“Hug Wolf” Review

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Original Airdate: May 14, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Bert Youn

I’m pretty sure anyone who has seen this episode before knows it as the “rape analogy episode” and to be fair, that’s not a bad way of remembering it. The hug wolves and concept of hugging quite strongly allude to how sex, which is considered virtually good, can be twisted for very violent and inappropriate causes. It’s surprising a kid’s show is tackling a subject like this, but even more surprising to me that it’s a pretty light and humorous episode otherwise. It’s not a “very special episode” or completely dark and serious, but rather tackles a relatively heavy subject matter with plenty of silly and enjoyable scenes to carry it through.

The quest at the beginning I think is a really awesome and energetic start. Feels very mythological, while also incorporating some nice fast-paced intensity as Finn shakes off the Hug Wolf. The allusions to sexual harassment are there in the very first scene, as Finn states that the Hug Wolf “didn’t even ask for his name.”

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It’s actually kind of amazing to me just how much they do with the “hugging” conflict in this episode. You have Finn, who is a relatively simple and good-hearted guy, that is completely altered once he gives into his desires, or “curse.” There’s the Candy Baby, who asks his mother why Finn is locked up because “hugs” are considered nice (much like sexual relationships themselves, and how they can turn very toxic in cases where consent isn’t involved) and his mother, who just silences him because he’s too young to understand the weight of the issue. Then there’s Cinnamon Bun, who, despite being opposed to getting hugged by Finn, constantly goes against himself, presumably because he’s lonely and enjoys the attention and idea of being loved. And throughout the episode there’s brief lines like “No hugging! Without consent!” and “uhhh, I have a wife,” that drive the whole metaphor further. These are all very realistic depictions of societal reactions and behaviors to sexual harassment that are kept brilliantly subtle and intriguing by just how many references there are, but as I mentioned, it’s made even better by the fact that all of the examples I listed are still pretty hilarious because all of them deal with hugging. No matter how heavy the implication, the idea that Finn is hugging people without their approval is just hilarious in it’s own right.

BMO’s pretty adorable in this episode, and I love the bit where he’s hiding from Finn and, instead of comforting him, Jake just simply replies “well, that plant’s not gonna protect you.” It’s a pretty hilarious one for Somvilay, with a lot of great touches when it comes to his obscure sense of humor. Like the bit where Finn’s slouched under the bridge, and we briefly see Princess Bubblegum chasing after a cat. What the fuck is the story with that?? I’m guessing that they needed a reason to not include PB in this episode, so that was their excuse. She was chasing a cat. Wonder what the story behind that was. There’s also the fly that lands on Jake’s head in the library and just chills there for like, a full 30 seconds. The reason behind this was so Jake’s expository dialogue wouldn’t seem boring, and it strangely sort of works. I dunno, that gets an odd chuckle out of me.

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There’s other great moments in this one, mainly deriving from the victims at Finn’s expense. Mr. Cupcake’s monologue about his frosted drink directly before he gets attacked really cracks me up; Dee Bradley Baker rarely fails to get a laugh out of me when voicing the debonair cupcake man. I love the Pen Ward-Candy dad that protects his daughter with a candy cane gun, and most of all the general stupidity of the other Candy People. There’s the one guy that is mad at Finn but doesn’t feel like walking under the bridge, and then the fellow that solely agrees with the “last guy”, even though the last guy only said, “yeah!” It’s one that’s constantly amusing throughout, and really highlights the goofiness of the Candy People.

The ending closes on a perfect note: as Finn and the alpha hug wolf reunite, they literally “hug it out” and return to normal. The resolution of two people who have similar desires and act on them in consensual and loving way was a pretty great message to me. By the end, Finn and the woman have no intention to carry out their desires in an unhealthy way on other people because they were able to find that healthy balance that hugs are supposed to be intended for. And of course, there’s the very abrupt callback to the beginning where the woman randomly turns back into the Tree of Blight. Another great “what the fuck” moment to close it out.

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As mentioned in the commentary for this episode, what the fuck is that green guy supposed to be? Apparently he is a Candy Person, but what candy is green and hairy? Maybe he’s “under your car seat” candy.

