Tag Archive | Adventure Time

“Broke His Crown” Review

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Original Airdate: March 26, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Hanna K. Nyström

For all of you who do not know, I will be covering the remaining episodes in the way that they were originally intended to be consumed by the show’s staff. I.E. Broke His CrownReboot will be considered season seven, Two Swords-Three Buckets will be considered season eight, and The Wild Hunt-Come Along With Me will be season nine. To avoid confusion, I will eventually be adding two separate sub-tabs under the seasonal archives tab: one for Cartoon Network’s Rebrand and one for the staff’s original production order. This is simply just to avoid confusion in the long run, and I feel as though that it’s in everyone’s best interest that I cover the remaining seasons as they were intended.

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So, with that said, let’s get to Broke His Crown! Essentially being a sequel episode to King’s Ransom, this episode revolves around the changes Betty made to Ice King’s crown and how exactly they affect him. It’s also an opportunity to further develop Bubblegum, Marceline, and Ice King’s relationships with one another, while also sliding in a heavy dose of lore on the side. Upon airing, and to this day, I feel as though opinions of this episode are very mixed. I know a lot of people who love Broke His Crown and see it as one of the strong points of season 7 (or 8. Whatever!) while other people dismiss it as  rushed with serious pacing problems. I’m a little bit in the middle, but more towards the former. I personally think some bits are a little fast-paced and downright contrived, but I actually really dig what this one set out to do. Essentially, it’s the one time in the series that Betty and Simon are permitted a happy ending together. It’s satisfying and dissatisfying in all the right ways, but feels like a truly appropriate way to wrap up their relationship without actually affecting their characters in the slightest. In general, Broke His Crown is also a great exploration of the inner-workings of the crown and what truly becomes of those who wear it. It’s visually appealing and a lot of fun, creating a unique and complex environment with some unique, yet familiar, characters.

Marceline and PB are straight up lovers in this episode. I could totally get the “oh, they’re just really close friends” argument before this episode aired, but nah, you could not convince me otherwise that this is not the direct intention of the episode. Of course, I’m sure it was frustrating for the hardcore Bubbline fans who wanted an outright confirmation from the series by this point in time, but after this episode, I just fully accepted that their romantic involvement with each other was 100% canon. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. And, as far as their relationship goes, it’s cute! I’ve said outright before that I’m not a huge fan of Bubbline. That is to say that, while I enjoy their relationship, a lot of viewers and comic writers are under the impression that their romantic involvement with each other is the single most important aspect of the show, when it really isn’t and never was. So my opinion has soured more because of oversaturation within the fanbase and the expanded universe, but overall, I don’t dislike the way they’re presented within the series. Hanna K. Nyström has a strength in portraying the girls in a really likable way; while other writers like Jesse Moynihan and Ako Castuera have kind of struggled to make their relationship seems compassionate in the past, Nyström knows how to write their relationship with a healthy balance of charisma and snark. And hey, this is actually the last episode in the series that features Castuera as a storyboard artist, and she seems to have gotten a lot stronger when working with this dynamic as well!

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Love dem freeze-frame bonuses.

While PB and Marcy have risked being either too schmaltzy or awkward in the past, you can tell they care for each other in a very genuine and realistic way. You can sense the love between the two, but they aren’t constantly professing their feelings for one another. This is in part because the staff was probably pressured by the network to keep their relationship subtle, but also pays off in other ways. I enjoy how they spend most of the episode arguing, but it isn’t presented in an unlikable or unpleasant way. PB’s combative attitude in particular is just terrific. Not only is she hilarious to watch, but her abrasiveness actually serves a purpose. While we explored her shift in behavior towards the Banana Guards in the previous episode, we now are treated to her shifting behavior toward Ice King. The conflict between PB and Ice King is probably the most heated out of any of the main characters, as one would expect. Ice King has violated Princess Bubblegum’s privacy on several occasions, so you really don’t blame her for being so opposed to the idea of getting along with him. At the same time, however, you also understand things from Marcy’s perspective. Of course she’s going to be more forgiving towards Ice King, because 1. he represents someone she loves and cares for. 2. Ice King is probably cooler with and more respectful of Marcy than anyone else he knows. So her request to Bubblegum is honest and understandable, but so is Bonnie’s hostile behavior. And might I just say that those mamas are looking GREAT in this episode. While Marcy hasn’t gotten as much exposure to different wardrobe changes this season, season seven might just be the best collection of PB’s different outfits, to the point where I was genuinely disappointed that she returned to her standard pink dress in the very next episode.

As for Ice King, he’s his usual terrific blend of being a sweetheart, kind of a dick, and a quirky dude simultaneously, and while he’s not in this one a ton (as IK, at least) his performance really shines through in the first few minutes. I love how much he absolutely lights up when he realizes that Marcy and PB actually want to spend time with him, and how he’s so conditioned to being rejected by ladies that he thinks that he has to actually bribe people to hangout with him. That was both incredibly sweet and sad, with a touch of hilariousness when he does inevitably take the gift back for himself. While I think he provides for some of the episode’s strongest moments, I also think he offers some of the weakest, mostly because of the malfunctioning crown. I dunno, I feel like the way Ice King freaks out and behaves weirdly isn’t really that interesting… when I heard about the synopsis for this one, I expected Ice King’s “uncanny behavior” to involve flashes between himself and Simon, or just a full blown meltdown of some sorts. Ice King smashing plates over his head and rolling around on the ground just aren’t intriguing ways to hammer forward that he needs help, and it doesn’t really feel dire. I wish a little bit more was done for this aspect to make it more dramatic and/or intriguing, because the way it was executed just didn’t grip me at all. I also feel like the initial plot device of Marceline not believing Bubblegum was somewhat unneeded and a waste of time. Sure, it does provide for PB to actually grow concerned for the IK and even refer to him as “Simon,” but this episode already feels a bit tight as it is. So while I liked a good portion of the beginning, I felt that some bits could’ve been better executed, and at worst, taken out for the sake of time.

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When the girls take it upon themselves to help their icy friend, they enter the surface of the crown through virtual reality equipment. The crown’s labyrinth just looks spectacular. It’s essentially a village-type corn maze, where everything is shaded in the exact same colors as the crown, with the exception of plant life. This is exactly what I would expect the world of the crown to look like, with a heavy focus on a wildlife theme, while also keeping things technological. The labyrinth in general is interesting when I think deeply about it, and I’m not really sure how I feel about the idea overall. Granted, this entire simulation is VR, and it’s open to interpretation regarding how much of it is actually real, but I feel like it’s a little convoluted that everyone who ever wore the crown just lives in this little crown town where they’ve presumably existed for thousands or millions of years. Like, what do they even do up there? Do they need to eat? Do they socialize with one another? Do they go to the bathroom? How has Simon not lost his sanity completely? It’s generally a lot of weird concepts that never get fully explained because of time restraints, and it’s something that I have trouble wrapping my head around in a coherent way. Some of it feels like it doesn’t really make sense; Gunther’s been leaving within the crown for millions of years, and is still talking about Master Evergreen? How can he even remember who that is? I don’t fully get behind it, but it’s also something that doesn’t actively bother me because it’s genuinely awesome to visit all of the people who once were enslaved by the crown.

