Tag Archive | Prismo

“Crossover” Review

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Original Airdate: January 28, 2016

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan & Sam Alden

The wish-world that Finn created in Finn the Human and Jake the Dog was a realm that I never expected to be revisited. I figured that the reality was instantly reversed when Jake wished for him and Finn to be back home safely in Ooo, so this plot point in particular was one that definitely flew far off of my radar. So, when I discovered that this episode would feature a return to the Farmworld dimension, I was cautiously optimistic. Optimistic, because the Farmworld bits in Jake the Dog were easily the strongest parts of the episode, but cautious because I wasn’t really sure I actually wanted a definitive resolution to this conflict. Luckily, Jesse Moynihan and Sam Alden manage to pull off exactly that while executing it in an absolutely stunning, tense, and hilarious way.

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I have very few criticisms of this one, but I’ll open up with what I think is possibly the most questionable aspect of Crossover: why did it begin in media res? I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a problem, or detracts from the quality of the episode in anyway, but I do kind of wonder what it actually adds to the episode. Granted, it’s a cool opening, and sets an ominous tone for the episode, as well as a sense of curiosity. But the episode returns to the exact same scene only a minute and a half later, and it doesn’t feel like the beginning was inserted to really save time on any aspect. It’s surely strange, but again, it’s not something I actively dislike, I just find it slightly distracting.

Though, that may just be do to the fact that the rest of the episode is mostly fantastic. This one truly has a star-studded cast, with Finn, Jake, Prismo, Ice Finn, and the Lich at the helm, along with side roles from BMO, Bil- er, Bobby, and Big Destiny. It feels like a big episode in just how crucial the main characters are in terms of their ranks in the universe: Jake and Finn are the epitome of good, the Lich is the epitome of evil, Prismo is the guardian/overseer, and Ice Finn is at the center of it all. It really helps to add to that sense of direness when some of the most powerful beings in the series are present, and their roles are certainly not wasted.

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Prismo returns once more (in Kumail Nanjiani’s LAST performance as the character; sad, ain’t it?) mostly to deliver much needed exposition, but also to act as the cautious “jedi master” type. His concern and wary nature that Finn and Jake must exterminate Ice Finn in his way and his way only once again adds to that tension on whether everything is going to end up alright in the end. And of course, his concerns actually do make sense. At first, I was kind of like, “why the fuck would Prismo care about this?” but he’s the one who technically created it to begin with. Thus, he’s responsible for the nature of said universe and how it directly affects the existence of other universes. It is curious, however, of who his boss truly is. Given that it’s never directly explained at any point in the series, I do wonder if Prismo’s boss was ever intended to be apart of the series, though the staff was never permitted the time to incorporate said storyline. My money’s on this guy, of whom Adam Muto created conceptual drawings for, but never actually made it into the series.

The way Finn views Ice Finn is certainly unique and interesting, and definitely ties into his development and growth over time. Call me out on it if you will, but I feel as if past Finn would simply go along with Prismo’s plan, and end up destroying what he would think is merely “an evil version of himself” in the process. Here, Finn is much more sympathetic and understanding. Not only has his view on evil beings changed over time, but he also likely empathizes with the Ice King more, since he realizes what little control he has over the crown. This also ties into Finn’s refusal to diss the Ice King as the series goes on, as he understands the pain he experiences and wants to do everything he can to minimize that pain as much as possible. Finn’s view of himself as well has adapted as well. In a way, Finn essentially “helps himself” in this episode using everything that he knows about his own character, including his pride, temperance, and his strong sense of morality. The days of Finn feeling sorely bad for himself are over, and he’s able to know himself better through self evaluation, and the evaluation of Ice Finn. Through this effective transformation of character, Finn helps validate his alternate self, and his own self in the process. Finn knows who he is, and that is unquestionably being a devoted hero.

