Original Airdate: November 19, 2016
Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard
Preboot alone had already raised several questions and opened new doors for the series in general, so it’s surprising that its sequel episode, Reboot, seeks to answer zero questions and instead manages to be even more ambiguous. Reboot, in many ways, is one big mess. There’s hardly any resemblance of a story, the humor falls flat a majority of the time, and the animation is often underwhelming. Yet, I find myself strangely captivated by this one. Out of every episode in the series, I think I can say with utter certainty that I don’t think I’ve ever been on the edge of my seat more than I was with Reboot. It’s a high-speed, stressful rush that, once started, never really lets up until the very end of the episode when things just… end. It’s likely the most abrupt that an episode of AT has ever closed out, and I think it’s somewhat ingeniously executed. Right when the episode is at the peak of its intensity, things suddenly stop, leaving the viewer (at least, from my personal perspective) wanting even more. AT has always been good at teasing its fanbase for what’s ahead, but with the end in sight, I think everyone was much more optimistic about the unraveling of said mysteries rather than feeling cheated.
There isn’t a whole lot to analyze or go over for this one, aside from simply emphasizing my points from the intro paragraph. From the moment Susan’s implant goes haywire, the episode transitions into a frenzied, anxiety-ridden sequence, and anxiety-ridden is a pretty decent description to how every character reacts in this episode: Finn must resist the impulse of allowing his grass sword to take over, PB must find a way to save everyone without causing harm to anyone, and Jake is faced with his failure to resist protecting his brother at all costs, even if that means hurting those around him. Of all of these introspective character moments, I think I especially like Finn’s mini-arc. With all of the power literally in the palm of his hand, Finn can so easily allow himself to be saved if he just simply gives into those urges. Though, in his eyes, it doesn’t seem like a viable option. After everything that happened with Finn Sword, I think Finn is afraid to even allow the grass sword any kind of power, in fear of hurting anyone like he previously did. Finn’s fear of hurting others and his inability to properly fight and defend himself in the process progressively becomes a more consistent part of his character as the series continues, and he only continues to struggle with similar circumstances from this point on.
When I appeared on the RE-Cast podcast back in September, I joked that the episode title From Bad to Worse could easily apply to any episode in the series. If I had to pick a more appropriate episode for that title, it would certainly be Reboot. I really love how much the episode plays around with just how strong Susan is, and any attempt to actually stop her only makes things exceedingly more dangerous. I think it’s a little bit contrived that Susan’s chip absorbed the Gumball Guardian’s blast, but even then, I do think it’s fun to watch all of these really strong and not-so-strong characters go against Susan with relatively no chance of succeeding. It becomes a bit repetitive after a while, but I really think it adds to the tension that Susan is absolutely unstoppable, and it really makes you wonder just how exactly she’s going to be stopped.
AT is a cartoon, so more often than not, pain feels and is executed in a very temporary fashion. For the most part, however, everything presented in Reboot feels kind of gruesome. Rattleballs is smashed to bits, Finn and Susan suffer long-lasting injuries following this episode, and even Jake gets royally fucked up to the point that a ton of fans actually thought he was dead. Like, no kidding. There was a point in time when fans thought that Jake had died 40 episodes before the series finale. While it’s easy to dismiss this theory as ridiculous, it really goes to show how well this episode presents pain and injury. It’s kept mostly light at first with the absurd catchphrase “yubba dubba dubba,” but by the time Jake utters it, it feels more concerning than comedic. Even though Jake is one of our main characters, the stakes within this episode feel so real that you can’t really help but question his well being yourself.
But before he does end up biting the dust, Jake assists his brother in fighting off Susan. The scene in which Finn slides up Jake’s body and transforms into the Jake Suit is legitimately one of my favorite moments in the entire series. The momentum, timing, camera angle, and music are so Goddamn pitch-perfect that it legitimately took my breath away the first time I had seen it, and still does to this day! The fight sequence that follows is less remarkable for its lack in fluidity, but I do somewhat admire it for being a uniquely choreographed battle. The camera pretty much stays in one spot as Jake Suit and Susan perform a number of different wrestling moves on each other, and it’s neat, despite the middling animation. The most tense moment in the episode is easily when Finn’s grass sword does go berserk and begins to crush Susan with all of its might. Again, tying back to what I was saying earlier, we should know that no lasting damages are actually going to happen to Susan, but execution is everything with Reboot and it feels quite stressful and unpreventable. If that wasn’t enough, however, the episode leaves us with one of the biggest “what the fuck” moments in the series, as Finn’s grass sword leaves his body, merges with the Finn Sword, and becomes an entire being in the course of a few seconds. Finn is once again left armless (permanently, this time!) and an entirely separate story arc has now emerged itself into the main story. Once again, in typical Adventure Time fashion, things only continue to get exceptionally crazier and lore heavy down the line.
So, I really can’t defend Reboot on all levels. Besides its somewhat sloppy pacing and forced jokes, there are some minor to major inconsistencies that this episode presents. I appreciated that they brought back Finn’s immunity to electricity, but what was the point if they have him getting shocked by Susan’s headpiece only a few seconds later? And, in a more pressing issue, Susan’s lab name from Dr. Gross appears to be “Strong,” which is a bit of an unbelievable coincidence. In the episode Susan Strong, Finn simply gave Susan that name because of her physical appearance. Now we’re supposed to believe that it was also her code name all along? Yeaaaah, I don’t buy that at all. It’s right up there with Gunter riding a “G” labeled boat in Orgalorg. However, plot holes and story issues aside, I still have to commend this episode for being as thrilling and entertaining as an Adventure Time episode can be. It’s kind of like how I feel with Star Wars: The Force Awakens… it has its major and minor issues, but it’s such a damn fun ride that I really don’t mind. Reboot is far from a perfect episode, but it’s almost as if it makes up for it by being a perfect experience: a fun, invigorating journey that leaves me wanting more. And I think that’s a pretty fair compromise, especially considering that it is season seven’s grand finale.
So yeah, that’s it for season seven y’all! As always, I want to thank all of you for tuning in and making this such a fun side gig. This year alone, AT Reviewed has racked up almost 45,000 views, which is amazing! You guys rock, and I’m so glad to be sharing this experience with you. Per usual, the review and bonus review will be coming shortly (likely on Sunday or Monday), and I’m excited to announce that I’m back to posting semi-daily reviews and plan on covering at least half of season eight throughout the next month. Stay tuned, y’all! Some of the series’ best entries lie ahead.