As I just mentioned, Gunther’s back in this one, and man, is it good to see the little guy! I loved Gunther in Evergreen, and while I was ultimately satisfied with his unfortunate demise, it is pretty nice to see him back in action in this one. I really would have never expected to have seen him ever again, so this was a true treat. It isn’t just a cameo either, he actually has a pretty active role in the story, and it’s really nice! How cool is it that we get to see the first person who ever wore the crown interact with the most recent bearer? His relationship with the girls is also really sweet, and it’s cool to see Marceline’s absolute awe at the sight of a dinosaur. Even after 1,000 years of living, it’s cool to see a species that is still relatively foreign to her. Not to mentioned the other inhabitants of the crown; let’s address the elephant in the room: Santa was the Ice King at one point. Fucking Santa Claus is canonically apart of the show’s lore. That is both hysterical and kind of fascinating in terms of a mythos. I mean, you have this legendary folklore character of whom was assumed to be magic, and it turns out that it was just some guy who ended up wearing a magical crown that consumed his sanity. That is simply wild. We also have Sven, who apparently only wore the crown once, but was still consumed by it. This kind of ties into my own headcanon that, the younger you are, the more susceptible you are to the crown’s power. We saw how easily Farmworld Finn was taken over by the crown in only a matter of minutes, and it seems the same thing happened to Sven. I’m guessing the emotional and physical maturity of the wearer really matters in terms of the crown’s influence, and it’s kind of cool that we got this bit of information that seems to imply as much.

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But of course, the real star of the show is Simon, of whom picked up on the crown’s wack behavior. It’s once again nice to see Marcy and Simon work off of each other as characters, and it’s even better to see him and Bonnie meet. Even without the crown taking him over, Simon still manages to get under PB’s skin from ignorance, though once again, can you blame the girl? She’s a scientific mastermind. While this episode is very fast-moving, it actually does make up for some of the sins of the formerly jam-packed episode Betty, in which Simon and Marcy really didn’t get a chance to interact at all. Here, Simon lovingly apologizes for not being able to spend time with her, and it doubles as both a sweet moment and somewhat of a nice “sorry ’bout that” from the staff. I also love how Simon is just a bona fide dork and is a bit socially awkward when it comes to talking to the teen-ified Marceline that he never really had a chance to meet before. The first thing he asks Marceline after he apologizes is if she has a boyfriend, and he truly feels like the most “real” character on the show. Aside from Finn, Martin, and Betty(ish), Simon is the only human character, and so I like that they make him mostly just a normal guy, but also kind of quirky. He truly is “best dad.” Of course, there’s also the great dramatic irony that Simon wishes he could go back and punch Ash, even though he already did so in Betty. Such a great running joke.

After their brief travels, they finally do run into the glitchified Betty, which mostly just makes me sad because, once again, you can tell Lena Dunham is merely there for the paycheck and could not sound less interested in what’s going on. This is her last role as the character, of which could have to do with her performance, or just other unrelated incidents, but I’m glad that this is the last we hear from her, because she really wasn’t adding anything to the character or the series by this point. Simon and Betty’s interactions with each other are actually really cute though; again, Simon and Betty’s love doesn’t feel schmaltzy and hollow and actually feels like a real relationship. Simon’s story is so mundane and simple, but truly adds to the idea that they were just two simple people who were madly in love with each other. Of course, it’s a bit different now, considering that this Betty is merely software, but it still feels authentic and ties into what I was saying earlier about how it’s a partially a satisfying conclusion to their relationship. While there’s still much, much more to be explored between Ice King and Magic Betty, this is essentially the strongest resolution they’re treated to up to this point (without giving too much away to y’all who are watching along with this blog) and nice that they’re able to have some form of a relationship while it’s out of the question. Of course, it’s all tied up a bit too quickly and neatly by the end of it, with Simon once again not being able to give Marcy a proper farewell. Regardless, it does end up with a nice wrap up of sweet moments between all of the characters involved.

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And “sweet” describes a lot of this episode by its end: Gunther met some new cool gals, Simon and Betty are able to share somewhat of a happy life together, Marceline was able to connect with Simon once more, and to really understand the relationship between him and Betty, while PB gained some empathy for Simon, and Ice King, in general. Of course, Betty isn’t truly real and Marceline won’t get to see the human version of her close friend for what seems like forever, but Broke His Crown manages to be satisfying and dissatisfying in all the right ways, as I mentioned prior. It provides from some really nice, welcomed developments, and other moments that just make sense for each character’s journey.

And Broke His Crown is just that: a thoroughly satisfying exploration of a group of characters in a really neat setting. It has its problems in pacing, logic, and execution, but manages to be really entertaining regardless to the point where I don’t really mind its problems. It’s another season seven entry that both adds to the lore of the world of Adventure Time and delves deeper into the identities of its inhabitants, of whom are continuing to grow and develop with each passing episode at this point in time.

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Favorite line: “GOODBYE, FREAKS!”

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“The Thin Yellow Line” Review

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Original Airdate: March 19, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Emily Partridge & KC Green

Through the past couple seasons, we’ve seen how various different major and secondary characters view Princess Bubblegum from their perspective. Though, one important point of view that hasn’t been explored in great detail is from those who spend the most time around the princess: the Banana Guards. Aside from their strong loyalty and love for the princess, they’ve mostly been in the background, while slightly more intelligent Candy Citizens such as Starchy and Cinnamon Bun (I did say slightly more intelligent) have been able to pinpoint her shady behavior as a flaw of her character. The Thin Yellow Line puts the Banana Guards at center stage to present an almost cultish look at PB’s alleged hierarchy, and how the Guards themselves feel entirely confined by their environment in fear of their own demise. It’s also a cool to see that, outside of their identical appearances, each Banana Guard possesses their own unique character traits and personalities.

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I wanna first start off by saying that the mural painted by Banana Guard 16 (in actuality, it was painted by Joy Ang!) is absolutely gorgeous and has so much detail put into it that it’s impossible to soak in everything on a first glance, and it’s only fair that I analyze it from left to right. The beginning of the mural features what I could only assume to be the catalyst comet, of which likely signifies the “beginning” of Ooo. Of course, it also ties into the overall mystery of how the Catalyst Comet and the Great Mushroom War correlate, and what exactly said comet brought with it. Though, some form of magic surely came into existence when it hit, and may have also had a part in creating the Mother Gum, of which is shown next in the mural. The Mother Gum is then shown sending PB off on her way, as rays of light and brightness surround her. Though, once PB’s figure enters the mural, the bright, white clouds turn menacing and dark, signifying her descent into a perceived bit of unscrupulousness. This includes:

  • The snakelike Neddy, of whom looks content within the nectar tree. As Banana Guard 16 later mentions, he believes that PB “trapped her brother Neddy,” meaning that the general understanding of Neddy within the Kingdom is that he was a possibly dangerous, but provided the Candy Kingdom with a beneficial resource. Hypothetically, this led PB to make the decision that he should be forcibly kept within the kingdom, where he cannot harm anyone and can only provide for the kingdom.
  • Marceline’s bat-like form is seen in the background, meaning that the Candy Kingdom citizens possibly aren’t comfortable with PB’s relationship with Marceline, given Marcy’s somewhat rebellious and uncanny nature. It seems like some form of underlying prejudice towards vampires, that has existed since the olden days, or reflect the stigma that surrounded Marceline when she initially started hanging out with PB. As we’ve seen during the Stakes miniseries, this stigma towards vampires still exists and is potentially harmful, so it’s quite likely to me that the citizens in general may feel intimated by Marceline and uncomfortable with her hanging out with the princess.
  • The ceiling of eyes is representative of PB’s heavy surveillance system of which she watches over the entire kingdom. Though she has recently weened off this method, she’s still viewed with NSA-type paranoia as someone watching the citizens’ every step.
  • The middle section is devoted to showcasing Goliad and Stormo, who are being heavily watched over by the Gumball Guardians. Despite still being locked in an eternal duel, Goliad is also depicted as having an eye on the Gumball Guardians, being ready to strike as soon as something interferes with said psychic battle. It’s also worth noting that, while one Gumball Guardian is locked in a staring contest with Goliad, the other looks off onto the side, while the prison within the cage remains unsupervised. This could represent the dangers hidden within the Candy Kingdom that remain overlooked (one of which is dealt with later) or touch on the fact that the Gumball Guardians are essentially useless in the face of danger, as seen with the Lich attack, the army of Gunters, the vamp cloud, and so on.
  • Towards the end, we see a stitched up Lemongrab, referencing the merging of Lemongrab 1 and Lemongrab 2 after Lemonhope’s attack. The inside of his head is also shown, as his brain is split in two. The implication here reads to me that, though PB stitched up and fixed Lemongrab, she will never be able to fix the broken mess that she sought to create. His body may be one, but he brain will always be in two.
  • And finally, that brings us to the last piece, that returns to the bright color scheme of the first panel. Princess Bubblegum is essentially portrayed as a goddess, with her swan eloquently in back, as an army of Banana Guards stand before her. This shows how, despite all of the dark matters under her belt, the BGs are still willing to worship her no matter what because they know that everything she has done has been for the kingdom. Though, Banana Guard 16 acknowledges through the mural that, if anyone were to defy her, they’d end up in the dark clouds just as everyone else who has betrayed her.

