Tag Archive | Ice King

“Come Along With Me” (Part 4) Review

Cawm 4 8.png

Original Airdate: September 3, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Sam Alden & Graham Falk

Before we start, I want to let y’all know that there will be another giving campaign for this blog as I’m wrapping up the first wave of reviews. Some good reasons (I think) to give are:

  • Supporting future reviews for Distant Lands buy helping me acquire a subscription to HBO Max, complete with high qual screengrabs.
  • Supporting for reviews in the past.

I always feel super guilty asking for money from you guys – it’s not like I need it to put food on the table or anything. But this gig is, and has been, a lot of work, and I’ve never really figured out a good way to monetize it despite the decent traffic it brings in. Considering that there is still work to do, with more content on the way, it does feel more like a juggling act in my work and personal life which is already super jam-packed. If y’all are feeling generous and that you got $1’s worth of entertainment or enjoyment from this blog in the past, feel free to support me using the link below (the goal is listed as $1, though I mostly just put that as a placeholder because I didn’t have a specific goal in mind). This is in no way determining the future of the blog, I still plan on reviewing Distant Lands regardless. If you don’t donate, it doesn’t make you any less of a fan of the series or this site. If you feel as if there’s anything deceitful about me asking for donations, or if you just don’t feel like the blog itself is worth any monetary value, there is no pressure on you either. This is simply for anyone out there that is interested in supporting the past and future of Adventure Time Reviewed, and to help assist in motivating me forward.

SUPPORT ADVENTURE TIME REVIEWED

I’m partially filled with a warm bittersweet sensation as I tackle my final episode review. I say partial, because it turns out we have waaay more content coming along with Distant Lands, so there’s no use in really getting wishy-washy here. I’ll probably save these warm feelings for my reviews of Distant Lands, only to hold off once again because there will probably be a billion more reboots and revivals in the future. I’m gonna be 80-years-old trying to achieve closure for this series that obviously is never going to die. But still, it took a long way to get here and it’s surreal that I’ve finally gotten to the end of the original run. The final act of Come Along With Me has a lot to jumble, essentially trying to wrap up nearly every loose end up to this point, and from the finale alone. These last 11 minutes feel super rushed, and I really didn’t expect any less. With all of the mysteries that Adventure Time has held onto overtime, it didn’t seem realistic in the slightest that everything would be pulled off in the most satisfying way. But still, even with that in mind, there’s plenty of sweet moments that help this final chunk to land.

Cawm 4 1.png

During Adventure Time‘s finale panel at 2018’s San Diego Comic Con, John DiMaggio shed more than just a couple of tears at the idea of the show’s conclusion. That being said, you can really tell how much passion he’s putting into his performance as Jake. That beginning scene where Jake laments the destruction of his sanctuary is both super saddening and humorous in just how over-the-top it is. I mentioned this in my last review, but the idea of the Tree Fort being destroyed in general is immensely depressing. That’s not to say that its demise was necessarily a bad choice – I think it works as a unique tie-in with the theme that this episode revolves around, that being that some things end, but they also don’t really. I could’ve been cliche and said “everything stays, but it still changes,” but I held myself back. While the Tree Fort is no longer standing, the memories and what it represents (family) are still very much in tact. Or, at least, somewhat. That initial shot of BMO’s face is probably as sad as this finale gets; obviously we know the little guy isn’t going to die or anything, but his simple silence, as he stares down sadly at his caretaker, speaks so much louder than words. Adventure Time has always tried to emphasize the importance of silence as opposed to outward emotions, and I think this is a really great example of how well it can work. No tears, no outbursts, just the sad acceptance of what is already done. It’s amazing what AT manages to do with two dots and a line when it comes to reading visual emotions.

And even through all of that sadness, BMO manages to comfort Jake for all that he’s done to protect the members of his household. I’ll admit, I was a bit taken back when BMO ended up being the one singing “Time Adventure.” When Rebecca Sugar debuted the song months before the finale’s release, I assumed it would feature Finn and Jake singing it to each other, or some variation. It initially felt a little too silly for my liking, especially given that the scene essentially shows everyone in Ooo accepting that they’re probably going to die. But I’ve warmed up to the idea, and “Time Adventure” has become one of my favorite songs in the series. I will say that the officially released soundtrack version is waaay better than what we got in the actual episode. I cannot begin to express how bummed I am that Jake’s ending solo got cut out. It’s so beautifully chilling and touching that I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to put Simon and Betty banter over top of it. Still, I think both versions have their perks. The soundtrack version really feels like the harmony it was made out to be, where each character involved (Flame Princess, Magic Man, Slime Princess) can clearly be heard vocalizing. On the other hand, the episode’s version actually really emphasizes on Pendleton Ward’s voice, which I thought was super sweet. I do wonder – did other members of the staff join in? Can Muto’s voice be heard somewhere in this collaboration? I have no clue, but I thought it was nice that Pen had such a strong role in singing his creation off.

Cawm 4 2.png

Another strong moment from this section of the finale comes from Simon and Finn’s brief exchange as they anticipate decimation in the pits of GOLB. Simon’s delivery of, “no one gets to choose how it happens,” is genuinely impactful, especially so coming from him. Honestly, Simon’s been through so much at this point that I’m sure he just wants to die and get it over with – hell, that’s exactly what he wanted to do in Betty. I’m slightly more disappointed with Finn’s role, because again, I really feel like he’s a bystander to everything that’s going on around him. His line, “I always thought I’d go out saving someone,” just made me wonder, “why isn’t Finn saving someone right this second? Why was he written to be such a spec on the wall while everyone is included in all of this cool shit going on around them?” I’ve seen the argument that, since Finn has saved everyone countless times, this is an opportunity for everyone to save him, buuuut I don’t really buy into that. One, because it just doesn’t feel like it was written to be played out in such a way – the episode seems convinced that Finn effectively put a stop to the Great Gum War when that’s not really what happened at all. Second, there’s a way of carrying out the “now it’s our turn to save you,” story without making the hero ineffective or sidelined. I overall think that pairing Finn with Betty and Simon was a poor decision. He doesn’t really add anything to their dynamic, and is easily overshadowed by their arc.

I personally do think that Simon and Betty’s arc is wrapped up in a pretty satisfying way, as well as tragic. I like how Betty’s codependence never really dissolved, and it’s ultimately what ended up consuming her in her very last moments. Even when trying to move past her ultimate hidden desires, they resurface when she realizes that sacrificing herself is the only way for Simon to truly be free. It’s probably the least happy ending that occurs during this finale, but one that feels fittingly somber. As time went on, Simon and Betty’s relationship was being portrayed as more and more unhealthy from both parties, and I think the end result being that, no matter how much they love each other, they’ll never be able to be happy together, leading to the culmination of the general unhappiness that has consumed them for so long. A quick “fuck you” to the Simon & Marcy comic series for effectively undoing every sacrifice that occurred in this finale by giving Simon and Betty a totally normal, happy ending. This is much more potent.

Cawm 4 3.png

Pretty much every Cartoon Network finale in the past 5 years or so allows for like, 20 seconds of an animation boost of some sort. Regular Show and Steven Universe recruited the likes of James Baxter for a brief segment of animation; it’s a shame he couldn’t come back once more to assist with AT‘s finale, but we do get a cool, sketchy sequence ala Take On Me when GOLB unhinges. I always love these big “fabric of the universe disintegrating” moments in animation, and this one does not disappoint. Though, I am so unnecessarily bothered by the fact that the crew neglected to pitch-shift Shelby’s voice. Come on, guys! This could have been a great final appearance of the little guy if one of his key features wasn’t removed entirely. Now it’s just super distracting.

I dunno what the general consensus is on the GOLBetty design, but I think it’s pretty rad. Steve Wolfhard did the initial concept design, and while aspects of his take on the deity remained, the overall anatomy shifted and I think it looks way better as is. Props to Tom Kenny for obviously being one of the most versatile voice actors out there, as Simon’s disbelief at the sight of Betty feels so real and raw. Then we get to Gunther, who effectively brings Ice King back through the power of the crown. I dunno, man. I guess I’m fine with this? There’s the somewhat uncanny aspect of it all; this transformation was written in such a way that makes it seem like Ice King is back and nobody should worry about it… but like, is it really Ice King? The goofy, stilted dialogue that Gunther utters once he shifts feels like a pet’s perspective of their human owner, but everyone reacts like it’s okay and they shouldn’t think twice about it. It’s tough because I like the idea of Simon being saved by Betty, only for her to end up in a mind prison for all of eternity, but I really don’t like how easily Ice King gets the shaft in the process. This was clearly a timing issue, as there was only five minutes left in the finale by this point in time and the crew probably just decided it was something that could be handled quickly in the quirky manner. But I’ll reiterate once more, the Ice King-Simon story had gotten way too complex and intricate for it to ever have a fully satisfying conclusion. Personally, I think I would have been more happy with the idea that Ice King remains, while Simon is gone forever. I think more people would have been upset with this concept, and it would have been another example of Adventure Time being afraid to shatter the status quo, but man, I can’t help but feel Ice King got did something dirty. I like him so much more than that nerd, Simon. It’s disappointing that, no matter how much effort Ice King put into his own personal growth, it essentially didn’t matter because he’s reduced to a facsimile of his former self.

Cawm 4 4.png

One character death certainly isn’t taken for granted, however. Fern’s withering away is not only a poignant farewell for his character, but a nice way to tie-in to Finn saying goodbye to his childhood and a part of him in the process. The idea that he plants it where the Tree Fort once stood represents the idea that a piece of him will always be there, and the growing tree emphasizes the legacy that Finn has built and left behind in the process. Farewell, Fern! Truly one of my favorite secondary characters and probably my favorite aspect of these last two seasons. It’s just a shame that your redemption arc couldn’t have been much stronger than it was.

My gripes with the overuse of Finn’s girlish scream in later seasons aside, I do find the joke that he’s outgrown as his voice has deepened to be quite funny. I’d enjoy the sight gag of Finn being taller to be more enjoyable, had their been some consistency with his character model throughout the episode. I don’t really mind its inconsistency during the course of the series, but it feels just a bit too cheap only being included for this one moment.

