Tag Archive | Betty

“Come Along With Me” (Part 4) Review

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Original Airdate: September 3, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Sam Alden & Graham Falk

Before we start, I want to let y’all know that there will be another giving campaign for this blog as I’m wrapping up the first wave of reviews. Some good reasons (I think) to give are:

  • Supporting future reviews for Distant Lands buy helping me acquire a subscription to HBO Max, complete with high qual screengrabs.
  • Supporting for reviews in the past.

I always feel super guilty asking for money from you guys – it’s not like I need it to put food on the table or anything. But this gig is, and has been, a lot of work, and I’ve never really figured out a good way to monetize it despite the decent traffic it brings in. Considering that there is still work to do, with more content on the way, it does feel more like a juggling act in my work and personal life which is already super jam-packed. If y’all are feeling generous and that you got $1’s worth of entertainment or enjoyment from this blog in the past, feel free to support me using the link below (the goal is listed as $1, though I mostly just put that as a placeholder because I didn’t have a specific goal in mind). This is in no way determining the future of the blog, I still plan on reviewing Distant Lands regardless. If you don’t donate, it doesn’t make you any less of a fan of the series or this site. If you feel as if there’s anything deceitful about me asking for donations, or if you just don’t feel like the blog itself is worth any monetary value, there is no pressure on you either. This is simply for anyone out there that is interested in supporting the past and future of Adventure Time Reviewed, and to help assist in motivating me forward.

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I’m partially filled with a warm bittersweet sensation as I tackle my final episode review. I say partial, because it turns out we have waaay more content coming along with Distant Lands, so there’s no use in really getting wishy-washy here. I’ll probably save these warm feelings for my reviews of Distant Lands, only to hold off once again because there will probably be a billion more reboots and revivals in the future. I’m gonna be 80-years-old trying to achieve closure for this series that obviously is never going to die. But still, it took a long way to get here and it’s surreal that I’ve finally gotten to the end of the original run. The final act of Come Along With Me has a lot to jumble, essentially trying to wrap up nearly every loose end up to this point, and from the finale alone. These last 11 minutes feel super rushed, and I really didn’t expect any less. With all of the mysteries that Adventure Time has held onto overtime, it didn’t seem realistic in the slightest that everything would be pulled off in the most satisfying way. But still, even with that in mind, there’s plenty of sweet moments that help this final chunk to land.

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During Adventure Time‘s finale panel at 2018’s San Diego Comic Con, John DiMaggio shed more than just a couple of tears at the idea of the show’s conclusion. That being said, you can really tell how much passion he’s putting into his performance as Jake. That beginning scene where Jake laments the destruction of his sanctuary is both super saddening and humorous in just how over-the-top it is. I mentioned this in my last review, but the idea of the Tree Fort being destroyed in general is immensely depressing. That’s not to say that its demise was necessarily a bad choice – I think it works as a unique tie-in with the theme that this episode revolves around, that being that some things end, but they also don’t really. I could’ve been cliche and said “everything stays, but it still changes,” but I held myself back. While the Tree Fort is no longer standing, the memories and what it represents (family) are still very much in tact. Or, at least, somewhat. That initial shot of BMO’s face is probably as sad as this finale gets; obviously we know the little guy isn’t going to die or anything, but his simple silence, as he stares down sadly at his caretaker, speaks so much louder than words. Adventure Time has always tried to emphasize the importance of silence as opposed to outward emotions, and I think this is a really great example of how well it can work. No tears, no outbursts, just the sad acceptance of what is already done. It’s amazing what AT manages to do with two dots and a line when it comes to reading visual emotions.

And even through all of that sadness, BMO manages to comfort Jake for all that he’s done to protect the members of his household. I’ll admit, I was a bit taken back when BMO ended up being the one singing “Time Adventure.” When Rebecca Sugar debuted the song months before the finale’s release, I assumed it would feature Finn and Jake singing it to each other, or some variation. It initially felt a little too silly for my liking, especially given that the scene essentially shows everyone in Ooo accepting that they’re probably going to die. But I’ve warmed up to the idea, and “Time Adventure” has become one of my favorite songs in the series. I will say that the officially released soundtrack version is waaay better than what we got in the actual episode. I cannot begin to express how bummed I am that Jake’s ending solo got cut out. It’s so beautifully chilling and touching that I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to put Simon and Betty banter over top of it. Still, I think both versions have their perks. The soundtrack version really feels like the harmony it was made out to be, where each character involved (Flame Princess, Magic Man, Slime Princess) can clearly be heard vocalizing. On the other hand, the episode’s version actually really emphasizes on Pendleton Ward’s voice, which I thought was super sweet. I do wonder – did other members of the staff join in? Can Muto’s voice be heard somewhere in this collaboration? I have no clue, but I thought it was nice that Pen had such a strong role in singing his creation off.

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Another strong moment from this section of the finale comes from Simon and Finn’s brief exchange as they anticipate decimation in the pits of GOLB. Simon’s delivery of, “no one gets to choose how it happens,” is genuinely impactful, especially so coming from him. Honestly, Simon’s been through so much at this point that I’m sure he just wants to die and get it over with – hell, that’s exactly what he wanted to do in Betty. I’m slightly more disappointed with Finn’s role, because again, I really feel like he’s a bystander to everything that’s going on around him. His line, “I always thought I’d go out saving someone,” just made me wonder, “why isn’t Finn saving someone right this second? Why was he written to be such a spec on the wall while everyone is included in all of this cool shit going on around them?” I’ve seen the argument that, since Finn has saved everyone countless times, this is an opportunity for everyone to save him, buuuut I don’t really buy into that. One, because it just doesn’t feel like it was written to be played out in such a way – the episode seems convinced that Finn effectively put a stop to the Great Gum War when that’s not really what happened at all. Second, there’s a way of carrying out the “now it’s our turn to save you,” story without making the hero ineffective or sidelined. I overall think that pairing Finn with Betty and Simon was a poor decision. He doesn’t really add anything to their dynamic, and is easily overshadowed by their arc.

I personally do think that Simon and Betty’s arc is wrapped up in a pretty satisfying way, as well as tragic. I like how Betty’s codependence never really dissolved, and it’s ultimately what ended up consuming her in her very last moments. Even when trying to move past her ultimate hidden desires, they resurface when she realizes that sacrificing herself is the only way for Simon to truly be free. It’s probably the least happy ending that occurs during this finale, but one that feels fittingly somber. As time went on, Simon and Betty’s relationship was being portrayed as more and more unhealthy from both parties, and I think the end result being that, no matter how much they love each other, they’ll never be able to be happy together, leading to the culmination of the general unhappiness that has consumed them for so long. A quick “fuck you” to the Simon & Marcy comic series for effectively undoing every sacrifice that occurred in this finale by giving Simon and Betty a totally normal, happy ending. This is much more potent.

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Pretty much every Cartoon Network finale in the past 5 years or so allows for like, 20 seconds of an animation boost of some sort. Regular Show and Steven Universe recruited the likes of James Baxter for a brief segment of animation; it’s a shame he couldn’t come back once more to assist with AT‘s finale, but we do get a cool, sketchy sequence ala Take On Me when GOLB unhinges. I always love these big “fabric of the universe disintegrating” moments in animation, and this one does not disappoint. Though, I am so unnecessarily bothered by the fact that the crew neglected to pitch-shift Shelby’s voice. Come on, guys! This could have been a great final appearance of the little guy if one of his key features wasn’t removed entirely. Now it’s just super distracting.

I dunno what the general consensus is on the GOLBetty design, but I think it’s pretty rad. Steve Wolfhard did the initial concept design, and while aspects of his take on the deity remained, the overall anatomy shifted and I think it looks way better as is. Props to Tom Kenny for obviously being one of the most versatile voice actors out there, as Simon’s disbelief at the sight of Betty feels so real and raw. Then we get to Gunther, who effectively brings Ice King back through the power of the crown. I dunno, man. I guess I’m fine with this? There’s the somewhat uncanny aspect of it all; this transformation was written in such a way that makes it seem like Ice King is back and nobody should worry about it… but like, is it really Ice King? The goofy, stilted dialogue that Gunther utters once he shifts feels like a pet’s perspective of their human owner, but everyone reacts like it’s okay and they shouldn’t think twice about it. It’s tough because I like the idea of Simon being saved by Betty, only for her to end up in a mind prison for all of eternity, but I really don’t like how easily Ice King gets the shaft in the process. This was clearly a timing issue, as there was only five minutes left in the finale by this point in time and the crew probably just decided it was something that could be handled quickly in the quirky manner. But I’ll reiterate once more, the Ice King-Simon story had gotten way too complex and intricate for it to ever have a fully satisfying conclusion. Personally, I think I would have been more happy with the idea that Ice King remains, while Simon is gone forever. I think more people would have been upset with this concept, and it would have been another example of Adventure Time being afraid to shatter the status quo, but man, I can’t help but feel Ice King got did something dirty. I like him so much more than that nerd, Simon. It’s disappointing that, no matter how much effort Ice King put into his own personal growth, it essentially didn’t matter because he’s reduced to a facsimile of his former self.

