Tag Archive | Mr. Pig

“Ring of Fire” Review

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Original Airdate: December 17, 2017

Written & Storyboarded by: Steve Wolfhard & Tom Herpich

Though it’s been nearly a year since Adventure Time has ended, I still feel like there’s a ton of divisiveness around the nature of the show’s climax to where I’m not really sure what the truth is. A lot of people have batted around the idea that the execs at Cartoon Network Studios had given the AT staff 16 episodes to wrap the series up, while others have mentioned that, after the completion of Gumbaldia, the crew was given four final episodes to tie up all loose ends. Then of course, there’s the crowd that still believes that Adventure Time wasn’t cancelled and simply “ended on its own terms,” which is simply not true. I get that it’s wishful thinking, but Adam Muto has outright said that he and the staff would have continued working on the series, had Cartoon Network decided to keep it going.¹ Regardless, it is interesting to ponder just how much was planned ahead to definitively wrap things up. A good chunk of this final batch of episodes feels as if they were created without an end in mind, though the one that surprising wraps up an individual character arc the best is Ring of Fire. I’ve seen a handful of mixed opinions towards this one, but I can honestly say it’s the first entry since The Wild Hunt that I’ve pretty much liked all the way through. Adventure Time has largely served as a metaphor for growing up – mostly in allusion to its main character, though other characters have similarly dealt with the grievance of aging, such as Jake, Marceline, and even the world renowned Nurse Betsy Poundcake. In the span of 11 minutes, the life of an entire character is visited, and it really brings up some introspective ideas about relationships, individuality, and what’s most important in life.

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We were bound to get an episode dedicated to Tree Trunks’ relationships with her past lovers ever since they were introduced in Apple WeddingRing of Fire gives a little bit of a taste into each one of them, and essentially uses them as a way to show gradually how Tree Trunks became the person that she is. I’ll never know what it’s like to be ol’ geezer until I actually do, but the general story of Tree Trunks’ life (save for Adventure Time‘s addition of typical absurdity) essentially embodies every story from any female baby boomer I’ve been acquainted with. The freedom of youth, the need for something greater, and the ultimate compliance of settling down. Tree Trunks has clearly lived a very full existence, as demonstrated throughout the episode, and the poignancy of her walk through life is really set by her opening conversation with Sweet P. TT tearing up thinking about her past and present is bittersweet – it’s likely that these emotions come from her feelings of fulfillment in her role as a mother and a wife, but also probably connect to the sadness of her most carefree days being long behind her. It’s both a wonderful feeling and kind of a downer that everything you’ve worked for has finally been accomplished, but there isn’t much room for discovery anymore. Regardless, it’s clear that Tree Trunks’ maturity spans beyond just her past and throughout the series as well. Just a few seasons ago, this same vivacious elephant nearly called off her marriage after only months of being together, and here, we’re treated to a much more grounded Tree Trunks that is even hesitant to get together with her past boyfriend in the sense of jeopardizing what she has currently. That’s where the sweetness comes in of Tree Trunks’ previous emotional moment – that she truly does love and cherish everything that is in her life currently, and is far beyond the idea of jumping ships to whatever else is exciting. I should also bring up the existence of the “Tiny Mammal Kingdom,” which might just be the cutest concept for a kingdom that AT has ever come up with.

Her relationship with her first significant other, Randy (on a side note, GOD are there way too many “Randy”s in Adventure Time. I can’t think of a single more common name in this series than that), is a typical first love scenario. As an 18-year-old, Tree Trunks doesn’t want to tie herself down to anyone, but similarly only knows and is comfortable with the idea of her S.O.. In a much similar sense, Randy is waaay into the idea that his first love is his only love and that, once more, it’s all he really knows. The marriage between the two is hilariously short-lived, as Tree Trunks decides on the wedding day itself that she simply isn’t ready to settle. It’s essentially young love boiled down to its bare essentials; Randy, at 18, already believes that he knows just what he wants for the rest of his life, but Tree Trunks couldn’t even commit to getting past the Honey Moon. It’s primarily a time of discovery and self-actualization, and it very much depicts two people who have entirely different ideas about what they want for their future, which is usually how first serious relationships go. I’m also not sure if it’s incredibly lazy or comical, but in her teen years, Tree Trunks had the same exact old, Polly Lou Livingston voice. It really makes me wonder if she’s actually waaay younger than she appears to be. Reverse PB Syndrome, that is.

