Tag Archive | Princess Bubblegum

“Lady & Peebles” Review

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Original Airdate: August 20, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Cole Sanchez & Rebecca Sugar

Lady Rainicorn and Princess Bubblegum’s relationship is one that always baffles me. In the original series pitch bible for Adventure Time, the friendship between PB and LR is really exaggerated to the point where it includes “when she [Lady Rainicorn] wakes up and doesn’t see Princess Bubblegum, she’ll dash around the castle grounds gaily searching for her mistress.” While the pitch bible isn’t necessarily the most factual piece of reference for AT’s current status, it still was insinuated in the very early days of the show that these two were supposed to be close pals – hell, PB’s even riding on top of Lady in the opening theme. Besides that, we get a few instances of the two together, namely in the pilot and What Have You Done? and… yeah that’s about it. Weird that we’re supposed to believe these two are close companions when the show has never suggested otherwise, until this particular episode. It’s nothing particularly telling of the friendship between the two, but it does give us some insight into two of Adventure Time’s most prominent female leads.

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The beginning starts off as a compelling, tension filled bit of expository information regarding Finn and Jake’s disappearance. It’s enlightened by Bubblegum’s goofy behavior which is always refreshing; I enjoy how she can go from a very stern and solemn ruler to somehow who is just as wacky and unusual as the rest of the cast of AT. The tenseness comes from Lady’s perspective, and, while a good majority of us have no idea what she’s saying, Niki Yang delivers it so eloquently and in such a sincere tone that it keeps my attention despite the fact that I can’t understand Korean. I feel like I’m watching a weighty foreign dub throughout this scene, and despite the fact that it feels heavy and serious, it’s once again lessened by PB’s totally genuine, yet sarcastic reactions to Lady’s monologue. You can tell she’s taking every word LR says seriously, but she does so in such a hammy and amplified way that is then followed by such a minuscule response that it just cracks me up. I love any depictions of PB’s character, but goofy PB really just rubs me the right way. Also, I’ve never mentioned it before, but the way Lady communicates with others is done so in such a non-pandering way. Most English-speaking viewers won’t be able to understand her, but they don’t go the unnatural route of having every character that interacts with her respond to her with “what do you mean you feel [this way] because of [this]?” There’s no spoon feeding with the writers trying to make us understand every single thing Lady says or feels, and we’re just generally supposed to accept this based on the way she emotes and her tone, which is so much more effective than having an English-speaking character repeat every single thing she says. It would defeat the point of having a Korean-speaking character to begin with.

In my somewhat scathing review of King Worm, I mentioned that the slow pacing of the episode was what really brought it down, and this episode takes its sweet time with the entire middle section as well. The only difference to me is that it actually works to strengthen the episode a great deal. The entire expedition through the black ice cave is remarkable, once again showing off the terrific backgrounds (BGs have been on point this season!) equipped with an ominous atmosphere to really drive the tension and mystery even further. Lady & Peebles embraces the quieter and more subdued moments to make a very convincingly unnerving atmosphere, and also helps make the action sequences more impactful. The action sequences themselves aren’t anything special, though the girls do face some visually interesting foes, from hand beasts to a giant tongue. These battles really show off how Lady and PB deal with physical combat: PB is equipped with her typical scientific technology, while Lady herself seems to be somewhat of a pacifist. Lady’s strengths seem much more on a moral and virtuous level rather than her own physicality. She’s evasive and defensive with her own skills, such as her tactic of phasing through walls and ability of flight, though I think it’s tough to picture Lady being someone who would throw punches, especially with her condition that’s revealed later on.

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The real icing on the cake is the reveal that Ricardio was behind Finn and Jake’s disappearances, however. I wasn’t too big on Ricardio or the episode he debuted in, for that matter, but by God, Sugar did her damnedest to make his return as chilling and uncomfortable as possible, and boy, does it work. They’ve somehow managed to make him seem even creepier and more grotesque than his first appearance, and added a layer of body horror with his loosely connected limbs. And for the first time, he does feel like a legitimate threat. I think the brief scene of him breaking Ice King’s bones was totally wince-worthy, and this time, he’s an actual adversary to Finn and Jake. Despite being easily beaten the first time, Ricardio had the upperhand by poisoning the boys with zanoits (something he and Bubblegum both shared a fond interest of in Ricardio the Heart Guy). It makes for a nice role reversal that Finn and Jake are now the ones who are in danger and PB has to be the one that saves them, and really shows how far she has come since the beginning of the series as a character.