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Of course, Jake’s along for the ride as well, and provides some great comic relief in response to some of the heavier, and headier, business going on within the actual story. While Finn has to deal with the inner workings of the mind of his alternate self, Jake is merely faced with a completely evil alternate version of himself that isn’t down to go through the same type of self evaluation. It wouldn’t be a completely terrific Jake appearance without his absolute devotion to his brother as well, which is fully emphasized here. Whether it be his cute “I love you,” to Finn as they almost bite it, or his courage to take on the fucking Lich for Christ’s sakes, is just great. Jake really will go the full mile for his brother, even when there’s opportunities for the two of them to safely go about finding a solution, as shown in the beginning. Jake has likely killed hundreds of baddies before, but none that looked as hauntingly similar to his own bro. And it’s the last thing that Jake would want to involve himself in.

After so many sporadic appearances in the series, I expected to kind of be nonplussed by the Lich, but Ron Perlman once again distills just the amount of solemn horror into his voice. It is hilarious to see how immune Finn and Jake are to the Lich by this point in the series. Of course, the Lich is still the big bad, and could kill any character he wants at any point, but there’s something so distinctly hilarious about Finn looking death right in the face and saying, “oh boy, here we go…” Of course, they’re terrified by him, but they’re pretty much prepared for this kind of situation by this point. They’ve been through it a handful of times before, and by now, Finn probably realizes that, though it’ll be tough, they’ll get through it again. However, I’ll reinforce that this in no way undermines the Lich’s role as a threat in this one. Despite the ultra silly way his head is placed on Jake’s body (which actually makes him even MORE threatening) Perlman’s monologue about how everyone in every multiverse will die once again hits home. As Jake said to Ice Finn earlier, “come on dude, he’s not even trying to hide [his evil]!” the Lich doesn’t even try to mask his true intentions to Ice Finn after he gets what he wants. The Lich has no need for allies or partners: once he obtains the ability to cause death everywhere possible, he has all of the power in the world to do so. He’d even kill Jake, if it wasn’t for Finn’s handy-dandy thorn arm. Once again, the thorn arm returns, this time actually having a role in battle. As proven in episodes like Billy’s Bucket List, The Comet, and Checkmate, the grass curse only effectively activates when Finn is powerless and consumed by his inability to help a situation. I do wonder if some form of level of anxiety within Finn’s system is what triggers the grass sword to act upon itself. It’s probably not important, but it’d be rad to actually have an episode where Finn attempts to control the power of the grass arm. I’d be lying if I didn’t pan out the possibility of that entire episode in my head. Maybe I’ll write incorporate it into fanfiction someday. Hm.

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After the Lich’s arm is chopped off into multiple dimensions (of which will be explored later!) the episode dissolves into one big, frenzy-filled sequence where Jake helplessly tries to fight off the Lich, and Finn attempts to reasons with his counterpart. Again, the pacing in this one is terrific. It speeds up all of the action-packed sequences to make them feel more tense and relentless, while slowing down the more character driven moments, as I just mentioned. The interactions between Finn and Ice Finn are really touching and telling (apparently Finn has a birthmark of a “flaming sideways teardrop,” or essentially, a comet. Nice touch there, Alden). These interactions are ultimately what leads the boys to working together with “The Maid,” which is one of my absolute favorite weapons in the series. That little “housekeeping!” that goes off when activated is priceless.

That help that Finn begins to offer is unfortunately cut short, but luckily, Prismo’s an expert with Adobe Premiere and patches the whole thing up. Of course, it’s one big reference to the fact that the ice crown was accidentally shown to still be on Simon’s head in Jake the Dog, but I’ve seen a couple different complaints of people who thought this was somewhat of a deus ex machina and that Prismo shouldn’t really possess the power to interfere with other universes. Honestly, I didn’t mind it at all because 1. It’s funny. 2. It’s at the command of the wish bearer himself and the being that granted the wish. Prismo could theoretically just let Finn sit with the wish that he made, but he isn’t a dick. Prismo would rather help the dude who saved his life than to let someone endlessly suffer for the rest of eternity. Though Finn helps his alternate self, the only thing that’s possibly more painful for Finn than Ice Finn suffering is the fact that he has a really good family life outside of everything. Finn has never met his mom, and had previously spent an entire year dealing with the fact that his dad is a legitimately shitty person. Though Finn has a home with Jake and BMO and the other treehouse boys, he’s still stuck with the sad reminder that he has no caring birth parents to rely on. It’s the perfect quiet ending to cap off an otherwise intense episode, and one that opens up Finn’s longing for more possibilities in the future.

