Tag Archive | Jake the Dog

“Bad Timing” Review

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Original Airdate: March 3, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Kent Osborne & Pendleton Ward

Lumpy Space Princess’s vanity and ego make her quite the difficult character to feel sympathy for. While all of the characters within Adventure Time have their fair share of flaws throughout the run of the series, all of them at least have something that gives me a reason as to why I should care for them, that is, all except for LSP. Bad Timing does the unthinkable. It manages to make me care for LSP’s character in a way I really never imagined. And this isn’t an episode that gives a cute or likable side to her character; the episode still does its damndest to show that LSP is crazy and arrogant in her own lumpy way, but it’s exactly that kind of attitude and behavior that directly contributes to the tragedy of her character as a whole. This is all tied together with a unique framing device that includes some delightfully silly creations from Pen Ward and Kent Osborne, and helps to all connect to Bad Timing’s piteous ending.

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The episode is introduced to Princess Bubblegum once again battling the logic behind anomalies and magic in contrast to her deep faith in her own scientific studies. Her method of time travel is also rather complex, but interesting. The back-to-back bickering between PB and Jake is quite enjoyable, as always; I really enjoy this playful conflict between the two. It’s pretty obvious that Jake is more captivated by presentation rather than the deep intervals of the space time continuum. He’d rather just see cool time portals and shit than a big presentation about the construct of time, which PB fails to understand, ultimately diminishing her faith in magic even more. It’s also nice to see one of the Mud Scamps from The Hard Easy back again! I love those quirky little critters.

As LSP enters the scene, it’s already clear what her current state of mind is. After literally sleeping in a gutter for the night (a terrific metaphor for her deranged mindset), she nearly tears PB apart for not allowing her to use the time device to visit her past boyfriend Brad. We haven’t seen a ton of LSP this past season and a half, as her only major appearances were in Candy Streets and Apple Wedding, where her deteriorating mental health is in clear view. And this one does not hold back when showing LSP at her absolute craziest and most desperate. It isn’t devoid of some of her funnier moments as well; Pen Ward gives his all with this performance, showcasing Lumpy Space Princess and her most loud and obnoxious, but also her most passionate.

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While LSP drowns her worries at the Candy Kingdom Tavern, as Tree Trunks softly sings “Slow Boat to China” (a referential moment I actually quite enjoy), she comes across Johnnie, or as she called him in high school: “Ugly Johnnie.” Johnnie is the perfect example of just a likable “nice guy” character. He’s certainly not the most interesting character that has ever starred on the show, but I don’t really think that was the point. He’s just supposed to be this really sweet guy who shows Lumpy Space Princess something that she has probably never received, or at least accepted: care and compassion. He’s also not without his funny moments, mostly stemming from his clear social awkwardness and quirky behavior. I like how corny and kind of stilted his interactions with LSP are. They laugh about using a vinyl record to stimulate a face, and then Johnnie immediately just tells Lumpy Space Princess to sleep on his couch. Talk about a confident and forward man! And honestly, Johnnie is the perfect representation of “that person from high school who went waaay under the radar.” I think all of us who have gone through high school know that one person you look at now and just wonder “damn, where were you three years earlier?” Is that rude? I don’t know.

But the utter tragedy of it all is seeing just how well LSP responds to all of this. She isn’t demeaning, she isn’t arrogant, and she isn’t being vain. She genuinely enjoys the company of Johnnie, and is much happier with herself and her life spending time with someone that not only benefits her own existence, but somebody that she can care and love for as well. Johnnie was able to build confidence and self-esteem through her own actions, and carried those skills over to get a job within the Candy Kingdom. Lumpy Space Princess most likely only dated guys who were physically attractive for a social status back in Lumpy Space, so this is definitely the first boyfriend she has had who isn’t completely materialistic. But of course, LSP’s desire for love is still a very self-centered desire. Though she’s able to give love to Johnnie, anything threatening the love that he gives her ultimately threatens the relationship as a whole. Lumpy Space Princess doesn’t know that love requires trust and flexibility; her only understanding of true love is that it feels good and that she doesn’t want the high to leave. Especially in this case, seeing as how Johnnie is a legitimately kind and loving guy, she does not want to lose him or the way he feels about her for anything.

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During Johnnie’s dinner with Princess Bubblegum, LSP sits sadly outside and utters a monologue that is so raw and passionate that I couldn’t help but include it in this review.

Oh, Johnnie… Ugly Johnnie, through my tender love you have metamorphed into Beautiful Johnnie Butterfly. Every relationship, I gamble with my heart. I go all in because the payoff is true love. I see you when I close my eyes, and thinking of you makes my mind feel light. All my problems fade away, and I can’t help smiling. To let someone you love go into the arms of another takes a big person. I don’t know… if I can be that big.