After an unnervingly blatant moment of Ricardio making sexual advances towards the princess, Bubblegum is able to face off with him in a very simple, yet effective takedown. Sugar herself said it was really rewarding to include a scene where Peebles is able to engage in hand-to-hand combat without any of her weapons, and yeah, it’s pretty awesome to watch. It doesn’t feel out of character or like a manipulative tactic from the series to highlight feminism, but instead a great spotlight chance to showcase PB’s true strengths: her role as an intellectual. She isn’t able to defeat Ricardio specifically because she’s really buff or fierce, but because she identifies factually that Ricardio is simply not built as a stable living creature. She denotes this by saying, “I know a thing or two about building a body out of biomass,” which could both refer to herself, as well as her people. Bubblegum can easily identify strengths and weaknesses within living creatures simply because she built herself and her people from scratch. She can use her knowledge to help create life on all layers of the earth, or destroy any artificial being in a matter of seconds if need be. It’s a moment that really had me fully invested in PB as a character. Season four is really her first shining season in my eyes, and this particular battle had me cheering her on and just acknowledging how fucking badass she is by the end of it. It’s an excellent bit of growth for what was originally a damsel-esque character, and it’s terrific to see how far she has come from that stereotype.

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So with that, Finn, Jake, and Ice King are saved, Ricardio is defeated, and everything returns to normal… that is, besides the fact that Lady reveals to Jake that she’s pregnant. I love how this bit is handled, too. With Lady’s tears and general tone, it seems like she and Jake had no plans or desires to have children just yet, and Jake’s humorous closing remark suggests that as well. Despite the fact that the two end up loving their children, it’s clear that they’re a couple that wanted to play things safe and casually for the time being. And how ballsy is it that an unmarried couple are having children on a kid’s show? Pen Ward mentioned in the commentary that the original pitch was to have Jake and Lady break up, due to the stress that Lady endures when Jake goes on adventures, I’m so glad they didn’t go that route. It would’ve been incredibly melodramatic and pointless for a couple as laidback and caring as Jake and Lady to break up, especially given Lady’s devoted and unconditional love for her boyfriend. The pregnancy reveal honestly strengthens the episode for me as well. I love the little bits of foreshadowing, such as the heart monitor reading seven heart signatures instead of two. It also increases the impact of some scenes much more – I feel legitimately sick to my stomach every time I watch Ricardio tie Lady’s body in a knot. I know that aspect never comes into fruition (a lot of people argue Jake Jr.’s face is a birth defect, but that theory has been officially debunked) but it’s still very gruesome to watch a pregnant woman abused in such a way.

I enjoy this one, primarily because it does spotlight these two characters who are rarely seen together, yet feels so genuine and powerful. I don’t think there’s a single other time in the series where PB and Lady are seen together, yet, this episode does such a terrific job of building the unseen connection between them that I never have a hard time believing they are close friends. It also adds layers onto their individual characters, and leaves us wanting more from each of these gals. It’s both honest and telling for both PB and Lady, and adds excitement for the future of their respective character arcs.

Favorite line: “Then, I’ll use my Ball Blam Burglerber!”

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“Goliad” Review

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Original Airdate: June 4, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Tom Herpich & Skyler Page

Princess Bubblegum has easily become one of the show’s most fleshed out characters by the ninth season of AT, and the past three seasons would have almost never suggest that. Not to say she’s poorly written, but she appears to be just your standard, charming princess character. Her relationship with Finn was one the stronger facets of her arc, but once that came to a halt in Incendium, I became legitimately concerned for PB’s character. I really wondered just what the hell they were going to do with her from that point on, but Goliad depicts a new side of her personality that becomes pretty consistent with each passing episode.

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Love this opening boarded by Skyler Page.

PB’s encounter with the Lich certainly had a lasting bit of trauma on her life, and we get to see the outcome from those circumstances in great detail, as we view her stress and anxieties in regards to her kingdom surrounding her. Goliad actively sets in motion a more detached and morally ambiguous PB, as she begins to stop at nothing when it comes to protecting the Candy Kingdom and its civilians. It does this so well that I almost have little to no trouble accepting that the Bubblegum we watched from the past couple seasons was simply less stressed and facing fewer issues, while the unleashing of the Lich opened up new dangerous possibilities for the future that PB just simply isn’t ready to handle. The Candy People are super dumb, and without a ruler, they’d be lost.