Cawm 4 5.png

I like the notion that BMO’s story to Shermy and Beth was kind of an allusion to the crew telling the tale of the “end of Ooo” to AT‘s audience. I think many people were expecting this finale to be the end of all things, essentially. Hell, I think you could even argue that half of the fanbase was expecting Jake to be dead by the end of this episode. But that’s really not the story that the staff wanted to tell, and I don’t think that’s the story I necessarily wanted to see either. Don’t get me wrong, I find a good chunk of the finale to be somewhat underwhelming. However, I do appreciate the staff’s commitment to the idea that these characters don’t really have an “end” in mind. Just as Adventure Time has had plenty of moments throughout its run that have signified closure for its characters, such as Mortal Recoil or The Comet, there have also been plenty of new challenges and moments of growth since those instances that have further elaborated on the sinuous nature of our heroes. Even though Finn and Jake are dead by the time BMO is narrating this story, their spirit still lives on in the hearts of Shermy and Beth. Heroes die, but others arise. Even in Sweet P.’s case, an eternity of evil can become an eternity of righteousness. I keep writing myself into a corner that forces me to say “everything stays, but it still changes.” But it does! Adventure Time‘s central theme carries all the way into its final moments, hitting on the specific note that the opening theme reminds us each and every episode: the fun will never end. Even when we’re rotting in the ground!

Another great way to tie that theme together is bringing back Music Hole, a character who has lived through countless centuries, and has watched countless endings and beginnings at that. Even sweeter is the inclusion of Ashley Erikkson as Music Hole, who has very quietly been with the series through the very beginning. She sings the titular song we had all been waiting for, and it makes for a really nice epilogue.

Cawm 4 6.png

The montage aims at either wrapping up specific character arcs or just works as a way of showing what their lives held for them in the future. Discussing this speedy wrap-up in cohesive paragraphs seems somewhat impossible, so for your consider, I’m going to go ahead and bullet point each clip in chronological order:

  • The snail can be seen for the final time on the growing Fern tree. I’m not especially invested in this Easter egg, but I think it would have been more fitting if the snail appeared in the final scene with Shermy and Beth, waving goodbye. It’s a sweet and suitable idea that would possess the deepest lore of the snail’s immortal nature.
  • Jake and Lady flying together was nice, but it’s a bit of a shame that Lady’s “closure” is just that she kept dating Jake. Lady’s always been somewhat of the black sheep of the main characters that really doesn’t have a particular arc outside of her relationship with Jake, but I still think the staff could’ve came up with something a bit stronger. Hell, it could even be related to her connection to Jake. Have those lovebirds get married! (Every time I suggest this, some guy on the subreddit yells at me.) Even seeing Lady and Jake snuggling up in the Crystal Dimension would’ve been a nicer sentiment.
  • LSP becoming LSQ was super sweet. Even through all of her vanity, it feels genuinely rewarding to see her have a moment of triumph and receive actual respect from the other princesses of Ooo. Even Breakfast Princess, for crying out loud! I guess this is solid proof that the hierarchy of princesses only applies to Ooo, as queen seems to obviously be the highest position of royalty in Lumpy Space.
  • Haha, Ice Gunther marrying Turtle Princess was too bizarre to resist. It is funny that all Ice King had to do to claim a bride was find someone in Ooo as lonely as he is, as Turtle P is the perfect fill-in for that role. Also nice was the addition of a small, reconstructed King of Ooo in the background of their wedding. They actually managed to make the coniving shyster look adorable.
  • It was sweet to see that the reconstructed Rattleballs is finally able to hang out with other Candy Kingdom personnel in public. Though, his cameo in Jake the Brick ended up being an entire waste. I always thought that Rattleballs rebuilding his bros meant we were in store for a huge army of RBs to help seize the day in the finale. Unfortunately, it amounted to nothing. Seeing a war-starved and depressed Colonel Candy Corn was quite amusing.
  • Possibly the most obscure and easy to miss cameos during the montage is Carroll, who is back to her liquid form and content at that! I really just assumed this was a new model for a Water Nymph that the staff decided to draw up upon initial viewing. Such a thoughtful and nice addition, even including her interest of drawing elves that was mentioned in Winter Light.
  • T.V. moving into Margaret and Joshua’s old office feels a bit cheap to me. Before the series got canned, artist George Mager was commissioned to storyboard for a noir themed episode featuring T.V. in an investigative role. This was scrapped before it was finished, but it would have added a little bit more context to this moment that seems unwarranted to anyone not in-the-know. T.V.’s last appearance in Lady Rainicorn of the Crystal Dimension had him acting as selfishly as possible, and now he gets this gnarly character development out of no where? It would have been more revealing than necessary, but Finn and Jake running their parents’ old office would have been much, much more fitting than what we got.
  • Sweet P.’s graduation was nice. It would have been cool too if other known child characters were featured in the ceremony as well, such as the Pup Gang or the Marshmallow Kids.
  • Bubblegum and Lolly serenading Neddy is nice, I suppose. So, did Lolly ever bring up the fact that she tried to essentially kill her niece one day prior? We just gonna go ahead ignore that fact? Alright.
  • One of my favorite clips in the montage is Prismo’s inability to bring Betty back, only possessing the ability to whip up the waste basket that was previously seen in You Forgot Your Floaties. I like that Come Along With Me takes the time to show that not everyone receives an inherently happy ending. Despite Simon regaining consciousness, he still loses out on the one person he cares about most, continuing the codependence of their relationship by Simon dedicating his life to bringing her back.
  • Jermaine painting a new, more simplistic mural for Lemongrab was sweet, but the icing on the cake is actually see Lemongrab with a genuine smile on his face. The neurotic lemon-man has finally achieved his moment of peace.
  • I became pretty misty-eyed at BMO sending Moe’s memories into space, per his request in The More You Moe, The Moe You Know. That episode in particular is one of my very favorites and has a special place in my heart, so seeing BMO fulfill his loving creator’s final wish was just splendid.
  • Flame Princess and NEPTR rapping together is just sad to me. Like, this is what Flame Princess’s character amounted to? That she’s good at rapping? Not anything relating to her elemental nature being inherently chaotic and learning to become a positive force to those around her despite it all? What would have been a fine solo NEPTR moment is weighed down by the fact that Flame Princess’s “conclusion” is inherently meaningless. What a lame climax for a character who started off with such intrigue.
  • Cyber Tiffany 2.0! I get the feeling that the staff was super bummed out that they never got to follow up with the Dr. Gross arc. I do wonder if this will somehow factor into the Distant Lands specials, considering that it is one of the major loose ends that never really was followed up on.
  • The fully grown up Jiggler is probably the funniest cameo of all. It’s the kind of absurdist return that I’d want to see from such a rarely seen character.
  • The Jiggler’s scene is followed by the equally absurd return of the Crabbit from Something Big. It’s cute (Donny is also seen in the audience) but it doesn’t really grab me and feels like a stretch for cameos that felt absolutely necessary in the sequence. It’s like, did anyone really care about the Crabbit enough for him to get his own dedicated moment in the show’s final montage? I’m harping too much on a small moment, but when you consider that other major players, such as Shelby, Cinnamon Bun, Hunson, and Flame King don’t even get a designated appearance in this montage, it feels a bit like wasted space.
  • It was super cool to see Kara and Frieda again, with a Lemonhope cameo smushed in between. Again, similar to what I said about Simon, it’s kind of interesting to see that Lemonhope seems completely lost in life in this one small appearance. His initial appearance kind of set out to prove that he really had no idea what he was doing, and his sad expression here shows that he probably still doesn’t have a clue. Poor little Lemonhope.
  • The Candy citizens clinking their glasses just frustrates me. Again, it’s kind of unfortunate that Chicle isn’t even permitted a second chance, even though his demise was Gumbald’s fault and not his own. Even Gumbald staying in Punchy’s body feels super offensive. It would have been a way nicer sentiment if Gumbald had reverted back to himself by the end of it, showing that PB did learn a lesson in empathy along the way. Something as simple as Gumbald waking up alone by Butterscotch lake, discovering a fishing pole in front of him, and choosing to solemnly relax instead of scheme while PB is seen confident in her decision from afar. Or Gumbald being locked up and PB choosing to stand by outside his cell in an attempt to connect. Anything that doesn’t paint PB out to be somewhat heartless.
  • Tree Trunks is still bangin’ aliens. Niiice.
  • Magic Man’s mission to save Margles never really ends up coming into play in Come Along With Me, and the montage sweetly shows that he’s accepted her passing on, but will always hold memories of her dearly. I especially love that this scene occurs at the verse, “I’ll be here for you always.”
  • The shot of the princesses (and Marceline) in their fashionable wardrobes is actually a reference to a the cover of Adventure Time #51 by Mia Schwartz, whose art you can check out here! Though it wasn’t included on the original cover, I think Flame Princess’s getup is my favorite. Her bangs are too cute.
  • Huntress Wizard meditating is whatever, I suppose. It’s a shame that her character only truly started developing this season, only for her inclusion to be cut short. It really wouldn’t have made sense if she had a bigger role in this finale – there was already so much going on.
  • I do like the next scene a lot, mainly because it shows that, even if Simon is back in the picture, Marcy and PB still chose to actively hangout with him and continue being his friend. It’s super sweet. Though young Pepbut is cute, I DON’T GET WHY PB LEFT HIM LIKE THIS. WHAT THE HELL, MAN? I guess the implication with both Peppermint Butler and Gumbald is that there was no cure, but like, that hasn’t been implied until up to this point. PB’s reasoning for not bringing Gumbald and friends back in Seventeen was that, “[they] were happier this way,” not that there was no known cure. I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit in terms of continuity.
  • Perhaps the sweetest sentiment of all is the closing scene, in which a now homeless Finn and Jake are greeted by the final arrival of the humans from Founders Island. The staff actively wanted to avoid “wrapping up” Finn and Jake’s characters by showing where they ended up in the far future, so instead they offer a bit of a glimmer of hope among big changes occurring in their lives. It’s a really nice note to end on for our heroes, even if the next chapter is right around the corner.

