“The Pajama War” Review

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Original Airdate: January 8, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

There’s been years of awkward tension surrounding Finn and PB by this point. Finn loved her, briefly moved on from her, went running back for more, and then generally distanced himself as he began to get wrapped up with other issues. The Tower showcased PB more as a therapist than as a friend to Finn, even though her efforts came from a caring place, and the two haven’t truly hungout as friends in what seems like forever. The Pajama War puts an end to any apprehension between the two and allows Finn and PB to connect through their respective periods of growth.

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The name and initial premise of the episode sounds jarringly similar to Slumber Party Panic, and while The Pajama War isn’t a direct sequel to that episode in the way that Too Old is a sequel to Too Young, there’s a couple different allusions to it. The hilarious interaction between Finn and Mr. Pig at the beginning when Finn mentions Tree Trunks’ “hot buns” is an obvious reference to his line in the first episode, and works as a mechanism to show just how much time has passed since the series premiere. Likewise, the dynamic between Finn and PB in this one really shows how much has changed in their own relationship; Finn no longer swoons over her and feels head over heels in her presence. He still loves her, but understands that there is no romantic future between the two. Likewise, PB still deeply cares for him, but no longer wants to tease him or give him false hope for such a future. So the two are casually nice and polite to each other, but don’t know exactly how to connect after so much change has occurred over time. Their interactions are clearly awkward after their failure to land a seat in “music chairs” leaves them stuck in a closet to play “7 Minutes in Heaven.” Finn has a way of politely trying to respect people’s boundaries as much as possible: he attempts to be as quiet and to mind his own business as much as possible around PB, and is even surprised when she invites him to go for a walk with her. This is once again brought up again later in Bun Bun, when Finn almost immediately leaves the Fire Kingdom until Flame Princess invites him in. After making a long chain of mistakes, Finn realizes how pushy and clingy he may have been, especially with his female comrades. That being said, he’s still very naive. He chooses the polite and respectful path, but doesn’t realize that those people he hurt still care for him and want to be his friend.

During their time together, the two mainly shoot the breeze; they go for a walk in a VR grassland, play with PB’s giant cat named Timmy, and eat edible fire. It’s pretty cool to see that Prubs has an entire secret room where she can get away from the stressors of her everyday life, though I also bet that she rarely ever uses it. Bubblegum’s whole deal is being encased in her work and barely ever having time for herself, but as of her recent decision to allow herself to take a chill pill for once, she’s allowed herself an opportunity to explore her own laidback realm with the company of her close friend. It also allows the two to open up to each other for the first time in a while. It’s kind of awesome that we have PB talking about her own revelation that she wants to relax more and allow her citizens to go about their lives as they please only an episode after The Cooler. Adventure Time usually takes its sweet time with following up on plot points, though it’s refreshing to see this element of PB’s development being referenced so soon. One thing that hasn’t been referenced in quite some time is Finn’s father, who Finn seems to have been dwelling on over time and has come to his own conclusions about Martin’s questionable behavior. As Finn states, “but, but maybe acting like daddy just isn’t what he does. Maybe my dad’s not a dad but a kid stuck in a dad’s body.” It’s a step forward for Finn to feel some form of empathy for his father, though he’s still attempting to justify Martin’s behavior. It isn’t for some time that Finn finally accepts his father for being genuinely shitty, as Finn still wants to believe that Martin is worth changing. PB and Finn are able to chat about these issues casually, as most people with a long history are. Though, in the spirit of close friends, they don’t focus on this heaviness, and get right back into having carefree fun.

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There’s also a small, but huge moment when Finn realizes the Candy People have gone completely insane. He’s hesitant to tell Bubblegum, but then shows her quickly after she asks a second time. The Finn we saw in Too Old would have totally tried to divert the attention from the video so he could spend more time with Bubblegum, but it’s clearly framed here that Finn doesn’t want to show PB because he doesn’t want her to suffer. It’s an example of Finn being much more selfless in his behavior to the princess; he doesn’t want to be dishonest with her, but he also doesn’t want to tell her anything at the expense of her own happiness. Months earlier, his primary concern would have been his own suffering, but as Breezy proved, his love and care for others is what defines Finn as a person.

As the two reflect while watching the VR sunset, they confide to each other how much they enjoyed hanging out. That’s the subtle beauty of Adventure Time; you don’t need to have PB and Finn talk about how awkward things have been and then decide to be best friends once more or something shmaltzy like that. As solid writing typically goes, The Pajama War shows, rather than tells. It shows PB and Finn bonding and rekindling their friendship, but kind of leaves things ambiguous for the future. When this episode first aired, there were a ton of people who thought it was implying that Finn and PB would eventually hook up, but the show has continued to disprove that possibility from this point on. It’s a terrific shift in dynamic for the series, and continues to showcase AT’s desire to move forward with its characters in new and exciting directions.

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And I didn’t even mention the main plot yet featuring the Candy People, which is good fun! Albeit nothing special or new, but entertaining regardless. It’s always nice to see side characters like Manfried, the suddenly very popular Colonel Candy Corn (seriously, what is it about season six and its obsession with this guy?), and Crunchy, whose introspective fascination in tyranny makes a lot more sense in hindsight. It also ties back into the allusions of Slumber Party Panic, by mainly focusing on the absurd nature of the Candy Kingdom’s citizens. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the stupidity of the Candy People, and just how easy it would be for their society to collapse without Bubblegum around. It really paints a gray picture for PBubs: as much as she wants to be chill and let her people live their lives, they’re incredibly stupid and have no shot of living a well-kept life on their own. At least she tried to have faith in them, even if it backfired. Regardless, I don’t have much to say about the A-Plot. It’s full of intermittent humorous moments, like the way Jake sadistically watches as the Candy Kingdom collapses before his eyes, but it isn’t really worth going over in great detail.

As a whole, I think this one is mostly solid. It captures the heart of PB and Finn’s developing friendship, with the Candy People providing good laughs in between. Granted, this is one I respect more than I actually enjoy on a personal level, but it’s deserving of that respect. This is probably Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim’s best episode of the season (this one has Seo written all over it, with its Fubblegum centered premise and its desire to be as cute as possible), and that’s because it focuses on the growth and development of our main characters. And, as Somvilay and Seo have proven in these later seasons, that growth is something they can pull of with great results.

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Favorite line: “For a society to function, it needs rules. 1. You must drink tea with your pizza. 2. Pizza can only be eaten alone. 3. If a pizza is found in a field, you must make the next person you see holding a glass of milk eat it.”

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