Which leads to the creation of Goliad! A cute little sociopath that’s built with PB’s DNA. As we delve a bit deeper into Bubblegum’s issues and fears, it becomes clear why Goliad becomes the way that she is: Goliad and PB are both easily influenced by their surroundings. The reason Bubs created Goliad in the first place was because her near death experience and the unleashing of evil onto Ooo lead her to take matters into her own hands based on what she had learned to protect her kingdom. Goliad is exactly the same: filled with huge brains to absorb knowledge, she simply picks up on nihilistic behavior and methods of being a tyrannical leader. Holding her beliefs close to her based on her own experiences, Goliad thinks that the only way to properly run a kingdom is to take it into her own hands, believing that it’s the only way to save her kingdom. The parallels between the two characters really fascinates me, and introduces a bit of PB’s subconscious that she may not even be aware of: the way she is influenced by unorthodox methods.

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Goliad herself is both adorable and extremely creepy. I love the very progressive transition between innocent and psychotic, and her voice actor Wendy Linehan (whose brother Henry actually also voices Stormo in this episode) does a perfect job of balancing between the two. The way Finn and Jake act as her mediators is also great. I enjoy Jake’s generally well-intentioned behavior that goes awry when his buttons are pushed, but it’s pretty funny that he’s the direct reason Goliad went berserk to begin with. I also like the way Goliad and the boys interact with each other. There’s several points that Goliad makes that clearly show off her sociopathic behavior, but the way she elegantly and structurally explains herself makes even Finn question if having full control over other people is correct or not. It’s also interesting to see Goliad’s points that seem almost like they’re straight out of a psychological thriller. The bee scene particularly really rubs me the wrong way, and it’s fascinating to see just how dictatorial her view of leadership has developed.

The climax in particular is a really heart-racing, intense sequence. The bit where Goliad telekinetically forces the Candy People into Jake’s mouth and body crevices had me legitimately stressed out the first time I saw it. I really thought he was gonna swallow one of those suckers! The scene where Goliad tries to read Finn’s mind is both humorous and taxing, it really feels like an accurate depiction of someone trying not to think about something. Trying to do so will only make one do the very opposite, unless they try to suppress it as much as Finn attempted to, leading to some really funny thought sequences. And the return of the Buff Baby song, which I’ve never been a fan of, but it was pretty funny to see it back once again.

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The introduction of Stormo as a lifetime opponent for Goliad is a clever solution to the issue, and the concept that he was born from Finn, who is inherently good, is a pretty nice conclusive piece of information as well. I’d really like if Stormo and Goliad were brought back one more time for a final showdown, but with only so many episodes left, I’m not sure we’re ever going to get a definitive winner of their battle.

This is one of my favorites of season four. A really terrific psychological episode that’s pretty compelling from beginning to end. This is actually one that Herpich pitched himself, and I think that Skyler Page and himself did a damn fine job of making it thoroughly captivating and enjoyable. Most of all, it feels like the full-fledged introduction to an era of really in depth and riveting looks at PB’s character. We’ll get a couple more of those this season, but I think this one is the best one out of the others.

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Favorite line: “Haven’t slept for a solid 83 hours, but… yeah, I’m good.”

“Incendium” Review

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One of my favorite title cards. Finn’s turmoil is so wonderfully represented.

Original Airdate: February 13, 2012

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Rebecca Sugar

Incendium is significant because it was the point where I became completely and utterly invested in Adventure Time. There were points prior such as Mortal Recoil, Thank You, and Holly Jolly Secrets where I grew even fonder of the series, but Incendium was the episode where I decided there was absolutely no turning back. I was in it for the long haul from this point on, and prepared for where ever the series would take me next. As you can tell, this is one of my favorites. It’s not one of the funniest or even most dramatic episodes, but this is a direct transition into a new era of AT, and one that doesn’t hold back with its raw emotion, introduction of new characters, and growth from the past three seasons. This is it people: Finn’s most notable entrance into adolescence.

