Tag Archive | Cole Sanchez

Season Two Review

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Season two of Adventure Time pushed the envelope for the series a bit more than season one. It still focused on the lighthearted yet occasionally dark adventures of a boy and his dog in the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo, but this really feels like a point when the series began to get comfortable in its own skin. It began expanding what was already established in its world, and even added new elements on top of that. I’ll be revamping the season reviews a bit from the last one and, instead of breaking it up into sections, I’ll just kind of ramble on about the season as a whole.

First off, the humor and pacing this season became much more rounded and coherent. My biggest problem with season one is it could get a bit too juvenile and random in its approaches to humor. In season two, the writing focused a lot less on zany catchphrases and non-sequiturs and just focused on being funny, which it definitely succeeded at.

This season’s storyboard teams worked off of each other greatly! Season two introduced some of the most crucial writers on the Adventure Time crew, and some who work on the show even to this day. If I had to pick a team that I thought worked best together, it’d probably have to be Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar. The two definitely have an apparent chemistry with each other: Muto definitely has a clear vision of what’s important regarding the AT world, while Sugar understands the emotional complexity and the deeper layers of each lead character. The other teams were terrific as well: Kent Osborne and Somvilay Xayaphone helped create some of the zanier and more fun-focused episodes, Jesse Moynihan and Cole Sanchez began developing their own writing skills, and Ako Castuera and Tom Herpich had some of the most stylized work all season. Ako and Tom didn’t really have the best relationship as storyboard partners, but it’s great to see that creative differences within the staff don’t affect the actual quality of the episodes.

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As for story, the one main recurring theme revolves around honesty. Finn continues to battle with his feelings towards Bubblegum and struggles to be honest about them, Jake had to show his true self in order for the acceptance of his loved one’s parents, Marceline began to connect more with her real personality and became less focused on putting on her typical trickster facade, Bubblegum explicitly showed her affection for Finn throughout, and Ice King even began to ponder realizations about the cause of his unhappiness, and what he wants to do to improve it.

Finn continues to be an incredibly likable protagonist. Despite his goofiness, he is beginning to transition into his early teen years, and is starting to deal with more heavy handed issues that he typically isn’t accustomed to. Jake definitely began to grow into a more diverse character as well. My one complaint with the way Jake is written in the first season is that he seems a bit too similar to Finn, but this season begins to literally and metaphorically shape his character into someone with his own aspirations and view on life.

Additionally, Ice King and Marceline began to go through their own big transitions this season. Ice King is much less of a villain, which is a point where I really start to enjoy his character. It’s much more fun to watch him try to befriend Finn and Jake and fail than to watch his depiction as an ineffectual nemesis. As I had mentioned, Marcy has begun to connect more with her true self, which arguably lessens the wild and exciting aspects of her character, but leads to a chain of her complexity in return.

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Also, we begin to see a lot more BMO this season! It’s definitely a bit of a different portrayal of his character; he’s a bit more sassy and negligent, but not without his charms. It’s delightful to see a character that was practically irrelevant in the previous season have more screen-time, as he rightfully should.

If there’s one of the leads that kinda got the shaft this season, it’s Princess Bubblegum. She appears in a handful of episodes, yet I feel as though we barely learned anything that new about her character. Besides her connection with Finn, she’s just seen as cute and nice, and it’s a bit of a shame that we don’t get to see any of her darker aspects that would eventually unravel later on. That’s not to say she’s written badly, but she definitely pales in comparison to the developments of the rest of the cast.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Susan Strong – The introduction of a character that forever changed Finn’s intrigue when it comes to the existence of humans, and a beautifully explored depiction of their relationship.

4. The Eyes – A humorous episode focusing on the mere interactions between our two main characters, as well as another sympathetic look into the life of the Ice King.

3. Mortal Folly – A high stakes and action packed episode that introduces the big bad of the series, and is filled with heavy atmosphere and intense imagery.

2. Power Animal – An entertaining look at the life of Jake the Dog and the inner struggles he faces, including a great subplot featuring Finn.

1. It Came from the Nightosphere – A beautifully crafted episode that kicks off an entirely new feel to the style of Adventure Time, with an important exploration of Marceline’s character and big, wide-scope feel to it.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Crystals Have Power – An enjoyable and funny, but relatively slow-paced episode with somewhat distractingly crude drawings throughout.

