Original Airdate: April 27, 2017
Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone
Hero Heart is pretty base-level story stuff. Similar to Slime Central, it’s a perfectly enjoyable entry, but it doesn’t really stand out for a ton of different reasons like its predecessors. The summary for this one promises and all-out war between the Fire Kingdom and Candy Kingdom, but it’s a lot more small-scale in its execution and a bit middling at that. But, like the rest of Elements, it has its standout moments that range between thought-provoking and hilarious.
Similar to its predecessors, Lumpy Space Princess is probably at her most likable. It’s funny to mean how little of her vanity comes out within this episode; Happy Warrior was all about showing how her self-absorbed nature in the brink of destruction can be really hilarious, while Hero Heart goes for a more poignant approach. I’ve said before that I think Seo Kim has a hidden talent for writing LSP at her absolute most sympathetic, and it really shines through in this entry. I found her line of “will I be the last witness to the glory of this world that I chose above all others?” pretty profound and lamentable. This line is made even more impactful when we realize that LSP’s happy place that keeps her grounded is her own home. LSP chose Ooo because it’s where she’s able to have freedom above everything else, but I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily been good to her. She’s been rejected, hurt, and now her entire world is falling apart around her. Her regrets are clear, but LSP is far too prideful to ever admit that she needs the support from her parents and her past home to get her by. But, regardless, this is where LSP spent her best days. She has the memories of simpler times to help her get through the worst of situations, and after years of her seemingly unnecessary resent towards her home world, this feels particularly satisfying.
In the same sense, it’s even sweeter that Finn’s “happy place” centers around his relationship with Bubblegum. I think there’s clear implications within this sequence that can easily lean on the more romantic side, but also in a more platonic sense. I get the feeling that Finn will always love PB no matter what, even if he’s not vying for her. He still has a deep affection for her, and even though he’s more than happy to continue through life without her as a partner, he’ll always be reminded of the soft, nostalgic memories of the innocent feelings he once felt for her. Similarly, it’s also easy to see how this happy place revolves around his shift from no longer burning for her and instead being able to connect with her in the most compromising way possible (the Pajama War clip easily infers this). I sort of lean towards the former as the more interesting option, but I think either is a really sweet reminder about how much Bubblegum truly means to Finn.
There aren’t a ton of new character cameos in this one, but I’m perfectly fine with the returning players we got in return. It was fun to see Lemonpink and the Tree Fort gang again, and man, Tim Kiefer’s score is freakin’ stellar during their travels in the lemonade cart. I remember there was a ton of fans gushing over Marceline and Flame Princess interacting within this episode, but honestly, it just kind of distracted me by making me realize that we’ve never seen Marceline interact with Finn’s only girlfriend. Man, we missed an opportunity for some really cool wingman stuff, didn’t we? There’s other cool interactions going on throughout this one, like the return of Lumpy Space Princess and Marcy’s friendship that always seems to turn back up in Seo and Somvy entries. Ice King and Betty’s relationship is still really charming, even if Betty’s true desires arise by the end of the episode. Like I’ve said before, Elements really is a spectacle for Ice King at his most charismatic. He’s genuinely competent and likely the strongest survivor currently in Ooo. Coupled with the fact that he’s still the hilarious goof he’s always been… that brief shrug during Betty’s maniacal laugh was absolutely hilarious and definitely the biggest chuckle of the miniseries thus far.
Otherwise, Hero Heart mainly works as an opportunity to move the miniseries forward in several different ways: Lumpy Space Princess’s resistance to elemental powers, Betty’s betrayal towards Finn, and the inevitability of the Candy Kingdom’s rule over everything. It’s all enjoyable, but I don’t think it’s really worth talking about until the actual final chapter of Elements. We’re provided tons of hints, in typical AT fashion, but nothing that I can really dig into or analyze beyond their obvious implications. Hero Heart does leave us off on a horrifying and unsettling note, as the now transformed Candy People creep in to an unprotected Finn singing “Let Me Call You Sweet Heart.” It’s a terrifically terrifying close that transitions us into the grand finale of Elements, which surely feels like a grand culmination (and one big cliffhanger) off of everything we’ve gotten thus far.