“Graybles 1000+” Review

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Original Airdate: May 7, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

Out of the experimental projects Adventure Time has focused on over the years, the Graybles episodes are likely the least memorable. That’s not to say that they’re completely awful; the Graybles episodes are an assortment of inoffensive and often relatively humorous short stories, but typically nothing more than that. Between the acclaimed Fionna & Cake series and the visually unique guest animated episodes, it’s no wonder that the Graybles entries are generally sidelined. However, Graybles 1000+ manages to be an absolutely memorable gem by staying true to its source material while also expanding on the various interesting ways these stories can be told and the Adventure Time world as a whole.

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Continuing in season six’s tradition of focusing on the many different inhabitants of the Land of Ooo and beyond, this one focuses almost entirely on the life of Cuber, and once again, the show manages to make me care about a character I didn’t really think twice about before. Emo Phillips reprises his role as Cuber, who not only has one of the most distinct voices in the entire series, but also manages to capture the sense that Cuber is not from the present timeline to a tee. Cuber’s backstory as a baby – or in this case, a bayble – is not inherently really interesting, but is one that I grow affectionate for as the episode goes on.  It’s really awesome to me that Cuber’s connection and investment in Graybles go beyond just his role as an obscure television host. This episode presents Graybles as Cuber’s method of coping with his issues and his guide to getting himself out of trouble. As the beginning of the episode and a majority of the episode shows, Cuber seems to be a being stricken by constant paranoia, and Graybles are what help to propel him forward. It’s kind of neat that Graybles were given a purpose aside from just their initial intent, and even cooler that they represent the hierarchy of needs (despite Cuber’s directions to the audience to NOT look for a theme) and help Cuber to acquire his own set of necessities. Starting first with his physiologic needs.

I’ll talk about the actual Graybles in a bit, but I wanna get to the real meat first: the futuristic version of Ooo. We’ve had plenty of episodes that have dealt with the AT world’s past history, like Simon & MarcyThe Vault, and Evergreen, but this is the first episode to strictly focus on the future of said world, after getting some visual hints sprinkled around in Lemonhope – Part 2. This one was solo-boarded by Steve Wolfhard, and is his first solo-board to date, and boy, does he love including these little lore-based Easter eggs as much as possible. Wolfhard once stated,

“A fav part of working on AT is writing stuff like Martin’s speech in The Visitor, knowing what we throw will be caught later by the writers… I love that stuff. Feels like playing catch.”

This episode is very much in the same vein, with little hints of information and nothing explicit. But while an episode like The Visitor had questions that still demanded answers, the inquiries brought up by Graybles 1000+ don’t really demand as such. I mean, of course, there’s obvious bits that do require more information, like the appearance of the Ice Thing and what he actually embodies, though the rest of the episode comprises of small hints of information that are unsatisfying in all the right ways. For example, we hear a banjo strumming within Marceline’s still standing house, which could imply that Marceline is still living there, or it could mean that somebody else has moved in entirely. There’s also the Prizeball Guardian (who has a pretty incredible design, by the way) and the secluded living room within its interior, though no actual resident is seen. Again, this could imply that Bubblegum is still alive and has taken refuge inside her own safe haven, but again, these are questions that I think are best left up to interpretations of the audience. I’m sure some of these will ultimately get answered when the finale finally does air 12 years from now, but I’d hope that a couple of these hints are left mysterious. I even like the little implication that the interrupted wedding may involve descendants of Jake’s family, as they look somewhat similar in design to a character like Kim Kil Whan, and also speak in Korean.

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This episode is really dull and uncolorful in its scenery, but in a way that I think is fitting and ultimately tragic. It’s really unforgiving in how much it emphasizes the fact that nothing in Ooo that we know and love will last forever. Hell, Cuber even flat out says that Jake is dead when he states, “bobble bobble, as the dead might say,” which is obvious considering it takes place one thousand years in the future, but holy shit is it bleak to think about our main characters dying at all. Graybles 1000+ is depressingly honest in all the right ways, and shows how finite the world as a whole is. It’s easy to think everything is forever, but as this episode shows, even vivid fantasies don’t last. The lack of color really adds to how much has changed within the Candy Kingdom and beyond, and the lifeless, grown tree is pretty heartbreaking considering how fun and vibrant the Tree Fort is as a location in general. A lot of people consider the ending of Lemonhope – Part 2 to be the really depressing futuristic version of Ooo, but I think this episode takes it one step beyond and really hammers in the tragedy of it all, considering that it’s all featured subtley in the background. To me, that’s the brilliance of it all. You have Cuber, who simply wants to get himself out of trouble and could care less about the people and lands that occupied his surroundings, and so we, the audience, are left to respond to his surroundings for him. It’s all really nicely tied together, which is again, mostly thanks to Wolfhard’s tremendous focus on small details.