4. The Chamber of Frozen Blades – A nice subplot featuring Ice King and Gunther, but the Finn and Jake material never quite got off on its feet.

3. The Pods – A bit too formulaic of a plot for even AT to bring anything that unique to the table.

2. Video Makers – An episode that highlights one of the worst aspect of Finn and Jake’s relationship: the two arguing over petty nonsense.

1. Slow Love – One that focuses on a pretty unlikable main character, which brings down the entire episode as a result.

Final Consensus

Season two brought to the table some of the most enjoyably fun AT episodes. It’s not my personal favorite season, but I think it’s arguably the season with the least amount of problems in it. Great depictions of the lead characters, higher stakes, terrific writing, and colorfully pulpy animation on top of that. It’s a great continuation of what season one started, and probably what drew in the large following that Adventure Time began to have. It’s surely not the strongest in story or character-study wise, but it’s one that will go down in history as one of the most delightful adventures a viewer can experience.

“Mortal Recoil” Review

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Definitely one of the most chilling title cards in the series.

Original Airdate: May 2, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Cole Sanchez

This episode starts immediately where the last one left off, as we’re treated to a dramatically funny scene featuring Dr. Ice Cream and Nurse Poundcake. “Dramatically funny” is a key adjective in this episode; where Mortal Folly was a mostly intense, fast-paced episode, Mortal Recoil is much slower and blends comedy with horror elements.

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Immediately this one makes up for the mistakes of last episode by making the Ice King beneficial to the plot. His constant interruptions of Finn and Jake earlier bordered on the annoying side, but here his purpose is more to serve the main characters, but not before Finn can get rightfully pissed at him. It’s a bit of a breaking point for Finn to blow up at the IK this way. Finn has treated Ice King as a mild disturbance in the past, but never has he affected Finn or someone he cares about so dearly in such a devastating way. It’s a nice instance of Finn royally chewing him out, and letting off that steam allows for things to gradually improve as the episode continues.

The scenes that follow in PB’s bedroom are straight out of a horror movie, but they’re still played lightly enough to save from complete darkness. It’s sad to see that this is really the first time Finn is truly upfront with his feelings toward Bubblegum, but she’s completely possessed and her true self isn’t conscious at all. The only other time we get to see Finn engage in this emotional release again is in Burning Low, and he does so mostly out of anger and sorrow. Here, he’s doing it to express his genuine care and appreciation for the princess, which again, is sadly squandered by the circumstances of the situation.

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Even sadder is Jake’s little booty dance can’t rescue PB from the Lich’s overwhelming presence. Bubblegum is able to absorb massive amounts of power through the fluids Finn gave her, and becomes an entirely new force. This is, of course, when Finn tries to use the sweater to defeat the demonic presence of the Lich once again, but fails this time. Even though Finn confidently holds that his feelings for PB were what helped him defeat the Lich last time, he realizes that love isn’t always the answer to defeating evil, and there’s no guarantee that something that worked fine once will do its job the same way again. Which is where the Ice King comes in with a tale of his wizard eyes, as Finn finally accepts his help and we see the two team up for the very first time. It’s an appropriate fit to watch Ice King and Finn work together civilly for once, and shows just how much the Ice King has evolved from the first instance we saw him. The IK isn’t an evil villain in the slightest anymore. Rather, he’s someone who just wants the attention of the coolest guys in Ooo.

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It’s here that Princess Bubblegum literally dies, in an even more aggressive way than the last time. In the end, she’s rebuilt to be thirteen, something that we’re going to explore later on, even if it never really got off it’s feet. The episode ends in what almost feels like a cap to the series, but we’re left with one haunting wave from the Lich possessed snail, signaling for more to come. This episode is really just a terrific showcase of how much the Lich’s introduction has forever changed the history of the show. Sure, the status quo and the way things return back to the main formula a good chunk of the time still remain relatively untouched, but it’s with this episode that I realized that literally anything can happen in Adventure Time. Princess Bubblegum can become thirteen, some plot points may be held and resolved and a later point. It was just a crazy burst of intrigue that left me so excited for the rest of the series. I began to really appreciate that element of surprise that came with every AT episode. In the past, any surprises or twists that came with the plot could be easily brushed off as something that was contained to just the singular episode, but Mortal Recoil introduced us to the idea that anything can come back at any point, and the fate of the characters could be altered at any given moment. This is all conducted by the intro of the show’s greatest evil, and one that would continue to affect the existence of Ooo much more down the line.