I do quite enjoy Hug Wolf for a majority of the reasons I mentioned above. It doesn’t take itself too dramatically; it balances metaphorical writing with silly jokes and characters very impressively. It even kind of works as some decent folklore, with a pretty spooky mythical feeling, dark purple and gray colors, and a complimentary apprehensive atmosphere. It’s an episode that has a lot going on at once, and one that I think works well on several different levels.

Favorite line: “When you see the wicker devil in tree afterlife, tell ‘im Jake says, ‘hello.'”

“In Your Footsteps” Review

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Original Airdate: May 7, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Skyler Page & Tom Herpich

In Your Footsteps follows up with a story arc that had be shelved since the season two finale: the much anticipated return of the Lich. We all knew he would make his triumphant reappearance in the snail host body eventually, and it was really reassuring that we had something big to look forward to. Ultimately though, it’s an episode that feels a bit hollow at its center, and really doesn’t do much for me besides being blatant setup.

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The beginning is demonstrated nicely. Skyler Page really crafted some nice shots during his time on the show that feel very fluid and poppy, example being when Finn first enters the party. It’s really funny and a legitimately cool entrance for our little guy. There’s also a couple of funny, quirky moments at the dance party. I like how when we’re introduced to the bear, Jake just generally assumes that the bear is anthropomorphic, as most animals are in the Land of Ooo. I’m wondering if Jake just guessed that the bear spoke and was ignoring him, or just something about the bear rubbed Jake the wrong way. Either way, nice moment to set up their entire conflict. Also, I love how Finn returns to the picnic table with two cups that say “Starchy” and “Cinnamon Bun” on them. Finn just blatantly took other people’s cups. That’s kind of awesome. I didn’t really like the the early utilization of the Enchirdion, however. I thought it was cool that he used the book to save the bear, but I sort of just wish they left it at that. The fact that Finn goes on his spiel about, “oh yeah, it’s the Enchirdion! The hero’s handbook! It’s a super important book! I got in back in season one, episode five, as a matter of fact!” well, I’m exaggerating, but it was pretty obvious to me at that point that the Enchiridion would have had some significance in the episode, and it just really made it feel like a plot device from this moment on.

As for the main conflict, well, it’s a bit confusing to me. I think it kind of works against the episode that the bear doesn’t talk, honestly, because I’m really sort of perplexed on what his motivations are as a character. Was his plot to dress like Finn and pretend to be Finn so Finn himself would eventually give him the Enchirdion? Or did his plot work out all along and it was to make Finn feel bad for him and eventually give him the book? In that case, why did the bear slap Jake in the face? Why did he eat all of Finn’s Finn cakes? Why was he dressed up pretending to be Finn in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t it have just been easier to quickly swipe the Enchridion while Finn was sleeping? His plan seems all types of convoluted, and I really can’t get behind what his strategy was because we don’t know anything about him. He’s just sort of a blank slate at the Lich snail’s command, and so it’s sort of hard to really even buy into his plan. In addition to that, I’m sure y’all know I’m not really a fan of these types of stories. They covered this type of story briefly in Paper Pete, and this one takes it up to eleven by really stressing the idea that Jake thinks the bear is bad news but Finn just can’t see it with his own eyes. It’s just a really frustrating type of story to watch, and very few shows ever get it right. It doesn’t even really know what genre it wants to be either. It could’ve been a lot more interesting to me if the bear wanting to be Finn was just a completely different story with horror elements incorporated. That sounds pretty dope if you ask me, and the first part seems committed to it, but the second half goes more for the generic sitcom-y sort of root.

