Tag Archive | Ice King

“Friends Forever” Review

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Original Airdate: April 16, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

Friends Forever brings up an interesting question: is Ice King really worth saving? And I mean that in the sense that Ice King has become his own developed and lovable character over the course of six seasons that completely differs from Simon. Of course, Ice King is depressed and deeply troubled, and Simon lost his sanity to the crown, so for that reason, it almost makes sense to reverse the effects of the crown and thus to save Simon. Though, Ice King makes it very clear in this episode that he doesn’t want to be “fixed” and doesn’t want the help from the likes of others. Some parts of Simon’s personality and the personality of Urgence Evergreen that was embedded in the crown (there’s a nice little homage to Evergreen in this one when Ice King scolds, “Gunther, no!”) are what make up Ice King’s identity, and while he is far from the most conscientious being, he still has free will and is very much a conscious entity. So would bringing Simon back effectively destroy the Ice King as a person without his approval?

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The concept is presented in a challenging way, which is also appreciated. As Friends Forever continues to remind us, Ice King is still clearly insane. He manipulates the Life Giving Magus into bringing his furniture to life in the hopes that they can become his best friends, instead of simply reaching out to Magus to fill that void. In addition to that, it seems that Ice King’s comradery with Abracadaniel was only temporary, as Ice King quickly got sick of him and decided to keep him frozen within the ice cave. In a sense, this is a way to help reinforce his imperfect nature. This is the Ice King we know, and the episode doesn’t try manipulate the audience into feeling more sympathetic by making him seem completely innocent and totally naive. Though, the sympathy does come through in regards to his general demeanor.

Magus’s powers turn IK’s furniture into pretentious and stuffy beings, who want nothing to do with Ice King and his obscure personality. Ice King’s belongings merely want to berate him by bringing up his flaws and insecurities and deeming them as unorthodox. Even the lamp, who is likely the nicest out of all of Ice King’s newly found friends, only offers advice that urges Ice King to conform, rather than to continue to be his nutty self. There are some aspects about Ice King that certainly deserve some fine-tuning, such as his desire to kidnap princesses (of which he hasn’t even been seen doing since Betty) and his failure to be rational when things do not go his way, but the factors that Ice King’s belongings target him with are, at best, petty. Ice King crying into diapers and having burritos stuck in his beard are nothing that he even needs to have an explanation for, and again, his “friends” simply want to fix him because his unusual ways of living do no conform to their expectations. Ice King’s drum even says “we don’t like you, but we’re here for you!” Ice King has proven to be most successful when he has the right support by his side, as seen when he gets closer to other characters like Marceline, Princess Bubblegum, and BMO.

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It’s kind of a good analogy to show the dangers of keeping toxic friends in your life. Toxic friends are the ones who say they’re there for you and that they’re looking out for your best interests, but they merely want to shape you into what they think you should be like. Ice King identifies with this, and his choice to push away the help that lies in front of him shows that he doesn’t really want to be helped to begin with. I wouldn’t say Ice King is really happy, but he’s at least content with his being because he knows it’s the only way he understands how to live. That isn’t to say that Ice King might not need help at all, but if he does receive such support, it should be from people who genuinely care for him and those who are looking out for his best interests. This is the first of many episodes that got me thinking about Ice King’s nature in general and whether it actually makes sense for him to be reverted back into his natural form as Simon. This show has made me care so deeply for Ice King throughout the past six seasons and further that I think it would be a genuine bummer if the crown was altered in some sort of way to return Simon to “normal” when it comes to the endgame. Sure, it’d be nice to see Simon safe, sound, and happy again, but if that means killing Ice King, then I really don’t know. Friends Forever effectively separates the two entities in head scratching way that makes me very perplexed on how this arc could realistically end in a satisfying way. It would be sad if Simon was unable to regain his humanity, but even sadder if it meant getting rid of Ice King. He has just as much of a role in the lives of the main characters as Simon does, if not more so. And if Ice King doesn’t want to change himself or the way he lives, he should be entitled to his own state of free will and consciousness.

So with all those interesting ideologies, this must be a really good episode, right? Actually, I think it’s just decent. Sure, I can invest my time in analyzing all of the deeper elements of Ice King’s character and how his furniture treats him, but I don’t know how much I really enjoyed this one. This is an Ristaino-Sanchez duo episode that is surprisingly low on laughs. I only really laughed at the improv joke, the “Nihilistic Funnies”, and the random words lighting up gag. Besides that, it’s kind of dry regarding anything of entertainment value. Ice King’s belongings in general aren’t very likable or memorable, and aside from some funny designs, like the Hi-Hat on Ice King’s drums, every belonging is limited to the standard dotted eyes feature and aren’t really presented as unique in any way. The lamp I think has an especially hideous design that kills any kind of likability they were going for with her. There’s something especially unsettling about those wide eyes and that fat upper lip that just kind of rubs me the wrong way. In addition to that, the setting is relatively dull. Aside from some party lights that illuminate the setting in a pretty neat way, this episode takes place entirely in the Ice Castle, and it seems a lot more monotonous when so many previous episodes have had their own distinct setting. So yeah, this isn’t one I like a whole lot, but it does at least provide me with good material for discussions. It’s an interesting Ice King outing that does raise plenty of different questions regarding his state of being, but is a bit lacking on the entertainment value.

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Favorite line: “I like this guy, though. He’s a real ignoramus!”

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“Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe!” Review

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Original Airdate: July 24, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe! is a silly enough name on its own, and it makes for a pretty silly episode focusing on the C-List group of wizards (or at least magical beings, in Little Dude’s case) and their field trip to Big Butt Rock. But even with that said, it’s not as goofy as one would expect regarding an Ice King and Abracadaniel buddy-buddy comedy. Like most other season six episodes, Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe! has its moments that focus on being poetic scattered throughout, though I think the humor in all other parts is a bit lacking. Not to say that a lot of jokes fail, it just doesn’t really feel like it’s especially trying to be funny most of the time. A lot of Somvilay’s episodes this season, and from this point on in the series, somewhat feel like he’s attempting to cut back on his diverse sense of anti-humor and mostly just wants to tell a straightforward story. I dunno, maybe it’s that his sense of anti-humor has just gotten slightly less stilted and noticeable that it doesn’t really come off as huge issue for me, but I can’t think of any moments from his portion (or Seo Kim’s, for that matter) that I particularly hated. It just so happens that a good portion of it felt slightly insignificant, though it has its fair share of laughs and enjoyable moments.

