Original Airdate: June 5, 2015
Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich
A few tears were shed from myself after watching this year’s San Diego Comic-Con Panel (which you can watch online here). A lot of beautiful words were said from the cast and crew who really hit the nail on the head about why the series is so terrific in general: it’s a big, exciting fantasy world filled with truly earnest and passionate characters. With that being said, it’s fitting to rewatch an episode like Hot Diggity Doom, which is primarily set-up for the next episode The Comet, but is also filled with some really nice character moments from Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum respectively. Granted, I don’t think it’s particularly strong in its story, but it makes up for it with a decent amount of funny moments and plenty of nice character moments, mainly from Princess Bubblegum herself.
An election in Ooo is something I’ve wanted since the very beginning of the series. Granted, I think it totally seemed like a contrived idea in my head, and it still seems like one in this episode, but it plays with this idea to a great extent. It’s equally fitting that the election stars the King of Ooo, as the conflict between PB and himself continues to build. It’s appropriate that Steve Wolfhard boarded the first half of this episode, as KOO is a personal favorite of his, and you can almost see Wolfhard’s excitement while writing for the character. KOO is, as always, a charismatic and likable douchebag. I think he borders on being a tad bit annoying when he actually does pick up a more prominent role in following episodes, but he’s used quite fittingly as an foil for PB and as a charming manipulator of the ignorant Candy People. Though, one aspect that bothered me was how cool Sweet P. suddenly is with being around the King of Ooo. Wouldn’t he still be slightly traumatized by his behavior after threatening to burn down his house? I kind of would have liked this better if King of Ooo was forcing Sweet P. to seem like he didn’t care, but the fact that he really didn’t care was weird in presentation.
The idea of having a princess “election” in Ooo is a very silly and unique concept, but I’m always somewhat curious about just how much this holds as factual from what has already been established. I mean, we’ve seen kings and queens throughout the course of the series: Flame King, King Huge, Lumpy Space King and Queen (though, to be fair, they aren’t citizens of Ooo), Marceline, Xergiok, etc. All of these beings are portrayed as the rulers of their kingdom, even with princes and princesses roaming about. Is there something decreed regarding a certain part of Ooo where princesses like PB, Slime Princess, Hot Dog Princess, and so on are elected officials of their kingdom? Ooo politics are certainly confusing as fuck, and I feel like this added layer only adds to that confusion. It still is a funny and enjoyable concept in execution, it’s just kind of hard to piece together these bits of world building when it comes to the nature of hierarchies in Ooo.
Most of the fun from this episode derives from PB’s reaction to the whole debacle. Hynden Walch’s acting here is really on point, giving PB just the right amount of snark, and also sincerity in her deliveries. The tone surrounding her behavior is also fitting, seeing as how it starts out quite amusing when Bubblegum does flip her lid, but soon turns melancholic once she realizes her people have effectively turned against her, all while she was working on protecting them from possible disaster. With all that has been building up between the Candy People and PB’s shady behavior, it does feel fitting that the citizens would make a decision this drastic, even while keeping the prophetic dream sequence from Hoots in mind. There’s even a couple legitimate points made, such as James’ mom’s explanation (in a humorously boarded sequence by Wolfhard) of how PB told her son to basically get the fuck out of the kingdom, even if it was warranted. Though I guess that’s actually another problem I have with the way PB’s demotion is presented. I think the entire reason she’s voted out is simply shown as an example of how easy the Candy People are persuaded into swooning over a charismatic stranger, rather than the fact that PB has recently exuded some unorthodox behavior. I would have liked if the episode was a bit more challenging in how it tied back to some of PB’s questionable acts, rather than mentioning a few trivial things that don’t have a ton to do with what the past two seasons have been trying so hard to emphasize. I think a good amount of PB’s own angst regarding the situation is touched on in a meaningful way later on, but it doesn’t feel like her actions truly had a direct impact on her fall as a leader, which would have been a lot more of an intriguing demotion in my opinion.
There’s a ton of great PB moments that follow, however. Her bidding Finn and Jake goodbye was really sweet; even with her pettiness shown in the past, PB still wants Finn and Jake to remain loyal to the King of Ooo and to protect the kingdom. It shows how much PB does care for the kingdom that she was so mercilessly kicked out of, and still wants to see all of the hard work she put into it to remain intact. While we’re on the subject of loyalty, I think it’s really awesome that Peppermint Butler is the one person who remained absolutely true and by Bubblegum’s side throughout the whole endeavor. This was something already touched on in Nemesis, but I can’t express how cool it is that this super complex master of the dark arts is a totally loyal and perfectly self-aware guy who does everything out of loyalty for another being. It’s why I love his character so much: he’s the perfect embodiment of dark and light. I really dig a lot of the quieter moments when the two arrive at Uncle Gumbald’s cabin. Of course, it’s unique to get this kind of name drop of Uncle Gumbald at all. He was previously mentioned in Susan Strong, and the way PB talks about him in this episode, along with the way her sentence is framed, implies that there’s definitely something worth exploring in that category. Though, there’s quite some time before that exploration.
The rest of the episode is mostly fun shenanigans with Finn and Jake and the Candy People. I like Finn’s really relaxed and natural reaction to the comet approaching, and on the opposite side of things, the exceptionally terrified behavior of the Candy citizens. It’s always fun watching the Candy People in a state of panic, and there are some notably fun bits here, like the Banana Guard trying to throw his spear at the comet, or the trash can smash backfiring and hitting Starchy.
The eventual battle between the mysterious campaign manager and Finn and Jake is decently staged, though for myself, I thought it was pretty obviously going to be Gunter. Maybe it was because I had already seen the TV Guide summary for The Comet, but I knew that Orgalorg had to be incorporated in here somewhere, so the reveal never came off as shocking. The reaction from Finn is amusing, as Herpich provides some rather goofy but still arguably funny bits of dialogue to work with (“what the bing bong, ping pong?!”). This all builds to the inevitable cliffhanger, as PB’s rocket, along with Finn, Jake, and Gunther, head into space to converge with the comet.
Hot Diggity Doom is decent set-up that’s filled with some laughs and funny moments, and the occasional lull. I think some of the problems I listed above could have made the episode a bit stronger if they were addressed, but when taking it for what it is, I still do enjoy this one. I actually do like a lot of those quieter moments I mentioned earlier. The scenes that feature PB and Peppermint Butler in or by the cabin are really nice and calmly executed. And, as I mentioned, Finn and Jake make for a lot of fun in their own sequences after being absent for three straight episodes. It’s a mostly solid entry that provides for plenty of anticipation regarding the true season six finale.