Original Airdate: February 1, 2017
Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Sam Alden
Much like the previous episode Hide and Seek, Min and Marty is primarily one big exposition bomb about the backstory of Finn’s parents, his inception, and his eventual abandonment. While I always expected the events of Finn’s past to be somewhat traumatic and sad, I don’t think the writers could’ve picked a more (satisfyingly) somber way to portray his early childhood. Min and Marty is brilliant in tying together pretty much everything we’ve learned so far and everything we’ve wanted to know, while narrowing the story down to the very intriguing lives of Finn’s mother and father. Much like the previous entry, this is one of the most down-to-earth stories the series has ever told. Aside from AT‘s typically desired goofy sense of humor and some fantasy elements (the tiger owned by the female hider was a necessity, after all) it’s a very straightforward plot that merely explores the lives and characters of two humans. And it’s surprisingly compelling at doing just that.
Continuing right on after the events of the last episode, Kara’s memory is now fully restored after revisiting her old stomping grounds. I don’t know much about neuroscience, so I can’t really confirm if her sudden ability to retain the English language makes complete sense, but I’m willing to go along with it for the sake of my own ignorance. Finn is largely out of focus in this episode, to its strengths. The sudden info bomb that his mother is still alive and (presumably) well is A LOT to take in. With the almost non-answer that Martin gave him in Min and Marty, I assume that Finn just accepted the inevitability that he would never meet his mother because there was no chance that he’d ever receive the truth in the process. As the backstory of his mother and father plays out, Finn tirelessly looks out the window of Susan’s pod, and God only know what’s going through his head during this period of time. Finn’s anxiety is apparent, and it’s likely that he’s not even sure he wants to meet his mom. While Finn certainly matured and became a better person through his experience with Martin, those were painful moments that he’d likely never want to revisit. When being faced with the idea of his mother, Finn probably fears going through the exact same series of events that he did with Martin, or possibly uncertain in not knowing how or what to even say to his mom. It’s a great background element that isn’t explored especially in depth, to add to Finn’s introspective nature.
We briefly met Minerva and Young Martin in the previous episode, though it was mostly to set up the events that led to their convening. We get a much more focused look at their characters in this one, and I’ll go ahead and discuss them individually. Let’s discuss Minerva first: the long-awaited identity of Finn’s mother. Prior to this miniseries, I had already known about Minerva’s character, and it’s all thanks to the God damned Adventure Time Cookbook of all things that spoiled her existence for me. I was initially not all that enthused by the idea of her reveal; Minerva is the name of the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategy, and I really thought for a second that the staff was going to make Finn’s mom some unbelievable cosmic goddess to explain his heroic and legendary nature. Thank GOD that’s not what happened, as we get to see a more simple and realistic character in return. While I mentioned in my review of Hide and Seek that Kara and Frieda weren’t especially strong characters due to their simplicity, I think Minerva is actually stronger because of her simplicity. It’s easy to gather a lot from her personality in just the first few minutes alone: she’s a kind, intelligent, and helping person who wants to benefit her community and mankind through her own actions. She’s hardworking, to the point where the stress lines on her face indicate that she often puts the care of others and her work before the needs of her own self, but she seems relatively confident in her own abilities regardless. There’s something just so likable about her general demeanor and nature; the role of the hardworking, intelligent, caregiver easily reminds me of the likes of my own mother, and Minerva is a super-condensed version of that.
Martin, on the other hand, is the opposite of such. Once more, I was a bit nervous seeing more of Martin, because I didn’t want his behavior to be retconned by an entirely virtuous past, but I think he’s handled exceptionally well here. He still is a complete swindler, using his abilities to con people into giving him devices and their trust all for practically nothing. I do wonder if he at least helped a couple people escape from Founder’s Island, because how would he get a reputation for helping hiders escape in the first place? His tactic is pretty conniving, however: playing both sides so he takes on the role of a seeker, but is secretly helping hiders in the process. Min and Marty also highlights perhaps the strongest aspect of Martin’s alluring. He’s selfish, manipulative, and an overall mess, but Martin’s ability to get what he wants always relies on one undeniable factor: he’s legitimately charming. I don’t blame Minerva for falling for him, because his attitude of flattery works on even the most intelligent of people. There is one difference that sets Minerva apart from the rest of Martin’s victims, however – Martin genuinely cares for Minnie. Even at his worst, Martin still possesses elements of humanity and isn’t a complete villain. Martin obviously is who he is because of circumstantial issues in his life, and the aforementioned psychological issues that Minerva diagnosed him with, but with all of his issues aside, good people can change shitty people. As we see from their connection, Marty easily begins to wise up in his actions after being around Minerva for a period of time, as he continues to support her and even gets a real job in the process. It’s safe to say that Martin was at his best around Minerva, and her kindness and strength is what shaped him into a more mature human being.
