Tag Archive | Jermaine

“Temple of Mars” Review

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Original Airdate: March 18, 2018

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

Weirdly enough, both Hulu and the Final Seasons DVD set list Temple of Mars before Jake the Starchild. Wonder how much that ruined anyone’s experience that was going in blind. Also, this isn’t particularly noteworthy or even likely intentional, but Temple of Mars‘ acronym is T.O.M. Aside from the finale, this is Tom Herpich’s final episode. Heh.

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Way back in 2016, Tom Herpich wrote his sentiments about Adventure Time ending and what was left for the series in its next two years on air in a Tumblr post. In this post, he also mentions that he had recently wrapped up his final board with Steve, of which he deemed “one of his favorites.” I’m still unsure if this was referring to their section in Come Along With Me or Temple of Mars, buuuut I lean more towards the latter. In my own personal opinion, I like Temple of Mars, though it surprises me that Herpich would (allegedly) hold it so highly. It doesn’t really strike me as a culmination of his art house style, and considering that some of my favorite episodes in the series are Mars-centric episodes, I do feel as though this entry doesn’t quite live up to the hype of its predecessors. But, instead of complaining about this episode for what it’s not, I am generally satisfied with it for what it is.

Right off the bat, what Temple of Mars offers strength-wise is stellar character interactions. Having Jermaine return to the forefront is a decision I really appreciate, especially since the series draws so close to its climax. It is weird – there are clear signs that Adventure Time certainly wasn’t ready to come to a close, but there are other signs of it subtly wrapping up other individual aspects, like Marceline and Hunson’s relationship, Jake’s alien side, and Jermaine’s connection to his brothers. Of course, a lot of these characters and arcs aren’t really necessary to the grand scheme of things, but regardless, these are nice little additions that make me feel slightly less sour about the show being canned on such a short notice.

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More than anything, I appreciate that this episode takes time to explore Jermaine and Finn’s connection. In his eponymous first episode, Jermaine’s anger was mainly reflected towards Jake, while Finn mostly stood by as an accomplice. I get the feeling that Finn and Jermaine were never truly close – Jermaine was likely the responsible one, while Jake was the one that Finn would pal around with during his formative years. Before Finn had the chance to truly form a relationship with Jermaine during his transition into young adulthood, the two were practically separated. Jermaine likely regrets the years of being estranged from his youngest brother, and it’s sweet to see that he does remind Finn that he can count on him during stressful times. It’s also clear that Jermaine doesn’t necessarily understand Finn’s behavioral patterns. Finn’s actions are clearly inspired by his inability to allow any other tragedies to bestow his already mucked up mind, but I get the feeling that Jermaine simply excuses it to the observed position of Finn and Jake living entirely carefree lives. Hence why Jermaine refers to the Tree Fort as a “playhouse,” his judgement is still very much there. The included callbacks to Jermaine were welcomed, such as the face mug and the boys’ freezer, though they don’t really stick out in any metaphorical or ponderous way.

Jermaine’s added fear to the idea of going to Mars is both humorous and cute. For years, I’ve referred to Finn as the straight man in a world full of wacky characters, but I do feel as though Jermaine is a straight man’s straight man. As much as he is empathetic and easy to connect to, Finn still really isn’t the brightest bulb or the most “normal” at that (this is the boy that doesn’t blink twice on a wayward trip to Mars), so it’s cool to have a character that clearly represents the surface level elements of a grown adult. The goofy aspects aside, Jermaine does actually have a lot in common with Greg Universe in terms of their humanity. Tom Scharpling really was the perfect choice for ol’ Jerm.

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The reintroduction of Betty and Norm- er, King Man, is pretty delightful, though I kinda wish Finn’s anger towards Betty was spelled out over a longer period. I mean, everything ended up alright by the end of Elements, but it’s strange to me how quickly Finn goes from “fuck yourself,” to “come on this journey with me and my brother!” Perhaps he decided to show some of King Man’s inspired “empathy,” buuuut, I don’t know. In defense of the episode, I’m not really sure how a Betty-Finn conflict would’ve been crammed in to an already jam-packed episode, so I’ll let it slide. It was great to see King Man again, and I’m so glad the show has sought out to acknowledge that, magic-less or not, he’s still kind of a douche. I can’t think of a single way Betty’s punishment would actually help her, and it’s likely to send her into further insanity. King Man technically should be responsible for the state of Betty’s condition (though he’s not entirely at fault), but since he has a nice, cushion-y spot on Mars’ throne, he doesn’t really have anyone to tell him otherwise.

