Archive | May 2018

“Something Big” Review

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One of my absolute favorite title cards in the series. Designed by Michael DeForge and painted by Teri Shikasho.

Original Airdate: July 3, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan

As Jesse Moynihan stated, about half of Something Big derives from the scrapped 45 minute Adventure Time TV movie. A bit of background about this TV movie for anyone who isn’t in the know: the 45 minute special was created about midway through season five, but its parts were so dissonant from each other and it didn’t have a cohesive ending, so it was scrapped entirely. Jesse suggested that they try and cannibalize said parts into individual episodes, which is where Something Big came from. I’m really hoping that storyboarded segments of the scrapped special are posted online by the staff eventually, I’d love to see what it was like regardless of quality. But anyway, Something Big gives us a look at how colossally huge, and colossally messy this story could have been. Seriously, some of the set pieces in this episode are terrific, but it unfortunately feels like one big disjointed mess.

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The episode begins with the Candy Kingdom in full-out war, a revolt led by none other than Maja the Sky Witch (who now has eye-whites for some strange visual reason). And, one of the first developments in the plot we get is that Captain Root Beer Guy sacrificed himself after setting up the force field to contain Maja and Darren, the Ancient Sleeper. Well, okaaay then. That’s one way to start off an episode! In all honesty, I think this was a pretty mediocre way to kill-off such a likable side character, but it’s not even really his death that bothers me. RBG had his star appearance in Root Beer Guy, and while I enjoyed that episode and his character thoroughly, I felt like I didn’t really need to see more of said character outside of his debut episode. Yet, the reason for his death is incredibly stupid to me. According to Jack Pendarvis, Root Beer Guy was killed off in an attempt to make the Banana Guards’ incompetency more believable. Just… what? Just because Root Beer Guy is an intelligent commander doesn’t mean that the Banana Guards have to be more educated as a result. It could’ve actually lead to more comedic opportunities if RBG tried to influence the Banana Guards, but to no avail. The reason Pendarvis gave just kind of comes off as a lazy excuse. Furthermore, the Banana Guard Academy comic series, which was written by Kent Osborne, tries to explain Root Beer Guy’s (nearly) permanent death, as PB states that “sometimes, Candy People are so special that you cannot bring them back.” I know it isn’t canon, but that reason is even more ridiculous! Only non-special Candy People are brought back? So PB cloned James 22 times simply because he was un-special enough to go through said treatment? How the fuck does Cherry Cream Soda feel that Bubblegum has all the technology in the world to bring her dead husband back to life, and still doesn’t? A load of bologna, I tell ya!

Enough about that, let’s get back to the actual episode. After Crunchy explodes from absolute fear (a nice callback to the rarely mentioned plot point from Slumber Party Panic), we’re treated to a flashback sequence where Maja summons Darren, and it’s pretty spectacular. Darren’s an awesome character; his design really reminds me of the similarly awesome beasts from The Suitor, and his lack of knowledge regarding the current state of the world is both humorous and kind of mythological. I like how Darren knows only life and death, and I really wonder if his existence dates back to before time even existed, where, as the Lich mentions in a later episode, there were nothing but monsters. It’s quite likely, and pretty cool to see that Darren is mostly an anti-hero rather than an absolute source of evil. He doesn’t have any motivation to want to destroy the Candy Kingdom, he simply goes off of instinct. And his instinct is to cause destruction and, likewise, success for himself. It’s pretty funny to see Darren and Maja work off of each other as well; Darren is dramatic and foreboding, while Maja is more playful and bratty. Maja doesn’t want to take over the world or travel across different dimensions. For whatever reason, she simply wants to conquer the Candy Kingdom, though Darren can’t seem to wrap his mind around such a simplistic and motive-driven act. Aside from a character and writing aspect, the scene is a visual treat. It’s lit terrifically, the angles are great, Darren’s size and scope are really felt through his absolutely massive structure, and there’s cool little details, such as how everything begins to move in slow motion when Maja summons Darren. Of course, I get immediate Gravity Falls vibes during said sequence, though I’m sure this was unintentional.

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The next few scenes focus strictly on the war aspect of the episode, as Darren calls upon these somewhat generic looking pink beasts that come out of a portal in eggsacks. Colonel Candy Corn also mourns over the death of his wife and how chicks his age aren’t into dating. It’s alriiight, but it also kind of slows down the overall intensity of the episode. I do enjoy PB’s distant attitude toward his sorrows, and how Peppermint Butler actually tries to help him out a bit. Pebut might be a dark dude, but he’s pretty nice guy when it comes to his fellow candy brethren.

The purely action-based sequences are decent, with some moments really shining, and others that are just subpar. Of course, Adventure Time isn’t an action show, so I don’t really expect top-of-the-line fight sequences. The bits where Darren’s minions are blown up by candy material are nothing special, though, Colonel Candy Corn’s jump into action is pretty awesome. It features some good dynamic shots, some nice sword slicing, and the old veteran in probably his coolest appearance.

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Of course, the Candy Kingdom can’t hold off Darren for long, as he nearly destroys PB, until Finn, Jake, and the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant come to the rescue! It was cool to see Elie get a prominent appearance after his return in Furniture & Meat, and it makes sense that Finn and Jake would conjure up the idea to utilize him after only recently remembering his existence. I think it’s pretty cool that Darren and Elie know each other, and how they both can’t seem to grasp how the current state of the world actually works. Both are beasts from a different time period, and can’t wrap their heads around basic concepts such as feelings, purpose, and free will. As the two face off against each other, they prove to be equal opponents in power as well. It isn’t till Finn is launched into Darren’s brain stem (through another solidly animated and framed sequence) that he’s able to defeat the ancient beast. Darren quickly utters “thank you” before his ultimate demise. It’s a bit of a profound moment, showing that Darren would much rather cease to exist than to live in a world he doesn’t understand or comprehend. In a way, Darren is able to adapt to the current universe paradoxically; though he feels like he is not able to survive in a world where he cannot go off of his basic instincts, he expresses gratitude through experiencing death, showing that he is capable of feeling and showing emotion on some level.

So the day is saved, the Candy Kingdom is returned to its former state (with the exception of the deceased RBG) and everything is resolved. Buuuut, there’s nearly four more minutes left in the episode. At this point, the episode’s tone shifts almost entirely, and completely cuts out any war or action elements to focus on the inner struggles of the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant. This is where Moynihan’s tweaking really shows… it almost feels like a transition into an entirely different episode. While the motif of purpose and meaning that Darren pondered is carried across into Elie’s struggles, I still feel like it’s a bit too disconnected in the way its executed to really work coherently. Darren’s issues were kept subtle and mostly humorous in the background of an all-out war, so this transition into Moynihan’s more poetic and philosophical just feels… odd.

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That being said, I think Elie’s story is generally interesting regardless. APTWE doesn’t even have the same pleasures that Darren has; Darren is able to base his decisions of destruction off of his own instincts, while APTWE isn’t able to bring himself to do just about anything without being ordered to do so. He doesn’t understand purpose or will on any level, he simply wants to be commanded to fight, as that is all he was created to do – or so he thinks. As he views the world around him, he observes the lives of an ant and birds, two creatures who also do not necessarily have free will, but still make decisions based off of their instinct and intrinsic purpose regardless. He then observes the sun, who drops this bit of enlightenment.

“I’m more ancient than you. Someday, I will engulf the solar system. What was and what will be are meaningless. Meanwhile, you should wonder: are you just a two-headed pile of meat on a crash course with the cosmic dump? Or do you contain the soul memory of a million dead stars? How do you light a candle without a match?”

Essentially, APTWE is wondering if he was simply born to die, or if he has greater purpose during his existence on Earth. Without said match, the candle has no purpose. APTWE wants to find a create meaning in his life, but does not understand what to do with this newfound purpose yet. This is where he recruits Maja, of whom he may team up with to destroy the Candy Kingdom, though he hasn’t decided yet. As APTWE mentions, he must be the match and the candle, meaning he has to decide what is best to do with the gift of life before he makes a hasty or wrongful decision. Maja’s less than enthusiastic, as the two fly off together and cause a sentient leaf to fall to the ground, where a caterpillar crawls over to eat him up, as a means of showing the caterpillar’s instinctive purpose in contrast to the leaf. The leaf didn’t plan for such a path in his life, though life often takes us in unexpected directions. APTWE, a creature who was originally designed for only one purpose, is able to discover a new sense of self-worth through his experiences and adapt to a new way of life. Shoutout to this story arc for only returning once in a brief throwaway joke! Seriously, I liked the angle they took on APTWE’s character in this story, but it just feels so incomplete without a proper payoff. Of course, there’s still a possibility that the two characters will return in the hour long finale, though I guess we’re just going to have to wait another three years to find out.

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This episode’s frenetic pacing makes it a bit difficult for me to praise it as a unit. You’ve got high-stakes battle scenes, mythological flashback sequences, some distracting lighter sequences like Colonel Candy Corn’s melodramatic life story, and the out-of-nowhere Elie subplot thrown in at the last minute. This one feels like what people criticized Betty for; where Betty was fast-paced and didn’t really have a chance to breathe, I still think it managed to tell its tale in the best way possible. Something Big feels like three or four different stories that are battling each other for attention. Yet, I still enjoyed most of this episode. I think it had its weaker moments, but it kept my attention throughout, and offered some genuinely insightful and unique elements along the way. I’d rather have a clusterfuck of an episode that’s enjoyable than an episode with one solid story that’s a complete snorefest. Something Big is frenetic and probably doesn’t work as a coherent story overall, but it has some pretty great bits, namely anything with Darren and Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant. And as miffed as I was when Root Beer Guy died, I’d be even more miffed when he was eventually revived one season later…

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Favorite line: “Yo, leave me out of it!”