This is one of my favorite soliloquies in the show, and honestly the best representation about what Lumpy Space Princess as a character is all about. It’s easy to dismiss her as crazy, but even easier to empathize with her viewpoint on love and how important it can make one feel. Yet, it’s important to also realize that LSP isn’t in love… she has only known Johnnie for a day. However, the impact of the brief relationship and the effect it had on her is exactly what makes her feelings so validated. LSP is a person constantly looking for love, and one that struggles so hard to ever find it. For the first time in her life, she’s at least found a genuine person who she could actually see herself with. The thought of mutual love is enough to make her as high as could be, and the only thing that actually threatens her is the loss of that love. It’s a lot similar to Braco’s situation in The Suitor: if the two of these characters were patient and understanding with their alleged loved ones, they would have ended up having a much more positive resolution. Yet, LSP is left with only her paranoia and feelings of heartbreak, which continue to contribute to her own self-destructive behavior. She’s unable to look past her own insecurities because she is afraid of losing everything she has worked so hard to create, even though she’s actively destroying exactly what she wanted in the first place. In a very Lumpy Space Princess-y way, this is a very sad truth when it comes to love and infatuation.

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And of course, let’s not forget the tranch herself, Princess Bubblegum. I think PB is written pretty terrifically in this one, and it’s a nice balance to show her caring and compassionate side after sooo many episode of referencing her more shady and conniving nature (though he use of cyanide laced gum is quite questionable). Even though she initially threatens to declare war on Lumpy Space after a trivial fight between LSP (the chick can be petty sometimes!), her sympathy and understanding of Lumpy’s own self-doubt is exposed in all the right ways. Instead of reprimanding LSP for stealing her material, wrecking her castle, and sort of killing someone, she would much rather put a halt to Lumpy’s suffering, even if it means feeling the wrath of her own hostility. PB is a caring and understanding person when she realizes the emotional turmoil that is going on within other people, and after 800 years of trying to build a happy Utopian society, there’s still the underlying realism that some citizens do deal with deep emotional issues. And sometimes the only way to cope with the heavy issues of her citizens is to have a nice drink at the Candy Kingdom Tavern. Poor gal.

The ending is about as heartwrenching as it gets. Through the outer circle surrounding the episode, we see that these creatures are from an alternate dimension, and that the time machine sent Johnnie here instead of his past timeline. As LSP bawls over the loss of her love, we see that Johnnie can also see exactly what is going on within the Land of Ooo. As she angrily runs out, Johnnie sadly slouches himself, knowing that he’ll never be able to see his lover ever again. Johnnie perhaps receives the saddest fate out of any character in the entire show; he’s doomed to a dimension that he can presumably never escape from, and through everything, he really, really liked LSP. He never doubted his relationship or lost his feelings for his special someone, and Lumpy Space Princess’s failure to understand social cues is what ultimately led to the demise of their individual lives. It’s sad stuff.

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The outer circle is certainly an interesting gag within the episode, with many cute little characters and gags within it. I also think it was delightfully clever to tie the entire episode back to the actual visual gag. Though, I think this is definitely a feature that works much better on rewatches. When I initially viewed this episode, I was quite distracted by the actual circle and actually missed the emotional ending with Johnnie ending up in the circle. Thus, this is one that benefits from multiple viewings, so now I can either focus entirely on the circle, or the events going on within the episode. Each are equally interesting in their own right, and the cute little creatures have Pendleton Ward written all over them. Perhaps my favorite of these doodles are the peanut who splits into two individual nuts and the triangle and square happily see-sawing together.

This one is an emotional rollercoaster, and one that I’m quite fond of. This is the best Lumpy Space Princess episode to date, and it’s one that finds all the right ways for me to sympathize with her. By the end of the episode, she’s still entirely vain and insane, but Bad Timing finds just the right balance to still make her charismatic. One of Ooo’s most unsympathetic characters was able to also become one of the show’s most tragic, and I think that’s just another magical actual of great writing within the scope of Adventure Time.

Favorite line: “Boy, when this evening started, I was feeling so dump trucks, but now it’s like a hundred forklifts!”

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“Betty” Review

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

Original Airdate: February 24, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Red Throne” Review

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Original Airdate: February 10, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

The Red Throne is perhaps Finn at his most unlikable. While he’s had his noticeable fuck-ups in episodes like Frost & Fire and Too Old, The Red Throne views Finn as a complete, pathetic mess. And by God, Somvilay and Seo Kim did not hold back with this portrayal, to the absolute detriment of the episode. While I thought episodes like Frost & Fire and Too Old were great introspective episodes into some of the darker aspects of Finn’s character, The Red Throne simply focuses on his utter stupidity, and ends up making him seem like a complete and absolute piece of shit. This is the one time in the series I can honestly say that Finn simply did not feel like the character he was made to be. It’s one thing to give him a set of flaws that he struggles with, but another to just make him completely off the walls in order to prove a point. That’s called flanderization.