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On a visual aspect, this episode is just gorgeous. Aside from Evergreen, this may be the best looking episode to date. The subdued blues and whites of the iced-up Farmworld are pleasant and somewhat calming, so when the brighter yellows and greens arise during the Lich’s arrival, it really adds a dark and foreboding feeling, even if the contrasting colors are saying the opposite. The landscape in general is really awesome, feeling like an even bleaker and less welcoming Ice Kingdom. In addition to that, Finn and Jake looking fucking rad in those snow jackets. No kidding, I would pay good money for a vinyl figure of Finn in that jacket with his Finn Sword. Get on it, Kidrobot!

Other small things I liked about this one: hearing Lou Ferrigno’s one final time in the series as Bobby, the return of the Enchiridion and the fact that it actually has a unique, different design on the cover, the boys’ random Tree Fort activities at the beginning of the episode, the return of the talking Finn Sword, and the allusions to Finn getting better at playing the flute ACTUALLY having a role in future episodes. It’s always been a headcanon of mine that Finn subconsciously picked up the last name “Mertens” from his experiences within the Farmworld.

Crossover is just an overall delight. Sam Alden and Jesse Moynihan make for terrific boarding team this season; Moynihan is still able to pull off some crazy, off-the-walls stories like this, but is more grounded with Alden’s guidance. It’s a fast-paced, fun, exhilarating journey that really kicks off a series of terrific episodes spanning across the entire rest of the season. In particular, my favorite of season seven is coming up next.

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Favorite line: “Are you bein’ stupid on purpose?”

 

“Is That You?” Review

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Original Airdate: November 25, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Jesse Moynihan

Looking at Is That You? from its premise alone, it easily could have tanked. A quasi-clip show episode that once again defies the status quo by returning Prismo to his former state and centered around a wildly convoluted and barely understandable story created by Jesse Moynihan? Yeah, this one just sounds like a dud on paper, but one that is actually quite awesome in execution. Really proves just how successfully Adventure Time is able to pull off any type of story, no matter how cliched or ridiculous it might sound.

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As for Prismo’s revival itself, I’m not sure that it’s actually entirely necessary. I mean, Prismo appears about three more times in the series (one of which is a flashback), and Crossover is the only episode where he contributes to the actual story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Prismo, but I wish his revival actually played a bigger part in the grand scheme of things. It seems more like a copout when characters in this series are brought back simply for the sake of being brought back, with the most prominent example being Root Beer Guy. Though, as I mentioned, there’s an episode like Crossover that absolutely cannot exist without his presence, so I guess I’m contradicting my own point. And, the way he’s actually revived in this episode seems completely in line with something that Prismo would do/plan. Get the feeling Jesse really understands and enjoys Prismo’s character.

Prismo also finally gets a proper memorial service, and unlike how Billy’s death wasn’t acknowledged for an entire span of a season, this gap of time actually feels like it makes sense. Jake isn’t one who takes to death too lightly and would rather stay in denial than to actually deal with his close friend passing away. The service is certainly emotional for Jake, but it’s once again presented in such a goofy and hilarious way that it avoids being too lamentable. Adventure Time has this really great way of making light of darker situations, though it (usually) never feels tasteless or awkwardly placed. The way Finn and Jake send off Prismo is likely exactly how Prismo would want to be remembered.

