Tag Archive | Mortal Recoil

“Mortal Recoil” Review

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Definitely one of the most chilling title cards in the series.

Original Airdate: May 2, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Cole Sanchez

This episode starts immediately where the last one left off, as we’re treated to a dramatically funny scene featuring Dr. Ice Cream and Nurse Poundcake. “Dramatically funny” is a key adjective in this episode; where Mortal Folly was a mostly intense, fast-paced episode, Mortal Recoil is much slower and blends comedy with horror elements.

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Immediately this one makes up for the mistakes of last episode by making the Ice King beneficial to the plot. His constant interruptions of Finn and Jake earlier bordered on the annoying side, but here his purpose is more to serve the main characters, but not before Finn can get rightfully pissed at him. It’s a bit of a breaking point for Finn to blow up at the IK this way. Finn has treated Ice King as a mild disturbance in the past, but never has he affected Finn or someone he cares about so dearly in such a devastating way. It’s a nice instance of Finn royally chewing him out, and letting off that steam allows for things to gradually improve as the episode continues.

The scenes that follow in PB’s bedroom are straight out of a horror movie, but they’re still played lightly enough to save from complete darkness. It’s sad to see that this is really the first time Finn is truly upfront with his feelings toward Bubblegum, but she’s completely possessed and her true self isn’t conscious at all. The only other time we get to see Finn engage in this emotional release again is in Burning Low, and he does so mostly out of anger and sorrow. Here, he’s doing it to express his genuine care and appreciation for the princess, which again, is sadly squandered by the circumstances of the situation.

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Even sadder is Jake’s little booty dance can’t rescue PB from the Lich’s overwhelming presence. Bubblegum is able to absorb massive amounts of power through the fluids Finn gave her, and becomes an entirely new force. This is, of course, when Finn tries to use the sweater to defeat the demonic presence of the Lich once again, but fails this time. Even though Finn confidently holds that his feelings for PB were what helped him defeat the Lich last time, he realizes that love isn’t always the answer to defeating evil, and there’s no guarantee that something that worked fine once will do its job the same way again. Which is where the Ice King comes in with a tale of his wizard eyes, as Finn finally accepts his help and we see the two team up for the very first time. It’s an appropriate fit to watch Ice King and Finn work together civilly for once, and shows just how much the Ice King has evolved from the first instance we saw him. The IK isn’t an evil villain in the slightest anymore. Rather, he’s someone who just wants the attention of the coolest guys in Ooo.

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It’s here that Princess Bubblegum literally dies, in an even more aggressive way than the last time. In the end, she’s rebuilt to be thirteen, something that we’re going to explore later on, even if it never really got off it’s feet. The episode ends in what almost feels like a cap to the series, but we’re left with one haunting wave from the Lich possessed snail, signaling for more to come. This episode is really just a terrific showcase of how much the Lich’s introduction has forever changed the history of the show. Sure, the status quo and the way things return back to the main formula a good chunk of the time still remain relatively untouched, but it’s with this episode that I realized that literally anything can happen in Adventure Time. Princess Bubblegum can become thirteen, some plot points may be held and resolved and a later point. It was just a crazy burst of intrigue that left me so excited for the rest of the series. I began to really appreciate that element of surprise that came with every AT episode. In the past, any surprises or twists that came with the plot could be easily brushed off as something that was contained to just the singular episode, but Mortal Recoil introduced us to the idea that anything can come back at any point, and the fate of the characters could be altered at any given moment. This is all conducted by the intro of the show’s greatest evil, and one that would continue to affect the existence of Ooo much more down the line.

Welp, that’s season two folks! It’s been a lot of fun covering these episodes the last couple months, and really only increases my interest and love of my all-time favorite show. Thanks to everyone who has been reading (special shoutout to fellow commentators Stuped1811 and LilPotato911!), this isn’t really a project I’m doing for copious amounts of viewers, but it always helps to know that people are reading! The full season two review and a bonus mini-review should be out later this week, but besides that, I’ll see y’all for season three!

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Favorite line: “Uh, bleach, lighter fluid, ammonia, gasoline, I dunno. Lady stuff.”

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“Mortal Folly” Review

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Original Airdate: May 2, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto

This is a big one. This is the game-changer for most viewers, as it was for me at the young age of thirteen. The stakes are instantly raised in this episode with the introduction of the Lich as a major villain. We’ve previously seen him in His Hero, but this is the first time we truly get to experience the Lich as a villain. His presence in this episode adds new heightened danger that Finn and Jake aren’t typically used to dealing with, and this time they aren’t just facing a threat to save a single princess or candy person. As Jake acknowledges, they’re fighting for the sake of the entire world.

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Immediately we’re thrown into the action, with brief meditations seen by both Finn and Jake. Most notably, Finn imagines himself as a big, bulky hero (including a pretty sick bionic arm) showing that his view on true heroes is still a bit materialistic. As Finn has learned countless times throughout this particular season, a hero is not defined by shape, size, or glamour, and while he has begun to grasp this concept, he still is drawn to those attributes that legendary heroes such as Billy possess. As His Hero displayed, Finn was able to prove himself as a true hero by choosing his own path over the path of his mentor, and it’s appropriately fitting that Mortal Folly has him following in his mentor’s footsteps once again by facing off against the ultimate evil.