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The great tragedy of this one is that I actually like the premise of it. Flame Princess being usurped from her kingdom and having no one else to turn to except for Finn, as he still isn’t completely over her, is a pretty great idea. It could even go down the same path where Finn is still trying to make things work, but realizing by the end of the trip that it simply isn’t going to happen. But man, they make Finn as stupid and as creepy as possible, to the point where he seems like a legitimate sociopath. In Too Old, Finn tries to push a relationship with Princess Bubblegum in a rather creepy and manipulative way, but he’s given a reality check by the end of it and doesn’t attempt to continually pursue her from that point on in the episode. Even in Rattleballs, where he isn’t necessarily trying to force a romantic relationship, but comes off a bit obsessive and clingy, he still listens to everything that Bubblegum tells him. Here, Flame Princess tells Finn within the first few seconds of her being in the Treehouse that “this doesn’t mean we’re getting back together,” yet Finn is CONSTANTLY trying to pursue it throughout the entire episode. This isn’t a quirky little mistake or fuck-up on Finn’s point, this is borderline harassment. The point when he puts his hand on FP’s shoulder as she shakes him off, and then he scoots closer to her two seconds later is just awful. And I get the point of him acting like a idiot is so an actual idiot like Cinnamon Bun can look smarter in comparison, but the way it’s executed just leaves me with less sympathy for Finn in his actual life crisis. We’re supposed to want him to patch things up with Flame Princess, and even if he fails and is an awkward doofus about it, we can at least feel bad for him. But by the end of it, I just end up angry with Finn. This episode gives me no reason to feel for him; there’s no tragedy in the situation, or at least it feels like there’s no tragedy. It just feels like a sequence of events to show off how much of a douche Finn has become, and it’s somewhat disheartening. It doesn’t even feel like he’s attempting to be a decent person. I’d get if he was trying to be really pushy with how nice he is to Flame Princess, or if he was just a nervous dork the entire time, but having him be so forceful and unwilling to recognize boundaries makes him seem so despicable.

The funny part about the Finn aspect is that it isn’t even the worst part of the episode. The pacing is Ignition Point levels of bad, and it really shows in the scenes featuring Flame King and Don Jon. Don Jon himself is a character who is entirely insignificant; the only thing I ever remember about him is his design, though I remember thinking it was cool in Wizard Battle far before this episode even came into fruition. Don Jon’s character is dull and uninspired, with very few actual character traits and interesting abilities. Even Keith David, who usually pulls off some standout performances as Flame King, isn’t really given much to work with. And by God, do I fucking hate that overly long fight sequence between the two. Yeah, yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be a reference to the incredibly slow fight sequence between Keith David and Roddy Piper (the voice of Don Jon) in the film They Live, but when has Adventure Time ever relied completely on referential humor for laughs and entertainment? Having Roddy Piper voice Don Jon in general is enough of a satisfying homage, I don’t get why they needed to add in the fight sequence which arguably just slows down an already awkwardly paced episode. And it certainly does not translate into the animation process in a visually interesting or smooth way.

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Even the bits of the episode I liked more than others were weighed down by some clunky writing. Cinnamon Bun’s transition into Flame Princess’s noble knight is a decision I overall enjoyed for his character, though I feel as though this shift from an idiot to almost entirely competent seems… unconvincing. After all, it was only three episodes ago that we saw Cinnamon Bun as stupid as ever in Apple Wedding, so I feel like watching him be this really devoted knight out of nowhere would be better presented with proper setup. Apple Wedding would have to sacrifice some of his funnier moments, though it would have been nice if he at least had some signs of growing intelligence. I do, however, like the analogy of how he was “fully baked” after being hit with a bout of fire; it’s a nice little touch for all of those paying attention when PB mentioned Cinnamon Bun to be “half-baked” in The Other Tarts. I think it definitely would’ve made more sense with the episode if CB suddenly became more intelligent after the actual baking sequence, though again, this episode really wants to emphasize that CB is being more emotionally mature than Finn. Though, I have to question, when looking at where the series is now and comparing it back to this episode, would Cinnamon Bun’s baking process actually be the reason that he’s so blubbering and stupid? It seems like all Candy Kingdom citizens are made to be inherently stupid, so I’m wondering if the “solution” to CB’s stupidity still makes sense in the grand scheme of things. But I digress.

It’s sad that Flame Princess is given a major role in this episode, because she isn’t really given a ton to work with either. Flame Princess is practically a blank slate in this one that is just simply there to react to everything going on and to continuously turn down Finn. Again, it damages the episode because it makes Flame Princess feel like an extension of Finn’s character; she’s given pretty simplistic dialogue to correspond with the events surrounding her, and the circumstances surrounding her aren’t really explored in an interesting way. This doesn’t need to be this really big, emotional episode for Flame Princess, but I just wish she felt like more than just the source of Finn’s affection. It’s quite sad, but I’m glad The Cooler explored her new position without Finn being involved.

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Is there anything I like about this one? Few very moments come to mind, though I can think of a couple. Well, it’s nice to see the Fire Kingdom again, for one. As usual, it looks really nice, and I like the use of Cinnamon Bun’s flame shielded color pattern to contrast from the darker oranges, reds, and browns that the backgrounds have to offer. Really helps him pop. I like Cinnamon Bun’s new character role as I mentioned, but I would enjoy it if it felt more natural and less forced by the episode. Also, the moment when Flame Princess enters and Finn immediately lets her know that Jake is staying at Lady Rainicorn’s house is pretty funny. Though it also contributes to his horny douchebaggery, I feel like it’s an appropriate and pretty funny concept for him to immediately mention that he has the Treehouse to himself as Flame Princess spontaneously bursts through the window. Without any context, I’m not surprised that it’s the first thing that came to Finn’s mind.

