Tag Archive | Finn the Human

“Video Makers” Review

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Original Airdate: April 18, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Somvilay Xayaphone & David C. Smith

Pendleton Ward mentions in the commentary of this episode that he hates pitting Finn and Jake against each other. Simple reason: it’s just not fun. I completely concur with this notion, as with pretty much any series, watching two characters bicker for a majority episode just simply isn’t enjoyable or interesting enough to watch. Finn and Jake have a very close relationship, which means they’re prone to fight every now and then and get into disagreements. I personally think the episode Who Would Win? did a pretty decent job of that while still keeping the episode fun and enjoyable. How does this episode fare? Well, let’s check it out.

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It’s interesting to note that this is actually the first time the Great Mushroom War gets named dropped, and it’s done so in a relatively humorous way. I really like how seriously Finn and Jake take the Federal Warning, and it works perfectly as a conflict driver. I like how the literal apocalypse can be used for such a simple plot point like this one.

The scenes that follow are pretty humorous. I like that this is an episode that really uses most of the main and recurring AT characters to its advantage, and even giving some others a bit more screentime. For instance, this is really the first time Mr. Cupcake gets a chance to shine, and one of the first he’s pitted against Jake. Jake’s jealousy of him is pretty enjoyable, and I love how this is actually the start of a long term rivalry between the two of them. In addition, Shelby, one of my favorite side characters, gets some well deserved spotlight in this episode. Shelby’s general snarky attitude and diverse personality from the rest of the mostly optimistic AT characters is actually pretty refreshing, and the “check pleeeeease” line is definitely something I’ve considered putting on my graduation cap on more than one occasion. There’s also some other little fun gags at the beginning, like Finn’s magic cup that pours everyone’s preferred juice and oh-my-god-whatever-the-fuck PB was drinking. I seriously don’t know what to make of that.

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Aside from that, there’s simply not much to this one for me. Finn and Jake’s bitching at each other is tiresome, and it’s a bit ridiculously over-the-top for them to be angry at each other for such a dumb reason as picking a genre for their movie. I think it would’ve been way more interesting if they just went with the “two characters try to make a movie and it turns out terribly” plot, but instead they choose and obvious route that brings down the entire episode. It’s a shame really, because had they chose the former, they were headed in the right direction. There’s some other funny scenes like the one where Slime Princess jumps right into the crocodile pit and when Finn attempts to make it look like PB is riding the frog chariot, and if they just stuck with those ideas in mind, I think it would’ve turned out a much better product. Luckily BMO’s song (written by David C. Smith) is sweet enough to end the episode on a very endearing note, but otherwise, it’s a pretty weak entry from the second season.

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Favorite line: “Check pleeeeease!”

“The Limit” Review

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Original Airdate: April 11, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Belly of the Beast” Review

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Original Airdate: April 4, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Belly of the Beast poses an interesting argument: is it better to remain ignorant or aware of your surroundings? With the many scary possibilities and dangers in the world around us, many would argue that it is better to ignore the world around you and just live your everyday life. AT delivers this with ambiguous results when Finn and Jake try and save a group of bears who love to party in a monster’s belly, but risk being converted into feces. The series leans more towards Finn and Jake’s understanding of the situation, but also does so without making the other side look like a bunch of idiots. Finn and Jake may be trying to help these people, but at the same time, the bears are just trying to live life and make a party out of it. And there ain’t no party like a beast’s belly party!

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One of the bears they do meet along the way is Party Pat, who is voiced by Andy Samberg and, as Pendleton Ward claims, “is basically Pat McHale.” Party Pat’s a delightfully odd central character for this episode; he seems like a really chill dude, but at the same time, I feel as though he could drug someone’s red solo cup at any given point. Samberg gives Pat that ominous and enigmatic feel, and he’s almost unrecognizable as this character. Why they wanted Samberg specifically for this role, I’m not sure. But hey, he does a great job, so why not? And speaking of voice roles, Jeremy Shada’s performance as Finn is hilarious in this episode. Shada has been getting more experimental and having more fun with his character as of lately, delivering some of his funniest bits of dialogue yet.