Once inside the temple, we’re treated to an interesting sequence featuring a group of frogs all taking on the appearance of Ice King, except for one stray frog resembling Fern. The Fern frog leaping at Finn, as Finn chooses to ignore it, seems to embody the idea that Finn no longer finds himself stuck thinking about Fern on an endless basis. Though his mind wants him to “remember” and stay in a stagnant state of pain and suffering. Betty, on the other hand, does not choose to move forward. She wants to stay and observe her passing thoughts, as if they hold the key to solving her every living problem, even though the answer isn’t found in her mind, but her ability to shift her attention onto something else. Not exactly sure why frogs were chosen to represent habitual thinking – frogs in dreams are said to represent spiritual and emotional transformation, but I’m not exactly sure that’s what Herpich was going for.

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It is interesting how Jermaine went through perhaps the most stress of his companions, and now he’s in the best shape possible. Granted, I think Jermaine, by his nature, is slightly neurotic and prone to chronic stress. Yet, he was able to find his peace of mind, while his brother continues to struggle with his own personal dilemmas. It just goes to show how far off Jermaine’s accusations are of Finn and Jake living totally carefree lives, even if they are legitimately privileged regardless. This section of the episode also marks the Ice Thing’s first appearance since Graybles 1000+. I can’t help but feel this inclusion was when the staff figured they would have more time to actually flesh out what the Ice Thing is and how Ice King would eventually transform into him, but considering that we’re only two episodes away from the finale, I don’t think that wish was ever fully fulfilled. This section does provide for a bit of fun analysis, in a very small, almost insignificant moment. Betty’s fascination with the Ice King masked frogs shows how truly encompassed her mind is with the Ice King, and how she doesn’t really put any foot forward to try and sway her mind or shift her focus. Of course, it’s easier said than done, especially when dealing with strong emotional trauma. However, Betty’s representation of her current approach at living is summed up quite nicely with her line of, “He’s… changing? Oh no.” This could imply one of two things: 1. Betty is adverse to changing her lifestyle because she is so set on figuring out how to fix Simon that changing her behavior isn’t really an option; 2. Betty is adverse to change in general, viewing it as an inherently bad thing. As seen in her lack of acceptance of Ice King in general, this makes sense as well.

This turmoil builds up to Betty’s confrontation of her past, which is admittedly quite a somber sequence. These last few seasons have done a great job at fleshing out Betty’s madness and sadness, and Temple of Mars is a particular highlight. The idea of choosing to focus on one’s self is additional advice that is easier said than done. It’s certainly what she needs, but she’s incapable of seeing how that’s even possible. Again, I think it ties in really well with the motif of both anxiety and grief – no matter how much you want to get better and shift your focus, occasionally the fixation of your energy is so strong that it’s impossible to even know where to start. Betty takes the first step forward (or, so it seems) into a better life by answering her test with a response of self-healing, rather than desperate manifesting.

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I do think the conclusion is way too hokey for my liking. I know there’s kind of a no-holds-barred atmosphere of the world of Adventure Time where literally anything can happen, but I fail to see how Finn, Jermaine, and Betty’s journey has ANYTHING to do with channeling Jake’s energy so that he would be transported into the temple. It seems like Tom and Steve had decided they wanted to explore the psyche of these various different characters and interactions, and then thought to themselves 10 minutes in that, “oh shit, we’d better bring Jake back.” I was even shocked by Jermaine’s quick acceptance of King Man’s explanation. He’s the straight man after all, it would make way more sense (and also be funnier) if he shot back with, “that’s a load of horseshit,” or something along those lines. The second conclusion, in which Betty realizes her true potential, is quite satisfying. In reality, Betty is way too far gone that it just wouldn’t make sense for her to turn her life around so quickly. It makes sense that she would take away some inspiration, but the wrong inspiration at that. I could’ve sworn that I was watching some bad DVR rip of the episode upon first viewing, because Temple of Mars‘ close takes AT‘s abrupt endings to a whole new level. But, it is a quick cut-off that I enjoy regardless. The entire concept of GOLB being brought back into things is something that’s purposely been left in the dark for quite sometime, and enough to leave a character like King Man speechless, who has spent his life devoted to finding the deity. It definitely had me hyped for the show’s conclusion no doubt, even if I ended up having mixed feelings about GOLB’s inclusion as a whole.