As a whole, this one is a pretty big stinker. If it was done with more care and compassion for the characters, it could’ve succeeded, but instead we got a series of cheap character gags that feel hollow and heartless. The exploration of Finn’s character in regard to his break-up with Flame Princess has been intriguingly insightful thus far, so it’s quite a shame that this episode put a bit of a damper on this arc. This is one of the few times when I can honestly say I just straight-up don’t like Finn’s portrayal, and that his behavior just simply did not seem completely true to his character.

Lots of exciting episode reviews coming within the next month! These next five episodes, which I have deemed AT’s Renaissance, are some of the most enticing episodes the show has to offer. While not all of them are personal favorites of mine, they all offer something entirely different that defines what makes Adventure Time such an astounding show overall.

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Favorite line: “Girls’ bathroom is over there. Also, it’s the boys’ bathroom.”

“Blade of Grass” Review

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Original Airdate: January 20, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Seo Kim

Blade of Grass effectively introduces a major plot point to not only the season, but the series as a whole. The introduction of the grass sword would open up a whole variety of doors for Finn’s character, as well as a future character down the line. Yet, despite some of its surreal imagery, this episode doesn’t feel especially heavy or impactful, but it doesn’t really need to be. Somvilay and Seo Kim efficiently worked together to create a fun and intriguing episode, and their best episode of the season overall.

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LOVE the way this one begins. It’s probably Adventure Time at its most odd, with Finn and Jake battling off a bunch of mullet-sporting zombies within a slide park. The idea alone is completely ludicrous enough to get a laugh out of me, and I still to this day have no fucking clue what the slider guys are supposed to be. On the more heartwarming side, Finn is still using his Demon Blood Sword even after it was previously smashed. It seems evident that this episode needed to happen for Finn to acquire a new blade, but I’m glad it does show how much of an attachment Finn had to the Demon Blood Sword. And why shouldn’t he? That sword was bangin’ and it came from his dad, the latter arguably having a bigger emotional impact on Finn in general.

I love the little farmer’s market introduced in this episode that becomes a recurring location from this point on. It feels very fitting with the world of Adventure Time, and I’m glad the series didn’t go full-out Root Beer Guy after said episode and turn the Land of Ooo into one big modern day metropolis. It’s nice to have little medieval elements like this sprinkled around. It’s also been quite some time since we’ve seen Choose Goose, so it was good to reintroduce him once more. I especially like both the callback to Blood Under the Skin and Play Date as Finn describes the armor that Choose Goose once gave him.

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Once Finn receives the grass blade, the episode becomes an effective mixture between comedy and some horror elements. Again, I think this is some of Somvilay and Seo’s best joke telling, simply because it focuses mostly on the story while sprinkling in their own charms along the way. Occasionally, Somvilay’s focus on anti-humor can be so all-consuming and an effort to make the episode as non-jokey as possible that it simply becomes distracting and sometimes quite dry. Here, all of his non-jokes work naturally into the story in a way where his influence is still noticeable, but the episode as a whole doesn’t feel like his own experimental project. There are some nice gags throughout this one, like the random pizza that comes flying out of nowhere, or Finn finally ditching the sword and uttering, “worst three bucks I’ve ever spent.” Honestly, Finn, I love you buddy, but what were you really expecting here? Also, the battle outside of the candle shop is one of my favorite moments in the episode, again, mostly in terms of surreality. The “hooligans who steal candles” are silly renditions of cliched 60’s gang members, and Finn’s interactions with them are equally as hilarious. Also, I think the older candle store owner may surpass Slime Princess for my favorite character performed by Maria Bamford. I absolutely love her forced Irish accent.

Aside from the humor, the episode in general does a great job of showing how big of a threat the grass sword can be. There’s heavy bits of foreshadowing here, especially within the dream sequence and actions of the sword in general. In the dream, we see the grass sword completely consume Finn’s body as he becomes one whole “grass Finn.” And the way the sword cuts through objects and turns them into little Finn heads shows what a fascination the sword has with Finn in general. Obviously I don’t think they thought a ton into the future in terms of the whole “grass Finn” thing in this episode, but I’m glad the connection was made regardless. I just wish the sword was a bit more consistent with it; this is the only episode where the sword cuts objects into Finn shapes, and I think it’d be much less distracting if it wasn’t shown every single time Finn cuts into something following the pillow tag. To be fair, we don’t even really get to see this sword a ton as it is, so I can’t really blame this for being inconsistent. The grass sword in general is cool; I think it’s pretty neat how the entire blade is given weight and strength through the mere sounds that it makes. The blade as a whole looks pretty frail and inferior to Finn’s previous swords, though something as simple as the Grassy Wizard placing it down with a metal “clang” can make it feel a lot more powerful and effective. I enjoy the way it’s categorized as more than just a sword as well. The curse plays a very large part into its existence, and its focused on in all the right ways. I really like how the sword even possesses some elements that the Ice Crown does, in the sense that it longs for the person who wears it and is relentless in its efforts to be used.