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The premise in this one is actually quite good. I like that all these lovable wizards from past episodes come back, along with Ice King, for the purpose of spending a dorky time with each other and feeling like they’re part of something greater. It’s really sweet to see them all working off of each other, and even sweeter to see Ice King spend time with ACTUAL friends who enjoy his company. Totally seems to be boosting the dude’s morale; he’s pretty tame in terms of his behavior in this one, and it really shows how much he benefits from having positive reinforcement around him. It’s also fun to see the obscure little side characters joining the trip such as the mostly enigmatic Beau, Leaf Man (who gets a lot more attention in the Ice King comic series), and Giuseppe, whose importance grows throughout the duration of the episode. Also awesome to see a little cameo appearance of the Old Lady Village while Abracadaniel drives the bus! I love how old ladies are officially a race within the AT universe at this point.

Finn and Jake’s roles in this episode are fairly brief, though I think it’s pretty great. I love how judgmental they are and how much they believe they are above hanging out with Ice King and friends, only to give in and actually be disappointed when they drive off with babes. This season does a great job showcasing the various lives of different characters within Ooo, and it’s nice to see that, while Finn and Jake are the stars of the show, they aren’t the stars of Ooo. Life and adventures go on without them, and Ice King doesn’t even think twice when leaving them behind. Shows how he has grown as a character by some degree.

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As I mentioned, on the humor and entertainment front, this one can be a bit dry. It kind of derives from most scenes feeling slightly long-winded, with only one or two jokes in each segment really hitting. Abracadaniel trying to hit on the Water Nymphs and asking them to join their bus trip isn’t inherently funny, though it has that one bit with Ron James’ enticing eyes, which is humorously depicted through a slightly cute, slightly off-putting drawing. The couple of minutes dedicated to the bus losing gas, as Abracadaniel uses Ice King’s crown to create a road path isn’t particularly fun either, though the gimmick where the bus slides slowly slides off as he tosses the crabapples to Ice King is pretty funny. It’s just kind of an episode that trails by for the most part, with incremental bits of humor along the way.

While we’re on the topic of Giuseppe, however, I think his presence in general adds a lot to the episode. After he’s left behind at the crabapple tree, Ice King reads Giuseppe’s poem that he left behind on his roll of TP. It reads as follows:

“These are not my teardrops, daughter dear,

but just a sheen of dew that lingers here,

past other fields where other fathers lie,

who kept their daughters better far than I.”

A simple, yet melancholic poem that is executed greatly through the use of beautiful paintings. I like the ambiguity of the poem as well; it could be interpreted that it’s just a random tale of a man who failed to save his daughter from dying, though by the color scheme of the man interpreted in the image, one may conclude that this is Giuseppe, which adds to the weight of the poem itself. But regardless of how “deep” it is, I like how there’s a bit of underlying humor involved in the presentation of Giuseppe’s character in general. I enjoy how touched the other wizards are by his writings, and how he’s generally treated as a prophet throughout the entire episode. There’s something really funny about this old, decrepit, gassy man being looked upon as something of a God, that’s made even better through the fact that Giuseppe doesn’t speak at all throughout this entire episode’s run. You never really know what he’s thinking; Giuseppe could have had the entire trip planned out from the start as a means of helping his fellow magic users to bond with each other. Or, he could just be this random old guy who ended up unintentionally having a huge effect on the gang. The presentation leaves a lot that’s up for debate.

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Following Giuseppe’s poem, the episode really picks up once the bus gets stuck within a swamp. I love the water nymphs bailing almost immediately after failing to pick up the bus (they don’t even attempt to help anyone), the screaming bus brought to life by the Life Giving Magis that can’t swim, and man, the gag with Ron James’s head switching potion is just hilarious. Tree Trunks appearing on Ron James body, as Ron James ends up in TT’s house, where he is being groomed by Mr. Pig using a prosthetic arm is a hysterical “what the fuck” moment that really plays off of shock value. The expression on Mr. Pig’s face during the activity is really what sells it. Ice King trying to use that potion to escape, only to switch heads with the Magis next to him, is also a deeply funny bit that works so well in regards to expectation and the speed with which the jokes is carried out.

And, in a relatively solid twist, Giuseppe comes back to save the day! It’s a pretty cool moment that makes for a visual spectacle, as Giuseppe descends into the air and illuminates the swamp. Adventure Time once again succeeds in building off of the life of a one-off character by making their presence seem increasingly important in the lives of the other characters. Whether funny or profound, I enjoy just how much Giuseppe impacted this society of wizards to have their own identity based off of a singular spontaneous incident. That brief moment at the end where Magis and Abracadaniel exchange thumbs up, as Ice King quietly mutters “Giuseppe…” in the background (which is a truly funny delivery) shows what a memorable experience it was for these characters, which makes it appear as a memorable moment for the audience in general.

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But aside from those bits and some decent jokes scattered throughout, Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe! is mostly forgettable. Reiterating what I mentioned earlier, there’s nothing even bad about it, but there’s nothing particularly interesting about it until about two-thirds of the way through. The group of wizards in general are funny on their own in their individual episodes, though as a group, they mostly come off as your typical loser gang. Ice King in particular isn’t even really that funny in this one, and he’s mostly just there to be the everyman of the group. The scenery is okay, the writing is okay, and the characters are okay; everything about this one just feels “alright.” The Giuseppe moments certainly justify its existence on either a profound or humorous level, but otherwise, it’s mostly passable in a season of some really memorable entries.

