Tag Archive | Ice King

“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?”

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“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.”

“A Glitch is a Glitch” Review

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Original Airdate: April 1, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: David OReilly

Hope everyone had a very happy holiday!! I was fortunate enough to get the sixth season of AT on DVD this year, so I don’t have to waste any more of the money I don’t have when I eventually get to season six in the future! I also took the time to rewatch A Glitch is a Glitch, which I have previously dubbed the “worst Adventure Time episode ever,” but surprisingly enough, I found myself responding to it a lot more tolerably this time around. I think this is only the second or third time I’ve ever seen it total, so it seems that time has been gracious for this one. Does that mean that I think that it’s good? Well, no, but I’ll explain.

It’s worth noting, of course, that this episode was written, directed, and animated entirely by Irish animator David OReilly. I had never seen any of his work before this episode, but have checked out most of his videos and short films afterwards, and if you haven’t seen any of them, I’d say they’re worth a watch. Most are creepy, surreal, and often nonsensical, but in a somewhat admirable way. You can check out his YouTube page here.

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Before I dig deeper into the episode, I might as well briefly discuss how I feel about the guest animated episodes as a whole. For the most part, I think a good chunk of them tend to be misfires. There are a few diamonds in the rough, but I find that most of the guest animator episodes tend to usually occupy my “bottoms” list as opposed to my “tops” list. That’s not to say that some of these episode don’t look great, as almost all of them are visual treats from what we’re normally used to in most given AT episodes. The main problem, however, is simply that it’s pretty hard to write for Adventure Time, and that’s an understatement. Pendleton Ward himself has said that finding the right artists and writers for the show was a process, as it took time to find people who could honestly show that they knew the show as well as Ward was able to. So while these guest animators and directors usually come in with fascination and the best intentions, I think it’s mostly a difficult process for them to grasp how to write for the series, while also incorporating their own unique stylistic choices. And unfortunately, while I think there’s clear effort put into this one, OReilly’s sense of humor really does not match this show or these characters.

In a writing sense, I didn’t find myself laughing at this one AT ALL. Some of these jokes and gags are really, really bad, and I felt like I was watching a completely different show at times. A fourth wall joke of Finn punching himself in the face? PB making out with her hand? PB and Jake’s ELBOWS flirting with each other? Yeah, I really fucking hate that last one, but a ton of these gags pose themselves as a lot more awkward and uncomfortable than actually humorous, and sometimes even betray the fabric of the world of this series by doing so. Yeah, it’s totally non-canon and everything, but again, I wouldn’t mind the cheats on reality if they were actually humorous. A majority of the jokes are very loud and overly long. Like, I didn’t laugh at the screaming donut man the first time he was shouting about his face, and I certainly didn’t laugh the two other times they attempted the same exact joke. And don’t even get me started on the “one second later…” gag. Good God, did that feel like a frustrating attempt to just fill time. There’s very few instances I can think of where Adventure Time has attempted this form of Family Guy lengthy gags, and for good reasons. AT is very quick and subtle in its humor and quips, which makes it stronger on rewatch value because there’s a good amount of jokes and lines you may have possibly glanced over. Here, there’s definitely more of a focus on milking gags as much as possible, and it really backfires. In terms of writing, it’s definitely this episode’s biggest weakness, and unfortunately, that’s a pretty big point.

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The dialogue of the characters wasn’t particularly bad or detrimental to their personalities, but also, I didn’t particularly love it either. Everybody was just… okay. Though I never really expect the guest animated episodes to be very character focused at all. Finn and Jake are their usual selves, as Ice King is, though not a particularly funny instance of his creepiness or loneliness. PB is interestingly very snarky throughout the entirety of this one, and it’s somewhat refreshing, though I didn’t particularly get into the lines that were given to her.