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Finn realizes the weight of the curse as Choose Goose informs him, and I enjoy how Finn’s slow progression into actually liking the sword becomes clear following this moment. Oliver Sava over at the A.V. Club would point out that the grass sword has some sort of correlation with Finn’s sexual awakening, though I don’t really buy into that theory at all. If anything, it seems that the lifelong “curse” could correlate more into a lasting condition or mental illness of some sort. As Finn confronts the Grassy Wizard, he is informed that the curse will last forever, and that Finn’s casual response is not how one is supposed to react to that kind of news. Or Jake’s observation, “now that you’ve accepted it, you can control it!” I think it’s pretty obvious that Finn could easily go his entire life resisting the power of the sword and being in denial about its attachment to him, though Finn would much rather just accept his fate and come to terms with his eternal curse. Once he’s learned to accept reality and fate as it is, he can now control his feelings and issues as if they were never issues to begin with. It’s somewhat enlightening.

This episode is also filled with some really nice color schemes. I love it’s focus on the color green; it never feels too nauseating. The grassy mountain is a pretty cool place with some pretty neat beasts, and the Grassy Wizard in general is a pretty enjoyable dickhead. He would later be brought back in Do No Harm, and I’m glad he had at least on more part in the ongoing Grass Sword saga.

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So yeah, this one is a blend of mostly fun and somewhat tense moments. It does a pretty great job of setting up the grass sword story as a whole, and I think it’s pretty obvious to any regular viewer at this point that Finn is going to lose his arm at any point now. It’s been alluded to so many times up to this point, and the grass sword only adds to the anticipation of Finn’s amputation. The de-arming comes soon enough, and while reactions amongst people on whether it was handled properly wildly ranges, I think it’s at least safe to say for now that we did get a pretty cool sword out of it regardless, even if it was short-lived.

A brief detour from my usual endings, but oh. my. Glob. Have y’all seen the new kidrobot Adventure Time figures? I’m actually obsessed, and I cannot wait for the damage my bank account is going to experience once they’re released.

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Favorite line: “Worst $3 I ever spent.”

“Apple Wedding” Review

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Original Airdate: January 13, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

I previously mentioned in my review of Dream of Love that I thought Tree Trunks couldn’t really hold up an episode on her own following that episode, though I think I have to somewhat retract that statement. I have a soft spot for Tree Trunks, but for a while, I thought she was best in small doses, rather than having full episodes centered around her. But now that I look at it, some of Tree Trunks’ best episodes are yet to come, and this one is definitely an enjoyable expedition that I’ve grown fonder of over time. Apple Wedding is a fun way to gather a bunch of different characters and to put them in one place, while also introducing a handful of new and equally entertaining characters. There’s definitely a lot going on in this one, though to its advantage.

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Let’s go over the main story first: Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig are getting married! This seems like a pretty appropriate development in their relationship; we haven’t really seen anything major from the two of them since Dream of Love, though, given their heavy infatuation with each other in that episode, it only makes sense that they would rush into getting married in what is presumably only a year later. It seems obvious that Tree Trunks is getting up in the years (I think… I mean, her mom is still apparently alive after all) and given her past history with men, I think she’d most likely end out her years with someone by her side. I buy into it though, because I think Mr. Pig and Tree Trunks actually make a pretty cute pairing for each other. Though, it’s most funny to me that, while the episode is called Apple Wedding and revolves around Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig’s wedding, the two never really feel like the main focus. Everything’s connected to their story, but tons of different things are going on around them. Even a good amount of time is dedicated to showing their family members.

We meet Tree Trunks’ mother, who is a hilariously horny elephant that gives us some insight into where TT’s risque behavior comes from. We’re also introduced to Mr. Pig’s extended family (by the looks of it, most of Tree Trunks’ relatives must have died off) including his mother, who has plenty of enjoyable overreactions, as many mothers would when their child’s wedding day occurs. We also get to see what I assume to be Mr. Pig’s nieces and nephews playing and messing around with Jake, which I thought was just adorable. PB’s statement “I haven’t seen Jake this happy in a while,” adds a layer of poignancy to his actions. Jake is probably still not over the fact that he never got to properly raise his children, and now that Finn’s going through his own developmental issues, he is probably thrilled that he has a chance to hangout with and play with a group of children. It’s also a somber inflection from PB that leads me to guess that Jake really isn’t as happy as we’re used to seeing. It’s obvious that Jake pushes away his stressors and doesn’t really like to deal with them, and I get the feeling that PB picks up on that where Finn does not.

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On the Princess Bubblegum side of things, her subplot provides for some fun characterization as well. This episode introduces the one, true King of Ooo, who is a favorite of storyboard artist Steve Wolfhard, and I think this provides for one of his best appearances. I really enjoy the dynamic between PB and King of Ooo, and how it becomes a rivalry of pride by its last moments. And it makes sense why PB would hate him! Bubblegum has worked hard to build her kingdom from scratch and make a name for herself, while the King of Ooo is simply a swindler using a false name to gather the masses. Bubblegum’s determination to expose him is a lot of fun, even if she does end up taking it a bit too far. I was initially annoyed with her decision to lock up everyone after they rebel against her, but I think it works in the sense that it emphasizes her absolute disdain for the King of Ooo, and it’s just genuinely a funny twist. So I’m okay with it.

Aside from those two stories that are mostly major, this episode is also chock full of much smaller stories. Tree Trunks’ ex-husband Wyatt gathers some attention, and man, what a sad loser he is. I really love the way BMO’s absolute enthusiasm is diminished after talking to him for a few minutes, and you can really gather what kind of a person Wyatt is in just a few scenes. There’s always that one sad asshole who ruins a wedding by boring people to death with their own love life, and Wyatt embodies everything those sad assholes possess. After only knowing BMO for like, 15 minutes, he’s totally ready to ask her to move in with him, just because he constantly needs that attention. And BMO’s reaction is perfect; I love how she completely disappears for the entirety of the episode following this scene.

