Original Airdate: November 25, 2014
Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan
Looking at Is That You? from its premise alone, it easily could have tanked. A quasi-clip show episode that once again defies the status quo by returning Prismo to his former state and centered around a wildly convoluted and barely understandable story created by Jesse Moynihan? Yeah, this one just sounds like a dud on paper, but one that is actually quite awesome in execution. Really proves just how successfully Adventure Time is able to pull off any type of story, no matter how cliched or ridiculous it might sound.
As for Prismo’s revival itself, I’m not sure that it’s actually entirely necessary. I mean, Prismo appears about three more times in the series (one of which is a flashback), and Crossover is the only episode where he contributes to the actual story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Prismo, but I wish his revival actually played a bigger part in the grand scheme of things. It seems more like a copout when characters in this series are brought back simply for the sake of being brought back, with the most prominent example being Root Beer Guy. Though, as I mentioned, there’s an episode like Crossover that absolutely cannot exist without his presence, so I guess I’m contradicting my own point. And, the way he’s actually revived in this episode seems completely in line with something that Prismo would do/plan. Get the feeling Jesse really understands and enjoys Prismo’s character.
Prismo also finally gets a proper memorial service, and unlike how Billy’s death wasn’t acknowledged for an entire span of a season, this gap of time actually feels like it makes sense. Jake isn’t one who takes to death too lightly and would rather stay in denial than to actually deal with his close friend passing away. The service is certainly emotional for Jake, but it’s once again presented in such a goofy and hilarious way that it avoids being too lamentable. Adventure Time has this really great way of making light of darker situations, though it (usually) never feels tasteless or awkwardly placed. The way Finn and Jake send off Prismo is likely exactly how Prismo would want to be remembered.
I think it’s a given that any show that has at least 300 episodes would have a clip show or a recap episode at some point, and Adventure Time has done both, while cleverly subverting tropes and never actually hitting on cliches. Jake’s time-lapsed self recreates some of his all-time best moments, including everything burrito, Bacon Pancakes, and his techno-tuned dance moves from Power Animal. The best part is that the episode actually recycles the exact poses and animation from said episodes, which can really make for some hilarious night-and-day scenes. It’s also quite endearing; just look at that uncomfortably wonky shot of Jake saying “tough boysss!” from Crystals Have Power and compare it to Jesse’s mostly stellar work now. He’s really come a long way since the beginning. The moments themselves are a funny tribute to some of Jake’s greatest hits, and even funnier is that each sequence ends with Jake fucking exploding. It’s a gag that never truly gets old, and it’s even more enjoyable to watch Finn go from being absolutely terrified from such an occurrence to being totally numb to the whole situation.
Speaking of which, it’s nice to see Finn getting some action once again (though not in the Breezy sense)! He had major appearances in the past ten or so episodes, like Ocarina and Ghost Fly, but this feels like the first time in a while that we’re seeing things through his perspective once more. There’s that great shot as he wakes up from his nightmare and notices the now browned thorn on his hand, reminding us and himself that his physical and metaphorical scars still remain very much in tact. Though the episode doesn’t really focus too much on Finn’s own baggage, as he’s more preoccupied with the wellbeing of his brother.
And booooy, is Jake’s journey a doozie. It’s an Inception style trek through space and time that feels almost impossible to follow entirely. Essentially, the present version of Jake takes the place of Prismo’s resting spot, where he’s left to sleep before Finn wakes him up, assuring that the present Jake is kept alert while the past version of Jake once again takes his place in the bed, so current Finn can then approach the past Finn and stop him from waking past Jake up, assuring that the two will still be intact even after Prismo’s reincarnation. And if you had trouble following that, believe me, so did I. But the great part is that I don’t really care that I don’t fully understand what’s going on. Finn and Jake, and even Prismo, aren’t even sure they comprehend their surroundings, which is reassuring from an audience perspective and kind of just helps us to enjoy the journey regardless, which is a ton of fun.
