Tag Archive | PB

“From Bad to Worse” Review

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Original Airdate: October 24, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Somvilay Xayaphone & Kent Osborne

I always sort of look at From Bad to Worse as a lesser The Creeps. Both possess a large horror theme and feature a set of major characters working together. In addition, both are quasi-sequels to past episodes. This episode is a follow-up to the very first episode Slumber Party Panic, and while this one is definitely more cohesive and enjoyable than the episode it’s based around, I think it squanders a bit of its potential by struggling to work in good humor and character interactions in its execution.

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The episode essentially lives up to its title by being exactly what it promises: situations going from bad to horribly wrong. While I do like some of the transitions the zombies go through, especially LSP’s luscious lip formula, I think the show could’ve been funnier and more creative with the way these zombies transform. Even the characters, who are the ones that create these potions that end up fucking things up are just sort of there to observe everything. I’ve always believed that disbelief and confusion can be two of the funniest reactions to watch in any TV show, and I really think From Bad to Worse could’ve worked in some stronger ways for the characters to react to the insanity going on around them.

Somvilay really pushed the bar with just how many dynamic shots he could include in this episode, and it really shows. Somvilay can have some of the funniest anti-joke oriented episodes when he puts his heart in it, and I think that, while it’s a very distinct type of humor he tried to incorporate, it just doesn’t work aesthetically with the episode. There’s very long sequences of the characters mixing different juices and potions and it just feels… dry. There’s tons of unique and nice looking shots, but they just aren’t outrageous, in depth, or even funny enough to keep my attention. Somvilay’s one of the most ambitious storyboard artists on Adventure Time, but there are times when he can get a bit too carried away with forms of anti-humor that the episode ends up being just that: humorless.

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Now, that’s not to say this episode is really that bad though. It’s a very fast-paced episode, and while it’s not a particularly funny one, it’s still relatively enjoyable from beginning to end. I do really like the frantic speed and the urgency of the situation. Although The Creeps was primarily a horror-themed episode, the circumstances didn’t seem to have a feeling of dire consequences till the last third, while this episode has a sense of dread throughout its entirety. There are some nice bits, like Jake trying to outrun his arm and being turned into a zombie. That entire scene is both humorous and creates a large feeling of tension, and man, you really do sympathize with Jake. His actions in particular are just really considerate; he doesn’t freak out or want any of his friends to worry about him, and quarantines himself for the safety of others. It really shows Jake at his best. He isn’t always as morally centered as Finn in his actions, but Jake is firm in his belief to not let anyone worry about him, and to protect those he cares about most.

In addition, while I don’t think Somvilay’s drawings make for some very funny scenes, they are really visually interesting to gawk at. Somvilay really knows how to make shots dynamic without them seeming too off-model or distorted, and the way he incorporates both the ceiling and the floor in several shots make the episode seem much more aesthetically pleasing on some levels. There’s also a longshot where Finn slides through PB’s lab on a task chair through a bunch of the Candy zombies and it just looks so freakin’ cool. Kent and Somvilay really mesh well when it comes to well-crafted intriguing shots.

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I could kinda see the ending coming from a mile away. I don’t mean to sound like a stuck-up little snob when I say that, but the minute I saw Science and remembered PB’s line, I was all “yeah, Science is totally her rat.” But whatevs, it was a cute ending and it wasn’t a twist that deserved to be completely ambiguous. I especially enjoy Science using “knife juice” in his concoction. I wonder how one even gets to acquire knife juice. The solution with Finn dousing himself in the serum was very clever, and the award ceremony at the end was equally amusing. Although, I call bullshit on Finn not getting an award. The little guy sacrificed himself to save the Candy People. All Science did was comically shrug!

So yeah, this isn’t really a great one in my book. I think there could’ve been a lot more jokes and funny character interactions, but for what it is, it’s a mildly enjoyable bit of frantic terror that compellingly keeps the viewer’s attention all the way through. A bit odd that we got The Creeps and From Bad to Worse back-to-back; I know they both aired during the Halloween season, but I’m wondering if they were purposely next to each other in production order. While both episodes are good at conveying this genre in their own merits, the best horror-themed episode of season three is yet to come.

