Tag Archive | Fern

“Come Along With Me” (Part 4) Review

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Original Airdate: September 3, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Sam Alden & Graham Falk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come Along With Me” (Part 3) Review

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Original Airdate: September 3, 2019

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

Enter GOLB. GOLB has been an element of curiosity ever since he debuted back in Puhoy, and for good reasons. Besides a bizarrely unique design, his true nature and role in the world of Adventure Time has only ever been alluded to – GOLB himself has never truly been put into action. Come Along With Me finally brings the enigmatic deity to centerstage in Act III, as a result of Magic Man, Betty, and Maja’s combined magic going haywire. As an antagonist, GOLB really isn’t all that unique or intriguing. He’s just kind of there as an ultimate beast to cause destruction throughout the Land of Ooo, but unlike a character such as the Lich, there really isn’t anything particularly intimidating about him beyond his gnarly design, as previously mentioned. He’s more of a plot device than anything. That being said, Part 3 of the finale is arguably the most entertaining. It’s a high-stakes, wild battle that never really takes a second to breathe. Every moment is filled to the brim with fights, carnage, and powerful character moments. It’s not necessarily that meaty or thought-provoking (though it has its moments) but it does provide enough excitement to take the bitter taste of the previous segment out of my mouth.

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Despite his failure to be a legitimately intimidating force on the Land of Ooo, I do enjoy the humor that encapsulates this first part, as everyone has their own unique perception on his arrival. Jake’s theory of GOLB being this big celebratory baby is another great example of him making the best out of a bad situation. Though this comedic instance alone does come with its own subtext – Jake mentions that they’re being congratulated because “they saved the day,” but again, the way the story actually played out doesn’t suggest that Finn and Jake were the ultimate saviors of the situation. Aunt Lolly just decided out of nowhere that she wanted to be on the side of the Candy Kingdom, and that’s what inevitably saved the day. I love my boys dearly, but it slightly angers me that this was written in such a way to glorify them instead of analyzing the actual events that went down prior. The following scenes do provide for less problematic entertainment, such as Fern’s little exchange with Flame Princess or Lumpy Space Princess’s selfie as the literal apocalypse occurs behind her. There’s even a nice little flashback that ties back into Simon’s fascination with ancient deities and the unknown. The more we learn about these interests of Simon’s, the more it shows how kind of unhealthy his obsessions truly were. His connection to the crown was initially played off as kind of an instant lack of control, but the passion he feels when talking about such subject material kind of suggests that he was partially willing to give up his sanity for the sake of exploration and discovery. The flashback is also hilarious as well. Betty full on chucks a glass jar at him. I can’t think of any normal person that would have done that. Those two are all kinds of crazy.

I mentioned the cool design and features of GOLB, and the other beasts that are featured in this episode are pretty neat in their own right. Backgrounder designer Jesse Balmer did most of the concept designs for the GOLB-fused beasts, and it really shows in how much raw detail their is in their designs. It is weird in the sense that I don’t really see GOLB as this beast who causes mayhem and ruin by the act of releasing beasts onto the world, more so in just erasing everything from existence. Buuut, in the same sense that it would be kind of boring if that was the case, so a few gnarly beasts along the way doesn’t really bother me much. This is actually the first time the Candy Kingdom Haters are seen on the battlefield and, as I harped on in Gumbaldia, they’re almost entirely useless. Not even a single one of them is given a designated voice role, but again, I’ve repeated myself a million times in saying that Gumbaldia‘s ending intended for more and that I can’t really blame the staff for excluding such an inconsequential subplot.

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As much of a shame that it is that Finn doesn’t really get any kind of ultimate heroic moment in the finale, it is nice that this part in the story shifts gears to focus more on Ice King’s role in the world. He’s pretty much the only major player that hasn’t gotten to do anything up to this point, and it’s both rewarding and kind of funny that the fate of the entire world rests in his hands. Whereas the first chunk of Act III mostly focuses on establishing the conflict with GOLB’s inclusion, the remaining half is chock full of a lot of stellar character moments that really make it feel like the grand finale it was hyped up to be. Some of the callbacks in Come Along With Me feel a bit too fanservice-y and contrived for my liking, but one of my favorites in this 44 minute chunk is Ice King singing “Oh Fionna” in order to get Betty’s attention. These last two seasons have really been knocking it out of the park when it comes to portraying Betty’s codependence. I love the day-and-night feel to Ice King singing this soft tune to lure Betty back into a state of comfort, only for that comfort to be swiftly pulled from under her as IK’s shrill vocals soil a genuinely touching moment. My favorite callback is also followed by one of, if not my ultimate favorite moment in the entire finale: Maja fucking exploding only seconds after she gains consciousness. I know there was a good chunk of people that were pissed about this, because this is Maja’s only actual appearance after the huge build up of Something Big, but it’s a grievance that I can ignore completely just because of how funny, absurd, and well-timed it is. It isn’t even acknowledged after the fact. I’m gonna be totally basic and reiterate what literally everyone has already said when referring to this moment, but – how’s that for poetic justice?

There’s plenty of other terrific callbacks on the battlefield – PB using her elemental abilities one final time (to no avail), Marceline channeling the power of the Vampire King that she gained in The Dark Cloud, and Jake’s eventual unleashing of his alien form. More characters do end up joining the battle, which feels… confusing? After Jake lands in an attempt to restrain the owls from the possessed Gumball Guardian, NEPTR is just suddenly on the battlefield out of scenic nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love NEPTR as much as the next guy, but how in the hell did he get involved in the battle? The episode cuts to him tossing pies not long after and it doesn’t even look like much is being done. I’m still not sure if it’s a continuity error that is bothersome or just surreally amusing. Like I said, though, it is nice to see the little guy getting a piece of the action. Everyone gets a chance to be in full hero mode – even Fern, with his badass line reading of, “I’ll defend Ooo down to my last blade.”

Buuuut, I’m just wasting time at this point. You all know what you’re waiting to hear me talk about. I’m sure half of you are hear specifically for this discussion. The kiss that took the world by storm…

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Lemongrab and Lumpy Space Princess! I love this hysterical callback to something that was clearly set up as a one-off joke in Normal Man. It’s awesome to finally see Lemongrab open to getting some with a girl who’s actually (?) into him. Hell, good for LSP too! Her love life hasn’t exactly been the most rewarding either. This feels like the only true satisfying conclusion for these dorks. This is truly a moment that fans have been waiting to see for years and years, and I’m glad the episode finally set things straight by showing their true feelings for each other. I hope you guys enjoyed that gag twist as much as I did in my head. 