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One character death certainly isn’t taken for granted, however. Fern’s withering away is not only a poignant farewell for his character, but a nice way to tie-in to Finn saying goodbye to his childhood and a part of him in the process. The idea that he plants it where the Tree Fort once stood represents the idea that a piece of him will always be there, and the growing tree emphasizes the legacy that Finn has built and left behind in the process. Farewell, Fern! Truly one of my favorite secondary characters and probably my favorite aspect of these last two seasons. It’s just a shame that your redemption arc couldn’t have been much stronger than it was.

My gripes with the overuse of Finn’s girlish scream in later seasons aside, I do find the joke that he’s outgrown as his voice has deepened to be quite funny. I’d enjoy the sight gag of Finn being taller to be more enjoyable, had their been some consistency with his character model throughout the episode. I don’t really mind its inconsistency during the course of the series, but it feels just a bit too cheap only being included for this one moment.

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I like the notion that BMO’s story to Shermy and Beth was kind of an allusion to the crew telling the tale of the “end of Ooo” to AT‘s audience. I think many people were expecting this finale to be the end of all things, essentially. Hell, I think you could even argue that half of the fanbase was expecting Jake to be dead by the end of this episode. But that’s really not the story that the staff wanted to tell, and I don’t think that’s the story I necessarily wanted to see either. Don’t get me wrong, I find a good chunk of the finale to be somewhat underwhelming. However, I do appreciate the staff’s commitment to the idea that these characters don’t really have an “end” in mind. Just as Adventure Time has had plenty of moments throughout its run that have signified closure for its characters, such as Mortal Recoil or The Comet, there have also been plenty of new challenges and moments of growth since those instances that have further elaborated on the sinuous nature of our heroes. Even though Finn and Jake are dead by the time BMO is narrating this story, their spirit still lives on in the hearts of Shermy and Beth. Heroes die, but others arise. Even in Sweet P.’s case, an eternity of evil can become an eternity of righteousness. I keep writing myself into a corner that forces me to say “everything stays, but it still changes.” But it does! Adventure Time‘s central theme carries all the way into its final moments, hitting on the specific note that the opening theme reminds us each and every episode: the fun will never end. Even when we’re rotting in the ground!

Another great way to tie that theme together is bringing back Music Hole, a character who has lived through countless centuries, and has watched countless endings and beginnings at that. Even sweeter is the inclusion of Ashley Erikkson as Music Hole, who has very quietly been with the series through the very beginning. She sings the titular song we had all been waiting for, and it makes for a really nice epilogue.

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The montage aims at either wrapping up specific character arcs or just works as a way of showing what their lives held for them in the future. Discussing this speedy wrap-up in cohesive paragraphs seems somewhat impossible, so for your consider, I’m going to go ahead and bullet point each clip in chronological order:

  • The snail can be seen for the final time on the growing Fern tree. I’m not especially invested in this Easter egg, but I think it would have been more fitting if the snail appeared in the final scene with Shermy and Beth, waving goodbye. It’s a sweet and suitable idea that would possess the deepest lore of the snail’s immortal nature.
  • Jake and Lady flying together was nice, but it’s a bit of a shame that Lady’s “closure” is just that she kept dating Jake. Lady’s always been somewhat of the black sheep of the main characters that really doesn’t have a particular arc outside of her relationship with Jake, but I still think the staff could’ve came up with something a bit stronger. Hell, it could even be related to her connection to Jake. Have those lovebirds get married! (Every time I suggest this, some guy on the subreddit yells at me.) Even seeing Lady and Jake snuggling up in the Crystal Dimension would’ve been a nicer sentiment.
  • LSP becoming LSQ was super sweet. Even through all of her vanity, it feels genuinely rewarding to see her have a moment of triumph and receive actual respect from the other princesses of Ooo. Even Breakfast Princess, for crying out loud! I guess this is solid proof that the hierarchy of princesses only applies to Ooo, as queen seems to obviously be the highest position of royalty in Lumpy Space.
  • Haha, Ice Gunther marrying Turtle Princess was too bizarre to resist. It is funny that all Ice King had to do to claim a bride was find someone in Ooo as lonely as he is, as Turtle P is the perfect fill-in for that role. Also nice was the addition of a small, reconstructed King of Ooo in the background of their wedding. They actually managed to make the coniving shyster look adorable.
  • It was sweet to see that the reconstructed Rattleballs is finally able to hang out with other Candy Kingdom personnel in public. Though, his cameo in Jake the Brick ended up being an entire waste. I always thought that Rattleballs rebuilding his bros meant we were in store for a huge army of RBs to help seize the day in the finale. Unfortunately, it amounted to nothing. Seeing a war-starved and depressed Colonel Candy Corn was quite amusing.
  • Possibly the most obscure and easy to miss cameos during the montage is Carroll, who is back to her liquid form and content at that! I really just assumed this was a new model for a Water Nymph that the staff decided to draw up upon initial viewing. Such a thoughtful and nice addition, even including her interest of drawing elves that was mentioned in Winter Light.
  • T.V. moving into Margaret and Joshua’s old office feels a bit cheap to me. Before the series got canned, artist George Mager was commissioned to storyboard for a noir themed episode featuring T.V. in an investigative role. This was scrapped before it was finished, but it would have added a little bit more context to this moment that seems unwarranted to anyone not in-the-know. T.V.’s last appearance in Lady Rainicorn of the Crystal Dimension had him acting as selfishly as possible, and now he gets this gnarly character development out of no where? It would have been more revealing than necessary, but Finn and Jake running their parents’ old office would have been much, much more fitting than what we got.
  • Sweet P.’s graduation was nice. It would have been cool too if other known child characters were featured in the ceremony as well, such as the Pup Gang or the Marshmallow Kids.
  • Bubblegum and Lolly serenading Neddy is nice, I suppose. So, did Lolly ever bring up the fact that she tried to essentially kill her niece one day prior? We just gonna go ahead ignore that fact? Alright.
  • One of my favorite clips in the montage is Prismo’s inability to bring Betty back, only possessing the ability to whip up the waste basket that was previously seen in You Forgot Your Floaties. I like that Come Along With Me takes the time to show that not everyone receives an inherently happy ending. Despite Simon regaining consciousness, he still loses out on the one person he cares about most, continuing the codependence of their relationship by Simon dedicating his life to bringing her back.
  • Jermaine painting a new, more simplistic mural for Lemongrab was sweet, but the icing on the cake is actually see Lemongrab with a genuine smile on his face. The neurotic lemon-man has finally achieved his moment of peace.
  • I became pretty misty-eyed at BMO sending Moe’s memories into space, per his request in The More You Moe, The Moe You Know. That episode in particular is one of my very favorites and has a special place in my heart, so seeing BMO fulfill his loving creator’s final wish was just splendid.
  • Flame Princess and NEPTR rapping together is just sad to me. Like, this is what Flame Princess’s character amounted to? That she’s good at rapping? Not anything relating to her elemental nature being inherently chaotic and learning to become a positive force to those around her despite it all? What would have been a fine solo NEPTR moment is weighed down by the fact that Flame Princess’s “conclusion” is inherently meaningless. What a lame climax for a character who started off with such intrigue.
  • Cyber Tiffany 2.0! I get the feeling that the staff was super bummed out that they never got to follow up with the Dr. Gross arc. I do wonder if this will somehow factor into the Distant Lands specials, considering that it is one of the major loose ends that never really was followed up on.
  • The fully grown up Jiggler is probably the funniest cameo of all. It’s the kind of absurdist return that I’d want to see from such a rarely seen character.
  • The Jiggler’s scene is followed by the equally absurd return of the Crabbit from Something Big. It’s cute (Donny is also seen in the audience) but it doesn’t really grab me and feels like a stretch for cameos that felt absolutely necessary in the sequence. It’s like, did anyone really care about the Crabbit enough for him to get his own dedicated moment in the show’s final montage? I’m harping too much on a small moment, but when you consider that other major players, such as Shelby, Cinnamon Bun, Hunson, and Flame King don’t even get a designated appearance in this montage, it feels a bit like wasted space.
  • It was super cool to see Kara and Frieda again, with a Lemonhope cameo smushed in between. Again, similar to what I said about Simon, it’s kind of interesting to see that Lemonhope seems completely lost in life in this one small appearance. His initial appearance kind of set out to prove that he really had no idea what he was doing, and his sad expression here shows that he probably still doesn’t have a clue. Poor little Lemonhope.
  • The Candy citizens clinking their glasses just frustrates me. Again, it’s kind of unfortunate that Chicle isn’t even permitted a second chance, even though his demise was Gumbald’s fault and not his own. Even Gumbald staying in Punchy’s body feels super offensive. It would have been a way nicer sentiment if Gumbald had reverted back to himself by the end of it, showing that PB did learn a lesson in empathy along the way. Something as simple as Gumbald waking up alone by Butterscotch lake, discovering a fishing pole in front of him, and choosing to solemnly relax instead of scheme while PB is seen confident in her decision from afar. Or Gumbald being locked up and PB choosing to stand by outside his cell in an attempt to connect. Anything that doesn’t paint PB out to be somewhat heartless.
  • Tree Trunks is still bangin’ aliens. Niiice.
  • Magic Man’s mission to save Margles never really ends up coming into play in Come Along With Me, and the montage sweetly shows that he’s accepted her passing on, but will always hold memories of her dearly. I especially love that this scene occurs at the verse, “I’ll be here for you always.”
  • The shot of the princesses (and Marceline) in their fashionable wardrobes is actually a reference to a the cover of Adventure Time #51 by Mia Schwartz, whose art you can check out here! Though it wasn’t included on the original cover, I think Flame Princess’s getup is my favorite. Her bangs are too cute.
  • Huntress Wizard meditating is whatever, I suppose. It’s a shame that her character only truly started developing this season, only for her inclusion to be cut short. It really wouldn’t have made sense if she had a bigger role in this finale – there was already so much going on.
  • I do like the next scene a lot, mainly because it shows that, even if Simon is back in the picture, Marcy and PB still chose to actively hangout with him and continue being his friend. It’s super sweet. Though young Pepbut is cute, I DON’T GET WHY PB LEFT HIM LIKE THIS. WHAT THE HELL, MAN? I guess the implication with both Peppermint Butler and Gumbald is that there was no cure, but like, that hasn’t been implied until up to this point. PB’s reasoning for not bringing Gumbald and friends back in Seventeen was that, “[they] were happier this way,” not that there was no known cure. I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit in terms of continuity.
  • Perhaps the sweetest sentiment of all is the closing scene, in which a now homeless Finn and Jake are greeted by the final arrival of the humans from Founders Island. The staff actively wanted to avoid “wrapping up” Finn and Jake’s characters by showing where they ended up in the far future, so instead they offer a bit of a glimmer of hope among big changes occurring in their lives. It’s a really nice note to end on for our heroes, even if the next chapter is right around the corner.