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That being said, I actually think the episode did okay with it and still managed to keep the characters likable and in character. There are still some very enjoyable moments in this one. The “tops blooby” expression is one of favorite wacky catchphrases in the entire show, and one I find myself uttering it quite frequently, actually. Jake is still very entertaining to watch, despite being at the butt of the plot’s expense. I really like how his feelings towards the bear go from jealousy to concern, yet he actually does listen to Finn and understands where he’s coming from. Also, I like how his actions towards the bear don’t dumb Jake down in anyway. He records the bear eating Finn’s Finn cakes instead of preventing him, of course, but that just generally seems like something Jake would do. It leads to the obvious root of Finn being pissed off at Jake, but it almost had me siding with Finn in the sense where I was thinking, “yeah, why didn’t you just stop him??” But again, it’s still kind of difficult to get through knowing Finn should have just been mad at the bear to begin with and that we know exactly what route it’s headed in. It is tedious, but as I mentioned, it’s the individual scenes that make it tolerable: the slow iris out with Jake quickly blurting “I knew it!”, Jake referring to PB as Finn’s ex, followed by Finn’s awkward response to it, and everyone stating the obvious that they knew the fucking giant bear with a paper mask wasn’t even Finn. Also, I need an episode with BMO at soccer practice. That scene with him rolling the ball on the ground as Finn and Jake argued fucking killed me, and the general idea that Finn takes him to and from soccer practice is just hilarious. I can imagine their conversation as Finn picks him up, “how was practice today, sport?”

The conflict of the episode ultimately leads to Finn giving the Enchirdion away, which I think is a pretty big stretch, considering they know of its importance. I do like how Finn mentions that they rarely ever use it, only for sitting on when the grass is wet, which explains its long-term absence. What I’m most pissed about isn’t actually the episode’s fault at all, but the fact that Cartoon Network spoiled the freakin’ ending in the preview for the episode. That was a complete low blow on their part, and definitely not the first time they’ve done something so spoilerly in regards to this or any of their other shows. But the twist in general I think is pretty great, and leaves you with a feeling of anticipation and dread as we slowly await for the Lich to return again very, very soon.

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So I think this one is decent. It has a lot working against it, but the individual character moments and gags are really what power it through. It still feels a bit flimsy to me in both direction and motivation especially regarding the bear, so I can’t technically call it a good episode in terms of story, but there’s enough good things in it that I can still find many other reasons to rewatch despite everything going against it.

Favorite line: “She’s not my… we never went steady.”

“Daddy’s Little Monster” Review

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Original Airdate: April 30, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Daddy’s Little Monster answers the questions left behind in Return to the Nightosphere with pretty satisfying results. This one had some competition with the hilarity and bizarreness of the last episode, but I think Daddy’s Little Monster takes a bit of a new direction that still makes for an equally enjoyable episode.

This one starts exactly where Return to the Nightosphere left off, as Jake tries to charge up his camera phone through BMO after a refreshing shower. BMO’s technology functions usually incorporate some kind of double entendre revolving around making stool, but this one seems especially straining for the little guy. Almost like he’s passing a kidney stone or something. It’s also interesting to see a cellular phone in the Land of Ooo; to my knowledge, we only ever regularly see LSP’s cell phone up to this point, so it almost makes me wonder where exactly Jake retrieved it from. Though, from this episode on, it seems like almost everyone in Ooo and beyond has a cell phone. Kinda wish they kept up with the cool and unique personal phones Finn and Jake had that were adapted from a transistor radio and a walkie-talkie. They just seemed like fitting and creative pieces of technology for a post-apocalyptic world.

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Aside from that, we do get a lengthy sequence of exposition as Finn and Jake watch video evidence of what happened to Marceline. It’s all very energetic and humorous though, especially with the return of none other than Hunson Abadeer! That guy is so lively and vibrant that I love every second of him being on-screen. It’s rare we even get to ever see him, so his return is certainly welcomed. Marceline’s quick song about wanting Hunson’s respect is alright I suppose, but that’s because its counterpart from the last Nightosphere episode was The Fry Song. Pretty hard to compete with that, and the song itself is just sort of a brief leighway into Marcy’s main conflict with her father. It has some nice lyrics, and reveals more baggage in the ever-dysfunctional relationship between Hunson and Marceline. I also love Jake throughout the duration of the video: he’s constantly rotating the phone up and down from body-view to his feet. I also find his line “ow, my hippocampus!” to be great, because it works as a funny one-liner, as well as revealing where Finn and Jake’s amnesia came from in the previous episode.