I’ll chat briefly about each Grayble now. Finn, Jake, and BMO’s little shtick is nothing particularly spectacular, though it’s cute and fun as always. This Grayble is representative of safety, which is nice to see, because I feel like Finn actually using the wand would totally be the story of a first or second season episode, while he’s grown to recognize the dangers of such an item, and would prefer to keep it out of harm’s way instead. There’s actually three really interesting bits in the storyboard that ultimately didn’t make it into the episode:

  • Finn asks Jake is he’s ever imagined the two of them as girls, which is pretty obviously an allusion to Fionna and Cake.
  • Jake states, “lately I’ve been thinking about whoever your mom is, I have a lot of questions for her!” Kinda glad this one didn’t make the cut, because there’s already so much going on in this one as it is, but it’s still cool regardless to get a mention of Finn’s mother after the events of The Visitor. I have a feeling Finn did inform Jake of the story Martin told him.
  • BMO mentions, “I think a lot about the Lich!” Pretty dark for the little dude.

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Onto Ice King’s, where it’s pretty much the same in tone as the first Grayble: it’s cute and fun, but nothing great. I don’t say this to demean the episode in any way, however. As I mentioned, I think it was really clever for Cuber to use these cute little stories as a method to help him cope with the world around him. Even if that means fixing his own broken leg, which still makes me squick to this day. Ice King’s Grayble very clearly represents social belonging, when he mentions that he loves Gunther.

Starchy’s is easily the funniest and most intriguing, as he discovers a chip in his tooth that is used by Princess Bubblegum to detect his every movement. I didn’t really like this at first, because I felt as though it was taking a step backward in PB’s developmental path, but at the same time, we don’t really know when the Grayble takes place. PB’s wearing her “I ♥ Bunny” t-shirt, which could imply that this took place during Jake the Brick, thus before the events of The Cooler. Regardless, it’s fun to see the ever-paranoid Starchy flee the Candy Kingdom, and the idea that the remainder of the series probably features a clone of Starchy and not the initial one we see in this episode. I’d love to see an episode elaborate on where the first Starchy fled off to. Also, it’s once again pretty cool to see a new lard species, with this one being a Grass Lard. I’d love to see a Pokemon Go! rip-off featuring the entire lard species. Starchy’s Grayble represents esteem, as he mentions that walking gives him self-esteem (which actually doubles as a good message to the kiddies about the importance of exercise to benefit overall psychological health).

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The final Grayble is cute, with Tuber teaching Cuber a lesson in self-actualization (the final part of the triangle!) as he realizes that he is able to protect himself, with some much needed help from his Graybles. I guess the one thing I sort of feel weird about with this one is that Cuber pretty much straight up killed someone at the beginning, but he’s still kind of viewed as a hero in the end. I mean, granted, it was an accident and he didn’t really get a chance to explain his behavior, but I do think it’s weird that it’s kind of glanced over by the time we get to the end of the episode. It didn’t really affect my overall investment in his character, though.

Regardless, I think Graybles 1000+ is pretty awesome. Not only is it an awesomely tragic view of the futuristic Ooo, but it also adds so much depth to Cuber and the Graybles in general. It’s also just some really high stakes fun as well. I think Cuber’s situation is legitimately enticing, and it’s kept that way through a fast-paced tour among the post-post-post apocalyptic civilization. This is one that I definitely think deserves more recognition, as it manages to be really intriguing, mainly because of its subtle Wolfhardian details, but also because it builds on the AT world in so many different ways. Graybles 1000+ is another strong, lore-based episode in season six, and the best Graybles episode to date.

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Favorite line: “You try not to think of a sandwich, and look what happens! A sandwich!”

 

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