“The Prince Who Wanted Everything” Review

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Original Airdate: June 26, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto, Emily Partridge, Kent Osborne & Bert Youn

Blecch. The Prince Who Wanted Everything is the first stinker of the Fionna & Cake series, and a pretty blatant example of how these experimental episodes don’t really have much of a reason to keep being produced aside from a feeling of obligation based on fan reactions. The first was done strictly as a surreal passion project; I don’t think anyone on the AT crew knew how popular it would be, but as Fionna & Cake was met with practically universal praise, it only made sense for another F&C episode to be created. Two seasons later came Bad Little Boy, which was also well-received and a mostly solid outing, but kind of showcases the problem with Fionna and Cake episodes in general: the characters are basically carbon copies. Fionna has some interesting insecurities that were touched on in her first episode, but every episode that follows has her simply take on the role of Finn-Lite. She’s a good-hearted, laidback hero, and that’s about it. And the other characters, Gumball, Marshall Lee, Flame Prince, and so on are never given enough attention outside of their star episodes to actually have any selection of interesting character traits besides being slightly modified from their counterparts. Cake, on the other hand, is the only character who actually has a stand out presence in all of these entries, yet she’s often only given a small amount of screen time so the “Character of the Week” can hog all of the attention. And this episode’s star character is Lumpy Space Prince: a deeply unfunny gender-swapped version of Lumpy Space Princess that does absolutely nothing insightful or interesting, aside from being another chance to reinforce LSP’s vanity once more, as if that wasn’t already emphasized enough. Cut Rebecca Sugar – who was practically the mom of Fionna and Cake – out of the mix and you don’t really have a competent entry.

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This episode notably starts up with Ice King tied up. Why is it notable? Because it’s freaking Ice King, you guys! We haven’t seen him in what feels like forever, and it’s a shame, because I feel as though he gets the least amount of screentime in season six. It makes sense, as this entire season mostly steps away from the main cast to delve into the lives of some of the lesser known citizens of Ooo, though Ice King doesn’t even get a fair chance to have an actual role in this episode. He’s simply a blank slate at the hands of his kidnapper, Lumpy Space Princess, and isn’t really given anything interesting to do aside from obliging to read LSP’s passion project. Could’ve been a much more enjoyable scenario if Ice King was argumentative about the way LSP wrote for his characters, or that he didn’t agree with where the story went, but he uncharacteristically goes along with it without saying a thing. Pretty lame.

The story itself poses an interesting concept, at least from my initial impressions. Lumpy Space Prince’s tale of running away from his parents and stumbling into Aaa (or Ooo… whatever is cannon at this point in time) could perhaps reference LSPrincess’s first experiences in Ooo and how she came across Finn and Jake, albeit highly exaggerated. Though, the way it’s executed is simply done in a way that we’ve seen so many times in other LSP episodes. Most of this episode just seems to retread the general idea that Gotcha! revolved around, which is that both Lumpy Space Princess and Prince misunderstand the type of people Finn/Fionna and Jake/Cake are and come to respect their simplicity and approaches to life by the end of the episode. The entire episode basically revolves around Lumpy Space Prince trying to understand how to live as a peasant but is constantly blindsided by his own pretentiousness. And God, how many times have we all seen the story of a rich snob who is enlightened by the simplicity of middle-class charm? It’s so overdone, and it isn’t carried out any more interestingly here.

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Lumpy Space Prince’s voice actor (at the Princess’s request, of course), Peter Serafinowicz, certainly boasts a competent performance, but again, I don’t think he’s really given much to work with. Lumpy Space Prince is at his funniest through his expressions; his anime influenced “Handsome Face” is pretty amusing, even if it is a bit overused by the episode’s end. Regardless, it provides for some welcomed diversity among the typically expressive dotted eyes in the AT world. But again, Lumpy Space Prince’s primary character trait is his vanity, and it simply isn’t fun or interesting to watch him. He also has the displeasure of singing one of the show’s worst songs, period. “That’s All I Need” has a pretty awful melody, terrible lyrics, and a less-than-satisfactory performance from Serafinowicz. Feel bad making such a superficial comment about his singing voice, but some actors are simply not meant for said performance. And if the song was actually catchy, funny, or added something to the plot, I could forgive it, yet it does none of those things. Aside from some cool cameos of characters we haven’t seen before in this universe (namely Magic Ma’am), it just feels like it’s there to take up time.

Fionna and Cake are simply in this episode to be observers. Cake has some funny one-liners, as she constantly breaks the fourth wall, but Fionna really just does not do ANYTHING. Aside from giving an unintentional piece of advice to Lumpy Space Prince, Fionna just stands there and occasionally has a line or two. Sad to see she’s given such a boring role after her emotive and passionate presence in the past two F&C episodes. The one cool thing is that she actually is using the Wish Star Sword that she acquired within the Fionna & Cake comic series. Pretty awesome to see that something in the comics was actually adapted into the series, and it’s pretty much just there as a subtle Easter egg for any readers of said series. Also, Fionna’s model got updated to where it seems as though she’s matured more in her stance and body weight, and it looks somewhat off-putting to me. I dunno, the more realistic her anatomy gets, the more awkward and stiff it looks when you pair it with her really simplistic dotted eyes and lack of nose. Just looks kind of wonky to me.

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I guess the ending where Lumpy Space Prince discovers that his indifference to his parents’ disapproval of his behavior is a bit of an introspective moment for LSPrincess, but it only makes me wonder what the point an episode like The Monster has in the grand scheme of things if LSP never truly grows as a character. I understand if the writing staff just wanted to keep her stagnant in her developmental process and never learn or grow as all of the other main characters do, but if you have an episode like The Monster where it seems as though she actually DOES learn something, than the episode merely feels like discontinuity. I can understand if her decision to move back into the woods was based on her stubbornness and belief that she can make it on her own, but it seems as though she merely goes back to thinking her parents are monsters who simply want the worst for herself. Nice to see she’s embracing herself and her own behavior, but silly that she’d view her parents this way after realizing how much they care for her in the past.

And, as the story ends, the book reveals itself as a simple method for LSP to find a man who is exactly like her. Yes, Lumpy Space Princess loves herself and thinks she is the greatest person imaginable. We get it. LSP is at her best in episodes like Bad Timing or the upcoming Be Sweet, where her self-obsessed behavior is shown to be a mere facade that covers up her insanity based insecurities. Episodes like The Prince Who Wanted Everything feel like a rehash of everything we’ve already seen and know about the character. It’s like one of the lesser SpongeBob SquarePants episodes that focuses entirely on Mr. Krab’s absolute greed. We get that he’s greedy, it’s literally his archetype. We don’t need entire episodes centered around this one-note joke about a character’s personality. It makes them seem less two-dimensional and entirely more shallow. Lumpy Space Princess may perhaps be the most one-dimensional of the main cast, though she at least proves herself to be at her most interesting when her narcissism plays a role in her absolute mental instability, or the rare example where she’s actually able to benefit others through her repugnant attitude (such as the Elements miniseries). Yet, this episode doesn’t do justice to her character or the Fionna and Cake series in general. With a whopping four writers at the helm of this one, I’d expect more of a successful outing.

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Favorite line: “Y’all seeing those big floaty faces?”

“Furniture & Meat” Review

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Original Airdate: June 19, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

Of all the episodes from season six that received attention for either their quality of their controversy, I think Furniture & Meat is an overlooked romp that focuses mostly on being funny. Only after rewatching the series have I realized just how funny Cole Sanchez and Andy Ristaino’s team efforts are, and Furniture & Meat is no exception. It’s a simple, yet enjoyable episode that cleverly focuses on the dynamic between the Tree Fort bros. and how differently they go about their moral ethics.

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As if the cute late night hangout session between BMO and NEPTR in Sad Face wasn’t enough, this episode features the two boys playing Robin Hood, or, in this case “Robbing-Hood” with each other. It’s really nice to see a minor character like NEPTR being utilized more (even though this is sadly his LAST speaking role in season six) and it’s even cooler to see BMO warming up to him to the point where they can play and hang out together, even if it means that BMO is a bit controlling and continuously picks on NEPTR.

The main premise of this one is interesting, yet somewhat questionable. Finn and Jake realize they have too much money to know what to do with, and decide that it’s best if they spend it all or give it away, even though they’ve NEVER spent any money before. So, how do Finn and Jake acquire food and other basic house supplies? I always guessed that they’re treated like royalty within Ooo, and as long as they’re serving Princess Bubblegum, they’re given free commodities. Which is made up for when PB makes her monthly stop to the Tree Fort for tax collection. And I guess it all lines up with the rest of the series: the only time I can think of when Finn and Jake actually needed to buy anything was when Finn purchased the grass sword back in Blade of Grass, though Jake is the only one who directly mentions that he’s never spent his cash before. Definitely a weird concept that I’d like a bit more context to, but one that I feel like is still consistent with the rest of the series.

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So, after collecting their dosh via Jake pick-up truck (as they bid farewell to the now “chilling” Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant) the boys head over to the new and improved Wildberry Kingdom. Wildberry Kingdom is definitely one of the weaker settings in terms of visuals, as it’s pretty bland looking, with scattered trees and forestry spread everywhere, almost akin to something you’d see within the Grassy Wizard’s domain. Yet, it still feel true to its first appearance in Jake vs. Me-Mow, and I’m glad they didn’t completely renovate it to the point where it became unrecognizable. The inhabitants of Wildberry Kingdom are a lot of fun, especially the easily persuaded guard and the upper-middle class children who seem completely unfazed by everything going on around them.

During their trip to the kingdom, Jake is haunted a bit by his past history as a master criminal while discussing his attitude towards money, and while he certainly has a different attitude on how he can use money in this one, it’s equally as misguided. It only makes sense that, after years of either stealing or hoarding skrilla, Jake would not be competent with his use of money in the slightest.

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Instead, Jake uses this money to allow himself to do whatever he wants, entertain himself, and to embarrass others. Jake isn’t necessarily transformed into a monster, he’s simply understanding what it is to actually have power over people with money. His actions are malicious, but his endgame revolves around enjoyment more than anything, and he’s correct in that he isn’t forcing anyone to do anything. Jake simply wants to use this newfound power to have some fun and laugh at other people’s expenses, but feels as though he can’t feel bad because he is giving people large quantities of money, and also only doing so because people will actually do anything for money. It presents us with two interesting sides: Jake’s manipulative behavior of using bribery to fulfill his own selfish needs, and those who will put themselves through humiliating and foolhardy deeds to simply get their mitts on cold, hard cash.

Jake’s demands are certainly unique, however. I found them pretty hilarious in just how mundane they are, yet I still kind of questioned why he wanted to actually see such a thing. I mean, I get that watching people eat gold pieces and lick dust off of furniture may exude some sadistic entertainment, though I’m still unsure of why Jake would want that one sleep apnea induced husband and his wife to sleep on opposite sides of the bed. Perhaps it was simply to reinforce that the couple would do absolutely anything for cash, and Jake wanted to believe he had some sort of a validation for his doings. Otherwise, I’m concerned about what exactly Jake wanted to watch that couple “do” within their own bedroom. Yeesh.