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There’s a lot of funny moments once Finn and Jake return to the Nightosphere. I love Jake’s half-assed attempt at shifting into a demon, followed by his really grotesque transformation. The demons return once again and are equally as funny as their last appearance; love how the demonized Marcy finds a way to fuck with them no matter what, even when they try to find loopholes around their predicament. That one guy just wanted abs too God damn badly. Also, that fucking demon who was chewing out Finn and Jake for cutting in line was all kinds of amusingly obnoxious. I love the Political Rap that follows as well, written by J-Moyns himself. It’s so pandering to the demons listening, and yet I love the way they all just immediately go along with it. Especially the line “this system is broke, yo!” That really seemed to hit home.

The scene with Hunson in his kitchen (equipped with magnets from Vegas and Orlando; Hunson really got around in his younger days!) is both enjoyable and pretty interesting, really. Hunson’s actions are obviously morally wrong, but it’s clear that him and Marceline are two completely different people, and it’s often pretty relatable that a parent may want something for their child that just simply isn’t attractive to them. Hunson’s actions aren’t completely unlikable because he certainly seems to hold Marceline to a high standard by considering her worthy of ruling his kingdom, and only wants Marcy to be raised the way he was raised and possibly find more common ground with her. The reason he’s wrong in his actions, though, is obviously because he chose to do it against Marceline’s will and didn’t respect her choice of wanting to go her own path.

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Finn see’s this as an opportunity to save Marceline, and, though it backfires, Finn chooses the heroic and equally chaotically evil choice of putting on Marceline’s amulet. It’s cool to see such a twisted version of Finn’s personality. Even though he saves Marceline and Jake, he’s pretty much immediately taken over by the gem’s demonic powers afterwards, and can’t resist the overwhelming feelings of evil inside of him. That’s when Hunson comes out to save the day! I think this part in particular can be up for interpretation. It’s never explained fully whether Hunson knew this was Finn or not, and I like to believe he assumed the beast was Marceline and finally came to his senses in regards to allow her to go upon her own life path. Looking at it that way is a very sweet moment from the ruler of all darkness, and even if he knew it was Finn, he still chose to put an end to the suffering that Marcy and her friends had gone through.

The only thing about this one I didn’t like that much was the climax. I think the conversation between Hunson and Marceline was resolved way too quickly. It goes from quiet, to tense, to charming, to cheerful all over to course of about 20 seconds. I like Hunson admitting he’s proud of Marceline, but this scene just wasn’t enough of a selling point for me. I was really convinced that Hunson does care about Marceline during their interactions towards the end of the original Nightosphere episode, but it’s done so quickly this time around that I feel like there’s not enough time for a big emotional impact. It’s done well enough, but after one big two parter, I would have liked somewhat of a bigger payoff. Also, apparently a lot of people thought Marceline was completely serious when she said she’d stop being friends with Finn, which almost had me convinced because we won’t see her for another 18 episodes now. Marcy’s pretty much missing in action for the rest of the season from this point on, aside from one final prominent appearance.

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But I do like this one a lot, and I think it really does work well as a two parter. It was a great exploration of a rarely seen area in Adventure Time, and continued to build on a relatively important relationship. I love the Nightosphere, I love Hunson, I love his connection with Marcy, and I just really love all the creativity that went into these past two episodes. This is the last we see of Hunson for now (not sure why they’ve never incorporated him in another story till the upcoming season 9 episode, I suppose they just never found a place for him) and I’m glad we got to see enough into his character and his relationship with Marceline to hold me over till then.

Also, I’ll never look at a banana the same way again.

Favorite line: “See how I’m not killing you?”

“Return to the Nightosphere” Review

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Original Airdate: April 30, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

After three stories involving romance and one experimental episode, it’s nice that season four has its first true adventurous episode. Season four didn’t really have the best start, but this is one that feels like a breath of fresh air. It introduces us to the realm of the Nightosphere, and what a terrifically designed place it is! The episode is pretty much carried by the intrigue of this foreign underworld, and also because it’s just simply freakin’ hilarious.

