Archive | February 2018

“Love Games” Review

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Original Airdate: September 23, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

After a much needed break from the FP-Finn drama these past few episodes, we once again return to how Finn is dealing with the break-up, though this time, it’s treated more with humor and a lighter story. After the hilarious Time Sandwich, I didn’t know if Kent Osborne and Cole Sanchez would be able to write something quite as funny, but sure enough (with the help of Andy Ristaino) this episode receives a warm welcoming in my list of very amusing episodes.

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The episode starts out silly enough, as we finally get a cameo from Ice King living within the Treehouse. The dynamic between he and the boys is pretty cute; I like how Jake consistently has to yell at him to not interrupt their radio show, almost as if the IK is their little brother. I also like the actual contents of the radio show, though I have no clue who this is being broadcast to, or who even listens to it. This is seriously the first and only time Finn and Jake have ever been seen doing a radio show, so it feels a bit contrived, but eh, it’s cute. It almost feels as if Finn’s statement that he’s done dating ladies and going back to saving them is fanservice to all the people who bitched and moaned for years about how there was too much romance drama within the series. This episode seems to put this drama to bed, but also acknowledges that Finn isn’t as ready to move on as he initially thought. This is triggered by Slime Princess’s abrupt entrance, as she begs Finn to marry her.

This is Slime Princess’s breakout role as a major player, and I’m glad she’s had at least one spotlight appearance in the series (aside from her future role as an elemental). My enjoyment of her character mainly derives from the solid voice acting from Maria Bamford; Bamford has played many, many characters in AT before, though I don’t think any of them match the level of humor (and somewhat sensual overtones) that Slime Princess has been able to accomplish, and has accomplished in Love Games.

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The plot for this one is exaggeratedly silly, but in a way that I quite appreciate. I could care less about the inner politics within the Slime Kingdom, so the fact that they made the conflict between Slime Princess and her sister Blargatha as nonsensical as possible is much more memorable than if I was actually supposed to take this issue seriously. And as we grow to find out, the Slime Kingdom is based off of silliness.

Adding to the many layers of the Bad Lands, we finally get to see the Slime Kingdom! Slime Kingdom is a well-designed, albeit disgusting environment that feels like the visual equivalent to the common cold. It’s purposely grimy, with shades of green and yellow oozing everywhere, but it never feels like an off-putting area, quite frankly because the inhabitants of the Slime Kingdom are quite fun! I really enjoy Elder Plops and Blargartha, who too have some talented voice actors behind them. That’s John Hodgman from The Daily Show voicing Plops and Katie Crown portraying Blargatha, who has done voice work for the Total Drama series, Clarence, and Storks.

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And most of the episode from this point on is just a series of gags, namely very funny gags. I love how Jake tags along simply to make puns while he’s shrunken down, pulling at a piece of popcorn. He contributes so little to the story that they didn’t even have to include him, yet he’s used perfectly for comic relief. The “battleground of love” provides for some really enjoyable moments, namely the spooning section of it, which got the biggest laugh out of me in the entire episode. Finn’s absolute terrified expression, coupled with Slime Princess shouting “WRAP THOSE GORGEOUS PYTHONS AROUND ME!” is just hysterical. Also, Blargatha and Guillermo’s spoon is so violent and frantic, I can’t help but laugh at it.

Aside from the humor, this episode also has a decent emotional core. You gotta feel just a bit of sympathy for Finn; even though the fallout of his relationship was at the fault of his own, it’s pretty clear at this point that he does look into these actions with a feeling of guilt. Instead of being able to move on from that guilt and sadness, he’s constantly reminded of all things romantic and is also constantly reminded of the girl that he once loved. He vents his feelings through the song “I Can’t Get Over You,” which is one of the better post-Sugar songs in the series. Shada’s voice croons nicely and carries across an attitude of sincerity and sadness. Finn’s issues become much more defined by the end of it: no matter what he does to try to distract himself, he simply can’t get over Flame Princess.

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This unwillingness to deal with anything related romance related is what leads to Finn finally confronting Blargatha, where it is revealed her husband was a mere pile of gelatin the entire time. Again, a fittingly silly resolution to a fittingly silly conflict. The only thing more ridiculous than that is that it apparently broke no rules or laws within the Slime Kingdom. It just means that Blargatha is disqualified from the competition. Slime politics are weird, right?

The one gripe I have with this one is the very ending, where SP barfs as Finn attempts to kiss her. I get that it’s for the subversion, and is somewhat of a “fuck you” to Finn for reacting the same way earlier, but it doesn’t really make any sense. What happened to when SP wanted to get into Finn’s pants in Prisoners of Love? Unless she spontaneously recalled that Finn pee’s his pants constantly, I’m not sure where exactly this sudden disgust comes from. She seemed willing to get down and dirty with Finn in the previous ten minutes of Love Games. But, as this episode has set out to prove, nothing makes sense in the Slime Kingdom.

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And that’s mainly what makes this episode so fun. It’s simply enjoying this fun new area with these fun characters and a silly premise. It’s nice to see that Finn is still dealing with the issues of his break-up and that they haven’t all just vanished and also nice that this episode is amusing and light to balance out the heavy weight of the romance drama. I love episodes like Frost & Fire and Too Old, but I’m also glad that every episode following it isn’t some big, somber journey. This is what Adventure Time embodies: a perfect blend of comedy and drama with fun and likable characters to carry it through. And all I know is I definitely am checking out the next club I see with a triple-cray rating.

Favorite line: “I will be watching you spoon, measuring and assessing your love by posture and overall vibe.”

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“The Vault” Review

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Another one of my favorite title cards, this one designed by Michael DeForge. Season Five has really been on a role in the title card department.

Original Airdate: September 16, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

The Vault expands the world of Adventure Time in so many different ways that it really is amazing all of this was packed into 11 satisfying minutes. It harps on so many past plot points and tidbits that other episodes had already set up, and creates a vividly sad story about a newly introduced and very interesting character. Of all the questions Adventure Time had raised by this point, the mystery behind the Ghost Lady in The Creeps made me more curious than any other aspect of the series. A lot of people speculated that the Ghost Lady was Finn’s mother, and I’d being lying if I didn’t believe the same thing at one point or another. Though, I’m glad that instead, I was treated to a story that was very different from my initial expectations.

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First off, the scenes building up to the actual flashback are just great. Just some classic bits of Finn and Jake working off of each other exceedingly well; Finn’s failure to acknowledge that suppressing memories is harmful, Finn punching himself in the face, Jake calling out his bro for continuously wrecking the kitchen, Finn completely ignoring Jake to acknowledge a cricket that is chirping in the room, etc. Though there’s always one aspect of this episode and some future episodes that just completely baffles me… Are Finn’s pajamas supposed to be different in this one? I was always uncertain if this was an animation error or not, and I’m still not positive. They reappear again in Ocarina (though the storyboard for that episode suggests it may have been intentional), and I’m pretty positive they never appear again after that. I’m not sure what the reason would be for changing them, because they look way more awkward than Finn’s classic pair of red pajamas. But I digress.