Adventure Time as a series ends exactly how it began – with two heroes standing triumphantly at the forefront, showing that even 1,000 years in the future, some things never change. The Ooo that we knew is no longer intact, but the spirit and the foundation of what it was continue on regardless.

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So that’s it, everyone! All 284 episodes of Adventure Time reviewed! I won’t waste my time getting sentimental here – there’s a couple more weeks of stuff I want to get out, and then the eventual release of Distant Lands, presumably around mid-summer. Here’s a quick glimpse at what’s coming the next few weeks:

  • Come Along With Me consensus.
  • Season Nine review.
  • The Best and Worst Episodes of Adventure Time.
  • Adventure Time Character Analysis.
  • Series Overview and (Kind of) Final Words.
  • Top 10 Adventure Time Moments.

There will likely be more to come from there before Distant Lands, but I do want to focus on these six above, as they’re the ones I’ve been most excited to tackle/chat about. As I mentioned above, if you’re feeling generous, feel free to send a dollar bill my way. Otherwise, stay tuned for more AT content!

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Favorite line: “I wrote this for my son, Jake!”

“Temple of Mars” Review

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Original Airdate: March 18, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Weirdly enough, both Hulu and the Final Seasons DVD set list Temple of Mars before Jake the Starchild. Wonder how much that ruined anyone’s experience that was going in blind. Also, this isn’t particularly noteworthy or even likely intentional, but Temple of Mars‘ acronym is T.O.M. Aside from the finale, this is Tom Herpich’s final episode. Heh.

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Way back in 2016, Tom Herpich wrote his sentiments about Adventure Time ending and what was left for the series in its next two years on air in a Tumblr post. In this post, he also mentions that he had recently wrapped up his final board with Steve, of which he deemed “one of his favorites.” I’m still unsure if this was referring to their section in Come Along With Me or Temple of Mars, buuuut I lean more towards the latter. In my own personal opinion, I like Temple of Mars, though it surprises me that Herpich would (allegedly) hold it so highly. It doesn’t really strike me as a culmination of his art house style, and considering that some of my favorite episodes in the series are Mars-centric episodes, I do feel as though this entry doesn’t quite live up to the hype of its predecessors. But, instead of complaining about this episode for what it’s not, I am generally satisfied with it for what it is.

Right off the bat, what Temple of Mars offers strength-wise is stellar character interactions. Having Jermaine return to the forefront is a decision I really appreciate, especially since the series draws so close to its climax. It is weird – there are clear signs that Adventure Time certainly wasn’t ready to come to a close, but there are other signs of it subtly wrapping up other individual aspects, like Marceline and Hunson’s relationship, Jake’s alien side, and Jermaine’s connection to his brothers. Of course, a lot of these characters and arcs aren’t really necessary to the grand scheme of things, but regardless, these are nice little additions that make me feel slightly less sour about the show being canned on such a short notice.

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More than anything, I appreciate that this episode takes time to explore Jermaine and Finn’s connection. In his eponymous first episode, Jermaine’s anger was mainly reflected towards Jake, while Finn mostly stood by as an accomplice. I get the feeling that Finn and Jermaine were never truly close – Jermaine was likely the responsible one, while Jake was the one that Finn would pal around with during his formative years. Before Finn had the chance to truly form a relationship with Jermaine during his transition into young adulthood, the two were practically separated. Jermaine likely regrets the years of being estranged from his youngest brother, and it’s sweet to see that he does remind Finn that he can count on him during stressful times. It’s also clear that Jermaine doesn’t necessarily understand Finn’s behavioral patterns. Finn’s actions are clearly inspired by his inability to allow any other tragedies to bestow his already mucked up mind, but I get the feeling that Jermaine simply excuses it to the observed position of Finn and Jake living entirely carefree lives. Hence why Jermaine refers to the Tree Fort as a “playhouse,” his judgement is still very much there. The included callbacks to Jermaine were welcomed, such as the face mug and the boys’ freezer, though they don’t really stick out in any metaphorical or ponderous way.

Jermaine’s added fear to the idea of going to Mars is both humorous and cute. For years, I’ve referred to Finn as the straight man in a world full of wacky characters, but I do feel as though Jermaine is a straight man’s straight man. As much as he is empathetic and easy to connect to, Finn still really isn’t the brightest bulb or the most “normal” at that (this is the boy that doesn’t blink twice on a wayward trip to Mars), so it’s cool to have a character that clearly represents the surface level elements of a grown adult. The goofy aspects aside, Jermaine does actually have a lot in common with Greg Universe in terms of their humanity. Tom Scharpling really was the perfect choice for ol’ Jerm.

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The reintroduction of Betty and Norm- er, King Man, is pretty delightful, though I kinda wish Finn’s anger towards Betty was spelled out over a longer period. I mean, everything ended up alright by the end of Elements, but it’s strange to me how quickly Finn goes from “fuck yourself,” to “come on this journey with me and my brother!” Perhaps he decided to show some of King Man’s inspired “empathy,” buuuut, I don’t know. In defense of the episode, I’m not really sure how a Betty-Finn conflict would’ve been crammed in to an already jam-packed episode, so I’ll let it slide. It was great to see King Man again, and I’m so glad the show has sought out to acknowledge that, magic-less or not, he’s still kind of a douche. I can’t think of a single way Betty’s punishment would actually help her, and it’s likely to send her into further insanity. King Man technically should be responsible for the state of Betty’s condition (though he’s not entirely at fault), but since he has a nice, cushion-y spot on Mars’ throne, he doesn’t really have anyone to tell him otherwise.