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The concept of this episode came from the writers no longer being able to incorporate Finn’s love interest for PB into compelling stories. Wizard Battle was an episode that proved this relationship to be a bit burnt out in its direction, and one that I was getting dreadfully bored of myself. The beginning of this episode wastes no time by displaying the truth behind how infatuations typically tend to start out as innocent and charming and eventually transition into creepy and desperate. Finn’s behavior can surely be seen as that, though without his intention to be so, and Bubblegum’s response is equally appropriate. It’s a moment that runs so quickly and contains little dialogue, but one that I think is especially well done. It doesn’t focus on making either character unlikable for the sake of the plot, and follows a realistic direction in which the situation was likely to follow. It’s a really impactful, driving moment for Finn to be straight up turned down, something we really haven’t gotten to see yet. It’s also a bit of the least teasing PB’s behavior has ever been; it seems her intentions to show Finn her new invention were strictly out of leisure and companionship, and her personal space being briefly invaded was what turned her off from what was genuinely supposed to be a simple picnic with friends.

That being said, it’s still one of the most emotional Goddamn scenes in the series to see Finn so drastically torn up. Sure, he’s still a child, and we all know those random teenage love interests never meant anything. But they still stung, dammit! This sequence is complete with one of my favorite Sugar songs, All Gummed Up Inside. Not only are the lyrics a perfect example of a character releasing his/her feelings through song, the combination between the pacing of BMO’s video game in the background and the ukulele chords are just beautiful. It’s really one of the most creatively timed tunes in the series, and one that I constantly find myself revisiting. In addition to the song, the visuals during it are equally as heartwrenching. Sugar outdoes herself with really somber depictions of AT’s characters, and the looks of hopelessness on Finn, Jake, and BMO’s faces are really terrifically drawn. It’s a very powerful moment that fits so much emotion into such a short sequence of time. Also love the callback to Finn clutching that wad of Bubblegum’s hair (although, I gotta wonder where he got those pictures of PB. It’s not even like it’s a picture of him and Peebles hanging out, it’s like, a fucking headshot. Did she just randomly give him a bunch of those?),

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A good remainder of the episode is kept mostly light with a really enjoyable and heartfelt story of Jake trying to find a new woman for his best friend. There’s a lot of really amusing moments from this point on: the reintroduction of Flambo, who, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of my favorite secondary characters in the series. I don’t know what it is about him, I just love his general demeanor and random Brooklyn accent. The interactions between him and Jake are really great; love the laidback way they’re able to just shoot the shit, followed by the always hilarious flame shield incantation (“I cast flame shield on ya’s… also I spat on ya’s!”).

Outside of Thank You, this is the first major appearance of the Fire Kingdom, and it looks dope. Love the various orange, red, yellow, and browns that make up the kingdom, and the contrast of Jake’s blue that really helps him to stick out among the crowds of Fire People and their surroundings. There’s also the introduction of another one of my favorite side characters, Flame King, and the entrance of a brand new major player herself, Flame Princess. This is probably Flame King’s strongest appearance in the series. His voice, provided by Keith David, hits all the right points of intimidation and dry wit. I love the way him and Jake work off of each other, and the various tasks Jake must go through that really are very pointless in hindsight. There’s also the crowd of Fire People that honestly crack me up. The way they just mindlessly repeat everything (a very satirical homage to other TV shows and movies that involve royalty) is always worth a dumb laugh or two from me. The way Jake reprises Finn’s song is really delightful; it’s not quite as catchy or powerful, but I love the way Jake is able to take something so heavy and emotional and reboot it into something more calming and delightful, typically showcasing his best abilities.

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It’s also a bit of a sad scene to watch Jake so disappointed of his failure as he softly apologizes to Finn’s hologram. It’s a moment that also displays another emotional strength of the series: the way the characters are able to so strongly empathize with each other. You can tell that Finn’s inability to reciprocate PB’s love is affecting Jake just as much, and that he’d do anything to help out his brother during his time of need. Which leads to one of the most confusing parts of the episode: Jake’s Finn mimic choking himself. I’m not sure if this was Jake getting way too in character, or if it was an elaborate plan by himself all along, but it just feels a bit aimless to me. Not sure how he knew it would work if it was the latter, and not sure why he would do it to begin with if it was the former.