The episode really picks up when we are introduced to Finn’s past lives, which, before Shoko is introduced, we see a comet, a butterfly, and “a thing.”

  • Up to this point, only butterflies have played a significant role in the series. In the episode Still, it’s shown that butterflies represent Finn’s astral beast. Also, the original pitch of Mortal Recoil called for Finn to float down on a butterfly after working with Ice King to freeze Princess Bubblegum. This was directly intended to initiate the butterfly as Finn’s spirit animal, as mentioned by Jesse Moynihan.
  • The comet portion of Finn’s history has yet to be touched on, but we’ll get to that awesomeness in season six.
  • “The thing” appears to be a part of the mother gum that was seen in Simon & Marcy. This part of Finn’s past life is never touched on in the show, and, to my knowledge, never examined further in any of the comics or expanded universe of the series.

It is most interesting to me that Finn’s past history consists mostly of objects and non-sentient beings, rather than an array of heroic counterparts that further hype up the idea of Finn being a Glob-sent being.

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And when we are introduced to the humanoid being that is closest to Finn’s current self, it is nice to know that she does share some striking similarities, as well as many differences to Finn’s mainly heroic self. I really, really love Shoko’s design. Her cat-like eyes, detailed outfit, and bare arm (I actually enjoy how Shoko doesn’t have any mods until later. Unlike Finn’s other alternate versions, Shoko just walks around with a little stub, and I think that’s pretty cool) all make for a pretty unique design, and the fact that she rides around on a giant, white tiger is even more awesome. Jesse Moynihan stated that the tiger is actually a past life of Jake, which I think is somewhat unnecessary. I just thought it was genuinely kind of cool that she had her own separate animal buddy, and it doesn’t really make a difference to me if it was supposed to be Jake or not. But again, I digress. This bond between girl and tiger in general feels very anime-ish (people have noted the connections between this and Princess Monoke) and just feels like it builds a bigger sense of fantasy for the world of AT overall. This feels less silly and just more straight-up mythological.

The Bath Boys are another delightful gang of dastardly bastards introduced in the series, and it is worth noting that the mansion they live in is practically identical to the one seen in The Creeps. It’s a nice connection that does build a bridge between the episodes so that it doesn’t seem too unrelated. It’s also worth noting that the Destiny Gang’s hideout in Finn the Human looks pretty identical to both of these buildings, so I’m wondering if the mansion in general is just a place of swindlers and bullies to take refuge across all dimensions. That’s pretty neat, honestly. The Bath Boys aren’t as well-defined as, say, the Destiny Gang, but the leader himself has a couple of funny lines here and there. I think it’s also pretty nice that it seems like the relationship between Shoko and the Bath Boys is mostly abusive; she’s forced to do work for them because she has no other way of getting by, and if she doesn’t comply with them, she’s as good as dead.

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Shoko’s mission takes her to a very early version of the Candy Kingdom, where toxic ooze still surrounds many aspects of Ooo, and many Candy People are in their early developmental stages. The most hilarious being that the Banana Guards are still green. That is just priceless. We also see Princess Bubblegum, who again, does not look any different from her current appearance. This episode finally puts to bed the question of “how old is PB?” and just settles for the concept that she is, like, a zillion years old. How this never came up in conversation with Finn, I have no idea, but here it is, plain and simple. Bubblegum is really, really, really old you guys.

The bond between Bubblegum and Shoko really carries the episode through, along with some nice little bits of continuity we’re treated to, like Young Mr. Cream Puff, who is “like PB’s boyfriend.” This harkens back all the way to Slumber Party Panic, when PB briefly mentions that she and Old Mr. Cream Puff used to date. There are really no boundaries with the attention to detail AT is able to accomplish. Every single moment that happens in this world is solidified and factual, and there is absolutely nothing glanced over or treated as a mere gag. It really shows how much care and dedication is taken into the writing process for Adventure Time.

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We’re also treated to a more in depth look at Shoko’s character as she interacts with Bubblegum. Aside from the missing arm, Shoko also has the unfortunate similarity of having some shitty parental issues, namely that her parents legitimately sold her arm for a computer. And it’s sad to see that we’d be treated to Finn’s parental figure being the reason he lost his arm in the near future. Shoko seems quite disconnected from all feeling and her emotions because of it, and instead chooses to live a life where she works more for herself rather than the people around her. Though her story is left purposely ambiguous, I do wish we were left more time to really get a grip on who Shoko is and dive deeper into her own psychological issues. But what we get is perfectly serviceable.

As she works more closely with Princess Bubblegum, Shoko is able to acquire the one thing she has never had in her life: a close acquaintance. Someone to chat with, share personal stories to, and even be a little bit goofy with at times (love the bit where she hands Princess Bubblegum the duck to engineer with). But ultimately, even after sitting through a tremendous exercise like building the Gumball Guardians, Shoko is still only there to steal from Princess Bubblegum and to make money for herself. It isn’t until Shoko receives the modded arm from PB that she realizes the weight of her actions; for the first time, Shoko acknowledges that somebody cares for her, and it goes beyond simply wanting her limbs for technological advancements. Bubblegum has given Shoko an arm, but more importantly, a close friend. Yet, Shoko realizes that she still has to go through with it. Despite the kindness that PB has shown her, she is still alone in the world and will have no one if the Bath Boys get to her first. The tragedy in this is that all Shoko had to do was tell PB the circumstances of her actions; the Princess could’ve easily taken care of the Bath Boys with her new technology, and also could’ve given Shoko a new home. Yet, Shoko’s fear of her own happiness and comfortable safe space in a world with no loved ones drove her to betray her one and only friend instead. Even if it means using her new “plug n’ play” to do so.

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It’s a pretty heavy decision Shoko makes, but one that is slightly made lighter by the fact that the Gumball Guardians are at their all-time funniest. Their desire to protect the Princess beyond anything else is just great, and I almost wish they would show this dedication and how powerful they really are in the rest of the series. Shoko does end up stealing the amulet, but to no avail. She quickly finds herself in a vat of ooze, with no way of being rescued or getting out safely. It’s a sad moment for PB, and she and the tiger look on at each other quietly. I get the feeling that PB really did care for Shoko, and that she would’ve welcomed her into the kingdom happily. With Marceline gone, PB really didn’t really have anyone to relate to or to even talk to at the time besides her Candy children, and now she, like Shoko, is left how she was when the flashback sequence first started: alone.

This is where the flashback sequence ends, as Finn discovers that Shoko ended up dying on his own stomping grounds, where she also ended up gaining a new arm in the process (yeah, that’s right, Finn gaining his arm back was foreshadowed too!) It’s also where the episode is met with a quiet conclusion, as Finn returns PB’s amulet to her once more… what the point of this moment was, I’m not really sure. The amulet never plays a part in the series ever again, so they might as well have never included Finn giving it back to PB to begin with. Would’ve been awesome to see what kind of power it was able to possess.