There’s certainly a lot going on, and it’s most definitely the most interesting aspect of this episode. Though, that isn’t necessarily a criticism, as a good portion of this one is a lot of fun. It’s not as deep or dark as the mural, but it provides for a lot of great Banana Guard gags with terrific animation and drawings.

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This one was actually co-boarded by KC Green, a pretty well-known webcomic artist. He has his own ongoing webcomic called He is a Good Boy, is working on the Rocko’s Modern Life revival comics, has drawn every Pokemon everand previously ran the webcomic series Gunshow, of which is widely known because of that one dog meme that was literally everywhere for a period of time. I really dig Green’s style in general, and his zany, cartoon-y drawings really fit for this type of episode. The style of this one honestly reminds me a lot of season two’s design, when artists like Jesse Moynihan and Somvilay Xayaphone were still trying to get a feel for the shape of the characters, and ended up creating some really humorous drawings and faces in the process. Here, it’s the same, though arguably more intentional, and provides for a lot of stretchy and emotive expressions in the process. I especially love the various faces Finn makes as he realizes that Banana Guard 16 is the vandal. I’m totally fine with the subdued and calmer animation in later seasons, though it’s welcomed to have an episode like this, which is likely the most expressive the show has been in years.

I usually think Banana Guard humor is hit-or-miss, but it hits pretty hard in this episode. I love how this episode manages to exaggerate their bumbling and moronic nature to extreme lengths, while also making them somewhat rounder and more vigilant at the same time. Like, you have that scene at the beginning where they’re rolling around and tripping over each other, but then you have the moment when they actually convict the boys and punch the lights out of Jake. That’s right, the motherfucking Banana Guards one-upped F&J. It’s so refreshing to see them actually be half decent at their job, even if they’re hilariously tricked in the next minute that Finn and Jake are new guards. The Thin Yellow Line plays with this back-and-forth between character portrayal a lot, and it’s a ton of fun.

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The episode also has a great mystery element that plays with the viewer’s expectations in a pretty logical way. I like how the Banana Guards aren’t just being ridiculous or conniving in the methods that they send Jake into utter paranoia; the BGs are secretive and hidden with these pleasures because they actually have something to lose in they get caught. It relates to their own paranoia with conforming to the standards of Princess Bubblegum, and the fact that they feel as though diverting from this conformity will ultimately result in a painful punishment. I expected these somewhat tense sequences to be a non-sequitur, but I’m actually glad they have a role in the overall message and conclusion of the episode.

Banana Guard 16 isn’t an especially interesting or likable character, but I’d argue that he’s not really supposed to be. He’s kind of just supposed to be an active voice among the mostly cowardice Banana Guards, and the episode does so successfully by actually giving him his own unique voice. He’s voiced by Tunde Adebimpe, of whom I’ve never actually heard of, though his credentials read that he’s a digital artist, which helps him connect with the character even better. The relationship he has with Finn is sweet; I like how Finn initially just uses him to close the case surrounding the vandalism, though actually ends up seeing the beauty and genuine nature of BG 16’s work. It’s also interesting to see how blindsided Finn is to Bubblegum’s darker side. Of course, the love that he feels for her probably has some part in this, though I honestly think that Finn just doesn’t pick up on this side of her. Granted, while some of what BG 16 was saying did resonate as truthful, he was exaggerating it in ways that simply paint PB to be an absolute tyrant, when she’s really just morally astute. Those sequences are just awesome though. You really don’t blame him for thinking of PB this way, because everything he’s describing does have some truth to it: she didn’t imprison Neddy, but she also didn’t help him beyond containing him; she had good reasons to imprison the “rebellious Candy People” of which, again, we’ll be exploring later; she “diced” the Rattleball boys, but that was only in the logic of them being too powerful for their own good. All of these conclusions are completed ethical, though embroidered.

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The funny thing about this devoted worship is that PB is totally perplexed by it; she has no idea that she’s regarded in such a way, and it goes back to what I was saying before of her behavior being a factor of her inability to go about protecting her kingdom in a healthy way. She knows that she doesn’t exactly have the trust of her people, but is kind of out-of-the-know when it comes to the monstrous perception that has been foisted upon her. Even Finn gets wrapped up in the paranoia surrounding him, and defies PB’s orders to help save his friend. While this episode works to showcase PB’s growth, it also is another interesting look at how Finn’s sense of morality has shifted over time. Back in Rattleballs, Finn betrayed the trust of his new mentor in respect of his loyalty to Bubblegum. Here, Finn betrays his own loyalty to what he thinks is morally just. There’s not really a right or wrong way around either of these situations, besides the fact that Finn is doing so for completely different reasons.

But of course, that paranoia is wasted, because PB has changed as well. She doesn’t view individuality as a conspiracy to take her down, but rather something to be celebrated. She no longer wants fear and uncertainty to be foisted upon those who worship her most, and wants to actually show how she’s changed since her reinstatement into the kingdom. The Banana Guards are able to freely express themselves as individuals, even that one BG that doesn’t have a special talent. Also, might I say that momma PBubs is lookin’ FINE in this episode. Emily Partridge actually modeled her outfit and appearance off of Elaine from Seinfeld, which is pretty apparent, but still suits PB well. Her outfits have been really on point in this season thus far.

My biggest fear following the Stakes miniseries was that PB’s development as a “nicer ruler” would make her a less interesting character, but this episode subverts those anxieties in the best way necessary. The Thin Yellow Line is a terrific exploration of the deep-rooted paranoia of the Candy Kingdom. It’s an episode that has a ton of fun with the naturally silly characters involved, but one that’s still executed in a genuinely tense and potent way. Not to mention that it also has that visual added bonus of KC Green’s expressive storyboarding feat, which is enough to make this episode memorable on its own. Upon it’s original airing, this episode was dedicated to Mandy Long, of whom I had never heard of initially. Upon research, it turns out she was a talented young artist that loved Adventure Time, and who tragically passed away on September 24, 2015. It’s incredibly heartwarming that the staff at AT would pay tribute to someone not on the direct staff, but someone who was just a genuine fan, and an exceptional artist to boot. I send my condolences to all of Mandy’s friends and family.

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Favorite line: “I grew these! Hi-da-ro-pon-i-cal-y!”

 

“Flute Spell” Review

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Original Airdate: March 12, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Sam Alden & Jesse Moynihan

Flute Spell is remembered for being the “Huntress Wizard X Finn” episode, as one would expect it to be, but honestly, I think this episode makes for a really great star appearance of Jake. Throughout the exploration of Finn’s character and his relationships in the past few years, Jake has typically remained as a bystander. He helped to coach Finn through his crush on Princess Bubblegum in earlier years, and initially assisted him in securing a relationship with Flame Princess, but otherwise, he hasn’t been very involved in this aspect of Finn’s life. Some of these reasons may include the fact that he unintentionally had a part in Finn’s breakup with Flame Princess, or perhaps that he simply can’t relate to Finn’s underlying turmoil. Regardless, he does his best to help Finn connect with Huntress Wizard and to build a healthy, honest relationship between the two, and it’s really sweet.

