Original Airdate: November 22, 2010
Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Rebecca Sugar
I mentioned in my review of Blood Under the Skin that Finn’s heroic attributes come not from his physical strength, but his willingness to throw himself directly into danger’s path. Jake the Dog is different; he could literally become gigantic within seconds and crush anything in sight, but typically chooses not too. That’s because Jake simply isn’t about crushing people or having tremendous strength, Jake’s all about kicking back and having a good time. That being said, Power Animal highlights one of Jake’s main character flaws: his inability to focus on crucial situations. This, of course, results in hilarity.
It’s refreshing to see one of Jake’s character flaws highlighted, as we’ve spent several episodes focusing on Finn’s and only a few focusing on Jake’s. What works best is that Jake never comes off as unlikable or does it seem as though he’s abandoning his best friend, it just feels appropriate given that Jake is so easily wrapped up in the environments around him. This episode could have easily made Jake seem like an asshole for letting his friend suffer, but it does a great job of showcasing Jake’s turmoil for not being able to focus, yet still having a ton of fun with his distractions.
The distractions themselves are all really inventive and humorous on their own. BMO’s singing, the dancing bug and the unfunny mermaids are honestly some of my all time funniest scenes from the show. They all come off as so odd and so out of nowhere that I can’t help but crack up on every watch.
By God, do I feel sorry for Finn in this episode. I strongly feel the pain of his suffering in this episode, yet also can’t help but enjoy it by just how sadistic the Gnome Leader (voiced by Paul Reubens) is. There’s a bit of fringe horror when you realize that half of this episode involves a twelve-year-old experiencing heinous torture, but as Adventure Time does best, it still makes for some very fun and vibrant moments. Finn’s dream sequence is another walk through bizarre enthusiasm, and I almost wish that we got to spend more time in Finn’s buff fantasy land.
It’s another one of those episodes that’s packed with hilarious side characters, including the Gnome Leader, Party God, and the unfunny mermaids. Aside from the humor, this is actually an extremely well paced episode. I really love how the first few minutes start off being extremely slow and mellow, before launching us into upbeat insanity. There’s an entire minute devoted to Finn and Jake cleaning up the Treehouse and getting ready for bed. I really enjoy moments to just allow the characters to breathe and live life, and it’s nice to have one sprinkled into a very energetic episode.
What I love most about this episode is that it doesn’t end with Jake conquering his character flaw, but instead he’s somewhat rewarded for it. It’s not necessarily a flaw that is hurting anyone, but can end in certain disaster for others as we see through Finn’s perspective. Through not being focused, Jake uses those moments to enjoy life, hangout, and invest himself in his relationships with other people. The reason Jake gets rewarded in the end is because he’s a fun, energetic, lovable guy. Although he can’t always remember what he’s supposed be doing, he uses every aspect of his time benefiting himself as well as benefiting others, and that’s what makes Jake the Dog so enjoyable.