Tag Archive | Elements

Season Eight Review

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Following the huge backlash regarding the tone and execution of Season Six of Adventure Time, Season Seven was, in turn, somewhat of a return to form of less heady and complicated stories that focused more on our main heroes. Season Eight takes that notion one step further by feeling as if it is catered to please the Adventure Time fandom in general, offering more resolutions to ongoing storylines, less filler episodes, and more of a central focus on Finn’s character and role in the series. As a result, it really pays off and makes for, in my opinion, probably the most satisfying and enticing Adventure Time season to date.

Season Eight is practically the most exclusive Adventure Time season to date, and what I mean by that is that there really isn’t single episode within this packaged bunch that any common viewer would be able to watch without having some trouble following. There’s a few entries at the beginning of the season that are a bit more inclusive, namely WheelsHigh Strangeness, and Horse and Ball, but those still feature characters and situations that are better enjoyed with previous knowledge and information regarding the series. This is also probably why Cartoon Network practically shunned it from the network and aired episodes completely unadvertised throughout the course of the entire season. It’s a strategy that caused a lot of uproar at the time, but I think I kind of understand where the network was coming from. I mean, they had already cancelled the series, and with the new season being targeted almost entirely towards longtime fans, the network would kind of be wasting money on advertising a show to children unfamiliar with its history. Anybody who actually wanted to watch the show obviously kept up with social media more than television advertising. After all, up to 20 million people in the US got rid of cable in 2017, which is a fuck-ton. I don’t blame the big boys at CN for thinking that this was the best way to go about things. Just makes me slightly sad we weren’t able to get ant really rad previews like this anymore.

Regardless of that tangent, it is really satisfying to feel as if every episode being dished out this season is important. I’m all for filler episodes of the series, but inconsistent airdates from the network can often result in deteriorating interest. Season Six was the first season to have inconsistencies in its airing schedule, and considering that the season was filled to the brim with wildly different stories that often didn’t connect in any particular way, it often left me a bit dissonant. Season Eight’s episodes actually aired in four different pairs, essentially. The first six episodes were aired in bomb format in the course of a week, Islands and Elements were released digitally all at once, both of which I watched straight through in one sitting, and the last five episodes of Season Eight were all dropped on the app at the same time. I’m all for the practice of watching episodes week-by-week, but at the expense of Cartoon Network’s insane schedule changes, I’m glad we were always left with satisfying bunches in return.

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“Satisfying” is a term I throw around a lot when describing this season, and I think most of the credit is due to the fact that this season had not one, but two miniseries(es)! Islands and Elements are easily two of the greatest accomplishments that Adventure Time has ever pulled off, and showing just how successful the show can be when telling a dedicated and ongoing story. Stakes was the first attempt at practicing this method, though I like how Islands and Elements are way more incorporated into the main story, while Stakes was (for the most part) standalone. Also, unlike StakesIslands and Elements are actually good. I’m anticipating many, many death threats for that statement. I could talk about Islands and Elements more here, but it’d be less redundant if y’all just checked out my individual reviews of both of them if you haven’t already!

It is weird talking about this season without including the miniseries(es), but there is one, main ongoing story outside of these individual arcs: Fern’s inception. As I’ve mentioned before, Fern is one of my favorites. I think his stellar design and portrayal, coupled with his compellingly tragic story, really makes for one of Adventure Time‘s strongest secondary contenders. Even though he was only fleshed out in the course of four separate episodes (with some minor bits of characterization in both Islands and Elements) it’s really easy to get behind his story because of how recognizable he is. He’s essentially Finn if things went horribly, horribly wrong everyday of his life. It’s even more fittingly appropriate that (originally) Season Eight begins with Fern’s arc in Two Swords and closes out his role as a unlikely hero in Three Buckets. Thankfully, we’ll see more of the little weirdo later on in Season Nine!

Finn is the primary star of this season, with both of the miniseries centering mainly around him and his story. Both of them feature some of the most emotionally charged tales featuring our main hero to date, namely his origins and his loving connection to his brother. Though Finn steals the spotlight most of the time (rightfully so) everybody gets a chance to shine in their own compelling way. Princess Bubblegum continues to battle with her own identity and individual power in both High Strangeness and Jelly Beans Have Power, Jake struggles to cope with the changes and stress in his life in Cloudy and Abstract, Marceline comes to terms with her own repressed emotions in Ketchup, BMO learns to appreciate his real-life connections above all in Imaginary Resources, Susan’s arc FINALLY is restored as of Islands, while Elements features LSP’s unlikable personality actually benefiting the world for once, Ice King experiencing a sense of self-actualization, and Betty going bonkers. The only characters within the main crew that don’t really get to do much are Flame Princess and Lady Rainicorn. Flame Princess gets a big role in Happy Warrior, but she doesn’t really get a chance to shine in full form since she’s altered by the elemental effects. Lady Rainicorn had her swan song in the self-entitled Season Seven episode, though she has some nice moments in The Invitation and Abstract. Even though half of the season is encompassed by Elements and Islands, the other lovely citizens of Ooo still get a great chance to shine in the other 16 episodes.

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The teams this season were pretty stellar all around, but I have to give special props to Sam Alden. He worked with a total of THREE different storyboard artists throughout the run of this season, and his work always stands out as top notch. Alden started out being easily glanced over during his time with the incredibly out-there Jesse Moynihan, but he’s really come into his own the past two seasons by having an recognizable style, a strong focus on passionate characterization, and a heavy emphasis on studying the works and tactics of his peers. Tom Herpich and Steve Wolfhard dish out their usual atmospheric treats, with slightly less classics than previous seasons. Seo Kim and Somvilay Xayaphone don’t have a single bad entry this season! Granted, they worked on some of the weaker miniseries episodes, but they also spearheaded one of the best – Bespoken For! Hanna and Aleks worked on episodes that were mostly good, with a heavy emphasis on mostly. And per usual, uncle Graham Falk stopped by on occasion to offer his delightful zaniness. There’s definitely less of a focus on new staff members, with a couple exceptions, namely Laura Knetzger, Polly Guo, and Charmaine Verhagen. It really helps to nail the notion of stronger character portrayals and longterm story arcs by having mostly veterans take the helm this time around.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. High Strangeness – Bizarre and potent, this one is the best Tree Trunks episode to date, and another compelling look at PB’s inner doubt.

4. Bespoken For – A brilliant tease for lore that ends up being a hilarious day in the life of Ice King, and also a very depressing day in the life of Betty Grof.

3. Do No Harm – A terrific back-to-back exploration of both Finn and Fern’s characters, and one that’s both beautiful in the art and sound department.

