Original Airdate: June 3, 2015
Written & Storyboarded by: Graham Falk
As a whole, I think I’m pretty neutral to the idea that Gunter is truly a space deity. I mean, on the one hand it’s kind of funny and clever, especially since it ties back into a small gag that was established all in the way back in It Came From the Nightosphere and also that it’s an unlikely backstory that I would expect from Adventure Time’s most ambiguous character. But on the other hand, I’m kind of curious as to what it actually adds to the series. As far as I’m concerned, Orgalorg could have been cut out of the series almost entirely and not much would be lost, so it’s weird to me that the writing staff even decided that this was a story important enough to introduce at the very end of a season and then effectively glance over for the remainder of the series. In addition to that, I don’t really care enough for Gunter as a character to actually want to see his backstory explored. He’s primarily a gag character whose sole purpose is to add comic relief or to work off of Ice King in some way. But going back to my original point, it’s not something that actively bothers me or strikes me as story carried out in an absolutely horrible way. Granted, I really don’t care a ton about the history explored in Orgalorg, but Graham Falk’s oddball style blends with this one quite seamlessly, and helps to give it a compellingly off-putting atmosphere.
I think the beginning goes on waaaay too long, but in a way that’s actually pretty amusing and still reels a couple chuckles out of me. It’s pure Ice King goodness, as he starts out knitting various different “tummy yarmulkes” and takes his sweet time to eat a piece of a cheesecake (with sleeping gas very poorly concealed inside). Again, I can’t argue that it’s not drawn out, but it’s executed in such an absurd way that I can’t help but enjoy it. Like, Ice King got out the cheesecake, took one bite, and then mentions that he’s getting full. No wonder the dude probably weighs less than Finn. Absurdity continues to ensue once the sleeping gas is released, as a penguin party is underway.
The party of Gunters is a lot of fun; the penguins on Adventure Time often help to provide for some of the show’s silliest moments, and this is no exception. I also like the random inclusion of LSP at the Gunter party, because apparently this is the only crowd that actually invites her anywhere. Oh well, at least she was getting along good with Gunthalina. Gunter is a character that’s hard to get into because of how little we’re able to actually understand what he’s feeling at any given time, though Falk does a pretty good job at keeping him expressive. Him leaning into the walrus as he envisions a comet was a pretty well-timed scene, and one that transitions into the bizarreness that is the remainder of the episode.
The red-ish filter that encapsulates the Gunter’s perspective helps to emphasize that off feeling, and Gunter’s flashes of trauma are a legitimately neat way to capture his changed shifted mindset. The scenes to follow are delightfully trippy as well, as Gunter feels compelled to create wooden silhouettes of familiar faces from his past. The music in this one really ups the unsettling tone, as Tim Kiefer tries his hardest to make the audio as unnatural as possible.
Once transitioning over to the alien planet where citizens are notified of Orgalorg’s revival into society, things get even crazier. It’s rare that we actually get to see a full-blown alien society within the Adventure Time universe, and these beings are especially likably bizarre and unique in their designs. They provide plenty of funny lines, such as the elders’ disgust with “makeouts” and their desire to inform people of Orgalorg because of it. This is where Orgalorg’s backstory is presented, and while it’s cool to see side characters like Glob and the King of Mars once more, and the narration itself from one of the elders is also quite delightful, I feel like the history itself is kind of half-baked. So Glob cast Orgalorg down and the weight of the Earth turned him into a penguin? Em, why? Even if the form simply cast him into a smaller version of himself, why would he then just become indistinguishable from every other penguin in the world? It’s absurdity that doesn’t really work because I think it’s sacrificing what is supposed to be a story that’s legitimate lore-building, but kind of fails because I don’t think a lot of it adds up. Also, if this happened eons ago, then why is Glob shown with headgear in the flashback? I know that’s kind of a nitpick, but it’s somewhat more distracting when the You Forgot Your Floaties was only two episodes earlier and was clever in referencing the G-Man’s flowing hair.
The flashes of Gunter’s past following this backstory are good fun and it’s nice to see actual painted drawings within the show itself for a change. Another big gripe I have with this flashback sequence is that there’s also a small bit of discontinuity: as Gunter is riding on a boat, there’s a letter “G” labeled on his sail. Though it can be considered up for debate and ambiguous enough, the obvious implication is that the “G” stands for Gunter, which doesn’t make sense, because Gunter wouldn’t have even gotten the name until he became Ice King’s companion. Again, I might be nitpicking here, but it’s little stuff like this that really bugs me in the grand scheme of things. I guessed someone may have noticed it, but left it up for interpretation as to what the “G” could stand for, but it’s likely that it was just missed in translation. Speaking of missed in translation, Ice King stupidly mistakes Gunter’s literal brain gushing out as a mere infliction, and sees to it that his little buddy’s wound is treated. Little does Ice King know what actually lies ahead for the penguin. Which will be mentioned once more and then never, ever again!
Orgalorg has its flaws: there’s bits of discontinuity, unconvincing pieces of information, and an overall story that I think in general is not inherently as intriguing as it wants to be. But it does get the tone right, and I think it cleverly carries the episode where the story does not. I kind of enjoy this one in the same way I enjoy Ghost Fly; it’s weird, unusual, and silly in some areas, with a hint of disconcerting elements to really execute the visual and tonal elements within. So I think Orgalorg actually works in presentation much better than on paper. It’s the backstory of a character that I don’t particularly care about, but I enjoy visiting it still for its heavy atmosphere and visual flare.