Tag Archive | Ice King

“Mystery Dungeon” Review

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Original Airdate: January 21, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

Adventure Time has the benefit of having a very compelling cast of secondary characters, so the idea that we won’t be getting a typical Finn and Jake adventure is never something that’s dreaded. That’s why when I saw there would be an episode that starred Ice King, Tree Trunks, Lemongrab, NEPTR, AND Shelby, I instantly said to myself, “this is going to be the greatest episode of all time.” While that may have been a gross exaggeration, it definitely is a great comedic outing for the season and series in general.

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What makes this such a strong episode is really just blending all of these unique personalities together. Lemongrab’s histrionic behavior, Ice King’s loneliness, Tree Trunks’ slow mind, Shelby’s sarcasm, and NEPTR’s optimism all work off of each other just great, and individually they work just as well. It’d be silly to not talk about each character and what makes their presence work in this one, so I’ll take a look at them one by one.

This is probably Lemongrab’s most straightforward funny appearance outside of his debut. Lemongrab is mostly utilized for psychological and somewhat antagonistic reasons in his featured episodes, but this one mostly focuses on just how unusual and loud the sad lemon man is. And boy, does it pay off. I think this is arguably his funniest appearance in the series, only adding to his already over-the-top behavior, including him punching a rat, eating a pie out of the rat’s mouth, and constantly referring to people as his slaves. He really is the biggest tyrant ever featured in the series, and it’s emphasized in this one for added hilarity. I think his desire to rule others in this one, as well as You Made Me, are really what drive his further desires to have complete control over others in future episodes.

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I just noticed something. NEPTR is fucking sweating. What a ludicrous visual.

NEPTR is, as always, a lovable loser. It’s a fucking crime against society that this is his only appearance in season five, because every time he’s on-screen, it’s just delightful. And I’m so glad they took advantage of the NEPTR-Ice King dynamic once again; I assumed that was something that was just going to be virtually ignored, but it’s nice to see that, even after NEPTR chose Finn and Jake, he still has positive feelings toward his “poppy.” Even more fitting is seeing that the Ice King doesn’t remember him even slightly, and even sadder is that NEPTR wasn’t supposed to be included at all! If there’s one character in this show that’s sadder than Ice King, it’s NEPTR man. It hurts my soul when Ice King calls him a “useless pile of junk.” Though, it’s nice to see that he and his poppy get a happy ending. It’s pretty sweet that NEPTR actually remembered something that Ice King taught him.

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Tree Trunks brings her usual dimwitted old-person-ness to the table, and I like how her role is virtually useless as well. Like, would her ability to make apple pies have really saved her and the others from a giant rat? It’s likely not. She did provide the grossest sequence in the entire episode when she snorted a dollop of snot, or “essence” into Lemongrab’s mouth, which still kind of has me scratching my head to this day. How did she know that would even work? I enjoy her long-winded monologue aimed at Ice King, but mainly for the fact that her slow speech patterns and demeanor just completely divert the attention of everyone watching her. It’s like, I as an audience member even have trouble following her unfocused babble, and the characters humorously follow in the same direction.

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Shelby brings a bit of sarcastic edge to this one, and I truly think he’s the shining star. I really appreciate his dry-wit and his attitude of “I could give less than a fuck,” throughout the entire episode. Probably the biggest laugh I get out of this one is the fake-out where it seems like Shelby’s going to volunteer to be on the fishing line, and then it immediately cuts to Tree Trunks. That was a terrific bit with great timing and payoff.

And of course, the man who concocted this whole plan himself, the Ice King. I have to give him props for his insanely convoluted plan, and how it, for the most part, works. It’s a strangely competent plan for the likes of the IK, despite the fact that he clearly didn’t wasn’t paying attention when he grabbed NEPTR, because he doesn’t look a thing like BMO. And tying the entire plan back to Ice King’s desire to bring Fionna and Cake into the real world was pure genius. Though, my only gripe with this is that it would’ve made much more sense coming after Bad Little Boy than before. I’m not sure what came first in production order, but now that episode just has a somewhat confusingly foreshadow-y ending with no real payoff. Though, the payoff in this one with the book coming alive at the literal hands of the Ancient Sleeping Magis of Life Giving (his first appearance!) was deeply hilarious, and I know this pissed a lot of people off, but c’mon, you have to at least snicker a bit at his incessant flatulence and Mickey Mouse gloves and voice.

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As I mentioned, I think the episode ends on a perfectly sweet note with NEPTR reminding Ice King about his imagination zone. Also on a hilarious note, as Lemongrab makes an extremely abrupt departure and utters, “byedon’tfollowme,” and Finn, Jake, and Shelby watch the Ice King and lament over how sad he is, and how sad they are watching him.

It’s worth noting that this is a “Dungeon” episode, and while the actual dungeon itself isn’t the focus of the episode, they do manage to craft a relatively creative area filled with traps, neat looking beasts, and cool landscapes. It’s far from the coolest dungeon AT has ever put out, but again, the focus of the episode is the humor, not necessarily the visuals.

And aside from that, I have remarkably little to say. This is just an all around funny episode filled with great jokes, characterization, interactions, and twists. It’d be pointless of me to go through every great joke or line in this one, because there’s so Goddamn many of them. So here’s a special Favorite line section filled with some of the episode’s greatest bits of dialogue.

Favorite line(s):

“Check out my mods, bro!”

“Ice King, how do you taste?”

“Make pies, slave.”

“Golly, how we ever gonna worm our way out of this… fishy situation?”

“Don’t criticize my running, Shelby.”

“So stop sellin’ fib-bibs and give it straight!”

“You should’ve told us! I would’ve freaking brought something!”

“You serve no function, you must be destroyed.”

“Who in this world is sadder than the Ice King?” “Me, watching this.”