So, while Temple of Mars isn’t exactly the experimental nuttiness that I would expect from a Mars entry, it’s still quite enjoyable. It contains some of the best interaction material we’ve seen all season, and is definitely one of Betty’s best roles to date. Some of the visuals are quite nice, especially the return of the rust-filled void of Mars, and the temple itself. Nice moments of lore here and there, such as Betty’s mention of the Enchiridion, or the foreshadowed idea that Margles is still very much on King Man’s radar. There are some good gags here and there, but others that kind of fall flat. The big build up to Finn’s bald head was a joke I found quite unfunny as a whole, and somewhat of a cheap gag that doesn’t really add much. Regardless, it’s certainly a strong point for the season specifically for its inclusion of great character moments, namely Betty and Jermaine, who truly are the stars of Temple of Mars.

Favorite line: “If anyone else feels like solving any of these puzzles, just jump right in, you know?”

“Jermaine” Review

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Original Airdate: April 23, 2015

Written & Storyboarded by: Brandon Graham & Jesse Moynihan

Connecting the dots to every tiny piece of established information in the Adventure Time world was probably the most difficult aspect for the writing team in the long haul. What I mean by this is that the series initially started out as a crazy and silly fantasy world with little restrictions as to what could be done in said world. Years later, those restrictions have mostly stayed the same, though to make the Land of Ooo feel more real and authentic, the series has taken a stance to be strong in its continuity so that those wackier early seasons could essentially be retconned as worldbuilding. Finn and Jake’s estranged brother Jermaine was included in the episode Crystals Have Power as a mere gag character; even Jesse Moynihan, who established Jermaine’s existence in this world, didn’t really think twice about what that creation meant and how it would affect the story down the line. And it didn’t for a while, as Crystals Have Power aired five whole seasons ago, and outside a brief mention in The Pit and cameos in Memory of a Memory, Jake the Dad, and Joshua & Margaret Investigations, the character has never had a proper chance to shine, and the writing staff, up until this point, had failed to find a rational way to include him in the story. Jermaine finally brings its title character to centerstage, and is a turmoil-fueled expedition that capitalizes on an interesting relationship between siblings that we really haven’t seen in the series thus far.

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The beginning starts off fantastically, courtesy of some great visual gags from guest storyboard artist Brandon Graham. This is Graham’s only episode in the series, but man, do his drawings stick out in a really fun way. The dream bit where Jake slides on Lady Rainicorn’s body is such a fun, bouncy sequence that features some stellar animation as well. The reveal sequence with Jermaine is plenty foreboding, and gives us a good idea of who Jermaine is as a character. The series ditched the Jermaine we saw back in Crystals Have Power: he no longer has missing teeth, prominent lips, and a deepened John DiMaggio voice. He keeps the unibrow, but is voiced instead by Tom Scharpling, who is quite obviously the voice of Greg Universe from Steven Universe. I can’t help but feel this bit of discontinuity is slightly distracting… I guess you could maybe argue that the dream sequence distorted Jermaine’s appearance like the nightmares in King Worm did, but I like this version of Jermaine better so I can’t really complain about the change on an entertainment level. His anxious state is well-defined by his almost compulsive recitation of “epsilon, eucrates…” that helps him stay calm, as well as concentrated. I also like that Jake and Jermaine are somehow always connected by their dreams, for completely unexplained reasons. It’s a bit of subtle character lore that has no role in the grand scheme of things, but is an interesting way to bring the two brothers together, considering their distant behavior elsewhere. Also, I think Graham may be the only storyboard artist who loves drawing Jake with toes more than Ako Castuera.