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Finn properly tries to keep Jake in line by understanding the weight of his wrongdoings, and tries to make things right through some hilarious misunderstandings. Finn actually thought that approaching a back alley of homeless people would be a suitable way for him to be charitable, though, as he learns, some homeless people are much more greedy and demanding than he could have expected. This leads to an all-out brawl, where Finn covers himself in berry juice (presumably the wildberry equivalent of blood) and ends up with even less success than his brother. Though, Jake cracks a final ultimate plan to spend the rest of their dosh.

This is where the “Money” song comes in, which is an absolutely delightful and simplistic song that just features Jake uttering the word “m-m-m-money” over and over to the same exact rap inspired beat. It’s certainly one of the more shallow songs in the series, but one that still proves to be pretty catchy and earworm inspired regardless. As Jake reaches Wildberry Princess’s room, where she lies in a tub of meat, (I will never understand the Wildberry Kingdom’s fascination with meat) he offers all of their money to WBP if he can simply sit on her head. The idea is absolutely ludicrous, and I have no idea if it’s supposed to be taken as some sort of sexual deed, something that is mocking WBP, or just some sort of lifelong ambition that Jake has had. Regardless, it pisses Wildberry off, and she sentences the two boys to be executed.

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I don’t know how I feel about Wildberry Princess suddenly being super vengeful and aggressive, but I kind of like it. Again, it sort of just feels like such a random, out of nowhere character transition that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but one that’s fun to watch regardless. It also makes for a very enjoyable climax, as she nearly melts the two boys in molten gold (this is one of those moments that really makes me questions why Jake doesn’t just use his stretchy powers) before BMO and NEPTR come to save the day! It’s a lovely moment and an awesome callback to the beginning of the episode that helps to kick off this episode into a satisfying conclusion, as the boys return home nearly penniless. And Wildberry Princess even calms herself down enough to declare that she’d simply accept a written apology from the two boys. Would you believe this is her last speaking role in the entire series?? Outside of a single line in the season nine episode Slime Central, Wildberry’s voice is never heard again. Her general presence in the series decreases almost entirely following this episode, most likely because of Ice King’s dwindling interest in capturing princesses.

So yeah, it’s definitely not gonna make any top 5 list, but Furniture & Meat is still tons of fun regardless. I like how the conflict of greed is presented through Jake in one of his most malicious appearances, and money can truly turn anyone into a blubbering idiot. It’s one that is pretty straightforward, but enjoyable and funny enough to really stand out as a pretty humorous episode within the mostly ambitious sixth season.

Favorite line: “En guard!” “On Blitzen!”

“Food Chain” Review

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Original Airdate: June 12, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Masaaki Yuasa

When a guest animator comes aboard the AT crew to produce their own episode, they often succeed by a visual standpoint, but fail in terms of actually capturing Adventure Time’s atmosphere and understanding what makes it work. The previous episode produced by a guest animator was A Glitch is a Glitch, and while that incorporated some stellar CGI, it felt like it was written by someone who has seen a total of three episodes from the first season of the series and hasn’t seen anything since. Japanese animator Masaaki Yuasa, on the other hand, seems to have a deep understanding of what makes Adventure Time work. Yuasa’s style blends surprisingly well with the series, and it’s interesting to see that this is his only gig in terms of Western Animation. Yuasa has previous credits on two of my other favorite TV shows, Samurai Champloo and Space Dandy, and his work translates just as well with those series as it does here. And, in a refreshing twist, this effectively blends visual specter and surrealism, rather than focusing on story and characters, which really helps it to thrive. It’s also educational in a way that’s fun and enjoyable; almost reminiscent of Animaniacs ability to get across information through wacky characters and musical numbers, this episode carries along the same spirit.

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First off, this one is equipped with a specially made intro from Yuasa, and it looks awesome! It’s a very fast-paced, angled pan through the Candy Kingdom, where Finn and Jake have assumed the faces of most of the main cast, including some obscure characters, like Gunter and the Snow Golem. It also features a humorous role reversal, where Finn leaps onto Jake’s head, Jake rides Finn through the Ice Kingdom, and the two are presented as “Jake the Caterpillar” and “Finn the Flower.” It’s sung by Yuasa, whose voice perfectly fits the odd nature of the theme song in general. This is probably my favorite theme variation, outside the Elements version.

To refrain from sounding redundant throughout the entirety of the review, I think I should just address now how great the animation is in this one. It’s fun and vibrant, and probably some of the most fluid stuff we’ve seen come out of Adventure Time. It really shows how impressive this guy’s work is, and it’s no wonder that the AT staff continually asked him and his studio to come back and animate for each miniseries. Yuasa’s style is also pretty cute and nostalgic; don’t know if y’all know who Taro Gomi is (author of “Everyone Poops”), but Yuasa’s style constantly reminds me of his children’s books. It’s pretty neat to see how simplified the storyboard process was for this episodes compared to others, seeing as how much more detailed everything is in the final product, while still keeping the spirit and expressions from each board alive.

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From a writing and character perspective, I actually like how dry everything is in this episode. David O’Reilly’s take on Finn and Jake’s life was frenzied and hyperactive, while Yuasa went with a much more laidback and toned down depiction of the characters. Even the kids at the beginning, who are very hyper and excitable, aren’t really overdoing it. They’re acting like kids normally would; it feels natural and doesn’t even necessarily feel like it’s trying to amuse, just trying to show something unique and visually interesting. And the stellar camera angles as we watch the children ride down the slides from their perspective supports this entirely. It’s even cool that Yuasa somewhat brought logic (at least within the AT universe) into this one! Where I had trouble trying to convince myself that the story of A Glitch is a Glitch could actually happen within the Land of Ooo, Food Chain has Magic Man instigate the entire experience, and it’s pretty cool to see a secondary character such as himself have somewhat of a major role within the plot of this kind of episode.

Most of Food Chain is just simply enjoying those visual experiences I mentioned earlier, and each sector of the food chain is a ton of fun. This episode is full of great musical moments, like the electronic rendition of “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” as Finn and Jake turn into birds, or the hilariously trippy “We’re Plants” song, which utilizes Finn’s autotuned talents to their best abilities. The bird and bacteria sections show off some terrific facial expressions and animation; love the chubby Finn bird trying to fly away as his belly continuously rubs against the ground, and the consistent drooling, creepy look that his bigger bird self possesses is just great. The bacteria portions provides for some really cute chibified versions of Finn and Jake, and their endearing expressions that come along with it.

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My favorite portion is likely the caterpillar bit, which has Finn meet a new lady named Erin of whom he actually marries! I’ve seen tons of fanart with Finn and Roselinen, is there any of him and Erin out there? I’d love to see some! But I digress, this sequence is as close as the episode comes to having a “story” and it’s told relatively well. I like Jake spying on the two and essentially pressuring Finn to get hitched, and Erin’s character is pretty adorable and funny in her own right. I like her little line right before the two get eaten of, “I might see other people when we’re bacteria!” That was a clever addition keeping to the overarching theme of the episode.

Of course, there’s also that final song, which, I’m gonna be honest, might be my favorite song in the entire series. The animation is smooth, the rhythm is flowing, the visuals are vibrant and eye-catching, the lyrics are simple and informative, Finn and PB sound terrific in duet form, and Finn’s bright red suit and fedora are absolutely irresistible. I know everyone is more likely to choose a Sugar song as their favorite melody in the series, but this one just feels so cinematic and powerful, and such a terrifically random climax for the episode. Though the episode is great on its own, this is one I will specifically revisit solely for the song sequence. The children, however, are less than impressed by the tune than I am, and continue their own cycle of playing instead of sitting through some decent education. Such as life! At least the boys learned the importance of the food chain through Magic Man’s off-color teachings.

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This is one of those episodes that I can’t really discuss in great detail as to why it works aside from the obvious reasons, but man, this one is awesome regardless. I have one minor nitpick with this one, and it’s the fact that the snail never shows up! It’d be alright if that was the case with all of the other guest animated episodes, but even those managed to squeeze the lil’ guy in some place. Seems like a minor inconsistency, and sad that this is the only episode in the entire series to lack the Easter egg that is almost religiously placed into each episode. Regardless, Food Chain boasts stellar animation, contains some great song sequences, trippy visuals, great designs, a simplistic, yet effective story, and is an all-around awesome experiment to put our two favorite brothers at the center. Masaaki Yuasa really killed it with this one, and set a bar that no guest animator before or after was able to reach. This is an experiment that pays off tremendously, and allows its guest animator to express himself freely, while still having a strong connection to the source material.

Favorite line: “Hey, have you noticed we are birds now?”

“Breezy” Review

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Original Airdate: June 4, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Derek Ballard

Breezy is the episode that completely broke Adventure Time’s audience, and the show’s fandom was never the same again. Many fans have viewed this episode as a turning point for its failure to break the status quo, its somewhat pretentious nature, and its implications of horrible circumstances happening on Finn’s behalf. It only makes sense that an episode stirring up this much controversy would be written and storyboarded by Jesse Moynihan himself (with assistance from Derek Ballard, who would later assist Jesse with Nemesis). On his own Twitter, Moynihan described Breezy as “a deeply personal episode, based on things that have happened to me in my life. I hope people find transcendence and beauty in it.” Given that he practically had a visible mental breakdown on his account following the criticism directed at this episode, it can be concluded that Moynihan dug deep and threw all of his emotional scars into this one. And, after years of rewatching this episode countless times, I can’t say I don’t understand why people don’t like Breezy. It is uncomfortable and at times, creepy. And the years of build up that surrounded Finn losing his arm, only for it to regenerate a couple episodes after he lost it, is admittedly a major bummer. Yet, this is a very special episode to me, and one of my all-time favorites at that. When it originally aired, I had been at a very fragile state of mind after suffering from depression for almost an entire year. I was at a point in my life where I didn’t really know where my life was headed or what was in store for me ahead. Then Breezy came along, and I resonated with it entirely. By its end, this episode left me with a beautiful and empowering message that effectively propelled my life forward. I don’t want to say something as ridiculous as “an eleven minute episode of a cartoon cured my depression,” because mental illnesses are much more complicated than that, yet Breezy at the very least showed me something so personal and so beautiful, and unlike anything that I had ever seen on television, that it really helped shaped my view on life as a whole and helped lead me to a much brighter path. Adventure Time in general was an absolute savior during this period of time in my life, and I attribute Breezy as being the breaking point of that period. Yet, I’m not gonna lie, putting this episode into context and talking about it is gonna get pretty fucking weird. Strap yourselves in for this, I ain’t holding back.