The animation in particular is really superb. I seriously have a tough time focusing on the main episode because of how many unique dance moves are being performed in the background. Ian-Jones Quartey provided a lot of the drawings of the bears in this episode, and specifically tried to make every bear’s dance routine different and have a specific cycle, which is really reflected in the final product.

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Like I mentioned above, the core of this episode is the debate of whether or not the bears should stay in the beast’s belly or not. The episode sort of takes some unusual turns in its execution, however. Although Finn and Jake help everyone to settle down through a humorously depressing song about dying food items (RIP milkshake, RIP donut) the bears ultimately decide to stay in the beast’s belly in the end. This poses a couple of plot holes: Wasn’t the original dilemma that the bears would be digested if they stayed in the monster’s stomach? Nothing has changed since they decided to return, so how does that resolve the central conflict? And if the beast is so concerned with having his mouth scorched by fireworks, then how is he unaffected by drinking lava?? They’re a couple of oddities that make this episode seem a bit uneven. It does help the general tone of the episode that the literal party animals would return once more to where the party all started. Although it may seem bleak for some to be living in a perilous situation, Party Pat and his crew know how to enjoy life and are able to deal with any given issue because of their lifestyle. It’s not for everyone, as Finn and Jake have displayed, but hey, when things get tough, why not party? It’s also an important trial for Finn, as he learns that he simply can’t help those who don’t want to be helped. It’s depressing to see his general disappointment in his failure to save the party crew, but he learns the hard way that he simply can’t force his beliefs onto others.

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It’s not necessarily the most structured episode plotwise, but Kent Osborne and Somvilay Xayaphone definitely has a good time with this one. It’s often reflected as one of their personal favorites of season two, and while I can’t say it’s one of my personal faves, it’s a relatively enjoyable one. It has it’s minor flaws like the ones I mentioned, and I’m not really crazy about the “night club” setting throughout the entirety (I thought they could’ve been much more creative with the contents of the beast’s body). It also has funny one-liners, silly side characters, the general annoyance of our main characters, some great songs, and a fast-paced fun environment to boot on the other hand. What more could anyone want in an early season Adventure Time episode?

Favorite line: “HELP ME! … hang these streamers!”

“Go With Me” Review

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Original Airdate: March 28, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Tom Herpich

Go With Me is Adventure Time at its purest: no big battles, no enticing adventures, no opposing villains, just engaging interactions between the characters and what makes them each so unique. Season two is certainly a lot more rounded in its humor and writing than the first season, but there are times during the second season that it can be a bit… “sitcom-y.” With some subversions, there’s a couple of different plots that feel as if they could be on any show (Blood Under the Skin, Heat Signature, Video Makers are some examples) and this episode could be included in that category. That doesn’t necessarily mean these are bad episodes, but part of the fun with AT is how unique and eccentric it can be with tackling your expectations vs. reality. However, Go With Me is a special episode that uses the characters to their very best abilities that avoids any feelings of being too generic or done-before.

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In my review of Henchman, I discussed how disappointing it is that Finn and Marceline barely interact outside of casual small talk in recent years. It’s really a shame, because if this episode is an example of anything, they are too freakin’ adorable together, and not even in a romantic sense. Obviously there is the giant age gap between the two, but I just generally enjoy watching Marceline tutor Finn on the experiences of life. Finn’s still very inexperienced with many topics, as he’s just recently entered his teen years. Marceline, however, has been around for ages. It’s really endearing to see the enjoyment Marceline has in shadowing a young companion, and the excitement Finn has in being taught how to talk to girls.

The way each character works off of each other in this episode is just splendid. Jake is still afraid of Marceline, Marceline still gets a kick out of fucking with Jake, Finn and Marceline I mentioned above, Finn and PB’s continuously awkward state, and a hint of Marceline and PB’s past history together is thrown in. I love how subtle it is as well; you really can’t gather anything from that brief bit of dialogue, but you know somethin’ is amiss. And hey, PB’s name is Bonnibel! Part of what adds to that mystery is that it’s really never revealed what Marceline’s motivation is behind helping Finn. She could legitimately want to help him score with Bonnie, but at the same time, she could also just be trying to spite the Princess. I mean, wrestling and being chased by wolves? Even Marceline, in her dark and mysterious ways, didn’t like being treated poorly by her ex-boyfriend Ash, so it’s very likely that it was all just a front to pick on PB.