Favorite line: “Sorry, LSP, PB, Jake, LR, peepee poopoo doodoo.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Susan Strong” Review

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Original Airdate: March 7, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Rebecca Sugar & Adam Muto

Finn “the Human” has been nothing more but a descriptive title for the first handful of episodes. Upon first watching up to this point as a thirteen-year-old, I didn’t quite yet grasp the connections to the apocalypse and lack humans within the world of Ooo. Her Parents alludes to the idea that humans are of a rare species, but still treated the topic as if it was simply brushing it off. Susan Strong, on the other hand, is the first direct mention that Finn is indeed the last known remaining human in Ooo. Finn is certainly the easiest for the audience to connect to, as he is the only major human character, and while we are able to easily relate to him, his lack of understanding of his own culture is what causes him great uncertainty and a difficulty to be able to connect with the world Ooo.

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Of course, Finn has a terrific support system of friends and family, but the idea of never knowing his own heritage or culture surely must be a burden for him. So when Finn comes across a tribe of alleged humans, it’s no doubt that he’s ecstatic to be able to make that connection with his own kind, especially a bystander he appropriately names “Susan Strong.” Susan’s broken dialogue (which the AT staff has deemed “Somvilayism”) can be a bit grating at times, but her introduction as a character is pretty adorable. She’s reacting practically how anyone who is just discovering the world would act, much like a baby, and just enjoying every second of it. Or being afraid, which is a perfectly natural (and sometimes hilarious) reaction too.

Speaking of adorable, every scene building on the friendship between Finn and Susan is just delightful. Both are so extremely excited to be around each other: Susan discovering the Land of Ooo and Finn discovering one of his own kind. It’s really heartwarming to see the two of them being able to feel so high with each other only through a short period of time. And yes, the scenes with Finn teaching Susan about how the world works go by very, very fast, but the strong friendship (no pun intended) between both of them is still perfectly believable. They’re both going through very exciting first experiences, and they luckily get to share those experiences together, which Finn sings about in the song “Susan Strong.”

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The general look of this episode is gorgeous. The colors really help bring out the vibrancy in each character; the shadows underground, the sunset in the woods, and the nighttime skies in the Candy Kingdom all blend with the color palettes of our main characters, causing them look really fluid with their surroundings. In addition, the animation is especially really good in this episode! Rebecca Sugar definitely adds much detail to her drawings while going through the storyboard process, which shows by how smoothly and flowing each character moves, specifically during the song sequence.

Of course, Finn’s fun with his human friends doesn’t last however, as Susan proves that she isn’t educated enough to be welcomed into the Candy Kingdom. On a side note, one thing that doesn’t necessarily add up with continuity is Princess Bubblegum’s general lack of defense against the Hyoomens. I realized this from a comment on the episode I saw recently, and it actually has me scratching my head a bit. Where are the Gumball Guardians, or even the Banana Guards? I have a hard time believing she’s that unprepared to protect her kingdom from possibly being eaten. The only hypotheses I can come up with are: 1. She wants her people to attempt to defend themselves. 2. If the Candy People were actually eaten, PB could always just clone new ones. 3. She didn’t want to hurt Finn’s people. The first one doesn’t hold much water the second one seems a little dark even for Bubs, and the third one still seems a bit phony but that’s the only conclusion I can come up with. It just seems to distance itself with what we’ve learned about the Princess over the years.

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Aside from that minor issue, the reveal that the sewer people weren’t actually human is certainly one of the weightier moments in the first two seasons, and it’s generally heartbreaking that Finn solemnly asks Susan who/what she really is. It’s sad stuff; Finn finally had someone as closely related to him as possible, but remains alone at the end, as he began in the beginning of the episode. But, as Jake profoundly tells him, “we’re all wild animals, brother,” Finn replies “I guess we are… brother.” Perhaps Finn did lose the closest thing to a relative that he has, but on the bright side, he still has a brother, and as Adventure Time has proved time and time again, that just might be enough.

Favorite line: “Grass can’t hurt you!” (Primarily for the irony)