2. Cloudy – A beautiful celebration of Finn and Jake’s relationship.

1. Min & Marty – AT‘s storytelling at its absolute best, giving us one of the most compassionate, and most heartwrenching, tales of Finn’s past to date.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Slime Central – Man, this one isn’t even bad! I just didn’t know what else to put at the fifth spot. I guess it’s just kind of surface level entertainment, but in the same sense, it is entertainment.

4. Hero Heart – Again, I guess it’s a little slow, but ehhh, I still enjoyed it??

3. The Light Cloud – I think its message is slightly problematic, but again, it has some really great moments! I actually enjoyed this one more than the previous two, but since I have clear problems with it, I ranked it slightly higher.

2. Wheels – In the risk of sounding redundant, I did enjoy this one! It has a lot of funny moments and competently animated scenes. Buuuut, it also features Jake at his absolute worst on the parental front, and considering that this is the last “Jake and his kids” episode to date, that rubs me slightly the wrong way.

1. Fionna and Cake and Fionna – The only actual bad episode this season, and booooy is it bad. A completely pointless and joyless entry that messes with the fabric of Adventure Time‘s world as a whole.

Final Consensus

If my “Top 5 Worst” list was any indication of the quality of this season, it should show why it’s personally the best in my opinion. It really feels like a huge passion project from the AT crew to try and give fans exactly what they want without it feeling gimmicky or unwarranted. Season Eight is fanservice in the best way necessary, focusing on closing doors that have been open for far too long, while also opening new ones along the way. It’s some of the best storytelling the series has ever told, and certainly the peak for the show in general. Not to say Season Nine is bad, but it’s an… interesting beast. And I look forward to tackling it head on shortly!

“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.

 

“Skyhooks II” Review

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Original Airdate: April 24, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard

Something that sets Skyhooks II apart from its predecessors The Dark Cloud and The Light Cloud (aside from a pretty lazy name) is that this miniseries finale focuses less on the idea of absolute closure and instead, in typical AT fashion, opens the floor up for even more questions. It only makes sense that such a huge and drastic change to the Land of Ooo is not met with an immediate resolution on all levels. Skyhooks II directly affects the remainder of the series in several different ways, making it feel perhaps the most important and crucial miniseries storywise. It also helps that the finale itself is thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking.

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The episode starts off right where the previous episode left off, as an endangered Finn is saved by the newly heroic LSP. It’s actually news to me that the “Bon Bon Ballad” that PB sings is NOT a pre-existing licensed song. I always thought that it, along with the other songs featured in Elements, were ripped directly from outside sources. But it’s not, and hey, it’s pretty catchy! I also love how PB’s horrifyingly strong powers are combatted by just how sweet and pleasant she is. For all of AT‘s straight-up villainous characters like Oragalorg, Hunson, and the Lich, it’s profound to me that one of the toughest baddies that the boys, and all of Ooo, have been up against is menacing in her own sweetness.

Even more fittingly contradictory is that one of Ooo’s most powerful heroes is the disinterested and self-absorbed LSP. Per usual, her behavior throughout this miniseries continues to amuse me. I love that the power within her to potentially save the world could have stopped things a lot sooner if she had just listened to her parents for once. Kinda reminds me of Lemonhope, in a way – you have these two prophetic beings who just want absolutely nothing to do with what they were prophesied to be. Aside from verbal humor, this is also a pretty decent visual episode as well. Steve Wolfhard boarded this one entirely on his own, being the second he’s done solo since Graybles 1000+, and it looks pretty great. Love LSP’s hand sinking into her cheek as she gushes over Michael by the fire.

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On the other side of things, Betty has lost her fucking marbles. After building her up as semi-competent throughout the run of ElementsSkyhooks II throws that all out the door in order to show off her true nature: a hopeless romantic who is destined on preventing any tragedies in her life and others, even if it means preventing the Mushroom War as a whole (even Prismo and Cosmic Owl are shocked!) Betty’s plight is hugely similar to Magic Man’s that we saw in You Forgot Your Floaties, as we watch her go to extreme lengths in order to be reunited with the one she loved, even if that means altering the world as we know it. While MM’s role in that episode was certainly sympathetic, Betty’s role in Skyhooks II is definitely more tragic, or it at least feels that way. Betty’s obviously insane, but you can’t really blame her for being insane either. The man she once loved has turned into a decrepit, goofy, old man, with absolutely no logical solutions in sight. That’s enough to turn anybody insane, and Felicia Day does an absolutely stupendous job at capturing both the madness and sadness that lives inside Betty.

But, something amazing happens during the run of this episode that has changed my perspective on Ice King as a whole. While Betty has a great sympathetic role, Ice King has an even greater one. Up to this point, I’ve been pretty supportive for Ice King’s “cure” that would ultimately revert him back to his former self because I always saw Ice King as an alternate version of Simon. But then, we get this brilliant line that really picked at my brain:

“Lady, this Simon sounds cool, but I’m Ice King! I guess I’m a special person, and I am worthy of respect.”

Ice King’s charm and charisma has always come from this fact that he’s a lovable, creepy goof, but this line alone humanizes him more than the series ever has. Ice King is an individual, he is his own person, and he is not Simon. So, with that in mind, is it really ethical on any level to “save” Simon if it means erasing Ice King? The IK, while occasionally harmful, is still very much a socially conscious person who is susceptible to all of the privileges that any other living being has, such as personal growth and self-actualization. Since Holly Jolly Secrets, the mindset I have always had is “it’s so sad what happened to Simon,” but now, if Simon were to be restored to his former self, my thought process would change entirely to “it’s so sad what happened to Ice King.” The show has really done it’s damnedest to add as much empathy to not only Simon’s character, but also Ice King’s, throughout the past few seasons. Even with an episode like I Remember You, which I LOVE, Ice King is kind of viewed more as a plague than someone to be celebrated. Skyhooks II acknowledges that, yes, the loss of Simon is sad, but at least we got Ice King out of it, and despite his shortcomings, he deserves respect like anyone else. Not only is this terrifically represented through IK’s line alone, but also the explosion that destroys his bespoked suit, exposing his classic blue moomoo and the return of his crown. It feels like a final, definitive statement that Simon is gone (for now) and that Ice King is here to stay, and that’s okay too! Elements has been a truly profound experience for the ice man.

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As we return to PB’s sweet-pocalypse, it’s especially fitting that Patience St. Pim once again chooses to freeze herself instead of dealing with the consequences and her mortality at hand. Similar to Betty, Patience is still unable to deal with the changes and transitions in the world around her, and this time it was her own doing. As AT has shown time and time again, history repeats itself, and Patience may never learn to accept her own fate. History repeating itself is also humorously shown in Ice King’s behavior; even after all of the growth and development he’s experienced, he still can’t seem to remember who in God’s name Betty is. Betty will never forget her Simon, but Ice King can’t seem to remember a woman of whom he interacted with minutes earlier.