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Before it aired, Steve Wolfhard had mentioned on his Twitter that Ring of Fire was “the most sex-mad thing [he] ever boarded for AT.” I think that’s what got people most intrigued by it, but only Tree Trunks’ relationship with Danny ever borders on the line of being overly provocative. Danny is essentially a vessel for Tree Trunks to live out the vivacious section of her life that craves hormonal enticement. Danny’s alluring in a physical sense, but Tree Trunks never acknowledges her need for full intimacy and is attracted to Danny only because he represents the wild/crazy lifestyle that she’s looking for. But, the party life begins to lose its appeal after time, and the need for security becomes more prominent. Tree Trunks was never able to achieve full intimacy with Danny, simply because her needs changed beyond what she thought she ever would desire, and that Danny’s personality proved to be truly ugly on the inside.

I do have to say, the Danny section is probably the most problematic of the episode for myself, and others alike. I don’t really feel like the sauciness promised ever pushes in the direction of being either as hilarious or interesting as it was hyped up to be. Ring of Fire has its scandalous moments, but nothing that tops AT‘s other most sexually driven episodes, such as All the Little PeopleFrost & Fire, or Breezy. The more extreme stuff that we do get to see is just kind of uncomfortable – I could have gone without Tree Trunks harassing her shipmates into bending over for her. Adventure Time has this weird consistency with including harassment towards its male cast that always kind of just feels unlikable or unnecessary (Barb in Web Weirdos, Lumpy Space Princess in Breezy). This section also garnered criticism for including the pirates that were seen helping Martin in the promo art for Min & Marty. I think a lot of people were expecting Martin to show up because of this, but I don’t know if I can really blame the episode for it. I’m assuming Ring of Fire was in production by the time that Min & Marty actually aired, and I’m also assuming that the promo art is not done that far in advance. When making it, Sam Alden may have just included these pirates based on the concept art from Ring of Fire, as a bit of an Easter egg for later on.

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This section of the episode also kind of rewrites Tree Trunks’ backstory in a way. Her debut episode Tree Trunks features her inability to grasp the lifestyle of being an adventurer, but it seems like she knows a hell of a lot from her past experiences. She blew up a friggin’ boat! Of course, I can’t really blame an episode produced seven years prior for that, especially since Tree Trunks was supposed to be dead by the end of it. So I have to turn some of the fault on Ring of Fire as a result. There’s also this weird technical moment when Danny first arrives – his color coding changes twice as if it were sunset, but once Tree Trunks convenes with him, the coding returns to daylight. I’m not sure if this was done for aesthetic purposes, but it’s just kind of distracting for me.

That long tangent aside, the next segment features Tree Trunks’ most frequently mentioned past husband: Wyatt. Wyatt is a pretty pathetic loser, and his star episode Apple Wedding really didn’t hold back with showing that. Still, it’s kind of clear as to why Tree Trunks fell for him, in the sense that he fills that exact sense of security for her that she had decided that she wanted. The love from Wyatt was essentially a given – he’s a really desperate dude and Tree Trunks would probably never have to worry about him deceiving or backstabbing her. Still, while that promise of forever-love is tempting, it comes with its problems when you’re dealt a man like Wyatt. He’s completely dependent on that love for any kind of self-fulfillment, and keeps wanting more and more until he completely drains Tree Trunks of having any individuality herself. He just can’t resist the sweet taste of her delicious pies. Yanno, I use this blog as a writing sample when I apply to jobs. I’m really wondering if my dissection of a children’s cartoon that features an overly-horny elephant is benefiting or hurting my potential future. Food for thought.

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Anywho, that leads us to the climax of Tree Trunks’ martial life with Mr. Pig. Mr. Pig is likely Tree Trunks’ least defined husband. He really doesn’t have much of a personality, and is practically described by his monotonous nature. Regardless, he does represent a little bit of everything Tree Trunks has sought out in the past, at the expense of being slightly underwhelming. With those shortcomings in mind, the culmination of this episode really adds up to Tree Trunks’ acceptance of stagnancy in her own life by finding a comfortable, while not always exciting, alternative.

Ring of Fire presents some narrative issues in its middle section, but I overall really appreciate this one. The message by the end of it is quite obvious: that the simplicities of life can often be the greatest adventure of all. But I do enjoy how it shows that it can take even a lifetime to discover that as well. Often life can seem like a constant battle for significance and deeper meaning, but sometimes the best answers to fulfillment are those simpler elements. Granted, I don’t doubt that Tree Trunks enjoyed her life in her wild and crazy days, and I don’t think this mindset should discourage anyone from living a vigorous lifestyle, but every adventure does come to an end, and ultimately settling into a comfortable position can be a reward on its own. Mr. Pig is the answer to Tree Trunks’ long, confusing life of promiscuity, giving her not what she’s always wanted, but what she’s always needed.

¹ Can’t find the exact quote from Muto where he discusses this process, though he alludes to it here.