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Not to mention Jake is thoroughly hilarious in this episode. In the first 10 seconds, we start out with the amusingly jolly song “My Name is Jake,” which is not only a great platform to callback several old characters and concepts (i.e. APTWE and Maja, the villagers from The Visitor, and Jake constantly being faced with Death) but also epitomizes Jake as a character. While I’m thoroughly invested in all of the character drama that this series has to offer, it’s so delightful to have one main character that has no surface level issues. Jake has a terrific relationship with his girlfriend, lives with his brother and his best friends, has five children to spend his time with (even if it is to T.V.’s dismay), and is always faced with a plethora of fun adventures to take on. He’s certainly not without his own personal problems, but there’s no boiling turmoil that threatens Jake’s psyche. He’s simply a carefree dude that is able to live a fulfilling life because he has a terrific support system and is meeting all of his personal needs. Remember this bit, because it’s important later on!

Of course, Jake’s concerns aren’t limited to his own well-being, but the well-being of his brother, of whom went through some deep shit in the past year. The real fun of this one is that Jake not only makes for a fun third-wheel, but also kind of takes on the role of a shipping-invested fan. The main story of this one is practically just Jesse Moynihan living out a ship that he’s always wanted to see (and I don’t necessarily mean that as an insult) so having Jake make all of these wild guesses about Finn’s new love interest and being super invested in everything going on to the point of interrupting important conversations is just hilarious. I have to assume there actually is a Finn X Future Me-Mow fanfiction out there.

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On the other side of things, it is cool to see Finn in the dating scene again, and his maturity definitely shows. Of course, as Shelby eloquently states earlier in the episode, “he’s just trying to be careful this time.” When it comes to Finn’s character flaws, nothing reigns more apparent than his issues with ladies. While it’s a huge step that he’s even pursuing someone that isn’t Bubblegum or Flame Princess, and that he’s not being a giant creep about it, he still isn’t being honest in his intentions. Of course, it’s hard to blame him this time around. He was hurt, and he hurt others in the past, and he’s not fully ready to relive the pain that he once experienced. It’s good that he’s at least trying to pursue a relationship instead of just holding onto that pain forever, but a lot of his issues in this episode stem from the fact that he doesn’t just tell Huntress Wizard upfront about how he feels for her. Even if he has good intentions and ends up helping her in the end, he’s simply not being fair to himself in playing matchmaker. Though it’s hard not to be charmed by his overall behavior, and the fact that he is essentially willing to take pain if it means helping out a girl that he has feelings for. Whatta bro.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s no surprise that Jesse Moynihan loves inserting Huntress Wizard into episodes as often as he can, and that the fanbase in general has taken a particular liking to her ever since Reign of Gunters came along. Some might see it as pandering to the fanbase that this random, insignificant character is suddenly made into Finn’s love interest, but I dunno, I never minded it. Huntress Wizard is a cool and mysterious character with a competent VA at the helm (aka Jenny Slate; HW was previously voiced by Maria Bamford prior to this episode). A lot of the charm of HW’s character comes from that mystery element, though she acts this way for a purpose as revealed at the end of the episode. In general, a lot of the fun with HW comes from her stellar abilities and the way she interacts with the environment. From her ability to change into a tree or turn her clothes in leaves as she pleases, to her almost completely primitive living environment, she really is completely enigmatic from both a physical and psychological level.

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The chemistry between Finn and HW is a lot of fun as well. I love how their first interaction involves Huntress Wizard nearly impaling Finn’s nose with an arrow, and how Finn isn’t at all put off by that. Finn’s grass sword is used to its fullest abilities by having an active role in the story without it necessarily being about the grass sword, but just the thorn in general. That’s an idea that’s pretty unique to this episode, an adds an interesting element in how the grass sword operates outside of battle. Despite it being a curse, it does have mystical elements that really don’t give it proper defining traits, of which is what likely draws in Huntress Wizard so much. Also, the grass arm is apparently “really shreddy and busy.” Eyuck. The back-and-forth between HW and Finn is enjoyable, especially how it manages to make it obvious that Finn wants this way more than Huntress Wizard, but without making him overbearing or slimy. He has some really funny moments as he tries to look cool in front of Huntress Wizard, namely his denial that he smells bad during a high speed chase towards a vicious boar.

One aspect of this episode that does strike my curiosity is the identity of HW’s former mentor and possible love interest, the Spirit of the Forest, of whom looks and sounds exactly like the Dream Warrior from Who Would Win? It’s an… odd cameo to say the least, and one that has never had a ton of conclusive exposition aside from this episode, though I’m guessing each realm of the world has some sort of round, Matthew Broderick-like warrior that watches over a specific dominion. I don’t really have a problem with the Spirit of the Forest’s role in this episode, but I think it’s kind of weird that this is the only other Dream Warrior clone introduced in the series, because I feel like it makes things slightly confusing. Are there just two randomly identical beings that watch over entirely different facets of existence? Are they brothers? Are they the same person? I do wish this was elaborated on a bit more, and that there were more Broderick Warrior characters introduced for consistency, but as it stands, it’s just kind of a weird bit of lore that I’m not sure was completely necessary.

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His role, however, does add for some interesting developments in HW’s character, as it’s revealed that she’s just as afraid of being hurt by feelings as Finn is. HW and Finn, while dealing with similar problems, are very different. Finn went through some tough shit in the past, though he wants to learn how to move on from it and to regain physical love in his life. HW romanticizes with her own sadness, and believes in the idea that loving someone else is “becoming soft” and throwing away her own independence. Thus, she falls into the pit of MMS, because she believes that finding the solution to the very cause of what makes her sad and mad to begin with will erase her purpose and make her less significant in the world. Huntress Wizard admits to having feelings for Finn as well, though she acknowledges that “exceptional beasts like us cannot fall in love. That is the secret of ordinary people.” I’ve seen this viewpoint a lot from creatives, and admittedly feel the same way at times: that falling in love means sacrificing your skills of individuality and surrendering one’s self to the ordinary trials of life. It’s profound, but it’s made even better by Jake’s retort of, “uh, that’s real dumb.” The beginning of the episode showcases what an exciting and pleasurable life one can have when taking on the “normal” standards of life. Jake’s story certainly isn’t by the books in the case of social norms, but he’s able to live in a satisfactory way to his best abilities by meeting his own desires and contributing to his own well-being, as well as that of others. Jake can’t get behind HW’s mentality, because everything he’s ever loved and cared about has come from being a “normie.” Finn mentions he agrees, though it’s unclear who he’s even agreeing with. My money is definitely on HW, as Finn likely buys into HW’s same notions. It could also be the fact that Finn might acknowledge that he simply still isn’t ready to date yet. Even after all he’s been through, Finn still is afraid to love as carelessly as he once did, and though he wants to, it will take some time before he’s fully ready to move on from that fear of loss.

While girls come and go, Finn’s brother certainly does not, as he and Jake share a very sweet moment together at the end. As the Spirit of the Forest mentioned before, infatuation is easily dismantled when it comes to the true intentions and desires of two individuals, in which the relationship practically fades into obscurity. Finn is bummed out, but mirrors the Spirit’s line of “attracting forces come and go,” as he chooses to acknowledge that the connection simply wasn’t worth moving forward with (for the time being) and realizes that the next attracting force isn’t far from the future.

