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.
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.
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.
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.
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.