Tag Archive | Lemongrab

“Too Old” Review

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Original Airdate: August 12, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

After the preview came out for Too Old following the release of Frost & Fire, the entire fandom was in somewhat of a tizzy. People were really, really pissed at Finn (the comments on this particular YouTube video are a trip down memory lane) and it didn’t help that his behavior in this one was considerably more offensive than the last episode. While Finn’s manipulative behavior was generally based off of ignorance and hormonal urges, this episode features him being purposely lying and deceitful, downright creepy, and virtually pathetic and useless in his environment. That being said, I initially hated this one. I couldn’t believe the way Finn’s character was bastardized, and it doesn’t help that the episode is a bit of an ear sore as well. The Lemongrabs are constantly shrieking throughout the entirety of this one, and while it’s helped the characters really make a unique identity in the past, it’s just downright unpleasant in this one. Yet, time has been good to Too Old. What I initially thought was an irritating expedition through Castle Lemongrab with some really unlikable moments with Finn, I now believe is a really intriguing cautionary tale of trying to relive the past. And with tons of little details sprinkled throughout the episode’s run, I actually think it’s a pretty brilliant allegory.

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Too Old mimics Too Young to a tee. Aside from its title, the episode uses the basic structure of Too Young’s individual moments to carry the plot and its motif along smoothly. Even the title card music is the exact same jingle that was heard during Too Young’s title sequence. Yet, this isn’t a sequel episode. A sequel, by definition is “a published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one.” Too Young, in contrast, was a mostly bright and colorful tale with silly jokes that revolved around the bittersweet relationship between Finn and PB. Too Old, however, focuses not on a bright and colorful story, or the sweeter elements between Finn and PB, but a dark and twisted tale of a creation gone corrupt and Finn at his absolute lowest. Let’s start with Lemongrab.

Lemongrab has certainly come a long way since his first appearance. Initially an ineffectual and goofy tyrant, Lemongrab has gone from having absolutely nothing to having practically everything that the Candy Kingdom possesses. Lemongrab has a proper kingdom with citizens, the company of a brother, and enough food to make for an absurdly overweight lemon. The one thing that Lemongrab didn’t consider when building his kingdom, however, was building a kingdom based out of love and care for his people. Lemongrab simply decided to create for the sake of creation. Fascinated with his own ability to make citizens, he continued to do so and caused his kingdom to become overpopulated. Now he simply has a plethora of candy citizens who he doesn’t even love or care about; he simply was interested in their creation, and by the time the next lemon person came along, he was already disinterested in the last. On top of that, his brother, who was once built to be his equal, was quickly distorted into his oppressor. The fatal flaw in the creation of Lemongrab 2 was believing that a second Lemongrab would help to round out the first. Yet, what PB didn’t realize, was that Lemongrab only believes in himself. If someone’s methods don’t line up exactly with his, they’re automatically deemed as oppressors of his beliefs and tactics. And, though the two Lemongrabs were built exactly the same, the first Lemongrab has much more life experience than the first. The first Lemongrab has been hardened by society and has grown to be bigoted against anything that goes beyond his own way, as he was virtually born into this world alone. Lemongrab 2 was never built to be alone; Lemongrab 2 always had his brother since the moment he was conceived, and doesn’t possess the selfishness and ego that his brother has developed.

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What this all boils down to, basically, is that Lemongrab believes he is finally greater (or at least up-to-par) with his creator. Having an array of servants, citizens, and entertainers, he finally feels like royalty. And this really shows during Lemongrab’s royal dinner. As PB and Finn arrive, a Lemon Person announces the arrival of the two, followed by a Lemon Person abruptly falling from a trapeze, alluding to Cinnamon Bun doing the same thing in Too Young. What seems like a brief, cute reference to the past episode is actually a pretty in depth look into Lemongrab’s psyche. This introduction of PB and Finn, as well as the trapeze act, is how Lemongrab believes people are supposed to be greeted in a sophisticated, upstanding kingdom. Cinnamon Bun’s entrance, was of course, based on his own bumbling stupidity, rather than an actual elaborate performance. This view of ignorance on how a kingdom is supposed to be run is ultimately what leads Lemongrab into absolute fascism.