So I don’t like most of this one, but what do I like? Well, surprisingly enough, I really dig the animation! The colors are a pretty big eyesore, which many people have labeled as an error, though I feel like this may have been intentional on OReilly’s part, as some of his videos share the same issue. Color aside, the actual quality of the animation is pretty nice, and allows for some really nice visuals. The entire episode looks very fluid and polished, with some really fun detailed gags, like Ice King’s nasty ass hand, or the random details that Finn’s face acquires at one point. I also really enjoy how the episode incorporates the glitch into the visuals, with quite a few moments of faulty audio and a commonly pixelated looking screen that’s more interesting to look at than it is distracting. I think the animation and visuals alone add a bit of zest and quality to the entire episode, which is what I’m sure the guest animated episode’s main goal is.

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The landscapes also look nice. I really love the CG layout of the Candy Kingdom, especially how it incorporates actual extras in the Oooniverse. There isn’t just generic Candy citizens walking around, there’s full CG models of Mr. Cupcake and Chocoberry, which was a really nice touch on OReilly’s part. I also love the backgrounds in the space-computer-world, and the actual design of the glitch.

Touching on the authenticity of the story would be pointless; there’s no way in hell I believe any of this could actually happen in the world that Adventure Time takes place in, but the story allows for a lot of those nice visuals and the episode itself isn’t really considered canon to the universe, so it doesn’t really bug me at all. If a season nine episode was the plot of Slumber Party Panic, I’d say to myself, “there’s no way in hell that could realistically happen in Adventure Time’s universe,” but as silly as it is, it did happen. So I can’t really question this one.

It’s also worth nothing that this one did air on April Fool’s Day, so people often argue that the quality of the episode was an excuse to troll us, but I don’t really think that’s the case. I think this one was in production regardless of a set airdate, and then was just appropriately aired on April 1st to surprise/shock people. Because, if this is a prank episode, it honestly didn’t really do its damndest at being a “good” prank episode either.

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So I’m half and half on this one. I think the writing is probably too poor for this to actually be a passable episode, but the visuals are a lot of fun, and certainly helped me enjoy this one a lot more in subsequent views. Regardless of quality, I have to give my mans David OReilly some fuckin’ props. He was probably thrilled to get a chance to work with a show as popular as Adventure Time, let alone have complete creative control over an episode. It’s certainly not one I really like all that much, but that dude has a portion of my respect for being able to pull off that accomplishment at all.

Probably my favorite moment in the entire episode is the video Finn and Jake watch on their computer, which is actually also a video on OReilly’s YouTube channel. You can check out that disturbing and menacing creation here!

Favorite line: “You should wash your mouth!”

“Simon & Marcy” Review

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Original Airdate: March 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

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

If this Rebecca Sugar quote sounds familiar to you, that’s because I used it for reference back in my I Remember You review to show how eloquently it went with the theme of the episode. Interestingly enough, this is a quote that I actually think works more against this episode than supports what it was going for. Yeah, this is one where my opinion might come off a little pretentious and douche-y. Whereas people have regarded I Remember You as the “really good episode that isn’t as good as everyone says it is,” that’s somewhat how I feel about Simon & Marcy. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hard to argue that this episode isn’t at least good, but that is to say that it’s one I do have a lot of problems with, though this may just be on a personal level. Let’s dig right into it.

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First off, let’s address the bits I don’t like, and then we’ll gradually work our way towards the good stuff. I think my biggest issue with this episode is simply that, well, it’s one of Adventure Time‘s least surprising entries. This isn’t one where I was disappointed because it didn’t go the way I had wanted to, because that would simply be unfair to the episode itself, but this is one where I was disappointed because it went EXACTLY how I expected. And honestly, that’s a pretty surprising feat for any Adventure Time episode. Even an episode like I Remember You, where we all knew that Ice King and Marceline’s backstory would be explored in some shape or form, the way it was presented, as well as it being the most raw AT experience to date, was intriguing, to say the least. This one just plays as a straightforward backstory episode, and it’s certainly not presented badly at all, yet, it really makes me question the intent and purpose of this episode if it was just going to simply show us what we already could’ve pieced together on our own. Future episodes like Evergreen or Bonnibel Bubblegum, were both mainly backstory focused episodes, but they had their own unique twists and turns that saved them from potential predictability. Here, I could kind of gather exactly where it was going to go, what it had to say, and how the characters and relationship would be portrayed by the first second. It just seems a little too standard for Adventure Time‘s… standards.