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I love all of the awful advice Finn receives from Jake and Marceline and all the attempts he goes through to get PB’s attention, as well as just how far he’s willing to take it to do so. Jake and Marcy’s bickering and Finn’s general lack of experience with women is very sitcom-y, but hey, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. I’d much rather watch these characters try to find a date for movie night than say, the cast of Full House, Saved by the Bell, or some other corny 90’s sitcom.

Like I said, it’s just really enjoyable to watch Finn and Marcy work off of each other. They’re two cool people who much rather enjoy having fun and enjoying life than feeling obligated to do what everyone else is doing. Finn learns an important life lesson in this episode: that he should follow what he wants to do rather than what society and social norms suggest. Finn probably would’ve been better off if he had just taken a blanket or duck to begin with, but hey, at least he got to spend the night with a good friend. Marceline taught him that valuable lesson, and she helped him to focus on excitement and livelihood in the end. It’s one relationship I never get tired of watching.

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Favorite line: “Naw, he just needs some spaghetti.”

 

 

“Mystery Train” Review

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Original Airdate: March 14, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone

Story arcs and plot threads aren’t exactly told in a conventional way on Adventure Time. New doors are always being opened even when others aren’t closed, and some arcs could take up to three seasons to get a proper resolution. So there isn’t necessarily one continuing story, it’s typically a handful of separate self-contained ones. That being said, the one overarching story within the world of AT is the fact that time continually progresses over the course of the series. Finn and Jake each grow older and deal with their own issues: Finn with his entrance into adolescence, and Jake with his fear of aging. It’s a very natural progression that brilliantly changes the dynamic of the Land of Ooo, as the show generally becomes much darker as Finn begins to experience the world and the deep rooted issues that come with discovery. This is Finn’s first step into his teen years, as this episode explicitly makes use of his 13th birthday as a plot device. Already he begins to deal with situations that he normally wouldn’t, and it’s a nice transition into some of the heavier trials he’ll eventually experience down the road.

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The main plot of the episode does end up taking a pretty predictable turn. It’s made pretty obvious with Jake’s actions towards the beginning of the episode that the train conductor is him or has some sort of conspiracy related to Jake. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to be such an obvious twist, but I knew where it was going from the very start. That being said, there are a lot of silly scenes that help add some flavor to Mystery Train. John DiMaggio does a particularly great job as the train conductor; even if I found it predictable that Jake ended up being the conductor, I barely even noticed DiMaggio’s voice and could’ve even guessed that it was a different voice actor. He has such terrific range that he can easily mask his voice without drastically changing it. Some of the interactions between the Candy People are quite humorous, such as Candy Cane Guy repeatedly hitting Colonel Candy Corn in the face, as well as Kent Osborne playing Dr. Donut.

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Finn experiences one of his first big traumas when he believes Jake has been killed, and it’s a relatively emotional scene despite the fact that we all clearly know that Jake isn’t dead. It’s actually kind of fucked up when you think about it. Jake made Finn believe that he had actually been killed on Finn’s birthday. Happy birthday, Finn? A symbolic expression of Finn’s aging is the introduction of the root sword, his newest weapon of choice. All of Finn’s main swords are a great representation of his aging process, and can also attribute to his developmental growth. The root sword is a bit grittier and more complicated looking than his golden sword, and both of those aspects begin to form into his personality. This is also metaphorically the first time Finn “has wood”, which isn’t so much of an observation as much as it is an excuse more me to make an unnecessary innuendo.

Finn uses this sword to battle the conductor in what is a pretty decent action sequence. There’s some really well animated shots of the train, even incorporating CGI outside of the caboose. To my knowledge, this is the first time the series utilizes computer generated effects, and it doesn’t feel out of place at all; it really helps the episode feel more cinematic and makes the fight sequence pack more of a punch. Of course, Jake eventually reveals himself to Finn and the two celebrate with all of their friends… except for Princess Bubblegum… or Marceline… or BMO… or LSP… where are they at??

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What’s most effective about this episode is the ending reveal that Finn and Jake could’ve easily died on the train, which only adds to what I was saying about Finn’s entrance into adolescence. From here on, Finn will begin to experience many traumas, tribulations, challenges, and large amounts of identity building throughout his teen years.