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“I Remember You” Review

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Original Airdate: October 15, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

“There’s so much that exists outside of show because it’s a post-apocalyptic future, which means that the present exists in the reality of this show. You have to extend this whole world back into the past and every that’s happening in it is real, and there’s so much that you didn’t see that’s implied to have happened, and that becomes real, but it also becomes something that you invent. So you have a personal ownership over everything that created Ooo, and it really does feel like your imagination because it’s asking you to imagine so much of it and connect all these dots.”

An eloquently put statement from Rebecca Sugar about Adventure Time’s success that can really be applied to this episode in particular. Ah, I Remember You. Where do I even start with this episode that’s considered damn-near perfect by nearly everyone who has ever seen it? Well, for starters, I actually don’t think it’s entirely perfect. There’s definitely some parts that drag, some parts that don’t seem to add anything, and even Ice King can grate on being borderline annoying at times. But even that said, there’s no denying the passion, the raw emotion, and the beautiful connection that was created between two of the show’s most tragic characters make it difficult even for me to deny this as one of AT’s greatest efforts.

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I think it’s been somewhat evident this season that the Cole Sanchez-Rebecca Sugar duo is, at worst, a bit dissonant from each other. They’ve created some of the best episodes this season had to offer, but also just felt much more separated in tone than the Muto-Sugar duo combination. It’s not to say Sanchez suffers from poor writing himself, but always seemed to dabble more in Adventure Time’s sillier side. There’s nothing wrong with this, but, as is, it can be quite a contrast in even just the simple squishy and stretchy expressions of Finn and Jake to the endless amounts of detail Sugar adds when drawing them, sometimes making it feel like a jarring experience.Here, it works to the duo’s advantage.

Here, in the very first scene, we open to Ice King singing a very poor adaptation of Marceline’s “Fry Song” which is just the kind of silly opening that’s warranted with the emotional rollercoaster that’s on the way, and evident why we need a scene like this. We don’t only care about Ice King because he’s a sad soul who lost his former self, but because he’s zany and enjoyable to be around. And that’s not to say it’s even a distinction in writing style; it’s not like Rebecca Sugar isn’t one to dabble in Ice King’s antics and purely sees him as a completely tragic character. It’s common sense among the AT staff that, to care about these characters when issues arise and life hits hard, we first must be able to laugh at them, have fun with them, and genuinely enjoy being around them. And Ice King is pretty much the epitome of that archetype, literally revolving on all ends of the spectrum: funny, nonsensical, endearing, sad, lonely, and sympathetic.

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There’s plenty of fun gags at the start, namely Gunter’s adorable pet-like behavior, the umpteenth mention of J.T. Doggzone in two episodes, and the humorous exchange between Finn and Jake. I think the boys are really used as point to showcase the significance in Ice King’s transition from creepy villain to incompetent ally. There’s very few times after this episode where Finn and Jake legitimately go as far as to spy on him (though, it’ll take a lot longer for them to actually warm up to him) and it’s blown up in their own faces when they realize, at heart, Ice King is just an eccentric goofball. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone or destroy all of Ooo, but instead desires faithful companions to be at his side.

It’s when Marceline enters the scene (sporting a tucked in anti-smoking shirt, which is surprisingly one of my favorite Marcy outfits, mainly for it’s simplicity) that the tension begins to heat up. The first interaction between Marcy and the IK harkens back to Sugar’s statement, as Marceline claims “I told you never to come here again,” implying this has happened several times in the past, which is only further emphasized in Marceline’s Nuts song. The reason Marceline has moved around so frequently is either partially or directly related to Ice King continuously coming to visit her or spy on her, something that was used as just a quirky character trait of hers way back in season one, but now comes full circle as a result of her deteriorating friend she can no longer stand to be around. One can only imagine the types of interactions they’ve had before; it’s debatable what kind of relationship they have had before this, but it’s clear that Ice King does have some form of admiration for the Vampire Queen, which may be because he does subconsciously remember her a slight bit. Even more devastating, you can draw the parallels that perhaps Ice King has always seen her as a potential royal stereotype that he has attempted to kidnap before. No matter what the likelihood of any of these theories are, it does allow the viewer to put the pieces together however they like, and for me, it’s one that, no matter what context, is always tragic.

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From this point, the episode practically becomes one big musical. While I did enjoy What Was Missing quite fondly, you may recall in my review that I mentioned Sugar’s style of writing, especially in terms of musical score, pretty much dominated the episode and felt more like an episode of Steven Universe than Adventure Time. I think these songs are all perfectly crafted and all serve a clear purpose in terms of character perspective and development. Yes, they do feel like the Sugar-iest scenes that have ever played out on the show, and while I’ve made that seem like a bad thing in the past, it’s really not. I think it’s only a problem when it poses somewhat of a distracting issue in terms of story or pacing, but honestly, it works perfectly here. An episode could be riddled with Somvilayisms or be filled with Moynihan-type trippiness, but if it’s hilarious or thought-provoking, I don’t mind in the slightest. And here, the characters act as dramatically and passionately open about their emotions as they ever have (well, namely Marceline), but it’s so beautifully and captivatingly done that I couldn’t see this story done any other way.

It all begins with Oh Bubblegum, Ice King’s ballad to Princess Bubblegum, which is actually my favorite song in the episode. Ice King’s singing voice is clearly terrible on purpose, but it’s oozing with emotion and so blatantly has Ice King reveal his inner thoughts and self-esteem issues. He demandingly questions why, after all this time, he still doesn’t have anyone to love or a princess to call his own, which he sees as pure evidence that there’s something completely wrong with him. It’s a song that basically embodies everything I mentioned the Ice King is: silly and quirky, but also sad and lonely. Every song is accompanied by the hum of an omnichord, and it both emphasizes the whimsical and cutesy nature that each song has to offer, but also provides an ominously off-putting tone as well, which really hits home in the more uncomfortable parts of each musical number. Also, I’m gonna put to bed the idea that Marceline’s look of concern toward Ice King during his song has absolutely anything to do with her feelings revolving around PB. Absolutely no fucking way in hell I believe that look of sympathy was for anything besides Ice King’s depressing nature. There’s a ton of shipping fuel I buy into between Marceline and Bubblegum, but this isn’t one of them. Though, I’m not sure how many people even believe this theory anymore.