Adventure Time as a series ends exactly how it began – with two heroes standing triumphantly at the forefront, showing that even 1,000 years in the future, some things never change. The Ooo that we knew is no longer intact, but the spirit and the foundation of what it was continue on regardless.

SUPPORT ADVENTURE TIME REVIEWED

So that’s it, everyone! All 284 episodes of Adventure Time reviewed! I won’t waste my time getting sentimental here – there’s a couple more weeks of stuff I want to get out, and then the eventual release of Distant Lands, presumably around mid-summer. Here’s a quick glimpse at what’s coming the next few weeks:

  • Come Along With Me consensus.
  • Season Nine review.
  • The Best and Worst Episodes of Adventure Time.
  • Adventure Time Character Analysis.
  • Series Overview and (Kind of) Final Words.
  • Top 10 Adventure Time Moments.

There will likely be more to come from there before Distant Lands, but I do want to focus on these six above, as they’re the ones I’ve been most excited to tackle/chat about. As I mentioned above, if you’re feeling generous, feel free to send a dollar bill my way. Otherwise, stay tuned for more AT content!

Cawm 4 7.png

Favorite line: “I wrote this for my son, Jake!”

“Blenanas” Review

B 1.png

Original Airdate: March 18, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Pat McHale & Sam Alden

I talked a bit about the episodes that were generally regarded as “fan favorites” for season nine. While I enjoyed The Wild Hunt and The First Investigation, they surprisingly aren’t my personal picks for peak season nine material. Blenanas is an episode that seems to bring about polarizing thoughts and feelings. Judging by its placement in the season, I can see why people were a bit pissy with being dealt an episode that’s almost entirely filler right before the finale. Looking back, it makes sense, seeing as how there was no indication that Adventure Time‘s conclusion was a result of the network deciding to can the show, so Blenanas felt more like a poor choice from the writing staff at such a delicate time. But, looking at it for what it is, Blenanas is nothing short of top tier filler. It makes the most of a simple story by being humorous, character driven, and above all, charming.

B 2.png

Part of where that charm comes from is the return of former creative director Pat McHale! McHale had been away from the series for five whole years, and he only ever worked as a storyboard writer and artist on The Enchiridion!. Yet, McHale really seems like the type of guy that AT comes naturally to. After all, he was Pen’s right hand man throughout Adventure Time‘s inception and had a key part in developing a handful of stories from season 1 through 5. Even with his time apart from the series in mind, his deep understanding of the characters and their individual dynamics has not faded. The episode starts out strong with a really nice back-and-forth between Finn and BMO. What I love about their interactions is that they’re primarily hostile, but that element of charisma is still very much alive. Finn disagrees with BMO about his joke, but mentions that he “loves” his little robot friend regardless. Finn storms off to prove BMO wrong, but the two playfully wave at each other before parting. This bit of sweetness is so irresistible in its lack of cynicism, which really ties into the nature of the show and its characters as a whole. Not to discount the enjoyable nature of Finn and BMO bickering, however. I love BMO’s blunt sassiness in accusing Finn of not being funny, and I always appreciate some aggressive dialogue for Jeremy Shada to put his all into. Also, the implication that Jake leaves BMO scandalous valentines is almost too bizarre to not find funny, or the brief moment where BMO makes a banana and Jake’s “B.R.B.” note passionately kiss. This is subtle AT weirdness that I’ve been longing for.

I get the feeling that Finn’s quest for validation is much more of a diversionary tactic than he puts on. I think in light of recent events with Fern, Finn may have numbed himself to the possibility of any other tragic occurrences in his life, and doesn’t want to humor the idea of his brother possibly being in danger. This is represented in a pretty obvious visual gag on the back of Ble magazine, which reads, “I miss my dog.” Finn has gotten better and better at finding different things to do during times of stress to get his mind off of the things that are worrying him, but that may have worked too well to the point where Finn is suppressing his worries by finding any little thing that can distract him. He may also be a bit scarred from the last time he lost Jake during Elements and resist falling into despair nonetheless.

B 3.png

Regardless, I don’t think the boy’s confidence has been entirely in tact in a post-Fern world, and he’s focusing towards little things such as his sense of humor in an attempt to feel more confident and happy in his own skin. Only problem is that the people he asks aren’t much help either. I love McHale’s simple facial expressions for each character, but man, is it weird to see PB with nontraditional jagged teeth. Aside from McHale’s board, is this a feature that pops up every now and then? I feel like it’s equivalent to Finn being drawn with eye whites – it’s something that was done early on in the series, but then ditched for consistency. If any of y’all reading have more recent examples of this design feature, feel free to let me know! That visual analysis aside, I enjoy the continued goofiness that carries on through PB’s section. Her failure to understand the basic concept of humor reminded me a lot of something Pearl would say on Steven Universe, but it feels completely fitting with PB’s character regardless, especially in the midst of a detailed lockdown procedure. Even then, she still finds it appropriate to break into the library window with a bat instead of just simply walking in and grabbing the book she needed. In fact, why even was the exact book she was looking for just coincidentally sitting propped in the window? It’s another moment that’s so ridiculous that I can’t help but get into it. Speaking of things that I can’t help but get into, PB’s outfit is just adorable in this episode. It’s making me think more and more about what a missed opportunity it was for Cartoon Network to release a line of Marceline and PB dolls and figures with changeable outfits. It’d be a solid marketing decision for the female demographic, and for weird older guys like myself!

I’ve already praised him above, but Jeremy Shada puts on a terrific performance in this episode. The sections where Finn is chatting with himself have the potential to be awkward, but Shada brings on a very genuine charm that makes Finn’s conversation feel natural. I really hate the cliched analytic note of mentioning that a certain episode of Adventure Time “feels like season one,” because it’s such a broad analogy on its own and usually doesn’t particularly add any type of positive or negative connotation to the moments being described themselves. Yet, I really do feel like Finn having a conversation with himself regarding the fundamentals of humor really feels like AT at its most classic routes, even if the energy or zaniness isn’t all there. Throwing it back as well is the delightful reintroduction of Finn and Ice King’s dynamic.

B 4.png

Now, Finn and Ice King have interacted plenty of times in the past few seasons, with Elements being the major example. But it’s been a long while since we’ve gotten to see these two characters interact without anyone else involved, and it’s delightful. I love how open-minded Finn has become to seeing Ice King as a legitimate comrade, even if his judgment of him hasn’t faded completely. Not that it really matters, because Finn’s exactly right – even if he does see Ice King as an equal, it doesn’t make him any less desperate for approval and love than he already is. This is also just kind of a really nice aspect of Ice King’s character in general, because as much as the show has proved time and time again that he is a sympathetic being, they really haven’t watered him down all that much. He’s certainly less aggressive and creepy than he was during his conception, but he’s every bit as crazy, desperate, and lacking of common sense. I like how they never went all out with forming this totally lovable, competent dude, and added in just enough to make it appear as progress has passed without really changing any of what made Ice King so enjoyable to begin with. And those elements alone are shown by his total disregard of understanding the intention of Finn’s joke and simply being drawn to the idea of “a cat with big teeth.” Yet, he still is able to come up with a subjectively funnier joke than Finn is! The complexities of Ice King’s character are just splendid.

But that progress that I mentioned prior is certainly welcomed, and I get a sweet kick out of Finn being so enthused by Ice King’s presence. Their combined interest in something creative is too nice, and you really do believe that this is something they’d be able to connect on without a problem. The lore built onto the Demonic Wishing Eye is also welcomed, especially the implication that such a hellish device would have such a cute, colorful host location. Though, I’m not sure how much Ice King actually has to worry about losing pieces of his soul. I’m sure the crown is doing most of the functioning anyway. The Pudding Troll that is introduced in Blenanas is another one of those crazily designed Adventure Time characters with a pretty standard personality, but I do enjoy his presence. I love his obscure design, with a speechless belly that shoots “ammo,” and his general lack of understanding of the purpose of his job. I like to imagine he just sits there for days on end without saying a single word or even moving.

B 5

The Ble factory is certainly bleak, with dozens of skeletons inhabiting the vicinity. It’s interesting, because the skeletons appear to imply that the workers may have been human, but the Pudding Troll mentions having guarded the place for 500 years, and I don’t really know if contact between humans and mutants was ever mainstream during the fallout of the war. It’s also difficult to completely understand the implied disaster – what happened here that left a handful of workers dead without the Pudding Troll even noticing? Unless his application process was truly that he just submitted something a showed up one day, and that the humans working inside of Ble were killed by radiation fallout, or something. It’s food for thought, either way.

The production montage is tons of fun. It’s actually one of those sequences that I feel could be longer! Some of my favorite episodes of television are the ones that deal with behind-the-scenes production, particularly when it comes to animated series (Stimpy’s Cartoon Show from The Ren & Stimpy Show or Wacky Delly from Rocko’s Modern Life) and I’d love to see Adventure Time take on strenuous labor when working with Ble. Regardless, the finished product is funny, considering that Ice King, Finn, and the Pudding Troll aren’t exactly the most ideal content creators. But, Finn’s goals and desires are clearly spelled out in the last few minutes – he isn’t really looking to be funny, he’s simply looking for validation. It really makes sense why Ice King and Finn get along so well in this one, because they’re essentially both after the same sense of approval. Maybe Finn relies on Jake a bit too much to feel empowered. After all, Jake is pretty confident in himself and his own abilities, and the people we spend the most time with often shape our personalities. Without Jake, Finn may be susceptible to more feelings of inferiority and a lack of self-confidence. But, in the end, he does get what he was looking for, through an elaborately staged slapstick routine that’s right up BMO and NEPTR’s alley. Maybe Finn isn’t particularly funny, but he’s still able to feel good about himself through the affirmation of those he cares about most.

