Original Airdate: September 3, 2018
Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard
And so begins our four week trip through Adventure Time‘s big climax! Going into Come Along With Me was a surreal experience. Adventure Time was this huge, juggernaut series that once seemed undefeatable – it was essentially Cartoon Network’s SpongeBob for a good chunk of the 2010s (until Teen Titans Go! started picking up steam). The idea of a series finale for such a massive show was almost unreal to me, not to mention a show that has sold itself on having many, many, many, MANY hanging threads. When I sat down to watch the long-awaited finale, I went in with a sense of excitement, but also a sense of dread. Adventure Time was, and still is, my favorite series out there, and the idea of its finale not landing was exceptionally stressful for myself. Luckily, upon a first viewing experience, I was very much enamored with its sense of closure and the general care and passion that the crew clearly put in. Upon reevaluation, I still think a lot of what worked on a first watch still succeeded… while other aspects, unfortunately, did not. But before we tackle the contents of the episode, let’s first dive into the intro that precedes it.
Come Along With Me begins in the distant future that was elaborated upon in Graybles 1000+. Steve Wolfhard clearly had a ball boarding for this sequence, and you can really see just how much of his love for the fallen Ooo really shines through. A lot of the concepts he kickstarted feel fully fleshed out, or at the very least, semi-fleshed out. All elementals are accounted for, including the battling fire and slime beings named X and O respectively, the ice dome that still holds Patience St. Pim, and a bit of a mystery regarding the Candy Elemental. Within the Ice Thingdom, there are pink hands that can be clearly seen behind bars, but there’s also the hooded character watching over the land that has been theorized to be PB. I like how the 1000+ world works in a way that doesn’t reveal too much in terms of what happened to our major characters from the past – they might all be rotting in the ground, or some of them might very well still be kicking. I like the subtlety of playing around with the idea, rather than having it fully spelled out like the Season 11 comics attempted to do. It’s much more intriguing this way. There’s other neat touches, like the rise of the “Pup Kingdom” and the idea that Charlie’s future son rules over it. Again, a lot of stuff that Wolfhard clearly fleshed out in one way or another, which also makes the episode at hand more interesting and quite charming.
Then we’re introduced to Shermy and Beth, the duo that essentially work to capture the essence of Finn and Jake’s bond and heroism. There was never really a ton that went into Shermy’s history or past, but Beth is riddled with a hidden baggage that Wolfhard conducted off-screen. Beth, as revealed in the intro, is the “pup princess,” though her role as a leader didn’t last, as she was exiled and became a fugitive of the Pup Kingdom. She also has the gnarly ability to warp things through her belly-button, carrying on the legacy of her alien ancestor, Jake. Shermy and Beth are both fun and likable. There’s a simplistic charm to their characters that is very (successfully) reminiscent of their adventurous counterparts. Though, I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that they are reincarnations of Finn and Jake. Obviously Beth is related to Jake in some way, but I don’t really think Shermy is supposed to be a future version of Finn. Or at least, that’s not what I took from his character. Heroes, like Finn and Jake, die off eventually, but there will always be a righteous duo in the world that proceeds them. Despite their ancestry, I like to believe that Shermy and Beth are just two cool peeps that don’t have any kind of heroic blood or vital force inside that connects to our former duo, they’re just two close companions that help to lighten up the world through their connectedness and desires for good (even if it involves being a bit rambunctious). Since the series has concluded, I’ve seen a handful of people pitch the idea of an entire show revolving around Shermy and Beth, buuuut I’m not sure if I’d be especially interested in that concept. They’re fun placeholder characters, but I don’t think their creation intends for them to be filled to the brim with depth.
The further fleshed out version of the 1000+ world remains intriguing in its blend of macabre and goofy developments. It’s definitely bleak, with more muted colors and a sense of degradation, but a lot of its inhabitants are endearing in a way that would even make them suitable inhabitants of the pre-post-post (that’s a doozy) apocalyptic world. Princess Zip exists to show that interaction with extra-terrestrial life has increased after the events of High Strangeness, but also as an example that things have changed drastically, yet not very much, in the thousand years since Finn and Jake roamed Ooo. A barely intelligence alien princess is odd, but in actuality, is it any more odd than a rainbow unicorn fluent in Korean? It feels very real in not changing so much that it’s unrecognizable, but changing enough that clear transitions have occurred over a long period of time.