Favorite line: “At sundown, we’ll gather on the Cheek’s Peak, and using the ah-has, deep feels, and woo-woos we score from the journey, we will chant a totally original spell, thus forming an entirely new school of magic.”

“Betty” Review

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This title card was designed by Derek Ballard, who has created some of the trippiest and most artistically interestingly title cards throughout the fifth and sixth season.

Original Airdate: February 24, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

Betty was originally intended to be a full 22 minute episode, but switched to the standard 11 minutes in favor of the Lemonhope two-parter. As a result, Betty has an absolute ton going on within its brief runtime that would almost seem impossible to pull off in a satisfying way. Yet, this is Adventure Time we’re talking about, and while this episode certainly isn’t without its problems, it somehow manages to execute this story in an enticing and somewhat powerful way.

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The decision to include and also effectively resolve the story arc involving the secretive Wizard Society in this one is certainly an interesting choice, and one that I think works relatively well. I always expected this to be some big plot point that result in some sort of Wizard war with Ooo, so I was quite surprised how little the Bella Noche plan came into effect following this episode. Yet, I’m perfectly fine with it, because it did lead to some big effective changes within the story that I can appreciate. And hey, that beginning scene is a lot of fun. It’s always nice to see this group of wizards, and I think they work off of their general disdain for Ice King pretty well.  One of my favorite funny/”oh shit” lines in this episode is when Laser Wizard declares “your life is my problem.” I’d love to see more of Laser Wizard; despite the fact that Tom Kenny voices about a zillion characters on this show as it is, he still gives Laser Wizard a convincingly devious tone in voice that is menacingly cool. And of course, there’s the other classics as well; it’s nice to have Maurice LaMarche back in his final role as the Grand Master Prix (still have no idea if he actually did voice GMP in Wizards Only, Fools, but his inflections in this one have reverted back to how he sounded in Wizard Battle). Forest Wizard also has his fair share of funny moments, namely in his passions that cause him restless leg syndrome. Bella Noche isn’t an especially memorable foe, but the episode never really makes him/her a main focus. It’s more about the effect he/she has on the Ice King when it comes to Bella Noche’s pure essence of anti-magic. Interestingly, Bella Noche means “beautiful night” in Spanish, and is based off of a barista who Jesse Moynihan used to frequently see at his local coffee shop.

What this episode does best, however, is really giving Simon a defined chance to shine. We only got to see a mere glimpse into his history in Holly Jolly Secrets, and Simon & Marcy fluctuated between his normal state and some odd quirkiness that I’m not really sure if it was supposed to be him or his transformed self. Here, Simon isn’t portrayed as this super interesting or unique dude, but he’s… normal, as he states himself. And from the lack of humans we actually get to see from the series, it is nice to see him as an utter straight-man, with some likable qualities, as well as flaws. On the likable side, you can really tell how kind, genuine, and intelligent he is and was. When looking towards his flaws, you can kind of tell there is a bit of a pretentious side to Simon. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a critical way, as it is interesting to look at his from a different perspective than just “that amazing guy that Marceline loved.” It seems like he has a bit of an ego, whether it be his lame poetry to Betty, “what am I? What am us?” or the fact that he kind of dickishly sent off Betty while talking to her through the time portal. His line “I forgive you for leaving me,” shows that he even blames Betty to a degree for him losing his sanity to the crown. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily his fault either, but it seems like he’s more sorry for himself than the fact that Betty lost her fiance to the crown. Again, I don’t think any of these aspects make Simon seem like an actual dick, but help to make him appear more human. He’s still a super compassionate guy, as shown in his interactions with Marceline, which received possibly the most criticism within this episode.

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Marceline’s interactions with Simon are… brief, to say the least, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it dampens the moment. While it definitely sucks that Marceline and Simon aren’t allowed more time to interact and catch up with each other, I will say: as a viewer, this is exactly what I wanted to see. Simon and Marceline lovingly reunite, they briefly have some humorous back-and-forths, before realizing that Simon is dying and he won’t be able to go on without the power of the crown, which means that the focus has to change for the episode to progress. I guess I’m kind of wondering what exactly people wanted from this; I think the main complaint that I can kind of see is that Marceline just seems passive to everything that’s going on, leading up to the point where she gives up Hambo to Simon with little hesitation. Again, I disagree with the criticism in the sense that the episode isn’t trying to make Marceline seem selfish and overly emotional. Obviously she’s going to want to do anything she can possibly do to help Simon, he’s the main reason she even survived during the aftermath of the Great Mushroom War, and it seems silly that one would expect her to be anything more than exceptionally giving to her old friend. Most would think it contradicts her behavior shown back in Sky Witch, where she literally stops at nothing to get back her beloved teddy bear. But it really isn’t Hambo that she longs for, it’s the emotional connection she has to Hambo that was brought to her through Simon. Love calls for sacrifice, and it’s hard to imagine that Marceline’s love for an inanimate is more for her all-time closest friend. There’s even a brief moment of quietness as Marceline looks at Hambo, kisses it, and sadly obliges. It’s clear she doesn’t want to give Hambo up, but what the fuck is she going to do otherwise? Marceline’s exterior is hard, but she also isn’t entirely selfish.

And this is where we’re finally introduced to an on-screen appearance of the aforementioned fiance. Betty also works in the same way the Simon operates; she’s slightly more quirky, but much more in-tune with the human side of herself. She’d later join in on the insanity as her character becomes more and more tormented from this point on, but we’ll get to that later. In a sense, however, I actually enjoy how one-note they make her character in this episode and from this point on. If you think about it, how much do we actually know about Betty besides her undying drive to cure and help Simon? Yet, it’s that same drive that makes her continuously more interesting and tragic. I never felt like I needed to know who Betty was as a person, it seems very clear. She’s much like Simon: intelligent, slightly quirky, and loving. Yet, it’s these qualities that make it all the more somber when she does get consumed by her loss and is unable to function or focus on anything that isn’t curing the love of her life. It’s all quite well done. Betty is voiced by Lena Dunham, and while I most commonly associate Betty with the Dunham voice more than anything, it’s kind of disappointing because I feel as though Dunham is kind of phoning in the lines in all of her appearances. It’s not necessarily an awful performance, but I always feel like Dunham is never completely engulfed or even understands what is going on in the story. And as much as I absolutely and dearly love the staff of this show, it was an absolutely awful decision to cast a celebrity as busy as Dunham to voice a new potential recurring character. This would later backfire, as Dunham was replaced with a different voice actor (whether based on availability or Dunham’s… questionable behavior… I still don’t know) and I’m glad they were able to get someone who seemed more committed to the show and the character as a whole.

