Tag Archive | Ice King

“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.”

 

“Fionna and Cake” Review

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Original Airdate: September 5, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Rebecca Sugar

A bit of background for this episode: the characters of Fionna and Cake were created by storyboard revisionist Natasha Allegri (as I’m writing this, it’s actually her birthday. Happy birthday, Natasha!). Allegri put the characters in several different humorous comic strips, and Pendleton Ward liked ‘em so much he said, “fuck it, why not make a whole episode around these two characters?”

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That’s where Fionna and Cake comes in, the show’s first big experimental challenge. The thing about Fionna and Cake as characters is that it would’ve been so easy to just make them carbon copies of Finn and Jake. Adam Muto and Rebecca Sugar took it one step beyond that. Fionna and Cake become fully defined characters in the course of 11 minutes, and the Land of Aaa feels like its own entirely realized world, despite it being fictitious. That’s what works so greatly about Fionna and Cake; it is just like fanfiction, and can take characters, relationships, areas, and so on wherever it pleases. This episode is pure, illuminating enticement, from brilliantly using characters we all know and love and slightly altering them to giving us a legitimately well devised plot that would work entirely in a standard episode of the show.

As I mentioned, Fionna and Cake themselves are gender swaps of Finn and Jake that take on almost entirely different roles, but still retain attributes of the boys that inspired their creation. Fionna is very independent and even more mature than Finn, but maintains her love of adventure and excitement. This also works with her gender swap as well: she’s much less interested in what society stereotypes in terms of how women should be portrayed and more interested in what she loves to do, that being swinging swords and fighting bad guys. In addition, Cake’s possibly the most defined of the Fionna and Cake cast, and the most different from her male counterpart. Cake’s loyalty to Fionna and her relationship advice pose similarities to Jake, but she’s much more outspoken, sassy, and spunky. When it comes to others, there are minor differences, Gumball’s very proper demeanor and Ice Queen’s downright villainous persona, but part of the fun is just the way the two main leads work off of these characters. This episode captures pretty much all the AT typicalities: Fionna’s crush on Gumball, Ice Queen’s desire to marry Gumball, Cake and Lord Monochromicorn’s interest in each other (there’s an exclusive vinyl of the two that I’d give anything to have, but alas, I am a broke college student), and so on.

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What really works beyond anything else in this episode is just how naturally it flows. A lot of the time with experimental episodes of television, I find myself in a brief moment of disbelief, no matter how good said episode might be, of whether it connects to the world of the series enough or has a chance of succeeding by pushing the boundaries so drastically. Right off the bat, Fionna and Cake takes you right into the action. It doesn’t take the time to introduce individually to everyone because, as I continuously mention, we already know these characters in a way. The idea that we’re able to so easily adjust to something that’s so wildly different, yet exactly the same, from the standard episode of Adventure Time is so delightfully pleasurable and only helps the viewer enjoy every bit of the journey a little bit more.

Aside from that, it’s just generally a really fun episode. There’s plenty of great jokes, primarily from Cake (love the bit with her and Monochromicorn out of breath). The song Gumball sings to Fionna is a catchy and sweet homage to Aladdin that gives the entire episode a big, sweeping cinematic feel. And, as I mentioned, just the general interactions between the characters. I really love the honesty of Fionna during her time with Gumball (“dude, that was like, the stupidest thing ever”) and just the fun of seeing all of the various gender swaps. A character like Marshall Lee, who became so popular off of less than five seconds of screen time, shows how enjoyable it is to be able to see pre-existing characters who you still don’t know a single thing about. They can be anything you want them to be in that sense, and you’re able to allow the mind to create whatever canon you please. Although, I think Lady Cinnamon Bun deserves more love. Was her inaudible dialogue with Gumball simply not enough? Also fitting is the addition of Gingerbread Rebecca taking Gingerbread Muto’s spot in the opening theme, especially considering the two worked together on the episode. Even little things, like the lack of change for BMO and Ice Queen’s penguins, are really nice touches that are so subtle that they may be overlooked.

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The scene when faux Gumball brings her to his room is straight out of a horror movie, even dealing with the uncertainty of Fionna when it comes to intimacy. Finn is awkward and hesitant when it comes to his relationship with the Princess, but I always believe his reaction would be slightly different in this scenario. Maybe I’m just reading way too much into a brief moment, but I really think that Finn would look at this instance with shyness, but acceptance, whereas Fionna expresses briefly that she’s most likely uncomfortable.

Of course, she’s made even more uncomfortable when Gumball is revealed to be the Ice Queen. This whole sequence is some of the best animation in the entire series. It’s a thrilling battle between good and evil, equipped with just the right balance between the two that Ice Queen actually comes across as a threatening villain. It’s slick, smooth, and flowing, right down to the moment when Fionna smashes Ice Queen’s head in with her frozen hands. Once defeated, the scene when Cake runs in and attacks Gumball when she see’s Fionna’s ripped dress is another moment of significance. I could totally see Jake walking in and acting like Finn’s weird uncle and just giving him a simple thumbs up or a wink, but the gender swap allows for some interesting views of cultural differences that apply to our real world as well.