Favorite line: “Climb aboard my train, little boy. You’re my new friend!”

 

“Susan Strong” Review

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Original Airdate: March 7, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto

Finn “the Human” has been nothing more but a descriptive title for the first handful of episodes. Upon first watching up to this point as a thirteen-year-old, I didn’t quite yet grasp the connections to the apocalypse and lack humans within the world of Ooo. Her Parents alludes to the idea that humans are of a rare species, but still treated the topic as if it was simply brushing it off. Susan Strong, on the other hand, is the first direct mention that Finn is indeed the last known remaining human in Ooo. Finn is certainly the easiest for the audience to connect to, as he is the only major human character, and while we are able to easily relate to him, his lack of understanding of his own culture is what causes him great uncertainty and a difficulty to be able to connect with the world Ooo.

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Of course, Finn has a terrific support system of friends and family, but the idea of never knowing his own heritage or culture surely must be a burden for him. So when Finn comes across a tribe of alleged humans, it’s no doubt that he’s ecstatic to be able to make that connection with his own kind, especially a bystander he appropriately names “Susan Strong.” Susan’s broken dialogue (which the AT staff has deemed “Somvilayism”) can be a bit grating at times, but her introduction as a character is pretty adorable. She’s reacting practically how anyone who is just discovering the world would act, much like a baby, and just enjoying every second of it. Or being afraid, which is a perfectly natural (and sometimes hilarious) reaction too.

Speaking of adorable, every scene building on the friendship between Finn and Susan is just delightful. Both are so extremely excited to be around each other: Susan discovering the Land of Ooo and Finn discovering one of his own kind. It’s really heartwarming to see the two of them being able to feel so high with each other only through a short period of time. And yes, the scenes with Finn teaching Susan about how the world works go by very, very fast, but the strong friendship (no pun intended) between both of them is still perfectly believable. They’re both going through very exciting first experiences, and they luckily get to share those experiences together, which Finn sings about in the song “Susan Strong.”

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The general look of this episode is gorgeous. The colors really help bring out the vibrancy in each character; the shadows underground, the sunset in the woods, and the nighttime skies in the Candy Kingdom all blend with the color palettes of our main characters, causing them look really fluid with their surroundings. In addition, the animation is especially really good in this episode! Rebecca Sugar definitely adds much detail to her drawings while going through the storyboard process, which shows by how smoothly and flowing each character moves, specifically during the song sequence.

Of course, Finn’s fun with his human friends doesn’t last however, as Susan proves that she isn’t educated enough to be welcomed into the Candy Kingdom. On a side note, one thing that doesn’t necessarily add up with continuity is Princess Bubblegum’s general lack of defense against the Hyoomens. I realized this from a comment on the episode I saw recently, and it actually has me scratching my head a bit. Where are the Gumball Guardians, or even the Banana Guards? I have a hard time believing she’s that unprepared to protect her kingdom from possibly being eaten. The only hypotheses I can come up with are: 1. She wants her people to attempt to defend themselves. 2. If the Candy People were actually eaten, PB could always just clone new ones. 3. She didn’t want to hurt Finn’s people. The first one doesn’t hold much water the second one seems a little dark even for Bubs, and the third one still seems a bit phony but that’s the only conclusion I can come up with. It just seems to distance itself with what we’ve learned about the Princess over the years.

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Aside from that minor issue, the reveal that the sewer people weren’t actually human is certainly one of the weightier moments in the first two seasons, and it’s generally heartbreaking that Finn solemnly asks Susan who/what she really is. It’s sad stuff; Finn finally had someone as closely related to him as possible, but remains alone at the end, as he began in the beginning of the episode. But, as Jake profoundly tells him, “we’re all wild animals, brother,” Finn replies “I guess we are… brother.” Perhaps Finn did lose the closest thing to a relative that he has, but on the bright side, he still has a brother, and as Adventure Time has proved time and time again, that just might be enough.

Favorite line: “Grass can’t hurt you!” (Primarily for the irony)

“Death in Bloom” Review

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Original Airdate: February 28, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Jesse Moynihan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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