Once inside the temple, we’re treated to an interesting sequence featuring a group of frogs all taking on the appearance of Ice King, except for one stray frog resembling Fern. The Fern frog leaping at Finn, as Finn chooses to ignore it, seems to embody the idea that Finn no longer finds himself stuck thinking about Fern on an endless basis. Though his mind wants him to “remember” and stay in a stagnant state of pain and suffering. Betty, on the other hand, does not choose to move forward. She wants to stay and observe her passing thoughts, as if they hold the key to solving her every living problem, even though the answer isn’t found in her mind, but her ability to shift her attention onto something else. Not exactly sure why frogs were chosen to represent habitual thinking – frogs in dreams are said to represent spiritual and emotional transformation, but I’m not exactly sure that’s what Herpich was going for.

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It is interesting how Jermaine went through perhaps the most stress of his companions, and now he’s in the best shape possible. Granted, I think Jermaine, by his nature, is slightly neurotic and prone to chronic stress. Yet, he was able to find his peace of mind, while his brother continues to struggle with his own personal dilemmas. It just goes to show how far off Jermaine’s accusations are of Finn and Jake living totally carefree lives, even if they are legitimately privileged regardless. This section of the episode also marks the Ice Thing’s first appearance since Graybles 1000+. I can’t help but feel this inclusion was when the staff figured they would have more time to actually flesh out what the Ice Thing is and how Ice King would eventually transform into him, but considering that we’re only two episodes away from the finale, I don’t think that wish was ever fully fulfilled. This section does provide for a bit of fun analysis, in a very small, almost insignificant moment. Betty’s fascination with the Ice King masked frogs shows how truly encompassed her mind is with the Ice King, and how she doesn’t really put any foot forward to try and sway her mind or shift her focus. Of course, it’s easier said than done, especially when dealing with strong emotional trauma. However, Betty’s representation of her current approach at living is summed up quite nicely with her line of, “He’s… changing? Oh no.” This could imply one of two things: 1. Betty is adverse to changing her lifestyle because she is so set on figuring out how to fix Simon that changing her behavior isn’t really an option; 2. Betty is adverse to change in general, viewing it as an inherently bad thing. As seen in her lack of acceptance of Ice King in general, this makes sense as well.

This turmoil builds up to Betty’s confrontation of her past, which is admittedly quite a somber sequence. These last few seasons have done a great job at fleshing out Betty’s madness and sadness, and Temple of Mars is a particular highlight. The idea of choosing to focus on one’s self is additional advice that is easier said than done. It’s certainly what she needs, but she’s incapable of seeing how that’s even possible. Again, I think it ties in really well with the motif of both anxiety and grief – no matter how much you want to get better and shift your focus, occasionally the fixation of your energy is so strong that it’s impossible to even know where to start. Betty takes the first step forward (or, so it seems) into a better life by answering her test with a response of self-healing, rather than desperate manifesting.

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I do think the conclusion is way too hokey for my liking. I know there’s kind of a no-holds-barred atmosphere of the world of Adventure Time where literally anything can happen, but I fail to see how Finn, Jermaine, and Betty’s journey has ANYTHING to do with channeling Jake’s energy so that he would be transported into the temple. It seems like Tom and Steve had decided they wanted to explore the psyche of these various different characters and interactions, and then thought to themselves 10 minutes in that, “oh shit, we’d better bring Jake back.” I was even shocked by Jermaine’s quick acceptance of King Man’s explanation. He’s the straight man after all, it would make way more sense (and also be funnier) if he shot back with, “that’s a load of horseshit,” or something along those lines. The second conclusion, in which Betty realizes her true potential, is quite satisfying. In reality, Betty is way too far gone that it just wouldn’t make sense for her to turn her life around so quickly. It makes sense that she would take away some inspiration, but the wrong inspiration at that. I could’ve sworn that I was watching some bad DVR rip of the episode upon first viewing, because Temple of Mars‘ close takes AT‘s abrupt endings to a whole new level. But, it is a quick cut-off that I enjoy regardless. The entire concept of GOLB being brought back into things is something that’s purposely been left in the dark for quite sometime, and enough to leave a character like King Man speechless, who has spent his life devoted to finding the deity. It definitely had me hyped for the show’s conclusion no doubt, even if I ended up having mixed feelings about GOLB’s inclusion as a whole.

So, while Temple of Mars isn’t exactly the experimental nuttiness that I would expect from a Mars entry, it’s still quite enjoyable. It contains some of the best interaction material we’ve seen all season, and is definitely one of Betty’s best roles to date. Some of the visuals are quite nice, especially the return of the rust-filled void of Mars, and the temple itself. Nice moments of lore here and there, such as Betty’s mention of the Enchiridion, or the foreshadowed idea that Margles is still very much on King Man’s radar. There are some good gags here and there, but others that kind of fall flat. The big build up to Finn’s bald head was a joke I found quite unfunny as a whole, and somewhat of a cheap gag that doesn’t really add much. Regardless, it’s certainly a strong point for the season specifically for its inclusion of great character moments, namely Betty and Jermaine, who truly are the stars of Temple of Mars.

Favorite line: “If anyone else feels like solving any of these puzzles, just jump right in, you know?”

“Elements” Miniseries Review

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Elements is the last miniseries that Adventure Time has ever produced, and it really closed things up with a bang. I’ve debated up to this point whether I think that Islands or Elements is the better miniseries, and I’m still slightly torn. I think I definitely have the stronger emotional connection to Islands, but Elements as a whole is the least problematic miniseries as a whole. While I have a ton of problems with Stakes and a few minor ones with IslandsElements has very few actual issues that I can pinpoint. While Stakes and Islands had their weaker entries, Elements really doesn’t have any duds on its hands. It’s weakest episodes mainly are limited to being entertaining on a base level, but still, they’re at the very least entertaining.

The opening of Elements is AMAZING, and quite possibly my favorite alternate opening that AT has ever put out. There’s just sooo much going on in it. While I previously complained that Islands‘ intro was just limited to a long-pan of the ocean that didn’t look all that spectacular, Elements gives us a glimpse into each of the elementified kingdoms (with the exception of the Fire Kingdom) and even adds a bit of backstory to the events of Elements as a whole. There’s a brief bit of foreshadowing with a happy LSP floating through the literal elemental apocalypse. There’s also that really neat shot of Fern being fully consumed by the candy wave; everything is presented in such a quick and tense matter that there’s a ton to absorb in such a short amount of time. The downside is that, while Science SARU is usually top-notch when it comes to guest animation, there are some sequences that are awkwardly storyboarded that make it feel slightly wonky in execution. Hanna K. boarded this one, and while she usually is pretty competent from an artistic front, there are some scenes (namely the dynamic pan up towards Patience) that just feel a little sloppy. But, it’s so fast-paced that you barely even notice, and only really sticks out upon actual analysis. I also appreciate how cryptic the nature of the intro is in general; as usual, this miniseries lists off four main heroes, but Lumpy Space Princess’s role is barely even alluded to. It really keeps things interesting in that sense. I’m usually not a fan of PB’s singing voice all that much, but you can almost tell how much fun Hynden Walch is having singing that classic AT tune. It’s kind of hard to resist.

Oh, and holy shit, are those title cards beautiful! These have got to be some of my favorites in the series, with each title card shifting the main character of focus more and more to the left, which makes for a really neat looking banner. Joy Ang painted half of them, and while her art is always beautiful, Benjamin Anders, who joined the design team this season, really shines with his work in designing and painting a good majority of the cards.

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Like Islands and StakesElements features a main, ongoing story, but there’s also A LOT going on beyond the surface as well. You have the mysterious and often hostile relationship between Betty and Ice King, the constant tensions between the four kingdoms (of course, it’s only natural that the Fire Nation are the ones to attack), Lumpy Space Princess’s role as a hero, and the subtle, but still very much prominent, development of Finn and Jake’s relationship with each other. While F&J’s strengthened bond isn’t focused on as much as those other elements (pun intended), I think it’s undoubtedly this miniseries’ strongest arc. The passion behind Finn and Jake’s brotherhood is something that has been hit on numerous times throughout the run of the series, with great standout entries such as StorytellingMorituri Te SaltutamusSons of MarsDungeon Train, and Don’t Look, but never has it been more apparent how much they truly appreciate each other. Cloudy is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes Adventure Time has ever put out because it really emphasizes what makes the series so lovable to begin with: the simplicity of Finn and Jake and their friendship. I say simplicity not to undermine the complexities of their individual characters, but because their friendship is not bogged down by their baggage. Even with the weight of the world on their shoulders, Finn and Jake still manage to get by in their ability to enjoy each other’s presence and take delight in the simpler things. Cloudy had the potential to be a dark and grim entry, but it instead chooses to be a celebration of the positivity of our two heroes. It ultimately makes it all the more poignant when Jake is separated from Finn. We’ve seen Finn struggle without Jake plenty of times before, but the timing of their mutual trust that everything will end up alright makes consequences all the more dire, which in turn makes their reunion all the more heartwarming.