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I think it’s a given that any show that has at least 300 episodes would have a clip show or a recap episode at some point, and Adventure Time has done both, while cleverly subverting tropes and never actually hitting on cliches. Jake’s time-lapsed self recreates some of his all-time best moments, including everything burrito, Bacon Pancakes, and his techno-tuned dance moves from Power Animal. The best part is that the episode actually recycles the exact poses and animation from said episodes, which can really make for some hilarious night-and-day scenes. It’s also quite endearing; just look at that uncomfortably wonky shot of Jake saying “tough boysss!” from Crystals Have Power and compare it to Jesse’s mostly stellar work now. He’s really come a long way since the beginning. The moments themselves are a funny tribute to some of Jake’s greatest hits, and even funnier is that each sequence ends with Jake fucking exploding. It’s a gag that never truly gets old, and it’s even more enjoyable to watch Finn go from being absolutely terrified from such an occurrence to being totally numb to the whole situation.

Speaking of which, it’s nice to see Finn getting some action once again (though not in the Breezy sense)! He had major appearances in the past ten or so episodes, like Ocarina and Ghost Fly, but this feels like the first time in a while that we’re seeing things through his perspective once more. There’s that great shot as he wakes up from his nightmare and notices the now browned thorn on his hand, reminding us and himself that his physical and metaphorical scars still remain very much in tact. Though the episode doesn’t really focus too much on Finn’s own baggage, as he’s more preoccupied with the wellbeing of his brother.

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And booooy, is Jake’s journey a doozie. It’s an Inception style trek through space and time that feels almost impossible to follow entirely. Essentially, the present version of Jake takes the place of Prismo’s resting spot, where he’s left to sleep before Finn wakes him up, assuring that the present Jake is kept alert while the past version of Jake once again takes his place in the bed, so current Finn can then approach the past Finn and stop him from waking past Jake up, assuring that the two will still be intact even after Prismo’s reincarnation. And if you had trouble following that, believe me, so did I. But the great part is that I don’t really care that I don’t fully understand what’s going on. Finn and Jake, and even Prismo, aren’t even sure they comprehend their surroundings, which is reassuring from an audience perspective and kind of just helps us to enjoy the journey regardless, which is a ton of fun.

The backgrounds in this one are LUSCIOUS. I could’ve sworn from the various staircase-style layers that Derek Ballard actually had some sort of part in designing the backgrounds for this one, but per usual, it’s Chris Tsirgiortis and Derek Hunter, who, also per usual, do a magnificent job. These backdrops aren’t especially complicated in nature, though their lush, painted color schemes and simple, boxed layout make them really aesthetically pleasing. I totally don’t agree with the notion that Adventure Time is the best show to watch while high, because I feel like that undermines its quality even during sobriety, but even then, this is the perfect episode in that category. It’s calming, cool, and bizarre in all the right ways, and really captures the more chill side of Jesse’s trippy writing style.

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Speaking of which, Moynihan also squeezes in some decent philosophy. Jake is mostly used as an observer in this one, but in a way that’s quite enjoyable. I love all of his little observations, especially his acknowledgement of, “what if the world was just some goof’s dream? That would be dumb.” Dunno about everyone else, but I always thought that touched on the ongoing belief that Adventure Time would end up just being one big dream sequence, which, as this episode states, would be incredibly stupid. Glad the audience isn’t the only one to think so. I also believe Jake thinking out loud is cool because it provides for some rare introspective moments from his character. Though it feels a little too eloquently put for Jake to state, his monologue during the Lich sequence is just great.

“I remember feelin’ like someone had peeled a layer away from my brain, and my reality was no longer anchored to any point of reference, and I had to fight to keep from being crushed under the weight of an unforgiving new paradigm of ultimate reality.”

Never would have thought those words would come out of Jake’s mouth, but it really just shows how in tune to his surroundings that Jake is. Though he’s easily distracted and somewhat absent minded, Jake really does soak in everything he possibly can when he’s invested in particular situations. The Lich aspect of the clip show is also a great reminder that the Lich is still very much alive, even if he’s subdued. Adventure Time has these great little moments sprinkled throughout seasons 6, 7, and 8 to remind us of just how evil the Lich is, even if he isn’t actively cognitive.