LSP’s “bullish” nature proves to be the most effective it’s ever been by changing the DNA of elementified Ooo citizens back to their natural states of being. Elements has already been jam-packed with characters prior, but Skyhooks II welcomes back a number of secondary characters, some of which we haven’t even seen before during this miniseries! Namely Bronwyn, James Baxter, Toronto, and Huntress Wizard. The real icing on the cake is watching BMO hold Fern’s hand, though. That shit melted my heart. It’s a pretty triumphant moment for LSP’s character, and even kind of wraps up her arc as a whole. The most cynical Adventure Time character is finally shown to be worthy for the exact reason that she was excluded for prior. There’s no LSP-centric episodes following Skyhooks II, probably just for time constraints, but it’s a decision I felt was most appropriate and satisfying.

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As I mentioned, Skyhooks II has several lasting cliffhangers: Sweet P.’s regrown horn, Ice King’s loose jewel, Jake’s… haircut, and Betty’s judgment from Normal Man. I always wondered how/why Betty ended up at Mars… was she transported there from the Enchiridion explosion, or did Normal Man transport her there personally? Either way, it’s clear that her tampering in chaotic magic has put her on trial for the same reasons MM was put on trial prior. The episode, and miniseries, closes with the revelation that Jake has reverted to his shapeshifter form (which again, is slightly gimmicky… why didn’t Fern revert to both the Finn Sword and Grass Sword? Why didn’t Gunther revert to Orgalorg?), but at least he’s reunited with his brother. Probably the most important thing that Elements has sought to accomplish, beyond its story, is the reinforcement of Finn and Jake’s strong bond with each other, and it pays off beautifully. Jake’s simple “I love you,” is irresistibly sweet, with clear compassion and sincere love in John DiMaggio’s voice.

So, that was Elements, and it was better than I remember! I always dug it, but its strong-points really do stand out as some of the best entries AT has ever put out. Next week, I’ll be taking a look at the miniseries as a whole. Islands and Elements took a lot out of me; two miniseries that I was hoping to get done by February ended up taking three months to complete. But, regardless, I’m eager to continue on as we enter in to the last leg of Adventure Time as a whole!

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Favorite line: “People say you shouldn’t live in the past! But I say, ‘Why not?’ I love it.”

“Hero Heart” Review

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Original Airdate: April 27, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone

Hero Heart is pretty base-level story stuff. Similar to Slime Central, it’s a perfectly enjoyable entry, but it doesn’t really stand out for a ton of different reasons like its predecessors. The summary for this one promises and all-out war between the Fire Kingdom and Candy Kingdom, but it’s a lot more small-scale in its execution and a bit middling at that. But, like the rest of Elements, it has its standout moments that range between thought-provoking and hilarious.

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Similar to its predecessors, Lumpy Space Princess is probably at her most likable. It’s funny to mean how little of her vanity comes out within this episode; Happy Warrior was all about showing how her self-absorbed nature in the brink of destruction can be really hilarious, while Hero Heart goes for a more poignant approach. I’ve said before that I think Seo Kim has a hidden talent for writing LSP at her absolute most sympathetic, and it really shines through in this entry. I found her line of “will I be the last witness to the glory of this world that I chose above all others?” pretty profound and lamentable. This line is made even more impactful when we realize that LSP’s happy place that keeps her grounded is her own home. LSP chose Ooo because it’s where she’s able to have freedom above everything else, but I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily been good to her. She’s been rejected, hurt, and now her entire world is falling apart around her. Her regrets are clear, but LSP is far too prideful to ever admit that she needs the support from her parents and her past home to get her by. But, regardless, this is where LSP spent her best days. She has the memories of simpler times to help her get through the worst of situations, and after years of her seemingly unnecessary resent towards her home world, this feels particularly satisfying.

In the same sense, it’s even sweeter that Finn’s “happy place” centers around his relationship with Bubblegum. I think there’s clear implications within this sequence that can easily lean on the more romantic side, but also in a more platonic sense. I get the feeling that Finn will always love PB no matter what, even if he’s not vying for her. He still has a deep affection for her, and even though he’s more than happy to continue through life without her as a partner, he’ll always be reminded of the soft, nostalgic memories of the innocent feelings he once felt for her. Similarly, it’s also easy to see how this happy place revolves around his shift from no longer burning for her and instead being able to connect with her in the most compromising way possible (the Pajama War clip easily infers this). I sort of lean towards the former as the more interesting option, but I think either is a really sweet reminder about how much Bubblegum truly means to Finn.

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There aren’t a ton of new character cameos in this one, but I’m perfectly fine with the returning players we got in return. It was fun to see Lemonpink and the Tree Fort gang again, and man, Tim Kiefer’s score is freakin’ stellar during their travels in the lemonade cart. I remember there was a ton of fans gushing over Marceline and Flame Princess interacting within this episode, but honestly, it just kind of distracted me by making me realize that we’ve never seen Marceline interact with Finn’s only girlfriend. Man, we missed an opportunity for some really cool wingman stuff, didn’t we? There’s other cool interactions going on throughout this one, like the return of Lumpy Space Princess and Marcy’s friendship that always seems to turn back up in Seo and Somvy entries. Ice King and Betty’s relationship is still really charming, even if Betty’s true desires arise by the end of the episode. Like I’ve said before, Elements really is a spectacle for Ice King at his most charismatic. He’s genuinely competent and likely the strongest survivor currently in Ooo. Coupled with the fact that he’s still the hilarious goof he’s always been… that brief shrug during Betty’s maniacal laugh was absolutely hilarious and definitely the biggest chuckle of the miniseries thus far.

Otherwise, Hero Heart mainly works as an opportunity to move the miniseries forward in several different ways: Lumpy Space Princess’s resistance to elemental powers, Betty’s betrayal towards Finn, and the inevitability of the Candy Kingdom’s rule over everything. It’s all enjoyable, but I don’t think it’s really worth talking about until the actual final chapter of Elements. We’re provided tons of hints, in typical AT fashion, but nothing that I can really dig into or analyze beyond their obvious implications. Hero Heart does leave us off on a horrifying and unsettling note, as the now transformed Candy People creep in to an unprotected Finn singing “Let Me Call You Sweet Heart.” It’s a terrifically terrifying close that transitions us into the grand finale of Elements, which surely feels like a grand culmination (and one big cliffhanger) off of everything we’ve gotten thus far.

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Favorite line: “I got, like, the morals and the charisma and the good looks, but I lack field experience!”