A surprising feat for this miniseries is that it also features Lumpy Space Princess at her absolute best. It’s really cool how such a shallow character can be incorporated into the overall lore of AT in a meaningful and believable fashion. It’s also neat that her development comes full circle by the end of Elements. LSP has always been a character that has lived in stagnancy and has been unable to actually grow because of the way she is and how she will always be. Here, Elements allows for her to be accepted and celebrated for who she is, rather than what society wants her to be, and I think that’s pretty swell. I’m usually fairly critical of LSP’s role in nearly any episode she’s in, but I really only have one nitpick for her arc in general: the way each writer handles her character can be somewhat inconsistent. I’ve mentioned before that a hidden talent of Seo Kim is portraying Lumpy Space Princess as sympathetic and thoughtfully as possible, and she’s really at her most likable in Hero Heart. She’s just as humorous in the following episode, but Steve Wolfhard portrays her as much more cold and detached from wanting to have any role in helping the people of Ooo. It feels a little bit of a drastic shift, but meh, it’s not something that particularly bothers me because I do appreciate each of these LSP entries.

The ongoing storyline featuring the elementified kingdoms is handled pretty successfully. While some of these individual explorations are (appropriately) silly, like the party-crazy Slime Kingdom, others are used as a deeper dive into more challenging allegories, like the question of whether permanent happiness is logical or not, or how easily controlled anger and rage truly are. There’s a nice balance of drama and fun mixed into it all, with the Candy and Slime Kingdom’s being used to showcase the comedy and fun of the shift, while the Fire and Ice Kingdom are used to emphasize how truly bleak this essential apocalypse is.

Then there’s Betty and Ice King, who work off of each other pretty greatly, though with some weak spots along the way. I’ll say this, I think Elements may be the best stories for Ice King and Betty’s characters individually. Ice King is still the lovable goofball we’ve come to love, but I really love how much of a team player he is in this. Ice King tagging along for Finn and Jake’s adventures has always left him either ignored or useless, but here, he’s actually one of the most competent members. Not only did he manage to avoid getting transformed entirely on his own (which may partially be a result of his crown) but he’s the only one who stays entirely focused on the central mission throughout this whole journey. Even Finn, who is understandably upset after losing Jake, is given a bit of reality check from ol Simon. It really shows how far his character has come and how truly devoted he is to being a hero in his own right. Betty is similarly terrific, for entirely different reasons. For one, she has a new voice actor that actually seems to care about the world itself, which helps for her character to truly shine through. Betty is still thoroughly sympathetic, and perhaps more-so than ever. I’ve mentioned this before, but even though she’s insane, she’s understandably insane, and it’s easy to get behind her woes knowing everything she’s been through. Not to mention she also has terrific comedic timing when interacting with other characters, such as Finn. It’s a perfect balance of wanting Betty to succeed, but also wanting Ice King to thrive in his own element. My few problems with their interactions stem from the fact that I think the pacing for Betty’s turmoil could have been panned out slightly better. It appears that she’s had it planned all along that she wants to steal the Enchiridion to get Simon back, but she has a brief moment of understanding and connectedness with Ice King in Hero Heart, which ultimately ends with her deciding to go through with her plan all along. It feels a bit out of place; I get that the endgoal was to make Betty’s betrayal a surprise, but I feel as though it allowed for false implications of development to still be executed and ultimately feel wasted by the end of it. Outside of Hero Heart, however, I thought everything moved relatively smoothly, so I’m nitpicking a bit.

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As for the rest of Elements, you’ll mostly find myself nitpicking a few other issues that are barely really issues. I think the elementified versions of the characters are slightly gimmick-y in who is affected (Sweet P. is not, but Gunther is; Finn’s flame shield doesn’t protect him, but Cinnamon Bun’s weaker shield does) as well as the fact that everyone has conveniently clever names for their transition, but it’s all in the spirit of suspension of disbelief, and to harp on the latter point would just show how soulless and not fun I truly am. I also believe that the first half of Elements is objectively better than the second half, but that’s not to say that those last four episodes are bad by any means. Elements just started out unbelievably strong and I don’t think those first few entries are met in quality by the second half.

I typically don’t talk about storyboard teams during the miniseries(s) because pretty much every staff member gets a chance to shine, but something still baffles me about Elements… where was Tom Herpich? Steve Wolfhard had a guest spot with Laura Knetzger in Winter Light, and then worked on Skyhooks II entirely on his own. Was Herpich just busy at the time, or did he purposely opt-out of storyboarding for the miniseries? I dunno, it’s a strange absence that really just has me scratching my head.

Best to Worst Episodes

  1. Cloudy
  2. Bespoken For
  3. Skyhooks
  4. Winter Light
  5. Happy Warrior
  6. Skyhooks II
  7. Hero Heart
  8. Slime Central

Final Consensus

It’s no wonder that season eight is such a renaissance period for past fans of the series, as it really just gets better and better as it goes along, and Elements is a prime example of that. It’s a celebration of everything that the series started out as and everything it has become, allowing for non-stop fun and non-stop lore to blend in seamlessly. I’m overall excited to move on to a non-miniseries, because Islands and Elements have basically consumed my life for the past few months, but overall I was just really happy to get to rewatch these two landmark AT entries once more. Might be a controversial statement, but I truly do think that Islands and Elements may be the two best batches of episodes that the series has EVER put out.

 

“Bespoken For” Review

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Original Airdate: April 24, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone

Bespoken For could easily land itself on a list of best Ice King entries. It’s an episode that almost feels like it’s deliberately trolling the part of the fanbase that wanted to experience strictly lore (which they kind of still got) throughout its entirety. Even Finn and Jake are included for the sole purpose of representing all of us who are seeking out answers. But, even though Bespoken For doesn’t weave us an intricate backstory on the formulation of Patience St. Pim’s plans for elementifying Ooo, it does give us a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining exploration of Ice King and Betty’s complicated relationship. While most great Ice King episodes typically bank themselves off of how insane the Ice King truly is, Bespoken For portrays him in a pretty charismatic light, as he comes across as the true hero of the story.

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I always wondered why Finn and Jake never told Ice King that they were leaving for an unprecedented amount of time, but it was probably a decision for the best. IK could have very well pulled a desperate move by freezing the boys so they wouldn’t be able to leave their BFF. It is cute that Ice King is beyond filling his hobby list with something as notorious as princess-napping, and instead chooses something light and harmless, such as bird-watching, even if it means just doing what he always does. As always, the inconsistencies with Ice King’s intelligence are always quite funny, like the fact that he can spell “pterodactyl” but not “Choose Goose.”

It isn’t long before Betty shows up at his window, and she certainly sounds… different than usual. This marks the first episode Felicia Day portrays Betty, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing primarily because Day is a waaay better voice actress than Lena Dunham ever was. Dunham has her own fair share of experience, but it was clear from the start that she didn’t really have any interest in this world or its story. It’s a curse because, at least in my eyes, it’s really hard to replace a character’s voice actor successfully. No matter how much energy and talent Day brings to the table, the sad truth is that I’m always going to associate Dunham’s voice with Betty. This is why celebrity voices should never portray characters that have the potential to be important. Just look at Sugilite – she hasn’t spoken in four years!

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That bit of venting aside, Betty does bring a lot to the table in this one. Heck, Bespoken For feels like the first time she has any sort of semblance of a character, and it’s awfully refreshing. Betty’s one of the strongest additions to the miniseries in terms of the mystery surrounding her character; her madness and sadness often allow for her to make complex and often heinous decisions, most of which are never entirely explored until the climax of the miniseries. She certainly keeps things interesting, and her interactions with the Ice King are irresistibly tragic, and hilariously relatable. I love how Betty essentially is to Ice King what the mad, crazed squirrel is to Jake – an utterly forgettable face. His efforts to try to reassure her doubts are as awfully improvised as possible, concluded with the always humorous running gag of IK possessing an actual banana as a cell phone. I always wonder in the back of my head if the banana actually is a phone after all, and the show has been conning its audience after all these years.