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But yeah, this one is pretty solid. I think my main complaint is simply that Shoko is never mentioned or seen again after this episode, and it’s a shame, because she’s a really interesting character that I would like to see a bit more in depth. But that aside, it builds on AT’s lore tremendously well, and answers some much needed questions that left me satisfied for quite some time. It’s an experiment that I think goes over really well, and I definitely wish we got more episodes like this in the future.

Issue 50 of the Adventure Time comics focuses more on the story of Shoko and Finn’s other past lives, and it’s quite excellent! It’s one of the few strips I really would like to see adapted into a full length episode, so check it out if you get a chance!

Edit: Just realized I had already plugged Issue 50 in my review of Davey. I guess you can tell how fond I am of it.

Favorite line: “I thought we could do some two-arm stuff, but… uh, it’s cool!”

“Time Sandwich” Review

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Original Airdate: September 9, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

I am ready to receive instruction from the realm of creation above me and the sandwich I am about to conceive. I am open; use me.

After the emotional turmoil of Finn’s break-up with Flame Princess and the hardships it brought for the both of them, it’s nice to take a break from those hardships and sit back for some much needed fluff. And, as far as fluff goes, Time Sandwich is pretty much the pinnacle of AT standalone. It manages to be an excursion of pure fun and, in my opinion, an even better character study of Jake than Jake the Dog set out to do.

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Jake is a simple dog who enjoys simple things; while every other character in the series carries with them so sort of heavy baggage that they struggle with in one way or another, Jake is there to remind us all that life isn’t as serious as we’ve lead on, and to take pride in the little things. And for Jake, the littlest big thing to him is sitting back and enjoying a tasty sandwich, and Time Sandwich shows him as motivated and inspired as ever to create the greatest bunch of joy he has ever made. The sandwich making sequence is delightful, and the sandwich itself has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon over time. Besides the actual recipe (slightly modified) being included in the official Adventure Time Cookbook, the sandwich was also prepared on an episode of Binging with Babish with slight modifications as well. My favorite parts of the sandwich making are your favorite parts of the sandwich making; the lobster soul, the morbid inclusion of the bird from the window, the return of Prismo’s pickles, and the presentation in general are all wonderful fun that really add to Jake’s commitment and investment in this sandwich, and it helps that we as an audience are just as invested as him. Also, I just love the fact that Jake was willing to share a portion of his sandwich that he regards so highly with his friends. After his selfish actions in Jake the Dog, it really is rewarding to add this bit of selflessness to Jake, and shows the kind of person he actually is.

The return of Magic Man also provides for tons of fun! I love MM’s psychological issues that are delved into following Freak City, though it is nice to have him star in a major appearance that capitalizes on what makes him so entertaining to begin with: his apathy and overall asshole-ish nature. And it’s just as fun in this one as it was in Freak City and Sons of Mars. Of course, his screentime remains minimal after his initial introduction, though it is filled with memorable quotes and gags, namely “it’s got my germs, so it’s mine now!” and his ability to slap Jake through a personal portal.

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The rest of the episode is just pure Adventure Time-y goodness. Really nice individual character moments that build off of every character’s delightful personality. BMO’s somewhat selfish, but understandably childish attitude comes out in full swing, and it’s just hilarious. BMO could give less of a shit about any of the circumstances Finn and Jake face on a daily basis, he wants what he wants, yet he knows F&J aren’t always going to give it to him. So, in this case, he has to trick them into helping him film a skateboard video, because that’s what BMO does. He don’t give a fuck about no special sandwich.

PB’s inclusion adds more to her mindset when it comes to science vs. magic, and once again, her failure to understand the principles of magical tendencies backfires. She explains it quite eloquently and intelligently, yet when it comes to actually putting these mindsets into action, she’s shit outta luck. And I do admire how the idea of the existence of magic is slowly starting to rub off on her in some way. Of course, she still has her gripes with the use of magic, but she is more willing to accept that there’s things that she simply isn’t able to fix with her own technology. Think my favorite part of this sequence is that the Banana Guards stand there, hand PB a missile, and then disappear for the remainder of the episode. They really helped out in this situation.

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Marceline then shows up and offers the only skill she knows how to use: brute force. Her’s is less complex, but still equally ineffective. Marceline is a bit cocky in her own abilities, as she should be; she’s a half-demon, half-vampire, half-human entity that has pretty much every skillset she needs to get by. She’s from the Nightosphere, for Glob’s sake. And so it seems pretty obvious that she’d be able to get past anything with sheer strength, right? Wrong.

All of these moments are tied together by the hysterical fact that they all have the same exact outcome. By the time Marceline attempts to get past Magic Man’s spell, you’d expect the joke to be obvious and less funny by this point, but it honestly just keeps getting funnier and more entertaining as it happens.

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Of course, while all of this is going on, Jake is left to sulk over the separation between him and his coveted sandwich. Jake enjoys the simple things, so when the simple things are taken from him, he’s left with the same grief any of his other friends are likely to feel. This episode is also really terrific in terms of using color to set the mood; the beginning scene where Jake builds his perfect sandwich is lit brightly and colorful, while later, when Jake tries to emulate the same chain of events, the sky turns dim and solemn. Of course, we’re never actually left emotional or upset over the loss of a sandwich, but it works as an accurate representation of Jake’s feelings throughout the episode. And while we’re on a technical aspect, John DiMaggio does such a terrific performance as Jake in this one. He captures every moment and every feeling Jake is having so adequately. Through his excitement, sorrow, anger, and pure relief, every line Jake carries out is effectively funny and well-inflected, and it really just makes the character seem so much more alive and human. Not to say DiMaggio doesn’t always do a great job, but this is truly a standout performance for Jake.

When finally faced with the solution to his problem, we’re also left with one of the funniest ways Jake could possibly force himself to become sad: an imagination sequence featuring his death and the incorporation of Mr. Cupcake. The concept alone is funny; I love how the saddest thing Jake could think to experience is how people react to his own death, with the mindset that “yeah, I was a pretty cool dude to these people!” Included are the silly little details, like the fact that Jake legitimately imagined an “After Coffee” title card inside his head. It’s such a ludicrous gag, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before. And the interactions between him and Mr. Cupcake in general, this long built up conflict that is really over a brief quarrel all the way back in Season Two, is just brilliant. It’s also funny to think that this effectively squashes the beef Jake and Mr. Cupcake have! It’s literally never mentioned again! Jake created a solution within his mind and cured the issue forever. How hilarious is that?

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And finally, we’re met with an awesome climax sequence with some equally great animation (the drawings in general look really great in this one, courtesy of Kent Osborne and Cole Sanchez!) as everyone beats the ever-living shit out of Magic Man. I love how the recurring comeuppance for Magic Man is just socking him in the face, as it seems like the perfect response towards his sadistic ways, regardless of if it was all for a sandwich or not.

So yeah, this one is awesome! It’s hard to say why besides the fact that it’s just a ton of fun and really captures everything great about Adventure Time’s lead cast, namely Jake. And of course, the added bonuses, such as the great sense of humor, the nice colors, drawings, and animation, and just an overall breath of fresh air from the more drama-driven episodes we’ve gotten before this. It truly is a spectacle in AT fluff, and one I always love to revisit time and time again.