B 6.png

I love Blenanas! It’s a light, silly romp with a decent amount of depth under the hood. This really is the show at it’s most simple, and it proves how much a simple idea can go a long way. Blenanas works as a competent story with added enjoyment in the smaller details; even the random inclusion of unusual transitions between scenes got a big smile out of me. It’s an episode that hits hard on the charm, and shows how crucial these characters are when it comes to the series succeeding. This last season may have picked up heftily on continuity, but at the end of the day, it’s the lovable, silly characters that carry Adventure Time through.

Favorite line: “I should show this to normal people, the common folk. The busy woman on the go. The regular Joe or Josephine.”

“Always BMO Closing” Review

ABC 1.png

Usually not a fan of referential AT titles to begin with, but this one feels especially lazy to me.

Original Airdate: September 17, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Graham Falk

I’ve mentioned this plenty of times on the blog, but Season Nine’s quality is certainly divisive among the fandom. I’ve seen a lot of people defend it for being more serialized and focused on an ongoing story than the previous seasons have been. There’s really no denying this fact: Adventure Time is way more committed to a story arc in its ninth season than it ever has been before. Though, I can’t really say if that’s a good thing or not. Consistent “plot” centric episodes are something that fans have been wanting from the series as early as Season Four, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in that same boat as well. But, as time went on, I really got less focused on wanting a consistent storyline from Adventure Time and just simply wanted to focus on its individual attempts at storytelling, in addition to whether they succeeded or not. After all, a good amount of my favorite episodes are “filler”; Time SandwichLittle BrotherThe EyesJake the Brick – all excellent examples of storytelling at its finest, along with great scripts. The reason I bring this up is because I feel as if an ongoing story somewhat squanders Adventure Time‘s ability to tell really great individual tales. Always BMO Closing starts out as a silly BMO and Ice King adventure, but ends up devolving into an opportunity to continue Uncle Gumbald’s arc. It’s usually kind of cool when Adventure Time‘s “filler” episodes end up being surprisingly important, but this is one example that just kind of feels like the staff didn’t have enough confidence in the original premise to fully flesh it and let it stand alone. And to be fair, they were kind of right. It’s a middling entry that isn’t really remembered for its wacky premise, but instead for the brief instances Gumbald does have a role, without actually furthering the story a ton. Feels like a bit of a cheater entry, with that in mind.

ABC 2.png

BMO and Ice King’s story just isn’t that fun. Outside of the seemingly ridiculous (yet sweet) premise, there isn’t a ton that’s done with this idea that makes for a humorous episode. I know I mentioned how sweet Ice King and BMO’s connection was in President Porpoise is Missing!, but it doesn’t quite offer a ton of substance here. Ice King is usually great when working off of characters that are his opposite, such as Finn, Jake, or Princess Bubblegum, but the childlike nature of both BMO and Ice King doesn’t really allow for him to have many funny moments when BMO is almost always on board with his antics. Granted, there are subtle moments of IK’s growth that I do get behind; I love that Ice King knows that selling Finn’s baby teeth is clearly a breach of privacy, which is amazing when you realize who we’re talking about. I similarly like how Finn and Jake are much more open to the idea of Ice King casually hanging out with BMO, especially Jake! This is probably the most definitive moment in the series where Jake finally accepts Ice King for who he is, and it’s great. On BMO’s side of things, I don’t really think he provides for many funny moments. Aside from his general lack of knowledge when it comes to how people actually talk (“can you believe this weather?” “how are your children?”) his adventures aren’t nearly as funny as they would seem on paper. I think the comedy just kind of falls flat – they approach Tree Trunks with a very bullshit offer and she happily acquiesces nonetheless. It obviously plays into Tree Trunks’ character, but the conflict within this story is so nonexistent that there aren’t many comedic opportunities to come from it.

Once we get to the Uncle Gumbald stuff, I’ll admit, it’s not half bad. Gumbald’s absolute hamminess as a villain is usually what bumps his character down a notch, but I think he’s kind of well-portrayed here. His foreboding nature is played off really well, especially his introduction where he just silently prepares to smash BMO’s head in with an axe. Fred Melamed also does a great job at carrying out some of the more hushed aspects of Gumbald’s dialogue, though I do feel like his motivations of harming Finn before Princess Bubblegum are… odd to say the least. Finn being built up as the sole savior of PB is something that really doesn’t hold a lot of weight anymore in the series. Maybe if this aspect was executed in Season Two, I would understand it more, but PB kind of has her shit together when it comes to her own protection at this point. In fact, this element doesn’t really play ANY part when this story culminates. Gumbald still plans to destroy the Candy Kingdom even with Finn in the picture. Also, I still have a bit of a problem with BMO selling Finn’s baby teeth. I don’t think it’s an action that’s out of character for BMO, but the episode plays it off way too sadly in how Finn reacts to everything that it just makes me feel sorry for Finn and mad at BMO. It’s kind of similar to another BMO episode, BMO Lost. Jake pops Bubble, which was totally not intended to be mean on Jake’s part, but the way BMO reacts just makes me super pissed at Jake. It’s all about how said emotions are executed. If Finn was just weirded out by BMO snooping into his personal belongings, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But because Finn’s response is so damned somber, I can’t help but be a little miffed.

ABC 3.png

In general, Finn and Jake have some pretty solid individual moments, per usual: their warming up to Ice King, the way they encourage BMO’s imagination, Jake’s sympathy for Finn after he discovers his lost baby teeth, and their brief moments having breakfast together at the beginning. Though, the breakfast scene was slightly distracting because it reminded me of the similar, and much funnier, library scene from The Real You. The baby Finn teeth creatures provide for humorous absurdity at first, but when it gets down to it, the entire scene is kind of just awkward. The teeth show up, hurt Finn, and then are destroyed a minute later after BMO pulls out hammers from his trench coat that were never even referenced earlier on. As I mentioned, this is a pretty weak conflict that’s carried out by a seemingly even weaker conclusion. Aside from Gumbald’s chalice that later becomes important, I feel as though this episode didn’t actually further much in the story, making Gumbald’s appearance feel shoehorned at the end of the day.

Always BMO Closing is considerably weak. It doesn’t have enough confidence in its A plot that it chooses to focus more on overarching story elements that don’t really even amount to anything. Thus, both stories end up suffering as a result. This episode has its fair share of redeeming qualities, namely Ice King’s development, Gumbald’s portrayal, the cool exploration of his ziggurat, and some of Graham Falk’s drawings are particularly funny. There’s also some neat bits of foreshadowing, like Crunchy’s “Missing” poster outside of Tree Trunks house, or the missing bombs within the field that Finn and Fern explored (which, again, doesn’t really amount to anything). Regardless, Always BMO Closing is an experiment that never feels like it knows what it wants to be. Though, as the next episode will show, some entries can be entirely bad even when they know what they want to be. Woof.

ABC 4.png

Favorite line: “Until tomorrow.” “Yeah, you’re not doing this tomorrow.”

“Fionna and Cake and Fionna” Review

FACAF 1

Original Airdate: July 19, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Aleks Sennwald & Hanna K. Nyström

I don’t think a single episode of Adventure Time strikes me as more bizarre than Fionna and Cake and Fionna. A bold statement to say the least, but it’s not because the episode is filled with weird gags and non-sequiturs, akin to King Worm. This is the type of episode that really makes me wonder, “who thought this was a good idea?” With all of the controversial misfires that AT dished out over the years, such as Finn gaining his arm back and Betty’s introduction being quickly glossed over, I’ve been able to accept everything for what it was even if it wasn’t perfect, or good, at the very least. However, the decision to build on the lore behind Fionna and Cake is one that I typically ignore all together just because of how ridiculous and pointless it is.

FACAF 2

The big revelation within this episode is that Fionna and Cake were apparently apart of some super old television show before the Mushroom War. So, all of this time, the Land of Ooo has comprised of coincidental duplicates of the entire Fionna and Cake cast? How… does that make any sense? It’s absolutely jarring information that (nearly) ruins the fabric of the AT world itself. Even worse is that it’s treated so casually, almost as if this is information isn’t Earth shattering in the slightest, and just a simple piece of expository dialogue to drive the episode home with. I’m guessing that this information was going to be utilized for later Fionna and Cake entries, but the show got cancelled and then nothing else ever came from this story at all. I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse, really, because as much as I feel like this plot point needs further explanation, I just don’t care in the slightest about Fionna and Cake or their role in this world at all anymore. The concept started out as a fun crackpipe idea that Natasha Allegri came up with, but has gotten so lost in the weeds that it doesn’t even know what it wants to be anymore. The world of Fionna and Cake simply isn’t that interesting – it’s just a watered-down and less characterized version of Ooo. The first two F&C episodes were satirical but loving jabs at the nature of fanfiction in general, the third and fourth entries seemed so straightforward and less committed to being parodies that there really wasn’t anything of substance within either, and this one feels like a desperate attempt to keep Fionna and Cake relevant in the world of Adventure Time through the most convoluted way possible. It’s pretty apparent that the staff really doesn’t know what to do with these characters anymore, but they clearly feel obligated to keep churning out an annual entry.

It doesn’t help that the episode is pretty boring on its own. My favorite bits of this episode are at the beginning – I love Finn, Jake, and BMO’s raft ride! After some of the craziest adventures they’ve ever been through, it’s really neat to see the boys back to having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Ice King’s book reading is similarly enjoyable, just for the fact that he actually had a decent turnout of people interested in listening to his stories. I really disliked that Bad Little Boy uncharacteristically portrayed Ice King’s writing as incoherent, because it’s actually one of his strong suits. As goofy as the subject matter is, he actually manages to churn out semi-decent tales with a committed story structure, and it’s nice to see that the folks of Ooo are captivated by these stories. The ol’ coot deserves it! As for the good stuff, the list pretty much ends there. Once the Fionna impersonator introduces herself, the episode slows down entirely while feeling like it’s accomplishing nothing at the same time. The Fionna impersonator really isn’t that interesting… you know from the beginning that she isn’t actually Fionna, so it ends up being a game of waiting for the revelation to come to the forefront. That element alone isn’t always poorly executed, but again, the fact that fake Fionna has little to no character at all makes it a pretty drab experience. I don’t know why they didn’t choose the more fun route of turning her into an obsession stalker, since it would’ve been cool to see Ice King work off of that type of personality. Speaking of which, Ice King isn’t at his A-game in this one. They don’t really give him any humorous material to work with; the closest moment he gets to being funny is when he incorrectly comes to the conclusion that the fake Fionna must be a mummy, but even then, it doesn’t do much for me. After coming off of the heels of Elements, this is probably the weakest IK episode in a long, long time.