After we’re treated to a nice bit of lore and backstory regarding the Lich and Billy, the snail that appears in the background of every single episode frees our grotesquely designed villain from his prison. This really is terrific use of the snail as a plot device; it’s rewarding to those who have been paying attention long enough to notice the hidden snail, as well as a way of building up apprehension by having it possessed. Every time it appears after this, there’s a certain fear of what’s to come and a constant reminder that it’s still a part of the story. But before we get to that, the Lich’s place in this episode is eerie and unsettling, fitting with his appearance that’s especially grotesque and diverse from most other designs in the series. While working on this episode, Sugar and Muto tried to avoid any typical villain cliches as possible to make the Lich seem menacing and serious, and a big kudos to them for pulling it off so well.

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Of course, the episode isn’t entirely focused on tension and darkness. At the center lies a large heart with the relationship between PB and Finn. Although, it is kind of off when you think about it. I know Finn is considered a legendary hero in Ooo and he does ultimately end up defeating the Lich for the time being, but you’d think with all of the life experience Bubblegum possesses, she wouldn’t send a thirteen-year-old out to preserve the fate of the universe. But of course, these were different times, so I can ignore it. It doesn’t divert from the adorable amount of compassion for each other that the two share, and there’s no way you can convince me that PB doesn’t care about Finn in this situation. The sweater she gives him, whether it was meant to be protective from the Lich’s powers or not, was an ultimate token of her appreciation for Finn, and it’s really sweet that he has no hesitation wearing it at all.

On the other hand, if there’s one thing that constantly brings down this episode, it’s Ice King. Not to say he’s without his funny moments, but his interference with Finn and Jake really diverts from the main focus of the episode. I understand that they had to break the episode up a bit and it was completely necessary to include Ice King in it, but from a viewer’s perspective, it really takes you out of the moment when our two main heroes are on an epic quest to save the world and IK continuously gets in the way of it.

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Thankfully, the last third of the episode is primarily focused on the main issues at hand. I love, love, LOVE the abandoned subway setting. It makes for such a cool and well designed battle arena, and is just oozing with post-apocalyptic eye candy. Love the skeletons, love the colors, love how it’s not even explicitly mentioned as a subway. Things get serious when Billy’s gauntlet is crushed by the Lich without any hesitation at all, which is kinda fucked up when you think about it. That gauntlet was totally sentient! It blinked! The atmosphere immediately grows quiet and blood curdling when Finn’s pendant breaks and we get our first-ever bit of dialogue from the Lich, delivered menacingly, yet attractively by Ron Perlman.

“Aren’t you cold, Finn…? Walk into the well… Finn… Aren’t you cold…?”

It’s important to remember that, save for a few moments, we never really get to see the Lich do much of anything destructive throughout the series. Sure, it’s implied he had a big part in the outcome of the Great Mushroom War, but aside from that, everything that is threatening about the Lich comes entirely through his design and his voice. This makes him one of my favorite animated villains of all-time. We only get to see him every so often, but every time we do, we know this guy has potential to blow up entire worlds if he wants to. We know that he can’t be defeated anytime soon. We know that he could set off countless Mushroom Wars with the snap of a finger. Most importantly, we know that the Lich is the ultimate evil. Not through his actions, not through his adversaries, not through his treacherous backstory or anything like that, but simply because of his demeanor. He has no motivation for wanting to destroy all humanity besides the fact that he can and wants to. And there’s nothing scary than that.

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But of course, the one thing that protects Finn from potential destruction is the sweater PB made him. It’s sweet, because they didn’t pull some twist that the sweater has protective armor or guns shooting out of it or anything like that. It’s just a sweater. And that, coupled with Finn’s feelings of l-l-liking someone a lot, is what is able to save him in the end. Again, it’s easy to draw contrasts to Billy and Finn here. Billy was able to defeat the Lich with his gauntlet, whereas Finn failed to the first time he tried. It’s obvious that Billy’s power comes almost entirely from his brawn and strength, while Finn’s ultimate power comes from his heart. It’s a corny but important lesson that’s been enforced many times this season, and this feels like an ultimate driving point. It Finn’s sweater that defeats the Lich, as he lets out a final laugh that’s evidence enough that we won’t be seeing the last of him. It’s a triumphant moment of victory for Finn and Jake, but the moment doesn’t last for long, courtesy of the IK’s “dropsies.”

So there’s a good chunk of really good moments surrounding the main plot, and a good chunk of mediocre moments in regards to the Ice King’s bits. There’s still more than enough for this to be considered as a good episode. Terrific atmosphere, intense action, some brilliant character moments, and a very nice jaw-drop worthy ending in preparation for part two to boot.

Favorite line: “No, I’m not! I’VE GOT A SWEATER ON!”