Favorite line: “No, man, don’t call Tree Trunks! What’s she gonna do, bake an apple pie?!”

“Earth & Water” Review

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Original Airdate: September 2, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone

I have some time off next week, kids! I’m trying to get some of the lighter episodes in this bunch done since I have the available time, so I’ll most likely be covering from Time Sandwich to Red Starved. So expect somewhat daily reviews within the next week. Until then, we have Earth & Water! An episode that takes a breather from Finn’s perspective of the break-up to focus some much needed time on Flame Princess’s perspective, and we get some interesting insights, but a lot of it feels more like plot setup rather than interesting character study.

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First off, I do enjoy how this episode kind of establishes Finn and FP’s break up as AT’s first truly serialized arc. These past three episodes have focused heavily on the fallout of the relationship between Finn and Flame Princess, and the motif of Finn’s guilt and sadness would carry over heavily throughout the the second half of season five, and even into season six. Overall, I think it works pretty successfully; I know a lot people would go on to complain about how Adventure Time became too focused on “relationship bullshit,” but I don’t mind it because it’s not presented badly. The relationship drama of these characters never feels like the focal point, the focal point is always how the break up has affected themselves and their individual identities. And here, Finn is clearly still sad, and I’m glad his sadness isn’t glanced over so quickly. Of course, the next two episodes don’t touch on these issues at all; they’re about an ultimate sandwich and Finn’s past lives respectively. Yet, the sadness shown by Finn works as an in depth look at how he deals with these issues. When he’s sitting around idly as Jake continues to beat him in video games, he’s more prone to fall into depressive territory. As he gets distracted later on by battling snow-a-constrictors, he acknowledges that it helped him get his mind off of his worries. So whether it’s fighting snow beasts, helping his friend rescue his perfect sandwich, or discovering a part of himself he never knew existed, Finn is able to cope with his problems when he’s faced with something that consumes his time. When he isn’t, he’s destined to face his sorrow and continue to feel bad for himself, which consistently happens in Earth & Water when he’s faced with the fact that he hasn’t yet come to terms with his errors. Enter Ice King.

Ice King’s moments are brief and thin, but are still a lot of fun. This also establishes Ice King’s big move into Finn and Jake’s Treehouse, which is a shamefully under-focused subplot, though it does lead to to some fun comedic opportunities in the future.

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The main focus of the episode, as I mentioned, is how FP is dealing with the break-up, with bits and pieces of PB goodness sprinkled throughout the episode. Starting off by talking about the relationship between the two seems most appropriate, as the budding conflict between PB and FP is actually one of my favorite dynamics in the series. The butting of heads between PB and Marcy is clearly the more mainstream and popular conflict, but I enjoy how PB and FP’s issues with each other stems from an entirely different basis. PB simply cares for her kingdom and the wellbeing of her people; she’s terrified of the idea of Flame Princess because of her unbalanced nature. So much so that she legitimately considers cutting off FP’s emotions entirely just to assure protection of her kingdom. Though, it doesn’t come off completely cruel or irrational. Bonnie likely realizes that Flame Princess isn’t only a threat to the Candy Kingdom, but also to herself. FP’s instability nearly led to her burning out in Burning Low, and as it does show in some portions of the episode, PB certainly does care about Flame Princess to an extent. Second, PB’s disconnection from her own emotions has proven quasi-effective for herself; though it’s helped her to focus on her own work, she doesn’t yet realize the damaging effect it also has on her own identity. So it’s quite likely that she simply believes that FP being cut off from her emotions could prove to be beneficial for both of them.

FP’s depiction in this one is poignant; I don’t think her turmoil is explored as well as it could have been, as this is really the only episode that actually focuses on how she feels in regards to her break-up with Finn, and it’s only elaborated on for a brief span of six minutes, if that. Yet, I do like what we get. I enjoy how she’s totally willing to just eliminate her emotions completely, it really shows how big of an impact Finn’s douchery had on FP, and that his lack of an apology early on has likely led to much stress and dismay for her in the long run. And of course, the main issue at hand that I think is really valid and understandable: Flame Princess is sick of being lied to and deceived. After dealing with Finn’s secretive desires, PB’s plotting and shady experimenting, and the long running Shakespeare-ish and deceptive nature of the Fire Kingdom, her pain is well-defined, and made even stronger by the flashback sequence of her early years.

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The flashback works great as a brief bit of exposition that gives just the right amount of Flame Princess’s past history. I enjoy how the tone of it is mostly kept light as well; plenty of AT’s main cast have a tragic backstory they carry with them, and while FP’s definitely borders on tragedy, it’s told with a humorous edge that mostly focuses on the absurdity of Flame King’s mindset and just how destructive an infant FP could be. It’s a shame because, with a better father, Flame Princess may have been able to control her elemental nature, though FK never got to take the time to know or educate his daughter. He casted off his daughter based on some nonsensical prophecy (which then became self-fulfilled) and chose his own selfish deceit over everything. The flashback sequence is filled with great tidbits; I love the random Messenger from the Fire Kingdom who gets really attached to baby FP, that was both hilarious and also kind of sad. There’s also the inclusion of PB that shows a much kinder side to help round out her questionable behavior in scenes prior. We already learned that PB was the reason behind Flame Princess being kept in captivity, but here, it’s much more reasonable and rational. Bubblegum didn’t “have her locked up,” as it was simply a result of Flame King choosing to be a poor father figure. I’m glad this was included as a way of showing that PB does care to some extent (she’s probably known Flame Princess longer than she’s known Finn, which is also an interesting tidbit), and also works as another way of making the viewer ask “just how old is this bitch?!” Assuming Finn and Flame Princess are around the same age, it’s also pretty cool to see that Finn is around 15-years-old at this point. From Mystery Train to The Comet, we never get a clear timeline of Finn’s age, so it’s nice that little bits like these are included so that it does give us a good idea about how much time has passed.

My disdain for Cinnamon Bun aside, I actually do like his inclusion as FP’s pal in this episode. They actually work off of each other pretty well; CB himself is genuinely pretty cute and nice as opposed to being loud and obnoxious, and this initiates his new role as Flame Princess’s knight that I think really adds to his character. I’ll take competent, badass Cinnamon Bun over braindead, pain-in-the-butt CB any day.

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By the episode’s end, Finn finally does get to apologize to Flame Princess – or, in this case, the new Fire King – and she accepts it, though she does not take Finn back as her boyfriend. Although, she still wants to be friends, as long as Finn is completely honest with her from now on. Finn obliges, though it’s made much clearer later on that Finn was not ready to make such a promise. It’ll take him some time to learn that simply saying something and acting on it are two different things, and it will be long before he finally does commit to being completely honest with his ex-girlfriend.

