Original Airdate: October 14, 2013
Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan
Red Starved primarily attempts to capture the magic of AT’s earliest seasons by bringing back a dynamic we haven’t seen in quite some time: the potential conflict between Jake and Marceline. It’s primarily based around a survival of the fittest story that I think could’ve been a lot stronger, but for what we got, I think it holds up okay.
First off, the premise definitely receives a warm welcoming from me. Jake, Marceline, and Finn going on a casual adventure in a really neat sand dungeon for PB feels like a classic set up on its own. Though Finn and Marcy don’t really hang out much anymore by this point in the show (which is incredibly sad to say, seeing how we’re only halfway through the series) it is just nice to see the three of them chillin’ and going on adventures together. It’s good fun!
Though I think the beginning is dampened a bit because I don’t find Jake’s bits particularly that funny. I do like his flesh drill that ends up being painful as fuck, but I think his shtick of accidentally getting everyone trapped within the sand city and then just carelessly being an asshole about it comes off as slightly more annoying than actually amusing or cute to me. I think after that initial set up however, I warm up to his presence much more.
I think the segments between him and Marceline are good fun. As I mentioned, it mostly turns into a survival of the fittest story that pits Jake and Marceline against each other, though I can’t help but feel the story could’ve been expanded on a bit more. I mean, it is called Red Starved, but it seems like the story just calls for Marceline and Jake just being “hungry” rather than progressively going insane and being driven to wanting to eat each other. Though, the episode does provide some form of reasoning for it; Marcy is a vampire, so I can’t really determine how she operates when needing to feast, and I am glad that the episode does address that she is still somewhat of a threat. Marceline has settled far too easily into just “laidback friend” territory the past few seasons, but this episode does acknowledge that Marceline is still quite dangerous, regardless of the friendships she has made throughout the years. I also like how this is emphasized by her very grotesque changing expressions, which are drawn to be really terrifying and even a little bit gross. At the same time as well, I never really know if she’s just fucking with Jake for eating her erasers, or if she’s legitimately considering sucking the color from his organs. If I had to speculate, I’d say the former, but it is nice how the episode kind of leaves it to your interpretation.
In addition to that, I like how Jake’s mindset isn’t really that he’s so hungry that he wants to eat Marceline, but rather that he just wants to do so in order to avoid getting eaten. I even like how the line “I’m operating on my lowest survival brain function right now,” is included not to show that Jake is thinking logically, but simply that he’s doing what he has to do to potentially survive.
So the main plot works fine, but I actually quite enjoy the subplot following Finn’s solo mission. I think the stuff he comes across is cool, mainly the people who were turned into sand people at the hands of a ruby (er, emerald) and the Crab Demon who zoned out for 500 straight years. I also like Finn’s brief little bits of him talking to himself; they aren’t particularly funny lines that he utters, but it’s just strangely charming bits of dialogue that really get me invested in his journey. For the past half-season focusing on a lot of Finn’s vices and issues, it’s nice to have one where he simply comes off as likable and amusing, and there’s not really any inner demons he has to face as a result of it.
The ending scene with PB definitely had shippers everywhere going wild, and I think it’s cute that the spoon of prosperity was actually a direct fix to PB’s issue at the moment. I also love her ending line, “Peeps will never starve in my eternal empire.” That momma is goin’ wild.
Though, this episode probably has the absolute DUMBEST joke out of any Adventure Time episode: Finn’s color-blindness. First of all, I feel like the fact that it was merely used as a gag and never brought up again really goes against Finn’s character and the series as a whole; these are not gag characters, and we’re supposed to treat everything they do, possess, and say as completely factual aspects of each character. So the idea that the show wanted to introduce Finn as color-blind, with absolutely no intention of ever mentioning it again, just feels like an absolute complete cheater moment for Jesse and Ako to write in. I know it’s a single moment that is included for laughs, but think of all the small moments that end up incorporating their way into the show as consistent aspects: Finn’s favorite food is meatloaf, PB legitimately dated Mr. Cream Puff at one point, Finn eventually gains immunity to electricity and has it for the rest of the series, etc. I just think it’s incredibly dumb to try and add an aspect of Finn’s character that was never hinted at and never ends up having relevance again. Also, second, if Finn see’s green things as red, wouldn’t he think his backpack is green and just let Marcy suck the color out of it? Third, is that really how color-blindness works?
That major gripe aside, I think this one is okay. It has its moments here and there, I like what they included with Marceline’s character, some of the landscape is nice, but overall, it’s a somewhat underwhelming effort. If I had to describe where it stands with me I’d just simply say that it’s not nearly as bad as the ever-boring Box Prince but also not as good as the mostly solid Dungeon Train. It doesn’t really do much for me, but it isn’t one I actively dislike either. Besides the bit with Finn not being able to see green. Some bullshit I tell ya.
I forgot to mention last review, but we’re at the halfway mark, folks! 143 episodes down, 141 to go! Episode reviews will resume at their regular pace after this one with a weekly release, but I’m happy to say that this blog is exactly where I want it to be right now. Obviously I love writing for it, but this definitely isn’t something I want to be doing forever, so I’m glad I was able to bang out at least half of the series in only a little over a year. Here’s hoping by next year I’ll be up to the same speed as I have been! And always, thank you all for reading!