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Where The Tower dealt mostly with Finn’s anger and aggression, Breezy focuses almost entirely on Finn’s sadness and lack of feeling. And while the previously couple episodes dealt with the trauma that followed Finn getting his arm torn off by his father, this one throws in the added bonus that he’s still not completely over his break-up with Flame Princess. Finn has lost a lot throughout the past few months, and it seems like he has finally come to a point where he can no longer cope with it. This is Finn’s absolute breaking point, and instead of being defined by a complete mental breakdown, it’s treated much, much sadder. Finn is simply numb to everything occurring around him. He no longer has the motivation and willpower to go about his day normally because he’s lost so many things that brought him joy, and is left only with sad truths about his present self. It seemed as though he was likely to reach this point from his break-up alone, though the dad and arm aspects only added to his pit of despair. A constant reminder of Finn’s sadness and deteriorating lifestyle is his wilting flower, yet Finn doesn’t even have the mental strength to keep it alive any longer. Finn has cared about so many things and people that have left him, so why should he care about this flower any longer? That’s his mindset, at least, and it doesn’t help that Dr. Princess offers nothing but nonsense in in return.

Instead of giving Finn legitimately helpful advice to cope with his unending sadness, she simply orders him to have fun, which shows how dangerous a message like that is. So often, people who suffer with depression will be told to “look on the bright side” or to “not be so serious,” yet these instructions only result in an increase of depressive feelings, as the sufferer is left only with false expectations and a feeling as if they can indeed control their feelings, and just simply are not trying hard enough.

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This transitions into a sad, yet simultaneously humorous music sequence where Finn sluggishly drags his body across a forest. “Lost in the Darkness” is one of my favorite songs in the series; it’s a melody quite beautifully carried across by Jeremy Shada’s vocalization, and that of Ashly Burch, who voices Breezy. Breezy is one of my one-off characters; being an adorable creep, Breezy is given life through Burch’s terrific voice acting. Ashly Burch herself joined the story writing team of Adventure Time during the show’s seventh season, and this was a terrific introduction to her presence in the series. Anywho, Breezy’s attraction to Finn’s flower comes across as often obsessive and somewhat disturbed, though I think it can easily be connected to Finn’s previous infatuation for Princess Bubblegum, which also had its darker elements involved. Breezy’s hypersexual behavior comes from her ultimate desires as, well, a bee, though with any desires that a being may possess, there’s often attachment that comes along with it, and Breezy experiences first hand what that means.

As a result of his former break-up, Finn does not want to deal with the emotional weight of a relationship in the slightest, and simply wants to makeout with princesses (a kidified version of having sex with multiple women) and wants nothing to do with them afterward. As Finn acknowledges that he didn’t feel much from making out with Crab Princess, he then concludes that making out with many different princesses must be the solution to his lack of emotion. This is where Breezy assists in Finn’s pursuits: as a wingman (or woman) who helps to set up these makeouts. The connection between Finn and Breezy is certainly dysfunctional. Breezy does not know Finn’s current state of mind, nor does she understand his emotional fragility, so she simply helps him as best as she can to try and get closer to the thing she desires most, to deflower him of sorts. And though her motivations are undeniably manipulative, she is helping Finn in his endeavors, in a misconception that if she helps Finn, he in return will meet her needs. Breezy feels entitled to Finn, or at least his flower, and puts herself in a self-destructive position because of it. Where Breezy’s affection for Finn generally grows throughout the episode’s run, Finn remains entirely centered on fixing his own issues at hand. As he should, as he really isn’t obligated to respond to Breezy’s feelings that he probably isn’t even fully aware of. Finn continuously attempts to fulfill his own needs by kissing other princesses, including Lizard Princess, Muscle Princess, and eventually Frozen Yogurt Princess.

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Though, Finn’s efforts are a failure. He masks his feelings of overarching sadness by using random one night stands (I’m just gonna go all out with the sexual metaphors here; we all know what Jesse and Derek’s intentions were) as a means of getting over his old love interests, but this backfires when FYP comes into the mix, and Jake notes that her appearance is reminiscent of Flame Princess and Princess Bubblegum. Though Finn’s hang-up on FP is obviously, I think it’s really interesting that they still went the extra mile to display that Finn isn’t over his original crush either. Infatuation for someone rarely ever goes away completely, especially someone you’re in regular contact with everyday. Finn’s love for Flame Princess was enough to alleviate his feelings for Princess Bubblegum during his relationship, but once that relationship ended, his former feelings began resurfacing. It’s likely that Jake still doesn’t know the full extent to Finn’s pain. Finn is able to talk about his issues to Jake, but likely knows that he won’t fully understand his depression, or even is afraid to tell Jake that he’s experiencing such feelings. Thus, Finn blows up at Jake for bringing up his own insecurities, a rarity in terms of Finn’s behavior. It’s nice that the show was able to squeeze some “teen angst” in down the line, and even nicer that it’s only a smaller moment in the grand scheme of things.

Still in denial about his feelings, Finn looks for validation and advice from Breezy. As the two bond, Finn contemplates letting his flower die after his prior failures. Finn declares that he’s only trying to have fun, probably implying that he sees relationships only as more opportunities for drama and heartache, and that casual, meaningless sexual relationships are the only means to a prosperous life. Breezy combats this by mentioning her status as a virgin queen bee (I still can’t believe Cartoon Network allowed this without some form of alternative) and that once she drinks of her royal jelly to become a queen bee, she will essentially “lose her virginity” and her life as a free spirit will finally be over. Finn views this as a “bummer,” and that Breezy should stay as she is so she can be with as many different people she wants instead of settling for the responsibility of adulthood and maturity. Take the royal jelly metaphor for what you want, but I’m pretty positive that drinking it just translates to finding a mate in bee logic (which is why this behavior is frowned upon later on). Breezy’s one fatal flaw is that, in her casual behavior in simply trying to acquire her desires through Finn’s flower, she in turn begins to have feelings for Finn. The strength of these feelings is questionable; I’m not entirely sure that Breezy actually loves Finn, though she’s certainly convinced herself of it. Often times sexual feelings can be confused with emotional connections, and it could be concluded that, during Breezy’s time with Finn, this confliction became stronger and less decipherable.

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The budding friendship between Breezy and Finn comes to a halt when a gang of hillbilly bumblebees discover the two and describe their relationship as “disgusting.” Once again, I believe that Finn is mistaken to be Breezy’s mate, which is a nice bigoted viewpoint to throw into this episode that’s already full of misconstrued views on relationships. During Finn’s pummeling, Breezy drinks a bottle of royal jelly, committing to the idea that Finn (or at least, his flower) is the one that she wants to mate with for the rest of her lifespan. Breezy was lost in her desires and came to a conclusion without even ever speaking to the other party about it. Breezy simply bases her decisions off of her emotions and feelings, which is another red flag within the budding of sexuality that can often be lost in translation. During a terrific Sailor Moon-esque transformation, Breezy officially becomes a queen bee, and offers a life of commitment and love to Finn. Finn, however, is understandably taken back by the offer. Finn was not looking for love, he was looking for gratification of his own needs, which he believed to be Breezy’s thought process as well. While Breezy thought she was looking for that same gratification, she found infatuation in the process, and ultimately squandered her own potential in doing so. As she sadly remarks, “but I royal jellied for you…” it’s easy to conclude that Breezy essentially gave up her virginity for Finn, and was expecting more in return, where Finn saw this as a casual relationship in contrast. This moment cleverly avoids making Finn look like an absolute asshole, because he technically didn’t do anything to Breezy to blow her off. Breezy simply gave herself up to Finn, even without his input or approval. Regardless, Breezy leaves heartbroken, knowing that she gave up everything for someone who doesn’t even feel any love for her. As she flies off, Finn quietly remarks, “I’m lost in the darkness, Breezy,” mirroring his tune earlier, and showing the extent to which Finn’s sadness is affecting him. Finn wants to feel love and affection as he believes that Breezy felt for him, but is simply unable to do so because of everything he’s been through. He doesn’t want to go around casually having sexual experiences, but feels as though he has no other choice as a result of his circumstances. Breezy leaving was only another blow to Finn’s confidence and enthusiasm: yet another person left him, and he once again feels as though it was his undeniable fault. Finn feels as though he has very little left at this point.

And, in his ultimate lowest point of existence, Finn travels into the woods to spend the night with Lumpy Space Princess. Given how heavily this topic of conversation has been elaborated on, I’m going to try and be as respectful and diligent in talking about it, since I disagree almost entirely with what was implied. After a brief makeout session, Finn is ready to back out, yet LSP pulls him in, claiming that she didn’t involve herself in such an activity to simply kiss and leave, and leans back in before a quick fade-to-black. Many, many people have called this moment out as being an implication that Lumpy Space Princess raped Finn, and while I can totally see that and sympathize with anyone who was negatively affected or triggered by the scene itself, I really don’t think that’s what they wanted people to get out of this moment. To me, it was, again, supposed to show Finn at his absolute lowest. The scene that follows shows that Finn’s flower wilts a bit more (another allegory that people have compared to Finn being “deflowered”, which I can somewhat buy, though kissing is already an allegory for sex as it is, so that theory doesn’t really hold up for myself) as he immediately places the thought in his vault. I don’t think that Finn felt as though he was violated or attacked by the scenario. Granted, he isn’t in the greatest state of mind as it is, but I think if the pressure was actually there, he would deny such favors from LSP. But, given his situation, he’s willing to go through with it in an attempt to make himself feel better. Only, it fails. Did LSP pressure him into doing something he didn’t want to do? Possibly, it’s up for debate. I totally get the mindset behind this, and understand why people are upset, but I really just don’t think such a dark implication is something Jesse and the staff wanted to get across. It was just as a means of showing Finn’s debilitating mental health, not to antagonize LSP more than she already has been throughout the past six seasons.