FACAF 3

The actual Fionna and Cake segments are equally as pointless. Cake remains to be the only likable character in the F&C world, as Fionna continues to feel like a hollow and lifeless version of her counterpart. The story meanders for a good while, until the eventual twist that the mummy was actually the Queen of Ooo, which is a slightly obscure cameo, but it’s a pretty lame climax. The joke is essentially, “here’s this character all of you know, except as a lady!” which feels incredibly cheap and repetitive. A lot of Fionna and Cake stories are boring and forgettable, but this is definitely the most unremarkable of the five.

This episode tries to make up for being pretty joyless by leaving the audience with a few things to chew on, mainly the concept of Fionna and Cake being real that I had mentioned, and the fact that ideas for Fionna and Cake are beamed into Ice King’s head at night. I guess this could possibly mean that Ice King’s crown somehow picks up the signal of past Fionna and Cake episodes, or vice versa, with his mind projecting the ideas out to Ooo’s television signals, but again, I just could care less. I know that’s kind of an arrogant thing to say, mainly because I write this blog with the intention of putting as much care and passion in as possible, but I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve realized that Fionna and Cake really add nothing to the series beyond their initial episode. As I’ve mentioned, it was a enjoyably bizarre idea for the first entry, but it’s not a concept that lends itself to multiple different independent episodes centered around the idea. This episode would be atrocious for completely disregarding what made Fionna and Cake unique to begin with, but I’m not angry at it for the main reason that I’m not invested in this concept at all to begin with. Fionna and Cake outlived their usefulness long ago, and I’m eternally grateful that this is the last F&C episode ever produced.

FACAF 4

Favorite line: “Yes, let’s never do anything boring ever ag… Time for Ice King’s boring book reading!”

“Elements” Miniseries Review

ELE 1.png

Elements is the last miniseries that Adventure Time has ever produced, and it really closed things up with a bang. I’ve debated up to this point whether I think that Islands or Elements is the better miniseries, and I’m still slightly torn. I think I definitely have the stronger emotional connection to Islands, but Elements as a whole is the least problematic miniseries as a whole. While I have a ton of problems with Stakes and a few minor ones with IslandsElements has very few actual issues that I can pinpoint. While Stakes and Islands had their weaker entries, Elements really doesn’t have any duds on its hands. It’s weakest episodes mainly are limited to being entertaining on a base level, but still, they’re at the very least entertaining.

The opening of Elements is AMAZING, and quite possibly my favorite alternate opening that AT has ever put out. There’s just sooo much going on in it. While I previously complained that Islands‘ intro was just limited to a long-pan of the ocean that didn’t look all that spectacular, Elements gives us a glimpse into each of the elementified kingdoms (with the exception of the Fire Kingdom) and even adds a bit of backstory to the events of Elements as a whole. There’s a brief bit of foreshadowing with a happy LSP floating through the literal elemental apocalypse. There’s also that really neat shot of Fern being fully consumed by the candy wave; everything is presented in such a quick and tense matter that there’s a ton to absorb in such a short amount of time. The downside is that, while Science SARU is usually top-notch when it comes to guest animation, there are some sequences that are awkwardly storyboarded that make it feel slightly wonky in execution. Hanna K. boarded this one, and while she usually is pretty competent from an artistic front, there are some scenes (namely the dynamic pan up towards Patience) that just feel a little sloppy. But, it’s so fast-paced that you barely even notice, and only really sticks out upon actual analysis. I also appreciate how cryptic the nature of the intro is in general; as usual, this miniseries lists off four main heroes, but Lumpy Space Princess’s role is barely even alluded to. It really keeps things interesting in that sense. I’m usually not a fan of PB’s singing voice all that much, but you can almost tell how much fun Hynden Walch is having singing that classic AT tune. It’s kind of hard to resist.

Oh, and holy shit, are those title cards beautiful! These have got to be some of my favorites in the series, with each title card shifting the main character of focus more and more to the left, which makes for a really neat looking banner. Joy Ang painted half of them, and while her art is always beautiful, Benjamin Anders, who joined the design team this season, really shines with his work in designing and painting a good majority of the cards.

ELE 2.png

Like Islands and StakesElements features a main, ongoing story, but there’s also A LOT going on beyond the surface as well. You have the mysterious and often hostile relationship between Betty and Ice King, the constant tensions between the four kingdoms (of course, it’s only natural that the Fire Nation are the ones to attack), Lumpy Space Princess’s role as a hero, and the subtle, but still very much prominent, development of Finn and Jake’s relationship with each other. While F&J’s strengthened bond isn’t focused on as much as those other elements (pun intended), I think it’s undoubtedly this miniseries’ strongest arc. The passion behind Finn and Jake’s brotherhood is something that has been hit on numerous times throughout the run of the series, with great standout entries such as StorytellingMorituri Te SaltutamusSons of MarsDungeon Train, and Don’t Look, but never has it been more apparent how much they truly appreciate each other. Cloudy is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes Adventure Time has ever put out because it really emphasizes what makes the series so lovable to begin with: the simplicity of Finn and Jake and their friendship. I say simplicity not to undermine the complexities of their individual characters, but because their friendship is not bogged down by their baggage. Even with the weight of the world on their shoulders, Finn and Jake still manage to get by in their ability to enjoy each other’s presence and take delight in the simpler things. Cloudy had the potential to be a dark and grim entry, but it instead chooses to be a celebration of the positivity of our two heroes. It ultimately makes it all the more poignant when Jake is separated from Finn. We’ve seen Finn struggle without Jake plenty of times before, but the timing of their mutual trust that everything will end up alright makes consequences all the more dire, which in turn makes their reunion all the more heartwarming.

A surprising feat for this miniseries is that it also features Lumpy Space Princess at her absolute best. It’s really cool how such a shallow character can be incorporated into the overall lore of AT in a meaningful and believable fashion. It’s also neat that her development comes full circle by the end of Elements. LSP has always been a character that has lived in stagnancy and has been unable to actually grow because of the way she is and how she will always be. Here, Elements allows for her to be accepted and celebrated for who she is, rather than what society wants her to be, and I think that’s pretty swell. I’m usually fairly critical of LSP’s role in nearly any episode she’s in, but I really only have one nitpick for her arc in general: the way each writer handles her character can be somewhat inconsistent. I’ve mentioned before that a hidden talent of Seo Kim is portraying Lumpy Space Princess as sympathetic and thoughtfully as possible, and she’s really at her most likable in Hero Heart. She’s just as humorous in the following episode, but Steve Wolfhard portrays her as much more cold and detached from wanting to have any role in helping the people of Ooo. It feels a little bit of a drastic shift, but meh, it’s not something that particularly bothers me because I do appreciate each of these LSP entries.

The ongoing storyline featuring the elementified kingdoms is handled pretty successfully. While some of these individual explorations are (appropriately) silly, like the party-crazy Slime Kingdom, others are used as a deeper dive into more challenging allegories, like the question of whether permanent happiness is logical or not, or how easily controlled anger and rage truly are. There’s a nice balance of drama and fun mixed into it all, with the Candy and Slime Kingdom’s being used to showcase the comedy and fun of the shift, while the Fire and Ice Kingdom are used to emphasize how truly bleak this essential apocalypse is.

Then there’s Betty and Ice King, who work off of each other pretty greatly, though with some weak spots along the way. I’ll say this, I think Elements may be the best stories for Ice King and Betty’s characters individually. Ice King is still the lovable goofball we’ve come to love, but I really love how much of a team player he is in this. Ice King tagging along for Finn and Jake’s adventures has always left him either ignored or useless, but here, he’s actually one of the most competent members. Not only did he manage to avoid getting transformed entirely on his own (which may partially be a result of his crown) but he’s the only one who stays entirely focused on the central mission throughout this whole journey. Even Finn, who is understandably upset after losing Jake, is given a bit of reality check from ol Simon. It really shows how far his character has come and how truly devoted he is to being a hero in his own right. Betty is similarly terrific, for entirely different reasons. For one, she has a new voice actor that actually seems to care about the world itself, which helps for her character to truly shine through. Betty is still thoroughly sympathetic, and perhaps more-so than ever. I’ve mentioned this before, but even though she’s insane, she’s understandably insane, and it’s easy to get behind her woes knowing everything she’s been through. Not to mention she also has terrific comedic timing when interacting with other characters, such as Finn. It’s a perfect balance of wanting Betty to succeed, but also wanting Ice King to thrive in his own element. My few problems with their interactions stem from the fact that I think the pacing for Betty’s turmoil could have been panned out slightly better. It appears that she’s had it planned all along that she wants to steal the Enchiridion to get Simon back, but she has a brief moment of understanding and connectedness with Ice King in Hero Heart, which ultimately ends with her deciding to go through with her plan all along. It feels a bit out of place; I get that the endgoal was to make Betty’s betrayal a surprise, but I feel as though it allowed for false implications of development to still be executed and ultimately feel wasted by the end of it. Outside of Hero Heart, however, I thought everything moved relatively smoothly, so I’m nitpicking a bit.

ELE 3.png

As for the rest of Elements, you’ll mostly find myself nitpicking a few other issues that are barely really issues. I think the elementified versions of the characters are slightly gimmick-y in who is affected (Sweet P. is not, but Gunther is; Finn’s flame shield doesn’t protect him, but Cinnamon Bun’s weaker shield does) as well as the fact that everyone has conveniently clever names for their transition, but it’s all in the spirit of suspension of disbelief, and to harp on the latter point would just show how soulless and not fun I truly am. I also believe that the first half of Elements is objectively better than the second half, but that’s not to say that those last four episodes are bad by any means. Elements just started out unbelievably strong and I don’t think those first few entries are met in quality by the second half.