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But that little detour aside, I do like the interesting ways that Betty is incorporated into the story. Mainly the fact that her entrance through the time portal is what caused her to completely disappear from her old life with Simon. It’s a paradoxical event that makes me wonder… if Betty had stayed, would she be able to fix the crown and save her fiance? I guess it’s impossible to say now, but I’m sure that, no matter what the scenario was, it possibly could have been better for Betty and Simon individually if she had just stayed within her timeline. Even if she couldn’t save him in the past, the future has only led to pain and suffering for the both of them… for now, at least. Once Betty enters the current timeline, the episode seems to be running on speed from this point on, and again, drew a lot of criticism for the portrayal of Betty and some arguable pacing issues: why is Betty so laidback about the post-apocalyptic world she entered into? How is she so easily able to operate a magic carpet when she came from a world where magic was virtually rare? How is she so easily able to take down Bella Noche without even struggling to do so? Well, for the first two, I’ll at least say that the episode is so fast-paced, hectic, and dire, that it really doesn’t give me any time to question if anything that is going on makes sense. And that’s the best way to describe this episode as a whole: tense and dire. It doesn’t always work off of logic or reasoning behind its choices or the way the plot progresses, but I’ll be damned if isn’t a compelling, stressful adventure. It very much works like the future episode Reboot in a sense; it isn’t exactly the most terrific episode when it comes to writing or story, but it certainly makes up for it by how well it captures you in the moment.

And Simon’s deteriorating state feels legitimately crucial. Regardless of the fact that we know that Ice King isn’t simply going to die, it is still difficult to see Simon in what is possibly his lowest state of being, and in a legitimately suicidal state of mind. Simon would much rather perish than to have to live one more day being the Ice King again, which also contributes to his vague memories during his periods of insanity. Simon doesn’t know much about what it is to be the Ice King, but he knows that it’s a person that does not embody who he is or who he wants to be. Death even appears in this one to emphasize how close to dying the Ice King really is. And, during the instance where Ice King gains his powers back, he solemnly states “you lose.” Living is not the prize for Simon, dying is. Whether he believes there is a cure for himself or not, he regrets every waking second that he has to go on as the Ice King. And as long as the crown has power over him, it’s tough to say how he’ll be able to regain his past identity.

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As for Betty’s takedown of Bella Noche, I actually do enjoy how it took a non-magic user to simply and effectively take the being of anti-magic down. It seems pretty obvious that all of these skilled wizards wouldn’t be able to beat Bella Noche because, duh, magic, so it is fitting that Betty would effectively have no trouble kicking the shit out of this being without any hesitation. And it’s a triumphant victory as she restores magic to all Wizards in Wizard City… that is, except for the one person she was not able to save: Simon. One of the most poignant pieces of the episode is the ending, as Betty sadly watches her loved one get beaten to death by a princess that he kidnapped, as he can hardly even remember who she is. Betty sadly flies off in hopes for a cure for her fiance, but things have arguably never felt more grim and hopeless for her and the future.

The music in this one is particularly great. Tim Kiefer composes a lot of tunes similar to the ones heard in Holly Jolly Secrets during Ice King’s secret tapes, and it gives the episode a bit of an off-putting, yet whimsical feel.

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So yeah, I think this one is pretty solid. I’m not going to say that people are necessarily wrong when they address how much is going on with this one, it’s A LOT. But a lot isn’t always a bad thing, and I think this episode still effectively blends everything it wants to do in an enticing, jam-packed 11 minutes. I much prefer an episode like this, that is really intoxicating and potentially crazy, than an episode like Simon & Marcy which was much slower and didn’t really give me any new information that was worth swallowing. Betty leaves me with a ton of impressions, some good and some bad, but overall always makes me excited for that really energetic, nonstop journey. It’s one that I totally understand why people don’t like it, though personally, I think everything was executed the absolute best way it possibly could have been in the course of 11 minutes. Would it have been even better as a 22 minute episode? Maybe, it’s impossible to say. But Jesse and Ako still put all that they could’ve put into 11 minutes, and I commend them for making this totally insane story actually pay off quite successfully.

Favorite line: “I don’t want to be the Ice King again. It’s like living with eternal diaper butt.”

“Play Date” Review

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Original Airdate: November 4, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne, Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

I fell ill last week, so apologies for the lack of a post. Making up for it by double-posting this week, and in addition to that, I’ll have some more free-time next week! I expect to cover at least four to five episodes next week, most likely from James to Rattleballs, and then we’re in the homestretch of season five, folks. For now, Play Date.

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Play Date and The Pit is perhaps the weirdest two parter Adventure Time has ever put out, mostly because they have very little to do with each other aside from Play Date’s climax. Out of the two, however, I think it’s pretty clear that The Pit is the more structured of the two. Play Date has its moments, but ultimately feels like a handful of ideas that never really form into a completely cohesive narrative. Though I’m glad the series did finally take the time to explore a full length episode focusing on Ice King living with the boys, even if it comes out with mixed results.