“Happy Warrior” Review

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Original Airdate: April 26, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Polly Guo & Sam Alden

The Elementified Fire Kingdom may just be my favorite of the four kingdoms we get to visit! I think it’s definitely the most interesting on a thematic level, without a doubt. While the Ice and Slime Kingdom’s environments were met with resistance and refusal from the boys, tendencies towards rage and anger are not as easily combated. I don’t know if anger is technically easier to fall into than sadness, but it’s definitely more tempting, especially when faced with Flame Princess’s history prior. FP’s initial development was centered entirely around her struggle between her own morality and her tendencies towards destructiveness. Here, Finn ends up going through the exact same thing, and it’s a lot of fun to see the little guy battle between his own abilities of self-control.

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I don’t know what it is about Lumpy Space Princess’s portrayal throughout this miniseries, but she’s waaay funnier than she usually is. I think it might have something to do with the fact that her lack of concern and self-centered nature is such a sharp contrast from the literal apocalypse that is going on around her that I can’t help but laugh. I typically don’t like when her self-absorbed nature is used strictly to inconvenience those around her, but I find her efforts to be, at the very least, charmingly destructive. Even when she’s shown to be destroying Finn’s phone, it’s only because she doesn’t want him to suffer from losing Jake. It’s kind of sweet in a somewhat aggressive way.

The Fire Kingdom looks AWESOME. The FK was already pretty chaotic and colorful in nature, so it’s really cool that, instead of choosing to expand on what was already in existence, the background designers went with something entirely different. Instead of being permeated with red and orange schemes, the Fire Kingdom goes for a more hushed, yet desolate blend of blue, white, gray, and black (along with the purple flame shield that really helps to make Finn, Gunter, and LSP pop!). Happy Warrior is also equipped with some more stellar cameos, and some of the most obscure yet, such as Fire Wyatt (who is just as whiny as ever) and the long awaited return of one of my favorite side characters, Flambo! The staff definitely had a lot of fun with the designs on this one, with Wyatt’s sick armor and Flambo’s overly-comical get-up. Of course, this episode also introduces my favorite of the elementified characters – Lady Flamicorn! Her design is just so rad, as her long-flowing hair has shifted into the blue flames that embody the majority of the kingdom. In general, it’s a really neat idea that they decided to take such a sweet character such as Lady and turn her into a vengeful beast – it’s probably the most drastic shift out of ANY of the AT crew. It’s also sweet how Finn considers Lady to be “like family.” Even after being downgraded to such a tertiary role within the series, Lady’s presence still feels significant.  There’s lots of great gags spread throughout these sequences as well. I’ve missed Gunther’s role as a simple temperamental penguin, and it’s a lot of fun to see his unpredictable nature in play. Of course, it raises the question as to why he was affected but Sweet P. wasn’t, to which I have two suggestions: 1. The Gunther that is featured here isn’t the same penguin that embodies Orgalorg. 2. I dunno, maybe the writing staff just didn’t think about it? The latter is a bit harsh, as it’s just another one of those gimmicky Elements moments that doesn’t really make a ton of sense, but is still fun and not entirely distracting in the long run.

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Cinnamon Bun also returns in this one, and man, I never get tired of some badass CB. The lines provided for him in this episode are too suave, and Dee Bradley Baker reads them off with such poise. It’s also just neat to picture Cinnamon Bun in such a position where he’s one of the last survivors during the collapse of society. From the guy who previously almost started a zombie apocalypse five seasons earlier, that’s a hugely impressive feat. He’s obviously not a full-blown hero like Finn, as he doesn’t attempt to necessarily fix anything, but his cold, detached, loner type self makes him all the more intriguing as a guardian and protector. He even managed to control an elementified Jake 2!

Like Bun BunHappy Warrior is riddled with tiny Finn and FP developmental moments. I love Finn reflecting on his past relationship with her knowing (or at least thinking) he could get through to her, while also acknowledging that he’s completely happy with having a platonic friendship that he worked so hard to achieve. LSP also has some great comic relief moments in feeling like an overly invested member of the fandom, as she hounds Finn about Flame Princess and repeatedly addresses anything that is happening as it’s happening. Somewhat reminiscent of Padparadscha.

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Flame Princess’s dragon form is also pretty dope in its uniqueness. While PB, Patience, and Slime Princess all have undergone minor design changes to where they are still recognizable, FP’s shift is the most drastic and most complex. It’s quite profound to me that Finn, who has done a terrific job at managing his anger and rage throughout the run of the episode, is only transformed into a beast after his plans to save Jake are ruined. Elements really has to be the best Finn-Jake arc of the entire series, as it really does its best at showing us just how much Finn and Jake care for each other in various different ways. Finn’s able to stay calm and caring, but once his brother is messed with, he’s unable to suppress the rage within him.

LSP’s method of getting the attention of every fire person is quite funny, but I also found it to be slightly sad for some reason. I thought her question of “why isn’t everyone more like me?” felt like an inquiry of desperation more than anything. LSP has been rejected time and time again (and just recently in Slime Central) and I feel as though this was of an implication of her failure to relate to others more than anything. Of course, I could be reading way too far into things, but we wouldn’t have a blog if I didn’t, now would we?? The ending leaves off on a cliffhanger that of course follows through in the very next episode. Not much to say about it here, aside from the hilarious mention of “Wyatt?” as LSP calls out to her friends.

Happy Warrior is fun and visually stunning. Certainly the best looking episode of the bunch (though not by much!) and just as equally hilarious and interesting. As I said, I really dig the back-and-forth between chaos and control that Finn experiences within this episode, and LSP provides some much needed comic relief between the sections of rage and terror. Also, with its terrific cameos and characterization, it’s one of the strongest of the miniseries, and definitely one of the most enjoyable at that.

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Favorite line: “My wolf is also a loner. We are both loners!”

“Slime Central” Review

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Original Airdate: April 26, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Hanna K. Nyström & Aleks Sennwald

Though it’s presented as one, continuous story, Elements could easily be separated into two parts, with its second half feeling different in its goals of storytelling. Slime Central introduces Lumpy Space Princess as a major player of this miniseries, and wow, it feels like forever since she’s gotten a chance to shine! I’ll be honest, I was a bit perplexed and somewhat put off by the idea of Elements turning into an LSP based developmental story, but time has treated these next few episodes exceptionally well. I genuinely dig her role in the miniseries, and think it may provide for her best role in the series to date.

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The warped Slime Kingdom can be best described as gorgeously ugly. So much detail was put into making it as phlegm-y and nauseating as possible. Slime Central cleverly doesn’t rely entirely on the grossness of its landscape, however, as a majority of the episode takes place within an illuminated roller skating rink, covered in lovely shades of aqua and green. As expected, it looks terrific, and really takes advantage in making beauty out of obscenity.