Welp, that’s season two folks! It’s been a lot of fun covering these episodes the last couple months, and really only increases my interest and love of my all-time favorite show. Thanks to everyone who has been reading (special shoutout to fellow commentators Stuped1811 and LilPotato911!), this isn’t really a project I’m doing for copious amounts of viewers, but it always helps to know that people are reading! The full season two review and a bonus mini-review should be out later this week, but besides that, I’ll see y’all for season three!

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Favorite line: “Uh, bleach, lighter fluid, ammonia, gasoline, I dunno. Lady stuff.”

“The Limit” Review

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Original Airdate: April 11, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

Jake, despite being a magical shapeshifting dog that can transform into anything, is still very vulnerable when it comes to the topic of being injured and even the possibility of death. Jake’s aging process and cosmic destinies have been alluded to many, many times in the series, but The Limit poses a unique type of situation to put Jake through: a boundary to how far he is able to stretch. It not only brings that possibility to center stage, but it also showcases an extremely likable yet foolhardy side of Jake to put the needs of others before the needs of himself.

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First of all, the episode starts off great. It’s just Finn and Jake gracefully watching stars and talking about aspirations while hanging at Hot Dog Princess’s house. I really love whenever episodes begin with the two main characters hanging out with any random tertiary character. It really makes the world of Ooo seem so big and yet so small in terms of social circles at the same time. The rest of the episode takes place on an effectively cool maze crawl. There’s no trademark dungeon episode during the course of the second season, but I’d say this episode comes to closest to having that old school D&D feel: rescuing others, trekking through a confusing maze, varieties of different monsters, a devious wishmaster, and the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant, of course!

The main plot of the episode makes the journey seem a bit paper thin. It’s mostly just Jake testing how far he’s able to stretch with, of course, dire results. Of course, the episode is filled with fun, flashy dialogue, silly songs, great side characters (the hot dog knights are a perfect example of well-written “too dumb to function” characters) and some fun beast battles. I do wish that they could’ve gone a little more detailed with some of the creatures Finn and Jake stand off with. There’s so many neat looking monsters and demons just chilling in certain parts of the maze, so the fact that Finn and Jake end up just dealing with one rock monster and a group of scorpions is fairly disappointing.

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The best part of the episode is surely the climax. Even though the creatures in the actual maze might not have been used to their advantage, Aquandrius is the kind of devious, slimy foe I’ve been wanting to see. He’s not necessarily unique in his motivations or intentions, but his design and name are just so inventive and mythological-feeling. In addition to that, the way Finn saves Jake feels a bit like a deus ex machina and relatively rushed, but I’m glad the show didn’t go the corny route of “Finn uses his last wish to save Jake, rather than what he wants.” It would’ve been sweet, but it’s a nice little subversion from what the viewing audience was expecting, and it certainly doesn’t make Finn seem unlikable either for thinking outside the box. Man, is Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant a great element to this episode too! Pen Ward mentioned that he worked a long time on the design of APTWE so people could eventually get tattoos of him on their body. It sure paid off too, Elly’s design feels like it’s straight out of ancient Buddhism. Also, I can’t believe that hot dog knight just brutally blew up on screen. At least he lives to see another day through the power of demonic magical wishes.

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Jesse Moynihan mentions in the commentary that there’s a nice little anti-moral with what’s going on with Jake’s character study in this episode, but I wouldn’t really call it an anti-moral so much as an actual moral. On so many different occasions, people are encouraged to try their hardest and, if they push themselves hard enough, they will succeed. The Limit focuses more on the idea that there is such a thing as pushing yourself too far, and it’s good to know when to step back, analyze a situation, and decide what’s best and most rational for yourself and the safety of others. Jake’s true heroism unravels in this episode, but unlike Finn, Jake is a bit more stubborn and prideful when it comes to showing off his strengths and hiding his weaknesses. Jake rarely ever expresses his true struggles throughout the series, meaning he has enough faith in himself and the idea that everything will be okay to ever quit what he instinctively believes is right. If he’s learned anything in this episode, however, is that he does have a limit, and as the series will explore later on, he’s not quite as immortal as it seems. Also, he’d much rather just have a sandwich than save himself from perishing. And if that doesn’t sound like Jake the Dog, I don’t know what does.

