Original Airdate: September 3, 2019
Written & Storyboarded by: Aleks Sennwald & Hanna K. Nyström
Enter GOLB. GOLB has been an element of curiosity ever since he debuted back in Puhoy, and for good reasons. Besides a bizarrely unique design, his true nature and role in the world of Adventure Time has only ever been alluded to – GOLB himself has never truly been put into action. Come Along With Me finally brings the enigmatic deity to centerstage in Act III, as a result of Magic Man, Betty, and Maja’s combined magic going haywire. As an antagonist, GOLB really isn’t all that unique or intriguing. He’s just kind of there as an ultimate beast to cause destruction throughout the Land of Ooo, but unlike a character such as the Lich, there really isn’t anything particularly intimidating about him beyond his gnarly design, as previously mentioned. He’s more of a plot device than anything. That being said, Part 3 of the finale is arguably the most entertaining. It’s a high-stakes, wild battle that never really takes a second to breathe. Every moment is filled to the brim with fights, carnage, and powerful character moments. It’s not necessarily that meaty or thought-provoking (though it has its moments) but it does provide enough excitement to take the bitter taste of the previous segment out of my mouth.
Despite his failure to be a legitimately intimidating force on the Land of Ooo, I do enjoy the humor that encapsulates this first part, as everyone has their own unique perception on his arrival. Jake’s theory of GOLB being this big celebratory baby is another great example of him making the best out of a bad situation. Though this comedic instance alone does come with its own subtext – Jake mentions that they’re being congratulated because “they saved the day,” but again, the way the story actually played out doesn’t suggest that Finn and Jake were the ultimate saviors of the situation. Aunt Lolly just decided out of nowhere that she wanted to be on the side of the Candy Kingdom, and that’s what inevitably saved the day. I love my boys dearly, but it slightly angers me that this was written in such a way to glorify them instead of analyzing the actual events that went down prior. The following scenes do provide for less problematic entertainment, such as Fern’s little exchange with Flame Princess or Lumpy Space Princess’s selfie as the literal apocalypse occurs behind her. There’s even a nice little flashback that ties back into Simon’s fascination with ancient deities and the unknown. The more we learn about these interests of Simon’s, the more it shows how kind of unhealthy his obsessions truly were. His connection to the crown was initially played off as kind of an instant lack of control, but the passion he feels when talking about such subject material kind of suggests that he was partially willing to give up his sanity for the sake of exploration and discovery. The flashback is also hilarious as well. Betty full on chucks a glass jar at him. I can’t think of any normal person that would have done that. Those two are all kinds of crazy.
I mentioned the cool design and features of GOLB, and the other beasts that are featured in this episode are pretty neat in their own right. Backgrounder designer Jesse Balmer did most of the concept designs for the GOLB-fused beasts, and it really shows in how much raw detail their is in their designs. It is weird in the sense that I don’t really see GOLB as this beast who causes mayhem and ruin by the act of releasing beasts onto the world, more so in just erasing everything from existence. Buuut, in the same sense that it would be kind of boring if that was the case, so a few gnarly beasts along the way doesn’t really bother me much. This is actually the first time the Candy Kingdom Haters are seen on the battlefield and, as I harped on in Gumbaldia, they’re almost entirely useless. Not even a single one of them is given a designated voice role, but again, I’ve repeated myself a million times in saying that Gumbaldia‘s ending intended for more and that I can’t really blame the staff for excluding such an inconsequential subplot.
As much of a shame that it is that Finn doesn’t really get any kind of ultimate heroic moment in the finale, it is nice that this part in the story shifts gears to focus more on Ice King’s role in the world. He’s pretty much the only major player that hasn’t gotten to do anything up to this point, and it’s both rewarding and kind of funny that the fate of the entire world rests in his hands. Whereas the first chunk of Act III mostly focuses on establishing the conflict with GOLB’s inclusion, the remaining half is chock full of a lot of stellar character moments that really make it feel like the grand finale it was hyped up to be. Some of the callbacks in Come Along With Me feel a bit too fanservice-y and contrived for my liking, but one of my favorites in this 44 minute chunk is Ice King singing “Oh Fionna” in order to get Betty’s attention. These last two seasons have really been knocking it out of the park when it comes to portraying Betty’s codependence. I love the day-and-night feel to Ice King singing this soft tune to lure Betty back into a state of comfort, only for that comfort to be swiftly pulled from under her as IK’s shrill vocals soil a genuinely touching moment. My favorite callback is also followed by one of, if not my ultimate favorite moment in the entire finale: Maja fucking exploding only seconds after she gains consciousness. I know there was a good chunk of people that were pissed about this, because this is Maja’s only actual appearance after the huge build up of Something Big, but it’s a grievance that I can ignore completely just because of how funny, absurd, and well-timed it is. It isn’t even acknowledged after the fact. I’m gonna be totally basic and reiterate what literally everyone has already said when referring to this moment, but – how’s that for poetic justice?