I think perhaps the strongest part of the episode derives from the first few minutes. Some of the best comedy the show has to offer is how genuinely disgusted and distraught Finn and Jake can respond to the IK’s behavior, such as episodes like Hitman or Still, and the first half is chock full of these moments. Love the bits that emphasize just how annoying and disgusting Ice King is, namely his line “don’t forget the bread!” and the repulsive way he consumes his cereal while wearing nothing but underwear. This leads to some fantastic reactions from Jake, including a hilarious eye-twitch and him actually contemplating murder. On the other hand, however, I do enjoy Finn’s treatment of Ice King in this one. I think the destruction of the Ice Kingdom is a clear point to where Finn began to treat the lunatic with more sympathy and consideration. There’s very few episodes after this where Finn views Ice King as an actual enemy; at most, Finn views him as an annoyance, but even that is toned down a great deal following this one. I think it’s cool to notice these moments of clear development between the two, though it’d be quite sometime before Jake begins to feel the same.

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There’s also quite a few nice touches in the beginning sequence as well. I don’t think the gags involving Finn and Jake using hand motions to explain something to each other are particularly funny, but I at least appreciate how it ended up becoming a running gag in later Somvilay-Seo episodes down the line. It begins to feel like a genuine trait of the relationship between the boys rather than just some random nonsense that was included for the sake of being random nonsense. Also, I thought it was quite adorable that Ice King added himself to Finn and Jake’s clock. While we’re on the subject, I actually discovered while writing this post that there is a licensed Finn & Jake clock on Amazon! I’m immediately considering an impulse buy because of how cute and true to the show it actually is.

Though, I think the fun definitely decreases once Abracadaniel’s brought in. I’m very “meh” about Abracadaniel as a character, and I think my problems with him have become more clear as this episode followed We Fixed a Truck. Banana Man and Abracadaniel are similar in their wimpy tendencies, though I think Banana Man is clearly the better character. Banana Man has a defined character through the exploration of his loneliness, forming him into a lovable dork. Abracadaniel, on the other hand, doesn’t really have a defined character. He’s just kind of weird and quirky, but doesn’t really have any charismatic attributes that actually make me care for him. Also, isn’t it weird that he’s just totally fine with hanging out with Finn and Jake? Shouldn’t he still hate them for being part of the reason he ended up in jail in Wizards Only, Fools?

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Thus, the scenes that follow with Abracadaniel and Ice King’s friendship are just… okay. Not really bad or even boring, but just nothing particularly noteworthy or entertaining. I think the episode comes to an absolute halt, however, when Abracadaniel and Ice King put on a show for the boys. It isn’t really funny and doesn’t add anything to the story at all, making it feel like somewhat of a waste of time. I think the point of the scene is to show how Abracadaniel is beginning to overstay his welcome as well, but it really doesn’t help that Finn and Jake hold the same blank face throughout the entire scene. Like, I get that Finn is pretty cool and is willing to accept that Abracadaniel is too afraid to leave the Treehouse, but why is Jake so okay with this? Wasn’t he the one who was prepared to kill Ice King earlier because of his annoying tendencies? I think this is where the source of this episode’s main issue derives from: it quickly changes perspective from Finn and Jake’s to Ice King and Abracadaniel’s. Throughout the first half of the episode, we’re seeing everything mostly through F&J’s eyes, where the second half mostly focuses on Abracadaniel and Ice King’s side of things. And it’s unfortunate, because Finn and Jake reacting to the Ice King’s obscene behavior was arguably more interesting than Ice King and Abracadaniel’s shenanigans. It’s disappointing that the main conflict of the episode was dropped so quickly when Abracadaniel was introduced, yet there were so many more comedic possibilities that could have came from his arrival that were used for some less than satisfactory moments.

Things do pick up in entertainment value once Ice King and Abracadaniel discover the Demon Blood Sword, even if it feels like a disconnect from the entirety of the episode. I will say that I’m glad a moment like this was included to make the episode more memorable, though I feel like it’s somewhat of a copout. It’s like how In Your Footsteps was somewhat uninteresting throughout, yet that one moment was included at the end so the Lich could gain possession of the Enchiridion. I’m not quite sure how I feel about moments like this, because they definitely make the episode they’re featured in more compelling, though sometimes I feel like they’re trying to justify overall mediocrity. But I digress, the moments with Ice King and Abracadaniel in the basement are definitely entertaining. There’s a big eerie feeling surrounding it, as if Ice King is showing Abracadaniel his father’s AR-15 rifle or something of the sorts. As Kee-Oth is reintroduced, and Finn and Jake enter the scene, I do feel like some of these moments were a bit rushed, though it works in such a way that I feel isn’t distracting. Similar to the episode Betty, which we’ll come across shortly, I feel like so much is happening at once that it doesn’t really give me time to think about it. Finn contemplates not breaking the sword, Finn breaks the sword, Kee-Oth regains his blood, Kee-Oth captures Jake, Ice King mentions that his home is rebuilt and he and Abracadaniel leave. All of this occurs in the course of a minute, but it’s done so in an invigorating way and never really lets the energy fizzle out until the very last second.

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A lot of people were pissed with a couple moments towards the end, mainly regarding Finn breaking the sword and Ice King’s behavior. Finn breaking the Demon Blood Sword quickly without a ton of hesitation is upsetting, considering how cool the actual sword is, but I think it’s fitting regarding Finn’s character. Despite how he feels about his awesome sword, and his father too, Finn is willing to smash something so important to him for the sake of the lives of two losers he doesn’t even really like that much. Really just goes to show what a caring person he is, especially considering the immoral things he has done in the past handful of episodes. As for Ice King quickly fleeing the scene after using Finn and Jake for weeks and being responsible for the destruction for Finn’s sword, I respond with “come on.” We all know Ice King is crazy and that he’s incredibly selfish, and there really isn’t anything changing that as long as the crown has possession of his brain. Again, Ice King is simply at his healthiest when he has people who mutually care for him, though he will never be able to completely get past his own insanity and irrational thinking. This felt like classic Ice King, even if it was incredibly jerky of him.

