Original Airdate: April 16, 2015
Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez
Friends Forever brings up an interesting question: is Ice King really worth saving? And I mean that in the sense that Ice King has become his own developed and lovable character over the course of six seasons that completely differs from Simon. Of course, Ice King is depressed and deeply troubled, and Simon lost his sanity to the crown, so for that reason, it almost makes sense to reverse the effects of the crown and thus to save Simon. Though, Ice King makes it very clear in this episode that he doesn’t want to be “fixed” and doesn’t want the help from the likes of others. Some parts of Simon’s personality and the personality of Urgence Evergreen that was embedded in the crown (there’s a nice little homage to Evergreen in this one when Ice King scolds, “Gunther, no!”) are what make up Ice King’s identity, and while he is far from the most conscientious being, he still has free will and is very much a conscious entity. So would bringing Simon back effectively destroy the Ice King as a person without his approval?
The concept is presented in a challenging way, which is also appreciated. As Friends Forever continues to remind us, Ice King is still clearly insane. He manipulates the Life Giving Magus into bringing his furniture to life in the hopes that they can become his best friends, instead of simply reaching out to Magus to fill that void. In addition to that, it seems that Ice King’s comradery with Abracadaniel was only temporary, as Ice King quickly got sick of him and decided to keep him frozen within the ice cave. In a sense, this is a way to help reinforce his imperfect nature. This is the Ice King we know, and the episode doesn’t try manipulate the audience into feeling more sympathetic by making him seem completely innocent and totally naive. Though, the sympathy does come through in regards to his general demeanor.
Magus’s powers turn IK’s furniture into pretentious and stuffy beings, who want nothing to do with Ice King and his obscure personality. Ice King’s belongings merely want to berate him by bringing up his flaws and insecurities and deeming them as unorthodox. Even the lamp, who is likely the nicest out of all of Ice King’s newly found friends, only offers advice that urges Ice King to conform, rather than to continue to be his nutty self. There are some aspects about Ice King that certainly deserve some fine-tuning, such as his desire to kidnap princesses (of which he hasn’t even been seen doing since Betty) and his failure to be rational when things do not go his way, but the factors that Ice King’s belongings target him with are, at best, petty. Ice King crying into diapers and having burritos stuck in his beard are nothing that he even needs to have an explanation for, and again, his “friends” simply want to fix him because his unusual ways of living do no conform to their expectations. Ice King’s drum even says “we don’t like you, but we’re here for you!” Ice King has proven to be most successful when he has the right support by his side, as seen when he gets closer to other characters like Marceline, Princess Bubblegum, and BMO.
It’s kind of a good analogy to show the dangers of keeping toxic friends in your life. Toxic friends are the ones who say they’re there for you and that they’re looking out for your best interests, but they merely want to shape you into what they think you should be like. Ice King identifies with this, and his choice to push away the help that lies in front of him shows that he doesn’t really want to be helped to begin with. I wouldn’t say Ice King is really happy, but he’s at least content with his being because he knows it’s the only way he understands how to live. That isn’t to say that Ice King might not need help at all, but if he does receive such support, it should be from people who genuinely care for him and those who are looking out for his best interests. This is the first of many episodes that got me thinking about Ice King’s nature in general and whether it actually makes sense for him to be reverted back into his natural form as Simon. This show has made me care so deeply for Ice King throughout the past six seasons and further that I think it would be a genuine bummer if the crown was altered in some sort of way to return Simon to “normal” when it comes to the endgame. Sure, it’d be nice to see Simon safe, sound, and happy again, but if that means killing Ice King, then I really don’t know. Friends Forever effectively separates the two entities in head scratching way that makes me very perplexed on how this arc could realistically end in a satisfying way. It would be sad if Simon was unable to regain his humanity, but even sadder if it meant getting rid of Ice King. He has just as much of a role in the lives of the main characters as Simon does, if not more so. And if Ice King doesn’t want to change himself or the way he lives, he should be entitled to his own state of free will and consciousness.
So with all those interesting ideologies, this must be a really good episode, right? Actually, I think it’s just decent. Sure, I can invest my time in analyzing all of the deeper elements of Ice King’s character and how his furniture treats him, but I don’t know how much I really enjoyed this one. This is an Ristaino-Sanchez duo episode that is surprisingly low on laughs. I only really laughed at the improv joke, the “Nihilistic Funnies”, and the random words lighting up gag. Besides that, it’s kind of dry regarding anything of entertainment value. Ice King’s belongings in general aren’t very likable or memorable, and aside from some funny designs, like the Hi-Hat on Ice King’s drums, every belonging is limited to the standard dotted eyes feature and aren’t really presented as unique in any way. The lamp I think has an especially hideous design that kills any kind of likability they were going for with her. There’s something especially unsettling about those wide eyes and that fat upper lip that just kind of rubs me the wrong way. In addition to that, the setting is relatively dull. Aside from some party lights that illuminate the setting in a pretty neat way, this episode takes place entirely in the Ice Castle, and it seems a lot more monotonous when so many previous episodes have had their own distinct setting. So yeah, this isn’t one I like a whole lot, but it does at least provide me with good material for discussions. It’s an interesting Ice King outing that does raise plenty of different questions regarding his state of being, but is a bit lacking on the entertainment value.