As is, this episode is decent. I think it has some really good bits, especially the flashback sequence, but as I mentioned, it feels much more like setup than interesting plot exploration. We’re introduced to Ice King moving in with the boys, Flame Princess ruling over the Fire Kingdom, and Cinnamon Bun departing his comfortable home in the Candy Kingdom. All are interesting in their own right, but as mentioned, I would have liked a bit more focus into Flame Princess’s psyche. The past two episodes have been terrific when it has come to diving deeper into the depths of Finn’s character, and this conclusion to the Finn/FP break-up trilogy is just somewhat standard. Also, there’s some bits that don’t really work. Finn and PB attempting to get into the Fire Kingdom using brute force doesn’t really add anything to the episode. It’s mildly amusing, but just sort of meanders from the legitimately intriguing parts that we visited earlier. Overall, a decent contribution to the ongoing saga of Finn and Flame Princess’s fallout, but there are plenty more interesting episodes that focus on this issue to come!

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On a final note, this is the first episode co-boarded and written by Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim. While Kim in particular isn’t one of my favorite staff members, I attribute a lot of praise to her because I feel as though she really helps round out Somvilay Xayaphone’s writing style throughout the remainder of the series, and Xayaphone’s episodes get gradually better from this point on. Emphasis on gradually, however.

Favorite line: “Sorry, I’m on edge ’cause I’m worried that Jerry here will find out I’m dating his sister.”

 

“Too Old” Review

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Original Airdate: August 12, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

After the preview came out for Too Old following the release of Frost & Fire, the entire fandom was in somewhat of a tizzy. People were really, really pissed at Finn (the comments on this particular YouTube video are a trip down memory lane) and it didn’t help that his behavior in this one was considerably more offensive than the last episode. While Finn’s manipulative behavior was generally based off of ignorance and hormonal urges, this episode features him being purposely lying and deceitful, downright creepy, and virtually pathetic and useless in his environment. That being said, I initially hated this one. I couldn’t believe the way Finn’s character was bastardized, and it doesn’t help that the episode is a bit of an ear sore as well. The Lemongrabs are constantly shrieking throughout the entirety of this one, and while it’s helped the characters really make a unique identity in the past, it’s just downright unpleasant in this one. Yet, time has been good to Too Old. What I initially thought was an irritating expedition through Castle Lemongrab with some really unlikable moments with Finn, I now believe is a really intriguing cautionary tale of trying to relive the past. And with tons of little details sprinkled throughout the episode’s run, I actually think it’s a pretty brilliant allegory.

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Too Old mimics Too Young to a tee. Aside from its title, the episode uses the basic structure of Too Young’s individual moments to carry the plot and its motif along smoothly. Even the title card music is the exact same jingle that was heard during Too Young’s title sequence. Yet, this isn’t a sequel episode. A sequel, by definition is “a published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one.” Too Young, in contrast, was a mostly bright and colorful tale with silly jokes that revolved around the bittersweet relationship between Finn and PB. Too Old, however, focuses not on a bright and colorful story, or the sweeter elements between Finn and PB, but a dark and twisted tale of a creation gone corrupt and Finn at his absolute lowest. Let’s start with Lemongrab.

Lemongrab has certainly come a long way since his first appearance. Initially an ineffectual and goofy tyrant, Lemongrab has gone from having absolutely nothing to having practically everything that the Candy Kingdom possesses. Lemongrab has a proper kingdom with citizens, the company of a brother, and enough food to make for an absurdly overweight lemon. The one thing that Lemongrab didn’t consider when building his kingdom, however, was building a kingdom based out of love and care for his people. Lemongrab simply decided to create for the sake of creation. Fascinated with his own ability to make citizens, he continued to do so and caused his kingdom to become overpopulated. Now he simply has a plethora of candy citizens who he doesn’t even love or care about; he simply was interested in their creation, and by the time the next lemon person came along, he was already disinterested in the last. On top of that, his brother, who was once built to be his equal, was quickly distorted into his oppressor. The fatal flaw in the creation of Lemongrab 2 was believing that a second Lemongrab would help to round out the first. Yet, what PB didn’t realize, was that Lemongrab only believes in himself. If someone’s methods don’t line up exactly with his, they’re automatically deemed as oppressors of his beliefs and tactics. And, though the two Lemongrabs were built exactly the same, the first Lemongrab has much more life experience than the first. The first Lemongrab has been hardened by society and has grown to be bigoted against anything that goes beyond his own way, as he was virtually born into this world alone. Lemongrab 2 was never built to be alone; Lemongrab 2 always had his brother since the moment he was conceived, and doesn’t possess the selfishness and ego that his brother has developed.

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What this all boils down to, basically, is that Lemongrab believes he is finally greater (or at least up-to-par) with his creator. Having an array of servants, citizens, and entertainers, he finally feels like royalty. And this really shows during Lemongrab’s royal dinner. As PB and Finn arrive, a Lemon Person announces the arrival of the two, followed by a Lemon Person abruptly falling from a trapeze, alluding to Cinnamon Bun doing the same thing in Too Young. What seems like a brief, cute reference to the past episode is actually a pretty in depth look into Lemongrab’s psyche. This introduction of PB and Finn, as well as the trapeze act, is how Lemongrab believes people are supposed to be greeted in a sophisticated, upstanding kingdom. Cinnamon Bun’s entrance, was of course, based on his own bumbling stupidity, rather than an actual elaborate performance. This view of ignorance on how a kingdom is supposed to be run is ultimately what leads Lemongrab into absolute fascism.

Say what you want about PB’s own policies and treatment of her people, yet she puts her heart, blood, sweat, and tears into caring and loving for her people and giving them a serviceable living experience. Lemongrab, on the other hand, only cares about himself and his own way of living. He could care less about the other Lemon People and their own quality of life; he simply wants to create a luxurious living community for himself as a status of his importance. The only person he has an ounce of care for, aside from himself, is Princess Bubblegum, though this care is often combatted with hostility. I don’t believe for a second that Lemongrab invited PB over for her to see how much the kingdom has improved, but rather to one-up her and to show that he is now more dominant than his creator.

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Yet, Lemongrab’s kingdom is based on a single ruler’s mindset, rather than the success and individuality of others. Whether the Candy Kingdom contains truly unique and inspired Candy People or not, they do have their own sense of individualism and their own distinct mindsets. This is why, when we’re introduced to Badlemonnohope (nicknamed Lemonhope), his identity and mindset offer a much higher sense of individuality and character than anyone else in the Earldom. He chooses his own path and interests, which is why Lemongrab has deemed him as obsolete among the crowd of lemon people that surround him. The reason I’m explaining all of this in great detail is particularly because I think Lemongrab’s descent into pure tyranny is actually quite well-rounded. It derives from systematic inadequacy and a sense of inferiority toward his creator. Lemongrab simply believes that emulating a fictitious utopian society based on what he has seen can create a bustling and admirable community, though all of what he thinks makes up a thriving kingdom is a mere facsimile of the Candy Kingdom. And his insistence that PB was behind all of this, that she is at fault for his shortcomings, is simply an excuse at this point. While some of PB’s errors and flaws could be attributed to Lemongrab’s suffering in You Made Me, at this point, Lemongrab uses his creator as a mere scapegoat for his own flaws, marking a full transformation into villainy as opposed to a sympathetic anti-hero. Once again, his selfishness comes out when addressing PB by his balcony, “You try to steal my Lemonhope away?!” His possessiveness towards Lemonhope shows that Lemongrab merely thinks of him as property; a token to add to the completeness of his kingdom. And, despite all of Lemongrab’s monstrous actions, an almost completely devoured Lemongrab 2 professes his life experiences and what he’s learned through his encounters with his devious brother: that lemons should not squeeze other lemons to get by, but allow lemons to grow and flourish. A silly analogy, but one that shows that Castle Lemongrab isn’t completely devoid of empathy and hope. The lemon people, through their suffering, have learned to empathize as well, and continue to look on towards hope for the day they will be rescued. Though, one must also remember: the desires of the Lemon People still remain deeply selfish. They look for freedom of their own, yet depend on one very little boy to save an entire society of people. This comes in handy when taking a look at Lemonhope’s selfishness in his own star episode, which has gotten a lot of flack, but is considerably more understandable when looking at the sour nature of the Lemon People in general.