I typically don’t talk about storyboard teams during the miniseries(s) because pretty much every staff member gets a chance to shine, but something still baffles me about Elements… where was Tom Herpich? Steve Wolfhard had a guest spot with Laura Knetzger in Winter Light, and then worked on Skyhooks II entirely on his own. Was Herpich just busy at the time, or did he purposely opt-out of storyboarding for the miniseries? I dunno, it’s a strange absence that really just has me scratching my head.

Best to Worst Episodes

  1. Cloudy
  2. Bespoken For
  3. Skyhooks
  4. Winter Light
  5. Happy Warrior
  6. Skyhooks II
  7. Hero Heart
  8. Slime Central

Final Consensus

It’s no wonder that season eight is such a renaissance period for past fans of the series, as it really just gets better and better as it goes along, and Elements is a prime example of that. It’s a celebration of everything that the series started out as and everything it has become, allowing for non-stop fun and non-stop lore to blend in seamlessly. I’m overall excited to move on to a non-miniseries, because Islands and Elements have basically consumed my life for the past few months, but overall I was just really happy to get to rewatch these two landmark AT entries once more. Might be a controversial statement, but I truly do think that Islands and Elements may be the two best batches of episodes that the series has EVER put out.

 

“Winter Light” Review

WL 1

Original Airdate: April 25, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Laura Knetzger

Winter Light is all about showcasing the loomy-gloom of the newfound Ice Kingdom, and it does its damnedest to mirror that tone as accurately as possible. This one is sooo moody in its atmosphere, and I really dig it. Not only does it have a lot of fun with just how depressing this warped landscape is, but it also looks gorgeous. This is definitely the type of episode I admire for its atmosphere more than anything.

WL 2

The initial trek through the new Ice Kingdom is awesome; the entire scope of the ice dome itself feels so wide and vivid, making it really seem like this vast, desolate continent as opposed to a small community. Everything is masked with shadows and darkness, making even the silliest of Ooo’s creatures, like the Snow Golem and Iceclops, appear menacing and detached. Even in the more technically “light” scenes, the tone is still kept subdued and wistful. The Ice Fox’s version of “Blue Magic” is a song I’ve gradually gotten more invested in over time, and again, adds a haunting tone to the course of events at hand. Steve Wolfhard boarded the first half of this one and he excels at observational moments. In a similar essence to episodes like Graybles 1000+ and Mysterious Island, Finn and Jake merely exist as bystanders to soak in the various changes around them, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s what really helps knock this one out of the park on an atmospheric level, and really highlights the vast changes that have occurred since the boys’ departure. Elements takes its time quite appropriately in circumstances like this, allowing environment to be established before conflict and tension.

Though, there is clear tension within this episode, at the hands of Patience St. Pim. Her role in this miniseries always fascinates me; at first, it was something I felt somewhat disappointed and confused by. After the fun that was had with her character in Elemental, I expected more of the same over the course of eight episodes that would really give her character and huge personality a time to shine. We’re treated to a much different version of Patience here, however, though it’s one I’ve grown to really appreciate and admire over time. I think it’s really interesting how each elemental essentially embodies one main emotional state, with Flame Princess’s being anger, PB’s being bubbly happiness, and Slime Princess’s being her vivacious lifestyle. Of course, these characters are not limited to these traits; Bubblegum, while bubbly and sweet, is far from the wildly happy and calmed persona that we get to see throughout Elements. Yet, it’s still quite unique to me how sadness is the emotion that embodies Patience as a whole. Ice always seems to represent the least emotionally stable of characters, and it’s clear that their sadness is what drives them to the destruction of their own lives and others. Patience’s sadness stems from her inability to accept and deal with changes around her, as we’ve seen through her actions on multiple occasions. Winter Cloud shows us how following the instinctive clues of her sadness has only driven her into more sadness, which can really be a statement for magic users in the world of Adventure Time in general.

WL 3

Time and time again, magic has been shown to be utterly catastrophic in fixing the issues that only lead to more treachery. Patience is just one of those magic users, and she follows in the footsteps of so many other characters who have ended up making the same mistakes – trying desperately to alleviate the possibilities of disaster, but ultimately causing more damage and becoming absolutely paralyzed by madness and sadness in the process. “Blue Magic” is a great representation of this hastiness, and I think it’s especially powerful that Betty’s magic, combined with Patience’s efforts, are ultimately what brought the downfall of society. The parallels between the two are especially strong throughout the miniseries, and the climax of these eight episodes in general shows how such resistances to change happen like clockwork, and rarely ever provide positive results. Patience barely poses as a villain throughout the miniseries, but I think it’s rather potent that she’s so consumed by sadness and despair that she’d rather just watch the world die than even try to fix or ruin anything else. With so many villains bent on utter destruction in the world of AT, it’s unique to have a villain who has caused such irrepressible damage, but ultimately doesn’t care any which way what happens in the end.

Like most of the Elements episodes that precede this episode and come after it, Winter Light is chock full of great character moments. The dynamic between Ice King, Finn, and Jake has been practically absent since King’s Ransom, so it was really great to watch them all interact with each other once more. It’s hilarious to me that Ice King thinks that Finn views him as a best friend, but knows absolutely that Jake does not. This is another one of those shockingly self-aware Ice King moments that are just priceless to me. The IK’s pretty funny throughout this one’s run, including the overly long gag with Finn putting Jake’s sweater on. I remembered this joke going back into the rewatch, and I didn’t expect to find it funny, but it surprisingly got me – a really well-timed gag. I did think it was slightly strange that the two boys completely glanced over Ice King pushing Finn into unknown dangers, but that brief Rattleballs reference was probably worth the instance at all. I’m really digging Ice King’s Simonlike look as well, something that remains throughout the course of this miniseries.

WL 4

Finn and Jake’s relationship really thrives throughout the run of these eight episodes, and they share a lot of nice moments in Winter Light as well. Jake giving Finn his sweater, even if it means being susceptible to the side effects of the Ice Kingdom, was an adorably sweet move. It’s a nice metaphor that Jake will literally sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of Finn’s.  And Carroll returns in this one! Really didn’t expect to see her again, but I’m so glad we do. Her abrasive nature shines once more, as she quickly becomes another addition on my list of characters that should be really annoying, but strangely are not. Really dig the subtleties within her scenes as well, like the fact that her ice door will not remain sturdy throughout her prominent entrance.

Winter Light wraps things up by progressing the story forward, as Finn offers up the Farmworld Enchiridion to Betty (complete with the small music cue when it was first introduced in The Enchiridion! Nice touch!) and Betty lets out one confusing bout of laughter that begins bringing her actions into question. Winter Light is pretty small on moments that actually move the story otherwise, but its strength, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, is its atmosphere. There’s something both foreboding and strangely comforting about the freezing cold climate; a lot of this episode just reminds me of Bob Ross segments where he paints a snowy cabin for 20 minutes straight. While it’s a bit more dark and unforgiving than that, it’s really pleasant in its solemn nature, and provides for an enjoyably moody viewing experience to boot.

WL 5

Favorite line: “Everyone leaves except me. I remember father made me stay at the table until all the eggs were eaten.”

 

“Bespoken For” Review

BF 1

Original Airdate: April 24, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Seo Kim & Somvilay Xayaphone

Bespoken For could easily land itself on a list of best Ice King entries. It’s an episode that almost feels like it’s deliberately trolling the part of the fanbase that wanted to experience strictly lore (which they kind of still got) throughout its entirety. Even Finn and Jake are included for the sole purpose of representing all of us who are seeking out answers. But, even though Bespoken For doesn’t weave us an intricate backstory on the formulation of Patience St. Pim’s plans for elementifying Ooo, it does give us a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining exploration of Ice King and Betty’s complicated relationship. While most great Ice King episodes typically bank themselves off of how insane the Ice King truly is, Bespoken For portrays him in a pretty charismatic light, as he comes across as the true hero of the story.

BF 2

I always wondered why Finn and Jake never told Ice King that they were leaving for an unprecedented amount of time, but it was probably a decision for the best. IK could have very well pulled a desperate move by freezing the boys so they wouldn’t be able to leave their BFF. It is cute that Ice King is beyond filling his hobby list with something as notorious as princess-napping, and instead chooses something light and harmless, such as bird-watching, even if it means just doing what he always does. As always, the inconsistencies with Ice King’s intelligence are always quite funny, like the fact that he can spell “pterodactyl” but not “Choose Goose.”

It isn’t long before Betty shows up at his window, and she certainly sounds… different than usual. This marks the first episode Felicia Day portrays Betty, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing primarily because Day is a waaay better voice actress than Lena Dunham ever was. Dunham has her own fair share of experience, but it was clear from the start that she didn’t really have any interest in this world or its story. It’s a curse because, at least in my eyes, it’s really hard to replace a character’s voice actor successfully. No matter how much energy and talent Day brings to the table, the sad truth is that I’m always going to associate Dunham’s voice with Betty. This is why celebrity voices should never portray characters that have the potential to be important. Just look at Sugilite – she hasn’t spoken in four years!

BF 4

That bit of venting aside, Betty does bring a lot to the table in this one. Heck, Bespoken For feels like the first time she has any sort of semblance of a character, and it’s awfully refreshing. Betty’s one of the strongest additions to the miniseries in terms of the mystery surrounding her character; her madness and sadness often allow for her to make complex and often heinous decisions, most of which are never entirely explored until the climax of the miniseries. She certainly keeps things interesting, and her interactions with the Ice King are irresistibly tragic, and hilariously relatable. I love how Betty essentially is to Ice King what the mad, crazed squirrel is to Jake – an utterly forgettable face. His efforts to try to reassure her doubts are as awfully improvised as possible, concluded with the always humorous running gag of IK possessing an actual banana as a cell phone. I always wonder in the back of my head if the banana actually is a phone after all, and the show has been conning its audience after all these years.