Of course, the episode only gets progressively funnier as Ice King continues to get further and further into a detour that has practically nothing to do with what Finn and Jake want to hear. The suit fitting sequence is tons of fun (with the added bonus of Life Giving Magus) and Ice King lookin’ absolutely sharp was surely the highlight of this one. I’m reiterating myself, but I truly love how committed he is to actually going on a real date with a woman. It isn’t often he ever gets the opportunity to, but Ice King is genuinely confident, dressed to impressed, and even gets flowers for his lady! It would’ve been so easy for Ice King to give Betty some kind of meaningless or gross gift, but I’m glad that Seo and Somvilay knew when to add in these rare moments of earnestness. In general, there’s quite a few during the dinner scene.

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The date in general is a recipe for disaster, but more at the fault of Betty’s high expectations than anything. Ice King clearly does not remember his past self, and no attempts at jogging his memory have ever proved successful in the past. As for Ice King himself, he’s surprisingly not terribly awkward. Granted, he does make the suggestion to go dutch on their very first date, but I don’t think it’s that unreasonable. I mean, Betty is the one who asked him out, after all. And his method of trying to bail by pretending a roll of bread is a phone was hilariously less than smooth, but I’m truthfully just baffled at how Ice King actually recognized a red flag in someone and chose to back out because of it. That’s shockingly admirable.

Betty’s tale is a sad one, no doubt about it. Despite her forcefulness, her rage and frustration is understandable beyond just her state of lunacy. Much like Marcy and Simon’s relationship, Betty tries to be understanding and calm about getting to know her former fiance as he is, but can’t seem to accept the changes before her and resents him because of it. Even without the transferal of magic energy that occurred, it’s very clear that Betty’s descent into madness equally stems from her inability to recover something that clearly doesn’t exist anymore. It’s where everyone’s favorite life coach comes in, Tiny Manticore, and sets Betty’s perspective into place. I will say that this section of the episode is perhaps the most unbelievable; the entire episode is supposed to be told from Ice King’s point-of-view, yet he couldn’t possibly know about this exchange between Betty and TM. I wouldn’t mind it so much if the rest of the episode didn’t seem so committed to the framing device. It isn’t like Joshua & Margaret Investigations, where the entire backstory is supposed to be separate from the perspective of the storyteller.

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Patience St. Pim shows up in a couple of scenes throughout the course of this episode, and is expectedly fun, per usual. I love the random addition of a propeller cap that somehow gives her the ability to fly… couldn’t she just do that with her ice magic anyway? It’s great that her and Ice King are on such cordial terms that they casually refer to each other as “roomie” now – she even brings him a donut, even though he specifically asked for a surprise in doing so. Her inclusion also boils down to the big conclusion, in which Betty is used for her ultimate power source that elementifies Ooo as a whole. For those who sought out deep and rich lore within Bespoken For, they did end up getting it… all with a little bit of patience. Yeah, that pun is exceptionally awful.

But Bespoken For is great! A classic Ice King entry that both builds on his character and works off of what already worked  so well to begin with. This is the really the first episode that deals with Betty interacting with the Ice King, which luckily continues throughout the course of Elements and builds to the ultimate climax of their relationship all together.

Favorite line: “I grabbed as many penguins as I could… one.”

“You Forgot Your Floaties” Review

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Original Airdate: June 1, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan

With all that I ended up writing about Breezy, you’d likely assume that it was my favorite episode of season six. It comes close, but such an achievement would not be accomplished until You Forgot Your Floaties came along. This is an absolute favorite of mine, and I don’t just mean top 10 or 20 – this is top 3 material right here. Jesse Moynihan goes outright ballistic with how much emphasis he puts on ambiguity, to the point where it feels as though nothing is completely spelled out for the benefit of the audience. I wouldn’t say it’s left to the viewer’s interpretation as much as The Mountain; most of You Forgot Your Floaties is interpreted with a common consensus among fans. It’s scattered with riddle-like speak, but nothing that feels nearly impossible to decode or to be understood. But it’s not just the deeper layers that help this one to really stick out, it’s a passion story about a character of whom is known no better than by Moynihan himself. Magic Man’s backstory was previously elaborated on in Sons of Mars, and the hints of tragedy regarding his character come full circle in this one, as he finally confronts the madness and sadness within himself. Betty also gets some much needed screentime after her previously physical debut in Betty, and is cleverly used in comparison to Magic Man himself as an unfortunate soul who painfully lost her significant other. It doesn’t sound like a typical episode of a children’s animated show, or even most adult animated shows for that matter. You Forgot Your Floaties is an unbelievably impressive tale focusing on the hidden depth behind the true nature of magic within the world of Adventure Time, and stands out as one of the most unique episodes of television that I’ve ever witnessed.

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In typical Moynihan form, this episode doesn’t waste much time throwing us directly into the action, as Finn and Jake search thoroughly for the remnants of Glob’s helmet after his “death” in Astral Plane. This episode doesn’t feature much of Finn and Jake, but it’s fun to have this little opening regardless. As always, the boys are tons of fun, and their dialogue exchanges are as delightfully quirky as ever. I think I quote “I have a weird feeling in my fat basket” at least once a week. It’s also cool to see their general interest in retrieving remnants of Glob’s being; though Finn humorously implies that the two are scavengers, I get the feeling that part of him also desires to keep Glob’s head as a choice souvenir, as it seems like just the bit of treasure that Finn would want to proudly protect within the comforts of the Tree Fort.

But, as Finn and Jake are quickly turned into breakfast foods at the episode’s beginning, we’re introduced to our main characters within this episode: Magic Man and Betty. The  episode also wastes no time by showing Magic Man at his absolute most sadistic and cruel. I mean, he’s done shit like this to Finn and Jake before, but here, he practically kills Finn and Jake and leaves them to rot as food products while he leaves Earth for eternity. It also ties into what’s quite frankly amazing about Magic Man as a character: despite what a sadist he truly is, it’s still easy to feel empathy for him in his more vulnerable moments. There’s something irresistibly tragic to me about jerks who were once caring, passionate souls, but were hardened by the circumstances of their life and no longer could bring themselves to show any form of affection whatsoever. It’s the Joker archetype of character building that sort of reigns similar to Ice King’s tragic history, though not exactly in the same realm of tragedy. Magic Man is consciously aware of his loss, and chose a path of madness and sadness during his inability to cope with said loss in his life. Though, that latter part is certainly up for debate. Just how much are sadness and madness directly caused by magic?

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Betty brings up M.M.S. – or Magic, Madness and Sadness – which she directly correlates to the nature of being a magic user in general. It brings up a unique argument about the nature of how magic users operate when it comes to their own emotional states. We’ve seen magic users who do seem relatively competent and happy-go-lucky demeanor, but mainly on the surface. Ron James is even used as an example of sadness, of which we’ve never even known about his character in the past. Yet, I don’t necessarily think that magic, madness, and sadness are inherently linked in one defining path… I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. Magic is something that can be used for the greater good, and as of this episode, we’ve seen two examples of how having such mystical powers can affect somebody inadvertently: Evergreen went mad trying to keep himself safe and preserve the world, while Magic Man went both mad and incredibly sad while trying to perfect his magic in order to bring back his late wife. So no, I don’t think magic users are intrinsically sad by just simply possessing magic abilities, but also that having such power can often lead to thoughts and desires that could be considered unorthodox by any “normies”, ex. “How can I save myself from certain disasters with magic?” “How can I save the people I love with such abilities?”

Betty seems to have the upperhand by understanding just how much magic affects other people, but simply knowing her facts doesn’t protect her from the inevitability of falling into the same steps as her acquaintance. The connection between Betty and Magic Man is quite interesting and unique. I get the feeling that Betty knows just how untrustworthy Magic Man is, but needs to be around him in order to get some kind of breakthrough in her studies regarding how to reverse Simon’s behavioral antics. Betty knows exactly how sad and mad Magic Man is, and wants to discover what kind of raw energy and history surrounds him so that she can discover the true cause of M.M.S. and how it connects to magic as a whole. Of course, this conversation leads to a lot of different neat Moynihanian metaphors that only someone as bizarre as him could come up with, namely regarding the coconut crab who swims within Betty’s neighbor’s pool. It’s such a weird and unusual analogy to capture the idea of people metaphorically failing to stay afloat as they try and manage to survive through the sadness and madness surrounding themselves.