Favorite line: “Whoa! Fudge, man! This place is yoga balls huge!”

“Death in Bloom” Review

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Original Airdate: February 28, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

Death in Bloom is Adventure Time at its funniest: great site gags, good writing and pacing, bizarreness, a pinch of toilet humor, and great chemistry between our main duo and the characters that surround them. I often don’t think of AT as a comedy; of course, good humor is a crucial aspect of the series, but I much more consider it as whimsical fantasy rather than straight-forward comical. An episode like this, however, reminds me of just how funny the show can be, as well as how successful that can make it.

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Really great sounding compositions from Casey James Basichis and Tim Kiefer in this episode, especially during the montage sequence.

First of all, the premise is great. The concept is very Regular Show in the sense that our two main heroes screw something up and have to get it fixed through very unusual and outlandish methods. No complaints there though, it’s actually a premise I enjoy watching. It also helps that the plot doesn’t dumb down Finn or Jake at all. Sure, they put donuts and pizza in a plant and poured soda in its bulbs, but Finn and Jake weren’t meant to take care of a plant. They’re meant to slay dragons and save princesses and shit, and that’s proven when they aimlessly travel to the Underworld via Peppermint Butler.

I mentioned in my review of The Real You that Finn’s infatuation with Princess Bubblegum can serve to bring out his bigger character flaws, and while it’s a bit more subtle, it’s shown here as well. Finn is so worried about disappointing PB that he’s willing to travel to the literal Land of the Dead. For a plant. It’s both humorous and heroic, showing his deep dedication to serve Bonnibel in every single way possible, even if it’s something a simple as taking care of some flowers.

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The Land of the Dead is a fascinatingly dark landscape for our heroes to explore. Most of it was designed by Ghostshrimp and Chris Tsirgiotis, who give the Underworld a specifically ominous and dismal feeling, despite its residents being pretty quirky and easily defeated. There’s some really terrific shots, between the beautifully fast pan when Finn and Jake first enter and the strong details on Death’s garden, as well as his actual facial expressions.

Death himself is such a strong presence in this episode. His design is terrific, and Miguel Ferrer’s (God rest his soul) intimidating, yet honest voice are what really give life (metaphorically) to his character. Of course, our two main boys are really what make this a top tier episode. Their interactions are hilarious, from Jake breaking wind in attempts to lighten the mood to the strange reveal of what the Morrow means to Finn’s annoyance with an amnesia-ridden Jake, it’s really just a great episode to enjoy these two immensely enjoyable characters go on a perilous quest.

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From their actions with the plant, I think the two of them have learned a lesson in responsibility. There’s also the fact that they probably lie awake at night in fear that Peppermint Butler will steal their flesh, so they’ll most likely think twice the next time they’re asked to plant-sit.

Favorite line: “I don’t know, [the Underworld] wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t folks trying to eat our skin.”

“The Silent King” Review

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Original Airdate: February 7, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

The Silent King starts off by bringing the audience directly into the action without establishing characters or plot. In any other show I’d probably call it out for its lack of context, but it’s one of the many charms of Adventure Time: it can start and end on any given confusing absurdity and still feel fitting with the world and the characters in it.

And there’s no better villain to showcase this quick introduction than Xergiok, the goblin king. Right off the bat, the episode does a great job by showcasing his ludicrousy in both his actions and rapidly changing design. Seriously, Adventure Time is, for the most part, on-model in terms of character design, but Xergiok’s appearance shifts are straight out of Ren & Stimpy!