Like the quote at the beginning of this post suggests, part of the fun of Adventure Time is piecing together the parts of the show we don’t see. We never got to see how PB and Marceline became friends, but we still believe that they were close and are even able to share our own interpretations of how they got together and how they eventually separated. Similarly, we’ve never seen an episode of Simon and Betty’s married life, though we know they were in love and we feel the tragedy of their relationship regardless. Likewise, Simon and Marcy are two characters who, even without seeing this episode, you can gather a lot of their backstory from just looking at the evidence already at hand: Simon found Marceline during the fallout of the apocalypse, took care of her until the crown took over, and separated from Marcy for thousands of years. You can gather all of that from just simply watching I Remember You. So in a way, I think this one actually shows a little too much and goes beyond how much I actually feel like I’d need or want to see in terms of the Simon and Marcy arc, or, in a contradicting sense, not enough. It shows a good chunk, but nothing where I feel like I learned anything new or I’ve gained more insight into the actual Simon and Marcy story.

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And I wouldn’t mind it as much if the episode was a little more complex, say, if it had bits of Marcy and Simon’s relationship throughout a period of months (similar to the journal entries from Marcy’s Super Secret Scrapbook, how dope would that be?) but instead we’re left with what I consider to be a somewhat low stakes adventure as Simon tries to find chicken soup for Marceline and battles off oozers in the process. I think the boundaries could’ve been pushed even further, with Marceline’s sickness being more crucial than it seemed, and the inevitability of surviving after the war coming into question. Go full on Grave of the Fireflies on our asses! But again, that’s me wanting something from this episode that it clearly isn’t trying to accomplish. It’s trying to be a lighter tale that Marceline tells the boys and Ice King in order to keep the spirit of her and Simon’s relationship alive. But again, I really question whether this is the kind of expedition I wanted to see from the two old pals or if I actually learned anything new.

There’s also some nitpicks I have as well, mainly from a writing perspective. I think a lot of lines that they give Simon come off as really clunky and confusing on occasions. Probably the worst line of dialogue in the entire episode is when Simon first puts on the crown and states, “YOU WILL NO LONGER TERRIFY A 47-YEAR-OLD MAN AND A 7-YEAR-OLD GIRL.” I know it’s supposed to be Ice King speaking, and yeah, he’s crazy and everything, but by God, who the fuck talks like that? That line literally only exists to give us a frame of time as to how old Simon and Marcy are, and I wish they could’ve done away with it completely. Aside from that, there’s parts where… I think Simon is being quirky, but I can’t tell if that’s what they were going for or if it’s supposed to further show how he’s transforming into the Ice King. For example, the scene where he’s singing to Marceline, or when he asks her if she’d like a ride on his back. Like, I guess you could kind of suggest either; that he was being goofy and charming towards Marcy, or he was losing it a little bit while the crown took over, but I can never figure out which I’m supposed to feel. I guess that’s what makes it interesting, but it’s more confusing than intriguing for myself.

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Alright, before y’all raise your pitchforks and torches and burn me at the stake, I do LIKE this episode. The main factor that I enjoy about it is, surprise, surprise, the relationship between Simon and Marceline. They really are just adorable to watch, and yeah, it’s everything I expected them to be, but it still is enlightening to see them work off of each other so well. I honestly can’t praise Ava Acres enough, but she really does such a tremendous job portraying young Marcy. Everything she does, says, and feels is extremely endearing, and I really enjoy whenever she’s able to have some sort of part on the show. And I love how much this episode hammers in that Simon needs Marceline as much as Marcy needs him. Without Marceline, Simon would most likely have just given into the crown, and not even attempted to fight off its power, but he fights and does his all to make sure that Marceline’s safe. It’s a pretty beautiful relationship that the two have, and in contrast to my bitching prior, it really is what saves this episode and helps it land on its feet.