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Favorite line: “Hey-hey! Somebody kiss me now!” Oh K.O.O., you delightful dog, you.

“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!!!

 

“Dream of Love” Review

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Original Airdate: April 23, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Bert Youn & Somvilay Xayaphone

Interesting how we got a bit of a taste of the cons of long-term relationships last episode, while this episode heavily focuses on some of the issues involving infatuation when it comes to partners who become acquainted very early on. And while I’ve seen a bunch of people really voice their general distaste for the last episode, this is one I’d consider pretty bottom-of-the-barrel. It’s the first Tree Trunks-centric episode that completely retcons her ability to hold an episode on her own, and pretty much stays consistent from this point on. I do still really like Tree Trunks, there’s a part of me that will always have a soft spot for her. But it’s entirely difficult for me to argue that she really isn’t able to carry a story on her own, much like LSP, and her connection to Mr. Pig only really emphasizes those issues to me.

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TT and Mr. Pig work fine as a couple overall, I suppose. I’m not really the biggest Mr. Pig fan; I think his voice actor is very talented and has played some very funny roles, but they never really give Mr. Pig much to work with. He doesn’t really have a clear character besides the fact that he’s quirky and slightly reserved. His connection with Tree Trunks doesn’t really make him any more interesting, and there’s plenty of moments of him in this episode that just feel completely dry and humorless. The only real laugh I got out of him was his brief line about returning to eating criminals, which is a pretty silly callback to Apple Thief. Besides that, his character doesn’t do much for me, so it’s a bit difficult to be able to put him in center-stage and not feel generally uninterested in the situation at hand.

While Finn and Jake we’re pretty heavily involved in the last story and really rounded out the melodrama surrounding them, they just don’t do much that’s noteworthy in this one. They try and mend the situation, but ultimately are pretty much what drive the main conflict, which also isn’t a very compelling one. They work as the mediator between the two characters in trying to mend their relationship, and while they give in to the characters’ desires by the end of the episode, I can’t help but feel that we were slightly cheated out of a decent lesson when it comes to romance. I mean, I get it, Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig shouldn’t have to hide their love in front of the eyes of others for approval, but they were legitimately invading the privacy of bystanders and taking attention away from other people. From practically ruining PB’s concert to making out in a mother’s baby carriage, they were doing some pretty shitty stuff that should’ve been addressed, and I would’ve liked it a lot better if they maybe set boundaries by the end of it that still worked for the relationship. The notion that everyone was just generally wrong for being pissed off by Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig wasn’t really a well-crafted resolution. Granted though, some of the Candy People did act like legitimate dickholes, and that only really brings down the episode further for me. I mean, being uncomfortable is one thing, but there’s a lot of other obnoxious moments with the Candy People screaming and wailing at the sight of TT and Mr. P, and their brief moment of celebration when the two are being separated. It really see’s both sides of the situation, but arguably in the worst way possible that just really makes me dislike both parties in this scenario.

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And then there’s the song, which really just goes on for waaaay too long in my opinion. It’s a full two minutes out of the episode, and it just feels so obvious and generic to me. It’s not even that catchy or visually interesting, it just drags on and on, and when you think it’s about done, it keeps on going and going. One of my least favorite songs in the entire series without a doubt, and just drives the episode to a complete halt. You pretty much know where it’s gonna go from the first lyric, so there’s no point in drawing it out unless they just wanted to kill time.

I can’t really think of anything particularly funny in this one either. There’s the scene where Finn is replicating the sounds PB is producing through her xylophone, which is pretty amusing. Then there’s also the movie clip with the Gingerbread actor ordering people to look at different cups, but that’s about it. It feels pretty humorless, and there’s not even different aims at anti-humor or visual gags that feel new or unique.

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It’s just a misfire in my opinion. I’m not really sure what I was supposed to get out of this one, but whatever it was, it just didn’t happen. There’s an intended message of allowing yourself to do what makes you happy, but it’s squandered by the two main characters consistently invading the privacy of other people in their actions. I just didn’t buy into Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig’s love at all; it seemed like very tradition infatuation, and the direction that their relationship takes later on only furthers my belief that these feelings were very much exaggerated. It’s one that feels very lifeless for a romantic tale, and one that doesn’t utilize any of the characters to their best advantages. I’m usually fairly forgiving with a lot of episodes that seem to be very unpopular in the fandom, but this one in particular just kinda rubs me the wrong way. Certainly not one of my favorites.

Also, what was up with that sequence at the beginning with Finn and Jake rolling on the grass and Lady Rainicorn who appears and disappears out of nowhere? I like to believe she kept on rolling for like, a whole week.

Favorite line:Look at this cup! Now, look at this cup! Look at this one!