There’s plenty of other terrific callbacks on the battlefield – PB using her elemental abilities one final time (to no avail), Marceline channeling the power of the Vampire King that she gained in The Dark Cloud, and Jake’s eventual unleashing of his alien form. More characters do end up joining the battle, which feels… confusing? After Jake lands in an attempt to restrain the owls from the possessed Gumball Guardian, NEPTR is just suddenly on the battlefield out of scenic nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love NEPTR as much as the next guy, but how in the hell did he get involved in the battle? The episode cuts to him tossing pies not long after and it doesn’t even look like much is being done. I’m still not sure if it’s a continuity error that is bothersome or just surreally amusing. Like I said, though, it is nice to see the little guy getting a piece of the action. Everyone gets a chance to be in full hero mode – even Fern, with his badass line reading of, “I’ll defend Ooo down to my last blade.”
Buuuut, I’m just wasting time at this point. You all know what you’re waiting to hear me talk about. I’m sure half of you are hear specifically for this discussion. The kiss that took the world by storm…
Lemongrab and Lumpy Space Princess! I love this hysterical callback to something that was clearly set up as a one-off joke in Normal Man. It’s awesome to finally see Lemongrab open to getting some with a girl who’s actually (?) into him. Hell, good for LSP too! Her love life hasn’t exactly been the most rewarding either. This feels like the only true satisfying conclusion for these dorks. This is truly a moment that fans have been waiting to see for years and years, and I’m glad the episode finally set things straight by showing their true feelings for each other. I hope you guys enjoyed that gag twist as much as I did in my head.
But forreals, let’s get to the big shit. Come Along With Me finally comes out with (literally) the fact that Marceline and Princess Bubblegum are in a romantic relationship with each other. It’s been alluded to a million times, often in the most obnoxious of ways, but Come Along With Me throws all ambiguity out the window by having them full-on canoodle on screen. I’m gonna be 100% frank and say, with all of the cynical things I’ve said about their relationship in the past, I think this moment was handled in a really solid way. I even fanboyed a little the first time I watched, and I’m not even a Bubbline fan! As much as I get annoyed with how Marceline’s character has become dependent on her connection to Bubblegum, I do feel as though her transformation into the dark cloud following PB’s supposed “death” was quite touching. I do like how Marceline’s emotional outburst doesn’t only have to do with the fact that she lost PB, but that she’s always afraid of losing PB. Even after making up, they never truly resolved those underlying anxieties and fears that came with separating. The moments between Marceline and Bubblegum that I do enjoy are the ones that deal with their tumultuous past in an honest and convincing way, and don’t just boil them down to the lovey dovey duo. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about Bubbline essentially being “queer-bait,” though I don’t really think that’s essentially a fair judgement. We’re STILL in somewhat of a climate about kids’ entertainment tackling LGBTQ relationships, though it’s gotten considerably better, and I feel like the staff was simply doing what they could at the time while still forming a legitimate relationship between two characters. The past generation of animation was sooo involved in building up relationships between two friends that remained ambiguous for an extended period of time (Kim and Ron from Kim Possible, Danny and Sam from Danny Phantom, etc.) and this is a great subversion of the trope. So, essentially, the kiss is more build up from their long, hyped up connection, rather than it is a statement of “wokeness” (though I’m sure that played a part in it). Even if Steven Universe was making strides three years prior, I still feel like this development is somewhat of an accomplishment for LGBTQ media in children’s entertainment. There’s no longer the excuse of, “oh they’re just rocks they don’t have any gender lol,” this is flat out two female characters neckin’ each other. I don’t see it being queer-baiting as much as keeping fans on their toes for a romantic relationship that DID end up having its pay off in the end. This isn’t like The Legend of Korra, where the ending was left almost too ambiguous for it to even make sense; I do believe there is a genuine bit of satisfaction in this development. Even though I don’t consider myself a fan of Bubbline, I think the staff did a relatively solid job at helping their relationship to feel gripping and exciting for fans. Of course, I could take all of that back and complain about how Marceline’s only huge development in Come Along With Me is based around Bubblegum, and how she doesn’t really get to do anything else after this, but I’m getting ahead of myself. That is a discussion for another day in my character analysis.