The episode doesn’t waste any time by immediately throwing our two main characters into their main conflict right away, making the audience equally as interested in figuring out their dilemma as Finn and Jake are. There’s a ton of intrigue surrounding this one, from the way Hunson Abadeer is regarded amongst the citizens (the name “Hunson Abadeer” actually comes from Jesse Moynihan’s car, which was given the name by his brother) and just what the hell the meaning of bananas is.

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Part of the fun of this episode just comes from the surroundings. The civilians and environment of the Nightosphere are just spectacular. I love the random demons who hang around Finn and Jake at the beginning and just roll around and wave their arms. Then there’s the longshot a couple minutes in, which Jesse Moynihan has a pretty big self-indulged boner for, but can you blame him? It looks fantastic! Jesse’s been known for his long pans, especially in an episode like Death in Bloom, and this one really takes the cake. It’s funny, fast-moving, and builds a lot of atmosphere within the Dark World. There’s so much to take in that it’s impossible to notice everything on a first viewing; dozens of different areas on fire and surrounded by lava, wacky beasts, laser fights, a stock woman scream in the background, hooded groups of people walking into a building and (presumably) committing suicide as a tall demon watches, and so on. It’s something you can tell Moynihan really went all out with, and his pride in it really makes it all the more admirable to me.

There’s also other cool designs, such as the transportation demon, the teller, the guy on the boat, and many others. The thing about the demons is that they’re so obscure and oddly designed, and there’s actually a pretty big animation error with one of these characters that it’s hardly even noticeable because of it. Yeah, one of the demon’s ears were recognized as hands during the animation process, and it’s a bit of a confusing sequence once you realize those aren’t his hands, but it still kind of works to me in a silly way. Even if it was an error, it almost entirely makes sense with the world of these demons that moving their ears around like arms is just something that’s a social norm. And even though these demons are so obscure and unique, I love how their dialogue is so mundane and casual. Some of their exchanges are great, especially the one with the anxiety ridden demon waiting in line who can’t make brown (as someone who suffers from chronic IBS, this dude really hit home for me).

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Finn and Jake’s incorporation into the episode is just superb as well. I love any plotline that puts the characters into an increasingly boring or painstaking situation, and the “waiting in line” scenario often works a charm. Finn and Jake’s general deterioration throughout this one is great, from their sobbing and transition into insanity while waiting in line to their relentlessness to eventually meet with Abadeer, it’s fun watching these guys really try to stick it out together. Jake even utters the Japanese phrase “jouzu de Ganbatte ne (have faith and go forth)” to keep up Finn’s spirits: something Jesse’s mother would tell him when he was a young lad. D’awww.

It all leads to a pretty dope climax when Finn and Jake battle off with the beast they assume to be Abadeer. There’s a lot of cool details in Hunson’s domain, with some neat frames hung on his wall, including pictures with Peppermint Butler and the King of Mars. We all know Peppermint Butler has close connections to dark lords, but I wonder what the connection is between Hunson and ol’ Abe. Perhaps they’re just on friendly terms, like Abe and Death are. Besides that point, it all leads to a full-on battle in a bright and colorful warp hole, where it’s revealed that the beast was none other than Marceline! Draaaama bomb! Of course, that cliffhanger won’t be addressed till next episode, so we’ll talk about it more then.

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This one is just terrific though. Jam packed with jokes, gags, atmosphere, and placed in an awesome setting. The next one is really more emotion and writing based, so I’m glad we did have this first parter that gave us time to explore the Nightosphere a bit more before getting right into the meat. It’s always fun to check out different lands in the AT world, and the Nightosphere is one of my favorite in that regard. Just an all around good time. Onto Daddy’s Little Monster!

Favorite line: “Charlie, don’t socialize with the smaller demons! They’re dirty and stupid!”