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And of course, there’s also Prismo, who set up the entire plan. As always, Kumail Nanjiani does just a super job of portraying his character, and he may just be one of my favorite voice actors in the entire series! He captures the whimsy, charm, and detached nature of Prismo’s character all in one tone, and it always feels like he’s putting his all into Prismo even if he doesn’t have to emote much. The connection between Jake and Prismo is as strong as ever, and even Prismo and Finn form a more heartwarming connection. I love Finn acknowledging that he and Prismo aren’t truly close friends, though they just simply have a strong mutual respect for each other. I think we all know that type of person in real life, and Finn sums it up quite nicely. The icing on the cake is the ending, when Finn essentially kills himself to help to revive Prismo. In a long stance of stagnation in Finn’s life, I think this is just the kind of action that truly shows how heroic he remains. Even with his aforementioned scars, Finn is still willing to put others before himself, even if it means possibly sacrificing his own being. Granted, I think a lot of people could look into this in a much darker perspective, but I don’t think Finn willingly almost ending his life relates back to his own depressed feelings. He simply realizes that Prismo once took a bullet for him, and wants to repay that favor, and he’s rewarded in the best way possible: with a sick new sword. The Finn Sword may be my favorite sword in the entire series; it’s polished, clean, and wholesome, just like Finn himself! I think it’s the perfect visual representation of Finn as a character, and has possibly the biggest effect on the actual story out of all of Finn’s swords, aside from the grass blade. It’s a terrific welcoming back ceremony for the Pris-man.

This one’s just sheer awesome. It takes advantage of everything it has going for it, and though it has some aspects that could have easily come across as pretentious or even cliched, they’re presented in the absolute strongest and most unique ways possible. This is Jesse’s second solo-board in the series, and it fairs much, much better than Something Big. While complicated, Is That You? boasts a thoroughly cohesive story that brings back a very enjoyable character, and celebrates some of Jake the Dog’s greatest moments. And, in a bomb of episodes that goes out of its way to celebrate Jake’s character, this is quite the spectacular tribute.

Favorite line: “These picks were made by our friend to be mouth-loved!”

“Wake Up” Review

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Original Airdate: April 21, 2014

Written & Storyboarded by: Andy Ristaino & Cole Sanchez

After Finn was dramatically left with the information that his human father is still very much alive, I expected the next episode to get into visiting his dad almost immediately. And while it technically does, Wake Up primarily works as setup for the next episode, yet in the best possible way. It’s a funny, enjoyable, and energetic first parter to prepare for the drama and intensity ahead.

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The episode begins with yet another revelation surrounding one of our main characters… that character being Jake, and that his past absences have been attributed to his late night partying at Prismo’s place. The cosmic party is a ton of fun, and it’s a great opportunity to reintroduce us to all the deities that embody this world. Outside of their worldly duties, Glob, Cosmic Owl, Death, and Prismo are just a couple of bros trying to live life as anybody else would. It’s also nice to see the return of Prismo and Jake’s friendship. Prismo is such a sweet character, and I’m glad his lifespan as a character wasn’t limited only to Finn the Human and Jake the Dog.

Also returning for the first time since the season five premiere is the Lich, who is still as haunting and menacing as ever. I truly enjoy the way Prismo analyzes his presence within the timeroom, as he compares the Lich to a “machine without a purpose.” This concept makes the Lich even more one-dimensional, but even more frightening in that regard. The Lich really only exists to kill and destroy all life; he has no motivation and he has no deeper plan of ruling the world. He simply wants everything to die and is unable to function when he cannot do so. Quite unnerving really (aside from the fact that Glob is taking selfies on the Lich, of course. I really don’t know how I feel about the term “selfie” being used in an Adventure Time episode), as we, the audience, patiently awake for the Lich to suddenly strike over the course of this 11 minutes. We all knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when.