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When Marcy attempts to stop Ice King’s insanity, it’s a portion that I think halts the episode for a brief moment. I think Ice King’s shame for pushing Marceline feels a little melodramatic and tonally dissonant from the rest of the episode, but it’s this irritability that transitions in Marceline’s solo-song Nuts, which has her open up about her own insanity and mental exhaustion that the Ice King has caused her over the years. There’s plenty of Alzheimer’s connection you can make within the story of I Remember You, and the connection between Marceline and Ice King in general, and I think Marcy’s frustration and own helplessness are brought out full force in this ditty. It’s pretty easy to sense that she knows she can’t fix the Ice King and that, whatever has happened to him, he’s already too far gone to return to his former self. Marceline acknowledges that she wants to hangout with him and help him however she can, but it’s clear that the man she once knew and loved is gone and it’s really just painfully unfortunate that she has to accept what he has become.

Ice King’s sweeter and more empathetic side is brought out by Nuts, but also immediately becomes void when he attempts to kiss Marceline. This is really the most uncomfortable scene in the episode, as someone who was once a father figure to Marceline makes sexual advances onto her. It’s a writing choice that Sugar herself felt hesitant about, but one that Pendleton Ward really, really wanted in, and man does it pack a punch. Obviously it’s a somewhat harmless activity on Ice King’s part, given his ignorant nature when it comes to human relationships (though it was pretty creepy how he used a mere hug as a segue into first base), but you can only imagine the trauma or disgust that Marceline is feeling with him. It’s here Marceline blows up, and refers to the Ice King as his former alias, “Simon.” I get the feeling that Marceline has never actually tried to make Ice King remember who he is before, as she was either too hurt or confused to understand what had happened to him, but it becomes clear that she’s fed up with his jogged memory and wants simply to have her caretaker back again. She uses pictures (complete with Simon holding the Enchiridion, oh, the lore!), notes, and former writings of the old antiquarian, but nothing seems to work. Again, another great parallel to Alzheimer’s in the sense that, however much proof or evidence you show someone suffering with the terrible, terrible illness, nothing seems to work as an effective target to help jump the mind.

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Marceline then discovers a note written by Simon, which can be translated into a poem or tune to sing, to which Ice King takes as immediate inspiration into his next song. Remember You is the dramatic pinnacle of the entire episode. It’s here Marceline realizes that, no matter what has happened, Simon does love her and did what he could to make sure she survived. He never wanted to watch Marceline suffer, and admittedly probably never expected that she’d even live long enough to watch him become the villain, but had to do what he did to survive. No matter how selfless a person is, any mentally healthy person is likely to not welcome death with open arms, and Simon wanted to preserve his scholarly mind for as long humanly possible. There’s no possible chance that Marceline could ever think that Simon didn’t care for her or want the best for her after reading the note, and she can both emotionally react to it and acknowledge that the best thing she can do for Simon in return is accepting Ice King for who he is. No matter how annoying or distorted, Ice King is still Marceline’s old friend deep down inside, and the only aspect of Simon that remains in tact. The two bask in their new bond: Ice King, realizing he has a new friend to jam with, and Marceline, who sees the beauty and the sorrow in what is likely Simon’s last remaining form of communication he wrote to her, that he was probably too insane at that point to give to her in person. The episode closes with a flashback to the Great Mushroom War, and what is probably the first overt piece of visual evidence of the actual apocalypse. Marceline and Ice King’s soft voices lull the last scene powerfully through (some honest-to-Glob tearjerk worthy inflections from Tom Kenny) as an already transformed Simon hands a young Marcy a stuffed animal to comfort her, which eventually becomes her most prized possession, Hambo. A perfect heartwarming ending that gets me near-misty eyed every time I watch.

Everything this episode embodies is masterful, from creating a beautiful connection between the only characters who lived through the Mushroom War, to allowing them to powerfully emote through the art of music. This episode is essentially a “box episode” in the sense that it takes place almost entirely in Marceline’s house and focuses solely on the interactions between two lead characters. It’s almost like a stage play (with some musical elements) and really works as a captivating piece of character development and the reason why this show is more than just a silly cartoon for kids. It’s passionate, it’s creative, it’s honest, it’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s philosophical, it’s so many things that really just knock it out of the ballpark. There’s that bit of a lull, and some parts that don’t work. Like, what was the point of including Finn and Jake spying on the Ice King in the last few minutes? Did they really think Marcy wouldn’t be able to take care of herself? I understand they may have been concerned with Ice King’s behavior, but really, c’mon. Marcy herself asked them to leave. But, any minor problems aside, this episode is just too damn good. It’s cliche at this point to endlessly praise it, but I’m not going to lie when I think something is really good. It emphasizes everything that makes Adventure Time beautiful and admirable, and still amazes me by how well crafted and inherently sad I Remember You is to this day.

Favorite line: “Your constant harassment of the female gender makes me siiick.”

 

“Reign of Gunters” Review

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Original Airdate: October 8, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

Gunter has continually been shown as somewhat of an enigma up to this point. There’s been hints and foreshadowing of his inner darker side, most recently in King Worm, and this episode has as much fun as possible with how fucked up, while still incredibly cute and cuddly, the wide-eyed penguin is.

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It kinda goes without saying for this one that it’s somewhat all over the place. It’s essentially three different stories combined that don’t really blend together in a completely cohesive way. One is about, as the title states, a reign of Gunters attacking the Candy Kingdom. Another is about Finn’s impressionable status as a teenage that leads him heading in the direction of douchebaggery, while the third regards Ice King discovering the secret Wizard society. So yeah, none of these really have any connection at all, besides IK’s initial motivation towards heading into Wizard City, but I have to say, they are all pretty fun on their own. The battle of the Gunters provides for a lot of fun action and laughs, the detour into Finn’s adolescence reminds us that he is still in the early stages of his teenage years, and is prone to many changes in hormones, behavior, and identity when it comes to how he regards himself and his loved ones. The Ice King B-plot, while the weakest of the three, sets up a future endeavor regarding the secretive nature of Wizard City that will eventually have a bigger effect on the IK than he could ever imagine.