It’s super silly, but I feel like I can totally get behind BMO being the only character whose status is confirmed in the 1000+ world. This isn’t to say that BMO doesn’t have depth, but he surely is the most static of the main cast. While any other character would probably go through some drastic, grittier appearance change, BMO remains virtually the same with very little physical altercations. I also like the idea that, in a world where technology is constantly evolving, a little robot boy that is likely considered primitive by the standards of the 1000+ is still standing. Of course, it is slightly questionable from a believability standpoint. BMO has been prone to more life-threatening obstacles than any of his other friends in the main cast, and it is somewhat difficult to grasp that the little robot has made it this far. There’s the possibility that he’s always had someone to look after him and upgrade his software over the years, but the independent BMO that we see before us does raise some questions. Like, what if his batteries end up dying? Is he just dead there forever with anyone to put him back together? I’m probably way over-thinking it, but I think almost anything in this type of futuristic dystopian could be subject to skepticism.
I also love the idea that BMO, er, the King of Ooo, is regarded among Ooo civilians as some kind of legend or urban myth, when really, it just seems like another case of BMO playing dress-up. I was fully prepared to see the self-proclaimed King of Ooo in this episode, as Wolfhard had already pitched around the idea of KOO existing in the far future once before. BMO’s abode (atop the iconic Mount Cragdor) is riddled with various easter eggs from the course of the series. Mentioning each and every one of them would be redundant – they’re all listed out on the wiki page, and I really only identified all of them through this complete comprehensive list. I will comment on the few I find most interesting, however.
- There’s several items that really make me wonder how BMO even acquired them in the first place: Finn’s discarded grass arm from Escape From the Citadel, the maid from Crossover, Melissa’s license plate from Trouble in Lumpy Space, etc. I’m sure the thought process behind these small cameos was not necessarily to make complete sense, but rather to sprinkle in as many tiny references for the audience to recognize as possible. Though, I think a couple of these may be too ambitious for their own good.
- Apparently BMO has multiple remnants of his dead friends? Beth picks up Mr. Fox’s skull and apparently the dead Fionna and Cake Omnibus is in there too, haha, holy shit. Not to mention AMO’s empty shell lying about as well.
- I thought it was super sweet how one of the cards from Shh! was actually framed. BMO considers it a true relic.
- I kind of wonder if some of the items spotted were not even intended to be easter eggs, like the basketball from Simon & Marcy or a block from The Tower. I wanna believe that they were, but I also think it’s funny to see just how deeply people dug into analyzing even the tiniest of references.
These easter eggs are fun, though perhaps a bit too overwhelming. I mean, BMO has lived 1,000 years after the passing of Finn and Jake, I’d like to think that there would be more unusual or unknown artifacts from years passing that don’t connect to anything that we’ve seen in the series. But of course, I’m being cynical. This made for a fun little game of I Spy that’s main purpose was to engage with fans, and I can’t say I blame it for doing that. I much more bothered by Shermy singing Tropical Island, a song that was sung ONCE in the entire series and never documented in any way. That was a bit too fanservice-y for my liking.
BMO coming across Finn’s discarded robot arm was both really sad and somewhat humorous. I do wonder what happened to BMO that he isn’t able to remember Finn’s name. I mean, half of the shit BMO owns is connected to Finn in some way. The little guy may have gotten that much dreaded memory wipe that was first referenced in Be More, but I’m not sure if he would be able to recall anything in that case. But, regardless, this moment where BMO can’t fully recollect his former best friend and owner is super saddening, though comforting in the very least that he remembers the history of “Phil” regardless.