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But even more troubling is Finn’s solemn state as he reveals to Jake that his human dad is alive. The interactions that follow are very mature and heartwarming from the brothers’ perspectives. The two think out the possible cons of actually actually meeting Dad the Human, but acknowledge all the pros that come with it as well. Jake clearly identifies that it might be risky for Finn to do so, but it seems as though he also realizes that it’s important for Finn regardless. Doing so could lead to some positive closure for Finn’s abandonment issues, and help him develop out of any lingering insecurities regarding his place in the universe. Finn also responds with a facade, saying that he merely wants to meet his father to see what he would look like as an adult. This visit clearly means a lot to Finn, and though he’s terrified by the thought of meeting someone he literally has no knowledge about, it’s something that he feels as though he needs for the same reasons that Jake presumably wants him to do so.

The scenes that follow return to Prismo’s time room, where the Cosmic Owl is still shown to be as clingy as ever, and Prismo warns the boys of the Citadel’s nature. Love the montage of random monsters who do end up in the Citadel, one of which is a headless beast who sucks the heads off of other lifeforms, another zaps apart a planet in equal quadrants, and one simply stamps a form while emitting gross fluids. Finn naively remarks, “my dad must be the warden there,” showing how automatically he accepts that his father must be a hero or a guardian of some sorts. Jake later admits that the thought of Finn’s dad being a bad dude did cross his mind, though he refrains from mentioning this to Finn, likely to avoid tarnishing Finn’s optimism. Jake wants to do anything to help Finn accomplish his goals, even if it means bringing along the somewhat useless Shelby to get the boys to the Citadel, which may just be my favorite moment from this episode. I just love Shelby so damn much you guys, and I love the ludicrous idea that his apparent girlfriend has been hounding him for a pony. Is his girlfriend also a worm? If so, how would she even take care of a pony? The idea of it is so ridiculous, I love it.

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Though Prismo comes up with the idea of committing a cosmic crime, which sends Finn and Jake out on an epic space quest to rescue an old, sleeping man. The backgrounds throughout the outer realm of the time room are pretty simplistic in their color scheme and surroundings, though I do enjoy how everything in the background is constantly moving. It makes for a pretty swell visual treat, and once the boys actually enter the house on the duck-shaped rock (after the hilarious scene featuring Jake loudly knocking on the old man’s door) we’re treated to some sweet designs of the old man’s night terrors. They appear as a more menacing version of Prismo, though I also like their flattened, shadow-y nature and how they just generally shift across the background. It almost reminds me of something out of Samurai Jack in that regard. And the awesome way in which Finn and Jake actually defeat these beats, with the power of Jake’s supernova equipped flashlight, is terrific cap to the tense atmosphere surrounding the old man’s conscious state.

As Prismo reveals that the old man is actually the human incarnate of himself, it really is a moment that helps us grow even fonder of Prismo than before. Prismo is perhaps the most humble and courtesy character in the entire series, going as far as to sacrifice his own self for someone he doesn’t even know that well. Prismo realizes that being stuck in his time room all day probably doesn’t open up many opportunities for purpose beyond his state as a wishmaster, so it’s pretty cool that he’s actively trying to avoid being identical to the Lich. Prismo doesn’t want to only exist to be a functioning deity, but to go beyond his cosmic duties and to reach out to the people around him. So it only makes sense that he’d want to do something as noble as essentially killing himself for the (assumed) greater good.

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Only his plan backfires, and the Lich seizes the helm by waking Old Man Prismo up. This last minute is nothing but pure intensity, as the Lich threateningly stares down the old man, kills him with one menacing breath, and is taken to the Citadel.Aside from Jake being at his absolute most heartbroken and PISSED, Finn no longer only has to deal with the uncertainty of meeting his father, but also the power of the deadliest being in the entire universe.

Wake Up is a terrific first parter that sets up the next episode quite nicely, but also exists as its own entertaining episode. It’s a fun return to form as Finn and Jake embark on an entirely new adventure filled with laughs, awesome visuals, and an overall dire vibe. First parters in this show often end up being pale in comparison to their successors, like Holly Jolly Secrets – Part 1, Play Date, or Finn the Human, but Wake Up proves successful outside of just being connected to its sister episode, and properly prepares me for the intensity the next episode has to offer.

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Favorite line: “Man, I’ve gotten a lot hairier, but also balder? Tell me how that makes any sense!”