“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.”

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