“Elemental” Review

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Original Airdate: May 19, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne

After the events of Evergreen, a bit of a hunger arose inside of me to see more into the backstory of the elementals and their role in the state of Ooo and the world in general. Only a season later, Elemental comes around and interestingly brings back said storyline, drops a bomb by revealing information about some of our central characters, and opens up for a lot in future entries. With that in mind, Elemental is mostly just set up for future episodes down the line, in typical Adventure Time fashion. So, we don’t get too far into said lore or story before the episode shuts down completely, but it does have a decent amount of fun along the way. This is a Kent Osborne solo-board, which is still kind of surprising to me. Aside from being a regular board artist on Ice King-centric episodes, I never pictured Osborne being especially into to the underlying lore of the series. Though, he is one of the head story editors, after all, and had a hefty part is crafting Elemental’s plot.

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Osborne’s silliness really permeates throughout those first few minutes: we’re treated to Starchy’s sad entrance into his house as he once again remembers that his wife left him, the initial driving conflict of there being no hangers in Ooo, and Jake gassing out Finn during a stakeout. I do enjoy how this episode continuously references Ice King’s behavior as “classic Ice King,” and yeah, that’s exactly how it feels. Osborne has had a big part in creating some of Ice King’s greatest entries in the past, such as Loyalty to the King, Still, Holly Jolly Secrets, and so on, and this episode really feels like a return to form in the wacky adventures of IK, Finn, and Jake. Though again, it feels classic while also feeling current, because it really shows in just how the boys treat him. While they still reprimand Ice King for attempting to steal, they talk to him more like a little brother than they do an actual enemy. Even upon being confronted, Ice King just mutters, “oh, hey guys.” They have a pretty established understanding of each other by this point in time.

The ball doesn’t really start rolling until Patience St. Pim is introduced a few minutes in, who might be one of the most fun villains this show has ever put out. I say might, because this episode is really her one, true moment of stardom, and it’s a ton of fun. I really love how (literally) animated she is as a character, with nearly every sentence she utters being followed by some form of dance move. I also really enjoy the way she interacts with others. The episode has a lot of fun with how much Patience doesn’t understand about current society, as she treats Jake like an actual dog and asks which year it is (which apparently isn’t recorded anymore. Ah, lore!). Going back to what I was saying about the dynamic between IK and F&J, it’s sweet that the boys are quick to defend Ice King as semi-reformed, referencing once again that he hasn’t even attempted to kidnap a princess since The Party’s Over, Isla de Senorita, a whole two seasons ago. But, for every step forward with Ice King is always two steps back, as he continues to be easily influenced by the power of a pretty lady.

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Ice King’s methods of capturing the princesses are hilariously cruel, especially Flame Princess’s. I can only imagine how she feels around him after previously destroying his entire kingdom in Frost & Fire. It’s also interesting to note production-wise that Slime Princess was not voiced by Maria Bamford in this episode. Instead, her brief line was provided by Melissa Villasenor, who voiced Grob in the previous episode. It’s always kind of funny to me that the show persistently utilizes Villasenor’s talents, but only for her to provide a line or two. Her previous credentials include Rainy in Another Way, a Fruit Witch in Dad’s Dungeon, and Sveinn in Broke His Crown. It’s a silly concept to me; does she just happen to stumble by the recording booth every so often and they ask, “hey, could you read these three words for us? Okay, thanks.”

It’s also a lot of fun to see Patience interact with all of the other elementals. I truly love how PB deductively tries to get information out of Patience simply by playing good cop. It’s rare that PB ever resists the urge for absolute rampage, but here, she’s actually using logic in a situation where her hands are essentially tied. Once Patience gets into discussing elemental history, things really get interesting. It’s thoroughly cool to see these various flashes of different incarnations of the elementals, as well as how they persisted within the human world. It’s pretty neat to hear the notion, “it was a non-magic world back then.” With that in mind, I wonder what truly sets apart this era of humanity from everything that came before it and everything that came after it. Does it have something to do with radioactive fallout? The catalyst comets? The Lich? Whatever it is, it’s cool to see that there were essences of magic even then, and that those who were affected by it chose to keep it secretive, and intrinsically knew the weight of the power that they possessed. The parallels between Patience and her former incarnation, Urgence, are very much apparent. Aside from the two having correlations in their names alone, both resist the idea of ending their legacy and choose to defy those that are closest to them. Within the AT lore, ice is easily represented by lonely and solemn behavior, and I think it’s pretty clear that both Patience and Urgence fear death and demise more than anything. Their resistance comes from the fact that they can’t accept the idea of being condemned to an eternity of nothingness over being alive and in power. I also commend this episode for showing the literal apocalypse on screen for a split second. Never thought I’d see that through the course of the series.

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The final leg of the episode is mostly dedicated to a highly energetic confrontation with Patience, in which PB initially tries to defeat her using her elemental powers (though fails, because PB isn’t exactly a firm believer in magic), only for Slime Princess to be the true hero when she channels into her own abilities. The episode ends on a really… odd note, as PB states that “she isn’t going anywhere for awhile.” Uh, but won’t she just get out immediately after the slime is scraped off of her? Is PB really just going to let this potentially dangerous criminal go because she was contained by a temporary setback? It’s a pretty stupid ending that feels like it doesn’t have a real way to successfully wrap things up, while also leaving possibilities open for the future, and makes other characters seem a lot dumber in the process.

But regardless, I do think this one has a lot of fun moments, some interesting lore, and nice subtle moments to top off. I do wish the episode didn’t feel so tightly packed together, as it feels like it strives for a lot in the course of 11 minutes and can barely even wrap it up in that time, but I’ll reinstate that I at least had a good time along the way thanks so some solid writing from Osborne. Interestingly enough, I’m not a huge fan of this one on a storyboarding perspective. I usually like the super cute, squishy designs that Osborne provides for the characters, but here, I think it’s a little too much. Half of the episode features Jake right eye almost entirely off of his face, and his mouth closer to his legs than his body. It was definitely more distracting than charming for me this time around. Regardless, I think the story of the elements eventually leads to some really entertaining and intriguing entries, and Elemental is a mostly solid starting point.

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Favorite line: “You’re like, a beautiful Ice King.” “Oh boy, here we go!”

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