Tying in with each elemental theme, Slime Central also has fun with its atmosphere of vivaciousness by turning the episode into one, big party. I will say that this is probably the weakest of the environments explored on a tonal level. Candy is delightfully creepy, ice is irresistibly moody, fire plays around with the concept of self-control, while slime is limited to being a mildly fun romp. It may be just a touch overcrowded with character cameos as well; I loved seeing DJ Elder Plops in action, but Party Pat and Breakfast Princess are two characters of whom I don’t care much for that take up a good portion of the spotlight. Though, the dance sequences featuring them are pretty solidly choreographed and fun regardless, so it isn’t too much of a bother. The gimmicky names are once again enjoyable, with probably my favorite being “Spurtle Princess.” That just sounds all kinds of repulsive. Slime Princess’s design in general is a lot of fun, being adapted from a previous sketch created by Steve Wolfhard, and the idea of assimilation is another horrifyingly ludicrous concept to be added to the overall mayhem of the Elemental world. What happens when Slime Princess runs out of party folk, anyhow?

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LSP’s role within this episode is decently sympathetic. I like how her passion to join the boys is fueled by her ultimate failure to conform to the standards of others. It always proves to be sad to me when LSP is rejected not because of her behavior, but because she’s genuinely looked upon as a lesser person. It’s equally fitting that a slime version of the raccoon from Be Sweet is there, reinforcing Lumpy Space Princess’s negative self view and inferiority.

The dance battle is lots of fun; I can’t remember the last time Jake’s love for viola music has played a part in the actual story of an episode, so this was a delightful surprise. LSP and Finn’s dancing is equally enjoyable. Despite the fact that their relationship is most commonly associated with LSP practically raping the little guy, I always do find that bit of charm in their chemistry: I think Finn has evolved and changed to the point where he doesn’t really consider LSP to be one of his close friends anymore, but still considers her an acquaintance, while LSP still puts all of her raw passion and emotion into her relationship with him. This is clearly portrayed in their bombastic routine, which ultimately ends up backfiring, without directly inconveniencing our main heroes. Finn ends up getting exactly what he needs, but sadly cannot save Jake in the process. I mentioned how Cloudy was essentially a standalone episode that didn’t tie-in to the events of Elements all that much, but Finn losing Jake is certainly more devastating after following their reassurance that they would get through this situation together. Finn’s reaction hits hard, even after being separated from his bro several times in the series thus far, and makes for a thoroughly compelling arc that carries through the rest of the miniseries.

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Slime Central is admittedly a little bit bare bones. It’s fun and enjoyable, but there’s not a ton provided for me to feel as though it’s worth a deep analysis of character and story moments. It’s definitely one of the more forgettable Elements entries, though again, not for any specific negative reasons beyond the fact that it just isn’t as interesting as its sister episodes. A passable entry, but nothing too impactful or funny to chew on.

Favorite line: “The crowd-pleasing climax where the beautiful underdog gets the hunk. Rom-com style!”

 

“Cloudy” Review

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Original Airdate: April 25, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Graham Falk

I sometimes question myself about why Adventure Time is my all-time favorite series at the moment. I could name a couple of reasons off of the top of my head, but I think the simplest reason that has always kept me coming back no matter what is the earnestness of Finn and Jake’s relationship. Even the best of friendships in animation (and television in general) can often feel so tacked on or situational. Most shows feature friendships that are highly interchangeable given the conflict of the episode; characters like SpongeBob and Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants or Stan and Kyle from South Park can be as close as possible in one episode and be at each other’s necks in the next. Other cartoons often rely heavily on the “opposites attracting” formula by creating relationships that feel potentially phony or heartless (Regular ShowFoster’s HomeRick & Morty). This isn’t a personal attack on any of these dynamics or programs, as a handful of them succeed specifically because of the uniqueness of each relationship. However, it’s refreshingly revolutionary that Adventure Time has crafted a friendship so genuine and undoubting. Finn and Jake might be the least cynical best friends I’ve ever witnessed. That’s not to say that they don’t have their differences, but it’s their deep understanding and acceptance of those differences that makes them so lovable. Cloudy is a way to explore those obstacles in their relationship while reinforcing how it strengthens their bond as a whole. It’s an episode that former creative director Patrick McHale initially came up with seven years earlier during the first season, where Finn and Jake would “get stuck up in the sky and just talk for the whole episode; relationships, Finn’s past, Jake’s dog side, where their lives will lead, singing songs, etc.” Elements finally allows for that story to see the light of day, and it makes for one of the most delightful viewing experiences I’ve ever had with Adventure Time.

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As a result of their restless adventuring, Finn is understandably wired. The little guy wants to do anything and everything he can to support his friends in the process of saving Ooo, likely as a result of a deeper feeling of guilt that he has been experiencing since he returned home. His efforts to help are admirable even if they are slightly obnoxious… I can’t help but feel so sorry for the little guy as he tries his hardest to be as generous as possible when explaining the science of page turning to Betty. Betty, in general, has a lot of really great comedic moments within this episode, courtesy of Felicia Day actually putting effort into her performance. Finn’s curiosity about graduate school was similarly hilarious, and you can’t really blame the kid for thinking about what’s on all of our minds. Jake, like the good big brother he is, identifies Finn’s need for unwinding, and carefully handles the situation. It’s adorably sweet that Jake putting Finn to bed is accompanied by the tune of their mother’s music box. It’s a terrific symbolic piece regarding how the positions within the dog family have changed; Margaret was, of course, the primary caretaker of the family, but now Jake has circumstantially taken over in ensuring his brother’s uttermost safety and peace of mind. I love how motherly Jake is in his actions, as he doesn’t even ask Finn if he needs to rest, he just knows that he does and sweetly aides his comfort.

Pat McHale was credited as a story editor for Cloudy, but I’m somewhat surprised that he wasn’t acknowledged as a straight up storyboard artist. The first few minutes of Finn and Jake being lost are nearly completely identical to McHale’s initial notes and boards for the planned season one episode. Though a lot has changed over the years, it’s amazing to me how well these moments work seven years later. While Finn and Jake have gone through many personal transitions, one aspect remains unchanged: the silliness and love for fun that the two so passionately bond over. The gliding is sweet fun even if it entirely contradicts Finn’s valid point of “No planes! Never planes!” in Normal Man. Even the pee joke, which could commonly be seen as a lazy attempt at potty humor, is just so charmingly silly. I love how an impatient Finn still respects Jake’s privacy enough to allow him to do his business even in their time crunch. Though, as that patience quickly resurfaces, Jake realizes he needs to dig deeper into his caretaker role. Finn has been mostly independent throughout the past few years, dealing with issues that Jake personally does not understand. Jake has always been there for proper comfort, but over the past few weeks, he’s experienced Finn’s stressors head-on, and see’s it as an opportunity to allow the lad to learn the importance of self-care. And nothing says self-care like a haircut!