The third act closes out with some of the strongest raw material of the episode, as Finn begins his fueled rampage and unleashes all of his negative inner feelings. It only last for a brief amount of time, and he’s able to step back once he notices the injured princess, allowing for some nice symbolism with Finn using a piece of Bubblegum to save Flame Princess, and then completely leaving that piece of PB behind. Flame Princess’s character isn’t that well-developed in this one, but the ending does leave a bit of intrigue that we haven’t seen from the show before: someone who is less emotionally mature than Finn. FP is completely bonkers when it comes to controlling her inner feelings, and for the longest time, Finn has had to combat his inferiority when it comes to those more mature than him. This may be where his immediate interest in the princess comes from, and it’s an interesting realization that disregards Finn’s entire romantic past up to this point. Everything changed when the fire nation attacked.

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So yeah, I love this one. It just has such an exciting feel to it, and despite it not having any big battles or giant cliffhangers like other season finales do, this one is simply an important transition into the later seasons of Adventure Time, leaving some old, worn out relationships in the past along with it. It’s a really fun exploration of Finn’s new potential love interest, and one that would forever change his life and future ahead of him. It’s a lovely bit of emotion mixed with amusing gags that I really never get tired of. Shoutout to Rebecca Sugar and Adam Muto for ending their board partnership together with a bang! Surely one of my all-time favorites.

That’s the end of season three, folks! Like always, I’d like to thank anyone who’s been keeping up with the blog and sharing your lovely thoughts with each new post. I really enjoy all the feedback I get with this blog, and it makes the entire experience more rewarding. The season three review should be out later this week, along with a bit of a surprise mini-review that I’m sure most of you weren’t expecting. But, besides that, I’ll be back with Hot to the Touch very shortly!

Favorite line: “If anyone tries to hurt Finn, I will kill them!”

“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.”

“The Creeps” Review

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Original Airdate: October 17, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Ako Castuera & Jesse Moynihan

From the premise alone, you’d think The Creeps was a cheap imitation of the season two episode Mystery Train. However, The Creeps cleverly acknowledges its recycling and even pays homage to Mystery Train, in an execution that makes this episode stand out on top in my book. It’s much more diverse in its cast of characters, and even leaves us wanting a bit more by the end.

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The atmosphere in general in this one is much more desolate. Whereas Mystery Train was pretty much straightforward comedy, The Creeps adds a bit of a horror element to it, increasing the tension behind the murder mystery and the gang’s surroundings. There’s generally a lot of nightmare fuel within this episode as well, with PB melting, BMO’s face being ripped off, Cinnamon Bun’s eye drooping into BMO’s body… it’s all pretty nasty. It makes me really wonder why Jake goes through great lengths to potentially traumatize his younger brother. But hey, he’s thirteen. The kid can handle it.

I also like how the culprit of this episode isn’t really clear. The conductor of the mystery train was pretty obviously Jake to me, but here, I was kinda second guessing myself a lot. It bounces back from Finn, to Jake, to Finn, to some sort of outside force. It’s a twist that I really didn’t see coming, and the fast, thrilling pace of the episode leave little time for you to even have time to think about it. Jake puts on a damn good front as well. His blatant acknowledgement of the fact that they had already done a murder mystery before, his ability to get everyone else in on it, and even small details, like the fact that he was disappointed with his nickname “Randy Butternubs”. He was totally the one who picked out those names!

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In addition, I really love the cast of characters they chose for this episode. It’s an interesting choice of people, but they all work off of each other really well. Some great exchanges in this one, from CB trying to flirt with Lumpy Space Princess, LSP’s melodramatic monologue regarding her ex-boyfriend Brad, Finn’s infatuation for PB allowing him to remember something as insignificant as what he wrote on her birthday card two years prior, and the constant distrust Jake shares towards Finn a majority of the episode. It’s rare we ever get to see a group of characters like these interact with each other, and I really think that adds to the episode tremendously. This could’ve been a completely self-contained murder mystery, but the way each character attributes their own unique presence makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. There’s also one of my favorite BMO lines:

When bad things happen, I know you want to believe they are a joke. But sometimes, life is scary, and dark. That is why we must find the light.

The fun part about it is that it isn’t even supposed to be taken completely seriously based on the circumstances, as BMO was just looking around for a light switch. It works entirely as a beautifully out-of-nowhere bit of poignancy that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a mostly comedic episode. I do have one gripe with this scene in general though: isn’t BMO in on Jake’s plan? Why would the two of them be talking about something scary and dangerous happening if they know exactly what’s going on? Perhaps BMO wasn’t in on the plan till later on? I dunno, it’s pretty much just an afterthought.