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The climax of this episode is really where we find the most audience criticisms. Lumpy Space Princess’s naughty deed is the first one, though the next scene is certainly the one that takes the controversial cake. In a sequence I’d describe as absolutely stunning, Breezy shows up in the forest and she declares her loves to Finn and his flower through song, as Finn begins to imagine her as Princess Bubblegum in his sleepy state. Breezy’s connection to Finn has reminded himself of his past love for Princess Bubblegum. Finn recalls what it feels like to be absolutely head over heels for someone and to literally feel high in a lover’s presence. Through Finn understanding Breezy’s feelings for him, he identifies that his feelings for Bubblegum, and presumably Flame Princess in a sense, saw him at his absolute happiest. This is where dream Bubblegum’s line comes in, as she holds the never-before-seen Finn sword in her hands: “My hero arise, let love be your guide.” Finn now recalls what it is to love, and realizes that casual hooking up does not involve any of those feelings. Finn has been cheating himself by cutting off his strongest emotion: his ability to love and to care for others. Finn thought that shutting off his feelings of love would only lead to more beneficial results in the long run, though he now realizes that he’s only forbidding himself to be, well, himself. And Finn acknowledges that loving and caring for others, as well as himself, helps him gain a part of himself that he lost after being betrayed by his dad in the Citadel. That part of himself that Finn gains back is represented by his arm. Cue the fandom of Adventure Time going into flames.

While I never found myself absolutely “mad” at this scene, I cannot lie, I understand completely why people can see this as a turning point for the series, but I look at it in a way that most people probably do not. I see Finn gaining his arm back in this episode as a flaw with the series as a whole, and not as a flaw of the episode. Because, the way it is presented in the episode works entirely for the metaphorical and allegorical purposes it set out to achieve. The entire arm arc itself was supposed to represent Finn’s feelings and emotions, not just as a means to give him a cool robotic arm. It’s supposed to represent Finn’s journey as a hero and his experience as a human being, and all throughout this season, we continue to get allusions to said journey through the state of his arm and its upholding.

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Yet, from a series perspective, it was absolutely a mistake to promise something so dire through years of foreshadowing, only to return to the status quo episodes later. Whether this was a network decision, a crew decision, or merely a decision on Jesse Moynihan’s part is still unknown to this day, even though many feel as though they know the exact answer. Regardless, it really shows how uncommitted Adventure Time can be in carrying out its most promising plot points. I’m glad the staff realized the errors of their ways and committed to actually having Finn lose the arm entirely, and whether or not this was all planned down the line, it still does not change the levels of disappointment felt by everyone and the lack of excitement when he lost it a second time. I’m still happy with everything that happened following Finn’s re-limbing process; the grass arm arc that eventually leads to the creation of an entirely new character and Finn finally getting that coveted robot arm are both terrific directions that the show took that almost justify the arm returning. However, I, like everyone else, acknowledge that the arm growing back was ultimately a disappointing moment for the show as a whole, as it felt as though the show would never be able to leave its cherished comfort zone. I’m so glad all of us were wrong, but the bad taste still remains a bit to this day.

Back to the actual episode, the arm sequence itself is beautiful. With a large, lengthy tree growing out of Finn’s arm that bursts into a gooey, honey-ish substance. Yeah, yeah, you can make all the honey-jaculation jokes you want, but I still think this is a gorgeously executed scene in its visuals, music, and lush night-time colors. As we actually see the arm, there is a small thorn sticking out of it, reminding Finn that, while he gained a part of himself back, he still has a scar to remind him of all that he’s been through. Regardless, Finn happily celebrates this moment, and stands before Breezy in awe that through all of her help, whether it was intentional or not, she showed him the light. These last few moments are remarkable, as Finn utters “Breezy…” and watches his former flower float onto Breezy’s head. Breezy kisses the flower, and it’s a lasting humorous moment that further shows Breezy’s misconceptions. Once Breezy receives Finn’s flower, she’s able to realize that it’s all she’s ever wanted. She certainly cares about Finn and likes him, but once she is able to separate the flower from Finn (separating sex from the person) she’s able to have a more rounded perspective and realize that she didn’t lose her one, true mate. Now she’s able to take on her responsibilities, gratified with her desires that are met. And she can be thankful for the lasting impressions that she left Finn with, as he once again can return to living life a little bit happier.

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Woof. There’s a ton to take in with this one, you guys. And I totally get why people are left so angered, or even just confused by the episode’s end. But really, this is one of Adventure Time’s most unique and personal endeavors. I love how unapologetic it is with showing some of the harsher and darker sides of sexuality, and some of the darker sides of humanity as a whole. Breezy and Finn are two flawed beings trying to get their needs met in one way or another, and fall into the common circumstances that so many others experience when trying to meet these same needs. It also shows the dangers of choosing certain paths in life as means of finding happiness, and how trying to protect one’s self from getting hurt is essentially a paradox. I know this one is certainly one that feels more aimed at adults, but I think there’s a good amount of decent lessons that the kiddies can follow along with this one too. I know they probably won’t follow each allegory completely through till the end, but they’ll at least acknowledge that Finn was trying to get with multiple girls to fix his sadness, which ultimately did not work. And of course, through its dark nature, this episode manages to give off a convincing beautiful message about the importance of love and affection. Again, it’s not enough to just force one’s self to love in order to effectively “cure” depression, but I think it’s pretty clear that the implication isn’t that love cures sadness, but that love is the way to finding one’s self. Through loving yourself and loving others, you’ll be able to make the most rational and beneficial decisions, and be able to find yourself in a much happier and rewarding place in the end, rather than trying to make it on your own and resist falling into a genuinely helpful emotion. Breezy may not have the greatest reception overall, but it’s one that I always find quite enlightening on a personal note, and I think that’s just the way that most AT episodes go. Of course, there’s the episodes created that everyone is capable of enjoying equally, but the more personal episodes will chime with some and won’t for others. And that’s the real beauty of this show: having it see you through in some of life’s toughest dilemmas. You didn’t know you wanted it, you didn’t know your were looking for it, but God damn, Adventure Time will always be there to drop the shit that you absolutely need. I love this weird, manic series.

Favorite line: “But I’ve been pounding pickle juice like I was preggos!”

“Sad Face” Review

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Original Airdate: May 12, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk

Sad Face is one that most people strongly dislike, though I’m somewhat on the fence with it. On the one hand, I like how the general premise of “sacrificing your own art for the general public” is executed, and I think it’s done so in a genuinely poignant way that could even be looked at as an allegory for Adventure Time’s changing state as a whole. On the other hand, it stars Jake’s tail. And that’s pretty much the main problem with the episode.

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The idea of Jake’s tail, or “Blue Nose” as he’s referred to, being the star of his own episode seems like an idea that might be just bizarre enough to work… but it really doesn’t. Blue Nose is a bit too enigmatic for us to even understand what his mindset is throughout the episode’s duration, or even if he has a mindset at all. All we really know about him is that… I guess he feels as though his act is underappreciated and so he conforms to the audience’s standards and is unhappy in doing so. The circus leader favors Goralina, the giant squirrel (or normal-sized squirrel to anyone that isn’t a bug), as a performer, which angers Blue Nose to the point where he breaks Goralina out of her chains so the two can run off together and… start their own circus? Even though Blue Nose wanted Goralina dropped from the circus, and so starting his own circus would only continue said issue? Unless Blue Nose wants to release Goralina so she can experience life outside of her treatment as a circus act? I dunno, it’s too confusing and strange, and I don’t see how anyone could really grasp what this character’s actual motivation is. I don’t think it’s really supposed to be clear cut, as it is Jake’s tail, but the episode does as much as it can to view everything from Blue Nose’s perspective, and I think it would be objectively more interesting if Blue Nose was being viewed from the perspective of other characters as this really sophisticated performer. Not that these other characters are anything special either. The only other supporting player in this one is the Ringmaster, and he’s so… bleh. Not funny, not interesting, doesn’t really have any defining character traits… he’s every Ringmaster you’ve ever seen in any movie or TV show, and Sad Face doesn’t do much to expand on his character from that one-dimensional stance.

Aside from a character perspective, this one isn’t really that funny either. I know that’s weird to say, because humor isn’t the first thing I look to experience within an episode of AT, but this is a premise that’s so silly in its concept that’d you’d think that Graham Falk, who solo-boarded this episode, would try and incorporate some decent jokes down the line. Falk’s episodes are usually never filled with laugh-out-loud jokes, but his past two entries, Root Beer Guy and Shh!, had enough laughs to properly engage me throughout. Sad Face isn’t trying to be that funny, but it really only makes the experience duller. It’s a pretty straightforward carnie story, and it isn’t subversive enough (aside from the added surrealism) to actually have me invested in its plot. And also, there’s no real stakes in this one. Adventure Time manages to get through some episodes without a true conflict (Jake the Brick is a good example we’ll visit down the line) though, as I mentioned, there really isn’t much that’s keeping me invested as is, so the lack of stakes only adds to how dull the experience actually is.

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Yet, I don’t think this one is absolutely terrible. It’s not entirely entertaining, though I wouldn’t say it’s quite as boring as an episode like Box Prince. There’s a couple things I like about it; first off, NEPTR and BMO bonding more is adorable. I’m glad this is a friendship that is more commonplace within the rest of the series, as it makes for some terrific interactions between Adventure Time’s cutest main character and cutest side character. Aside from that element, the atmosphere can be quite nice in this one. I love the little bee marionette dance that Blue Nose performs during his first act, and it’s actually a quite poignant display. Granted, it doesn’t make much sense, but the soft music really helps to add a melancholic tone to the entire sequence. Graham Falk is often one of the less dialogue-heavy writers, so the music and visuals typically do the storytelling, and it sporadically is carried out well in this one. Also, as mentioned before, the whole sacrificing aesthetics bit is pretty cool when you look at how Adventure Time is viewed following this season. Many people wanted the show to return to its zany and adventurous roots after an entire season of what many called “pretentious garbage.” Blue Nose’s first act can certainly be looked at as how the fans responded to AT’s more experimental outings, while his second act can be interpreted as the fandom enjoying more of Adventure Time’s lighter and sillier material, much to the artist’s dismay. I don’t think this was the intention at all, as I don’t think that the writers actively predicted that season six would be viewed this way, but it’s still an interesting concept in hindsight.