So yeah, this episode is a bit all over the place, but it does have its redeeming qualities. Again, I think The Pit is clearly the better episode and more plot-focused overall, but this episode at least managed to have some memorable moments. It just so happens that about half of it is mixed with mediocrity. But, I’m willing to take an episode filled with some moments of greatness rather than a fully dull episode like Box Prince. And though the epic follow-up that Play Date had suggested by its final scene ended up being mostly comedic and stress free, it still leads to a promising and enjoyable sequel.

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Favorite line: “Someone’s at the door. We have a doorbell now. We’ll get it.”

“Frost & Fire” Review

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Original Airdate: August 5, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Luke Pearson & Somvilay Xayaphone

Frost & Fire, in my opinion, is the episode that forever changed Adventure Time. The show, from this point on, has almost an entirely different feel from the first four and a half seasons. As most people know, at some point during the second half of the fifth season, Pendleton Ward stepped down from his showrunner position. An announcement that was met with fear and sorrow for most of the fanbase, including myself, as many wondered if the show would be able to keep up its quality and continue to be as innovative and successful as before. However, Adam Muto, who was selected to take over Ward’s role as showrunner, cleverly chose not to try and emulate what made the show so successful in the past, but instead chose to take the show in a completely new direction that is unarguably pretty ballsy. Whether you like the direction the series takes from this point on completely comes down to personal preference; I personally was always on board for these darker and more uncomfortable stories, though it totally makes sense to me why a lot of people turned their back on the series. It does become somewhat of a completely different show, but whether or not you like it, it is really admirable to see the risks that the staff decided to take. Some of them worked, while others failed, but still, you can’t argue that they weren’t trying to keep the series as fresh as possible. And it all starts with Frost & Fire.

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We’ve (partially) spent the last two seasons exploring the relationship between Flame Princess and Finn. In that time, we’ve seen what types of hardships could befall the two, mainly on Flame Princess’s side. FP, while developing some form of emotional maturity overtime, has a long string of anger issues that hark back to her days in captivity in the Fire Kingdom. Her anger and inability to control her powers has caused innocents to get hurt in the process, something that highly contrasts from Finn’s motivations to help everyone. In addition to her inability to control her powers comes her instability in regards to her powers. FP is physically unstable by natural circumstances, and feelings of extreme passion, such as romance, are quite hard for her to handle. Given that she’s unable to engage in extremely romantic situations, she isn’t even able to kiss or touch Finn without potentially hurting him. And with all of that said, there’s even the fact that she’s been constantly referred to as straight-up “evil.” Though this theory was somewhat debunked over time in-universe, it’s still left with uncertainty given the past history of FP’s family tree, and how she would come to claim her own identity in the process. With all this working against her, you’d think that Finn and Flame Princess’s break-up would relate back to a number of these problems. However, Frost & Fire works as a cautionary as well as heartbreaking tale that, even with FP’s problems at hand, nothing compares to hardship of Finn simply not being honest with her.

Despite the fact that Finn’s actions in this episode are incredibly nasty to the point where it causes others to get hurt, it’s still an incredibly well written learning lesson for him, and I’d much rather watch him go through instances like this than to see him be a perfect hero throughout the run of the series. Finn is only 15 at this point. He has years of life experience before he could consider himself emotionally or sexually mature. And, as any male who once experienced hormonal urgencies during puberty would acknowledge, keeping a lid on sexual desires is an incredibly challenging and confusing process, that many still struggle with even late into adulthood. I mention this because this episode provides one of the most sexually explicit visuals that the show has ever put out: Finn blatantly receiving a “blowjob” from Flame Princess. How this concept got past the Standards and Practices department of Cartoon Network, I’ll never know, though I still think that young children are able to make the connection even without the sexual implications. They know that Finn enjoys the dream, even though they might not know why, and he wants it to continue to happen again. That’s really all there is to it for any inexperienced viewer, and I’m glad that the presentation allows from pretty much anyone to watch and enjoy, rather than being aimed specifically at adults.

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Yet, I think the implications that are included in terms of Finn’s wet dream are quite brilliant. They really show how twisted and misleading sexual desires can become if you aren’t careful, and show how a nice, considerate guy can turn into a needy, selfish man-child. Finn’s faint imagination where he’s transformed into a hairy baby helps strengthen the former comparison, and is complete with the “wah wah wah” speak utilized in All the Little People. Besides mostly being used to emphasize that nothing Finn says can fix the issue at hand, it also hints back at Finn’s manipulative side in All the Little People that led up to these circumstances. Despite Finn finding an easy solution to help the little people reach a happy conclusion back in that episode, he doesn’t quite realize that he isn’t playing with toys here. He’s playing with the emotional fragility of people, and there isn’t really a quick fix for psychological pain. His last words really emphasize that he doesn’t realize exactly what he has done wrong. “I said I was sorry,” he remarks, as if a five letter word can completely solve a completely complicated issue. This is Finn’s first really big life lesson that, despite the fact that he may feel bad for what he’s done, it doesn’t mean his actions don’t have consequences. And as he stands there defeated, all he knows is that he fucking blew it, man.

Finn is completely at fault in this one, though some would argue otherwise. The inclusion of Jake has really driven people to blame him for the way the episode escalates, and while I’m sure it wouldn’t have ended up exactly how it did without Jake’s involvement, I’m willing to believe Finn would have caused them to fight even without Jake yelling at him. Jake never knew the extent of Finn’s dream, nor did he know that Finn even had them fight in the first place. The only thing Jake knew was that the Cosmic Owl was involved, something that Jake is constantly passionate about regardless of the topic. Jake never knew the weight of the situation; for all he knew, Finn could’ve been in grave danger, or was driven to follow some sort of epic life destiny. What Jake didn’t know was that the Cosmic Owl was trying to warn him the entire time, but before Finn can realize the Cosmic Owl’s purpose, it’s too late. So while Jake does instigate the conflict a bit further, Finn had already caused them to fight once, completely at his own decision. My guess is that Finn, distraught with the second outcome of his dream, would’ve simply gone back to try and manipulate the fantasy into being pleasurable again.