But forreals, let’s get to the big shit. Come Along With Me finally comes out with (literally) the fact that Marceline and Princess Bubblegum are in a romantic relationship with each other. It’s been alluded to a million times, often in the most obnoxious of ways, but Come Along With Me throws all ambiguity out the window by having them full-on canoodle on screen. I’m gonna be 100% frank and say, with all of the cynical things I’ve said about their relationship in the past, I think this moment was handled in a really solid way. I even fanboyed a little the first time I watched, and I’m not even a Bubbline fan! As much as I get annoyed with how Marceline’s character has become dependent on her connection to Bubblegum, I do feel as though her transformation into the dark cloud following PB’s supposed “death” was quite touching. I do like how Marceline’s emotional outburst doesn’t only have to do with the fact that she lost PB, but that she’s always afraid of losing PB. Even after making up, they never truly resolved those underlying anxieties and fears that came with separating. The moments between Marceline and Bubblegum that I do enjoy are the ones that deal with their tumultuous past in an honest and convincing way, and don’t just boil them down to the lovey dovey duo. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about Bubbline essentially being “queer-bait,” though I don’t really think that’s essentially a fair judgement. We’re STILL in somewhat of a climate about kids’ entertainment tackling LGBTQ relationships, though it’s gotten considerably better, and I feel like the staff was simply doing what they could at the time while still forming a legitimate relationship between two characters. The past generation of animation was sooo involved in building up relationships between two friends that remained ambiguous for an extended period of time (Kim and Ron from Kim Possible, Danny and Sam from Danny Phantom, etc.) and this is a great subversion of the trope. So, essentially, the kiss is more build up from their long, hyped up connection, rather than it is a statement of “wokeness” (though I’m sure that played a part in it). Even if Steven Universe was making strides three years prior, I still feel like this development is somewhat of an accomplishment for LGBTQ media in children’s entertainment. There’s no longer the excuse of, “oh they’re just rocks they don’t have any gender lol,” this is flat out two female characters neckin’ each other. I don’t see it being queer-baiting as much as keeping fans on their toes for a romantic relationship that DID end up having its pay off in the end. This isn’t like The Legend of Korra, where the ending was left almost too ambiguous for it to even make sense; I do believe there is a genuine bit of satisfaction in this development. Even though I don’t consider myself a fan of Bubbline, I think the staff did a relatively solid job at helping their relationship to feel gripping and exciting for fans. Of course, I could take all of that back and complain about how Marceline’s only huge development in Come Along With Me is based around Bubblegum, and how she doesn’t really get to do anything else after this, but I’m getting ahead of myself. That is a discussion for another day in my character analysis.

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The other big development that Act III establishes is Simon finally regaining his sanity, as GOLB’s powers revert him back to his original state. This is both a huge achievement and kind of a disappointment; almost in the same vein as Bubbline, Simon regaining consciousness was a moment that needed to happen for how much it was built up over the years. But with all of the work that went into developing Ice King’s character as an individual, I can’t help but feel a bit dismissive about the fact that Ice King doesn’t really get his own moment of triumph for all that he’s accomplished over the years. This isn’t technically the end of Ice King, as we’ll discuss in the next episode, but IK, like Fern, is another character that was probably too well-written for his own good. Personally, I would’ve liked an ending where Ice King is fully accepted for who he is, as those who surround him come to terms with the idea that Simon is never coming back. But alas, I feel as though the staff felt almost obligated for this moment to happen because of how much fans wanted to see it happen. And I can’t blame ’em, I was pretty much in the same boat until Elements came along. The growth of Ice King’s identity as a character definitely complicated things for the long run, no matter how solid this growth was, and I’m not sure I can so much as criticize the choice as much as just to be disappointed by it. Though, I’m still kind of confused how GOLB works. Like, Simon is reverted to his past self, Betty just changes into to the turtleneck she wore in earlier episodes, and Finn isn’t affected at all. I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and ask, shouldn’t GOLB’s powers have reverted Finn’s arm back to normal? Now, don’t get me wrong, I would’ve gauged my eyes out if that happened a second time, but in this one instance, wouldn’t it actually make sense if it did occur? The entire nature of GOLB feels kind of janky with this in mind.

Speaking of Finn, I think the biggest flaw within Act III of Come Along With Me is the lack of Finn that I mentioned earlier on. Well, it’s not so much a lack of Finn as it is just the entire cast of characters seemingly ignoring him. He nearly gets Stakes levels of neglect here, being ineffective in almost every situation and being treated by others as somewhat of a nuisance. I know that other character arcs and stories kind of required attention here too, but damn, everyone seems to get this big heroic moment in this part specifically, whereas Finn feels like a tiny spec in the grand scheme of things. It’s even sadder to look back and see how little he gets to do in terms of heroism during the finale as a whole. The most noble thing he does is helping Fern to see the light, though that was even partially aided by Jake’s help. Come Along With Me feels like a solid wrap up for most characters, though Finn isn’t necessarily one of them, and I think that’s what’s most disappointing of all.

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Act III does end in a genuinely solid and dramatic way, as a handful of our main players are left completely pummeled at the hands of GOLB’s beast – except for Jake, who has enough energy to put up a decent fight for a bit, only to be faced with absolute devastation when the Tree Fort is destroyed. This moment hit me hard, and I think the sharp commercial break immediately after provides for added shock value. One of Adventure Time‘s biggest staples is destroyed in the blink of an eye, and it feels just as tragic as it was made out to be.

Even with its flaws in mind, I think Part 3 is definitely the most entertaining aspect of Come Along With Me. That’s not even necessarily to say it’s the best, but it definitely was the segment that engaged me the most and had me on the edge of my seat. At least, from the perspective of a first viewing. Lots of really nice character moments, a genuine sense of tension, and some solid callbacks along the way. It does everything to make Come Along With Me feel like a true finale… if only Finn was able to join in on that fun, though.

We’re on the verge of the end, my friends! The review of Act IV will be releasing next week, followed by a consensus of the finale overall, and then further updates from there. I’ve kept quiet about Distant Lands and a lot of post content so far, but stay tuned! There is a plan in effect that will allow for plenty of new reviews, analyses, and discussions throughout the end of the year and 2020!

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Favorite line: “They’ll be talking about this fight for years! And by “they,” I mean BMO and Shelby.”

“Come Along With Me” (Part 2) Review

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Original Airdate: September 3, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

The dream realm has always been a big part of Adventure Time, and it only makes sense that the grand finale would also pay tribute to the show’s most notorious fetish. Part 2, boarded by Somvilay Xayaphone and Seo Kim, is possibly the most visually interesting of its sister pieces. Aside from a stellar array of Ghostshrimp backgrounds, this section of the episode also cleverly plays around with its imagery to stress the similarities between Gumbald and PB and also Finn and Fern. This is definitely the kind of trippiness I did want to see from the finale, and on some aspects, it does succeed. In its execution, however, I think it drives a problematic cause into the main story of this conclusion.

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I don’t know if the beginning of this section is subject to criticism or just legitimate questions, but how did Finn know what would happen after igniting the nightmare juice? There’s no way Nightmare Princess was of any help describing it, and it doesn’t look as if there was a description of any sorts. For all Finn knew, it could have nuked the fucking planet. I guess it played into the surprise element of not knowing what was coming next, buuut, a little bit of context would’ve made this feel a little less like a deus ex machina.

