“Winter Light” Review

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Original Airdate: April 25, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Laura Knetzger

Winter Light is all about showcasing the loomy-gloom of the newfound Ice Kingdom, and it does its damnedest to mirror that tone as accurately as possible. This one is sooo moody in its atmosphere, and I really dig it. Not only does it have a lot of fun with just how depressing this warped landscape is, but it also looks gorgeous. This is definitely the type of episode I admire for its atmosphere more than anything.

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The initial trek through the new Ice Kingdom is awesome; the entire scope of the ice dome itself feels so wide and vivid, making it really seem like this vast, desolate continent as opposed to a small community. Everything is masked with shadows and darkness, making even the silliest of Ooo’s creatures, like the Snow Golem and Iceclops, appear menacing and detached. Even in the more technically “light” scenes, the tone is still kept subdued and wistful. The Ice Fox’s version of “Blue Magic” is a song I’ve gradually gotten more invested in over time, and again, adds a haunting tone to the course of events at hand. Steve Wolfhard boarded the first half of this one and he excels at observational moments. In a similar essence to episodes like Graybles 1000+ and Mysterious Island, Finn and Jake merely exist as bystanders to soak in the various changes around them, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s what really helps knock this one out of the park on an atmospheric level, and really highlights the vast changes that have occurred since the boys’ departure. Elements takes its time quite appropriately in circumstances like this, allowing environment to be established before conflict and tension.

Though, there is clear tension within this episode, at the hands of Patience St. Pim. Her role in this miniseries always fascinates me; at first, it was something I felt somewhat disappointed and confused by. After the fun that was had with her character in Elemental, I expected more of the same over the course of eight episodes that would really give her character and huge personality a time to shine. We’re treated to a much different version of Patience here, however, though it’s one I’ve grown to really appreciate and admire over time. I think it’s really interesting how each elemental essentially embodies one main emotional state, with Flame Princess’s being anger, PB’s being bubbly happiness, and Slime Princess’s being her vivacious lifestyle. Of course, these characters are not limited to these traits; Bubblegum, while bubbly and sweet, is far from the wildly happy and calmed persona that we get to see throughout Elements. Yet, it’s still quite unique to me how sadness is the emotion that embodies Patience as a whole. Ice always seems to represent the least emotionally stable of characters, and it’s clear that their sadness is what drives them to the destruction of their own lives and others. Patience’s sadness stems from her inability to accept and deal with changes around her, as we’ve seen through her actions on multiple occasions. Winter Cloud shows us how following the instinctive clues of her sadness has only driven her into more sadness, which can really be a statement for magic users in the world of Adventure Time in general.

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Time and time again, magic has been shown to be utterly catastrophic in fixing the issues that only lead to more treachery. Patience is just one of those magic users, and she follows in the footsteps of so many other characters who have ended up making the same mistakes – trying desperately to alleviate the possibilities of disaster, but ultimately causing more damage and becoming absolutely paralyzed by madness and sadness in the process. “Blue Magic” is a great representation of this hastiness, and I think it’s especially powerful that Betty’s magic, combined with Patience’s efforts, are ultimately what brought the downfall of society. The parallels between the two are especially strong throughout the miniseries, and the climax of these eight episodes in general shows how such resistances to change happen like clockwork, and rarely ever provide positive results. Patience barely poses as a villain throughout the miniseries, but I think it’s rather potent that she’s so consumed by sadness and despair that she’d rather just watch the world die than even try to fix or ruin anything else. With so many villains bent on utter destruction in the world of AT, it’s unique to have a villain who has caused such irrepressible damage, but ultimately doesn’t care any which way what happens in the end.

Like most of the Elements episodes that precede this episode and come after it, Winter Light is chock full of great character moments. The dynamic between Ice King, Finn, and Jake has been practically absent since King’s Ransom, so it was really great to watch them all interact with each other once more. It’s hilarious to me that Ice King thinks that Finn views him as a best friend, but knows absolutely that Jake does not. This is another one of those shockingly self-aware Ice King moments that are just priceless to me. The IK’s pretty funny throughout this one’s run, including the overly long gag with Finn putting Jake’s sweater on. I remembered this joke going back into the rewatch, and I didn’t expect to find it funny, but it surprisingly got me – a really well-timed gag. I did think it was slightly strange that the two boys completely glanced over Ice King pushing Finn into unknown dangers, but that brief Rattleballs reference was probably worth the instance at all. I’m really digging Ice King’s Simonlike look as well, something that remains throughout the course of this miniseries.

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Finn and Jake’s relationship really thrives throughout the run of these eight episodes, and they share a lot of nice moments in Winter Light as well. Jake giving Finn his sweater, even if it means being susceptible to the side effects of the Ice Kingdom, was an adorably sweet move. It’s a nice metaphor that Jake will literally sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of Finn’s.  And Carroll returns in this one! Really didn’t expect to see her again, but I’m so glad we do. Her abrasive nature shines once more, as she quickly becomes another addition on my list of characters that should be really annoying, but strangely are not. Really dig the subtleties within her scenes as well, like the fact that her ice door will not remain sturdy throughout her prominent entrance.

Winter Light wraps things up by progressing the story forward, as Finn offers up the Farmworld Enchiridion to Betty (complete with the small music cue when it was first introduced in The Enchiridion! Nice touch!) and Betty lets out one confusing bout of laughter that begins bringing her actions into question. Winter Light is pretty small on moments that actually move the story otherwise, but its strength, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, is its atmosphere. There’s something both foreboding and strangely comforting about the freezing cold climate; a lot of this episode just reminds me of Bob Ross segments where he paints a snowy cabin for 20 minutes straight. While it’s a bit more dark and unforgiving than that, it’s really pleasant in its solemn nature, and provides for an enjoyably moody viewing experience to boot.

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Favorite line: “Everyone leaves except me. I remember father made me stay at the table until all the eggs were eaten.”

 

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