The sequence showcasing this growth is just great. I love whenever Ashley Eriksson lends her talents to the series, but man, every single song of hers has gotten a full release EXCEPT for this one, and it’s my favorite! I guarantee that there is a full version out there somewhere, and that the AT crew just enjoys watching me suffer in my endless search to find it somewhere on the internet. Regardless, it’s a sweet, calming melody that carries the montage through successfully, to which is entirely sweet on its own. Adventure Time can pack so much into a mere 11 minutes, but I’m so thankful and glad that even in this condensed form of exposition, every moment still feels impactful and told successfully through its storytelling. Min and Marty could have easily shown us an entire scene surrounded around Finn’s birth, but I can’t think of a single moment in the series more heartwarming and chilling than Martin snuggling up to Minnie with a baby Finn in her hands. That image alone melts my entire existence, you guys. If there was ever an Adventure Time instant that I went full-on fanboy over, it would be this one.
If that sweetness wasn’t enough, we actually get to see Martin spending time with Finn – by choice, nonetheless! Sam Alden is typically terrific at using past scenes and storyboards for symbolism, and here we get to see Martin sitting with Finn in the same exact fashion he performed in The Visitor. It’s a terrific callback that adds a bit of melancholy to a relatively saccharine sequence. The nice moments quickly come to a halt when the deceived hiders come back to seek revenge upon Martin, as his past quickly catches up to him.
Of the sad truths presented in the Islands miniseries, I don’t think there’s anything more heartbreaking than the idea that nobody will ever know about the most selfless action that Martin carried out except for himself, but even that’s a bit hazy. To Minerva, he was a hider that used her to get closer to his goal of escaping. To Finn, he was a neglectful father that never once cared for anyone aside from himself. But, the truth is, Martin was improving on his behavior and becoming a better person, he just sadly could not separate himself from his troubled past, of which is a common issue for many people trying to better themselves. Martin was a misguided person who often chose his own selfishness above everything, but with the right influences, he could actually be a genuine guy. I thought this was the most realistic and tragic approach to covering his backstory. The surprisingly graphic promo art for this episode seems to imply brain injury had a part in Martin’s sudden turn in behavior, though I think it’d be especially lame to blame it entirely on that aspect. I’m sure the injuries to his brain affected Martin’s ability to properly remember how things went down exactly, but I also believe that Martin’s decision to go back to his old ways was a conscious decision on his part. After losing literally everything in the course of minutes without having a way back to his former life, Martin likely chose to protect himself by never looking back and to continue on with the selfish, aimless path that he started. The only time he ever opened himself up to give for others ended up as one big disaster, and who knows what ended up happening in his childhood that led him to take on such a path to begin with. This, of course, doesn’t justify his behavior towards Finn in any way, but it at least makes things more interesting and real.
This episode doesn’t just add humanity to Martin on one level, however. Min and Marty also proves that the events that Martin had described in The Visitor were, for the most part, true. It really helps to make his previous line of “that’s… true” even more profound, showing that he was trying to be completely genuine and honest with his son for once in their relationship. Steve Wolfhard has stated before that none of the elements he included in The Visitor were pre-planned and that he just simply threw stuff out there for other storyboard artists to pick up along the way. “The Minnie,” Martin’s ship, could have been Finn’s mom’s name, or it could not have been. It’s no secret now that the AT crew essentially make stuff up as they go along, and while that may be disappointing to some, it really comes off as ingenuous when they succeed. This episode is evidence enough that the staff writers truly work hard to tie up those loose ends in the neatest, most logical, and most satisfying way possible.
The ending sequence, which features Minvera looking helplessly to the ocean, is utterly tragic. Minnie doesn’t cry, scream, or panic in any way. She simply just sits there, empty, as she fails to comprehend the series of events that have unfolded around her. Grieving is often a confusing period; while it’s most often associated with outward sadness, I think there’s something much more solemn about emptiness. You can really tell that Minerva just cannot believe what’s happening, and how could she? The day prior, she had all of the love and affection she could ever ask for, and the following day, she’s essentially left with nothing. Finn and Minerva share more than one quality, but it’s very clear that they share the same sadness as well: the turmoil over being abandoned. Before even meeting his mom, the audience is given the chance to look at her history and realize that those eyes of confusion and heartache are ones we’ve seen frequently before on our main hero himself. Luckily, however, Finn still has Jake to support him going forward, even if he isn’t saying much to begin with.
Min & Marty is exposition at its finest, offering up everything I’ve ever wanted to know about Finn’s backstory, but also nothing that I could have predicted or expected beforehand. This is a unique, tragic lovestory that utilizes the essence of humanity to its best abilities, giving us a very real story about the trials and tribulations of moving on from one’s past and the nature of relationships in general. There are so many beautifully profound moments in this episode that it’s hard to count them, and this entire entry does its damnedest to either fill my heart completely, or rip it to shreds in the process. It’s my favorite Islands episode to date, and likely one of my favorite episodes in general.
Love this review. Also one of my favorite if not my favorite episode. Glad I’m not the only one who’s entire core was rocked by that still image of Min and Marty with baby Finn.