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Finally, the ending reveal that the entire episode was a mere story from Ice King’s fanfiction. This pissed a lot of people off, but honestly, that makes it all the more interesting to me. Not only that Ice King wrote a surprisingly coherent piece of work outside of the ending, but it’s just really fascinating to view the entire story from Ice King’s perspective. His depictions of the characters are especially intriguing, right down to the fact that he wrote Ice Queen as a straight up villain. It almost makes you wonder if he believes this of himself, and Fionna’s line of “be careful! You might catch her crazy!” makes me question if deep down, Ice King subconsciously does know truths about himself that he wouldn’t consciously realize otherwise. There’s also the really creepy notion that Fionna is kissing Ice King in the cover, so I don’t know what to make of that, besides the more endearing version that Ice King simply likes the idea of Finn and Jake worshiping himself, rather than resenting him. That’s the fun part with future Fionna and Cake episodes. They are all told from a certain person’s perception (albeit the most recent one) and it leaves more room for analysis and allows us to unintentionally explore the author’s psyche.

All in all, I really love this one. It takes full advantage of the opportunity at hand, and goes one step beyond by giving us one of the most beautifully crafted episodes to date. This is truly my favorite of the Fionna and Cake saga. There are a couple of other goodies, but I think this one particularly crafted so much from so little. It’s an episode I never truly get tired of watching. Terrific character explorations, nice animation, terrific writing, lovely music (all thanks to a sweet hammered dulcimer), and genuine fun: it’s simply Adventure Time in its truest, most passionate format.

Favorite line: “Why are y’all breathless if we’re the ones running?”

“Wizard Battle” Review

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Original Airdate: August 29, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

Wizard Battle is a bit of a missed opportunity in my book. Instead of taking the time to actually show us some really cool wizard battles (this really could’ve simply been a standalone Ice King episode of himself participating in the battle) it’s mostly shaped down to a pretty simplistic, yet mildly effective Finn-PB romance plot.

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In general, pretty much all the wizards are there. Huntress Wizard, Laser Wizard, Bufo, Grand Master Wizard, and so on. Even Science Whyzard is there, who is actually just Doctor Princess in disguise. What a bizarrely interesting cameo that makes for as well. What prompted the writers to have Doctor Princess pretend to be a wizard? Considering her character’s entire life is a giant facade, it actually does make sense with her identity that she’d make up an entirely new false persona.

It’s a considerably weaker Ice King episode, since he really doesn’t have any strong characterization or motives besides simply wanting to kiss Princess Bubblegum. And c’mon, where are his ice nunchucks from Chamber of Frozen Blades?? That could’ve easily solved the barely addressed conflict of the IK cheating right there. Though he doesn’t take a large amount of focus, because this is the debut episode for Abracadaniel. Abracadaniel’s a humorous dork; he’s definitely not one of my favorite side characters, and in terms of awkward nerdlings, I think I’d choose Banana Man over him. He still gets a decent amount of good lines, and I still really love that Steve Little delivery. The animation and timing for how much he struggles to use his wand is really terrific and only strengthens the experience of Abracadaniel’s incredibly weakness as as wizard.

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Love the total of five people in the audience. I hope that gator had a good birthday.

It’s also a bit odd to see Princess Bubblegum at a pro-wizards event, considering how strongly she feels about magic versus science. Even weirder is her subjecting herself to being seen as a prize to anyone who participates in wizard battle. As Jesse Moynihan gracefully stated:

“She’s a diplomat, her number one priority is to keep the peace.”

And from Kent Osborne:

“It’s like the president participating in an Easter egg hunt.”

I still think it’s a bit of a stretch that she’d attend an event like this, but it seems like she isn’t completely taking it seriously to begin with. The only one who’s really taking it seriously is Finn, who arrives at a breaking point when it comes to his feelings for Bubblegum. The real meat of the episode is when he blows up at Jake, simply because it’s taken Finn this long to be completely honest with his feelings about PB. Though at the same time, it’s somewhat odd. Wasn’t Finn pretty upfront with Jake about wanting to go out with the Princess back in Too Young? It seems like this scene could’ve fit a bit more gracefully back in season two, but nevertheless, it’s a very well performed moment of turmoil that doesn’t take itself too seriously or dramatically.