I guess it’s really only appropriate to talk about these stories in sequence. The initial plot begins with practically no set up, as the immediate first frame is Ice King shouting “Where the turds is my de-mon-ic wishing eye!?” It’s a very humorous beginning to emphasize the somewhat scattershot story we’re in store for, and really showcases the hilarity behind Ice King and Gunter’s father-son relationship. And by God, do I even need to bring up Ice King’s search history? Honestly, there’s very few times I’ve laughed as hard and long as I did at these freeze frame bonuses, so I almost feel obligated to include them as visual pieces.

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My personal favorites are “wizard chick pics, skinny knees” and “wiping my bum isn’t working right.” It feels less like an opportunity to get shit through the censors and just feels like something natural that you’d find when using Ice King’s search engine. I don’t even wanna know what other dirty secrets lie on that monitor.

It’s a bit of an interesting depiction for Gunter as well. I think we’re supposed to sympathize with him, but at the same time, we don’t really know what’s up with him. Does he just want love and affection? Or something much more than that? Whatever it is, it causes him to engage in complete fits of rage and doom, which leads to an eventual invasion into the Candy Kingdom. This is home to some really great interactions between Jake, PB, and Finn. They all work off of each other so well, once again showcasing PB’s somewhat goofier side (love how she just stops caring halfway through and plans on building bottles forever, I feel like she just didn’t have the effort or energy to put her time into actually defeating an army of penguins). Some terrific playful voicework by John DiMaggio in this one, where Jake doesn’t really have many funny lines on his own, but it’s one of those episodes where just the tone of DiMaggio’s delivery is enough to get a laugh out of me. And then there’s Finn, who is so confident in his own secret plans that he doesn’t really think through whether or not they’ll work out. It really is just a terrific showcase of these three distinct personalities, allowing their goofier, as well as their more prideful sides come out in full force. It’s also just an endearing hangout experience for them. From PB’s reaction, I think she sees this as a more opportune time to hangout with her boys than immediately get up in arms and weapons-heavy in regard to the Gunter invasion. She probably knows she can handle it, but would much rather just take it easy and do something silly with her close friends, which is why she acknowledges that her plan is awful. The stakes actually do feel pretty high during this one, despite the fact that, once again, we’re dealing with an army of Gunters. The scene with Gunter nearly cracking the Gumball Guardian is definitely wince-worthy, and actually somewhat had me concerned on where it was going next. Of course, the episode does ends with Ice King giving Gunter the “squirty-squirts” so any sinister motivations from Gunter just come off as mere “teen angst”… for now, at least.

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About halfway through the episode revolves around Finn’s excerpt about how he wants to be more secretive towards women in case anything with Flame Princess ends up failing. It makes sense that Finn would want to be more educated on how to handle relationships since he’s in his first committed one with FP, and makes even more sense that he wouldn’t want to go into another spiraling depression that’s equivalent to what he went through with Bubblegum. Of course, it makes Finn look more like a jackass that he’s subtly manipulating people for his own gain, but it’s a terrific segue into his eventual fuck-ups that are based off of hormonal needs and the teenage male perspective. I was never bothered by this side of Finn because I felt it was an honest, realistic, and interesting portrayal of his character that went beyond just simply portraying him as a stand-up kid with no moral issues. It’s an intriguing step up from what we’ve already seen from the innocent little guy, and even more interesting that he looks to outside media for advice regarding how to handle girls, something I think most teenage boys are also guilty of. This, in return, introduces us to Jay T. Doggzone, and I swear to God, if we don’t find out who the identity of this author is before the end of the series, I’m gonna be hella pissed. Jay T. Doggzone was a recurring element added in that continued appearing through the end of Season Four towards the end of Season Five, and it’s constantly implied that he’s Jake, yet never openly revealed. I feel as though the staff may have just scrapped following up on this idea, which I don’t really mind not knowing, but I feel like they added so much God damn build-up already towards the identity behind this character that it keeps me up at night wondering who this guy is. Is it Jake’s secret alter-ego? Why does Jake write “trash books” in secret? Who are you Jay T. Doggzone!? Honestly, the finale could leave me with as many open questions as possible, as long as I find out who this fucking author is, I can die in peace.

Ice King’s B-plot isn’t especially lengthy, but it does introduce us to Wizard City for the first time: a totally rad landscape where some choice wizards hangout. It’s also the first speaking appearance of Huntress Wizard, that I know Jesse Moynihan in particular was probably really, really hype about. Moynihan had already tried to incorporate Huntress Wizard into his AT episodes a couple of times, and this was the first successful pitch (aside from her non-speaking cameo in Wizard Battle). She’s good fun to watch; snarky, mysterious, and well-designed, her presence is always welcomed, especially when her personality battles Ice King’s. But IK doesn’t mind, since his Jay T. motherfucking Doggzone book told him otherwise. The secret society of wizards kickstarts that cool recurring story arc, and is definitely the biggest and most interesting takeaway from this episode. I didn’t really know what to expect from this combination of unique wizards, and felt that there were a ton of possibilities that could come from it, especially in regards to the division from Wizard-culture and Ooo-culture. And it’s a small moment towards the end, but I really enjoy Finn’s notable sympathy for Ice King and his physical injuries. They could’ve easily just pinned the entire Gunter incident on the IK, but I enjoy how Finn especially is more concerned with his well-being than why he wasn’t keeping a better eye on his pet penguin.

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I kinda went into this one feeling divided because of its scattershot nature, but I actually have to say that I do enjoy this one. Sure, the set pieces never really flow well together, but I still think it’s thoroughly enjoyable and fun all the way through, no matter what its focus is. It never feels so incoherent that it’s distracting, and still keeps my attention regardless. You could definitely argue that it’s unfocused, but take an episode like Ignition Point that’s a complete snore-fest, despite it’s solid main story. Reign of Gunters may not be the most cohesive episode, but it’s certainly a lot of fun. Great character interactions, jokes, lore, and a wildly silly conflict, everything that Adventure Time does right in one, flimsy package.