“Dream of Love” Review

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Original Airdate: April 23, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Bert Youn & Somvilay Xayaphone

Interesting how we got a bit of a taste of the cons of long-term relationships last episode, while this episode heavily focuses on some of the issues involving infatuation when it comes to partners who become acquainted very early on. And while I’ve seen a bunch of people really voice their general distaste for the last episode, this is one I’d consider pretty bottom-of-the-barrel. It’s the first Tree Trunks-centric episode that completely retcons her ability to hold an episode on her own, and pretty much stays consistent from this point on. I do still really like Tree Trunks, there’s a part of me that will always have a soft spot for her. But it’s entirely difficult for me to argue that she really isn’t able to carry a story on her own, much like LSP, and her connection to Mr. Pig only really emphasizes those issues to me.

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TT and Mr. Pig work fine as a couple overall, I suppose. I’m not really the biggest Mr. Pig fan; I think his voice actor is very talented and has played some very funny roles, but they never really give Mr. Pig much to work with. He doesn’t really have a clear character besides the fact that he’s quirky and slightly reserved. His connection with Tree Trunks doesn’t really make him any more interesting, and there’s plenty of moments of him in this episode that just feel completely dry and humorless. The only real laugh I got out of him was his brief line about returning to eating criminals, which is a pretty silly callback to Apple Thief. Besides that, his character doesn’t do much for me, so it’s a bit difficult to be able to put him in center-stage and not feel generally uninterested in the situation at hand.

While Finn and Jake we’re pretty heavily involved in the last story and really rounded out the melodrama surrounding them, they just don’t do much that’s noteworthy in this one. They try and mend the situation, but ultimately are pretty much what drive the main conflict, which also isn’t a very compelling one. They work as the mediator between the two characters in trying to mend their relationship, and while they give in to the characters’ desires by the end of the episode, I can’t help but feel that we were slightly cheated out of a decent lesson when it comes to romance. I mean, I get it, Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig shouldn’t have to hide their love in front of the eyes of others for approval, but they were legitimately invading the privacy of bystanders and taking attention away from other people. From practically ruining PB’s concert to making out in a mother’s baby carriage, they were doing some pretty shitty stuff that should’ve been addressed, and I would’ve liked it a lot better if they maybe set boundaries by the end of it that still worked for the relationship. The notion that everyone was just generally wrong for being pissed off by Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig wasn’t really a well-crafted resolution. Granted though, some of the Candy People did act like legitimate dickholes, and that only really brings down the episode further for me. I mean, being uncomfortable is one thing, but there’s a lot of other obnoxious moments with the Candy People screaming and wailing at the sight of TT and Mr. P, and their brief moment of celebration when the two are being separated. It really see’s both sides of the situation, but arguably in the worst way possible that just really makes me dislike both parties in this scenario.

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And then there’s the song, which really just goes on for waaaay too long in my opinion. It’s a full two minutes out of the episode, and it just feels so obvious and generic to me. It’s not even that catchy or visually interesting, it just drags on and on, and when you think it’s about done, it keeps on going and going. One of my least favorite songs in the entire series without a doubt, and just drives the episode to a complete halt. You pretty much know where it’s gonna go from the first lyric, so there’s no point in drawing it out unless they just wanted to kill time.

I can’t really think of anything particularly funny in this one either. There’s the scene where Finn is replicating the sounds PB is producing through her xylophone, which is pretty amusing. Then there’s also the movie clip with the Gingerbread actor ordering people to look at different cups, but that’s about it. It feels pretty humorless, and there’s not even different aims at anti-humor or visual gags that feel new or unique.

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It’s just a misfire in my opinion. I’m not really sure what I was supposed to get out of this one, but whatever it was, it just didn’t happen. There’s an intended message of allowing yourself to do what makes you happy, but it’s squandered by the two main characters consistently invading the privacy of other people in their actions. I just didn’t buy into Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig’s love at all; it seemed like very tradition infatuation, and the direction that their relationship takes later on only furthers my belief that these feelings were very much exaggerated. It’s one that feels very lifeless for a romantic tale, and one that doesn’t utilize any of the characters to their best advantages. I’m usually fairly forgiving with a lot of episodes that seem to be very unpopular in the fandom, but this one in particular just kinda rubs me the wrong way. Certainly not one of my favorites.