The backgrounds in this one are LUSCIOUS. I could’ve sworn from the various staircase-style layers that Derek Ballard actually had some sort of part in designing the backgrounds for this one, but per usual, it’s Chris Tsirgiortis and Derek Hunter, who, also per usual, do a magnificent job. These backdrops aren’t especially complicated in nature, though their lush, painted color schemes and simple, boxed layout make them really aesthetically pleasing. I totally don’t agree with the notion that Adventure Time is the best show to watch while high, because I feel like that undermines its quality even during sobriety, but even then, this is the perfect episode in that category. It’s calming, cool, and bizarre in all the right ways, and really captures the more chill side of Jesse’s trippy writing style.
Speaking of which, Moynihan also squeezes in some decent philosophy. Jake is mostly used as an observer in this one, but in a way that’s quite enjoyable. I love all of his little observations, especially his acknowledgement of, “what if the world was just some goof’s dream? That would be dumb.” Dunno about everyone else, but I always thought that touched on the ongoing belief that Adventure Time would end up just being one big dream sequence, which, as this episode states, would be incredibly stupid. Glad the audience isn’t the only one to think so. I also believe Jake thinking out loud is cool because it provides for some rare introspective moments from his character. Though it feels a little too eloquently put for Jake to state, his monologue during the Lich sequence is just great.
“I remember feelin’ like someone had peeled a layer away from my brain, and my reality was no longer anchored to any point of reference, and I had to fight to keep from being crushed under the weight of an unforgiving new paradigm of ultimate reality.”
Never would have thought those words would come out of Jake’s mouth, but it really just shows how in tune to his surroundings that Jake is. Though he’s easily distracted and somewhat absent minded, Jake really does soak in everything he possibly can when he’s invested in particular situations. The Lich aspect of the clip show is also a great reminder that the Lich is still very much alive, even if he’s subdued. Adventure Time has these great little moments sprinkled throughout seasons 6, 7, and 8 to remind us of just how evil the Lich is, even if he isn’t actively cognitive.
And of course, there’s also Prismo, who set up the entire plan. As always, Kumail Nanjiani does just a super job of portraying his character, and he may just be one of my favorite voice actors in the entire series! He captures the whimsy, charm, and detached nature of Prismo’s character all in one tone, and it always feels like he’s putting his all into Prismo even if he doesn’t have to emote much. The connection between Jake and Prismo is as strong as ever, and even Prismo and Finn form a more heartwarming connection. I love Finn acknowledging that he and Prismo aren’t truly close friends, though they just simply have a strong mutual respect for each other. I think we all know that type of person in real life, and Finn sums it up quite nicely. The icing on the cake is the ending, when Finn essentially kills himself to help to revive Prismo. In a long stance of stagnation in Finn’s life, I think this is just the kind of action that truly shows how heroic he remains. Even with his aforementioned scars, Finn is still willing to put others before himself, even if it means possibly sacrificing his own being. Granted, I think a lot of people could look into this in a much darker perspective, but I don’t think Finn willingly almost ending his life relates back to his own depressed feelings. He simply realizes that Prismo once took a bullet for him, and wants to repay that favor, and he’s rewarded in the best way possible: with a sick new sword. The Finn Sword may be my favorite sword in the entire series; it’s polished, clean, and wholesome, just like Finn himself! I think it’s the perfect visual representation of Finn as a character, and has possibly the biggest effect on the actual story out of all of Finn’s swords, aside from the grass blade. It’s a terrific welcoming back ceremony for the Pris-man.
This one’s just sheer awesome. It takes advantage of everything it has going for it, and though it has some aspects that could have easily come across as pretentious or even cliched, they’re presented in the absolute strongest and most unique ways possible. This is Jesse’s second solo-board in the series, and it fairs much, much better than Something Big. While complicated, Is That You? boasts a thoroughly cohesive story that brings back a very enjoyable character, and celebrates some of Jake the Dog’s greatest moments. And, in a bomb of episodes that goes out of its way to celebrate Jake’s character, this is quite the spectacular tribute.
This episode is everything Jesse Moynihan’s other episodes this season so far weren’t: both coherent and wildly entertaining. “Breezy” (for me) didn’t really manage to be either, while “Something Big” only achieved the latter. “Is That You?”, meanwhile, is one of Adventure Time’s very best episodes. It’s one of those chapters where tons of story and complex plot elements are thrown in there, and yet they all fit. It’s pure brilliance.