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The haircut therapy is great; not only do I love the implication that Jake used to cut his brother’s hair as a child, but that it also allowed a younger Finn to let his feelings and emotions out in a calm and relaxed environment. The barber banter is too likable, and the best part is that it actually does work. Finn’s melancholy over his departure is deeply sympathetic. We’ve been shown on several occasions now just how hard Finn can be on himself in episodes like Don’t Look and Do No Harm, and this is another example of Finn weaving a narrative that simply does not exist. It’s a strongly profound statement for Finn to wonder if he purposely wanted Fern to fail in appointing him as Ooo’s protector, but that clearly is not true. Finn deserved to be selfish in choosing to visit Founder’s Island, as it gave him a better understanding of himself and his past history. Yet, it’s easy to see how he could believe that he’s ultimately at fault for what happened, even if it’s clear that one person could not have prevented an entire environmental shift. The haircut therapy allows for Finn to get these feelings out in the open, but ultimately doesn’t prevent himself from feeling any less responsible for fixing Ooo’s current state. His resistance to allowing himself to relax is ultimately what breaks Jake, in another role reversal that allows for Finn to take care of his brother for once.

Never have we gotten a moment where Jake is as open as he is in Cloudy, and it’s awesome and perfectly fitting for his character. It’s easy to look upon Jake as non-caring because of his upbeat and lax personality, but it’s these traits in particular that prove just how caring and responsible he is. In nearly all of his relationships, Jake feels responsible for being the one to keep things light and positive so that others are not negatively affected by his own or their own anxieties. It’s once more very easy to look at him from a parental role, as he feels that he needs to be this way, instead of wanting to be this way. It makes me really admire past episodes like Dungeon Train, where we have those smaller moments of Jake pondering his own life that really put into perspective how much he gives and puts other people before himself, namely Finn.

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It’s also just incredibly sad to wonder how many and which worries Jake keeps hidden completely. It’s easy to see how these feelings could reflect his own insecurities as a father, again, making an episode like Ocarina more understandable from Jake’s perspective. Jake isn’t dumb – he probably knows that Kim Kil Whan resented him for his lack of knowledge on parental abilities, but didn’t want to fully confront that fact and keep things light and amiable between the two. This episode proves, without a doubt, that Jake is much better at parenting than one could ever guess. Through caring for Finn, Jake has taken on a position of responsibility that he himself may not even recognize, and it’s incredibly sweet to see just how much he loves Finn and cares for his own well-being. What this episode also cleverly explores is how, at a certain point, caretakers need care too. It’s obvious that Finn deeply cares for his brother, but Jake’s revelation opened up a side of him that was completely foreign to Finn. Finn’s new understanding is represented beautifully through the reversal haircut therapy, which shows that he can take on his brother’s role quite nicely. If all of this wasn’t precious enough, the two reenact the intro as Jake climbs up Finn’s body to properly pay him for his haircut. This episode could essentially be named “Finn & Jake” for how perfectly it embodies the heart of their friendship.

Even the song, which isn’t technically a good song, is just so likable and charming that I couldn’t help but have a dumb smile on my face throughout its entirety. Rewatching it almost brings me to tears! With Adventure Time‘s finale being six months old by now, Cloudy really has me longing for the simplistic loveliness of Finn and Jake’s bond. Their song is so irresistibly sweet and likable that I don’t even mind that it doesn’t match the lyrical genius of some of AT‘s past entries. This is another one of those episodes where nearly every line of dialogue is perfect in its subtleties. Jake’s line of “it happens sooner than you think,” when Finn mentions being 35 is so utterly poignant. It’s a brief tie-in to Jake’s rapid aging, but also a great allusion to how a life of peace and positivity can often move so fast beyond our control. It’s even a bit of a sweet sentiment for viewers of the series as well. I started Adventure Time as a young, energetic 12-year-old, and now I’m here writing about as a 21-year-old with so, so much that has happened in between. My balls hadn’t even dropped yet when I started! Life moves fast, y’all! And, just for a random bit of appraisal, I love Jake’s impression of stereotypical Italian man. It’s such an out of nowhere gag that just works wonderfully.

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The climax of the episode is a ton of fun; I love how, even after we’re shown how loving the brothers are, they still get to engage in some likable and light banter, particularly with Finn’s jabs at Jake being smelly. The Cloud Lard was a nice edition to the ongoing lard species, and they add plenty of AT‘s bizarreness to his character, like his eventual ability to speak. While returning back, F&J seek comfort in the fact that, despite everything that has happened, they still have a chance to fix things. It’s a beautiful conclusive piece to their struggles, as they expressed them, learned to accept them, and now work to fix them. Ice King gets a small role in the episode, but it’s pretty fun and delightful at that. I love how Tom Kenny’s inflections can give Ice King the most random instances of humanity, like his small “ew” when the angler lard attempts to eat him. And of course, the haircut line was just the kind of hilariously corny joke to wrap up such an endearing episode.

Cloudy‘s brilliant. Not only does it carry across an atmosphere of what makes the series so lovable in the first place, but it’s one big love letter to the heart and soul of Adventure Time in general. This is an episode I’ve wanted to see since I first read about it in The Art of Ooo, and it did not disappoint. If I had to criticize any aspect of this episode, it’d probably be a technical aspect: I thought Jake’s facial expressions while blowing up could’ve been stronger. Graham Falk is usually great with silly and cartoony expressions, but dramatic faces are certainly not his forte. Otherwise, Cloudy is nearly perfect. While Elements is great in general, it’s most surprising that it’s greatest entry is almost entirely self-contained. It really shows how strong any episode can be when it puts our two lovable heroes at the forefront.

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Favorite line: “Talcum?” “Enough calm!”

“Winter Light” Review

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Original Airdate: April 25, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Laura Knetzger

Winter Light is all about showcasing the loomy-gloom of the newfound Ice Kingdom, and it does its damnedest to mirror that tone as accurately as possible. This one is sooo moody in its atmosphere, and I really dig it. Not only does it have a lot of fun with just how depressing this warped landscape is, but it also looks gorgeous. This is definitely the type of episode I admire for its atmosphere more than anything.

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The initial trek through the new Ice Kingdom is awesome; the entire scope of the ice dome itself feels so wide and vivid, making it really seem like this vast, desolate continent as opposed to a small community. Everything is masked with shadows and darkness, making even the silliest of Ooo’s creatures, like the Snow Golem and Iceclops, appear menacing and detached. Even in the more technically “light” scenes, the tone is still kept subdued and wistful. The Ice Fox’s version of “Blue Magic” is a song I’ve gradually gotten more invested in over time, and again, adds a haunting tone to the course of events at hand. Steve Wolfhard boarded the first half of this one and he excels at observational moments. In a similar essence to episodes like Graybles 1000+ and Mysterious Island, Finn and Jake merely exist as bystanders to soak in the various changes around them, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s what really helps knock this one out of the park on an atmospheric level, and really highlights the vast changes that have occurred since the boys’ departure. Elements takes its time quite appropriately in circumstances like this, allowing environment to be established before conflict and tension.

