Original Airdate: November 12, 2012
Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Jesse Moynihan
The season premiere starts off much like how the last season premiere began: right where the finale left off. The Lich ended with a fast-paced, hectic journey into the multiverse, and the stakes never seemed higher. What was in store for AT’s audience was completely unknown, and the fanbase sat patiently as we endured a long, three week break (yeah, remember when three weeks was the longest period of time we waited for new episodes?). So we all sat down, got ready for the thrilling follow up to the previous episode, annnnd… were mostly met with middling and underwhelming results. Well, at least I was.
I think the root of the main problem for the episode is simply that the Farmworld just isn’t very interesting. The idea of a world without magic seems so promising and intriguing, yet it just doesn’t seem to have an identity outside of the fact that society has seemingly regressed into a more medieval period because of the creation of an ice age. I would’ve much more enjoyed the possibility of a corrupted future where its civilians ignore the existence of magic and beckon it off as something that should not be discussed, but instead we’re dealt with the typical story of a country boy who has to sacrifice for his family.
Farmworld Finn himself isn’t really a compelling protagonist and I genuinely didn’t really enjoy watching him. He’s a blander, less charismatic version of Finn, and unlike the actual Finn, I really just don’t care about what happens to his pet mule Bartram or the inhabitants of his family. I know this is actually Finn we’re supposed to be caring about and identifying with, but it just doesn’t feel like Finn. This Finn seems almost completely apathetic to what’s going on until the end (something that I think can unfortunately plague Herpich’s writing of the actual character as well) and has no issue with stealing from an older, crabbier Marceline. I know he figured she was crazy, but still, I think the action was somewhat crueler than it had to be. I think if Farmworld Finn simply found the crown and Marceline saw him leaving with it and then pursued him, it would be a bit more of an understandable clause. I get the idea that Farmworld Finn is supposed to be written as a more mundane, modern child character, but there’s just very little that makes me actually care for him. He’s supposed to be Finn, but he’s just… not. The one notable piece of exposition that serves his character well is the reveal of his full name, Finn Mertens. It’s a pretty significant information drop that opens the question on whether or not this is really Finn’s full name, which Finn actually learns subconsciously later on. I’m guessing Farmworld Finn’s self-awareness of his full title was something Finn somehow picked up on his own.
The inclusion of Marceline made for an interesting tale. I enjoy the detail that, because of the second ice age, she was never bitten, and remains as a decrepit old demon. It really raises the question of, “how long will Marcy actually live for?” to which I honestly have no idea what the answer is. I’m sure demons can live for a long period of time and then die off, but exactly how long? It’s something that continuously has me wondering. Also, her devotion to Simon, as well as protection of the crown, is really sweet. It seems that she’s unable to leave in fear of being ridiculed as a freak by society for her demon-like appearance, so she’s lived in isolation for years, making sure nobody enters the same fate as her beloved father figure. It also leads to one of the most somber, as well as hilarious, interactions in the entire episode, where Simon demands that Marceline should return the crown to him. It could be all in Marceline’s head, or a product of the crown still possessing Simon’s body and thoughts, but either way, it’s really sad to see that, after all these years, Simon’s voice still plays as clear as day in Marceline’s head, but also humorous because it’s Ice King’s inflections and tone.
The biggest highlight of this episode is the Destiny Gang, a group of really generic looking and speaking bullies that just crack me up, given their almost sociopathic nature. Their leader, Big Destiny, actually offers interesting insight that’s both somewhat insane and slightly thought-provoking. The Destiny Gang themselves are practically equivalent to a cult, believing that everyone has a specific destiny in store for them, and if someone crosses them, their fate will be as awful as one could imagine. It’s a pretty tyrannical concept, highlighting a group of bullies as prophetic figures who decide the fate of others, but also hilarious given the fact that, they really are just bullies who love torturing people for their own sadistic kicks. Funny bullies, but bullies nonetheless. It really is a terrific mix-match of both threatening and silly, and showcases a group of some of the most threatening villains yet, who are human by nature. Scary.
There’s a few other nice details, including Finn’s robot arm, which is always a fun part of his alternate selves, as well as the similarities between Farmworld Finn’s mother and father to his later introduced biological parents. Besides those two positive tidbits, I actually have quite a few nitpicks on side details that really frustrate me as any of the bigger elements would. First of all, why does everyone in Farmworld have eye whites and noses? I know that was the design choice to make the Farmworld feel more “human,” but c’mon, it makes no sense with the world already established and doesn’t connect to the other visual examples of humans in the series. We’ve seen humans several times before this episode and several times after (Heat Signature, Susan Strong, Elemental, and Helpers are just some examples) and never has anyone been shown with eye whites, or to a lesser extent, noses. It’s just a frustrating detail that really throws off the authenticity of Finn as a human. It feels like something Pendleton Ward wanted to do, as he holds the belief that Finn is mutated due to his lack of nose and dotted eyes, but I still stand that it’s a pretty phony argument and has been retconned several times in the series. So why would a humanized incarnation of an already human Finn look like that? It just doesn’t work for me.
Another issue I have is how believable the world they’ve set up is. Like, why would Finn even own Jake as a pet? Jake’s parents are the ones who found Finn in the woods, and also the ones who originally named Jake, so how would Finn even gain possession of Jake, let alone give Jake the name that his talking dog parents gave him? Also, the inclusion of Choose Bruce seems confusingly dumb to me. Why would Choose Goose be a human? Wouldn’t he have mutated from an actual goose? Does this mean Choose Goose in the actual series was once human and was either transformed or mutated into being a Goose? I am reading way too far into this one guys, I know, but I just really do not understand the logic behind this wish-world and I can’t seem to wrap my finger around the absurdity of these two very uncanny reference points.
Nitpicks aside, this episode is just entirely dull. It isn’t till the ending I actually began to care and get invested in the characters and situations, which made the entire episode feel retroactively meaningless. I know it’s just setting up for the events of the next episode, much like Holly Jolly Secrets – Part 1 did, but I’ve learned over time that “setup” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “uninteresting.” Wake Up, Preboot, or Lemonhope – Part 1 are all examples of episodes that build up to their typically bigger second parts, yet still manage to be very interesting and entertaining in their own right. Finn the Human fails to do any of that, and feels like a bland attempt at using exposition to make up for the fact that there’s nothing that funny, interesting, or enjoyable going on. The only bit of intrigue this one left me when the commercial break start was, “what’s going to happen to Finn as he wears the crown?” and “what’s going on with Jake while he remains in Prismo’s time room?” Both of those questions would be answered in the next episode, as I was surprisingly more excited to visit one of the newest additions to the AT cast, Prismo the Wishmaster, than to delve deeper into the Farmworld.