Say what you want about PB’s own policies and treatment of her people, yet she puts her heart, blood, sweat, and tears into caring and loving for her people and giving them a serviceable living experience. Lemongrab, on the other hand, only cares about himself and his own way of living. He could care less about the other Lemon People and their own quality of life; he simply wants to create a luxurious living community for himself as a status of his importance. The only person he has an ounce of care for, aside from himself, is Princess Bubblegum, though this care is often combatted with hostility. I don’t believe for a second that Lemongrab invited PB over for her to see how much the kingdom has improved, but rather to one-up her and to show that he is now more dominant than his creator.

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Yet, Lemongrab’s kingdom is based on a single ruler’s mindset, rather than the success and individuality of others. Whether the Candy Kingdom contains truly unique and inspired Candy People or not, they do have their own sense of individualism and their own distinct mindsets. This is why, when we’re introduced to Badlemonnohope (nicknamed Lemonhope), his identity and mindset offer a much higher sense of individuality and character than anyone else in the Earldom. He chooses his own path and interests, which is why Lemongrab has deemed him as obsolete among the crowd of lemon people that surround him. The reason I’m explaining all of this in great detail is particularly because I think Lemongrab’s descent into pure tyranny is actually quite well-rounded. It derives from systematic inadequacy and a sense of inferiority toward his creator. Lemongrab simply believes that emulating a fictitious utopian society based on what he has seen can create a bustling and admirable community, though all of what he thinks makes up a thriving kingdom is a mere facsimile of the Candy Kingdom. And his insistence that PB was behind all of this, that she is at fault for his shortcomings, is simply an excuse at this point. While some of PB’s errors and flaws could be attributed to Lemongrab’s suffering in You Made Me, at this point, Lemongrab uses his creator as a mere scapegoat for his own flaws, marking a full transformation into villainy as opposed to a sympathetic anti-hero. Once again, his selfishness comes out when addressing PB by his balcony, “You try to steal my Lemonhope away?!” His possessiveness towards Lemonhope shows that Lemongrab merely thinks of him as property; a token to add to the completeness of his kingdom. And, despite all of Lemongrab’s monstrous actions, an almost completely devoured Lemongrab 2 professes his life experiences and what he’s learned through his encounters with his devious brother: that lemons should not squeeze other lemons to get by, but allow lemons to grow and flourish. A silly analogy, but one that shows that Castle Lemongrab isn’t completely devoid of empathy and hope. The lemon people, through their suffering, have learned to empathize as well, and continue to look on towards hope for the day they will be rescued. Though, one must also remember: the desires of the Lemon People still remain deeply selfish. They look for freedom of their own, yet depend on one very little boy to save an entire society of people. This comes in handy when taking a look at Lemonhope’s selfishness in his own star episode, which has gotten a lot of flack, but is considerably more understandable when looking at the sour nature of the Lemon People in general.

Whew, so that was Lemongrab’s portion, now let’s look at the horny teen at the center of it: Finn. After the events of Frost & Fire, Finn most likely was heartbroken and ashamed over the loss of his girlfriend. Having no one but himself to blame, Finn was left alone with nothing but his own guilt to bear. This is also a time where, as we’ve discussed, Finn has yet to even border emotional maturity. That’s why, instead of addressing the thing that he has done wrong and allowing time for himself to grieve, he turns to a comfortable source of endearment of whom he spent much simpler times with: Princess Bubblegum. Probably the most rewarding time that Finn has experienced in his youth did take place when Lemongrab usurped Prubs; spending the entire day pulling pranks and being childish with someone he cares for deeply was something that Finn truly cherished and enjoyed more than anything else. Finn longs for the simple days of being a child, when he didn’t have to deal with the tough trials of relationships, and when he could spend time with someone he remembers having terrific times with. What Finn hasn’t acknowledged is that times have changed since he last pulled a series of pranks on the cranky lemon man. Finn does not realize that he cannot simply escape from his issues using glamorized memories, and that the memories he has left behind cannot simply be recreated.

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This is where most of his jerkiness comes from; first, from his childish lie to Jake in order to spend time alone with Princess Bubblegum. People have targeted this one especially, though honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Finn held some hostility for Jake after contributing to the third occurrence of Flame Princess and Ice King’s fight in the past episode. Though it’s never addressed upfront, and his guilt most likely puts most of the blame on himself, I get the feeling that Finn is looking for a scapegoat to put blame on, much like Lemongrab, which leads him to targeting Jake. It’s mean on it’s own, but Finn’s insistent urge to manipulating PB proves that he hasn’t completely learned from his actions in the past episode, if at all. Finn simply wants to find a quick and easy way to feel good again, and selfishly does not consider the wellbeing of others in the process.