Overall, this one doesn’t do much for me. I don’t think there’s anything actively terrible about it, but there’s nothing really actively “good” about it either, besides those few moments I mentioned previously. Sad Face is just kind of there… there’s nothing that makes it stand out aside from its wildly unique premise, but even then, I don’t think it’s even executed in a bizarre enough way to work. Sad Face has one strong benefit: it’s one I can chat about lightly before the epitome of polarity that follows after it. This is it everyone… next episode: Breezy.

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Favorite line: “Too much artsy. Not enough fartsy.”

“The Tower” Review

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Original Airdate: May 5, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

James II was a bit of a farce in showing just how okay Finn is doing after his amputation and the fallout with his father. Yet, The Tower shows us in great detail that Finn isn’t really in a good state of mind since he left the Citadel. He still has unaddressed turmoil to deal with, and he attempts to do so in some arguably unconventional ways.

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After his previous heartbreak of losing his girlfriend, it makes sense that Finn still would not understand that things are not supposed to automatically return to normal after traumatic events. Finn tried everything he could to deflect the sadness that was brought on by his break up, as Finn still is under the impression that sadness isn’t relevant to him. As he mentioned all the way back in Dad’s Dungeon, Finn believes crying is really only healthy when people die (though he is seen crying in Sugar-boarded episodes, which is unarguably a product of her emotive writing style) and that he should be keeping his chin up no matter what life throws at him. Though it isn’t sadness he’s struggling with in this one, it’s primarily anger and frustration, which also fall under the five stages of grief. Finn isn’t seeking emotional validation this time around; the boy is out for revenge. Finn looks to the “eye for an eye” philosophy as a means of reaching a solution to his issues, though through his experience, Finn learns that this isn’t exactly the proper way to deal with his problems. In fact, I think the episode is very clever in terms of never siding completely with one of the three main characters featured; Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum all have their separate idealistic views when it comes to figuring out how to help the situation, and while some lean in a more helpful way than others, no plan seems completely competent by the episode’s end. The issue is much too complex to receive a straightforward answer, and The Tower is challenging in all the right ways.

After blowing up the prosthetic arm made from candy that PB gave to him (which was pretty poorly constructed… definitely was just a temporary gift from Bubblegum until she was able to build a more superior one), Finn is lectured by Jake, who believes that the donation of arms are doing more harm than good for Finn’s psychological health. Once again, Jake and PB are at odds with their belief mechanisms. Jake thinks more emotionally, while PB thinks more logically. Jake is likely under the impression that Bubblegum gave Finn the arm so he could simply replace it and move on with his life, yet Jake knows Finn, and he knows that he needs time to deal with his issues and not just immediately move on from them. Jake tells Finn that he needs to move at his own pace, and not to let anyone make him feel like he has to feel better immediately, which is pretty solid advice. Finn is possibly the only person in existence who lost his arm and his father all in one day, so only he knows how he’s feeling and how he should take this time to grieve. Where Jake’s advice is misleading is the introduction of the “melon heart” concept. Like every character who tries to help Finn in this episode, Jake means well, though his implication that Finn should “trust what his heart tells him” is a somewhat dangerous misconception. People are more susceptible to think and make decisions based off of their emotions rather than logic, and often times those emotional decisions can be self-destructive and over-impulsive. Jake doesn’t really have to worry about this because he’s emotionally sound, meaning that most of his thoughts can be based off of a combination of his feelings and his life experience, while Finn is less mature emotionally and isn’t able to create rational decisions based on his own feelings. This is why Finn’s immediate thought process is that he should seek revenge, though Jake warns that the information being sent to Finn is incorrect, and that he should listen harder. This of course does not help in Finn’s thought process, and only makes him dwell on those thoughts of revenge even harder than before.

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As Finn ponders outside the Treehouse on what his feelings are telling him and how he should actually go about these feelings, he unexpectedly gains a telekinetic arm brought about by his emotional ambiguity. And as far as ambiguity goes, I appreciate the arm’s mysterious nature. This is the only episode is appears in, and likely is a product of Finn trying to tell himself something that he isn’t even aware of yet. Though Finn follows the arm’s alleged instructions by building on a tower leading him into space.

As Jake returns from the spaghetti store, he comes across PB and her squadron of Banana Guards, and the tower that Finn has begun to build. This provides for some really great disagreements into the PB and Jake dynamic, where the two argue what is best for Finn in his time of need. It really feels like two parents arguing, and as is in the present, Jake and PB are the closest thing to parental figures that Finn has. Jake continues to argue that Finn needs to work things out on his own, and that Bubblegum should T.M.L.O. (that means ‘lay off’) though PB is more under the impression that Finn is a danger to himself and the people around him in his current situation. PB’s belief system is definitely flawed for reasons we’ll explore later, though I think it’s clear that she’s in the right at the moment. Jake is thinking compassionately of his brother and wants him to figure out his own path, but when it involves extremes like traveling into space and building a giant, unending tower surrounding Ooo, it’s pretty obviously irrational and dangerous. This goes back to where Jake and PB’s belief systems contrast with each other: Jake is thinking based on emotions, while PB is thinking based on logic.

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The detail put into Finn’s tower is great, showing just how much of a variety of different materials is actually being put into said tower. There’s tons of stuff from the Candy Kingdom, and also an inclusion of flaming debris that obviously comes from the Fire Kingdom. Also the horrified deer that wants nothing more than to get off of the tower. The song that accompanies the building sequence is the ever-catchy “Baby’s Building a Tower Into Space.” It’s a pretty simple tune, but one that’s funny enough and almost nursery rhyme inspired that it easily embed itself into my head. It’s a song that constantly repeats itself throughout the episode, and also finds its way into the actual score, and it’s a nice running motif that helps show Finn’s desires of revenge in an almost cutesy sort of way.

This one is also pretty beautiful in its scenery, as well as its atmosphere. There’s that extended entrance into dawn sequence that quietly showcases the citizens and surroundings of Ooo, right before the sun rises and the beautiful morning sky backgrounds appear before the long-pan of the still developing tower. Love the extra detail added to the tower as well, where the contents have gone from simple bricks and debris to actual ice castles and even penguins.

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Another character aside from the main cast who offers her own inspiration and life experience is a cloud named Caroll: a very enjoyable shut-in who rejects her past history as a puddle of water. The advice that Caroll offers to Finn is possibly the most irrational, and I think Finn acknowledges that in a way. Caroll, at the very least, acknowledges that revenge is not healthy and Finn should not be so vengeful in his actions, yet she is still misguided by her own confusing principles. Caroll has never comes to terms with her former self, and is ironically unable to move on from her traumas because she is focused on never reliving them again. Thus, Caroll has caused her development to become stagnant, simply because she is too fixated on hating everything that came before her cloudy state. She’s become cold and cowardly because of her history, and is more inclined to run from her troubles rather than deal with them head on, to which she still suffers from some nasty anxiety-driven issues. This is shown in her debut scene, where she attacks Finn and angrily yells in him for trying to swim in her, when Finn was not even considering such an opportunity. Caroll is merely haunted by her past self so much that she pushes away everyone and everything because of it. Though I think Finn is smart enough to realize that this is not a healthy alternative either.

When Finn finally blacks out upon reaching the brink of space and is rescued by “Martin’s” ship, Finn cannot help acting like a kid on Christmas at the thought of extracting revenge against the man who hurt him so much. As Finn powerfully punches his father, he begins tugging at his arm until Martin pitifully utters “… my favorite arm,” mirroring Finn’s line earlier in the episode. It’s an obvious, but effective moment that has Finn realizing that he doesn’t want to inflict the same pain that that his dad inflicted on him. And in an ultimate twist: it turns out to be PB the entire time!

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While Bubblegum left Finn with the message that revenge isn’t the proper way to take care of his issues, I’m not completely sure she was in the right here either. She subdues Finn’s anger and makes him feel less vengeful, but she uses trickery and deceit to do so. Her exchange sums it up her misdoings real nicely.

“You were hallucinating like crazy so it was really easy to trick you. I figured you’d thank me later after learning your lesson.”

Once again, PB uses logic and deductive reasoning, rather than thinking about Finn’s emotional fragility in the situation. She automatically assumes her plan is the exact thing that will make Finn feel better, and while it arguably works to some degree, I think Finn leaves feeling more confused than anything. He learned a valuable lesson, but one of his closest friends tricked him to do so, and he never got any closure with the situation at all. Still, props to PB for taking a black eye and trying regardless, it just didn’t seem like using deceit was the “fix-all” to Finn’s issues. On a more critical aspect, how does Princess Bubblegum know what Finn’s dad looks like? I mean, I guess you could imply that Finn or Jake described what Martin looked like to PB at some point, and since it was dark in the room, Finn couldn’t really decipher between a fake or real Martin. Still, I think it’s a bit contrived with how she’s able to emulate Martin’s voice, but I’m willing to glance over it for now.

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Finn announces that he’s feeling neutral to Jake. He’s not exactly feeling better, but he at least let go of his anger and decided to put empathy first. He may still be struggling, but he no longer feels like he needs to put anyone else through shitty circumstances because of his own. That is, except for PB, who experiences a whopping arm injury after Finn knocks the tower onto the Candy Kingdom. Yikes.

Otherwise, this is a very well-executed episode. I like how different each point of view is presented, and how each perspective has its own list of pros and cons. In the end, the episode never feels completely one-sided, and we’re left with the idea that the means of a solution for this dilemma is just as confusing to Finn as it is to all of us. Finn is at least left accepting that this is going to be a tough period in his life, and that there really isn’t anything that is going to give him instant gratification. All he can hope to do is better himself a little bit at a time, and try to understand the situation a bit more in depth. These concepts, along with a good bit of humor, and some nice artistic attributes from Steve Wolfhard and Tom Herpich, really help to make this episode soar.

As an added bonus, here’s some arm-concepts that Steve Wolfhard whipped up for this episode!

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Finn’s two-armed shadow: continuity error or intentional? You decide.

Favorite line: “I just thought about my anxieties and it’s like my mind hand touched a hot memory stove.”

“James II” Review

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Original Airdate: April 28, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

For as dark and gritty as the episode James was, James II interestingly has little in common with its predecessor in terms of tone. James II is more focused on being as silly as possible, and while this humor bases itself primarily on juvenility, it does prove as a moderately successful entry, more so than the original James.