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Finn’s duty to stop LSP from ruining the wedding is fun as well. I love how this is an actual job Finn is given, as in Lumpy Space Princess just generally does this every single time there is a wedding in Ooo. Really adds to her demented, egocentric behavior. The episode does a great job of making her seem haunting and antagonistic as well, even if her motivations are, at core value, quite silly. Also, according to the storyboard, LSP’s dress is an exact copy of Princess Diana’s dress. In the promo art that Wolfhard conjured up, it depicts LSP preparing to defile a grave a steal someone’s dress from inside. So, was that actually Princess Diana’s dress? Interesting thought.

Also depicted in the promotional artwork is Cinnamon Bun returning to the Candy Kingdom once more to bar tend at the wedding. And his appearance is relatively funny! His mix-up of “take around these drinks ‘for us’” and “walk to the zoo and back” really cracks me up every time I hear it, and is one of my favorite Cinnamon Bun lines in general. Also, I love the collaboration of different things coming together, as PB flies the King of Ooo’s jet, LSP gets closer to the wedding, TT nearly says “I do”, and much build up is put on CB shaking that bottle of champagne. Yet, it was entirely a farce and no significance was actually carried out by the bottle. It’s quite funny.

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Annnd, everything is tied together at the end when PB frees everyone (literally, everyone) from prison. Honestly, this scene was a missed opportunity to include Pete Sassafras finally getting released from prison. I wonder how long he was actually in there for. But, regardless, Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig are able to have some alone time for some hardcore fucking while PB watches. Shield your eyes, kiddies!

This one is definitely a lot of fun, mostly deriving from its ability to combine so many ideas with one concept. It’s fun to see this lot of different characters, and each story feels equally as entertaining as the other. It’s a wedding episode that doesn’t feel at all schmaltzy or drawn out, and one I seem to enjoy more on each rewatch.

King of Ooo’s attorney Toronto was initially supposed to appear in this episode, though it was cut from the storyboard. You can see the deleted scenes here.

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Favorite line: King of Ooo dot cooooom!!!

 

“Root Beer Guy” Review

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Original Airdate: December 2, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk

Root Beer Guy is a diversion from the typical Adventure Time formula and centers around a character we know little to nothing about. The past episode James did so to its derailment, though this one effectively makes me care about this newly introduced character in a single minute than I’ve cared about James in any of his individual appearances.

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Root Beer Guy isn’t a completely new character, however. Root Beer Guy has made several background appearances throughout the past few seasons, so his inclusion in this one as a regular Candy citizen feels much more connected to the world of Adventure Time and not just a random entity. For years, we’ve seen the wacky jobs that Candy citizens possess, from Banana Guard positions to edgy tavern owners, but this is the most humanized example of the Candy Kingdom. On the one hand it’s odd, because The Enchiridion! gave us a glimpse at a kingdom that does nothing but wiggle their arms around and party all day, but this Candy Kingdom seems like a simple mundane example of everyday adulthood. Yet, that’s what works to this episode’s strength.

Part of what makes Root Beer Guy so likable, is the fact that he’s so simple. He represents the mundanity that everyone fears in adulthood, but the life of an man spending most of his days in an office is a sadly realistic reality. Experiencing his days exactly the same, with nagging anxiety about his life passing by around him, and the burden of the inevitability of the future growing more by the day (maybe it’s also because I have a part-time job in telemarketing, but I partially feel his pain). The beginning of the episode goes through great lengths to show the stagnant nature of Root Beer Guy’s life: his dead-end job and pushy boss, his casual train ride home, the repetitive nature of his dinners, and a somewhat awkward relationship with his wife. The first few scenes do a good job of showing that Root Beer Guy isn’t necessarily depressed, but striving for more from his everyday life. This is shown in his reaction to Finn and Jake battling the ogre (a callback to the aforementioned The Enchiridion!), his interest in graphic novels, and his own novel that he’s been working on for quite some time. It seems pretty obvious, though, that his own novel isn’t entirely a passion project, but an escapist project where he can easily place himself in the shoes of the main character “Joe Milkshake.” Root Beer Guy is merely a dreamer who wants a life of excitement and constant action, but is unable to do so by what the circumstances of life have dealt him. This is all established within the first few minutes.

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The way Finn and Jake are incorporated into this one is a lot of fun as well. Not to diss the later episodes that exclude Finn and Jake, but this one does a great job of having the focus be on separate characters while still including Finn and Jake in some of their most humorous moments. I love the way they’re painted in this one; they’re as absurd and disconnected as possible. Obviously we know that Finn and Jake didn’t actually kidnap Princess Bubblegum from the second that element is introduced, but their commitment to being as shady and unusual as possible is great. Moments such as when they take long strides through the streets of the Candy Kingdom with their arms still or when Jake easily tricks the Banana Guards with an entirely poor imitation of Princess Bubblegum are what really help to shape the humor in this episode.