It’s interesting to note that Finn barely even reacts in relation to the Lemon-centric plot. It makes it somewhat ingeniously tied together in my eyes that these two character’s failure to recreate the past have virtually nothing to do with the other: Lemongrab could give less of a shit about Finn’s boner issues, and Finn doesn’t realize the severity of Lemongrab’s corrupt government. He’s still too young to look beyond situations as a fun and enticing adventure, which is why he weighs Lemongrab’s abusive, dictating nature as equal to the day when Lemongrab took over the kingdom. Finn doesn’t yet grasp political issues like this, and the first time he encountered such an issue, he attempted to solve it with pranks and gags. Naturally, he believes the same solution is in place, yet only through PB’s solemn words is he able to realize that exploding pudding isn’t going to save Castle Lemongrab. Finn wasn’t looking to save an entire kingdom; instead, he was looking to have a fun time with an old friend (or in this case, an old flame). Yet, growing up is realizing that life isn’t always a little boy game, and that sometimes there are dire consequences to deal with. Trying to pretend that the past can simply be emulated every time something bad happens is completely ineffectual, and Finn cannot ignore his shame and guilt forever.

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When looking at Finn that way, I think it is a lot more forgivable that, by the end of this one, he does at least learn something from his actions. We aren’t just treated to a barrage of insufferable Finn moments that have no real payoff for his character (as The Red Throne would later be guilty of), as these moments are all vital for giving Finn a reality check that is much needed. Aside from Jesse Moynihan, Steve Wolfhard and Tom Herpich seem to be the most ballsy in exploring the darker and more uncomfortable portions of Finn’s personality, and I really enjoy these expeditions. Even if Finn is somewhat of an uncharismatic dick, you really have to look at it from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. That doesn’t automatically correlate to decent writing, yet I think Finn’s issue at hand is presented with meaning and purpose. Finn is a sweet kid who wants the best for everyone, but as life has taken a turn for him, he has put his emotional sensitivity behind him and simply wants to be numbed to his own errors. And the sad truth of the matter is that a lot of nice people in the world have been negatively altered by the circumstances of life, to the point where their behavior is completely unrecognizable from their past self. 

Of course, at the center of this is PB; the level-headed guardian who just can’t catch a break. I sympathize with her a lot in this one, though there isn’t a ton of focus on her perspective. Her own creation has become a legitimate monster, and tons of people are suffering because of it, while the one person she thought could lessen the burden of a stressful trip actually made things more complicated and difficult. The poor gal just wanted to get through an already expectedly painful dinner.

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The humor in this one is paper thin, though this is a part of the series where I care much less about how funny an episode is and rather how captivating it can tell a story in the course of 11 minutes. Though this episode does have its funny moments, especially within the little details. BMO continuously trying to get into the bath with Jake while he’s on the phone with Finn is adorable and hilarious, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that the lemon toilet is a fucking juicer. There’s no way that isn’t excruciating.

I think some of my initial criticisms still stand, as the constant screaming of every single line performed by the Lemongrabs can grate on me a bit, but I think there’s some really brilliant undertones to this one that help it skyrocket beyond my first impressions. Capturing the motif of change between two distinctly different characters is interesting enough, yet there’s so many layers to Lemongrab and Finn’s individual identities that I feel like there’s so much you can read into and enjoy upon multiple viewings. Is Finn a dick? Yes. But this is an episode where he needs to be a dick. I can’t imagine the episode and allegories within this one working as well if Finn was just depressed or ignoring his issues the entire time. These choices, while potentially detrimental to Finn’s character, really work to emphasize a dangerous lesson in life, and to show its viewers the consequences that come with it. Whether it be Lemongrab’s inability to comprehend what it means to be a true leader, or Finn’s neverending issues with ladies, this episode combines two of the series recurring themes and blends them together for one completely uncomfortable, yet fascinating journey. It’s one of my favorites of the second half of season five, and one of the most interesting depictions of Finn during the fallout of his relationship.