Of course, the episode only gets progressively funnier as Ice King continues to get further and further into a detour that has practically nothing to do with what Finn and Jake want to hear. The suit fitting sequence is tons of fun (with the added bonus of Life Giving Magus) and Ice King lookin’ absolutely sharp was surely the highlight of this one. I’m reiterating myself, but I truly love how committed he is to actually going on a real date with a woman. It isn’t often he ever gets the opportunity to, but Ice King is genuinely confident, dressed to impressed, and even gets flowers for his lady! It would’ve been so easy for Ice King to give Betty some kind of meaningless or gross gift, but I’m glad that Seo and Somvilay knew when to add in these rare moments of earnestness. In general, there’s quite a few during the dinner scene.

BF 5

The date in general is a recipe for disaster, but more at the fault of Betty’s high expectations than anything. Ice King clearly does not remember his past self, and no attempts at jogging his memory have ever proved successful in the past. As for Ice King himself, he’s surprisingly not terribly awkward. Granted, he does make the suggestion to go dutch on their very first date, but I don’t think it’s that unreasonable. I mean, Betty is the one who asked him out, after all. And his method of trying to bail by pretending a roll of bread is a phone was hilariously less than smooth, but I’m truthfully just baffled at how Ice King actually recognized a red flag in someone and chose to back out because of it. That’s shockingly admirable.

Betty’s tale is a sad one, no doubt about it. Despite her forcefulness, her rage and frustration is understandable beyond just her state of lunacy. Much like Marcy and Simon’s relationship, Betty tries to be understanding and calm about getting to know her former fiance as he is, but can’t seem to accept the changes before her and resents him because of it. Even without the transferal of magic energy that occurred, it’s very clear that Betty’s descent into madness equally stems from her inability to recover something that clearly doesn’t exist anymore. It’s where everyone’s favorite life coach comes in, Tiny Manticore, and sets Betty’s perspective into place. I will say that this section of the episode is perhaps the most unbelievable; the entire episode is supposed to be told from Ice King’s point-of-view, yet he couldn’t possibly know about this exchange between Betty and TM. I wouldn’t mind it so much if the rest of the episode didn’t seem so committed to the framing device. It isn’t like Joshua & Margaret Investigations, where the entire backstory is supposed to be separate from the perspective of the storyteller.

BF 7

Patience St. Pim shows up in a couple of scenes throughout the course of this episode, and is expectedly fun, per usual. I love the random addition of a propeller cap that somehow gives her the ability to fly… couldn’t she just do that with her ice magic anyway? It’s great that her and Ice King are on such cordial terms that they casually refer to each other as “roomie” now – she even brings him a donut, even though he specifically asked for a surprise in doing so. Her inclusion also boils down to the big conclusion, in which Betty is used for her ultimate power source that elementifies Ooo as a whole. For those who sought out deep and rich lore within Bespoken For, they did end up getting it… all with a little bit of patience. Yeah, that pun is exceptionally awful.

But Bespoken For is great! A classic Ice King entry that both builds on his character and works off of what already worked  so well to begin with. This is the really the first episode that deals with Betty interacting with the Ice King, which luckily continues throughout the course of Elements and builds to the ultimate climax of their relationship all together.

Favorite line: “I grabbed as many penguins as I could… one.”

“Five Short Tables” Review

FST 1.png

Original Airdate: May 26, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kris Mukai & Aleks Sennwald

Within the past 10 or so episodes, Adventure Time has been consistently churning out some really big and profound episodes. With that in mind, the obligatory Graybles/Fionna & Cake episodes likely feel more like a chore to the staff than a passion project by this point in time, which makes sense, since they chose to combine them. Both series are pretty hit-or-miss; while the Graybles episodes tend to get better, or at least more innovative as they go along, the F&C episodes only seems to get more lackluster and less fun as they go along. I can firmly state that Five Short Tables is nowhere near as awful as The Prince Who Wanted Everything turned out to be, though this one still fails to offer anything new or interesting to the series, and mostly just plays out as a dull, inoffensive use of 11 minutes.

FST 2.png

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but there just really isn’t a very strong presence among the F&C cast. They’re all essentially carbon copies of their counterparts with diminished charisma and character traits. After Bad Little Boy, Fionna essentially just began to take on the role of “token nice girl” and she doesn’t really offer anything else beyond that. Cake is really the only character who stands on her own as a unique adaptation of Jake, though I often wonder if I’d even think this way if it wasn’t for Roz Ryan portraying her. I will tell you with utter honesty, there’s nothing quite as soothing as hearing Ryan utter the word “flapjack” again. I have trouble believing that this wasn’t an intentional move on the staff’s part. I also think Cake’s interest in expressive pancake art is charmingly silly, though not really enough to keep me captivated throughout the episode’s run.

I will say that the one character who did at least become a trifle more interesting is Gumball. While he sadly isn’t portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris in this episode (though Keith Ferguson at least gave it his all), we actually see a decent amount into Gumball’s psyche as Butterscotch Butler, the butterscotch Scottish butler, mentally eviscerates him using his fears against him. Not only does it give us an interesting look into Gumball’s insecurities and fears, but these can be easily seen as aspects of PB’s mentality as well, of which I have no doubt came into play because Ice King was snooping on her diary. How else would he know these dirty deeds?

FST 3.png

The next few entries are pretty blah. I’m pretty sure a lot of people enjoy the scenes between Turtle Prince and Flame Prince for the added Yaoi, but aside from that, there’s really nothing there that’s particularly entertaining. I remember a whole bunch of people were upset that Flame Prince wasn’t voiced by Dante Basco (which was the headcanon at the time), but holy shit, I had no idea he was voiced by Hannibal Buress until I looked it up! I’m a big fan of The Eric Andre Show. In the next table, we’re treated to a story in which Marshall Lee attempts to feed Lumpy Space Prince his medicine. It’s pretty unfunny, it doesn’t really have an interesting narrative at the helm, and I just don’t really care about the antics between these two pretty non-compelling characters. There are two things worth mentioning: it’s pretty obvious that this is the third board that Kris Mukai worked on for this season when looking at Marshall Lee’s demon-wolf hybrid. I have to say that Mukai’s boarding is a big strength for the episode; Fionna and Cake is big on allusions to anime, and I think Mukai’s drawings and expressions (along with her board partner Aleks Sennwald) really help to carry those allusions forward. The other thing worth noting is that LSP is not voiced by Peter Serafinowicz in this episode, of which isn’t too much of a distraction, because I feel like it effectively distinguishes the authoring styles of both Ice King and Lumpy Space Princess.

The final story starts out pretty creatively, as we’re literally treated to a fanfiction, within a fanfiction, within a fanfiction, within a fanfiction. It’s an idea so ludicrous that only AT could pull it off, and is truly one of the few highlights of this episode that is both pretty funny and legitimately complex. It was cool to hear Grey DeLisle reprise her role as Ice Queen once more, though again, Ice Queen doesn’t offer too much to the actual story and her segment stops almost as quickly as it starts. It is a silly idea that Ice King is the initial creator of the Graybles, and the ending with the distressed Cuber got a legitimate laugh out of me. It’s sad to think that this is actually Cuber’s last episode in the series. While the Graybles episodes were never some of my favorites (aside from the thoroughly ambitious Graybles 1000+), Cuber was always the strongest and most delightful part of any Graybles episode, thanks to Emo Philips, who really brought his character to life.

FST 4.png

Five Short Tables is pretty forgettable. I obviously don’t know what goes on inside the AT writing room, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the F&C episodes come simply out of the pressure of audience expectations and are never entirely what the crew wants to spend their time working on. I can’t say for certain, but I’ll at least say that Aleks Sennwald and Kris Mukai put enough effort into the visual and creative appeal of this episode that I can’t really get mad at it for being lazy, because there’s clear effort put into this one. The truth of the matter is that Fionna and Cake just don’t really have a ton to work with outside of their first appearance and the Graybles stories never fully land. It’s a crossover of two concepts that work together fine, but don’t really standout as anything slightly remarkable.

Thank you for joining me this week for the AT review bomb! With only 50 episodes left, we’re nearing the end. Be on the lookout for The Music Hole later this week, followed by the usual weekly Friday reviews, and then we resume with daily reviews as we move into the winter.

FST 5.png

Favorite line: “The purple thing had a tablespoon of syrup.”

 

“Elemental” Review

E 1.png

Original Airdate: May 19, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne

After the events of Evergreen, a bit of a hunger arose inside of me to see more into the backstory of the elementals and their role in the state of Ooo and the world in general. Only a season later, Elemental comes around and interestingly brings back said storyline, drops a bomb by revealing information about some of our central characters, and opens up for a lot in future entries. With that in mind, Elemental is mostly just set up for future episodes down the line, in typical Adventure Time fashion. So, we don’t get too far into said lore or story before the episode shuts down completely, but it does have a decent amount of fun along the way. This is a Kent Osborne solo-board, which is still kind of surprising to me. Aside from being a regular board artist on Ice King-centric episodes, I never pictured Osborne being especially into to the underlying lore of the series. Though, he is one of the head story editors, after all, and had a hefty part is crafting Elemental’s plot.

E 2.png

Osborne’s silliness really permeates throughout those first few minutes: we’re treated to Starchy’s sad entrance into his house as he once again remembers that his wife left him, the initial driving conflict of there being no hangers in Ooo, and Jake gassing out Finn during a stakeout. I do enjoy how this episode continuously references Ice King’s behavior as “classic Ice King,” and yeah, that’s exactly how it feels. Osborne has had a big part in creating some of Ice King’s greatest entries in the past, such as Loyalty to the King, Still, Holly Jolly Secrets, and so on, and this episode really feels like a return to form in the wacky adventures of IK, Finn, and Jake. Though again, it feels classic while also feeling current, because it really shows in just how the boys treat him. While they still reprimand Ice King for attempting to steal, they talk to him more like a little brother than they do an actual enemy. Even upon being confronted, Ice King just mutters, “oh, hey guys.” They have a pretty established understanding of each other by this point in time.