Though not primarily associated with dream themes, it is fitting that Somvilay’s last co-board revolves around the unconscious realm, seeing as how he had such a large part in Adventure Time‘s first full-length nightmare, King Worm. There are some fun, trippy bits right off the bat, like the singing poodle that helps to take weight off of the situation at hand or the chimney containing a presumably dead Jake, with a sign that reads, “laff it off!” There’s also quite a few awkwardly executed moments that don’t really work either. The exploding poodle that blinds everyone except Gumbald isn’t presented in a visual way that it actually feels blinding. The color and light stays stagnant and contained at the center of the screen, and it doesn’t convincing feel like it’s as bright as the characters react. I know this seems like a really small, insignificant aspect to harp on, but it is yet another example of the lack of direction that seems to be a staple of Somvilay’s boarding. Similar to the lifeless way Finn’s friends bang on a force field containing him in Seventeen, the gang covers their eyes for the purpose of Gumbald running away, and as he’s about to escape, they all cease covering their eyes, only to blankly stare at him while he delivers a speech about how he’s going to get the upper hand. I’m certainly being overly critical towards a moment like this, but in the finale of the series, and the final board of one of Adventure Time‘s longest-running storyboard artists, I’d also expect more.

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Fern being ditched by Uncle G. is definitely his own way of experiencing first hand how Finn felt when being ditched by his own maker, though I don’t really think it’s played off as the emotional moment it truly could’ve been. Fern’s pretty much lost everything by this point, and you think instead of comically transforming into a pterodactyl (which was admittedly awesome, thematic aspects aside), it would be built into some genuine turmoil. Though, the sweet grass boy does get a handful of nice one-liners here and there, such as, “I’m gonna fly around and wreck things until I feel better! Or at least until I tire myself out.” He really is just the emo equivalent of his counterpart, because that could also come straight out of Finn’s mouth as well.

Jake’s role in the episode is both funny, and somewhat frustrating. It’s frustrating because he exhibits Jake the Dog levels of neglect for his brother. Jake spends a large portion of the first half of the episode dicking around while his bro is in peril. What happened to the Jake a mere episode earlier that curb-stomped the fuck out of Fern for messing with his bro? It is made up for in that Jake helps deliver the solution to Finn’s problems, but the overly cheerful dog with Jermaine at the beginning of the episode goes a bit too far in demonstrating his clueless bliss. It is also justified partially from a humor perspective, I do really get a laugh out of Jake’s concern about getting fired from his imaginary job as Finn asks for help. Seeing as how PB and Gumbald later end up being altered by the dream realm, I suppose it could be argued that it had an effect on Jake’s psyche as well.

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In fact, we actually do get the most “deep” look into Jake’s inner fears with his nightmare-fueled children. The scenes with the pups denouncing Jake’s farts are mostly played for laughs, but I think there is something of substance under the gag itself. Jake values the respect of his children more than anything, and has many underlying anxieties about his role as a father. It’s silly, but also understandable why this triggers such a sensitive part of him. Along with the fact that his children are literally being cooked before him. Best visual gag of the episode officially goes to baby Kim Kil Whan in a hot dog bun. I should note that Jermaine does take on a secondary role in this section, though it’s pretty unremarkable. Not that it’s really even supposed to be the real Jermaine anyway, but a mere reflection of Jake’s subconscious. His presence did serve for one sweet moment – the revelation that balloon animals used to cheer Finn up when he was a child. It’s a small moment, but really adorable to dwell on, especially with Jake’s added look of nostalgia following the exchange.

Perhaps the most well-executed part of the episode is the most surprising: I thought the scenes featuring the swap between Gumbald and Bubblegum’s roles were really well done. I don’t necessarily think that these few minutes alone reconcile for an onslaught of really boring and unremarkable Gumbald moments, but they certainly provide for something to chew on in terms of his ultimate motivations. Bonnibel Bubblegum painted him to be this super uninteresting schemer whose main drive was greed above all, but Come Along With Me takes the previous episode’s intentions further and continues to drive home the underlying similarities between Gumbald and his niece. Although his initial motivation of building apartment buildings in the aftermath of a literal apocalypse was inconceivably stupid, it really is just one part of his vision, of which PB ultimately didn’t have right off the bat either. Gumbald wanted to create his own slice of home where he, and those around him, could live prosperously, which is exactly what Princess Bubblegum sought out for. His motivations to get what he wanted, while questionable, were in desperation to preserve his art and what he saw for the future. PB is no stranger to this practice either – she nearly destroyed an entire kingdom in The Cooler because of her own paranoia. PB also had the chance to properly contain Gumbald even after he was transformed into Punchy, but she chose for him to stay that way because, again, she didn’t want him to stand in the way of her vision. As the vision in the nightmare shows, Gumbald as “princess” could have resulted in an almost identical outcome to Bubblegum’s path, dealing with an ingenuous, yet morally corrupt ruler who is essentially the god amongst his people. Though, like PB once experienced, Gumbald’s role may have not been able to last forever, and it was a time when she surely needed others to depend on. But her O.G. family couldn’t truly support her in their current states, as demonstrated by the tiny Candy Person representation of PB, who can only smile and act goofy even with the pain occurring beneath her. It’s a delightfully fucked up sequence that really shows the equal amount of shittiness on PB’s part, even far beyond her metamorphosis.

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Finn and Fern end up going through a similar understanding of their shared torment, though I think it is a bit on the obvious side. The idea of the boys’ having shared traumas comes as a surprise to Fern, buuuut Fern’s whole deal is that he’s partly Finn. Should this really come as such a revelation to him? That the two have shared experiences that they can both relate to? I feel as if there should have been a bit more of an emotional confrontation. As self-destructive as he is, Fern does have legitimate reasons for going so far off of the deep end. His whole life was turned upside down and everyone that he has ever loved doesn’t really want to associate with him. I would have liked if his turmoil resulted in more of an eruption of pain which would lead to his eventual epiphany, but the resolution between him and Finn feels all too quick. There’s also the conclusion to the curse that lives within Fern, as he and Finn confront it head-on, which is just alright for me. I like the idea that Fern choosing to confront his issues is ultimately what set him free, but if nothing in the Nightmare Realm is actually real, I’m not sure how Finn and Fern were able to affect a real-life situation as a result. I also think Fern was written too well throughout season eight for his own good. Like I said, Fern has legitimate reasons to be ridden with anxiety and turmoil, and I feel as the idea that all of his sorrows being connected to some cursed squid demon is a lot less interesting than the turmoil itself. Though, it does provide for a relatively neat concept that Fern isn’t physically able to exist without issues – the part of himself that he eliminated in order to make him feel more human is ultimately what made his humanity fall to shreds. I’m probably putting too much thought into it, but it is a neat idea. The shared traumas between Finn and Fern are all pretty apparent – the death of their hero at the hands of the Lich, the guilt that comes with hurting friends such as Susan, and the sensitivity of abandonment and fear of being connected to one’s roots as seen with Martin. Though, I feel like it’s up for debate what PB’s role in the vault holds. I get the feeling that Finn is somewhat haunted by his feeling for Bubblegum, never being able to fully move past them and fearing that he may be controlled by his love for her forever, which results in him pushing his feelings way down where they can’t affect him. At least, from a surface level.