Also, what was up with that sequence at the beginning with Finn and Jake rolling on the grass and Lady Rainicorn who appears and disappears out of nowhere? I like to believe she kept on rolling for like, a whole week.

Favorite line:Look at this cup! Now, look at this cup! Look at this one!

“Web Weirdos” Review

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Original Airdate: April 16, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

It’s pretty clear that season four has somewhat of a running theme of dealing with relationships. We’ve already seen Finn’s first encounter with Flame Princess and the development of his romantic feelings, and now in this episode, we focus more on the circumstances of a long-term partnership. It’s very fitting that Finn is beginning to observe relationships around him considering he’s now involved in one, and it’s made even more important by showcasing that relationships by nature aren’t always fun and games.

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The plot revolves around spider love interests Ed and Barb (voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait and Susie Essman respectively) and they’re alright I suppose, though the episode is filled with Finn and Jake moments that really round it out and make it much more enjoyable to sit through. I love the beginning with Jake performing some totally gnarly stunts, while Finn pulls off some pretty lame parkour. It’s a thoroughly charming and endearing entrance, followed by some hilarious bits, such as the interestingly utilized cutaway gag of Finn’s uncut fingernails and the introduction of the bug and fly who also got caught in the spiderweb. I really friggin’ love those guys, and they’re pretty great with relationship advice as well.

Speaking of relationship advice, it’s really interesting to watch Finn share a bit of wisdom with Ed regarding his connection with his wife. Obviously, it’s likely that Finn is just humoring Ed to buy him and Jake some time to escape, but it still feels very genuine and telling, and that Finn legitimately wants to help the guy out. Finn’s obviously inexperienced, but I think his bit of advice comes more from conscientious place of being righteous in any kind of relationship. And in the last few minutes, he chooses the heroic path by deciding to stay and help Ed out, even if it means he can’t escape and that he could possibly even die. Always gotta go with Glob!

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As for Ed and Barb, as I said, they’re alright. I think Ed’s pretty interesting in his own right; he wants to do things properly, but his egocentric behavior and combination of self-loathing make it impossible for him to fully commit and love his wife like he arguably did in the past. Barb just kinda seems like a bitch from what we’ve seen. The one part of the episode I really disliked was the bit where Barb was mercilessly punching Ed. This is pretty blatant domestic abuse, and it’s somewhat uncomfortable to me. It’s not even like Ed’s able to protect himself, he looks like he’s in legitimate pain (imagine if this was the other way around). It’s not a huge problem, but we’re supposed to kind of be rooting for these guys to work out there differences, and that scene just made me want Ed to get as far away from Barb as possible. Though the ending was an interesting conclusion, as many couples do stick with the concept that having children can usher in a new beginning for their marriage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For Ed and Barb, it doesn’t look like it can get any worse, so hopefully having hundreds of babies ended up working out for them.

I like a good chunk of this one. There’s plenty of great Finn and Jake moments like the ones I listed above, and then there’s other great visual gags, such as Finn spitting out the bug, only for him to land directly back onto the spider web or Finn’s spitting down the bird (a lot of these involve spit, as you may have noticed) and the longshot of the many birds who suffered at the hands of this tactic. The Ed and Barb parts can lead to some pretty unlikable sequences, but I do think their dysfunctional marriage is a pretty interesting relationship that the series hasn’t really covered up until this point. Very frankly, it’s the type of relationship that most animated series typically don’t cover. Glad we could count on AT to tackle it head on with humor and potency.

Also, I don’t think I’ll ever be more grossed out by anything in the series than the way Ed produces string. That dripping was fucking vile.

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Favorite line: “It’s hard to step outside of yourself when you’re enmeshed with another being!”

“Five Short Graybles” Review

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Original Airdate: April 9, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich, Cole Sanchez & Skyler Page

The Graybles episodes never quite reached the heights of the other experimental types of stories AT has pursued. The guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have produced quality material that the Graybles stories haven’t been able to meet in my personal list of favorites. Though, I can say, where some guest animator and Fionna and Cake episodes have failed somewhat severely, I’ve never thought too poorly of any of the Graybles. They’re simplistic and cute stories that later contribute to the lore of the show’s world, but for now, they’re simply the former. And there’s nothing wrong with that, this one actually reminds me a lot of 22 Short Films of Springfield, one of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Graybles episodes stemmed from, Pen Ward is a huge Simpsons fan after all.