Whew, so that was Lemongrab’s portion, now let’s look at the horny teen at the center of it: Finn. After the events of Frost & Fire, Finn most likely was heartbroken and ashamed over the loss of his girlfriend. Having no one but himself to blame, Finn was left alone with nothing but his own guilt to bear. This is also a time where, as we’ve discussed, Finn has yet to even border emotional maturity. That’s why, instead of addressing the thing that he has done wrong and allowing time for himself to grieve, he turns to a comfortable source of endearment of whom he spent much simpler times with: Princess Bubblegum. Probably the most rewarding time that Finn has experienced in his youth did take place when Lemongrab usurped Prubs; spending the entire day pulling pranks and being childish with someone he cares for deeply was something that Finn truly cherished and enjoyed more than anything else. Finn longs for the simple days of being a child, when he didn’t have to deal with the tough trials of relationships, and when he could spend time with someone he remembers having terrific times with. What Finn hasn’t acknowledged is that times have changed since he last pulled a series of pranks on the cranky lemon man. Finn does not realize that he cannot simply escape from his issues using glamorized memories, and that the memories he has left behind cannot simply be recreated.

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This is where most of his jerkiness comes from; first, from his childish lie to Jake in order to spend time alone with Princess Bubblegum. People have targeted this one especially, though honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Finn held some hostility for Jake after contributing to the third occurrence of Flame Princess and Ice King’s fight in the past episode. Though it’s never addressed upfront, and his guilt most likely puts most of the blame on himself, I get the feeling that Finn is looking for a scapegoat to put blame on, much like Lemongrab, which leads him to targeting Jake. It’s mean on it’s own, but Finn’s insistent urge to manipulating PB proves that he hasn’t completely learned from his actions in the past episode, if at all. Finn simply wants to find a quick and easy way to feel good again, and selfishly does not consider the wellbeing of others in the process.

It’s interesting to note that Finn barely even reacts in relation to the Lemon-centric plot. It makes it somewhat ingeniously tied together in my eyes that these two character’s failure to recreate the past have virtually nothing to do with the other: Lemongrab could give less of a shit about Finn’s boner issues, and Finn doesn’t realize the severity of Lemongrab’s corrupt government. He’s still too young to look beyond situations as a fun and enticing adventure, which is why he weighs Lemongrab’s abusive, dictating nature as equal to the day when Lemongrab took over the kingdom. Finn doesn’t yet grasp political issues like this, and the first time he encountered such an issue, he attempted to solve it with pranks and gags. Naturally, he believes the same solution is in place, yet only through PB’s solemn words is he able to realize that exploding pudding isn’t going to save Castle Lemongrab. Finn wasn’t looking to save an entire kingdom; instead, he was looking to have a fun time with an old friend (or in this case, an old flame). Yet, growing up is realizing that life isn’t always a little boy game, and that sometimes there are dire consequences to deal with. Trying to pretend that the past can simply be emulated every time something bad happens is completely ineffectual, and Finn cannot ignore his shame and guilt forever.

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When looking at Finn that way, I think it is a lot more forgivable that, by the end of this one, he does at least learn something from his actions. We aren’t just treated to a barrage of insufferable Finn moments that have no real payoff for his character (as The Red Throne would later be guilty of), as these moments are all vital for giving Finn a reality check that is much needed. Aside from Jesse Moynihan, Steve Wolfhard and Tom Herpich seem to be the most ballsy in exploring the darker and more uncomfortable portions of Finn’s personality, and I really enjoy these expeditions. Even if Finn is somewhat of an uncharismatic dick, you really have to look at it from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. That doesn’t automatically correlate to decent writing, yet I think Finn’s issue at hand is presented with meaning and purpose. Finn is a sweet kid who wants the best for everyone, but as life has taken a turn for him, he has put his emotional sensitivity behind him and simply wants to be numbed to his own errors. And the sad truth of the matter is that a lot of nice people in the world have been negatively altered by the circumstances of life, to the point where their behavior is completely unrecognizable from their past self. 

Of course, at the center of this is PB; the level-headed guardian who just can’t catch a break. I sympathize with her a lot in this one, though there isn’t a ton of focus on her perspective. Her own creation has become a legitimate monster, and tons of people are suffering because of it, while the one person she thought could lessen the burden of a stressful trip actually made things more complicated and difficult. The poor gal just wanted to get through an already expectedly painful dinner.

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The humor in this one is paper thin, though this is a part of the series where I care much less about how funny an episode is and rather how captivating it can tell a story in the course of 11 minutes. Though this episode does have its funny moments, especially within the little details. BMO continuously trying to get into the bath with Jake while he’s on the phone with Finn is adorable and hilarious, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that the lemon toilet is a fucking juicer. There’s no way that isn’t excruciating.

I think some of my initial criticisms still stand, as the constant screaming of every single line performed by the Lemongrabs can grate on me a bit, but I think there’s some really brilliant undertones to this one that help it skyrocket beyond my first impressions. Capturing the motif of change between two distinctly different characters is interesting enough, yet there’s so many layers to Lemongrab and Finn’s individual identities that I feel like there’s so much you can read into and enjoy upon multiple viewings. Is Finn a dick? Yes. But this is an episode where he needs to be a dick. I can’t imagine the episode and allegories within this one working as well if Finn was just depressed or ignoring his issues the entire time. These choices, while potentially detrimental to Finn’s character, really work to emphasize a dangerous lesson in life, and to show its viewers the consequences that come with it. Whether it be Lemongrab’s inability to comprehend what it means to be a true leader, or Finn’s neverending issues with ladies, this episode combines two of the series recurring themes and blends them together for one completely uncomfortable, yet fascinating journey. It’s one of my favorites of the second half of season five, and one of the most interesting depictions of Finn during the fallout of his relationship.

Favorite line: “… and you’ll never get yelled at. Unless you drink my soda from out of the fridge.”