Favorite line: “Bubb, your plan… bunks.”

“Beyond this Earthly Realm

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Original Airdate: June 11, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

Beyond this Earthly Realm isn’t as heady as the last one, but it’s pretty freakin’ cool. It’s a simple story equipped with an even more simplistic B-plot: Finn and Ice King have to team up after Finn enters some sort of spirit realm, and Jake just misses his buddy while he’s gone. These two stories are pretty basic and nothing new, but they’re carried largely by just how enjoyable it is to watch Ice King and Finn’s budding friendship, as well as the awesome visuals that support the plot.

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The entire episode is coated in an orange-red filter that looks really artistically pleasing and interesting, while dozens of awesomely designed creatures roam the spirit world. They’re certainly not as funny or unique as some of the demons of the Nightosphere, but every creature has its own individual design that ranges from creative to inherently gross. I really love how a lot of the side monsters or creatures in AT look like they were developed from a notebook doodle, as a good chunk of them were. It really adds that bit of likability to them, even the one that diarrheas and vomits at the same time. Yuck.

Finn’s connection to the Ice King in this episode makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. He obviously doesn’t like that he has to deal with Simon (yes, I did love that name drop), but I do appreciate the level of patience and acceptance he has with the old coot. Instead of being angry or inflicting violence on the Ice King when he realizes he’s been lied to, Finn simply states “I’m gonna re-open the hole.” It’s a great “fuck this” reaction, but also pretty telling that Finn simply just wants to punish the IK for his behavior rather than necessarily hurt him. It makes the connection between the two seem much stronger, and shows us how far they have come. It’s just really sweet to see them working together once again, which we legitimately don’t get to see again for another three seasons or so. I suppose if we got these types of episodes a lot they wouldn’t be as special, but their dynamic, especially when it comes to common goals, is just a ton of fun.

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There’s great moments between the two, such as the implication that Ice King regularly lies to Gunther and claims that him and Finn are hanging out, which is both hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking. Ice King trying to be cool by deeming them “turbro…turbo-bros” is a nice overly long gag as well. There’s also some nice individual moments, including Ice King’s description of the spirits that ends with a solemn, “… I hate them.” This story stemmed from Ice King’s brief mention of wizard eyes in Mortal Recoil, and both episodes emphasized what a taxing issue it is for ol’ Simon to be experiencing hallucinations 24/7. It’s very amusingly tragic, and it really helps you emphasize with the circumstances of his condition that he himself isn’t even comfortable with. Finn’s reaction to the contents of the portal is a funny callback to the beginning, where instead of being treated to anything too expository, we just simply get Finn’s utter confusion with his surroundings to help inform us of what’s going on.

I especially like Jake’s subplot as well. It isn’t heavily focused on, but man, there’s some legitimate melancholy when it comes to Jake’s behavior. It’s sad seeing the guy so torn up over losing his friend, along with his efforts to bring him back which Jake probably knows won’t work. I really sympathize a lot with him in these bits, and even though we obviously know Finn’s going to return by the end of the episode, it’s still sad to see Jake so torn up over the disappearance of his brother, and the in-universe reality that he may not be able to get him back.

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The conclusion involves a pretty trippy breaking-the-fourth-wall moment that definitely has me believing that Ice King still has aspects of Simon deeply embedded in his subconscious, though this is likely no surprise. Finn symbolically refers to him by name a bit earlier on, and his long, open-ended speech about the basis of television have me thinking that Simon’s existential and scholarly personality still play a part in Ice King’s everyday life, whether he knows it or not.

There’s a couple of inconsistencies in this one, mainly the idea about what the spirits can touch and whether they can be touched or not. Like, there’s bits where Finn is able to sit on the couch or a tree branch, but he isn’t able to feel BMO or Jake? And then there’s the scene where Ice King says he isn’t able to touch the spirits, but immediately swats one off  of him afterwards. It’s brief moments like this that make me kinda question how the Spirit World works and what limitations it has, but ultimately don’t tarnish the experience as a whole.

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And I truly do enjoy this one. Like I said, there’s nothing mind blowing or especially hilarious about it, it just does what it set out to do so well that it ultimately ended up being a great one for me. Lots of nice visuals, character interactions, an entertaining adventure, a pretty dope musical score, and the compassionate connection between our main characters. What more could ya ask for in an episode of Adventure Time?

And holy shit, have you guys ever seen the lyrics of BMO’s spider song?

Three baby spiders, three bitty baby spiders,
Were playing in the sun.
The rain came down and it was no fun.

Cry cry cry cry goo ga goo.
Oh me, oh my, eyes are raining too.
The first spider drowned, he was never found.

The second spider cried till he died,
But the babiest of all splashed and had a ball.

He grew up very tall and lived inside a wall.
Sometimes the sun shines even on baby spiders and you!

A pretty God damn dark version of Itsy Bitsy Spider, if ya ask me!

Favorite line: “Now you’re trapped, and only I can see you. So if you want friends, this is it, pal!”

 

“Princess Monster Wife” Review

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Original Airdate: May 28, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Bert Youn & Somvilay Xayaphone

Princess Monster Wife is Ice King’s return to centerstage after a long absence from major appearances since Holly Jolly Secrets. It’s also a pretty classic Ice King story, as he returns to his roots of kidnapping princesses, with a twist. At first, I was pretty opposed to this one. I didn’t like the idea of Ice King continuing to pull his typical shenanigans after the big, heavy reveal of his backstory, but I think they really took a unique root with it that we haven’t seen much of: Ice King actually being a good husband.