The ball doesn’t really start rolling until Patience St. Pim is introduced a few minutes in, who might be one of the most fun villains this show has ever put out. I say might, because this episode is really her one, true moment of stardom, and it’s a ton of fun. I really love how (literally) animated she is as a character, with nearly every sentence she utters being followed by some form of dance move. I also really enjoy the way she interacts with others. The episode has a lot of fun with how much Patience doesn’t understand about current society, as she treats Jake like an actual dog and asks which year it is (which apparently isn’t recorded anymore. Ah, lore!). Going back to what I was saying about the dynamic between IK and F&J, it’s sweet that the boys are quick to defend Ice King as semi-reformed, referencing once again that he hasn’t even attempted to kidnap a princess since The Party’s Over, Isla de Senorita, a whole two seasons ago. But, for every step forward with Ice King is always two steps back, as he continues to be easily influenced by the power of a pretty lady.

E 3.png

Ice King’s methods of capturing the princesses are hilariously cruel, especially Flame Princess’s. I can only imagine how she feels around him after previously destroying his entire kingdom in Frost & Fire. It’s also interesting to note production-wise that Slime Princess was not voiced by Maria Bamford in this episode. Instead, her brief line was provided by Melissa Villasenor, who voiced Grob in the previous episode. It’s always kind of funny to me that the show persistently utilizes Villasenor’s talents, but only for her to provide a line or two. Her previous credentials include Rainy in Another Way, a Fruit Witch in Dad’s Dungeon, and Sveinn in Broke His Crown. It’s a silly concept to me; does she just happen to stumble by the recording booth every so often and they ask, “hey, could you read these three words for us? Okay, thanks.”

It’s also a lot of fun to see Patience interact with all of the other elementals. I truly love how PB deductively tries to get information out of Patience simply by playing good cop. It’s rare that PB ever resists the urge for absolute rampage, but here, she’s actually using logic in a situation where her hands are essentially tied. Once Patience gets into discussing elemental history, things really get interesting. It’s thoroughly cool to see these various flashes of different incarnations of the elementals, as well as how they persisted within the human world. It’s pretty neat to hear the notion, “it was a non-magic world back then.” With that in mind, I wonder what truly sets apart this era of humanity from everything that came before it and everything that came after it. Does it have something to do with radioactive fallout? The catalyst comets? The Lich? Whatever it is, it’s cool to see that there were essences of magic even then, and that those who were affected by it chose to keep it secretive, and intrinsically knew the weight of the power that they possessed. The parallels between Patience and her former incarnation, Urgence, are very much apparent. Aside from the two having correlations in their names alone, both resist the idea of ending their legacy and choose to defy those that are closest to them. Within the AT lore, ice is easily represented by lonely and solemn behavior, and I think it’s pretty clear that both Patience and Urgence fear death and demise more than anything. Their resistance comes from the fact that they can’t accept the idea of being condemned to an eternity of nothingness over being alive and in power. I also commend this episode for showing the literal apocalypse on screen for a split second. Never thought I’d see that through the course of the series.

E 4.png

The final leg of the episode is mostly dedicated to a highly energetic confrontation with Patience, in which PB initially tries to defeat her using her elemental powers (though fails, because PB isn’t exactly a firm believer in magic), only for Slime Princess to be the true hero when she channels into her own abilities. The episode ends on a really… odd note, as PB states that “she isn’t going anywhere for awhile.” Uh, but won’t she just get out immediately after the slime is scraped off of her? Is PB really just going to let this potentially dangerous criminal go because she was contained by a temporary setback? It’s a pretty stupid ending that feels like it doesn’t have a real way to successfully wrap things up, while also leaving possibilities open for the future, and makes other characters seem a lot dumber in the process.

But regardless, I do think this one has a lot of fun moments, some interesting lore, and nice subtle moments to top off. I do wish the episode didn’t feel so tightly packed together, as it feels like it strives for a lot in the course of 11 minutes and can barely even wrap it up in that time, but I’ll reinstate that I at least had a good time along the way thanks so some solid writing from Osborne. Interestingly enough, I’m not a huge fan of this one on a storyboarding perspective. I usually like the super cute, squishy designs that Osborne provides for the characters, but here, I think it’s a little too much. Half of the episode features Jake right eye almost entirely off of his face, and his mouth closer to his legs than his body. It was definitely more distracting than charming for me this time around. Regardless, I think the story of the elements eventually leads to some really entertaining and intriguing entries, and Elemental is a mostly solid starting point.

E 5.png

Favorite line: “You’re like, a beautiful Ice King.” “Oh boy, here we go!”

“King’s Ransom” Review

KR 1.png

Original Airdate: January 15, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Hanna K. Nyström & Andres Salaff

The oddest thing about King’s Ransom to me is that it centers around Ice King’s journey into finding the missing Gunter, which is the exact same plot of the Ice King comic miniseries that was released FIVE DAYS after this episode had aired. I mean, it’s likely a coincidence, but just strikes me as especially odd considering that storyboard artist Emily Partridge ended up being the head writer for said miniseries, and whether or not it’s canon, I can imagine that anyone who picked up Ice King Issue #1 that week suffered from a serious case of deja-vu. But, regardless, the episode itself proves to be a lot of fun, and one that works mostly on simplicity as a means of success. And who better than to capture the charming, lovely simplicity of the main cast than Hanna K. Nyström?

KR 2.png

Nyström only just began as a storyboard artist in season seven, but her ability to empathize and understand these characters, as well as her strong efforts in storytelling, have truly led her to be one of my favorite board artists in the latter half of the series. Like Kent Osborne, Nyström has a way of depicting the cast in such a non-cynical and loving way that is just absolutely irresistible. It’s a method that may have been a bit too sweet early on in the series, but as our main characters begin to change and evolve, it’s more than welcomed as an accurate form of development. Joining her at the helm of this one is Andres Salaff, who doesn’t have a very big portfolio in the storyboarding realm aside from this episode and The Music Hole, but his efforts in those two do reinforce his equal ability to understand the characters on a personal level. Hell, he was a supervising director for two seasons, after all!

Following up from that whole ramble, a lot of the enjoyment from this episode comes from the absolutely delightful interactions between Finn, Jake, and Ice King. I certainly view King’s Ransom as a big turning point in the relationship between the boys and Ice King. By this point in time, Finn has almost fully warmed up to the IK. In fact, he shows absolutely no sign of being angry or frustrated by Ice King, even when he’s directly inconveniencing the brothers. Of course, Jake still hasn’t fully warmed up to Ice King’s often manic behavior, and is noticeably upset with him, at least at first. Jake slowly begins to sympathize with Ice King as the episode progresses, mostly in a way that goes back to Ice King’s previously sentiment that Gunter is comparable to being Finn’s Jake (or vice-versa). Jake likely identifies in the sweetness behind Ice King and Gunter’s relationship, in the same way that Jake would do anything to save his little bro in his time of need (humorously, Ice King might actually be even more dedicated in his efforts than Jake would. We all remember Power Animal, right?) so he’s able to look at the IK from a more sympathetic outlook. It would still take a bit more time for Jake to fully treat the guy as an equal, but this is a HUGE step for him in his behavior.

KR 3.png

While I don’t mean to undermine some terrific conflict episodes between the brothers and their overly clingy compadre, it is really cool to see a straightforward adventure-themed episode with all three boys working together in harmony. A lot of the fun with this one does derives from all of the back-and-forth interactions between the boys, and the circumstances that befall them. This is also an episode that is particularly silly in its execution of particular elements; the literal fox chase that involves Jake multiplying into several identical (non-sentient) Jakes, Mr. Fox’s disturbance in his own lonely bedroom, the added bit of lore to Ice King that he begins to look more like Simon whenever his crown is miles away from him, and various other visual gags that are just delightful (the return of the Jake car got me particularly giddy). The concept in general, while treated in a genuine way, is equally kind of hilarious when you start to think about it. Ice King is searching specifically for “Gunter”, while there are hundreds of other penguins that take refuge in his own kingdom. I didn’t even think he could tell the difference half of the time.

Though it’s silly, a lot of the episode does work off of your emotional investment in the situation, which again, I believe to be genuine. You really get the feeling that Ice King does care about Gunter, beyond being just the archetypal sidekick for his muse. It’s probably one of his most heroic displays to date, and he constantly puts himself in dire situations, just for the sake of saving his little buddy. While Ice King’s entire existence is based around the life of a man who cared very little for his pupil, IK proves to be an improvement just by showing that he does care in one way, shape or form. Of course, some of this did read to me as a bit schmaltzy at first, but it was quickly negated when we get to the end.

KR 4.png

I probably sound redundant getting to this next point, but I once again think it’s SO IMPORTANT that Ice King willingly almost gives up Gunter at the sight of a beautiful woman. While I’m totally for getting bits and hints of Ice King being able to develop over a period of time, it is once again an important reminder that Ice King will never fully change as long as the crown holds power over him. And that’s alright! Ice King’s apathy and failure to understand social connections are what made him great to begin with, and while I love the connections of understanding and love that he develops throughout the series, it great that the show is still dedicated to showing off his insanity and selfishness despite it all. As for the reveal of Betty, it was pretty fine. It leaves a bit of intrigue for Broke His Crown, but doesn’t really do much for me here. I think the reveal in general was pretty obvious for anyone watching, and the Herpich-styled tin can voice just kind of felt like an excuse for how Lena Dunham couldn’t make it into the booth at the time. I do love the fakeout, however, where Ice King begins to stutter and finally calls her “be-autiful” instead of “Betty.” Once again, it’s important to remember this guy has lost his mind, and there’s very few things that can change that at this point in time.

But overall, King’s Ransom is a lot of fun. Definitely not one of the stronger season seven episodes, but one that’s delightful regardless. It’s so weird to think that the last episode based around Finn, Jake, and Ice King’s relationship was Play Date, so it’s exceptionally rewarding that this episode simultaneously gets back to the basics, while also showing clear signs of evolution. This attitude surrounding the Ice King would only continue to shift as time went on, especially within this season in general.

KR 5

Favorite line: “The last time I saw Gunter, I was yelling at him for pooting. But it wasn’t Gunter who pooted. It was me!”