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It starts out very uniquely, with the introduction of Cuber, voiced by Emo Phillips. It’s later revealed that he’s a futuristic dude, but I’m pretty sure in this one, we’re just kind of supposed to look at him as the narrator. But he’s pretty cool, though this is probably his most generic appearance. He later lends himself to some creative and clever scenarios, but here he’s just kind of in it to do his job, and that is to explain the purpose behind Graybles. It’s a decent first appearance, and I really do love Emo Phillips as a voice actor. Check out his stand-up if you haven’t, it’s hilarious!

The first story starts out with BMO, and it’s by far the best. It’s a pretty stellar look into BMO’s psyche that introduces the recurring character of Football, as well as BMO’s underlying desires of wanting to be a human, or wanting to relate to humans. It’s really cute and almost tragic in a way; I really love seeing the little guy take so much pride in what he’s doing, but at the same time, he’s putting on a farce that will later become a larger burden for him and lead to a psychological breakdown. I never get tired of watching him pee through that glass of water, though. Really nice voice acting from Niki Yang, as always.

Finn and Jake’s story is a bit simplistic, but I do enjoy their somewhat masochistic behavior and the depths they’ll go to perfect a measly high-five. The framing device with our main duo is pretty great: their high-five pretty much carries through and builds up till the very end, which caps off in a pretty satisfying and funny ending, but we’ll get to that in a bit. I also love the unique shots we get to see as they run at each other in a pretty cinematic way. This is Skyler Page’s first time boarding for AT, and he really showcased some of his talents by drawing shots we don’t typically get to see in the series.

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PB’s sandwich sequence is terrific! It’s a really drawn-out scene, but one that never feels like it’s dragging or stale. It’s done through all kinds of visual gags, such as the poor cow that endures that somewhat bizarre contraption, or his block of cheese that’s converted into a single slice using a sewing machine. Then there’s the pure absurdity of PB hitting a head of lettuce with a baseball bat for some reason. Wouldn’t it have made a cleaner slice if she just chopped it up? Also, it’s interesting to see Bubblegum using what is presumed to be black magic. They acknowledge this in the commentary, and no one really has a reason to back it up. I’m just gonna call this one a brief continuity error. And that final bit with Cinnamon Bun was all types of fucking nasty, in the best way possible. I cringe every time I watch his body spew out that diarrhea-like slop.

Ice King’s story is pretty damn funny. I love how 90% of it is just him abusing his penguins. First he sends Gunther off on a block of ice for smelling bad, then he uses penguins to clean himself off and abrasively throws in them in the trash afterwards. It’s some pretty horrifically amusing stuff that only Ice King could get away with, and only seems to get funnier each time I watch those suffering penguins. At least Ice King was partially right about what smelled by the end of it.

Finally, we have LSP’s story. Nothing much to say for this one from me; I never really cared for the These Lumps song too much and I think the story itself is a bit dry. Save for the ending though, which I think is a terrific punchline with Finn and Jake abruptly being named the winners of the talent show instead of LSP. That was priceless. A lot of oddly mean-spirited humor in this episode, wasn’t there?

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Of course, there’s also the connecting theme. I think this one’s pretty obvious, and also because I had already read somewhere what the motif would be before I had even seen the episode. Despite that, I do commend the writers for introducing this type of brainteaser that would eventually get more difficult as the episodes went along. I think this one worked fine, but the creativity and ambiguity of the themes would only good up from here. I think it’s something neat that helps the youngins do some thinking while they’re watching.

So, I like it. It’s a cute introduction to a new series of stories within the series, and pertains a sense of enjoyability and intrigue throughout. It’s always fun revisiting these because I often forget which story happened when (I could’ve swore Tree Trunks was in this one), and it’s always fun to watch AT in such a chronicle structure.

Favorite line: “I thought you had a stank booty, Gunter. My bad.”