Favorite line: “… and you’ll never get yelled at. Unless you drink my soda from out of the fridge.”

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“All Your Fault” Review

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Original Airdate: January 28, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Steve Wolfhard

I was somewhat dreading this one at first. I thought it was a really silly idea to have a fully focused Lemongrab episode coming right after his terrific appearance in the last episode. For that reason, I think I went into this one less enthusiastic at first, and it somewhat dampened my opinion of it for a while. However, looking at it with clear eyes now and not paying attention to the actual episode order has made me really enjoy this one. It’s actually pretty great.

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In typical AT fashion, the beginning doesn’t waste any time setting up for the episode’s main story, as only the first minute is used to explain the conflict (loved the Lemongrabs’ letter, especially how they took the time to write out, “mmmmmmn”) and send Finn and Jake on their mission. I also really enjoyed the “date” Jake was having with Cinnamon Bun. It was really sweet to see Jake so committed to dressing up with a bow and humor CB for a couple of hours. You rarely get to see that sort of genuine kindness from Jake aside from the kindness he shows Finn, Lady, and his kids.

The episode glances over that first bit fast, because the main focus of the episode is on the Earldom of Lemongrab. And boy, does it capture my interest. Without it, this would just be a pretty typical dungeon quest for the boys, but the entire atmosphere of the Earldom is just plain zombie-like. The landscape is ugly and an eyesore, but in a self-aware and effectively unnerving way. It’s filled with unwelcoming greens, yellows, and browns that just simply make the episode pop with nausea. There’s already something a bit off and uncomfortable about the Lemongrabs in general, so the fact that there are now dozens of them running around, some with very distinct and creepy features (pretty sure this guy didn’t appear in All Your Fault, but this catlike lemon person is by far the freakiest out of any of ‘em.) Part of the fun is just seeing Finn and Jake’s reactions to all of them, especially Jake’s. I love how absolutely terrified he is, and just simply utters “nope!” before bursting out of the room when he sees the screaming, peeling lemon. That was priceless.

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During their expedition, they also encounter the main anti-hero of the episode: Lemonjon. Lemonjon’s probably my favorite aspect of this episode; for some reason, he gives me major Rock Biter vibes from The NeverEnding Story. In fact, this episode in general gives me major Return to Oz vibes. It’s creepy, unsettling, but there’s something really sophisticated and unusual about it. Lemonjon is basically the epitome of dark and whimsical, and the down-pitched Justin Roiland voice actually sounds pretty awesome. I’m impressed he was able to pull off that impressive of a performance for just using his typical Lemongrab voice with slight modifications, but it really works, especially during his ending monologue. But we’ll get to that awesomeness later.

When Finn and Jake finally do reach the Lemograbs, it’s clear that they are not well. This is the first real-time we get to see the Lemongrabs work off of each other, and man, are they fucking creepy together. Not to mention their stomachs have receded greatly and their general appearance has deteriorated, which only adds to their presence of unease. And here, the Lemongrabs’ motivations are pretty well-defined. Their connection with each other, as well as Lemongrab 1’s discovery that there was a method, or in this case a serum, to create more living beings to connect with most likely deeply intrigued him. Having Lemongrab 2 by his side gave the first Lemongrab a sense of belonging and pride. Yet, it’s still only one person. Lemongrab wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps and have a society of citizens, or in this case children, to care for. In this instance, he and his counterpart are actually obsessed with it. They love having other living beings exist in Castle Lemongrab that are like and equivalent to themselves. But their efforts to populate their own kingdom have left them with low amounts of food to serve the entire kingdom. They’d rather just fuck around with the serum and make barfing babies all day. A lot of people have commented about the connections to overpopulation, but I really just think its commentary on how lonely the Lemongrabs are. They’re literally sacrificing their only sources of food to create more living beings, simply because they enjoy doing it so much.

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And of course, the continued trend of Lemongrab’s accusations of Princess Bubblegum being the title of the episode returns, this time with Lemongrab blaming PB for the reason why the Lemon People are starving. This one is maybe the most ludicrous accusation of all, but connects back to You Made Me in the sense that anything Lemongrab does wrong, or anytime he feels something is wrong with himself, Princess Bubblegum is the one to blame no matter what because she created him. Again, it’s another pretty interesting mindset that LG perceives, and it really makes me question Lemongrab’s feelings on PB as a whole. He admires who she is, yet detests her for creating him without a properly functioning sense of sociability. It’s pretty somber.