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On a random tangent, I like how the title can be interpreted two different ways: this is the sequel episode to James, and it focuses on the second incarnation of James. It’s also always interesting to me just how quickly this sequel episode came out. I mean, this is Adventure Time we’re talking about, the show that took nearly four years to include Susan Strong in another episode, yet James and James II only have a twelve episode gap between each other. Granted, it’s still a gap across two seasons, and I suppose they wanted to get this one out of the way early, considering that it didn’t have many lingering possibilities for drama or substance in the future.

Getting into the actual content of the episode, I do actually like how the premise is carried out. I talked about my feelings for James in his inception episode, and while I don’t really like him, I don’t necessarily despise him either. He’s annoying, but he’s not really “OG level Cinnamon Bun” annoying. And while this episode doesn’t really do anything to make me enjoy his character anymore than I already did, it does at least include him in some funny conceptual ideas. The notion that James keeps repeatedly killing himself, and convincing other Jameses to kill themselves, for the pure fact that he wants a medal out of it, is pretty funny. I also like Finn’s retort of “dude, I’ve been to your funeral like, 25 times,” implying that there were literally individual funerals for every James that died, and that they probably went the same exact way every time. I know Jake calls out PB for being “cold-hearty” at the beginning of the episode, but that momma really is caring if she brought her baby back to life 25 times AND treated him as if he were a hero each instance. Gotta give her props for her patience with the entire situation. Also, I LOVE her explorer attire and hairstyle at the beginning of the episode. Wish that was a look she sported more often.

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When it comes down to the actual story of the episode, it’s pretty bare. PB is trying to capture James and uses the Banana Guard’s help to do so, despite their failure to grasp the logic of the situation. I think Banana Guard humor is pretty hit-or-miss; they certainly have their moments, as demonstrated in this episode (like the Banana Guard that gets really emotional over wanting to have the same name as his fellow brethren) though I feel like the “stupid cop” shtick is so done to death in pretty much every show in existence that I would have liked something a bit more subversive from the Banana Guards’ behavior. They certainly aren’t characters I dislike or find annoying, but aren’t really characters I particularly love either. Some of the gags can go on for a bit too long in this episode especially, and really slow down the pacing of the episode as a whole. Though, the actual Benny Hill style chasing scene between the Banana Guards and the Jameses is a bit too silly for me to resist, and at the very least got a dumb smile out of me (the Jameses coming out disguised in nothing but gloves isn’t exactly a new joke, but one I found just wacky enough to work regardless).

My favorite part about these scenes in particular are the little interludes with Finn, Jake, and Bubblegum. I really like the fact that Finn and Jake don’t take the situation seriously at all, because they know there’s nothing actually dire going on and their assistance isn’t really needed. Also, I like how they kind of help Bubblegum to relax a little bit! It was sweet to see her laughing and enjoying the ludicrous nature of the situation with her closest friends. PB can take her kingdom and its inhabitants a bit too seriously at times, so it’s nice that she has friends like Finn and Jake who can show her how absolutely ridiculous his citizens act in hindsight.

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The episode as a whole picks up when the zombified James and his legion of Goo Monsters invade the kingdom, which provides for a handful of fun moments. It’s nice to see the Gumball Guardians actually get in on the action this time around! It somewhat surprises me that the Goo Monsters are deemed “evil” enough to warrant a response from the security bots, though regardless, they kicked a ton of ass and it’s always nice to see their involvement in Candy Kingdom affairs. My absolute favorite moment in the entire episode comes from when Finn discovers the vulnerable candy orphans, and then proceeds to punt one (equipped with a soccer ball sound effect) inside the walls. Such an abrupt and unexpected joke, and one that gets a big, hearty laugh from me every time I see it.

The ending is a fitting conclusion for Jameses “arc”, as they all pile onto the original James and morph with his body (while one of the smushed Goo Monsters continuously grabs for PB’s dress, a funny detail I only now just noticed). The decision that PB makes to basically ban the Jameses from her kingdom is certainly a cruel one, albeit pretty humorous. I like that she basically just didn’t want to deal with his antics anymore, so gave him incentive (a medal everyday) to get the fuck out of her kingdom and never come back. Yet, I still have faith that she kept her word and sent James a medal every single day. But how would she even know where to find him? Hmmmm…

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So yeah, this one isn’t anything special, but it’s nothing bad either. I think a lot of people were disappointed with how the Goo Monsters cliffhanger from James was executed in this episode, but for myself, I left that episode with very little positive lasting impressions, so I didn’t even really care what came from the story. This episode at least offers some mild entertainment, and while it’s not always exceptionally funny, it at least left me with a better feeling than its predecessor did. The Goo Monsters aren’t even really powerful enough to come across as an effective threat, and unless they caused some sort of zombie outbreak within Ooo (which has already been done twice) I couldn’t really see them working in any other scenario. Regardless of whether it’s high quality humor or not, James II at least allows some light after the heavy nature of the season premiere, and it uses its goofy nature in a relatively successful execution of the story.

Favorite line: “Dude, I’ve been to your funeral like twenty-five times.”

“Escape from the Citadel” Review

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Original Airdate: April 21, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Of all the trials and tribulations that Finn has experienced over the years, none compare to the sadness and disappointment that came along with meeting his human father. Though Finn had his bouts of skepticism and confliction in regards to meeting his father, nothing could have prepared him for just how shitty Martin Mertens really is.

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First off, let me just say that the presentation of this episode alone is incredible. The Citadel is likely one of the coolest locations in the entire series, with its heavily pink and purple color scheme, its lovely designs (of both the guardians and the monsters are are incarcerated), and just the overall background details of how the entire setting literally begins crumbling throughout the entirety of the episode. Man, it’s all so awesome! The attention to detail with how well this episode captures the collapse of a society entirely in the background, while the main focus is centered on the drama between Finn and his father, is executed masterfully.

And let’s get right into the pathetic piece of shit himself: Martin. Martin is the definition of a careless dick character that’s written exceptionally well, mainly because of how unforgiving Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard were when conceiving his dialogue. Martin doesn’t have any sympathetic or charismatic attributes: he’s purely an asshole because he doesn’t put any effort into caring for his son. His one-dimensional nature is refreshing, because I was so worried that, at any point in this episode, he was going to have some sudden moment of compassion or it would have been revealed he was in some form of trance the entire time, but that would have been way too obvious and would have ruined anything they were trying to carry across through this character. The main thing to gather from his character is to show how truly human Finn really is. While Finn has some interesting cosmic developments later on in this season, he was not born as some kind of prophecy or came from a long line of super righteous heroes; Finn grew up like any other human child: being conditioned by his surroundings and the people who cared for him. Finn is kind and caring because his true parents, Joshua and Margaret, raised him to be such a person. The idea of Martin and Finn being complete polar opposites is certainly upsetting, though entirely plausible. Heroism and kindness are not genetic traits, and Finn owes none of his positive characteristics to Martin. The promo for this episode incorporated the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” in the background, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to foreshadow the father-son relationship that develop between Martin and Finn.

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The relationship that the two share is certainly uncomfortable to watch, in all the right ways. It seems like with each passing conversation, Martin’s treatment of Finn only worsens as the episode progresses. Finn is nothing but property to Martin; a means of helping him out of trouble and helping him to “escape the citadel,” though Martin wants nothing to do with him otherwise, and does not want to build an emotional connection with his son by any means. Finn begins to acknowledge this little by little, but is not able to accept it by any means necessary. Though Finn realizes he has loved ones and people to care for him, he is still conflicted because he doesn’t know why he was abandoned and left alone in his own feces as a baby in the first place. He’s at the age where he wants to know about his existence and place in the world, and this is the next step into figuring out who he really is.

Yet, Martin offers no answers, and only puts a further hold on Finn’s developmental process. Martin even begins to warp Finn’s perspective by blaming him for the reason the two of them were separated in the first place. Again, Martin has no time to humor Finn’s emotional turmoil, and wants to rush through the interrogation as fast as possible in order for him to successfully escape. But, without answers, Finn isn’t able to fulfill the closure that he craves so severely. And without that closure, Finn feels as unloved and worthless as ever. The funny part about all this is, while Martin is a character that we’re all supposed to hate and despise, he still has qualities that make him somewhat entertaining. By just how much of an absolute douchebag he is and how hard he tries to avoid his responsibilities (“I’m going to the store!”) he comes off as just ridiculous enough to kind of laugh while shaking your head at his antics.

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On the other side of things, Jake is as caring and compassionate as possible. Despite the clear anxiety and stress he experiences throughout this entire endeavor, he never leaves Finn’s side and assists him every chance he gets. Though with all love also comes tough love, and Jake has no issue calling out Finn for attempting to help Martin after several moments showcasing Martin’s neglectful attitude. Jake goes as far as to call Martin a “loser,” which is an effectively touching move that shows just how much of a disdain Jake has for this guy that he met only minutes ago. In Jake’s eyes, anyone who fails to see how special and awesome a kid like Finn is, especially when it’s his biological father, is not worth Finn’s time and that he shouldn’t even attempt to pursue a relationship with him further. And as much as we feel bad for Finn throughout this episode’s run, we also can’t help but feel so sorry for all that Jake is put through as well. The Lich is on the loose, his surroundings are falling apart, there’s absolutely no clear way to get home, and his brother is experiencing absolute pain in what was supposed to be a rewarding endeavor. The weight of the situation is surely weighing on Jake, who not only has himself and Finn to worry about, but his girlfriend and children back home. And the inevitability of whether they’ll survive through all of the destruction, combined with the drama that is currently affecting them, is enough to send the usually laid back and calm Jake into a full-fledged stress attack.

And then there’s the Lich… oh man, is he at his all-time best in this one. Seriously, his speech to Finn and Jake, as everything goes dark and Ron Perlman reads off those haunting words, is one of my all-time favorite moments in the entire series. Gonna quote this monologue to break it down a bit further:

FALL. You are alone, child. There is only darkness for you, and only death for your people. These Ancients are just the beginning. I will command a great and terrible army, and we will sail to a billion worlds. We will sail until every light has been extinguished. You are strong, child, but I am beyond strength. I am the end. And I have come for you, Finn.