Jake’s stress and worry regarding his brother is also well-explored. One of the key components of Jake’s development throughout the series is that he’s aging at an unknown and incomprehensible pace, and that often leads to concerns on whether he’s being a good father, brother, caregiver and so on. Not only does Jake have kids of his own now that he wants to stay together as a close knit group, but he likely worries about Jermaine’s mental and physical health, and if something were to happen to Jermaine, Jake would probably feel responsible for not attempting to reach out sooner. This beginning scene is loaded with details as well: there’s that awesome coffee cup with a face, a living head within F&J’s cooler, BMO’s little karate practice, and Finn tinkering with who knows what. There’s so much going on in one brief scene, but it’s all jam-packed in a way that there’s always something really unique to look at. Guest storyboard artists oftentimes can be the most creative on a visual level, because it’s their one opportunity to get to work with such a creative and unique property, and Graham takes every opportunity he can get. My all-time favorite moment of his from this episode is the scene where Finn and Jake leave for Jermaine’s, as Jake’s stretchy legs propel the two forward, and we see a slow pan of Ooo’s descent from daytime into night. It’s only a couple of seconds and isn’t really significant to the story in any way, but it’s big on energy, beautiful, and competently drawn/animated. Always pretty awesome how successful Adventure Time can be in its simpler moments.

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The demons all have relatively neat and creative designs despite the fact that they’re mostly limited to be translucent silhouettes. It is a bit weird to have demons like Kee-Oth and Bryce who are very detailed and unique in their designs, and then to have a bunch of nameless demons that seem to all seem to share similar attributes exist as the same species. I mean, maybe there are different types of demons based on origin or landscape? Or maybe it was because said demons were surrounded by darkness? I dunno, it didn’t really bother me because I did like the designs of these background demons and the way they moved, so it was pretty easy to glance over the possible inconsistency.

Jermaine proves to be a really sympathetic and likable character in a very short amount of time, and I think his anxieties and stressors are elaborated on in all of the right ways. He isn’t just a stick in the mud for the sake of being a stick in the mud, he was practically forced to be responsible against his own will for the sake of his father, and isn’t able to enjoy the pleasures of life because this responsibility demands his full attention 24/7. Jermaine could simply give up his job whenever he likes, but the one thing keeping him there is likely the burdening guilt that he would feel for his dad. It could be implied that Joshua’s dying wish for Jermaine was to protect all of his belongings, and so choosing a life of splendor and enjoyment would surely feel like a betrayal to Jermaine, who simply wants to obey his father’s desires. This also paints more of a grim picture about the kind of person Joshua was. Again, I’m still in the stance that Joshua was a solid father, but I think his moral ethics and treatment of others certainly come into question. Once again, the demons seem to be somewhat of victims here, as Joshua likely stole from them either for sport or for kicks, even though a majority of these items seem to be of little value or importance, at least from an audience perspective. Second, I think Joshua’s decision to ask Jermaine to watch over the house doesn’t come from the direct reason that Joshua favored Jake, (though, I think that’s an entirely plausible thought; Joshua did give birth to Jake, after all) but rather that Joshua saw him as the most responsible member of the family that would reasonably be able to carry on his legacy with little issues. It was still entirely selfish for Joshua to ask Jermaine to practically give up his life over material possessions, though as much as we’ve seen of this awesome crib throughout the past few seasons, it kind of makes sense. Joshua and Margaret’s house is AWESOME, and filled with many different treasures aside from just demon cups and posters. Their loot collection nearly doubles as a museum of different artifacts and delights, and shows just how much Joshua was able to achieve in terms of loot throughout his lifespan. Of course, this is Joshua’s legacy, though. Joshua was not considering the thoughts and values of his son when he asked him to take on said responsibility, and it’s not fair for Jermaine to sacrifice his own wellbeing for Joshua’s belongings.

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The episode nearly excels at making Jermaine too likable to possibly the fault of its own, as Finn and Jake can come off as almost distractingly pesky. I wouldn’t say the brothers are completely flanderized or anything like that, but it is frustrating to see F&J cause consistent problems in Jermaine’s state of being when he just simply wants to be left alone. Granted, Jermaine needed that extra boost of frustration and anger to help him realize the true issue at hand, but I wish the brothers were a little more conscientious in regard to his well being. I mean, how did Jake NOT know that the salt trail outside was protecting the house from demons? Granted, the two bros still get their moments of likability. Finn going absolutely berserk after being in his house for the first time in years was just delightful, and I do like how the bros are completely on Jermaine’s side throughout the entirety of the episode, even when it means going against their dad’s wishes.