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Tying in with the past couple entries, Flute Spell is really rad on a design aspect. The forest looks terrific in this episode, specifically Huntress Wizard’s house (essentially a cliff under a tree, wink wink) which is just awesome. It’s really well lit when it comes to the nighttime and morning scenes, and the sheer amount of detail inside is terrific. I also really love the design of that boar, who not only looks superb, but is animated in a really stellar way. I love how he’s essentially just a thunder cloud, and how his cloudy behind trails while he runs. It really just made me wonder why there’s never been a “thunder boar” Pokemon. And hey, Finn’s immune to electricity for the rest of the series now!

But yeah, Flute Spell is pretty great. It explores a pretty fascinating relationship that is made entirely fun through an interesting story, some enticing animation, and most of all, Jake’s thoroughly entertaining role. If I had to criticize one thing, it’d be that I feel as though there are too many cameos and references to past episodes. The ones I liked the most were essentially Easter eggs, like the Villagers and Jake’s bird form from Food Chain, but I felt that the Spirit of the Forest was a bit strange on some levels, and Science Cat really, really did not have to be in this episode. Aside from his somewhat funny bit of exposition about Sword Shark, who tragically passed away, he’s kind of just there for the sake of being an obscure cameo. But otherwise, Flute Spell is a ton of fun, and does well with a storyline that I would have typically only imagined being apart of someone’s fanfiction.

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Favorite line: “First off, I’m a great fighter. And I’m especially agile when I’m nude, so good luck.”

“The Hall of Egress” Review

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Original Airdate: March 5, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich 

Before I get into this review, I wanna thank fellow readers Zach Goff and William Zall for donating to my DVD gofundme! I appreciate your contributions and am so very thankful to have dedicated readers like yourself. As promised, these two get to decide on a special bonus review of their choice, so there will be a ton of new bonus content at the end of the season! One final time, thank you two dearly for your contributions, and thank you for reminding me why I love to do these reviews to begin with. Onto the review!

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When Tom Herpich posted the promotional artwork for this one, he mentioned in the description that he initially disregarded the idea for this episode as “irredeemably dark and unpleasant.” While he also mentions tinkering with the concept a bit to make it actually work, this episode, in part, lives up to that description. This is perhaps Finn’s most unimaginably terrifying adventure yet; over the years, he’s been faced with the deadly nature of the Lich, the sadistic shenanigans of Magic Man, the tumultuous relationship with his father, and the struggle to conquer his own identity, but nothing strikes me as more threatening than this endeavor. I won’t beat around the bush, this might just be my favorite episode of the entire series. I know that’s probably somewhat of a unoriginal claim by now, but for very good reasons. This episode just does everything right; I’ve sung my praises about Herpich before, but I really can’t deny that The Hall of Egress feels like he’s using everything that he’s learned about Adventure Time over those six past years and channeling that energy through Finn. A lot of my all-time favorite episodes actually don’t center around the main boys at all; You Forgot Your Floaties was mainly about Magic Man, The More You Moe, The Moe You Know was about BMO, and I Remember You follows the backstory of Simon and Marcy. But what sets The Hall of Egress so high up is that, not only is it an incredibly sophisticated story that strays from the typical “dungeon” themed episode, but it also centers around what I consider to be the absolute central heart of the show: (you guessed it) Finn and (a good amount) of Jake.

This episode truly brings Finn’s growth and evolution to the forefront, and I have reason to believe it was done entirely on an intentional level. The very beginning of the episode opens with Jake mentioning the dungeon train, which was last seen in the self-entitled Dungeon Train right after Finn’s big break-up. His bro even mentions this, to which Finn responds, “heh, yeah, that sucked.” Dungeon Train saw an entirely different Finn than the one we’ve seen over the course of season 6 and 7; Finn was unable to fully deal with his problems and relied on the help of outside sources (PB, the dungeon train, Jake, etc.) to ease his pain. Now, I’m not saying this to imply that support systems are not useful, but Finn’s behavior was clearly much more manipulative and worked harder at putting up a mask more than anything. He wasn’t dealing with his issues, he was finding ways to get around them. The funniest part is, this was the original destination in Dungeon Train. It’s almost horrifying to think of what would have happened to Finn, had he experienced this a year earlier. That’s not to say he went from being a complete dumbass to a brilliant mastermind over the course of time, but his ability to cope and deal with issues has certainly matured and altered from the norm, having been through so much and understanding his own skills in stress management.

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Though again, that doesn’t make this trip any less terrifying. While we get intervals from Jake and BMO from time to time, this is mostly a bottle episode, featuring Finn in one place and leaving him to ramble on to himself for a period of time. As always, we’re treated to his delightfully silly and quirky behavior, even in the midst of a sticky situation. While a good amount of the beginning spends time setting up the absolute ludicrous nature of the dungeon, it’s made fun just by how many delightful Finn moments are scattered in throughout: his pronunciation of “foyer,” the brief flashback where PB explains what egress means, Finn finally adopting the last name “Mertens” and using it proudly as his identity, “breadcrumb style,” the way he cleverly maps out an exit plan using muscle memory, and much more.

The entire hall is pretty cool from an initial standpoint. It’s made eerie and solemn, and its vague nature is what helps to set those feelings. Who set up this dungeon? Why did Flambo’s (unnamed) brother send the boys there? Is it supposed to be exactly what it seems? Herpich truly is the king of clever ambiguity, whereas he provides enough for the audience to create their own wildly different ideas and theories, though none of it is ever proven or set in stone. It’s the same with Phlannel Boxingday: everybody pretty much assumes that he’s Princess Bubblegum, but Herpich never provides any actual confirmation that they are the same person. This episode is just riddled with stuff like that, with my favorite being the snowman statue. There’s a lot of emphasis (including close-up shots) put on this upside-down snowman statue that never actually serves any relevance in the plot. Was it merely put there as a red herring for viewers to assume that this was the solution to the issue, or would setting the snowman up in the correct order actually have some sort of effect on whether Finn would be able to escape? My money’s on the red herring excuse, and I think the mere implication of it is that it’s “too easy” of a solution. The entire point of Finn’s journey in this episode is that he’s not able to easily find a way out of this mind dungeon, and must somehow find a different way out. The snowman is placed there as an obvious mislead, as it’s implying that such an intense, complex situation can be easily fixed in the mere matter of seconds.

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As Finn learns pretty early on, this dungeon is exactly the opposite. While Finn walks through the actual hall, it’s made visually appealing through cloudy shades of white and blue, though it also interestingly works off of the viewer’s sense of touch rather than creating an elaborate design. It reminds me a lot of Rainy Day Daydream, in which Finn and Jake embark on a full-scale adventure and fight baddies, of which are never seen, because they’re all “imaginary.” This episode works in the same vein, by using sound effects and Finn’s body language to show what actually exists in the Hall. It’s even made better by the fact that, while Finn can see inside the hall while closing his eyes, he technically is “going in blind.” It’s a cool way to make the audience feel as though they’re going along with this journey, and feel as if they’re in the same boat. Just like Finn, we can’t explain why this is happening, and there’s no clear answer to what the Hall of Egress is or how to escape from it. The only theory that anyone could have come up with, at the time, is the concept of the snowman, though that’s easily debunked about halfway through. A big element of this episode that contributes to its success is empathy.

Now, empathy has always been a big part of Adventure Time, but I honestly think it’s a rarity among my other favorite episodes. Floaties, The More You Moe, and I Remember You have me sympathizing with the main characters, but I dunno if I can really put myself in their place, with the possible exception of parts of The More You Moe. That’s a personal point of view and I don’t expect everyone to share it, but I say it because it’s not like I’ve ever had/lost a wife, and I’ve never had a loved one who went through Alzheimer’s. Of course, I’ve never been through an endless mind dungeon myself either, but this bit of empathy also works with the episode’s other strongest point, of which I mentioned is its dense ambiguity. I’m sure all of us have been in an impossibly unsolvable situation, of which it seems like there is no possible solution. Hell, as a sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I deal with it regularly! But this episode manages to use an entirely fantastical scenario and has a limitless sense of opportunity in how people can connect with it. Again, that’s the beauty of Adventure Time in general, and having its greatest and most developed character at the center is what drives it forward even more.