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At the center of this episode, however, is the characterization of Finn’s role as a hero. As shown through the treatment of the goblin people, Finn is certainly not a utopian ruler that allows all of his loyal subjects to wait on him. Rather, Finn just likes kicking evil’s ass and doing what he believes is morally right inside. In any other show, Finn most likely would’ve gotten power hungry and would transform into a dictator that is no better than Xergiok by the end of it, but AT has a great deal of consistency with how its characters are portrayed and what seems most in character for them. Finn’s actions just seem to come so naturally, and it’s entertaining to see him getting legitimately frustrated over Gummy trying to help him, yet only being a giant annoyance.

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The full upscale battle between Finn and Jake ala Jakesuit (its very first appearance!) vs. Xergiok and the Earclops is the type of battle we haven’t quite seen from the show until this point, and it’s extremely rewarding. It’s a fast-paced, jumpy experience with some terrifically creative means of defeating the Earclops, which are also hilariously designed, by the way. I really wish that we could get more Jakesuit battles throughout the series, because if this episode proved anything, it’s worthy of many more exciting battles.

I previously mentioned in my review of Crystals Have Power that Jesse Moynihan’s drawings looked a bit messy and flat, but the floppiness of his drawings is definitely toned down significantly in this episode and are much more similar to those you’d see in a typical episode of AT. It definitely took Moynihan some time to get into the groove of drawing the characters, but his work and learning definitely shows in this episode.

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It’s also appropriate that Finn doesn’t try to aim toward changing the perspective of the goblin people in order to fit his vision, as he’s fully willing to accept his role as a helpless king. The fact that the goblin people don’t change by the end of the episode but are still able to live in a happy environment with a non abusive ruler was very endearing and happy. Finn chooses a decision that benefits everyone involved, including himself, and is able to go on living his life as a hero: what he was truly meant to be.

I wonder what Whisper Dan is up to these days. I feel as though him and Box Prince would get along just swimmingly.

Favorite line: “I’m not gonna spank your hams!”

“Crystals Have Power” Review

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Original Airdate: November 29, 2010

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

Interesting how I mentioned in my previous review that Jake isn’t necessarily concerned with his physical strengths and one episode later finds him worrying about being too abrasive with others. It’s a nice shift and some well warranted development to have two Jake-centered episodes in a row, even if this one doesn’t necessarily match the quality of the last episode.

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I really like the backstory element in this episode as well. This is the first time we are introduced to Joshua being Jake’s father, as well as his brother Jermaine. The Jermaine in this episode feels like a bit of discontinuity with the Jermaine we meet later on, but I’m willing to convince myself that he’s going through some type of midlife crisis. Jake trying to be “soft” while his best friend is being crystalized is a bit frustrating to watch, especially since this is the second episode in a row that Finn is being tortured while Jake chills on the sideline, but his interactions with the crystal guards are funny enough to carry a majority of the episode. It’s also important to keep in mind that Jake’s entire motivation behind controlling his strength is the fact that he hurt his best friend, so it’s heartening to know he was driven by the person he cares about most.

This is Jesse Moynihan’s first episode as a storyboard artist and he acknowledged that he hadn’t had much experience drawing before this episode. A lot of his drawings are a tad bit awkward and flat looking at times, but that’s not necessarily a jab at him. A lot of his drawings are off model, yet we don’t get many off model shots from this show in general. It’s actually somewhat refreshing to get some crude, floppy looking shots for once.

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Also, this episode marks the return of Tree Trunks! On the commentary for this episode, Pen Ward mentions that this episode went through several rewrites before the final product, and it kind of shows. In fact, Tree Trunks’ return wasn’t even included in the episode in the first two scripts, but Ward kept pushing for it to be a part of the episode. The writers do their best to blend the two plots together, but it almost feels as though half the episode is devoted to Jake’s crisis of life and the second half is devoted to Tree Trunks return. Whenever I think back to this episode, I always think about either the Jake plotline or the Tree Trunks plotline, but never both together.

Aside from that complaint though, both set pieces are relatively well done. I do have a warm place in my heart for Tree Trunks, and it’s delightful to have her return to the series once again. The episode ends in the greatest way possible: having our three central characters fly through a portal while a techno song about apple pie plays in the background.

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Favorite line: “If I had a penny for every time someone went crazy hopped up on magic energy… I’d be Abraham Lincoln!”