Original Airdate: November 28, 2014
Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich
Never in a million years would I think that a trip to the dentist could go hand-in-hand with military service, but Adventure Time continues to defy my expectations. Dentist is definitely one of the most uniquely clever premises in the entire show, and makes for a pretty enjoyable episode as well. Granted, there are aspects that weigh it down, but none that truly squander its strongest elements.
I should first start off by saying I have no trouble believing that Finn would develop a cavity. That boy barely bathes as it is, you expect me to believe that he brushes his teeth two to three times a day, let alone at all? His fear and denial of going to the dentist, or as the episode simply puts it, “going dentist,” is something I think that anyone can relate to. A typical tooth appointment is painful enough, but being left behind by your friends in a hole with a pile of rotten butter and snakes? Sounds absolutely brutal. I do think the episode presents the actual issue in an appropriate way. Bubblegum’s statement of “Finn, this is literally serious,” kind of puts into perspective how untreated cavities can actually become a much more urgent ailment than one would expect. They can legitimately cause you to die. I really don’t think kids’ shows emphasize that enough. Though PB and Jake do leave Finn in the state that he was exactly trying to avoid, I do appreciate the sympathy and help that Jake attempts to provide beforehand. There’s that nice little moment between the brothers when Finn crashes through the Tree Fort, and Jake lightly pats his head sympathetically. Sweet moment between the bros.
Upon his descent into his true destination, he finds himself in an ant military base, which is a really fun and humorous setting for the episode. Andy Daly and Lucy Lawless provide some great voice work as the drill sergeant-esque commanders, and Finn proves to be just as entertaining, by being partially confused but also going along with the whole shtick. The entire concept of dentist is so convoluted, but it also almost makes sense: dental care is exchanged for brief military service. I guess this is Adventure Time’s version of insurance? Also love the goofy characterization that Steve Wolfhard specializes with when it comes to Finn’s character; it can make Finn look downright brainless in an episode like Lemonhope – Part 1, but it also can add a childlike charm to his character, as Dentist aims at executing. The repeated dialogue of “my tooth hurts,” provided for a decent laugh.
Tiffany (Oiler) also returns in this episode, and I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of Tiffany, as I’ve mentioned in the past. I think his long-winded monologues are more tiresome than funny, and his insistent urge to constantly shout his lines can get a bit grating on the ears. The latter doesn’t really come into play this time around, though the former is emphasized to extreme lengths. Don’t think any of his speeches hit home in this one, though I think his presence is definitely more tolerated when working off of Finn, rather than Jake. There’s an interesting connection of jealousy, as well as Tiffany simply not understanding Finn’s relationship to Jake. Tiffany pretty much just thinks that Finn stole Jake away from him, and probably doesn’t realize that the two are literally brothers. I also enjoy how Finn isn’t really vindictive or hateful towards Tiffany, he’s just pretty genuinely pissed off by him throughout the entire experience. Even when Tiffany attempts to stab him, Finn is just like, “dammit dude, can’t you wait till we’re done with our duties?” It’s hilarious and kind of sweet to see just how passive and cordial Finn can be even with people who hate his guts. There’s also a great moment where Finn interacts with the Finn Sword, and the tiny Finn within the sword refers to himself as “Finn Mertens.” This is the first mention of Finn’s last name since Finn the Human, and even then it was used by Farmworld Finn and not by Finn himself. I think this is a nice subtle reference to the fact that Finn had actually learned things about himself through his wish that the Lich never existed. Afterall, Jake never retconned the wish that Finn made, as he simply wished that the two would safely return to Ooo. Finn had likely subconsciously learned his last name without even realizing it, just as he subconsciously developed the skill of using his flute. Nice detail.
The action sequence in which Finn and Tiffany fight off the worms is just awesome. Tom Herpich never fails when it comes to unique camera angles and dynamic action shots, and there are plenty of those here. Watching Finn quite seamlessly slice through giant worms was great, providing for some pretty violent sequences, but none that prove to be overly gruesome. The bit where Tiffany nearly allows Finn to fall into the worm’s mouth provides for some decent drama; I actually like the side of Tiffany that is soft-spoken and morally confused, and it’s cool to see that he actually chooses the right of non-involvement instead of directly causing Finn to die. Of course, it doesn’t justify his actions, but it’s a step up from his usual vengeful behavior, and it’s nice to see that he’s still a deeply troubled adolescent who clearly does blame Finn for all of his problems. I really thought this was the best example of Tiffany’s turmoil being shown in full detail, and one of his better moments at that. Of course, he does get his comeuppance for all the wrongful things he’s done when Finn knocks him into the Worm Queen’s mouth. Though, I call bullshit with the way it was presented. Finn is launched into a stalactite, and then falls sideways into the wall and bumps Tiffany. It looks far too awkward for me to buy into.
Finn does get a happy ending as his teeth are all replaced. Though, I always thought this bit was odd: they replace all of his teeth except the one that’s missing on the top? It’s kind of a silly idea, though I wouldn’t really want to see Finn with all of his teeth as it is, and God forbid that Cartoon Network would have to create a Finn action figure with a whole set of teeth. It is cool to see that Finn does show a bit of sadness at the thought of Tiffany’s demise. Even with everything that Tiffany put him through, Finn still deeply sympathizes with the lad and wanted things to work out for the better. The two would later reunite, in what results in more-or-less the same outcome. The ending itself was cute, as the Candy Kingdom citizens celebrate Finn’s return, knowing that he would be perfectly okay in the end. Only he can’t talk about it, because there are fly spies everywhere. Fly spies!
Dentist is good fun. I think it boasts a pretty strong story and has some solid action sequences and a quirky environment to carry it through. Granted, Tiffany is still pretty annoying, and weighs down the episode just a bit. Though, I thought his interactions with Finn were enough to justify his presence in the episode, and add a bit of poignancy to his character. But overall, Adventure Time makes for one of the most enjoyable dentist visits possible, even if that’s not saying much.