The other big development that Act III establishes is Simon finally regaining his sanity, as GOLB’s powers revert him back to his original state. This is both a huge achievement and kind of a disappointment; almost in the same vein as Bubbline, Simon regaining consciousness was a moment that needed to happen for how much it was built up over the years. But with all of the work that went into developing Ice King’s character as an individual, I can’t help but feel a bit dismissive about the fact that Ice King doesn’t really get his own moment of triumph for all that he’s accomplished over the years. This isn’t technically the end of Ice King, as we’ll discuss in the next episode, but IK, like Fern, is another character that was probably too well-written for his own good. Personally, I would’ve liked an ending where Ice King is fully accepted for who he is, as those who surround him come to terms with the idea that Simon is never coming back. But alas, I feel as though the staff felt almost obligated for this moment to happen because of how much fans wanted to see it happen. And I can’t blame ’em, I was pretty much in the same boat until Elements came along. The growth of Ice King’s identity as a character definitely complicated things for the long run, no matter how solid this growth was, and I’m not sure I can so much as criticize the choice as much as just to be disappointed by it. Though, I’m still kind of confused how GOLB works. Like, Simon is reverted to his past self, Betty just changes into to the turtleneck she wore in earlier episodes, and Finn isn’t affected at all. I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and ask, shouldn’t GOLB’s powers have reverted Finn’s arm back to normal? Now, don’t get me wrong, I would’ve gauged my eyes out if that happened a second time, but in this one instance, wouldn’t it actually make sense if it did occur? The entire nature of GOLB feels kind of janky with this in mind.
Speaking of Finn, I think the biggest flaw within Act III of Come Along With Me is the lack of Finn that I mentioned earlier on. Well, it’s not so much a lack of Finn as it is just the entire cast of characters seemingly ignoring him. He nearly gets Stakes levels of neglect here, being ineffective in almost every situation and being treated by others as somewhat of a nuisance. I know that other character arcs and stories kind of required attention here too, but damn, everyone seems to get this big heroic moment in this part specifically, whereas Finn feels like a tiny spec in the grand scheme of things. It’s even sadder to look back and see how little he gets to do in terms of heroism during the finale as a whole. The most noble thing he does is helping Fern to see the light, though that was even partially aided by Jake’s help. Come Along With Me feels like a solid wrap up for most characters, though Finn isn’t necessarily one of them, and I think that’s what’s most disappointing of all.
Act III does end in a genuinely solid and dramatic way, as a handful of our main players are left completely pummeled at the hands of GOLB’s beast – except for Jake, who has enough energy to put up a decent fight for a bit, only to be faced with absolute devastation when the Tree Fort is destroyed. This moment hit me hard, and I think the sharp commercial break immediately after provides for added shock value. One of Adventure Time‘s biggest staples is destroyed in the blink of an eye, and it feels just as tragic as it was made out to be.
Even with its flaws in mind, I think Part 3 is definitely the most entertaining aspect of Come Along With Me. That’s not even necessarily to say it’s the best, but it definitely was the segment that engaged me the most and had me on the edge of my seat. At least, from the perspective of a first viewing. Lots of really nice character moments, a genuine sense of tension, and some solid callbacks along the way. It does everything to make Come Along With Me feel like a true finale… if only Finn was able to join in on that fun, though.
We’re on the verge of the end, my friends! The review of Act IV will be releasing next week, followed by a consensus of the finale overall, and then further updates from there. I’ve kept quiet about Distant Lands and a lot of post content so far, but stay tuned! There is a plan in effect that will allow for plenty of new reviews, analyses, and discussions throughout the end of the year and 2020!