, and this season is really what begins to support that fact.
Top 5 Best Episodes
5. Return to the Nightosphere – A hilarious episode revolving around the world and inhabitants of the Nightosphere, with a sense of mystery and quirkiness traveling throughout.
4. Princess Cookie – Debuting a very empathetic and likable main character, Princess Cookie revolves around an interesting dynamic between Bubblegum and Candy Person, while also highlighting one of the more complicated parts of Jake’s character.
3. Goliad – An episode that spotlights the adorably fucked up Goliad, and her unfortunate vulnerability toward corruption. The entire conflict is presented as intense and somewhat creepy, and also leaves some remaining questions about PB’s impressionable behavior in general.
2. Sons of Mars – Really battled back and forth about whether this should be 1 or 2, but I settled for 2. I just love this one. Lore, humor, adventure. Opening up the very wide arena of mythology and headiness within the world of AT, this one captures the mythical behavior of space gods and the meaning behind the apathetic nature of Magic Man, all while tying the friendship between Finn and Jake at the very center.
1. I Remember You – Yeah, I really don’t even have to explain this one. Wanted to put it at number 2, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I can’t deny that this is about as perfect as an AT episode can get.
Top 5 Worst Episodes
5. In Your Footsteps – Nothing really particularly bad, but nothing of notable substance either. Seems like its main purpose was to drive the Lich plot further and nothing else.
4. Gotcha! – Any attempt at making LSP a likable or entertaining protagonist usually ends up failing for me, though I have grown slightly more favorable towards it after hearing what others had to say in regards to her portrayal.
3. King Worm – Creative in terms of visuals, but somewhat of a drag to get through. Nothing I found especially funny or even that entertaining in regards to story.
2. Ignition Point – A completely slow experience that really squandered a chance to finally put Flame Princess in the limelight.
1. Dream of Love – Because everyone was just dying to see Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig bang for 11 minutes.
As I’ve said above, Season Four isn’t the best season ever, but it continued to take Adventure Time in very interesting directions in terms of character relationships and how dark the series could actually get. It created some notable landmarks that opened plenty of new doors to take the series through, and those were doors I couldn’t wait to explore more in the future. The season finale left me satisfied with how the season went overall, and only more excited than I’ve ever been to continue watching in the future.
“Return to the Nightosphere”
“Sons of Mars”
“I Remember You”
“Daddy’s Little Monster”
“Lady and Peebles”
“Hot to the Touch”
“Five Short Graybles”
“In Your Footseps”
“Beyond This Earthly Realm”
“You Made Me”
“Who Would Win”
“The Hard Easy”
“Reign of Gunthers”
“Princess Monster Wife”
“Dream of Love”
This was, in my opinion, a largely decent season with some truly stellar episodes sprinkled in there. “Princess Cookies” might have edged out “What Was Missing” for my favorite Adventure Time episode so far.