But the episode still primarily centers around the life and adventures of Root Beer Guy, and that’s perfectly enjoyable as well. I like Root Beer Guy, and I really want to seem him succeed by the end of it. Again, a lot of his charm comes from his simplicity, as well as some terrific voice acting from Jack Pendarvis in his first ever voice acting role (aside from his work on the ever-strange Rudy & Gogo Famous Cartoon Show). I care about his relationship with the equally interesting Cherry Cream Soda, who simply wants attention from her husband and will go through several different methods to do so, no matter how kinky. Honestly RBG, you’re a fool for not paying attention to your French maid-dressed wife. All jokes aside, what makes this dynamic work is, again, the simplicity and realism within RBG and CCS’s characterization. The Candy Kingdom is full of crazy and silly characters, so to view the story of a member of this race that is more down-to-Earth and relatable is a refreshing change of pace that also works as potential worldbuilding. It not only makes me care for RBG, but also the entirety of the Candy Kingdom as a whole. It makes this entire area feel more like our own world, and more like a world that we can potentially relate to. Also, Root Beer Guy’s novel and indecisiveness with his writing style is hilariously relatable to me. I experience the same exact issue with rewording statements nearly every time I post for this blog.

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This episode is just as great in terms of visual appeal. Graham Falk returns once again for his second storyboarding gig on the show, and man, his influence and emphasis on silly expressions really help his episodes soar. His style is virtually different from any other storyboard artist on the show, and it allows for some really stretchy, evocative, and wacky character expressions that are practically eye candy.

It’s also scattered with funny moments outside of Finn and Jake’s influence. This is one where the Banana Guards are possibly at their finest, and their stupidity feels more refreshing than tedious. The melodrama between RBG and CCS, while captivating, is also quite delightfully silly on some aspects, namely the French maid outfit mentioned earlier. And I also enjoy the inclusion of another newly introduced character, Buck Pudding. Buck is the perfect example of a somewhat haunting, yet completely innocent redneck ally to our main protagonist. I’m glad he got at least one cameo appearance after this episode.

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The conclusion ties things together nicely; Root Beer Guy is able to have his moment where he saves the day, and he’s rewarded appropriately. I am glad that we are able to see RBG have a happy ending. Given AT’s somewhat sadistic and darker tendencies to its lesser known characters, I’m glad Root Beer Guy is able to have his happily ever after, where he appropriately ditches his typewriter to live out his own real life adventure.

And that’s mostly what this one boils down to: just a fun adventure featuring a rather subdued and unbeknownst hero, but it works really well. I enjoy the character exploration of Root Beer Guy, the solid animation and character drawings, and the lovely bits of humor sprinkled throughout. I think Root Beer Guy also works as a key indicator of how interesting it can be for Adventure Time to explore lesser known characters. Obviously it’s be done before with episodes like Thank You, but I think Root Beer Guy in particular paved the way for future episodes such as Lemonhope, Little Brother, Hoots and so on. It’s an experiment that I think works out exceptionally well, and one I continuously enjoy upon revisiting. If only Root Beer Guy’s legacy could be kept as perfect as this episode left it…

Favorite line: “Nice place to hide a body if you’re into that sort of thing.”

“James” Review

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Original Airdate: November 25, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

Lotsa problems with this one, folks.

It’s funny, because I think James is the type of episode that could have worked if certain decisions were executed differently. Some choices that were made in this one still baffle me quite a bit, and it seems like an episode that was purely going for shock value rather than actually trying to make sense with the universe.

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The beginning scene is partially funny. The staged drama surrounding Finn and Jake, and their melancholic exchanges with each other are somber, but delivered in such a way that evokes a bit of humor, namely Jake’s insistence to stay in the dark room for several months. My main problem with this scene is that it doesn’t really make contextual sense with how the rest of the episode plays out. When we eventually realize how Finn and Jake feel about James, it doesn’t really seem like this overemotional response is especially warranted. In fact, by the episode’s end, it doesn’t even really accurately tie back into this scene. During the final scene, Finn and Jake are mostly just concerned and uncertain about the events at hand. It doesn’t seem like their trauma lasted particularly long, in that case. And that’s kind of what forms this episode’s biggest, though not its only, problem: characters can act wildly dissonant for the main reason that it serves the plot of the episode, rather than feeling like a natural reaction from the characters based on the circumstances around them. Thus, this beginning scene feels like the only real reason it’s included in is to draw the viewer into the story, which is somewhat effective on a first viewing, but really just falls flat by the time this episode reaches its climax.

Now let’s get to the title character himself: James. First of all, not to the fault of the episode, but the fact that there are two characters named “James” within the AT universe is incredibly dumb to me. There’s a handful of other generic male names in the world, why couldn’t James have been called “Michael” or “Chris” or something along those lines? Naming him “James” despite the fact that James Baxter is an already existing character seem incredibly silly to me. But forget about his name, how is he as a character? Well, quite annoying, actually. Andy Merrill, most notable for his role as Brak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast and its spin-offs, provides the voice of James, though his talent doesn’t really offer much because he isn’t really given much to work with. James’ character practically centers around the fact that he’s unintelligent and slightly hyperactive, and by this point in the series, we’ve seen many, many Candy People who take on this identity. James lacks any form of charm or endearing qualities that should make me care about him over the course of 11 minutes. Again, he is simply there to be a foil within the plot of the episode.