The conclusion to this segment of the episode is kind of where my main issues lie. While PB gains her own empathy for Gumbald, he apparently did not, as he was planning on juicing her, demonstrated by Aunt Lolly’s sabotage. I have problems with almost every aspect of this bit. The bigger, more encompassing reason is that I feel like you could deem a good chunk of the first 22 minutes of the finale, and Finn’s plan for peace, relatively pointless. Aside from Fern’s personal growth, nothing that occurred within the dream sequence between PB and Gumbald actually had an effect on anything. The conflict was ultimately resolved by Aunt Lolly, who had no idea what actually went on within their shared nightmare and doesn’t have a strong enough character arc for it to even make sense on her own. She appears to be convincingly against Gumbald’s plans in the previous episode, then we’re taken down a complete 180 as it shows that it was all an elaborate ruse all along. Now… she’s apparently good again? I don’t even understand what we’re supposed to gather from her character – why does she WANT to side with Princess Bubblegum? One might just argue that it boils down to the simplicity of morality, but the staff didn’t even take those simple steps to make her seem like a fully fleshed out character, or even relatively fleshed out at that. You could also argue that, while Gumbald didn’t learn anything in the nightmare world, PB did gain a higher sense of empathy, but does she really? The finale ends with both Gumbald and Chicle trapped inside empty-headed Candy People where they don’t really get any form of free will, and Chicle didn’t even get a second chance at that. Not saying Gumbald should just be free to roam around the Candy Kingdom, because he’s clearly dangerous, but he should be given SOME kind of freedom regardless. I can’t believe the nightmare sequences would highlight how fucked up it was for a somewhat conscious person to be trapped in the goofiness of a candy body, and then just leave them that way by the end of it. Empathy doesn’t really work if you only empathize with someone when do they exactly what you want them to do. The framing of Aunt Lolly tripping Gumbald doesn’t make a lick of sense either. Chances are he might have already had the juice on him when he actually walked down to confront PB, as there wasn’t a single moment after that he would have time to retrieve it. When he trips onto it, he’s not even holding the bottle, it’s just tucked within his robe. The episode plays it off like he was going to juice PB, but the way it’s executed makes it feel like it was just a freak accident. The Gumbald arc started in a way that I felt was relatively mediocre, and it ends in such a way where I feel like I’ve gained almost nothing at all.

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So, Part 2 had its moments on both a visual and story level, but I think it may ultimately be the finale’s biggest flop in terms of story execution. The way Gumbald’s arc was resolved was truly poor, showing hints of interest in the actual dream sequence, but squandering them in the grand conclusion of it all. I feel like Finn was treated as the savior of the situation by the end of it, but ultimately his plans for peace failed (almost) entirely without the episode actually acknowledging this factor. Fern had some decent moments, and I do like that saving him also resulted in sacrificing him later on, but I think his resolution itself was somewhat boring. Add this with some wonky visuals, confusing character moments, instances of stilted animation, and you have yourself a pretty lackluster second act. That being said, I do want to congratulate Seo Kim and Somvilay Xayaphone for managing to be the second longest running team in the show’s history. A lot of their episodes together are far from my favorites, but they always did seem like they had a genuine chemistry going on as collaborators. Hopefully Summer Camp Island is treating you both well.

Favorite line: “Why don’t you just fight me like a real butterfly!?”

“Seventeen” Review

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Original Airdate: December 17, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

Finn’s aging is an interesting aspect of the series. The exploration of Finn’s growth is one of the most heavily focused on elements of the series, but the actual ages he experiences are pretty subservient from a writing standpoint. He was established as twelve at the beginning of the series and turned 13 in Mystery Train, but his years as a 14 and 15-year-old went largely unmentioned. After years of not having an established age, Finn was revealed to be 16 in The Comet and remained that age for the next two years within the show’s timeline. It was interesting, because the staff was veeery specific when it came to revealing any extra details about Finn’s growth. Adam Muto would get asked frequently if Finn was 17 yet on his ask.fm, to which Muto would reply with “no, not yet,” or “very soon.” This was all building up to the eventual release of Seventeen, the first episode in over six years to focus on Finn’s birthday. With all of the build up centered around this specific milestone in Finn’s life, along with the notion that the show was actually acknowledging Finn’s aging in the first place, I was really interested in what direction the staff had in mind for such a development. I, along with many others, was disappointed with its execution. I’ve mentioned my qualms with Adventure Time taking on an ongoing story back in my review of Always BMO Closing, and I think a similar argument can be raised here – the staff seems to think that incorporating lore and continuity elements can carry an episode, but it ends up sinking this one further.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like what this episode accomplishes story wise. The way Gumbald’s return is connected to the climax of Elements is brilliantly executed. While a good amount of AT‘s writing process involves making things up as the show goes along, this arc was clearly pre-meditated and its dedication really shows. This was even picked up on by fans way before this episode aired, and I couldn’t believe such a detail was so carefully placed even back then. Fern’s return is also welcomed, as previously foreshadowed in The Wild Hunt. But the episode relies on these factors far too heavily, and I don’t think they really hold up outside of a first viewing, if that. The connections to Elements were cool, but I had already bought into the theories that had predicted them in the first place, so I wasn’t too blown away. Even Fern’s return is so obvious from the second he enters as the Green Knight. And once his reveal actually does come into fruition, he doesn’t really even get to do much. But the obviousness of the surprises isn’t really their main fault, more so that they can’t hold an episode on their own. With many Adventure Time entries where lore and story elements are at the forefront, they typically have something else to back them up. Evergreen is amazing not only in its mythos, but its beautiful backgrounds and stellar storytelling. Min & Marty or I Remember You are great because they reveal elements of the past, but are as equally concerned with character exploration as a selling point. There’s even some instances where the lore is bad but the actual episode is good. I still don’t care for Gunter’s brief stint as a space deity, but Orgalorg at least was filled with truly obscure and psychedelic sequences to help it stick out. Take the lore and story elements out of Seventeen and you’re not left with much.

A lot of this episode can be summed up with one word: boring. Boring animation, boring location, boring dialogue. This is primarily a bottle episode that takes place in PB’s castle, and the setting just feels particularly lazy and uninteresting. It’s like one of the SpongeBob episodes that takes place entirely in the Krusty Krab, you quickly grow pretty tiresome of one of the most established locations in any given series, especially when it’s the focus. The castle isn’t even explored, as the entirety of Seventeen takes place in the foyer and doesn’t move beyond there. The animation feels similarly uninspired. There’s some shots that looks especially awkward, like when the Green Knight bursts in and the entire cast is spread haphazardly across the steps. They never look like they’re actually laying across the steps, so it almost looks like their character model was just flipped upside down and pasted on the screen. It at least provides for an unintentionally funny error. Other characters will simply just stand around with blank expressions and barely react to the shit going on around them. Or when the gang bangs on the invisible shield to get Finn’s attention while being expressionless and saying nothing. Everything feels so… lifeless. There’s also a pretty big lack of diversity in camera movements. Aside from the games that Fern and Finn enroll in, this episode is filled with so many medium shots of characters just talking without actually moving that it almost feels like I’m watching anime at times.  Somvilay and Seo have really never been the best visual storytellers outside of a handful of sight gags, and nothing emphasizes that shortcoming more than this one.