This adds up to the big conclusion where the Lemongrabs decide to infiltrate the Candy Kingdom for more food, against Finn and Jake’s original requests. This is where Lemonjon takes off, and the artwork, as well as the camera angles used, just look terrific. This is one of many instances where Herpich’s boarding looks just superb; his attention to detail on both the characters and their expressions translates very well when it comes to the animation process. So when Finn and Jake decide to target Lemonjon from his lemon heart, Jake accidentally kickstarts the heart, and drives Lemonjon to pronounce a thoughtful soliloquy.

Whoa, hold the phone! What is this powerful new juice coursing fromst my core source? The juice aches. Is this the rumored ache of feeling? The feeling of caring unknown to Lemons? New thoughts emerge! If I act, the Candy People will suffer. If I don’t, the Lemon people will suffer. The greater good demands but one course only: that I dissolve the bonds uniting me and become component to all!

Man, do I love this monologue. I feel like this is what comes to mind when I think of a super heady, long-winded speech from the series, while most probably turn to the Tart Toter’s speech from The Other Tarts. I just think this one is so eloquently and somewhat touchingly put, in the silliest most Adventure Time-y way possible. I think it’s really badass of Lemonjon to practically kill himself in a result for the greater good, by both saving the Candy Kingdom, as well as providing food for the Lemon People. That Lemonjon is alright! The episode is resolved by PB erasing the candy serum formula from the Lemongrabs’ brains, but not changing their hearts, simply because they’re just “like that.” Not sure if that was the most direct answer, but I think it ties more into the idea that, one again, PB doesn’t want to change the Lemongrabs for who they are. Just as Cinnamon Bun is half-baked, the Lemongrabs are socially and mentally inept, but that’s the Lemongrabs for ya, and there isn’t anything that can change that.

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Overall, I think this one is quite an enjoyable escapade. I really dig the creepy atmosphere and how much emphasis was placed on Castle Lemongrab being as ugly and disfigured as possible. Lemonjon was also the perfect one-off character story to tie into this one, and it’s a story I think was pulled off exceptionally well. Add a perfectly enjoyable Finn and Jake quest to those aspects and you get a really enticing adventure-themed episode. After two Lemongrabs in a row, however, I’ll need some time for my juices to sit for a while.

Favorite line: “Fix the door? What?! What? Fix the door? Fix–what? What’s goin’ on here? Fix the door! Finn, what’s goin’ on? Fix the door!”

“Mystery Dungeon” Review

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Original Airdate: January 21, 2013

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Ako Castuera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite line(s):

“Check out my mods, bro!”

“Ice King, how do you taste?”

“Make pies, slave.”

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

“Don’t criticize my running, Shelby.”

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

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

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

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

“You Made Me” Review

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Original Airdate: August 27, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Tom Herpich

The Earl of Lemongrab had potential to be the most disposable character after his debut in Too Young. He was an absurdist gag who was used as a humorous plot device, and outside of that, I didn’t really expect to see him again. When I heard he was returning in You Made Me, I was slightly nervous. One-shot comic relief characters typically are never as funny as they were in their first appearance, and to a degree, this episode arguably supports that idea. However, it also takes Lemongrab’s character in a very interesting direction in regards to his connection with PB. We’ve already gotten so many glorious in depth looks at PB’s character this season, and this is just another addition into an already solid collection. Season four really is the season of PB, y’all!