The Lich’s words are antagonistic, but also convincing. The Lich doesn’t know about Finn’s current state with his father, nor does he really even care to know. All that the Lich knows is that Finn is a lifeform, which means that he has no other fate aside from death. While the Lich has tried to destroy Finn’s life, and lives of all beings, several times, Finn has averted such a future through vigilance and his own heroic deeds. Yet, the Lich does not feel intimidated by heroism or the the greater good; he has his instinctive duties to destroy all life, because all that deserves to exist is destruction. The Lich addresses how strong Finn is; Finn managed to thwart the Lich’s plans twice during the course of the series. Yet, the Lich knows that, no matter what Finn does, he cannot be defeated. There is no end to the Lich, and as long as life exists, death exists as well. Everytime he is defeated, he will eventually be revived. Because anything that represents mass destruction also represents the Lich. Yet, through all that, Finn’s strength manages to subdue the Lich once more, in one of the more disturbing and demented moments in this episode. As the fleshy-white substance latches onto the Lich, he begins to grow flesh and blood, in a painful, convulsing experience. Jake’s reaction speaks words, as he briefly opens his eyes and watches the horror in front of him, only to soon close his eyes and avoid such terror all together.

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Though Finn’s duties are not done, as he still wants to reach out to his father in a demand for answers. Finn latches on to the severed stem that separates himself from Martin, in a desperate attempt to keep the connector together (tremendous symbolism, by the way) as Finn’s anger, fear, sadness, and stress take over his body in the form of his grass sword. As the engrossed grass arm tries to hold on as tight as it can, Martin effectively separates himself from Finn, and Finn separates from his right arm. Finn has not only lost his father, but a part of himself as well. The anxiety and intensity with which this past scene is executed, along with its transition into complete and utter silence, is some of the most “edge of your seat” material you’ll ever see in Adventure Time. Coupled with the fact that people had been waiting YEARS for Finn to lose his arm, thanks to heavy foreshadowing (and an upcoming episode that would simultaneously kill the dreams and aspirations of all of those who looked forward to it the most. Heh.) As the unending frustration of Finn’s dilemma increases to a point where you feel like your beating heart cannot stand anymore, the episode takes a moment to stop entirely to let everything sink in, and allow your heart to almost stop to a complete halt as we watch Finn sadly, and lifelessly float to the bottom of the crystallized fluid. In his downward floating, some of the growth goop gets onto Finn’s stubby arm, as a flower begins to grow. This shows two things: 1. That the eternal grass curse is very much still active within Finn’s body. 2. That beauty can exist in even the most tragic situations.

As Jake fishes Finn out, his behavior is incredibly nuanced and considerate. He doesn’t immediately start asking Finn if he’s okay or freak out for putting his own life in danger. Jake simply takes the time to silently check if Finn is alright, prop him up for comfort, and tells him “it’ll be okay, dude.” In just a few simple words, Jake really shows how much he does care for Finn and how much he understands Finn’s pain. Though he can’t relate to the parental neglect, Jake knows how much Finn must be suffering, and while he also understands that Finn isn’t going to be able to immediately feel better with his situation, Jake still wants Finn to know that everything is going to work out in the end. And even if that doesn’t get the water works going, Shelby, still in Jake’s ear, crawls out to lie on Finn’s lap like a puppy dog to comfort him.

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Even through all the heartache we just suffered, we get a bit of a happy ending with the Lich rebooted into the form of a baby. This is a decision I’m… kinda okay with? We get some decent episodes and concepts out of it, but I’ll discuss in further episodes how I feel about Sweet P as a character. I like the idea of birth being the factor that essentially “defeated death,” though I still am uncertain if this was a long term decision I liked for the Lich’s character. Regardless, I do enjoy the ending that reveals that Tree Trunks already wants a divorce after presumably only being with Mr. Pig for a month or so. A hilarious idea that shows how easily she feels stagnant in her relationships, and how the role of being a parent apparently (pun intended) changes everything. Somehow it even works out!

I have a few minor gripes with this episodes, one being the whole babified Lich concept, which again is more revolved around my uncollected thoughts with how this was executed over the course of many seasons, and the other being that some of Finn’s dialogue can be a bit too goofy at times in Herpich’s segments. It’s okay to keep him wacky to keep the heavier scenes lighter, but Finn screaming “UH OH” over and over when his dad basically loses his leg makes him feel dissonant to the entire situation at hand. Though, while that particular instance bothers me a lot, the other moments are brief and few. Otherwise, I think this one is pretty fantastic. It’s a really exciting episode that holds every bit of my investment everytime I watch it, and it’s equivalent to that of an emotional rollercoaster. It’s a terrific start to the season long arc of Finn’s inferiority complex regarding his relationship with his father, and one that leads to many, many interesting opportunities down the line.

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Favorite line: “The Lich is super cute now, and he smells real neat!”

“Wake Up” Review

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Original Airdate: April 21, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

After Finn was dramatically left with the information that his human father is still very much alive, I expected the next episode to get into visiting his dad almost immediately. And while it technically does, Wake Up primarily works as setup for the next episode, yet in the best possible way. It’s a funny, enjoyable, and energetic first parter to prepare for the drama and intensity ahead.

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The episode begins with yet another revelation surrounding one of our main characters… that character being Jake, and that his past absences have been attributed to his late night partying at Prismo’s place. The cosmic party is a ton of fun, and it’s a great opportunity to reintroduce us to all the deities that embody this world. Outside of their worldly duties, Glob, Cosmic Owl, Death, and Prismo are just a couple of bros trying to live life as anybody else would. It’s also nice to see the return of Prismo and Jake’s friendship. Prismo is such a sweet character, and I’m glad his lifespan as a character wasn’t limited only to Finn the Human and Jake the Dog.

Also returning for the first time since the season five premiere is the Lich, who is still as haunting and menacing as ever. I truly enjoy the way Prismo analyzes his presence within the timeroom, as he compares the Lich to a “machine without a purpose.” This concept makes the Lich even more one-dimensional, but even more frightening in that regard. The Lich really only exists to kill and destroy all life; he has no motivation and he has no deeper plan of ruling the world. He simply wants everything to die and is unable to function when he cannot do so. Quite unnerving really (aside from the fact that Glob is taking selfies on the Lich, of course. I really don’t know how I feel about the term “selfie” being used in an Adventure Time episode), as we, the audience, patiently awake for the Lich to suddenly strike over the course of this 11 minutes. We all knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when.

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But even more troubling is Finn’s solemn state as he reveals to Jake that his human dad is alive. The interactions that follow are very mature and heartwarming from the brothers’ perspectives. The two think out the possible cons of actually actually meeting Dad the Human, but acknowledge all the pros that come with it as well. Jake clearly identifies that it might be risky for Finn to do so, but it seems as though he also realizes that it’s important for Finn regardless. Doing so could lead to some positive closure for Finn’s abandonment issues, and help him develop out of any lingering insecurities regarding his place in the universe. Finn also responds with a facade, saying that he merely wants to meet his father to see what he would look like as an adult. This visit clearly means a lot to Finn, and though he’s terrified by the thought of meeting someone he literally has no knowledge about, it’s something that he feels as though he needs for the same reasons that Jake presumably wants him to do so.

The scenes that follow return to Prismo’s time room, where the Cosmic Owl is still shown to be as clingy as ever, and Prismo warns the boys of the Citadel’s nature. Love the montage of random monsters who do end up in the Citadel, one of which is a headless beast who sucks the heads off of other lifeforms, another zaps apart a planet in equal quadrants, and one simply stamps a form while emitting gross fluids. Finn naively remarks, “my dad must be the warden there,” showing how automatically he accepts that his father must be a hero or a guardian of some sorts. Jake later admits that the thought of Finn’s dad being a bad dude did cross his mind, though he refrains from mentioning this to Finn, likely to avoid tarnishing Finn’s optimism. Jake wants to do anything to help Finn accomplish his goals, even if it means bringing along the somewhat useless Shelby to get the boys to the Citadel, which may just be my favorite moment from this episode. I just love Shelby so damn much you guys, and I love the ludicrous idea that his apparent girlfriend has been hounding him for a pony. Is his girlfriend also a worm? If so, how would she even take care of a pony? The idea of it is so ridiculous, I love it.

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Though Prismo comes up with the idea of committing a cosmic crime, which sends Finn and Jake out on an epic space quest to rescue an old, sleeping man. The backgrounds throughout the outer realm of the time room are pretty simplistic in their color scheme and surroundings, though I do enjoy how everything in the background is constantly moving. It makes for a pretty swell visual treat, and once the boys actually enter the house on the duck-shaped rock (after the hilarious scene featuring Jake loudly knocking on the old man’s door) we’re treated to some sweet designs of the old man’s night terrors. They appear as a more menacing version of Prismo, though I also like their flattened, shadow-y nature and how they just generally shift across the background. It almost reminds me of something out of Samurai Jack in that regard. And the awesome way in which Finn and Jake actually defeat these beats, with the power of Jake’s supernova equipped flashlight, is terrific cap to the tense atmosphere surrounding the old man’s conscious state.

As Prismo reveals that the old man is actually the human incarnate of himself, it really is a moment that helps us grow even fonder of Prismo than before. Prismo is perhaps the most humble and courtesy character in the entire series, going as far as to sacrifice his own self for someone he doesn’t even know that well. Prismo realizes that being stuck in his time room all day probably doesn’t open up many opportunities for purpose beyond his state as a wishmaster, so it’s pretty cool that he’s actively trying to avoid being identical to the Lich. Prismo doesn’t want to only exist to be a functioning deity, but to go beyond his cosmic duties and to reach out to the people around him. So it only makes sense that he’d want to do something as noble as essentially killing himself for the (assumed) greater good.

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Only his plan backfires, and the Lich seizes the helm by waking Old Man Prismo up. This last minute is nothing but pure intensity, as the Lich threateningly stares down the old man, kills him with one menacing breath, and is taken to the Citadel.Aside from Jake being at his absolute most heartbroken and PISSED, Finn no longer only has to deal with the uncertainty of meeting his father, but also the power of the deadliest being in the entire universe.

Wake Up is a terrific first parter that sets up the next episode quite nicely, but also exists as its own entertaining episode. It’s a fun return to form as Finn and Jake embark on an entirely new adventure filled with laughs, awesome visuals, and an overall dire vibe. First parters in this show often end up being pale in comparison to their successors, like Holly Jolly Secrets – Part 1, Play Date, or Finn the Human, but Wake Up proves successful outside of just being connected to its sister episode, and properly prepares me for the intensity the next episode has to offer.

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Favorite line: “Man, I’ve gotten a lot hairier, but also balder? Tell me how that makes any sense!”