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A lot of this sounds uncomfortable for Finn’s character, and it really is. A good portion of the next two seasons features some really uneasy depictions of our main heroine, and while he isn’t always entirely sympathetic, his character arc is always compelling. Again, I’d rather see him struggle with his morality and own identity than to watch him simply become a stronger and more successful hero as the show goes along. Not that the latter aspect is bad, as we do get that to a degree later on, but it’s most important to show that our hero has flaws and goes through ruts than just to watch him be a specimen of perfection throughout the show’s run.

Through all of the pain Flame Princess experiences in this one, she’s mostly somewhat of a blank slate. Not to say that’s a bad thing; the main focus of the episode is mostly through Finn’s perspective. She reacts just how we would expect her to, and while it’s not entirely strong characterization in my eyes, we do get a ton of that in Earth & Water that I think really strengthens FP’s character from that point on. Ice King, however, does get some terrific sympathetic moments in this one. Besides his initial jab at FP, IK is thoroughly portrayed as an innocent bystander that gets wrapped up in the mess of it all. We feel bad for him, and it’s nice to fully show how Finn can be cruel to IK even when he isn’t doing anything wrong. That last line where Ice King utters, “ya blew it, man!” really hits home when you realize who it’s coming from.

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But despite all the dark elements in this one, Frost & Fire also has a pretty great sense of humor. There’s actually some pretty nice Somvilayisms in this one, such as when Finn smashes his body into the oven and knocks over a bunch of pots and pans, or when Finn has like, 20 glasses of milked poured and only drinks two. Somvilay’s drawings in general actually work pretty well. There’s a couple of nice expressions Finn has throughout the episode, namely in the dream sequence where he’s experiencing pure euphoria. Finn wiggling his tongue around and taking in the moment really adds to the stimulation he’s experiencing. And Luke Pearson, as always, has some really swell drawings. Pearson disappears from storyboarding for two whole seasons after this one, and it’s sad, because I really enjoy his work. Aside from the fight sequence looking pretty sweet in general, there’s some really terrific jokes laced into his bits. Flame Princess’s “inferno…. Shot!” follows by IK’s “Ice…. King!” really cracks me up. IK in general is pretty damn hilarious in this one. The scene where he painfully requests for Finn to save Gunther and then insists, “…. I meant after you save me,” is priceless. Ice King is never written as entirely sympathetic; there’s always some added aspect to his sympathy that just makes him seem like a jerk, which I love about his character.

The backgrounds and the music in this one really add to the tone of the overall episode. When the Ice Kingdom is on fire, everything turns very gray and orange, which really makes the rest of the episode feel more somber and weighty. While the music cues are mostly recycled from past episodes, they still attribute greatly to the overall mood. One cue in particular that was introduced in this one, in the scene where Jake frantically urges Finn to force IK and FP to fight, is one of my favorites. It’s been used several times following this episode, which only shows how effectively it can be utilized in scenes of frenzy and stress.

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So yeah, I don’t know if I’d call this one a personal favorite of mine, but I think it’s a pretty fantastic transition episode regardless. It’s one of the most challenging episodes of the show up to this point, and it has evoked tons of different feelings down the line. There’s some people who love it, and some people who hate it. But that fact alone contributes to its importance; an episode that has such contradictory opinions is arguably more significant than one everybody universally likes, say, Fionna & Cake. Frost & Fire successfully captures the not-so-heroic side of Finn the Human, and opens up for some tremendous explorations of his character in the long run. My opinions of Finn’s portrayal following this episode fluctuate greatly, but the good news is I’ll have tons to talk about in the upcoming bunch. So stay tuned y’all, we’re in for one hell of a ride from this point on.

Also, these title card concepts for Frost & Fire were released in the past week on Tumblr. I think they’re pretty dope, and especially like the third one. Though my assumption was that many people thought it was “too dark” and went with a more ambiguous choice.

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Favorite line: “Why does anyone do anything?” “… Why do they?”

“The Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita” Review

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Original Airdate: May 27, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Cole Sanchez

Ice King’s more sympathetic side has mainly come from his tragic past history as Simon Petrikov, as well as his relationship to Marceline. However, there still is the side to Ice King that is deeply troubled and creepy, especially when it comes to his special interests in capturing princesses. In this episode, the IK’s obsession with his favorite princess finally blows up in his face and sends a message to him, allowing him to actually make some changes in his life, with the help of new companion. Of course, these changes are only temporary, but nevertheless, it’s a pretty satisfying Ice King experience.

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Right off the bat, there’s a nice change of pace with the episode taking place mostly on the island (more specifically, Isla de Señorita) with only Ice King, the Island Lady, and Party God being heavily focused on. Finn and Jake are once again demoted to background characters as they were in the previous episode, though it’s a change that, with most AT episodes, isn’t dreaded for the creative and experimental results that come from these types of episodes.

And the focus of the episode is really nice; the relationship between Ice King and the Island Lady is quite sweet, and I love the angle the episode takes on Ice King’s personality. The biggest takeaway from this one is simply how well Ice King is capable of sanity and more socially acceptable behavior when he just has a loving, caring friend by his side. In fact, Ice King’s analysis of PB’s issues is actually pretty fucking spot on! “Yeah, well, PB is just so closed off to her emotions, she crushes the relationship so she doesn’t ever have to develop feelings,” is a really accurate way of describing Bubblegum, and this is coming from Ice King of all people. I think it’s another valid point to show that, despite his insanity and social ineptitude, he does show signs of random brilliance and intelligence, possibly showing that parts of Simon do shine into his subconscious at times. Also, I thought it was a really nice touch that they didn’t force a mutual romance into this one with the Island Lady and IK; it would’ve been the much more predictable and somewhat unrealistic route, and once again, I’m glad it showcased the one crucial component to Ice King’s mental health and maturity: having a strong friendship.