Their support is futile, however, as Jermaine finally blows up and lashes out at his two brothers, but with most of his anger aimed towards Jake. And this built up anger is completely understandable as Jermaine’s absolute jealousy towards Finn and Jake’s way of life. How could he not be filled with envy? Jermaine is stuck in a position that he mentally has no way out of, where he has absolutely no way of growing personally or enjoying life as it was intended, while Finn and Jake get to live in utter luxury for doing what they love and never have to worry about money, responsibility, or fulfilling their own desires. While I thought Kim Kil Whan was too harsh in his approach to showing Finn and Jake that they’re privileged beings, I think Jermaine’s blow up is completely sympathetic and rational, and his level of inferiority is certainly felt. Joshua likely enjoyed hanging out with Jake more, because of Jake’s desires to be adventurous and to fight bad guys, while Jermaine was always the smart and rational one. Joshua presumably loved Jermaine as much as he loved his other children, but saw different things in him that required attention to different responsibilities, while Jake was the one that Joshua could have fun with and relate to the most. However, Jermaine’s argument is based on his surface level understanding of Finn and Jake’s style of life. I don’t know if anyone else caught this, but that brief shot of Finn’s distressed face as Jermaine utters, “you can go off and find your own fancy ways!” kind of made me think that Jermaine has no idea that his brother went through severe depression and emotional issues in the past few months. Finn and Jake may have luxury at their fingertips, but they’re certainly not immune to the struggles and trials that life has to offer regardless, though Jermaine fails to see that because of how long they’ve been apart for.

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The fight is certainly entertaining, with more fun little details, like the flying shoe and the “jazz-bazz” dragon, and the words exchanged between Jermaine and Jake are certainly dramatic. I think it might be executed a little too silly in hindsight… I mean, it’s essentially ended by Jake repeatedly passing gas. But, I think it’s well-timed, as Jermaine begins to realize towards the end of their brawl that fighting Jake isn’t going to accomplish anything. As Jake reminds him, “you could’ve left at any time,” leaving Jermaine to recognize that his grief is likely with his father, and his own decision to not move on from said guilt. I even kind of think that Jake’s goofy response may have tied into his youthful fart jokes that he was describing, and the fake fart he released as Jermaine hit him may have been a method Jake used as a child to cheer Jermaine up. I do wish Jake was a tad more serious during this scene, as he responds a little too casually to the whole ordeal, but it also reinforces how Jake deals with these types of situations to begin with. He isn’t a fighter, and would much rather solve his issues with jokes and joy rather than with fists. And, after Jermaine does release all of his negative energy, he’s able to tearfully let his parents’ house burn down, knowing that a whole new life exists for him beyond the materialistic nature of Joshua’s possessions. He’s off to a great start, as he and his newly-found demon buddy Bryce walk into the horizon. Bryce is cleverly voiced by Jon Wurster, who is Tom Scharpling’s co-host in their podcast series The Best Show. Steven Universe beat this team-up by only two weeks in Story for Steven!

So yeah, I think Jermaine is another really great family drama based episode for the series. F&J can get a bit bothersome at moments, and the episode can also be a little too goofy when it isn’t warranted, but I think everything else is shed in really great light. I never imagined Jermaine would end up being this interesting of a character, but Graham and Moynihan worked with his personality really well. Jermaine works off of jealousy, inferiority, depression, and guilt in an exceedingly impressive way, and is supported by great animation, characters, and a really neat setting. While I’m writing this, I’m gonna put this theory to bed right now while I have the chance: I don’t think Martin was supposed to be in that picture on Joshua and Margaret’s wall. The storyboard clearly suggests that it was just intended to be two random sticks figures within a picture, and while it may have been implied at the time that this would be a picture of Martin and Finn’s mother, how would Joshua and Margaret even acquire this? Wouldn’t Finn pass by the picture and think, “hey, why are there two humans in a portrait on our wall? Are they my real family, or something?” It just doesn’t make much sense, and I think it was merely either an animation misinterpretation, or it was included to be up for debate, but I’m willing to say that there’s nothing of substance to come out of this little detail, and I think it’s better left ignoring.

Jermaine also has a special outro, with the Booboo Sousa song replacing The Island Song. The Booboo Sousa song was co-written by Jesse and his brother Justin.

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Favorite line: “Give me my cup, or I’ll skull-cup you!”