As we trek into the actual story of the Great Gum War, I love the immediate sense of conclusiveness as our first scene of past (or present) Ooo is Finn’s spirit animal, a butterfly. In general, butterflies carry a great meaning of hope and endurance, and never have those traits been stronger in Finn than on the brink of war. Even though it doesn’t commit fully, the first act of Come Along With Me feels very dark and desolate, but also very massive. Prominent characters like King Man, Betty, and Maja all converging, as a legion of heroes congregate below, does make the weight of Come Along With Me much more apparent. I mean, the God damned Duke of Nuts is there, for crying out loud! The dude hasn’t shown up in eight whole years. I like all of these big royal figures being there, but honestly, I think they could’ve went one step beyond. It would’ve made my heart happy if literally every princess that has ever appeared was apart of PB’s union, but I can understand that they mostly just wanted to focus on the big dogs. Though, I’m not even sure I fully get behind all of these big political figures standing very clearly at the center of a war. Maybe I’m just politically naïve, but this isn’t traditionally how wars work, right? A president or world leader hasn’t just stood erect on a battlefield in front of their entire army, correct? I can’t really get behind the logic in that. How is Lemongrab gonna be helpful during a full-scale war?
I do like the continued establishment of each character dealing with the concept of war in their own unique way. I wish it had been a bit more emotive and raw, but Marceline, being the only character present that has consciously survived through The Great Mushroom War, has a nice reflective moment of both understanding the notion of history repeating itself, yet not wanting to relive such a tragedy again. That brief cut to a young Marcy standing before the destruction of the world around her is actually one of my favorites from the entire episode, as a visual representation of Marcy’s true depth of anxiety. PB is clearly fully detached emotionally and isn’t prepared to let her feelings for those around her compromise what she ultimately believes to be right. I kind of thought that maybe she was a bit too detached to Marceline, but then I realized that her comment, “let’s talk when this is all over,” is probably Bubblegum’s most sincerest form of saying “everything will be alright” without actually saying that. Jake, in typical Jake fashion, doesn’t blow things out of proportion with his belief on the outcome of the war, and feels optimistic that maybe everything will be quick and painless. But Finn clearly opines that things don’t have to be this way, and that there must be another way out. I think those involved in the war are clearly either working on PB’s same level of paranoia, a sense of pride for Ooo, or just as a simple allegiance to the Candy Kingdom. Finn, however, while probably slightly selfish in wanting things to remain stagnant, seeks out an alternate opportunity for what he sees is the only way to save those around him, in a paranoia almost opposite to PB’s. Cue the nightmare juice.
I will say, Act I really succeeds on the humor front. Those first few scenes on the actual battlefield are hilarious – even Gumbald whips out some funny lines here and there! I don’t know why they tried to make Gumbald this super serious and intimidating character, Fred Melamed seems more in tune with comedic timing than actually carrying out legitimately threatening dialogue. Gumbald’s whole deal with taunting Bubblegum using a lemon was funny enough, but Lemongrab writing down “un-make me” was the icing on the cake (no pun intended). I also really loved Pendleton Ward’s delivery of LSP’s opening line, “here we go,” as she embraces the war occurring in front of her. It’s super interesting to me that PB’s decision to reconsider was reinforced by her ability to reminisce about her connection to Shoko. Shoko was someone PB cared about during the initial inception of the Candy Kingdom, and she unfortunately lost her before they could become close. She finally had the opportunity to befriend a young pupil when Finn came along, and doesn’t want to risk similar consequences of war befalling him. Her honest emotions outside of her deeper anxieties begin to set in, as she starts to reconsider. It doesn’t last long, however. A back-and-forth with Uncle G. sets her right back into her primitive desires of survival, which triggers our transition into the next act, where 3/5ths of our main cast are officially dead.
The first act of Come Along With Me does a pretty stellar job of establishing the finale’s story, with a well-developed look into the future and genuine tension as the conflict of war finally arises, along with a few good laughs along the way. I think it’s a little disappointing for me personally that Herpich and Wolfhard had a big part in the setup, but not the execution of the episode. At the same time, though, the stuff with Shermy, Beth, and the 1000+ world really is Wolfhard’s baby, and I’m glad he got a chance to see it through to the end. There’s also plenty of terrific visual moments, namely the establishing of opposing sides on the battlefield as dawn breaks. I’m still not positive if, in its execution, Come Along With Me was as big as it was hyped up to be. But this first part does, at the very least, commit to making things feel as large as possible.