This episode also introduces the ghost from the mansion, which will later have a much bigger role later on. For now, she’s simply locked in Finn’s vault, where he hides all of the traumatizing material he experiences. Maybe it makes sense that Finn’s so unaffected by his friends dying grotesquely around him. He can just simply lock it away anytime he wishes. I do really love the way they carry out the ghost scene by treating it as one little glimpse of information to chew on while the conclusion sets in. Finn’s experience of almost dying via train the last time Jake pulled this stunt was a scary thought, but even scarier for Finn is something he can’t entirely understand or even believe before his own eyes.

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A very minor thing, but I also really love the attention to detail with the outfits in this episode. Ako designed a majority of the masks and costumes, and it treats the characters like visual candy (as I frequently say on this blog, no pun intended) by diverting from the standard models. It’s rare we ever get to see Jake, LSP, or Cinnamon Bun fully clothes, and even more interesting is the fact that when Jake stretches, his clothes stretch with him. Not sure if I should consider that an error or a fun visual gag. It can be two things.

Overall, I like this one a lot. It really does a lot with the murder mystery story and uses it to its greatest advantage, something it’s predecessor, Mystery Train, did not. It’s jam packed full of fun jokes, including the false personas of each character (Duchess Gummybuns and Guy Farting being two of my favorites) and its creepy atmosphere keeps me coming back for more. This is certainly one that isn’t getting locked up in the vault anytime soon.

Favorite line: “난 제이크랑 항상 한 몸이 되는데. (Jake and I merge our bodies all the time.)”

“What Was Missing” Review

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Original Airdate: September 26, 2011

Written & Storyboarded by: Adam Muto & Rebecca Sugar

I’ve felt iffy about What Was Missing for a very, very long time. It’s arguably one of the most popular episodes to date, and while I’ve always thought that the episode was well crafted, I also sensed a feeling of tonal difference from the rest of the series. What I love about AT is that the characters’ feelings, motivations, and life paths are left most ambiguous and up for debate, and that notion has only increased throughout the run of the show. Rebecca Sugar, on the other hand, has her own specific style that is very different from everyone other staff member on the show, mostly because she has her own vision for the characters and precise ways of writing for them. Sugar’s style is evident on a show like Steven Universe, where all of the characters are very honest and genuine about their emotions and feelings, and almost every episode works towards some sort of conflict resolution or developmental change. AT, as I said, is very different in its approach. It’s more about drawing your own conclusions about what the characters are feeling, and continuously opening new doors (no pun intended) within the Land of Ooo. These are two very different mediums that collide especially in later seasons when Sugar’s style becomes more evident, this episode included. I could even see this working as an SU episode, with Steven, Pearl, and Amethyst filling the shoes of Finn, PB, and Marceline respectively.

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So what point am I trying to make by this? Well, frankly, for a while I was less enthusiastic about What Was Missing than everyone else was. I really just thought it was too big of a tonal shift for the show to take on, and the characters acting this open and honest with each other felt a bit… out of place. However, after rewatching this episode and the commentary for it specifically for the review, I do have a bit more of an appreciation of it. I realize that this is just a very big passion project that involved Sugar pouring every little bit of her heart into it (not ignoring the fact that it’s also Adam’s episode, but let’s face it, this is pretty much Rebecca’s baby).

The songs she wrote for this episode, I’m Not Your Problem and What Am I to You? are some of the best written songs in the entire series, and derive from very personal place in Sugar’s heart. I’m Not Your Problem not only addresses the subtle, long term conflict between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline, but channels an experience Rebecca had while trying to impress a roommate she once had, but failing in that regard. Some of the strongest songs in the series come from personal experiences that help the tune feel more raw and passionate (All Gummed Up Inside, Lost in the Darkness) and this is another great example. It’s an aggressive and intense experience, and pretty much gives us everything we need to know about Marceline and PB’s past history without ever giving us any flashbacks or long bits of exposition. It shows the flaws between both characters: Bubblegum’s unintentional ego and Marceline’s feeling of inadequacy. It’s a very well done conflict that I think a lot of people can identify with, and it’s done in such a unique and entertaining way.