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Magic Man’s continuous inference that his past and mind is essentially a waste basket (which is referenced again later on) connects to the fact that Margles is gone and erased from history, and that any past he had with her must be erased from viewing eye as well. His line, “you imagined the lock before the key,” references the ideology that there’s nothing to see within Magic Man as it is. With his suppression and his madness, it’s easy for Magic Man to get lost within his own psychosis and to create his own false sense of being, though Betty smartly brings the actual key, which is the one remaining token to Magic Man’s past: the picture of MM and Margles.

It’s also worth noting how funny this episode manages to be even amongst all of this heady drama. Tiny Manticore makes interlaced appearances throughout Betty and Magic Man’s interactions, and he’s simply hilarious. For a character who only had a couple of minutes of screentime in Sons of Mars, he actually manages to be a pretty fun and likable character through competent voice acting by Tom Kenny, per usual, and his absolute desire to be a hero, despite his unfortunate role of being stuck with Stockholm Syndrome.

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A pretty rad poem read off by Magic Man is what transitions into Betty entering the mind of her manic partner,

“Smooth and gray as far as you can see. No life grows in me. Nothing to weed. Nothing to seed. Pure and perfect. Like the marble floors of a bank.You slide with no obstacles, forever blank.”

Again, Magic Man once more tries to mask his sadness by offering a blank perspective of his true state of being. It’s appropriate then, that a literal “mask” is the key to figuring out the truth behind Magic Man’s life history, as the picture leads Betty past the smooth and gray marble floors and into the eyes of Margles. The following scenes are pretty fucking amazing all-around, and played as seriously and dramatically as possible. Again, Kenny’s voice acting is absolutely superb in capturing the more subdued and quiet side of Magic Man, as he slowly utters, “Margles? Wake up, Margles.” Even with a voice that’s designed to sound manipulative and snarky, Kenny is able to breathe a surge of humanity into such an apathetic character. It’s even more interesting that this story takes the relationship between Margles and Magic Man to an entire new level and defied expectations almost completely. This is a lot more interesting than the implication in Sons of Mars that Margles just simply fell off Olympus Mons and died, and it’s further elaborated on by showing that said Margles isn’t even really Margles. M.A.R.G.L.E.S., or magical automated resistance generating laser energy supplier, was created to protect against the second coming of GOLB, but it’s very clear that this is where Magic Man’s madness and sadness came into play. The second coming of GOLB was likely a heavily anticipated event that Magic Man was forced to be prepared for, though he was unable to leave the hardship of his deceased wife out of it. He was left with the hardship of choosing between creating a being that would protect the greater good, versus a being that he loved deeply and wanted nothing more than to be with forever. He settled for both, but ultimately still suffered because of his inability to cope with said feelings. Yet, his magic created a visual appearance of Margles, but not a reincarnation of Magic Man’s past wife.

Magic Man’s proclamation of his sadness on Olympus Mons really sums up the nature of just how powerful his feelings of sadness and loss are. Adventure Time always hits it out of the park whenever it deals with sadness, and this is no exception. Using a fantasy world emphasizes exactly how desperate one can become when dealing with such sadness and loss within one’s life. Magic Man detailing: “every dimension, every dead world” as a means of how far he went just for the possibility of bringing his wife really adds depth and meaning to just how much Magic Man adored Margles. For a relationship that was barely ever elaborated on before, You Forgot Your Floaties manages to encapsulate the true extent to how much Magic Man loved Margles, and the true impact that her death left on him. Going back to the waste basket comment, the extent of Magic Man’s madness is shown through Prismo’s timeroom, when he wish for Margles only ends up appearing as the wastebasket that Magic Man previously mentioned to be what existed in his mind: nothingness. The Margles that Magic Man created, in turn, was not the Margles he was expecting to see. After hundreds of years without seeing Margles, even Magic Man himself cannot truly recreate the past that he once lived. The new Margles was exactly what Magic Man stated to be: a product of his nightmares. A Margles who was created for one function, but was deeply conflicted with another. I always figured the events on Olympus Mons were traumatizing for Magic Man, but my God, the way it’s presented in the episode really makes it as maddening as possible. After hundreds upon hundreds of years for searching for his wife, Magic Man finally is faced with the opportunity to see his wife again, though it all proves to be a complete failure. After dedicating his life to such work, it’s no wonder Magic Man gave up on his life almost completely. With all that he strived to do for his own good and the good of his wife, it simply ended up as an utter disaster. Which is where Betty comes back into the story…

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After making countless attempts to save her fiance from the magic that possesses him, Betty is left with the magic, madness, and sadness that took control of Magic Man after the transmutator malfunctioned. Betty took her own dive in the pool of madness and sadness after trying to figure out how exactly magic makes other wizards and beings tick, though she ultimately took a dive too deep and was unable to resurface from it. As a resurfacing Simon silently mutters, “you forgot your floaties,” Betty finally realizes how far she’s submerged herself within the loomy gloom. She’s effectively surrounded herself with exactly what she was trying to fix, and follows in Magic Man’s steps of being completely stuck in her own purgatory of sadness at the hands of their loved ones. Without even realizing it at first, this episode really manages to parallel Betty and Magic Man to a tee, and feels like one of the most unique and ambitious character studies to date. It analyzes entirely how one character feels (Magic Man) but also shows how much it applies to Betty’s character as well. It really is an act of brilliance in just how much we learn about these two characters in the course of eleven minutes, with a heavy emphasis on the emotion that Adventure Time tends to capture better than any other: sadness. Of course, there’s the lovely and delightful ending that features the ultimate moment of triumph: Tiny Manticore flying Bread Boy Finn to Wizard City in order to save his humanity. A truly brave soul he is.

This one is truly amazing on all levels: the way it delves into its main characters, its beautiful setting (always love to see Mars), the unique dialogue, its presentation of sadness and madness, worldbuilding, lore, and much, much more. This is one that only seems to get better every time I watch it, and once again brings me back to my main point: this episode is about as unique as they get. Never in my life have I seen a story told this different in its connection to themes, story, and characters, and it’s one that continues to shock me in just how devoted it is to tell a compelling story, rather than to comply with what actually works with the common everyday television audience. As much flack as Moynihan gets, he really is a dude that’s dedicated to telling some of the most bizarrely ambitious stories that television has ever seen. And, as You Forgot Your Floaties proves, television could benefit from having more stories this ambitious and remarkable.

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Favorite line: “Balls, man, that has never happened before!”

“Betty” Review

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This title card was designed by Derek Ballard, who has created some of the trippiest and most artistically interestingly title cards throughout the fifth and sixth season.

Original Airdate: February 24, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

Betty was originally intended to be a full 22 minute episode, but switched to the standard 11 minutes in favor of the Lemonhope two-parter. As a result, Betty has an absolute ton going on within its brief runtime that would almost seem impossible to pull off in a satisfying way. Yet, this is Adventure Time we’re talking about, and while this episode certainly isn’t without its problems, it somehow manages to execute this story in an enticing and somewhat powerful way.

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The decision to include and also effectively resolve the story arc involving the secretive Wizard Society in this one is certainly an interesting choice, and one that I think works relatively well. I always expected this to be some big plot point that result in some sort of Wizard war with Ooo, so I was quite surprised how little the Bella Noche plan came into effect following this episode. Yet, I’m perfectly fine with it, because it did lead to some big effective changes within the story that I can appreciate. And hey, that beginning scene is a lot of fun. It’s always nice to see this group of wizards, and I think they work off of their general disdain for Ice King pretty well.  One of my favorite funny/”oh shit” lines in this episode is when Laser Wizard declares “your life is my problem.” I’d love to see more of Laser Wizard; despite the fact that Tom Kenny voices about a zillion characters on this show as it is, he still gives Laser Wizard a convincingly devious tone in voice that is menacingly cool. And of course, there’s the other classics as well; it’s nice to have Maurice LaMarche back in his final role as the Grand Master Prix (still have no idea if he actually did voice GMP in Wizards Only, Fools, but his inflections in this one have reverted back to how he sounded in Wizard Battle). Forest Wizard also has his fair share of funny moments, namely in his passions that cause him restless leg syndrome. Bella Noche isn’t an especially memorable foe, but the episode never really makes him/her a main focus. It’s more about the effect he/she has on the Ice King when it comes to Bella Noche’s pure essence of anti-magic. Interestingly, Bella Noche means “beautiful night” in Spanish, and is based off of a barista who Jesse Moynihan used to frequently see at his local coffee shop.