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This is also one that is pretty lacking on humor. Along with those boring shots that I mentioned, the dialogue is equally uninspired. A lot of it involves characters just simply explaining what’s going on directly in front of them without the incorporation of humor or wit. It almost feels like plodding, in a way, and Seventeen is full of just that. The competition between the Green Knight and Finn doesn’t start until about 6 minutes in and it doesn’t actually feel like any useful information was included within those first five and a half. I’m not even really sure I get Fern’s methods of fucking with Finn in this one – he has Finn convinced that he’s Jake until the real Jake shows up, so he then participates in a series of games with Finn until the last one where he essentially reveals that he was much stronger than Finn the entire time and can overpower him at any moment. What… what was his edge here? It was partially to test Gumbald’s superior technology, but what did Fern participating in these games actually accomplish? He even chooses to lose one of the rounds for no real reason aside from keeping the competition going. Why doesn’t he just fuck up Finn’s shit, have his cronies enter, and then leave? Wouldn’t that prove that he’s superior? The whole thing feels kind of contrived.

There are a few standout moments I dig from Seventeen. Finn’s portrayed pretty well, and I love his insistent gloating over being one year older. Another nice addition to this was Jake’s line of, “he’s got this. He’s 17,” which is a great callback to Tree Trunks. For all of this episodes shortcomings, (I think) seeing Ice King burst out of Finn’s cake in his ex-girlfriend’s dress was worth every second. Could Finn’s day really get any worse? Brad Neely’s performance as the Green Knight is similarly enjoyable, though I’m glad they didn’t ditch Hayden Ezzy completely.

But otherwise, Seventeen is a thoroughly underwhelming experience. I could see this working in one way or another, if maybe Finn and Fern’s birthdays were explored separately, showing how Finn has a genuinely caring family more so than his counterpart. Fern’s arc in general is pretty underdeveloped throughout this season, so I really would’ve liked seeing his turmoil come into fruition in a better way. This is Seo and Somvilay’s last episode outside of the finale, and it’s really disappointing to see that they ended so poorly this season after having so many good entries in the past couple of seasons. I don’t know if the lack of visual flare comes from a chopped budget or just their general approach to storyboarding but, disheartening to say, my middling first impressions of their team during the second half of season five has remained practically the same by the end of their run together.

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Favorite line: “You can’t tell from my face, but I am smiling triumphantly.”

“Three Buckets” Review

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Original Airdate: July 21, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

Fern’s inception began in Two Swords, and so begins his demise in Three Buckets. The “clone vs. OG” is a story that’s been done a handful of times among popular culture, but Three Buckets manages to stand out in a particularly dark and somber way. This isn’t really even an “evil clone” type of situation to begin with – this is the culmination of Fern’s bent up angst, frustration, and feelings of dejection resulting in his desire to be what he always wanted to be in the first place: Finn.

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The beginning of the episode starts out silly enough. Not only because Jake’s vuvuzela, that he’s never, ever been seeing using after over 250 episodes of Adventure Time, is smashed unexpectedly, but because he opts to buy a new vuvuzela at the “vuvuzela store.” In the Land of Ooo, there is apparently an entire store dedicated to selling colorful, plastic horns. Even better is that NEPTR confesses to the crime of breaking the horn, likely only for the chance to get some much needed attention. The poor little guy gets left out of shopping with Jake and BMO, as well as Finn and Fern’s adventure! He just can’t win. Speaking of dudes who can’t win, Fern begins by showing off his new ability of mimicking the real Finn, which is an ability that makes sense to me for the most part. I still feel really unconvinced that Fern would be able to recreate Finn’s bionic arm, however. That doesn’t make a lick of sense, not to mention that Fern’s right arm in the previous episode formed a flesh limb, so it’s inconsistent as well. I guess the episode wouldn’t have really worked without it, so I’m partially fine with it, though still slightly bothered. I do like how the beginning proves that Fern still wouldn’t be a good Finn even if he tried, or at least the “same” Finn. Fern still has literal demons within him that influence his dialogue and behavior – Finn wouldn’t really be one to “slash the flippin’ faces” off of his friends, after all.

In consistency with the past handful of episodes, the backgrounds here are pretty great. Love the vast meadows with miscellaneous objects scattered throughout (including A-Bombs) and the inclusion of the maze-like ziggurat. Got major Zelda vibes from the setting as a whole. Finn and Fern’s trip together ranges from goofy fun times to awkward and tense. The simple game of rock, paper, scissors really shows just how deep Fern is into his own envy and self-pity. I think we’ve all had those days where the tiniest, most insignificant occurrences trigger a history of negative feelings that send us into utter defeat. Only this time, it’s Fern’s entire life. It’s also kind of fun, in a sadistic sense, to see how much Fern truly resents Finn on every level. Finn’s line regarding his brotherhood with Fern is met with a long, blank stare and a lack of response from Fern. Fern has grown so much hatred towards his counterpart that he doesn’t even have the energy or charisma to manipulate him. He just wants to rid his life of Finn as quickly as possible. On a manipulative level, however, I really can’t decide if I like Finn’s line from a writing perspective. It feels like it’s trying a bit too hard to build up the eventual tragedy when Fern does turn on Finn, but on the other hand, I think it makes sense for Finn to make such a proclamation if he was trying to make Fern feel better for any past grievances. Only in this case, it fails.

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Fern’s kindness extends to the small favor that he at least provided Finn’s favorite meal for him within the stone prison… or at least, he tried to. That brief thoughtful act aside, Fern’s completely sociopathic side begins to come out (with the nice visual edition of his glowing, cursed eyes) as he only offers to provide Finn with resources once a month and practically leaves him to rot. It’s also fitting that Fern pronounces his favoritism towards NEPTR, considering that they’re both outsiders who don’t really get the respect or attention that they desperately strive for. Finn’s response to such a betrayal prompts a lot of interesting solo-convos with himself, starting with the fact that Finn refers to Fern as “grass Finn” rather than the actual name he christened himself with. This really touches on Finn’s more judgmental side and the fact that he may not have ever viewed Fern as an equal to begin with, or at least he doesn’t any longer. Finn bringing up his sensitivity to abandonment was a hilariously sweet moment; I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I always figured that Fern winking at Finn through the wall opening with the added sound effect was a subtle reference to Martin, showing that Fern followed in the footsteps of arguably their greatest enemy.