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The Island Lady herself is somewhat of a blank slate. I do love her design! It’s really inventive and seems like something that would come out of an indie short film. Though, she’s not really given any sort of a personality. But it’s not really an issue of the episode; the main focal point is, like I said, to showcase a more emotional mature side of the Ice King, and it works out pretty damn well, so I don’t really mind that Isla de Señorita’s a little bit dry (no pun intended). I do quite enjoy her singing voice as well, though the song in this one isn’t a particular favorite of mine. It’s pleasant and has a nice beat, but it isn’t one I find humming to myself or listening to that much.

The use of Party God in this one is a lot of fun. I feel like it only makes sense that he’d be a douchey frat boy boyfriend, and it works just as well using him in this scenario that it would with, say, Ash. It’s also a small thing, but I love how he picks everything up with his mouth, as it just hangs lightly between his teeth. That got a small chuckle out of me. Also, I think the battle between he and Ice King was actually pretty visually interesting. We don’t get a ton of inventive looking battles from AT because, well, it isn’t an action show, but this episode’s incorporation of an aerial battle between Party God and the IK was a lot of fun. And it’s pretty intense as well! I love Ice King angrily uttering, “She is not your “bid-ness”!” That was really sweet coming from him, as he is known for objectifying women, even if he is angrily giving someone comeuppance for doing the same thing. It might seem hypocritical in some instances, but again, this is Ice King, whose ability to grasp social norms is incredibly difficult, so this is a pretty significant moment.

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Ice King using Party God as a puppet for Isla de Señorita to vent her frustrations out to was delightfully fucked up, but also pretty cute. The whole exchange between the two, as Ice King struggles between staying in character and unveiling his own feelings, is just great, and it saddens me that we haven’t seen these two together again. Above everyone else, the Island Lady allowed Ice King an outlet to get away from the toxicity of his wacky relationships in Ooo, and even left him with an important lesson about relationships. Though, it may not have impacted him the way she had hoped. Ice King officially “breaks up” with Princess Bubblegum, though the last line of the episode, “ah, we’ll work it out,” suggests that he hasn’t learned as much as we probably hoped. Though, this doesn’t bother me at all; Princess Monster Wife also showed that, whatever developmental changes Ice King may go through, he still is very much unstable, and there’s little that can change that as long as the crown still is taking possession of his mind. The biggest takeaway, as I’ve said, is that a friend can go a long way for the sad iceman, and it can even help him regain bits and pieces of his sanity for a period of time.

So I like it! I wouldn’t call it a particularly entertaining one, but I appreciate its tone and what it was going for. What came out of it was a very interesting look as Ice King in the midst of an acquaintance, and that’s about the best I could’ve expected out of this premise. Nice colors, nice atmosphere, and overall a really nice friendship to capture my attention throughout the episode’s run. During a Lego contest where AT fans were encouraged to build Lego figures of random characters, one person in particular made one of the Island Lady, and it looks awesome! You can check it out here.

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Favorite line: Banana Guard yourself, Princess!!”

“Princess Potluck” Review

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Original Airdate: April 22, 2013

Written & Storyboard by: Cole Sanchez & Kent Osborne

Ice King is still a deeply funny character despite the added layers of depth that were contributed to his character in the past few seasons. And I think it’s reassuring that, to this day, they haven’t committed to making him a character we’re supposed to take completely seriously. We care about Ice King because of his quirky behavior and the humor that surrounds his character, though I think it’s pretty reasonable that we’d expect something a little more compelling and interesting for the IK to do in season five than what we’d see from him in season one. And Princess Potluck is an episode that possibly could have fit in the season one bunch, though as it is, I think it’s a pretty bland and boring entry.

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There isn’t really anything that keeps me interested in the story or the conflict for this one. It’s a pretty simple story that I honestly think could’ve been shrunk down to Grayble-type length and cut out a good portion of the episode. I’d even argue that Ice King simply wanting to attend a princess potluck is a better suited story for one of the comics than the actual episode. Even the punchlines themselves that drive Ice King further into madness aren’t really that compelling. Everyone that Ice King forces to go to the party ends up doing the exact same thing, which is just kicking back and enjoying the potluck. It’s not really even funny the first time and trends pretty predictable waters, so I’m not sure why they kept pulling the same gag multiple times.

Ice King isn’t necessarily written poorly in this one, but it’s simply nothing new from what we’ve already seen from his character. I guess there’s that cool bit of voice range we get from Tom Kenny as Ice King impersonates different people on the phone, though it didn’t really make me laugh and felt more like a corny, old vaudeville bit. There’s one or two moments that come to mind in terms of moments that actually made me laugh, one being the conclusion where Ice King reveals that he didn’t know he was invited to the potluck, simply because he doesn’t read his mail. That was totally a classic Ice King moment. The other bit I liked was Gunther repeatedly pulling a taser on people, strictly for the ludicrousy of it all.

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Besides that, this one just feels… bare. The only other noteworthy part of this episode is the allusions to BMO Noire, which… didn’t really need to exist? Like, AT has pulled off plenty of ambiguous off-screen moments, so I really never lost sleep wondering why Finn returned to his house with a Sea Lard and why Jake had an arrow in his head. I guess it was a bit silly that they took the time to explain it, but how does this fit in with the timeline of the actual series? Kind of weird that we’re supposed to buy into this structured timeline the show has set up, yet, there’s moments like this that don’t really add up at all. Also, I really hate the ending gag with the stalker squirrel. I think this is the one time the show felt way too in your face with, “hey, look, this character’s back again! Remember how funny they are!” and it’s really just more distractingly throwback-y than actually funny or rewarding. Some of the designs of the princesses are always nice to see, like Princess Princess Princess and the newly introduced Bounce House Princess, who is apparently a very scandalous woman. As is, it’s a pretty predictable and generic story from a series that is usually so good at avoiding the treading of common ground. This is a potluck I really wouldn’t mind skipping.

Shameless self-plug time! I’ve been getting really into digital art lately, check out this drawing I made of my boi Fern! If you’d like to see any more drawings like these, let me know! I’d be happy to draw some up.

Favorite line: “Nanners? Why, I don’t know the meaning of the word.”