Original Airdate: January 28, 2013
Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard
I was somewhat dreading this one at first. I thought it was a really silly idea to have a fully focused Lemongrab episode coming right after his terrific appearance in the last episode. For that reason, I think I went into this one less enthusiastic at first, and it somewhat dampened my opinion of it for a while. However, looking at it with clear eyes now and not paying attention to the actual episode order has made me really enjoy this one. It’s actually pretty great.
In typical AT fashion, the beginning doesn’t waste any time setting up for the episode’s main story, as only the first minute is used to explain the conflict (loved the Lemongrabs’ letter, especially how they took the time to write out, “mmmmmmn”) and send Finn and Jake on their mission. I also really enjoyed the “date” Jake was having with Cinnamon Bun. It was really sweet to see Jake so committed to dressing up with a bow and humor CB for a couple of hours. You rarely get to see that sort of genuine kindness from Jake aside from the kindness he shows Finn, Lady, and his kids.
The episode glances over that first bit fast, because the main focus of the episode is on the Earldom of Lemongrab. And boy, does it capture my interest. Without it, this would just be a pretty typical dungeon quest for the boys, but the entire atmosphere of the Earldom is just plain zombie-like. The landscape is ugly and an eyesore, but in a self-aware and effectively unnerving way. It’s filled with unwelcoming greens, yellows, and browns that just simply make the episode pop with nausea. There’s already something a bit off and uncomfortable about the Lemongrabs in general, so the fact that there are now dozens of them running around, some with very distinct and creepy features (pretty sure this guy didn’t appear in All Your Fault, but this catlike lemon person is by far the freakiest out of any of ‘em.) Part of the fun is just seeing Finn and Jake’s reactions to all of them, especially Jake’s. I love how absolutely terrified he is, and just simply utters “nope!” before bursting out of the room when he sees the screaming, peeling lemon. That was priceless.
During their expedition, they also encounter the main anti-hero of the episode: Lemonjon. Lemonjon’s probably my favorite aspect of this episode; for some reason, he gives me major Rock Biter vibes from The NeverEnding Story. In fact, this episode in general gives me major Return to Oz vibes. It’s creepy, unsettling, but there’s something really sophisticated and unusual about it. Lemonjon is basically the epitome of dark and whimsical, and the down-pitched Justin Roiland voice actually sounds pretty awesome. I’m impressed he was able to pull off that impressive of a performance for just using his typical Lemongrab voice with slight modifications, but it really works, especially during his ending monologue. But we’ll get to that awesomeness later.
When Finn and Jake finally do reach the Lemograbs, it’s clear that they are not well. This is the first real-time we get to see the Lemongrabs work off of each other, and man, are they fucking creepy together. Not to mention their stomachs have receded greatly and their general appearance has deteriorated, which only adds to their presence of unease. And here, the Lemongrabs’ motivations are pretty well-defined. Their connection with each other, as well as Lemongrab 1’s discovery that there was a method, or in this case a serum, to create more living beings to connect with most likely deeply intrigued him. Having Lemongrab 2 by his side gave the first Lemongrab a sense of belonging and pride. Yet, it’s still only one person. Lemongrab wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps and have a society of citizens, or in this case children, to care for. In this instance, he and his counterpart are actually obsessed with it. They love having other living beings exist in Castle Lemongrab that are like and equivalent to themselves. But their efforts to populate their own kingdom have left them with low amounts of food to serve the entire kingdom. They’d rather just fuck around with the serum and make barfing babies all day. A lot of people have commented about the connections to overpopulation, but I really just think its commentary on how lonely the Lemongrabs are. They’re literally sacrificing their only sources of food to create more living beings, simply because they enjoy doing it so much.
And of course, the continued trend of Lemongrab’s accusations of Princess Bubblegum being the title of the episode returns, this time with Lemongrab blaming PB for the reason why the Lemon People are starving. This one is maybe the most ludicrous accusation of all, but connects back to You Made Me in the sense that anything Lemongrab does wrong, or anytime he feels something is wrong with himself, Princess Bubblegum is the one to blame no matter what because she created him. Again, it’s another pretty interesting mindset that LG perceives, and it really makes me question Lemongrab’s feelings on PB as a whole. He admires who she is, yet detests her for creating him without a properly functioning sense of sociability. It’s pretty somber.
This adds up to the big conclusion where the Lemongrabs decide to infiltrate the Candy Kingdom for more food, against Finn and Jake’s original requests. This is where Lemonjon takes off, and the artwork, as well as the camera angles used, just look terrific. This is one of many instances where Herpich’s boarding looks just superb; his attention to detail on both the characters and their expressions translates very well when it comes to the animation process. So when Finn and Jake decide to target Lemonjon from his lemon heart, Jake accidentally kickstarts the heart, and drives Lemonjon to pronounce a thoughtful soliloquy.
Whoa, hold the phone! What is this powerful new juice coursing fromst my core source? The juice aches. Is this the rumored ache of feeling? The feeling of caring unknown to Lemons? New thoughts emerge! If I act, the Candy People will suffer. If I don’t, the Lemon people will suffer. The greater good demands but one course only: that I dissolve the bonds uniting me and become component to all!
Man, do I love this monologue. I feel like this is what comes to mind when I think of a super heady, long-winded speech from the series, while most probably turn to the Tart Toter’s speech from The Other Tarts. I just think this one is so eloquently and somewhat touchingly put, in the silliest most Adventure Time-y way possible. I think it’s really badass of Lemonjon to practically kill himself in a result for the greater good, by both saving the Candy Kingdom, as well as providing food for the Lemon People. That Lemonjon is alright! The episode is resolved by PB erasing the candy serum formula from the Lemongrabs’ brains, but not changing their hearts, simply because they’re just “like that.” Not sure if that was the most direct answer, but I think it ties more into the idea that, one again, PB doesn’t want to change the Lemongrabs for who they are. Just as Cinnamon Bun is half-baked, the Lemongrabs are socially and mentally inept, but that’s the Lemongrabs for ya, and there isn’t anything that can change that.
Overall, I think this one is quite an enjoyable escapade. I really dig the creepy atmosphere and how much emphasis was placed on Castle Lemongrab being as ugly and disfigured as possible. Lemonjon was also the perfect one-off character story to tie into this one, and it’s a story I think was pulled off exceptionally well. Add a perfectly enjoyable Finn and Jake quest to those aspects and you get a really enticing adventure-themed episode. After two Lemongrabs in a row, however, I’ll need some time for my juices to sit for a while.