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The story itself is almost as equally devoid of charm and intrigue. I do enjoy the beginning trek through the Desert of Wonders in PB’s spider-like transporter, but once the gang actually lands in the pit and attention mostly focuses within the ship, most of that interest is lost. This is one that is particularly weak in the animation department, and the drawings in general. Andy Ristaino and Cole Sanchez co-boarded the episode, and normally their drawings are pretty solid, especially Ristaino’s, though a large majority of this one features some wonky dynamic shots and disproportionate character modeling. The characters will constantly go off model; there are some parts where Finn will look incredibly smaller and chunkier than usual, or Jake will look huge in comparison to the people around him, or PB’s head will range from the size of raise to an actual oval. I’m all for cartoons going off-model, and AT was not afraid to do so in its earliest seasons, though the tone of the show has changed in terms of not only its story, but its look. So any inconsistencies in actual design of the characters feels more like a wonky doodle rather than an intentional choice on the storyboard artist’s part. This is also primarily a “box episode” that takes place almost exclusively in one area, though this would be a bit more justifiable if the setting was a bit more visually interesting, but it’s pretty much just your general spacecraft filled with light and dark grays.

And the episode’s story is pretty thin as well. I think the story does have some comedic opportunities, though it mostly feels like, from a viewer perspective, that we’re just simply waiting for certain moments to happen. We know James is going to be an idiot, we know he’s going to continuously get blamed for his actions, we know it’s not actually going to be his doing by the end of the episode, etc. It just really feels like we’re going through classic storytelling notions until the episode eventually makes some form of a development, though, in this one, the development doesn’t even feel warranted.

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The big “twist” in this one is that it was PB sabotaging all of Finn and Jake’s plans and ends up knocking out the boys in order to sacrifice James and save F&J. And boy, do I think this is just absolutely ridiculous on every single level. First of all, the way it is explained by PB sounds extremely contrived and honestly just kind of paints her to be legitimately sociopathic. Despite her “conniving” nature being more emphasized by this point in the series, I have a hard time believing that she’d actually perform something so stupid. Instead of wasting time sabotaging the plans Finn and Jake were coming up with, why did she not simply use that time explain her idea to Finn and Jake? Or, even if she hadn’t thought of it at the time, why wouldn’t she just at least take a minute to try and convince Finn and Jake to go through with the plan before she ended up just doing it anyway? If she was so concerned about preserving Finn’s life, then why would she  knock him unconscious with a fucking wrench? I get that PB doesn’t always think using common sense, but c’mon, this is legitimately extreme and slightly moronic even for her. And the excuse of why she sabotaged F&J’s plans feels like genuinely poor writing. She “calculated” that Finn and Jake’s plans wouldn’t work? How? How would she have actually hypothesized that these attempts would absolutely fail without even a slight chance of succeeding? It doesn’t even seem like she knows a ton about the Oozers; she mentions them as “creatures from another time,” though she doesn’t seem to recognize them as a species she actually has any knowledge of. And how was there any possibility that she knew her plan with James would absolutely succeed? What if the Oozers ignored James and started running after PB and friends? The way it is explained just feels so contrived; I feel as though the episode did not stress enough how limited the gang’s options were. Exploring two possible ideas and then deciding that there’s absolutely no way out does not feel like a rational conclusion. I usually don’t bring this up, but it’s really the one time I wish they could’ve explained why Jake couldn’t just grow giant and stretch out of the situation. I get that the Oozers could’ve easily had mutagenic effects onto him, but it just makes me scratch my head and ask “why” because it’d devoid of an actual explanation for this solution. 

And of course, since I don’t care much for James, his “death” ends up feeling pretty ineffective. I’m not much of a Cinnamon Bun guy either, but if he were to take James place in this episode, it would at least feature an already established character who the audience has some emotional investment in. It feels like James was introduced only so he could die, which again adds to the number of moments that feel like they were only included to have a “shockingly edgy” effect on the audience. And it’s all capped off by a cliffhanger featuring the Oozers heading straight for Ooo. It all just feels way too manipulative.

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So yeah, I really teared into this one, but is there anything I like about it? Well, the atmosphere isn’t bad. Despite it being generally laugh free, I do enjoy how the episode at least attempts to make the situation at hand feel dire and uneasy. It isn’t really executed well, but it does paint more of a stressful edge to the entire situation regardless. I also like the scenes where PB drags Finn and Jake out of the pit as James gets ambushed. It’s all staged really dramatically, and is pretty heavy to stomach despite my lack of investment in James. PB’s explanation of how she can clone other Candy People but not Finn is also quite profound, even though it follows a pretty lame explanation on her part.

But overall, I really just don’t like this one. I think the entire episode feels like it’s trying really hard to suck me in, but doesn’t know the basic fundamentals of its story well enough to tell them effectively. It also has some of the dumbest character writing for PB to date, and one of the most forgettable star characters overall. I think it’s a very disjointed mess, and one that has very few redeeming qualities at that. Thankfully, however, the next episode makes up for it with a much more interesting breakout character.

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Favorite line: “This is my cuckoo face!”