“Frost & Fire” Review

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Original Airdate: August 5, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Luke Pearson & Somvilay Xayaphone

Frost & Fire, in my opinion, is the episode that forever changed Adventure Time. The show, from this point on, has almost an entirely different feel from the first four and a half seasons. As most people know, at some point during the second half of the fifth season, Pendleton Ward stepped down from his showrunner position. An announcement that was met with fear and sorrow for most of the fanbase, including myself, as many wondered if the show would be able to keep up its quality and continue to be as innovative and successful as before. However, Adam Muto, who was selected to take over Ward’s role as showrunner, cleverly chose not to try and emulate what made the show so successful in the past, but instead chose to take the show in a completely new direction that is unarguably pretty ballsy. Whether you like the direction the series takes from this point on completely comes down to personal preference; I personally was always on board for these darker and more uncomfortable stories, though it totally makes sense to me why a lot of people turned their back on the series. It does become somewhat of a completely different show, but whether or not you like it, it is really admirable to see the risks that the staff decided to take. Some of them worked, while others failed, but still, you can’t argue that they weren’t trying to keep the series as fresh as possible. And it all starts with Frost & Fire.

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We’ve (partially) spent the last two seasons exploring the relationship between Flame Princess and Finn. In that time, we’ve seen what types of hardships could befall the two, mainly on Flame Princess’s side. FP, while developing some form of emotional maturity overtime, has a long string of anger issues that hark back to her days in captivity in the Fire Kingdom. Her anger and inability to control her powers has caused innocents to get hurt in the process, something that highly contrasts from Finn’s motivations to help everyone. In addition to her inability to control her powers comes her instability in regards to her powers. FP is physically unstable by natural circumstances, and feelings of extreme passion, such as romance, are quite hard for her to handle. Given that she’s unable to engage in extremely romantic situations, she isn’t even able to kiss or touch Finn without potentially hurting him. And with all of that said, there’s even the fact that she’s been constantly referred to as straight-up “evil.” Though this theory was somewhat debunked over time in-universe, it’s still left with uncertainty given the past history of FP’s family tree, and how she would come to claim her own identity in the process. With all this working against her, you’d think that Finn and Flame Princess’s break-up would relate back to a number of these problems. However, Frost & Fire works as a cautionary as well as heartbreaking tale that, even with FP’s problems at hand, nothing compares to hardship of Finn simply not being honest with her.

Despite the fact that Finn’s actions in this episode are incredibly nasty to the point where it causes others to get hurt, it’s still an incredibly well written learning lesson for him, and I’d much rather watch him go through instances like this than to see him be a perfect hero throughout the run of the series. Finn is only 15 at this point. He has years of life experience before he could consider himself emotionally or sexually mature. And, as any male who once experienced hormonal urgencies during puberty would acknowledge, keeping a lid on sexual desires is an incredibly challenging and confusing process, that many still struggle with even late into adulthood. I mention this because this episode provides one of the most sexually explicit visuals that the show has ever put out: Finn blatantly receiving a “blowjob” from Flame Princess. How this concept got past the Standards and Practices department of Cartoon Network, I’ll never know, though I still think that young children are able to make the connection even without the sexual implications. They know that Finn enjoys the dream, even though they might not know why, and he wants it to continue to happen again. That’s really all there is to it for any inexperienced viewer, and I’m glad that the presentation allows from pretty much anyone to watch and enjoy, rather than being aimed specifically at adults.

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Yet, I think the implications that are included in terms of Finn’s wet dream are quite brilliant. They really show how twisted and misleading sexual desires can become if you aren’t careful, and show how a nice, considerate guy can turn into a needy, selfish man-child. Finn’s faint imagination where he’s transformed into a hairy baby helps strengthen the former comparison, and is complete with the “wah wah wah” speak utilized in All the Little People. Besides mostly being used to emphasize that nothing Finn says can fix the issue at hand, it also hints back at Finn’s manipulative side in All the Little People that led up to these circumstances. Despite Finn finding an easy solution to help the little people reach a happy conclusion back in that episode, he doesn’t quite realize that he isn’t playing with toys here. He’s playing with the emotional fragility of people, and there isn’t really a quick fix for psychological pain. His last words really emphasize that he doesn’t realize exactly what he has done wrong. “I said I was sorry,” he remarks, as if a five letter word can completely solve a completely complicated issue. This is Finn’s first really big life lesson that, despite the fact that he may feel bad for what he’s done, it doesn’t mean his actions don’t have consequences. And as he stands there defeated, all he knows is that he fucking blew it, man.

Finn is completely at fault in this one, though some would argue otherwise. The inclusion of Jake has really driven people to blame him for the way the episode escalates, and while I’m sure it wouldn’t have ended up exactly how it did without Jake’s involvement, I’m willing to believe Finn would have caused them to fight even without Jake yelling at him. Jake never knew the extent of Finn’s dream, nor did he know that Finn even had them fight in the first place. The only thing Jake knew was that the Cosmic Owl was involved, something that Jake is constantly passionate about regardless of the topic. Jake never knew the weight of the situation; for all he knew, Finn could’ve been in grave danger, or was driven to follow some sort of epic life destiny. What Jake didn’t know was that the Cosmic Owl was trying to warn him the entire time, but before Finn can realize the Cosmic Owl’s purpose, it’s too late. So while Jake does instigate the conflict a bit further, Finn had already caused them to fight once, completely at his own decision. My guess is that Finn, distraught with the second outcome of his dream, would’ve simply gone back to try and manipulate the fantasy into being pleasurable again.

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A lot of this sounds uncomfortable for Finn’s character, and it really is. A good portion of the next two seasons features some really uneasy depictions of our main heroine, and while he isn’t always entirely sympathetic, his character arc is always compelling. Again, I’d rather see him struggle with his morality and own identity than to watch him simply become a stronger and more successful hero as the show goes along. Not that the latter aspect is bad, as we do get that to a degree later on, but it’s most important to show that our hero has flaws and goes through ruts than just to watch him be a specimen of perfection throughout the show’s run.

Through all of the pain Flame Princess experiences in this one, she’s mostly somewhat of a blank slate. Not to say that’s a bad thing; the main focus of the episode is mostly through Finn’s perspective. She reacts just how we would expect her to, and while it’s not entirely strong characterization in my eyes, we do get a ton of that in Earth & Water that I think really strengthens FP’s character from that point on. Ice King, however, does get some terrific sympathetic moments in this one. Besides his initial jab at FP, IK is thoroughly portrayed as an innocent bystander that gets wrapped up in the mess of it all. We feel bad for him, and it’s nice to fully show how Finn can be cruel to IK even when he isn’t doing anything wrong. That last line where Ice King utters, “ya blew it, man!” really hits home when you realize who it’s coming from.

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But despite all the dark elements in this one, Frost & Fire also has a pretty great sense of humor. There’s actually some pretty nice Somvilayisms in this one, such as when Finn smashes his body into the oven and knocks over a bunch of pots and pans, or when Finn has like, 20 glasses of milked poured and only drinks two. Somvilay’s drawings in general actually work pretty well. There’s a couple of nice expressions Finn has throughout the episode, namely in the dream sequence where he’s experiencing pure euphoria. Finn wiggling his tongue around and taking in the moment really adds to the stimulation he’s experiencing. And Luke Pearson, as always, has some really swell drawings. Pearson disappears from storyboarding for two whole seasons after this one, and it’s sad, because I really enjoy his work. Aside from the fight sequence looking pretty sweet in general, there’s some really terrific jokes laced into his bits. Flame Princess’s “inferno…. Shot!” follows by IK’s “Ice…. King!” really cracks me up. IK in general is pretty damn hilarious in this one. The scene where he painfully requests for Finn to save Gunther and then insists, “…. I meant after you save me,” is priceless. Ice King is never written as entirely sympathetic; there’s always some added aspect to his sympathy that just makes him seem like a jerk, which I love about his character.