In addition to great voice acting from Acres, Tom Kenny does a superb job at giving Simon a quiet, likable charm to him. Just as Holly Jolly Secrets proved, Kenny is capable of more than just silly voices and wacky characters, and when he pulls off a competently serious performance, it really knocks things out of the ballpark. This is really the first time we get to see Simon in a full length episode as well, and aside from those moments I mentioned above, I do like how he’s portrayed as somewhat of an awkward father figure. I’d even suggest that, most of the time, he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. Of course, he puts his all into caring for Marceline no matter what it is, but instances such as when he’s trying to ride the motorcycle, which backfires, or the simple solution that he legitimately does believe that chicken soup will cure Marcy of her illness, shows that he isn’t the most competent person in his position, but it really only adds to his charm and likability. He most likely wasn’t ready to be a “father”, but pretty much had to given the circumstances around him.

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And my polarizing views aside, this one does have one of my favorite AT moments off all time, which is the inclusion of the Cheers theme song. Besides being an avid fan of Cheers myself, the way it’s used by Simon as a method of keeping his sanity and holding onto his own reality is quite brilliant and incredibly powerful to watch. The entire sequence is like a suckerpunch to the gut; as Simon softly begins the song, it quickly transpires into a frantic and violent melody that gets more distorted as it goes on, and then quickly returns to soft and solemn on the line “Where everybody knows your name,” where Simon realizes that he doesn’t even remember his own name, or at this point, Marcy’s for that matter. It’s a tragic scene that uses once again uses raw emotion and music to convey some really sound emotional drama.

There’s also some little bits I get into a lot, mostly with the backgrounds. This one is eye-candy galore, with some really nice debris and wreckage in the background that just really sucks ya into this apocalyptic world, and for the most part, it’s all visually interesting. I think pretty much all of us have that bridge implanted in our subconscious somewhere. While some of the humor can be a little awkward and out of place, some gags do get a laugh out of me. I like the birthday cards they have inside the soupery, and the Clambulance, as stupid as it is, is such a bizarre idea that I can’t help but snicker at the very concept of it. Also, some nice little chunks of lore with the inclusion of the gooey, bubblegum substance, which we wouldn’t really understand the meaning of until Bonnie & Neddy. Or Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW, if you got through the boring redundancy of that game, or just watched it on YouTube.

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So overall, despite what seems like many, many issues I have with this one, I do like it to a degree, just not as much as most people do. From a personal standpoint, the episode as a whole kind of defies what I believe is the fun, imaginative aspect of piecing parts together in the world of Adventure Time, but I am glad that we got to see the wonderful relationship that is Simon and Marcy. I could’ve easily believed they were as close as they’re portrayed without this episode, but it is nice that it exists for all the people who wanted to see what they were like together. It just so happens that it played out exactly how I thought it would and that hurt the element of surprise that AT so often excels at, but everything I expected is really sweet and enjoyable, and I’d be wrong to say that Simon and Marcy are portrayed badly otherwise. This was Rebecca Sugar’s last episode during her time on the show, and I think it was a goal for her to nuke us with emotional goodness for her final episode. It goes a little bit overboard and is slightly distracting for me, but I’m glad she left fans with such a sweet, heavy, tune filled episode that is pretty much everything any Adventure Time fan has ever wanted from Sugar. Nevertheless, thank you for some terrific entries the past few seasons, Rebecca! Your presence on the show is truly appreciated by all (sometimes to a pretty extreme degree). I conclude this review with a beautifully written selection of panels from Adventure Time Comics Issue #16, featuring Simon and Marceline. It made my heart grow heavy.

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Favorite line: “Yeah, lay down, Marceline, go to sleep! Right? What are we talking about?”

 

 

“Mystery Dungeon” Review

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Original Airdate: January 21, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite line(s):

“Check out my mods, bro!”

“Ice King, how do you taste?”

“Make pies, slave.”

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

“Don’t criticize my running, Shelby.”

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

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

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

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

“I Remember You” Review

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Original Airdate: October 15, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Cole Sanchez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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