Though, there is clear tension within this episode, at the hands of Patience St. Pim. Her role in this miniseries always fascinates me; at first, it was something I felt somewhat disappointed and confused by. After the fun that was had with her character in Elemental, I expected more of the same over the course of eight episodes that would really give her character and huge personality a time to shine. We’re treated to a much different version of Patience here, however, though it’s one I’ve grown to really appreciate and admire over time. I think it’s really interesting how each elemental essentially embodies one main emotional state, with Flame Princess’s being anger, PB’s being bubbly happiness, and Slime Princess’s being her vivacious lifestyle. Of course, these characters are not limited to these traits; Bubblegum, while bubbly and sweet, is far from the wildly happy and calmed persona that we get to see throughout Elements. Yet, it’s still quite unique to me how sadness is the emotion that embodies Patience as a whole. Ice always seems to represent the least emotionally stable of characters, and it’s clear that their sadness is what drives them to the destruction of their own lives and others. Patience’s sadness stems from her inability to accept and deal with changes around her, as we’ve seen through her actions on multiple occasions. Winter Cloud shows us how following the instinctive clues of her sadness has only driven her into more sadness, which can really be a statement for magic users in the world of Adventure Time in general.

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Time and time again, magic has been shown to be utterly catastrophic in fixing the issues that only lead to more treachery. Patience is just one of those magic users, and she follows in the footsteps of so many other characters who have ended up making the same mistakes – trying desperately to alleviate the possibilities of disaster, but ultimately causing more damage and becoming absolutely paralyzed by madness and sadness in the process. “Blue Magic” is a great representation of this hastiness, and I think it’s especially powerful that Betty’s magic, combined with Patience’s efforts, are ultimately what brought the downfall of society. The parallels between the two are especially strong throughout the miniseries, and the climax of these eight episodes in general shows how such resistances to change happen like clockwork, and rarely ever provide positive results. Patience barely poses as a villain throughout the miniseries, but I think it’s rather potent that she’s so consumed by sadness and despair that she’d rather just watch the world die than even try to fix or ruin anything else. With so many villains bent on utter destruction in the world of AT, it’s unique to have a villain who has caused such irrepressible damage, but ultimately doesn’t care any which way what happens in the end.

Like most of the Elements episodes that precede this episode and come after it, Winter Light is chock full of great character moments. The dynamic between Ice King, Finn, and Jake has been practically absent since King’s Ransom, so it was really great to watch them all interact with each other once more. It’s hilarious to me that Ice King thinks that Finn views him as a best friend, but knows absolutely that Jake does not. This is another one of those shockingly self-aware Ice King moments that are just priceless to me. The IK’s pretty funny throughout this one’s run, including the overly long gag with Finn putting Jake’s sweater on. I remembered this joke going back into the rewatch, and I didn’t expect to find it funny, but it surprisingly got me – a really well-timed gag. I did think it was slightly strange that the two boys completely glanced over Ice King pushing Finn into unknown dangers, but that brief Rattleballs reference was probably worth the instance at all. I’m really digging Ice King’s Simonlike look as well, something that remains throughout the course of this miniseries.

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Finn and Jake’s relationship really thrives throughout the run of these eight episodes, and they share a lot of nice moments in Winter Light as well. Jake giving Finn his sweater, even if it means being susceptible to the side effects of the Ice Kingdom, was an adorably sweet move. It’s a nice metaphor that Jake will literally sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of Finn’s.  And Carroll returns in this one! Really didn’t expect to see her again, but I’m so glad we do. Her abrasive nature shines once more, as she quickly becomes another addition on my list of characters that should be really annoying, but strangely are not. Really dig the subtleties within her scenes as well, like the fact that her ice door will not remain sturdy throughout her prominent entrance.

Winter Light wraps things up by progressing the story forward, as Finn offers up the Farmworld Enchiridion to Betty (complete with the small music cue when it was first introduced in The Enchiridion! Nice touch!) and Betty lets out one confusing bout of laughter that begins bringing her actions into question. Winter Light is pretty small on moments that actually move the story otherwise, but its strength, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, is its atmosphere. There’s something both foreboding and strangely comforting about the freezing cold climate; a lot of this episode just reminds me of Bob Ross segments where he paints a snowy cabin for 20 minutes straight. While it’s a bit more dark and unforgiving than that, it’s really pleasant in its solemn nature, and provides for an enjoyably moody viewing experience to boot.

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Favorite line: “Everyone leaves except me. I remember father made me stay at the table until all the eggs were eaten.”

 

“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.”

“Skyhooks” Review

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Original Airdate: April 24, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Sam Alden & Polly Guo

Interesting aspect to note before I start this one off: Niki Yang is not listed anywhere in the end credits. How odd! I can’t think of a single other time I’ve noticed an error like this. Sorry Niki, you know we love your voicework.

Anywho, it’s Elements time! While Islands branded itself mostly as a big, emotional journey, Elements certainly taps into AT’s absurdity more than anything. This is definitely the weirdest miniseries of the three, but I don’t use that term to patronize it in any way. Elements still carries with it the strengths of its predecessors; it manages to feel like one big, grand adventure, and after coming straight off of the heels of Islands, I think it’s especially impressive. It might even rival Islands for best miniseries. But I’m getting ahead of myself… for now, we have Skyhooks! A simple, yet pretty enjoyable opening that works off of what made The Invitation just as enjoyable: stellar character interactions. Being introduced to the new entities that embody well-known characters is a ton of fun, and also comes with a surprising amount of weight that carries through in several different story arcs for the remainder of the series.

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Skyhooks is an episode that establishes itself very quickly while also taking its time in the process, which is pretty evident during the first few minutes alone. I like how the episode allows for moments where Finn and Jake are clearly realizing something isn’t right within Ooo. That slow pan of Jake walking is just as atmospheric as it is kind of haunting. The two boys are carelessly entering a completely warped version of their home without even (fully) realizing it. Finn, of course, has some idea of things going awry, as his observant self typically does, while Jake shuts him down. It’s pretty apparent that Jake notices these changes as well, but in typical Jake fashion, he would rather ignore the potential of dangerous truths and simply tries alleviate Finn’s worries in the process, like a good caretaker does.

Jake’s calming attitude can’t keep Finn at ease for long, as the discovery of the candified Tree Fort leaves the boys in utter awe. The candy versions of Fern, NEPTR, and Shelby are all just freakin’ adorable and look terrific. Really wish AT didn’t slow down on the merchandising front at this point in time, coz you know I’d totally splurge on Elementified versions of the crew. This is also, to my knowledge, the only time in the series the entire Tree Fort family is together in one place! Of course, they aren’t their usual selves, but it’s still an endearing thought regardless.