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A large majority of this one is just simply the connection between the IK and PMW, and it’s actually quite heartwrenching and poignant. Again, upon first watching this episode, I thought it was a tad slow. A lot of it is dragging with depression, but that’s another aspect I’ve grown to enjoy more. The character of Princess Monster Wife is quite difficult to watch, generally because she views herself as a monster and the entire rest of the world, besides her husband, supports it. One of my all-time favorite movies is The Elephant Man, and this is a story quite similar to it that I think is pulled off very well. Princess Monster Wife has just enough to her that I think she’s a relatively well-defined character; she’s thoughtful and friendly, but isn’t able to give love to anyone because she doesn’t even love herself and can’t find any reasons to do so. It’s a very tragic look at self-loathing that really tears me up inside every time I see this character and the reactions she receives from everyone around her. The scene where she looks at herself in the sink is arguably the hardest to watch.

Ice King is the best character to combat that personality, however, and we see him in one of his most likable depictions of all time. Despite the world deeming his wife as a monster, Ice King is still entirely supportive and loving towards her, no matter what society thinks. It’s really charming and endearing to see him behave like such a gentleman and genuine person, especially in scenes where he describes washing dishes with her and the entire scheme of putting her through a penguin fashion show. The fact that he’d go through all of that alone is a really amazing thing for him to do, and I just enjoy seeing the IK legitimately handle a relationship with such grace. It proves that, while Ice King is completely immature emotionally, he is able to function like a normal, well-kept human being when he has the right person beside him, and perhaps PMW’s mental fragility was what helped him gain control of his own. I love their relationship, and his desire to be “normal” like the families on TV.

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The ending proves, however, that no matter how well Ice King is able to handle a real life relationship, he’s still very much insane and self-centered. Despite his loving behavior towards PMW, he still considers her “his stuff” and will have completely forgotten her existence five minutes later. It doesn’t feel mean-spirited at all to me, and just feels like fitting behavior for Ice King. Even though he was able to have a caring relationship with Princess Monster Wife, he still stole from others to create her, and most likely would have moved on to something different within a week. It was just nice to see that he was able to at least behave like a genuine person at all when faced with a loving relationship.

The song in this one is great and hilarious. Written by Pat McHale, Something Special is somewhat of a homage to A Whole New World, and one that both feels very silly and quite captivating. The landscape while Ice King and PMW are flying is really beautiful, taking us throughout the ice castle, as well as showing off some familiar faces (the ice toads, ice bulls, and Gunter’s baby kitten). And of course, you have Ice King singing in a high-pitched female voice, which is just great.

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The humor is this one is a bit scarce, though, like I said, it wasn’t really going for jokes a lot of the time. It was going more for real genuine sequences between our two main leads (in fact, it almost feels like a stage play a majority of the time) and how they work off of each other. That said, it does have its moments. The premise itself is so bizarre and absurd that I can’t help but laugh at it. It makes sense that IK would be able to take parts from PB or Hot Dog Princess, but how the fuck did he rip off Turtle Princess and LSP’s faces? Do bodies just work like that in Ooo? The penguin fashion show was pretty amusing as well, as we final get an actual consensus that there isn’t just one Gunther. Ice King just makes up penguin names as he goes along and such.

If there’s one thing I really didn’t like when I first saw the episode that I still feel pretty iffy on, it’s Finn and Jake’s behavior. I really don’t know how I feel about it; on one hand, I can’t really blame them for passing out because it’s pretty much against their will, but their general behavior towards PMW is quite unlikable to me. I mean, I understand their job is to rescue princess parts because what Ice King did is fucked up, but directly calling her ugly and insulting her face is pretty harsh to me. Perhaps they didn’t realize how sentient PMW was, but it just really doesn’t work for me. It just comes off as dick-ish.

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Besides that, I really like this one. Like I mentioned, it’s just a very gutwrenching tale that brings out the best in Ice King and a unique one-off character that proves to be quite beautiful by the end of the story. Princess Monster Wife is the one who legitimately saves the day, and will always hold the Ice King’s love for her near and dear. It’s a very tragic kind of love story that’s actually the best type of love story we’ve seen this season so far.

As a side note, I wanted to share with y’all my Adventure Time collection I’ve been working on for a while! Years of collecting shizz like the nerdy fanboy I am is just something I take great pleasure in, while also spending a reasonable amount of time and money, so I hope you guys are able to enjoy as well!

Favorite line: “You’re all gonna clap and cheer or I’m gonna smack your buns.”

Season Three Review

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Season Three of AT is arguably the best combination between humor and drama in the entire series. Season seven comes close, but I think season three really manages to balance goofiness and intensity to a tee. I always stand by my belief that each season gets better as the show goes along, but really, this is as close to a perfect season for any series.

The humor was really spot on this time around. With episodes like Still, Hitman, and Another Way, the show has really come accustomed to a much sharper, rounded form of humor that goes beyond just uttering wacky catchphrases. The interactions between the characters are brilliant, especially episodes that deal with the relationship between Finn, Jake, and Ice King. I can’t remember laughing as hard as I did while rewatching episodes like Hitman or Still up to this point. And even then, episodes that aren’t primarily comedy based had a lot of great jokes and gags within them as well: Dad’s Dungeon, The Creeps, and Too Young had their own moments of precise hilarity.

Some episodes also introduced one of AT’s greatest elements in later episodes: their experimental nature. Fionna and Cake and Thank You both diverted majorly away from the show’s comfort zone, and took on topics and genres that proved to be largely popular in the outcome. It’s clear the crew was very pleased with these episodes, as it lead to some bigger experimentation later on, such as more Fionna and Cake stories, guest animated episodes, and the inclusion of side characters as the main focus of their designated episode.

Things took a dark turn in No One Can Hear You, which was a largely unfunny episode that was more focused more on creepy atmosphere and story than trying to shoehorn in jokes. Again, it was another creative choice that pushed the boundaries of the series on whether it could possibly work out not, which, again, proved to be a successful decision in the long run.