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As Finn continues to churn forward, that perceived hopelessness becomes even stronger. Not only is he faced with this treacherous dungeon at hand with no possible way out, but he’s also the only one who actually believes that it exists. It’s an incredibly difficult dilemma, in which he does have the support of his friends, but they don’t understand the situation at large. The support that BMO and Jake do offer is undeniably sweet, however, and provides for some of the cutest interactions between the boys to date. That simple kiss that Jake gives Finn before he goes to bed is absolutely adorable! It’s such a small moment, but such a loving gesture that I don’t think we’ve seen the boys ever exchange up to this point. BMO’s bits are limited, but more than anything, he plays the part of the anxious little child that still lives within Finn. BMO barely speaks in this episode, and when he does, it’s merely to ask Finn questions about his state of being and whether he’s going to attempt to open his eyes or not. BMO is simply representative of the anxious voice within Finn telling him to remain the same and to not change his methods of dealing with a situation. While Finn is uncertain if opening his eyes will actually work or not, he’s still tempted by the most simplistic and obvious way out of things. Though, more often than not, his friends are on the exact same page with that incessant impatience.

Some of the more humorous moments from this episode derive from the idea that Jake continuously tries to open Finn’s eyes, even after being informed of his dilemma. Also, Jake’s hat was terrific. Where can I grab a hat like that? Ultimately, though, the humorous moments underlie the great tragedies of the entire situation: Finn is completely alone. Jake tries to be as supportive and understanding as possible, but as we’ve often seen from Jake, he’s typically more focused on problem-solving than utilizing his abilities to empathize. Not to say that’s a jab at Jake, because he’s doing the best anyone can in that situation: his brother is going on about a dungeon that apparently doesn’t even exist, and won’t open his eyes for the course of an entire month because of a perceived misfortune that only he believes in. While it’s easy to empathize with Finn, it’s difficult to disagree with Jake’s logic as well from a bystander point of view. We empathize with Finn because we watch his situation go down and feel his pain that no one will believe him, but honestly, it all just seems like gibberish otherwise. There’s no way that Finn can possibly explain his story in a convincing and evidential way, which makes it even more tragic and upsetting.

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After several attempts to gradually help Finn escape from his own personal hell, Jake and BMO’s efforts prove to be a stagnant trial. Finn isn’t getting any better or farther in progress than he was before. Though he loves Jake and BMO, their assistance is ineffective, and at worst, slowing progress down. Finn realizes now that only he can be in charge of figuring out a solution for himself, or at least adjusting to society as it is. Finn’s growth throughout the past season has lead him to be competent in taking on an impossibly unsolvable situation, even when it means letting go of the people and the things around him. It’s a tough, but brave decision, and one that feels less like a move of desperation and more as a method of acceptance. While Finn tosses away his clothes and tighty whiteys, he utters “no more threads left behind… no more egress.” The “no more egress” aspect is what really hammers in the theme that Finn has no interest in escaping or running away from his issues, and would rather run into them head-on than to try and come up with another failed attempt to solve his dilemma.

The next few shots are masterful. Herpich really nails cinematic moments, as seen in episodes like Lemonhope, Evergreen, and The More You Moe, The Moe You Know. The shots of Finn in the wild add a terrific sense of ambiance, and both dramatically and humorously catches us up on how Finn has adapted. The best part about this sequence is how it’s not measured by time at all; we really don’t know how long he spent within the Hall of Egress, and it’s once again left up to the interpretation of the viewer for how much time passes by. I have my own headcanon that Finn had a series of different blinded adventures during his time within the hall, and I’d totally be down with a one-shot comic series within the hall. Seems like it’s a concept that has a ton of different possibilities on its own.

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Finn’s travels eventually lead him right back to where he started at the beginning of the hall, where his realization is translated through BMO’s voice, “something’s different.” The voice that was used to merely remind Finn of his conformity to reality earlier in the episode is now telling Finn that he instinctively notices a difference. While that voice was used to first mirror Finn’s opposal to change in dire situations, it’s used later to show his shift in perception.

As Finn walks through the door, he wanders into a contained space of where he’s able to see everything on the outside of the cave. Finn is essentially viewing life as “transparent” and his patience is helping to finally see things clearer than they once were. In both a glorious and somewhat humorous scene, Finn charges through the dome to return to his brother, as PB’s voice narrates, “hurry Finn… at the seashell’s center lies the cornucopia’s smallest door.” PB was previously shown to help Finn’s intelligence and comprehensive skills expand further when she explains what egress is. Here, he’s taught himself his own valuable lesson in emotional intelligence, as she narrates what can only be described as personal enlightenment. Though, I still have no clue what “the cornucopia’s smallest door,” is. There’s a great analysis of it on YouTube, which will probably add more insight into the topic than I possibly could. It’s perhaps AT’s most ambiguous line, but one that I enjoy, strictly for Hynden Walch’s whimsical inflections.

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This stressful, exhilarating, jam-packed episode ends on the perfect silly and simplistic note, with Finn shouting, “no comment!” after Jake asks him about the cave. And that’s really what this one boils down to; it’s a thoroughly compelling drama with just the right amount of funny and rewarding moments to carry through its darkness. It’s the most condensed version of Finn’s personal growth and development yet, and I feel as though it really embodies everything that these past two seasons set out to accomplish. Probably the coolest thing about this one is that, while it does have some continuity nods, it’s most standalone and can be enjoyed even by the common viewer. It establishes the characters pretty well without having to know them personally, and there’s added bits of subtle character moments that will treat longtime viewers even better. The Hall of Egress is also really sharp on a technical level. The music cues from Tim Kiefer are, per usual, terrific, and Herpich is always tremendous with utilizing different camera angles and cinematic moments to their best abilities.

It truly is my idea of a perfect episode, but alas, no episode is without imperfections. My main criticisms for this one are mostly nitpicks, but I think the title card is kind of trash. It’s just a simple shot of the exterior of the cave, and the font is a direct reuse of the one featured in the Stakes miniseries. I think it’s pretty boring, and especially upsetting considering how cool the original title card concept was. I mean, look at this image! It’s so much more powerful than what we got. My other criticism actually spans from the length of the episode, because I feel as though this could have been a full blown half hour. Not just because I enjoyed it, but it does feel like there are some missing elements. Like, why did the boys’ never seek out PB’s help? It seems weird that Finn would go potential months being blinded without looking for help from his mastermind of a best friend. I feel as though her incorporation could have made that ending voiceover from herself even more powerful, and it would be interesting to see PB’s scientific methods fail, as she feels incapable of helping her friend.

But, those are mostly just instances of myself looking for problems, because The Hall of Egress is one of my favorite episodes of television in general. It’s unique, it embodies the heart and soul of the series, it’s Finn’s most compelling journey, it uses cinematography well, it’s ambiguous and open to interpretation, it’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s developmental, and so much more. It’s no wonder this one ended up winning an Emmy, of which it certainly deserves. By doing his normal shtick, Herpich in turn would end up creating a magnum opus for himself and the series in general, one of which would never be topped (IMHO), but one that builds off of everything that Adventure Time is and was: a terrific exploration of the trials of growing up.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, you’ve done it like, 30 times now.”

Adventure Time: Final Seasons Update

Hey y’all! I’m almost nearly done with (what Cartoon Network considers) season seven of Adventure Time! With this in mind, I now only have one boxset left that I need to complete these reviews. I’ve purchased the past seven or so, and while it isn’t without my affordability to purchase the last DVD boxset, I wanted to see if y’all wouldn’t mind contributing a dollar or two to help me claim it.

