“Jake the Brick” Review

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Original Airdate: November 26, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne

Jake the Brick, like Is That You?, is a concept that just sounds incredibly nonsensical on paper. I mean, Jake shapeshifts into a brick? That’s the best idea they could come up with? Jake the Brick actually derives from a game of exquisite corpse that Tom Herpich doodled up during a writers’ meeting, and Kent and the crew found it so humorous that they decided to make an entire episode out of it. Yet, the idea of Jake being a brick as the main story of an episode is a mere farce; the episode is really about Jake simply narrating the life of a bunny, and how it interacts with its environment. This story sounds even more boring, but it’s executed in such a way that I think is just brilliant. This is Kent Osborne’s first solo-board, and likely his best episode of all time.

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The beginning of the episode is likely one of my all-time favorite AT moments. Finn walking through various areas in the Grass Lands, while we’re treated to some absolutely lovely backgrounds (this episode is chock full of ‘em) and Tim Kiefer’s chill score in the background is the very definition of zen. Reminds me of those lo-fi videos on YouTube that play nice electro-jazz music while a looped AT video rolls in the background. The atmosphere is pure bliss, and it’s always fun to just see Finn breathe and relax in his environment. Despite his anxieties and personal issues, he really does embody the playful, laidback teen that we’ve all come to love so much. In addition to that, he even has his own little motif going on in this one, as he continuously attempts to toss various items into a trash can, though fails at doing so. It could be tied back into the overall theme of failure followed by an ultimately satisfying outcome, but I just like to think that it gives Finn his own simplistic conflict to get through. And just like the somewhat mundane issue presented in the episode, Finn’s unexpected success in the end is just as rewarding.

When coming across Jake, it’s pretty clear our lovable dog friend is in some type of mood, and it borders on the existential side. If Jake was ever shown in partake in some kind of weird, ambitious midlife crisis, I think this would be the greatest example of such a thing. It’s hard to say what exactly Jake wants to experience, as I don’t think his silly desire to be a brick in a wall is something he considered on a surface level. As he states later, “Who cares about being a brick in a wall of a fallen-down shack? There’s something bigger than that, and the bunny has answers.” We all know how calm and welcoming Jake is when it comes to death, and I feel that Jake the Brick finally has him come to terms with his own fascination with the great beyond, as he acknowledges that life is much more than just waiting on the entire world to perish. And for Jake, that’s huge!

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There’s something about Osborne’s take on the characters that just always feels incredibly sweet to me. Osborne really seems to capture the non-cynical nature of the AT world to a tee; I thought it was absolutely adorable how upset and worried BMO is for Jake, along with the little pat on the head that Finn gives him, and the fact that Finn is so impressed and captivated by Jake’s narration that he puts it on air for all to hear. Of course, this could have so easily turned into a “get rich fast” scheme, or an opportunity for Finn to embarrass Jake, but these characters are much too caring and compassionate for such a behavior, and Kent is very much aware of that.

The beginning of Jake’s narration encapsulates more of those delectable backdrops I mentioned earlier. The shift from daytime, to evening, to nighttime beautifies the entire environment. The atmosphere in general is quite mellow, as John DiMaggio reads off a smooth and relaxed description of the woodland area around him. DiMaggio himself should have won some type of award for his role in this episode; he embodies everything that shows like Planet Earth and The Blue Planet set out to do, by showing off nature’s wonders, with a competent, cool voice at the helm. Animation in general is a great medium to tackle such an idea, and I really haven’t seen any other show carry out an idea like this the way Adventure Time does. Granted, I’ve seen spoofs and parodies of such documentary series, though none that are as earnest and dedicated as Jake the Brick attempts to be. And the cinematic moments in these bits are great, using slow fades to transition into some unique, soothing shots.

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As the night continues into a harsher rain, Jake keeps his cool as he continues to narrate the journey of a bunny, with dozens of Ooo citizens now listening in. It’s both hilarious and undeniably sweet that all of these various random characters would listen in to hear Jake talk about a bunny, but it is really nice to see all these various people who are so different in many ways have some sort of common interest, all tied back to our main character. Without even trying or knowing it, Jake has brought together so many people with the simple power of his words. Jake believes that secluding himself as a brick will help to show him the meaning of life, though he’s already proven said meaning by connecting to the people around him in outstanding ways. There’s so many great callbacks here that it would be redundant to mention every single one of them, so I’ll just call out my favorites:

  • Really loved seeing Lady and T.V. playing cards together. T.V. is pretty clearly a homebody, and I get the feeling that Lady embraces that and looks upon him without judgement.
  • Sweet P’s first reappearance since Escape From the Citadel, and his cute little jammies.
  • Colonel Candy Corn listening in with a full globe of Earth in his quarters. Just how old is this guy?
  • Rattleballs rebuilding his motherfuckin’ bros. I would love if this army of Rattleballses came into play in the finale.
  • Abracadaniel having a “Buff Wizards” magazine next to his exercising bike. They’re not even being subtle here.
  • Lemonhope’s wild adventure on an eagle.
  • Betty doing research in a cave with the letters “M+M+S” written on a piece of paper. Great foreshadowing.

The music and visuals during Jake’s narration are also just splendid. Love the uplifting little acoustic guitar tune that plays as the beavers assist the bunny, and the cute animals in general are all just so charming. Also, props to see the sea lard back in action. The lard species takes a big step in prominence this season.

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The ending that ties it all together is also really nice. I love just how extremely invested these citizens get to the point where they’re all wearing “I ♥ Bunny” t-shirts. As a viewer, I could never fully understand the tensity behind the bunny’s situation, though the way everyone reacts to it really draws you in. They care about this one bunny so much that it effectively makes the viewer care about it as well. And, through it all, Jake realizes that his lifelong ambition just simply isn’t worthwhile. There’s tons of life out there and it’s time to experience it just like this one bunny. In the wildness of Ooo, it’s nice to see something so uncomplicated having such a positive impact on this world.

I think Jake the Brick is just terrific. It’s so calming, cool, and enjoyable, and creates an atmosphere unlike any other episode to date. Granted, it’s not an absolute person favorite, but it does everything so well that I have to commend it regardless. It has beautiful scenery and music, features incredible voice acting from John DiMaggio, is overall just a thoroughly pleasant experience, and checks up on most of our favorite characters, some of whom we haven’t seen in quite some time. This episode won an Emmy for Outstanding Short Format Animation, and I can’t think of a better standalone episode from this season to win such a category.

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Favorite line: “No, man, bricks don’t stay in touch!”

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