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We also got a good chunk of particularly emotional episodes. Holly Jolly Secrets revealed the secret backstory of the Ice King through one of the most powerful sequences in the entire show, and Incendium focused on Finn’s crushed love life as he struggled to bounce back from getting rejected by Bubblegum for the final time. It was really nice for AT to divert from what a typical kid’s show is allowed to do by showcasing some of the more raw emotional circumstances and hardships of life. Even The New Frontier, which was a relatively silly episode, had a very heavy focus on the topic of death and whether we should handle it with open arms or ignore it completely. Little things like that are what really show why this series has such a large adult following, and how a good majority of viewers these days are adults themselves.

The teams were pretty great for this season as well. Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar are once again the superstars of this season, crafting some of the most poignant and enjoyable episodes in the series (Morituri te Salutamus, What Was Missing, and Incendium). We also got the great new pairing of Ako and Jesse, who surprisingly worked very well together! They actually crafted a lot of the creepier and more atmospheric episodes this season (No One Can Hear You, The Creeps, and Ghost Princess) and while not all of them were big hits, they did manage to blend their styles together quite nicely. Tom Herpich and Bert Youn were a solid team as well, which leaves Kent Osborne and Somvilay Xayaphone as the weakest team once again. They did manage to create what is definitely the funniest episode of the season, Still, but their work never really stood out one way or another to me. Their styles just never really meshed that well together; Somvilay was all for more absurd comedy and visuals, while Kent is kind of a traditionalist when it comes to AT’s humor. I think Osborne himself works terrifically on his own later on, and Somvilay even found a better pairing with Seo Kim.

The character arcs this season are pretty well divided out: Finn begins experiencing some of the hardships of his teenage life, including his development of an inferiority complex, his acceptance that, one day, his best friend will die, and the painful tragedy of unrequited love. He still remains the goofball with a heart of gold that we’ve come so comfortable with, but it’s still very interesting to watch him experience his changing life around him, and the traumas that come with growing. Jake wasn’t entitled to a specific arc, but we do get a really good glimpse of his view on death and destiny in The New Frontier, which pretty much remains consistent throughout the show’s run. We get a good amount of episodes dedicated to Marceline, including hints of her backstory that are explored in Memory of a Memory, What Was Missing, and Marceline’s Closet. It’s all really cool to get even some hints of post-Mushroom War information through her past, and it only becomes more compelling and interesting from this point on. Unfortunately, we still don’t get too in depth with PB’s character arc, which doesn’t really go into full effect until the next season. The most we get to see out of her is through Too Young, where, during her time as a thirteen-year-old, she gets to enjoy time having fun with Finn, and we even get a look into her background as a the ruler of the Candy Kingdom. This single episode shows that PB finds being a ruler quite stressful, and sets up a good chunk of her story later on. Besides that, we only get to see her one-sided relationship with Finn (on Finn’s side, of course) and a glimpse into her rocky relationship with Marceline. It’s also unfortunate that we get to see a majority of the depth on Marceline and Finn’s side of the story and rarely ever get to see a view from PB’s point of view. This is handled better later on, but I still feel like PB is a bit underwhelming when it comes to true character development in this particular season.

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And of course, the true star, the Ice King. The way he’s incorporated into this season is absolutely genius. There’s a handful of episodes that work towards developing the IK into a lonely jerk who simply wants to be friends with Finn and Jake in some of the funniest ways possible. Just when you think that concept can’t build up any longer, the big reveal occurs that Ice King’s crown is what caused a relatively normal human being into a crazy ice wizard, which completely changes the IK’s story into one of the most interesting arcs in the entire series. This entire season could simply be labeled as “The Best of Ice King”, because that’s truly what it is in my eyes: a terrific assortment of episodes that really do their damnest to make the show’s primary antagonist into one of the most sympathetic and endearing characters of all time.

Top 5 Best Episodes

5. Fionna and Cake – A dazzlingly beautiful episode that takes full advantage of an awesome experiment, as well as being the best Fionna and Cake episode to date.

4. Thank You – Another great experiment that’s a strong emotional experience, churning out one of the most heartwarming stories in the entire series.

3. Dad’s Dungeon – A totally kickass episode that showcases the relationship between Finn and his adoptive father, as he and Jake trek through the coolest dungeon to date.

2. No One Can Hear You – A rather creepy episode that feels like AT’s most prominent attempt at a psychological thriller, and one that succeeds in the very best way.

1. Incendium – A turning point for the series that puts an end to one of the first established relationships in the series, and one that’s filled with emotion, humor, and the introduction of a new major player.

Top 5 Worst Episodes

5. Marceline’s Closet – Not a bad one by any means, but one that feels a bit thin on any new light to put Marceline in, and thin on story as well.

4. From Bad to Worse – Not particularly strong in humor or story, and a very experimental one for Somvilay that slightly backfires.

3. Wizard Battle – Less of Finn trying to smooch on Princess Bubblegum and more wizard battles, dammit!

2. Paper Pete – A cute, yet mildly bland episode that I almost always forget immediately after I watch it.

1. The Monster – A spotlight debut for LSP that only brings out why she shouldn’t be in the spotlight of any episode.

Final Consensus

As I mentioned above, this really is as perfect a season as you can get. The Monster is really the only episode from season three I could label as straight-up bad, and that’s pretty impressive from a package of 26 episodes. It continued to pushed the boundaries of what AT is capable of doing, and gave reasonable belief for viewers that the series wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It really closed out the era of classic Adventure Time with a bang.

“Holly Jolly Secrets (Part I & II)” Review

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Original Airdate: December 5, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne

Ice King has certainly gone through some major developmental stages during the past season. He’s almost completely transitioned from a villain to Finn and Jake’s creepy, annoying neighbor, and while that characterization has proven to be successful all season, it does risk a chance of being repetitive over time. Unless Ice King was at some point going to transform into a complete hero, it’d be awfully boring to just watch him attempt to capture princesses over and over again, or just endlessly try to be Finn and Jake’s best buddy. Holly Jolly Secrets is the one that changes everything. Everything we thought we knew about the Ice King up to this point was ultimately rendered moot, and an onslaught of new questions and mysteries arose. This introduction to Ice King’s backstory is also pretty much a turning point for the entire show: Adventure Time generally has become darker, more ambitious in its storytelling, and persistent in adding continuing bits of lore and mysticism in its ever-growing world.