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The episode starts off silly enough with another peak at Peppermint Butler’s dark and twisted psyche, followed by a mildly humorous interaction between the boys and the Banana Guards. I find it interesting the BG’s are practically rebelling against PB in this sequence, it’d be the first of many instances where the Candy People disregard PB’s orders out of their own stupidity. This is when we’re reintroduced to the creepy lurker himself, Lemongrab. The entire meat of this episode is introduced once PB barges in, and that’s the connection between Bubblegum and Lemongrab in a mother-son scenario. Lemongrab was originally pitched to be PB’s uncle in his first appearance, which was scrapped before its development, but kind of shows as PB generally disregards his physical and emotional well being without even slightly holding back. Here, she’s generally more sympathetic and caring towards him, and their first interactions with each other really give us a more impactful concept of how their relationship actually is. PB isn’t some cynical tyrant making his life more difficult for the sake of her own sadistic gain, but a loving and caring mother who simply can’t empathize with or understand one of her children. It reflects her dialogue in Too Young, where she describes Lemongrab as her first experiment that “went wrong.” All of the Candy People were designed to be moderately simple-minded so they were able to enjoy life freely and have little bottling issues, yet Lemongrab was born with an imbalance that made him unable to experience life as the other Candy People. So, as Bonnie shouts out, “I don’t understand you, Lemongrab!” it isn’t out of anger or malice, but simply her failure to understand the Earl as easily and carefully as she is with her other candy citizens. Lemongrab seems to hold this against PB deeply, as his fears and sadness are something he directly blames on his creator and mother. It’s oftentimes troubled children will blame their parents for any psychological issues they’re experiencing, and it’s only emphasized by the fact that, here, PB literally created Lemongrab with her own two hands. So, it only makes sense that Lemongrab would blame the princess for every single thing wrong with him, including his inability to socialize and live life as carefree as the other citizens. I’m sure I’m just babbling about the obvious right now, but it’s all really interesting written out.

This inner conflict within Lemongrab’s psyche carries through the entirety of the episode, and he begins to sink deeper as he believes that he’ll never be able to conform, so he must change the views of others to better fit what he was made to do. This is where the Pup Gang comes in (based on a real group of kids who threw a basketball at Jesse Moynihan’s head, my apologizes, Moyns) a group of enjoyably juvenile children who simply want to earn cash to support their delinquent mothers. The Pup Gang’s strong demeanor and outlandishness simply aren’t fitting of Lemongrab’s perception of how society is supposed to be, so he decides that the only way to change their perspectives is through extreme means of conditioning. It’s a really big switch from what we’ve seen in his first appearance; he was originally a token buttmonkey and an ineffectual pain in the butt, but here, he’s a much bigger threat and even more sympathetic than before. Despite his insane means of punishment, he still is deeply troubled for the sole reason that he was made to think and act this way, even though PB didn’t intend for this to happen.

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In the same way, PB is also sympathetic. Despite her being the creator of Lemongrab and being unable to fulfill his needs the same way she is with her other people, I do enjoy how motherly she is with LG and how she simply tries to level with him instead of butting heads with his mannerisms and preferences. Even though her efforts to try to help him to see the light fail, she does so in such a genuine and passionate way that isn’t talking down to Lemongrab in the slightest, and it’s really nice to see that she does care for him. Even when she knows that other Candy citizens (though, are the Pup Gang actually Candy People? If so, what the hell are they?) are in danger, she still wants to try to help him, because, in her own words, he’s her responsibility. From a mother-son perspective, it really is done fantastically. We get to see both sides of the situation, and it never feels too one-sided. Both characters have their flaws, which are demonstrated individually in a very fascinating way. “Raising” a child can be mentally taxing for both the mother and the child.

Entering Castle Lemongrab is where we do get to view sad symbolism into Lemongrab’s life, including the fact that he owns empty catcher’s mitts, a sign that he does want to relate to “normal” civilians, but has never found someone he’s able to relate to enough, or even accept into his life, that he’s willing to do so with. The turmoil within LG unleashes when PB enters his reconditioning chamber and pleads with him to stop. Lemongrab argues with PB, “You’re the one who made me this way, how can yoooou help??” It’s clear that his fear to change also stems from the fact that he was born with terrible fears and suffering, meaning that allowing PB to help him could result in only more problems and difficulties in his own life. He isn’t willing to risk that, and instead wants PB to feel and think exactly how he does.

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And I guess I can’t write this review without taking a deeper look into why Finn took the blow for Bubblegum at the hands of LG’s sound-sword. I think it can be looked at two ways: 1. Finn is heroic and willing to take a bullet for those around him, and I think that goes without saying. 2. He still loves PB. Not that he’s still in love with PB, but he still deeply cares for her and his feelings for her will never go away completely. Though he’s willing to do the same for others, Finn really would take a bullet for PB without question, as someone he cares about, serves, and respects greatly. I think this interpretation is much more interesting to me, because even after we get an episode like Burning Low that highlights Finn’s changing feelings and moving past his infatuation with Bubblegum, he still thinks very highly of her and would never let something terrible happen to her. It’s a moment I think could really put shippers in a tizzy, but honestly, I think it was just a nice moment showcasing that Finn still deeply cares for Peebles, and I’m glad they never really added any more attention to it.