Upon dicking around during his imprisonment, Finn discovers a hidden feature on his bionic arm that uncovers hidden abilities of the arm installed by PB. It’s weird to me that the princess didn’t tell him beforehand, but still, I really dig how sweet this moment is. I just love socially awkward PB and her inability to understand the basic knowledge of humor, and the fact that it shows how Finn truly has the upper hand (literally) against his clone. Fern may be able to take on the appearance of Finn, but Finn still has strong support from his friends and family that goes far beyond what Fern has been able to accomplish. The only thing that upsets me about these newly discovered powers is that Finn never utilizes the arm’s abilities again! It’s such a shame, as it appears to have some really neat features just from what we saw. Even a “sad marionette” function! I have no idea when that would ever come in handy, but sure.

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I mentioned that this was a particularly somber and dark entry, but it’s interlaced with humorous moments that never feel out-of-place or unwarranted. That being said, I love Finn’s transition into the fight by screaming “YOU DONKED UP,” followed by all of the unintentional responses from PB’s AI. Regardless, the fight itself stays thoroughly tense in its entirety. It’s a battle that isn’t visually appealing by nature, but is competently animated and weighted to feel like a true struggle, unlike the former battle scene in Reboot that was also storyboarded by Steve Wolfhard. The sequence is also coupled with some profound interjections from Finn, such as the clueless, “what ARE you?” when Fern’s demon half takes over, and Finn’s final wish of giving Jake a proper farewell. It’s so lovingly sad that, even in Finn’s potential last moments, he’s still thinking of the person he cares about the most rather than his own immediate safety. Hell, it’s even aggressively sad on it’s own that our main character, who is 16 years of age, is essentially the closest he’s ever been to dying and has no choice but to accept it. Finn’s had many possible life threats throughout the show’s history, but none have felt as real and dangerous as this instance. Once more, Fern is unable to see through Finn’s sadness, because he feels as though his love for Jake is essentially enough. This battle all comes to an end when Finn’s arm enters fatality mode, and slices Fern to bits. It’s already a pretty morbid concept on its own, but the way it’s executed just adds to the blow. Fern’s head slowly twisting further and further into his chest was surprisingly graphic, and really makes this “death” seem even more painfully tragic than it already was.

In typical Adventure Time fashion, extended moments of noise and action are always followed by quiet poignancy. Finn returns home in one of the most heartwrenching exchanges AT has ever churned out. Finn doesn’t even have the words or energy to describe what happened, and how could he? He likely blames the outcome partially on himself and feels as if he could’ve prevented it, but even that might be pushing it. I think Finn is in total shock and can’t even begin to comprehend such a devastating moment. Once more, such a tragic moment is interlaced with just the right amount of humor, as that little devil BMO is ALREADY trying to break Jake’s new vuvuzela and references back to when he also killed his brother in The More You Moe, The Moe You Know. Oh, BMO!

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Like most season finales, we’re left on a hefty cliffhanger that involves the remaining pieces of Fern’s body being picked up by a mysterious stranger. Who is this mysterious stranger? Well, I guess we’ll just have to find out in season nine!! Three Buckets closes out a busy and hectic season properly with a busy and hectic episode. As things began to calm down following the madness of Elements, they have only flared up once more, leading us into an invigorating and… somewhat questionably satisfying… journey to the ultimate finale.

And that’s the end of season eight! Gonna be frank with you all, my schedule is becoming more and more tight and I’m struggling to meet deadlines as efficiently as I once was. After all, I’ve been doing this gig for nearly three years now, and my life has changed a lot since I started. BUT, regardless, I still intend on carrying through to the very end, I just ask for all of your patience as I try my best to balance everything else in my life along with this side hobby. The season eight review and bonus review should be out sometime next week or into the following week, and if I have the time, I might churn out the first few batches of season nine episodes. It’s gonna be somewhat of a relief when I do end up finishing this project, but man, it’s been one hell of a ride thus far, and I plan on putting everything I’ve got into these last batch of reviews!

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Favorite line: “My belzer!” (Okay, so this is kind of a cheat because this episode had a lot of really great lines, but I legit call my stomach my “belzer” religiously because of this one line. It just felt obligatory.)

“Whispers” Review

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Original Airdate: July 20, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Polly Guo & Sam Alden

Whispers was a long-anticipated entry for myself, mainly because I had expected a major role from the Lich on two separate occasions prior: first was the season six finale, of which I figured would somehow involve the Lich’s relationship with the catalyst comet in general, and the season seven finale Preboot and Reboot, which I thought to be a reference to Jake’s line in Escape from the Citadel, “That sap rebooted him or something!” 83 episodes after Gold Stars, we finally get to see more into the dynamic between Sweet P. and the Lich, in a thoroughly satisfying entry… for the most part.

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I actually think the best portion of this episode centers around Finn and Fern’s relationship. Fern is noticeably upset about the events of Elements and can’t seem to bring himself out of the funk of feeling useless in the grand scheme of things. It’s understandable why Fern would feel this way – even though it clearly wasn’t within his control, he still is overly critical and not a stranger to self loathing. What’s more interesting is that Finn doesn’t immediately invalidate Fern’s feelings and kind of goes along with it, telling him to “learn from his dinks.” I think this could be looked at one of two ways: 1. Finn knows that trying to sweet talk Fern is useless, given that he isn’t very susceptible to positive reinforcement. 2. Finn subconsciously still feels slightly concerned about Fern being a stronger and more influential version of himself (as elaborated on in Cloudy) and doesn’t want him to feel too empowered. The latter paints a more darker and selfish version of Finn’s character, but I think it’s all-the-more interesting if the two of them both experience feelings of inferiority towards each other. Their bond is certainly awkward, but similarly sweet. I like how, since Fern is essentially a duplicate version of himself, Finn can pinpoint exactly how to cheer his quasi-brother up with a simple “squoze.”

Fern alone is pretty much the highlight of the episode for me. His problem obviously isn’t that he just flat out sucks, but his preconceived expectation for failure and a general negative outlook prevent him from truly becoming a competent and successful hero. Finn goes through similar trials and tribulations throughout this episode, namely being vested and almost killed off entirely by the Lich, only to be saved by Sweet P. This is something that Finn could easily dwell on and use for self-destructive behavior, but he doesn’t. Fern, on the other hand, perceives any minor failure as affirmation that he’s awful. No matter how hard Fern tries to separate himself from Finn, he’ll always be reminded of who Finn truly is and that Fern will never be as well-regarded as he once knew in his distant memories. I really love how much the writing staff took advantage of Fern’s inferiority and didn’t choose to fully resolve his arc in Do No Harm. Some would call Fern’s arc as a villain somewhat of a predictable turn given that it’s a common trope among clone stories in film and television, but I feel as if it’s unique enough in this situation to work. Without trying to sound redundant, Fern is Finn, but that unfortunately means that he can’t be Finn and will never be regarded as highly as his counterpart. This partially has to do with Fern’s preconception of himself, as well as the element of reality playing a part too. Some of these failures are played straight for dramatic effect, while others are more humorous. I love how his suggestion to help Sweet P. involved mercilessly murdering him.