I don’t wanna be manipulative with this, and want to be completely straightforward: I only need $18, and even if I don’t get it, reviews will still continue as expected. I love doing these reviews more than anything, but it gets increasingly tough with the workload that I’m already faced with, so this is also a self-fulfilled opportunity to keep me churning forward. In addition to that, the combined price of each of the season DVDs so far has been costly, so I figured it might be a good opportunity for crowdfunding in my very last leg of this blog.

GoFundMe Page Located Here!

Any type of donation is welcomed, no matter how small. As you’ll see on the crowdfunding page as well, there are incentives for those who do donate specific funds!

  • If you donate $1-$4, you’ll be listed as a funder on the About page and given a shoutout in the next review.
  • If you donate $5+, you get a special bonus review of your choice!

But again, no pressure if it’s not within your affordability. That’s perfectly acceptable and you don’t have to feel as though you’re putting my life, or this blog, in jeopardy.

I’ll be casually advertising this until/if the goal is met on the next few blog entries. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions/concerns on the Contact page. I’ll see you all Friday for The Hall of Egress!

 

“Crossover” Review

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Original Airdate: January 28, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Sam Alden

The wish-world that Finn created in Finn the Human and Jake the Dog was a realm that I never expected to be revisited. I figured that the reality was instantly reversed when Jake wished for him and Finn to be back home safely in Ooo, so this plot point in particular was one that definitely flew far off of my radar. So, when I discovered that this episode would feature a return to the Farmworld dimension, I was cautiously optimistic. Optimistic, because the Farmworld bits in Jake the Dog were easily the strongest parts of the episode, but cautious because I wasn’t really sure I actually wanted a definitive resolution to this conflict. Luckily, Jesse Moynihan and Sam Alden manage to pull off exactly that while executing it in an absolutely stunning, tense, and hilarious way.

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I have very few criticisms of this one, but I’ll open up with what I think is possibly the most questionable aspect of Crossover: why did it begin in media res? I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a problem, or detracts from the quality of the episode in anyway, but I do kind of wonder what it actually adds to the episode. Granted, it’s a cool opening, and sets an ominous tone for the episode, as well as a sense of curiosity. But the episode returns to the exact same scene only a minute and a half later, and it doesn’t feel like the beginning was inserted to really save time on any aspect. It’s surely strange, but again, it’s not something I actively dislike, I just find it slightly distracting.

Though, that may just be do to the fact that the rest of the episode is mostly fantastic. This one truly has a star-studded cast, with Finn, Jake, Prismo, Ice Finn, and the Lich at the helm, along with side roles from BMO, Bil- er, Bobby, and Big Destiny. It feels like a big episode in just how crucial the main characters are in terms of their ranks in the universe: Jake and Finn are the epitome of good, the Lich is the epitome of evil, Prismo is the guardian/overseer, and Ice Finn is at the center of it all. It really helps to add to that sense of direness when some of the most powerful beings in the series are present, and their roles are certainly not wasted.

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Prismo returns once more (in Kumail Nanjiani’s LAST performance as the character; sad, ain’t it?) mostly to deliver much needed exposition, but also to act as the cautious “jedi master” type. His concern and wary nature that Finn and Jake must exterminate Ice Finn in his way and his way only once again adds to that tension on whether everything is going to end up alright in the end. And of course, his concerns actually do make sense. At first, I was kind of like, “why the fuck would Prismo care about this?” but he’s the one who technically created it to begin with. Thus, he’s responsible for the nature of said universe and how it directly affects the existence of other universes. It is curious, however, of who his boss truly is. Given that it’s never directly explained at any point in the series, I do wonder if Prismo’s boss was ever intended to be apart of the series, though the staff was never permitted the time to incorporate said storyline. My money’s on this guy, of whom Adam Muto created conceptual drawings for, but never actually made it into the series.

The way Finn views Ice Finn is certainly unique and interesting, and definitely ties into his development and growth over time. Call me out on it if you will, but I feel as if past Finn would simply go along with Prismo’s plan, and end up destroying what he would think is merely “an evil version of himself” in the process. Here, Finn is much more sympathetic and understanding. Not only has his view on evil beings changed over time, but he also likely empathizes with the Ice King more, since he realizes what little control he has over the crown. This also ties into Finn’s refusal to diss the Ice King as the series goes on, as he understands the pain he experiences and wants to do everything he can to minimize that pain as much as possible. Finn’s view of himself as well has adapted as well. In a way, Finn essentially “helps himself” in this episode using everything that he knows about his own character, including his pride, temperance, and his strong sense of morality. The days of Finn feeling sorely bad for himself are over, and he’s able to know himself better through self evaluation, and the evaluation of Ice Finn. Through this effective transformation of character, Finn helps validate his alternate self, and his own self in the process. Finn knows who he is, and that is unquestionably being a devoted hero.

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Of course, Jake’s along for the ride as well, and provides some great comic relief in response to some of the heavier, and headier, business going on within the actual story. While Finn has to deal with the inner workings of the mind of his alternate self, Jake is merely faced with a completely evil alternate version of himself that isn’t down to go through the same type of self evaluation. It wouldn’t be a completely terrific Jake appearance without his absolute devotion to his brother as well, which is fully emphasized here. Whether it be his cute “I love you,” to Finn as they almost bite it, or his courage to take on the fucking Lich for Christ’s sakes, is just great. Jake really will go the full mile for his brother, even when there’s opportunities for the two of them to safely go about finding a solution, as shown in the beginning. Jake has likely killed hundreds of baddies before, but none that looked as hauntingly similar to his own bro. And it’s the last thing that Jake would want to involve himself in.

After so many sporadic appearances in the series, I expected to kind of be nonplussed by the Lich, but Ron Perlman once again distills just the amount of solemn horror into his voice. It is hilarious to see how immune Finn and Jake are to the Lich by this point in the series. Of course, the Lich is still the big bad, and could kill any character he wants at any point, but there’s something so distinctly hilarious about Finn looking death right in the face and saying, “oh boy, here we go…” Of course, they’re terrified by him, but they’re pretty much prepared for this kind of situation by this point. They’ve been through it a handful of times before, and by now, Finn probably realizes that, though it’ll be tough, they’ll get through it again. However, I’ll reinforce that this in no way undermines the Lich’s role as a threat in this one. Despite the ultra silly way his head is placed on Jake’s body (which actually makes him even MORE threatening) Perlman’s monologue about how everyone in every multiverse will die once again hits home. As Jake said to Ice Finn earlier, “come on dude, he’s not even trying to hide [his evil]!” the Lich doesn’t even try to mask his true intentions to Ice Finn after he gets what he wants. The Lich has no need for allies or partners: once he obtains the ability to cause death everywhere possible, he has all of the power in the world to do so. He’d even kill Jake, if it wasn’t for Finn’s handy-dandy thorn arm. Once again, the thorn arm returns, this time actually having a role in battle. As proven in episodes like Billy’s Bucket List, The Comet, and Checkmate, the grass curse only effectively activates when Finn is powerless and consumed by his inability to help a situation. I do wonder if some form of level of anxiety within Finn’s system is what triggers the grass sword to act upon itself. It’s probably not important, but it’d be rad to actually have an episode where Finn attempts to control the power of the grass arm. I’d be lying if I didn’t pan out the possibility of that entire episode in my head. Maybe I’ll write incorporate it into fanfiction someday. Hm.

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After the Lich’s arm is chopped off into multiple dimensions (of which will be explored later!) the episode dissolves into one big, frenzy-filled sequence where Jake helplessly tries to fight off the Lich, and Finn attempts to reasons with his counterpart. Again, the pacing in this one is terrific. It speeds up all of the action-packed sequences to make them feel more tense and relentless, while slowing down the more character driven moments, as I just mentioned. The interactions between Finn and Ice Finn are really touching and telling (apparently Finn has a birthmark of a “flaming sideways teardrop,” or essentially, a comet. Nice touch there, Alden). These interactions are ultimately what leads the boys to working together with “The Maid,” which is one of my absolute favorite weapons in the series. That little “housekeeping!” that goes off when activated is priceless.