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Besides that one scene though, I think the rest of the episode is pretty disposable. I love a lot of the designs of the wizards, including Finn and Jake’s cosplay outfit, and I really would’ve enjoyed seeing some of the many interactions between them. There’s plenty of quirky gags and funny lines to get me through, but Finn’s infatuation with PB just isn’t enough to keep me invested in the plot, and I think this was a point when these types of stories were becoming stale. We pretty much know for certain that, as of Too Young, PB totally isn’t going to slide for Finn romantically. That’s not to say his infatuation can’t go in an interesting direction, like it does later in this season. But Wizard Battle takes it in a direction that just feels repetitive. I’m glad that Finn got his one kiss from PB (his very last in the series, as well) but I’m also glad this is the last episode that deals with his love for Finn in such a competitive way. 

At least Ice King looks crazy see-yik in those glasses though.

Favorite line: “Well, I’m going back to my cave to wait for someone to kill me. Goodbye.”

“Still” Review

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Original Airdate: August 22, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Somilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne

Still is simply one of the funniest developmental Ice King episodes of all time. I can’t think of a single episode I’ve rewatched up to the point that I’ve laughed at as much as this one. There’s a lot of great one liners, gags, character interactions, and just a really hilarious story that carries through till the very end.

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Not a particularly interesting screencap, but who is that dude in the picture frame with Finn?? Is that supposed to be Jake?

It’s funny because this episode could’ve easily just worked as a sequel to the ending of Hitman, and it fits with the general tone of continuing to experiment with Ice King’s admiration of Finn and Jake. It’s funny because, while he’s completely insane and actually comes off as somewhat threatening for freezing F&J, he shows that he legitimately has general knowledge about the duo’s interests and aspirations, including Finn’s love of meatloaf (a recurring character trait of his) and Jake’s incapability to express his emotions genuinely. It actually makes him more sympathetic because, while he has no idea how to be a true friend to anyone, he actually does truly care about Finn and Jake and has more interest in their lives than they would ever have about his. Even though Jake notes that the IK has tried to kill them “like, four times” but of course, that’s only because the two boys are constantly “princess blocking” him. Any guy would do the same!

A good majority of the episode, however, is just the very quirky interactions between the Ice King and the boys that takes place exclusively in the tree house. From this point, it’s a pure romp of nonstop laughs. Ice King dressing like Finn and pretending to be him is both really creepy (imagine if you were witnessing him doing this in real life) and truly hilarious. Actually, creepy and funny are themes mixed quite a bit in this episode. I’m not sure if the IK taking pictures of his penguins’ body parts is more uncomfortable or really funny, but maybe I just have to settle for both.

I really love any episode of any animated series that deals with general annoyance with another character, and Jake’s reaction to the Ice King throughout the episode is just priceless. John DiMaggio does a really standout job of giving Jake a very angry yet deadpan tone, and the drawings coincide perfectly with some really humorous facial expressions. I was literally gasping for air laughing at the breakfast scene: “Well, how ’bout I make us some omelettes?” “That sounds pretty good, actually.” “I’m gonna put my foot in it!”

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The other chunk of the episode is Finn trying to connect with an astral beast, which later turns out to be his spirit animal, a butterfly. It’s equally as amusing as the main plot to watch Finn continually shout in an artistically pleasing setting about channeling this beast through his mind. It’s also somewhat of a star episode for Gunther, who was called to “act like a cat” in the outline of this episode (Somvilay even drew him as a cat in the early storyboards). It’s just really cute watching him roam around and play with his surroundings, though I still never know how to feel about the blatant scene where he’s dry humping Jake’s face. The staff jokes about this in the commentary by saying “Gunther’s got some really great dance moves.” Y’all know what you did!!

The episode ends on a perfect note as well. Ice King learns a thing or two about what being a true friend means and the fact that he isn’t going to get anywhere by forcing his two buddies to love him. Considering he never pulls a stunt like this again, I really think Ice King begins to grasp a bit of an understanding of how friendships and love work, and the idea that his misconception is causing him more bad than good. It’s a bit of a crucial moment because of how difficult it is to get through to Ice King. He’s certainly trying to improve his life on one way or another and, despite his craziness, he is learning to be just a smidge more sane day by day. Even though he ruins it in the end by purchasing the wrong unfreezing potion. I really wonder how the three of them got out of this pickle.

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My only lingering question from this episode: where is BMO? It seems like a bit of a contrivance that he’s just completely missing because, obviously if he was there, this plot wouldn’t hold much water. I’m just gonna go with the excuse that he was at soccer practice or something, and later came back to unfreeze his friends.

Aside from that minor detail though, this episode cracks me up. It’s continuously funny from beginning to end, and I really just love the consistent characterization of Ice King throughout this season. Season three really is Ice King’s star season of the show, putting him in many of the series’ funniest episodes, as well as some of the most poignant, and those types of episode would only increase in quality from hereon in.

Favorite line: “Jake, sometimes you don’t cry because you’re afraid of real emotion. It’s okay, let it out.”