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I didn’t really think Sweet P. had much of a character in his original star role during Gold Stars, but Whispers plays around with his identity and connection to the Lich much more effectively. Similar to Fern’s connection to Finn, I like how Sweet P. isn’t simply a “vessel” for the Lich as suggested and actually exists as his own independent being. Granted, he’s a child, and doesn’t know a ton about forming his own identity. But, from the simple mind of a child, Sweet P. knows that he wants to be good and to do good things, quite separate from the Lich’s desire for ultimate destruction. This is the last Lich centered episode of the series, and I was originally kind of opposed to the idea that Sweet P.’s arc is resolved in a much lighter and simpler way than expected, but I think it’s kind of fitting considering Adventure Time‘s main theme of change that the ultimate evil within the world of Ooo becomes the ultimate source of goodness and innocence. It’s such a drastic twist that seemed kind of cheap in its inception during Escape from the Citadel, but now I think it’s a change that feels quite endearing on a developmental level. Granted, I can’t help but feel slightly cheated by how much the show built up the Lich over the years, even in recent seasons, but I’ve grown accustomed to the concept that what ultimately killed the greatest source of death and evil in the world was a source of life and righteousness. It’s a simple, yet light-hearted decision that I can get behind. Sweet P.’s presence in this episode is benefited greatly by how Finn acts around him. I love how much of a sweet caretaker he is, even getting to bond with the toddler over having a shitty dad! That was a terrific edition. It also helps that Sweet P. isn’t really meant to be taken completely seriously throughout this one’s run – Sam Alden and Polly Guo have a lot of fun with how massive Sweet P. is, mainly when he tosses himself down the sewer and crushes everything in sight. It’s a fantastic bit of slapstick.

Now, I really like Whispers for the reasons I mentioned above and will mention below, but I think it’s important to discuss the biggest issue with this episode, which is kind of a big one: from a character standpoint, this is the Lich’s weakest entry to date. I’m almost glad this is his last appearance, because I think this episode is a clear sign that he may have outlived his usefulness. The Lich, plain and simple, isn’t scary or intimidating in this episode. There was a time where he really would feel like the big bad he was designed to be, providing a level of intensity and uncomfortable feelings that’s unique to his character only. Even in a bad episode, like Gold Stars, the Lich is able to add substance and atmosphere that nearly justifies the entire episode’s existence. But here, he kind of just feels like a stock bad guy. I thought Finn’s “oh boy, here we go,” in Crossover was a hilarious nod to show how he is pretty used to dealing with the Lich by now, but all of the little nods in this episode, which are funny, just kind of downplay the Lich more and more to where I kind of feel as if there aren’t any stakes at hand at all. It’s really disappointing to say because the Lich is one of those great villains that typically adds so much whenever he’s on screen, but this just kind of feels like overkill. I think the Farmworld Lich hand was a cool twist that I never expected to come back, but the silliness of the hand talking also kind of kills any creepy or threatening vibes in the air. The Lich’s dialogue isn’t particularly engaging either… I think they made Ron Perlman say “child” a few too many times to where it just feels somewhat comical. The one aspect that stands out with the Lich’s presence is that he mentions himself as “the last scholar of Golb” which is interesting, to say the least. I do wonder if this implies a more two dimensional side of the Lich that wasn’t entirely evil before absorbing the knowledge and tendencies of an ultimate evil. Golb is a character that we begin seeing more of from this point on, and this was a great starting point. Otherwise, I was pretty ready to move on from the Lich’s character. People often complained about the Lich only appearing after a handful of episodes, but I think it was the best decision to keep his character intimidating. Otherwise, he’s no more threatening than Orgalorg is.

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While the Lich himself isn’t scary in Whispers, the atmosphere, environment, and ambiance suit it nicely. The quiet nature of the forest was a terrific location to build up fear and concern, while the return of the abandoned subway station and the Lich’s well of power carry through that build up in the most invigorating and intense way. Sweet P.’s dialogue continues to be creepy because of its stilted nature, namely when he describes the terrifying nightmares that he’s been having. Even the shadows of the Lich and Sweet P., while slightly silly, provide a bit of a creepy demise for the Lich and a threatening feeling overall. The rest of Whispers looks gorgeous; once again, Ghostshrimp is back at it providing more memorable landscapes, namely the fishing pond that is also a graveyard. The lighting and shifting of the time of day similarly allow for some really beautiful colors and shading to shine through.

It also helps that Whispers is thoroughly hilarious. Whether it be Finn’s back-and-forths with Fern (apparently Fern doesn’t have tree senses, hm), Mr. Fox’s cranky discovery, Jake’s morbid voicemail, or Sweet P.’s uncanny nature, there’s a lot of funny moments packed in this one, especially on Sam Alden’s side of the board. Whispers ends on the stressful and ambiguous note that Fern wants to become the only Finn in Ooo. Sweet P. chose to shape his own destiny, but in Fern’s case, that isn’t exactly the simple route for just everyone. ‘Specially when you have an evil grass octopus living inside of you.

Aside from my gripes with the Lich aspects, Whispers did its job in being both thoroughly entertaining, and a solid entry for development. It still is strange to me that the Lich’s final appearance is just a standard 11 minute episode, but like I mentioned, I guess it’s for the best. The Lich was designed to be the big bad during the show’s initial inception, and I don’t really think anyone expected for Adventure Time to run as long as it did. The sad truth is that the Lich simply had too many opportunities to shine, and isn’t able to recreate the same magic that he was capable of at the beginning of the series. He’s a character that is deservedly retired, for better or worse.

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Favorite line: “I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m either hanging with Finn, my kids, my G.F., or I’m dead. Bye!”

“Do No Harm” Review

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Original Airdate: January 23, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Emily Partridge & Laura Knetzger

Two Swords was a great introduction to grass Finn’s character, or Fern as he’s finally christened in this episode, though it left me wanting even more from his character. Do No Harm quickly delivers, and cleverly chooses to separate both Finn and Fern in order to expand on their characters individually. What makes this episode so great, however, is the strong parallels that are ingeniously tied together between the two boys.

Aside from All the Little People, this is one of my favorite episodes that Tim Kiefer has ever scored. The ambient harp used throughout this one’s duration gives it both a hint of whimsy and a slight unnerving feel, which really hits home during Fern’s mini tantrums. Part of why I enjoy Do No Harm so much is 1. because of how nice it looks. 2. because of how nice it sounds. The slow transition from Finn to Fern as the sunset rises in Ooo and Kiefer’s score plays gently in the background is already one of my favorite scenes and it’s in the first five seconds! With an added killer story, this one really has a lot going for it.

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It’s nice how this episode continues to paint a picture of how much Finn and Jake differ when it comes to strangers/people who they aren’t necessarily close with. While Finn is generally more kind and accepting (as he grew to be with Ice King and how he was with “Moe” in The More You Moe), Jake is a bit more judgmental and awkward. Finn is more times than most the awkward one of the duo, though Jake experiences such social crutches when he fails to fully understand people. Jake is inclined to better click with those who fit his type and lifestyle, so he tends to struggle with those who need special accommodations because he isn’t really able to put himself in their feet. Finn advises Jake that Fern is just another version of himself, but even so, Jake previously had trouble empathizing and understanding Finn’s own emotional trauma a year earlier. From its inception, it’s certainly a recipe for discomfort!