The backgrounds and the music in this one really add to the tone of the overall episode. When the Ice Kingdom is on fire, everything turns very gray and orange, which really makes the rest of the episode feel more somber and weighty. While the music cues are mostly recycled from past episodes, they still attribute greatly to the overall mood. One cue in particular that was introduced in this one, in the scene where Jake frantically urges Finn to force IK and FP to fight, is one of my favorites. It’s been used several times following this episode, which only shows how effectively it can be utilized in scenes of frenzy and stress.

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So yeah, I don’t know if I’d call this one a personal favorite of mine, but I think it’s a pretty fantastic transition episode regardless. It’s one of the most challenging episodes of the show up to this point, and it has evoked tons of different feelings down the line. There’s some people who love it, and some people who hate it. But that fact alone contributes to its importance; an episode that has such contradictory opinions is arguably more significant than one everybody universally likes, say, Fionna & Cake. Frost & Fire successfully captures the not-so-heroic side of Finn the Human, and opens up for some tremendous explorations of his character in the long run. My opinions of Finn’s portrayal following this episode fluctuate greatly, but the good news is I’ll have tons to talk about in the upcoming bunch. So stay tuned y’all, we’re in for one hell of a ride from this point on.

Also, these title card concepts for Frost & Fire were released in the past week on Tumblr. I think they’re pretty dope, and especially like the third one. Though my assumption was that many people thought it was “too dark” and went with a more ambiguous choice.

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Favorite line: “Why does anyone do anything?” “… Why do they?”

“Sky Witch” Review

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Original Airdate: July 29, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

If there’s one thing I always like to make clear in regards to Bubbline is that it is not, nor was it ever, the most important or crucial story that Adventure Time has ever tried to tell. That idea alone seems like common sense, but there seems to be a handful of people that hold the belief that Bubbline is the sole arc of importance in the entire series. For me personally, I enjoy the relationship between the two, for the most part. I think they have a nice, charismatic dynamic, and a decent history that’s both believable and quite poignant. Though, like any other character, story arc, or plot point in the series, I’m not going to act like it’s sheer and utter perfection. And I think this episode, while not bad by any means, shows that the two working off of each other isn’t always especially raw or endearing, and in fact, I think it’s a little clunky in execution. I bring this up simply because, as these reviews go on, I’m not really going to aimlessly praise every scene featuring Bubbline as an undeniable masterpiece. At best, I think they can provide for a likable connection between two opposites. At worst, I think their chemistry with each other can somewhat fluctuate and/or feel slightly forced.

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I think the main issue with the way the two are portrayed in this one is that I’m never completely emotionally invested in the two. I think the writing is a bit schizophrenic and never really lets the moments that are supposed to be a bit more powerful and effective come across that way. PB talking down Hambo to Marceline should’ve been a pretty harsh and heart-wrenching speech, though it’s glanced over pretty quickly and isn’t really given enough time to explore. Whereas the ending, where PB suddenly decides that she isn’t leaving without Hambo and heroically rescues Marceline’s stuffed animal comes across as a bit rushed to me. I mean, it’s obvious that PB does care about Marceline and doesn’t want to hurt her at the end of the day, but I thought her transition from “Hambo’s fucking stupid, let’s leave” to “AW, HELL NAW, AM I LEAVING WITHOUT HAMBO” feels slightly bipolar. This is one of those instances where PB’s detachment feels kind of detrimental to some of the more challenging aspects of the episode; we want to see PB be charismatic and care for Marceline, though she’s written so apathetically that I never feel like I know what I’m supposed to feel. The parts that are supposed to be more emotional and build on the connection between the two just feel… lacking.

But, what this one lacks in emotion, it makes up for with some pretty humorous interactions between the two gals. PB’s bitchiness is amped-up in this one, and boy, is it tons of fun to watch. I love her passiveness towards something that means so much to Marceline, considering PB probably doesn’t have much of an emotional connection to her material possessions as others would. I also love her brutal roast of Raggedy Princess, it comes so out of left field. This is really when PB’s “cold-hearted” behavior starts to come out in full force, and I think it’s a pretty gradual transition at that.

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Marceline, on the other hand, is characterized just alright. Jesse Moynihan once said that he struggles to write for Marceline the most, and I think it kind of shows. Not to say she’s written poorly, but I don’t she’s portrayed as very interesting either. I do enjoy the way she seems to struggle when first asking PB to spend some quality time with her, as it’s pretty clear that she hasn’t completely warmed up to the idea of being close to PB again, and that it’s somewhat of a pain to try and connect with her. Again, these are moments that I wish were emphasized a tad more. I think some of those moments are brought down by some pretty awkwardly written moments for Marcy. Her emphasis of how important it is to rescue Hambo goes on a bit too long for my liking, and her insistence of bopping PB on the head seems a bit too… goofy for her. I mean, Marceline does have her silly moments, though not to the degree that the other characters are able to. She’s more deadpan and snarky than straightforward zany.

I think this is one where the settings are pretty dope; where the typical AT forest is usually bright and colorful, this one features a darker, more desolate forest that I think is actually a nice touch for a change. In addition to that, Maja’s mansion is pretty dope. Aside from the cool anti-gravitational landscape, I like all the small details, like the fact that Maja is a clear collector/hoarder. There’s also a portrait of the ghost lady from The Creeps that I’m not sure how it ended up in Maja’s possession, but I’m assuming she just wandered across it while casually traveling around in Ooo one day.

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Maja herself is good fun; she’s voiced by Jill Talley, who is actually Tom Kenny’s wife and the voice of Karen on SpongeBob SquarePants. Talley, per usual, offers great talent to the character of Maja, that’s only added to by the demonic double voice she delivers under her regular voice. Reminds me of HIM from The Powerpuff Girls. Maja’s Crabbit is an interesting concept as well, though again, I think his presence in the episode could’ve been a little more interesting. I kinda wish he did return with Maja later on in the series, as I would’ve liked to continue to see him as her buttmonkey companion.

What this one boils down to is a mildly fun adventure focused episode. I think it could’ve been stronger, considering we only get so many Marcy and Bubblegum interaction episodes until season 7, but otherwise, I think it’s fine. In terms of what Bubbline shippers like to see, I don’t even think there’s a ton you can analyze or look deeper into. There’s the completely odd moment at the beginning where PB inhales the shit out of Marceline’s shirt, but I think that just kind of comes off as awkward and ill-fitting than charming or likable. It’s a light and fun quest that serves as some tasty fluff to prepare for when things go completely off the walls in the next episode.

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Favorite line: “My googoomamameter is going babies!”