The ending is the perfect solution to Lemongrab’s issues (for now, that is…) as he meets his new brother: Lemongrab 2. It’s a sweet and funny ending that once again highlights PB’s compassion; I’m sure there may have been a way for Bubblegum to simply change Lemongrab’s mind chemistry to think and act more like the other Candy People, but it’s clear that, despite his erratic behavior, PB does care and respect Lemongrab for the way he is and wants him to be comfortable in his own skin. The Lemongrabs get acquainted by humorously poking each other over and over and bid their new friendly guests farewell, in perfect Lemongrab fashion.

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I don’t think Lemongrab was that funny in particular in this one, but I don’t think he really needed to be. He’s transformed from a one-time gag into a legitimately compelling and interesting character, and I think that’s much more effective. At times, the screaming can get a bit tiring, but I think that’s something to expect from any Lemongrab episode. I actually think the Candy People were pretty funny in this one. I liked the stuff going on with the Banana Guards, Mr. Cupcake brutally breaking his own arm to get out of residing in Castle Lemongrab, and the Pup Gang are a very delightful addition to the tertiary cast. Also, I thought PB’s hair was somewhat of a funny sight gag for some reason. Her hairstyle was based off of a dutch crown, which I’ve seen in person before, but it just kind of looks wonky in most scenes here. A nice unintentional bit of humor for me. As for scenery, Castle Lemongrab is a very intentionally ugly looking landscape. The yellows, greens, and beiges make it a real eyesore, but always feel appropriately fucked up for the kind of place Castle Lemongrab is supposed to be.

Overall, this episode’s real interesting to me. I love the dynamic between Lemongrab and Princess Bubblegum, and how far they’re willing to stretch Lemongrab’s dysfunctionality. I’ve mentioned many times already, including in the beginning of this review, but the development for PB lately is fantastic. She’s gone from one of the weakest main characters to one of the most interesting and a personal fave for myself. Thank you, season four.

Favorite line: “We want the big cash money wad! Enough to provide for our delinquent mothers, so that hopefully they’ll show us the love we always dreamed about in our sad, young lives!”

“Too Young” Review

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Original Airdate: August 8, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Tom Herpich

Princess Bubblegum’s transition from an 18-year-old to a 13-year-old is considered by many to be a completely wasted opportunity. For her to become younger for the course of only a singular episode may seem like a desperate attempt to latch onto the status quo, but I actually see it as a way of expanding the depth of her character for a short bit of time. Too Young is one I really love; it takes full advantage of the social experiment introduced in the season two finale, even if we only get to watch it for a short period of time. This is legitimately the one time we get to see what Finn desires most of all: his feelings for the princess being reciprocated.

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The relationship between the two of them is overly cutesy, but rightfully so. Like I said, it’s really a once in a lifetime chance to get to watch Finn and PB act like a legitimate couple, and the episode takes the time to stress this as much as possible. That being said, they’re still really enjoyable to watch! I really love just watching the two of them act like thirteen-year-old kids together. Jake’s immaturity provides for a relationship with Finn where the two are still able to get into wacky shenanigans, but it’s rewarding to watch Finn hangout with someone his own age. Marceline is thousands of years old, BMO takes on the age of an infant at times, LSP is arguably late into her teen years, and even Tree Trunks is ancient. This is finally an opportunity for Finn to be especially childish, mischievous, and enjoy the company of someone on the same level as him by his side.

Of course, this is also the introduction of the one-and-only Lemongrab, voiced superbly by Justin Roiland. Not beating around the bush, Lemongrab is one my favorites. Not just because he’s funny, but because he’s one of the most uniquely complex characters the show has ever taken on. It would’ve been so easy for the writers to absolutely butcher his character down the line with hammering his “UNACCEPTABLE” or “DUNGEON!” catchphrases into the ground. They handled him much like any character should be handled: as a character, not a means of making merchandise or slewing funny phrases.