What this episode does best, however, is really giving Simon a defined chance to shine. We only got to see a mere glimpse into his history in Holly Jolly Secrets, and Simon & Marcy fluctuated between his normal state and some odd quirkiness that I’m not really sure if it was supposed to be him or his transformed self. Here, Simon isn’t portrayed as this super interesting or unique dude, but he’s… normal, as he states himself. And from the lack of humans we actually get to see from the series, it is nice to see him as an utter straight-man, with some likable qualities, as well as flaws. On the likable side, you can really tell how kind, genuine, and intelligent he is and was. When looking towards his flaws, you can kind of tell there is a bit of a pretentious side to Simon. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a critical way, as it is interesting to look at his from a different perspective than just “that amazing guy that Marceline loved.” It seems like he has a bit of an ego, whether it be his lame poetry to Betty, “what am I? What am us?” or the fact that he kind of dickishly sent off Betty while talking to her through the time portal. His line “I forgive you for leaving me,” shows that he even blames Betty to a degree for him losing his sanity to the crown. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily his fault either, but it seems like he’s more sorry for himself than the fact that Betty lost her fiance to the crown. Again, I don’t think any of these aspects make Simon seem like an actual dick, but help to make him appear more human. He’s still a super compassionate guy, as shown in his interactions with Marceline, which received possibly the most criticism within this episode.

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Marceline’s interactions with Simon are… brief, to say the least, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it dampens the moment. While it definitely sucks that Marceline and Simon aren’t allowed more time to interact and catch up with each other, I will say: as a viewer, this is exactly what I wanted to see. Simon and Marceline lovingly reunite, they briefly have some humorous back-and-forths, before realizing that Simon is dying and he won’t be able to go on without the power of the crown, which means that the focus has to change for the episode to progress. I guess I’m kind of wondering what exactly people wanted from this; I think the main complaint that I can kind of see is that Marceline just seems passive to everything that’s going on, leading up to the point where she gives up Hambo to Simon with little hesitation. Again, I disagree with the criticism in the sense that the episode isn’t trying to make Marceline seem selfish and overly emotional. Obviously she’s going to want to do anything she can possibly do to help Simon, he’s the main reason she even survived during the aftermath of the Great Mushroom War, and it seems silly that one would expect her to be anything more than exceptionally giving to her old friend. Most would think it contradicts her behavior shown back in Sky Witch, where she literally stops at nothing to get back her beloved teddy bear. But it really isn’t Hambo that she longs for, it’s the emotional connection she has to Hambo that was brought to her through Simon. Love calls for sacrifice, and it’s hard to imagine that Marceline’s love for an inanimate is more for her all-time closest friend. There’s even a brief moment of quietness as Marceline looks at Hambo, kisses it, and sadly obliges. It’s clear she doesn’t want to give Hambo up, but what the fuck is she going to do otherwise? Marceline’s exterior is hard, but she also isn’t entirely selfish.

And this is where we’re finally introduced to an on-screen appearance of the aforementioned fiance. Betty also works in the same way the Simon operates; she’s slightly more quirky, but much more in-tune with the human side of herself. She’d later join in on the insanity as her character becomes more and more tormented from this point on, but we’ll get to that later. In a sense, however, I actually enjoy how one-note they make her character in this episode and from this point on. If you think about it, how much do we actually know about Betty besides her undying drive to cure and help Simon? Yet, it’s that same drive that makes her continuously more interesting and tragic. I never felt like I needed to know who Betty was as a person, it seems very clear. She’s much like Simon: intelligent, slightly quirky, and loving. Yet, it’s these qualities that make it all the more somber when she does get consumed by her loss and is unable to function or focus on anything that isn’t curing the love of her life. It’s all quite well done. Betty is voiced by Lena Dunham, and while I most commonly associate Betty with the Dunham voice more than anything, it’s kind of disappointing because I feel as though Dunham is kind of phoning in the lines in all of her appearances. It’s not necessarily an awful performance, but I always feel like Dunham is never completely engulfed or even understands what is going on in the story. And as much as I absolutely and dearly love the staff of this show, it was an absolutely awful decision to cast a celebrity as busy as Dunham to voice a new potential recurring character. This would later backfire, as Dunham was replaced with a different voice actor (whether based on availability or Dunham’s… questionable behavior… I still don’t know) and I’m glad they were able to get someone who seemed more committed to the show and the character as a whole.

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But that little detour aside, I do like the interesting ways that Betty is incorporated into the story. Mainly the fact that her entrance through the time portal is what caused her to completely disappear from her old life with Simon. It’s a paradoxical event that makes me wonder… if Betty had stayed, would she be able to fix the crown and save her fiance? I guess it’s impossible to say now, but I’m sure that, no matter what the scenario was, it possibly could have been better for Betty and Simon individually if she had just stayed within her timeline. Even if she couldn’t save him in the past, the future has only led to pain and suffering for the both of them… for now, at least. Once Betty enters the current timeline, the episode seems to be running on speed from this point on, and again, drew a lot of criticism for the portrayal of Betty and some arguable pacing issues: why is Betty so laidback about the post-apocalyptic world she entered into? How is she so easily able to operate a magic carpet when she came from a world where magic was virtually rare? How is she so easily able to take down Bella Noche without even struggling to do so? Well, for the first two, I’ll at least say that the episode is so fast-paced, hectic, and dire, that it really doesn’t give me any time to question if anything that is going on makes sense. And that’s the best way to describe this episode as a whole: tense and dire. It doesn’t always work off of logic or reasoning behind its choices or the way the plot progresses, but I’ll be damned if isn’t a compelling, stressful adventure. It very much works like the future episode Reboot in a sense; it isn’t exactly the most terrific episode when it comes to writing or story, but it certainly makes up for it by how well it captures you in the moment.

And Simon’s deteriorating state feels legitimately crucial. Regardless of the fact that we know that Ice King isn’t simply going to die, it is still difficult to see Simon in what is possibly his lowest state of being, and in a legitimately suicidal state of mind. Simon would much rather perish than to have to live one more day being the Ice King again, which also contributes to his vague memories during his periods of insanity. Simon doesn’t know much about what it is to be the Ice King, but he knows that it’s a person that does not embody who he is or who he wants to be. Death even appears in this one to emphasize how close to dying the Ice King really is. And, during the instance where Ice King gains his powers back, he solemnly states “you lose.” Living is not the prize for Simon, dying is. Whether he believes there is a cure for himself or not, he regrets every waking second that he has to go on as the Ice King. And as long as the crown has power over him, it’s tough to say how he’ll be able to regain his past identity.

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As for Betty’s takedown of Bella Noche, I actually do enjoy how it took a non-magic user to simply and effectively take the being of anti-magic down. It seems pretty obvious that all of these skilled wizards wouldn’t be able to beat Bella Noche because, duh, magic, so it is fitting that Betty would effectively have no trouble kicking the shit out of this being without any hesitation. And it’s a triumphant victory as she restores magic to all Wizards in Wizard City… that is, except for the one person she was not able to save: Simon. One of the most poignant pieces of the episode is the ending, as Betty sadly watches her loved one get beaten to death by a princess that he kidnapped, as he can hardly even remember who she is. Betty sadly flies off in hopes for a cure for her fiance, but things have arguably never felt more grim and hopeless for her and the future.

The music in this one is particularly great. Tim Kiefer composes a lot of tunes similar to the ones heard in Holly Jolly Secrets during Ice King’s secret tapes, and it gives the episode a bit of an off-putting, yet whimsical feel.

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So yeah, I think this one is pretty solid. I’m not going to say that people are necessarily wrong when they address how much is going on with this one, it’s A LOT. But a lot isn’t always a bad thing, and I think this episode still effectively blends everything it wants to do in an enticing, jam-packed 11 minutes. I much prefer an episode like this, that is really intoxicating and potentially crazy, than an episode like Simon & Marcy which was much slower and didn’t really give me any new information that was worth swallowing. Betty leaves me with a ton of impressions, some good and some bad, but overall always makes me excited for that really energetic, nonstop journey. It’s one that I totally understand why people don’t like it, though personally, I think everything was executed the absolute best way it possibly could have been in the course of 11 minutes. Would it have been even better as a 22 minute episode? Maybe, it’s impossible to say. But Jesse and Ako still put all that they could’ve put into 11 minutes, and I commend them for making this totally insane story actually pay off quite successfully.

Favorite line: “I don’t want to be the Ice King again. It’s like living with eternal diaper butt.”