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What Am I to You? is in the same vein. Dealing with Finn’s inferiority complex towards Bubblegum and Marceline is something that feels a bit overlooked and undermined through time, but it’s done in such a catchy and sweet way that it’s hard not to instantly be able to empathize with Finn as a viewer and immediately see things through his perspective. The inspiration behind this song is actually something that admittedly had me tearing up a bit while listening to the commentary (or someone in my house was just coincidentally chopping onions. I like to think the latter). Sugar wrote this song based on her experience with the Adventure Time crew, and how she finally felt accepted in her position and no longer saw her job as work, but rather something she genuinely enjoyed doing with people she loved. It’s a very endearing, loving message that honestly makes the episode itself even more heartwarming, and for that reason, it’s really hard for me not to get drawn into this episode. It puts every bit of care and compassion into it from the crew who love working on this show so much.

Besides that bit, I like the little in-between bits as well. Jake pretending to be the jerk of the band is funny enough, and even gets better when he alters his entire appearance. Finn’s little song about pasta is cute, and I just really love seeing all of these characters together at once. It’s rare that we even get to see Finn, Jake, and Marceline hangout from this point on, so it’s very nice to see Bubblegum and BMO included on this friendship train. It highlights some of the most important flaws of each character and focuses on them in great detail: Finn’s awkward and sometimes creepy interest in Bubblegum, Marceline’s inferiority towards her old friend, PB’s intelligence that can often come off as condescending, and Jake’s inability to take anything seriously. I even like the Door Lord as well, voiced by Steve Agee. His design leads me to believe he’s some sort of relative or distant cousin of Key-per, and it honestly cracks me up everytime he speaks in his hummed speech. Apparently the storyboard has legitimate translations for what he’s saying, but you can pretty much gather the gist of it without even needing to know.

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In the end, it actually is an episode that warrants the characters being so open about their feelings. In fact, it’s basically the whole point. Though I do like the ambiguity that each character possesses in their emotions and personal struggles later on, it’s nice to watch them finally get what is bothering them off their chest, and it’s a pretty good message to show that the truth will set you free a majority of the time. Finn got to open up about his feelings towards Bubblegum to Jake recently in Wizard Battle, and while he isn’t that explicit this time, it’s nice to see that he does acknowledge how he feels about her in a way, and that he’s able to earn a newfound respect in return. In addition, Marceline’s able to do so by accepting the way that she feels towards her ex-BFF. By not getting angry at herself for wanting to reconnect with Bonnie, Marceline allows a possible chance for forgiveness and new beginnings, something she couldn’t envision with her bitterness blinding her beforehand. It also shows PB’s side of things by showing her brief admiration for Marcy by having deep sentimental value in the shirt that she gave her, which was really just icing on the cake. My only problem with this episode is most likely your only problem with this episode: why the hell wasn’t BMO mentioned in the song?! She’s sitting right there, Finn! How couldja forget her like that?

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And I guess I should acknowledge the brief controversy surrounding this episode. On an AT oriented YouTube channel called Mathematical, which was started up by Frederator Studios, there was a video that gave a brief recap of What Was Missing and analyzed it further by addressing the implied homosexual relationship between PB and Marceline, equipped with fanart of the two in a romantic scenario. The entire channel was shut down, and the mastermind behind it, Dan Rickmers, was fired. To be honest, this is just some dumb bullshit that went down. I get that a couple of years have passed since then and animation and television in general have become considerably more LGBTQ positive recently, but c’mon, PB and Marceline are basically openly lesbian at this point in the series. Whether you interpret them as best friends or an actual couple, the show and the staff seem to be doing everything they can to stress the pairing of them in a romantic sense, so really, was there any point in making such a big deal over allegations if said allegations would later just become practically true without anyone even batting an eye? It was a dumb bit of controversy from the start and only seems more absurd with the current state the show is in.

Getting back to the actual episode, I definitely have grown more positive towards What Was Missing as time goes on. I still don’t know if I’d call it one of my personal favorites, but it’s just so charming and likable that it’s hard for me not to get sucked into what many people consider one of the all time best episodes. It just goes to show that whenever you want the show to be as sweet as can be, ya just add a little Sugar!

Favorite line: “I’ll get your kid back, toy!”

“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.”