That help that Finn begins to offer is unfortunately cut short, but luckily, Prismo’s an expert with Adobe Premiere and patches the whole thing up. Of course, it’s one big reference to the fact that the ice crown was accidentally shown to still be on Simon’s head in Jake the Dog, but I’ve seen a couple different complaints of people who thought this was somewhat of a deus ex machina and that Prismo shouldn’t really possess the power to interfere with other universes. Honestly, I didn’t mind it at all because 1. It’s funny. 2. It’s at the command of the wish bearer himself and the being that granted the wish. Prismo could theoretically just let Finn sit with the wish that he made, but he isn’t a dick. Prismo would rather help the dude who saved his life than to let someone endlessly suffer for the rest of eternity. Though Finn helps his alternate self, the only thing that’s possibly more painful for Finn than Ice Finn suffering is the fact that he has a really good family life outside of everything. Finn has never met his mom, and had previously spent an entire year dealing with the fact that his dad is a legitimately shitty person. Though Finn has a home with Jake and BMO and the other treehouse boys, he’s still stuck with the sad reminder that he has no caring birth parents to rely on. It’s the perfect quiet ending to cap off an otherwise intense episode, and one that opens up Finn’s longing for more possibilities in the future.

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On a visual aspect, this episode is just gorgeous. Aside from Evergreen, this may be the best looking episode to date. The subdued blues and whites of the iced-up Farmworld are pleasant and somewhat calming, so when the brighter yellows and greens arise during the Lich’s arrival, it really adds a dark and foreboding feeling, even if the contrasting colors are saying the opposite. The landscape in general is really awesome, feeling like an even bleaker and less welcoming Ice Kingdom. In addition to that, Finn and Jake looking fucking rad in those snow jackets. No kidding, I would pay good money for a vinyl figure of Finn in that jacket with his Finn Sword. Get on it, Kidrobot!

Other small things I liked about this one: hearing Lou Ferrigno’s one final time in the series as Bobby, the return of the Enchiridion and the fact that it actually has a unique, different design on the cover, the boys’ random Tree Fort activities at the beginning of the episode, the return of the talking Finn Sword, and the allusions to Finn getting better at playing the flute ACTUALLY having a role in future episodes. It’s always been a headcanon of mine that Finn subconsciously picked up the last name “Mertens” from his experiences within the Farmworld.

Crossover is just an overall delight. Sam Alden and Jesse Moynihan make for terrific boarding team this season; Moynihan is still able to pull off some crazy, off-the-walls stories like this, but is more grounded with Alden’s guidance. It’s a fast-paced, fun, exhilarating journey that really kicks off a series of terrific episodes spanning across the entire rest of the season. In particular, my favorite of season seven is coming up next.

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Favorite line: “Are you bein’ stupid on purpose?”

 

“Scamps” Review

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Original Airdate: January 21, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

The first half of season seven is comparable to the first half of season five, in a way. While not bad in any way, shape, or form, season 5.1 was filled with a lot of decent to good episodes, but very few that actually stood out as exceptionally hilarious or dramatic. In the same vein, the first half of season seven has had FootballEverything StaysMay I Come In?, and The More You Moe, The Moe You Know (and I just miiight throw in Varmints as well) while the 20 or so other episodes have ranged from mostly decent to just generally good. Not to say this is a bad thing; season 5.2 and season 6 contain some of the best episodes of the series, and also a handful of the worst episodes of the series. Thus far, the only episodes of this season that I would consider “bad” are Cherry Cream Soda and Checkmate, so it really does not hurt to get treated to a series of mostly decent or pleasant episodes that are mildly inoffensive in their own right. But at the time, it did have me longing for some of those really strong entries that season six was churning out. I mention this because Scamps is perhaps the last fluff episode of season seven, and we start getting some exceedingly terrific entries from this point on. It’s hard for me to actually think of a single episode after Scamps that isn’t intriguing on some level (that’s not to say there aren’t any criticisms to be had, however) and I really look forward to entering the second chapter of this season. For now, we have Scamps, which again, isn’t terrible by any means, but probably equals Paper Pete‘s level of “so unimaginably simplistic that I nearly forget it exists.” Seriously, I have trouble thinking of anything that actually stood out to me in this one.

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The Marshmallow Kids are… odd characters to introduce at this point in the series. The episode actually opens with a mini face-off between the Marshmallow Kids and the Notorious Pup Gang, and it really made me wonder… why the fuck didn’t this episode just star the Pup Gang? They’re already established characters and criminal adolescents with nearly identical backstories, I have no idea where the concept came from to introduce a set of entirely new characters (of whom we’re never even going to see again) just for the purpose of this episode. They’re cute in their antics, I suppose, but are all pretty interchangeable and don’t really have any defining personality traits outside of being swindlers. The only thing noteworthy about them that I actually realized while rewatching this episode is that one is voiced by Max Charles, who portrays the titular character in Harvey Beaks. It was nice to hear his voice in something else, and it actually surprised me to see that Charles is featured a lot in other television roles.

Finn’s part in the episode is pretty nice. It’s just cool to see him in the role of caregiver in general, and after all of the growth that he had experienced from the previous season, it’s even nicer to see that he’s a better teacher to children than his own father was to him. The way he uses genuine survival tactics as a method of tricking the children into scamming is pretty cute, and in the most “Finn” way possible. Honestly, the one thing that bothered me the most about Finn in this episode are his facial expressions. I really, really hate this gambit of having to shit on Somvilay in every single episode he works on, because the guy has some honest to God great stuff coming up, but the way Finn’s eyes and mouth are distanced from each other when his face is shown is truly offputting. It’s almost like Somvilay was working off of Herpich’s method of drawing Finn’s facial expressions, but took it one step beyond in a way that just makes Finn look really wonky and unnatural. I know you’re a professional who could probably care less about the opinion of some dork on the internet, but my apologies, Somvy. I promise I’ll show you justice in the future.

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There’s a few other things I like about this one; PB’s voice memo to Finn, and her outfits in general (momma’s lookin’ good) are pretty great, and Jake’s brief role was priceless. I love how much Jake’s changes in lifestyle are emphasized in the beginning of the episode, and then retroactively retconned by the time he realizes how successful he can become. That boy couldn’t stop loving crime all together even if he tried.

The two things I like most about this episode are actually on a technical level. As always, the backgrounds and colors look beautiful, especially the transition from daytime to night. Also, Tim Kiefer’s score throughout Scamps was on point! He uses really distinct trumpet sounds to go along with the personalities of the Marshmallow Kids quite nicely, in a way that actually reminds me of Ed, Edd n Eddy (wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Kiefer got his inspiration for this one).

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Otherwise, this episode is just entirely forgettable. Similar to Paper Pete, it’s hard for me to trash it completely, because I don’t find it unbearable, but it’s so uninteresting in its story and execution of events. There are very, very few jokes, the Marshmallow Kids are particularly unremarkable, their relationship with Finn, while cute, is just kind of generic, and it fails to stick out to me in its humor, story, drama, or anything else it has to offer. Similar to The Pods, it’s a straightforward story that could have been done on pretty much any other show. When I think of Adventure TimeScamps is one of the last episodes to actually come into my head.

Interestingly enough, Scamps is actually Adventure Time‘s peak in viewership. This episode garnered 1.45 million views, a feat that no other episode of the series since has been able to accomplish. Granted, CN’s poor television marketing and the decline of cable in general could easily be at blame for this, but it’s still humorous to think that this episode was the dropping point for AT in terms of viewership.

Favorite line: “Ya know, those Marshmallow Kids remind me of you when you were a young lad.”