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The way the boys individually perceive their altered friends is a lot of fun. I love how Jake openly calls out how lame some alternate dimensions stories truly are; all I could think about was the particularly bland and uninteresting first few issues of the AT: Season 11 comic series. BMO’s strange fascination with his new surroundings (I’m assuming it’s mainly because it’s bright and colorful) is also really enjoyable, considering that he doesn’t once question anything. He’s also opined that he’s going to start treating NEPTR (er, NECTR) as an equal because of it, which is also a hilarious sentiment. Finn, as expected, isn’t as easily swayed by his new home and roommates. I like how the show doesn’t stray away from Finn’s more defensive side as he initially scolds Fern (er, Fun) for the damages left to his household, and Ooo in general. I don’t think Finn is necessarily upset directly at Fun, but I can imagine he’s entirely stressed out about what he allowed to have happened in his absence. Of course, it’s shown later that it’s almost lucky that Finn and Jake had stepped out at the time, but I can easily see how Finn would immediately jump to the conclusion that he fucked up for leaving his friends and former home in such a state. Though, once again, this doesn’t phase Jake.

The episode has a lot of fun with Finn and Jake’s dynamic in this episode, and I always like how the writers never single out Finn’s POV as the necessary “right” option. Jake does have a solid point: Fern is typically in utter turmoil, NEPTR lives a life of neglect, Lemongrab (who has now transformed into the somewhat more terrifying “Lemonpink) is, for once in his entire life, actually happy and sociable. It brings the main question at hand that is a recurring theme among the civilians of the Candy Kingdom in general: should people that do not want to change have to change? It seems like an obvious answer; Fern, Lemongrab, and many others should be allowed the free will that they aren’t necessarily given within their altered forms, and even though they are “happier,” they still aren’t living that way by choice, or even their own method of thinking. But again… they are happier, and that’s always the most difficult argument to battle with: is it better for people to be happy or self-aware? I don’t think it’s something that has to be mutually exclusive, but the happiness portrayed in Elements is clearly an extreme that needs to be addressed.

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The clear turning point of Jake’s perspective is when he recognizes the legitimate danger of the new Candy citizens. Sweet P., who has been gone for well over 50 episodes (surprised he doesn’t have a manlike, deep voice by now), is left without actual caregivers since Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig have been turned into utter nightmares. Granted, TT and Mr. P probably weren’t the best parents to begin with, buuuut they were marginally better than what was displayed here, and the desire to “change” anyone who does not fall into the social norms of the Kingdom is an upsettingly creepy concept. The cute and sweet cult-like environment of candified Ooo certainly isn’t an idea that’s exclusive to Adventure Time, but I think they handled it relatively well by knowing when to make things terrifying and when to keep things genuinely cute.

Speaking of genuinely cute, I love the inclusion of Finn mentioning his “late night bedtime calls” with Jake when he’s at Lady’s. It’s such a sweet notion. I can imagine half of those calls are just completely silent while Finn and Jake do some other kind of menial task, like play video games, cook food, or something else, but they just enjoy the idea of having each other there while they’re doing it. I love those bros. It does give me a bit of a sad though; I feel like Jake leaving his phone behind meant that he likely didn’t get any texts from his children, or at least as many as he was hoping for. Or, on a less sad note, maybe it’s Prismo. We do get to see him partying later on, so maybe Jake just ain’t his main squeeze for that type of stuff anymore.

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And, once more on the topic of adorable, I loooove Marshmaline’s design! Someone on Etsy actually whipped up a felt version of her, which looks absolutely lovely! Unfortunately it’s $70 and out of my minuscule pay range. If only I got paid in obscure AT merchandise for my blogging efforts. Anywho, the sequence leading up to Finn and Jake’s arrival on PB’s tower is serenaded by Marshy, who hums “Greensleeves,” or “What Child is This?” for the 90% of people who more likely know it by that name. Like most of these small, but prominent AT moments, this one has been up for several different interpretations. There’s a solid UncivilizedElk video on it, which kind of knocks my theory out of the park. I mostly saw it as a way to show Marshmaline’s disconnection from using music as an emotional platform. While the lyrical interpretations of “Greensleeves” lean on its message of heartbreak and desolation, Marshmaline hums the tune in utter euphoria. While sad tunes still seem to exist within the candified remnants of Ooo, it’s quite apparent that Marshmaline lacks the raw material and attitude to effectively embody these tunes as she used to. It’s simple, but I think it still holds up a bit.

Perhaps the most hilariously horrifying entity in Ooo is PB, who personifies a giant tower, and even has tiny, cute T-Rex arms to articulate with. Finn’s anger and disgust with PB is also apparent here, and I wonder if he truly recognizes that it isn’t actually her in the moment. To be fair, PB isn’t always the best in balancing logic with emotions, and has tried to build on the Candy Kingdom’s territory on more than one occasion. That anger could also be reflected at Finn’s ability to recognize the changes that PB has gone through in recent years to become a better person, and likely wonders if she’s truly decided to go back on her policies. It isn’t till Ice King comes to the rescue with his skyhooks (a nice callback to Elemental) that Finn and Jake truly recognize the severity of the dilemma that they’re experiencing.

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Couple nitpicks with this one, that might honestly be nitpicks aimed towards the miniseries as a whole: Finn and Jake are a bit negligent for the purpose of moving the story forward in this episode, to the point where they leave an unattended child in utter terror (Sweet P.) and their own child of whom they don’t really blink twice at over his loss. I get that there’s plenty of other people that Finn and Jake are close to that they also need to save, but I feel like BMO’s too close to the comrades to the point where they should be a bit more affected by completely forgetting about him. Only thing that resolves my issue with it is the idea that BMO really doesn’t give a fuck about being transformed to begin with, so maybe it was for the best at the time. Also, the whole idea that every elementified Ooo citizen now has a name that’s more appropriate to their state of being is a little gimmick-y. Who’s even giving them these names, and why are their forms always so coincidentally close to their name or identity? To harp on this would just show what a joyless, twisted person I am, so I really don’t have a legitimate complaint here. It’s gimmick-y, but enjoyably gimmick-y at that.

Otherwise, Skyhooks is pretty great! It’s not only another great showcase of solid character interactions, but also a great showcase for Ooo in general. So many various players within the Land of Ooo show up throughout this miniseries, it’s amazing! I don’t even think the finale was able to pull off such a feat. Skyhooks is also a visual treat as well, along with the seven episodes that come after it, making beauty out of the most horrid and twisted of situations. It’s a great and funny start to Elements that sets things up nicely.

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Favorite line: “Just sit tight there like a windowpane, and you’ll be back to normal like a windowpane.”