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I guess I’ll kick-off this review by talking about its most crucial aspect: the videotape revealing the past life of Simon Petrikov. This portion of the episode is absolutely brilliant. It’s one of my top five favorite moments in the entire show, period, and I often forget how chillingly solemn and ominous it really is. There are so many nice little details, between the progression of time throughout each video journal to the brief existence of pre-Mushroom War propaganda. There’s a plane that flies by, which can honestly be taken as a sign of impending warfare (a later scene leads me to lean more towards this theory) and even the existence of a (presumably) Catholic Church. It really shows humanity and early society in the most explicit, uncut way that adds a bit of subtle lore to the existence of the post-apocalyptic world and how some aspects were generally lost in translation. I love all the subtle changes as Simon slowly becomes the Ice King; one aspect I really enjoy is how Simon’s first appearance in the video seems generally unaltered, yet his eyes are actually white and rounded much like the IK’s, rather than dotted and black like most human beings are shown to possess. It’s a nice bit that shows you just how doomed Simon was from the start, and how even before he lost his sanity, the crown had already claimed its victim. The exploration is fascinating; Simon’s transformation is often compared to Alzheimer’s, and while that correlation is quite accurate, it almost feels like a drug addiction in these video entries. Despite the way it’s destroying his life and pushing away the one he loves most, Simon continues to put on the crown, simply because of his failure to resist the feeling of power and strength it gives him. It’s some really tough stuff to get through, and the connection between his fiancee Betty and the Ice King’s desire to capture princesses is absolutely heartbreaking.

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Somvilay added this banner in to keep the viewer’s attention. A strange bit of meta-humor that AT typically strays away from.

The monologue was provided by Patrick McHale, who came up with the idea of Ice King’s tragic backstory. It really feels like a one-man play, but Pendleton Ward himself has compared it to the likes of a radio drama. The speech really shows what a fantastic voice actor Tom Kenny is; he’s so well-known for his portrayals of zany cartoon characters, but the dude can really pull off a legitimately serious and poignant role, and I think that’s a part of his abilities as an actor that’s sadly overlooked. The straight-forward fashion in which he reads these lines, without even slightly sounding phony or forced, is really impressive. It’s a very strong and powerful read through that really adds to this sequence being one of my favorite moments in the entire series. The monotone dialogue is surprisingly what keeps you so drawn to the screen.

However, with all that said, I honestly think the rest of the episode is just okay. The entirety of the episode is padded with quirky video diaries of the Ice King, and truthfully, they don’t do it for me. Like, at all. There’s a few funny lines readings, such as “good morning, you’re watching the evening news,” and IK’s hilarious rendition of Marceline’s Fry Song, (FORESHADOWING) but none of the other tapes do it for me in the slightest. I get it, the episode needed to be stretched out for the purpose of building up to the massive drama bomb, but I wish those tapes and time used at least incorporated more humor and entertainment. The tapes are purposefully boring, but end up slowing down the entire episode to the point where it feels like it takes an eternity to get to the actual meat. There’s an extended scene of BMO fastforwarding one of Ice King’s tapes, and it goes on for like, a solid minute. It’s another one of those episodes that showcases Somvilay’s odd approaches at anti-humor that just simply makes the experience a relatively dull one.

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The original pitch for this episode called for Finn and Jake to watch old Christmas specials, but Pen thought that the idea was awful in hindsight because it destroyed the fabric of the universe that the crew worked so hard at creating. While I can’t say that idea would’ve been better, I do think that the first 18 minutes of this two-parter should’ve been padded with something a little easier to chew on. I feel like it’s incredibly hard for me to think of anything noteworthy about Holly Jolly Secrets that isn’t the big reveal. The characterization of Finn and Jake isn’t that strong; they’re just sort of there to blankly observe until the ending. Even the Ice King isn’t that funny throughout this episode, and coming off the heals of great episodes like Still and Hitman, that’s no excuse.

After the video sequence does end, we do get some legitimately good moments as well. I love the IK’s delusional belief that the most significant thing about the tapes is the fact that he used to wear glasses. It’s a tonally appropriate moment to cap-off one of the heaviest scenes yet with a completely tasteful joke. Finn and Jake’s empathy for the IK is really great, too. It’s a nice moment for Finn to simply just give the Ice King back his tapes; I know people are always a bit annoyed that F&J don’t do more to help out Ice King, but really, what can they do? It’s completely out of their control and knowledge to be able to fix a pretty much unsolvable problem, so even showing him a bit of compassion and sincere appreciation is really sweet. Even though Ice King’s attempts at humor were considerably weak in these episodes, his characterization does come in strong when you realize that he actually hasn’t done anything wrong throughout. All he wanted to do was hang out with Finn and Jake, and when he completely forgets the fact that the two boys even watched his tapes, he rewards them with unusual gifts. It’s such a delightful view of his character that only makes the videos more effective and tragic. The second part ends on a perfect note, as all of the major and minor characters, including a booger and excluding Marceline (FORESHADOWING) sit together by a fire and essentially celebrate Ooo’s first Christmas.

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So yeah, I’m a bit half-and-half on this one. There’s some moments that are absolutely incredibly, yet others that are bafflingly mediocre. It’s safe to say that Simon’s backstory is more than enough to justify Holly Jolly Secrets’ existence, and that it still stands as a very crucial two-parter in the general expansion of the series. The Ice King only gets increasingly more interesting from this point on, and any story arc that was adapted from his backstory can be drawn back directly from this first episode. Holly Jolly Secrets isn’t a two-parter I happen to revisit as a whole a lot, but you can rest assured that I’ll continue coming back to Simon Petrikov’s story for years to come. It’s an emotionally scarring holiday special for the whole family!

Favorite line: “My alarm says it’s time for Finn’s bath. Finn, get naked.”