Despite discovering some aspects of his true identity in the previous episode, Fern is still somewhat under the impression that he’s Finn. I’m not sure if its denial, or if another part of his brain is operating during these periods, but I’m glad they kept this aspect going to really hammer in his inability to conform. Even when faced with his favorite meal of meatloaf (I love how this is a recurring trait of Finn’s character), he’s unable to consume it. This could easily be seen as a moment that simply seeks to explain how the grass bod works, but it’s also a key indicator of Fern continually losing more and more aspects of his former self that he once found pleasurable. Again, it really paints a depressing picture. How is Fern supposed to be happy when he can’t even enjoy his favorite meal properly?

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Though it’s unnecessary for him to have to explain himself, Finn still goes out of his way to apologize to an unconscious Susan for what happened with his grass sword. It’s a touching moment, but ultimately, I think our little guy is too hard on himself. He mentions not being strong enough to stop himself from hurting her, but it was a situation that was out of his control. The main purpose of his apology, however, is to draw on similarities between he and Fern. Fern is constantly mentioning how he can’t do anything right, even though most of his shortcomings are circumstantial at best. In a similar fashion, Finn blames himself for his own shortcomings that he really doesn’t have any control over. This brief emotional interlude is cut short when Doctor Princess enters Susan’s room and immediately appoints Finn as a physician. In what has to be one of the funniest Adventure Time moments in the past few seasons, Doctor Princess reveals to Finn in confidentiality that she isn’t actually a doctor, and it just happens to be her surname. The Doctor Princess is neither a doctor nor a princess. Her character is essentially one big, mysterious dead-end. Regardless, Finn chooses to take on the position and learns some new aspects about himself in the process.

Meanwhile, over on Fern and Jake’s side of things, the two boys get wrapped up in finding something for Fern to get involved with. Fern is unable to play flute, another one of Finn’s favorite hobbies as of recent, as he begins to go through yet another breakdown. Again, it might be seen as a cool aspect of Fern’s character that he doesn’t even need to breathe, but when its something as simple, given, and humanistic as that, it really sets out to hammer in how abnormal Fern’s entire existence is. Jake does manage to pull through in a pretty heartwarming way, as he reminds Fern of what his (and Finn’s) true favorite activity to embark on is: adventuring and slaying evil. They head to a grassy maze, in what feels like a fun return to AT‘s video game-esque dungeon scenarios. Much like Blade of GrassDo No Harm is heavily reliant on the color green, but in the best, least nauseating type of way. As we soon find, this is just one of many similarities that this episode shares with Blade of Grass. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. As Fern battles off grass demons, he begins to feel good about doing good in general.

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Finn, similarly, feels great being able to help others out. Whether it be a splintered Mr. Fox or a back-broken Ice King (whose toes also taste like jam, for whatever reason), Finn simply seeks pleasure from being able to treat others, of which later ties into another aspect of his past, and also kind of channels in to Finn’s maturity by this point in the series. While Finn loves adventuring and beating up bad guys, his main goal and desire in life at this point in time is to simply help others and make it so that their lives thrive. It’s a really sweet sentiment from our big, baby boy.

While Fern continues to sweep through lower-tier enemies, he finally ends up on the other side of the maze, of where the boys convene with the Grassy Wizard. I totally didn’t expect the Grassy Wizard to ever appear again, but damn, I’m glad that he did. He plays a much bigger part in the series than the staff likely thought when first introducing the grass sword, and it makes sense to revisit his character as a potential source for answers and closure. Those two elements are exactly what Fern is looking for, as he begins to question Grassy Wizard on his current state and what his birthright truly is. It is interesting how, here, Fern refers to Finn as a separate person from himself, contrary to how he was acting earlier in the episode. By this point in time, to the remainder of the series, Fern has pretty much realized that, no matter how much he feels as though he is, he simply isn’t Finn and has to move on from that idea. Though, despite not being the same person as Finn, their similarities are practically uncanny, and that goes beyond the two sharing the same anatomy and memories. Grassy Wizard plays the part of Fern’s shitty, neglectful father, as he basically admits that he only created Fern as somewhat of a joke and because he thought it would be “cool.” Grassy Wizard reeks of Martinisms, failing to understand even the slightest bits of empathy, but gets his comeuppance as Fern wallops him in a punch that’s nearly identical to the way Finn punched “Martin” in The Tower. Fern has now experienced yet another moment that places him in the same place that Finn was once at, though, while Finn learned to accept Martin and move on from his hatred, Fern nearly beats Grassy Wizard to a pulp, thinking that’s what he’s supposed to do. Jake quickly informs Fern that it isn’t exactly natural or healthy to go about defeating evil this way, as Fern finally realizes that he simply isn’t Finn. No matter how good it feels to do things that Finn would want to do, he isn’t able to take on those tasks with the exact same flair, further alienating him from what he believes to be right and true.

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Finn begins to experience this same form of dissonance as he realizes that his efforts to help others essentially failed. Finn and Fern are essentially on the exact same wavelength: they want to do something that they know is good and helps others, though they aren’t exactly sure that they are cut out for the job. These two stories come to a culmination when the two reconvene at the hospital, and Fern realizes that, despite doing things “as Finn would,” he just isn’t Finn, and he has to find his own path in life, via a beautiful departure on Starchy’s new motorcycle. One thing I also love about this ending is it recycles the same music from the ending of Blade of Grass, when Finn learns to accept the grass sword as a part of him. Here, this score is used as Fern accepts himself for something that he is realistically not and chooses to take on a new journey to truly figure out who he is in the process.

Also capping this episode off is the revelation that Susan is alive and well, proving that Finn’s medical advice was indeed correct, and further leading us into the Islands miniseries.

I really love Do No Harm. It’s a terrific character study of two boys faced with hopes and desires, but ultimately coming face-to-face with their own shortcomings and insecurities by the end of it. Fern worries that he isn’t anything like Finn, though if the events of this episode prove anything, the two are more alike than he could possibly know. My only issue with this one is that I feel as though Jake’s concern wasn’t entirely believable within the grass maze. We’re supposed to believe that Fern is going too far in his efforts to defeat tertiary bad guys, but I dunno, haven’t Finn and Jake involved themselves in similar carnage in episodes like Dad’s DungeonDungeon Train, or even Memory of a Memory? Finn evens mentions in Puhoy that he “kills stuff lots of times,” so I feel as though this aspect of the episode didn’t necessarily hit home in painting Fern in a poor light. But overall, it’s another really strong episode to flesh out Fern’s character, and a sweet episode for Finn in the wake of the eight part miniseries based around himself and his past.

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Favorite line: “I don’t even have a medical degree. I just came in here one day for an X-ray, and my first name is Doctor, so, well, one thing led to another…”