Aside from that, he’s pretty funny in this episode. I’ve seen Too Young maybe 50 times, so it’s kind of difficult for me to still watch this episode and laugh at Lemongrab the same way I did the first time I saw him, but his lines still manage to get a bit of a laugh out of me. There’s also a bit of underlying tragedy to his character. He’s a completely incompetent ruler, but he was a failed creation, as Bubblegum states. He’s only doing what he was instinctively created to do, and though he’s completely irrational, it’s sad to watch him try to rule the Candy Kingdom and constantly get beaten down by Finn and PB. It’s even harder for me to watch him get beaten up by the two kids in the hallway. He doesn’t scream or banish anyone to the dungeon or anything like that, he just weeps softly and says that he isn’t going anywhere. It’s hard to make me feel so sorry for an antagonist for an episode, yet still manage to root for the main heroes, but AT manages to pull it off.

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This episode is also riddled with terrific gags and slapstick. Although I felt bad for Lemongrab when he was ambushed, I still find it hilarious when PB and Finn casually beat the shit out of him. Also, probably my favorite bit in the entire episode is the scene where Finn and PB continually spice Lemongrab’s food. It’s just so well timed and frantic that it cracks me up everytime, I especially love Steve Little’s performance during it. Anytime he screams as Peppermint Butler, it’s pure hilarity. Also, apparently food comes from Mars! Steve Little actually ad libbed that bit and the show just kind of rolled with it. It’s a nice little tidbit of information that actually works as worldbuilding, as it somewhat makes sense that food resources would come from elsewhere beyond the kingdoms of Ooo, and ties into the introduction of Mars in the next season.

While in the dungeon, we get to see some of PB’s inner thoughts that haven’t quite been explored until this point. She simply admits that it’s a tough job being ruler all the time, and she’s legitimately enjoyed being 13 for a period of time. We hadn’t seen any depth regarding PB’s status as a ruler, and it’s nice to be able to explore this aspect that would become so prominent later on. PB loves ruling her people, but the stress of constantly having to deal with every situation that occurs with the Candy People can be damaging to her wellbeing. This is made worth it by the sweet moment where every Candy Person in the dungeon offers a piece of themselves to help her through her aging process. You could argue they just didn’t want to have Lemongrab as a leader, but it’s clear that the Candy People appreciate Bubblegum to their fullest extent, and would be willing to give up literal parts of themselves for her. Also, it’s officially revealed in this episode that PB ages according to her biomass! It’s something that’s tough to even comprehend right away, and seems like a bit of a copout, but coincides with her future backstory that’s eventually revealed.

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The saddest part, however, is that she’s no longer interested in Finn now that she’s 18 again. Her ability to regain her youth was what ignited her sudden romantic interest in Finn, but she sadly just doesn’t share those feelings as a young adult. It sucks for Finn, he was so close to having everything he’s ever wanted with the girl of his dreams, but he ultimately had to let it go for PB to accept who she was meant to be. In return, Jake shares with him some wise words about ladies:

It’s not easy, but you have to be persistent. You might have to defeat a demon lord, or warp through several worlds. But once you do, you walk up the wizard stairs, and produce your magic key you got in the water world and unlock the chamber door. Then, you walk right up to the princess, and give her a smooch… Does that make sense?

Whether it was meant to be literal, metaphorical, or foreshadowing something that will later happen, it’s advice that only Jake could give, and it’s as sweet as it is sorrowful. It’s truly one of my favorite endings in any Adventure Time episode. Great atmosphere, nice music, luscious colors, and the genuine honesty of our two main characters. Perhaps someday Finn will end up walking up the wizard steps with someone (holding out for Huntress Wizard).

Anyway, I really do love this one. It’s a terrific introduction to one of my favorite AT antagonists, as well as an awesome experimental look at what the relationship of Finn and PB could have been. I know it probably pisses a lot of people off to this day that the young Bubblegum subplot latest so shortly, but c’mon, did you really never want to hear Hynden Walch perform as PB again? Hm?? Despite it’s brevity, I surely enjoyed the time we spent with young PB, and I’d also enjoy the route her developmental path would take her from this episode onward. However, Finn’s budding feelings from PB will increasingly become a more intense burden as this season goes on, and take him to much, much darker places.

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Favorite line: “Because being 13 again is… Bloobaloobie! […] While being 18 is all plock dumps and wagglezags.”